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.