Thursday, April 26, 2007

Musket or Car Bomb?

What happened April 16, 2007 at Virginia Tech was the deadliest shooting in United States history. But the key word isn’t “deadliest.” It’s “shooting.” Do you know how many people got blown up two days later in Baghdad? More than 170. A single bomb killed 140 of them. This happened in the same place where a bomb had killed more than 125 people two months before. That’s four times the body count at Virginia Tech in a heartbeat.

No wonder Iraqis find the outcry over Virginia Tech puzzling. Scores of them die every week while many of us Christians hardly notice. Our gun debate makes little sense to them. Or to me. Even after speaking with proponents of "both sides" including the NRA and some of my Christian gun toting friends this week.

Here’s what I do know. It is far too easy to legally or illegally secure semi automatic hand guns. Not to mention their high capacity magazines the Virginia Tech gunman purchased on eBay. And increasingly it seems that hand guns have more in common with roadside car bombs than flint muskets. Because their sudden mass killing power yield similar body counts. But maybe that’s just me. And a bunch of orphaned Iraqis in Baghdad.

Special thanks to William Saletan for his April 18, 2007 post “Low Tech: Thank God the Blacksburg Killer Only Had Guns” and Molly Moore for her April 18, 2007 Washington Post article “Virginia Killings Widely Seen as Reflecting a Violent Society: World Reaction Mixes Condolences With Criticism of Policies

Is The Devil A Real Liar?

According to 2006 data from the Barna Research Group [click here or graphic to the left for more info], more than half of adults (55%) say that the devil, or Satan, is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.

Even more sobering is that 45% of born again Christians deny Satan's existence.

While slightly more than two-thirds of Catholics (68%) say the devil is non-existent and only a symbol of evil.

Jesus disagreed. He asked the religious people of his day "Why can't you understand one word I say? Here's why: You can't handle it. You're from your father, the Devil, and all you want to do is please him.

He was a killer from the very start. He couldn't stand the truth because there wasn't a shred of truth in him.

When the Liar speaks, he makes it up out of his lying nature and fills the world with lies." Taken from John 8:43-44 [MSG]

What's A Cyber Church?

So I joined another church this week. It's called echurch7. It's a cyber church.

echruch7s' mission statement is to create a community of faith that is modeled after the words of Jesus found in John 13:35 "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

echurch7 is empowered by the Ohio Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and wants to be:
  • A seeking church, open to God's self disclosure in His word and through the ministry of His Spirit. [They've got a great message board for all kinds of questions and dialogue]
  • A spiritual church that worships the Triune God as Creator and knows Christ as Savior, Friend, and soon-coming Lord
  • A mission-oriented church that proclaims the gospel in ways relevant to people everywhere
  • A united church that values the richness of diversities within the body of Christ
  • A discipling church that equips believers for service and leadership
  • Want to join too? Click here or the graphic above for more info.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Nice Clean Cut College Kid?

This image made from NBC on Wednesday, April 18, 2007 shows Virginia Tech gunman Cho Seung-Hui in part of a package apparently mailed to the network on Monday, April 16 between Cho's first and second bursts of gunfire on the Virginia Tech campus.

BLACKSBURG, Va. — The gunman, Cho Seung-Hui, a 23-year-old senior majoring in English, who may have been taking medication for depression, killed himself Monday, April 16, 2007 after carrying out the worst shooting massacre in modern U.S. history.

Cho — who arrived in the United States as boy from South Korea in 1992 and was raised in suburban Washington, D.C., where his parents worked at a dry cleaners. Cho graduated from Westfield High School in Chantilly, Va., in 2003. His family lived in an off-white, two-story townhouse in Centreville, Va.

After the bloodbath, officials found Cho’s backpack in his dorm room and a typed, eight-page rant against rich kids and religion. Cho indicated in his letter that the end was near and that there was a deed to be done. He also expressed disappointment in his own religion, and made several references to Christianity.

One law enforcement official said Cho's backpack contained a receipt for a March purchase of a Glock 9 mm pistol. Cho held a green card, meaning he was a legal, permanent resident. That meant he was eligible to buy a handgun unless he had been convicted of a felony.

Roanoke Firearms owner John Markell said his shop sold the Glock and a box of practice ammo to Cho 36 days ago for $571. "He was a nice, clean-cut college kid. We won't sell a gun if we have any idea at all that a purchase is suspicious," Markell said.

How Long Lord?

1 O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. 2 Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony. 3 My soul is in anguish. How long, O LORD, how long?

4 Turn, O LORD, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love. 5 No one remembers you when he is dead. Who praises you from the grave? 6 I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. 7 My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes.

8 Away from me, all you who do evil, for the LORD has heard my weeping. 9 The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer. 10 All my enemies will be ashamed and dismayed; they will turn back in sudden disgrace.

Psalm 6 [NIV]

Need A Pastor In Your Pocket?

Pastor Norman Yergen has been a spiritual guide for 30 years. His personal journey has taken him on a pathway that has taught him wisdom through suffering. He has worked as a pastor, teacher, and chaplain. Most recently he has worked in hospice caring for HIV, cancer, and stroke patients. Helping patients with their final transitions has given this Personal Pastor a heart for those in pain.

If your pastor can't realistically serve more than BLANK number of people and you feel like you're one of them or if you have no relationship with a pastor, Norman is available on a fee-for-service basis. Call and he’ll provide spiritual intervention, chaplaincy services, perform a wedding, funeral or baby dedication.

Some have asked him why he charges for his services and he says, “Show me a church that doesn’t take up offerings. What I offer has no overhead costs to cover. You pay for what you get.” And what you get is profound respect for your sacred journey right when you need it most. Go to for more details.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Do We Have A Healthy Message?

It's hard to share a life worth living if the one we've got isn't all that. Looking at the Adventist churches I've seen in my life, I'm not convinced we have a health message. What we have is a vegetarian or vegan message that sometimes translates to health and wellness. But sometimes [more often?] does not. If it did, there wouldn't be critical people running around pointing fingers at those who eat meat and there wouldn't be apathetic people walking around wishing they weren't. Whatever people ate, for the glory of God, they would be active and fit and obviously healthy and happy.

Assuming that can happen [and I believe it can], I'm looking for 8 individuals not too busy running the church [or away from it] to be coordinators of our Life Worth Living Ordinary Outreach. You do not have to be a member of the church to participate. But you do have to commit to becoming a resource specialist in one aspect of NEWSTART [Nutrition, Exercise, Water, Sunshine, Temperance, Air, Rest, and Trust in Divine Power].

These folks will be in charge of scouring the newspaper, internet, and journals to collect info, stories, pictures, and articles to share so they can give a short update/report on developments in their field of health and wellness once every 8 weeks in a small class offered to the community.

We could set TUE nite, for example, as health and wellness nite at church where the church and community will be informed that there will be something happening promoting a life worth living. Each class focuses on only one of the 8 aspects of wellness per week in an informal roundtable discussion/presentation. It could include an "Ask the Doctor" section assuming we have a willing one or better yet we can recruit one from the community to donate an hour of his/her time fielding random medical questions. It could include healthy snacks. A simple closing prayer. And an invitation to return. And could continue nonstop year round without any leader burning out because they're responsible for leading only once every 8 weeks. You think this might work?

The Church vs. The Flea Circus?

Sony created the following ad a few years ago for their Play Station 2. If you don't have DSL or high speed internet, you'll miss the video. But here's what it says:

"Training fleas requires a glass jar with a lid. The fleas are placed inside the jar and the lid is then sealed. They are left undisturbed for three days. Then, when the jar is opened, the fleas will not jump out. In fact, the fleas will never jump higher than the level set by the lid. Their behavior is now set for the rest of their lives. And when these fleas reproduce, their offspring will automatically follow their example. Escape the circus and live beyond the limits of the imaginary lid."

See any similarities between the church and the flea circus?

Once Married, Always Married, As Long As You Stay Married?

The world’s tallest man has married a woman who is more than 2 feet shorter than him. Bao Xishun, a 7-foot-9 herdsman from Inner Mongolia, married 5-foot-6 saleswoman Xia Shujian recently the Beijing News reported.

Bao’s 28-year-old bride is half his age and hailed from his hometown of Chifeng even though marriage advertisements were sent around the world, it said.“After a long and careful selection, the effort has been finally paid off,” the newspaper said.

Bao was confirmed last year by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s tallest person. And while their marriage will undoubtedly have its "highs" and "lows", as long as they stay together, they will stay married.

Matthew 24:12-13 [NLT] says that before Jesus returns, "12 Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the LOVE of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who ENDURES to the end will be saved."

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What's An Innovation Station?

A first-of-its-kind experiment in a global conversation within the Adventist community begins today!

INNOVATION STATION is a three-day online forum in which you can post your ideas and thoughts on innovation, trends, opportunities and breakthroughs in the Adventist Church's ministry and mission.

The conversations will center around four themes: Personal Spirituality; Church & Mission; Child & Family Education; and Health & Wellness.

To enter the conversation, click here or the graphic above for more info. Registration is free but required. The forum will be open until Thursday, April 12.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Were You There?

This is perhaps the most universally used spiritual in all the hymnals of Christendom. It first appeared in print in Old Plantation Hymns compiled by William E. Burton in 1899.

The primary poetic analogy is that all of us were there at Calvary by virtue of the fact that Romans 3:23 [NIV] says "23For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

The other verses ask: Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree? / Were you there when they pierced Him in the side? / Were you there when the sun refused to shine? / Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?

Sometimes another stanza is added, Were you there when He rose up from the grave?

To which all those in Christ can say "Yes!" because Romans 6:5 [NIV] says, "5If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection."

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Cup Of Tea?

The afternoon was a delight! The moment was special! The emotions were high! On Sunday, March 11th, eighteen women from Toledo First entered the doors of an inner-city shelter for women. With their hands and an abundance of God’s love, they pampered 20 residents of the Aurora House.

Manicures, facials, hand treatments, pedicures, haircuts and massages were offered and very well received. A cup of tea, delightful desserts and mini-sandwiches were served as the pampering began.

Meanwhile, the children of these ladies were being
entertained in the other room with crafts and other activities.

Special thanks to Carla Szczechowski, Women's Ministry leader, for coordinating this ordinary outreach.

Active Adventist #2?

She was married once and bore five children, all of whom were sold from her in their early life. Up to the time of her emancipation she served five masters and suffered all the hardships, deprivations and abuse common to slaves of that period.

She was called Isabella until she gained her freedom when she asked God for a new name settling on Sojourner because of her many wanderings and Truth because she was to preach the truth as to the iniquity of slavery, and because, as she says, "God is my master and His name is Truth and Truth shall be my abiding name until I die."

Although nearly ninety years old, she made several visits to the White House to request and urge President Lincoln to enlist the free colored men of the north in defense of the Union. He gave her audience and promised to consider the matter. Shortly after, Mr. Lincoln and Congress gave consent; and Negro soldiers, north and south, were fighting for their freedom.

Though her baptism is questioned by some historians, it is generally accepted that Sojourner Truth (Isabella Van Wagener), the famous abolitionist, was a Seventh-day Adventist.* She was acquainted with Adventist teachings, knew early church leaders like Ellen White, John Byington, Dr. J. H. Kellogg, and spoke at the Battle Creek Sanitarium and several other church gatherings. Her grave is in the Oak Hill Cemetery in Battle Creek near the White family burial place. For more info, see Homespun Heroines and Other Women of Distinction by Hallie Q. Brown by clicking here or the picture above.

*From: Delbert Baker, In Search of Roots on "Roots: Adventist African-Americans" website on website of Oakwood College (a Seventh-day Adventist college in Huntsville, Alabama). Click here for more info.

Do We See What He Sees?

33They came to Capernaum. When he was safe at home, he asked them, "What were you discussing on the road?"

34The silence was deafening—they had been arguing with one another over who among them was greatest.

35He sat down and summoned the Twelve. "So you want first place? Then take the last place. Be the servant of all."

36-37He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, "Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me—God who sent me."

38John spoke up, "Teacher, we saw a man using your name to expel demons and we stopped him because he wasn't in our group."

39-41Jesus wasn't pleased. "Don't stop him. No one can use my name to do something good and powerful, and in the next breath cut me down. If he's not an enemy, he's an ally. Why, anyone by just giving you a cup of water in my name is on our side. Count on it that God will notice."

Taken from Eugene Peterson's paraphrase of Mark 9:33-41 in The Message.