Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thankful In General?

Cornelius Plantinga Jr. once made the pointed comment that “it must be an odd feeling to be thankful to nobody in particular” [“Assurances of the Heart” Christianity Today, Vol. 39, no. 13]. He was commenting on the odd phenomenon of finding, especially around the American celebration of Thanksgiving, so many people thankful “in general.”

To be thankful “in general” is very strange, he concluded. “It’s a little like being married in general.” Of course, his words are not dismissing the thought that it is good to give thanks in all circumstances. Rather, he is asking can one be thankful in general without acknowledging from where or from whom it comes?

What do YOU think? Can we be thankful in general? Numbers 11:20 implies we can't...“You have rejected the Lord, who is among you.” [Adapted from a devotional by Jill Carratini. Click pic above to read it in its entirety].

Great Stuffing And Shopping?

Are You Thankful?

I am thankful for gutters full of leaves 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 [my car avoids dings and] it means I am blessed with transportation / I am thankful for the lady behind me in church [you know who you are] 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 finally, I am most thankful to Christ for inviting me to serve Him as sincerely and passionately as I can. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Jesus.” For what are you thankful?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sustainable Funding in Challenging Times?

I was seated in the School of Social Work at the University of Michigan last Friday for a talk entitled “Raising Sustainable Funding for Nonprofits in Challenging Economic Times” where Terry Axelrod blew my mind. In ordinary times, giving to nonprofits is 4%. But the organizations following her system see giving rise to 6% even in the more challenging economic climates. Why? Because the people they cultivate and routinely reach are invested in the mission of that organization whatever the economy is up to.

I've been praying that God would send us help to grow Haven of Hope Toledo, Inc. into the tool God could use to fuel our ordinary outreach. And maybe God will use Benevon to answer that prayer. If you'd be interested in hearing Terry next time she's near, please email me: mike4tune@gmail.com We will be carpooling to suburban Detroit on JAN 13 for sure!!!

What's A Noah Party?

A Noah Party was the occasion for the Adventurers to dress up like their fave animals on the ark and play games instead of their normal routine of worship and crafts. They pushed buckeyes with their noses around a maze, fished colored mousetraps on the floor, knocked over bottles by spinning around, and had fun "feeling" interesting things...all dressed up like animals. You know any 4-10 year olds who would enjoy spending TUE evenings with the Adventurers?

Can Handbells Help Those With Kidney Disease?

More than 120 students from 13 Seventh-day Adventist Academies recently converged at the Toledo First church in Ohio for the ninth annual Ring Fest. Click pic to read the article coming out in the Visitor and to find out how many people in Northwest Ohio living with kidney disease will benefit as a result.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Spirit of Fear?

Have you ever noticed that many Christians are motivated by fear? Some say there's a 10,000 foot financial tidal wave coming [some believe it's already here]. Others say there will be a major shortage of food [some already know every 3 seconds a child dies of preventable hunger]. A few say there will be martial law and you could be killed if you get near a mob [my new friends from Kenya told me how they were frantically emailing their families back home trying to discover if they were dead or alive just a few months ago].

one email I received recently said, "Every leader in the world is frightened to death." So if the world's leaders are scared, shouldn't we be? I think not. Jesus told His followers, "Let NOT your heart be troubled." Why? Because "God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline" [2 Timothy 1:7].

Who knew the discipline Christians would need the most to survive a great depression would have nothing to do with canning corn or moving stocks but fixing our eyes on Jesus?!! He promises to give us a spirit of power and love not because of anything we have done, but because of His grace [2 Timothy 1:9]. Here, to help you live that grace by faith and not fear, are some reassuring Christian cartoons a friend sent me. Isn't Jesus attractive enough? Why can't He be what motivates us?

Legends of the [Fortune's] Fall 2008?

Josh loves the Redskins and Fall too.
Mike loves Jackie. Been happily married for nearly 12 years!!!
We enjoyed the Toledo First bonfire & hayride on Saturday nite. Josh and Lydia loved their Smores burnt and crispy. I like mine not on fire.
The kids love leaves.
This is Lydia's friend Netania.
Josh and Lydia went "Trunk or Treating" at a nearby church.
We took the kids to their first Go Fish concert.
I love these fall colors!!!
Many photos courtesy Jeff Batchelder.

Could Jesus Save a Vampire?

If they existed, I’m sure He could since Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save.” But for those who doubt, Anne Rice, America's most famous chronicler of bloodsuckers is reminding us. Her memoir, Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession, follows a trilogy of recent novels about Jesus called Christ the Lord which describe what she thinks it may have been like for Jesus growing up.

Though she includes obvious content from outside the Gospel accounts [there's a reason it's called fiction people!!!] such as the boy Jesus using His supernatural powers as a child described in the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas, these latest books clearly reveal that the 67 year old author of Interview with a Vampire is reinventing herself as a serious Christian writer.

“My objective is simple: It's to write books about our Lord living on Earth that make him real to people who don't believe in him; or people who have never really tried to believe in him,” she said. “I mean, I've made vampires believable to grown women. Now, if I can do that, I can make our Lord Jesus Christ believable to people who've never believed in him.” [Click pic to listen to Anne interviewed by Dr. James Dobson]. Aren't you glad Jesus could save vampires too?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Does Jesus Love Me Old School?

Isaiah 46:4 [NLT] says, "I will be your God throughout your lifetime—until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you." Yes, Jesus loves me old school. These additional lyrics to ye olde hymn prove it!!! LOL!!!

Jesus love me this I know / Tho my hair is white as snow / Tho my sight is growing dim / Still He bids me trust in Him / Tho my steps are oh so slow / With my hand in his I'll go / On thru life let come what may / He'll be there to lead the way

When the nights are dark and long / In my heart He puts a song / Telling me in words so clear / 'Have no fear for I am near' / When my work on earth is done / And life's vict'ries have been won / He will take me home above / To learn the fullness of His love / Yes, Jesus loves me / Yes, Jesus loves me / Yes, Jesus loves me / The Bible tells me so!!!

Just a Cup of Cold Water?

"Wow, there's a lot of people from Toledo First here today!!!" That's what the volunteer behind the registration table said to me after scanning the names on his list when we arrived early Sunday morning to serve during Tent City 2008. Pastor Rachel arranged for our participation and introduced us to some of her new friends. But perhaps our most valuable contribution was keeping all the trash cans empty!!! When we weren't breaking down boxes or hauling trash or flipping pancakes or sorting clothes, we were meeting new "unhoused" friends. Helping them find coats with hoods. Socks. Jeans that fit. Big thanks and WTG to all the TF volunteers who shared their time with some of the least of these in Toledo. Matthew 10:42 says, "And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded."

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Some Good News?

A snapshot of a sand sculpture of US president-elect Barack Obama by Sudarsan Patnaik on an Indian beach in Puri [courtesy AFP Photo] caught my attention yesterday. It reminded me that...

1. Words still matter. We may live in an MTV world full of graphics and image, but what we say still matters. And people around the world are still listening. This is good news for the church proclaiming the Gospel through the foolishness of preaching [1 Corinthians 1:21].

2. Hope trumps karma. The outcome of Tuesday's elections may have brought you great joy and hope for a new future. Or it may have brought you a sense of fear and trepidation. Or maybe you never cared either way and still don't. Whatever your response, God is still the one who gives us our endurance and our encouragement [Romans 15:4-6]. Hope trumps karma. This is good news for the world.