First Zombie Candidate Makes Vast Improvement on U.S. Political Landscape

Beginning in the first decade of this century, U.S. politics began to reach the bottom of the proverbial barrel as far as presidential candidates were concerned. And this made many very sad. After Justin Bieber’s term in office (2032-2036), there was no more down to go. Yet in the fullness of time, a brilliant idea emerged. Ten-year-old gamer Bobby Brown said that his dad told him dead people had long been used to bolster votes. Bobby postulated that the undead “should run them government things.”

Up until then the U.S. Constitution stipulated that a presidential candidate be a natural born citizen of the United States, a resident for 14 years, and 35 years or older. In 2036 the first stipulation was changed to “must be a living or undead sentient being currently existing in the United States.”

Earlier this year, Z. Xander, mayor of Romero, California, the village of the undead, will make history by becoming the first zombie to ever run for the nation’s highest office. His campaign team so far includes a non-partisan dragon slayer, a wise old owl, and a really nice pet rock with a genetically manufactured brain. At a recent political rally, Xander simply stated, “Ahgggg!” and “grrr” to wild applause by the gathered crowd. His future main opponent, Bill Bligh, strongly disagreed. Bligh is now deceased.

Directly following the announcement, political commentator and internationally revered constitutional expert, Dwight Billingsley, said that in his considered opinion Xander is “by far the best candidate to run for any U.S. political office in decades.”

At this time Xander has yet to select a running mate. In serious consideration is his great-great-grandfather Jacobus Xander, a war hero famous as the last casualty of the Civil War in 1865.

Political experts the world over agree that the potential of the 2044 lineup for the U.S. presidential elections is staggering. Senator Orrin Hatch has finally put his name in the ring as well. (No word on whether Hatch is running as a living person or as one of the undead as it has long been unclear with which group he identifies) and Hillary Clinton has announced that she is running for President for the 9th consecutive time. (Hillary is very much alive, confounding all reason and scientific knowledge.) Billingsley states that ” few current voters under 50 will have ever voted on a candidate lineup this good.”

 




Trump Shocked that Everyone at Rally Knew the Sick Woman’s Name was Grace

Cape Girardeau, Missouri – At a massive rally in the riverfront town, a Trump supporter suddenly fell ill and required medical attention. The other rally goers spontaneously erupted into a beautiful rendition of “Amazing Grace.” Donald Trump was astounded. “I have no idea how so many people knew that her name was Grace, or how they had a song ready for her. It was amazing. Amazing. But this is the sort of thing that happens when you are winning. Winners just know what to do.”

As to how the lady is doing after her health scare, Trump added, “She is doing fantastic. Just fantastic. I don’t like to brag but we have the best medical team in the world at our rallies. Just tremendous. She wouldn’t get better care at any hospital in the country, this I can promise you. Grace is doing fine and I think people singing to her had a lot to do with it. As the song said, she’s amazing. She really is.”

 

 




The Top Ten Nintendo Games of All Time (Part 2)

The wait is over! We proudly present the top four NES games of all time. Last week, we unveiled numbers ten through five – you can read that here. As is typical with any top ten we have done, there was some controversy. (See: Tecmo Super Bowl landing at number 5.) Nevertheless, we are satisfied with our results and the top four games are all deserving of any accolades that come their way.

For our money, the classic Nintendo Entertainment System is the high-water mark in the video game industry. It captured the imaginations of millions during its run and continues to make new fans every time a child is introduced to it in all its 8-bit glory. Enjoy reading our final four and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section below.


4. Contra

We played this thing for hours prior to owning it – we had borrowed it from a friend. We were blissfully unaware of the legendary cheat code at that time so we slogged our way through as much of it as possible. Then, on the day my little brother bought the game from a neighbor, we brought it home with the cheat code in hand, and we proceeded to beat it our first time through. I’ve always felt bad for my little brother that we finished this game the first day he owned it. I think he spent $30 on the thing.

Show of hands: How many of you could beat this game without the cheat code? Be honest.

Bonus question: How many of you remember the cheat code? (Phill Lytle)

—–

To answer Phill’s question. I could (and still can) beat Contra without the cheat code (which, of course, I still have memorized to this day). I, unfortunately, never owned Contra during my childhood, but it is probably the video game I rented the most (probably enough to buy it several times over). (Nathan Patton)


3. Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out

I have never been more than a casual observer of actual boxing. Likewise, I have never had a strong desire to play a boxing video game. Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out (or just Punch-Out as the franchise was branded at a later date) is the exception. This masterpiece of a video game appealed to everyone whether they enjoyed boxing or couldn’t care less about it (that one’s for you, Phill!).  Punch-Out took a big risk by making the player’s character stationery. Your character, Lil Mac, couldn’t move around the ring. Instead, you were limited to dodging and ducking. This brilliant decision made every fight a test of pattern recognition and reflexes. There was little more satisfying on the NES than landing a counter punch at the perfect time in the perfect location which sent your opponent crumbling to the mat. Punch-Out was as much a puzzle game as a boxing game.  Success depended on trial and error and finding each opponent’s specific weaknesses. And every opponent was vastly different presenting a different puzzle to solve. Completing the game by beating Tyson remains to this day a source of bragging rights among gamers. (Mark Sass)

—–

Before Mike Tyson got so weird that Bill Simmons coined the highest level of weirdness “The Tyson Zone,” he was the baddest of men in the sports world. He was so intimidating he beat the undefeated heavyweight champion Michael Spinks in like 90 seconds one fight. So putting his name and likeness on an already popular boxing game called “Punch Out” was a brilliant advertising move.

We loved Glass Joe for how easy he was to beat. We loved King Hippo for how his pants dropped when you hit him in the belly. We loved Soda Popinski for how he talked trash. We loved Great Tiger for his unorthodox teleport move. We even loved Doc Lewis and referee Mario! But as Little Mac, beating Tyson was the golden grail. I never could do it, but those who did in my small farming community in rural SC were legends. (Gowdy Cannon)

—–

The first time I played this game was at a J.C. Penny or similar establishment. (They had a Nintendo system displayed and you could give it a test run.) I had never seen Punch Out before and had no idea what I was doing. Spoiler alert: I thought I was Glass Joe and “won” that fight convincingly.

Flash forward a few years when we finally owned the game and I realized only losers lose to Glass Joe. I redeemed myself by finally beating the game though, so I have that going for me.

Quick question, and be honest here: you peed yourself a little the first time you reached Mike Tyson, didn’t you? We all did. And that’s okay. (Phill Lytle)


2. The Legend of Zelda

Everything from the golden cartridge to the open-world, passive storytelling of this game was larger than life for me as a kid. I loved all of the secret passages and having to rely on strategy guides (Jeff Rovin’s “How to Win at Nintendo Games” and the Nintendo Power fold-out overworld map) to try and discover what you needed to do next in the game. Getting the raft, bombing holes in the walls, hands that could grab you and take you back to the beginning of the dungeon, playing the flute, the graveyard ghosts, all of it was magical. And there was a huge sense of accomplishment for me when I finally defeated Ganon, only then to discover an entirely new take on the world awaited. (D.A. Speer)

—–

With the exception of playing it a few, brief times at a friend’s house, I came to this game relatively late in life. Amazingly, that did not diminish my love for it. I did not have to discover every secret for myself since they were all documented online by that point, yet still, I have loved every minute of playing this game. This simply was just not the type of game I enjoyed playing as a child. If it had been, it would probably be up there with Super Mario Bros. 3, but it is very much the type of game I enjoy playing as an adult. (Nathan Patton)


1. Super Mario Bros. 3

Best game ever? We think so. Personally, I would take Tecmo Super Bowl over Mario 3, but it would be by the slimmest margin. Mario 3 was revolutionary. The original Mario was a fun game. It was the first NES game that most people played, and it was great. Mario 2 was wacky and weird and strange and felt so different from the first one that a lot of us had a hard time really getting into it. But Mario 3 was the perfect blend of all the great new ideas from Mario 2 combined with all the stuff we loved about Mario 1, but somehow better in every way. The game felt HUGE! Massive worlds. Plenty of secrets. Great gameplay. Honestly, I can’t think of a single negative thing to say about it. It’s a flawless game. (Phill Lytle)

—–

The three games I’ve played the most as far as actual time spent in the game are, in no particular order, World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online, and Super Mario Bros. 3. Two of those are very open online RPGs that one can easily spend hours in doing pretty much nothing. The other is a classic side-scroller that I can beat in about 12 minutes. I lived on the west coast for a year but don’t remember hardly any of it because I spent almost all of that time discovering every nook and cranny of this game.

The gameplay of Super Mario Bros. 3 is perfect (no, that’s not an overstatement). The world design and level design were absolutely mind-blowing at the time, and have held up well over the years. This is, without a doubt, the best NES game… and the best video game of any system of all time. (Nathan Patton)

—–

I remember when I first got this game. It came out in February 1990, and in December of the same year, my parents surprised us with an NES for Christmas. For my 6th birthday in January of ’91, Mario 3 was my big gift from mom and dad. I remember opening up the gift and seeing the yellow box, then opening it and pouring over the manual. It would come to redefine my ideas of how much fun gaming could be. I played it all afternoon and night after my birthday party, and I remember that my parents fixed Tony’s pizza that night and I ate 9 pieces while playing the game. The game just never got old. It was the perfect side-scrolling game. Lots of fun and as challenging as you wanted it to be. Giant world, the desert sun that comes down and attacks you, hopping around in a boot, the cryptic tanooki suit, the extremely hard to get hammer brothers suit, P-wings, the warship end bosses, the warp whistles, the dark and hellish last world where wrenches and bombs come flying at you a mile a minute… The team behind this game absolutely nailed it and pushed the NES to its limits. Koji Kondo wrote the music too, which was, and still is, great. As a recent podcast put it, “This was Nintendo’s farewell love letter to the NES.” (D.A. Speer)


So there you have it. Agree? Disagree? Let us know below! And once you finish telling us how awesome (or dumb) we are in the comments section, you can check out these other articles on REO.

 




Media With Horrible Track Record of Prediction Now 100% Confident That God Does Not Exist

In one of the biggest news stories of the week, the same mass media sources that predicted a landslide Democratic win in the 2016 election are assuring the public that God is, in fact, not real.

“We’re really sure about this one” said one reporter for the New York Times, whose car was decked out with “Hillary 2016” and “I’m With Her” bumper stickers. “There’s just no way Stephen Hawking, or we for that matter, could be wrong.”

“Now that we can rest in the knowledge that an Absolute Moral Being does not exist, we can finally focus our attention to fighting for subjective moral issues that we are absolutely, 100% certain are the right thing to fight for,” said another reporter from the Washington Post, who was at the time checking Twitter to make sure she was still on the right side of history.

“Also, we are very much looking forward to huge Democratic gains in November, along with Elizabeth Warren’s successful bid for President in 2020” she continued. “After all, ignorant, bitter, religion-clinging deplorables can only keep focused on complicated political issues for so long.”

Early reports are also coming in that if God’s existence is later proven to be true, Russia is the most likely culprit.




The Top Ten Nintendo Games of All Time (Part 1)

Ramblingeveron.com is a team of adult male writers, editors and IT guys, all around the ages of 35-45. Which means we were the perfect age when Nintendo exploded onto the national video game scene and dominated for a few years. Yes, Atari, Sega and Playstation at various times and in various ways have had their turns in the sun, but is anything in this arena as classic as the original Nintendo? We don’t think so, which is why we voted on the best game of that system. These are the games we binged on for years in our youth.

Since we had so much to say about them, we have divided it into two parts. Today we blow into the cartridge, line this up just right, and proudly present games 10 through 5. Come back next week for the Top Four.


10. Duck Hunt

One summer my sister and I spent a couple weeks at my grandparents house in Ohio. I, of course, being the social butterfly that I was, brought along my NES and launched into a Duck Hunt marathon. I finally beat all 99 levels gaining access to the secret level 0, then pretty much never played again. (Nathan Patton)


9. Ninja Gaiden Franchise

Based on our voting, a good number of us liked these games, though based on how many people volunteered to write about it, it does not seem that anyone loved these games. Even though I only played the 2nd installment, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a fluid gaming experience. I always felt like I had good control over the character. One of my childhood dreams was to become a ninja, so all the jumping, sword stabbing, and star throwing were as close as I would ever get to fulfilling that dream. (Phill Lytle)


8. TMNT II The Arcade Game

At arcades across the country, TMNT was responsible for taking more allowance money than the local school bully. When the game was released on the NES it was like Christmas and your birthday every day. This was an era when beat ’em ups dominated the arcade scene and TMNT was one of the best. The game faithfully recreated the world of the Turtles in a way that both looked and felt like the popular cartoon. As a result, it was extremely entertaining and satisfying to chose your favorite Turtle and issue a beat down on the Foot Clan. (Mark Sass)

—–

B, A, B, A, Up, Down, B, A, Left, Right, (hold down in sequence: B, A, start). No, this isn’t the Konami code, but this is really the only code I needed as a kid anyway. It’s the code to get nine lives in TMNT 2: The Arcade Game for NES, the game that I undoubtedly played more than any other one in my collection. I remember the actual arcade game sitting in the lobby of the old Dickson, TN Walmart. I never remember seeing it without at least one person playing. Donatello was unquestionably the best because of his reach, and I eventually leveled up my skills enough to beat it from start to finish with no cheats and no continues. This game is “the” picture of my childhood, and I’m so glad to see it make the list of top 10. (D.A. Speer)


7. Battletoads

I played Battletoads approximately a billion times and beat it once. The gameplay of Battletoads was so great, though, that the knowledge of certain failure was no real deterrent in continuing to play and enjoy the game. Co-op play was especially fun though inevitable always devolved into fighting due to the friendly fire (and may have devolved into fighting in real life a time or two). (Nathan Patton)


6. Super Mario Bros.

Super Mario Bros. was my introduction to NES gaming and the first video game I’d ever personally owned. For Christmas of 1989, my parents gave me an NES bundle with Super Mario Bros., Duck Hunt (with zapper), and World Class Track Meet (with power pad). I was shocked and delighted. I eventually got around to playing the other two games, but Super Mario Bros. was first, well after I got my father to stop playing, that is. (Nathan Patton)


5. Tecmo Super Bowl

The first three stages of evolution of video game football in my house growing up were 1) Block Men on the Atari that were facing the wrong way and that you had to manually turn around with the joystick before every play 2) Ten Yard Fight on NES 3) John Elway’s Quarterback on NES.

Then came the future in the late 80s: Tecmo Bowl. Boy, was it the coolest thing since Elvis. And then a couple of years later they totally outdid themselves with an upgraded version called Tecmo Super Bowl. All 28 NFL teams with real logos. Eleven players on the field instead of nine. Real world weather like snow. Detailed stats just like in the real NFL. Eight – 8! – plays to choose from. You could reverse it to Sterling Sharpe or fake reverse it. You could air it out 80 yards to Jerry Rice. Or you could do what everyone longed to do and pick the Raiders so you could run Bo Jackson like a deer in the open field. He was stupidly unstoppable as seen here.

My brothers and I played this game for so many hours they add up to weeks. Even with further evolutions on other systems, notably the John Madden series, this is still my favorite sports video game of all time. (Gowdy Cannon)

—–

I am still disappointed (furious) that this game didn’t make it higher on our list. It’s the best sports’ game ever. It was fun to play in the season mode, trying to rack up stats and wins, and it was fun to play against other players, in our very own round robin tournaments. It’s still fun to play, all these years later. It holds up just fine. Graphics have improved, and games have become more “realistic”, but no game has ever captured my imagination like TSB did.

Did anyone else run out of bounds to keep the stats more realistic or was that just the Lytle boys that did that sort of thing? (Phill Lytle)

—–

The original Tecmo Bowl was unlike anything we had seen before. Then Tecmo Super Bowl came along and improved upon it in every way. More plays, season stats tracking, Barry Sanders!, QB Eagles (aka Randall Cunningham), Houston’s run and shoot offensive plays, the list goes on and on. For my money, it is the best NES game ever and maybe the best video game ever. The only reason it did not finish higher on our list is that a few members of our esteemed panel do not have the proper appreciation for sports games. I can neither confirm nor deny that my brothers and I threw our controllers at the TV when the game decided that we were going to lose no matter what. (Mike Lytle)


Opinions? Let us know below. And please check back next week for the rest of this list! While you wait, check out these other articles that might interest you.

Part Two is out now! Check out the Final Four by clicking here.




Ranting Ever On: The Bathroom Fairy

Little known fact: Every public restroom in the country has a fairy that likes to get water all over the sink, the mirror, and the floor. I know this has to be a fairy or some other fantastical creature – something magical for sure – because there is no way that a human being could get so much water in so many places by simply washing their hands. It would take a strong, physically fit man with four large buckets and perhaps a garden hose an entire afternoon to create the kind of watery mess that is found in every single public bathroom I have visited. It would have to be intentional…deliberate…and I know there is no man out there that is just so slovenly, so uncouth, so careless, that they would create the second Great Flood by accident.

(Another little-known fact: This fairy is unlike other fairies. It is not small and sparkly. It does not fly. This fairy takes the shape of an adult male. It is usually rotund or perhaps doughy would be the better descriptor. It has the mental faculties of a dazed and confused water buffalo, with none of the charm. It is an odious creature, full of mean-spirited trickery. If you see it in the bathroom, which is extremely rare, do not make eye contact with it or speak to it. If you have something you can throw at it, do so. That will distract it long enough for you to run away.)

So here is my question: Is there a ritual or some magical incantation we can perform that will appease the angry, or perhaps mischievous, bathroom fairy? Does it want a gift of some sort? A sacrifice? Regardless of how we put a stop to this, the important thing is that we put a stop to it.  I am tired of standing at the sink and getting water all over the front of my pants and shirt and looking like I just peed myself. That’s not cool fairy. Not cool at all.




Five Really Cool Things I Heard While Camping Out For Free Chick-Fil-A

Far more than at other fast food places, amazing things happen at Chick-Fil-A. A worker may come by your table to refill your drink, as though you were at a sit-down restaurant. A worker may walk you to your car in the rain holding an umbrella for you.  People may start singing beautiful a cappella together.

The data that proves that Chick-Fil-A is on another planet as far as atmosphere and customer service is only surpassed by the thousands of stories people have told about the restaurant. The amount of videos and posts I’ve seen about it just on Facebook is astronomical. Their ‘Second Mile Service’ is legendary across the U.S.[1. I feel at this point my friend Josh Crowe would add that their mission statement is about glorifying God through stewardship and influence and doesn’t even include anything about making chicken.].

 

By 2011, I had lived in Chicago nine years. The city was different back then. The Cubs lost 91 games that year, in the middle of a five-year run of finishing 5th in the NL Central, and extended their World Series drought to 103 years. Richard Daley announced he would step down after over two decades years of being mayor. The phrase “Willis Tower” still tasted bad on the lips of many Chicagoans. 

And back then, if I wanted Chick-Fil-A I had to drive 53.6 miles to Racine, WI, to get it. And you better believe I did. Often with large groups of people. Back then I was a youth pastor and road trips to Chick-Fil-A were on the church calendar every year. I love the food more than anything not from Yvonne Cannon’s kitchen and I would do whatever I could to get it. I knew where every CFA was in the tristate area, down to exits on the interstate[2. The one off of Exit 172 at West Lafayette, IN is still my favorite one not located in or around Nashville.].

Then, around late 2010, it happened: After a massive grassroots movement on Facebook and YouTube to bring it to Chicago, a couple of them popped up in distant suburbs. And then—insert Hallelujah chorus—it was announced that a Chick-Fil-A was coming to downtown Chicago in June 2011. I knew about the promotion that the first 100 customers got free food for a year and that you had to camp out to do it.

And I did it. The idea of being one of the first 100 at Chicago’s very first CFA was more than I could stand. It started at 6 PM on Friday night and I got there three hours early. There was a raffle because there was far more than 100 people and they called my number (39) pretty quickly. And as I waited in line for 12 hours I discovered that even when you have to stay up all night to wait for glorious free sandwiches, CFA still has a way of amazing you. From the comments of owner Dan Cathy and the people around me, I realized just how special this place was.

Here are five things I heard that night that made me smile:

 

“My husband and I had a bet as to which would happen first…the Cubs winning the World Series or Chicago getting a Chick-Fil-A. Never bet on the Cubs.” [Lady in line ahead of me]

The Cubs finally cracked through in 2016. Chick-Fil-A won the race by over five years.

 

“I don’t care how much sleep you get tonight, if you’re married you better be nice to your wife tomorrow.” [CEO Dan Cathy]

I loved this. He is a businessman, but for this moment he was preacher and pastor to 100+ CFA addicts.

 

“I go to our restaurants and I get in line like everyone else, I order like everyone else and I pay like everyone else.” [Dan Cathy]

I could shed a tear every time I think of this. This past Sunday I preached from Philippians 2:1-11 and when I got to “Have this attitude in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being by very nature God, didn’t consider equality with God something to be grasped,” I used this as an illustration. It is a Christian virtue.

 

“The CEO is at the corner of Wabash and Chicago in Chick-Fil-A pajama pants and a cow hat. He wasn’t kidding when he said they do things differently.” [Man at the table next to mine, when they fed us at midnight]

It should be obvious by now that Dan Cathy was the star of the night.

 

“I had to cover one of these things for another restaurant that offered a prize for the first 100, and when I showed up at 6:00 AM there were only 28 people in line.  So I shot the story, then got in line and got the prize. That never happens at Chick-Fil-A.”  [Undisclosed local TV station camera man]

The man made us promise we wouldn’t say who he was to anyone because he could get in trouble, and maybe the statute of limitations has passed. But I will keep my promise.

 

Truly an unforgettable night at an amazing place.

 




How Firm a Foundation: A Tribute to the Seniors of Cofer’s Chapel

For the past three years, it has been our privilege – and a real joy – to work with the senior adults at Cofer’s Chapel.  From the days when there was the “50+” group, until more recent times when all the seniors became one fellowship, we have observed this special group of people. When we first joined Cofer’s in 1999, Bro. Eugene Waddell, a former senior pastor of the church, as well as Foreign Missions Director, worked with them. For as long as we have known this congregation, many senior adults have labored in the church, into their 70s, 80s, and even 90s.  One of of our seniors, now inactive, will celebrate her 100th birthday this month. Many have gone home to Heaven over the years.

As I thought about this group who love their Lord, their church, and each other, I’m reminded of the old hymn “How Firm a Foundation.” How its truths comfort and assure us, taken as they are from Scripture. While one senior might walk every day, and seemingly have an inexhaustible supply of energy, another may be bent by age, chronic back pain, and have to walk with a cane or a walker. One may have a mind and memory as sharp as when he or she was 50, while another is retreating inexorably into the darkness of dementia. It’s hard to understand. Yet, the Lord cares for each one and is at work in the life of every one of His children.

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said—
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

The foundation of the believer is the Word of God. He has spoken, and His word is true, His promises are sure. We who have fled to Him for refuge (trusted Him for salvation) are resting on a sure foundation.

Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand.

Based on Isaiah 41:10, we are admonished not to fear nor be dismayed. He is our God, and He will do all for us. We are held securely in His mighty hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with thee thy trouble to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

Isaiah 43 says when we pass through deep waters, they will not overflow us, and when we go through the fire we will not be burned. Sustaining grace through all of life. Cofer’s seniors exemplify that every day.

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not harm thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

This stanza pairs well with the previous one, with its reference to fiery trials. I love the line “my grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply;”

E’en down to old age all my people shall prove
My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love.
And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn
Like lambs shall the still in my bosom be borne.

This is the stanza that my heart bequeaths to our Cofer’s seniors:  Even in old age we prove His “sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love.” Even though the hairs of our head turn white, He will still carry us like lambs in his bosom! Wow! (Isaiah 46:1-4) Psalms 71 and 92 both reference the strength and presence of a God who will not forsake us in old age, and can still make us fruitful. Seniors can serve! Do not make the mistake of writing them off. I have noticed, as one who’s recently entered that group, that retirees tend to not be included or invited to minister as before, and that’s a mistake, in my opinion. Knowledge, wisdom, sound judgment, and discernment generally characterize my age group better than younger groups. Obviously, we have to make adjustments, and can’t do as much as we used to, but we can still contribute!

The soul that on Jesus doth lean for repose,
I will not, I will not, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

The hope and mighty assurance for all of us, regardless of age.




Being Generous By Spending Money On Yourself

The Bible speaks abundantly about money and is pretty straightforward: Work hard. Be generous. Save money. Don’t be materialistic. Be content. Do not spend money selfishly.

Let me be clear that I get that. Let me be equally clear that part of the reason ramblingeveron.com exists is to use writing as a way to encourage people to dig deeper beyond the obvious. To push back against thinking boxes. To eviscerate platitudes and cliches. Jesus often blows my mind about how to live and I want to share that with others.

With that in mind, I want to rethink the exact applications of the biblical principles mentioned above. Working hard is non-negotiable, though that can look very different for different people. But on the issues of saving money, being generous and being selfish, it is my contention that we can (and perhaps sometimes should) live these things out in ways that are counterintuitive and countercultural.

What I mean is this: What if there are times it is really the more selfless thing to spend money instead of saving it? When generosity is spending money on ourselves? What if the more noble thing is to spend more on an item instead of finding it cheaper? What if concepts like minimalism, while entirely appropriate for some, isn’t necessarily the best approach for all?

The biggest application I think of when it comes to this are simple and are often mentioned as a way to be a good neighbor: buy local and support small businesses. I hear this advice frequently, but I do not think we discuss enough in the framework of Christianity.

Click here for a deeper dive into giving and generosity.

Anyone who knows me well knows I am frugal. I saved up as much money as I could before I got married so that I could have a huge safety net to provide for my wife. This causes my wife to be concerned when she wants to buy something one of her friends is selling via their personal small business on Facebook. She thinks I will get mad about it. Yet very quickly into our marriage, I began realizing how selfless it can be to support our friends who really are working hard and using their gifts to provide a quality product or service. Therefore, quite often when my wife asks my opinion (Note: NOT my permission) on buying something from a friend on Facebook, I enthusiastically tell her I hope she does.

Same for where we shop and eat in Bel-Cragin, Chicago where we live. We can (and do) shop at huge nationally known stores that allow us to save money. But we could also spend a little more shopping at a place that someone in the neighborhood owns. If I can buy a book from Amazon for $5 or buy it for $7 from a local bookshop, my initial reaction always is, “Go for the bargain. It’s the wise move financially.” But who probably needs it more? Same for eating. If it comes down to buying a meal for $6 at McDonald’s or a similar quality meal for $8 from Endi’s at Diversey and Central, whose owner I see all the time, is it always worth it to save the $2?


My wife and I have a child coming in February. You better believe we are thinking about money and how to provide for the child. But thanks to the grace of God, we are not in a position where we have to count pennies or truly worry about whether we will be able to make it. I have a ton to learn about parenting, yet right now I have learned from the wisdom of others (including my parents) that I want to teach my children from birth that they do not really need everything our culture says they do. I hope they learn that we will be generous by giving money to church, missionaries and social justice causes, but also to people who have earned it through selling goods and services.

REO’s look at managing your money wisely.

Additionally, I have learned in my marriage that spending money on things like vacations and date nights isn’t about living a certain lifestyle or materialism as much as it is about creating memories and a bond in my marriage that is invaluable. So when I look up tickets to Wicked and see prices that would cause pre-marriage Gowdy to shriek in horror, I remember that it is an investment in my wife and my marriage. While I obviously love going to the beach and enjoy every second of it, spending the money to do it doesn’t have to be selfish. My wife loves it as well and the time away matters to us.

Jesus helps me to crystallize this is the parable of the shrewd manager in Luke 16. That is one odd passage if you read it on its face. The manager is in trouble and cuts deals with people who are in debt. And the rich man commends him. Trying to figure out how to apply that today is a challenge. Yet something Jesus draws out of this, “Use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourself.” The reason, I think, is because we need to understand how desperately we need other people. We need community. The manager was in a desperate situation and the only way out was to be shrewd with his money. In the same way, I can use my money on others to communicate to them that I need them. I take a guy from my church out to lunch and I pay. He gets blessed with a lunch but we both get blessed with the friendship. We think we are helping others when we spend money on them, but they are actually doing us a relational favor by being helped. Only the Bible could be that counterintuitive and countercultural.

A couple of disclaimers I feel are important. First, I realize some people do not have excess or for other good reasons need to be saving money, even the $2 for the burger. My intention in writing this is to challenge traditional thinking, not to present my thinking as absolute truth for everyone. If a person or couple is going in debt from their spending, then a change sounds prudent. In those cases, people may need to be creative in finding inexpensive ways to support local business or their marriage. (Being creative is something we all can stand more of anyway.)

Also, I want to be clear that I am not writing this from a place of success. These are things I need to practice much, much better. I am an Amazon addict. And even though you can buy from individuals on Amazon, I find myself wanting the new things with free shipping. This kind of thinking isn’t easy for me. And it is my hope that by writing about it, I will bring myself accountability.

To me, the worst thing you can do biblically with money is to hoard it. I don’t think, however, we were created to just pay bills and give it away either. We also should spend money on ourselves in a way that benefits others, so that we are completely aware of how badly we need relationships and community. That’s just one of many ways Jesus has blown my mind about how to live.

 

 

 

 




Gollum Cries Discrimination After Being Portrayed by “Nasty” Human Actor in “The Lord of the Rings” Films

Hollywood, CA, The Fourth Age – Reclusive and antisocial fantasy creature, Gollum, or Sméagol as he was once known, has finally broken his silence about his life being put on screen in The Lord of the Rings films. “It’s not fair! Not fair at all, precious! They don’t ask us if we wants to be famous! They don’t ask us if we wants to be known! They lie and cheat and steal, the nasty mens! Gollum! Gollum!”

When pressed to reveal his biggest problem with his story finally being told on the silver screen, he wailed, “Nasty, dirty, actor! Andy Serkisis! He jumps and screams and cries, yes he does precious. Sméagol sees what he does. Sméagol knows. He lies, yes, yes! He lies. He pretends to be Sméagol but he isn’t Sméagol. No, he isn’t Sméagol. He’s false, precious. A wicked, nasty, cheat. It’s not his business to be Sméagol. Not his business! Sneaky little Serkisis. We hates him forever!”

While it is unclear if he realizes that Andy Serkis did not physically portray him on screen, as his character was created through a complex digital filmmaking technique called “Motion Capture”, Gollum/Sméagol did seem to understand that some special effects wizardry was at play. “Cruel, cruel mens and their nasty computers! They tricks everyone, they did! Sméagol did not do it. No, no! Sméagol did not do it. Mens and their filthy zeroeses and oneses did it! Yes, they did precious! Yes, they did. Curse them!”

Representatives for the poor wretch have filed a lawsuit against actor Andy Serkis and New Line Cinema, citing digital appropriation and “humanwashing” of the character. At this time, neither Serkis, his representatives, or New Line Cinema have responded to these accusations.

 

*Image courtesy of Warner Bros/New Line Cinema as Gollum refused to be photographed for this article.