Monday, December 13, 2004

[Poetry] Visitor From The Past

by Thelen Paulk

I had a dream the other night I didn't understand.
A figure walking through the mist with a flintlock in his hand.
His clothes were torn and dirty, as he stood there by my bed.
He took off his three cornered hat and speaking low, he said:

We fought a revolution, to secure our liberty.
We wrote the Constitution, as a shield from tyranny.
For future generations, this legacy we gave,
In this, the land of the free and the home of the brave.

You buy permits to travel, and permits to own a gun.
Permits to start a business, or to build a place for one.
On land that you believe you own, you pay a yearly rent.
Although you have no voice in choosing, how the money's spent.

Your children must attend a school that doesn't educate.
Your Christian values can't be taught, according to the state.
You read about the current news in a regulated press.
You pay a tax you do not owe, to please the foreign I.R.S.

Your money is no longer made of silver, or of gold.
You trade your wealth for paper, so your lives can be controlled.
You pay for crimes that make our Nation turn from God in shame.
You've taken Satan's number, as you've traded in your name.

You've given government control, to those who do you harm,
So they can padlock churches, and steal the family farm.
And keep our country deep in debt, put men of God in jail.
Harass your fellow countrymen, while corrupted courts prevail.

Your public servants don't uphold the solemn oath they've sworn.
They defy and rape the nation, and leave it's fabric tattered, torn.
Your leaders ship artillery and guns to foreign shores.
And send your sons to slaughter, fighting other people's wars.

Can you regain the freedom for which we fought and died?
Or don't you have the courage, or the faith to stand with pride?
Are there no more values for which you'll fight to save?
Or do you wish your children to live in fear as a slave?

People of the Republic arise and take a stand!
Defend the Constitution, the Supreme Law of the Land!
Preserve our Great Republic, and God Given Right!
And pray to God, to keep the torch of Freedom burning
As I awoke he vanished, in the mist from whence he came.
His words were true, we are not Free, we have ourselves to blame.
For even now as tyrants trample each God Given Right,
We only watch and tremble, too afraid to stand and fight.

If he stood by your bedside, in a dream, while you're asleep,
And wonders what remains of our Rights he fought so hard to keep,
What would be your answer, if he called out from the grave;

Posted by Jim Bob Howard to Poetry at 12/13/2004 01:19:31 PM

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

[Advice] Using 'topics' or 'categories' in Blogger

So you want to have Topics/Categories in Blogger...

It's easy... once you've done all the hard stuff.

[UPDATE: As with most things, there are more than one way to do Topics/Categories... See the comments for this post for more options. Thanks, Everyone! —JBH]

As has been posted elsewhere on Blogger, the way to go about this is to have a separate blog set up for each Topic you wish to have. For example, you'll notice that I have 7 topics (when this entry was written) listed on the left sidebar. If you hover over the links, you'll see that each is actually its own blog ('Home' is the main blog).

The way they're "posted" to the main blog is by setting a BlogSend Address on each topic (use the same one for each topic). This "catcher" email account must have the ability to filter incoming emails and forward them out to a different email address. Your email filter will then post your blog topic entries back to the main blog.

So, whenever you want to set up a new topic, you simply click on the "GET YOUR OWN BLOG" link at the top right of the screen, then follow the instructions below and your new topic will show up on your main blog.

Set up "Main" Blog

The first thing you want to do is set up your main blog. Blogger will help you with all of that. I suggest setting up your topics with the same template and description as your main blog, so you'll want to make note of those things for the future setup of the topics.

Special settings for the main blog. Two things need to be set up for the main blog to "catch" the categories.

The first is on the blog itself. Go to Settings and then click on Email. You'll need to identify a Mail-to-Blogger Address and check the Publish box. Remember the address you set up; you'll need it for the second thing. This is the email address you can use to 'send' a blog entry to your blog for publish.

Next, you'll need to decide on an email box where you can route your topics back to main. I use Google's Gmail, which has great filtering abilities. You'll need to set up a filter that will take your blog topics and forward them to the "Mail-to-Blogger Address" you set up on your main blog. You'll have to experiment with the filter options to make sure only your blog entries are forwarded to the main blog.

(Note: When using Gmail, I also "Skip the Inbox" and give it a label of "Blog.")

Creating a "Topic" Blog

Now, you're ready to create a topic. Simply create a new blog. Give it a name (don't include the main blog's name) and a URL (I recommend that you include the main blog's name).

Settings. Some things will be the same as the main blog, some things will be different.

Things that are the same: Description and Template. (We'll actually modify the Template in a future step, but you want the look and feel to be the same.)

Things that are NOT the same:

  • Basic - Add your Blog to our listing?: No
  • Comments - Comments: Hide
  • Site Feed - Publish Site Feed: No
  • Email - BlogSend Address:
  • Email - Mail-to-Blogger Address: blank

Now, if this is all you do, you can post entries to your Topic Blog and they'll show up on your main blog, eventually. I say, 'eventually,' because Blogger doesn't appear to post Mail-to-Blogger entries immediately. So, there will be a lag time where your item will be on your topic blog, but not the main.

[UPDATE - 9 June 2006: I'm not sure if Blogger has been reading through this post, but they seem to have fixed the lag time, too. Thanks, Blogger! —JBH]

Main v. Topic Templates

As I said, you'll want the Templates to look the "same," but there are some modifications you'll probably want to make to each to make the overall blog experience more seamless for your readers.

(For the purposes of these examples, I'll use "Billy Joe Jim Bob" as the title of the main blog.)

Title bar. The default page title—that is, the title that's displayed on your browser title bar—is the name of the blog. In this case, the name of the blog is simply your topic name, with no mention of the main blog at all. To remedy this, you'll need to make the following edit in your template.




<title>Billy Joe Jim Bob - <$BlogPageTitle$></title>
Page Title. Next, you'll want to modify the Title that appears on the page. Search your template for '$BlogTitle' and you should find something that looks like this.

<h1 id="blog-title">

<MainOrArchivePage><a href="<$BlogURL$">"></MainOrArchivePage>



(Aside. [The following is not required for posting topics, but is useful in understanding how the page will work. —JBH] The <MainOrArchivePage> tags tell Blogger to only show this part on the main page or an archive page for the blog. Basically this means it will not draw this portion of the code on the "detail" pages—the 'permalink' pages. In the above case, what that means is that the BlogTitle is not a link on the detail pages, but IS on the main and archive pages. I didn't like that "functionality" so I removed those tags from this section altogether.)

So, here's how that might look, showing the main blog title along with the topic. Note that I've chosen to make the main blog title be a link to the main blog.


<h1 id="blog-title">
<MainOrArchivePage><a href="<$BlogURL$">"></MainOrArchivePage>




<h1 id="blog-title">
<a href="">Billy Joe Jim Bob</a> - <a href="<$BlogURL$>"><$BlogTitle$></a>

Comments. Since you've hidden comments, you'll want to point your readers back to the main blog to leave comments on the post there. I haven't yet come up with an algorithm for pointing directly to the comments form of the given entry on the main blog, so I've simply added the following after the section that begins with 'posted by...'

<a class="comment-link" href="">Comment from the Home page</a>

Topics in sidebar. One last thing you'll probably want to do is add your topics to the template. Look for a line that looks like this:

<!-- Begin #sidebar -->
Under this line—placement at your discretion—you'll add something that looks like this:

<h2 class="sidebar-title">Topics</h2>

<ul class="archive-list">
<li><a href=""> Home</a></li>

<li><a href=""> Advice</a></li>

<li><a href=""> Beards</a></li>

<li><a href=""> Poetry</a></li>

<li><a href=""> Reading</a></li>

<li><a href=""> Scrapbook</a></li>

<li><a href=""> Thoughts</a></li>

(Caveat. Whenever you add a new topic, you'll need to update this section on all of your topics and the main and republish all of them.)

One more thing. One problem I've noticed with this method—at least when using Gmail—is that each post messes up the formatting on the main blog and you have to edit the post there to fix it. Unfortunately, Blogger sends <head> and <body> tags with the post to the BlogSend email address, and, unfortunately, Gmail just passes it on. What happens is that the HTML for the blog page then has two of each of these and it causes the Blogger NavBar to get hosed.

To fix it, edit the post in the main blog and remove those tags. Publish and it'll be fixed.

[UPDATE - 5 June 2006 Blogger has removed the head and body tags when posting to the BlogSend email address. Thanks, Blogger!! —JBH]


Having topics is a nice-to-have that Blogger doesn't offer. This is one way to make it do it. It's not a trivial process for the blogger, but it does offer some benefits to the reader.

Addenda and Errata. If you come up with some better processes to make this flow more smoothly, please let me know and I'll modify this entry on my blog. Likewise, if something is unclear or doesn't work the way I stated here, please let me know and I'll fix it.

As it has some value to many using this service, I will place a high-profile link on my blog so that it will always be easily accessible and edits will be easy to find.

Posted by Jim Bob Howard to Advice at 12/7/2004 08:22:02 AM

Monday, December 06, 2004

[Advice] The Twelve Days of Christmas -- Start a Holiday Tradition

Mike Noel has a great suggestion for you men out there looking to bless your wives. As he says, "it's not rocket science," but I'll let him share it with you in his own words.

Here's an excerpt:

"As Christmas approaches each year I look forward to continuing a tradition that I started a few years ago. On each of the twelve days leading up to Christmas Day I give my wife a small gift. While this idea was inspired by the song I don't actually give the gifts that the song suggests. She might like the five golden rings each year but I doubt she'd have much use for eight maids a milking, or the swans, or the geese, and so on. Instead, I give her small gifts that are sometimes sentimental, sometimes useful, and sometimes just funny."

Keeping reading...

Posted by Jim Bob Howard to Advice at 12/6/2004 08:58:26 AM

Thursday, December 02, 2004

[Poetry] The Patriarch

by Doug Phillips

More noble than the valiant deeds of shining knights of yore,
More powerful
than terran plights that make the rich man poor,
More kingly than an earthly throne or a lion with his pride,
Is he whose babes sleep well at night, sure Daddy will provide.

There is a spirit in this land, and Jezebel's her name.
She's calling you to leave your home for power, fun, and fame,
She wants your wife, your children, too; she'll never compromise,
Until your house is torn in two by listening to her lies.

But though a hundred thousand million men may fall prey to her lures,
And wives en masse leave home in search of more fulfilling chores,
Though preachers praise and friends embrace her pagan plan of death,
Stand strong and quit you like a man with every blessed breath.

Stand strong and rise, O man of God to meet this noble call.
The battle is not new you see, it's been here since the Fall.
Your wife is your helpmeet, my friend, not another man's,
So care for her and keep her far from Mistress Jezebel's plans.

Protect, provide, and give to her your undivided life,
This is the dear one of your youth, your precious bride, your wife.
Rally to those tiny ones who trust you for their care,
A lifetime spent discipling them is a lifetime pure and rare.

For when they put their hand in yours and know a daddy's love,
You're showing them a picture of the Father from above.
So look not to worldly goals of gain or for your liberty.
Look only into their sweet eyes to find your ministry.

Devote your heart and sacrifice and make your manly mark,
There is none so great as he who finds his call as PATRIARCH!

Posted by Jim Bob Howard to Poetry at 12/2/2004 07:33:38 PM

[Poetry] The Glove and the Lions

by James Leigh Hunt

King Francis was a hearty king, and loved a royal sport,
And one day, as his lions fought, sat looking on the court.
The nobles filled the benches, with the ladies in their pride,
And 'mongst them sat the Count de Lorge, with one for whom he sighed:
And truly 'twas a gallant thing to see that crowning show,
Valor and love, and a king above, and the royal beasts below.

Ramped and roared the lions, with horrid laughing jaws;
They bit, they glared, gave blows like beams, a wind went with their paws;
With wallowing might and stifled roar they rolled on one another,
Till all the pit with sand and mane was in a thunderous smother;
The bloody foam above the bars came whisking through the air;
Said Francis then, "Faith, gentlemen, we're better here than there."

De Lorge's love o'er heard the King, a beauteous lively dame,
With smiling lips and sharp bright eyes, which always seemed the same;
She thought, The Count my lover is brave as brave can be;
He surely would do wondrous things to show his love of me;
King, ladies, lovers, all look on; the occasion is divine;
I'll drop my glove, to prove his love; great glory will be mine.

She dropped her glove, to prove his love, then looked at him and smiled;
He bowed, and in a moment leaped among the lions wild:
The leap was quick, return was quick, he has regained his place,
Then threw the glove, but not with love, right in the lady's face.
"By Heaven," said Francis, "rightly done!" and he rose from where he sat;
"No love," quoth he, "but vanity, sets love a task like that."

Posted by Jim Bob Howard to Poetry at 12/2/2004 01:58:54 PM

[Poetry] Sonnet 116

by William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

(also prominent in the Emma Thompson screenplay version of "Sense and Sensibility" by Jane Austen)

Posted by Jim Bob Howard to Poetry at 12/2/2004 01:17:22 PM

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

[Thoughts] Thanksgiving Season

A good friend of mine recently related in an email his family's plan for "The Holidays" this year:

We really look forward to Thanksgiving, especially this year. This year we have decided to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day very differently.

What's it all about?
We have for years been perplexed to how to celebrate Christmas faithfully, deliberately, simply and wholeheartedly. Due to the common mixing together of religious traditions with secular traditions and rabid commercialism, we often felt more comfortable minimizing the seasonal religious traditions in an effort not to trivialize the name of Christ. We also did not want ourselves and our children to be immersed in selfish commercialism.

No matter what direction we would consider, we were left with questions such as:

  • Is the big deal about having a tree living deliberately?
  • How do we keep peace with grandparents and their traditions?
  • Do we really believe that it is better to give than to receive, and what's the point anyway?
  • Isn't Christmas Roman Catholic (Christ-Mass)?
  • Can we afford it?
  • What's wrong with having a good time?
  • What are we teaching the children and declaring about Christ before the world?

Well, I think we found what we were looking for. It all finally came together one evening after having the [pastor's family] over for supper. We had discussed the topic lightly, but just enough to get the wheels spinning again. I had declared that I thought Thanksgiving was the best holiday and that you could never be too thankful. We discussed the differences between families, with some celebrating the birth of Christ to some not celebrating at all. [Pastor] noted that they wait until New Year's Day to unwrapped presents with grandparents. When they left it fell together instantly.

Thanksgiving Season
We are going to celebrate Thanksgiving from November 23rd to January 1st. We will start the celebration with our traditional Thanksgiving feast with the inclusion of many prayers, hymns and songs of thanks, stories of Thanksgiving past, reading of the Word and more feasting throughout the day. This year we will be hosting both my parents, my brother, [my wife]'s parents and siblings and possibly an aunt.

The weekend following Thanksgiving day, we will obtain a 'Thanksgiving Tree.' This is not just a cop-out and relabeling of the Christmas tree. Each day leading up to Christmas Day, we will put ornaments on the Thanksgiving Tree that symbolize things that we are thankful for. This should fit nicely with all the family pictures we receive this time of year. Once we receive a picture we will create a ornament frame for it and hang it on the tree out of thanksgiving for that family in out lives.

No santas or elves. Only things deliberate and ascetically ornamenting.

Christmas... I mean... Thanksgiving Celebration
Then on Christmas day, we highlight our Thanksgiving by remembering the One we are most thankful for, the Gift of the eternal Son. We will spend the whole day celebrating Christ in worship, music, feasting, dancing and stories. No presents under the tree (other than those we plan to give to others) and no common 'reindeer games.' Our church does have a Christmas eve worship service that we will also participate in and we will likely go to some local Christmas choir concerts, but no parades and such.

We will really seek to elevate our celebration to a level of meaningful gratitude and deliberate participation. Even though our celebration will find its pinnacle on Christmas day, we will still call this celebration Thanksgiving throughout.

New Year's Party
And as the year comes to an end, we will summarize and recollect the events of the past year that we are thankful for and party once again with feasting on New Year's day as we petition our Lord for sanctification, contentment and greater faithfulness in the year ahead. We also will gather with family and open a few gifts from one another (maybe a slight compromise, but gift giving is good and we hope to learn how to give more faithfully also). [I read recently that we ought to be more thoughtful with our gift giving and give representations of ourselves in our gift because God the Father gave to us one that represents Him. Doug Wilson in My Life for Yours, I believe.]

We are also tossing out our Christmas stockings tradition and replacing with a new cornucopias tradition. It is still under development at the moment, but it has a promising start.

I only wish I lived close enough to this brother to partake in his celebration!

Posted by Jim Bob Howard to Thoughts at 11/10/2004 01:21:50 PM

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Where we were for two weekends in October...

by Dakota Tremayne

"The first time my family and I attended worship at St. Peter, we were overwhelmed with the depth of reverence of the congregation. So much happened within that short period of time that I could not grasp it all; yet I could not get enough. Confession, absolution, congregational prayers, singing... Laurence even preached from the Bible without using polls, pop psychology, or stupid jokes (you know, the court jester never could lead true worship). After my soul was tossed, turned, purged, filled, then moved, I knelt at the Lord's Table to eat and drink of the body and blood of the Lord Jesus. Space is far too limited for me to describe my awe. At several moments my wife wept. What happened in there? she asked me as we left. That was worship, my dear. Worship."

Keep reading...

[JBH: I met Dakota (and his wife) during our visit to St. Peter (we went "to Bristol, VA," but it had nothing to do with Bristol—we went to be a part of this church for a week). Upon returning home, I found this article by him, which comes close to describing our experience as a part of this body. Dakota's a great guy, a faithful brother and a fast friend. If you visit, tell him I said, "Hi."]

[Thoughts] From the... uh, mouths... of babes...

We've always taught our children that obedience is only obedience if it's "done the first time, every time with a happy heart."

Having recently read the article, "The Beauty of a Child Who Sits Still" in Family Reformation, my wife and I have been trying to put into practice some of the principles and lessons recommended in the article.

After a recent "training session," my wife was coaching our 4-yo son, who was standing in his doorway, on waiting in his room—sitting still and quiet—at the end of rest period until she came to get him. Well, he went back in... but with great wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Going in, my bride calmly asked him, "What's man's primary purpose?"

"To gworify God and enjoy him fohever."

"That's right. And how to you glorify God?"

"By Oh! BAYing."

Then Mom prompted, "...with a ____ ?"

To which the little cherub replied, "...a happy fart!"

...and he complied!

Posted by Jim Bob Howard to Thoughts at 10/27/2004 05:00:31 PM

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

[Reading] Article: Celebrations for Beginners

Celebrations for Beginners by Laurence Windham
"Practicum" from
Every Thought Captive, Vol. 4, Issue 6

I read this on Saturday as we were preparing to have our first Sabbath feast the next evening with our good friends from Liberty Hill. God was so gracious to us as we prepared for this time of feasting and celebration of the His goodness of bringing this precious family of seven (going on eight) into our lives a year and a half ago.

We had learned of feasting during our visit to Saint Peter Presbyterian Church. One of the families (well, actually four, but I'm focusing on this one event) invited us over for dinner during our stay. Our six (mother-in-law included) joined their five and another mom and her two blessings (dad was travelling on business) for a delightful evening of feasting, fellowshipping, bible reading, hymn singing, desserting (did I just make that up?) and spiritual warfare!

Charles, our host, told us of the significance of feasting here on earth, where we are but aliens. Our citizenship is in heaven, where we will be the honored Bride at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. And while what and how we celebrate here is only a shadow of what is to come, we engage the battle against the enemy of our souls when we act "on earth as it is in heaven."

We hemmed in our feasting by giving thanks before and after the meal. Reading "Evening Praise" from Valley of Vision, A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotionals, Charles lead us in thanking God for the meal we had just completed. Then every man, woman and child raised his glass of wine (red, to symbolize the blood of the One Whose feast we're preparing for) and toasted our Host, our hosts and one another.

As we were planning our feast, I called Charles and asked him the name of the book (as I'd forgotten at that point) and he stated that there was also a "Lord's Day Evening" prayer that I might be interested in reciting for our meal which was to take place on the Sabbath. This one I was not able to find online...

But, God provided it.

As we were leaving Lord's Day worship Sunday morning, my wife noticed that on the cover of our congregation's announcements bulletin, was the "Lord's Day Evening" prayer from Valley of Vision. Thanks, God!

Having read Laurence's article and seeing that he mentioned an article his wife had read in a "recent" Credenda/Agenda, I sought to find that article. Not only did I find "The Sabbath Wedding" by Douglas Jones, but I printed it and read it several times before our feast and plan to put many of its suggestions into practice in our home.

Inspired by both articles, we set about to make this a memorable feast! Our home was not set up for feasting. The "dining room," in conjunction with the front "living room" is being used as a library/homeschool/play room; we "dine" at the kitchen table. For our feast, we moved our sitting area (two lounge chairs, table and lamp) into the kitchen; and the kitchen table (3'x5' rectangle with two windsors and two benches) into the library. We put one leaf into our "homeschooling table" and placed the oval and rectangle tables end-to-end, covering them with tablecloths. We set out candles, a center-piece of pumpkins, gourds and silk autumn leaves, and used our wedding china and crystal (all five place settings; the children had plastic plates [note to self: finish out china and crystal patterns]). I also picked up a "Bagpipe Classics" CD at Wal-Mart, which played low on repeat all evening.

Also in that issue of Credenda/Agenda were several quotations regarding the Sabbath. The poem by George Herbert, which was last on the page, grabbed me and we openned our evening as I read it to those gathered in the house. Only then was everyone invited to the table.

What a blessed time we enjoyed with one another and our Lord! We can't wait for the next feast we may be privileged to host! In fact, we're leaving the furniture the way it is...

Posted by Jim Bob Howard to Reading at 10/26/2004 09:54:02 AM

Monday, October 25, 2004

[Scrapbook] Fall Foliage

Stopping by the roadside near Mt. Rogers, on the way to Damascus

Boys rolling down a hillside through autumn leaves

Beautiful rolling hills of a homestead in Bristol, VA

Morning clouds sequestered on Boone Lake, TN

Posted by Jim Bob Howard to Scrapbook at 10/25/2004 02:08:51 PM

[Thoughts] Great question!

My family recently had the pleasure of spending eight days with the portion of the body of Christ known as St. Peter Presbyterian Church in "Far Southwest" Virginia (that's the proper description, according to Joshua Blackburn). After the Tuesday night bible study, my 7-yo son had been playing with Dr. Sproul's 8-yo son, when I informed him it was time to leave.

My boy went up to Dr. Sproul and asked, "Can I play with your son again?"

"I don't know," came the reply. "Will you spur him on to righteousness?"

"Well, he'd probably spur me on to righteousness. He's older than I am."

I've never asked that question of one of my children's friends. ...but, I will now.

Posted by Jim Bob Howard to Thoughts at 10/25/2004 01:20:47 PM

[Beards] I'm growing a beard...

...and my family likes it, as per this exchange 10 minutes ago with my 7yo son:

My son just brought some things upstairs that Mom had asked him to. As he left, I said, "Thanks. You're a good boy."

To which, he replied, "That deserves a hug," as he returned to my chair for the hug. As he leaned around my chair, I kissed his neck.

"I like your beard," he said, starting down the stairs. "It scratches more."

"Yeah?" I inquired. "Did you have an itch on your neck that needed to be scratched?"

"Yeah!" he said, as he reached the bottom of the stairs.

Posted by Jim Bob Howard to Beards at 10/25/2004 10:05:11 AM