Sunday, April 26, 2015

More Than a Meal

If you are like us, you have a small stack of gift cards that you've received over the years. Most are for restaurants - which is great for us, as we like to do weekly date nights (and save a buck or two while we're at it!) Most gift cards have no expiration date and that is awesome. Sometimes, though, you come across one that does have a "good until" date. We had such a card that we needed to use right away.

The name of the place was the Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar. There are a number of them around these United States, and if you are fortunate enough to have one in driving distance, or even if you need to spend the night to get back home, GO! I would suggest you bring a healthy wallet, or a gift card or two. You can always tell a place is going to be expensive by the online menu: no prices. And if you do happen to view the online menu, have something to wipe off your screen when you are done!

When writing this, I had initially intended to describe each portion we ate, the fantastic wait staff, and the delicious wine, but changed my mine. You see, what made this particular meal so fantastic wasn't the Sweet Chile Calamari, or the Barbecue Scottish Salmon Fillet, or even the Certified Angus Beef Hanger Steak. What made this such a great dining experience was sharing it with others.

Originally, we had planned to take my parents with us to the restaurant, as my folks would normally never go to a place like this on their own (they are more the local Cracker Barrel types - and there is NOTHING wrong with that!) Unfortunately, due to issues beyond anyone's control, getting the four of us together before the expiration date was not a possibility.

What resulted was the best possible alternative, our friends Tony and Mary joined us for the evening. (Note: they were not slighted in the least at being the alternative - they know my folks!)

We love Tony and Mary. I've known them for over twenty years. They've been there through many ups and downs in my life. Many an evening was spent on the front stoop of their house, as Tony and I pondered the implications of a Christian (me) getting divorced, and what that meant. They have also been there to share in the joy I have found in my wife Lisa (my truly BEST friend).

There is something about sharing a meal with others that takes the pleasure up a dozen "notches" or so. For example: The wine menu was a bit intimidating to me, so we waited until Tony and Mary arrived to take advantage of Tony's knack of picking out the "right" one. And we weren't disappointed!

I don't think we humans were designed to dine alone. I know, from personal experience, that telling the hostess "only one" is one of the saddest things a person can say. Why is that? Maybe it is the fact that when you ARE eating something absolutely amazing, you naturally want to share the moment.

And the moment didn't end for us at the check. You see, the reservation was for 19:00. We didn't depart until around 22:20. The parking lot was so full when we arrived that we ended up using the valet (a note to valets: it is good to learn how to drive a stick shift!), so after the meal, Lisa and Mary walked over to another store, and Tony waited for me to get my Jeep back. He hopped in with me as we drove it over to where the ladies were - talking the whole time. Actually, we didn't stop talking the entire evening - from that store to another store to the parking lot.

And that is exactly what I'm driving at. You can have the most incredible meal, prepared by the world's greatest chef, and it only improves by sharing it with people you love.

And I encourage you to do just that. So, call those close to you, get those (not necessary) gift cards out, and go! And it doesn't matter if it is Flemings or McDonalds. It will end up being more than a meal.

© Emittravel 2015

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Holy Quartet

I fall into the Trinitarian viewpoint concerning God. Discussions of the Trinity have a tendency to either create deep conversations, or a glazed panic to fall over an individual's eyes. Not surprising, as the idea of a triune Godhead fills some folks with complete bewilderment.

Putting it simply, the basic viewpoint of the Trinity is one God represented in three separate and distinct individuals. Not three separate gods. One God, but three representations. You have the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost), all functioning in three different roles, but as one entity.

I think the best explanation I've ever heard was the simplest, and it came from a comedian named Mike Warnke. He said that understanding the Trinity was as simple as cherry pie. Now, a good cherry pie is runny in the middle, with a light and flaky crust on top. If you have ever had such a pie, you know that if you try to remove a slice, you have to WHIP the piece from the pie pan to your plate, or the filling falls out. Now, take a freshly-made cherry pie, take a knife, and make three slices - or, slice the pie into three pieces. When you look at the crust, you can see three separate pieces of pie, but the runny filling inside moves back and becomes essentially one pie inside. Three pieces - one pie. Same with the Godhead. One God, in three separate "pieces". Why? Mike's reasoning was that we finite individuals couldn't swallow that pie whole, so we have to take Him in slices. Simple as cherry pie.

(I love that analogy, though I have to admit: I really don't like cherry pie! Not enough ice cream in the world . . . )

Some Christians have gone beyond the Trinity to the worship of the "Holy Quartet": the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Bible. They have placed the bible on equal footing as God. I've even heard people take "The bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it," to the extreme of "The bible says it, and that settles it whether I believe it or not," and that is dangerous. It's "the word of God" this, and "the word of God" that. They put so much emphasis on "the word" that they miss the meaning of it. The "word" is not the bible. The bible does refer to itself as "the word".

There are two commonly used Greek words for "word" in the New Testament (you know, the part written in Greek): logos - the sum total of God, and rhema - the word of God expressed. Many Christians take the word "logos" to mean the bible. Unfortunately, that is a bit off base.

"In the beginning was the Word and the Word was WITH God and the Word WAS God. HE was in the beginning WITH God." (John 1:1 NKJV - emphasis mine)

"And the Word became FLESH and dwelt among us, and we beheld HIS glory, the glory as of the ONLY BEGOTTEN of the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14 NKJV - emphasis mine)

Seems pretty straight forward to me that John was referring to Jesus as "the word", and not the yet-to-be-written-and-compiled-into-a-leather-bound-book known as the bible. The word "word" used is logos. What was the definition? The sum total of God. Jesus is the sum total of God according to John, not the bible. As an exercise, look up the Greek word for "word" when you come across it in the bible. If it is the word logos, substitute it with "Jesus". But be prepared for your bible-worship theology to be shaken.

As I sense my sabbatical drawing to a close, I felt it worthwhile to get at least one more blog written concerning bible worship. I've grappled with "intellectual Christianity" - the impetus for the sabbatical (why I couldn't sit through anymore sermons, for instance) - and have come to the conclusion that it is not necessarily discussions of Christianity or religion, but misplaced worship of the bible in Christianity that has pushed me away. Now I need to determine if I am ready to once again attend church on a regular basis. I've gone back to my "home church" several times as of late, but have left after the worship has taken place (at the beginning our services). I've visited the church of some long-time friends and played with their music team - and have NOT left afterwards (I'm a guest - that would be RUDE!) I find I'm not squirming in my seat as much, but do find I have to focus. I also am trying to not get so disturbed when I hear references made as to the bible's importance. You know, being more "tolerant" of other people's beliefs (even if I disagree with them).

As I have written before, I believe the bible CONTAINS the words of God, but is not of itself THE word of God. That honor belongs to THE word of God: Jesus.

Remember: The Godhead is a trinity. If you want a quartet, go to a barbershop.

© Emittravel 2015

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Ready, Aim, Gotcha!

Dear Kansas Chamber of Commerce,

I am writing to let you know that my wife and I were planning our summer vacation, and the great state of Kansas came to mind. Not only is Kansas the home of the Tallgrass Prairie Natural Preserve, the Kansas Speedway, and the Sedgwick County Zoo, but it is also known for dining at the T-Rex Café, splashing around at the Great Wolf Water Park, and hanging out at Dorothy's house. But, unfortunately, do to safety reasons, we won't be in Kansas anymore - at least in the foreseeable future.

You see, according to a law recently signed by Governor Sam Brownback, the citizens of Kansas will no longer be required to obtain a permit to conceal carry a firearm. More distressing than that, they will also no longer be required to attend extensive training in order to obtain that permit. That frightens me.

I’m from the great state of Ohio, and here extensive training is required to obtain the required permit to conceal carry. First off, I fully believe that the 2nd Amendment IS my "permit" to carry a firearm - concealed or otherwise. But secondly, I fully embrace, and am comforted by the knowledge, that a person carrying a firearm in my state has the appropriate skills to not only discharge a firearm, but has been trained in the proper use and procedures if such a situation arises to NEED to use said firearm.

I have wracked my brain to come up with a good reason to eliminate the need to be trained, and I am unable to come up with even one. Does your state require a person pass a written test concerning the laws of the road prior to obtaining a temporary permit for driving a vehicle? Or do you just hand out licenses to anyone who shows up at the DMV? (Are driver licenses even a requirement in Kansas?) And you can't convince me that a car cannot be used as a weapon. There are people in prison over vehicular manslaughter that should be released if that is true!

Maybe, this is an agenda of the mainstream media and the anti-gun lobby. As far as I can tell, there are no reports of crimes being committed by those with conceal carry permits. Why? Because of the training involved. Having no training (and no permit) would make crimes committed by conceal carry persons fodder for the media. And don't you think that they would be broadcasting those stories 24/7? Anytime the anti-gun lobby pushes our legislators to make laws restricting gun use, they would be screaming the senseless killings committed by those evil conceal-carry-permit-carrying bastards. But they don't. Why? Because there aren't any they can reference.

Removing training, and even permits, as a requirement of your citizens would then allow the media to "lump" them with concealed carry folks when it comes to reporting the wackos that commit heinous crimes (at our schools, for instance). That would criminalize law-abiding citizens.

I do have a question for your governor: How would you feel about untrained security personnel surrounding you when you make your next public appearance? I’m sure the President's Secret Service folks have had at least a little training.

So, I'm sorry to say that my wife and I will be looking elsewhere to spend our hard-earned money this summer. Safety and peace of mind have a lot of weight in our vacation plans.


A person from a state with more brains.

© Emittravel 2015