Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Keeping Our Kids Safe?

Recently, I've been reminded of the importance of discussing media boundaries and content filters with our family.
  • Did you know that with the advent of Netflix (and other streaming content providers), even some cartoons and anime have pornographic themes in them? Even though I previously spent hours adjusting the toggle content filters on Netflix, I (re)discovered that doesn't mean everything that comes through is appropriate. One reason is because Netflix constantly adds new toggle filters so I've learned you have to return to your settings every few months to update them. Here's an example of a TV14 cartoon called Chobits that made it through my previously set Netflix toggle filters that upon parental review, we will not be watching. Here's why:
  • Discussing and applying media boundaries and content filters to what we watch is important as adults as well. Political dramas like House of Cards (a Netflix original series) was originally interesting to me when I first heard about it (thought it might be like The West Wing). But before I watched it, I read the online review and decided the graphic language and nudity made it unacceptable viewing for me. Same thing with Breaking Bad / Homeland / Mad Men / Game of Thrones. All of these shows are critically acclaimed award winners readily available on Netflix (except HBO's Game of Thrones) but the online reviews say they also contain graphic language and nudity.
Long-time youth pastor and author Josh McDowell says in his excellent book Right from Wrong (a great resource you too could read and discuss chapter by chapter with your pre-teen children or grandchildren) it's important to teach children that the lifestyle / behavioral policies we adopt don't come from church or your preferences. They come from timeless Scriptural principles. And those principles, if they're legit, can be traced to the character and Person we profess to follow — Jesus Christ. So our discussion and thought process goes something like this: Policies > Principles > Person of Jesus. Specifically re:media boundaries and content filters, what we talked about in our family is how 1 John 3:3 says Jesus (the Person) is pure (the principle) so that's why we choose, as best we can, to watch what's pure too (the policy). Which eliminates cartoons and content that contain pornographic themes, graphic language, and nudity.

Hopefully, if we continue to discuss WHY we choose what we do, our children will understand the significance of media boundaries and content filters and maybe even adopt them as their own when adults! In the meantime, please do share if you have a helpful media tip or resource. I'm preparing and eventually will share in church a topical series of presentations re:media and a Christian response to it so could use your help! I'm grateful as we turn our eyes upon Jesus, the things of this world grow strangely dim and that by beholding Jesus we still become changed (2 Corinthians 3:18).

2013 Fortune Christmas Card Quiz?

1. Which actually happened?
A. Josh learned how to surf
B. Barkley and Bianca learned how to surf
C. Mike tried to surf
D. Both A and C

2. What did Mike’s church do this year?
A. Sent a young adult missionary to NYC to help rebuild homes
for Hurricane Sandy Relief
B. Hosted Valentines for Toledo concert benefitting Haven of Hope home makeovers
C. Raised money for Holy Cows in Vietnam each of which lifts an entire village from poverty
D. All of the above

3. What did Mike do in 2013?
A. Turned forty
B. Watched the Redskins beat the Packers at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin
C. Baptized Josh and Lydia
D. Both A and C

A. Loves her job as a gastro-intestinal nurse in the hospital
B. Welcomed a new niece Francesca
C. Loves Mike’s jokes
D. Both A and B

What were Joshua and Lydia’s favorite movies?
A. Frozen
B. The Croods
C. Despicable Me 2
D. All of the above

6. Joshua [age 14] loves:
A. Competing in Lego Robotics
B. Eating Indian food
C. His new contact lenses
D. All of the above

7. Lydia [age 11½] loves:
A. Singing in school plays
B. Making rubber band bracelets
C. Her dad’s jokes
D. Both A and B

8. Mike & Jackie...
A. Rarely go on dates
B. Still love each other like silly teenagers
C. Love hearing from our “adopted” Compassion kids Golu and Salomi in India
D. All of the above

9. Mike’s recommended reads this year include:
A. Beyond Common Ground: Why Liberals and Conservatives Need Each Other by Alden Thompson
B. The Blue Parakeet by Scot McKnight
C. With: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God by Skye Jethani
D. All of the above

What else did Mike’s church do?
A. Helped arrange for Faith For Today’s mini-movie Miracle at Gate 213 to air Christmas Day on NBC (check your local listings!)
B. Hosted Worship Safety and Security classes for the community taught by sheriff
C. Partnered with and raised money for The Daughter Project’s 2nd Annual Free to Laugh Comedy Fundraiser Against Human Trafficking
D. All of the above

>7 Fortunate—Way to go!!!
>5 Unfortunate—Next time, use the force
>3 A misfortune—At least you tried
➘ Answers: They're all D!!!
➘  Visit anytime. Address is below : ) Or see you online. Love ye!

3945 Turnbrook Drive Toledo, Ohio  43623
419-841-5949 (Josh and Lydia’s number) • 419-386-8918 (Mike’s number) • 419-386-8942 (Jackie’s number)

facebook: mike4tune & jackie4tune
skype: mike4tune
iTunes: Toledo First

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Inigo's Revenge?

One of my fave movies still is The Princess Bride. It's such a delightful mix of romance and adventure and...revenge. But listen to Mandy Patinkin (Inigo Montoya) years later explain why his favorite line is NOT the one about revenge. Definitely a theological hmmm...

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Fave July 4 Vid?

We're showing this ShareFaith vid in church this week. I highly recommend!

More About Jesus?

More About Jesus Ohio Campmeeting 2013 was a blast. We gathered for worship Sunday evening then watched the movie about Desmond Doss and heard from Myron - an actual conscientious objector retired on Sunday evening regarding non-combatant options in today's military. Soul Cafe was a great place for breakfast and Bible study M-F @ 8am. By 10am, everyone was up and after all ages and children's divisions gathered for morning worship in the chapel, campers could choose from presentations on Listening for Heaven's Sake, The Widow's Mite: God's Plan for Financial Wellness, or Jesus Loves Me Anyway: An Intro to Following Jesus. Chef Sam had delicious vegetarian meals available in the cafeteria. Then, in the afternoon, options for campers included presentations on inductive Bible study called Good News! The Simple Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Obvious but Unknown Parables of Jesus. Some folks decided to stay in their campers or dorm rooms and take a nap. While others joined the young guns on their community

service projects or cooled off in the bowling alley, women's tea, or pools at the YMCA, Hiawatha water park, or Camp Mohaven.

In the evenings after supper, everyone gathered again to sing more songs including our theme song "More About Jesus" before separating for divisions and options including Spiritual Maturity: A Decrease That Leads to an Increase or Biblical Worship 101. If neither of those presentations whet your appetite,  golf carts could whisk you up the hill to the Mount Vernon Hill Church for the Healthy Cooking for Families classes. I enjoyed eating the finished products in these presentations! It made me feel better about the loads of marshmallows and smores we devoured during Bible trivia around the gazebo campfires at dusk sponsored by the Adventist Book Center.

The weekend was full of fantastic worship celebrating the 150 year anniversary of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Highlights included a puppet show for children's story, presentations by Bernie Anderson and Mervin Burt on the history and heritage of the Adventist Church, an amazing lunch provided by Kettering Health Network (and a team of dedicated kitchen helpers), a commemorative photo, an afternoon spiritual gifts concert featuring some accomplished musicians and some children singing their guts out for Jesus, a watermelon feed, and a couple re-enacted dreams and visions from William Miller and Ellen White told by professional story teller Kharinne Shinaul. After that, Trina Schone, an Adventist Christian songwriter and pianist from Lancaster, Ohio gave a wonderful sacred concert concluding campmeeting that moved everyone from laughter to tears. Despite the rainy weather and one day of 60mph winds that forced tent and some RV campers to tear down their sites and move into tornado shelters for one night, we certainly did learn more about Jesus and drew closer to Him! Save the dates for next year: JUN 8-14, 2014. All registration info will be hosted at Our theme for next year  is: EVEN MORE ABOUT JESUS. Click here to see some more my fave pics.

All Parts Suffer?

Iran has sentenced American Pastor Saeed Abedini to eight years’ imprisonment in one of Iran’s most brutal and deadly prisons – simply because of his Christian faith. This action violates Iran’s own constitution and violates multiple international human rights treaties that Iran has voluntarily and willingly signed. Will you be a voice for Pastor Saeed? 1 Corinthians 12:26-27 NLT says, "26If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. 27All of you together are Christ's body, and each of you is a part of it." Click here to join over 608k people (including me) who have signed the petition to free him. And click the vid below to hear his wife Naghmeh plead with the United Nations Human Rights Council on his behalf.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Prom King?

Jesus the King of Kings is so proud of this prom king from Corpus Christi, Texas and the popular football quarterback who crowned him. Enjoy!!!

Monday, April 08, 2013

Ginormous Resurrection?

I love this ginormous 12' x 40' mural that artist Ron DiCianni took two years to paint, oil on canvas, called The Resurrection. In it, using his sanctified imagination, Jesus is surrounded by a cloud of witnesses that includes Moses, Elijah, Esther, and John the Baptist. This mural was commissioned by the Museum of Biblical Art in Dallas, Texas. Click below to see. Enjoy!

Does He Care if We Care?

In Revelation 14:7, God sends three angels to tell "every tribe, nation, language, and people" to worship He who "made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them." Significantly, THAT phrase is a quote from the 4th commandment (Exodus 20:8-11) which begins with "Remember the Sabbath day...six days you shall labor but the seventh day is the Sabbath" but ends with what's quoted in Revelation 14:7 "...the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them." Apparently, the Lord has a day and still cares if we care (if He didn't, why would He send heavenly angels to say so in a loud voice to everyone on earth?) But why does He care? Because He SO loves us (like crazy)! And always has!

That's why hundreds of years earlier God said Sabbath was not just for Jews in Isaiah 56:2 "Blessed are those who honor my Sabbath days of rest and keep themselves from doing wrong. I will also bless the foreigners (Gentiles - like us) who commit themselves to the LORD, who serve him and love his name, who worship him and do not desecrate the Sabbath day of rest, and who hold fast to my covenant."

But what about the rejected and marginalized and those far from God? Isaiah 56:4-5 says, "I will bless those eunuchs who keep my Sabbath days holy and who choose to do what pleases me and commit their lives to me. I will give them—within the walls of my house—a memorial and a name far greater than sons and daughters could give. For the name I give them is an everlasting one. It will never disappear!" No wonder Isaiah 56:7 says that one day, God's house would be a house of prayer for "all nations."

What's kinda cool is we're living during the time when some of this is taking place. Various tribes and nations and languages and people of faith or no faith are beginning to see the significance of the Sabbath. In this clip, a Presbyterian minister shares how she observes Sabbath in her home on Saturdays. Kept right, it's a delight (Isaiah 58:13-14)! To God and to us. Shouldn't we care if He cares?

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Silence in the Sanctuary?

Reverence cannot be limited to silence in the sanctuary. Yes, Habakkuk 2:20 says, "LORD is in his holy Temple. Let all the earth be silent before him." But Psalm 68:24-26 also says, "Your procession has come into view, O God— the procession of my God and King as he goes into the sanctuary. Singers are in front, musicians behind; between them are young women playing tambourines. Praise God, all you people of Israel; praise the Lord, the source of Israel’s life." Apparently, God loves instruments of all kinds, percussion, and women worship leaders in the sanctuary!

1 Chronicles 25:6 adds, "They made music at the house of the LORD. Their responsibilities included the playing of cymbals [percussion], harps, and lyres [stringed instruments like guitars] at the house of God." So pleased was God with the instruments and music and singers and even the loud volume of praise (2 Chronicles 5:11 says they raised their voices and in unison praised the LORD with these words: He is good! His faithful love endures forever!) that, "At that moment a thick cloud filled the Temple of the LORD. The priests could not continue their service because of the cloud, for the glorious presence of the LORD filled the Temple of God" (2 Chronicles 5:12-14). Wow. God liked it so much they couldn't continue! I bet God LOVES the lyrics to Redeemed by Big Daddy Weave. Take a listen. And check out these other rarely quoted references to reverence in worship.

Seems like all I could see was the struggle
Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past
Bound up in shackles of all my failures
Wondering how long is this gonna last
Then You look at this prisoner and say to me "son
Stop fighting a fight it's already been won"

All my life I have been called unworthy
Named by the voice of my shame and regret
But when I hear You whisper, "Child lift up your head"
I remember, oh God, You're not done with me yet

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I'll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, now I'm not who I used to be
I am redeemed, I'm redeemed

New Movie in Maumee?

Whenever Hollywood actually makes something thought provoking and wholesome, I think the body of Christ should commend and support them! And since there's a new movie called Hell and Mr. Fudge coming to Maumee Indoor Theatre APR 19-25, I was hoping you could help pass out invitations and support it!

MacKenzie Astin stars in this warm, thoughtful, and sometimes humorous story of the trials and tribulations of evangelical scholar Edward Fudge as he challenges an ancient tradition and shakes up his own core beliefs. Whether you change your mind (like evangelicals John Stott or Clark Pinnock or Philip Edgecumbe Hughes or Edward William Fudge) about whether God burns people in eternal torment forever and ever or not, this film will touch your heart and undoubtedly spark study and conversations about what you DO believe. Which is always a good thing. Either way, thanks for helping Hollywood know there is a demand for good Christian feature films.

This family friendly film won the 2012 Houston International Film Festival award and is showing in Maumee Indoor Theatre APR 19-25 @ 7pm. All shows are $4. See you there!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

God Loves Scumbags Like Crazy?

Phil Robertson, the Duck Dynasty reality TV star, knows God loves Him like crazy. Even though he's a self-described "scumbag." You have GOT to watch this 4 minute vid!!!

Friday, March 08, 2013

Coexist with Technology?

"It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you. Aren't I the greatest? I hope that you understand it is my job to raise you into a well rounded, healthy young man that can function in the world and coexist with technology, not be ruled by it" Janell Hoffman wrote. This mom loves her 13 year son. And to express that love, she gave him an iPhone5 for Christmas in December 2012. An iPhone / iPad Mini is an extravagant gift for a teen. But what made me think she loves her son like crazy was her 10 Commandments she gave next. Actually, she gave him 18 Commandments. Here, from her original blog post, they are:
  1. It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you. Aren't I the greatest?
  2. I will always know the password.
  3. If it rings, answer it. It is a phone. Say hello, use your manners. Do not ever ignore a phone call if the screen reads "Mom" or "Dad". Not ever.
  4. Hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at 7:30pm every school night & every weekend night at 9:00pm. It will be shut off for the night and turned on again at 7:30am. If you would not make a call to someone's land line, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text. Listen to those instincts and respect other families like we would like to be respected.
  5. It does not go to school with you. Have a conversation with the people you text in person. It's a life skill. *Half days, field trips and after school activities will require special consideration.
  6. If it falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, or vanishes into thin air, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs. Mow a lawn, babysit, stash some birthday money. It will happen, you should be prepared.
  7. Do not use this technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being. Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others. Be a good friend first or stay the hell out of the crossfire.
  8. Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person.
  9. Do not text, email, or say anything to someone that you would not say out loud with their parents in the room. Censor yourself.
  10. No porn. Search the web for information you would openly share with me. If you have a question about anything, ask a person ? preferably me or your father.
  11. Turn it off, silence it, put it away in public. Especially in a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking with another human being. You are not a rude person; do not allow the iPhone to change that.
  12. Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else's private parts. Don't laugh. Someday you will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence. It is risky and could ruin your teenage/college/adult life. It is always a bad idea. Cyberspace is vast and more powerful than you. And it is hard to make anything of this magnitude disappear -- including a bad reputation.
  13. Don't take a zillion pictures and videos. There is no need to document everything. Live your experiences. They will be stored in your memory for eternity.
  14. Leave your phone home sometimes and feel safe and secure in that decision. It is not alive or an extension of you. Learn to live without it. Be bigger and more powerful than FOMO -- fear of missing out.
  15. Download music that is new or classic or different than the millions of your peers that listen to the same exact stuff. Your generation has access to music like never before in history. Take advantage of that gift. Expand your horizons.
  16. Play a game with words or puzzles or brain teasers every now and then.
  17. Keep your eyes up. See the world happening around you. Stare out a window. Listen to the birds. Take a walk. Talk to a stranger. Wonder without googling.
  18. You will mess up. I will take away your phone. We will sit down and talk about it. We will start over again. You & I, we are always learning. I am on your team. We are in this together.
Isn't that like God? Who gives us extravagantly good gifts? And is "in this" together with us? Who knew how we coexist with technology could remind us of how we should coexist with God? Who loves us enough to give us some good advice on how to live? No wonder everyone who loved God like crazy before and after the cross also loved His law. Psalm 119:97 says, "Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long." 1 Timothy 1:8 adds, "We know that the law is good if one uses it properly."

For your enjoyment, click here to see a vid of Lydia receiving on her birthday an iPad Mini (we gave her the rules after!!!)

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Shoot Christians Say?

WARNING: You might need a twisted sense of humor to enjoy. Like mine. Because I think this is THE funniest parody of Christian verbiage I've ever seen. Enjoy!!! What's your fave? (Will you echo that?!!)

Last Words?

His doctor later conceded he had a less than 1% chance of surviving his life threatening Acute Aortic Dissection even with surgery. But he did PTL! Later he sent me this video clip he made (with some help from life flight helicopter paramedics) of what he thought would be his last message to his family on his iPhone. At this point in his experience, death seemed acutely real and imminently close. But he was trying to be courageous...

Some of the apostle Paul's courageous last words can be found in Acts 20:24 NLT, "But 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." What will your last words be?

Hymns Reinvented?

Page CXVI is a band out of Colorado that reworks, re-imagines and sometimes reinvents classic hymns. Their band name is drawn from a page number in a particular copy of The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis, the brilliant passage where Aslan begins to sing Narnia into creation out of a black void.

Here's the quote: "In the darkness something was happening at last. A voice had begun to sing. It was very far away and Digory found it hard to decide from what direction it was coming. Sometimes it seemed to come from all directions at once. Sometimes he almost thought it was coming out of the earth beneath them. Its lower notes were deep enough to be the voice of the earth herself. There were no words. There was hardly even a tune. But it was, beyond comparison, the most beautiful noise he had ever heard. It was so beautiful he could hardly bear it." - C.S. Lewis, The Magician's Nephew p. 116

In March, they are giving away their entire catalog for free as a way to celebrate their 7th anniversary. Check 'em out. I LOVE THESE GUYS!!!
Check out their stuff online

Or get a taste below

Helen's Home?

Haven of Hope makes over the homes (and often lives) of people one at a time in NW Ohio. Check out Helen's video we showed during Intermission of Valentines for Toledo concert benefiting Haven of Hope. And save the dates JUL 28-31 if  you want to help Haven of Hope with their next make over!

Evangelist Dry Cleaner?

Steve Martin is a riot in this sketch as a Evangelist Dry Cleaner. Enjoy!!! S

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Happy Families?

"We have our jobs. We work on those. We have our hobbies. We work on those. We have our bodies. We work on those. We know from research that families are central to our happiness, but we spend precious little time working on them. What we have just realized is if you take small steps, you can actually make your family happier."

That's the line from the this 15 minute interview I heard the other day on the radio (click below to listen to the interview in its entirety) that made me buy the book The Secrets of Happy Families by Bruce Feiler. He breaks down families into the things we all do—love, fight, eat, play, fool around, spend money, make pivotal life decisions—and tried to discover ways to do them better. I hope you enjoy this book as much as we do. We're reading a few pages every evening after supper. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Enjoy!!!

Click here for more info about the book.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

True Unity?

Nine sermons in two days at the 1Project Chicago FEB 11-12 all celebrating the supremacy of Jesus? Yes please! My standing-O fave was from day 2 with Brandy Kirstein who talked about what unity is. Quoting the book Adventist Home p.179 she said, "The secret of true unity in the church and in the family is not diplomacy, not management, not a superhuman effort to overcome difficulties—though there will be much of this to do—but union with Christ." Aw yeah. Love that.

Search iTunes for "The 1 Project" app with all the sermons from previous gatherings plus Brandy's to be added soon. Or click here for The One Project Facebook Page or website. YOU WILL BE BLESSED. Below is a video recap from Chicago better than a slice of Giordano's deep dish!

Monday, February 18, 2013

What is Love?

What I love about love is it comes from God. That means we don't have to manufacture it. It's a gifts of His grace. That's what this video reminds me of. It doesn't have to be Valentines Day for you to appreciate it. LOVE YE!!!

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

2013 Camp Meeting Promo?

Leave the stress behind and save the dates June 9-15, 2013 for More About Jesus 2013 Camp Meeting! Learn the biblical art of listening with your heart and head, so someday others might return the favor. Learn how to cook delicious and healthy food. Study what the Bible has to say about money, worship, and spiritual maturity. Stay tuned for more info at Feel free to live stream or download this video to share with your church, friends, and family. And post it all over internet and social media. Thank you! See you there!!!

Worth the Risk?

Early in the 20th century, Dr. Claude Barlow was a medical missionary to Shaohsing, China. While he served the Chinese people, a strange disease broke out among the populace, killing many of them. The disease baffled Dr. Barlow. He was frustrated that he couldn’t find a cure. He felt helpless as he watched so many die. So Dr. Barlow came up with a daring, dangerous plan. He documented his observations of the disease, creating a notebook for easy reference. Then he filled a vial with the germs that caused the disease and sailed for the United States. He would return to the place he had received his medical training, Johns Hopkins University Hospital, in hopes of finding a cure. Just prior to his arrival, Dr. Barlow injected himself with some of the germs from the vial, and checked himself in to the hospital. He trusted that his former professors would find the cure! Dr. Barlow became very sick, but just as he had hoped, a cure was found and his life was saved. He could now return to China with a cure that would save thousands of lives!

Jesus placed himself in a land infected with a deadly virus. The virus was sin, and it was destroying millions. In order to provide the cure, Jesus placed himself on the cross and paid the penalty for the sins of the world. Describing the moment of Jesus’ death, Luke wrote: It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. Luke 22:44-46 His last breath was the guarantee that you can choose to live forever. The cure for sin has been found. Jesus’ sacrifice has saved your life! Adapted from Mike Tucker and Graceroots. For more inspirational content, subscribe to Graceroots!

Hell and Mr. Fudge?

Edward Fudge is a well-respected Christian author, lecturer, theologian, Bible teacher, church leader and practicing attorney. He has a graduate degree in biblical languages and a doctorate in law. His books have been published by InterVarsity Press, Baker Book House and Paternoster Press; his articles by Christianity Today and other periodicals. He maintains an international Internet ministry at The book he wrote The Fire That Consumes is a compelling study on the subject of Hell and eternal torment. It stands as a testimony to a man who had the courage to search for truth and to pay the price for what he found. And now there's a movie about him called Hell and Mr. Fudge that was honored with the 2012 Platinum Award in the "Theatrical Feature Film - Christian" category at the Houston International Film Festival—one of the oldest and largest film festivals in the world, with nearly five thousand entries. Right now, it's showing in Rave Motion Pictures in Polaris near Columbus, Ohio. I'm gonna try to get this film shown in Toledo so stay tuned and check here for showtimes. Click the preview below. Enjoy!!!

Monday, February 04, 2013

The Greatest Gift?

Family is the greatest gift of all. The Dennehys take that seriously and literally! This amazing family gave that gift to 9 unwanted children that God still loves like crazy from around the world. Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Surfing's Iron Man?

Sixty-two-year-old Dale “Daily Wavester” Webster of Sonoma County, California, surfed his 13,000th consecutive day on April 6, 2011. Think about that for a second; when this crazy streak began, Gerald Ford was president, a gallon of gas cost 57 cents, and Kelly Slater was three years old. It was stoked along by all sorts of misunderstandings, one of which was about a wetsuit warranty—he thought it meant if he surfed in it every day for a year, he could take it back to be repaired. Over the 35-plus years, it’s morphed into a fanatic connection and dedication to the sea. Today, he almost never leaves Sonoma County. "One day I hope to get a PhD in surfing. I hope to teach the world how to surf, how to roll a wave and then you can send my mail to the Professor Daily Wavester, PhD in surfing, and that’s when dreams will truly come true. This 28 and a half thing is one thing, but if I can get my PhD in surfing — if I can teach the world to roll — that’s what I’m waiting for", he once told Surfing Magazine.

What are you waiting for? What would you never miss? What have you fixed your eyes upon? Hebrews 12:15 says, "Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God." Hebrews 10:25 says, "And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near." Hebrews 12:1-2 says, "And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith."

Adapted from Justin Cote's article "Surfing's Iron Man"

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Christmas Eve Prayer?

Our Father in Heaven, who so loved the world, thank you for sending your Son Jesus to become Immanuel--God also with us. In our gratitude and love, we remember your humble birth into our lives and pray for those who are without enough to eat. We remember the stable in which you were born and pray for those who have no place to live. We remember your challenging message of caring--even for our enemies and those who wish to do us harm. For these children are precious to you too.

So arm us with the grace we lack and the strength we need to become courageous peacemakers. Please, in your miraculous way, fill the hearts of those who are hurting and mourning at this time with the promised Prince of Peace. And guard our hearts.

God of all good gifts, we represent just a handful of your children. But on behalf of all your children, we bless You too and give You thanks in your Spirit who brings our hearts to life this Christmas Eve. Be our light in this dark world. And send us safely to our homes like the wise men, full of wonder and with joy in our hearts. Amen.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Real Friend and Brother?

Proverbs 18:24 (NLT) says, "There are 'friends' who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother." Seven-year-old Cayden is unable to walk or talk on his own, but his nine-year-old brother Conner had an idea that would allow them to participate in sports together. A year and a half ago, they began competing in triathlons together. Conner swims while pulling Cayden in a raft, bikes with his little brother towed behind him in a trailer, and pushes that trailer when they run. Over the past 18 months, the pair from White House, Tennessee, traveled up and down the East coast to compete in races. Seeing the brothers working together has inspired onlookers, while bringing Conner and Cayden closer than ever. Their amazing determination and spirit is why the Long brothers are the 2012 Sports Illustrated Kids SportsKids of the Year. Enjoy!!! Here's the full length ESPN segment too. Big thanks and WTG to JeffB for sharing.

Friday, January 18, 2013

February Film Fest?

When Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517, his deed reverberated throughout the world—challenging assumptions about religious authority and how we are to approach God.

This classic black-and-white film presentation captures the passion of the life and times of the Great Reformer. Nominated for two Academy Awards, it traces Luther's life as a guilt-burdened monk through the monumental events that led to his eventual break with the Roman Church. In spite of its age, this film continues to be a popular classic to introduce Luther's life and will be what we're watching FEB 2 @ 7pm in our third installment of this winter's Film Fest. Free hot drinks and snacks and discussion follows. Join us!!! You do NOT have to be a member of Toledo First Church to participate.

Wall of Misconception?

Liberty Magazine has been arguing for full religious freedom for any and all—and for the right to change your belief or to have none at all—for 106 years now. From the beginning its editors have argued for the separation of church and state: a constitutional mandate designed to protect religious freedom. But some even in America would want us to rethink this separation. Lincoln Steed, current editor of Liberty magazine, writes in a recent editorial (click here to read in its entirety) that he recently received a copy of a book entitled Wall of Misconception. It is a rethink of the separation of church and state, and a redux of the godly state. More and more voices like its author are crying, “If we just morally cleansed our nation—our world—then God would stay His hand.” There is a half-truth here: God wants willing obedience and will bless it—but I, like Lincoln Steed, cannot imagine any mandated worship being pleasing or effective.

Why? Because God loves you like crazy! And because He is love (1 John 4:7-8), He is not willing to coerce or force anyone to follow Him (though current leaders in Egypt who this week gave 15-year prison sentences to a woman and her seven children for converting to Christianity apparently don't feel the same way). But even in America, this kind of sincere but dangerous thinking is alive and well. In the same Liberty issue quoted above, another article details how a devout Christian named Michael Salman was fined more than $12,000 and sentenced to 60 days in jail for the “crime” of holding a weekly Bible study in his Phoenix, Arizona home. If you think armed police raids of his property, repeated warnings against holding any form of Bible study at his home, and a court-ordered probation banning him from having any gatherings of more than 12 people at his home sounds more like Egypt than Arizona, think again.

Yes, life is (usually) (for many of us in America at least) good. And even when its not (as Jesus predicted in Matthew 24:8,14), God is still good. And can bring good from evil (cf. Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28). But Bergman had it right: God was not in the flagellant revivals, He was not in the witch hunts, He was not in the edicts of clergy or ruler—as always, He is found in the heart and the conscience of free individuals. And it is this freedom to love the God back who first loved us that we will be highlighting MAR 23 @ 11am and 2pm at Toledo First Church. Come meet Lincoln Steed and hear him share more fascinating stories of religious liberty concern from around the world.

Adapted from Lincoln Steed's editorial "Earth and Sky" found in the NOV/DEC 2012 edition of Liberty Magazine

Now What?

Well, the world didn't end on December 21st as the Mayans predicted. 2013 has arrived and the earth is still here "looking forward to the day when it will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay (Romans 8:21).

As we begin a new year, I think of all the blessings God has given us through children. I love their enthusiasm to sing praise to Jesus. I love their willingness to actively participate and whole-heartedly worship. Whether it's singing the ABC's or doing the motions for our new fave songs "Side by Side" and I'm In The Lord's Army." I love walking through the halls of JMLC and TJA and hearing their laughter and greetings. They remind me of how I think God probably feels about us.

May God's grace save and make you more like Him this new year as we look forward to the day He returns. Whenever He does.