Thursday, December 08, 2011

Love Muggers Like Crazy?

Julio Diaz has a daily routine. Every night, the 31-year-old social worker ends his hour-long subway commute to the Bronx one stop early, just so he can eat at his favorite diner. But one night, as Diaz stepped off the No. 6 train and onto a nearly empty platform, his evening took an unexpected turn. He was walking toward the stairs when a teenage boy approached and pulled out a knife. "He wants my money, so I just gave him my wallet and told him, 'Here you go,'" Diaz says. As the teen began to walk away, Diaz told him, "Hey, wait a minute. You forgot something. If you're going to be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm."

The would-be robber looked at his would-be victim, "like what's going on here?" Diaz says. "He asked me, 'Why are you doing this?'" Diaz replied: "If you're willing to risk your freedom for a few dollars, then I guess you must really need the money. I mean, all I wanted to do was get dinner and if you really want to join me ... hey, you're more than welcome. "You know, I just felt maybe he really needs help," Diaz says. Diaz says he and the teen went into the diner and sat in a booth. "The manager comes by, the dishwashers come by, the waiters come by to say hi," Diaz says. "The kid was like, 'You know everybody here. Do you own this place?'" "No, I just eat here a lot," Diaz says he told the teen. "He says, 'But you're even nice to the dishwasher.'" Diaz replied, "Well, haven't you been taught you should be nice to everybody?" "Yea, but I didn't think people actually behaved that way," the teen said. Diaz asked him what he wanted out of life. "He just had almost a sad face," Diaz says. The teen couldn't answer Diaz — or he didn't want to.

When the bill arrived, Diaz told the teen, "Look, I guess you're going to have to pay for this bill 'cause you have my money and I can't pay for this. So if you give me my wallet back, I'll gladly treat you." The teen "didn't even think about it" and returned the wallet, Diaz says. "I gave him $20 ... I figure maybe it'll help him. I don't know." Diaz says he asked for something in return — the teen's knife — "and he gave it to me." Afterward, when Diaz told his mother what happened, she said, "You're the type of kid that if someone asked you for the time, you gave them your watch." "I figure, you know, if you treat people right, you can only hope that they treat you right. It's as simple as it gets in this complicated world." Produced for Morning Edition by Michael Garofalo March 28, 2008. Click here to listen to his story.
Photo courtesy StoryCorps

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Merry Christmas Card Quiz 2011?

1. Which actually happened?
A. Both Joshua and Lydia both went to summer camp for the first time alone
B. Joshua brushed his teeth every day
C. Joshua rode his Ripstik down a huge hill and didn’t break anything
D. Both A and C

2. What did Mike’s church do this year to show people that God loves them like crazy?
A. Raised money for The Daughter Project helping victims of sexual trafficking in NW Ohio
B. Hosted Valentines for Haiti concert benefiting earthquake victims
C. Nothing
D. Both A and B

3. What did Mike do in 2011?
A. Talked about social media at a Media Summit in California for pastors
B. Prayed for two hours with thousands of people @ Brooklyn Tabernacle in NYC
C. Helped a team of pastors organize a week long Camp Meeting in Ohio
D. All of the above

4. What does Jackie like about her family?
A. That the kids are old enough to help out around the house
B. That the kids are growing up
C. That Barkley never grows up
D. Both A and C
5. What was Joshua and Lydia’s favorite movie?
A. Earthlings
B. Call + Response
C. The Conscientious Objector
D. Despicable Me

6. Joshua [age 12] loves:
A. Hexbugs
B. Guitar Lessons
C. K12 Home School
D. All of the above

7. Lydia [age 9½] loves:
A. Gymnastics class
B. Kids choir @ church
C. Morning worship @ breakfast table with dad
D. All of the above

8. Jackie...
A. Dabbled in working full time for six months
B. Could NOT believe Mike learned to cook this year
C. Loves bargain hunting with Lydia
D. All of the above

9. Mike’s favorite books read include:
A. All Is Grace by Brennan Manning
B. Leadership Is Dead by Jeremie Kubicek
D. All of the above

10. What else did Mike’s church do?
A. Hosted a Reading Revelation book club
B. Streams online and archives all of their services
C. Picnicked with Purpose giving away Lemonade in the summer and hot Apple Cider in the fall
D. All of the above

➘ Answers: They're all D!!!
>7 Fortunate—Bam!!!
>5 Unfortunate—Serenity now!!!
>3 A misfortune—You’re fired!!!

Please keep in contact!!!
facebook: mike4tune
iTunes: Toledo First
twitter: @mike4tune

How Hungry?

How hungry are we for the Advent or coming of God and His word? The Kimyal Tribe live in the Eastern Highlands of West Papua, Indonesia are VERY hungry!!! They are sustenance farmers who were untouched by the outside world until missionaries Phil & Phyliss Masters brought the Gospel to their area in 1963. Phil Masters was martyred in 1968 when he and fellow missionary Stan Dale were killed and cannibalized by the Yale tribe (click here for more info). But the missionaries that came after have been witnesses to the Kimyals' love and desire for the Word of God.

It reminded me of some verses in Isaiah 40 which says, "Listen! It's the voice of someone shouting, 'Clear the way through the wilderness for the LORD! The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.' Shout, and do not be afraid. Tell the towns of Judah, 'Your God is coming!' He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young." Enjoy!!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

In Her Shoes?

Isaiah 9:6 says, "Unto us a child is born..." And because Jesus came and lived and died, that makes every child precious. Especially the millions of women and girls being trafficked as slaves in the sex industry around the world. That's why every week in December, at Toledo First Church we're collecting a second offering to benefit The Daughter Project (click here for more info) which is a local non-profit organization dedicated to helping girls recover from the trauma of human sex trafficking and preventing the trafficking of girls in Toledo. They believe God is outraged not only by those who enslave others but also by those who are able but unwilling to help the victims. Will you join us in helping them? What would happen if we gave these children as much for Christmas as we are spending on our our own? Watch this sobering video below if you're not sure yet.

Unto This Child As Well?

Did you know that according to the United Nations, 25 million people are being trafficked today? It is the 2nd most profitable activity in the world for organized crime. The FBI says 15k people are trafficked into the USA every year. Nearly 2k of our own Ohio youth are enslaved by sex traffickers last year making Toledo, Ohio number one per capita and number four nationwide for sex trafficking!!!

To combat this evil, we're going to have guest speakers adding to my Advent remarks each week. Rep.Teresa Fedor will be here next from Columbus. She's a politician using her voice and influence to stop trafficking. Sister Sandy from S.T.O.P. will be next followed by Jeff Wilbarger from The Daughter Project (click here for more info) the third week. Though we are still behind in our 2011 local church budget needs, we will unashamedly be collecting an additional offering each week to help this organization help more children. Their goal is to build and operate a recovery home for adolescent girls who have been rescued by law enforcement agents.

100% of monies payable to Toledo First marked The Daughter Project on the memo line will be donated (click here for mailing address). Thanks for considering spending AS MUCH on these kids this Christmas as you do on your own kids or grandkids. Below is thought provoking music video. Selah!!!

What's Love Look Like in Public?

"Never forget justice is what love looks like in public" - Cornell West.

A Song About Child Trafficking?

This song isn't originally about the trafficking of children. But the slide show is. Selah (which mean pause and calmly think about)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Is A Better Day Coming?

Love this vid from ShareFaith. Enjoy!!!

Psalm 100?

Acknowledge that the LORD is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people. Enter his gates with thanksgiving. Go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. - Psalm 100:3-4 (NLT) Graphics from ShareFaith. Get your own subscription here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Giving Thanks and Trusting Jesus?

I hope YOU can join me this Saturday, November 26, @ Toledo First Church @ 11am (click here for map and directions or go to to watch online) for a very special service based on giving thanks and trusting in Jesus. This service will be participatory and involve many prayers, testimonies and songs of faith and trust. Specifically, we will be praying for Jim and Anna, Emmett and Eniko, Burg and Lu and others who are facing life-defining challenges.

But it won't be the same without you!!! So as Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT) says, "6Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."

Please help me spread the word by inviting your friends and family since what they experience may help them think about prayers of request, prayers in general, and our trust in Jesus in new ways. May you and your families experience an abundant measure of joy and peace and renewed faith and trust in Jesus this holiday season!!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Must War Heroes Carry Guns?

Desmond T. Doss didn't think so. The Conscientious Objector is a multiple award-winning documentary which tells the incredible true story of a World War II hero who never once touched a firearm. It is an inspiring and life-affirming account of a peaceful man whose religious beliefs spurred him to renounce all weapons and, in the process, allowed for him to save countless lives as a medic on the front lines. Eventually, his heroism led to being a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor.

YOU are invited to our first installment of Film Fest Saturday night November 19 @ 7pm. Click here for a map and directions. Feel free to bring some popcorn, chips, or drink to share and stay for the discussion afterward.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What Are You Missing?

On a cold January morning in 2007, at a Washington DC Metro Station, one of the greatest musicians in the world played six Bach pieces on a violin worth $3.5 million dollars for about an hour. One of the pieces he played is one of the most intricate pieces of music ever written (for more on this story, click here to read the Washington Post article).

While he played, approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule. About 4 minutes later, the violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk. At 6 minutes, a young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again. At 10 minutes, a 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent without exception forced their children to move on quickly. Bell collected a total of $32 for music he played, but two nights before he played the same set of music to a sold out crowd in Boston each paying about $100/ seat. After 1 hour, he finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all.

His incognito concert in DC was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities. This experiment raised several questions one of which must be: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made, how many other things are we missing as we rush through life?

Have You Seen Graceroots?

Graceroots Movement is an online community of believers who think that the church is more body than building. Like the apostle Paul in Acts 20:24 (NLT) who said, "My life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God", they believe there is no message more important or necessary in today’s world than grace. No “church clothes,” offering collection or evangelistic prophecy series here. Just GRACE. A grace that reminds us that we are free, important to the mission of Jesus Christ and empowered to continue to share the message with others through personal ministry and volunteerism.

This site is a source for personal articles and blog posts written by young adult authors and speakers, recorded sermons and services from young adult churches across America, music samples from quality Christian artists, video illustrations and messages on applicable topics. They also provide news updates on young adult ministries and service opportunities available across the nation. I'm delighted to periodically contribute content to this new venture. If you love Fortune Cookies, you'll love Graceroots!!! Help me spread the word. Check out Graceroots (click pic for more) and subscribe (by clicking here) today!!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Are Christians Crazy For Filtering the Internet?

Did you know 9 of 10 kids aged 8-16 have viewed pornography on the Internet, often in the process of doing homework? Did you know 70 percent of all 15-17 year-olds who have ever gone online have "accidentally stumbled" across pornography online and that 23 percent stumble upon it "very" or "somewhat" often? Did you know that 1 in 5 children ages 10-17 have received a sexual solicitation over the Internet? Houston, we have a problem!!! (click here for sources)

But thanks to the good folks at Blue Coat, adults have a very simple but incredibly powerful solution called K9 Web Protection (click pics for more info). When you have it turned on, it blocks any computer user from viewing Web sites that contain unwanted content from more than 60 different categories of content, including pornography, hate/racism/violence, gambling and malware/spyware. Blue Coat Systems has been very successful selling a version of this Web Protection software to 81% of the Fortune® Global 500 companies and other large corporations so their employees actually work at work.
But when they became successful, and were looking for ways to give back to the community, they realized the best thing they could do is simply offer a free version of their Web filtering service for home users. So they did. And it is AWESOME!!! 2,788,906 home users use it every day including me.

The reasons they are awesome (aside from being FREE!!!) is that K9 will run on any Windows or Mac computer no matter what Internet Service Provider delivers your Internet connection and also works with whatever Internet browser you choose (Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Explorer). It's commercial-grade filtering technology and central database doesn't have to be "trained" to teach it which kinds of Web sites you want to block. It starts working as soon as you sign up, download, and type in the password they email you.They also have free versions of their software available for most mobile devices (search K9 in the app store). I HIGHLY RECOMMEND K9 Web Protection for use on all your computers and mobile devices. Please use it and tell all your family and friends about Blue Coat and K9 Web Protection. It is the least we can do to thank an incredible company and protect our kids and even our own eyes from stuff we cannot "unsee." You'd be crazy not to!!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Who Will We Thank This Year?

For the past four years, around Thanksgiving, our church has taken time during worship to recognize the dedicated volunteers that work behind the scenes in our church (sometimes for years without being thanked!!!) for Jesus' sake. This year, on November 19, 2011 we will be hosting the 5th Annual Little Minnow Awards and we are again accepting your nominations in the church office. In previous years, categories we've thanked include long-time 50 year members and "pillars" of our church in addition to Sabbath School teachers and Deacons and most recently church treasurers.

Who will we thank God for this year? Plan to be in church November 19 to find out! And feel free to submit your Little Minnow Award nominations between now and November 12 to the church office. Romans 12:8-9 (NLT) says, "If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly."

Can The Best Pastors Be Women?

Pastor Rebekah Liu is a seminary student pursuing a Ph.D. in New Testament Studies specializing in the Book of Revelation at Andrews University. She was raised in a staunchly communist family and community but was converted at 17, baptized at 18, and at 19 began preaching and doing other pastoral ministry in house churches.

Since becoming Christians, she and her mother and brother have raised up 400 home churches that now has 10k members led by four pastors three of whom are women. She currently pastors the Chinese congregation at Andrews University and will be speaking in Dayton, Ohio on October 22 during Acts 2011 — a convocation of Ohio Adventists celebrating the 100 year anniversary of the book Acts of the Apostles.

I’m looking forward to attending this gathering and I’m hoping with enough notice, some of you will join me and come hear her story with me. She is living proof that women can become the best pastors and prophetic voices in the Adventist Church and our world today just like the prophet Joel predicted (cf. Joel 2:28-29). Go to to register by OCT 14 for the free meal provided or see Pastor Mike for car pooling info.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Reflecting and Remembering?

The 9/11 Pentagon Memorial is designed so that the nation may remember and reflect on the events that occurred on September 11, 2001.
Guided tours of the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial are not offered.
The memorial is meant to be experienced on a more personal level.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Skate or Die?

D.C. skateboarding legend Darren Harper overcame a life full of obstacles. He used skateboarding as a way to refocus his life, which had spiraled into drugs and crime. Click here to read the entire September 4, 2011 WaPo article by Dave Sheinin. Enjoy!!! (Video courtesy B.J. Koubaroulis and Dave Sheinin, Photos courtesy Eli Sinkus)

Think of Your Creator?

Theo Jansen lives in Holland and for over 20 years has been creating beach creatures made from PVC pipes that draw their energy from the wind. Doing so has given him a greater appreciation of our Creator when Jesus created all the real animals (cf. Hebrews 1:2). And it has helped him reflect on what he wants to leave as his legacy. Enjoy!!! Then ask yourself: What makes you think of your Creator? What will you leave behind that will help others think about Jesus?

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Blown Away?

Last week five year old Jane braved the winds and the rain falling from Hurricane Irene even in Doylestown, PA to record these adorable and simultaneously informative weather reports. They reminded me that Jesus said storms like these would increase in severity and frequency like a woman in labor (Matthew 24:8). Which for many of us in Irene's path is bad!

But Jesus also said in the same chapter (Matthew 24:14) that after that, the Gospel would go to the whole world and then the end would come. So as my friend Samir says, "If it's not good, it's not the end!" In the meantime, Jesus promises to sustain us throughout the storms of our lives. Hebrews 1:2,4 (NLT) says, "And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. He sustains everything by the mighty power of his command." Why? I think it's because He loves us like crazy, wants us to "take care”, and not be “blown away.” Thanks Jane!!!

Lover or Prostitute?

David Ryser in a brilliant one page article entitled "Lover or Prostitute?" (click pic and scroll to page 4 of PDF to read article in its entirety) recalls a quote from Sam Pascoe that goes something like this: "Christianity started in Palestine as a fellowship; it moved to Greece and became a philosophy; it moved to Italy and became an institution; it moved to Europe and became a culture; it came to America and became a business.” But isn't the church supposed to be a body (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:27)? And if a body becomes a business, isn't that a prostitute? What's the difference between a lover and a prostitute? They do many of the same things, but a lover does what she does because she loves. A prostitute pretends to love, but only as long as you pay.

What would happen if God stopped paying you? What would happen if He stopped blessing you? What if He never did another thing for you? Would you still love Him like crazy? Why do you serve Him? Are His blessings in your life the gifts of a loving Father, or are they a wage that you have earned or a bribe/payment to love Him? What's it going to be? Lover or prostitute? Click this vid below to see what the latter looks like in worship.

Epicenter of Creativity?

Hebrews 1:2 (NLT) tells us Jesus was in Genesis. "Through the Son He created the universe." So rightly understood, Jesus has always been the source of creativity. And long ago, His followers embraced creativity. Churches were epicenters of cultural and artistic creativity. Think about all the famous art in the middle centuries. Who commissioned and paid for its creation? The church! Who pioneered new technologies to get God’s word and subsequently all words into print? The Gutenberg Bible! And who made an award winning Doritos commercial for the Super Bowl? A pastor named Erwin McManus and a team of Christians in California (click pic to read all about it). Enjoy!!! And ask yourself, how can churches become epicenters of cultural and artistic creativity once again?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Modern Day Lydia?

A birthday safari in Africa changed Kim's life forever. She saw hundreds of little girls in old and tattered clothes. So, when she returned to her suburban Detroit home, even though she couldn't sew, she decided to sew 1,000 dresses for them!!! Her idea spread and just three years later a hundred thousand dresses poured in. Now like a modern day Lydia (Acts 16), preparing the finest purple clothes for royalty (and dresses of all other colors), she sends clothes all over the world for children of the King of Kings!!! Amen?!!

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

In The Key Of Genius?

Derek Paravicini, now in his late twenties, was born premature at 25 weeks and as a result of the oxygen therapy required to save his life, lost his sight. His development was affected too. It later became apparent that he had severe learning difficulties. However, he soon acquired a fascination for music and sound, and, by the age of four, had taught himself to play a large number of melodic and complex pieces on the piano. With no visual models to guide him, his technique was chaotic, and even his elbows would frequently be pressed into service, as he strove to reach intervals beyond the span of his tiny hands until serendipitously he received some training from a gifted piano teacher.

Derek's talent, love of music, and - above all - the ability to communicate through sound means he will continue to thrill audiences for years to come in the UK and abroad. Click the pics to read more about him on his website and in his new book In The Key Of Genius. When I watched the 2 minute clip below, it reminded me of the Beautiful Things lyrics from Gungor. Enjoy both short vids below!!!

Could all that is lost ever be found? / Could a garden come up from this ground? / All around hope is springing up / Out of chaos life is being found / You make beautiful things out of the dust / You make beautiful things out of us

Are Tatoos Taboo?

There's only one verse in the Bible that talks about tatoos (Leviticus 19:28). And most Christians think it does so negatively. But why don't the same folks say the same things about prohibiting hair cuts or facial hair? (which are the prohibitions of the verse right before). Take a look at this interesting 10 minute take on tatoos by Aussie believer Mark Brown. And click his tatoo pic for more. What if some tatoos are not taboo?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Crazier Next Year?

For the last few years, the Toledo First Church has hosted an annual car show. Regardless of weather, this ordinary outreach with really cool cars (click here to see some), fresh squeezed lemonade, and live 50's and 60's tunes has consistently delivered smiles galore and resulted in priceless friendships being developed in our community. Money from its proceeds were raised to comfort kids with cancer and even more was added to a fund to build a gymnasium for Toledo Junior Academy (a K-8 Christian elementary school) and James Meade Learning Center (an infant to preschool Christian daycare).

Though we will not be hosting a 2011 Car Show due to scheduling difficulties, plan for a 2012 return that's even bigger and better than ever. Stay tuned to for more info.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Porcelain Unicorn?

Philips and the renowned director/producer, Ridley Scott, recently launched a global filmmaker competition dubbed the: “Tell It Your Way” Film Making Contest. The entrants were given total freedom of expression but could only use six lines of dialogue and no more than three minutes of film. The grand prize winner was entitled The Porcelain Unicorn. Click the triangular play button below to see why it won!!!

Doesn't God Love Hetero and Homosexuals Like Crazy?

Tim Keller, author of The Prodigal God, thinks so. If you have 15 minutes to listen to his thought provoking interview from Columbia University, please do. His conclusions remind me of the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel's who said Sodom's sins had more to do with not loving like crazy than sexual promiscuity. Ezekiel 16:49, "Sodom's sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door. She was proud and committed detestable sins, so I wiped her out, as you have seen." Doesn't God love hetero and homosexuals like crazy?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Born Supremacy?

In the first century AD, Christians suffered insults and persecution but stood side by side with those imprisoned for their faith (Hebrews 10:32,34). But as time went by, they grew weary and drifted away (Hebrews 2:1) and began to neglect their faith (Hebrews 2:2). Sin's deceitfulness began to harden their hearts (Hebrews 3:13-16) and they failed to grow spiritually (Hebrews 5:11-14). They gradually quit gathering for church (Hebrews 10:25) and some may have even publicly renounced Jesus (cf. Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26-31; 12:15-17). Does anyone else recognize the similarities between those Christians back then and those today? No wonder the author of the book of Hebrews called the sermon he wrote a "work of exhortation" (Hebrews 13:22)!!!

Toledo First Church voted on what book of the Bible they wanted me to sermonize from next so our back-to-school sermon series, based on the New Testament book of Hebrews, is called The Born Supremacy. To many Christians, this book remains a mystery because its language of priests and sacrifices confuses them. But if we begin at the beginning and let the Word speak to us in its terms not ours, we can grasp its meaning. If the tired Christians in the first century who caught a glimpse of the supremacy of Jesus were renewed, revived, and invigorated after reading this letter about who Jesus is, what He accomplished on the cross, and what He is doing as our heavenly high priest, you can be too!!! Plan to bring a friend and join us Saturdays starting September 3 @ 11am!!! Click here for map and directions. You do NOT have to be a member of Toledo First Church to participate.

Monday, August 08, 2011

All Is Grace?

How do I know God loves us like crazy? Brennan told me. I'm SO glad I got to hear him live in Cleveland a few years ago. He had a serious fall recently,and is still alive but not able to speak much anymore. If you haven't read The Ragamuffin Gospel yet, you and your kids and your grandkids and pretty much everyone you care about should. I'm going to get his memoir All Is Grace (click below to read more about it). Acts 20:32 (NLT) says, "And now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself."

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Ten Years Later?

On September 11, 2001, New Yorkers witnessed their fellow Americans' inspirational potential for generosity and sacrifice as aid from across the nation flowed into the city. The documentary New York Says Thank You follows the participants of this landmark public service initiative as they commemorate the anniversary of 9/11 each year by rebuilding homes, hospitals, schools, and churches destroyed by disaster. In the process they share stories of survival and hope, and bring a patriotic message of gratitude and solidarity to survivors of tragedy nationwide. Remember!!!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Got A Big But?

The Veracity Project equips the Christian church to contend for the faith with high impact media. This is one of my faves. Enjoy!!!

Buy your own copy here:

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Shall We Shape Culture?

I am SO looking forward to hearing Gabe Lyons at the 7th Annual Conference on Innovation taking place in Columbus, Ohio OCT 2-4, 2011 (click above for more info). This 36 year old author of the 2007 book I previously reviewed and recommended on Fortune Cookies called unChristian has written another called The Next Christians (click vid below for a preview).

In it, Lyons stresses the activation of a network of "restorers who will work with anyone to see goodness go forward in the world and evil pressed back." These "next Christians," as Lyons calls them in the title of his 2010 book, "are socially conscious, grounded in their gospel commitment, and optimistic that when their faith is practiced according to the ways of Jesus, it is complementary to cultural reforms that value all human beings, all human flourishing, and all spiritual traditions." Read the entire recent USA Today article here. And don't forget, early bird $99 registration for the Conference on Innovation ends AUG 11, 2011 so if you want to go OCT 2-4 as part of my group, consider this your personal invitation and let me know before then!!! (You'll need to get there or carpool with me from Toledo and share/pay half the hotel room with someone else from our group but your registration fee will be covered. Shall we shape culture together? I hope so!!!

Summer Jobs?

Joshua (turning 12 in a few days) and Lydia (9 years old) have been working hard this summer. I'm SO proud of them!!! WTG!!!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Modern Wonder Woman?

Four years ago, Katie Davis was homecoming queen at her high school in Brentwood, Tennessee. She had a yellow convertible and planned to study nursing in college. But those plans changed. Today, she's in Uganda, sharing her home with 13 orphaned or abandoned girls, ages 2 to 15. Davis is the legal guardian or foster mother for all of them, and hopes to one day adopt them. She reminds me of a modern wonder woman, who like Esther in the Bible, decided to use her beauty and influence to live for God in such a time as this. Click the pics for more info about Katie. Click here to listen to her inspiring interview on NPR. And click here to watch / listen / read more about Esther. Photos courtesy of Stylianos Papardelas

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Will Christ Trump Country This Weekend?

This weekend, churches across the land will be focusing on country. This vid reminds us that rightly understood, Christ trumps country. Enjoy!!! (And BIG thank you and WTG to ShareFaith for making theologically powerful vids AND making them available for a 7 day free trial. Click the yellow link for more info and consider a ShareFaith video subscription for your church.)

An Interdependence Day Prayer?

Heavenly Father, You are the real foundation of nations, raising them up to serve and care for the people dwelling inside and outside their boundaries / Thank You for raising up a nation devoted to freedom and interdependence on You / Please bless this country with your Spirit so like Abraham and the followers You called before us, we can be a blessing to others

Help us not to squander our abundance on frivolity / May our strength always be on the side of justice / Help our leaders to be strong enough to seek peace and reject the myth of redemptive violence / May the great, strong hearts of our people be open to cheerful, and when necessary, sacrificial giving / Help our giving to benefit America but also the World / Especially the millions of women and children enslaved throughout it / More than at any time in earth's history / May all who seek citizenship be welcomed here / And may our legacy be one of enduring equality and liberty

We, the people, still believe there is hope for the least, the last, and the lost because once we were too, but now are found / On this Interdependence Day, and every day till we see Jesus face to face, may we the people continue to put our hope in You

- a personal prayer adapted from multiple scriptures and sources

Monday, June 27, 2011

Will You Picnic With Purpose?

Jesus did all the time. Matthew 14:15-21 says he did so with 5k plus people! We probably won't have that many at ours after church on July 16, but hopefully, we'll have a few hundred. Because in addition to our church members, who bring their friends and family who might never walk into a church but would walk into a park for a delicious meal, we will again be serving smiles and lots of fresh squeezed ice cold lemonade to all the walkers, joggers, and proud doggie owners walking by our picnic (plus doggie biscuits for the dogs!!!). Pastor Daniel is organizing a corn hole tournament and Donna will once again be taking on all challengers in ladder ball. Sabbath afternoon promises to be a delightful day full of good fellowship, games, and worship. Jesus always picnicked with purpose. Will you?

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Does Keenan Know God Loves Him Like Crazy?

Keenan Cahill is far from your average high-schooler. For one thing, he has overcome incredible adversity, suffering from a rare genetic disorder called Mucopolysaccaridosis (MPS-6) since birth. For another, at the young age of 15, Cahill has already achieved international superstardom from behind a webcam in his childhood bedroom no less by lip-syncing todays top 40 hits. It was his cover of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” that first threw Cahill into the spotlight earning 36 million views on YouTube and a legion of adoring fans including Katy Perry herself.

But it was Keenan's honesty about his condition that inspired a Chicago news team to ham it up in his bedroom helping him remind others that talent, no matter how much adversity its presented, can overcome all obstacles. I don't know if Keenan knows God loves him like crazy, but I'm sure He does!!! And I think God thinks it's pretty cool how one sick kid could inspire 36 million people without leaving his bedroom!!! WTG Keenan!!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Media Imperative?

Do followers of Jesus have a media imperative? Brian Solis from thinks so. He says 65% of the emerging "Millenial Generation" is disconnected from online stuff less than an hour a day! So if you want to reach them, that's where they are! And when we try, he says the acronym to keep in mind is not Keep It Simple Stupid. It's KISS = Keep it significant and shareable!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Obsessed With Church?

This vid reminds me of a quote from a book I'm reading right now. "This ecclesiocentric obsession means that primarily we mine both Scripture and culture for our own needs. We're so preoccupied with church questions that neither biblical narratives nor culture can become the places where God addresses us and challenges us to be converted" (Missional: Joining God in the Neighborhood, Baker Books, 2011) p.48. What do you think? Are Christians obsessed with church, money, and members? If we are, what can we do about it? What will you?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Godly Sacrifice?

Stories like this one about Francisco ‘Paco’ Rodriguez remind me that God loves us like crazy and has a plan for your life—even after sin and brokenness often threaten [and sometimes] take it. Save 17 minutes to watch this vid some time. It moved me.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Can Christians Change the World?

Mother Teresa said, "Small things done with great love change the world." James Hunter, author of To Change the World might say it this way: "Small things done by networks of individuals and their institutions faithfully partnering with others over time change the world."

This book isn't an easy read because the first half undermines the "small things." Remember the Chicken Soup for the Soul story about the little boy on a beach littered with stranded starfish that picks one up and tosses it back into the ocean? That one was saved, but Hunter's point in the first half of the book is the vast majority of the "starfish" left on the "beach" [my analogy not his] prove Christians haven't really changed most of it. And never will if we continue to think the world primarily changes simply by altruistic individuals in power whether they're liberal or conservative.

As much as I hate to admit it (because I detest self-serving institutions and the hierarchy that runs them), if Hunter is right, individuals in institutions willing to make sacrifices so others flourish can change the world (so maybe there's a place for some of them)! IF Christians change the way they think about and pursue change. That's the good news you eventually reach if you read the rest of this book. Click pics for more info.