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

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.


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

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I was curious to see how many emails I receive in a day. You probably weren't, so you can delete this at anytime. As I added my emails up, actually, my computer added them up for me, for the past 4 days I received 269 emails. Actually, this one will make 270. Which means I average about 65-70 emails per day. Only a couple were from friends . . . (I'll say the joke for you, . . . 'imagine if I had friends!)'

Most of them I can delete pretty quickly, some are keepers. Many hit the trash without even opening them.

Election - Part 3

The first post I did was an article by Donald Miller on why he is voting for Obama. Then we heart from Brett McCracken on why he is not voting for Obama.

Today's article is by Cameron Strang, editor of Relevant Magazine. I will add one personal thought, I really appreciated this article and what Strang is trying to help us understand. I appreciate it because there is so much truth in it, and if the church embraced what he is talking about we would be such a force that we could not be stopped. But will we listen?

I hope you are finding these articles / thoughts helpful.

Leading the Charge by Cameron Strang

Let’s get this out of the way up front: I’m not a politically motivated person. Which is why I felt a tad out of place meeting with Barack Obama this summer. And talking to John McCain. And doing countless interviews about the faith and shifting political views of our generation.

Yet I have unwittingly found myself thrust into the political arena, a place where people are vehemently passionate about their ideologies and platforms. It’s an entire industry built around being right and proving your opponent wrong, and winning at any cost. It’s a continual power struggle and—from my humble vantage point—seems a bit flawed.

I’m someone who tries to think independently and objectively, rather than simply follow what the pundits tell me to think. Because of that, I’ve realized I cannot fully embrace either political party. Both sides of the aisle have some great ideas and goals. But both also have areas where they simply get it wrong.

I know the power of politics and the importance of the process in our world. But I also know that, historically, real, lasting change has started first at the grassroots level long before it was ever legislated. Cultural mindshifts influence Washington, not the other way around.

Many Christians traditionally have voted Republican because of their justifiable conviction to protect the lives of the unborn. Now, many younger Christians are voting Democrat because of their justifiable desire to see our nation, the most prosperous in the world, address issues of poverty, global aid and the environment.

The problem is, many Christians vote these convictions, but that’s largely where their personal involvement in the issues stops. Are the government leaders we vote for meant to do our job for us?

If God has given you a heart for the poor, or to see a reduction in the number of abortions, or to promote peace, or to help the sick, or to stand for strong moral values, or to be a better steward of the environment, then your personal focus needs to be on that—whether or not the President shares your same values.

The Bible reminds us to pray for our leaders, but it also talks about praying for those who persecute us. Though I can’t foresee any situation where this would be the case, what if one day every value Christians stand for, even religious freedom itself, was legislatively removed? Christians in China and many other parts of the world face this reality every day. Would it change us?

Dare I say, it might actually spur the Body of Christ here into greater action. Could it be that the loss of religious freedoms would ultimately be the best thing for American Christians because it would cause us to stand on our own feet rather than relying on the government to legislate our faith and values for us?

I’ve heard that only 5 percent of people who attend church regularly actually serve in any way. I’ve read that if every Christian in America actually tithed 10 percent of their income, we would have enough financial resources to wipe out global poverty.

There’s more power lying dormant in pews around the nation than any government could hope to provide, and that’s where our focus should be.

Many Christians want to overturn Roe v. Wade, but I don’t hear nearly as many leading the charge on a national adoption movement. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, where are all of those babies going to end up? Christians should be focused on personal action regardless of legislation, not just waiting for the right number of Supreme Court justices to come along.

I’m not saying don’t vote. Do. Vote your convictions and let your voice be heard—that’s one of the perks of living in a democracy. But don’t let politics breed division, or make you see people in a different light.

If you have a passion for an issue, rather than judging someone who doesn’t share that passion or viewpoint, just go do something about it. Give your life to it. Be the change you want to see.

We need to pray for our leaders and our country, but always remember that our leaders and country do not define us. We are the generation that will shape the direction culture, government and social action will take in the next 50 years. It’s not up to Washington, it’s up to us—and I say it’s time we step up and lead the charge.

But that means with our lives, our finances and our actions every day. Not just Nov. 4.

This article first appeared in the Sept/Oct issue of RELEVANT magazine: "How to Vote Without Losing Your Soul." You can find this article and more at

Copyright 2008 RELEVANT magazine. Used by permission.

Election - Part 2

Here is another thought about the upcoming election . . .

A Single-Issue Voter Talks About Abortion

Yesterday I included Donald Miller's thoughts on why he's supporting Obama. Today, we look at a different view...


Brett McCracken writes mainly about faith and culture, movies and such from a Christian perspective. He is the managing editor for Biola magazine, and a regular contributor for Christianity Today and Relevant magazines. Here are his thoughts...

"Why I Cannot Vote for Obama" by Brett McCracken

I really want to vote for Obama. There are a myriad of reasons why it would thrill me to cast my vote for him on November 4. He is such an attractive and inspiring figure, and I’m not just saying that because it’s the standard line about Obama. It’s true.

It would be so nice to have a president who is smart, articulate, even-keeled, poised, intellectual, and (it seems) genuinely passionate about helping downtrodden people.

I’ve been impressed with the way he’s handled himself on the campaign trail (certainly more so than I have been with McCain), and I’ve more than once considered the possibility of voting for him.

At the end of the day, though, we have to look past all the promises and rhetoric of a presidential candidate and look at their record. In Obama’s case, it’s not all that extensive or especially committal (it’s clear that Obama was planning for the presidency from his very first days in the Illinois legislature). But there are things about his record that really frighten me, and chief among them is his far-left stances on abortion.

Based on his record, Obama is the most pro-abortion presidential candidate in history. If you don’t believe that, read this article.

In it, Robert George, Princeton professor and renowned ethicist, summarizes Obama’s abortion record, and it is ugly. He begins by stating:

“Barack Obama is the most extreme pro-abortion candidate ever to seek the office of President of the United States. He is the most extreme pro-abortion member of the United States Senate. Indeed, he is the most extreme pro-abortion legislator ever to serve in either house of the United States Congress…”

The full article is truly eye-opening and disturbing, and I urge all of you to read it. If there is any part of you that is convicted about abortion and would like to see it lessened in America, you must consider Obama’s record carefully before you consider voting him into office.

I know, I know, people will retort that George W. Bush—possibly the most pro-life president in history—didn’t really do much to advance the pro-life cause. So why should I expect any different from McCain?

Well, it’s not about what McCain will or will not achieve on abortion. It’s about what an Obama administration would do to scale back abortion restriction laws and undo years of pro-life advances. If the democrats win a super majority in congress and Obama is elected president, we could be in for the biggest step back for the pro-life movement in history.

This may make me a “single-issue” voter, but so be it. I agree that “pro-life” goes beyond abortion—encompassing issues of poverty, the death penalty, even the environment… But abortion is a huge and important part of what it means to affirm the sanctity of life, and Obama’s cavalier legislative approach to it truly disturbs me.

I will not be crushed if Obama becomes the president; in some ways I’ll be very happy. But I’ll be praying that his tenure as president does not even go near abortion issues. It is that fear—that Obama will in his presidency be the pro-abortion extremist he has been as an Illinois legislator and U.S. Senator—that prevents me from voting for him.

You now have two very different views of the same issue. Later, more views. Who said this would be easy!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Today's Bible Reading Thought

As I was reading Luke 15, this statement jumped out at me . . .

17"When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against HEAVEN and against you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' 20So he got up and went to his father."

Note something that is so vital that we so often miss - - who did the son sin against? usually we think of the dad first, but who did he really sin against first? His Father in heaven. Remember, when we sin, when we hurt someone, intentionally or unintentionally, the first person we always sin against is not the individual, but it is our Father in heaven.

Is there someone you need to ask forgiveness from? Go to God first, then the individual. Your pardon will be even sweeter.

Election Central - Part 1

WOW!! We are less than one week away from a very pivotal election. There is much at stake, much more beyond all of our present thinking, so I will attempt to send thoughts from different Christian thinkers about their views of the election, even who they will be voting for. This is not my attempt to persuade you who to vote for, since all views will be different, and I will not agree with all of these views either . . . So, here is the first,

Donald Miller on Obama, Abortion and Gay Marriage


Donald Miller is a Christian leader and author who is publicly campaigning for Obama throughout Ohio and Pennsylvania. Today I include his thoughts about Obama on the issues of gay marriage and abortion. Later, I'll post a different view on the same topic.

Donald Miller on Abortion: "I am a pro-life voter, but do not believe John McCain’s plan on the issue will work. McCain’s only stand on the issue has been a recent switch to a pro-life position, and a promise to continue the attempt to criminalize abortion through the Supreme Court.I believe this is an empty promise, and anybody who understands our judicial system would know this. Chief Justice John Roberts of the Supreme Court (our most conservative Judge, many feel, and the pro-lifers greatest hope for the plan to criminalize abortion) has stated that Roe V. Wade “is the law of the land” and has been backed up in precedent by the Casey case. He does not believe it is plausible to overturn both rulings. Of course it is possible, but it would take a judicial miracle and the appointment of even more conservative, activist judges. This is the only way the overturning of Roe V. Wade will happen. The continuation of rhetoric about being pro-life but not having a realistic plan has tired me of the Republican Party. As more and more evangelicals walk away, I hope Republicans will stop giving lip-service to this important issue. My hope is they will realize they are going to lose more and more votes until they are willing to engage in a bipartisan effort to make progress with comprehensive legislation that is realistic and actual.

"The Democrats have proposed comprehensive legislation called the 95/10 initiative that aims to reduce the number of abortions that take place in this country by 95% within 10 years. While Barack Obama is a pro-choice candidate, he supports this and similar legislation. This is the only proposed and realistic strategy that can move us around the cultural impasse that is breathing hate and anger into the Christian community.

"While Barack Obama opposes late-term abortions, he has made promises to the National Organization or Women to make progress in a woman’s right to chose. I wish Obama were more strong on this issue. Still, I do feel he will accomplish more than John McCain, as John McCain has only recently taken this position and offers no legislation and no plan.

"This is a very debatable issue. There are facts on both sides that seem to refute any argument made. But I have had to do the research and take a position and, for now, this is my position."

Donald Miller on Gay Marriage: "This is not an issue I think much about because I am neither gay nor married, but I understand the evangelicals desire to protect the sanctity of marriage and define it as an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman. I agree with both candidates on this issue as they both oppose gay marriage but protect constitutional rights for domestic partners. In order to oppose civil rights for homosexuals, you would have to change the constitution which I think is dangerous. I agree with McCain and Obama both on this issue as they have stated the same position.

"On other issues that are no less important although less heated such as the economy, globalization and trade, the environment and energy, I support Barack Obama’s positions over John McCain’s."

Donald Miller on Faith: "But let me make something very clear. I don’t dislike John McCain. I think he is a good man and a drastic improvement over Republican candidates in the past. I do wish he were a Christian, or would talk about faith, Jesus, Redemption or the Cross. Barack Obama does, very often, and very unashamedly.I am uncomfortable with the idea of a truly secular man in the White House, a man who has no church, no pastor, does not read the Bible and may not even pray. John McCain seems like a good man, but a secular man. I want our next President to talk and listen to God."

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My Day

Not to get into too much detail, but to let you know I had a colonoscopy today. Not the most pleasant of procedures, however, I don't remember anything that happened once I was out.

The worst part is the stomach cramps last night and today, drinking the laxative stuff was not that bad tasting, although I'm not sure I'll ever be able to drink blue Powerade again.

I'm still not eating much, since my stomach has been upset.

The great news and most important news is that the doctor saw no polyps or anything else, and told Debbie, I don't need to come back for 10 years. Amen to that!

I wanted ribs for dinner, I got a bowl of soup. Maybe next week.

Thanks for your prayers.

How Would Jesus Vote?

What a great question to ask, especially with this year's election looming just a few days away. Dr. D. James Kennedy seeks to give his views on how God would vote in any election. Kennedy, in his final book prior to his death, attempts to break down many issues that we must deal with in the elections, e.g., abortion, death penalty, war, education, health care, the economy and more.

This was a helpful book for me to review since I am trying to look not just at the economic issues our country faces, but all issues and vote for the person, irregardless of party, who I believe would serve God best, not me.

Admittedly, I knew where Kennedy would come from in his theology. He is conservative and a Calvinist. Not that I am not in the same ballpark, but it led to no real surprises. While he is attempting to be respectful of all positions and beliefs, he operates out of his very specific world view, as we all do.

He surprised me with a few of his answers and responses, which forced me to think through some of the issues a little deeper. Overall, it was an easy to read book and not over anyone's head theologically.

This book is available at
or at

Monday, October 27, 2008

Baptisms - Two thoughts

A couple of thoughts about baptism.

First, what a joy it is to be able to perform baptisms. How great to bring someone under water, and help them rise up again, knowing that through Christ they are a new creation. Actually, it already happened when they accepted Jesus, but the action is so symbolic.

It was so awesome to baptize Tammy and Kasee yesterday. I really wish I could fit in there with the person being baptized, it makes the moment so much more intimate and personal. They were filled with emotion and excitement. It really made me wonder why we lose that passion and excitement after awhile, since I really don't believe that is God's plan. Why lose the steam, the passion, the joy, the excitement of a new life with the Lord?

Secondly, in my Bible reading this morning, I am reading through Luke, Jesus said,

49"I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! 51Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division" (12:49-51).

Note the way Jesus speaks about this baptism He must undergo. It is His horrendous death - the pain, the suffering, the humiliation. But note His words after that . . . how intriguing they are since we would think He would help us to feel better about the death, yet His life was meant to bring world transformation, not peace. Transformation is always messy, it means change, and change is a struggle (personally and corporately). Even further, Jesus said, He will bring division, family members will go against one another. It's what happens in family's when everyone is not a believer, plus when people are not on the same page.

It can be so easy to fight and bicker with one another, to give up every time something does not go our way, yet if we did that, we may as well all stay in bed. We may as well all just quit. Things are not always going to go the way we want, they don't for me, but God has a plan, and that plan is not to quit every time we hit a roadblock, every time we have some type of division, because that will always happen when we want to bring glory and honor to God. Beware of the peace and tranquility in the church, when that happens, that means we are not doing anything, and that is unacceptable. Actually it's unacceptable in the church as well as in our personal lives.

So . . . what is Christ calling you to do that may be a little radical, a little out there, that may make someone do a double take, but that will in the end bring glory and honor and joy and growth to His kingdom? If we don't risk, if we don't change, if we don't transform, then what does our baptism and Christ's death really mean?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bon Appetit

I had the joy of reading the book Bon Appetit while I was on vacation.

Bon Appetit is the second book in the French Twist series featuring new baker Lexi Stuart. Lexi has left behind a confusing relationship with Dan and her suffocating parents in Seattle to attend a French baking school and work at a family bakery there. She is finally on her own for the first time in her life. She is excited and filled with dreams and visions of how this American girl will be accepted on the French landscape. However, all does not go according to Lexi’s plans. She struggles with rejection and acceptance; as well as loneliness and separation from her family, friends and a confusing relationship she left behind.

She also senses she has left God in America and sets out to remedy that situation. Lexi weaves her way through her emotions while working at the bakery and while at school. As much as she longs for companionship, she uses God’s wisdom to make sensible choices. There are a few recipes and cooking methods we can learn about, the key is Lexi’s love of France and her desire to fit in, in a land where Americans are not readily accepted. She holds onto God’s love and her faith in God’s plan as the key to her ultimate decision making. In the end, Lexi has to decide whether to stay in France with a new possibility for romance or return to Seattle. Stay tuned for the sequel to this book.

Remember, this is book number 2 in the French Twist Series. The first book in the series is entitled Let Them Eat Cake. Click on the title to take you to the site.

This is really more of a fun book, probably most likely suited to women who want to read a charming and light book.

You can find the book at or at

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My Diet

I thought I would let you in on my day's eating. I thought if I periodically write this down, I will need to be more accountable with my eating.

2 egg beater egg omelet, with onions, ham, hot peppers, tomato and carrots.

one lean hamburger (no bun) and salad

South Beach Granola bar

Soup, salad and broccoflower. A broccoli and cauliflower mix.

I'll have some low fat, sugar free pudding and that is it for today.

I did make a batch of chili for lunch, I had a taste and the boys like it, so there you have my day at the food bar. It is a challenge, because I love to eat, but it has been easier to start my diet at home where there is more food accessible to me which is healthy than at church where I tend to scrounge for food. We bought soups today and I'll be eating more soups which are low in fat and carbs. Today's exercise was playing football with Joshua and Zachary.

One more video

I received another video today, almost the same as the first, but from a more Protestant side. Go to the following to view this video about the election . . .

Your Vote

I just saw a very powerful video, although Catholic, it applies directly to every person, especially people of faith.

We are being asked a question this election, with all of our issues at stake, and there are many, will we allow our values and morals to take a backseat to our $$ . . . ?

Watch this 3.5 minute video. It is powerful. Then pass it on.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Woke up early, took Joshua to school, made a hospital visit; worked on my sermon for 1.5 hours; went to the chiropractor; bought some groceries; cleaned the toilets; was on the phone; and now am going over material for Wonderful Wednesday. Maybe we'll watch Indiana Jones later.

By the way, when I mentioned my diet. Last week I had a physical and the doctor told me I was 12 pounds overweight, according to the BMI (Body Mass Index). So, I am attempting to eat better. It's probably easier starting off at home, than at church, since I have more options on what is healthy, than scrounging for food at church.

Basically, I am giving up bread and late night eating, replacing them with healthier choices. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

The Shack - Part 3

One thing I forgot to mention which may be the most important point and the reason for the success of The Shack . . .

The main character, Mack, has a deep longing, a hole in his heart, spirit, mind and body. His deep longing is to have a connection with God. That really is the point of the book in my opinion, a man's deep longing, desire to connect with God to ease the pain of the past and the present.

For each one of us, we have a longing, a craving, a desperate desire to connect in a deeper and more fulfilling way with God . . . the question is how we go about filling that hunger.

Come on Sunday and we will talk more about this, since the sermon is on the 4th Beatitude, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Shack - part 2

One final thought as it relates to God relating to God. . . it was cool not to see the pettiness we exhibit with one another. There was not a critical God talking bad and ripping another aspect of God. We (people, especially church people) are really good at it. That was one of the pleasures of The Shack, it reminded me of how we are supposed to relate to one another. . . with kindness, love and grace.

To often we get on our bandwagon and we see the speck on someone else's eye, without noticing the huge log in our own eye.

The Shack

I recently read the book so many people have been reading, The Shack, by William Young. It was a very interesting read. You need to be able to navigate past the fact that God the Father is a woman, the Holy Spirit is a woman, although, Jesus is a man.

One of the precautions when reading books like The Shack is that need to separate fact from fiction. This is a fictional book, and is Young's depiction of what things might look like. It is similar to Frank Perretti when he wrote, This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness. Both were thrillers about spiritual warfare, but they were just his perception, not a theology. The same is true for the Left Behind series, as well as books like The Da Vinci Code. They are FICTION.

Now, that being said, I found the images of God (all three) to be very touching and powerful. God can change Himself into a man or woman depending upon what your need is at the moment. We do need to remember the masculine as well as feminine characteristics of God. If we are all created in God's image, then that means God has all these characteristics.

Some of the story did seem a little far-fetched, but it was a story. What captivated me more than anything was thinking about how God relates to God. How does the Father relate to the Son and to the Spirit, etc. One time Jesus drops a bowl of batter, and the Father and Spirit have a great laugh about it. Would we? There were some interesting dynamics at work. It was an easy, yet could b e deep read. When I read books like this, I go in with an open mind knowing it is not a theology book for me to agree with or disagree, but to read for little kernels of truth or inspiration that I can take with me.

I would recommend the book, not as a theology of the Trinity or about God's providence or any other area of theology, just read it with an open mind, allowing God to speak to your heart, spirit, mind and body.

My vacation

So, what am I doing on my vacation.

Well, other than a 3 1/2 hour meeting on Monday night and another 2 hours on Tuesday, including some 1:1 time, and some phone calls, and preparing for Wonderful Wednesday and a sermon for Sunday (any violins playing), I have . . .

  • cut wood, which of course had caprentar ants in them.
  • cleaned out some boxes.
  • played some play station.
  • had parent teacher conferences.
  • did my Bible reading and meditating.
  • read two books thus far (one review to follow).
  • Played football with Joshua and Zachary Monday and Tuesday.
  • Cut the grass.
  • Cooked dinner.
  • Started my diet.
  • Slept in a little today.
  • Spent more time than usual just thinking, dreaming, contemplating lots of different things.
I know there is more, but that is all I can think of for now. Tomorrow I will wake up early do a little grocery shopping, make a hospital visit. Hang out with Debbie and the boys in the afternoon, do Wonderful Wednesday and Abide in Christ.


This is post number 400!

More to follow!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Being a Homey!

In the 17 months we've been in Alexandria, we have had some mild experiences with what it means to not be a 'homey', that is, one who is from Alexandria. Today we really had a greater experience of what it is like to be an outsider. It was a brutally painful day.

Of course, nobody likes confrontation, so we avoid it by avoiding one another. Let me say that it was nobody from FBC. I have noticed that there are times when some things don't go the way I think they should, and at times I have learned it is the fact that we are not from Alexandria.

Because of some things we have done to help our kids, we found ourselves in a very different, a very weird situation. I won't go into details. Let me just say, respect one another, love one another, don't look with skepticism at others who want to do good. We want to do good, and at times to do this, you need to indicate what is not good, with a willingness to be part of the solution, but when that happens, you get labeled. If we were homey's we would have the 'right' to speak out.

I am angry at what this means for Joshua and Zachary. When it comes to sports will they be looked over, will teachers look at them differently, how will life be different for them because they are not from this town? I am not fooling myself, we all have issues, I am not exempt, in fact, nobody is. Joshua and Zachary have done nothing wrong, other than be themselves.

Why is it we cannot walk up to one another and simply say something that is on our hearts and minds, doing it with love and grace. Instead we brutally avoid one another and tell the world about it, and make it very obvious we are not happy with one another.

Lastly, I've seen it in our church, and I need to tell you it disgusts me. In fact, it does more than disgust me, but some of you would be angry at the words I use to describe the anger I feel about this type of behavior by 'so called Christians.' I'd like to wake them out of their narcissistic prideful arrogant slumber. Yes, I'm a little passionate about this!!

While people are dying and going to hell, we act like a bunch of jerks. Ever wonder why the world does not want to be in the church? Sometimes we just need to take a good hard look at ourselves.

. . . Okay, I'm done venting, I'm still angry, but as Isaiah said, "this too shall pass. . ." . . . I hope.

The Shape of Mercy

I recently read a book which took me all of two days to read. It was easy to get into, especially for someone like me who does not read a great deal of fiction.

The book is called The Shape of Mercy and is by Susan Meissner. I also had the privilege of interviewing her via email. Hopefully the questions asked don't give you too much information. The interview is informative since most people do not get to ask some questions to a writer, so it was also a learning process for me and hopefully for you as well.

Basically the story takes place in the present day, as Lauren is attempting to make sense and transcribe a journal of a girl named Mercy who lived during the Salem Witch trials. Being a lover of history, I was intrigued by the setting and truly appreciated the struggles of Mercy, Lauren, and Abigail (the older woman who asked Lauren to transcribe the journal.) There was a lot to learn regarding who we look at others, good, bad and at times pretty ugly.

This is the type of book which would be great for a book study as Meissner also includes a brief study guide in the back of the book. We will be putting one copy in the church library. It's a moving book, a story about hatred and love, privilege and loss, bitterness, grace and more. Below is a portion of the interview I had with Susan.

You can purchase the book at ~

INTERVIEW (my questions are in black, Susan's answers in red).

1. How did you come to choose the setting and context for your story? I sense your story could have taken place in any setting, why Salem ?
I’ve had a fascination for what happened in Salem for a long time, beginning when I was 13 and in a play about the same subject and then later in high school when I read The Crucible. The Salem Witch Trials reveal rather poignantly how rushed judgments and fear can bring out the worst in us. Everyone who was executed in Salem in 1692 was later exonerated. Hysteria, not reason, ruled the day for those long months when innocent people were accused of horrible acts. It didn’t matter how long or how loud the accused proclaimed their innocence. In Salem, you were whatever the crowd said you were. I could have chosen Dachau as the setting. Or Rwanda . Salem wasn’t the first setting people died because the crowd accused them of deserving death and no one stood up to say, “Now hold on there.”

2. Do you see yourself in any of the main characters? Since both Lauren’s and Mercy’s sections are told from first person point of view, I did have to imagine myself as being those two young women. As I imagined being each, I know part of who I am and how I think seeped into their characters. That’s inevitable. I don’t know that I could’ve been as brave as Mercy Hayworth, but I do know I make presuppositions about people, like Lauren does, even when I don’t want to. Do you see other family; your husband, parents, papa, in the characters? As part of that question, do you try to distance yourself or family members from characters so that you don't "step on anyones toes?" There is no character that is an exact mirror of one distinct person that I know. My characters are usually mutts; amalgamations of many people that I’ve encountered. I don’t purposely try to do that, it just happens as the story unfolds and the characters evolve. Much of what I know about fathers I have gleaned from my own dad, but I also mine from my experiences of watching my husband be a dad to our kids and every other father – real or fictional – I’ve ever encountered. It really does seem to happen by itself as I’m writing.

3. I noticed you wrote a series called Rachel Flynn Mysteries, would you consider a follow up to Lauren's life, possibly getting her involved in another project which leads to further self discovery?
The Shape of Mercy had sufficient closure for me. If WaterBrook wanted a sequel and readers showed promise that they would buy it, I would consider writing it. But this experience with the diary and with Abigail is what changes Lauren forever. We can’t expect to have many of those in our lives or they cease to change us.

4. Do you find yourself becoming absorbed in the characters of your books, possibly taking on some traits of theirs, as an actor/actress would do?
I do become absorbed in the thought processes of my characters and I very much hope that any character changes that have merit have rubbed off onto me. I want to judge people less and love more, like Mercy did. And I want to assume less and learn more. But the thing is, this book has just released and yet I finished it a year ago. That’s the timeline of publishing. I’ve already written another manuscript in that time. Whatever quirky influences hung around after I was done with The Shape of Mercy dissolved as I immersed myself into the world of new people in a new story. Hopefully, though, the lessons learned stay with me. I have to think they do. or the writing was mere entertainment and I want it to be more than just that.

5. Near the end of the novel (301), Abigail is not certain people will believe Mercy wrote a letter to John Paul, but Lauren states, "Everyone will believe it. They'll want to believe this is what Mercy would have done." Do you find that a true statement about people, i.e., we want to believe in truth and virtue, so we tend to lose ourselves in a book such as this one?
When we’ve embraced a person like Mercy – a virtue like mercy – into our lives, we become ambassadors of hope. People with hope are attracted to the good they see in other people. I think books that reinforce hope definitely keep us from throwing in the towel. Life can be hard. There has to be more than just this life. Hope assures us there is.

6. Along with that, do you prefer fiction, as opposed to nonfiction, because you can write the ending yourself?
I have to say I very much enjoy the Edenic nature of writing fiction. I create something from mostly nothing every time I write a new novel. I believe that appeals to the little bit of the divine in me. We were all made in God’s image. God is creative, among many other things. That part of Him resonates with me. I like being an image-bearer that creates.

7. In terms of the spiritual side of your book, since you do not overtly talk about the "Christian life" (note this is not a criticism) do you believe this book can appeal to a wider audience than only Christian? I certainly hope so. Possibly it can be given as a gift to a nonChristian, who may gain spiritual insights. I would be over-the-moon happy if this book were picked up by readers who aren’t presently enjoying a personal relationship with God. I am perfectly happy writing for the Christian reader, but he or she is already a devotee of truth and redemptive love. Imagine the influence Christian writers could have if more people in the general marketplace began reading our books!

8. As we look at the call of believers in Christ, we often find ourselves condemning our own people, critical and hypocritical . . . how can you be a conduit in the world to help shape and make a difference through the books you write?
We’ve been called to speak the truth in love. Those three words sum it up in total. Speak. Truth. Love. We are to be the voice. We are to share, embrace and shine truth. We are to regard others, those very same others who need to hear the voice of truth, as more important than ourselves. Being a conduit really means being obedient. Speak. Speak truth. Speak truth, always in love not judgment. It’s really kind of simple.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Way the Church Works

I read a cool story about the way the church is supposed to work, from another pastor, Dave Ferguson, who is the lead at Community Christian Church in Naperville, Il. He wrote,

I love this photo. One reason is because this is a photo right after a baptism. The two younger girls on the outside (Sarah on left and Allie on right) were just baptized.
Another reason is because the one in the middle is my daughter Amy who just baptized Allie.

But the reason I put this photo on my blog (besides being very proud of all three young ladies) is because this is how the reproducing church works. Last Wednesday night Sarah and Allie were baptized as Christ Followers. Allie, who is now a sophomore in high school was Amy's apprentice leader for a junior high girls small group for two years. Amy developed a friendship with Allie and basically asked her to watch her lead and love these junior high girls along with her. When it came time for Amy to go to college this fall, she and Allie both felt like she was ready and she turned over the small group to her. Now Allie is leading that group. And because of their friendship last Wednesday Allie asked Amy to baptize her.

Life on life; friends loving others together. That is how the church is meant to work!

Great Story, isn't it?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Football and Joshua

His final game was against the best team from Elwood, who beat our best team 40-12, last week. Uh-oh. Our team played really well, except for two plays. A trick pass which we told the kids what to do, but they didn't do it, and a kick off return, where we said, don't kick it to a certain player, and we did. That was the score 14-0. We had the ball on the 1 yard line when time ran out. It was a bruising game. Joshua and all of our kids played with a lot of heart, and the other team was scared we would win. We moved the ball on them, but a couple of mistakes and we turned the ball over. Joshua made some good runs, almost broke away for a touchdown, but their best player, was by far the fastest on the field and he caught Joshua from behind, and Joshua looked at him and said, "is that all you've got?" The kid is getting a little fight in him, I like it. We only won one game, but I really think we had the best "team" of the three Alex teams.

Sometime I am going to try to put some video on you-tube for your viewing pleasure.

On another football note, we were supposed to play in a tournament on the 18th-19th, but we are not in it, because of last minute shenanigans from Elwood. They waited until the last minute to make plans for a tournament they knew was going to happen months ago, and frankly, we got jobbed. What makes me mad about it, was the fact that we gave up the Diabetes walk on the 18th to do the football games for Joshua. Now we are out of luck on that, as well.

I just don't get some of the way things get done. If you know you have a tournament scheduled, why wait until two weeks before to get things organized? Then when we tell them who the right party is to talk to, they don't. I'm mad, partly because we gave up something, and lost everything, and the ineptitude of the organizer from Elwood.

Okay, I have now vented. I feel much better . . . thanks for listening.

Saturday Football - Zachary

Zachary's team played their final game on Saturday morning. They won 44-22. Zachary scored two touchdowns, as he got their at the start of the 2nd half (I'll explain below). Zachary did well, running a reverse on two different occasions for 2 touchdowns, completing a pass and having one dropped. He also made a couple of tackles (pulled flags out). He ended up with a scratched neck and a black and blue mark on his arm. He was kind of proud of the bruises on his arm.

In terms of arriving late. His game was moved from 10 am to 9 am, but only the kids were told that. Zachary told us he had to be there at 8:20, but we thought he was wrong, and then he thought he was wrong, too. When Debbie and I coached soccer, we always told the parents, we didn't leave it up to the kids to tell parents. That is one thing I have noticed about all ages around here, they tell the kids and the kids have to tell the parents. It's not bad to teach responsibility, but a quick email works wonders. That is what we did, or we called every parent. Two other kids arrived late as well.

All in all it was a good first season of football for Zachary, he is now wanting to play tackle next year, look out world, since he has no fear.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Doctoral Project

I just received an email that my formatter is finished and in fact hand delivered my project to the doctoral office yesterday. This means all I need to do is pay my final bills at Trinity, which in fact, I received one yesterday, too, and I simply await graduation on December 19.

WOW!! It's amazing I did it. There were so many times I thought about quitting and not finishing. My greatest cheerleader was Debbie. Without her promptings and pushing (lovingly) I would be done, but with no degree.

Thank you, darling!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Anyone a little gassy?

Have you noticed what has happened to the price of gas? I bought gas today at $3.29, and now it is down to $3.13 in Anderson.

I noticed in Dearborn, MI gas is $2.97; while in Springfield, IL it is $3.14; and in Warrenville, IL gas was $3.59. All places we have lived. Amazing to notice the price differences.

Of course if you look at our economy we are nose diving and fast. The Dow is at a 5 year low. Think about your investments, but if you get out now and the market goes up, to buy back in will cost you more money. So what to do? Gas prices have not even reached last years level. Last year gas was $2.75.

I believe this election will be a crucial one, yet, with all of the rhetoric by both candidates, to get anything passed in the house and senate is not that easy. So, as much as we hear good things, to accomplish some of these proposals will be a stretch. Not trying to be pessimistic, but a realist.

All that being said, when is Jesus coming? I'm not sure, but you know the crazy thing, this is all kind of exciting, because so many people are going to realize they need more than themselves, they need Christ . . . and the church (you and I) have a great opportunity to lead people to Christ, who won't solve our financial crisis, but He is the ONE who can bring peace and hope to hearts, spirits, minds and bodies that are fragmented and hurting. Thanks be to God for this indescribable gift . . . named Jesus!

Just a couple of random thoughts at midnight!


Well this blog is not for young men only, but there is a book entitled, For Young Men Only, or FYMO, which is a must read for guess who. . .? Young Men . . . and I must add, for older men, moms and dads, pastors, youth pastors and on and on.

I wish I had this book when I was a younger man. I'm not sure I was mature enough to understand the insights when I was a teen, but that was light years ago. Since we are seeing teens mature at a quicker rate, there is a greater need for a book like this. I know I will highly recommend this book to some people who have teens. As the father of two boys, almost 11 and 8 1/2, I know this book will help Debbie and I.

The authors, along with their wives did scientific surveys by interviewing young women. Then they had their statistics verified by a professional company. Their findings are great and they break the book down into 7 main chapters, each touching on a vital subject ~
  1. Abercrombie Boy vs. Our Hero, Average Joe (Why Ordinary guys have a real chance with great girls)
  2. Why Good Girls Like Bad Boys (Understanding a girl's greatest secret fear - and what you can do about it)
  3. When Girls Stop Making Sense (A code breaker's guide to baffling female behavior)
  4. Breaking Up, Breaking You (Why girls go from "love" to "get lost" so fast - and how to keep from getting crushed)
  5. No Dropped Calls (How to talk and listen to a girl without looking like an idiot)
  6. What it Really Means to Score (The truth about girls, guys and sex)
  7. The Guy Every Girl Wants . . . Really (Could it be that the real you is the real prize?)
Each chapter is filled with great information about young women, and while it is not a "how - to" book for young men, nor a book on "how to pick up chicks", it does have very good practical information about how to pick up the signs, cues and signals from young women; and how a young man should react.

One final note ~ while the book is written from a Christian point of view, it is not filled with 100's of Bible references to help the authors make their points.

I highly recommend this book, and would give it 5 stars because of its relevancy, tone (serious with humor added), creativity.

You can also go to their website at

Click HERE to find this book.
Or on this link:

Other books written in this series includes:

For Young Women Only
For Women Only
For Men Only

Click on any of the above titles to go to Amazon books.

Elwood vs. Alexandria

Yesterday, Joshua's team played a team from Elwood in football. I have to say the kids from Elwood were impressive in their uniforms - they were the Steelers, and had similar uniforms to the Steelers. They had to cost some bucks. Secondly, most of the kids were huge. I mean they looked they were in 6th grade, not a 3rd - 5th grade team. Thirdly, they had about 20 kids on their team, we had 13.

All that said, it's amazing the final score was only Elwood winning, 16-14. We missed one 2 point conversion, that was the difference. They did not substitute many players, and wanted to play another half, but our kids were winded.

I felt sorry for Joshua, he usually runs bootlegs and option plays, but had a hard time doing them because Elwood was bigger and was able to push our offensive line back. He handled the ball well, even when getting hit and spun around. One kid threw Joshua like he was a sack of potatoes. Joshua did score our 2 point conversion and Elwood's first touchdown was on a kickoff return, so our defense did great.

Our last game is on Saturday against a different Elwood team, hopefully more our size. Then Joshua plays on the 5th grade all star team. Zachary's last game is this Saturday, as well.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Football Saturday

Goodday for both boys.

Zachary's team beat the only team which beat them, 12-6. Their first game against this team they lost 40-28, so good defense was the rule. This was the first game Zachary didn't score. He ran the ball to the one yard line, and helped by deflecting a pass and getting others flags.

Joshua's team won their first game, 24-0. They played a much better game on defense. Joshua scored the first touchdown, and made a couple of other nice runs, then on the 2 point conversion, they fumbled the ball and he picked it up, with both knees on the ground, meaning he is down, but the whistle didn't blow and he got nailed (a good tackle), but the play should have been over. He hurt his neck, sat out awhile, then went back in. Later he hurt his knee making a tackle. I think he hit it on the ground or twisted it, because nobody hit him. It still hurts and he sat out most of the 2nd half. Didn't want to take any chances. It still hurts a little, but he is not limping and is running around. We played a little tackle football this afternoon, after the Colts come back. He showed no signs of injury.

They each have one game left. Joshua's team plays Elwood on Tuesday and next week they have an all star team which plays in a tournament.

Zachary's team plays on Thursday.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Candidate Charitable giving

This is by no means an endorsement for anyone, but it is interesting from the candidates tax returns over the past 2 years, how much they give to charity. This is the average amount. It should tell us something about the person.

Any guesses as to who is number 1? Number 4?

Well, without waiting here you go . . .
  1. John McCain - 23.1 %
  2. Sarah Palin - 2.4 %
  3. Barack Obama - 2.2 %
  4. Joe Biden - 0.2 %

Interesting numbers. . . disappointing numbers for 3 of the 4. I'd love to hear the reasons from all 3.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Woe is me!

Wow! What a rough two nights for the Cubs. One night it is walks, the next it is errors. Anyone have a broom . . . do ya hear sweeeeeeeep! Kinda sounds like what a mouse might say.

At least the White Sox put up a struggle in game 1 against Tampa.

Hey, I remembered . . . there's always next year . . . ugh!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Football and Joshua

Last night Joshua's team had their third game. Sadly, they lost again. It was a good game. They lost to this team 14-0 on the first game, yesterday the score was 30-24. The other team has one player who scores their touchdowns, he is fast, and when you add poor tackling, that is what you get.

Joshua played a very good game. He was quarterback, had 2 touchdowns and one 2 point conversion. On his 2nd touchdown, someone tried to tackle him, they got his shoe, and he ran around the end for about 25 yards for his touchdown. He also made some good tackles on defense.

It's amazing what a year does in a kids life. Last year, if he got hit, he would be down in second, now he is viewed as one of the best players. He got hit a couple of times, shook off tackles and kept going. I was proud of him. They play again on Saturday. I think we will add a couple of new wrinkles into the game.

I called two plays to run, both were very successful, one a touchdown and the other a 30 yard run. Maybe the Colts need an offensive coordinator?!

Bailout idea

I think this idea has more merit, it is from Dave Ramsey. See what you think about his ideas ~

Fun Kids Devotional

God Gave Us the Bible: 45 Favorite Stories for Little Ones is a very well done, hardcover introductory Bible for parents to read with thei...