Monthly Archives: March 2008

Hi! My Name is Don, and I’m an Attorney.

It’s true.  I try to keep this fact hidden most of the time at work, since I don’t want the inmates to know.  I do want the staff to know so they can turn to me for legal help.  A couple of things have happened recently to make me willing to admit my profession.

First, I got an application form from the state bar, asking me if I wanted to be signed up for the referral service – it only costs $100 per year, but I would have to have professional liability insurance, which would cost another $400-600 dollars for the first year and would grow over the next 6 years to cost about $1100 per year.  I am still considering whether I want to enroll in that and incur that expense.

Second, while shopping for a cow, I ran into a lady who has a bunch of legal needs that I would love to help out with, but I haven’t heard from her in a while.  The beauty of that situation, of course, is that I might be able to say I performed legal work in exchange for a cow.  How ‘country lawyer’ does that sound?

Then, this past week, I met with a couple that has had a very bad month.  First, the husband got a DUI.  Then the husband was arrested on false charges and spent two weeks in jail.  The husband’s false charges have been dropped, but now the wife has been charged with her own set of offenses she didn’t commit.  The husband would also like to be naturalized and then work on the citizenship for his wife and two oldest children.  I wanted so much to help out with the false charges, but feel like there is a conflict of interest since the charges were brought by the State of Nebraska and I work for the State of Nebraska.  I hope to help them with some of their other legal issues, but need to do some more looking.

So now I am wondering if I should back off on how much I am working at the prison so I can have more time to work on legal and farming stuff.

Plus I am feeling more than a little overwhelmed at the thought of running any cases on my own.  I have always had a vast support network, plus free, unlimited access to legal research materials.  Now I will be trying to do all this work on nights and weekends using free resources.

The other issue is that I have never directly billed my clients.  I have always been paid a salary and then just poured my soul into my work.  Now I have to determine what my services are worth.  I have never had to figure that out before.  I want to stay away from an hourly billing framework and want to go with what is called ‘value-billing.’  Really it is just billing by the job rather than by the hour.  I know without a doubt that I will undercharge during my first year, because I won’t feel right asking for what I should get.


Filed under Lawyering

Garage Roof Done

Yesterday evening we finally finished the garage roof.  That roof has been my nemesis for months now and has been a source of near-constant frustration.  It all began with the trusses that didn’t stand vertically, then the struggles to put up roof sheathing, tar paper that blew away in our ‘breezes,’ and a chimney that I’m still not sure is done right.  But yesterday we all worked hard at laying shingles and last night I finally put shingles over the ridge line, completing the shingling.  Now I just need a good evening to slather on the roofing cement in the areas that need it.  Finally, no more water (I hope) pouring through the roof and getting all my tools and nails wet.

The other day (Thursday) we were all on the roof working (Gina, Caleb, Meagan & I).  Abby was inside sleeping.  The wind was blowing hard and we were all thinking about quitting, but I was afraid that would be the last nice day to work, and I was dreading letting any more water pour through the roof.  Then we noticed that the ladder had been blown over in the wind, so we were all stranded on the roof.  Gina and I argued over who would jump, when we noticed a car coming along the road.  We ran to the peak of the roof and tried to wave them into our drive, but they just waved back at us.  Then Caleb volunteered to jump.  So we lowered Caleb down and dropped him the last foot.  He was so brave and courageous.  What a joy it was to see him drop down from the roof and run around and lift the ladder back into place.  My hero!


Filed under Homebuilding

How the Pastoral Role Damages Body Life

I have been reading the book Pagan Christianity? by Frank Viola and George Barna.  The subtitle to the book is “Exploring the Roots of our Church Practices.”  The basic premise of the book is that most of the practices that modern churches engage in are traditions that are rooted in pagan culture, not the Bible.  The inside dust cover states:

Many Christians take for granted that their church’s practices are rooted in Scripture.  Yet those practices look very different from those of the first-century church.  The New Testament is not silent on how the early church freely expressed the reality of Christ’s indwelling in ways that rocked the first-century world.

Times have changed.  Pagan Christianity? leads us on a fascinating tour through church history, revealing this startling and unsettling truth:  Many cherished church traditions embraced today originated not out of the New Testament, but out of pagan practices.  One of the most troubling outcomes has been the effect on average believers:  turning them from living expressions of Christ’s glory and power to passive observers.  If you want to see that trend reversed, turn to Pagan Christianity? . . . a book that examines and challenges every aspect of our present-day church experience.

I have been reading this book whenever I get a chance (which isn’t very often), but I just finished chapter 5.  Speaking of which, check out these chapter titles:

  1. Have We Really Been Doing It by the Book?
  2. The Church Building:  Inheriting the Edifice Complex
  3. The Order of Worship:  Sunday Mornings Set in Concrete
  4. The Sermon:  Protestantism’s Most Sacred Cow
  5. The Pastor:  Obstacle to Every-Member Functioning
  6. Sunday Morning Costumes:  Covering Up the Problem
  7. Ministers of Music:  Clergy Set to Music
  8. Tithing and Clergy Salaries:  Sore Spots on the Wallet
  9. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper:  Diluting the Sacraments
  10. Christian Education:  Swelling the Cranium
  11. Reapproaching the New Testament:  The Bible is not a Jigsaw Puzzle
  12. A Second Glance at the Savior:  Jesus, the Revolutionary

This whole book has been fascinating to read as I try to discern what God intends for His Church.  I believe firmly that God did not call some to be pastors as we see them today.  I am also firmly convicted that God did not call us as believers to build buildings or temples.  He called us to gather whenever and wherever we can and to live lives of service.

The unscriptural clergy/laity distinction has done untold harm to the body of Christ.  It has divided the believing community into first- and second-class Christians.  The clergy/laity dichotomy perpetuates an awful falsehood — namely, that some Christians are more privileged than others to serve the Lord.

Permit us to get personal.  We believe the pastoral office has stolen your right to function as a full member of Christ’s body.  It has distorted the reality of the body, making the pastor a giant mouth and transforming you into a tiny ear.  It has rendered you a mute spectator who is proficient at taking sermon notes and passing an offering plate.

But that is not all.  The modern-day pastoral office has overthrown the main thrust of the letter to the Hebrews — the ending of the old priesthood.  It has made ineffectual the teaching of 1 Corinthians 12-14, that every member has both the right and the privilege to minister in a church meeting.  It has voided the message of 1 Peter 2 that every brother and sister is a functioning priest.

Being a functioning priest does not mean that you may only perform highly restrictive forms of ministry like singing songs in your pew, raising your hands during worship, setting up the PowerPoint presentation, or teaching a Sunday school class.  That is not the New Testament idea of ministry!  These are mere aids for the pastor’s ministry.  As one scholar put it, “Much Protestant worship, up to the present day, has also been infected by an overwhelming tendency to regard worship as the work of the pastor (and perhaps the choir) with the majority of the laity having very little to do but sing a few hymns and listen in a prayerful and attentive way.”

But there is something more.  The contemporary pastorate rivals the functional headship of Christ in His church.  It illegitimately holds the unique place of centrality and headship among God’s people, a place that is reserved for only one Person — the Lord Jesus.  Jesus Christ is the only head over a church and the final word to it.  By his office, the pastor displaces and supplants Christ’s headship by setting himself up as the church’s human head.


Filed under Books, Review

Escape From Sobibor

Over the past two nights, Gina and I watched “Escape from Sobibor.”

Escape From Sobibor

Sobibor was a nazi death camp in eastern Poland and is also the site of the largest successful escape.  From what I can gather, this was a made-for-TV movie, so it is without bad language or on-screen violence, but this definitely does not make it child-appropriate.  There is much off-screen violence, and obviously the themes of the movie should be disturbing to most.  The acting is a bit wooden at times, but the movie is so powerful because it details and illustrates such a horrid time in our past.  It is just hard for me to believe that such crimes could be perpetrated, and yet I don’t doubt that these things happened.  And they only happened 65 years ago.  This movie led me to a better understanding of how these camps worked, but it also gave a frightening glimpse into the psychological torture the prisoners underwent.  The prisoners did anything just to survive, but ended up living with so much guilt because of the way they had to deal with the death of their families and friends.

Overall, I recommend this movie to any adult.

Leave a comment

Filed under Review

How did it get to be March 8th?

 And why is it just 3° when I wake up in March?  I thought it would be warmer.  I am still in need of long, warm days without rain to ‘finish’ the garage.  Now more than ever I want it done, because the chickens have discovered what a wonderful place it is to hang out, lay eggs, and roost in the rafters!  I want to put a whole in the roof for a chimney, so I can install the shingles around it and keep the rain out, and I want to install the garage door before much longer, in order to keep the chickens out.  I am looking at taking some time off from work in order to get these things done.

I also want to build a portable chicken coop soon.  I am thinking of using skids rather than a wagon or trailer.  I am hoping to build it light enough that it won’t get too stuck in any mud.  I need to plan it out, but I am thinking it will be 8×12 and will serve as a place for the chickens to roost in at night and to lay their eggs.

I also need to build a chicken tractor (for 25 meat birds) and rabbit tractors (3) for the spring.  I found some plans I want to use and will post them as soon as I remember where I found them.

I really want to start fellowshipping regularly with other members of Christ’s body.  We have met many believers here in Johnson County that I am just so excited about, including one man who works at the prison with me and also home schools his children.

I am frustrated with the cold and with my growing list of things to get done.  I need help, but grow tired of asking for help.

As a piece of good news, I did finally receive my discharge certificate from the Air Force, so I have completed my application for the reserves and am looking forward to hearing about my assignment.


God bless you with grace and peace.

1 Comment

Filed under Chickens, Farm Projects, Homebuilding