Monday, December 31, 2012

You Got That Wright?

Jeffrey Wright uses wacky experiments to teach children about the universe, but it is his own personal story that teaches them that God still loves like crazy. This guy is my new hero. Enjoy!!!

Monday, December 24, 2012

New Fave Christmas Vid?

This is one my new fave Christmas vids. Enjoy!!!

O Little Town of Bethlehem?

I love this look through modern Bethlehem interviewing Palestinians and Israelite's about Jesus. Take 5 minutes to enjoy!!!

Monday, December 17, 2012

2012 Fortune Christmas Card Quiz?

1. Which actually happened?
A. Lydia spent 2 days in the hospital for abdominal pain but is okay
B. Josh became a teenager
C. The kids did their homework without complaining
D. Both A and B

2. What did Mike’s church do this year to show people that God loves them like crazy?
A. Hosted internet safety and free computer classes for the community
B. Hosted Valentines for Toledo concert benefiting the School for Autistic Learners
C. Helped raise $18k to combat human trafficking in NW Ohio
D. All of the above

3. What did Mike do in 2012?
A. Joined the Executive Committee for the TV show Faith for Today
B. Attended Biker Camp Meeting without a motorcycle
C. Helped Haven of Hope make-over the homes and lives of two families in NW Ohio
D. All of the above

4. Jackie...
A. Loves her new job as a gastrointestinal nurse in the hospital
B. Saw Matthew West and Casting Crowns in concert
C. Got in a low speed fender-bender but is okay
D. All of the above

5. What was Joshua and Lydia’s favorite movie?
A. Brave
B. Wreck-It-Ralph
C. Dolphin Tale
D. All of the above

6. Joshua [age 13] loves:
A. Playing Minecraft on the computer
B. Reading the Owls of Ga’Hoole
C. 7th grade @ Toledo Junior Academy
D. All of the above

7. Lydia [age 10½] loves:
A. Sleeping with her nearly 1 year old black and white toy poodle Bianca (Barkley still sleeps with Josh)
B. Gymnastics at the Y
C. Her new braces
D. Both A and B

8. Mike & Jackie...
A. Made the kids wear our class jackets to our high school reunion
B. Took the kids camping in our new pop up
C. Took the kids to a Pathfinder Camporee
D. All of the above

9. Mike’s favorite books read include:
A. You Lost Me by David Kinnaman
B. Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus by Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg
C. Smart Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey and Greg Link
D. All of the above

10. What else did Mike’s church do?
A. Taught What Oliver Eats classes on health and wellness
B. Hosted a Kidz Crazy Car & Truck Show
C. Raised $1k for Hurricane Sandy Relief
D. All of the above

> 7 Fortunate—WTG!!!
> 5 Unfortunate—There’s no condemnation for those in Christ (Romans 8:1)
> 3 A misfortune—Better luck next year!

This Christmas Card is also available in color with pictures and links @

➘  Please keep in contact!!!

facebook: mike4tune
iTunes: Toledo First
twitter: @mike4tune

➘ Answers: They're all D!!!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Jesus Wept?

Our Heavenly Father, this morning our hearts are broken. As is yours. Once more, evil appears to triumph. And once more, lives have been lost. When Jesus was born, yes, the angels sang. And the shepherds rejoiced. But today we also remember that Matthew 2:18 says a voice was heard in Ramah weeping and mourning for her children and refusing to be comforted. Because when Jesus was born, children died when a mentally unstable man ordered their deaths in Bethlehem.

And again this week, when we should be singing and rejoicing about the birth of Jesus, instead we are mourning because adults and children died when another mentally unstable man killed kids in school. How long O Lord can we take this? How long O Lord can you? We know Scripture says in Ezekiel 33:11 that you take no delight in the death of the wicked, so we know you take no delight in the death of the innocent. But God, sometimes, all we can do cry.

So Emmanuel, come and comfort your people like you promised you would. Remind us that Jesus got angry at evil too. That you’re weeping with us. And that when we are weak, by God’s grace, we can be strong. In Jesus name, Amen.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Kept Right?

Recently, I reminded some children in a daycare that when Jesus was born, the wise men gave Him three gifts (Matthew 2:11). So I asked them if three Christmas gifts were enough for Jesus, would three Christmas gifts be enough for them as well. Surprisingly, most of them said yes! One said "no". So I asked how many would be enough, and he said 500! (I think he knew what I was going to say next). Christmas is about Jesus' birthday not yours. What if we taught our children this? And used any additional monies we've previously spent on ourselves at Christmas and donated it to a local non-profit organizations? Some of the faves I support include The Daughter Project (combating human trafficking in Toledo), The Eden Garden Orphanage (currently serving 37 orphans in Haiti), and Haven of Hope Toledo (making-over the homes and lives of people in NW Ohio one family at a time). If we did, years from now, would our children remember the Christ of Christmas more easily as adults? Would they become less materialistic? Would they learn to hold more loosely the things of this earth since their real home is in heaven? I hope so. Because Jesus has a wish list too. And one of them is to allow Him to be formed in each us including our children. Christmas kept right can help us do this.

The Serious Shepherd?

One of the most popular images of Jesus is as the "good shepherd" (cf. Psalm 23:1-3; John 10:14-15). And while that metaphor of a good shepherd carrying his lambs and gently leading the others to still waters certainly conveys the love God has for us, the "serious shepherd" should convey the same the thing. Because shepherd imagery was often used of kings. King Cyrus of Persia is called a shepherd in Isaiah 44:28. King David too in Psalm 78:71-72. Even the uninterested counselors of King Herod told him after their encounter with the wise men before Jesus was born that they should be looking for a serious shepherd king of Israel. In Matthew 2:6 they quoted Micah 5:2 saying, "Out of you [Bethlehem] will come a ruler who be the shepherd of my people."

Jesus readily embraced the serious shepherd role as well in Matthew 25:31-32 when he said, "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats." Which probabaly sounded to some an awful lot like what Ezekiel 34:17 said hundreds of years earlier. "And as for you, my flock, this is what the Sovereign LORD says to his people: I will judge between one animal of the flock and another, separating the sheep from the goats."

As we near Christmas, and remember that Jesus came the first time to lead us like a good shepherd, it would be wise of us to remember that one day soon He will be returning as our serious shepherd. To finish what He started. And reward those who have been his good and faithful servants. Isaiah 40:10 says it this way, "Yes, the Sovereign LORD is coming in power. He will rule with a powerful arm. See, he brings his reward with him as he comes. 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." Aren't you glad Jesus is a good but serious shepherd?

For more info on Jesus as shepherd, see the book Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus p.46

The Future of Education?

This 10 min video suggests that in the year 2020, most colleges and universities could no longer exist. Tuition becomes obsolete. And degrees irrelevant. Even if the dates and details are wrong, this is the direction education is going. How will we adjust?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Angus' New Lane?

Angus T. Jones has been playing Jake Harper on the hit CBS sitcom Two-and-a-Half Men since he was 8 years old. During that time, he has literally grown up on stage. And while too many other actors to count with similar backgrounds have self-destructed due to fame and fortune, Jones has not. One reason he hasn't is because throughout this time, his parents sent him to Christian schools where he learned more and more about Jesus in every class. As he grew, this good foundation helped him avoid the pitfalls of sexual promiscuity (he admits he is still a virgin) and alcohol (though he admits to struggling with other drugs while dealing with his parents divorce).

But another reason he is doing so well, especially recently, is because he started attending the Valley Crossroads Adventist Church in Pacoima, CA - the "Friendliest Church in the San Fernando Valley." In it, Jones was welcomed. And felt the presence of God speaking to him through the Bible (one of his fave memory verses at the moment is Romans 11:33-35) and through the pastor and through the people. Months later, but prior to his high school graduation in June 2012, he was baptized and officially joined the Adventist Church. Where he now spends his time on Saturdays worshiping God while returning on Monday and Thursday evenings learning how to give Bible studies and share his suddenly meaningful relationship with Jesus.

On October 8, 2012, his 19th birthday, he visited the Adventist Media Center in Simi Valley, CA and videotaped his testimony. Where in it he gives all the glory to God and like the sprinter Michael Johnson, promises to "stay in my lane" as he fulfills his final contract year on Two-and-a-Half Men. Click here to watch the entire 30 minute interview here. Click here to listen to a 15 minute audio segment also recorded in the Adventist Media Center (the pic above is not a video). Click here to read a Christianity Today online interview. Click here to read a piece on Jones' mentor. Click here to read a disclaimer re:Jones' mentor. And click here to read an insightful commentary on how ironic it is that the media prefer Charlie Sheen's antics to Angus' faith.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Valentines for Toledo?

Please save the date FEB 16 @ 7pm for the FREE Valentines for Toledo benefit concert. This year, the intermission LOVE offering will benefit Haven of Hope Toledo, Inc - a nonprofit organization determined to makeover the homes and often the lives of the neediest "least of these" in NW Ohio.

Scott Michael Bennett will be our musical guest. He is an Adventist Christian young man with a great story and even better voice. He sounds sort of like Josh Groban but unlike Groban, gives all the glory to God!!!

Your friends, family, and neighbors will fall in love with his music. Take a listen below.

Die Singing?

The history books make little mention of this priest and scholar who lived 100 years before Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. Yet, John Hus was convinced and taught openly that the Bible should be presented in the language of the people, that salvation comes by faith in Jesus, and the Word of God is the final authority. He died singing on July 6, 1415. Bring your family and friends to Connections Prayer Service on JAN 12 @ 5pm but plan to stay for Film Fest @ 7pm as we watch then discuss this brave man's life. Free hot drinks and snacks available.  You do NOT have to be a member of Toledo First Church to participate.

Star of Film Fest?

DYK that Satan / Lucifer, Jesus, and John Wycliffe are called The Morning Star? The first reference to the morning star as an individual is in Isaiah 14:12: “How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!” (NIV). The KJV and NKJV both translate “morning star” as “Lucifer, son of the morning.” It is clear from the rest of the passage that Isaiah is referring to Satan’s fall from heaven. Jesus Himself confirms this explanation in Luke 10:18. So in this case, the morning star refers to Satan.

But in Revelation 22:16, Jesus unmistakably identifies Himself as the Morning Star. As does 2 Peter 1:19 and Revelation 2:28. Why was Jesus also identified this way? I believe it's because Jesus is the fulfillment of Numbers 24:17 where it was prophesied that "a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel." Jesus was that star! 2 Peter 1:9 adds, "We have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the Morning Star rises in your hearts."

Because of his loyalty to the Word summarized by sola Scriptura and his insistence on justification by grace alone, John Wycliffe prefigured a couple hundred years earlier than Luther the great Protestant Christians Reformation principles. And in doing so, this "morning star of the Protestant Reformation" pointed people to the Bible which as Peter revealed, also points people to THE Morning Star, the TRUE light of the world, Jesus (John 1:9). Bring a friend to Connections Prayer Service on DEC 8 @ 5pm and stay for Film Fest @ 7pm to learn more about this brave follower of Jesus. Free hot drinks and snacks and discussion afterward available.  You do NOT have to be a member of Toledo First Church to participate.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Give Thanks?

A GREAT Thanksgiving prayer (by Cindi McMenamin). Enjoy!!!

Thank you, God, for this food we are about to eat. And thank You for Your many blessings on us this past year...the ones we've seen, as well as the ones we haven't seen.

Thank you, God for the times You have said "no." They have helped us depend on You so much more.

Thank you, God, for unanswered prayer. It reminds us that You know wha

t's best for us, even when our opinion differs.

Thank You for the things you have withheld. You have protected us from what we may never realize.

Thank You, God, for the doors You have closed. They have prevented us from going where You would rather not have us go.

Thank you, Lord, for the physical pain You've allowed in our lives. It has helped us more closely relate to Your sufferings on our behalf.

Thank you, Lord, for the alone times in our lives. Those times have forced us to lean in closer to You.

Thank you, God, for the uncertainties we've experienced. They have deepened our trust in You.

Thank You, Lord, for the times You came through for us when we didn't even know we needed a rescue.

Thank You, Lord, for the losses we have experienced. They have been a reminder that You are our greatest gain.

Thank You, God, for the tears we have shed. They have kept our hearts soft and moldable.

Thank You, God, for the times we haven't been able to control our circumstances. They have reminded us that You are sovereign and on the throne.

Thank You, God, for Your ability to take what we consider 'tragedy' and turn it into a treasure.

Thank You, God, for those You have allowed to pass from us. Their absence from this earth reminds us to keep our eyes fixed on heaven.

Thank You, God, that we have an inheritance in the heavenly places...something that this world can never steal from us and we could never selfishly squander.

Thank You, God, for the greatest gift You could ever give us: forgiveness through Your perfect Son's death on the cross on our behalf.

Thank you, God, for the righteousness You credited toward us, through the death and resurrection of Jesus. It's a righteousness we could never attain to on our own.

And thank You not only for our eternal salvation, but for the salvation You afford us every day of our lives as You save us from ourselves, our foolishness, our own limited insights, and our frailties in light of Your power and strength.

Thank You, God, for all that You have allowed and not allowed in our lives this past year. For we commit our lives anew to You this day and ask that You would continue to remind us, throughout this next year, that You are God, You are on the throne, and You are eternally good.

Thank You, finally, that we can pray in the name of Jesus, who made our access to You—and a personal relationship with You—possible. Amen.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Adrenaline Rush?

The 1954 British Empire games, held in Vancouver, British Columbia, provide remarkable illustration of Hebrews 12:1-2. The mile race that was held there is considered to be one of the greatest races—perhaps the greatest race—of all time. It pitted the two fastest men in the world over one mile—Roger Bannister and John Landy.

Following his usual approach, Landy started fast. Unlike most runners, Landy's method was to move to the head of the pack early and by the sheer power of his physique outlast the other runners, who would reserve strength for a final thrust at the tape. The race was clearly between Bannister and Landy. Soon the other runners were dropping back, leaving Landy out front, with Bannister well behind him. At the end of each quarter mile, the times were announced, and with each declaration, the stands rocked. Landy and Bannister were setting a blazing pace, one that would surely set a new world record. But who would get to the tape first?

So the runners came to the final lap, the final quarter mile. Landy was in front, ahead of Bannister, as he had been throughout the race. Ahead of him stretched the tape, looming closer and closer. Somewhere behind him was Bannister. And then a deafening roar arose in the stands. Landy knew what it meant: Bannister was making his last desperate effort to catch Landy! The tape at the finishing line was getting closer and closer and the roar from the crowd louder and louder. Landy knew that Bannister in his last great effort was catching up. But where was he? Just before the tape, Landy turned his head to he could see just where Bannister was. And Bannister, seizing the psychological moment, threw himself past Landy on the other side and just beat him to the tape! A statue in Vancouver memorializes the moment. It shows one runner touching the tape while the other, just a tad behind him, turns his head (source: William Johnson, The Abundant Life Bible Amplifer: Hebrews).

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT) says, "Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame." Verse 3 in The Message says, "When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!"

Response of the Century?

News outlets called it Frankenstorm and The Storm of the Century (though it has some stiff competition). And indeed, the damage from Hurricane Sandy has been catastrophic to New York, New Jersey and even parts of West Virginia. Hundreds of miles away residents along the shores of Lake Erie were experiencing shoreline flooding.

In response, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America pulled $500k from their reserves and with additional monies collected NOV 10 from a special offering from local conferences and churches across America, the contribution to Adventist Community Services (ACS) will exceed $1 million. During December in Toledo First Church, we'll be collecting an additional offering each week for further ACS Sandy Relief.

And while that's not insignificant, it's about the same as the amounts much larger companies like Apple, Coach, Disney, FedEx, Gap, JPMorgan Chase, and others contributed to the Red Cross which has helped them raise over $131 million so far in Sandy relief. But, it's significantly less than the monies other nonprofit organizations raising money for relief efforts have received. The Salvation Army has received more than $5 million in donations made online, by phone and by mail. Feeding America has brought in $1.2 million in financial contributions and 150 truckloads of food, which it said will go to food banks in impacted areas. Donations for Sandy are still well behind the funds raised during international disasters like the earthquake and tsunami that rocked Japan last year and the earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010. During the entire recovery periods for those events, the Red Cross raised a total of about $302 million for Japan, and $475 million for Haiti.

So far, the "storm of the century" has not motivated the "response of the century" either by the church or by secular companies. Which got me thinking: Is there an amount those affected would recognize from a church / business / NGO as indicative of "a response of the century"? And if so, how much would it be? Would such an amount help people remember the givers a year later when they get an invitation to some public evangelistic meetings taking place in NYC in 2013? Guess we'll see.

Social Media?

DYK that over 50% of the world's population is under 30 years old? And that social media has become the #1 activity online even though most of it isn't even allowed in China - currently the most populated country in the world? DYK that only 69% of parents are "friends" with their children online? And that 93% of businesses use social media for marketing because 90% of people trust peer recommendations while only 14% of people trust Madison Avenue? DYK that only 39% of churches use social media and of those churches who do, only 30% use Twitter? (these last two stats come from Buzzplant Pulse, How Churches and Their Members Use Social Media, Franklin, TN: Buzzplant, July 2010, p.6 not the video below). How can you help?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Accountability Questions?

John Wesley died on March 2, 1791 in his eighty-seventh year. As he lay dying, his friends gathered around him. Wesley grasped their hands and said repeatedly, "Farewell, farewell." At the end, he said "The best of all is, God is with us." He lifted his arms and raised his feeble voice again, repeating the words, "The best of all is, God is with us."

A pastor friend recently shared with me some questions he learned the late great John Wesley asked of those in his small groups. Is there a place for these kinds of questions in the small groups you frequent? Are you the kind of friend who would sit with someone dying just to be there with them? How can we help others know that "best of all, God is with us?"

1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I am? In other words, am I a hypocrite? 2. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate? 3. Do I confidentially pass onto another, what was told me in confidence? 4. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work, or habits? 5. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying? 6. Did the Bible live in me today? 7. Do I give it time to speak to me everyday? 8. Am I enjoying prayer? 9. When did I last speak to someone about my faith? 10. Do I pray about the money I spend? 11. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time? 12. Do I disobey God in anything? 13. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy? 14. Am I defeated in any part of my life? 15. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful? 16. How do I spend my spare time? 17. Am I proud? 18. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisee who despised the publican? 19. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I going to do about it? 20. Do I grumble and complain constantly? 21. Is Christ real to me?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Grace Abounds More?

I LOVE this website with its sweet T's and hoodies. I'm also including a couple thought provoking graphics for you to archive / share / post elsewhere this election season. Enjoy!!!

Can Christians Communicate?

Whether we're posting online, talking face to face, or considering which emails to forward, here are a few Scriptural principles to consider. Can you imagine if Presidential candidates followed these rules as well?

I will express myself with civility, courtesy, and respect especially toward those with whom I disagree, even if I feel disrespected by them (Romans 12:17-21).

I will express my disagreements with others without insulting, mocking, or slandering them personally (Matthew 5:22).

I will not exaggerate others' beliefs nor make unfounded prejudicial assumptions based on labels, categories, or stereotypes. I will always extend the benefit of the doubt (Ephesians 4:29).

I will hold friends accountable that violate these principles based not on what ideas are expressed but on how they're expressed (2 Thessalonians 3:13-15).

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Two Good Kids?

I love my kids like crazy. Kinda like how God loves you. Here's a few pics why.
Here they're wearing our class jackets during our high school reunion where Jackie and I were voted most likely to get married. Check.

Can Christians Filter?

I'm not annoyed when friends post political stuff on Facebook. It is SOCIAL media after all. Real friends should be able to discuss anything. I just wish more of them would help us filter the political discussions through the teachings of Jesus. Here, prior to the presidential election, is one guy trying to do so. At the very bottom, there's a link to another.

Values of a Public Faith: A Contribution to a Conversation, by Miroslav Volf

by Miroslav Volf on Tuesday, October 16, 2012 at 6:26am ·

In this year of presidential elections, I decided to summarize key values that guide me as I make the decision for whom to cast my vote. It takes knowing three basic things to choose a candidate for public office responsibly:
  1. values we hope the candidate will stand for and the order of priority among them (which requires of us knowledge of faith as a whole, rather than just a few favorite topics, and how it applies to contemporary life);
  2. ways in which and means by which these values are best implemented in any given situation (which requires of us a great deal of knowledge about how the world actually functions and what policies lead to what outcomes—for instance, whether it would be economically a wise decision to try to reintroduce the gold standard);
  3. capacity—ability and determination—to contribute to the implementation of these values (which requires of us knowledge of the track record of the candidate).
Most important are the values. As I identified each value, I (1) named the basic content of the value, (2) give a basic rationale for holding it, (3) suggest some parameters of legitimate debate about it, and (4) identify a key question for the candidate.
I write as a Christian theologian, from the perspective of my own understanding of the Christian faith. Whole books have been written on each of them, explicating and adjudicating complex debates. In giving a rationale for a given value, I only take one or two verses from the Bible to back up my position, more to flag the direction in which a rationale would need to go than, in fact, to strictly offer such a rationale.

0. Christ as the Measure all Values
Value: The ultimate allegiance of a Christian is to Jesus Christ, the creative Word (become flesh), which enlightens everyone, and the redeeming Lamb of God, which bears the sin of the whole world. A Christian ought not embrace any practice, no matter how prudent it may seem from the standpoint of national security or national competitive advantage, which conflicts with her or his allegiance to Christ.
Rationale: “Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:11)
Debate: For Christians, the debate should not be whether one’s allegiance to Christ trumps one’s allegiance to the nation. The debate should be what key values for national life follow from their allegiance to Jesus Christ and what the proper relation is between the universal claims of Christ and the particular claims of the nation.
Question to Ask: To what extent is the candidate merely seeking to serve the “goddess nation” and to what extent is what he stands for compatible with the Christian conviction that Christ is the key to human flourishing?

1. Freedom of Religion (and Irreligion) 
Value: All people are responsible for their own life, and they have the right to embrace a faith or a way of life they deem meaningful and abandon the one with which they no longer identify without suffering discrimination.
Rationale: “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). "When many of his disciples heard it, they said, ‘This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?’... Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away?’” (John 6:60, 66-67).
Debate: The debatable issue should not be whether people should be free to choose and exercise their religion (or irreligion) without discrimination; that’s a given. Public debate should be about which way of life, including its public dimensions or implications, is more salutary, and whether there are ways of life so inimical to human flourishing and common life that their exclusion doesn’t represent an act of discrimination but is a condition of humane social life. We should also debate the moral foundation of a state that is “neutral” with regard to distinct faiths and secular interpretations of life as well as the precise nature of political arrangements required to keep the state “neutral.”
Questions To Ask: Does the candidate respect the right of all—Christians and Muslims, fundamentalists and secularists, conservatives and progressives, to name a few groups often at odds with one another—to take personal responsibility for their lives and to lead them as they see fit? Does the candidate think of America as a Christian nation (so that, in one way or another, all others have to fit into a Christian mould) or as a pluralistic nation (in which a way of life is not imposed on anyone without their endorsement)?

2. Education 
Value: It is important for all citizens to understand the world in which they live, to learn to reflect critically on what makes life worth living, and to acquire qualifications for jobs which increasingly require complex skills. We should strive for excellent and affordable education for all citizens.
Rationale: “Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth’” (Genesis 1:26). "To you, O people, I call, and my cry is to all that live. O simple ones, learn prudence; acquire intelligence, you who lack it. … Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold; for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her" (Proverbs 8:4-5, 10-11).
Debate: The debate should be about what families and government must do to improve the educational system, what exactly improvements in education look like, and what proportion of the budget should be allotted for educational purposes (as compared to, for instance, defense). The debate should not be about whether we should have an educational system that is both excellent and affordable for all.
Question to Ask: What will the candidate do to ensure that all citizens—the poor no less than the wealthy—are taught to make intelligent judgments about what makes life worth living, acquire skills necessary for functioning in modern societies, and have an adequate understanding of the world?

3. Economic Growth
Value: Economic growth is not a value in its own right because increasing wealth and money are not values in their own right. They are means—indispensible means, but only means—to human flourishing, which consists more in righteousness than in possessions.
Rationale: “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. … But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:24, 33).
Debate: We can abandon the old debate about whether efficient wealth creation or just wealth distribution is more important; both are important, for we cannot distribute what we don’t have and we should not possess what is given to us to pass on to others. Instead, we should debate about what are morally irresponsible (wall-street gambling!), inhumane (child labor!), and unsustainable (deforestation!) ways of creating wealth and how to create wealth in humanly and ecologically sustainable ways; what kind of wealth contributes to human flourishing; how to make wealth serve us instead of us serving wealth.
Question to Ask: Which candidate is reminding us that we diminish ourselves when we turn into money-making and consumption obsessed creatures and that we flourish when we pursue truth, goodness, and beauty, that we are truly ourselves when we reach to others in solidarity and enjoy one another in love?

4. Work and Employment
Value: Every person should have meaningful and, if employed for pay, adequately remunerated work. All able citizens should work to take care of their needs and to contribute to the wellbeing of others and the planet.
Rationale: “Anyone unwilling to work should not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). The prophet Isaiah envisions a time when all God’s people “shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit” (Isaiah 65:21). Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
Debate: The debate should be about what are the required economic, cultural, and political conditions for people to have meaningful work, and who is mainly responsible to create and maintain these conditions. How can we best fight unemployment and underemployment? Given the present state of economy and future economic developments, how can we stimulate the creation of jobs that pay adequate wages?
Questions to Ask: What policies does the candidate propose to help encourage meaningful employment and adequate pay for all people? What will the candidate do to encourage people to work not just for personal gain but for the common good?

5. Debt
Value: As individuals and as a nation, we should live within our means and not borrow beyond what we can reasonably expect to return; we shouldn’t offload onto others, whether our contemporaries or future generations, the price of our over-reaching or risk-taking; instead, we should save so as to be able to give to others who are less fortunate then we.
Rationale: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). “Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labour and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy” (Ephesians 4:28).
Debate: We should debate about what are responsible levels of debt for households, businesses, or a nation; what constitutes predatory lending practices and how to prevent them; to what degree, if at all, spending on consumer goods should be promoted as cure for a faltering economy; and what might be public significance of contentment.
Questions to Ask: What will a candidate do to bring and keep national debt under control? What will the candidate do to encourage individual saving and living within one’s means?

6. The Poor 
Value: The poor—above all those without adequate food or shelter—deserve our special concern. (‘The moral test of government is how it treats people in the dawn of life, the children, in the twilight of life, the aged, and in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy, and the handicapped” [Hubert Humphrey]) 
Rationale: “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and for the alien: I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 23:22). “There will, however, be no one in need among you, because the LORD is sure to bless you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you as a possession to occupy” (Deuteronomy 15:4).
Debate: There should be no debate whether fighting extreme poverty is a top priority of the government. That’s a given. We should debate the following: How to generate a sense of solidarity with the poor among all citizens? In poverty alleviation, what is the proper role of governments and what of individuals, religious communities, and civic organizations? What macroeconomic conditions most favor lifting people out of poverty? What should the minimum wage be?
Question to Ask: Is overcoming extreme poverty (rather than fostering the wellbeing of the middle class) a priority for the candidate? For what poverty reducing policies is the candidate prepared to fight?

7. The Elderly
Value: Those who are frail on account of their advanced age deserve our special help. They need adequate medical assistance, social interaction, and meaningful activities. (The humanity of a society is measured perhaps especially by how it treats those no longer capable of doing “useful” work.)
Rationale: “Father of orphans and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation” (Psalm 68:5). (In today’s world, the “elderly,” arguably, belong to the categories of the “poor” and “widows.)”
Debate: The debate here is about the extent of the responsibility for the wellbeing of the elderly. How much resources should a society set aside for the care of elderly, and what are the best ways to manage those resources?
Question to Ask: What will you do to help honor the elderly and attend to their specific needs?

8. Unborn
Value: Unborn human life, just like fully developed human life, deserves our respect, protection, and nurture.
Rationale: “For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13); “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13).
Debate: There is a legitimate debate about the point at which life that can plausibly be deemed human begins and whether the best way to reduce abortions is to criminalize abortion or to improve the living conditions of the poor (for instance, through fighting poverty in inner cities, providing education for women, making available affordable child-care).
Question to Ask: Is the candidate firmly committed to reducing the number of abortions performed, to make it not just safe when it is legal, but also rare?

9. Healthcare 
Value: All people—poor or rich—should have access to affordable basic healthcare, just as all are responsible for living in a way conducive to physical and mental health.
Rationale: “Jesus went through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness” (Matthew 9:35).
Debate: There is a legitimate debate as to how best to ensure that all people have access to affordable healthcare—but not as to whether the destitute should or should not be left to fend for themselves when faced with serious or chrnic illness. We roughly know what it takes to lead a healthy lifestyle (exercise, minimal intake of sugar, no substance abuse, etc.), but we can and ought to debate most effective ways to help people lead such a lifestyle (for instance, how heavily should the food industry be regulated).
Questions to Ask: Which candidate is more likely to give the destitute effective access to healthcare? Which candidate is more likely to reduce the number of people who need to seek medical help?

10. Care for Creation
Value: We are part of God’s creation, and we must seek to preserve the integrity of God’s creation as an interdependent ecosystem and, if possible, to pass it on to the future generations improved. Above all, we should not damage creation by leading  lifestyles marked by acquisitiveness and wastefulness.
Rationale: “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15).
Debate: The debate here should be about the extent of present ecological damage (for instance, whether or not we are barreling toward a climate apocalypse) and about the appropriate means and sacrifices necessary to preserve God’s creation.
Question to Ask: Which candidate shows a better understanding of the ecological health of the planet and has a better track record in preventing the devastation of what God has created and pronounced good? 

11. Death Penalty
Value: Death should never be punishment for a crime. Since out of love Christ died for every human being (“the world”), no one should rob a human being of a chance to be transformed by God’s love, and no one should put to death a human being who has been transformed by God’s love.
Rationale: “Jesus straightened up and said to her [the woman caught in adultery, an act for which the Old Testament proscribes death penalty], ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, sir.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again’” (John 8:10-11). “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Debate: Notwithstanding the Old Testament endorsement of death penalty, for Christians, there is no debate on this one.
Question to Ask: Will the candidate push to abolish capital punishment, and if so, how hard?

12. Criminal Offenders 
Value: Mere retributive punishment is an inadequate and mistaken way of dealing with offenders. We need to find creative ways to reconcile offenders to their victims and reintegrate them into the society.
Rationale: “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18). “For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us” (Ephesians 2:14).
Debate: We should debate viable alternatives to incarceration (of which the U.S. has the highest rate in the world!) and how best to achieve the reintegration of offenders into the society. We should also debate the extent to which ethnic and racial prejudices are influencing our practices—more specifically why it is that Hispanics and African-Americans make up the largest proportion of the prison population—as well as the effect of the privatization of prisons on the increase of the prison population (the U.S. has the highest per capita prison population of any country in the world!).
Question to Ask: What does the candidate propose to do to reduce the number of incarcerated people in the U.S.?

13. World Hunger 
Value: Given the world’s resources, no human being should go hungry; as individuals and a nation we should be committed to complete eradication of hunger.
Rationale: “[The Lord] executes justice for the oppressed … gives food to the hungry” (Psalm 146:7); “Then he [the Son of Man] will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink” (Matthew 25:41-42).
Debate: The debate should not be whether the eradication of world hunger ought to be one of our top priorities but what are the most effective ways to achieve that goal, including how best to fight corruption in countries in which hunger is widespread.
Questions to Ask: Is the candidate committed to the eradication of world hunger, and if so, what means will he use toward that goal? Is the candidate prepared to set aside a percentage of the Gross National Product for the eradication of hunger?

14. Equality of Nations
Value: No nation represents an exception to the requirements of justice that should govern relations between nations. America should exert its unique international power by doing what is just and should pursue its own interests in concert with other nations of the world.
Rationale: “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12).
Debate: The debate should not be whether America is somehow exceptional (and therefore permitted to do what other nations are not—for instance, carrying out raids on foreign soil in search for terrorists). The debate should, rather, be about what it means for the one remaining superpower to act responsibly in the community of nations.
Question to Ask: At the international level, would the candidate renounce a double moral standard: one for the U.S. and its allies and another for the rest of the world? Even when the candidate considers an American perspective morally superior, will he seek to persuade other nations in the moral rightness of these values rather than imposing them on other nations?

15. War
Value: War is almost never justifiable, and every successful justification has to show how a particular war is an instance of loving one’s neighbors and loving one’s enemies.
Rationale: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?” (Matthew 5:43-46).
Debate: There is a legitimate debate about whether acts of war can ever be a form of love of neighbor and of enemy and, if they can, about what are causes that justify war (rule of a tyrant?) and what constitutes just conduct of war (drones?).
Questions to Ask: Has the candidate supported or advocated ending unjust wars in the past? Has the candidate condemned significant forms of unjust conduct of war?

16. Torture
Value: We should never torture. It dehumanizes both the detainee and the interrogator by violating the dignity of the one and degrading the integrity of the other, [1] and it erodes the moral character of the nation approving it. (For a definition of torture, see
Rationale: “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44). “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).
Debate: There is no debate on this one—at least not a debate that, from my reading of Christian moral obligations, is legitimate. Even if torture were effective (which, according to most knowledgeable sources, it is not), it would be morally unacceptable.
Question to Ask: Has the candidate unequivocally condemned the use of torture?

17. Honoring Everyone
Value: We should honor every human being and respect all faiths (without necessarily affirming them as true). As citizens, we have the right to mock another religion, but as followers of Christ, we have a moral obligation not to.
Rationale: “Honor everyone” (1 Peter 2:17).
Debate: The debate about one’s relation to other religions should not be whether we have the right to mock what others hold to be holy; we do have that right. At the same time, the debate should not be about whether we have a moral obligation not to make use of that right; we ought not mock what other people hold to be holy. Instead, the debate should be about what the authentic teachings and practices of individual religions are, to what extent the claims of their teachings are true (or false), and in what ways each religion fosters (or hinders) human flourishing.
Question to Ask: Will the candidate promote respect for all religions, including Islam, while at the same time affirming the need for honest debate about how true and salutary they are?

18. Public Role of Religion
Value: Every citizen, religious or not, Christian, Jew, or Muslim, has the right to bring his or her own perspectives on human flourishing and on the common good to bear upon public life and to do so on equal terms with everyone else.
Rationale: “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:7). “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12).
Debate: The debate should not be whether religious voices should be excluded or not. It should be about what kind of political arrangements will ensure the equal access of all to participation in the political process on equal terms and what might be the limits to legitimate pluralism.
Questions to Ask: Does the candidate support the participation of every person in public life, encouraging them to do so on the basis of their own specific motivations and reasons? Does the candidate seek to protect the voices of ordinary people from being drowned out by powerful interest groups (like lobbies and Super PACs)?

19. Truthfulness
Value: Those seeking public office should foreswear spin and contempt, being truthful with the public and civil to one another. You can “advertise” but not fabricate; you can criticize but not disrespect.
Rationale: We should all “[speak] the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) and seek to “honour everyone” (1 Peter 2:17).
Debate: While the line between advertising and spinning is not always clear, the main debate should be about effective means to diminish the spin and contempt that have became part of our democratic system of elections.
Questions to Ask: Do the facts about the candidate’s own performance as well as those of their opponent match with the candidates’ words? Is the candidate attempting to correct rather than seeking to benefit from the spin that others, without his direct endorsement, do on his behalf.

20. Character
Value: Competence (technical expertise, including emotional intelligence), though essential, matters less than character because knowledge, though crucial, matters less than love.
Rationale: “If I … understand all mysteries and all knowledge … but do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2).
Debate: The debate should be about what dimensions of character matter most and what blend of virtues and competencies is most needed at this time.
Questions to Ask: Whom does the candidate strive to be like? To whom does he most resemble in character? Will the fear of losing power corrupt him?

[1] See Jennifer S. Bryson, “My Guantanamo Experience: Support Interrogation, Reject Torture” (


Ryan Bell has another tool to help Christians filter the teachings of Jesus in political discussion here. Enjoy!!! 

Last Chance 2012?

Did you know that human trafficking is now a $33 billion per year industry? It is the second leading crime, having passed arms trading a few years ago, and is poised to pass drug trafficking and become number one. What are we as followers of Jesus doing about this? Wouldn't it be great if (at least) once a year, we banded together to combat human trafficking? I think that's definitely doable. But not without your help. Free to Laugh Comedy Fundraiser Against Human Trafficking takes place THIS Saturday OCT 20 @ 5pm and 8pm in Nitschke Hall on the campus of the University of Toledo.

Would you please commit to coming and bringing some friends? Would you forward / post a personal invitation to all your Facebook friends to attend? Would you make sure your church / family / organization / workplace sends some representatives? Would you buy some tickets even if you can't attend? Please,  before 2012 concludes, let's show people how to "do justice" and "love mercy" (Micah 6:8) in the 21st century. This might be your last chance!

Sunday, October 07, 2012

How Did the Car & Truck Show Go?

It was a beauuutiful day for the Kidz Crazy Car & Truck Show. Some of the pre-schoolers really liked the concrete mixer! Fresh squeezed lemonade in the food court. Preschoolers got to sit in the Concrete Mixer and honk the air horn. I got to sit in the sweet Hotwheels truck. Others admired the red Ford GT. 14 winners announced in the Matchbox Car show for kids. Lots of lingering parents jabbering and jamming to oldies music. BIG thanks and WTG to everyone who helped!!!

A Laughing Matter?

We need more volunteers for Free to Laugh on OCT 20 @ 5 and 8pm. Free to Laugh is a comedy fundraiser against Human Trafficking being held at the University of Toledo. My church already purchased tickets, now we need people to use them. Spread the word! You do NOT have to be a member of my church to take a ticket. Contact me ASAP @ 419.386.8918 if you're interested. Here's a link to local news story about it three minutes in. Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Healed on Sabbath?

Jesus healed more people on Sabbath than any other day. He intentionally healed the chronically sick who the Pharisees said could be healed on any other day (Luke 13:10-17). Kept right, Sabbath is a delight (Isaiah 58:13). Please, let's show others the redemptive power of Jesus in our day as well by buying some tickets  to Free to Laugh Comedy Fundraiser Against Human Trafficking at the University of Toledo and sending a group from your family / church / organization on OCT 20.

Don't you want to be sure you can tell Jesus you did everything you could to combat one of sickest things Satan has happening on earth today? There are more people in slavery / human trafficking today (27 million world wide) than at any time in the history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and American Civil War slavery eras combined! What are YOU doing about it? If you personally cannot attend, please recruit for me and send a group from your family / friends / organizations. My contact info is: 419.386.8918 and

Friday, September 21, 2012

But What If They Burn Our Embassy?

Periodically, things occur in this broken world that make us re-think our Christianity. Or at least how a Christian should respond to it! One of those things occurred recently when militant Muslims in Egypt and other places stormed our embassies killing Americans inside. When things like this occur, I receive sincere emails from friends and total strangers wondering if all Muslims are out to attack Americans and if I think the rapid growth of Islam or rise of militant Muslims is a sign of the end times?

Re:the first question I reply: "I do not know these militant Muslims. But I do know Imam Farooq at the Perrysburg Mosque (the big one next to I-75), Mohamed Elnahal our contact in the mosque next door to our church, and the books / podcasts / writings of Hamza Yusuf (Google him or listen in iTunes). These voices represent to me the vast majority of moderate, freedom loving, peaceful Muslims not the extremists in the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt."

But what if they burn our embassy? Isn't that a sign of the end times? Jesus said in Matthew 24:8 that a bunch of bad stuff would increase in severity and frequency before Jesus comes again "like a woman in labor." And so in that sense, any escalation of violence and wickedness could be a sign of the times that can turn the hearts and minds of people to trust and depend on God. Or, like Pharoah, the same signs can harden our hearts as we cultivate anger and plot our revenge.

But we don't have to keep track of who is doing the most evil. Why? Because we will wear ourselves out! It's gonna get worse before it gets better. But also because focusing on Jesus is so much better! Even though the wisest among us only know "in part" (1 Corinthians 13:12), the parts we do know encourage us! Jesus promises to be with us to the very end of the earth (Matthew 28:20). And that God (not us) will judge those who shed the blood of His people (Revelation 16:6). Things aren't good right now in many places on earth. But one day, they will get better. Because the Gospel will go to the whole world (Matthew 24:14). And the one who endures to the end will be saved (Matthew 24:13).

Free to Laugh?

The Daughter Project is a non-profit organization in Ohio which builds recovery homes - trafficking shelters for girls who have been rescued from sex traffickers. They are committed to the long-term holistic care of raped, beaten and drug addicted victims of human trafficking. Toledo is still #1 per capita in the United States and #4 overall. And that is no laughing matter.

So this year, Haven of Hope Toledo and Toledo First SDA Church is inviting you to join us on the campus of the University of Toledo in Nitschke Hall on OCT 20 @ 5pm and 8pm for a comedy fundraiser called Free to Laugh. Christian comics sharing family friendly content will provide a delightful evening of entertainment with 100% of the $20/ticket costs going directly to TDP.

We have the potential of telling 2,000 people about trafficking/TDP and raising $40,000 to help combat this heinous crime. However, we need to sellout 2,000 tickets to accomplish this. Would you please consider the following ways to help?
  • Buy your ticket today for the event in the church office, online or at a Lifeway or Family Christian bookstore
  • Encourage everyone you know to buy a ticket or buy a ticket for them
  • Ask your pastor/church/business to purchase a group of 20 or more tickets and then sell or give them away to people
  •  Consider giving a donation to sponsor this important event.  Any amount will help defray costs and ultimately increase the amount of money we raise for our girls
  • Toledo First SDA Church has purchased 50 tickets from Haven of Hope. Want one? It's yours for free if you volunteer to be a parking lot attendant / greeter / or usher. Contact me for more info: / 419.386.8918. We need at least 20 volunteers

Why Must We Know in Part?

Karl Barth said, "The angels laugh when they read my theology." Paul Tillich said, "Our theology needs to be justified by faith as much as our lives do." Ellen White, the founder of the Adventist church said, "We have many lessons to learn, and many, many to unlearn. God and heaven alone are infallible. Those who think they will never have to give up a cherished view, never have occasion to change an opinion, will be disappointed" (Ellen White, Counsels to Writers and Editors, 36-37).

Why would famous theologians and prolific writers say such things? Probably because they recall 1 Corinthians 13:12 (NLT) which states, "Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely."

But why must the wisest and brightest among us now only know in part? Dr. Fritz Guy helped me understand a few years ago in a pastors study group I still recall. He said modesty is our realistic appraisal of ability and accomplishment. And that at the bottom of the ladder of modesty is my PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE or what I know. An unbridgeable gap of knowledge above that is ACCESSIBLE KNOWLEDGE or what I could know in principle if I didn't have a job, life, kids and all I did was study all my life. Which isn't realistic since we all have to eat and sleep and live. Above that is another unbridgeable gap followed by ACTUAL HUMAN KNOWLEDGE or what I could know if I studied all things from the pyramids in Egypt to the Space Station up to now. An unbridgeable gap above that is POSSIBLE HUMAN KNOWLEDGE or what the human mind could in principle know under ideal conditions such as no sin and infinite time into the future. But even if a sinless human with infinite time could learn all personal, accessible, actual, and possible human knowledge available, there would still be one more unbridgeable gap to INFINITE KNOWLEDGE or what God knows. Anybody care to guess where all systematic theology and fundamental beliefs and political discussions are on this ladder? What are the implications? How winsome would Christianity be if all our conclusions about it were held dearly but loosely until a "fuller understanding of Bible truth is revealed" or we find "better language in which to express the teachings of God's Holy Word"? (I'm glad these words can be found in the preamble to the book Seventh-day Adventists Believe. I'm sad many don't realize this).



 POSSIBLE HUMAN KNOWLEDGE =what the human mind could in principle know under ideal conditions (no sin, infinite time)


ACTUAL HUMAN KNOWLEDGE=what all human beings know collectively at the present time


ACCESSIBLE KNOWLEDGE=what I could in principle know



Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Save the Drama?

I love the Skit Guys. Their latest covers how Jesus could cast out demons because He was fully God but simultaneously grieve and cry at Lazarus' tomb because He was fully human as well. Save 15 minutes to watch this vid. You'll be glad you did.

Is Age Something to Dread?

Did you know Noah was 600 when God asked him to warn the world about the coming flood (Genesis 7:6)? He died when he was 950 (Genesis 9:29), but 600 is still fossil like!

Sarah died when she was 127 (Genesis 23:1-2) but was 90 (Genesis 17:17) when Isaac was born. Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born (Genesis 21:5) and died at 175 (Genesis 25?7).

In Psalm 90:10, Moses says the average life span by then was 70 or 80 years, but God called Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt when Moses was 80 years old (Genesis 7:7)! At least he had some help from 83 year old Aaron (Genesis 7:7)!

After patiently waiting and wandering in the wilderness for 40 years even though it wasn't his fault, Caleb was 85 years old when when he finally stormed and settled the hill country of Canaan (Joshua 14:7-13). Joshua was 110 years old when he died (Joshua 24:29), but was 95 years old when he led the children of Israel across the Jordan River to finally conquer Jericho and begin 7 years of similar battles of conquest (Joshua 1-12) followed by 8 years of settling the land (Joshua 13-24).

The prophet Daniel was a teenager when he was human trafficked out of Jerusalem and into Babylon where he served King Nebuchadnezzar. But we forget that he was thrown into the lion's den when he was 80 some years old and still serving the next king and the next king of an entirely different country that took over Babylon making him one of the three most powerful rulers in the land while in his 80+s (Daniel 6:28)!

John the Baptist's dad Zacharaias was advanced in years (Luke 1:7). But he was young enough to still serve in the temple and miraculously become a parent with his old and previously barren wife Elizabeth (Luke 1:36).

Simeon was an elderly witness of the consolation of Israel. But he clearly saw Jesus as the Messiah they were waiting for (Luke 2:25-38). Another elderly witness of Jesus, Anna, was old but didn't act like it. She fasted and prayed day and night (Luke 2:25-38).

The apostle Paul called himself old in Philemon 9. But with poor eyesight in a hole of a prison cell in Rome, he wrote Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, and Colossians! Age is not something to dread. God has plans for all of us. Godly men and women adapt to God's plans. Isaiah 46:4 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." 104 year old Marge knows this is true. Click the vid above to hear her story.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

What Oliver Eats?

Oliver Eudela was born in the Philippines but raised in the USA. Growing up he was fascinated with martial arts and used it as a way to exercise and stay in shape. But over the years he found it increasingly difficult to maintain a proper body weight through exercise and diet.

So recently, he changed his lifestyle. In addition to exercise, he moderated the food he put into his mouth. His goal? Learn and implement more plant based-dishes into his diet. He has been doing so for over 6 months and is still going strong. And wants to share what he is learning and eating with you. So this fall, carve out 90 minutes on Thursdays @ 7pm to taste and see What Oliver Eats at Toledo First Church. You'll leave spiritually encouraged, full of food and fast doable recipes and optimistic that you can do what he's doing too. You do not have to be a member of Toledo First Church to participate. (check the church website for the latest PDF to download with all the recipes so far)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Kidz Crazy Car & Truck Show?

Save the date Thursday September 27 @ 3:30-6:30pm for the Kidz Crazy Car & Truck Show!!! After Toledo Junior Academy and James Meade Learning Center dismisses for the day, parents can spend some quality time playing with their kids. There will be bouncy things and contests and games scattered on the playground and parking lot. There will be live music and fresh squeezed lemonade to wash down the hot dogs and popcorn in the food court. All food proceeds go toward our gymnasium building fund so please come hungry and plan to eat supper here!!! And before you go, be sure to check out the cool cars and crawl all over the huge trucks. Kids don't forget to enter your favorite Matchbox car for your Kids Car Show prize. This promises to be a blast!!! You do not need to be a student at TJA or JMLC to participate.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Can We Follow Jesus Without Embarassing God?

In the old George Burns movie, Oh God!, a young man keeps getting messages from God that he's supposed to relate to the rest of us. In one scene, he goes to hear an evangelistic preacher who in many ways is a caricature of the worst in all of us. This young man interrupts the preacher's sermon to tell him that God has a special message just for him. The preacher stops the service. He announces to the crowd, "This young man has come with a message from God!" The young man, looking straight at the preacher says, "God wants you to shut up because you're embarrassing Him!"

Tony Campolo says this need not be in his book Following Jesus Without Embarrassing God. We can have a devotional life without becoming a monk. We can protect ourselves from technology without becoming Amish. We can discern the will of God without hearing voices from heaven. We can get ready to die without pretending it's no problem. We can care for people without being exploited. We can raise kids without going on guilt trips. We can be attractive but not obscene. We can hold our families together in a world that's falling apart. And it goes on and on.

One of the most thought provoking chapters was the one about how we can be rich and still be Christian. In it, he says the story about the death of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-10 is meant to teach us that lying to God is the problem, not being rich (cf. Acts 5:4). Whether you agree or not, this would be a very good book to discuss at work with friends, on WED night during a Community Book Club, or small groups at church. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. (Now I need to watch Oh God! too since I was 4 years old when it premiered lol!!!)

God on Trial?

Facing extermination at Auschwitz, a group of prisoners solemnly weighs the case against God. Who is to blame for the greatest of all crimes? Amid the sound of prisoners outside being marched to the gas chamber, the trial unfolds, addressing the age-old question: How can there be evil in a universe ruled by an all-powerful benevolent God? One young father who had his three little boys taken from him surprisingly speaks in favor of God: “I know He is here, even though I don’t understand Him...Maybe God is suffering with us.”

Most of the others disagree with the young father. Spoiler alert: they say God is not good and broke His covenant and is guilty. Though I disagree with some of the conclusions they reach at the end, I think this film brilliantly sets the stage for a discussion of the Great Controversy. And how Jesus' death on the cross proves that God really is good. Even though the cross and the Holocaust simultaneously proves some things aren't. It's worth discussing. Get your copy here. I'm gonna show it this fall for Film Fest and invite the community as well. BIG thanks and WTG to my friend Allan for sharing it with me. Click here for more info.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Is It Sabbath Yet?

This guy in Hollywood (Producer DeVon Franklin, Vice President of Production for Columbia Pictures) is looking forward to it. Maybe Oprah or Will Smith will too? I just downloaded his new book in iBooks (also available in hardback on Amazon called Produced by Faith). In it, he talks about maintaining your faith while advancing your career. Enjoy!!!
 (photo courtesy Harpo, Inc. / Chuck Hodes)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Soldiering On?

Last week I read a short article in the June 24, 2012 edition of Parade Magazine by Hilary Sterne about Pat Tillman's widow Marie. Maybe some of you remember that Pat was a star football player for the Arizona Cardinals who after 9/11, quit playing football in 2002 in the prime of his career, and enlisted in the military to fight for his country. Sadly, Pat was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2004. But before he did, he wrote his wife a letter encouraging her to move on with her life should he not return.

For years, Marie struggled to do so. But eventually she did. Becoming the director of The Pat Tillman Foundation which is a national leader in providing resources and educational scholarship to support veterans and active service members and their spouses. Additionally, Marie re-married and became mom to an investment banker's three sons and most recently a newborn son named Mac Patrick. She also wrote a book called The Letter: My Journey Through Love, Loss & Life. In it, she shares her story and reflects on how grateful she is to have the opportunity to do the work she does in Pat's honor.

As Christ followers, we too have a story to tell. About a willing Savior. Who left heaven in all his glory. To dwell on earth. One friend of mine says that would be like one of us becoming an ant. To save a colony of ants. But that's what Jesus did. And God inspired the Bible to remind us of these truths by including a bunch of literal letters inside it all trying to say the same thing to us: I love you like crazy!!! I love you flaws and all!!! Will you love me back till death do us part? Will you, too, soldier on? John 13:1 says, "Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end." So this Interdependence Day, will we?