Sunday, September 30, 2007

A little bit of what I am reading right now

I'm not in the middle of a big book, so I've been checking out websites and here are a few good articles, in my opinion, worth taking a look at. You don't have to agree with them (I don't always) but they make me think.

STRIPPING AWAY SECRET IDENTITIES: Why Your Church Isn’t a Superhero

Worship as Evangelism

What is Injustice?

Creation Care

Take a look when you have a minute.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Schadenfreude

Schadenfreude is taking pleasure in the misfortune of others.

The headline below says it all.

Notre Dame scores first passing TD but remains winless

It really doesn't get any better than that.
.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Watching a slow-motion train wreck

Due to the utter incompetence of our elected officials in the once-great state of Michigan, our state government will shut down on Sunday at midnight. They have known about the $1.75 billion hole in the budget for most of the year if not longer. But rather than deal with the elephant in the room, they have chosen to engage in a months-long kabuki theater of the absurd. Just for fun, I have links below to some of the local newspaper commentary on the mess that is Lansing. Michigan is the Titanic, and they are the band.

Governor Jenn Jenn issues 35000 layoff notices

Foolish Politics ruins state editorial

Casinos can stay open Yippee!

Day of Reckoning? Hardly

Be grateful if you live somewhere else. The Banana Republic of Michigan is going dark this Monday morning.

This is a funny clip to start your weekend

This made me laugh. Thanks to my cousin Donna for sending it.
video

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Throwaway People

In our society there are a great number of throwaway people. Addicts, prostitutes, illegal immigrants, sex slaves etc. The list is long. As Christians, we need to live out the idea that there are no throwaway people. Each of us is made in the image of God, and each person is one of "the least of these" that Jesus spoke about.

The video clip below is dated, but still carries a powerful message. There are many missing and runaway children in this country. Some have run away because of abusive situations. Others for "love" or because of drug habits. Some have been kicked out by parents for various reasons. But they all have worth in God's economy.

What can you do?

1. Get to know your neighbors. If you see a child that seems to be drifting or in a bad situation, befriend the child. Let them know they are loved, and that you can provide an ear or a safe place for them. We have done this with a neighbor family that was held together by an abusive, alcoholic parent. When he died, the wheels came off the train. We did what we could to help the kids we had befriended get into stable situations. Did it turn out perfectly? No, but we did what we could and shared the love of Jesus with them.

2. Go to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and sign up for their Amber Alert service. It will notify you when children go missing in your area.

3. Support or volunteer at local agencies working with at-risk youth such as Vista Maria, which provides educational opportunities for abused and neglected girls, or Covenant House, which provides shelter and education for children living on the streets. There may be similar groups in your community. Check around and see if they need volunteers or mentors for kids.

Lastly, pray. Pray for these kids. Pray for your eyes to be opened so that you can see the invisible people in our communities. And pray that your heart be softened toward them so that the Holy Spirit can guide you.

Jesus had a soft spot for children. We should as well.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Some mindless fun for you

Click on the image below to see the evolution of dance in America. It is pretty funny.

A sad chapter in the history of the American Church

Click here to read the Bible Belt Blogger article on the 50th Anniversary of President Eisenhower calling out the 101st Airborne to enforce the integration of Little Rock's school system.

The startling comment to me was by one of the "Little Rock Nine" African-American students who said that the person who acted most like Jesus was an agnostic, and many of the leaders of the anti-integration movement were ministers and Christians. This is truly a sad chapter in our history.

Groaning for liberation

I know this sounds odd, but the government of Myanmar has called out riot police to counteract thousands of monks marching for freedom. This seems to be one of the universal yearnings of man, and one that Christ fulfilled when he broke the bonds of sin and death for us. The clip below is from Reuters.

Pray for these people. This is a horribly repressive government and the cause of Christ is a struggle there.

More on Christus Victor

My classmate Derek has a nice series on this at his blog. It's worth a read.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Lost in translation (you can't go home again)

You know my love for Pearls Before Swine, and today's strip is great. There is a spiritual application there that we need to pay attention to.

Before we became Christians, we probably behaved a bit differently than we do now. Suffice it to say, we probably had different friends then as well. Then Jesus changed our lives. Some Christians manage to stay in their same circle of friends and become salt and light to the lost. They influence those around them in a positive manner. They show the love of Christ to the lost and hurting, and lead them into faith through their example.

Others cloister themselves into groups of like-minded people, largely cut off from the rest of society. Just ask yourself or your Christian friends how many non-Christian friends they have. The numbers will probably be small.

Goat is like the second group. He left for 5 years and now doesn't speak the language of those he left behind. His mom's comment that you have changed, and not for the better, should be a cautionary word to those of us tempted to isolate ourselves from the world. We need to be in, but not of, the world. We need to bring salt and light to a lost and hurting world. Otherwise, we will not be able to communicate effectively with them.

Pray for God to show you those opportunities. Pray for courage to go where He leads you. Pray for strength to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with those who do not know him.

Don't be a goat.

What was Jesus' purpose?

This is not a rhetorical question. It's one that I have been thinking about for a while now (seminary will do that to you) as I look at the different ways that the church views the finished work of Christ. Was His purpose:
1. To ransom us from the Devil's grasp (Christus Victor) as the hymn O Come O Come Emmanuel laments "...and ransom captive Israel"?

2. To satisfy God's need for justice by becoming our substitute (satisfaction or penal substitution) punishment?

3. To be an "exemplar" for us to call us, by virtue of his example, to obedience?


In some ways all of them are correct. None is complete, but two of the three have dominated Christian thought for a millennium each. The first, the Christus Victor, was dominant until the medieval era. The second, the satisfaction or penal substitution has held sway since then. But there is movement in the church back to the Christus Victor position, and it catches my eye. In my own life I have gone from Penal Substitution as my main view to that of Christus Victor as I have grown in the faith. I can't explain why, but it just seems to me that my early Christian days were so focused on sin and how awful it was, and how Jesus took that punishment for me.

But the Victor really rings true for me right now. Victor = Victory. Seems logical to me. Victory over what? Sin? Yes. Death? Yep. Bondage to the past, addictions etc? Sure thing. I see victory as what so many people need in this hurting world. Victory over fear. Victory over addictions. Victory over the past of abuse, hurts, losses. Victory that brings peace. Victory that stitches together the whole biblical narrative from beginning to end. Victory that liberates.


Jesus clearly spoke about the Kingdom of God during his time on earth. He also referred to Satan as the “prince” of the present age. His death and resurrection are God’s way of freeing humans from bondage to Satan. God has a history of rescuing his people from bondage or slavery. The Exodus and the numerous captivities in the prophetic era are examples. In Jesus, God came to once and for all end Satan’s dominion over the earth and over human beings. He did it through exorcisms, healings and raising the dead during his earthly ministry. The capstone was his own death and resurrection.

God is also a liberator throughout the Bible,. The Resurrection of Christ is his greatest act, because it allows for a new kingdom to take shape in territory formerly occupied by Satan. The kingdom of God is unfolding here on earth, led by the Risen Christ, and advancing against the very gates of Hell that Jesus spoke about in Matthew 16:18.

The Christus Victor view held sway in the early church for more than 1000 years until the satisfaction theory took hold. It is the unifying theme of Jesus’ earthly ministry, and cogently holds his teaching on the kingdom, as well as his healing, exorcism and other miracles together. It ties Jesus’ resurrection and death together. He could have died for us and paid the price. The Resurrection broke the back of Satan’s power throughout the Universe, not just here on earth.

This view does give Satan a great deal of airtime. But the centrality of the intervention of God into the affairs of man to free him from Satan’s bondage shows the compassion and love of God for us. Christ came to not manage sin by restraining Satan, but rather to mark the beginning of the end of Satan’s reign by conquering death, the one thing Satan’s deception ushered into the world. Adam’s fall brought death into the world, and Christ’s resurrection ended death’s dominion over us.

Given that Christ is Victor over sin and death, what do we need to let him have victory over in our lives? He has broken Satan's power over this world. We need to let him break Satan's grasp of things in our own lives. He has won. Use the victory Jesus won to bring victory in your own life.

Monday, September 24, 2007

If you know some survivalist types

Or just some members of the black helicopter, chemtrails, government is out to get us crowd, you should send them this. They can find shelter there.

The Melancholy Funk

For the past couple of months, I've been in a bit of a melancholy funk. Nothing huge, but just unsettled about the way things are going. Maybe this is the mid-life crisis now that I have hit 40, but I just don't know.

I keep going back to the movie As Good as It Gets, when Jack Nicholson's obsessive compulsive character asks a group of depressed psychiatric patients "What if this is as good as it gets?" That is the question that haunts me. I'm an optimist at heart, and firmly believe that the best is a head of us. But I have nagging doubts that I may be wrong. And I'm just struggling with that. I don't think its the seasonal blahs, it's just a nagging doubt that hangs in my head.

If you sense a despondent tone in my posts, feel free to drop me an electronic kick in the pants. I probably need it.

Friday, September 21, 2007

I see light at the end of the tunnel

As we mark the 11th week of the water damage project, we have progress. Today they presented us with an invoice and took their key box off the house. All we have left now is to complete the refinishing of the woodwork and install the carpet, which should happen in early October. Praise the Lord. We very much look forward to getting our house back.

Some friendly advice. NEVER let the insurance company choose your contractor. Get someone you can trust. It is a lesson I have learned the hard way.

BTW - I do not see an oncoming train.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

It pains me to even post this

He does a nice job with the dichotomy between the two ideas. It is sad for me because I have warm fuzzy feelings for both. I must admit my feelings for both have soured in recent years.

Forbes.com


Digital Rules
Tackling the Michigan Problem
Rich Karlgaard 10.01.07, 12:00 AM ET

Is there any link between the struggling state of Michigan’s economy and the University of Michigan football team’s shocker loss to Appalachian State, called “the greatest upset in the history of college football” by sportswriter John Feinstein? Call it a metaphorical stretch, but I think there is. Here are some commonalities:

--Insularity. Why were the fifth-ranked Wolverines, with their glorious football history, playing an NCAA Division 1-AA team? Sure, majors often warm up with a patsy. But dropping down a whole division smacks of an unwillingness to benchmark against one’s peers.

For years Detroit’s Big Three automakers used to benchmark only against each other and not against the Europeans and Japanese. If you spent any time in Detroit in the 1970s through the 1990s, you discovered how insular it was. My colleague Jerry Flint, who has forgotten more than I could ever learn about the car business, says Detroit needs car guys running car companies. I’m not so sure. Outsiders like Alan Mulally at Ford and Bob Nardelli at Chrysler might be just what Detroit needs now.

Here’s another contributor to insularity. A perk for Big Three brass hats is use of a new car, always washed and perfectly maintained. It’s easy to think your own cars are the best in the world when your personal chariot is kept in showroom condition.

--Lack of Innovation. A favorite memory of mine is the 1972 Rose Bowl, when underdog Stanford kicked a last-second field goal to beat highly ranked Michigan, 13 to 12. What made the upset delicious was the complaint of Michigan fans that Stanford didn’t play “real football,” i.e., Stanford passed the ball and used trick plays, while Michigan, predictably, ran the ball. As if innovation were somehow unfair.

Similarly, the Michigan economy is locked into the Old World era of union labor and high taxes. Unions protested the new technique of flexible manufacturing pioneered by Toyota and embraced around the world. Michigan’s high taxes created a vicious cycle: Investors and entrepreneurs left the state, thus eroding the tax base, thus fooling politicians into raising taxes on those left behind.

--Loss of Talent. The Wolverines and the Big Ten had one huge advantage during the 1920s–60s. Most Southern colleges were segregated. African-American high school stars from the South would head north for college. Today they don’t have to, which is why the Southeastern Conference has become the country’s top football league.

The state of Michigan has suffered similar losses of talent: Google cofounder Larry Page; Sun Microsystems cofounders, Scott McNealy and Bill Joy; and Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer, all have Michigan roots. All departed.

By now you might be ready to depart this column because I’ve stretched the football metaphor too far! Okay. Let’s move on and look at what Michigan must do to revive its economy.

--Benchmark From the Best. While it might be useful to study hot spots like Boston, Seattle and Silicon Valley, Michigan’s more relevant lesson can be found in nearby Minnesota. The Minnesota economy hums because it is remarkably diverse. Its anchor companies span the range from agriculture and food products (Cargill, General Mills) to medium tech (3M) to aviation (Cirrus Design) to health care (Medtronic) to retail (Best Buy, Target) to a cluster of tech startups in the southwestern suburbs of Minneapolis. Such diversity protects Minnesota from industry slumps.

As in Michigan, Minnesota is not lightly taxed. But in Minnesota the taxes don’t all go to waste. Minnesota’s public schools consistently rank among the top in the nation. Biking trails, wellkept lakes and other public amenities make life nice for its middle class. Corruption in government is rare in the Gopher State. Of course, if neighboring Wisconsin were to lower its taxes, Minnesota would have to do the same or feel the pain.

--Practice Ichironomics. Think Detroit has it bad? Consider the fall and comeback of Spokane, Wash. In 1974 Spokane hosted the World’s Fair, its theme being “Celebrating Tomorrow’s Fresh New Environment.” President Richard Nixon opened the fair, but his and Spokane’s fortunes soon went south. The 1982 U.S. recession hit Spokane especially hard. America recovered by early 1983, but Spokane, dependent on old industries such as forestry and railroads, struggled throughout the 1980s.

Today Spokane is ranked by FORBES as the 20th-best business city in the U.S. How did the city do it? My colleague Mark Tatge profiled Spokane in our Apr. 23 issue. Tatge wrote: “Cheap electricity, cheap land and favorable taxes are luring entrepreneurs from the coasts. … Five years ago the economy began to surge. Washington State has no personal income tax, no corporate income tax (corporations pay on gross receipts only) and relatively low property and sales taxes. Electricity from the hydroelectric dams on the Columbia and Spokane rivers is 50% cheaper than in California.”

Spokane, like Minneapolis-St. Paul, refuses to bet the economy on one or two industries. Rather, it practices what one city booster calls “Ichironomics. Like the Seattle Mariners’ center fielder, Ichiro Suzuki, we try to hit singles and doubles. We want to improve the overall conditions for small businesses, not chase the large employer.”

Good lessons, Michigan. Now, about those Wolverines …

Read Rich Karlgaard's daily blog at http://blogs.forbes.com/digitalrules or visit his home page at www.karlgaard.com





Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Give it up for the sisters

This is a nice story about some environmental work an order of nuns based here in Monroe have done. They have truly taken a steward's approach to their time on this earth.

Bravo sisters. Bravo!

Adjusting to reality

This article in Leadership Journal really struck me, partly because it goes against the grain of the past 30 years of Protestant Christianity. It is about a new pastor at a church that aspired to be a mega-church and never made it there. They built the building, but for reasons you can read in the article, it didn't happen.

So the new pastor comes in and decides that they can still be very effective, just not as a megachurch. The process of change is wrenching, but it can lead to great kingdom growth as the congregation reaches out to the lost and hurting world around us.

I've been thinking about this article as I watch the circus in our state capitol. In many ways, Michigan is like this church. It isn't what it once was, nor what it dreamed it would be. So where do you go from here? I offer some suggestions from the article that are applicable to many churches, the state of Michigan, and individuals who are dealing with the disappointment of a life that didn't turn out the way they had hoped.

1. To be honest about our current condition. This can be hard for a church with such a storied past.

People kept asking: Why have our long-term members left? When are things going to get back to the way they were? What's wrong with us? (Translation: Why have all of these people and businesses left?)

Such questions can squelch even the most sincere brainstorming sessions. The hard truth we've tried to communicate through all of this is that the glory days of the past are exactly that—past glory days. We're not to try to return to them. Garnett will never again be the church it once was. We have to do the difficult thing of letting go of our former glory in order to allow God to do a new thing in us.

2. To relinquish our rights as members to a church building that we are no longer able to pay for by ourselves. The Garnett Church of Christ building is becoming the Garnett Event Center.

Already, several other churches are using our facilities on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon: a Messianic Jewish community, a charismatic Hispanic church, a rock church called Rolling Stone, and a new church plant.

Throughout the week, a number of other events, some church-related and others not, are held at our building. Not only is the rental income from these events helping to pay the bills, but it's also giving us a hospitable presence in our neighborhood. (Translation: No longer will we have a dominant position with a dominant industry fueling our state coffers. We will have to go out and compete for each and every business that we hope to lure here.)

But not without some difficulty. Everyone, myself and all ministry staff included, must reserve any classroom or meeting space equally with those in the community who are using or renting space.

The way we're trying to see it: this building no longer belongs to us. It belongs to our community. This isn't easy to explain to a charter member who's been helping to pay off the building for 20 years!

We've started a bi-lingual preschool that has grown to 50 students, half Anglo and half Hispanic. We've projected beyond our ability to speak Spanish, putting "Bienvenito" (Welcome) on the front doors and asking Spanish speakers to help us translate for different events.

We made it our goal to pray for every family that comes into our weekly food subsidy ministry and to invite them to serve with us.

3. To recognize that the most life-giving activities of our church aren't necessarily going to happen in our facility. Church leaders in event-driven and personality-centered churches tend to gauge success by headcount, the number of people who show up. This is what leaders talked about, and subsequently members tended to judge success by how pews and collection baskets were filled.

With Michael Frost (author of Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture) and Alan Hirsch (The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21st Century Church), we have been forced to ask new questions: What if events of church, personalities of church, and Sunday assembly went away? What would be our view of the Christian life? What would we do as Christians, and who would we be?

We're working with the local fire department to arrange Spanish classes for them so they can better serve and communicate on daily calls. We're partnering with Habitat for Humanity and our city to build and renovate houses and help people to get back on their feet again.

We are learning to see our community, and individuals, not as needing handouts but as valued people who can together with us serve our Lord and our community. (Translation: Not everyone is going to move all of their operations here. We may have to settle for a tech center and the manufacturing will be done in a lower-cost environment.)

4. To learn to be missionaries in our own culture. Across the street from us, Fire Station 27 is the busiest station in the city. Fire Chief Michael Baker said, "This is a big church and the neighborhood is waiting … waiting to see what you are going to do for this community."

This comment has been forcing us outward, while we are at the same time redesigning our space for community groups to enter. Church Shepherd Robert Garland replied to Chief Baker that "we want to be a better neighbor to you and this community." (Translation: Treat the people we have more hospitably instead of crying about what we used to have or didn't get. Don't stomp on the businesses that are here as we chase our next "fix" of a large employer that is using us as a negotiating ploy.)

And really, that's the first step to becoming missionaries: getting to know our neighbors' needs.

Todd Hunter of Alpha-USA articulates well what we want to do: "I want to help people become the cooperative friends of Jesus, seeking to live lives of constant creative goodness through the power of the Holy Spirit for the sake of the world."

That's what we're determined to do: equip our congregation to be Christ to neighbors, co-workers, and family members, rather than trying to coax people into signing up for every church program possible and burning families out with church involvement.

We've had to ruthlessly ask of each ministry venture, "Is this an energy drain? An event without purpose? A building-centered program that determines success by how many populate this building?"

Anything aside from a Christ-centered approach is out in favor of teaching one another how to be incarnational presence of Christ, in practical ways in our jobs, neighborhoods, PTAs, and sports teams.

I know it isn't all directly applicable, but it does ring true for our elected officials, and many pastors and leaders of churches that are not where they dreamed they would be.

For the churches, fix your eyes on Christ and his dreams and plans, not yours. Remember the conversation between Peter and Jesus in John 21:

The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you."

Jesus said, "Feed my sheep. 18 I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." 19Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!"

20Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, "Lord, who is going to betray you?") 21When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him?"

22Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me." 23Because of this, the rumor spread among the brothers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?"

24This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.

25Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

If you are Peter, the prospect of crucifixion is not something that he relished. Jesus was making the point that it isn't about him, or Peter, but about God, who sent Jesus and called Peter. We would do well to heed that advice. I know I would.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Spitting into the wind

It seems that the Michigan Legislature is not a fan of Jim Croce songs. In their Keystone Cops rendition of how to fix a state's ailing budget, they have fallen back to the old mainstay of raising taxes to fix their overspending problem. It seems that they are of the belief that everything the State of Michigan does is worthy of keeping and therefore, we should stick it to the taxpayers to continue status quo ante. So, in spite of the worst economy in the U.S which is going backward during a growth period for the rest of the country, they are going to stick it to those of us who are still here, and tell those who want to bring business here to pony up to support their system.

Jim Croce had it right:

You don't tug on superman's cape
You don't spit into the wind
You don't pull the mask off that old lone ranger
And you don't mess around with Jim

They are spitting into a pretty strong headwind, that is quickly turning into a downdraft. All the while the band plays merrily on in Lansing.

If you live outside of Michigan, praise God for your good fortune. If you live in this mess, here are links to contact your state state House or Senate elected officials to voice your thoughts on this situation. Rendering unto Caesar is getting a bit old.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A feature that I would love in a new car

Laugh a little as you watch. As a parent of a 12 year old girl, there is one that is particularly appealing. After all, who wouldn't want a trunk monkey.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Keep Your Eyes Open

Sex Slavery is going on near where you live. Just last year we had busts in Detroit of people holding women and young girls in sexual slavery. It's not just in Asia my friends. Sadly it is in those "Oriental Massage Parlors" you see along the highway. It is in the inner city, and in the suburbs. In the heartland and on the coasts.

Many of them are lured into it with the promise of a legitimate job when they arrive in the U.S. They then have to "work off" the cost of transporting them here. They never manage to earn enough to pay off their trafficker/pimp. And if they go to law enforcement, they face deportation. This is truly sickening and it happens here.

For more information, go here and watch the short video. There are literally millions of people forced into this business. Pray for their safety, advocate for their release, and do what you can to help. Lives may depend on it.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

This guy is my hero



My friend John and I built a smaller one that we used to hurl pumpkins at our church's harvest party. The kids loved it, and we had some fun smashing pumpkins. The Wall Street Journal even wrote about him.

Cruelty

Deacon Raphael has started an interesting thread on The Ooze about Michael Vick and child abuse. I'd love to hear your thoughts on why we are obsessed with the animal abuse perpetrated by Vick and his companions.

I know for me, part of it is my love for dogs. I'm rather Franciscan in my love for animals, and I get teary-eyed just thinking about it. But I would never equate treatment of animals with treatment of humans. Especially defenseless humans such as children, the elderly, immigrants, widows and the poor. It absolutely sickens me when you hear stories of children being abused. Here in Metro Detroit we just completed the trial of a disturbed mother who stabbed her children to death and nearly decapitated one of them in the process.

I know children who have been removed from their families because of the abuse in the home. God does provide for them, but there is an element there that can never be recovered for them. It breaks my heart when I come across it.

What links these in my mind is the cruelty and callous disregard for life. People who take pleasure in watching animals destroy each other have problems. There is a proven link between animal abuse and anti-social behavior as adults. I'm not saying Vick et al will become serial killers, but people who idolize them are certainly receiving the signal that someone who has everything the world has to offer thinks this is cool.

I know this is an incomplete thought, and there will be more later. I'm just struggling with the topic right now.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Remembrance Day

Following The Great War (now called World War I) the victor countries commemorated the cessation of hostilities on Remembrance Day, which is Nov 11, the day the armistice was signed. In the current hostilities in which we are engaged, I don't believe there will be an armistice signing. Unfortunately this war is ideological, not national, and the combatants are scattered among a number of countries.

Today is the 6th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington D.C. There will be solemn ceremonies marking the deaths of nearly 3000 Americans who went to work on a beautiful day and did not return home through no fault of their own, other than working in the target buildings. Take a moment to pray for the families that were left behind on that day. The grieving still goes on for them. Their loved one's death will be back on the news again to remind them of that awful day.

As you remember those horrific events, take my colleague Sandra's suggestion and do a good deed today and every day. I don't know if doing good deeds will change the hearts and minds of those bent on our destruction. But it will help us fulfill the Golden Rule established by our Lord, Jesus Christ. He is the one we will answer to, not Osama Bin Laden or his Allah.

God help us all.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Something to think about

As you watch the testimony of General Petraeus in front of Congress, put this video clip in the back of your mind. How would D-Day have been handled in an era of 24-hour cable news?

This isn't perfect, and it isn't political. It is directly aimed at the way the modern media comports itself.

When up is down and down is up

Props to Kurt's Korner for his call on the Bizarro World- Michigan Style. I sense that the apocalypse may be upon us. Michigan is 0-2 and has been beaten like a rented mule at home. They have been humiliated by a 1-AA team and a not-great Oregon squad. And they have looked totally discombobulated in the process, which is atypical for them.

The other bizarrity is that the Lions looked good and are undefeated. I think I'm going to sell all my possessions and move to the mountaintop. This is so odd. The clip below encapsulates my thoughts this morning.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Avoiding temptation

The dead-tree edition of today's Monroe Sunday News has a nice article on how to avoid financial junk mail. Unfortunately it is not available online. The gist of the article is that 1) many people are tempted to take out more credit than they can handle; and 2) these pre-approved offers are a identity theft risk.

I do have good news. If you so desire, you can opt out of receiving these offers. All you have to do is go here and follow the instructions. It takes about 2 minutes and you can choose to opt out for 5 years or permanently.

Consider this an early Christmas present from me to you.

When Time passes you by

You become the Michigan football team. One week after a humiliating loss to a Division 1-AA school, they get pounded by Oregon at home. I credit Bishopman for calling me out on this yesterday. It appears that the modern version of football has eluded Michigan's coaching staff. Every time they see a spread offense and a mobile quarterback, they struggle. It's been that way for nearly 10 years, since Donovan McNabb did them in when he was at Syracuse.

I think it is time for a change at the helm. And please, do not promote any of the current staff to the head job. We need a winner in Ann Arbor to offset the mess that is the Lions.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

This passes for news?

Please tell me why I should care about this. I suspect most people are "snorey and stinky" in the morning. That is why it is called morning breath.

As if there was nothing else to cover.

Sheesh.

Friday, September 07, 2007

It's not just Michael Vick

Sure Michael Vick has pleaded guilty to gambling and some dogfighting charges. He will probably get a year or so in prison for the interstate portions of the crime. He is now the poster-boy for this issue, but it is far more pervasive than you might have other wise thought. The Detroit Free Press as a story on how pervasive it is in Metro Detroit.

I just have a hard time believing that there are people who are so cruel to animals in my own community. I'm a softy toward animals, especially dogs. To imagine the fear and pain that they go through in this process is something I cannot process. Here is a video clip of a dog fight (warning - it is a bit graphic). I show this only to appeal to you to keep your eyes and ears open for dogfighting. Call the police or the Humane Society if you suspect something is amiss. Don't let them suffer any more for the amusement of some very sick individuals.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

I need a little help from my friends

My is dying. Sadly, it is not long for this earth. It seems that time has caught up with the 3-cylinder engine. So I appeal to you for assistance. If you come across a car that is in reasonable shape for a couple grand, drop me a note. I'm looking for a 4-door sedan that isn't a pig on gas. I can't be real picky in this price range, but you never know.

However, I don't want any of the following :

The European beater.











The American War Wagon







I would love a low-rider, but I'm not sure the rest of the family is on board with that.







Seriously, if you come across something you might think I would be interested in, I'd appreciate the heads-up.

Saying goodbye to a Godly Man

Dr. James Kennedy has gone on to meet his Lord. He pastored the same congregation for what seemed like forever, and preached from his heart standing firmly on scripture. His Evangelism Explosion helped millions better share their faith, and the kingdom advanced because of it.

Well done, good and faithful servant.

Here is a memorial site dedicated to Dr. Kennedy.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Monday, September 03, 2007

What can you possibly add to this story?

This one left me slack-jawed, which isn't easy. Let me see if I have this straight. 45-year old woman loves kids, regrets that her kids are growing up. So she is happy when her daughters become pregnant at 14, twice, and all live together on public assistance. No this isn't the South or Appalachia. It is the United Kingdom.

As a church, the one daughter's statements should be cause for serious introspection:

"I've wanted kids since I was 12," she said.

"I was sick of babysitting other people's and wanted one of my own.

"Gavin, my boyfriend at the time, and I weren't using contraception, and I was aware I might get pregnant. But I knew I'd be happy if I did."

She continued: "I never found it hard being a young mum.

"Both my children were good babies, so I always got enough sleep.

"And I wasn't worried about it changing my lifestyle. I never did anything but stay in and watch TV anyway.

"There's nothing to do around here, so having kids keeps me busy.

"I feel good about bringing life into the world."

There is a significant portion of the population in the Christianized West who have a very odd moral compass. This is quite simply about self-gratification, not in a sexual sense, but in a "babies bring me joy" sense. There is a lot of work to do in our own backyards, as well as the mission fields. Pray for workers who will see the fields "White for harvest" and respond to the Lord's call. They are certainly needed.

Living without TV

Sometimes I don't appreciate God's sense of humor. In July, we decided to put our TV on vacation hold (a cool DirecTV feature) until October 1. We realized we were watching too much TV as it was, and a break would be good for all of us. Little did we know that our TV would be unavailable until then.

Right before we left to go to Colorado in July we had a toilet overflow in the 2nd floor bathroom that destroyed the living room ceiling. On July 13 (a Friday to boot) we left to go on vacation as the emergency contractors hired by the insurance company were ripping out our living room ceiling. As of September 3, we still don't have use of that room, and all of our furniture is stacked in the dining room, including the TV. Needless to say, we are unhappy with the insurance company's "PREFERRED CONTRACTOR", and we hope to have our living room back soon.

I tell you this not to evoke sympathy for us. Yes it has been a hassle having 1/2 of the first floor virtually unusable. When Deb and the girls are sleeping, I have very few places I can go and read. I do miss my couch and recliner. But I am getting some reading done. The girls have been reading quite a bit, which is something we wanted to encourage anyway.

I'm also going to bed earlier, which is one of the goals of my "Rule of Life." I tend to stay up later watching television, and then am groggy in the morning.

The greatest benefit was this weekend. Not having TV kept me from seeing the greatest debacle in NCAA Football history. The #5 ranked team in the country, the University of Michigan, lost at home to a Division 1-AA team. This is akin to the Washington Generals beating the Harlem Globetrotters. Except that it counted.

I am thanking the Lord for Prevenient Grace, which kept me from throwing something through my television when that happened.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

How would Jesus Pastor?

Take a look at this article on Charles Sheldon. I'm in the process of reading In His Steps, and I love it. It's not great literature, that is true. But it is thought-provoking and inspiring to think of how the world would be different if people actually lived their lives based on the question "What would Jesus do?" It follows the story of the fictional town of Raymond which is transformed when a dying stranger wanders into a church service and asks, in a roundabout sort of way, the question "what would Jesus do?"

It's a good, quick read, and an inexpensive paperback book to pick up. I'm enjoying it immensely, and it presents a very different, action-based, not intellectual, form of discipleship.

Your local library probably has a copy.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

This brought tears to my eyes

What a powerful representation of the joy of Christ, the way we become distracted, and how Jesus will intervene to rescue us and protect us from that which seeks to destroy us. The song is "Everything" by Lifehouse.

Thanks to Dan Doktor for sharing it with me.