Monday, March 30, 2009

Laughter is good medicine

I read an interesting article from the LA Times about LAUGHTER. Parts of it are below.

Happiness is contagious, research finds
By Karen Kaplan
December 05, 2008
http://articles.latimes.com/2008/dec/05/science/sci-happy5

A study of the relationships of nearly 5,000 people tracked for decades in the Framingham Heart Study shows that good cheer spreads through social networks of nearby family, friends and neighbors.

They say misery loves company, but the same may be even more true of happiness.

In a study published online today in the British Medical Journal, scientists from Harvard University and UC San Diego showed that happiness spreads readily through social networks of family members, friends and neighbors.

Knowing someone who is happy makes you 15.3% more likely to be happy yourself, the study found. A happy friend of a friend increases your odds of happiness by 9.8%, and even your neighbor's sister's friend can give you a 5.6% boost.

"Your emotional state depends not just on actions and choices that you make, but also on actions and choices of other people, many of which you don't even know," said Dr. Nicholas A. Christakis, a physician and medical sociologist at Harvard who co-wrote the study.

They discovered that happy people in close geographic proximity were most effective in spreading their good cheer. They also found the happiest people were at the center of large social networks.

In many regards, they concluded, happiness is like a contagious disease. (THIS IS HOW THE CHURCH SHOULD BE).

This isn't the first evidence that emotions can spread like a virus. Studies have found that waiters who offer service with a smile are rewarded with bigger tips. On the flip side, having a mildly depressed roommate made college freshmen increasingly depressed themselves.

To assess happiness, the researchers relied on how much the volunteers said they agreed with four statements like "I was happy" and "I enjoyed life." The questions were asked three times between 1983 and 2003.

The results were striking:

A happy friend who lives within a half-mile makes you 42% more likely to be happy yourself. If that same friend lives two miles away, his impact drops to 22%. Happy friends who are more distant have no discernible impact, according to the study.

Similarly, happy siblings make you 14% more likely to be happy yourself, but only if they live within one mile. Happy spouses provide an 8% boost -- if they live under the same roof. Next-door neighbors who are happy make you 34% more likely to be happy too, but no other neighbors have an effect, even if they live on the same block.

Michael's questions are ~
  1. Are you spreading the happiness or joy virus?
  2. Are you contagious in a positive way?
  3. How are you demonstrating Christ in your life? Remember Christ is about love?

Date night

Friday night I had my monthly date with one of my boys. March was Zachary's month. April will be Joshua's. The child gets to choose where we go and what we do, with little restrictions.

Zachary's plan was go to church and play in the Family Life Center. So we played for about one hour.

Then it was on to Dortee's for dinner, sit outside and hang out together.

Then it was on to watch Aliens vs. Monsters at the Alex Theater. (That was the place to be on Friday).

Then it was back to Dortee's for ice cream, then home.

We had a great time, just hanging out, playing, talking.

When he fell asleep he told Debbie, "I wish everyday could be fun, just like tonight." What a great thought.

So, how are you making memories in your family?

American Idol

Here is an interesting tidbit of information.

According to MTV.com: "more than half of this year's crop of finalists — including Danny Gokey, Michael Sarver, Kris Allen, Scott MacIntyre, Matt Giraud and Lil Rounds — either have a strong affiliation with the church or are worship leaders in their communities.

How cool would it be to see a Christian win and speak about their faith. One of the finalists from a few years ago was Mandisa, a back up singer for Toby Mac. She has become a pretty popular Christian artist. I may even watch a time or two.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Plants have rights

Now, I'm not out to start an issue, but this caught my attention. Read below . . .

"Whatever happened to human exceptionalism? -- the idea rooted in the Judeo-Christian value system that places humanity at the moral pinnacle of all creation; that because human beings are created in God's image they therefore have moral worth greater than that of any animal, plant, or mineral?

Well, it's being replaced by a new value system that places the natural world over man. Think I'm making this up?

The Swiss (Switzerland) have now written into their constitution the principle that plants have intrinsic dignity. They cite the instance of a farmer who needlessly "decapitates" a wildflower with a scythe on his way home as committing a terrible moral wrong--yes, they use the word "decapitate.""

Now that is strange!! I never knew plants had rights. Of course we should not just kill a plant for the fun of it, but I wonder what would happen if a human got to close to a gigantic Venus Fly Trap plant?! Hmm or is it mmmh?!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

NCAA Tournament

Just for those interested in my picks for the men's bracket, I have picked 88.9% correct and according to ESPN I rank around 518,000th. There are over 4,000,000 brackets on ESPN. So, I guess I'm at least in the top 25%. The leader has missed on only 2 out of 48 games.

I still have 14 of the 16 teams left. That's pretty good. Of course the leader has every team left.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Facing our Giants (Fears)

I read this note from a friend in South Carolina. He wrote this about his daughter and his first taste of snow - - -

"My wife got Charisse dressed the morning after it snowed and I took her outside. She had a very confused look on her face while I tried to explain to her it was snow.

We stepped out in the yard and I put her down in the snow…she FREAKED OUT! Seriously, it was a complete meltdown…she was scared out of her mind because I had placed her in an environment with which she was not familiar…and it made her VERY uncomfortable.

SO…I scooped her up and gave her a huge hug, told her it would be alright and then walked around in the snow holding her.

She was fine as long as I held her…so…I decided to try to put her down again…and she began freaking out before her feet ever touched the ground!

I tried reasoning with her. I explained to her that the snow would not hurt her. I told her I would be right there with her…but none of that brought her any level of comfort…she didn’t want to get in the snow.

After about 10 minutes I decided that she had to get over her fears. (I didn’t want us to have the kid that pee’d in her pants every time it snowed and refused to go outside!) I knew the snow would not hurt her…I knew I would be right there with her…and I knew the ONLY way for her to get past this was to face her fear head on.

SO…I put her down in the snow, took five steps and then turned around and looked at her.

Yes, she cried. Yes, my heart was hurting to see her cry…but I told her, “Charisse, walk to daddy.” She proceeded to hold out her arms to me…but me picking her up would not have helped her get past something that didn’t need to hold her captive.

So…I said once again, “Charisse, walk to daddy–there is nothing to be afraid of.”

All of a sudden she stopped crying, she literally just cut it off. (Isn’t it funny how kids can do that?) And then she took a step…then another…then another until she finally made it to me (to which I DID pick her up and give her a big hug.)

Afterwards she looked at me and said, “down!” (Which means please put me down!) I said, “do you want to play in the snow?” And she nodded her head yes!

For the rest of the morning she and I played in the snow and had a blast…we built a snowman, I pulled her on the sled…it was awesome! What once held her captive was now something she rejoiced in!"

What a great example of living life. We have to face our fears, whatever they may be. But we have this great promise from our GREAT big God, who states, "I will never fail you nor forsake . . . I will always be with you, you cannot go anywhere where I am not. Seek me and you will find me, ask and you will receive, knock and I'll answer."

WOW!! What a great God we have, but often times we have to get over our own fears in order to fully experience the promises of joy and grace and love God offers us. Our fear can paralyze us from action, but it does not have to be that way in any aspect of life.

More often than we might like, God places us reight in the middle of a situation we fear the most in order to force us to depend upon Him, so we give Him the glory and honor.

God is faithful and if we are fearful just remember, He’s right there, drawing you to Himself and trying to teach you that by keeping your eyes on Him there is absolutely nothing to be afraid of.

Have a great Thursday!! Remember Joshua 1:9 - -

9 Have I not commanded you? "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." What a great promise.

Tournament Time

This weekend is one of the best for NCAA basketball. I love watching all of the potential and real upsets which will occur. The teams who will surprise others, and the teams who flop.

I've got my brackets filled out. My final, as long as Ty Lawson is recovered is North Carolina vs. Louisville, with NC winning 89-82. There are a lot of 'ifs' in this years tournament because of injuries. We will know who steps up and who doesn't. Fun times!!!

I have filled out 5 different brackets on ESPN, it only takes a couple of minutes, and who knows, maybe you'll be the big winner.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Tournament Time

I would love for some folks to get into picking the winners of the mens and women's NCAA basketball tournament. Just for fun . . . no money, just the distinction of being the person with the most time to kill, or at the minimum the best prognosticator around Madison County.

Shoot me an email if you want to participate at . . . mishana826@yahoo.com

Friday, March 13, 2009

Theology Update

Since my last post, I've read about God's Communicable Attributes, The Trinity and have now started reading about Creation.

Some of it is heavy and slow reading. Some points about God's Communicable Attributes . . .

Communicable attributes are those attributes God has which He shares with us to a certain extent. There are a number of them, and I'm just going to list them. This is not an exhaustive list, since I came up with some which were not listed.

  1. Spirituality
  2. Invisibility / Visibility
  3. Knowledge
  4. Wisdom
  5. Truthfulness / Faithfulness
  6. Goodness
  7. Love
  8. Mercy / Grace, Patience
  9. Peace / Order
  10. Righteousness / justice
  11. Jealousy
  12. Wrath
  13. Will
  14. Freedom
  15. Omnipotence / Power
  16. Perfection
  17. Blessedness
  18. Beauty
  19. Glory
There were many subpoints which struck me. Two were as follows --

God's blessedness means that God delights in Himself and in all that reflects His character.
  • I wondered if it is possible to some extent for me to delight in myself in a healthy, joyful, grace-filled way?
  • • Can I do it to some extent, knowing I will never delight in myself with the same effectiveness and joy God does within Himself.

Under beauty, I read the following "The beauty of our lives is so important to Christ that His purpose now is to sanctify the entire church "that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish" (Ephesians 5:27). Thus, we individually and corporately reflect God's beauty in every way in which we exhibit His character. When we reflect His character, He delights in us and finds us beautiful in His sight" (Grudem, page 220).

When you think about those words from Ephesians 5:27, in a section about marriage, we see just how much Christ loves us and wants to show us off to His Father, presenting us as righteous. Folks, that is what the cross did for us. Jesus' death was the only way for God to claim us as righteous in His sight. The Son took upon Himself the very death we deserve.

What a great statement!!

Failing?

I came across these thoughts about failing and thought I would pass them on. . .

FAILING FORWARD

Here are some things to remember when something you attempt fails.

  • Failure is an event, not a person.
  • Failure isn’t final.
  • Failure is often the first step toward success.
  • A ministry that has stopped failing has stopped growing.
  • Failure is not an option, it is a necessity.
  • If you fail and don’t learn from it, you’ve failed twice. Don’t waste a failure.
  • The antidote to the fear of failure isn’t success, but small doses of failure. (Credit to Mark Batterson for a similar quote.)
Any thoughts about failing? We will not always succeed as we desire. That is not failing . . . failing is not trying. My definition of failure is ~ failure is not attempting something which is in your power to attempt.

Johnny the Bagger Video

Here's another video for you to watch . . . this is about 5 minutes and has great implications for the church . . .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOZPlt3Ha0Y



I am certain you will appreciate this.

Cool Video - 2

If that does not work, click on this link . . . for the video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ek1iIOTsiRo

Blessings!

Cool Video

Click on the title Cool Video, and watch this video. It's just under 3 minutes. . .

Monday, March 09, 2009

Spending Habits in the U.S.A.

I read an interesting article from Zogby International regarding how we are spending our money, or not spending and cutting back. Below is the article and the link.

http://www.zogby.com/news/ReadNews.cfm?ID=1680

Released: March 03, 2009

Zogby Poll: 70% Have Cut Back On Entertainment Due to Weak Economy

Survey finds 39% have pared down vacation plans, 40% have put off major purchases, and 40% have cut grocery spending

UTICA, New York - The nation's current economic conditions have caused many Americans to rethink their spending habits, with 70% saying they have cut back on entertainment, recreation and eating out at restaurants in the past year, a new Zogby Interactive poll shows.

The slashing of entertainment budgets isn't just taking place in poorer households - around 70% of those in all household income brackets, including those with more than $100,000 in household income, said they have reduced their spending on entertainment and at restaurants in the past year. Younger adults are most likely to say they have cut back - 76% of those age 18-29 are spending less on entertainment, compared to 55% of those age 65 and older who say the same.

Entertainment spending has suffered the most, but 40% said they have also limited or canceled their normal vacation plans due to the cost and another 40% have put off the purchase of a major item such as automobile, home entertainment electronics, or a computer. The Zogby Interactive survey of 1,474 likely voters nationwide was conducted Feb. 23-24, 2009, and carries a margin of error of +/- 2.6 percentage points.

The survey shows the nation's struggling economy has taken the greatest toll on Americans' discretionary spending, but many also report cutting back on more vital areas of their budgets, including spending on food, healthcare, and education:

  • 40% have decreased spending on food or groceries, including nearly two-thirds (64%) of those with less than $25,000 in household income. But even those from much wealthier households are scaling back their food budgets, including 28% of those who with $100,000 or more in household income.
  • 16% have gone without medical or prescription drug care in the past year, due to the cost. One in three (34%) of those with less than $25,000 in household income admit to doing without medical care, compared with 10% of those from households with more than $100,000 in income who say the same.

  • Nearly one in 10 (9%) have chosen to not purse their educational plans or have changed their plans due to the cost - 13% of those younger than age 30 said the economy has put the pinch on their education plans in the past year. Those from less wealthy households ($25,000 or less), are also more likely (14%) than those from more affluent households to say they have altered their education plans due to the economy.

For a detailed methodological statement on this survey, please visit:

http://www.zogby.com/methodology/readmeth.cfm?ID=1390

Friday, March 06, 2009

Special Delivery

Today when I got home there was an envelope which said Do Not Fold with a return address from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. It was my doctorate diploma and here is a copy for the world to see. It was cool to receive. This diploma states I am "entitled to all rights and honors appertaining thereto". Sounds good doesn't it?

Zachary's Birthday


I just wanted to share a picture from Zachary's birthday. He turns 9 on Sunday. He had a couple of friends sleep over and they enjoyed breakfast for dinner and a cake which featured military jets on a runway.

I think he had a good day and night with his friends.

DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME


REMEMBER . . . change your clocks this Saturday! Oh that change word always pops up doesn't it? If you don't change, you will be left behind, you won't be timely, you'll be frustrated. You'll become irrelevant to a world which seeks relevancy, so . . .

. . . go to ALL of your clocks, pick up ALL of your watches and move them forward one hour!! Amazing how you can make more out of something than is already there!!


Come prepared on Sunday to worship . . . Jesus,
and know that He is always ready and always on time!!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

A Call to Prayer

TheCall Header

***Please consider forwarding this message to your email contact lists***

This was passed on to me and I wanted to pass it on. I don't usually do this, but believe this is an important issue. There are times I take what people say with a grain of salt, but do not think overturning Prop. 8 is in the best interests of our country, let alone to speak that it is against what God values in a sexual relationship.

I would ask you to not worry about the rhetoric of the article, but about the deeper issue which is at hand.

Thanks,

Michael

Call to Prayer


Today, March 5th, one of the most significant court cases in America ’s history will take place. The California Supreme Court will hear arguments regarding the overturning of the vote of the people last year to pass Proposition 8, which defines marriage between a man and a woman. If this vote is overturned, not only will it set a major precedent of the court’s power over the will of the people, but it will likely be the flash point that will determine the future of America as liberal and homosexual agendas will disseminate throughout the educational systems and into the very fiber of American culture. The California State Senate just ruled against the peoples’ vote and asked the court to overthrow the defining of marriage as between a man and a woman. Senator Leno likened the people who voted for Prop 8 to the Germans who voted for the Nazi Regime.

During these past three months since President Obama’s election, the voices of rage against Judeo-Christian values and against the church have been emboldened to use inflammatory language and pass bills and laws that are anti-Christian in their very nature. When senators use such language, persecution is close at hand. We are in a desperate moment in American history. Everyone is pointing to the severe crisis of our economy, but I am convinced it is only an indicator of a massive moral decline America has slid into. It is time to pray, humble ourselves, and rid ourselves of moral compromise in the Church. If the salt loses its savor, it is only good for being thrown out and trampled under the foot of man.

Today we are calling the Church across the nation to pray.

Take this moment and hear His call to humility, fasting and repentance. If we do this, God can deal with kings and judges like He haunted Nebuchadnezzar with dreams and removed Herod by the angel of the Lord. This hearing today will be followed by a 90-day period in which the court must make a decision. Pray for these judges that the hand of God will influence their minds and hearts, that the fear of the Lord would fall upon them, and that dreams would invade their world, their wives, their children, and their innermost thoughts. Pray that God would restrain principalities and powers that have mustered their forces of demons to seize this nation through this door in California . Pray for an unprecedented outpouring of the Spirit in California and America . Pray that God would raise up righteous leaders and bring down the unrighteous ones. Pray for the cleansing of sexual compromise and divorce in the church so that she can reclaim spiritual authority. Finally, pray that the love of God would be poured out on those struggling with homosexuality across this nation. Oh that the power of God, the power of the gospel, would be released again to free the captives!

This is a moment in time that calls for crisis intercession.

To resign to an inevitable collapse of society is sin, for throughout history God has moved with amazing power to change the courses of nations and overthrow the wrongdoers. Just look at Elijah’s confrontation with Ahab and Jezebel. This could be our Elijah moment.


Seize the day,
Lou Engle

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Theology

I thought I would try to relate a little of what I am reading theologically. I'm not sure how this will work, but thought I would give it a try . . . so here it goes. . .

I was reading about The Doctrine of God. Under this section of theology comes topics such as “Existence of God, the Knowability of God, The Incommunicable Attributes of God, The Communicable Attributes of God, The Trinity, Creation, Prayer, God’s Providence, Angels, Miracles, satan and demons.”

That’s quite a whopping section. Thus far I have read through the first 3 chapters.

Here’s a brief synopsis ~

Romans 1:18-25 is a key section of scripture used to indicate that even gentile unbelievers still know God, but they have “exchanged the truth about God for a lie” (Rom. 1:21). It is the fool who says in their heart that there is no God as shown in Psalm 14:1 and 53:1. Paul states through a number of active verbs in Romans 1:23, 25, 28, 32 that those who don’t believe in God willfully suppress the truth.

We have the opportunity to know God through His Word (the Bible) and through nature. We also can look at the creation of humanity by God, along with the perfect order of the world (which implies the exact amounts of oxygen, etc. are needed for us to survive, not that we operate perfectly).

There are traditional proofs for the existence of God . . .

1. The cosmological view - considers the fact that every known thing in the universe has a cause.
2. The teleological view - focuses on the evidence of harmony, order and design in the universe, and argues that its design gives evidence of an intelligent purpose.
3. The ontological view - begins with the idea of God, who is defined as being greater than which anything can be imagined. It then argues that the characteristic of existence must belong to such a being, since it is greater to exist than not to exist.
4. The moral view - begins from humanity’s sense of right and wrong and of the need for justice to be done, therefore there must be a God who is the source of right and wrong and who will someday mete out justice to all people.

Yup, that can be a little intimidating to say, let alone think about those words, but suffice it to say those are fancy ways to say God has revealed Himself in a number of different ways, ways which help us proclaim Him as our God. Remember we all come to God out of His calling and our longing for a relationship with God. Hence God calls us in the very unique ways only He can, since He knows us.

As we seek to know God, we come to realize that God is incomprehensible, which means God cannot ever be fully or exhaustively understood. Psalm 145 reminds us “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable.”

While we can admit we can never fully understand God, we can still know God, as we see when we proclaim God is love (1 John 4:8), God is light (1 John 1:5), God is spirit (John 4:24), God is just / righteous (Romans 3:26, and so forth.

What is important, vitally important is that we just don’t know facts about God, but we know Him and have a relationship with Him.

Consider any relationship you have, you want more than facts about that person, you want to know and relate to them.

So what are incommunicable attributes of God? Glad you asked . . . Incommunicable attributes are those characteristics God does not share with us. Some are —

Independence - God does not need us or the rest of creation for anything. Think about it this way, we cannot contribute anything to God that which He did not already give to us. We are to bring glory and honor to God. God is absolutely independent and self-sufficient.

Unchangeable - God is unchanging in His being, perfections, purposes and promises. Hebrews 13:8 is a great scripture as it declares, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.” God’s unchanging nature is called His immutability.

Eternity - God has no beginning, end or succession of moments in His own being and He sees all time equally vividly.

God is infinite, there is no beginning or end to God, God has always existed, there is no start or ending to God. One of the really neat aspects of God is this since 2 Peter 3:8 says, “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”

From God’s perspective, this means any extremely long period of time seems as if it just happened, and anything which occurs in the short term (one day) seems to last forever to God. God then, takes in all of our moments without losing sight of any aspect of our lives. That’s pretty cool to think about.

Omnipresence - God is not limited by space and time. God is present with His creation everywhere at all times.

Unity - God is not divided into parts. There is one God, we call the triune God. This is also called the simplicity of God. God is not comprised of various parts, such as body and soul of people.

If you are still awake, those are some learnings, form my theological readings of the day.

My Reading List

I thought I would write down what books I am reading to give you a clue, if that is possible about what I am into . . .



Don't Let Me Go
is one that I am reviewing and is about a father and daughter as they attempt to grow closer by taking various adventures together. A fun book thus far which is giving me ideas about spending more time with my boys. This is written by David Pierce, the husband of Christian comedian Chonda Pierce.



The Greatest Man who Ever Lived by Steven Scott is a new one for me to review. I've just started it and the premise of the book is from the subtitle, "Secrets for unparalleled success and unshakable happiness form the life of Jesus." The reader will learn through looking at the life of Jesus how to live a life which brings fulfillment through using the life skills and principles Jesus used.



Unfreezing Moves is by one of my favorite authors on church leadership, and in fact I pay an annual subscription just to learn form him. Bill Easum is writing about how to 'unfreeze' churches as we seek to follow Jesus into the mission field. It is a theoretical book, but he has a fair amount of practical ideas and thoughts about leading a church to fulfill the mission set before her by God.



Systematic Theology scares more people, especially when they see a book which is almost 1,300 pages long (1,291 to be exact). Most people think reading a theology book is going to be so over their heads that they won't understand the first pages. This can be true, and I've read some of those, never again. This theology by reformed theologian Wayne Grudem is readable and understandable, and in fact I am hoping to blog a little more about what I am reading in this book. I am presently on page 183, hoping to finish the book in the next 2 months. (That's only 20 pages per day).


Baptism by Fire by Mark Updegrove is the newest book I am reading. It just came out and chronicles the presidencies of 8 presidents who took over during times of crises in the United States. The book discusses their character and leadership principles. I thought this may be a good book to learn from as I seek to grow in character and leadership. I just started reading about George Washington, and he based much of his presidency upon his faith in Christ.

That's it for now, besides my daily Bible reading, which always comes first! Any good books you are reading, pass the titles on to me.

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...