Holy Halloween Season Two

Due to its success last year, we are handing out hot dogs, chili, and drinks on trick-or-treat night again this year. I am happy to announce that the Antwerp Community Church will be sponsoring it this year.

You can read my story about last year here if you would like.

If you're in the community of Antwerp and would also like to get involved, let me know asap because it will be announced at the Antwerp Community Church this weekend and most of the slots will probably be filled then. But if you want to be involved and aren't part of the Antwerp Community Church, you are more than welcome to be involved. Although the event is sponsored by the Antwerp Community Church, your help would be appreciated, and I think you would be blessed by being involved.


Holy Halloween

Free Hot Dogs, Chili, and Drinks to show the community
some of God's love for them.

This is another great opportunity to
show the community a glimpse of God's love for them.
Feel free to just come down and hang out if you don't
want to sign up for anything specific. We need people
to be there to chat with the families that are
trick-or-treating because the people working will be
too busy to do that. Just come down, hang
out, and have a good time. But remember that if you
bring kids, they will need to be watched at all times
because this will be right by the road and many people
will be out trick-or-treating.

If you would like to help, let me know
what you would like to do.

The following items are still needed:

25 gallons worth of powder to make juice
400 Napkins
600 plastic or styrofoam cups (some for the chili and
some for the juice)
5 bottles of ketchup
2 bottles of mustard
Onions for hot dogs (we bought that just add water
onion stuff last year, but if someone wants to chop a
bunch, that would be better)
a big package of Paper Towels (we use them as the
20 packages of taco seasoning
10 lbs of onions

Also, we need volunteers to staff the tent.

set-up crew: 6 people
first 1/2 hour: 5 people
second 1/2 hour: 5 people
third 1/2 hour: 5 people
fourth 1/2 hour: 5 people
tear down crew: 6 people

We would like to get as many people involved as
possible, so please just sign up for one shift unless
it is for the set-up and tear down. If we don't have
enough people, then we can just fill in with those
that are there.

Watch out for the potholes.

Listen to God's Promptings - An Irrational God (at least to us)

I can point to a few instances in my life where I know the Holy Spirit has prompted me to do things I wouldn't rationally do. However, I don't know if the Holy Spirit guides me every day. Maybe it does. Maybe it prompts me to say things in conversations I wouldn't normally say. Maybe it stalls me in what I'm doing so I'll be able to help someone that wouldn't have been there if I had left five minutes earlier.

The Holy Spirit is a mystery. Training ourselves isn't. We can do the latter while always being sensitive to the former. Maybe in the process we'll naturally begin to listen to the Holy Spirit and not even realize it. May all the glory be to God.

I can recall two times that I have totally ignored the Holy Spirit. Both produced nothing. One was when I bailed a friend out of jail. I kept feeling that I should give him the money and tell him that freeing him to be the person God wants him to be is similar to this. I thought it was corny and I wanted to keep my $275. He never became a Christian, nor did he ever repay me the money. I don't know if my actions would've changed anything, but I do feel that I missed an opportunity led by the spirit on that one. God wanted him to hear that message and I failed to be the messenger. I followed my logic and did what I naturally would've done rather than the extraordinary thing God would want me to.

The other time was on one of the spring break trips to Mexico. During one of the services during their open mic (without the electronic mic) time, I felt prompted to go up to the front and say something I felt was very corny. I would've just brushed it off but later that night I was talking with another member of our group. He shared with me that he felt he should've said something at the service earlier in the day. It was the same thing. And it was never said. I wonder how many people said no to saying it.

Both examples seem to have been God prompting me to do something I wouldn't normally do. In both I failed. I pray that I won't ignore the Holy Spirit's promptings ever again.

Good News of God's Kingdom - Guest Post by John Nugent

We're in for a treat today. John Nugent provided me with his non-trimmed down article on the Kingdom of God. A shortened version was published in the Christian Standard last year. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Also, I recently preached a sermon on this topic.

Part One: The Good News
Marriage Analogy
Marriage has fallen on hard times as of late: divorce rates are soaring, children are being born out of wedlock, Christians are marrying unbelievers, and same-sex unions are escalating. Indeed, there is widespread confusion as to what marriage entails. Such confusion stems partly from our culture’s tendency to mistake the benefits of marriage with marriage itself. It is true that after marriage a man and woman are properly positioned to have children, whether the goal is to enjoy their company, pass on the family name, or ensure care in old age. It is equally true that spouses may savor romantic moments, experience guilt-free intercourse, share material possessions, and enjoy certain economic privileges. These benefits of marriage cannot and should not be denied; but neither do they define what marriage is.
From a Christian standpoint, marriage is a lifelong commitment that a man and a woman make before God and His people, and consummate in the marriage bed. By these actions they bind their lives exclusively to one another out of the conviction that they can best serve God together. Apart from this context, marriage can degrade into a contractual relationship by which two individuals, still independent, seek to secure the benefits of marriage while the investment potential is still promising. The sad but inevitable result of this kind of agreement is that it is easily dissolved when the benefits wane and the arrangement becomes less convenient or is seen to be less advantageous.
Insightful Christians have claimed that a similar fate has befallen the Gospel message. [fn. 1 See the numerous writings of the Gospel and Our Culture Network.] They believe that a good number of Christians have confused the benefits of the Good News with the Good News itself. I have to admit that I was skeptical of these claims at first, but recent experiences in local churches, seminars, and college classes have convinced me otherwise.
Good News Exercise
When teaching about the nature and mission of the Church, I typically begin with a simple exercise. I hand each participant a blank index card. On that card I have them answer the following question: “What is the Good News that Jesus and his followers proclaimed?” Then I collect the cards, mix them up, and read through the stack. The answers are much the same: “Jesus loves me as a friend and will help me through the tough spots in life,” “My sins are forgiven and my guilt is removed,” and “Jesus died so I may be raised from the dead to receive eternal life.” Though these statements reflect important components of what Jesus has done and what benefits we may receive through him, participants are often surprised to learn that these benefits by themselves are not the gospel message that Jesus and his followers preached; that is, according to Scripture.
I expose them to the biblical message in the most straightforward way I know. I hand the participants another index card. Each one contains a different verse from the Synoptic Gospels and Acts in which the Good News Jesus or one of his followers preached is summarized in a sentence or two. One by one they read the verses aloud and by the time they are done the message is clear. According to Scripture, the Good News that John the Baptist preachecd, [fn. 2 Matt 3:1-2] [fn. 3 Matt 4:17, 23; 9:35; Mark 1:14-15; Luke 4:43; 8:1; 9:11; 16:16] Jesus commissioned his followers to preach, [fn. 4 Matt 10:7; Luke 9:2, 60; 10:9-11] Jesus said would be preached until the very end, [fn. 5 Matt 24:14] Jesus preached after his resurrection, [fn. 6 Acts 1:3, and Jesus’ followers preached in their earliest mission work [fn. 7 Acts 8:12; 19:8; 20:25; 28:23; 28:31] was the Gospel of God’s in-breaking kingdom. Here are a few representative verses: Jesus preached,
  • “John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.’” (Matt 3:1-2)
  • “Jesus went…proclaiming the good news of God. ‘The time has come,’ he said, ‘The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news.’” (Mark 1:14-15)
  • “…[T]his gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matt 24:14)
  • “I (Jesus) must preach the good news of the kingdom of God…because that is why I was sent.” (Luke 4:42-43)
  • “[Jesus] appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3)
  • “[Philip] preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus.” (Acts 8:12)
  • “[Paul] declared to them the kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus.” (Acts 28:23)
From these verses we may trace a kind of evolution of the Good News. John the Baptist preached about the kingdom of God, Jesus preached about the kingdom of God, and Jesus’ earliest followers preached about the kingdom of God and Jesus. Today, however, many Christians retain Jesus’ central place in the Good News, as they should, but then they omit all reference to the kingdom of God or replace it with the latest trend, such as, liberation, enlightenment, or individualistic salvation.
My aim in this essay is not to trace the complicated history of how “kingdom” language has slipped out of many Christians’ explanation of the Good News, nor to claim that those who do not use such language do not understand the Good News. People may certainly comprehend the same Gospel but use different terms to discuss it. I only want to raise awareness of kingdom language, clarify its meaning, and suggest a few reasons why recovering such language can empower churches to a fuller witness today. Having fulfilled the first of these tasks, I now turn to the second.

Part Two: What is the Kingdom of God?
Common Misconceptions
This essay is not the place for an exhaustive introduction to the kingdom of God, so I will briefly address some common misconceptions and then suggest a more biblical view.
First, the kingdom of God is not simply “heaven,” as in the place where God currently resides. Whereas Matthew uses the phrase “kingdom of heaven” more than “kingdom of God” (as opposed to Mark and Luke), the reason has nothing to do with location. Instead, Matthew, being a respectful Jew writing for a Jewish Christian audience, is honoring God’s name by not overusing it. He uses the phrase “kingdom of heaven” as a circumlocution—that is, a roundabout way of conveying “kingdom of God” without saying “God.” Furthermore, as the Lord’s Prayer indicates, God’s kingdom entails God’s will being done “on earth as it is in heaven.” So whereas heaven is and has always been under God’s reign, the Good News is that God’s rule is extending beyond his heavenly abode.
Second, the kingdom of God should not be confused with the person of Jesus. Some surmise that because the kingdom existed in Jesus, he must be the kingdom. For them, to say that the kingdom has come is the same as saying that Jesus himself has come. More accurately, Jesus inaugurated the kingdom, taught authoritatively what that kingdom is like, and reigns now over that kingdom—but he is not the kingdom itself. As we will see, the kingdom of God is a social reality ushered in by the first and second advents of Jesus, but Jesus himself is not the sum total of that reality.
Third, the kingdom is not simply inner spiritual experience of the divine, as in “Jesus reigns in my heart.” Support for this understanding is gleaned from Luke 17:21, where Jesus says, “the kingdom of God is within you” (NIV). However, the word translated “within” here is better translated as “among”—a translation supported by the plural “you” in the Greek. The strictly internalized reading may be prevalent in certain kinds of popular Christian writing, but it is not supported by other Scriptures and misses Jesus’ point in this verse. This verse is better understood as referring to the reign of God that broke out amidst the lives of first century believers. No other passage locates the kingdom with the individual alone.
Fourth, many have identified God’s kingdom with human liberation in history gained by overtly or covertly replacing pagan governments with Christian ones. This was the position of the zealots of Jesus’ day, many of Jesus’ disciples, some contemporary streams of liberation theology, and certain circles lobbying for a Christian America. Yet Jesus rejected those means for carrying out God’s will. Instead, he began forming a non-territorial people whose mission required seeking first God’s kingdom in every land and was not contingent on one particular government.
Finally, we should avoid equating God’s kingdom with the Church. Though the kingdom is sometimes made manifest in the Church, God also exercises his reign beyond our “walls.” Though the reign of God operates in and through us, it also pioneers ahead of us and cleans up after us. God is sovereign not only of the church but of all creation. More precisely, the church is a sign, foretaste, and herald of the kingdom. It is a sign to the extent that it points others toward the reality of God’s kingdom. It is a foretaste insofar as one may partially experience the kingdom in the church’s life. It is a herald when it proclaims the kingdom’s nearness and nature.
Jewish Narrative View
How, then, should we understand the kingdom of God? Though they did not get all the details right, let me suggest that we see it similar to how the Jews of Jesus’ day did: an age in history to be ushered in by the Messiah in which God’s reign over all of creation would be made manifest. To understand this view, we must briefly review the broad scope of the biblical narrative. We must ask both what God has been doing since the beginning and how he is working toward the end. In presenting this narrative I must speak in general terms and paint in very broad strokes. More could be added about Old Testament laws and the significance of Jesus’ life and death, but I have chosen to narrate only enough details to help the reader gain a basic grasp of the nature of God’s kingdom.
In the beginning, God created humanity that we may enjoy his generous gifts to us: gifts of living, shaping our own lives, enjoying others, enjoying God’s creation, and enjoying God. Human sin has distorted these gifts and prevented our full enjoyment of them. It has alienated individuals from themselves, each other, creation, and God. This has resulted in reckless living, strife among people, separation from God, and death itself. God was not content to leave his creation in this condition. He chose to form a people, Israel, whom he would teach what it means to live according to God’s design and through whom He would show the world what that living entails. God does not mandate such living for his own benefit, but that his creatures may fully enjoy his gifts to us. Israel struggled throughout its life to fulfill its calling. God comforted Israel through prophets by proclaiming a future Israelite who would inaugurate an age when all people would be obedient to God and God’s original intentions for creation would become reality.
This promised age, the kingdom of God, began with the person of Jesus Christ. In Jesus, God became human. Through his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus made possible the way of life God intends for all creation. In living, Jesus showed us what it means to live rightly. In dying and rising, he released the stranglehold sin and death formerly held on our lives and creation. In forming a people, the Church, and inhabiting them through his Holy Spirit, he furnishes us the place and power to embody and bear witness to God’s kingdom. However, God’s reign has not yet been fully realized. Out of love for all humans and desire that more may enjoy his reign, God has allowed the kingdoms of this world to continue for a time. Their perseverance and resistance to God’s reign diminishes our experience of God’s gifts and stands as a reminder that his kingdom has not come in its fullness.
Yet opposition to God’s reign is not the final word. Christ promised to return. When he does, the counter-kingdoms of this world will be vanquished permanently. God will raise his faithful who have died and gather them unto his faithful who are alive and he will dwell among them forever in the new heavens and earth.
Now, But Not Yet
One of the most puzzling aspects of God’s kingdom is its “now” but “not yet” status. By this I mean that, although the kingdom began in Jesus, it clearly has not come in its fullness. As a result, we experience it only partially now and we await its fulfillment when Christ returns. This tension has often been explained by comparing two critical moments of WWII, D-Day and V-Day. On D-Day Allied forces delivered the fatal blow to Axis powers that secured their eventual victory. Though the Allies could confidently celebrate their victory, the war did not end that day. Axis powers continued to fight for a loosing cause before finally surrendering on V-Day. Similarly, Christians know that the death and resurrection of Christ are the defining moment in the establishment of God’s kingdom. Yet the lame duck opponent of God’s kingdom will endure until Christ returns to consummate his reign and subdue his enemies permanently.
So from a Christian standpoint, history may be understood as two overlapping eras: the old and the new. The old era is the age of “the world,” which stretches backward in human history before Christ. The new era began with the ministry of Christ and extends forward to the fullness of God’s kingdom and serves as a foretaste of it. The old era, however, did not end with the ministry of Christ. It persists as a “lame duck” regime and will continue to do so until Christ returns and God places all things under his feet. [fn. 8 1 Cor 15:20-28] The overlapping of these two eras has created, in effect, a third era that stems from the beginning of the new until the end of the old. This era, from Pentecost to Parousia, is that of the church. During it we experience the kingdom of God in part, but not in full.
By this we see that the Good News of the kingdom and the Gospel of Jesus are one and the same. They are fused so tightly together that one cannot be properly understood without the other. The Good News is that Jesus the Messiah has come, that he has inaugurated God’s kingdom, and that through his death and resurrection we may inherit this kingdom. This inheritance is not something we must die to experience, though we will likely die and be raised before we experience its fullness. New life in Jesus begins when we are baptized into his body, the Church, whose mission is to seek first God’s kingdom.

Part Three: Kingdom-Driven Church
As leaders in the Restoration Movement have rightly sought to restore key practices of the early church, it may now be time to revisit the way the early church articulated the Gospel message. The most pressing reason for this is faithfulness to the teaching of our Lord and his Word. This does not mean that those who omit kingdom language are being unfaithful, although it may suggest that we think that our way is better. Of course one may point to the letters of the New Testament where kingdom language is employed less often. It is important to remember, however, that whereas the Gospels and Acts focus on the Gospel message and its delivery to new hearers, the NT letters were written to converted believers and thus presuppose an audience who has already heard and accepted the gospel message, even if imperfectly. Their concern is how churches should order their lives according to this message in particular times and places over and against challenges to this message within and beyond the body. Nevertheless, even when they do not employ “kingdom of God” language, the teachings of the NT letters are based on the truth that Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection have changed the course of world history, that this change is the fulfillment of Israel’s expectations, that it means new life for believers now, and that it will be fully consummated after Jesus returns.
Take the Apostle Paul for example. Although he seldom employs kingdom language in his letters, he often speaks about the Gospel in ways that highlight the Jewish narrative view of God’s kingdom—that is, the re-alignment of time and life signaled by the coming of the kingdom in Jesus. Below I paraphrase a few of the most obvious passages:
  • Ro 6:4, 13; 7:4, 6; 8:5-17, 23 Newness of life and first fruits of the Spirit,
  • 1 Cor 7:31 Present form of this world is passing away
  • 1 Cor 10:11 The end of the ages has come upon us
  • 1 Cor 13:8-13 Now we know in part, then we will know fully
  • 1 Cor 15:20-28 Christ as first fruits, then we follow, then the kingdom is handed over to God
  • 2 Cor 6:2 Now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation
  • 2 Cor 5:16-17 In Christ creation is new, everything old has passed, everything has become new
  • Gal 1:3 Christ set us free from the present evil age
  • Gal 4:4 God sent Christ when the fullness of time had come
  • Gal 6:15 New creation is everything
  • Eph 2:11-22 In Christ there is a new humanity
So whereas there is biblical precedent for talking about the Gospel without using the phrase “kingdom of God,” such alternative language should at least reflect the narrative structure of the Good News about Jesus and the kingdom, as do the NT letters. “So what?” you may wonder, “What are the practical implications of this adjustment in how we articulate the Good News?” Let me conclude by suggesting two ways that restoring kingdom language might empower the witness of local churches.

New Life in Christ
One way restoring kingdom language can empower the church’s witness is by emphasizing the new life of the kingdom that Jesus offers believers now. I have been preaching the Good News of Jesus and the kingdom of God for over a decade now and, frequently, many who hear it for the first time flood me afterwards with appreciation. The reason is almost always the same. Many Christians think that, although Jesus came to fix their afterlife, he left their miserable everyday life mostly intact. Of course, they have heard preachers talk about repentance and new life (most preachers understand this quite well), but for some reason it never clicks for many believers that their life now is supposed to be radically different from that of non-believers. They assume that this life, even in Christ, is meant to be a drag, whereas abundant life begins in the hereafter. They believe that now we live in Christ’s suffering and only then we will enjoy his resurrection.
This results, at least partially, from well-intentioned Christian communicators (whether popular authors, radio personalities, or local church teachers) preaching Jesus without emphasizing the narrative framework of the Gospel. [fn. 9 An example of this is chapter three of D. James Kennedy’s Evangelism Explosion, 4th ed (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1996), 31-36. Kennedy presents the gospel as follows: (a) Grace: heaven is a free gift that cannot be earned; (b) Man: man is a sinner who cannot save himself, (c) God: God is merciful and doesn’t want to punish us but just so he must punish us, (d) Jesus Christ: Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead to pay the penalty for our sins and to purchase a place in heaven for us, and (e) Faith: we can we receive this by trusting in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life.] From the hearer’s perspective, there is a big difference between “Jesus died for your sins and rose from the dead so you may inherit eternal life after you die” and “In his life, death, and resurrection Jesus inaugurated God’s kingdom so that you may live in newness of life now and may experience the fullness of that life when Jesus returns to finalize God’s reign.” This does not invalidate other, more familiar elements of the Good News, but it does put these other important things–how the cross of Jesus pardoned our sins, vanquished God’s enemies, and so on—into the narrative framework shared by the Gospel’s earliest advocates.
When people hear this for the first time, they often receive it as good news. It means that old self-abusive habits need not remain with them until death. It means never again being alone. It means not being judged according to social status, talent, biological relations, or academic credentials. It means there is a real-life body of believers who value them as Jesus does. It means that this kingdom-seeking, spirit-empowered, cross-patterned body will be with them each step of the way to warn them of dangers, pick them up when they fall, appreciate and incorporate their unique gifts, and love them tirelessly. This is why Jesus could say of Zacchaeus, “Today salvation has come to this house” (Luke 19:9), and of his followers, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
One of the reasons God raises up leaders is to cast a vision of the possibilities of life under God’s reign. Unfortunately, people seldom rise above the vision that is set before them. We all view and experience life within certain parameters that we have inherited, developed, or learned from others. It is difficult for us experience life beyond these parameters. We come to expect from life and ourselves only what our imaginations have been formed to perceive. When all we expect from faith is a happy ending, we may only live a mediocre life. But when a vision of the abundant life of God’s kingdom is set before us, we may blossom with the new life Christ intends for us.
To Do and To Be
A second way restoring kingdom language can empower the church’s witness is by elevating the “to be” of the church’s mission alongside the “to do.” Put differently, the kind of corporate life believers share is just as important as the tasks they carry out. In the past decade or so, visionary leaders have sounded something of a rallying cry among our churches to clarify our purpose. They have directed us to church growth books and encouraged participation in seminars aimed at getting churches to ask the same kinds of questions that successful businesses ask, namely: What is our purpose? What is our mission? What do we exist “to do”? If we could only focus on such questions, they propose, we can streamline our life together so as to major in majors and avoid time-consuming distractions.
We were right to recognize the truth in this cry, that if we as God’s people are not intentional about our mission, we may unknowingly drift from it and fail to bear fruit. The problem, however, is when the church’s mission is driven by a truncated gospel message. If the Good News is that Jesus died for our sins to secure us a pleasant afterlife, then the purpose of many streamlined churches becomes, in practice, to get as many people as possible to fulfill the bear minimum necessary to share in the resurrected life. However, if the good news includes, among other aspects, immediate newness of life according to God’s kingdom, then the “to be” of the church’s mission is just as important as the “to do.” Our job is not simply to spread the Good News about Jesus and his kingdom; we must embody that Good News in our life together.
Jesus’ parables about the kingdom were not pie-in-the-sky visions of the distant future; they were pictures of the new reality Jesus was making possible—a reality which demanded an immediate response that would transform how his followers viewed the world and lived their collective life. This new life is central to Christian witness. It is what makes us savory salt, bright light, infectious yeast, and a city on the hill worth noticing. The kingdom of God must serve as the rudder that guides Christian decision-making. We must always ask how this or that course of action will both lead others to Christ and give them a glimpse of what God’s kingdom is like. A decision that accomplishes the former without the latter is deficient because if it fails to reflect God’s kingdom, then it is not Christ to whom we are leading them.
For example, unbelievers may be drawn to Christ more easily if we were to give up on racial or social reconciliation and choose to be churches that focus on only one particular race or economic class. This choice would remove one possible barrier that would prevent a closet racist from joining that church. However, that decision would also shape that church’s life so as to bear witness—not to the kingdom of God, where ethnicity and net worth do not segregate—but to the old era of the world where they do. The ‘to do” and the “to be” should not be separated. For a long time the world has noticed a strong break between what Christians preach and who Christians are. For this reason many have rejected the faith altogether. Emphasizing the church’s mission to embody the kingdom in its life together may therefore strengthen our witness.
In Matthew 24:14, Jesus said, “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Most Christians agree that the end has not yet come. So we must continue to preach the good news Jesus preached, though perhaps with one significant difference. Following the example of the early evangelists in Acts, we must never proclaim the kingdom of God independent of the Jesus who died, rose, and now sits at the Father’s right hand. Emphasizing the kingdom does not mean downplaying Jesus’ death or ignoring the various benefits of the good news that are often mistaken for the full gospel message. Rather, it means preaching the entire gospel as best we understand it, fully aware that now we know only in part, but when Christ returns to bring the kingdom in its fullness, then we will know fully, even as we are fully known.

Watch out for the potholes.

The "Christian" Telephone Company Strikes Again - United American Technolgies

This is a follow-up to my previous story about the "Christian" telephone company contacting me.

Despite the fact that we said "no" to them, they signed us up anyway. Today, we are going to have to go through the hassle of turning them off. Hopefully, we can do it all before they disconnect our previous long-distance provider. Arggh!

Here are some good exerpts from the mailing they sent with the long-distance service bill (which I point out was higher than what they said it would be).

Thank you for signing up for United American Technology's Four Hours of Free Calling plan. Anytime you use your free minutes, you will be helping Stop Same Sex Marriage.

The bad grammar is of their own creation.

Does it really make a difference what carrier you use? Yes, it does if you want to stop same sex marriage and child porn (see Internet sites, www.uatnow.com and www.thencsp.com). See what AT&T, MCI, Spring and the local Bells are promoting! (See UAT Newsroom to review article).

Now, on the phone they told us Primus, who gives us 3 cents a minute instate and 4 cents a minute out-of-state, is part of this evil same-sex marriage and porn ring. I really don't think they know if they are or not. They seem to just say that about every phone company. The good plan I received from Primus seems not to be available now; however, you can always go to Lower My Bills and see if there is some compnay offering a great plan in your area. That is where we found out about the Primus deal in our area. We been happily using them for three years now.

All carriers like AT&T, Sprint, MCI, and the Local Bells are promoting same sex unions, partnerships, marriage as a civil right. They are guilty of trafficiking hard core porn! They even traffic child pornography that leads weak-minded people to abduct, abuse, rape, and kill children.

They also offer a deal that if you donate to NCSP you can receive free long distance. They have an $80, $155, and a $300 plan. This sounds like a winner church fundraiser. Free long distance for church members if they give so much money.

Wow. That's all I have to say about United American Technologies. I just hope that non-Christians don't encounter this company and think this is what Christians are about.

Watch out for the potholes.

Grey's Anatomy - Living out our crisis convictions in our normal life

I watch Grey's Anatomy for the first and last time yesterday. Not that I didn't like the show; it was enjoyable. However, it was the most depressing show I have ever watched. It's either never watch Grey's Anatomy again or go to my doctor and ask about the purple pill. It was depressing, and I really couldn't handle it. Not that I wept or anything. I just wanted to curl up in the corner of a room and hide. Isolation is the way I deal with depression.

Anyway, the show dealt with lots of things, but the part I wanted to talk about was the scene in which two of the doctors (I don't know names - it was the first time I watched the show) were quarantined in a room of the hospital due to exposure to the plague (a storyline that I didn't understand - so maybe the show was bad but it just survives on continually shocking and mortifying the audience).

During their time in quarantine, the younger doctor is freaking out about how he doesn't want to die and hasn't experienced life. The older doctor seems fine with dying and isn't panicking. The younger doctor says that it is because he has experienced life. The younger doctor claims that he has never even told a woman that he loves her. So the doctor encourages him to tell his girlfriend that when they get out.

When that moment happens, the younger doctor chickens out and doesn't tell the girl that he loves her. While the doctor tells his new woman that he loves her. Why does the doctor experience life "better"? It is because he lives out his convictions that he had during the time of crisis. The younger doctor was fine making the conviction during crisis yet then ignoring it when he came out into the real world, much like church camp conversions or church conference convictions.

Watch out for the potholes.

Yale announces free video of lessons

I'm excited. Yesterday, as I was driving down the road I was hoping that some university would do this. Little did I know that it was already in the works at Yale. One of the seven classes that might be of interest to people who visit here is Introduction to the Old Testament.

I didn't know that MIT and Princeton (which I can't find online) already were offering their course material (save for the actual lectures) online. Right now, I don't have time to go and get a formal education, I haven't particularly liked the structure of the online universities I have looked into and the education they would offer me, and I would like a more structured learning experience. It would also be beneficial to have someone that knew something about the subject matter telling me what would be good to read concerning that subject. So I figure I might read through some of the course material of the classes that interest me.

Watch out for the potholes.

Want to get even - Urine in the coffee is always a good way

I can't believe this story.

Man Gets 6 Months For Putting Urine In Co-Workers' Coffee

The man did this for a period of time. He would sit there with his co-workers as he drank the coffee he urinated in. So if you have a company coffee pot at work, be careful.

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A President who doesn't want to be President

Oprah Seeks To Avoid 2008 Draft

Well, I don't know if Oprah would be the best choice for President although I believe she would win easily. However, I do believe that we need a President who hasn't planned and manipulated for the last fifteen years to win the job. It would definitely be a breath of fresh air.

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Goodbye Repulbican Party - Bush, cronyism, and corporate greed

I have read a section in a book that I am currently reading that has deeply disturbed me. Here is an excerpt from Antonia Juhasz's Bush Agenda.

Of course, the Bush Agenda does have supporters, especially corporate allies that have both shaped and benefited from the administration's economic and military policies. Many of those allies are found in the energy sector, while many from the energy sector are found in the Bush administration...The Bush administration itself represents the first time in history that the president, vice president, and secretary of state are all former energy company officials. In fact, the only other U.S. president to come from the oil and gas industry was Bush's father.

The Bush years have been a record-breaking bonanza for the oil industry. The twenty-nine major oil and gas firms in the United States earned $43 billion in profits in 2003 and $68 billion in 2004. oil profits were so high in 2005, that the top three companies alone (Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, and CononcoPhillips) earned nearly $64 billion between them, more than half of which went to Texas-based Exxon-Mobil, which recorded the single most profitable year of any corporation in world history in both 2004 and 2005.

Companies such as Halliburton and Chevron, which respectively count the vice president and secretary of state as former officials, are key allies to the Bush Agenda. The Bechtel Corporation, the largest engineering company in the world, with extensive work in the oil and gas field, has exercised influence over the Bush Agenda through its current and past executives, including current board member and former company president, George Shultz, Ronald Reagan's secretary of state. Lockheed Martin, the country's largest military contractor and the world's largest arms exporter, has also played a lead role, with no fewer than sixteen current and past company officials having held positions within the Bush administration.

The George W. Bush years have been remarkably rewarding for each of these companies, particularly in the post-Iraq invasion period. Indeed, each company has a long history in Iraq, played a lead through company executives past and present in advocating for war against Iraq in 2003, and has since profited greatly from that war. Chevron had its most profitable year in its 125-year history in 2004, earning $13.3 billion--nearly double its profits from the year before. The record did not last long, however, as 2005 brought more than $14 billion in profits. Bechtel's revenue increased from $11.6 billion in 2002 to $16.3 billion in 2003, to $17.4 billion in 2004. Halliburton's stock price has nearly quadrupled in value from March 2003 to January 2006, while Lockheed's stocks more than tripled from early 2000 to January 2006. Vice President Cheney is a stockholder in both Halliburton and Lockheed...

...The Bush administration used the military invasion of Iraq to oust its leader, replace its government, implement new economic, political, and oil laws, and write a new constitution. Through the ongoing U.S. military occupation, the Bush administration seeks to ensure that both the new government and the the new economic structure stay firmly in place.

The new economic laws have fundamentally transformed Iraq's economy, applying some of the most radical, sought-after corporate globalization policies in the world and overturning existing laws on trade, public services, banking, taxes, agriculture, investment, foreign ownership, and oil, among others. The new laws lock in sweeping advantages to U.S. corporations, including greater U.S. access to and corporate control of, Iraq's oil. And the benefits have already begun to flow. Between 2003 and 2004 alone, the value of U.S. imports of Iraqi oil increased by 86 percent and then increased again in the first three quarters of 2005.

I'm flabbergasted. And I don't think I will ever vote for a Republican again (at least in the near future because they can change) despite that they have always received my support on the national level.

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Finding a place to vomit isn't so easy in the city

Yesterday wasn't fun. We didn't go to church in the morning due to me not feeling well. However, I didn't think I was as bad off as I apparently was. We went to my brother's house in Ft. Wayne where we ate pizza and watched football while the moms went to the Johnny Appleseed Festival to have a good time.

They arrived back home with apple dumplings for all of us. It was very yummy. Then I started feeling worse. I really thought I wasn't sick, but I had to take a nap. I fell asleep on their couch. Then Lindsay woke me up for me to help get Isaac and Eli around so we could leave. I had to decline helping as I went to the bathroom to vomit - over and over again. I can't remember ever vomiting that much. It was insane.

Then after I thought I was done vomiting, I loaded into the passenger side of the van. The children were loaded and waiting for me. As we were driving through the city, the urge to vomit came again. What am I to do? I am in the middle of the city and all the places around me are peoples front yards We pulled over to the side of the road and I started to vomit near the edge of the road in a yard that didn't have a sidewalk.

However, the person from the house came out and yelled at me, "Go do that somewhere else." I can understand that the person probably doesn't want vomit on the grass near the road in his yard; however, there was nowhere else to go. I figured I would tell someone who found themselves in a similar situation like mine that I hope they get better soon and ask if they need anything. His reaction was the complete opposite of what I would do. However, finding a place to vomit isn't worth going to jail over. I said "Okay" and headed back to the van. The plan was to hold the vomit in until we got out of the city. I succeeded, but it wasn't fun.

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Muslim Fury at the Pope

I find this whole story baffling.

Muslim fury grows at Pope's speech

Here is the supposed quote of a Byzantine emperor that is causing all of the problems: "Show me just what Mohamed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

First, I wish the Pope would just say if he believes it or not. I would assume that he believes it since he quoted it. But using a quote to say what you want to say rather than just saying it yourself is very cowardly. He should be a preacher/teacher and not a politician.

The Pope always says that he wants a dialog with other religions. Dialog in that context means "conversion".

And the Muslims. Wow. They are angry that the Pope quoted a phrase that says the prophet Mohamed had brought "things only evil and inhuman". Their response? Here's one example: "Pakistan's parliament condemned the "derogatory" remarks today and demanded an apology. The country's foreign ministry said they were "regrettable" and claimed they would encourage violence." So the Muslims are going to prove that their religion doesn't bring about evil and inhuman things by being violent with someone that opposes them. Baffling. Have they thought this through?

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What we should do for global warming

Whatever they did in 1936 to stop global warming, they need to do now.


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Lionel Ritchie and Natural Medicine

I found this interesting. Last Friday night I was watching one of those television news shows. I can't remember which one. In it, they had an interview with Lionel Ritchie. This is from memory, so it isn't exact.

The reporter was talking to Lionel Ritchie about his surgeries to repair his singing voice.

The reporter: "So your last of four surgeries was finally successful in fixing your voice."

Lionel: "No."

The reporter: "But your voice was fixed."

Lionel: "It wasn't until after the fourth surgery that I went to a natural doctor. He asked me what I was eating before going to bed. It turned out that the surgeries weren't necessary at all. I just had acid reflux. The doctor had me quit eating certain foods before bed and my singing voice was back.

That whole story disturbs me because we see it repeated over and over again in doctor's offices throughout this land. Our medical system suffers from "symptomnitis". They are just worried about treating the symptom and not dealing with what is causing the symptom. I'm sure Lionel Ritchie was paying for the best doctors the medical community could provide; however, they all failed to see that it was just acid reflux. They put him through four unnecessary surgeries.

Don't be scared of natural medicine. It has worked for me where the medical community couldn't. My advice would be to try it first. If it doesn't work, then you can go through the harsh and intrusive medicine of the medical community.

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Where does youth ministry go wrong?

The Barna Group just released a new study: Most Twentysomethings Put Christianity on the Shelf Following Spiritually Active Teen Years

The study lists a few suggestions to fix the situation; however, I believe they don't touch on the heart of the problem.

One of the main problems about youth ministry is that our teen years our lived out in an environment that turns out to be as permanent as a week of church camp. All of the friends that we make commitments with and hold are held accountable by move to a different place just like we move on to a different place. Sadly, I don't hang out with anyone that I went to high school with. And that not hanging out, allows for a clean break from who we were in high school. In my case that is a great thing. In teens who grow up in the church and involved in youth group, that is a bad thing.

However, I do still have my relationship with my family members. If the church created family ministries rather than youth ministries, I believe the permanent impact of the growth that occurs in one's spiritual life during their teen years would be more likely to stick. Those children who don't have families could be "spiritually adopted" into families that are already involved. It might not be as hip or cool as what youth ministry has become, but it would be more effective because the relationships in which the decisions and changes were made would be done in a more permanent environment.

Loyalty to congregations is one of the casualties of young adulthood: twentysomethings were nearly 70% more likely than older adults to strongly assert that if they “cannot find a local church that will help them become more like Christ, then they will find people and groups that will, and connect with them instead of a local church.” They are also significantly less likely to believe that “a person’s faith in God is meant to be developed by involvement in a local church.”

I think the church has done a terrible job teaching people why it is essential. Sadly, I think that is because of the way most churches function. They are not being the essential church. The local church is one of the most important elements of a believer's life, and lives should be lived in such a way that all believer's would know it is essential. What are we doing to make our local congregation essential to believers?

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Adblock - A feature that I have grown to love

Well, I'm a browser roamer. In the last month I have used IE6, IE7, Firefox, Opera, and Avant. But I have grown to love Firefox because of two features. I think my roaming days are over again.

First, if you haven't already, you need to download and install Firefox. If you don't do that, these features are meaningless to you.

Item #1 that I love about Firefox is the spell checker called AspellFox. It works on input boxes I type this sort of stuff in and in forums that I frequent. IE7 also has an add-on like this, so that doesn't make Firefox unique.

The second feature is an advertisement free internet. Now, I understand that advertisements help pay for sites. They give me a little boost on this site when I have them up. However, ever since the blogger in beta upgrade, I haven't been able to successfully get them to work. But if you don't like my ads or anyone else's, you can just not see them. I have no problem with that.

To get tis to work you need to download Adblock Plus. Then download Adblock Filterset.G Updater. This last step isn't necessary, but it allows your filter sets to be updated. Then restart Firefox. Obviously, you'll want to choose the locale that you are from upon its first load. For most of you that would be the United States. Now you will have an ad-free internet experience. It definitely helps speed the internet up on my dial-up connection at home.

Watch out for the potholes and advertisements.

Bibles handout halted at Missouri School

Judge Halts Bible Giveaway at Missouri School.

When I was a freshman in college, the Gideons gave away Bibles on the campus of Miami University. Because I wasn't a Christian and didn't bring a Bible to college, I began to read the little Bible that the Gideons gave me. I was appreciative for it. I'm sure it played some role in my conversion, so I'm probably bias.

I see nothing wrong with a community wanting Bibles to be handed out to their fifth graders. I think it is about time that we start to empower communities to make decisions on how they want to educate their children and what they want to educate their children on. There can be general standards that the government expects to be covered, but there should be liberty for the community to decide other subjects they want their children to learn. However, we are continuing to go the wrong way when it comes to education. The federal government is now involved in local education.

If you live in a Muslim community, you should expect the public school to have a Muslim slant. Same for Christian, Mormon, etc. However, we live in a society where every school is expected to have an atheistic slant. True tolerance isn't what our society exemplifies. Our society holds up a standard of individualization and intolerance. You can believe whatever you want as long as it stays in your house of worship or home. If it comes out of those designated places, it will not be tolerated. However, true tolerance would allow whatever religious belief to be expressed in the public arena. We need to be careful to adhere to what the founding fathers intended (not because the founding fathers said it but because it is a good principle) and not have the public arena force people to be of any particular religious persuasion. Exposure isn't forcing.

It doesn't violate anyone's rights to have free Bibles handed out. People should have the option to refuse them. I just wonder what kind of person sues a school because the Gideons tried to hand them a free Bible. Baffling. You can offer my kid a free Koran or Book of Mormon, I won't mind. We would probably read through it together. Well, if he was in fifth grade, we would.

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How to choose who to support in business. Facing Christian companies.

Lindsay received a phone call last night. The people on the other end were acting like they wanted to conduct a survey. Sales people seem to use this technique more often since sales calls are illegal since the implementation of the "Do-Not Call List".

These people were a Christian telecommunications company. They proceeded to ask who we currently received our long-distance from. Lindsay told them. They proceeded to inform Lindsay that the person who owns Primus (our long distance provider) also owns a homosexual porn company. Then they proceeded to tell us we should get their Christian telecommunications service.

Anyway, we didn't switch.

On a somewhat related subject, I tried to do some research the other week to find out who owns Viacom and Eli Lilly to see if there was a connection between not resigning Tom Cruise and the company that makes Prozac. I couldn't find who the owners were. They are all hidden in investment groups. With Eli Lilly, I couldn't even find the list of investment groups. I guess I'm just not business savvy enough. I'm not about to do internet searches for Primus and porn. I'm pretty sure what that will bring up. I'll take the "Christian" telecommunication company's word that Primus and some porn company are owned by the same person.

But in the world of business, I feel it is important to go to the business that provides the best service, price, or quality. What is most important is dependent upon what I feel about the product I'm shopping for. If I don't know much about the product I'm buying, then service is the most important. If I'm an expert at what I'm buying, price is the most important. If I'm worried about how the product will last in the long run, then quality is most important. I never consider what the owner of the business will use my money for in making my business decision. Maybe I should.

I feel ethically guilty paying too much for something that I know I can get cheaper elsewhere, buying something that wasn't what I needed, or buying something that breaks soon after I purchased it. I think to myself that I could use that money that I wasted to help someone in need, whether around the world or down the street. So I try to make buying decisions with that in mind. So when a company comes along and tells me that I can spend more to support a "Christian" company rather than a company that is owned by some person that also is in the porn industy, I face an ethical dilemma. Is it better to give my money to a "Christian" company that uses their profits for only God knows what? Or is it better to save my money and use it for what I know is good? I chose to keep my money.

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Is it time for another Jonah? - Christian faces court over spreading leaflets against homosexuality

Christian faces court over 'offensive' gay festival leaflets.

I don't know if I approve of his methods, but it has started me to think. Is there room for the soapbox prophets in our modern society?

We have been taught "reltionship evangelism" from day one of our faith. We need to build relationships with people in order for them to have a reason to listen to the Gospel from us. Is that true?

The story of Jonah in the Bible seems to imply that it isn't. He was told to go be a soapbox prophet to the people of Nineveh and he, like I'm sure I would, didn't like the idea. He didn't even like those people. He just went to town and preached his message without building the relationships "necessary" for effective evangelism.

I don't know it there is a group of people I don't like. I've been raised in a culture of tolerance, so it really isn't an achievement. But I do know that I wouldn't be able to go and be a soapbox prophet - probably as a result of that same upbringing. I really have no desire to. I like "relationship evangelism". I'm comfortable evangelizing only those I encounter through my every day actions.

But I do think there is room in Christianity for those who take a more aggessive approach to evangelism. That is what this story changed in my thinking.

I'm not saying that I approve of his approach. All I am going by is the article, but it seemed like he was more focused on the sin of homosexuality than he was on God. But then Jonah's one sentence sermon to Nineveh also seems to be even less detailed about what is the right course of action and one's proper relationship to God.

Jonah 3:1 The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, 2 "Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you." 3 So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days' walk across. 4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day's walk. And he cried out, "Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!"

5 And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth. 6 When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7 Then he had a proclamation made in Nineveh: "By the decree of the king and his nobles: No human being or animal, no herd or flock, shall taste anything. They shall not feed, nor shall they drink water. 8 Human beings and animals shall be covered with sackcloth, and they shall cry mightily to God. All shall turn from their evil ways and from the violence that is in their hands. 9 Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish." 10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.

4:1 But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry.

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The disappearanc in the media of the main point of the Steve Centanni kidnapping story

I ran across this editorial from the Weekly Standard yesterday talking about the kidnapping of Steve Centanni. To me, the big story was their conversion from Christianity to Islam, which the media just stopped covering as soon as they were released. I wondered if it was a real conversion. I wanted some follow-up questions on it. The media didn't come through.

A few excerpts:

The significance of this forced conversion has been downplayed in the media. The New York Times and the Washington Post even pronounced the two "unharmed" on release. This judgment is perverse. If Muslim prisoners in American custody were forced to convert to Christianity on pain of death or as a condition of release, the press would denounce it as virtual torture, and rightly so: No sane person would say the prisoners had suffered no harm.

This blindness also trivializes religion. Many people would sooner die than deny the commitments that shape their lives. Such beliefs lie near the heart of Christian doctrines of martyrdom, especially in the Middle East. In the Donatist controversy, the church was fractured over the question of whether and how to readmit those who under threat had denied their faith. In recent years, Christians in Sudan, Iran, Nigeria, and Indonesia have accepted death at the hands of Islamist extremists rather than convert to Islam.

My first thoughts on this story are found here.

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An embarassment for Christianity

The headline reads:

Father given custody of Molly - because her mother is a Christian

I guess we're supposed to become outraged as Christians. A Christian is denied her child because of her faith. But then I read the story. From the information in the story, the muslim man is acting more Christlike than the "Christian".

"Louise Campbell was not giving Molly an Islamic home and was living with a man she had not married."

"When contacted at his luxurious villa in a Lahore, Mr Rana said: 'She is the mother of my children. I am not going into all this.'"

We don't even half a good chunk of the story. It's an example of some very bad reporting. I wish Muslims could get a chance to hate Christianity for what it really is rather than twisted versions of it.

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When we want people to be outraged with us, we often behave in such a way to make them outraged at us.

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First Years Hands-Free Gate

I must give a good recommendation to the First Years' Hands-Free Gate. We bought the gate about two years ago and love it. Sadly, a piece broke on it which made it unusable. I sent an email to First Years. Within one week, they sent us the replacement part free of charge. First Years did good by us.

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The immigration issue

I sit in my nice comfy computer chair and try to figure out what would Jesus say about the immigrant issue. I have a tough time believing that Jesus would tell them to go home. That stance doesn't seem to fit in with any of the stories about Jesus in the Gospels. So I'm left saying, along with Archbishop Mahoney of the Catholic church, that we should let the immigrants in.

Will that make us worse off as a nation? Maybe. But that really isn't the concern of love. Love is not looking out for my own interest. Love makes me vulnerable.

And I also am saddened that the Republicans have set the immigration aside because it isn't to their political advantage.

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A visit from the Jehovah's Witnesses

Yesterday, we received a visit from the Jehovah's Witnesses. I'm sure they'll be back because I wasn't mean. What I found interesting was that they were using the creation/evolution debate to spark up conversation. I actually like their approach to that subject. It's other subjects that we would disagree on that would keep me from desiring to go there. Here is the section I found interesting. With commentary by me in parenthesis.

Jehovah's Witnesses believe the creation account as recorded in the Bible book of Genesis. However, Jehovah's Witnesses are not what you might think of as creationists. Why not? First, many creationists believe that the universe and the earth and all life on it were created in six 24-hour days some 10,000 years ago. This, however, is not what the Bible teaches. Also, creationist have embraced many doctrines that lack support in the Bible. Jehovah's Witnesses base their religious teachings solely on God's Word.

Furthermore, in some lands the term "creationist" is synonymous with Fundamentalist groups that actively engage in politics. These groups attempt to pressure politicians, judges, and educators into adopting laws and teaching that conform to the creationists' religious code.

Jehovah's Witnesses are politically neutral. They respect the right of governments to make and enforce laws. (Romans 13:1-7) However, they take seriously Jesus' statement that they are "no part of the world." (John 17:14-16) In their public ministry, they offer people the chance to learn the benefits of living by God's standards. But they do not violate their Christian neutrality by supporting the efforts of Fundamentalist groups that try to establish civil laws that would force others to adopt Bible standards.--John 18:36.

I find that approach to the government and politics intriguing. It does seem to always give the church a black eye when we try to force our religious actions onto others through law.

What baffles me is that every group out there (except the Catholics who I think are one of the only honest groups on this subject) claim to base all of their teachings on God's Word. It just can't be so, or we wouldn't disagree all over the place. We base a lot of our beliefs on the tradition our church comes from and the culture our church exists in. Many times those beliefs are detrimental. Some times those beliefs are helpful. All times they should be measured against the principles of Scripture. However, if we believe all our beliefs come from Scripture, we will never measure them.

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How to blog in my new mindset

Well, I'm at a loss on how to blog if I'm not going to be critical of things. So in the next few weeks, I hope to find my new style of blogging.

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A church decision has been made

Well, we decided to go back to where we started. We just haven't found a new church home, so I decided that it was me that had to change and not the church we left. We were down to the point where we were going to have to concede on some of the points of what I was looking for in a church.

So here are the changes that I am going to make. I am not even going to think critically of the things that happen in the church for at least six months. I do think that critical thinking is necessary in order to bring about positive change. But I am really in no position to bring about positive change on a church-wide scale, so it does me no good to think about such things. I just serve.

Things that I am going to do now:

* Pray for the church and its leaders to make kingdom-centered decisions.

* Create a service group of friends that are focused on helping people do yard projects that they are not able to do on their own.

* Never say anything critical about the church I am attending or dwell on negative thoughts.

* Serve in whatever the church needs me to do.

* And I think (if it is not already being - it isn't as far as I know) that I will ask about calling visitors on the phone in the week following their church visit, asking them if there is anything we can pray for or anything else they need help with, and then pray for them and their request and/or help them with what they need help with.

I view being a layperson as being like a typical shareholder in a stock. Being in the ministry or in the leadership is like being Warren Buffet. Warren Buffet is in control and can change things. I am not so; a layperson is not so.

I also know that I will never be able to become a member of the church because of some of the things the Nazarene church stands for. I'm not totally sure how to deal with that. I've just decided to not dwell on those things and to avoid talking about them unless asked directly about certain topics. There is always hope that because it is a human institution and those stances are human stances, they could change.

In all of our church visits, only three (out of around 10) contacted us afterward. Two just sent letters. The third also called us on the phone and did what I mentioned in the last bullet above. They asked if there was anything they could pray for. That made me feel very good. It even made me want to go back to that church despite all of the doctrinal and practical living differences. However, I thought those were too much to overcome.

A good friend down here shared that I need to learn how to lead without being in positions of leadership. My whole life I have led from positions of authority. Leading that way is so much easier. Now, I have to learn how to lead just by leading. No position, just a calling. It's something I definitely need to learn and will make me a better leader all around, whether in the business world or in the church.

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$1.25 DVDs in China. What is Warner Brothers thinking?

If you haven't heard, Warner Brothers is going to be charging $1.25 for DVDs in China to combat piracy. That sounds like a terrible plan.

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Satellite, Cable or?

Well, we gave in. We called Dish Network and subscribed. The installation was scheduled for this morning.

Then, I kept getting convicted that I was wasting money that could be used for much better things. I called them back Saturday night and cancelled the installation. They were very nice about it. I never had such a polite person on the other end when I have wanted to drop service or cancel something. I love living in the post-AOL phone call era.

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Goodbye Steve Irwin

It saddens me that Steve Irwin died today. He was out filming another one of his crikey adventures. I know we are sad to not see any new shows, but we don't watch them all that much anyway without having satellite television or cable.

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An Amish Cellphone

I was passing an amish horse and buggy yesterday. That in itself wasn't a rare occurrence. I usually pass two or three on my way to work. What made this passing rare is that the driver was talking on his cellphone. That was baffling. Are they allowed to use cellphones. First the Colts football jerseys on a clothesline. Now, a cellphone.

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