Friday, February 29, 2008

Greetings from Michissippi

If you haven't followed the latest from our great state, here it is. The mayor of Detroit evidently had an affair with his chief of staff. During an investigation, the police uncovered this and two officers were demoted/fired because of their uncovering this. They sue the city, which is BROKE, and win nearly $9 million. As part of the settlement, all sides agree to keep the affair quiet, since the Mayor and his mistress said under oath that there was no affair. The Detroit Free Press sues under the Freedom of Information Act to get the transcripts of text messages between the mayor and his mistress, which confirm the affair. Hence, what is being called the Text Message Scandal. Personally, I think it should be called the Perjury Scandal, which is the charge both of them will be facing shortly.

Forget the sex if you can. This man spent $9 million of a nearly bankrupt city's money to cover up his peccadillo and the firing of those who uncovered it. $9 million will buy a couple fire trucks and crews, put cops on the street, or just fix some of the broken infrastructure. This region is struggling economically as it is. It does not need the mayor of the biggest city distracted by his inability to control his hormones, when there are pressing issues to be dealt with.

The city council seems to finally be developing a spine and is willing to call Hizzoner out on this. This is all about abuse of power, perjury and wasting of taxpayer funds. It's not about sex, which is how he is portraying it. The mayor is using the Lewinsky playbook. First he trots his wife out, apologizes, questions the legality of the investigation, wants to "keep working for the people" and defiantly refuses to step down. The trial must be next.

It's a sad, corrupt mess we have here.

Come Lord Jesus, Come.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


The Detroit Lions, 31-81 under their current management, have decided to raise ticket prices 18% in order to "stay competitive." No kidding, that is what Tom Lewand said. They haven't been competitive in more than 10 years. They have only won 1 playoff game in my lifetime. But they want to stay competitive?

Sadly, people will pay it and keep watching the slop they put on the field.

They grow 'em big in Allen Park. I'll say that much for them.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Sky is Falling! We are all going to die!

Maybe not. Read this and breathe deeply. It seems that climate trends are longer than cable news and presidential election cycles.

Friday, February 22, 2008


I am in an extended season of fasting right now. I say that not to brag, but to make the following point more clear. I never realized how socially conditioned we are to eat. After the second day of fasting, the hunger issue settles down for me. I'm living on V8 juice, coffee and water with my multi-vitamin and supplements, and have been fine with the hunger aspect. But man, am I used to munching on snacks and eating meals at prescribed times. I find myself thinking about eating, not because I am hungry, but because it is a habit at a particular time of day. That is a bit of a surprise to me. This is the longest fast I have undertaken, and I still have some time to go. I am just really surprised at how much of a habit eating is. It is beyond a biological imperative, it is also a socially conditioned exercise. That is my fasting revelation.

Pray that God would grant the spiritual breakthrough that I am fasting about. And pray that He would use this time to open my eyes to other things he wants me to learn. It's a different thing, but I do feel the Lord's presence in my absence of eating. Maybe it just takes getting some clutter out of the way to be able to hear his voice.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Remembering what Lent is about

Take a look at this video clip if you would like a reminder of why we observe a season of Lent.

Let's move to Florida!!!!

This story just made my skin crawl. Literally. I still don't understand the fascination with Florida. Yes it is sunny, and ghastly hot in the summer. Throw in hurricanes, cockroaches (er, Palmetto bugs) the size of small birds, gators and snakes and it sounds like just a lovely place. Now they have added flea swarms to their collection of biblical plagues.

It's a nice place to visit....

Monday, February 18, 2008

More Letters from a friend

John continues in Revelation 2:

8"To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. 9I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.

This is not a message that one could easily sell as a televangelist. 'Come to Jesus and suffer. Come to Jesus and you will be jailed, persecuted and possible killed." It's a much easier sell to say "come to Jesus and be wealthy and healthy." But that isn't the message.

It gives me hope to hear "He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death." We aren't promised an easy life. Actually, quite the opposite. Look at the disciples. Only John died of natural causes. But there is a promise that if we persist in our faith, there is an eternal reward that far surpasses anything we can imagine. That is something to hang our hope on.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Another Letter from a Friend

In the Spirit of Valentine's Day, today's letter is about love that has been lost. In Revelation 2, John writes to the church in Ephesus a letter that strikes me as tough news to hear.

"To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: 2I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

It appears to me that the church in Ephesus had done fairly well. They had sniffed out and removed the false prophets from among them. They had suffered for Jesus with joy. But they had lost their love. They had right doctrine and right action, but they had no love. They had lost the love of God, and seemingly, their love toward others.

I've been there before as well. I can be so sure of what I am teaching that I lose compassion toward those that I am teaching. I can be consumed with the desire to be "right" and convinced that someone is either misinformed or bordering on heresy that I lose that which distinguishes Christians: love.

I've done it. Churches have done it, and even denominations have done it. Jesus calls us to love in all that we do. Let's heed that call

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

In our annual Hallmark-driven paen to Eros love, I bring greetings. I thought this little video clip was worth a repost. Have a great day with the ones you love, but never forget about the One who loves you.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Letters from a friend, part 2

This is the letter to the church in Philadelphia in Revelation 3:

To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Wow. This is quite an encouragement to a church that is under pressure. They have liars in their midst, Rome is cracking down, and they feel persecuted. Yet they remain faithful and persevere in the faith. Note that God doesn't say "I'll make it stop and you will be happy" but he does say that justice will be meted out. God is just, and the hope that the one who called them will come back to right their wrongs is the hope he gives them.

He didn't promise us a bed of roses. But He is just, and will not allow injustice to prevail. That is some powerful hope in these often troubling times. Cling to it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

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Letters from a friend

Our adult small group has been working through Answers for Chicken Little, which is a study of the Revelation of Jesus Christ to John the Apostle. Early in the book, the author describes the letters to the seven churches as the "Roman Postal Route" from where John was on the island of Patmos. The letters were written to be read by all of the churches, but addressed specific issues within each church. I'd like to take a look at the letters individually if you would indulge me.

The first is a letter to the church in Sardis in Revelation 3.

1"To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spiritsof God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. 3Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. 4Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. 5He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. 6He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Ouch. John pulls no punches here. "You have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. " In essence, he is saying that they are living on their reputation and have fallen away from following the Lord. That is tough to hear when someone calls you out. The good news is that there is time to correct the problem.

That spoke to me because there are times when I live on my reputation but have slacked off in my obedience. The call to repentance is clear, and the assurance that God will work with those who genuinely repent to lead them into everlasting glory gives a great measure of hope. If these words cause you. as they did me, to look inward and see areas where you are living on your reputation, take the advice of John and repent. And go forward with the one who who is "faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

May God grant you mercy and peace.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Save the Planet (and protect your privacy)

Here are a couple good links for information on how to remove your name from mailing lists.

World Privacy Forum

Direct Marketing Association

The Ecology Center

Most of these are free, and should dramatically reduce your junk mail and pre-screened credit and insurance offers. According to this article, the average American receives approximately 41 lbs of junk mail per year. This is how you can do your part to reduce that.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

I hate to say I told you so

One month after all of the pandering in Iowa is over, this story comes out. It seems that diverting our food supply into an inefficient method of propelling cars isn't such a good idea. Where have I heard that idea before? Oh yeah, I said that one year ago. Maybe I am just ahead of the curve. Or maybe buying votes just catches up with us eventually.

It seems that the production of ethanol will create 2x the level of greenhouse gases as the gasoline it would replace. You can read the article for all the details, but this quote is priceless:

"Using good cropland to expand biofuels will probably exacerbate global warming," concludes the study published in Science magazine.

Just remember, you heard it here first.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The overuse of adjectives

I learned as a kid through SchoolHouse Rock that adjectives describe persons places or things. I don't really want to get into the overuse of inappropriate adjectives that can be used as nouns, verbs, conjunctions, gerunds and nearly every other part of speech, in the same paragraph by the particularly loquacious and foul-mouthed members of our society.

Rather, I'd like to focus on the adjectives we use in church. There are ways to describe something that are just what country folk would call plain-spoken. For example one could say "Its my car." Or one could say its a "1996 Dodge Intrepid, 3.5 litre V-6." Or one could say its a "hooptie". Or any other number of colorful terms. We do the same thing in church.

There are times that descriptive labels are helpful, and times when they are not. Often it goes to intent, such as calling someone a "fundamentalist Christian." That once was a term that was not pejorative. Now, being called a fundamentalist or "fundy" is an attack on the person's beliefs and character. Couldn't we just call the person a Christian and leave off the descriptor?

While I was in Kansas City I attended three church services in one day. At 8:00 a.m. our Theology and Practice of Worship class attended Christ Church Anglican in Overland Park, KS. It's a very formal Anglican service. At 10:45 a.m. I attended Antioch Church of the Nazarene, where the people I was staying with worship. And at 5:30, our class attended Jacob's Well, an emerging church in Kansas City, MO.

What struck me in each of these churches, from very different traditions, is that God was there. His Spirit was present and he was worshiped by those in attendance. Given that as a base, I've been convicted that I too often use adjectives to label others, especially those who have different beliefs than me. The Lord is calling me to be more ecumenical and refer to fellow believers as Christians, since we are all part of one body. I'm not arrogant enough to think that I have cornered the market on religious belief, nor has my denomination. I believe that most Christians think that their denomination/theology is the best one, but I don't know that we think it is the only one.

To that end, check out the partial list of Christian adjectives below. Feel free to leave additional ones in a comment. It is by no means an exhaustive list.

















These are some words we use to differentiate ourselves. I don't want to go all Rodney King and say "Can't we all just get along" but I do think that the fewer adjectives we include in our vocabulary, the more we will see each others as Christians, just plain, simple Christians, and fellow pilgrims on a journey. And maybe, just maybe, we will all get along a little better.