Sunday, December 31, 2006

Another Year Closes

I used to look forward to the end of a year, because I kept thinking that maybe this new year would finally be the year that I would get that full-time job in the ministry. Now that I do not even have a part-time job in the ministry, it just feels like I am approaching another year doing the same crappy factory job that I have been doing for almost the past 13 years (this coming year it will be 13).

I am not a big person on New Year's resolutions and I used to always joke that my resolution was to not make any resolutions, but then of course I made one and so I failed at keeping it. But this year I decided that there was a couple of things that I wanted to resolve to do in the new year. And they are:

1) Do something about my job situation, whether that means a new job and forget ministry all together, or do something to get into ministry.

2) Do more to care for our planet (i.e. recycling, conserving energy, etc.)

3) To live my life in light of these deep and profound words...

I am hoping that this year is better than last year, which wasn't as sucky as the year before. So here is to hopefully a Happy New Year.



How To Honor Two Michigan Legends

That is how you do it. The 48 is for President Gerald R. Ford who not only was a player for the University of Michigan's football team, but a captain, MVP and National Championship player. He also is the only President to tackle a future Heisman trophy winner, when he tackled Jay Berwanger.

The Bo is for one of the greatest college football coaches ever that not only coached the University of Michigan's football team back to glory, but emphasized the importance of his student athletes to not just excel at football, but become men. And not just any kind of men, but "Michigan Men". He helped produce people who were not just successful in football, but life as well. And that man is Glenn E. "Bo" Schembechler. These two men will be missed and it is appropriate for the team to honor them in this way.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

R.I.P. Gerald Ford

On December 2nd Kimmy and I had the honor of going to the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum while we were in Grand Rapids for our 11 year anniversary. I had never been to a Presidential Library or Museum so this was a different experience for me. I had hope that when we were in California in August that I would have gotten to go to Ronald Reagan's, because I was really familiar with him and his Presidency. But it just didn't work out for us to be able to go.

Having not known much about Gerald Ford and his Presidency, I thought that this would be a good learning experience. I knew that he had played for the University of Michigan's football team and that his number 48 was one of only 2 numbers that they retired. But I did not know that he had been a part of 2 National Championship teams while playing there. Also, that he had been selected as the MVP of one of those teams. And as a Michigan fan, I think that is cool!

But in terms of his Presidency, I never really put it together that he was never even elected to that office. Either to be the Vice-President or the President. And he never even had those aspirations. He had only hoped to rise to the rank of being Speaker of the House. His ascension to the role of Vice-President was due in part to Spiro Agnew's resignation. Which the statute that was used to replace the Vice-President was initiated by Richard Nixon, when he was a congressman during the Kennedy era, and he was the first President to use it. But what is interesting as that when you look at Gerald Ford's ballot of his recommendations to the President, he listed Ronald Reagan as one of his nominees. And who was it in 1976 that went against the norm and campaigned for Presidency against the sitting President, Gerald Ford? None other than Ronald Reagan. It is speculated that because of that bitter campaign that it helped give Jimmy Carter the edge he need to win in 1976.

There is so much that I learned in that short little visit, but the biggest thing that I walked away with was a deep appreciation for Mr. Ford and his Presidency. He became President under such extreme circumstances and during a tumultuous time in my nation's history, that his legacy of being the "Great Healer" is quite appropriate. While his decision to pardon Richard Nixon was and is controversial, I do not believe he did it to gain the office of Presidency. I think that his heart was pure and he did it solely to help the nation to move past all of the ugly stuff that was coming out.

Thank you, Mr. Ford for leading our nation and making it a better place. Thank you Mrs. Ford for your contributions to our nation and for sharing your husband with our nation. While I do not grieve any where near as hard as you will, know that you are not alone in your grief. A nation grieves with you.


| is Now Online!!!

Now, if you want to get to my blog you can simply go to! So update your bookmarks and links, becuase there may be some changes as I go along.



Tuesday, December 26, 2006

5 Things You Probably Don't Know About Me

I got tagged by Adam.

1. I don't like playing video games all that much. I love messign around on my computer, but to sit and play a video game does not thrill me. However, I do love some of the old school 2-D games, like Zelda.

2. I will only eat grilled cheese with ketchup. There is nothing better than dipping a grilled cheese sandwich into ketchup. But a good substitute is dipping it into tomato soup.

3. I like to dip my pizza crust in my pop. Don't knock it until you try it.

4. I like to watch "chick flicks". My favorite movie is Somewhere In Time.

5. I had stuffed animals on my bed that I would occasionally sleep with throughout my teen years. Nothing further to say.

I am tagging Kent and Kathy.



Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!!!



Saturday, December 23, 2006


Today, December 23rd is Festivus. For those of you who do not know the joy of Festivus, feel free to watch the video clip below that shows the history of this great holiday.




Friday, December 22, 2006

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

The new Youth Pastor at my church had us read this book for the leadership team in RSM. Here is the info from Barnes & Noble.

In The Five Dysfunctions of a Team Patrick Lencioni once again offers a leadership fable that is as enthralling and instructive as his first two best-selling books, The Five Temptations of a CEO and The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive. This time, he turns his keen intellect and storytelling power to the fascinating, complex world of teams.

Kathryn Petersen, Decision Tech's CEO, faces the ultimate leadership crisis: Uniting a team in such disarray that it threatens to bring down the entire company. Will she succeed? Will she be fired? Will the company fail? Lencioni's utterly gripping tale serves as a timeless reminder that leadership requires as much courage as it does insight.

Throughout the story, Lencioni reveals the five dysfunctions which go to the very heart of why teams even the best ones-often struggle. He outlines a powerful model and actionable steps that can be used to overcome these common hurdles and build a cohesive, effective team. Just as with his other books, Lencioni has written a compelling fable with a powerful yet deceptively simple message for all those who strive to be exceptional team leaders.

As a pastor I have always placed a high emphasis on my leadership team. I believe that a healthy leadership team is the key to a successful ministry. So my mindset and thoughts on this goes back to one of Bo Schembechler's most famous speeches, "The team, the team, the team". This book has that same kind of mindset.

I listened to the audiobook for this book and I found myself getting pumped up as different members of this team began to get the concepts of what the 5 dysfunctions were and how they were operating in their group and what their part of it was. The five dysfunctions are: lack of trust, fear of conflict, unwillingness to commit, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results. These are things that many leaders will recognize, but few will know exactly how to fix and this book tries to help you to get it. I recommend this book for anyone who is in leadership and for their team as well.



Thursday, December 21, 2006

New Harry Potter Book!!!

The title of the seventh and final Harry Potter book has been released! I am excited and also sad , because this is the end of a great series. But I am also excited to find out how it all ends. By the way, that is not the actual cover.



Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Witness To What Faith Can Should Be

I saw this article entitled "A witness to what faith can be" in the USA Today on Monday, 18 December 2006. But the article should be entitled "A witness to what faith should be".

These days, religion often gets a bad rap. It's an arrogant face of war, division and blame. But that's certainly not the only face of faith. For the beauty of what it can be, see what is happening Friday nights in Portland, Ore.

By Tom Krattenmaker

PORTLAND, Ore. — Something radical is happening every Friday night where homeless people congregate downtown under the Burnside Bridge.

Car- and vanloads of Christian volunteers swoop in with sleeping bags and coats to protect their dispossessed friends against the raw, wet weather that has moved in. They dispense hot meals and set up stations for shaves and haircuts. While a few pull out guitars and strike up their Jesus-themed songs, a small number of the volunteers commit one of the more audacious acts of compassion and humility I have ever witnessed: They wash the homeless people's feet.

Four folding chairs are set up in a row, each occupied by a downtrodden human being, his or her bare feet immersed in a tub of warm water. In front of each, kneeling on a pad, a volunteer gently scrubs away. Drying and powdering follow before the recipients are sent on their way, their feet clean and dry and swathed in a fresh pair of socks.

The spirit of the season? This is it.

"I can't find the words to describe how good that felt," one beneficiary says as he moves off, smiling broadly.

The night I observed this ritual, perhaps 100 homeless women and men were on hand, as well as a similar number of volunteers, deployed by an inter-denominational evangelical organization called Bridgetown Ministries. For more than three years, the group has been performing "Night Strike," in addition to other programs aimed at serving disadvantaged youth and Portland's less fortunate. Their motto, as printed on the T-shirt worn by ministry leader Marshall Snider, captures the ministry's philosophy in five simple words: "Get out of the box."

Washing the feet of society's outcasts might be as far out of the box as you can get. This work has practical importance, of course; people who can't keep their feet clean and dry end up suffering extreme discomfort or worse. But there's more to it than that. What Bridgetown Ministries does on Friday nights is highly biblical.

Jesus, in the Gospel of Matthew, talks about "the least of these," as in, "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for (God)." Ministry leader Snider had invoked that very passage while preparing the volunteers back at ministry headquarters earlier in the evening. "When you go out there tonight," Snider told them, "I want you to look for Jesus. You might see him in the eyes of a drunk person, a homeless person."

Feet-washing has resonance with a revealing New Testament passage. In Luke, a woman "who had lived a sinful life" washes Jesus' feet with her tears and wipes them with her hair and pours perfume on them, upsetting the self-righteous Pharisee who is hosting Jesus and who finds the woman unworthy of Jesus' company. Jesus praises the woman for her faith and forgives her sins.

Then there are the sheer logistics: Washing someone's feet is an act best performed while kneeling. Given the washer's position, and the unpleasant appearance and odor of a homeless person's feet, it's hard to imagine an act more humbling.

Looking for Jesus in the eyes of a homeless person. Contrast that with a different, and decidedly less inspiring, face of faith more often on display in the media and public square. Leaders of the Christian Right continue to scapegoat gays and lesbians and emphasize other wedge issues, with little to say publicly about the "least of these," unless they happen to be as-yet unborn. A notorious, high-profile few seize disasters such as Hurricane Katrina not to emphasize compassion but to suggest that the victims in some sense had it coming because of their sinful ways. The unfortunate tendency is hardly confined to Christianity. In Iraq, religious differences are fueling rising levels of bloodshed between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. Civilians are being killed by the hundreds — in the name of religion?

These ugly, destructive appearances of religion make it tempting to accept the arguments of atheist writers such as Sam Harris, who asserts that religious faith has become a dangerous force that must be eradicated if the world is to overcome its violent divisions and intractable problems. Harris writes in his recent book Letter to a Christian Nation that only when Christianity, Judaism and Islam are relics of the past "will we stand a chance of healing the deepest and most dangerous fractures in our world."

If Harris were attacking fundamentalism rather than the broad sweep of monotheistic religion, I'd be with him 100%. But it's hard to indict all religion when you see the way faith manifests under the Burnside Bridge. The features of hard-edged Christianity that many find repellant — condemnation, exclusivity, belligerence — are absent at Night Strike. Bridgetown Ministries and its dozens of volunteers aren't vetting the moral worthiness of the homeless people whose hair they cut, bodies they clothe and feet they wash. They know some might be drunk and some on drugs. Are they homeless because they're lazy? Do they deserve this care? The questions are utterly irrelevant from the perspective of the ministry's radical compassion. As Snider puts it, "We're just out there to love on people."

If only we could see this form of faith more often in our highly charged public arena. No doubt, the bad name borne by Christianity in some quarters is partly the fault of the media for highlighting conflict and inflammatory rhetoric and for shying away from the thousands of acts of Christian decency all around us. But most of the blame must be laid at the feet of the loudest and most visible champions of the Christian Right. Are those who project the divisive and arrogant side of religion willing to kneel down and cleanse the feet of the homeless?

Perhaps what happens Friday nights under the Burnside Bridge can be a reminder. While the fighting over religion drags on, let's remember that many, many people around the world — some who count themselves among the true believers, some who don't — are living up to the religious ideal. They're helping the needy, feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, even washing their feet.

My hope for Christmas is that the radical love of people such as Marshall Snider comes to be known as the true and predominant expression of religious faith — and that it infects our whole society, people religious and otherwise. Imagine the changes that might come about if that were to happen. Imagine what the world might then become.

Tom Krattenmaker, who lives in Portland, Ore., specializes in religion in public life and is a member of USA TODAY's board of contributors. He is working on a book about the Christianization of professional sports.

The sad part about that article is that most churches will see that as revolutionary and amazing, but that is what we as the Church should be doing. That is exactly what the Church has been commanded to do since the Old Testament, but we have failed to do it! And that is the sad reality of the Church in America today.

I really hope that churches read this and don't just think about what a feel good story it is, but that they begin to look for ways in their community where they can do this. It should challenge us and make us think and cause us to act.

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Everything Is Spiritual

Tonight I had the opportunity to attend Rob Bell's talk entitled "Everything Is Spiritual". It was a tour that he did for a month over the summer, across the country. They had planned on filming it, so they could release it in the NOOMA series that he does. And while they were on the tour they video taped one of the talks he did early on in the tour. But as with most things the more you do it the better you get, and I guess there was also an issue with the filming of it, so they decided to do it one last time. And while Kimmy and I were out at Mars Hill a couple of weekend ago we heard that he was going to be doing this. And I turned to Kimmy and told her that I would love to come out here for it, and God made a way for me to do just that.

Read more here.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Who Do You Trust?

That is a common question and a very good one. If you based it upon the ethics of the person, chances are that you would choose a nurse. According to an article in the USA Today.

The annual USA TODAY/Gallup Poll measuring honesty and ethics among 23 occupations puts nurses at the top of the list for the sixth straight year. More than five out of six Americans — 84% — say standards for nurses are "high" or "very high," the second-highest rating for any occupation since Gallup started asking the question in 1976. (Firefighters scored the highest ever, 90%, in December 2001, shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.) Each year Gallup measures honesty and ethics for 14 newsworthy occupations. Additional occupations are included on a rotating basis.

Here is the break down...

And then the list with the "Very High" and "High" added together...

I do not find it surprising at all that Clergy is not the top rated, which is a very sad state of affairs for pastors. There was a day and age in this country when saying that you were a pastor meant something. Now all it means to a lot of people is "how much money do you want me to give".

It is about time that pastors take the high road and do what we can to once again see that people in this nation view us as the most ethical in the nation. The challenge is there, are you ready to go for it?

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Can Christians Drink Beer?

I ran across this article recently and found it very interesting. It is on the website for Mars Hill Bible Church in Seattle, WA and is an excerpt from Mark Driscoll's book, The Radical Reformission: Reaching Out Without Selling Out.

I know that there are many different views amongst the Church regarding Christ-followers consuming alcohol and I have gotten in some debates with some of them. But I think this article gives a very interesting perspective and sheds some light onto this subject.

Read more here.

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

New Blog Layout

You may have noticed that I have a new layout for my blog. Feel free to let me know what you think about it.

I have a new feature that Blogger has started. You will notice on the left sidebar that there is a section called "Categories". If you click on a particular category, it will show you every blog post made with that particular label. So it makes it easier for you to check things out. Right now there are only three, because I need to go back through and label them all. And I have over 200 posts.

And I added another feature that HaloScan has added along with their commenting add-on. You can now see on the left side the most recent comments on my blog.



Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Report On Mars

This past Sunday while Kimmy and I went to Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, MI wile we were out there celebrating out 11 year anniversary. The Lead Pastor there is a man named Rob Bell and I would have to say that he is one of the best communicators in the Church today.

His church is not only impacting the community around them, but they are doing what they can to also effect the world around them. They have their 5th and 6th graders selling bottled water for $2 to help raise money to bring clean water to third world countries. That is cool! Then the Sr. High group was having a bake sale to help raise money for Burton Elementary to help them with funding field trips, buying gym equipment and basketball uniforms. I love how they are being so active and getting the students involved in that as well.

Rob started a new series called "Calling All Peacemakers" (that is a link to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes) and if the rest of the series is a good as the first, then it is going to be amazing and life changing! I recommend you getting it and listening to it.

The service was very unique. They had a short musical intro and then Rob got up with two other people and gave some announcements, then he went right into his message. At the end of his message they had a time of worship and communion. It was different, but was actually very powerful. No big deal was made out of communion, but it wasn't necessary because the reverence could be felt all around. Very cool church and I look forward to the next time I can go check it out.

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B C meSs

The BCS has issued their rankings for college football and who goes to the National Championship game. It will be OSU and Florida.

All due to the whining of Urban Meyer (Florida's coach) and the media crying, there will be no rematch and pairing of the two best teams in the country. But I applaud Lloyd Carr for showing class during this whole process, he is a true Michigan Man. So Michigan will not get a chance to play the Buckeyes again. But instead will get to play the University of Southern California in "The Grandaddy of Them All" the Rose Bowl. Which is going to be a great game and a classic Big 10/Pac 10 match up.

If someone wanted to make a bet with me on the National Championship game they would have to give me 21-28 points. Cause Florida is going to get killed. They are going to over-matched and out coached. This will be just like 2 years ago when USC creamed Oklahoma. But the BCS got what they wanted no rematch, instead of doing their job and putting the two top teams in the country against one another.

But one of the strangest things that has come out of all of this is that I have actually heard Michigan fans say that they are going to be rooting for the Buckeyes to crush the Gators. And I have even heard Buckeye fans say that they will be rooting for Michigan. What is the world coming to? I think I hear that Hell is going to be freezing over.



Saturday, December 02, 2006

11 Years Today!!!

Today, Kimmy and I celebrate 11 years together of wedded bliss. I can not think of anyone else in the world that I would have wanted to spend the last 11 years with!

We are away this weekend in Grand Rapids to celebrate our anniversary and despite the warm weather we had all week and last week, on December 1st that all changed here in Michigan and we drove into the area that got hit with the first winter storm of the season. They didn't get as much snow as was predicted, but we still got about 3-4 inches. It looks pretty, now if only we could get rid of all that cold air.

Today we are headed off to check out the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum and the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.

Tomorrow we are going to visit Mars Hill Bible Church, which happens to be in basically the same parking lot as the hotel we got. LOL I will post about what that was like after Sunday.