Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Resolutions

In the 1960's, a study was done on the campus of Yale University. The subjects were Yale seniors who were educated about and encouraged to get a tetanus shot. Most of the students were convinced by the lecture that they needed to get the shot. But only 3% actually went and got the shot.

Another group of students were given the same lecture, but they were also given a copy of the campus map with the location of the health center circled. Then they were asked to look at their weekly schedules, make a plan for when they would go and take the shot, and look at the map and decide what route they would take. 28% of that control group got the shot. That is nine times as many! Why the radical increase? Because they identified how, when, and where?

I'm guessing all of us need to make a change going into the New Year. You need to stop doing something or start doing something. You need to do something less or do something more. But I'm guessing about 3% of us will make the change because we never identify how, when, and where!

So here's a plan. It's as simple as 1,2,3.

#1 Look at the calendar and schedule an hour between now and January 4th. Make an appointment with yourself. It may be in the morning or in the evening. It may be at your house or a coffeehouse. It may be on New Years Eve or New Years Day. Just set aside one hour.

#2 Spend an hour reflecting and praying. And here’s a suggestion. Think in categories. I think it helpful to think in these five categories: spiritual, relational, intellectual, emotional and physical. Do an honest self-assessment. And ask God to reveal the answer to this question: what change(s) do I most need to make?

#3 Make the change. Call it a goal. Call it a New Year's Resolution. Call it whatever you want. The goal is to make a change that honors God. Here's another suggestion. Don't make ten resolutions! If you make lots of resolutions you'll probably keep none of them. Make 3 or less. And I'd start with the spiritual category.

Once you come up with your resolution you need to write it down. Then you need to keep it visible. Put it on a screen saver. Put it on your bathroom mirror. If it's diet related, put it on the refrigerator. You might even want to find an accountability partner who will make the same resolution. It helps to have someone hold you accountable.

Just resolving to resolve. For me, the main items will be reading through the Bible (spiritual), taking vacation time (I didn't take a full week of vacation last year, that is not healthy) - more time with family with a plan already in place, increasing exercise / watching my diet.

Bible Reading

Beginning tomorrow I will begin reading through the Bible from start to finish (Genesis to Revelation).

If you would like to receive daily thoughts / devotions from this reading or the reading schedule, please email me at mishana826@yahoo.com

I will not be posting them on the blog.

Please pray for this time of reading. There are about 63 people signed up and I would love to end the year with over 130 people on that list. That would be awesome.

So, if you have not already received emails about the Bible reading, email me if you are interested.
Invite friends, family, and even non-Christians. All are welcome.

Time off

Some of you may be wondering about why no blogs, especially about Christmas, etc.

I took a few days off of blogging and will actually try to do a little less next year (beginning tomorrow).

The Deutsch family had a wonderful Christmas. It was very relaxing. We stayed home, played and ate and just hung out together. That usually does not happen. So, this was nice.

It's always fun for the boys to get excited about Santa and what will come the next morning. An extra good part is that they do not wake up at 5 a.m. They woke up around 8, so a note from Santa, and presents, then they played with other stuff. Well trained boys!

Anyway, even though a few days late, Merry Christmas to all!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Musical

A quick note of appreciation to Pastor Doug and the choir, to Tommy Thomas, our drama folks, to Jeff Brown for managing lights and sound, and to the ladies in the kitchen for their hard work.

GREAT JOB!! I'm proud of all of you!!

Graduation

A couple of grad pictures. . .


I am on the right being congratulated by interpresident of Trinity, Jeanette L. Hsieh. A very pleasant and articulate person. Interesting that a conservative school like Trinity has a woman as an interim president.


Me walking down the aisle after receiving my diploma (which will be mailed to me in March 2009).

Recapping the last weekend . . .

So glad we drove to Chicago when we did, we beat the freezing rain in Central Indiana and the (6 inches) in Chicago.

We swam Thursday night, slept, woke up to 6 inches of snow. Whung out after breakfast, I went to Trinity to get my robe (regalia - kind of a cool word). Then we went shopping and ate at Portillo's. If you want real Chicago hot dogs, that's a great place to go.

Graduation was wonderful. The environment, the singing, all great. You could sense the Spirit's presence. Dr. D.A. Carson, one of the more famous Trinity prfoessors gave the message, which was right on.
The reception was great. Amazing food, sandwiches, fruit, cheeses and cakes!!!
Below is a family picture . . .
The happy family after the graduation.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Living Rich for Less

Living Rich for Less is a wonderful and practical book. Especially during our difficult financial times, this book comes at the right time.

The book is filled with practical tips to help each person save money, even on the most modest incomes. When you hear the story of Ellie Kay, you will realize what she did and how she helped her family save thousands of dollars.

This book falls in line with our classes from Financial Peace University from Dave Ramsey.

For example, Ellie was able to help her family eliminate $40,000 of debt in just two years on one income; they paid cash for 11 different cars; gave 3 of those cars away, bought 2 five-bedroom homes; took regular family vacations, nicely furnished their home, clothed their kids in style, and supported more than thirty nonprofit organizations in a dozen different countries by giving away more than $100,000. WOW!!!

Think about what we could do if we saved our money, and honored God with our money!

Ellie shares the 10/10/80 rule - giving 10 percent, saving 10 percent and spending smart the remaining 80 percent of your income.

She separates the book into those three sections; spending, saving, and giving. As I said, the tips are great, as I underlined many sections and will use this book as a reference to help my family be better stewards with the blessings and money God has provided us with.

You can find the book at

http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/product?item_no=446015&netp_id=570367&event=ESRCN&item_code=WW&view=covers

OR

http://www.amazon.com/Living-Rich-Less-Lifestyle-Spending/dp/0307446018/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1229727027&sr=8-1

Hello Chicago!!

We made it with ease! We even stopped to drive by my old stopping grounds in Skokie. I had not driven by my hood for many, many years. It was fun to show the family where I grew up, although it was night time.

We made it to the hotel, hit the pool and now I am sitting in the lobby while Debbie settles the boys to sleep. I checked the weather in Alexandria and I can certainly see it is sleeting and freezing rain abounds.

The bad news in Chicago is that they are supposed to get 6 inches of snow tonight. We made it before the snow started, so, we'll hang out tomorrow, cruise around Deerfield, and get ready for graduation.

So . . . be careful, stay safe and hopefully, we'll see you Sunday!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Why Blog?!

So . . . why do I blog? Actually, it's a good question, because there are times when I have thought it is better not to blog, and in all honesty there are many times I don't intentionally blog.

I blog for a couple of main reasons ~
  1. I want you to get to know me a little better. I want you to hear my thoughts, to be challenged by other writers and thinkers, even ones I may disagree with. I want you to see and hear and know the types of articles, books, issues that I encounter in a typical day, week, month, etc.
  2. I want to challenge you. I want you to read my thoughts and others and be challenged. For this reason, when I give you articles from others, I often leave out my thoughts. I want you to think and experience on your own, not with me telling you how to think.
  3. I want to bring glory and honor to Christ! Jesus was a radical! He didn't do as the religious elite wanted Him to do, He did the opposite, He challenged, He got in their face, He was rejected time after time. While I don't want to be rejected, I know that is part of the calling. If God saw it good enough for His Son, He very well may see it as good enough for me. By challenging you and me, maybe we grow a little more Christ-like. Maybe we do a little more for the kingdom, who knows. . . He knows.
  4. I so desperately want us to fulfill His mission for our church, so I want to pass on any and all information I can to help us.
  5. Bottom line, if you don't like what I write, you can always unsubscribe, I will not hunt you down. I'll be disappointed, but such is life.
  6. Bottom line #2, keep an open heart, spirit and mind; be challenged; be engaged; be passionate about Jesus. Let Him lead your life

Lessons from the Alchemist

Paulo Coelho in his book, The Alchemist, which has sold 65 million copies, in 67 languages, tells the story of a shepherd boy and his quest to live his dream. Along the way, the boy meets an alchemist who has the power to inspire personal transformation. This Alchemist gives the boy a number of life’s lessons - lessons that are as fresh and applicable today as they were hundreds of years ago. The lessons by themselves are interesting, but it’s only when they are applied, that the power of personal transformation can be unleashed.

So what can Paulo teach us about life and pursing dreams in the face of obstacles that caused 65 million people to buy his book? Consider how these 12 lessons may help you in your walk with Christ.

  1. It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary.
  2. Support your children in pursuit of their dreams.
  3. There is nothing to hold you back, except yourself.
  4. There is only one way to learn, and that is through action.
  5. Trust your gut, your heart .
  6. Follow your dreams.
  7. Know what you want.
  8. Make a decision and dive in with massive action.
  9. Move on - always look forward.
  10. You will encounter obstacles and take detours while realizing your dreams.
  11. Don’t fear the unknown.
  12. Learn to understand the universal language - the language without words.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wednesday Fun

In light of Illinois being called one of the most corrupt states and with a governor who is absolutely arrogant and stupid, let's have a little fun and try this challenge.

You have to figure this one out for yourselves,

http://funstufftosee.com/frogleaptest.html


Click on the above link or paste it into your browser and see if you pass the Leap Frog test.

Have fun!!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Living in a Bubble

If the company you were running lost $10 billion this year, then you asked for a $10 million bonus, you'd be laughed out of the room, right?

You might even get fired over it.

Not unless you work on Wall Street, where the CEO of Merrill Lynch says he deserves $10 million because the company would have lost more if not for his leadership. Maybe true, but he was not very smart (stupid) to ask for $10 million when he already makes an enormous salary with amazing perks while nearly everyone thinks his industry is already overpaid and reckless with money. His bubble prevented him from sucking it up on a $750,000 salary until his company was profitable.

Before Detroit's Big 3 CEOs first showed up on congress' doorstep asking for monetary help, public opinion was about 50% against bailout help. With half of the country thinking the Big 3 don't deserve a nickel. Then we learn that each CEO took an expensive company jet to Washington to ask for money. The symbolism of cluelessness couldn't have been more obvious. After their first appearance before congress, public opinion against the bailout surged to 61%. Their bubbles made them oblivious to the obvious.

As I think about the local church being the last and only hope of the world, I wonder how many times we become comfortable living in our bubbles, that we just don't see what really is happening. I believe it is true in most of our family systems, as we just don't see our dysfunction until someone can point it out. Not that we want anyone to point it out, but if we are to grow as Christians, as people, then we need to see the good along with the not so good.

Have you recognized any bubbles in your life that need to be popped?!

Monday, December 08, 2008

A response from Anonymous

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "I don't believe...but I want to give back":

I think there has to be a way they can serve, because I would hope that through serving with believers they, in turn, would become a believer. But I do believe this could get dangerous.

If someone openly doesn't believe, they should not be a leader of anything in the church. They would become a distraction at best, and a stumbling block at worst.

Only God knows the inner workings of our heart, but if we espouse a belief that runs counter to the church's very foundation, then what does that say to others who don't know Jesus? And doesn't that say something negative about a person that does serve in a ministry that they have no belief in?

I would hope that the non-believer could be swayed to know Jesus as their Savior (and maybe they have a place in service), but I do think it could be a dangerous game for the church to play. I think that any ministry that is truly working for the Lord will be tested by Satan. When that happens, it can be hard enough for a Christian to stay on track, but what is there to guide that non-believer?

Michael's response:

There is the potential for danger, but a nonbeliever would never have a position of authority or leadership, for that matter they would not be on a committee, but to serve, to enter the realm of the church world may be a huge step towards faith in Christ. If the church closes the door, then how are we helping them get their feet wet and meeting and working alongside other Christians?

The hope would be that as the person continues to worship and serve, the power of the Holy Spirit would work on their heart and spirit and they would come to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior of their life. What a great testimony they would have to share with other friends and nonbelievers. It could help break the mold of how other nonbelievers think about the church and Christians in general.

Thanks for the response.

Friday, December 05, 2008

one more video



This is scary!!

Video of Black Friday

I'll be talking about this at the beginning of the sermon on Sunday . . .



This is amazing what people are like!

Black Friday crowds

Watch this crowd charge for Friday morning goodies.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZYxKR-IdGo&feature=related

GM, Ford, Chrysler

I read the following about GM . . .

"When General Motors released its 37-page plan for restructuring observers immediately began to scratch their heads. The plan calls for plant closures, brand cut-backs and layoffs--but it is wholly silent on the details of where and when, and very little on why. In sum, this is a very long memo that could have been summarized in two words: "Trust us."

Sadly, we don't, and neither should Congress. A bailout might make sense for Detroit if what emerges from painful pruning looks like a viable car company with a coherent set of brands and a modern manufacturing base and streamlined workforce.

But GM hasn't provided the details any reasonable lawmaker or interested citizen would need to pass judgment on the proposed plan.

Congress should help GM, and Ford and Chrysler--but only if it makes sense. That conclusion will require a great deal more detail than has been provided to date."

It seems to me the church operates a lot like that GM plan, we don't set many concrete goals, we need to do that and that will be part of next year's plan for me and committees and church leadership - - we need far more accountability for what areas of responsibility and authority.

Secondly, back to the automakers, if congress bailed out the banks and loan companies who were fraudulent, then they should bail out the automakers who were just stupid, not stealing.

10 Reasons I Don’t Like Most Christians

A pastor in South Carolina did a little research with some people he knows and came up with these 10 reasons why he does not like Christians (and possibly why others have a low view of Christians, as well.)

This is what he wrote,

"I mentioned recently that I’m not sure I like Christians. With the help of some of my friends, here are the top…

10 Reasons I Don’t Like Most Christians

  1. They consistently seem angry and bitter and worried. I thought Christians were supposed to reflect joy and kindness and peace.
  2. They don’t dream big dreams. That seems odd given the fact that we’re supposedly worshiping a God who is “able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare ask or hope.”
  3. They seem to worship their theology more than Jesus. For whatever reason, this appears to be especially true for folks that come from a reformed theology.
  4. They don’t like it when other people or ministries experience success. Think about it. There are Christians who would be overwhelmed with joy if NewSpring experienced fewer salvations, fewer baptisms and our attendance dropped.
  5. They use prayer as an excuse for inaction. They’re waiting for God to do his thing, but they aren’t willing to step out in faith and obedience.
  6. They’re more concerned with the BMW next door than the lost person who drives it. Christians hate people with money. They’re willing to sacrifice time and money for those without it, but they’re satisfied to let “rich” people go to Hell.
  7. They would rather people live life without Jesus than give up their personal preferences. What happens when your preferred teacher doesn’t teach? What happens when your preferred worship leader doesn’t lead? What happens when you don’t like the music?
  8. They are fake. They dress up a certain way on Sunday and they live as completely different people the rest of the week.
  9. They think they’re better than other people. That’s why they create rules to follow. It helps differentiate why they are holy while others are not.
  10. They’re comfortable with mediocrity. Doesn’t matter where. Think Christian music and movies. Think how we invest our time and money. You don’t seriously think God deserves our best do you?

The reality is that I’ve sinned in just about every one of these areas. It pains me to say that, but it’s true. If people hear the Gospel and reject Jesus, that’s one thing. If I’m the barrier to people accepting Christ because of me and my sin, that’s a completely different deal. Fortunately, God’s much bigger than my stupidity.

When does your humanness get in the way of people knowing the hope, forgiveness and love of Jesus? Does your life make people curious about the claims of Jesus or does it make them flee? What would you add to the list"

Quotes from Tony Morgan.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

More on the Church

Here are some comments from Anonymous (part 1).

I received two responses from Anonymous, and am not sure if they are one and the same. Here are these comments . . .

We have not led our people to evangelize. We are good at taking care on each other once people are here. We have an opportunity to learn to promote our church, invite others to come, and follow up on those that are missing.
Lots of opportunities there.

My responses -
Good observation on that one. We could learn to do evangelism, however, we have become comfortable since the church grew after we moved to Rt. 9. There are lots of missed opportunities. Do we really care that people are going to hell?


Gossip. Think to yourself, is that story feasable? Could there be more to that story?
Is that story worthwile for me to know? WHAT GOOD DO I DO TO PASS ALONG SOMETHING THAT I ONLY HEARD SECOND HAND?

My response - Good questions to ask when someone is giving you the dirty low down about someone. All we need to do is ask them why you need to know this about someone else, and if we should go and tell ___________ what is being said about them and by whom!

Mission and passion
Do we as a church all know what our church vision is and how we all fit into that vision. Do we have a clear cut vision? or are we shooting for nothing and hitting it?

My response - No, no and kinda-sorta. I am not sure the church has ever had a clear cut compelling vision, which means we are shooting from the hip and having some success, but not the amount we should have. That will change next year, with some ideas I have for vision discovery. My vision for the church is that 'we are passionate and contagious about Jesus and we make a relevant difference in the world.' That is pretty basic and simple, but there is a lot that is packed into it.

The rules should fit the mission. We can't just choose to ignore the rules sometimes and follow them others. That is how people get hurt, mad and leave. We need to tackle the church by-laws (Divorce, Women etc) and adapt them to what we need to do. The rules should work for us and not against us. But we must have rules and all follow them. It will work.


My response - We need to take a good look at the by laws, what is written and what is unwritten. Do our by-laws get in the way of mission? If yes, the by-law needs to go. At the same time we need to have some structure or there is chaos, yet, would not a little chaos be fun (yes for me) if the chaos was the result of lots of ministry taking place and lives being changed!

People leaving

I don't want unhappy people to stay where they are not happy. Life is too short. But I have a more bold approach. I want to teach, convince, educate, that the mission is good, and to jump on board and come along and be part of something exciting and worthwhile. If I take the approach to show the door to everyone who doesn't agree with me I will soon be standing in a room by myself!

My response - The approach is not to show the door to people who don't agree with me or with you or with anyone. We need to build a consensus about what this church represents, what our mission is (advancing the kingdom of Christ - according to the articles of incorporation). How are we advancing the kingdom of Christ? Are we, or are we advancing our kingdom?

I'm not looking to kick anyone out, but if someone is really unhappy with all of our changes (there really have not been that many), then they should leave if they are going to be a negative influence. If they are willing to stick around and get involved in ministry and work towards advancing the kingdom, then great! We should be teaching and educating and equipping people for ministry, but we need to get people out of their comfort zones, and work together, as one body, for the good of the kingdom and growth of the kingdom. I am a firm believer that faithfulness produces fruitfulness. It's a continual image from John.

Outside the box thinking.
Not everything has to be new to be good,nor is everything old the only way. A mixture of our heritage, mixed with new thoughts, and new generational thinking, situational adaptations of the practice of faith while protecting the fundamentals of the faith will create a new box.
Are we brave enough to look at a new box. Do we want a new box or do we want things to never change? Thought-- We were lucky to have had years with little change and we were unlucky that we got comfortable that we didn't have to change!

My response - The statement which grabs me is "Are we brave enough to look at a new box." That is a crucial statement. Are we really brave enough to look at a new paradigm, a new way of doing ministry. It does not mean the old way was wrong, but is there a better way, a way which can be measured so we can determine did we get it right, or did we miss our mark. If we don't measure what we do, how do we know if we hit the target?

The last sentence is very true. Years with little change leads to stagnation and after stagnation comes death, if we do not move / change. We're comfortable, and we need to remember God is a God of comfort, not comfortability. He never wants us comfortable, content, yes, comfortable, no.

You asked for thoughts you have some of mine.

And thank you for your thoughts!!

Thoughts on the Church

Not many people responded and I commented I would put anyone's comments here. So, here goes for two comments by Anonymous - - -

1. My concern about people leaving... Obviously some people will leave for petty reasons or what are essentially non-issues (like moving), but we do need to have a feel for why someone is leaving. Are we being unfriendly to people who haven't been members for 10+ years or shooting down ideas or offers of help because it came from someone who is new (and wears jeans to church! gasp!).

My response ~ While I don't chase after people, I know why they leave via information from others. Most churches state they are friendly, but are not; I have heard from some visitors that we really are friendly (kudos to the folks who greet and meet newcomers)!

I would also hope that we are not shooting down ideas, in fact, I crave ideas from others, and hope they are willing to help implement the ministries they are passionate about.

Sometimes we need to say goodbye to someone (especially when they are here for the wrong reasons... i.e. personal glory), but we also need to periodically examine ourselves as a whole to see if we are part of the problem too.

My response ~ We really do need to examine ourselves, it's not an easy thing to do, more often than not it is painful, but if honest and willing to improve ourselves, that makes a difference to others. . . and yes, sometimes we need to say good-bye to some.

And I agree with the other comment about examining the by-laws. Are we being too narrow in our interpretations of scripture, or ignoring some parts altogether (because it challenges our comfort zone or our own position)?

My response ~ I'm in full agreement, but remember, and I know this one from experience, when you talk about by-laws (written and unwritten rules) they bring about more stress than anything you can imagine. By-laws and unstated rules often arise out of mistrust of one another, which IMHO is the reason for the use of Robert's Rules of Order. If we trusted, we would not need the detailed process, we could talk as brothers and sisters in Christ; agreeing and disagreeing, praying, discussing the needs, hopes, dreams, mission and vision for the church.

How do we want the congregation to give feedback? If I am unhappy about something, how do I let it be known? It may not always be obvious to members who they should talk to. It may be a more trivial aspect to someone else, but it may bother that person for a legitimate reason. If you complain to the wrong person, that won't usually get any results (and, sadly, can generate gossip) and they may not refer you to the proper person (because they don't share the concern, or because they don't know,or because they are annoyed, whatever).

My response ~ That's a good comment, and food for thought about the process. Yet, why do we need to complain . . . gripe, gripe, gripe. Why are we so passive and reactive, not proactive about what we believe God is calling us to do. If we were really involved in spiritual growth/maturity and serving Christ according to His call in our lives, we would not have time for complaining, we'd be too busy having the time of our lives . . . serving Him.

We should be willing to become part of the solution, not perpetuate the problem. My door is never closed to anyone who wishes to talk. Sadly many people prefer to talk around me, than to me. Not all of my ideas work, and I am willing to listen and learn, if people are willing to discuss. And often times the answer is right before us, but we're too busy yapping to someone who does not need to know what is going on. People should refer others with issues to the correct person, or not give them an ear. That is healthy, even though we don't usually believe this or practice it.

But the point is: is there a way to give concerns a voice and to prevent grumbling?


My response ~ It's simple, go to the source! More often than not we sit on our hands and say nothing that may be construed as confrontational or controversial during business meetings. I'm not looking for fireworks, but we need to speak up if we have a concern.

Change for the sake of change is wrong, but resistance to change because of our insecurities or discomfort is also wrong.

My response ~ Yup, on both accounts. I have really, really, really tried to be aware of that first precept. . . change for the sake of change is harmful. I'd rather stay status quo, which kills me, than to change just because.

Thanks to anonymous.

FUN

Okay, a little serious thus far today, now for a little humor.

watch this video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ar_k8JjVWQA

"I don't believe...but I want to give back"

"I don't believe...but I want to give back"

World_hands Pastor Dave Ferguson in Naperville, IL wrote about an encounter he has with some new attenders at the church he pastors. The new attenders said, "I'm pretty sure that I don't really believe all the stuff that you believe...but I'm here because I feel a need to serve and I want to give back."

What is your reaction to this conversation? Do you think this is a trend or do you think this is just two isolated conversations?

Do you even think this should be allowed in the church . . . allow nonbelievers to serve?

The Car Industry

Detroit is showing it's a bit smarter in how it asks for bailout money.

Instead of traveling by corporate jet, GM CEO Rick Wagoner will drive a Malibu hybrid for the 520-mile trek from Detroit to Capitol Hill; Ford CEO Alan Mulally will drive an Escape hybrid. The travel plans of General Bob Nardelli of Chrysler are secret for "security reasons" (guess he's flying). (Update: Chrysler got wise and said he's driving, too.) All three are to present their plans for $25 billion in taxpayer-backed loans on Thursday and Friday.

If they were very smart, the CEOs would drive unreleased, next-generation cars that get 100 MPG. They would have left on Monday, and stopped in dozens of towns along the way and would invite local reporters and TV crews to ride shotgun for a short distance. They would update their status on Twitter, facebook and the like. They would write a few posts for the company blog. They would shoot video and put that on the blogs and have major media play it as well. They would also talk about how they messed up in the past, how they are selling their corporate jets, all of them, and they would talk about plans for the future.

As a result, they would get some great PR, which they desperately need.

They would prove they can work together, yes, Ford with GM and Chrysler . . . They would show they are visionary leaders who are breaking the mold of the ways business has always been accomplished.

GM said late Tuesday it needs $18 billion, yesterday, to survive, and only have a few months of life left.

Wagoner and Mulally said they would work for $1-a-year salary IF federal assistance was forthcoming. Hint: Arrive in Washington having already cut your salaries to $1!!

What do you think: Give Detroit a line of credit, or let 'em file for bankruptcy and work it out in the courts like the airlines?

Let them go under and see what happens?

My take is if we allow them to go under, we will no longer be in a recession, we will enter a depression.

Amazing video about our economy

I was watching a video from 2006 and 2007 and it can really, really stink (nice word) to be the contrarian voice in the herd, as Peter Schiff was in 2006, two years before the economic walls came down.

It takes guts, perseverance and, as Peter instructively demonstrates in this video, quiet confidence. He would've been still be right had he been screaming a la Jim Kramer, but it's easier to side with a screaming optimist than a screaming skeptic. Click on the link and watch this 10 minute video and you will see how messed up some of these predictions are, and how right Peter Schiff was, and how he never wavered from his amazingly accurate prediction.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2I0QN-FYkpw

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

More Thoughts on the church

More thoughts about the church . . . where are we and who are we?

I did some writing about my thoughts yesterday, here is some, but not all - - what are your thoughts?

Some things we need to consider. We need to . . .

. . . Think differently about our church culture
* Don’t say, “Our people won’t ___________” (insert problem).
* Instead can we say . . . “We have not led our people to ____________” (insert problem); this is a great opportunity, how are you willing to help, no complaining allowed, helpers only.

. . . Think differently about criticism and gossip
* We love to engage in gossip, especially the juicy variety and then we pass on what we want. In
essence changing some of the story to suit our sickness.
* Instead, say something good about that person. Then say no to bitterness, rage, anger,
brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Follow the one another’s, love, forgive,
serve . . . (from Ephesians 4:31-32).

. . . Think differently about the mission and vision
* Are we passionate about the mission and vision {Okay, what the heck is the mission and
vision, anyway?}
* Or are we more passionate about guarding people’s feelings, only when it suits our purposes
and rules, at the expense of the mission and vision?

. . . Think differently about people leaving the church
* The normal mindset is “we can’t let anyone leave.”
* Why keep those who are dissatisfied, they will continue to spread their poison. Anyone want
poison?

. . . Think differently about limitations
* We say, “we can’t because we don’t have _______.”
* Are we willing to become creative and not only think outside the box, but create a new box?

. . . Think differently about ourselves
* We think we are better than others. We look down on those who are not like 'us.'
* We are sinners just like everyone else, fortunately we know Jesus (hopefully intimately), so
life is different because of Jesus, but are we growing in Christ, or just the same old pain in the
booter (my boys word for the buttocks)?
* As a result, are we willing to get our hands dirty and do ministry or . . . ?

Those were some Monday thoughts. What are your thoughts?

Come on, people, I know you all have thoughts, let's get them out, because the time is coming when I will be laying as many of our PINK ELEPHANTS on the table. If they are present in our church, then they are blocking the movement of Christ and the Spirit in our church, and frankly that is 100% unacceptable.

If you are willing, what are the Pink Elephants? As an FYI, Pink Elephants in the room are issues, etc. which everyone knows exist, but nobody is willing to talk about.

Either post them here, or email them to me (mishana826@yahoo.com), and I will list them after a few days.

I told you a couple of weeks ago, I'm stirring the pot. It's time.

Dessert

First, why is it I always have to look up how to spell dessert. I can never remember if it is with one or two s's.

And why is it the place with lots of sand and little vegetation is the same word which means someone who leaves you? I think I'd rather have dessert!

Anyway, have you ever seen a dessert which look so good that you cannot help but go for it, even if you should not, but then when you take that first bite, the looks were a whole lot better than the taste.

That happened to me today.

It also led me to think about how we view other people. We look at the outside and make quick judgments which are so superficial and often times prove totally false. I was reminded of Jesus' words in Matthew 23:26-28, when Jesus said,
  • 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
  • 27Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean.
  • 28In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
Sadly, that is how many people view the church. We are a bunch of self-righteous, arrogant, full of ourselves hypocrites. We look good and clean on the outside, but when we speak and act, the filth comes out.

So, how can I / you change that perception, sometimes true and sometimes not . . . ?

All that from a good looking, but not good brownie.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Quote

I came across this quote, what do you think?

I would like to be naïve enough to believe what God says in his word is true and bold enough to go and do it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Joshua

Yesterday was Joshua's 11th birthday. It's hard to believe that boy is 11 years old. Makes me feel old. he had a couple of friends sleep over and had a good night.

Today he received braces, ouch! He was looking forward to them, and enjoyed them until they began to hurt. Hopefully the pain will not be too bad. His dinner was two bowls of oatmeal, yum!

I ate my old favorite which I had not made since I was teen. We had leftover Turkey and I sauteed some onions, added some corn, turkey and BBQ sauce and cooked it up, ate it on a onion roll, um-um good!!

Now it's time for night night.

Happy Thanksgiving

Enjoy the day.

We will be home, just the 4 of us. No turkey, probably a chicken and hanging out and relaxing.

I'm looking forward to it.

Purple Cows

The title of one of Seth Godin's books is Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable. The premise for his book is this, if you've seen one cow or two cows, you've seen them all. But if you saw a purple cow, that you would remember.

When I think about the church, what is it that people will remember about us. How do we "brand" ourselves? How do we demonstrate community and faith and hospitality?

I enjoyed reading his book. It really made me think more about the metaphor: if you've seen one brown cow you've seen them all. But a purple cow, would catch your attention. One statement in the book has profound implications: "If you aren't remarkable you're invisible."

Every church needs to paint itself purple. I'm not talking about gimmicks. I'm not talking about being different for the sake of being different. I'm talking about making such a remarkable difference in our communities that we are unignorable, unforgettable, and totally visible and necessary for the survival of the community.

Think about this ~

1) the good news should make headline news. Brown churches sit on the sideline and invite the community to come to them. Purple churches are always active, busy, passionate, and compelling. They are making such a big difference that they become a highly visible part of their community. People drive by the brown churches--the churches that are invisible--to go to the purple church.

2) The greatest message deserves the greatest marketing. I know for many in the church, marketing is a dirty word, but does it get anybody else riled up that Madison Avenue is far better at pedaling its worthless trash than the church is at preaching the good news? We have the "Field of Dreams" mentality, 'if you build it they will come.' Well, they ain't coming, so don't complain, become part of the solution. We need to compete with the world for the people who are in the world, to win them to Christ and transform / change their hearts and help them grow more and more into His image. On second thought, we need to do that in the church, as well.

3) The church ought to be the most creative place on the planet. After all, God is the Creator of the world. He is super creative, and His people have His gifts to create, so we should be thinking and doing and dreaming outside of the box, not moving to new places within the box. Too many churches look too much alike, because they are afraid to move into the 21st century. How will we help the world around us see and believe that we are relevant to their needs.

So how do we paint ourselves purple? For starters, dare to be different. You might offend some Pharisees, but that isn't who you're trying to reach (they are already lost, and like the ones Jesus spoke to, they could not move off their Pharisaim). Secondly, disrupt the routine. I think it starts with our own routines. Change of pace + change of place = change of perspective. Imagine changing your seat in church (gulp!) You need to get out of your routine so you can have some purple thoughts.

Leaders need to cause and create some discontentment and even confusion. Think about Jesus, he didn't do orientations. He did disorientations. We need to find new ways of saying old things (see the Parables). Consider how we give milk to a baby . . . in a bottle, consider how you drink milk today, in a cup. The milk is the same, but the delivery method changes. In the same way, the Gospel message never changes, but the delivery does and must.

We need to find new wineskins. We need to sing a new song. Neurological studies have found that familiarity stimulates the left-brain. Novelty stimulates the right-brain. We need some Spirit-inspired, right-brained ideas that capture the imagination of the church and the world.

What do you think?!

Facebook

I have moved to the world of facebook. If you have a facebook page, search for me, and you will find me under my name.

I just started on facebook, and see it as an opportunity to talk to one another even as a group of people to discuss life or issues . . .

check it out at www.facebook.com There are many, many people using it.

What's your story

One of the things that has struck me as I preached through the Beatitudes was the word 'story.'

We all have a story, yet our perception of our story and the reality, or the truth of our story can be so different.

Sadly, what happens when we tell our story, or we tell a story in which we don't know the entire story, but we act like we do, is that we end up speaking out of our own neediness and hurt. As a result, the truth is not really the truth, it becomes distorted. The sad thing about this is the fact that more often than not, the issue was not all that complicated, we do that ourselves.

It makes needing the Father, Son and Holy Spirit all the more necessary in our lives. Besides that, people put words in our mouths which were never there to start with.

When someone tells you a story, know they are sharing part of their life with you, but if other people are involved, then know that is not the entire story, it is only a part of the story. I have noticed in the church world, especially, we only tell bits and pieces of the story, then we seek to gain people on our side, at the expense of the church. That's not healthy, we call it human nature, I call it sin. If you are not saying something nice, don't say it. Don't tell stories about others you would not say to their face.

Okay, I'm off my soapbox now.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Comments

I would really appreciate your comments about what I am writing about. These are huge issues for all churches, ours included. If you want to reply on the blog, click on the title and it will take you to the blog website, then type a comment. If that does not work, which sometimes is the case, send me an email reply and I will post the comments.

PASSION and CALLING

I have been doing a great deal of thinking and wondering and praying (sometimes without the literal bowing my head, but just talking to God) about the issue of PASSION and CALLING.

What are they? Are they the same? Can they go together? Do you need to have one to have the other? Lots of questions I have been asking and digging through to better understand what God wants me to do, what He wants you to do, and how we are going to accomplish the task of being the church He wants us to be.

I have spoken about “passion” a great deal. I’ve made comments like, ‘find out what you are passionate about, then go do it.’ I’ve asked, “do you even know what you are passionate about? If you know, then go into the world and use that passion for the glory of Christ.”

Passion is good, we all need to be passionate, to have a fuel, a burning within our heart which leads us to action. When we engage in our passions, even though it might be difficult work, we end up feeling fulfilled about what we just did. And in those moments when our efforts seem futile, we become more frustrated because our passion level was so high, that our expectations also were higher.

However, I have also been thinking about “calling.” What does it mean to be called? Will you always be called to something you are passionate about? That’s the one we always want, but I have learned that calling and passion do not always go together . . . especially at the start.

When I consider the Biblical story, look at the many saints of old, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Deborah, Rahab, Ruth, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Hosea . . . and the New Testament apostles; all of them. I believe everyone of these men and women were called.

Most calling catch us off guard, “you want me to do what, God? No way!” So we fight the call, because it is not our passion. Consider Moses. How many times did he argue with God about his lack of ability? How many times did he want to hit his head on the rock instead of the stick? Eventually, however, I believe Moses developed a passion for his calling. He did not start with passion, he started with a call.

What does that mean for you!?!?!? There is nothing wrong for your passion and call to be intertwined, that is super. But that is not the case in many and maybe most situations. So, the question for today and the next days in your prayer life is to ask God not only about your passion, but to ask God,

‘Father, what are you calling me to do for you to help build your kingdom? Even if it is not my dream, my plan, my expectation, open my heart, spirit and mind so that Your calling would be like a burning fire within my heart, so that I may serve You to Your glory and honor, not mine.”

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My Mother's Wish

My Mother's Wish by Jerry Camery-Hoggatt was a wonderful read. He had an ability to remind me of days long ago when I remember my sisters walking around the house in curlers and cold cream. Not only does this book serve as a reminder to bygone days, he reminds us that life is a journey with many, many unexpected twists and turns, which lead us to the right place.

The story is about a young girl and her struggle to fit in . . . anywhere. In a world filled with loneliness, Eleanor is lonely, she longs for relationships, especially within her family, but expectations and comparisons to the perfect older sister hinder Eleanor in her journey.

She feels misunderstood as she feels called to live a life with a more carefree attitude then her mother desires. As a result, Eleanor never lives up to her mother's expectations. She finds her father as an advocate, which surprises her.

Eleanor never liked her name, it was her maternal grandmother's name. She wants to be called Ellee, which her mother despises.

After a major fight between her parents about Ellee, she leaves home, putting a note for her dad in his car. She ends up at a truck stop diner called, the Comeback Cafe which causes Ellee to consider some of her feelings. The characters are wonderful, as an older grandfatherly farmer sings to a crying babyt with a beautiful voice, a waitress with "3 arms" and a trucker enter her life and lead her to an improbable conclusion.

Along the way Elle learns poetry and writes in a "contrariwise" manner, again much to the chagrin of her mother. Yet, it reminds me of God's call to celebrate our uniqueness.

This is a short, 81 page story, readable in a quick burst, but one that packs some deeper meaning as we consider the call of God to follow Him on our journey into grace and hope and ultimately, the abundant life.

This would make a very nice Christmas present.

You can find this book at the following:

www.amazon.com


www.christianbook.com

Advent Conspiracy

Here is a very powerful video from youtube.com

click on the link, you will not be disappointed.

What will you or I do about this? Hmmm. . .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVqqj1v-ZBU

I've Been Thinking

I have not blogged for a little bit now, because I have been thinking and rethinking and planning and wondering and dreaming and hoping . . . I think you get the point. I'm almost ready to unveil some of my thoughts and thought process. Most of it applies to church life and where we FBC is at, where I am at and where the universal church is at, as well as a generalization for most people.

So, strap yourselves in for some daily thoughts.

Please feel free to interact with me. I would be thrilled to have interaction on what I am writing.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

TEST

Yup, this is just a test. I have not seen any blogs come across my computer this week, and I have sent some out.

So, if you received one titled Christian Absurdity, and another with a fun test, let me know.

Blessings and looking forward to a great Sunday!!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

AN EASY QUIZ

I received this today and thought I would pass it on.

WORLD'S EASIEST QUIZ
(In order to pass you only need 4 correct answers)
1 - How long did the Hundred Year War last?
2 - Which country makes Panama hats?
3 - From which animal do we get cat-gut?
4 - In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?
5 - What is a camel hair brush made of?
6 - The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal?
7 - What was King George VI first name?
8 - What color is a purple finch?
9 - Where are Chinese gooseberries from?
10 - What is the color of the black box in a commercial airplane?
Remember, you need 4 correct answers to pass.

This is so easy, I will send the answers later!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Christian Absurdity

I came across this article and thought . . . "WOW! We (Christians) are so doggone stupid. Just some questions . . .
  1. Do Christians like to look like they are ignorant?
  2. Is dumbness a spiritual gift?
  3. Are we in the business of pushing people away from Christ?
Okay, what's my problem today? Besides having a cough and turning 50 tomorrow, I read this article and couldn't believe what we do to one another, but the absolute blatant misapplication of scripture.

The question at hand is this, "is it unChristian for a girl to play football? This was the headline of an article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution on November 1, 2008.

Here are the first two paragraphs of the article ~

After months of waiting on the sidelines, Kacy Stuart was finally going to get the chance to play football with her team, the New Creation Center Crusaders.

She had practiced hard but nothing could’ve prepared her that night for the moment the opposing team read a pregame statement over the intercom.

Kacy, a 14-year-old freshman, didn’t hear the entire statement, but it was these final words, a quote from Romans 12:2, that took her by surprise: “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

This passage is about our (Christians) conforming to the ways of the world and accepting the ways of the world as opposed ot the ways of Christ and the kingdom.

However, in the case of Kacy (who is the kicker. And I don't care if she was the QB or running back), some idiot interpreted this passage to mean girls are not to play a physical sport with boys.

Do you really think Paul had that in mind when he was writing this. I can just picture him thinking about someday in 2008 when airplanes and rockets and scud missiles and nuclear warfare and the Internet would be in use, and he thought, "Oh no, what if a girl wants to play some stupid game that boys do, I better write this verse down."

These people who were on the opposing team should be ashamed of themselves.
  1. They desecrated the word of God.
  2. They rejected the Holy Spirit.
  3. They hurt their witness for Christ.
  4. They made a mockery of Christ's church.
  5. They embarrassed every believer in Jesus.
  6. They hurt a girl just wanting to play football.
And those are just my initial thoughts. You wonder why the church does not grow? Think about how narrow minded Christians (not all) can be. Are you, am I, one of those people we rail against? God help me if I am!

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Wonderful Weekend

On Saturday, the Search Committee had planned a party to celebrate my receiving my doctorate. Unbeknownst to me, Debbie was helping them also plan a surprise 50th birthday party. Amazingly, nobody told me, nobody!

I figured she would do something, but I didn't expect what I found. I was really overwhelmed with the number of people who came, and took time from their busy Saturday afternoons. Debbie even invited people from Michigan, 4 of whom made the trip, her sister and nephew came, and 2 pastors, 1 whom I had lost touch with was here; and another who just moved to Indiana from Washington.

All in all, it was a great day, a special day, and thanks goes to Debbie for all of her hard work and behind the scenes effort to help this be a memorable and awesome day. And it is not even my birthday yet. . . that is Thursday. I have also never received so many cards for one event in my life. It took a long time, and I read through every card.

Thank you to the Search Committee and all those who I don't even know were busy planning and preparing. Thanks to the folks who were in the kitchen during most of the time. Your time and effort and planning are greatly appreciated and will always be cherished and remembered.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Me, Myself & I AM

Say what!?

Yup, that is the name of this less than 100 page QUESTION and ANSWER ~ SELF-REFLECTIVE book. This is not the normal book we come across and start to read through.

In a nutshell, the author, Winston Rice, talks about God being I AM, and His call for us to be uniquely who He has created us to be, thus the title.

He explains, we should answer the questions according to how we feel, I might add, according to what your heart dictates. Don't write down what others expect or what you 'think' you should write down, go with your real inner feelings. When you do this, the book becomes much more magical.

As I read through and answered some questions, I was led to chuckle and even cry about how I would answer some of the questions. The book ranges from categories regarding our childhood to teen years to good times and bad, to beliefs, fears, thankfulness, confessions and ends with our ending, your funeral (who should speak, what people should remember about you, etc.). Try writing your thoughts about how you want to be remembered, it's not easy, and it is reason for self reflection and deeper thought.

You can even use the book at a party or small group gathering because of some of the sillier types of questions. Don't buy the book if you think it is a another self-help book or novel. Yet, it is a self-help book in the sense it will help you discover or rediscover the gift of your unique self God created you to be. It was fun, it was unique, and this book forced me to think more about who I am over and against who I believe God is calling me to be. This is what makes the book special.

It would also be a great Christmas present for someone or a great stocking stuffer.

You can purchase this wonderful little book at

Amazon.com

Christianbooks.com

Friday, November 07, 2008

Post Election Thoughts

Post-Election Thoughts
  • We’ve elected our first African-American President. That’s historic.
  • Although it was interesting to note not many people made an issue of it leading up to the election, but they are afterwards. That is an interesting dynamic.
  • I’m proud to be an American. Our political process really works, even when I am not thrilled with the results.
  • The biggest surprise of this election process for me was watching Obama upset Clinton to get the nomination.
  • Runner up to that for me was watching the collapse of the Giuliani campaign. I thought he would be the Republican candidate.
  • I don’t recall watching any television ads in the past two days for any politician.
  • As far as I know, we did not receive any direct mail advertising from either campaign.
  • I thought the branding of the Obama campaign (graphics and otherwise) was far superior to McCain. This appealed to the younger generation. Obama had much, much more appeal to those in the 18-35 range.
  • I’m glad I didn’t have to run on the Republican ticket given the current economy. I don’t know if any candidate could have beaten Obama this year.
  • I think the campaign ended up being more about “change” than it had to do with specific ideas.
  • Honestly, I didn’t want to vote for either of these candidates for different reasons. But I did.
  • It’s amazing in a country our size, these were the best two candidates to run for President.
  • I like Obama’s personality and charisma more than McCain’s. I think the more “likeable” candidate usually gets elected regardless of their platform.
  • Senator Dole, Senator Gore, Senator Kerry, Senator McCain; I think it’s a tough mountain to climb when you’re viewed as an established Washington insider, and lacking in the charisma people want to see and experience.
  • I’m amazed at how seamless the transition is in America when we select a new leader.
  • It’ll be interesting to watch the Democrats shift from the Clinton era to the Obama era.
  • It’ll be interesting to watch who rises up to lead within the Republican party.
  • I believe McCain lost on several key issues, but I am not a politician or on someone’s staff and they did not ask me.
  • McCain’s concession speech for very honoring to his opponent.
  • Obama’s victory speech was stirring.
  • Obama is a great communicator.
  • Oh, and one more thing… God is sovereign and He is the only answer to real change in our lives and in our communities.
I have more, but that is good for now.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Election - The End (I think)

Some final thoughts about tomorrow and some of what I have heard from Christians . . .

It seems that many, many Christians have taken their eyes off of Jesus as their Savior and put them on either McCain or Obama as their Savior. Obama nor McCain will save us from anything, only Jesus can do that. One president cannot change hearts, that is a God thing, and only God can change our hearts, spirits and minds. We need personal transformation! And I am talking about the Christians. This is how totally bizzare this stuff gets.

As Christians, should we have a political opinion? ABSOLUTELY! Should we vote? ABSOLUTELY! A Christian who doesn’t vote is completely missing an opportunity that God has blessed us with as citizens of this country.

BUT…we can’t actually think that the salvation process is tied to who happens to be in the White House!

Think about this . . . in the Gospels the Jews missed the fact that Jesus was the Messiah because they were looking for someone to deliver them from the politics of Rome. They felt oppressed and wanted someone to deliver them from the heavy hand of the Roman government.

Let me say it more clearly–they missed Jesus because of politics!!! (And religion as well…but that’s another post!)

For a Christian to claim that the world is going to be doomed to hell because a particular party happens to “control” the White House is a slap in the face of a Sovereign God.

He reigns! Read through Scripture. It is very, very clear that God can and will do whatever He believes needs to be done in order to bring about he culmination of His plan. God has used kings, queens, enemies, even donkeys to do His will, even when they were against God. God does this for His glory. . . not ours!

Tomorrow go to the polling station, wherever that might be, wait in line if need be, but go and vote!

Who should you vote for? Here's a simple idea, pray and ask Jesus to enlighten your heart, spirit and mind. Ask Christ to give you the wisdom you need to make the best decision you can with all of the information you know, but the main information is what you receive from God.

Whoever gets elected, whether it is your man or not, pray for that man daily. Even if your guy wins, pray for him daily.

One final thought, hold this one above al others, GOD REIGNS! He always has, always will!

Now go vote!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Election - Part 4

Does the media favor a certain candidate?

A new report was released yesterday by a non-partisan group that analyzes the bias of the media covering the presidential campaign during a recent 6-week period. It was very interesting. Here is a summary of the report as it relates to negative stories:

Negative_stories

See the original tables here.

Based on their negative reporting...

  1. Does the media overall favor (or reject) one of the candidates?
  2. Which news outlet seems most fair and balanced?

Remember this is not a political blog. I don't like to talk politics, but with the election a couple of days away, we need to be as well informed as possible. If this is getting on your nerves-- just turn me off until next Wednesday when we get back to "normal."

Friday, October 31, 2008

A letter from Patrick Lencioni

Patrick Lencioni is a wonderful leadership expert and Christian. He has written many best selling books, such as "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" and more with the title "The Five. . ." I received an email from an organization called Faith Highway containing a letter from Lencioni. Since it is about the election, I thought I would pass it on. You may not like it, it may be too graphic in parts, but it is important to read. I can send you the original email if you wish.

Here it is ~

Dear Pastor/Ministry Leader,

I am sending you this email because of its importance. Below you will read an email sent out to friends from Pat Lencioni. Pat is the author of many bestselling books which help organizations reach their potential. My two favorites are "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” and “The Three Signs of a Miserable Job." They are both New York Times Best Sellers. If you have not read them you should.

I highly suggest that you read Pat's email below; he wrote it in such a non political way, it is worth sending to anyone who is willing to read it. I hope you can pass it along to as many people as you see fit. This is the defining issue in our country and how we handle it greatly determines who we are as a society.

God Bless You,

Dennis W. Dautel

President, faithHighway

dennis.dautel@faithhighway.com


From Pat Lencioni, The Table Group

I’m sending this message to large group of people who I know to be Catholic/Christian. I must confess that there are parts of me that don’t want to send it, because I don’t want to offend anyone or make them uncomfortable. However, sometimes in life we are called to stand up for something we believe in even when it is not popular, not for our own good but for what we believe is best for society and for the souls of our brothers and sisters. Please read this note with that in mind, and know that I write this humbly, as a sinner, and with love.

Exactly one week ago tonight I was driving home from a meeting and barely missed hitting two deer crossing a busy street near my home.

Glad to have slowed down to let them pass, I suddenly noticed that there were two more waiting to cross behind my car. I flashed my lights at two people in an oncoming car to warn them of what they couldn’t see.

Keeping my eye on the situation in my rear view mirror, I saw the car that had passed me stop suddenly and I realized that it might have hit one of the animals. So I turned around to see what happened and anyone needed help and learned that two teenage girls had indeed hit one of the deer, a doe. Along with those girls and a few other drivers who stopped, we watched the young deer writhe in pain and struggle to stand for a long minute or two. And then it died.

The girls cried, and I and the other drivers felt horribly sad. The mother deer and the others were long gone and did not return. I called the police and animal control, waited for a while with the dead animal and the girls, consoling them, and finally left. This story is not spectacular, but I assure you that it is completely true. It happened on October 23rd, and it made me think about how hard it was to watch a young, innocent creature die, and without its mother.

Later that night as I was putting my 10 year old boys to bed, one of them asked me “dad, if the election doesn’t go the way we want, is abortion going to become legal?” I was a little stunned, and then had to sadly explain that it was already legal, and that more than 3,000 babies died each day by abortion. Telling him that Santa Claus didn’t exist was much easier.

He then asked why anyone would have an abortion, and I explained that some women become pregnant and then decide that they don’t want to have a baby, so they get rid of it. He then declared, “If I were a woman and were pregnant, I would never do that. I mean, if I didn’t want the baby, I would give it,” he struggled for the words, “to an orphanage.”

His brother in the upper bunk then said, “I wouldn’t even do that.”

Well, today I find myself thinking about abortion. And for some reason I’m thinking about the ultrasound images we see of unborn babies in their early stages. The fingers, the faces, the very baby-like images that twenty and thirty years ago were not nearly so clear. And I cannot help but feel that abortion is terribly, terribly wrong.

Yes, our churches tell us so. And yes, many doctors now tell us so.

But in our hearts, I think that all of us who honestly think about that dying deer, about the questions and reactions of my ten year old sons, and about those ultrasound images, know that it is wrong.

Politicians who call themselves pro-choice often say that they are personally against abortion, but they don’t want to impose their morality on others. They almost always claim that rather than making abortion illegal, they want to discourage abortion through other means. Whether this makes sense is certainly debatable, because if something is morally wrong and bad for society, keeping it legal is almost always the wrong approach. But it is possible that a politician or a voter is sincere in their interest to eradicate abortion through non-legal means.

However, when a politician vows to take steps to increase abortion, anyone who finds abortion morally wrong, pro-choice or not, has a moral obligation to stand up and disagree. And, I think, to avoid voting for that person. Because if a candidate does not believe that the most innocent life is sacred, a Christian certainly cannot believe that he or she is truly concerned about life when it comes to anything else.

Here is where this gets political, but my motivation for pointing this out is not about political parties or winning or losing elections. It is about the most critical moral issue of our time, one that will plague our nation and our society for many years and demand an answer to the question “where were you when this all happened?”

Barack Obama has already promised that on his first day in office he will sign FOCA, the Freedom of Choice Act. What will this do? It will make it impossible for states to require girls/women seeking abortion to get parental consent, speak with a counselor, or get an ultrasound of their unborn baby. It will also make it impossible to ban partial birth abortion. And for those who don’t know – and so many people don’t know – partial birth abortion is horrific. It is the procedure in which a late term unborn baby is pulled partially from his or her mother’s womb, scissors are inserted into its brain to scramble the contents, while the child goes into spasm and jerks in horrible pain. Then the baby is vacuumed from its mother’s womb.

There is no doubt that the impact and intent of FOCA is to prevent anything from happening that might make a women reconsider or be restricted in having an abortion. It is by far the most aggressive action since the Roe vs. Wade decision.

Finally, it simply cannot be ignored that on two separate and unequivocal occasions, Barack Obama voted against providing medical care to babies who were born alive after botched abortions.

I am writing to implore you to consider the abortion issue as the most foundational issue of our culture and our time. When you look at any society, you can judge so much of where it is headed by how it treats its most innocent and vulnerable people. And there is no one more innocent and more vulnerable than an unborn child.

Many people will say that war or poverty or medical care are just as important issues, and just as much related to “life”. However, each of those issues involves far less clear moral imperatives. For instance, there is an argument to be made that there are “just wars” (think about WWII and the need to stop the Nazis, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War), and there are some poor people who are poor because of their own bad decisions and refusal to work hard (what percentage I don’t know, but it is not insignificant), and there are health care issues that are not clearly fundamental rights (elective cosmetic surgery and care for self-inflicted problems from smoking or chronic over-eating). In other words, war, poverty and medical care have gray areas that can be debated in terms of what is good and what is evil. Some wars are certainly wrong. Many poor people are poor through no fault of their own. And many sick people need and deserve care regardless of their financial means. But there are gray areas.

Abortion, on the other hand, is not really debatable. No child wants to be aborted. Every abortion is the pre-mature and unnatural ending of a human life. I heard someone say recently that all people are born pro-life, and have to learn to be pro-choice.

Finally, think about that ultrasound image of an unborn child, and the teary eyes of the mother and father seeing their first glimpse of their son or daughter. Now ask yourself if it makes any sense to worry about that baby if there are complications during pregnancy. To pray for him or her during that time. To do surgery on him or her to improve the chances of survival. Of course it does.

And then we must ask ourselves if it makes sense to let another unborn child be purposely injected with saline solution so that it will burn and die, or to have its arms and legs and face and hands chopped into pieces and vacuumed from the womb, simply because his or her mother decided he or she didn’t deserve to be born.

How can we treat these two equal and innocent creatures so differently, one as a life worthy of prayer and concern and tears, and another as disposable property? There is no logical or moral way to explain this, not to a ten-year old, a teenager or an adult.

Yes, this is uncomfortable. Yes, this is controversial. But what it is not is political. It is about life. It doesn’t matter whether you are a liberal or a conservative, a democrat or a republican, a man or a woman. What does matter is whether you believe in God, and the He created us in His image. Because if you do, then it is hard to see abortion as anything but morally wrong.

I don’t write this to you out of superiority or condescension. I am a sinner like everyone else. And I fear taking an unpopular stand just like anyone else. But in this case, out of love, I had to let you know how I feel.

God bless you and all of us, and the unborn children who depend on our courage.

Pat

Energy Vampires

Not sure how this will come out, but I copied it from a web site. Remember, any time you leave an unused appliance plugged in, it draws energy and costs you money.

Don't let Energy Vampires drain your bank account!

Did you know that appliances and electronics we plug in and forget about, like televisions, computers and telephone chargers, are sucking electricity and money from you even when you are not using them?

It's scary...consumers spend nearly $4 billion a year on electricity for appliances and electronics that are off or in the standby mode! That's more than $200 per year for an average family.


Cost of vampire electricity
ApplianceAverage annual costVampire costTotal Annual cost
Television$20 (on 4-5 hours per day)$10$30
Stereo$20 (on 4-5 hours per day)$10$30
Computer$200$41 (set to sleep mode)$241
Video game system$17.50$2.40$19.90

These habits can drain you dry. You don't need garlic and a stake to kill energy vampires, just...

  • Unplug the computer when you're not using it
  • Unplug the telephone charger after it charges
  • Use motion activated lights instead of keeping the porch light on all night

The Courage to Grow!

I appreciate devotionals which are real and relevant.  This devotional perfectly meets that requirement.  Annie Downs has written a powerf...