Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What's Our Job On Election Day?

Some pastors of churches distribute voting guides. While I'm not going to do that [though I hope you Buckeyes will still vote YES on Issue 5!!!], what I will remind you in preparation for Election Day next week is that in any election we face imperfect choices. That's why as a person of faith, I believe it's my job to choose the persons I believe most reflect the most things I'm sure God cares about. Here, for what they're worth, are some of my things:
  • Poverty. There are more than 2,000 verses in the Bible that talk about how we treat the poor and oppressed.
  • War. From the biblical prophets to Jesus, there is, at least, a [naive? unrealistic?] hope for beating our swords into instruments of peace.
  • Life. "Choosing life" is a constant biblical theme. And there are many that consistently threaten it in addition to abortion.
  • Environment. Isaiah was right. The earth is growing old like a garment. But that doesn't mean we should continue to trash it.
  • Slavery. Every human being is made in the image of God. But today there are more people [27 million to be specific; mostly women and children] trapped in sexual and economic slavery than ever before in human history.
  • Family. Who will speak to marital fidelity, strong parenting, and family values without blaming 2% of the population [that is gay] for 98% of the problems [that may be heterosexual but obviously just as broken and dysfunctional]?
What do YOU think GOD cares about most? What is on your list?

Hail To [Only] The Redskins?

Last Sunday, Josh and I donned our Redskin gear from head to toe and watched the Redskins beat the Lions in Detroit. It was Joshua's 1st live Redskins game and as long as I kept the stadium concessions coming, he managed to sit through all 3 hours of it!!! The Lions fans around us were very kind. Even encouraging Josh when the Redskins were trailing in the 1st half saying, "Don't worry, the Redskins will come back. You're playing the Lions!!!" And they were right. Hail to the Redskins!!! And hail to all you dads who make quality time to spend with your children!!! Special thanks to David Tripp from my Vienna, Virginia/DC days for inviting us and arranging this trip!!!

Beautiful Duet Ugly Theology?

Nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could / So somewhere in my youth or childhood / I must have done something good. — Maria and Captain von Trapp in the Sound of Music

That is a beautiful duet that Lydia loves to replay over and over whenever we watch the Sound of Music. She twirls around the room showing off her gymnastics and ballerina skills while singing it. But it's got some awfully ugly theology in it. As the humorous "Good-O-Meter" video clip below I showed in church last week reveals. I wish EVERY church would show this clip and talk to their children about it what means!!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

To Whom Will We Pledge Our Allegiance?

"Today the logic goes something like this: 'We can support a president while also worshiping Jesus as the Son of God.' But how is this possible? For one promotes the economics of competition, while the other admonishes the forgiveness of debts. Can you call Jesus the Son of God and also say, 'He just doesn't understand the world today'? What is the point in calling anything God if it does not also hold sway in every part of one life's life — especially one's politics?"

—Shane Claiborne & Chris Haw, activists for nonviolence, the redistribution of resources to the poor [by the church], and authors of Jesus for President. Click the pic to read their mind bending chapter on Romans 13. As we near Election Day, to whom will we pledge our allegiance?

Why Am I Voting YES On Issue 5?

There are 391 Reasons to Vote YES on Issue 5. Here are 5:
  1. Yes on 5 lowers interest rates on payday loans from 391% to 28% annual interest.
  2. Yes on 5 ensures that loans will still be available for people who need them, but the interest rate is reduced so that it is comparable to the rates charged by credit cards.
  3. Yes on 5 helps prevent Ohioans desperate for quick cash from falling into a cycle of high-cost loans that they can never pay off.
  4. Yes on 5 extend the same payday loan protections to all Ohioans that the federal government provides to military families.
  5. Yes on 5 approves the new laws endorsed by Governor Strickland and the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Ohio Legislature. They believe the state has a fundamental obligation to protect Ohioans from excessive interest rates and defective financial products.
Click the pic for more info. Are you voting YES on issue 5?

Can Beauty Save The World?

In his book The Idiot, Fyodor Dostoevsky sets forth the bold assertion that “beauty will save the world.” But Dostoevsky did not have in mind the kind of beauty we worship in the fashion industry. On the contrary, Dostoevsky entertains the idea in a person, in Myshkin, who lives the quality of beauty as if distinctive of his very soul. His inclination is to help rather than to harm, to give mercy rather than malice; he forgives again and again, though surrounded by people who do not. In fact, it is this group who tirelessly labels Myshkin the “idiot” because he refuses to participate in the disparaging and destructive ugliness of their own ways, but instead takes what is cruel and repulsive in them and dispels it. [Adapted from a devotional by Jill Carratini. Click pic above to read it in its entirety].

Do you think the Dove beauty campaign [click triangular play button below] is on the right track? Can beauty save the world?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Who Won?

Neither Plumber Joe from Toledo or I have decided who to vote for. So leave me your most convincing comment based on who you think we should!!! Or just weigh in on who you thought won last night’s final Presidential debate. Who won?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Are You Thankful?

I am thankful for gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home / I am thankful for the parking spot I find at the far end of the parking lot because it means I am capable of walking and I have been blessed with transportation / I am thankful for the lady behind me in church who sings off key [just joking] because it means I can hear

I am thankful for the pile of laundry because it means I have clothes to wear / I am thankful for the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours because it means I am alive / I am thankful for the crazy people I work with because they cheerfully serve in the church and community in addition to having full time jobs and family and lives outside [gasp] of what I ask of them!

And finally, I am most thankful to Christ for inviting me to serve Him as sincerely and passionately as I can. So one day people will say about me the same thing they said about David in Acts 13:36 [NKJV]. "He served his own generation by the will of God." For what/who are you thankful?

Two Movies Worth My Time?

Jackie and I haven't seen a movie in months [anybody want to baby sit?!! LOL!!!] Seriously, there just isn't much out there that interests us. And even if there were, with gymnastics, piano, reading, and church/community stuff, we really don't have time. But I'm making time to see these next 2 films and I hope you do too. The first exposing modern day slavery is Call + Response and the second strengthening marriage is Fireproof. Pause the playlist to the right and then click the triangular play buttons below to hear/see why.

Are Terrors Of Day The Way?

2 Timothy 3 says before Jesus returns there will be terrible times when people are lovers of themselves and of money. And greed is what many analysts, Christians and non, believe is the reason for our economic problems today. And while you'd have to be living under a rock or in a cave somewhere not to see that our planet as Isaiah 51:6 predicted is "growing old like a garment" and that greed is running rampant, I'm not convinced global warming or economic bailouts are the greatest motivating factors Christians should be emphasizing. Why? Because Jesus is more attractive!

Ellen White, one of the founders of the Adventist church, said it this way: "The shortness of time is urged as an incentive for us to seek righteousness and to make Christ our friend. This is not the great motive. It savors of selfishness. Is it necessary that the terrors of the day of God be held before us to compel us through fear to right action? This ought not to be. Jesus is attractive" [Review and Herald, August 2, 1881 paragraph 6].

Aren't you glad Jesus is full of love, mercy, and compassion? That He proposes to be our friend? That He promises to walk with us through all the rough pathways of life? Isn't He attractive enough?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Bailout Questions?

Answers here!!! That's what our church sign with the big arrow has been flashing out front the last 10 days. Last night, 18 people were present. The retired man from across the street, who has lived as our neighbor there for 19 years, said this was his first time ever in our building! A friend we made at our car show attended. In addition to a parent from Toledo Junior Academy and one staff member from James Meade Learning Center. PTL!!!

The timing of this class couldn't be more appropriate. During it, everyone will receive a workbook. If they want to keep it, it costs $20. If they don't, the entire class is free. So get all your financial files and questions written down. Pick up the invitation cards at church. And plan to bring a friend or family member to worship @ 5pm and the class @ 7pm. Everyone has questions about their financial future! Tell them they can be answered at Toledo First!!!

And don't forget Romans 13:8. "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another!!!" PS—Click the pic to listen to an MP3 I recommend entitled "What's wrong with a little greed?"

What's Your Post It Do?

Many of you enjoyed last week's post about Joshua and Lydia's Post It notes. Well, if you liked that, you'll love this. Because Post It notes can not only say some startling things, they can also do some amazing things. Press the triangular play button below to see what I mean...

What Happened @ Innovation 4?

I spent SUN to TUE this week in Columbus for the 4th Annual Conference on Innovation [click pic for more] where I met people from all over the place including Australia and Scotland. It included a jam packed line up of speakers. Here are my highlights:

Robert Wuthnow, PhD, is the Chair of the Department of Sociology and Director of the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton. I found him encouraging because he highlighted two things all 20 and 30 year olds are looking for in a church that any church can provide: 1) Opportunities to serve and 2) Realistic heroes.

James Tucker, PhD, is the Chair for Excellence in Learning, and Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Tennessee. I resonated with the defiant optimism of his talk entitled "Organizations Don't Change: People Change." That often it only takes 15% of sardines to move the entire school of fish. While I didn't get to learn from him while he was teaching at Andrews, my kids are loving his nature nugget devotional books.

Kelly Monroe Kullberg, Harvard Chaplain and author of Finding God at Harvard reminded me that Befriending Not Defending is really is the best way to share Jesus today. Her Columbus, Ohio neighbors are Adventist.

Leonard Sweet, PhD, voted "One of the 50 most influential Christians in America" in 2006 and 2007 was captivating as usual discussing how metaphors and abductive teaching is how Jesus best conveyed truth in the 1st century and challenged us to do so in the 21st. His 16 year old son attends an Adventist high school in Eastsound, Washington.

Julius Nam, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Religion at Loma Linda Unversity who specializes in church history. His fascinating recap of Adventist history highlighting how our founders grew in their understanding of what the Bible says about Trinitarianism, Atonement, Sabbath, Second Coming, and Judgment reminded me that we're still growing in ours. And that is a good thing.

For only $49, you can get a set of CD's that includes the teaching portion of all the sessions. Call 740.397.4665 ext. 165 for more info.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

$700 Billion?!!

In light of the proposed $700 billion bailout of Wallstreet this week, I thought I'd share with you a few things the Bible says about debt and interest. Some of which may surprise you.
  1. The Bible isn't against all interest. A fair interest rate is expected to be received on borrowed money. Proverbs 28:8 says, "He who increases his wealth by exorbitant interest amasses it for another who will be kind to the poor." Matthew 25:27 asks, "Why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it."
  2. The Bible is against exorbitant interest. Deuteronomy 23:20 says, "You may charge a foreigner interest, but not a brother Israelite." Leviticus 25:35-38 adds, "If one of your fellow Israelites falls into poverty and cannot support himself, do not charge interest on money you lend him or make a profit on food you sell him. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God."
  3. And bad debt. Romans 13:8,11 says "Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed."
So as long as money is being handled wisely and the debt payments are manageable, a Christian can take on the burden of financial debt if it is necessary. Do you think $700 billion is either wise or manageable?

What's Your Post It Say?

Joshua and Lydia love Post-It notes. I have to hide them in my home office, or when I return, there will be hundreds of them scattered on my computer, desk, walls, you name it. Last week, I left the purple stack out. Here's a couple of the fave I found on my desk...You need to read the one on the right vertically. If you were leaving a Post-It for God on His desk, what would it say?

Will God Forgive Us?

Chris Blake is an English and Communications professor at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska. He followed up his best selling book Searching For a God to Love with another entitled Swimming Against the Current. At the back of that book, he includes a beautiful prayer, customized for Adventists to pray [that includes elements others could too]. Some of it, entitled "Walking Humbly", is below. What would you add? What do you think? Click the pics for more on Chris Blake.

Merciful God, forgive us for becoming absorbed in Adventist triumphalism, while a dying world wanders off into oblivion / Forgive us for ever placing the word "but" after the words "You are saved through Jesus Christ" / Forgive us for shrinking away from emotionalism until we have truly diminished the role of the Holy Spirit / Forgive us for doing more to prohibit smoking and drinking in our schools than to prohibit meanness / Forgive us for talking about You in place of experiencing You

Forgive us for believing that the Adventist Church possesses all Truth so we don't need to learn from others — thus making ourselves inflexible, brittle, and narrowminded / Forgive us for succumbing to negativity and cynicism instead of living with defiant optimism / Forgive us for not praying and loving more / Inhabit us so we will swim with You against the current. Help us start afresh, to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly, forever and ever / We ask this in Jesus' name / Amen