Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Grandeur of God's Creation

Just sit back, watch and listen to the video clip as you take in the magnificence that is the heavens.
túrána hott kurdís by hasta la otra méxico! from Till Credner on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Saddle up boys


Wild Bill's Goat Rodeo is back in town, playing indefinitely at Ford Field. With yesterday's announcement that the coach of the 0'fer the season team has been put out of his misery, and the assistant GM and finance guy of the worst team in NFL history have been promoted, this should be a great show. Throw in lots of high draft picks, an incompetent owner, a clueless management team, and players who don't know what it is like to win, and you have a full-fledged rodeo on your hands.

Yeee Haaa!



P.S. - The shirts are available here.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Prayer for the day

Bless my dealings with all who surround me. Teach me to treat all that comes to throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that your will governs all. In all my deeds and words, guide my thoughts and feelings. In unforeseen events, let me not forget that all are sent by you.

— St. Philaret of Moscow

Friday, December 26, 2008

This is one way to say Merry Christmas

This is why I want the Lions to go 0-16


This article summarizes much of the frustration that I have felt with the Lions during my lifetime. I'm 41 years old and they have won 1 playoff game since I have been on the planet. During that time, Mr. Ford has been either 1) grossly incompetent and unable to find competent front office personnel and coaches; 2) unlucky; or 3) indifferent to the plight of the fans and unconcerned about winning, just making money.

I do feel bad for the players on the Lions. It's not their fault that Mr. Ford gave Matt Millen a 5 year extension at $5 million/year when it was apparent that he didn't know how to run a team and the fans were marching in the streets calling for Millen's dismissal. The Lions just don't have talent, and Mr. Ford just doesn't seem to care. Before last week's drubbing at the hands of the Saints, he announced that he is bringing his current management team back next year. Obviously he is pleased with their performance, so much that he isn't willing to interview anyone who might be considered a "genius" or even above average.

So, I'm going to follow the lead of my younger daughter and become a Dolphins fan. She switched because she cannot handle the losing and she likes Jake Long and Chad Henne, who were drafted by the Dolphins.

At least I can leave with a clear conscience and say that I have never given the Lions any of my money. The games I have attended were as guests of suite holders, and I didn't pay for anything, including parking.

Adios Mr. Ford. You have made it clear that you are indifferent to the fans, and either don't care about building a winner or don't know how. Either way, I'm taking the energy I have as a fan and giving it to a team that actually tries to win. Not one that is the plaything of a rich kid who wasn't allowed to play in the family game of auto manufacturing.

I'm embarrassed that it has taken me this long to get to this point. Maybe I'm just a slow learner. But, at least I learn.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

One of the oddest high school football games you will ever hear about

* Warning* Have Kleenex handy before reading this.

This is one of those touching, true stories that just makes a lump appear in your throat. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I can use your help

I am preaching this Sunday at our church, and would like your thoughts on the following text. Just let me know if anything jumps out at you.

Luke 2:22-40 (New International Version)

22When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord"[a]), 24and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: "a pair of doves or two young pigeons."[b]

25Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 27Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29"Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you now dismiss[c] your servant in peace.
30For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
32a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel."

33The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too."

36There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37and then was a widow until she was eighty-four.[d] She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

39When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Bullies in the Church


Sadly this is a phenomenon that we have to endure in many congregations. I've encountered them in my life, and I know of other pastors who have them in their own congregations. They go by different titles in different congregations - Church Boss, Head Deacon, Biggest Tither - you get the picture, but they have an agenda that is theirs and theirs alone.

This article offers some sound thoughts on the matter. This thought really struck me (excerpting from article):

Few of us are surprised that we frequently encounter bullies beyond the church walls. We realize that, out there, brutal power moves are the order of the day. We expect the unredeemed to stop at nothing to gain advantage, even preying on the helpless and disenfranchised, such as children, senior citizens, and the homeless.

But to encounter such folks using strong-arm (and subtle, manipulative) tactics under stained-glass windows (often with a smile) can cause a seismic jolt to our hearts. We wonder why bullies haven't grasped biblical teaching such as Paul shared with the Ephesians: "Live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love" (Ephesians 4:1-2).

How could followers of Jesus—who taught and modeled respect, compassion and self-giving love—resort to such despicable behavior?

We ponder why they've even been tolerated, considering the damage they leave in their wakes. Why do other Christians, well aware of these intimidating control freaks and their victims, become tongue-tied bystanders who are unwilling to confront these people in their tracks? We're especially puzzled and devastated when we discover that they are our leaders, bosses, board members, and coworkers.


Why do we tolerate people who stir up dissent, seek to control others, and destroy those they cannot control? Why do we become silent and watch as good people are driven from the church? Pastors are churned if they don't kow-tow to the bully's demands. Lay leaders who challenge the bully are subject to intimidation and character assassination and usually leave because the price of staying is too high. Yet we sit idly by and allow it to happen. Are we like Neville Chamberlain and want "peace at any price" realizing that the illusion of peace means that someone other than us is being subject to the abuse?

This is a sensitive subject, and one that I have some experience with. I pray for congregations that are in the grip of bullies. I also pray for those with the courage to stand up to them and endure the strife that may break out as people let the bullies know that their behavior is not OK.

Join me in praying for them please. Peace on earth should be more than a slogan at Christmas time.

A Christmas Prayer

As Advent draws to a close and Christmas nears, I love the thoughts in this prayer. Let them draw you closer to the Lord on the anniversary of His Birth.


Loving God, Help us remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and worship of the wise men.

Close the door of hate
and open the door of love all over the world.
Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting.
Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings,
and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.

May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children,
and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts,
forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus' sake. Amen.


-- Robert Louis Stevenson

I quit (I don't really mean it but it feels good to say it)

This story is driving me nuts. A team that hasn't won in a year is talking about retaining the guys at the top who helped get them to this point. This is Mr. Scrooge (er, William Clay Ford Sr.'s way of saying Merry Christmas to Michigan). I seriously wish I knew how to quit this team. The only way I can think of is to move far away. Come to think of it with Michigan's economy...

I've posted the video clip before but it bears repeating.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I'm not one for class envy

But this video clip is pretty funny. I generally despise populism, but this bailout frenzy does strike a certain chord.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Memo to men before the holidays



Watch the video clip and learn.

And the band played on...


The band on the Titanic is legendary for continuing to play as the great ship sank. We are witnessing a tragedy on a more massive scale here in Michigan with the Detroit Public Schools board, which is churning through superintendents on average every 19 months.

This is a school district where, at best, 70 percent of the students graduate. It is a district that has lost an incredible number of students, yet doesn't want to close school buildings, and keeps pouring money into dilapidated facilities. It is a district that was just allowed to have its own school board within the past few years after the state had taken control of the financially and performance-troubled district. Now the state is poised to take control again.

The tragedy is that thousands of children are recieving a substandard education, which will hamper them for the rest of their lives. The school board seems more interested in getting themselves in the news and running for higher office (City Council) than they do about properly educating the youth of Detroit. How can a superintendent accomplish anything lasting in 18 months? Or 20 months, which was the previous superintendent's tenure.

If this isn't a case for vouchers, I don't know what is. Give these kids a voucher that would let them take the state aid that accompanies each child and let them go to to whatever school district they want, where they can at least have a fighting chance at a decent education. Otherwise, we are creating a permanent underclass of people with poor education and low job skills.

That is just immoral.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

If this doesn't move you, I don't know what will

This video clip is a powerful depiction of how God changes lives. It wonderfully represents how we can be transformed from what we were in a sinful state to what we are in Christ. We all have a story, and appreciating each others story is one step toward building unity in the body of Christ. I'd love to hear your reactions to it.

Just when you thought it couldn't get any weirder

Along comes this beauty. A club-mix version of Amazing Grace set to Christmas lights. Check it out.

Friday, December 05, 2008

If this becomes a trend, we will need more jail cells

Check out this story about a judge who doesn't tolerate profanity in his courtroom. Six months in jail for cursing. Wow!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Yep. I've been there


I sometimes wonder if the creator of Real Life Adventures is my alter ego. He sure pegs me a great deal with his comics.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Black Friday


This year is the first time that I have joined the Black Friday horde that is in search of bargains before the sun rises. Deb and I had a good time picking up stuff down in Dayton, and generally found the crowds to be manageable and the stores well-staffed to deal with them. There were exceptions such as the Toys R Us with a 90+ minute wait to check out and a Circuit City store that had a serpentine line that I wouldn't have waited in.

This story from New York is most disturbing. What is it about Black Friday that will make people behave like animals. In the reports I have read, this man was trampled and the people trying to rescue him were also in danger. Even the police and paramedics trying to save his life had to fight off crazed shoppers.

Who is a fault? The courts will decide. Certainly the store was ill-prepared for the horde outside its doors. The people who bum-rushed the place are also at fault. I'm not sure how anyone in that mob can sleep at night knowing that in their zeal to save a few dollars they cost a man his life.

Christmas is about a gift - not the almighty pursuit of gifts. Yet somehow we have made the season into a cutthroat event that is worthy of parody in bad Arnold Schwarzenegger movies - wait that is redundant - Arnold Schwarzenegger movies yet its very real dark side can cost people their lives.

The more I see stuff like this, the more I thank God for Internet shopping. This is so disturbing at so many levels.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Good advice for pastors



That clip is so true. Not only with wives, but with children. One of our pastors in another state had a rule with his family that if he used them in a sermon without permission, he had to pay them a fixed amount (I can't remember how much)to compensate them for the embarrassment. That is a pretty good rule of thumb. What I usually do is let my wife read my sermons in advance, which alerts her to any mentions. But asking permission is always a good idea.

Annual Thansgiving message


This year as you stuff your face and watch the Lions lose, spend a moment to reflect on these two things. Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation and an account of the first Thanksgiving by Edward Winslow:

Lincoln:
"Inasmuch as we know that nations, like individuals, are subjected to the punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of Civil War that now desolates our land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people.

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God.

We have forgotten the gracious hand that preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us and we have vainly imagined in the deceitfulness of our hearts that all of these blessings were provided by some superior wisdom or virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God who made us.

It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended power to confess our national sins and pray for clemency and forgiveness."

Winslow's account:

"Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, Many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest King Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."

May your Thanksgiving be blessed by good food, good friends, and the love of your family.

Roy


How then should we live?

This is a good question on a couple levels. This article briefly addresses the topic. Given that the world in which Christianity abides is undergoing such great transformation, what does that mean for the church corporately? What does it mean for us as individuals? It's a good thing to meditate on during Advent. As you anticipate the coming of the Christ, how then should we live?

Another article that touches on this from a slightly different perspective is here. It talks about the difference between God's image and likeness. The author posits the belief that we are created in God's image, but we grow into God's likeness as we draw closer to him, and take on his characteristics such as holiness, compassion, mercy, righteousness etc. It is through that trans formative process that Paul talks about in Romans 12 "Be transformed by the renewing of your minds" that is key. It is a view more traditionally aligned with the Orthodox Church, but one that John and Charles Wesley embraced as well.

The author is talking about Theosis - where we begin to take on the divine nature - and captures it well in this thought: Most important, the Orthodox understanding of theosis reminds us that salvation is less about what we get than about what God gets. It is about his purposes being accomplished in us. As the Reformed credo states: It is by his grace, for our good, to his glory.

As Advent approaches, think about how we can be more of a gift to God. Christ is his greatest gift to us, but the gift of his image isn't far behind. How can we take those gifts and grow into something that is pleasing and useful to God as He brings his Kingdom.

Something to chew on this holiday season. And it is fat-free and sugar-free. Be warned, it may cause some consternation and possible indigestion.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A book I plan to read soon

The Great Emergence looks like a fun holiday read. Anyone want to join me in reading this?

More Government = More Better?


You have to love the logic behind this story. If a church can't provide shelter for homeless people 5 days per week, it can't do it at all. I'm sure the freezing homeless person appreciates the government's need for order in all things, but somehow telling churches that they cannot provide shelter to "the least of these" on a freezing night doesn't sit well.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A CD worth buying


I'm not going to write my own review, other than to say I own this CD and listen to it almost daily. I've had the privilege of worshiping at Jacob's Well twice, and it is an experience I look forward to each time I am in Kansas City.

You can go here to read the review.

Click here to sample the music. Horse and Rider and Center My Heart are favs of mine.

I cannot encourage you strongly enough to listen to this.

Here are the lyrics to the last song "Words to build a life on"

As promised, here are the lyrics for "Words to Build a Life On"... Amazing song... It speaks for itself...

These are words to build a life on
These are Your words how can they be mine
These are words to build a life on
These are Your words I want them to be mine

Blessed are the poor
Blessed are the weak
Blessed are the ones
Who can barely speak

Blessed in your hurt
Blessed in your pain
Blessed when your teardrops
Are falling down like rain

Blessed when you're broken
Blessed when you're blind
Blessed when you're fragile
When you have lost your mind

Blessed when you're desperate
Blessed when you're scared
Blessed when you're lonely
Blessed when you've failed

Blessed when you're beat up
Blessed when you're bruised
Blessed when you're tore down
Blessed when you're used

These are words to build a life on
These are Your words how can they be mine
These are words to build a life on
These are Your words I want them to be mine

Blessed when you're heartbroke
Blessed when you're fired
Blessed when you're choked up
Blessed when you're tired

Blessed when the plans
That you so carefully laid
End up in the junkyard
With all the trash you made

Blessed when you feel like
Giving up the ghost
Blessed when your loved ones
Are the ones who hurt you most

Blessed when you lose your
Own identity
Then blessed when you find it
And it has been redeemed

Blessed when you see what
Your friends can never be
Blessed with your eyes closed
Then blessed you see Me

These are words to build a life on
These are Your words how can they be mine
These are words to build a life on
These are Your words I want them to be mine

Blessed when you're hungry
Blessed when you thirst
Cause that's when you will eat of
The bread that matters most

Blessed when you're put down
Because of me you're dissed
Because of me you're kicked out
They take you off their list

You know you're on the mark
You know you've got it right
You are to be my salt
You are to be my light

So bring out all the flavour
In the feast of this My world
And light up all the colours
Let the banner be unfurled

Shout it from the rooftops
Let the trumpets ring
Sing your freaking lungs out
Jesus Christ is King!

Jesus is my Saviour
Jesus is divine
Jesus is my answer
Jesus is my life

These are words to build a life on
These are Your words how can they be mine
These are words to build a life on
These are Your words I want them to be mine

Give us ears that we may hear them
voice that we may sing them
life that we may live them
hope that we may give them
hearts that we can feel them
eyes that we can see them
thoughts that we may think them
tongues that we may speak Your words

Copyright Mike Crawford 2004, BMI
CCLI Song No. 4541172

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hypocrisy in Politics? Perish the thought!


This story has me a bit flummoxed. It seems that the Congressional Democrats want a business plan from the Big 3 automakers before they lend them any money as part of the Early Christmas Cash Giveaway in Washington, D.C. What is odd is that I don't remember AIG presenting a business plan for their $150 billion buffet at the taxpayer trough, nor do I remember any business plans being submitted for the $700 billion taxpayer shakedown for Wall Street. I also don't remember the pompous fools in Washington talking about the luxury jets of the Wall Street folks.

Mind you I'm not in favor of government intervention in markets. They generally screw up everything they touch. But it does seem a bit hypocritical for people who have totally mismanaged the federal budget for years to lecture the automakers on fiscal responsibility. I tip my hat to the anyone with the cojones it takes to pull that off with a straight face. But they did.

Nero is fiddling again. Except this time he has 535 heads and lives under a dome. And his new whipping boys aren't Christians. They are automaker executives.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

If you ever wonder if God is still moving in the hearts of people

Read this story or watch the video clip below. It is an amazing story of repentance and one person's turn from a culture of death to a culture of life.

God is still very active today. Praise be to God.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Saying Grace as a means of Grace


Last night I was sitting in a local coffee shop reading a book for my evangelism class. I ordered some chili, and as is my custom, said grace before I ate. There was a couple in their 60s there who stopped and thanked me for saying grace as they left. They said that it blessed them to see someone still doing that in restaurants.

Isn't that just like God to take something that we may take for granted and use it to bless someone else. He truly is an amazing God!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Legal does not equal good


Isaiah 5:20:

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

Go read this article and shake your head. We have an epidemic of divorce that has swept this country, and we now have an agency advertising the motto "Life is short. Have an affair" over the airwaves. I've heard some bad advertising on "Sports talk Radio" in my lifetime. It seems to get more risque' as time passes. I thought it was bad enough to have to listen to ads for "Gentleman's Clubs" on the radio with my kids in the car. I cannot even imagine how the discussion would go after hearing this ad.

There is a reason Adultery is one of the Ten Commandments. It destabilizes society, destroys the family unit, and leads to rash actions such as violence and murder in fits of jealous rage. Just watch the TV crime shows. Murder by jealous spouse, or someone wanting to dispose of spouse to pursue their love affair are common themes. It's old school and was a capital crime in the Old Testament. David had Uriah killed so he could have Bathsheba more than 3000 years ago. And their first-born son died as a result. You can read that account here. It's not new, but it's still evil.

I may have to tune into commercial-free radio exclusively. This is nuts.

Credit for the picture goes here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

The cry of my heart today



As I progress through seminary and continue to take steps toward entering the ministry full-time, I have endured a barrage of doubts and lies from the enemy that is growing in a crescendo. I don't feel worthy of my calling. I'm scared of where it might take me. I realize that God is faithful, but this is something new, something very scary to me, and something that I did not seek. I fought it for a long time, until the price of fighting was so high that I came to my senses and surrendered to God.

Despite all of the fears, doubts, concerns and all of the other emotions and thoughts that have flooded my brain, I still echo the words of this song in the clip above:

In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise, give me Jesus

Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus,
You can have all this world,
But give me Jesus

When I am alone
When I am alone
When I am alone, give me Jesus

Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus,
You can have all this world,
But give me Jesus

When I come to die
When I come to die
When I come to die, give me Jesus

Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus,
You can have all this world,
You can have all this world,
You can have all this world,
But give me Jesus


As excited as I am about entering into ministry, there is also a sadness, almost a grieving, as one phase of my life ends. It marks the end of an era, and a new one unfolds. The good news is that I have Jesus.

There isn't much I can add to this

Monks Brawl at Jesus' tomb.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

This is almost painful to watch



Thanks to Andrew for the tip.

I have to admit that some of this is just stinging in its rebuke of the American church. Obviously they are using satire to make a point about how the church markets itself, and some of the practices within the church. Not everything here is necessarily bad, but when they are put together the weight is damning.

I encourage you to watch the clip a couple times. I think you might find some things worthy of leaving comments on.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Where to find world hunger?

Thanks to our friends at Christianity Today for this map. Just click on it and learn.

A place to camp out for a while



I have posted on this song before, but I didn't have a decent video clip to use. This is one of my favorite Jars of Clay songs. It is decidedly melancholy, but it evokes powerful emotions within me. It is a song of someone searching for God but not finding Him. I've been there before, and every so often it is good to revisit that ground and listen for the still small voice that is God.

Monday, November 03, 2008

In case you missed it

Lee Corso has officially become a buffoon, but an entertaining buffoon at that.

What have I done to William Clay Ford Sr. to deserve this


In a season where the Detroit Lions are halfway to perfection (they are 0-8) and quite possibly the worst record since Mr. Ford purchased them in 1963, they find a way to stick a dagger in my back. I've suffered with this disastrous franchise for all of my 41 years. So this year, in my fantasy football league I decide to pick up players playing the Lions, since they are destined for banner days against an awful defense. So far, so good.

Then yesterday the Lions knock out my quarterback, Kyle Orton, in a game that they had no business competing in. What have I done Mr. Ford? Why do you torment me like this. You put garbage on the field year in and year out, and when I finally get smart enough to play against your steaming pile of refuse, they jump up and bite me. What have I done to you to deserve this?

I'm going to go sit in a corner and rock for a while.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

As you prepare to vote

Let the lyrics of this song provide a reality check for you.

This is a song by Randy Stonehill. I heard him sing this at Hills Alive in 1993 or 1994 in Spearfish, South Dakota.

Well we worship at the shroud of Elvis
And we're waiting for that money from Ed McMahon
And we're drinking from the Perrier fountain of youth
While we follow what the daily horoscopes saying
Taking lethal doses of MTV
Delving into pet psychiatry
Trying to treat cancer with a fruit juice cure
And waiting for the Beatles reunion tour

'Cuz it's a great big stupid world
And we're feeling kinda queasy as it turns around
Great big stupid world
And we're never really sure if we're up or down
We're on a dirt clod out in space
Where it stops nobody knows
If Jesus came back today
They'd try to book him on the Oprah Winfrey show
'Cuz it's a great big stupid world
Great big stupid world

Well we're hot on the trail of Big Foot
And we're wearing the crystals to feel the power
We're hoping that the creatures from outer space
Come to set us free in that final hour
Trying to tell the future from the lumps on our heads
Getting melanoma from our tanning beds
Channeling Houdini with Shirley MacLaine
And trying to figure out what the dolphins are saying

Well it's a Great-Big-Stupid world
Dumb dumb da dumb dumb baby it's a stupid world
It's a great big stupid, great big stupid
Great big stupid world
Well we're studying the National Enquirer
Is it true Sonny Bono is the Anti-Christ
We debate if T.V. wrestling is really a sport
While we're testing rock 'n' roll and it's effect on mice
Bonding with our little computer screens
Getting anorexic on our Lean Cuisines
Turning plastic surgeons into millionaires
So everybody finally gets to look like Cher

It's a great big stupid world
And we're feeling kind of queasy as it turns around
Great big stupid world
And we're never really sure if we're up or down
It's a great... big... stupid world
Dumb dumb da dumb dumb baby it's a stupid world

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The most popular YouTube video election season.

Go figure that this would be the winner.

More than 11 million hits to watch 2 minutes of a guy looking into a camera and talking.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Taking our eyes off of the prize


Matthew 6:33 - But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Those words are some incredibly sound advice given by our Lord Jesus Christ during the sermon on the Mount. For nearly 2000 years they have been available to Christians as wise counsel about the practical application of living out our faith. Yet, they are often ignored as we let the smaller things in life crowd out the vision of the Kingdom of God in our thinking.

This has been on my mind for a while now as I progress through seminary. I've seen so many churches take their eyes off of the prize, and get locked up into bickering, schism, name-calling, church splits and all manner of ungodly behavior over seemingly minor things.

Here are a few of the examples I have seen churches split over:
1. Should the pastor's wife be compelled to wear a hat?
2. Removal of a beloved worship leader and replacement with someone who plays a different style of music.
3. Factional fighting for power/control within a congregation resulting in "churning" of pastors who cannot get past the initial 2-year call.
4. Removal of a pastor who violated church bylaws on divorce and remarriage.
5. Removal of a beloved member of the church staff.
6. Gossip, backbiting and strife used to wield power behind the scenes in a church.

Looking back at each of these, I ask the question: "Where is the kingdom of God in all of this?" Do any of these examples warrant blowing up a congregation and destroying the unity of a church? Is clothing, music or personnel worth ruining the reputation of the Bride of Christ?

Please hear me. I am NOT excusing ungodly leadership or behavior. If a church leader or pastor is engaging in ungodly behavior, they should be dealt with according to the scriptures and the leadership of the church. What I am talking about here are preferences that become "sacred cows" and the ensuing aftermath when someones sacred cow gets slaughtered.

Paul takes on the personnel issue in 1 Corinthians 3. He is writing to a church that is in discord because some say they are followers of Paul and others are followers of Apollos. That sounds familiar in the list I printed above. Neither Paul or Apollos are anything but followers of God. The church has taken their eyes off of God, and is focusing on the men. They are missing the message because they are so worried about the messenger! That is a tragic mistake that we see repeated over and over again.

Imagine if Paul and Apollos both fell over dead. Who would they follow then? The next apostle who showed up? They should be following God, and listening to the messengers who speak for him. But they became so wrapped up in the temporal things that they are missing the heavenly things.

My friends, I fear that is what many today are doing. We worry so much about the who (is delivering), and how (it is being delivered) of the message that we are missing the point of what (is being said) in the message. I know that I've been guilty in the past of letting the temporal overrule the eternal in my thinking, and I've asked God for forgiveness for that. I pray that each of you, during your prayer time, will ask God the question: "Is there something that I hold dear that is more important than building the Kingdom of God and its righteousness?" If there is, confess that to God and ask for his help in rearranging your priorities. The Kingdom of God awaits your help.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Weddings

As a future minister, I pray that I never have a wedding like this. Do you think he was still welcome at the reception?

Friday, October 17, 2008

As the campaign winds down

Keep this thought in mind. Don't say that you weren't warned.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

How does stuff like this happen?

This happened less than 15 miles from where I grew up. How on earth do you manage a system of "improperly screening out complaints about Calista’s treatment going back 11 years, which the OCO said, “met the definition of mental injury and child maltreatment.” I just don't understand it. And to top it off, the people who did this were allowed to retire. Why weren't they charged? Does state law protect state employees who so horribly botch their jobs that children are chained to their beds and die in house fires?

This is truly sickening.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Christmas Gift Idea

If you are struggling with what to get the person who has everything, consider this gift list from the International Justice Mission.

This holiday season, millions of children, women and men wait urgently for only one gift: Freedom. As we celebrate the great hope of this season, consider sharing that hope by giving a Gift of Freedom to someone special – it is a gift that will bring rescue and renewed hope to victims of violent oppression.

IJM’s 2008 Gifts of Freedom include:

Gifts of Freedom
A half day of Investigative work, $25
A day of Advocacy, $70
A week of Aftercare, $280
A day of Investigations and Aftercare, $90
A day of Investigations, Advocacy and Aftercare, $160

Regional Gifts of Freedom
Empower IJM staff in the region of your choice to bring rescue to victims of violent oppression. Africa, Latin America, South Asia and Southeast Asia, $500, $1000, $5000

Visit the 2008 Gift of Freedom Holiday Catalog today and give freedom to everyone on your list!

Sadly, this may be true

Click on the link below and enjoy the clip. Sadly, for many people, this may be true.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A movie you might want to go see

Call and Response is a movie about the 27 million most terrifying secrets in the world. Check to see if it is showing near you. For more info on the topic, go to IJM. Warning, the video clip may be disconcerting, especially to kids.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A helpful remembering tool

In the 5th and 6th grade catechism class I am teaching, we are working on many things. But one of them is the memorization of the Apostle's Creed. Sometimes someone just nails it, and Rich Mullins did in this song. Enjoy, as it reminds you of the basics of the Christian faith.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Friday, October 03, 2008

Isn't this the truth


You have to love Real Life Adventures. It is a comic that hits on a great number of funny things that are true to life.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Hide your wallets

The bailout bill is moving through the Senate it is being larded up with pork. Soooooooooweeeeeeeeeeee!

The same people who allowed this happen are now in charge of the cleanup. Taxpayer beware.

Watch the clip and ignore the partisanship. If I could find one without it I would use that one. The point is that the Congress knew four years ago that this was going to be a problem. Now, Ms. Waters, we do have a crisis at Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and the taxpayers are bailing them out.



You may want to contact your member of Congress and your Senators before they stick it to you.

While you are being spanked by Washington and Wall Street


Have a little fun with it. If you can't read it, go here.

Then hide your wallet.

Thanks to Kurt who shamelessly ripped this off from his friend Joel.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Wow. The Lord has a way of smacking me on the head


I was reading in my devotions this morning from Spiritual Classics. There is an essay by Catherine Marshall entitled A fasting from criticalness that is well worth reading. I have reprinted it here for you:

A Fasting on Criticalness

by Catherine Marshall

The Lord continues to deal with me about my critical spirit, convicting me that I have been wrong to judge any person or situation: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matt. 7:1-2; NIV)

One morning last week He gave me an assignment: for one day I was to go on a “fast” from criticism. I was not to criticize anybody about anything.

Into my mind crowded all the usual objections. “But then what happens to value judgments? You Yourself, Lord, spoke of ‘righteous judgment.’ How could society operate without standards and limits?”

All such resistance was brushed aside. “Just obey Me without questioning: an absolute fast on any critical statements for this day.”

As I pondered this assignment, I realized there was an even humorous side to this kind of fast. What did the Lord want to show me?

The Experiment

For the first half of the day, I simply felt a void, almost as if I had been wiped out as a person. This was especially true at lunch with my husband, Len, my mother, son Jeff, and my secretary Jeanne Sevigny, present. Several topics came up (school prayer, abortion, the ERA amendment) about which I had definite opinions. I listened to the others and kept silent. Barbed comments on the tip of my tongue about certain world leaders were suppressed. In our talkative family no one seemed to notice.

Bemused, I noticed that my comments were not missed. The federal government, the judicial system, and the institutional church could apparently get along fine without my penetrating observations. But still I didn’t see what this fast on criticism was accomplishing—until mid-afternoon.

For several years I had been praying for one talented young man whose life had gotten sidetracked. Perhaps my prayers for him had been too negative. That afternoon, a specific, positive vision for this life was dropped into my mind with God’s unmistakable hallmark on it—joy.

Ideas began to flow in a way I had not experienced in years. Now it was apparent what the Lord wanted me to see. My critical nature had not corrected a single one of the multitudinous things I found fault with. What it had done was to stifle my own creativity—in prayer, in relationships, perhaps even in writing—ideas that He wanted to give me.

Last Sunday night in a Bible study group, I told of my Day’s Fast experiment. The response was startling. Many admitted that criticalness was the chief problem in their offices, or in their marriages, or with their teenage children.

The Result

My own character flaw here is not going to be corrected overnight. But in thinking this problem through the past few days, I find the most solid Scriptural basis possible for dealing with it. (The Greek word translated “judge” in King James, becomes “criticize” in Moffat.) All through the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus sets Himself squarely against our seeing other people and life situations through this negative lens. What He is showing me so far can be summed up as follows:

  1. A critical spirit focuses us on ourselves and makes us unhappy. We lose perspective and humor.
  2. A critical spirit blocks the positive creative thoughts God longs to give us.
  3. A critical spirit can prevent good relationships between individuals and often produces retaliatory criticalness.
  4. Criticalness blocks the work of the Spirit of God: love, good will, mercy.
  5. Whenever we see something genuinely wrong in another person’s behavior, rather than criticize him or her directly, or – far worse – gripe about him behind his back, we should ask the Spirit of God to do the correction needed.

Convicted of the true destructiveness of a critical mind-set, on my knees I am repeating this prayer: “Lord, I repent of this sin of judgment. I am deeply sorry for having committed so gross an offense against You and against myself so continually. I claim Your promise of forgiveness and seek a new beginning.”

Does that ring your bell? It certainly did mine. I'm a basically optimistic person, but I do have a critical spirit at times. I lose the ability to see the good in people and situations and only see that which I consider to be wrong. And it takes me into a dark place where the Spirit of God is hard to find.

Can I ask each of you to fast one day each week from criticalness? Can we agree to each take one day where we do not disparage anyone, anything or any situation? I think if we did that, we can expect that God will rearrange many of our thoughts and allow us to go places with Him that we have not been in some time. I know that I need to do this, and I pray that you will join me.

The following scripture follows this thought quite nicely:

Isaiah 58:3-9

3 'Why have we fasted,' they say,
'and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?'
"Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.

4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.

5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed
and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD ?

6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness [a] will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
"If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

Friday, September 26, 2008

I wonder if Jim Leyland tried this?


With all of the pitching problems the Tigers had this year, it might have been worth a shot.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I just cannot resist

Read this headline and chuckle. The town is near where I grew up.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

There may be hope

Bill Ford Jr., son of the Lions hapless owner, sounds off. This is the first time I can remember him directly opposing his father's decision.


The photos below are courtesy of Sean Baligian at WDFN.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A promise that I cling to

On this day when we commemorate one of the saddest days in our nation's history, this song came to mind. It is my fervent hope and prayer that God will make everything glorious in this mess of a world. My hope is not wishful thinking, but rather confidence that the Creator of Universe will do what he said and redeem this planet and everything on it. That process began with Christ's death at Calvary and creation continues to groan awaiting its redeemer. This song clip expresses the thought pretty well.



Come Lord Jesus, Come.

A sad anniversary

It was a morning like this seven years ago when the world changed. Clear blue skies, cool weather, just a glorious day. I was on my way to work after a Dr. appt when I first heard of the attacks on the World Trade Center. By the time I arrived at work, the Pentagon had been hit and President Bush had issued his statement from the elementary school in Florida.

Watch the video clip and offer your prayers for those whose lives were forever changed. The actions of 19 men and their trainers set in motion a catastrophic series of events that continues to this day.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Enough


No Mas! No Mas! Please stop!

All of you well-intentioned souls out there who are sending me email breathlessly spouting "Obama is a closet Muslim" or "Palin is a racist" allegations. Please stop. I really don't care and I throw them away. Most any email I receive that has more than one FW: in it is automatically discarded. I've come to realize that most of them (90+%) are factually inaccurate if not downright slanderous.

This article leads to a site you can use to check your political rumors before you share them. This particular article is about Ms. Palin, but there are links to the Obama rumors as well. It bears a very poor witness on us as Christians if we are knowingly spreading slanderous and/or untrue information about someone. It seems to be breaking the Commandment about bearing false witness against our neighbor, at least to me.

So I ask that you at a minimum remove me from your list. I would encourage you to examine your heart/motives/facts before you send them. It is the Christian thing to do.

A thought on Meditation


I recently picked up Spiritual Classics - Selected readings for Individuals and Groups on the Twelve Spiritual Disciplines, to assist me with my devotional life. Those of you that know me know that I am a restless soul, and the inward disciplines of meditation and solitude don't come naturally to me. The one I read today is one I want to share with you.

It is from St. Thomas More, and it is a wonderful contemplative, meditative prayer written in the 16th Century:

Give me Thy grace, good Lord
to set the world at nought;

To set my mind fast upon Thee,
and not to hang upon the blast of men’s mouths;

To be content to be solitary,
not to long for worldly company;

Little by little utterly to cast off the world,
and rid my mind of all the business thereof;

Not to long to hear of any worldly things,
but that the hearing of worldly phantasies may be to me unpleasant;

Gladly to be thinking of thee,
piteously to call for thy help;

To lean unto the comfort of thee,
busily to labor to love You;

To know my own vileness and wretchedness,
to be humble and meeken myself under the mighty hand of God;

To bewail my sins passed,
for the purging of them patiently to suffer adversity;

Gladly to bear my purgatory here,
to be joyful of tribulations;

To walk the narrow way that leads to life,
to bear the cross with Christ;

To have the last thing in remembrance,
to have ever before my eye my death that is ever at hand;

To make death no stranger to me,
to foresee and consider the everlasting fire of hell;

To pray for pardon before the Judge come,
to have continually in mind the passion that Christ suffered for me;

For His benefits unceasingly to give Him thanks,
to buy the time again that I before have lost;

To abstain from vain conversations,
to eschew light foolish mirth and gladness;

Recreations not necessary to cut off,
of worldly substance, friends, liberty, life and all, to set the loss as nothing
for the winning of Christ;

To think my greatest enemies my best friends,
for the brethren of Joseph could never have done him so much good
with their love and favor as they did him with their malice and hatred.

Give me the grace so to spend my life,
that when the day of my death shall come,

though I may feel pain in my body,
I may feel comfort in soul;

and with faithful hope in thy mercy,
in due love towards thee
and charity towards the world,

I may, through thy grace,
part hence into thy glory.
Amen.

Pray that prayer and let the Lord work in you with it. I'd love to hear where it takes you