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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Chicken Wings Recipe

For your festivities this evening, I give you my Chicken Wings Sauce recipe ...

One bag of frozen chicken wings, cooked for 45 minutes on 425 degrees. After the wings are done, cook the sauce and mix together. Sauce Mix: In a sauce pan mix on low, 1/2 cup Franks Red Hot Sauce, 1/2 cup butter/margarine, a dash of Worstershire sauce and sugar to taste (about 1/4 cup). If you want the sance hotter, just add more Hot Sauce, otherwise this is not a hot wings sauce. It's more sweet and tangy. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

BigIdea.com: VeggieTales - Gideon: Tuba Warrior

Pirates Who Don't Do Anything. Parades. Marching bands. Gideon. Billy Graham. George Müller. Hawaiian uekelele music. All these and more in one great VeggieTale: Gideon: Tuba Warrior. This is my new favorite VeggieTale and in my opinion, the most creative and funniest they have ever done.

"Lance the Turtle. Aloha Lance. Lance the Turtle, dance, dance, dance!" After you hear the latest Silly Song about Lance the Turtle, it will be permanently stuck in your head and will play over and over and over ...

Just the fact they introduced the George Müller story to children is wonderful and amazing. If you have never read his story you can check out he wonderful & miraculous details of his life here: George Muller Evangelist, Orphanages, Bristol, England - Christian Biography Resources.

My Growing Church

My fabulous church is growing. I just got an email from my pastor:
We are in the top 2% of effective churches
Only 2% of churches in America grow by at least 5% for two years in a row. Our recent average attendances (church year ends in April) have been
2004: 294
2005: 319
2006: 337
2007: 369 (so far)

Government Subsidizes Cohabitation by Michael J. McManus

Here's a long but significant quote from an article by columnist Michael J. McManus posted at Virtueonline.org:
However, did you know that the government is subsidizing cohabitation for low income people, which fuels its growth? A rule of economics is that whatever is subsidized, will grow.

For example, if a man in California working full time at $7 an hour cohabits with a woman working half-time at the same pay, their combined monthly income is $1,820. However, if she has two children the government supplements her income by $196 a month in an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). She also receives $440 a month in welfare, $114 in food stamps and a big $662 monthly in housing subsidy. Including other subsidies, her monthly income is $2,106, yet she pays no taxes. In fact, her EITC comes from the IRS.

By contrast, her live-in boy friend earns $1,213 a month, receives no subsidies, pays $157 a month in taxes and, as the father of her children, pays $200 in child support. That reduces his income to $857; however combined with her income and other subsidies, the couple has an income of $2,963 a month if they are cohabiting, and don't report it to the IRS.

What if they marry? First, they lose her $440 welfare check and their food stamp allotment is cut from $114 to $68 a month. The housing subsidy drops from $662 to $445, and the EITC falls Why?

The government assumes her need is less since she has access to his earned income.

However, if they are living together, she already has access to that income. The bottom line is that if the cohabiting couple marries, even though he no longer pays child support, their combined income will drop from $2,963 a month to $2,552. Their annual income falls from or $35,556 a year to $30,624.

Thus, government is paying this couple $5,000 a year NOT to marry.

Old Abandoned Buildings of Northern New York page 1

I absolutely love the Old Abandoned Buildings of Northern New York site but then again I love old buildings. I love the old architecture of the 1800's and early 1900's found throughout New England and especially upstate New York. You can see the beauty of what was. Go waste some time here and enjoy the eye candy.

Cyber sisters - 12/26/06 - The Detroit News Online

Nuns are becoming internet savvy and their communities are growing.

Feed the Pig

Feed the Pig is a creative public service campaign encouraging young people to save and take control of their finances. We bought our kids digital banks for Christmas with their own play ATM cards. Kinda fun. They like 'em.

VirtueOnline: The way we live now - by Geoffrey Kirk

A fascinating article about the Episcopal Church and it's new gospel: trading in the Nicene Creed for the United Nations Millenium Development Goals.

Welcome to The Barna Group!

I saw a list recently that spouted a bunch of names as the most influential evangelicals ... people like Osteen, Warren, Graham, others ... when in reality, one of the most influential evangelicals is is that great purveyor of data, George Barna of The Barna Group. Everybody I know quotes Barna eventually.

Did you know he started a new ministry News & Press at Good News Holdings? There mission and vision:

Mission Statement

Good News Holdings exists to provide resources that encourage biblical principles and values that lead to transformation by challenging the mind, capturing the heart, refreshing the soul and pleasing God.

Vision Statement

Good News Holdings will create, produce and deliver inspirational media that, simultaneously, entertain, educate and minister to the audience. Success is measured in terms of consistency with the Word, the life transformation of our audience, and the efficient stewardship of our resources toward advancing the kingdom of God.

There is an absolutely fascinating article about it: New York Times Article - 12/10/06 at Good News Holdings.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Spiritual Formation

I have this audio sermon by Bill Hybels at Moody's Founder's Week from several years ago. I transcribed a quote that is stuck in my thinking ...

"How is Christ deeply formed in a person's life? Do you just pour knowledge into a new Christian and does that make them mature? Do you just have them stay within certain guidelines, do you put down certain expectations, do you say 'If you attend these meetings and give a certain amount of money?' Is it external? Is it internal? Is it a combination of both? How does Christ take up residency and become fully formed in someone's life?

We're (Willowcreek) asking those questions these days and the working outline of what we're working on is that there are certain practices, relationships and experiences ... that contribute to Christ being deeply formed in someone's life."
"Certain practices, relationships and experiences ..." That's a working definition or process of spiritual formation/discipleship. For a person to become a fully devoted they need certain practices, relationships and experiences. That's a great working outline? Now the new question is, "What are those certain practices, relationships and experiences?" Any comments?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


If you haven't been to nakedreligion in a while, check it out and read some of BJB's musings and wisdom from Kenya.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Spiritual Formation

I'm working on a project that I would like your input. I've asked a couple pastors to help me with but would like the input of others. Please comment on this post.

For years Willowcreek has had as their mission statement, "turning irreligious people into fully devoted followers of Christ." I listened to a sermon by Hybels some time back where he lamented that for years that was their mission statement but they had no way of measuring whether or not they were doing it.

You may not use or like Willow's terminology so replace it with your own if necessary but what does a fully devoted follower of Christ look like in your ministry context? How do you know if you have one? What are the measuring standards?

What processes do you have in place to create a fully devoted follower? How does discipleship happen? How do you chart progress and momentum for the individual and congregation?

If I'm asking the wrong questions altogether, just say so. I'm interested in how discipleship or spiritual formation takes place in your context and how you measure as to whether or not you are making progress.

Hopefully I'll post the replies of some other ministry colleagues here.


A free Mac application every day through the end of the year. Thanks Xorey.

Friday, December 15, 2006

WWNY: North Country's Finest: The Crystal Restaurant

I love Tom-n-Jerry's. I don't know how to explain one to you but its like a buttery, frothy, warm drink with a shot of whiskey or something ... I dunno, but they're good.


Perspective: thoughts on life, faith, infertility, and adoption is the blog of Pastor Cathy Stanley-Erickson. She is co-pastor with her husband Jim of Arbor Covenant Church in Madison, WI.

Anglican News

All this Anglican news is losing its news appeal. It used to be these far fetched headlines that you think would never come true. But they all did. Here's some new ones from VirtueOnline:

CHURCH OF ENGLAND: Evangelicals Will Break With Liberal Bishops

George Washington's Church Leaves Denomination

Rowan Williams warned of Church anarchy

Historic churches are leaving the Episcopal Church. The Church of England is now experiencing schism. The entire Anglican Communion is in flux.

Welcome - International Community Church

Looking for a pastor position at an evangelical church in the UK? Go here.

Care Net

A couple businessmen from my fantastic church and some others are working to establish a Care Net for Watertown and the north country. Carenet is a Christian crisis pregnancy ministry. I've committed to help with this project also.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Random stuff ...

I'm on my monthly pilgrimage to northern Minnesota this week. Grand Rapids is a great little town with seemingly absolutely no night life. I stay at the Saw Mill Inn for $59 a night, swim in the pool and hot tub and drink smoothies at a nice little cafe. Most of the time I'm working 10+ hours a day and wishing I was home. Tomorrow I'll be in Hibbing.

MyWay News: Jeff Bagwell retires.
My favorite baseball player of all time has retired. A sad day in baseball history. Bag's epitomized the way the game is to be played and respected. He came to the Astros in one of baseball's worst trades ever. The Boston Red Sox traded a young rookie Jeff Bagwell to the Astros for veteran middle reliever Larry Anderson. Anderson had a really mediocre career and wasn't long for the BoSox. Bagwell will go to the Hall of Fame one day.

Mets and Orioles to Meet in 2007 Hall of Fame Game on May 21

One of my favorite days of the year is when I go to the Baseball Hall of Fame game with my Pop and my 3 older kids. They have a great little small-town parade with antique fire trucks, marching bands, people throwing candy and it ends with the trollies with the players on board. I'm a member of the Hall of Fame and will get to buy tix on Feb 17: $11 each.

The Detroit News Online: Bob Seger Ramblin' Again
Bob Seger is back touring again. I've always been a Seger fan. I remember roller skating in competitions back in high school to Old Time Rock-n-Roll. Bob Seger website. Black River, NY is not on any of his tour dates.

TinyURL.com - shorten that long URL into a Tiny URL

I saw this link at VirtueOnline.org. If you want to shorten, hide and redirect a URL, drap and drop it at this web site.

Open Hearts Ministry

I saw a Covenant Church using this ministry. I don't know much about it but it appears to be a small group, peer based ministry for people who have been abused. If you have participated in this ministry or know anything about it, please leave a comment. Thanks.

Louie Giglio - Online Sermons
:: 268 GENERATION ::

I have a friend who keeps recommending these links. I haven't listened to any sermons yet but hope to check them out over the next couple weeks.

New York Times: One Punk Under God

The infamous televangelists Jim & Tammy Faye Baker's son Jay is a minister. The apple appears to have fallen some distance from the tree. Here is a New York Times article about his ministry and life. FYI: Apparently Tammy Faye is gravely ill.

A Family at Cross-Purposes - washingtonpost.com

This is a seriously sad story to hit the press. Franklin Graham wants to bury his parents at the Billy Graham library being built in Charlotte. Ruth Graham doesn't want any part of it. So there's this family squabble with the Washington Post giving all the details. What a sad, sad, story.

'Convert or die' game divides Christians / Some ask Wal-Mart to drop Left Behind

Do we really wonder why the larger culture makes fun of Christians? Convert or die video games? Boo. Hiss.

The New Yorker : The Good Book Business

The New Yorker is reporting that the Bible is the best selling book ... again.

I think this is a shame. Why does the Bible have to be the best selling book? I'm on a crusade to make it the most freely given away book. I've been on this kick for a while. There may ultimately be hell to pay for people who make a profit from the Word of God. I just wouldn't feel good about my prospects when I show up before God and say, "I made a ton of cash off of selling your Word."

International Bible Society Bible Distribution in the North Country
Interestingly enough, I was contacted this week by an International Bible Society rep who wants to work with the Watertown Daily Times and the churches on the north country on a special Bible distribution for our area.

Here's the program: The cost is $2 per NT. They create a special NT with pictures from the community and testimonies from local people. The community forms a leadership team to help with publicity and fundraising. The distribution is through the local newspaper. The WDT's subscriber base is about 28,000 but we could do a distribution to every home in the county which is something like 60,000. I recommend the latter. It takes about 6 months to create the special NT, about 6 months for fundraising and publicity and the distritribution could take place at Easter or Christmas in 2008.

Actually I recommend something even bigger. I think the IBS and the north country clergy should work together to get every city in upstate NY involved and do a distribution to everyone in upsate New York. Yes. I did say everyone in upstate NY. Let's think big and live dangerously for God. I know someone who could arrange the whole thing.

And I further recommend that every church in the community have a Beginner's Bible Study or something like an Alpha course beginning the weeks following the distribution. A web site should be created for the project and would list every church, links to their web site and information about how someone who just received one of these New Testaments could get in involved in a Bible study and church.

I have committed to help with this project.

Stats from VirtueOnline.org ...

"MORE STATISTICS: Two million ethnic Muslims converted to Christianity and were baptized in Russia this while only 2.5 thousand Russians converted to Islam.

'Christianization happens not so much as a result of some purposeful missionary activity (in which only Protestants are engaged) as under the influence of Russian culture which has express Christian roots', Islamic researcher Silantyev said in an interview published this week by the Itogi weekly. 'The assimilation of ethnic and religious minorities is an inevitable process in any society. In Russia it is accelerated due to extremist activities', he said. Source Interfax."

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Serious use for Silly String

Silly string is now an essential tool in the war on terror. Every soldier needs some.

Missionary Church Florida District Tools Page

Here is a great set of tools on this page. A lot of good church planting stuff.

I did not know about the Missionary Church previously but it appears as a great evangelical movement.

VirtueOnline: ENGLAND: Evil-minded parishioners making life hell for clergy

Irritable Clergy Sydrome.

Here is a quote from a recent Virtueonline post regarding a new clergy malady:

"Churches in Britain are a 'toxic cocktail' of bullying and terror, as parish priests struggle to lead congregations dominated by neurotic worshippers who spread havoc with gossip and manipulation.

The 'dark side' of parish life is detailed in a report published by the Church of England, which describes how peace and love are in desperately short supply in the pews of churches this Christmas.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is among the contributors to the report, The Future of the Parish System: Shaping the Church of England for the 21st Century.

One of the authors, Sara Savage, a psychology and religion researcher at the University of Cambridge, reports how increasing numbers of ministers are going down with a new illness,
irritable clergy syndrome.

Priests are being torn by the pressure of having to be nice all the time to everyone, even when confronted with extremes of nastiness, she says."

I laughed when I read this. I wonder what the DSM-IV characteristics are for Irritable Clergy Syndrome. I'm sure I have it. I've been irritable for years.

Why do they have to be nice all the time? Is "nice" a Biblical virtue? What about when St. Paul says about the heretics mandating circumcision in Galatians that he wished they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves. All said in Christian love of course.

Maybe we need a few more clergy like the famous Peter Cartwright, known to fight with drunkards and once said to then General and future President Andrew Jackson, "that he would be damned to Hell just as quickly as any other man if he did not repent."

Maybe we need to stop being so nice at church and bring back church discipline. Just a thought.

Irritable Clergy Syndrome . . . you gotta be kidding me. This could be from LarkNews.com.

Christmas cards are losing their religious message | the Daily Mail

This reminds me of a story. Someone I know was in a store in the greeting card section several years ago buying an Easter card. My friend overheard two women talking. One picks up a card, holds it up to the other and says, "Oh will you look at this! Now they are trying to make Easter a religious holiday!" True story.

Friday, December 08, 2006

VirtueOnline: ROME: St Paul's tomb found under altar

The remains of St. Paul have been found! I wonder if we can still take handkerchiefs and touch him and then go and heal people and perform miracles. That would be very cool.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Nothing But Nets campaign

Every now and then we blow some money ... impulse shopping for candy, clothes, gadgets, toys, etc. or blow some money on entertainment. How about today you blow $10 on saving a life and buy a mosquito net at Nothing But Nets campaign. Watch the video of Rick Reilly

Think Christian: Christian vs. Christ-follower (PC vs. Mac parody)

Have you seen the PC vs. Mac commercials on TV? Community Christian Church has done a great parody of them but with Christian vs. Christ-follower. Oh my, extremely funny and well done!

Caring For Your Shepherd

The following article was compiled from several sources by Jodi Eidnes, the fantastic office administrator at the office of the Great Lakes Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church. She graciously granted me permission to "reprint" it here. Thank you Jodi.

Caring for the Shepherd

As we remember and celebrate the birth of our Great Shepherd and Lord, Jesus Christ, let us remember, celebrate and care for the local shepherds in whose care we have been placed. The pastor of the local church is a precious gift from God that can be a great blessing to the congregation. However if this gift is not cared for and used with consideration the outcome can be great pain for everyone. Unfortunately, according to recent studies, it would appear that the average US pastor may feel like his/her position in ministry more closely resembles a burden than a gift.

The following information and the excerpt in italics is mainly taken from "Midwinter to Focus on Healthier Pastor Lifestyles" an article from the ECC's website, covchurch.org, which was published on January 13, 2006.

Pastors' health has been declining dramatically since the 1950s when studies found ministers to be among the healthiest professionals, experiencing lower disease rates and longer life spans. Later studies beginning in 1983 found Protestant clergy to have the highest overall work-related stress of any religious professional and one of the highest risks of heart disease of any profession.

The ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) has discovered that their average pastor is depressed, overweight, overworked, reports considerable work related stress and wouldn't recommend their children following them into the ministry. These results are not limited to the ELCA but can be found to be true of pastors in many denominations even the Covenant.

A combination of factors have contributed to this situation:

* Fewer volunteers available within the church
* Greater, sometimes unrealistic, sometimes unclear, expectations of church congregations
* Increased pastoral work load causing many pastors to work long days, attend numerous evening meetings and counseling sessions, be available 24hrs for emergencies as well as using their weekends to plan, prepare and conduct worship services
* Clergy salaries have not kept pace with workload, nor have they kept pace with the salaries of other comparable professions
* Overall respect for clergy has declined, in the church as well as in the community
* Church conflict
* Sedentary lifestyle

What has the church in America done to its pastors? How can we turn this around or keep it from happening to our pastors? We asked the pastors of the Great Lakes Conference what they needed from their congregations in order to feel loved and cared for so that their ministry may be a joy and not a burden. They said . . .

Things that I (your pastor) need:

1. I need you to pray for me. Prayers for my ministry (worship planning, sermon preparation, pastoral care, administrative duties, time management, etc.); for my spiritual health, for my own closeness to God; for my relationships, especially for my marriage, which is foundational to all my other human relationships; and for my emotional and physical well-being, which I'm always being tempted to neglect.

2. I need to know that you hear me. If something you heard in a sermon has made a difference for you, posed a challenge, made you question an assumption, gave you a word of comfort, whatever, let me know about it! Most of the time I feel like I'm preaching into a vacuum. Are my sermons having an effect?

3. I need to know what your needs are. Let me know your needs and the challenges you're facing, especially your spiritual needs and challenges. I'm here to walk with you in your journey. If I don't always ask, it certainly doesn't mean I don't care -- it probably means I'm respecting your personal space and timing.

4. I need to be included. It would be great if the congregation would invite me and my family to participate in their family holiday gatherings. Pastor's usually sacrifice by living a great distance from their relatives and often spend holidays without them. Offer to make us a part of your family.

5. I need care and consideration from the congregation when I and/or my family is in crisis. The pastor doesn't have a pastor so it can be very lonely when there is a crisis in the pastor's life. It would be appreciated if the church would be a pastor to me during times of crisis. Call me, send me notes, let me know you care.

6. I need encouragement. I feel cared for and encouraged when you send me notes to thank me or encourage me to hang in there, when you hug me and thank me when I least expect it, when you share the fruits of your garden with me, when you talk to me about the report I gave in the council meeting (and you can because you were listening to me), when you tell me that you see God working in the church, when you put to use what I am teaching.

7. I need for the congregation to willingly volunteer. It would be great if people would call me and ask how they can help to do the work of the church.

8. I need for my home to be my home and for it to be in good repair. When a pastor lives in a parsonage, the church needs to respect the parsonage as the pastor's home. Do not barge in and tromp around, saying you have the right because the church owns the house. On the other hand because the church does own the house, the congregation is responsible for keeping the parsonage in good repair as a safe and decent place for the pastor and the pastor's family to live.

9. I need for you to know about and celebrate with me the important events in my life -- my birthday, my anniversary, the day I was ordained, the day I was installed at the church.

10. I need to be allowed to rest. I need daily time away, to be by myself and with my family. I need regular intervals to study, pray, retreat and go on vacation.

11. I need for you to take seriously that you are a part of the body of Christ. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself. Know that God has a purpose for our church and that you and each person in the congregation has a purpose in the church. Love and care for each other as precious children of God, bearing with and forgiving one another. Move purposefully through conflict toward healing in order to preserve the unity of the body and the joy of the Spirit.

Talking to Your Pastor -- from a pastor's point of view

You need to talk to your pastor when something is bugging you about your church. It could be a comment made during worship, an issue that needs addressing, a particular individual, or the way the sanctuary is decorated. Pastors want you to communicate with them and not "around" them. However, there are two times when NOT to unburden yourself to your pastor about these things.

First, don't corner your pastor right before worship. He/She is trying to focus on leading the congregation in meaningful worship. Your comments will direct your pastor away from the focus of the day, overwhelm them and sap their enthusiasm for entering the Lord's presence. Second, don't corner your pastor right after worship. He/She is concerned about meeting people and sharing with them. To bring up a "concern" (criticism) pulls the pastor away from a positive event (worship) and diminishes whatever joy there should be.

I repeat, pastors want you to communicate with them and not "around" them. But Sunday Morning is not the time. It may be "convenient" for the individual, but it is not good timing for the pastor. If you have a beef, call up your pastor and make an appointment during the week. Have the decency and integrity to care for your pastor by not invading the sacred space that surrounds worship. By doing so, you will honor and care for your pastor far more than you will ever know.

So…. Most of your pastors were installed at your churches during a worship service using the Covenant "Book of Worship". In that service the congregation was charged to: receive the word of God through their pastor with meekness and love, to undergird their pastor in the labor that would be done in the service of God, to remember that their pastor is God's servant and that they the congregation as God's stewards are to supply their pastor's needs in a way that is pleasing to God and an honor to the congregation. You were further charged to esteem your pastors highly for their calling as your pastor and to accept him/her as your spiritual leader. When questioned if you would do these things everyone said– WE WILL.

This Advent and through the new year, say again WE WILL and mean it.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Google Tools Experiment

I really like Google's online tools. I'll be trying an experiment with them soon. I'm working with a leadership team in a far away city where I am going to propose they use Google Docs & Spreadsheets and Google Calendars for internal communications. The leadership team is comprised of about 15-20 leaders, who lead ministry teams. Each team can post their minutes on the site. If they meet someplace that has internet access, whoever is taking minutes can update them in real time. Documents can be made available for everyone to view or only certain invited persons. People can be invited to be collaborators for multiple persons to be able to edit a document. No one will have to email me minutes or meeting dates and they'll be able to see my schedule when I'll be back in town. I can monitor progress from over 1000 miles away and so can my boss who lives in yet another state. And I can get them Gmail account.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

VirtueOnline: Study Finds New Evidence that Childhood Family Factors Influence Sexual Orientation

Yet another non-sectarian study defying the myth that homosexuality is in-born.

God. Coffee. Chocolate. All the essentials.

Saw this graphic at a church site ...

Ririan Project

The Ririan Project a self improvement site with a lot of interesting ideas. If your life is messy like mine, every little bit of wisdom helps.

New York Times: Episcopal Diocese Votes to Secede From Church

Episcopal Diocese Votes to Secede From Church - New York Times

Still thinking the Episcopal Church isn't having a schism? Will an entire Diocese defecting from the church convince you? If not, ...

"The following video was taped by Archbishop Greg Venables, Primate of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone (in South America) and is addressed to the people of the Diocese of San Joaquin (ECUSA) after their most recent 2006 Diocesan Convention." from virtueonline.org

That's right. This is a video of a Primate in the Anglican Communion openly talking about supporting churches that are defecting from the Episcopal Church. From what he says future plans will be made in February.

Tell the Story

Tell the Story is the web site of evangelist R. York Moore. A couple of years ago I heard him speak about reaching a post modern generation. He is passionate and compelling. York was born into an atheist family but it didn't stick. Interesting web site too.


I haven't bought anything at Boddit yet, but this looks like a really super helpful shopping site.

ABC News: A Second Life After Sin

A great story about a woman who worked as a stripper and became a Christian. She now ministers to women still stuck in the business. It's ironic that women who are strippers are so "wanted" but feel so alone, unloved, used and unwanted. Experiencing the love of Christ is so compelling to them.

Monday, December 04, 2006

One of my favorite jokes ...

Once upon a time Pastor & Mrs. Johnsrud visited Italy on a tour of the historical sites from the life of St. Paul. Before the trip, they made arrangements through their denominational missions office to visit with an Italian pastor and his wife, Pastor & Mrs. Santangelo.

Now the Johnsruds were from a very conservative church in the Midwest and very excited to see the sites from the life of their hero St. Paul. The Johnsruds had never traveled much and this was their first trip outside of the US.

After enjoying the tour of Italy, the Johnsruds called upon the Santangelos where they were welcomed graciously. As they entered the home, the Santangelos brought them to the dining room where while Mr. & Mrs. Santangelo went to the kitchen to retrieve the feast that had been prepared for dinner.

As they re-entered the room with the food, Pastor Santangelo could see something was wrong. Pastor Johnsrud had a ghastly look on his face. Pastor Santangelo quickly scanned the table and saw the problem. Wine. As was their custom, when they set the table for dinner they put out a large carafe of wine. They had insensitively forgotten that this might make the Johnsruds uncomfortable, as good evangelical pastors from the US would never drink wine.

Pastor Santangelo quickly seized the moment and exclaimed, "You American pastors are absolutely astounding. Your spiritual power is amazing!" Pastor Johnsrud was taken aback and said, "What do you mean?" Pastor Santangelo replied, "When I put that carafe on the table before you arrived it was water! Now look at it!"