Thursday, February 26, 2009

Finishing Strong

here is a great 2:33 video about facing life's adversities and not letting defeat get to you.

It's well worth your 2 1/2 minutes.

http://www.maniacworld.com/are-you-going-to-finish-strong.html


Click on the above link and it will take you to the video.

Blessings and rejoice!!

a Day and Dinner . . . with a Perfect Stranger


Two book reviews in one. Two very good little books by David Gregory.

Dinner with a Perfect Stranger was easy to read. It took me a quick two nights to read the story about a workaholic husband/father, Nick Comiskey is in his early 30's, successfully navigating his career as he puts in 60-70 hour weeks, all at the expense of his wife, Mattie, and daughter Sarah. Mattie and Nick are living the life they always dreamt of, success with all of the perks. However, not all is rosy. In fact Nick and Mattie are both unhappy.

Nick receives a strange invitation to have dinner at an upscale Italian restaurant with . . . Jesus. Nick thinks it is a joke, but decides to go anyway. He’s curious about what will happen and who this jokester is.

Nick is not a church goer, and for the next few hours Nick and Jesus (in a blue suit) have dinner together. Nick and Jesus discuss religion, different religions and spiritual longing. Nick tries to rebuff all of Jesus’ main points. At times, Nick is surprised that Jesus agrees with him on his opinion of organized religion. Jesus talks about the pain Nick has experienced throughout his life and the way to find healing. Nick struggles with much of what Jesus is telling him, and answers Jesus’ questions with more questions.

This was a fun book which has some really great reminders about what it means to believe, really believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior; and what that relationship does for a person. The book is similar to a sermon, but told in story form which makes it more interesting than to hear somone (like me preaching it). Jesus also discusses and refutes many of Nick’s thoughts about other religions, which may help the reader as they consider what other religions offer.

This is an excellent little book to read, and a great gift book as well.


The sequel to Dinner with a Perfect Stranger is a Day with a Perfect Stranger. In the sequel, Mattie is the object of a conversation with Jesus, which occurs while she is on a plane taking a sought after business trip. Mattie is tired of the new Nick. Nick is always reading the Bible, helping more around the house, more attentive to her needs, yet she now wants the old Nick. She is considering divorce and has an appointment set up for the following week.


She boards the plane and ends up sitting between two men, one is what the world would call an obnoxious Christian. He was in her face talking about the need to embrace Jesus as Lord and Savior. Eventually he falls asleep, much to Mattie’s joy. On the other side of her is a guy named Jay who strikes up a conversation with her. She ends up telling him her story, her view of her marriage and Nick’s obsession with Jesus, the losses she has experienced and her own ambivalence with religion.

She is thrilled when the man sitting next to her has the same negative views of religion, only to discover that he believes in God and embraces Christianity. Jay explains he is in business with his father and works as a counselor and travels extensively. She later learns he can talk any language at any time.

Mattie and Jay talk throughout most of the fight. End up bump into each other at Starbucks, then end up on a connecting flight together, sitting next to each other again. As a result of these conversations with Jay, Mattie begins to question her perceptions of reality, god, religion and life in general.

The book ends very open ended, as we can only assume Mattie goes home, wraps her arms around Nick and they live happily ever after. That is just a little trite, not reality, but of course this is a book. The purpose is to help us to see Christianity is about faith in Jesus, not to follow a set of mandated man-made rules. We are challenged to view Christianity, not as a religion, but as a relationship with Jesus, the Christ. A good sequel; and a good gift to giveaway.

Amazon.com and Christianbook.com has both books available as a boxed set for only $12.89 or $13.99, respectively. Purchase two boxed sets at Amazon and you should receive free shipping. That’s an excellent deal.

Go to

Amazon.com ($12.89 for both) or

Christianbook.com ($13.99 for both)



ENJOY!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Echo Within

The Echo Within: Finding Your True Calling by Robert Benson was an easy book to read, yet he stretched me by forcing me to think and feel with my right brain. How often do we seek our calling from God in a very linear pattern? That's my natural way of looking at life, it's part of my nature to grasp after things in a linear way, even to envision the future can become a linear process if we are not careful and wise to reflect upon other ways to draw closer to God's call.

Benson has a way of leading you down a path and before you know it, your there . . . the door is open and God is waiting to greet you and simply 'be with you.'

The book is poetic, yet it is not poetry. Benson describes how we can better listen to the voice of God through the exploration of what is natural, i.e., listening, waking, hearing, being, looking, waiting, living, knowing, choosing, and dreaming. Those are all of the chapter titles.

Benson takes his own life situations and humorously and seriously helps us to focus on God as He seeks to use our gifts, talents, passions and unique calling to connect with God and find fulfillment in life.

This is a short 179 page book which could will help you see how God has fearfully and wonderfully created you in all of your uniqueness.

You can purchase this book online at the following stores simply by clicking on the link to take you to those websites.

Christianbook.com

Amazon.com

Monday, February 23, 2009

comment to Church Without Sound

Below is a comment and my response to Church Without Sound

2 comments:

jonhyz said...

in a sense, that's why so much effort and resources went into building the cathedrals. because the environment, while not critical, can help draw people closer to God.

of course, a house church has it's own "environment" that also helps people draw closer to God.

actually i'm not so sure if people can spot a fake smile =)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/mind/surveys/smiles/

Pastor Michael said...

I agree, most people cannot spot a fake smile, which is why we use them so often. How often to do we fake being happy and content and people don't catch it? How many times do we give hints that we are not okay, but people miss them as well. Environment is important, but if there is no warmth, no sense of community, I don't believe people will stick because we all want a sense of belonging and security.

Here is a link to test you ability to spot a fake smile . . . enjoy . . .

http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/mind/surveys/smiles/

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pacers Game & Worship

After worship today we headed to Indy to watch the Pacers play the Bulls. We got there at halftime, but that was okay with the boys. We had a good time watching the game thanks to free tickets via the elementary school. The 3rd graders had a chance to get lots of free tickets and we were able to go.

This was Zachary's first time at a professional game. We've been to the Indy Indians game, but this was 'real.' He is not into basketball, but was into the game, cheering on the home team to victory.

Fun time with the family, but I'm tired. We stopped at Wendy's for dinner. I have to admit, it was not very good. As we sat there, we brought food back as did three other families. Not a good sign. But we survived.

Also . . . I heard lots of good comments about the message today. It's interesting how little we really think about forgiveness, as it pertains to us. We first need to "know" and experience the grace of Christ, before we can really hand out grace to others. We also had a fun time talking more about forgiveness to tonight at worship. I think people were stretched a little more tonight, as a continuation of this morning.

Time for night-night.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Church Without Sound

I read an interesting blog which leads us to think about how others perceive us. . .

Church Without Sound

Imagine a church without sound.

I do not mean removing things that make noise - sound systems, music, people. I mean imagine experiencing your church as it normally is but not being able to hear anything. Would the non-audible elements be enough to minister to you?

If you were to take away sound, would people still be ministered to?

If someone saw a muted video of your church service, what would they think?

ASK YOURSELF

  • Would your environment create a sense of awe for the Creator like the churches of the Renaissance?
  • Visually, how does your worship music seem? Authentic? Passionate? Like a rock concert? Worshipful?
  • When you take away the words, are the greeters authentic?
  • Is the tone and subject of the message evident in the preacher’s body language?
  • What about the sermon branding?
  • Is the life changing power of Christ evident on the congregation’s faces?
  • Is there a sense joy, hope, and love?

People can spot a fake smile. People can discern authenticity. If someone who was not a Christian watched your congregation worship, would they want what they have?

Albert Mehrabian’s research shows that communication is influenced only 7% by words, 38% by tone of voice, and 55% by body language. All too often, we focus on the 7% of words and forget to invest in non-audible influencers, such as body language and environment.

Those are interesting thoughts and questions. I wonder what others would say? I wonder what we would say!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Who said CHANGE?!

I like that David Bowie song . . . "Ch-ch-ch-anges!" Golly people get all rattled when they think about change in the church, yet, why do we get so excited about it?

Tonight we had a Town Hall meeting at church. I tried to get out the vision I have deep within me with the hope that everyone could be on the same page, or at least close to it.

The vision is simply that FBC will be a
church filled with CONTAGIOUS and PASSIONATE CHRIST FOLLOWERS who make a RELEVANT DIFFERENCE in the world.


I don't think it is too complicated or too radical, it's something we need to strive for.
  • How do we demonstrate our passion/enthusiasm/calling?
  • Are we really contagious because of Christ's love?
  • Are we really Christ followers or followers of a set of rules?
  • Do we make a relevant difference in the world (the world being comprised of nonChrist followers)?
There was not as much conversation as I had expected, and I'm never sure what that really means.
  • does it mean everyone is super happy and excited?
  • does it mean people are petrified and numb?
  • does it mean people think I'm just blowing hot air?
This is what it means and what it does not mean ~

It means ~ For those who think dramatic change is coming, guess again. I have not made dramatic changes in my almost 2 years at the church, and don't plan on it. Read this again . . . please!!!! Dramatic change is not going to happen!!!!

I get pretty ticked when people read way more into what I say than what I actually say. I never used the word change tonight as it pertains to FBC, that was intentional.

It does not mean ~ Change is coming! Life is filled with change and we will change, just as the church has changed over the past century; the past 25 years, the past decade; and over the past 2 years. As a living organism, the church must be constantly evolving or we die, it's that plain and simple.

The church must change in increments so that we can meet the world where they are at, because most people are not trying to break down the doors of the church. We need to see what the needs of the community are, and attempt to meet them, all the while remaining committed to the call of Christ, never compromising the message of Jesus.

What it means and what it does not mean ~ change is a constant, and the church will change, but dramatic change is not coming to FBC.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

LOVE AS A WAY OF LIFE


Another book review. This one is a devotional book. It is basically a devotion based on love, which can be used by couples or is good for individual devotion and reflection.

It is written by Dr. Gary Chapman. He has written a number of books on relationships, my favorite being, The Five Love Languages, which is excellent!!

This devotion contains 90 short devotions which are no more than 2 pages, which lead us to reflect on God's nature of love. He utilizes wonderful illustrations and stories to help make his points about God's gracious and never ending love, and our call to demonstrate His love in a variety of ways.

While it is easy reading, he also challenges us to grow in spiritual maturity as we embrace God's love and pour His love into others through forgiveness, unconditional love, kindness, honesty, generosity, and more.

This book would also make a wonderful gift to someone.

You can find this book at

Amazon.com or
Christianbook.com

I DO AGAIN

I recently read the book, I DO AGAIN.



The book is the story of Jeff and Cheryl Scruggs marriage, divorce and remarriage. Both Jeff and Cheryl were very open about their thoughts, feelings and the role God played in bringing them back together as a family.

I Do Again is an emotionally transparent love story that glorifies God and His power which is beyond our understanding. Jeff and Cheryl had a "Ken and Barbie" relationship. But their marriage was superficial and for a lot of complex emotional reasons, Cheryl had an affair. After ten years of marriage, they got divorced. Then they each became Christians and Cheryl became convinced the Lord told her to pursue reconciliation. Jeff did not hear the same message until years later, and seven years after their divorce, they remarried much to the delight of their twin daughters.

I Do Again is not a how to book. It will not tell you the 5 or 10 steps to building a healthy marriage. Yet, the book is a great reminder about the need to build a marriage with Christ as the head. This is also a book about spiritual maturity, since Cheryl and Jeff desperately needed to develop into mature Christ followers in order to fully hear and discern God's message.

We are also reminded that when God begins a work in our lives, if we are willing, we will be transformed into a new person. We are reminded it is not easy work, it is difficult, but the rewards are fantastic. We also realize that God's timetable is not ours. The signs we interpret in our favor are not always the ones we should be interpreting. That is because we see through the glass dimly and God sees clearly. Overall a good book, easy to read and one which is encouraging. Again, remember this is not a how to book, but a real story about one family's road to intimacy in marriage.

To find the book,

Click here for Amazon.com
or
Click here for Christianbook.com

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Weirdness

Well, Zachary is feeling fine. He is eating and playing and acting his old self again. Thank God for that.

Of course, not everything is idyllic, as Joshua came home from school exhausted on Friday. Even admitting to falling asleep. He and I were supposed to go out for dinner and to the Alexandria basketball game (I rotate taking the boys out for a father/son time each month). Joshua was too tired to go, so he laid on the couch I put a blanket on him and he was in bed by 7 pm.

At 2 am Joshua was in the bathroom then into our room crying out he has the chicken pox. He had a rash from neck to thighs. He was scratching and falling on the floors. We gave him a bath with Aveeno, changed his sheets and he went back to sleep at 3 am. This morning, there were no rashes or anything. Very strange, but now he has a cough, which was coming on. We think the afghan he had was made by someone from Dearborn with a dog and the allergens got on him and away he went. This is why we have no dogs.

Anyway, he was tired all day, laid down and hopefully Sunday will be a better day.

Other than my cold, the Deutsch's, some of them are on the mend.

Just another day in the life . . .

Friday, February 06, 2009

Zachary

I mentioned in the last email that this would be the final email regarding Zachary, trying to be hopeful, well, I think the prayer and medication has kicked in.

When I spoke to Debbie, Zachary was sitting at the table doing homework, which was an impossibility the past two days. He feels much better. He has had a little bite to eat, drank some liquids and has kept it down. We're not sure about his ketones since he has not yet gone to the bathroom, but I think they will be down as well. His blood sugar was only 58 this morning, but that is a sign his body is working and he was not high, which would increase the ketone concern. Having ketones adds acid into your body which causes more than just pain.

Thank you for your prayers, emails, stopping by, etc. We've heard from new friends who have offered their home and more. How nice to be surrounded by such a cloud of witnesses who can testify to the meaning of hospitality, fellowship and true care.

One final note, as I laid down with Zachary last night when he was falling asleep I was praying and asking God to bring healing and explained to God no parent likes to watch their child sleep, and God immediately put the thought in my heart and spirit that He did not like watching His Son be beaten, whipped, spit upon, hit, take the sins of the world onto Himself; and then hang on the cross. It grieved the Father to watch the Son hurt, and this was intentional. It brought tears to my eyes how much it really hurt God to see Jesus suffer. You know it, but when you are going through it, there is a little more identification with what God went through. In the end I thanked God and praised God!

For those on the blog and who receive my daily Bible emails, thank you for putting up with repeated messages over the past two days. Hopefully these will be few and far between.

Blessings,

Michael, Debbie, Zachary and Joshua

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Zachary update

We're back home. Zachary had an IV. He was a trooper since the nurse couldn't get the IV going in his left arm. He still has stomach pain but his endocrinologist felt he could go home since he had a lot of fluids. So, he's sleeping now and hopefully will feel better in the a.m. Thanks for your prayers and continue to keep him in prayer.

Ketones

For those wondering about ketones, here is your answer.

Q: "What are ketones?"

A: Ketones are a by-product/or waste product when your body burns stored fat for energy. Ketones can be measured in the urine with a visually read strip, and in the blood by using the Precision Xtra® meter. Before I describe various situations in which a person might have ketones, let me provide a simple review of how the body works:

  • The foods you eat break down into glucose (sugar). Glucose travels in the blood and into your cells. Insulin is a hormone (or "key") that "unlocks the doors of your cells" to allow glucose to enter your cells where it can be turned into energy. So without insulin, glucose wouldn't be able to get into the cells.
  • Your brain (and the rest of your body) requires glucose to function. When you haven't eaten for a while, or during the night when you're asleep, your liver releases stored glucose to keep you supplied with energy.
  • If you don't eat for several days, the stored glucose in the liver is depleted, and your body is in a starvation state. In this situation, the body will break down stored fat to get energy, (and ketones can show in the urine, indicating that fat was burned) and also the body will create sugar out of other substances in the body in order to supply the brain with glucose.

So if you keep in mind that fat burns when there isn't available glucose (that is, when the body is starving) and ketones indicate that fat was burned, then the following situations will be easier to understand.

Situations where you could have ketones:

  • A non-diabetic can show ketones if he/she hasn't eaten for several days, or is on a severe weight reduction diet. In this situation the body is starving, and there isn't enough available glucose, so fat will burn for energy and the by-product, ketones, may show in the urine or blood.
  • Pregnancy: During pregnancy, you are eating for two. If you aren't eating enough, your body will burn fat to get more energy. In gestational diabetes (temporary diabetes during pregnancy) and in pregnancy with pre-existing diabetes, women are advised to check ketones each morning. If the blood glucose is normal but there are ketones present, usually the mother will be advised to increase her bedtime snack (but you should first check with your healthcare professional).
  • Hypoglycemia if you are taking diabetes medication: When no glucose is available, your body is in a starvation state and will break down stored fat to get energy. It is not necessary to check ketones during hypoglycemia and these ketones are harmless. When the blood glucose is low, it is most important to immediately correct it with proper treatment of a fast-acting sugar such as glucose tabs, fruit juice or a regular soft drink.
  • High blood glucose: High blood glucose means you don't have enough insulin to allow the glucose to get into the cells, so the glucose is piling up in the blood and/or being excreted in the urine. Your body needs insulin to use glucose for energy. So if you don't have enough insulin, your body will start to burn fat for energy.
  • Insulin pump malfunction or dislodged pump set: Insulin pumps provide a continuous delivery of background insulin. If the supply is disrupted due to a pump problem or a clogged/dislodged pump set, then no insulin would be available and, as noted above under "high blood glucose," you will start to burn fat for energy. Insulin pump users are trained to check ketones and to check the pump connections anytime there is unexplained high blood glucose, for the ketones may indicate a pump malfunction.
  • Illness/stress: When you are under physical or emotional stress, your body needs extra energy to fight it. Hormones are triggered, which tell the body to release stored glucose in an attempt to give you more energy. If you don't have enough insulin to help this glucose get into your cells, your body will again burn fat for energy.
  • Exercise: Exercise requires extra energy. If you haven't eaten enough or if you don't have enough insulin available to allow the glucose to get into the cells, again the cells are starving and will turn to fat for energy.

When ketones are a concern with high blood glucose:

If you don't have enough insulin available in your body, and the blood glucose rises, your body will eliminate the glucose by passing it into your urine. As your body takes fluid from everywhere it can to help dilute the urine and pass the sugar out, you'll get dehydrated. Because the glucose is passing out through the urine, the body is starving and fat will burn. If the body burns too much fat too quickly, ketones will accumulate in your bloodstream. Ketones make your body too acidic, which will upset the body's chemical balance. Your body might not be able to excrete the ketones adequately. In this setting, if your glucose is high, you are dehydrated, and your ketones are large, then your body's chemical balance is disrupted and you could develop a life-threatening condition called ketoacidosis. Usually only people with type 1 diabetes are at risk for this condition, but everyone should know the signs of Ketoacidosis.

Signs of Ketoacidosis:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Dry mouth
  • Labored breathing
  • Fruity breath
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue, drowsiness
  • Dry, flushed skin or fatigue

Zachary

A Zachary update.

Continue to keep Zachary in prayer. We think the source of his 'stomach flu' is really elevated ketones because of his diabetes. It's a catch 22, since he needs to get carbs and fluids in him in order to receive insulin which in turn reduces the ketones. Ketones we have learned can cause severe stomach pain and vomiting.

He has vomited again, and most likely will take him to the ER at the suggestion of the endocrinologist nurse. Of course, now that he has thrown up, he feels better, but he needs fluids to also prevent dehydration.

The nurse suggests we go, so off we go to Community. We don't need you to come, the best thing you can do is pray.

Thanks!

Powerful Video - part 1

part 1 of an interview with Staci McAuley.


Staci Mcauley Interview - Part 1 from LifeChurch.tv on Vimeo.

Powerful Video - Part 2

watch this video. It'll lead you to cry, but it's a great reminder about our relationship with Christ, and what is really important. This is part 2.


Staci Mcauley Interview - Part 2 from LifeChurch.tv on Vimeo.

part 1 will follow.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Zachary

Just a note asking for prayer for Zachary . . .

two weeks ago he had stomach flu for two days, got better, then this weekend he developed a cold, not uncommon for him, then on Monday morning he became sick with very bad stomach pain and vomiting. Went to school Tuesday, today, he was doubled over and vomiting again, we took him to the doctor and he thinks it could be some type of indigestion or heartburn, so he's now on zantac, but he threw up again tonight and has stomach pains. This bundle of nonstop energy is beat and just wants to lay down. When they took blood from him, they missed on the first attempt, and he just sat there very stoically, not wincing or complaining. He's a tough kid, but this is getting to him, so would you throw a few extra prayers for his healing.

Thanks,

Michael

Monday, February 02, 2009

A church video about Tithing!

How's this for a call to tithe . . .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwfMMN71xUw



Click on the link or the title to watch this 4'25" video. It's worth it

Advent Devotional!

The Wonder of Advent Devotional: Experiencing the Love and Glory of the Christmas Season , by Chris Tiegreen is one of many books and devo...