Saturday, January 31, 2009

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Great Quote:

"The Christian resolution to see the world as a bad and ugly place has turned the world into a bad and ugly place."
 - Fredrick Dietrich

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Jon Stewart on Crossfire '04

This is maybe best political commentary I've heard in years. My favorite line is: "I've said...that this show is bad! and by bad I mean its hurting America..."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

5 Blogs I read…and you should too

The Fuerst Shall Be Last – Tom Fuerst is one of the brightest people I know. He also is a fellow non-violent. At this time his blog is going through a period of posts discussing the fact that he is a soon to be father. Check this blog out, put it in your reader, and memorize what he writes. It’s just that good.

The Life and Times Phil Strahm – I went to college with Phil, and for a couple of weeks a few summers ago we worked in the same town. This blog is creative and has a multitude of quality links. When flipping through my reader, I always stop and check out what Phil has written. Also, Phil is a die-hard Cubs fan! GO Cubs Go!

mgoblog – Brian, a former engineer, has found his passion being writing about Michigan sports. Now I know that not everybody is a Michigan fan (not everybody can be perfect), but Brian writes one of the leading sports blog in country, and we can stand to be in the presence of excellence.

Mahfrot – Bob Meeks has made it his task to post a picture of the year! He may miss a few days here or there, but it’s an interesting look at the life of Bob the Counselor.

Don Miller Blog – No, I am not friends Don Miller, but he is a great writer and his posts are very high quality. His post, “However, you are not the wind in the orchard” made me laugh out loud when I first read it, and since its been a few months I thought I’d like it to see the type of material you are likely to find.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Does God have everything planned out?

The next few months are a little up in the air for Steph and I as hopefully (fingers crossed) I’ll be graduating from seminary, and we’ll be moving on to a new place. It’s a really intense time, questioning where we should go, how to know, whether a place will be the right place, and seeking “God’s plan for our life.”

This has led me to think deeply on this point...does God really have everything planned out?

At some level everybody asks this question. Is everything already decided? Is there a perfect path that we need to be looking for? Is God guiding me through life towards a specific destination, with well-defined life goals? If the answer to any of these is yes, my next question is how can we know?

I’d like to take a look at 3 Bible passages: Jeremiah 29, Genesis 2, and Matthew 15. read the rest...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

God's Rest...huh?!?!

Once a month I write a brief article for the newsletter at my parent's church.

Here is February's offering. What do you think?

(please excuse the very rough draft you find here)

Wardrobe Malfunction:

I'm not supersticious, but I am quircky. For instance every year when I played High School basketball, I'd wear the same outfit for every game. Same T-shirt under neath, same wrist bands, and same style of socks. Its a routine, that helps create a sense of luck...

I now have a routine when it comes to basketball. I received from my parents for Christmas a package of Michigan State T-shirts; a green, a white, and a grey one. Not only do I love these shirts, but they're part of my new routine. I wear the green one on game day - which tomorrow is a gameday (3.45pm CBS) - the white one if we win and the grey if we lose. Its my way of helping the team, that green shirt is good luck.

Sadly, I constantly forget to wear my green shirt! I'm horrible at this. Take last Saturday: MSU was playing Illinois and they were down (why? because i wasn't wearing my shirt.) I realized this and changed and boom! They pulled the game out. This past week I realized that I wasn't wearing the greenie (as I like to call it) and they lost the game - at home to Northwestern - that was horrible!

So tomorrow, if you see me, I'll be the one wearing the green MSU Spartans! Sparty On!!

Friday, January 23, 2009

A weeks worth of links

stuff white people like - a sarcastic, but not p/c blog detailing the things that white people like.

clubtrillion - Ohio State walk-on basketball player, Mark Titus, blogging about his team. He's actually a really good writer with a great sense of humor. Don't read in class, in a meeting, or with a sleeping baby as you may burst into laughter.

Civic Religion - a look at Civic religion and its place in America. This is some heavy stuff. Totally recommend reading this.

Isareli Occupied Territory on Capitol Hill - a look at the way that the US Congress has blindly sided with Israel.

Ways to Transform the US - an Innovators look at progress into a "new America"

How to write Emails - A great piece by Keith Drury on how to write an e-mail.

Leadership 101 - A great couple of paragraphs by a Bishop on what it means to be a leader

Outlawing 401k's - A fascinating look at the downside of the 401k system

Thursday, January 22, 2009

2 Great Quotes 1 Blog:

1. First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. 

2. I believe that a man is the strongest soldier for daring to die unarmed.

- Mohandas Gandhi

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wanna start a newspaper??? (thoughts sparked by Seth Godin)

Recently, Seth Godin suggested that a business should start a newspaper. This newspaper would be a compilation of articles that the staff would compile. It would then be sent out to people in the community. Seth’s main principle is to “own your zip-code!” When I first read this I thought it was a great idea! The purpose of the paper is two fold, first to give the community a source of information about the community, second you’re building relationships with the community.

I think that every church should be an expert on its community. It only makes sense. If we’re in the business of transforming the community, why not do everything you can to learn about your zip? If churches spent more time learning about their community then they’d be in a better place to minister to them. I think a church staff spending time researching and being in the community, only good things would come out of this.

The idea of church marketing is for some a big negative. I see it as able to go either way, meaning it can be done in a proper way or it can be done in a negative way. I have seen churches spend thousands of dollars on mailing things to a church or churches attempting to create an image by creating a marketable image. This in some way is deceptive, because either its creating a false image of who the church is in order to bring people in.

On the other hand, I know of a pastor in Lexington who walks around his community, literally going door-to-door. He’s meeting people, inviting them to church, letting them know that if they have any needs his church is there to help. This is marketing. There is no getting around that fact. One could say he is doing it for ulterior motives, and he is, he wants people to be a part of his ministry – he’s just framing his marketing in a proper way.

Have you ever asked yourself why the "Promised Land” is Palestine? Do we realize that this strip of land is half desert, half mountain, half in the middle of no-where without water? It’s not exactly paradise. Egypt and Mesopotamia were both better options, but Palestine had something that they didn’t have – major trade routes. You see God placed his people in the middle of the trade routes between the two major powers of that day. The whole nation of Israel is an attempt by God to market himself to the world.

This is where we come back to the idea of the newspaper. I think that it would work for churches to take this sort of approach to getting to know their community. It is the church showing the community what its values are – we celebrate this type of person. It is the church saying, “We are the type of people who want you to know the people that live near you.” Perhaps it’s the church marketing itself, but is that a bad thing?

Why not make a newspaper for people in your community

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Today's Big News:

Today, Mr. Obama will become the President. I hope that his message of hope and change will bring just that to the country. While I think he has the potential to be a great president, I wish this would have been his campaign poster.

I wish this was his campaign poster, because it is only in the message found here that real hope and change are found.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Martin Luther King Jr.

One of my life's heroes:

Some of his best words:
I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counselor or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tensions its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of nation opinion before it can be cured.

(Letter from a Birmingham Prison)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Thank you Morris Peterson!!!

Mo Pete was one of my favorite basketball players growing up. If you'll remember Mo Pete was left-handed (as am I) so I had a special connection with him. Today at 3.40pm he is getting his jersey retired by Michigan State, and the bloggers in the MSU blogosphere have been talking about this for a week or two, detailing their favorite "Mo Pete moments."

My favorite moment was in 2000 in his senior year, in the regional finals (the Elite 8), Michigan State played Iowa State. The game decided who went to the Final Four, and was a competition between the best team and the hottest team in the tourney. With two minutes to go and down a bucket, State runs a backdoor play for Mo to get the alley-oop.

Joe Rexrode of the Lansing State journal captures the conversation between Coach Izzo, Mateen Cleaves, and Mo Pete, before the play, as going like this:
Peterson: “Coach, they’re overplaying me, I can go backdoor.”
Izzo: “I’m not doing that with two minutes left.”
Cleaves: “Come on!”
Izzo: “OK, fine. But if you hit the tuba player with that pass, I’m going to kill you.”


It goes off without a hitch, and they take the momentum and the game. Oh how I miss the Flintstones!

HIlarious Quote:

While surfing around some sports blogs I found this gem (here):

It has to be satisfying to sane sports fans everywhere that the maniacs of Lexington who ran Tubby Smith out of town get to watch him doing better in Minnesota then his successor is doing at UK.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I'm addicted...

I have an addiction...

There I said it, I'm addicted. I'm addicted to comparing myself to other people.

I'm always comparing myself to my friends. I'm not as athletic as my friend Jon. I'm not as smart as my friend Tom. I'm not as charismatic as Luke. I don't see the world like Paulo. Its a constant addiction, and I need to get over it.

I need to get over it because I'm not Jon, Tom, Luke, or Paulo; I'm Dan. I'm my own person. If I constantly cut myself down because I'm not those people then I'll never be me. I will stunt my potential because I'm not them.

You see my problem is that I want life to be fair. To me my issues result in the fact that its not fair that Jon is bigger and stronger than I am, that Tom is way smarter than me, that Luke's personality is 100 times more explosive and exciting than mine, or that Paulo has experience all over the globe. I somehow reason that if life were fair, somehow my problems would go away. You see I'm blaming my problems on situations, and my hope is in some way the leveling of the playing field; not where it should be, with God.

Like I said, I'm addicted, but I don't have to let that define me. After all, I'm Dan.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Great quote:

I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.

- Dwight D. Eisenhower

I found this here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

5 blogs I read...and you should too!

Tuesday Column - Keith Drury has been blogging since 1995. Every Tuesday Coach Drury posts a provocative essay that is guaranteed to make your head think so hard, it will most likely explode! 

Seth's Blog - Seth Godin is the one time most popular blogger on the face of planet earth...might be worth checking out his stuff. He writes on business theory, particularly on the marketing side of the equation, some pretty good stuff.

Farmstrong - JD Walt is one of those people who personify profound. His whit, humor, and deep thinking are bound to make you a better person. He is also my boss. Did I mention he's also very good looking?

upSIDEdown - Paulo Lopes is a guy who you should probably begin to read now, and in 15 years when he literally has taken over the world, you might get to keep your job.
(He just started blogging last week, but I'll put him up here just on potential)

Recliner Ramblings - I've known Mike for a number of years now, and he never fails to write a thought provoking piece. Former co-editor of an online magazine, Mike's posts continually create a tension within my head that makes me a better person.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Life in Kentucky: a UK fan gets ahold of the Wal-Mart PA system

When I moved to Indiana to go to college, I really did not notice too much of a difference as everything that surrounded me was pretty standard; the same stores, the same language, people were driving on the right hand side of the road, etc. It wasn’t until I went into JC Pennies that I noticed the difference. If you’ve ever been in a Pennies, you’ll know that somewhere in the men’s section of the store is an area of sports wear (hoodies, ball caps, T-shirts). It’s pretty standard. One day as I was walking around the store I happened to notice a difference – all the teams represented there were from Indiana. It kinda put me in a state of shock.

I know it’s an obvious thing, a store in Indiana selling sportswear with Indiana sports teams’ logos. Duh Dan. But as a 19-year-old college student, it was my realization that I wasn’t at home anymore. And I say this to set up this next story.

Saturday, Steph and I needed to go to Wal-Mart to get some stuff. While I was walking in the store, a voice came over the loud speaker, with a very Kentucky accent, and began to talk. He said, “Attention Wal-Mart shoppers: Kentucky just beat Vanderbilt! Attention, Kentucky just beat Vanderbilt!!” I was sort of annoyed because that information had no relevance to my being in Wal-Mart, if I had cared I would have been watching the game. Now we are passionate about our sports teams in Michigan but Kentuckians are borderline psychotic – he couldn’t help himself. This was evidenced by what he said next.

At first I couldn’t tell what he was doing, but it only took me a second. At the top of his lungs he began to scream: “Meeeeee-ow!” I was shocked. Which is pretty unusual, I’ve been here for two years now, and most aspects of Kentucky culture do not shock me anymore. But 1.) It just seemed counter intuitive to me….A “me-ow” is the sound a house cat makes, not the sound a ferocious wildcat would make. 2.) He did it over the loud speaker of a Wal-Mart store. 3.) He sounded like he had forgotten to take some sort of medicine. 4.) Personal belief: people who do things like that should not be allowed near loud speakers at Wal-Mart.

This is where I live.

Note: If you read this I know you’re a Wildcat fan, please know actions like this are one of the main reasons why I cheer against you so hard.

Monday, January 12, 2009

defining violence

I am in the middle of attempting to develop a logical, holistic view of violence that I can use as a working reference in dialogue concerning the issues that revolve this issue.

I have found that there are many different views and understandings of what violence entails. This creates voids in dialogue, because I most likely view violence differently than you do. So in order to dialogue about something we must share a common language. would you define violence?

Personally, I would begin here:

  1. It is physical, emotional, spiritual, & mental.
  2. It involves force.
  3. It can be done with good or bad intentions

How would you combine, add to, and refine these idea into a basic understanding of violence?

Friday, January 09, 2009

Charity: the Christian mistake

Our response to injustice far too often has been charity.

Charity is not the answer, it feeds into the problem. This is because charity does not involve any change. When mega personalities give to charity they are not down-sizing from their huge houses into something smaller and more cost effective; they're giving a couple bags of money they have sitting in the bank. Yes, its a start, but the answer is changing the way we live our lives.

When the church starts to talk about itself in terms of charity, it has completely missed the point. Charity merely continues to perpetuate the chasim between those who have and those who do not. Look at the story of Lazarus and the Rich man in Luke 16. The rich man is apparently feeding Lazarus table scraps, but Lazarus' condition does not improve. Instead we see that only the dogs come to comfort him by licking his wounds - which really isn't much comfort.

If we are looking to end social injustices we have to change the way we live our lives. The answer isn't to give up on living and being productive, but it definately includes changing our focus in life.

  • Perhaps it would look like churches actually living with people who are on the bottom side of society.
  • Perhaps it is the congregants of a downtown church leaving the seclusion of the suburbs and moving downtown to live with the people that surround their church.
  • Perhaps it is Christians ceasing to hoard their money and possessions but live a generous life, giving to those who have need.
  • Perhaps it would include adoption, opening up ones house to single mothers, helping children from lower income familes go to school.
  • Perhaps it would mean we reject the "Get rich or die trying" mindset that lurks quietly underneath the "American dream" mindset

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Quick Thought on Capitalism

Capitalism is built on the principle of greed. It suggests that greed will motivate people to earn more money, and not make bad decisions because nobody wants to lose everything. In this system obvously there will be rich and poor, because not everybody is as motivated, but according to ones ability and giftedness they will be able to make money.

Communism, often seen as a great evil, is built on the concept that all humans are equal and should be equal. It believes that everybody gets an equal cut of the financial success of the country. This system is usually less productive, but it also attempts to eliminate the divide between those who have and those who do not have.

Now I am not attempting to suggest that we should be communist, or even promote communist princples. I just wonder why as Christians we are so determined on supporting capitalism when it is founded on a principle that is so obviously anti-Christian?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Palestinian Christians

I recently read that there are more Palestinian Christians than there are Israeli Christians. This leads to the question, why has the American Church so passionately supported Israel in this conflict?

Why do you think?

Monday, January 05, 2009

Cats people and Dog lovers

All of the other ways that people define and separate character traits are merely subjective ideas that really do not describe people accurately. To understand the nature of people we must realize there are two types of people out there: cat lovers or dog lovers. This is the true way to understand people

Cats and dogs while both popular pets, have vastly different dispositions. A cat does not need human company –this doesn’t mean cats don’t appreciate people–just a cat can exist without it. Dogs, on the other hand, live for their humans. They cannot live without attention and affection of their masters. One needs their master, one is at best indifferent.

These two different animals require two different types of masters. A cat person is someone who wants a pet, but really doesn’t want to put an intense amount of energy or give an intense amount of attention to. Dog people usually are those who want to own an animal that they can love on. Sometimes there is cross over, a figurative switching of teams, but usually these people stay the same throughout their lives.

Dog people love relationships! They want to build many quality, long, and passionate friendships that will last forever. Cat people are independent people. They like having friends, but really it’s the freedom to do what they want that’s most important.

I am a dog person. I cannot fathom owning a pet, paying for its food, concerning myself with its health, and then have the animal act indifferently to me 90% of the time. Stephanie, my wife, is a cat person and doesn’t like the thought of having an animal who needs constant attention. She likes the idea of having an animal that it would be ok to leave behind for a day or two without worrying about it.

What about you? Are you a dog lover or a cat person?

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Gospel of Life

The book of Acts is devoted to discussing the first 35-30 years of the Christian community. It focuses on St. Peter and St Paul and their work in spreading the church from a community of 120 into a network of believers scattered throughout the Roman Empire. These two men move around the ancient world, and wherever they go, we see one thing in common – they are doing things to get themselves in trouble.

They were constantly getting into trouble because they were promoting a kingdom with different values than the world around it. They threw the places that they lived in upside down. They caused riots. They were arrested. They lived in ways that made people scratch their heads. These stories are filled with actions. These early Christians were not passive.

In Acts 2, after the Holy Spirit comes, we find that the church is characterized by the way that these Christians lived. We see the same thing in chapter 4. They lived in community; giving to each other, providing for each other’s needs. They sold things they didn’t need in order for their leaders to use these resources for the greater good of the community. They appointed people who would be responsible to make sure that the widows were taken care of. Their belief in Jesus has changed the way they live their lives.

They believed that Jesus had come to bring life, and everywhere they went the brought this life with them. Healings, feeding and providing for the poor, the empowerment of women, racial reconciliation were all part of the early churches ministry. The Gospel that the early Christians lived out was so powerful that it could not be ignored. It was so unsettling to the people around them, that people were afraid that the Christians were looking to completely destroy the culture of the Roman Empire; and they were right.

We are the descendents of Peter and Paul. We have been given the task of spreading the Gospel to the world. We have been charged with the task of following in the footsteps of these active, passionate followers of our risen Savior. The question is now how are we going to act? How are we going to spread the message that Jesus has been raised from the dead and now the world can live?

How will we react as a church to the economic crisis that we are now in the middle of? How will we respond to the crisis in the Middle East where both sides are guilty of hating each other? How will we react to the violence that is in our communities? To the children who are growing up with out a good family to support them? How will we react to those who are lonely?

Will ’09 be the year we bring them the Gospel message of Life? I hope so!