You LOSE! Good Day Sir!

I have been going to school since 1979 when my mom took me to kindergarten. I spent all those years in elementary school, junior high, high school, then four years of Bible college, three years of seminary, then I took a few classes each semester because I was having difficulty finding a church so that I could start working on pre-med. While I was doing that, I found a church to pastor, so I switched over to nursing school, which I would use to supplement my pastoral salary. I graduated from nursing school in 2005, and had a three year hiatus where I was not taking any classes at all. Then I started taking classes to finish out my BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing), which I finished in 2012. Then my MSN (Master of Science in Nursing) program began the very next month. I have been in that program ever since. All of this means that aside from the three years after I became an RN, I have been constantly enrolled for the past 35 years.

Suffice it to say I am sick of school.

I have really looking forward to finishing this MSN program. I have told people, “As soon as I finish this program, I am never going back to school again!” My instructors have tried to get me interested in getting my doctorate (either a DNP “Doctor of Nursing Practice” or a Ph.D), but up to this point I remain firm that this degree will be my last. I will walk across the stage wearing that stupid square hat one more time, and one more time alone.

I told someone last month that I was glad it was getting cold, because that meant that the next time it gets warm (next spring), I will be almost ready to graduate for the last time.

God works in mysterious ways.

Isaiah 55:8-9 says

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

All that to say that I received notice on Saturday that I did not pass my class this semester. I was shocked, because I knew that before the final exam my grade in the class was 93%. I studied as much as I could given my busy schedule (working and doing clinical hours) for 60 hours a week for the past two months, and when the time came, I took the final exam. I knew I did not do well on the exam, and my final grade on the exam was 74%. That’s a C, people. But in graduate school, anything less than a B is failing. So I “failed” the final exam.

This is a summary of the phone call Saturday night.

But, I factored the test in with the rest of my grades and found that it only brought my average down to 91%, which is an A minus. But that’s not the end of the story.

Evidently this semester my school instituted a policy that states if a student does not get an 84% average in their test and quiz score for the class, then the rest of the stuff they did for the class isn’t counted, and their test/quiz average is their final grade. It doesn’t make any sense to me, but there it is. So my 74% on the final exam made my test/quiz average….83.4%.

Yes, that’s right folks. If I had another 0.6% I would have passed. That means if I had just gotten ONE MORE TEST QUESTION correct, I would have had an 84% average on the test/quiz grade, and I would have had that A minus.

My reaction when told I didn't pass.

My reaction when told I didn’t pass.

But I didn’t. And so now I have to come to terms with the fact that, for the first time in my life, I have failed a class. The fact that my overall grade in this “failed class” is 91% does not make me feel better, because I still have to sit out of school for the next eight months, waiting for the next opportunity to take this class, which starts September 2015. This pushes my graduation date back to May 7, 2016.

I was ready to be done with school. Now I am more ready than ever, but unable to stop any time soon. I will simply keep trusting in God that He knows what is best for me, and push forward in faith.

I plan to study my textbooks from the past several classes to make sure that I know this stuff forwards and backwards. Maybe this is God’s way of helping me pass my board exam the first time, and making me a better nurse practitioner in the long run. In any case, I bow to His wisdom and will continue to trust in Him to guide and direct my steps.

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I Am No Longer A Republican

When I turned 18 in 1992 I registered to vote. I selected Republican as my party because I looked at both parties, and I identified most with the platform of the Republican party.

  • I believe that workers should get to keep most of their money and spend it as they see fit.
  • I believe that charity begins at home and not in Washington DC.
  • I believe that all life is precious, and therefore abortion is murder and euthanasia is either murder or suicide.
  • I believe that capital punishment is just and right for crimes that warrant it.
  • I believe that our nation’s borders should be secure so that those who belong here (i.e. “citizens”) can enjoy the freedoms and responsibilities of being Americans.
  • I believe that immigration is good so long as it is legal. Humans have not always lived on this continent, and therefore EVERYBODY’s family came here from somewhere else.
  • I believe that Americans should have the right to worship, speak, and spend their money as they see fit, no matter who gets offended.
  • I believe that there are three good reasons to preserve our citizens’ right to have pretty much any gun they want: to hunt for food, to protect ourselves from criminals, and to protect ourselves from our government.

I have donated money, supported, and spoken out for Republican candidates, with the hope that the representatives I voted for would hold to the values that they and I shared (supposedly). They have not.

Last month I was happy that the American people sent a message to Washington. We said, “We don’t like the policies of the Obama administration and the liberal Democrats in power. We don’t like Obamacare. We don’t want amnesty for illegals, etc etc.” The Republicans picked up NINE SEATS in the Senate, giving them a 54 to 46 advantage. That is the most seats picked up in a single election by Republicans in the Senate since the 1980 election. Anybody remember the Reagan landslide? Yeah. That was how big this election was in the Senate.

And then, in response to the expressed will of We the People, President Obama issued an executive order granting asylum to people who broke the law by coming here illegally, spitting in the face of the American voter.

In response to Obama, the Republicans cried out against his executive order, railed against his dictatorial style, and then, last night while many of us were asleep, wrote him a check giving him the financial power to implement this and other policies. In short, we were betrayed by the very Republicans we were counting on to defend us from Obama’s policies. I would say it will get better after the new guys take office next month, but the leadership will not change. It’s still going to be Boehner and McConnell. To quote Steve Deace:

“President Obama said his Marxist policies were on the ballot in this year’s election, and we overwhelmingly rejected them. Nonetheless, we’re going to get them anyway. All thanks to the same House Republican leadership that promised us more transparency, no more massive omnibus spending bills nobody had read, and to stop Obamacare and Obama’s amnesty. Yesterday, they betrayed every promise, broke every vow, and will fund for at least 9 months everything they told the American people they would stop.”

And so today, I am stating with emphatic resoluteness: I am no longer a Republican. If Republicans stood for the things that I mentioned at the top of this post, I would gladly be counted among their number. If Republicans returned to the positions Ronald Reagan held, I would stand up for them. But until that day, I declare myself a “Conservative,” and that only.

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Funny but Pointed Immigration Video

I  posted this video some time back to Facebook, but finding something you posted on Facebook is next to impossible, so I wanted to put it somewhere I wouldn’t lose it again.

If you haven’t seen the video, it’s a comical look at the ridiculous idea of our immigration policy being changed to allow lawbreakers (those in the US without permission) the right to become citizens.  As I have said before, if you came home and found a family living in your house without your permission, your first thought is not to ensure that the children have eaten, that the parents have a good job, etc.  Your first thought is to get them out of your house. And that is what we should be doing with people who are here without permission:  send them back where they came from.  Maybe give them a pamphlet telling them the legal process to become an American citizen, if they are still interested.

Anyway, here’s the video.

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Thanksgiving Carols

I enjoy singing Christmas Carols.  O Come, O Come Emmanuel is my favorite.  I guess that’s really a hymn, but here’s a secret:  I’m not a music major, so I don’t know the difference.

But why are carols limited to Christmas?  I don’t remember where I got it, but there was an article I read years ago that referenced Thanksgiving Carols.  I only remember one song, and a line from another, but in the interests of making sure these gems don’t disappear forever, I will reproduce them here.  If anybody knows who originally wrote them, please let me know so I can give proper attribution.

All I remember about the first song is that it is sung to the tune of “Good King Wenceslas,” and that the first line is “Good dish old coleslaw sat there/Once again uneaten.”    That’s pretty funny.  But the best song is the one I remember in full. It is sung to the tune of “O Holy Night” and it’s called “O Slippery Knife.”

O slippery knife, you slipped while I was carving
Now I’m in pain as my wife calls the doc.
O slippery knife, you skidded off the breastbone
I’m feeling faint, think I’m going into shock.
I now regret those hours at the whetstone
I now suspect I’ve lost at least a quart.

Press on the wound!
Cut off the circulation!
O knife so sharp!
O knife, my tendon’s shorn.
O knife so sharp,
O knife so sharp.

I hope this song can make you smile, as it has for me and my wife for years.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Ferguson

I suppose I should say something about Ferguson, MO. I suppose the eight of you that read this blog are interested to know my perspective on the events of the past few days.

I think it’s a tragedy.

I think that the sin of man knows no bounds, and this is perfectly illustrated in Ferguson. A man was killed, and in response to this man being killed, hundreds (if not thousands) of people are rioting, looting, and committing acts of violence. People are destroying businesses that don’t belong to them, stealing things that don’t belong to them, and acting as if the decision rendered yesterday somehow enables them to act however they want, with no brake except their own conscience.

These crimes are the inevitable result of the philosophy which states that either God doesn’t exist or that we are not accountable to Him for our actions. This is a demonstration of the lie of Satan in Genesis 3:5, that we would become like God, deciding for ourselves what is good and what is evil. You can’t tell me what to do, people yell. It’s MY body! It’s MY choice! I can have an abortion! I can end my own life whenever I choose! I can put whatever I want into my body and you can’t tell me it’s wrong. I can have sex with anybody I want, with any gender I want.

Well, the damage and destruction in Ferguson is the inevitable result of this philosophy of Hedonism (do what feels good). And it’s a tragedy.

The good news is that God is aware. God is in control. And the reckoning is coming.

I sang a song in the college chorale where I met my wife called “Things Done In Secret” and it refers to Luke 8:17 “For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light.” The song goes like this:

He will not soon forget your work of faith
And labor of love that’s done for His sake
A cold cup of water that’s given in His name
One day from the housetops the Lord will proclaim.

Many slothful shall stand ashamed that day
When all of their talents are taken away.
But oh what rejoicing the righteous shall know
When Christ shall return their rewards to bestow!

Though you serve in the shadows be faithful still
Your steadfast devotion to follow His will
Shall not be forgotten, it’s all written down
And one day your cross He’ll replace with a crown.

CHORUS:
Things done in secret shall be made known.
When with the saints we will bow at His throne
The books shall be opened, your name He will call
And things done in secret shall be made known to all.

I know that song is referring to the good works that we believers do for Christ, for which we will receive a reward someday, but every time I sang the chorus, I couldn’t help but think about how it applies to the unsaved as well. All the works of darkness are known to God, and nothing is hidden from Him. All the unsaved will be held accountable for their burden of sin. The greatest tragedy of all is that these people are going to go to hell because they rejected Christ’s free offer of salvation.

Ferguson is a microcosm of what happens when people’s sinful desires hold sway. The message we should take from these riots is this: DON’T follow your heart. Follow God.

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Watching Sports…or Not.

This is the twenty-first century. We have the internet superhighway. We have high-speed internet access, and more wifi hotspots than Starbucks stores. So why is it so hard to watch sports?

Case in point: I’m trying to watch football. The other four people in my house hate football, so when I watch it, they have to do something else so they don’t have to watch football. I think I caught one of them doing chores yesterday so she wouldn’t have to watch football.

I want to watch football, but I don’t want to monopolize the television either. We only have one television. The obvious choice is to purchase a second television and connect that to DirecTV as well. Unfortunately DirecTV tells me that in order to do that, I would have to pay them $100. I would also have to buy a second television. So we’re looking at about $300 any way you slice it.

I asked them, is there a way I can watch football on my computer? Can I get the second receiver and plug it directly into my computer’s HDMI port? That way I only pay $100. No, they say. That won’t work.

Then they mention that I could download a program called “DirecTV2PC.” With this program, they say, I can watch all the programs I have recorded on my DVR directly on my computer. Only problem? I downloaded it, and it gives me this error:

DirecTV2PC

Actual screenshot from my computer.

In case you can’t read that, it says “DirecTV2PC cannot display this video because your graphics card does not currently support screen capture protection for protected content. Try updating your graphics card driver or modify your driver settings.” I went to Nvidia (my graphics card manufacturer) and made sure that my graphics card driver was current. Then I tried running the program again. Same error.

So I did a google search for this problem and found out that people have been having this error for the past five years or so. Some people suggested certain work-arounds (like turning your theme to “high contrast black” which makes your computer look like a Goth version of Windows 95. None of these worked for me.

At that point, I decided to call DirecTV and ask them what to do. The third option is called “GenieGO,” which is a device that I could plug into my receiver and use an app on my computer or iPad to access my DVR’ed programs (including sports games). But guess what? It costs $135. So I asked DirecTV, “How can I get this DirecTV2PC program to work?” Their answer: try to find a third-party program to install that will allow you to use our program on your computer.

You read that right. They want ME to fix THEIR software problem.

I asked them, “Well, since your program isn’t working correctly, is there any consideration you guys can give me on the GenieGO device? Like maybe a reduced price or even free?” Nope.

There are four basic times that NFL games are played during the week: Thursday night, Sunday afternoon, Sunday night, and Monday night. You can watch all of them on television (every game, if you have NFL Sunday Ticket) or using a Verizon device (for me, that’s my cell phone). Monday night games can be seen on the above OR on WatchESPN.com or the Watch ESPN app if you have a cable provider that has an agreement with ESPN. DirecTV doesn’t.

Back to my original point: We live in the 21st century. There should be a way to have access to all of these games on any computer, for a price. There isn’t. Same thing happens with baseball: I want to watch Cubs games, but I’m in their blackout zone, so I can pay money to have access to all the live games I could ever want…..except for Cubs games. It’s asinine. All I know is that the NFL and the MLB need to get their acts together so people can watch their games.

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Logos Bible Software

LogosBibleSoftwareIn 1997 I purchased a software program called “Logos.”  That word is pronounced like “LAW-goss”, not “low-goes”.  It is the Greek word for “word.” and refers to the fact that it is a bible software program, the Bible being the “Word of God.”   I liked the software and used it, even though back then many of my friends were pushing me towards QuickVerse at the time.  When I became a pastor in 2002 I purchased the upgrade to their “Libronix” program, (along with a large amount of resources) which was essentially version 2 of their original program. I used this program all through my pastorate, and it was very helpful. Then I upgraded to version 3.  In 2010 I upgraded to version 4, because they said that if I upgraded, I would be able to access my library via my Bible app on iOS as well as their website biblia.com.  Both of these are very helpful, and I’m glad I upgraded at that point.

I think it was last year they started telling me I should upgrade to version 5, because it was faster, better, etc than version 4.  I held out, because in truth I don’t use the program very much in my work as a nurse.  It’s more for personal use, and for when I teach the odd Sunday school class or Wednesday night service.  But in April I caved and upgraded to the Bronze level of version 5.  In doing so, I have paid more money, but I can detect no noticeable difference from version 4. Just last week they announced version 6, which is supposed to be even better. The only consistent feature of these upgrades is that they get money out of me.

I looked at the new system, and there’s only one benefit I can see: they are including the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia in the base package.  This means that if I wanted to get rid of the four giant volumes on my bookshelf and buy the digital version, I can either pay them $80 for the ISBE resource, or I can upgrade to Logos 6 for $80.  Well I don’t have $80 right now, so I’m going to hold off until I do, but I got an email today from Logos with glowing reviews of their new version, and it prompted me to write my own review.  Here it is:

You want a product review? I use Logos about once a week to read books that have been published for years or (in most cases) decades or centuries. Every time I open the program it wants to download an update. Then it wants to spend time indexing, installing the update, restarting, indexing again, and generally takes me about five minutes to get it to where I can start using it. My computer is not slow. Just so you know I have a PC with an i7-3630QM CPU at 2.4 Ghz and 8gb of RAM. This should be more than fast enough to run Logos, and yet the indexing, installing, and restarting takes about five minutes for some reason, when all I want to do is look up a Bible verse or read a section of a commentary. I don’t know why it takes five minutes to download a 50 megabyte update, because my connection speed is about 20 megabits per second. According to my math, a 50 megabyte update should take approximately 20 seconds.

The funny thing is that your website biblia.com and the “Bible!” iOS app are more helpful to me than your actual program, because they provide instant access to my resources. I upgraded to version 5 this spring with the expectation that this would make the program faster, but it didn’t. I can see no noticeable change, and the main reason I upgraded was to get access to a Hebrew Interlinear Bible, which I was promised when I upgraded, but still have not received access to.

For your information, I opened Logos the moment I started typing this email. It’s been 11 minutes, and now it’s going to start indexing. I’ll let you know when it’s done, and how long it takes.

I wish I could give a positive review for your product, but the ease of use doesn’t really allow me to do so. It’s like you sold me a really good car that has all sorts of features, but you have to start the car and let it sit there for 20 minutes before you can ever put it in drive: not practical or particularly useful. 16 minutes now and indexing is 25% done.

I do like the program once it gets done with the preliminaries, but if I could go back, I would have simply stuck with Logos 4, which allowed me access to the books via your iOS app, which is the last positive benefit of upgrading I have experienced. 17 minutes 30 seconds and we are 33% indexed.

Another problem that I’ve been having is that on my iPad, when I open the Bible! app it now includes the footnotes, which take up a large percentage of the bottom of the screen. I would like to go back to the old way, where I could tap the footnote indicator and read the footnote as a popup instead of viewing all the footnotes at once, but I don’t see any option to hide the footnotes. In other words, I’d like the app to be more customizable. 20 minutes in, 45% complete.

It just finished. 25 minutes after I started your program, it is fully updated, indexed, and ready for me to do a bible search for “patience.”

This is the message I get when I try to open the program.

Tell me about it.

Do I recommend Logos? Yes.  But as I said, it has issues.  I would give it three out of five stars.

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