Pensées

Thoughts on the Meaning of Life…..by Todd Helmkamp

Archive for the ‘Ramblings’ Category

Funny

Posted by Vogeler on November 7, 2011

It’s funny how a few simple things can ease a sore heart, lift the dark clouds of a rotten day.

Today, it’s “Bittersweet” by Jim Brickman, “Redeemer” by Paul Cardall, and the picture “A New Adventure”, found on http://www.3dsceneries.com.

Posted in Ramblings, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Updates

Posted by Vogeler on October 27, 2011

We finally have some more news about the adoption!  Some abandonment decrees are almost finished (an abandonment decree is an official statement by a government that a child is abandoned and able to be adopted), and hopefully ours is one of them!  If so, we should be able to go get our little sweetie in January/February as planned.  We can’t wait!  We are traveling up to Ann Arbor, Michigan next Tuesday to get our biometrics taken (whatever that means;  I assume it means things like fingerprints, etc) with Homeland Security.  Maybe I’ll get to meet Gary Quesenberry from TopShot on the History Channel, haha!

In other news, inspired by the pictures of snowfall in her town by my friend Mer, I broke out the Christmas music yesterday.  Sorry Kelly, at least you don’t have to listen to it.  🙂

A few months ago I downloaded the iTunes Holiday Sampler, and I have to say it’s excellent. Three songs really stand out:  “It Snowed” by Meaghan Smith, “Dream a Dream” by Charlotte Church, and “A Snowflake Fell (And it Felt Like a Kiss)” by Glasvegas.  All three very much worth a listen.

Posted in Adoption, Fun Stuff, Ramblings | 6 Comments »

The Disconnect

Posted by Vogeler on October 4, 2011

We were made to connect with each other.  Even those of us who are introverts still have a need for deep, meaningful relationship.  Until relatively recently, the realities of daily life meant that people were dependent on each other.  People came together for social interaction, to help with large projects such as farming or building, and for mutual defense.  But now we have all of these new and wonderful technologies (most of which I do enjoy) that, while useful, often act as a substitute for true relationship, true community.  I’ve experienced this myself.  I have grown extremely close to a group of people on an internet chat board, while only having shallow and transitory relationships in real life.   And I have sat playing video games for hours on end rather than talking with my neighbors or playing with my children.

But lately I’ve become dissatisfied with some of the relationships in my life.  I’m no longer interested in friendships that bring no meaning or depth to my life.  I’m no longer interested in relationships with people who aren’t committed to growth, whether mental, spiritual, or emotional.  I’m no longer interested in relationships with people who aren’t interested in forming actual connections.  Quite frankly, I don’t have the time or energy to invest in relationships from which I get little to no return.  Thankfully, I have a small number of men with whom I am developing real friendships, but it’s a slow process, and I often feel like I am very alone in this.

I don’t know the answer to this problem, but I do know that many of the problems plaguing our society stem directly from our lack of “interconnectedness” and dependence on each other.  I want to strongly encourage you, dear readers (all 7 of you, haha!) to consciously look at your relationships, and work to deepen them (I said “work” because it is work, and hard work indeed!).  Even though it may be difficult or uncomfortable at first, I promise you the rewards will be well worth the cost.

Posted in Questions for Debate, Ramblings | 6 Comments »

“Happy Anniversary Baby, Got You On My Miiiind…”

Posted by Vogeler on November 19, 2008

The title of this post are lyrics from a great song, entitled, “Happy Anniversary” (surprise!) by the Little River Band.  Man, I love those oldies.  (The song is from 1977, the year before I was born, so it counts as an oldie.  So there).

But that’s not the focus of this post.  No, the focus of this post is that my blog is officially two years old!! (OK, two years and two days.  I forgot.  Sue me.  It’s not like I forgot my wedding anniversary, for pete’s sake.  Who is pete and why do we care about him?)

In honor of my two year anniversary, I will not be giving away free stuff.  If I made money from this blog, I would.  But I don’t, so I’m not.

Instead, I present to you…..   *drumroll*

Todd’s Favorite Posts from the Last Two Years!!!

*pause for cheers and applause*

(note:  these are my favorite posts, not necessarily the best or most profound.  You’ve been warned)

10.  It’s Official!!!!! /It’s A Boy!! (tie)

9.  Bye -Bye Myspace

8.  Passing Through

7.  Today’s Pictures

6.  My New Blog!! (shameless plug)

5.  Ten Years Later

4.  The Importance of A Christian Education

3.  Things I Learned From Reading Louis L’Amour Novels

2.  An Excellent Look at Early Church Relations and Discipline (link updated and fixed)

1.  Be Careful What You Read (I should be on Mythbusters!)

Are there any you would add?

Posted in Announcements, Fun Stuff, Questions for Debate, Ramblings, Things I'm Doing, Uncategorized | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

All Hallows’ Eve

Posted by Vogeler on October 31, 2008

All Hallows’ Eve, or Halloween in its modern incarnation, is a subject of much debate in evangelical circles.  Often, mostly due to incorrect propaganda from the early 20th century, Christians of many traditions consider Halloween a Satanic holiday, or wonder if it’s okay for their children to participate.  Well, before I give my opinion, let me give you some of the history of Halloween.

The idea of a harvest festival, at or near the Autumnal Equinox, is very old.  Many of our current Halloween practices can be traced back to the Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced “Sow-in”).  The Celts were a race of people who lived in what is now Europe, and are especially known for populating Gaul (Western Europe) and the British Isles during the time of Julius Caesar.  Samhain was a time when the world “died”, part of the natural cyclic order of the world (similar to Greek beliefs about Persephone). The Celts did not worship a “Lord of the Dead” named Samhain, as I have read on other Christian sites, and it was not a festival worshipping death in any form.  Rather, it was a belief that at this time, the boundries between the spirit world and the human world were thin.  I’m certainly not saying that this is a valid belief, but it is worlds away from the assertions of some Christian writers.  There is not a single shred of historical or anthropological evidence that the Celts worshipped death (and I have studied them for the last 15 years).  They did believe that evil spirits roamed the earth more freely at this time, and took steps to try to protect themselves, not welcome the evil spirits.  They often wore masks or costumes at this time to try to frighten the spirits away, which is most likely where we get the current custom of dressing up.

In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV created a special feast day to honor saints and martyrs.  It was called All Hallow’s Day (“Hallow” means “holy”; in Old English, Alhalowmesse) and the night before was called All Hallow’s Eve, from which we get “Halloween”. Many scholars believe that Boniface created the day to replace Samhain with a church holiday.

Immigrants to America brought many of their Halloween traditions with them, but some are unique to the US.  One such custom is “trick-or-treating”, where children dressed in costumes go door-to-door begging for candy (the trick part is still practiced in some areas, but has been frowned upon since the late 1800s).  Trick-or-treating began when young immigrants dressed up and wandered their neighborhoods, begging for food or money.

I think that a large part of the confusion about Halloween stems from, as usual, ignorance.  There is a world of difference between paganism ( believing in false gods) and Satanism (intentionally worshipping the Enemy of God).  Although the powers behind paganism are demonic, the intentions of the practitioner are not.

In case you’re wondering how I know so much about this stuff, like I said before, I’ve studied Celtic culture and history for years.  But, there was also a time when I practiced paganism, including celebrating Samhain.  Of course, I am not advocating paganism!  It is wrong, and a sham.  God alone must be worshipped!  But I, along with many others, worshipped out of ignorance, not with the intent to worship the Enemy.  And I think that’s important to keep in mind when considering Halloween.  Remember, the intent of the day was NEVER to glorify Satan.

All that being said, I still think it’s prudent to approach Halloween very cautiously.  Whether or not it’s intended to worhsip Satan, the fact remains that the holiday is all about death, and death is not natural, according to God’s Word (it was brought into the world through the sin of Adam and Eve).

I think that many of today’s activities are harmless.  Luke, my oldest, is dressing as Buzz Lightyear from Disney’s Toy Story. Brennan is dressing as an adorable little monkey.  We’re going trick-or-treating, then to a party at a local church (the party is open to the public).  There’s no harm in any of these activities.  But there are many activities associated with the holiday that can be harmful.

  1. Dressing up as a demon, witch, ghost, horror movie character, etc.  This is common sense.
  2. Seances, Ouija boards, tarot cards, and other methods of divination.  We are expressly commanded to avoid these things.  (Deut. 18:10)
  3. Pranks.  Don’t be a jerk to people.  Duh.

Overall, participating in Halloween is a personal decision.  If you feel the Holy Spirit telling you to stay away, then by all means listen!!  But please don’t judge those who feel that it’s ok to enjoy the harmless aspects.

*Most of the material here is re-written from a lesson I taught several years ago, but I did some
additional fact-finding and checking.  Some places that I used to check facts include the History
Channel's site and the site from the About.com Guide to Christianity.  Whatever you do, though,
always read more than one source before you form an opinion!  That goes for everything (except
Scripture)


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Ranting

Posted by Vogeler on October 31, 2008

I just realized that my last two posts have been kind of “rantish” (is that a word?  If not, I claim it!  Huzzah, I made up a word!), so I thought that I would also write a post about what I love about Christians and Christianity.

  1. People who give up a privileged life in the US to take the Name and Word of Christ to a land where they could be killed for loving Jesus.
  2. Pastors who work 50 hours a week at demanding secular jobs, have weekly prayer meetings, attend worship practice, and then preach a Spirit-Inspired message on Sunday, all for no pay because the fledgling church can’t afford it.
  3. People who cancel a vacation or put off purchasing something they’ve wanted for years to help rebuild homes in disaster areas.
  4. Pastors who cheerfully visit hospitals at 3 am to comfort frightened people.
  5. People who stand for what they believe, no matter who is around.
  6. People who are strong enough to say, “I was wrong” and ask for forgiveness and healing.
  7. Pastors who work a demanding secular job, have a new baby, but still pour their lives into young people every week.
  8. Church staff members that work extra hours to get the job done.
  9. Pastors who aren’t afraid to speak the Truth, even when it’s not popular.
  10. People who work demanding secular jobs but then go and volunteer for several hours at their local church and don’t write a word about it on their blogs.
  11. Pastors who have enough courage to admit that they’re human and ask for help.
  12. People who love to teach very young children about Jesus to lay a firm foundation.
  13. People who are willing to forgive those who hurt them.
  14. People that put God first, and it shows.

What are some of your favorite things about Christians and Christianity?

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Bothersome

Posted by Vogeler on October 30, 2008

I read a lot of blogs by people involved in full-time Christian ministry.  Recently, several of them have posted about the necessity for pastors and their staff members to take time off.  While this is definitely important, especially for those who are too devoted to their jobs (*ahem* Pastor A. *ahem*), all of these posts have started to get on my nerves.

For years, I worked a full-time job, varying between 40 and 50 hours a week.  Then, I spent several hours a week at the church helping with the youth program, being a Boy Scout leader, and a member of several committees.  That adds up really quick.  And I was frequently asked by one person or another to help on other things.

I’m not whining; part of the problem was my reluctance to say “no” and disappoint people.  And I truly wanted to help out as much as I could.  But my point is that while churches are often (and rightfully so) careful not to overload staff members, volunteers usually get overlooked.  And I got burned out fast.   A ten-hour day primarily spent among non-Christians is just as wearing as a day spent in ministry.

So, I guess my message in this post is, Pastors:  be careful not to ask too much of your volunteers.  And volunteers:  learn to know when too much is too much.

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“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…”

Posted by Vogeler on October 24, 2008

This is part of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.  The full Amendment reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

There’s been a lot of talk recently about firearms.  Hunters, anti-hunters, special interest groups, the political candidates, all have different opinions. I, too, have an opinion.

I strongly believe that each and every citizen of the United States of America over the age of 18 has the right to own, load, and shoot a firearm for recreation, hunting, or self-defense.  I strongly believe that this right is fundamental to the proper functioning of a Republic, for several reasons (although I think it’s a bit silly, and dangerous to legitimate authorities, for a private citizen to own such weapons as sniper rifles, assault rifles, armor-piercing ammunition, etc.  That makes me think they’re up to no good).

First, in case of attack by foreign or domestic enemies, it will most likely prove a great asset that many people are trained in, and capable of, the proper use of a firearm.  If it becomes necessary for the average citizen to resist, that resistance will be much more effective if he or she can use a firearm.  One of the reasons the American Revolution was successful was that most of the colonists involved used firearms on a daily basis, either to hunt or in defense against Native American attacks.

Second, if the security of my home is compromised by an enemy who is armed with a firearm, or even another weapon, my chances of successfully defending my family increase dramatically if I have a firearm.  Unfortunately, the 3-5 minute response time necessary for a police officer to reach my home to protect me may be 3-5 minutes too long.  Therefore, I must look to my own defense, which I will gladly do.

Third, a firearm may be used to hunt.  Legal hunting can help to put food on my table (very important during difficult economic times), and it is a great asset in managing animal populations.  In Northeastern Indiana where I live, there are many, many auto accidents every year that involve deer, many of which cause considerable damage and injury.  Out-of-control deer populations also damage farmers’ crops, and compete with agricultural herd animals for pasture and grazing.  Because there are few natural predators left in this area, many deer starve each winter.  By removing some of these animals, hunters help to reduce the risk of these problems.  Not to mention, when done properly and with respect for God’s Creation, hunting can be an intensely spiritual experience, as we reconnect with the world around us.

But the biggest reason I am a strong supporter of gun ownership is defense.  I do not trust my fellow humans, nor do I trust my government.  Unfortunately, human nature has demonstrated for the last several thousand years that my distrust is well-founded.  A man without a gun will have a difficult time effectively defending himself or his family against an assailant that has one, nor will a populace without guns be able to defend themselves from an unjust government that possesses them.  Governments throughout history have known that if the populace does not have access to weapons, they can be controlled.  I don’t think any of us truly want that (except for those who want to do the controlling).

On one of the blogs I read ( by Dave Duffy, from Backwoods Home Magazine) the question was recently asked, “What will you do, personally, if Government agents come to your door and ask you to give them your guns?” After a lot of thought, I have to say that my answer is, “Peacefully hand them over.”  As much as I would hate to give them up, as a Christian I am commanded to acknowledge legitimate authority:

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”  (Romans 13: 1-2)

Of course, when the established authorities command something that goes against God’s Word, the Word absolutely takes precedence.  The problem is that God’s Word never mentions (to my knowledge; if I’m wrong, please correct me!) a right to own weapons.

That’s my take on the issue, and I have written my elected representatives to let them know how I feel and that I will vote accordingly.  And despite some media spin-doctoring, I do not believe that Senator Obama is a supporter of gun rights, as he consistently has voted against them in the past.  Although Senator McCain is far from perfect, his moral record, stance on abortion, and stance on gun rights make him my candidate of choice this year.

I am a peaceful man; I don’t go out of my way to cause trouble.  I have never been in trouble with the law, and would be absolutely content to live the rest of my life without ever having to fire a gun in self-defense.  But unfortunately, I may not have a choice.

What are your thoughts on this issue?

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Lo, I Have Returned!

Posted by Vogeler on April 18, 2008

Hi, all!  Sorry I’ve been away for so long, but life has been messy recently.  First, my position was downsized, so I had to find a job and was off work for a week.  You might think that would give me plenty of time to write.  You would be wrong.  See, I had a small, adorable, pooping and puking machine home with me that loves to sleep at the babysitter’s but apparently believes it is his duty and God-given right to not sleep more than 15 minutes at a time at home.  So that took a lot of time.  Good news is, he has put on several pounds and now is at least on the growth chart for his age, at the 25th percentile.

I actually had a feeling of peace about the whole job thing.  For what seems like the first time in my life, I wasn’t freaking out about not having a job.  I knew God was going to handle things, and sure enough, He did.  I am now GM Certified Internet Manager for Noble Chevrolet-Cadillac (formerly Jack De) in Kendallville, IN.  I’m very excited about the chance to build an Internet Department, and in some ways it feels like I’ve come home (I worked here for nearly three years before the other-place-that-shall-remain-nameless-not-that-I’m-bitter-or-anything).

So things are going pretty well right now.

By the way, we had an earthquake this morning.

No joke, there was a 5.4 Richter Scale earthquake that started in Illinois that we felt in Northeast Indiana.  Pretty crazy.  We were awake because Brennan was crying so we felt it shake the house.  Wild!

I will try to keep this blog much more updated than I have.  Sorry for being gone so long, and thanks for staying with me!

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Today’s Pictures

Posted by Vogeler on March 12, 2008

Here are some pictures my lovely wife, Bethany, sent me today.

family.jpg

The above picture is our family.  Apparently Luke (my almost-three-year-old) got out the modeling clay today.  Here is a direct quote of his description of the sculptures:

“My big daddy, my momma with a flower, my luke with a cap hat, and my little tiny brother”.

Absolutely priceless!!

Now, our next picture was taken by me.  Those of you who know me know that I have an odd sense of humor.  Keeping that in mind, I have captioned the next picture, “They Sure Start Young”.

brennan1.jpg

Ha ha!  Isn’t that terrible?!

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