From the No-Wonder-So-Many-People-Hate-Christianity Department: A dozen states are scrambling to restrict picketing at funerals. They're doing it because Pastor Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, consider it their mission to protest at the funerals of American troops. They believe that what's happening in Iraq is God's judgment on America for our toleration of gays. "Thank God for IEDs" (improvised explosive devices) and "God Hates Fag Enablers" read their signs. "By your love they will know you are my disciples," said Jesus. But then, so much of Christianity has nothing to do with Jesus. - - - - Sixteen guys at our 20th and final meeting. As I wrote a couple days ago, we began in 1987 as young preachers. At the time our ages ranged from 29-41. Now, 19 years later (making 20 years) we're 48-60. At times life has been hard. But through it all we've gathered each year to share our journeys. We've always known that no matter what happened there were other guys praying. What's so very strange right now is knowing that we won't be doing this again. We won't get the regular update--at least like we're used to--on marriages, children (and now, grandchildren), ministries, hopes, disappointments. What a privilege it's been. We began as a group meeting to talk about expository preaching. Thanks to the honesty of a couple guys in "the circle" our first year, we quickly became something else. "Band of brothers" is a bit overworked. But that's what we've been. Diane and I are fortunate to have other bands of brothers and sisters. And I think we all need them. We need people whom we've been with over the long haul who will take genuine interest in our story/stories, who will be completely honest with us, and who don't need to be impressed by us. As friends we'll still connect. But as a group we're defunct as of noon today. Go with God, YBB. . . .