Saturday, October 9, 2010

Red Light, Green Light

Red Light, Green Light

Traffic is always a pain. What exactly is the matter with these people? Don't they know not to turn left at that intersection in downtown Woodstock? Don't they know I have to get to work to get busy with all the stuff I have to do? It may be a good thing that my horn is not working, or some folks may have gotten a piece of my mind. It's frustrating, like lines that students have to get into at school, only for adults.

Yet in the hustle and bustle of traffic, as I sometimes take time to pray for my students and others I know, I remember the verse Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the Earth."

It was in the midst of heavy traffic one day that I realized the awesome blessing in disguise that I was being presented with. The red lights, the stop signs, the blue hairs... they all provide an opportunity- right there, in our personal transportation bubbles of metal and glass. An opportunity for God to speak, if only we will pause for a moment, and listen.

So then, red lights are not necessarily something to become vexed over. Rather, they provide a chance for us to put everything on pause, and to listen to the God of the universe, the One who loves us and wants to be involved in our lives. So that in fact, the green light can be turned on in our lives spiritually. What does He have to say to you? Thank you, oh Lord, for Your love !

Armchair coach
Amateur historian

The Littlest Cross

The Littlest Cross

Several years ago I was invited by a colleague, Debbie, to attend her daughters' wedding. I felt honored, and of course I said yes. However, one thing I have noticed about myself, is that I am not a real social animal. I socialize all day long with students in classes and teachers at other times and by the time I get home I am just ready to chill out. I kind of feel like a fish out of water in many social situations; I'm pretty introverted, in spite of my over the top performances in the classroom.

Now it just so happens that the place where the wedding took place in Dunwoody is in the same plaza that my church was in when I was a teenager growing up- a little place called Calvary Baptist Church. There were larger, grander churches elsewhere in the neighborhood, but this place was special. It was pastored by a wonderful, beautiful man, Reverend Bob Becknell. I stopped by to see if the quaint old church was there, but when I arrived, the building was gone, a victim of "progress." All that was left was sort of a waist high wooden wall against a small hill on the side. An automobile brake shop stood in the place where Calvary Baptist Church once was. I remembered the people I knew there, and the blessing it was to have been a part of that.

So I'm all dressed up in a tie (ugh!) and everyone knows one another and they are all milling about after a beautiful ceremony, getting eats and generally having a grand time. I'm feeling kind of lonely, even surrounded by people, so I mosey out by the foyer away from the crowd where there are windows that peek through foliage and trees past the front entrance into the sunlight. I'm getting a little misty, thinking that Reverend Bob is probably long gone by now, along with the church, wishing I could speak with him once more. (That's beside the fact that Mr. Perpetually Single himself is at a wedding, but that's another ball game.) I happened to glance out through the green leaves through the window, and what to my surprise should I see?

Off in the distance, well past the plaza on a hill, a small cross on the steeple of one of those large churches was peeking through as the wind moved the leaves aside. I watched that little cross for a long time, just looking out through that window. As I pondered at why I should see this cross, here, now, I felt a peace come over me. It was as if God was reminding me that He had not forgotten me, or the people I once knew and the times we had there. I cried, but kept myself together.

Sometimes God speaks to us in ways we do not expect or anticipate. The smallest thing, a gesture or a word spoken quietly and with love can have a profound affect on others. It can be a way we share His love... the same way He did that windy afternoon when He reminded me that although the church was gone, neither I nor those who were there with me were forgotten.

Armchair coach
Amateur historian

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Island of Misfit Toys

The Island of Misfit Toys

I was in a massive rut this weekend, especially on Friday and part of Saturday. Just feeling down and a bit upset. I realize these feelings come and go, so I just sort of held on through the weekend. As I was walking through the slightly cluttered living room on Sunday, I paused to reflect on this and the memory from a childrens show about Rudolph the red nosed reindeer came to me.

In the show there was an island of misfit toys. Each of them had some unusual difficulty they faced. There was a bird that swam but could not fly, a Jack in box named Charlie, a choo choo with square wheels, and an airplane that could not fly. They all had several things in common. One was that no little boy or girl in the world wanted them because they were different. Another was their universal anguish at not being accepted; not being loved. Also, they all wanted to go with Santa to be presented to loving children on Christmas day.

By now, you have probably guessed where I am going with this. All of us here on Earth are misfits in one way or another. Some have unfulfilled love; others, unrealized hopes or missed loved ones. Death, divorce, and tragedy mark us all in ways we do not see, but are real nonetheless.

It seems at times, it’s impossible to carry all that can weigh one down, but there is hope. Jesus says, My yoke is easy, and my burden light. Cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you. God can help, and He desires to be involved in our lives.

Now this may seem to be a pat answer. One might think, that this has nothing to do with my circumstances and it’s not going to help pay my bills, help my relationship with my spouse, or satisfy my boss. Perhaps. But when the spiritual is engaged, when prayer is utilized, there are things unseen which transcend our earthly concerns that begin to move. Angels, who are as real as you or me, act. God’s Holy Spirit can change the hearts of men. He can change us.

I believe that God does not desire for our brokenness to be the center of our attention. Paul compared our lives to a great race, with spectators looking down from heaven. It’s hard to run with our eyes on ourselves and the weights we carry. Let us run the race freely then, without our gripping hold on the weights that we have no control over whatsoever.

May the peace that passes all understanding guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, until that final day- Christmas day. When our lives will be unwrapped and we will be presented to the Lord of Love, the one who loved and gave himself for us, while we were yet… misfits.

armchair coach
amateur historian

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Message

It's true. Some people don't find out until it's too late, that they need another life. If you've never had a radical, personal, life-changing experience with Jesus, then you really need to. It's not enough to know intellectually- even the demons believe, and tremble. It's a spiritual thing- a heart thing.

The great thing about it is it's so very simple. Believe that Jesus died on the cross for you. Repent, and ask Jesus into your heart. He's calling right now, with a voice that cannot be heard with human ears. Those who come to God must come to Him in spirit and truth, believing that He is, and that He rewards those who diligently seek him. So knock on the door that is even now before you, and believe.

Why do I write of this? It's because one of the last things Jesus said on this Earth, before going to be with God. He said to spread the gospel- the good news, that man's sin is forgiven by His sacrifice.

You see, when it all comes down to it, all the things that we count as important, don't really matter. We come into this world naked, and in the end we will all leave everything behind. We all seem to suffer from perennial tunnel vision, living for and in reaction to our senses, our emotions, our next big thing. So what's it all about then? It's all about Him. That's what life is all about.

Jesus, you are Lord! I *thank you* for all you have done. I love you.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Glenn Was Wrong

You Are Doing It Wrong

Edit: Okay, all right. I'm not liking this a bit, BUT... It looks like I was wrong. The guy evidently had second thoughts about his family which he left behind in Iran. His comments about getting abducted seem to be a sham in order to keep them from being murdered. Can't blame the guy. I'll change the label and eat some humble pie. DANG I hate it when I am wrong, but at least I can admit it. This does not mean the US does not kidnap people in foreign countries- I'm sure agents of the CIA do, but not in this case. Sigh. At least no one reads this rag. Next time I will wait at least one day before posting stuff that makes me look like an idiot. (See article below.)

What a mess. Many older people of my generation remember the Carter years. We remember our spineless president who capitulated to the Ayatollah Khomeni in "diplomacy" and "talks" as his country took 66 embassy workers as "spies," holding them hostage. This was compounded by the failed rescue attempt in Operation Eagle Claw which killed eight American servicemen.

Now in Guantanamo, both Bush and Obama have failed to have military tribunals for all detainees due to heel dragging and a decision from the supreme court limiting presidential authority. Surprisingly, or perhaps not, Obama further ordered all military tribunals in progress halted. This does not sit well with me as these men deserve justice, not limbo. To compare, Iranians seize civilians in a sovereign embassy, we seize militants in Afghanistan. So now we have these men who were training to attack American civilians in limbo. Iran has also captured British sailors in Iraqi waters and civilian hikers on the border holding them prisoner. The British sailors were released because Iran's leaders knew Britain would flatten the country if they were not.

One would think in this situation we have the moral high ground. Forget about it now. The CIA screwed it up. They captured an Iranian nuclear scientist, Shahram Amiri, to pump him for information about Iran's nuclear program. They evidently whisked him away from Saudi Arabia while on pilgrimage, only now, he has escaped to the Pakistani embassy and is demanding to be repatriated to Iran. Oops.

Now look, we all know there are spies and they do their dirty work behind the scenes. Take for example the Russian gold digger Anna Chapman who tried to ingratiate herself to the British princes Harry and William.

Here's the point: When you run these kinds of operations, you legitimize countries like Iran and North Korea basically kidnapping any westerner and holding them hostage. Carter, to his credit, stepped up immediately and admitted his responsibility for the failed rescue attempt. I won't be holding my breath for Obama to do the same in this foreign policy blunder.

armchair coach
amateur historian

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Somebody STOLE my Red Pen !

About 6 years ago, around the time that "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" came out, I had a young man in my class that I will call "Mike." Mike was a class clown, always looking for a laugh, and never seriously interested in school. We got along fairly well; I think he appreciated my dedication to teaching along with my sense of humor.

Mike came to class one day, wearing a tall white top hat, giant googly white glasses, and black nail polish. Whenever I would look in his direction, he would blurt out, "DON'T STARE AT ME !" to which I finally had to break down laughing as he looked like a complete spectacle. "I'm sorry," I would reply, still laughing, "I have to look at you to teach you."

Now at that time I was still using the overhead projector for class notes. As was often the case, whenever I misplaced an overhead pen, usually the red colored one, I would state, "Somebody STOLE my red pen!" I would look through my desk drawer and through assorted papers and overhead sheets. It became a running gag of sorts, in homage to the early comedy of Steve Martin.

Mike's antics continued throughout the year, and finally I was able to give him a small dose of his own comedic medicine. He came into class chewing gum one day, and I directed him to make a deposit in the gum bank (which is the trash can.) As he came up to throw the gum away, I placed my finger over my lips after he passed as I walked over to his desk and discreetly slid the red overhead pen into his notebook. The class immediately caught on to my gag and began to giggle.

Turning on the overhead projector, I exclaimed, "Somebody STOLE my red pen!" looking around my desk. Mike immediately chimed in blurting out, "Oh, no, not THAT dumb joke again!" He rolled his eyes and made sort of a show out of it, mocking me. The class broke up into stitches knowing what was coming.

"Wait a minute..." I frowned, focusing on him because of his outburst. "I'll bet YOU are the one who has been stealing my pens!" I pointed my finger as the class practically erupted. "Oh yeah, RIGHT!" Mike replied.

I approached his desk keeping a straight face, picked up his notebook and gave it a shake. "Ah HAH!" I exclaimed as the red pen came out. I picked it up and held it aloft for the class to see. He was completely surprised as the class broke out in laughter, but appreciated the humor. "You set me up," he declared, smiling. We had a good class day of learning after that.

Teaching has become progressively more difficult over the years, with ever more duties and responsibilities assigned with less time to take care of classroom related tasks. It's times like these, which are not forgotten, that make the effort worth it.

armchair coach
amateur historian

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Exporting Death

Exporting Death

As of today, the Houtchblog will no longer be mentioned in my class. Never again. Why? Because today I am breaking the politically correct shell and allowing the egg to ooze out, in all it's nasty glory. I will no longer remain silent on this topic.

The chess pieces of history are in motion. There are very real spiritual consequences for these moves, although the players I fear (our political leaders) are blind, deaf and dumb in those regards. How can they not see? The seeds which were sown 224 years ago appear to have not only flowered, but are now bearing fruit. Certainly, those who would buy votes with wealth redistribution would also use their influence to spread a more sinister ideology, with the lives of millions in the balance.

I saw, yes you guessed it, another documentary, that changed my mind about some preconceptions I had, with regards to our founding fathers. Yes, they were brave, bold, keenly intelligent, and steadfast in their determination to break free from the yoke of England. Most of them I fear, were also humanists, members of the Masonic Society, and Christians in name only.

Corruption however, has a way of spreading like water pouring into the cracks of a sidewalk. The more 'power' there is, the more the waters of corruption are present. The Roman Catholic Church was not immune to this during the days of indulgences and the inquisition.

I am referring to the story yesterday found here. Previously, Kenya has not allowed abortions to be performed. Our ambassador to Kenya, Michael Ranneberger, has promised Kenyan officials two million of our tax dollars to support a constitution (which, incidentally, legalizes abortion.) Vice President Biden is quoted as saying "If you make these changes, I promise you, new foreign private investment will come in like you've never seen," in a speech he delivered last month.

It is reported that Biden has promised Obama would visit the country, but only if the constitution (with the abortion legalization) is passed.

Meanwhile, there has been opposition to a US style constitution for these very reasons. On June 13th, an anti-constitution prayer service was interrupted when two bombs exploded, killing six and injuring over one hundred more, according to a Kenyan newspaper. Additionally, three members of the Kenyan parliament were arrested June 16th for "hate speech." Conveniently, they are the leaders of the opposition against this version of the constitution.

So then, it appears as though we (Americans) have become that which we hate. We are exporting governmental and ideological frameworks to foreign countries, to the detriment of the unborn, in the name of ... freedom? May God have mercy on us all.

armchair coach
amateur historian

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Page of Notes

A Page of Notes

I’m an avid newsreader, preferring to read of national and international events of importance rather than listening to talking heads. I also enjoy documentaries of different kinds, usually involving war and history. Recently, there were two stories I read or watched; it took a while of simmering in my noggin until I saw where these two stories intersected. They appear at different times in history and each has lessons that are apt for today.
The first was a story about the actual Boston Tea Party. It can be found here:

Fascinating. Although the writer was a liberal hack, he came up with some interesting facts and ideas. Here they are in no particular order.
1. Americans were mad, John Hancock in particular, that the British were reducing the cost of tea in America to cut into the illegal tea trade.
2. The British government required all tea to be purchased through them.
3. The British government was subsidizing the East India Tea Company much as Obama and Bush subsidized the banking industry. Consumers were not buying tea with its inflated cost. But wait, there’s more!
4. The author makes a comparison between the tea party of the 1700’s and the tea party of today. He says that it was moral outrage over the taxes themselves that drove the movement, and that it is moral outrage today that drives the Tea Party advocates of today- of the gap between, as he puts it, the “Responsibles and the Deadbeats,” or as Neal Boortz puts it, the “Producers and the Moochers.”

The author tries to defend the incredible amounts of government money which is being spent as well as pointing to the modern Tea Party as zealots who demand the “Deadbeats” be punished. Punished by… not stealing it from those who earned it by way of government?
Here is the way I see it- our current government is duplicating the events of the past which resulted in the colonies break from England. Keep this in mind as we continue.

The Korean War is sometimes called, “The Forgotten War.” I was not too familiar with the specifics of the events until I watched a 2 hour documentary over the weekend. America was just coming out of WWII, many of her valiant young men had died defending freedom against the aggressive Nazis. The Soviet Union, taking advantage of the positioning of her armies, turned all of east Europe into soviet communist puppet states, along with North Korea. Their philosophy was one of expansionism. In 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea with the goal of “unifying the country.” Truman sent in General Douglas MacArthur to stop the invasion.

Over the course of several years, the battle went back and forth, each command overextending its supply lines and being driven back. Finally, MacArthur had the North Korean army on the run and had driven them almost to the border with China. What happened next, no one including MacArthur could foresee. The Chinese had amassed a 250,000 man army to retake the north in a chilling winter campaign that our troops were ill prepared for. (You would think they would have learned after Bastogne.) In a series of retreats, the US and United Nations fought back, the Chinese sustaining 150,000 casualties, the US, 50,000. Instead of having the resolve of FDR and sending the troops needed to win, Truman blinked and backed down, agreeing to an armistice ceasing hostilities. Christian Koreans caught behind enemy lines were slaughtered. Civilians were brutally cut down in the hundreds of thousands. Does any of this sound familiar? (Obama does not send troops to Afghanistan at the request of his generals, instead waiting until mounting public pressure and 3 months of studies forces him to do so.)

MacArthur was furious at Truman’s lack of support during a war time operation, and refused to be silenced, much as a recent general who also spoke out against our current president.
My point: There are costs to be counted in ceasing to be firm in the defense of liberty. What was the cost? 60 years of tyrannical rule in North Korea has resulted in 2 million deaths from starvation in the last decade… from starvation, this in spite of relief efforts. North Korea now has the bomb, (thanks, Clinton!) and has tried to export this technology to Syria. North Korea, to put it mildly, has become an unstabilizing influence in the world, threatening war as they did back in 1950.

What do these two events, the Boston Tea Party and the Korean War have in common? The lack of foresight to learn from the lessons of the past. It is true that George Bush was mislead into believing that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, at least those not given to him by his father in the first place (gas weapons that were used against the Kurds.) However, the regime of Saddam Hussein was brutally horrific by any standard, and in waging this war, and winning, it is my belief that inadvertently he may have saved many more lives than those which have been lost during the war.

History will be the judge of the actions and inactions of our leaders. God will be the judge of us all.

armchair coach
amateur historian

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Liturgy for the Pre Born

I was referred to this video by a friend of mine named Phillip. There is a war going on, but the war is not on the battlefield. It is in the minds and hearts of men. The stakes, to put it mildly, are high. To loosely quote the pastor, there are those who say that good is evil and evil is good, and this philosophy is actually believed. Truly, as a society with cars, computers, telephones, and all manner of technology, we are no better than those who threw their children into the fire in worship of false gods. May God have mercy on us.

Monday, June 28, 2010



Well, a new blog entry. I’m thrilled. Frankly, I’ve been doing other things over the summer, starting and stopping the rewrite of my novella several times, writing poetry, and generally chilling out. Several articles had come to mind, but 1. I did not want the Houtchblog to just become a place where I complained about things and 2. I didn’t think anybody read it.

So, with that out of the way, I’d like to invite anyone and everyone out there to pray with me. Prayer is something that changes things. The unknown and invisible is engaged, and while seemingly futile from the world’s standards, angels act and tremors silently resound. God Himself responds to prayer. So please join me.

Dear God,

I thank you so very much for this journey, my life. Each day, each moment, is a blessing from above. I humbly ask You to forgive me of my sin, which I have willingly wrapped around myself. Like vines, it has grown but You are the ultimate gardener. You look down on our lives with love, mercy and compassion. Help us and forgive us all. We all so desperately need You. I need you. Forgive us by the blood of your son, Jesus.

I thank you for the long lives of my family, Amy, mom and dad. Their presence has been a comfort to me, knowing they are there and being able to lean on them in times of difficulty. I pray they would direct their eyes towards You, that You might receive glory.

I pray for those who have passed, that You might gather them and receive them to where You are, that Your will might be done. Comfort them and grant them peace. I pray for Bubba Hartsfield, Cindy Farbolin, Harry Weisgerber, Craig Staples, Reverend Bob Becknell, and all those I knew in high school and college. Bless them and keep them. Let Your love, which is beyond thought or understanding, shine upon them.

I pray for my students and colleagues, especially the following, who have passed: Floyd Neece, Michael Stemen, Joshua Runyan, Tasha Morris, Steven Shipman, Donna Deaton, and Stefan Ngkonchin. Gather them and keep them Lord, and comfort them, that Your will might be done, and that You might receive glory.

I pray also for all the students I have had that were troubled, especially those I did not get along with. Bless them, You know who they are. Guide them, protect them. Let them come to a place where they look to You and see Your love! I pray also for the silent ones, the non verbal ones whose life issues are no less important, and just as relevant. I thank you for the countless times You have intervened in our lives on our behalf without us even knowing. Thank You for Your love, Lord !

It seems that the world is focused on earthly things, much as it was in Pilate’s day. Open our eyes that we might see, our ears that we may hear what You would tell us. For what we see is the illusion, what we hear is the temporal.

I thank you for my companions, the ones whom You personally brought into my life to teach me about love, Snoopy and Mikey. If there is a place for dogs, I pray you would especially bless Snoopy. Please help Mikey in her old age.

Thank you for Pastor Alex and Caroline. Bless them in their ministry at Calvary Chapel, Ayre. Please also bless Steven Hunter and all the folks I have met at Christ the Redeemer.

Thank you for Jesus. Thank you for our times here. Thank you for our trials, our joys, our sorrows. When it comes down to it, our whole existence here really is all about You. Give us strength, desire, and a willingness to live in such a way. Amen.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

An Open Letter to my Junior Beta Club Members

Beta Club is not just about getting good grades, although that’s certainly one of the qualifications. Being a Beta, to me it seems, is about service; service done from a pure motivation, not in order to be seen and admired.

In the news in recent years I have seen lots of stories about “giving back to the community.” I am of a mixed view on this idea. Yes, it’s true- we are our brother’s keeper, and we are to watch out and help our fellow man. But we are not to do this because we have a debt to pay to our fellow man. Rather, we can help others because it is the right thing to do.

I’m far from perfect. I sometimes say things that hurt others feelings. I am forgetful and aloof. I am, in some things, selfish and private in not sharing myself with others. These are things I am working on to change, with God’s help. When you help others, it changes your heart, just a little bit. That’s what service in Beta club is all about.


Armchair coach

Amateur historian