Thursday, July 26, 2007

Harry Potter is Evil?

Well, at least according to the article I received in the mail (yes, snail mail) from an "anonymous" friend. It was a copy of an online article from One News by Ed Thomas titled "Evangelist says Bible speaks to Potter series 'white magic'" . But unfortunately this friend who typed out my address on the envelop and left no return address had his name and email listed on one of the pages that he printed out in the comment section of this online article. So I am assuming that he agrees with the "facts" and opinions in this article and wanted to left me know how bad the Harry Potter series is. READ MORE HERE

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Separation of Church and State

I am starting to think that the idea of the separation of the church and the state is a good idea. But before I go into my reasons why let me first state that I do not believe that the separation of church and state is a Constitutional issue. Those words are not found anywhere in the U.S. Constitution nor are they alluded to anywhere in that document. And so I still loathe it when people refer to it as a Constitutional issue when it can not be, because it is not even Constitutional.

Now let me explain why I think that there should be a separation of church and state. I was reading an article in the USA Today entitled, Does the religious majority rule? (The USA Today does an article regarding faith every Monday called On Religion. They are very good and I recommend reading them.) In which the author wrote about how there are Christians that are challenging things like the Ten Commandments on walls in courthouses, prayer at high school football games, etc. It isn't just atheists doing this anymore. And this was the saddest part of the whole article...

Debbie Mason had long been active as a volunteer in the school attended by three of her daughters in Santa Fe, Texas. But she quickly became an outsider after she challenged the football game prayers in the town's high school stadium. Debbie endured ostracism, even threats of drive-by shootings. One of her daughters, Jenni, left church in tears one Sunday morning after a school board member denounced her family from the pulpit.

And so that is how we are showing the world God's love? I think that we need to read this verse as churches more often....

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:35 (TNIV)

Were those people shown love? Did that pastor model the Bible for that family when he spoke against them from the pulpit? The answer is no. And that is why the church needs to separate itself from the state.

The other reason why I believe in the separation of the church and state is because the church has become so filled with political affairs that I believe we have lost sight of our mission here on earth. For some reason it seems like the gospel in our churches today is more about changing the government and less about changing lives. Examine the messages in your church and see if they speak more against political issues or if they are about the Gospel. Personally, I think that if there are any speaking out against whatever political agendas are current instead of being encouraged to go out and touch lives then i think there is a problem.

Yes, I do know that Jesus was a political revolutionary, but He did that by talking about how we need to live differently. How we need to reach out and take care of the poor, widows, orphans or those who are suffering injustices at the hands of the government. That is how He told us to revolutionize the government. The church needs to be taking care of their needs and going out into the world and tell people about the love and grace of God.

And so that is another reason why I believe the church needs to separate from the state. The church needs to worry more about changing lives and worry less about changing the government. Because the reality is that when we change the lives of people in our community and country, we will naturally see a change in our government. I believe that the church today has an opportunity to really shine, but the question is if we have our focus in the right place.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book Review)

I finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on Monday morning at 1:00a and I must say that J. K. Rowling ended the series perfectly. I can not think of any other way to end the series and to leave the fans satisfied with how it ended.

My favorite book has always been Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but this one may supplant that one. Kimmy and I went to the midnight release party at Borders to get our books. It was fun! Then we spent the next day reading it while our kids were at the air show with my parents.

And now for the....


My favorite part had to be in the epilogue when Harry said to Albus Severus that he was named after two of the greatest headmasters at Hogwarts, and that one of them was a Slytherin and one of the bravest men he knew. I cried. I know it was a fairly meaningless scene, but to me it was the perfect way to end that. I always felt that Snape was good.

As far as Harry being a horcrux, that was something that only a few HP fans suggested and most disputed it. But I had a feeling that that was the case. I am looking forward to listening to the next Pottercast, because John Noe (one of the co-hosts) took beatings over his theory on that. And his theory that Voldemort and Harry shared the same blood. He is going to punish Sue and Melissa for teasing him about that at least I hope he does!

I had a feeling that Harry would have to sacrifice himself to have to fully eliminate Voldemort and when he walked into the forest willingly to die, I wondered if his act of love would have some kind of effect.

I was happy that Hagrid did not die, he is my favorite character in the series. I was sad when Fred died, because he and George were such cool characters. I hated to see Lupin and Tonks die, because they had just had a son and were two cool characters.

I loved the one liners during the battle in Hogwarts. Percy saying, "Hey minister, did I mention I quit?" Or Mrs. Weasly, "NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!" Just goes to show you that you never mess with a woman's kids.

Rowling made these characters so real that you couldn't help but developing a love for them. It is sad to see the series end, but I get to relive it again as my daughter reads them and then when the two movies come out.



R.I.P. Tammy Faye Bakker Messner

In a recent blog post about Jay Bakker's book, Son of a Preacher Man, I had mentioned that we need to be praying for Tammy Faye. Sadly, she lost her battle with cancer the next day. I did not find out until Sunday morning and I must say that I was very sad. Her was a woman who was albeit a bit on the wild side, at least when it came to make-up, but you could not question her love for God. And her desire for others to find that same love in their own lives.

So please pray for her husband and kids as they mourn the loss of Tammy Faye. I pray that her life will be remember more for her love for God than the infamous PTL scandal.



Thursday, July 19, 2007

Son of a Preacher Man (Book Review)

I also finished reading Son of a Preacher Man: My Search for Grace in the Shadows by Jay Bakker, who is the son of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. And for those of you that know me, you probably are in shock over the fact that I have so many book reviews lately. Well, I just can't stop reading and I recently ordered some more books, because I needed more to read and you can keep up to date on what I am currently reading in the right column. Of course there is a really good one coming out this Saturday that I plan on reading when I pick it up at midnight.

Now back to Jay's book.....

My mom had given me this book back when it first came out and it has sat on the shelf for a while. I started reading it, but then put it down. Well, after I finished my most recent book I grabbed this one to read and I finished it in three days. As I sat and read this book I found myself going through so many emotions. I even found myself crying at times.

Jay's book gave me insights into what really went on with the PTL Club that Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker had formed. And also the inner turmoil that went on with the family during the whole mess and during Jim's incarceration. I could really sense the pain in Jay's heart at watching his dad and mom's hearts being torn out, and then watching his dad spend time in prison.

But Jay's book is not just about the turmoil that he felt, but about how God used all of it to show Jay how his life would be devoted to reaching out to those who live out on the edge that he ended up in. Jay's view of God's love and grace is amazing, but unfortunately he had to go through a lot of crap to get it. His story is one of hope as you see how he has turned all of this around and has seen God restore his family.

I have to admit that I was one of those people who thought bad things about the Bakker's and believed what I was seeing on the TV and hearing from other Christians about them. And for that I am deeply sorry. I have no idea if Jay will ever read this blog post or not, but if he does I hope that he will find one more person who is sorry about his attitudes and actions towards his family. I really believe that the Bakker's were railroaded and shafted during this whole thing. Don't get me wrong, I know that they did do things wrong, but they were punished more severely than they deserved.

I would recommend that anyone who wants to know more about what happend during the whole "PTL scandal" and wants to find out how one man found grace in the midst of that dark shadow I would encourage you to pick up this book.

On a related side note, please pray for Tammy Faye as she continues her battle with cancer.

**EDIT (23 July 2007)** Sadly, Tammy Faye lost her battle with cancer on Friday, 21 July 2007.



They Like Jesus but Not the Church (Book Review)

I finished reading They Like Jesus but Not the Church by Dan Kimball this week and I was thoroughly impressed. Dan's approach is not only a radical one, but I believe that it is one that is done with grace and humility. This book is written for leaders who are wanting to know hoe they can best reach the emerging generation. He has written a similar book geared towards those who are in the emerging generation and who would say, "I Like Jesus but Not the Church".

Dan tackles six of the biggest problems that the emerging generation has with the church in America today. The emerging generations believe that the church (1) is an organized religion with a political agenda; (2) is judgmental and negative; (3) is dominated by males and oppresses females; (4) is homophobic; (5) arrogantly claims all other religions are wrong; (6) is full of fundamentalists who take the whole Bible literally. He went around and interviewed twenty and thirty-somethings in coffee shops and wherever he found them. This isn't just what is going on solely in Santa Cruz, CA. But is truly a cross-section of what is going on in this country.

I know that with the people in my area that it is something that many of them have said. There are even quite a few guys that I work with that have expressed the same things and they are 40+.

Dan does not come off as some arrogant church leader who has the latest and greatest way to do church, but as a humble fellow Christ-follower who is trying to do his best to see the world impacted with the good news of God's love for them. I encourage you to read it with an open mind and heart. As Lee Strobel is quoted on the front cover, "A powerful and passionate wake-up call for the American church." Are you and your church sleeping?



Random Facts Meme

Well, I have been tagged in this by the big guy over at YMX.

Rules to play

1. Players start with 8 random facts about themselves.
2. Those who are tagged should post these rules and their 8 random facts.
3. Players should tag 8 other people and notify them they have been tagged.

My 8 random factoids:

1. Like Marko my first job was illegal. I worked for a guy who owned some greenhouses and a farm. It was really tough work, but fun.

2. The month my wife was due to have our daughter, there was a tornado that ripped through the trailer park we were living in. Two years later, when she was pregnant with our son, she was in OK and they were surrounded with tornado sightings. Both times everyone was safe.

3. I had a 1981 'Vette as my first car. I got it when I turned 16 and it was a manual transmission. The day after getting it, I stalled it our as I was leaving a parking lot and kept stalling it out. Frustrated I got out and called my dad and told him to come pick me up. BTW, it was a Chevette.

4. My wife and I have known each other our whole lives, but did not start dating until 1994. But we did go to her high school prom together. It is really fun to see videos of us in the children's choir sitting next to one another.

5. I am ashamed to admit this, but I really liked the Newlyweds show.

6. My wife and I both do not like scary movies and once while watching Signs, which wasn't really that scary, we were sitting on opposite ends of the couch and Kimmy said, "Don't sit so far away come hold me, I am scared." To which I replied, "Come hold me, I'm scared."

7. Once when I was cutting my grandma's grass, two guys pulled up in a car and asked if I wanted any grass and I said that I already had a big bag of it.

8. My favorite movie of all time is Somewhere In Time and Kimmy and I used the music in our wedding.

Now I tag:
Bryan (who thinks MySpace blogging counts)



Saturday, July 14, 2007

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Movie Review)

Order of the Phoenix (Year 5) is my favorite book in the series. And I loved the movie. I think that they did the best with the crappy time frame that Warner Brothers gave them. This movie deserved 3+ hours.

I saw it at the IMAX in 3D and that was WAY cool! If you get a chance to see it at one it is worth the cost of admission. I think that Imelda Staunton nailed Dolores Umbridge! She made you hate the character even more than in the books. And Evanna Lynch nailed Luna Lovegood. Not bad for a girl who was just a fan of the serious and won the open casted role! She was amazing, IMO.

I loved Kreacher and I think that they captured his mood very well. Would have liked to seen more of his mutterings. I am glad J.K. Rowling told them to put him in the movie.

I was disappointed in the way they handled the scene with Sirius Black dying. First, I always pictured that gate with an actual curtain, not some hazy thing. Second, he dodged her first shot and then got hit with the second which knocked him backwards into the veil. In the movie it appeared that he was dead as he fell back into the veil. According to the book Bellatrix Lestrange shot one curse at him that emitted a streak of red light that Sirius dodged and then she hit him with another one that knocks him through the veil, but the color is never mentioned. The Avada Kedavra emits a green light. The red one is unknown, so far but his commonly known as the stupefy curse, in the Potter world. To me that was quite a bit different between the movie and the book.

I did not like the way they did Fred and George's exit. They left out their challenge to the students to get rid of Umbridge and the swamp. Everything else was great about it though!

The kiss scene was a waste of time, in my opinion, and that time could have been used towards other much more important things. They should have done it just like Rowling had written it in the books.

I like how Harry went into the DA lessons with not too much confidence, but gained it over time. Which is like how it was in the book. So I thought that that was okay.

I missed the brain scene in the Ministry of Magic.

All in all it was a great movie and the best of the bunch, IMO.

Next week I get to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows! I am looking forward to spending the evening at Borders with my wife for the midnight book release party. Yes, I am that geeky!



Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Looking For Free Stuff?

Are you someone who is in youth/student ministry and looking for some free resources to help you out at your church? Then head on over to and check out the Monday Exchange. A new resource will be added every Monday. You can also subscribe the YMX RSS Feed and get updated on your favorite feed reader about what is new at YMX.

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R.I.P. "N" Word

Yesterday in Detroit the NAACP held their 98th annual meeting. And they decided to symbolically bury the "N" word. And not because they believe that white people or people of other races should not be able to use that word. They did this because they believe that no one should use that word. The sad reality is that the word is probably used more often in rap songs then it is anywhere else. I applaud the NAACP for taking this bold step and calling out rappers and other black artists and telling them to stop using the word. I think that this is a bold move and I hope the message is heard and followed.

There are some other words that I believe need to be buried as well. One of them is the word "retard". It sickens me every time I hear people use this word so flippantly. Do they realize how they are not just calling someone a name, but they are degrading mentally handicapped people and their families? I seriously cringe every time I hear it used and for the most part have had people that I normally interact with stop using the word, but this past week while I was camping I heard my cousin use the word and then turn around and talk about how we should not use the next word on my list of words to be buried.

I think we also need to bury the word "fag". I believe that this word is on the same level as the "N" word and I even hesitated using it here, but I wanted to use it just to name the word exactly. Not only do I cringe when I hear it, but it literally sickens me when I hear christians use that word. And what is even more sad is that there is a church in Topeka, Kansas that uses that word in the name of the their churches website. The church is Westboro Baptist Church and the pastor there is a man named Fred Phelps. Sadly, you can see a picture of him on the right.

This man and his church sickens me. The message of Jesus is one of love and grace, not hatred. I look at that picture and I honestly wonder what Bible he is reading. How can he honestly believe that God would laugh when a human being dies and possibly goes to hell? That is not the God of the Bible that I know and serve. That was never Jesus' message and I would dare sya that I believe Jesus would have some very harsh words for this man and his church.
Okay, back to the burial of the "F" word....

I think that the "F" word is just has evil and hateful as the "N" word. And the "R" word as well. I believe that Christ-followers every where needs to stop using these words and eliminate them from our speech. They are not loving words and I do not believe that Jesus wants us to use such hateful language. But not only should the church not use the word, but I believe all humans need to stop using them.

Okay, I will get off of my soapbox now....

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Manistee Update (07/07/07)

Yesterday, we went to the Sleeping Bear Dunes, which I have not been to since I was a kid. It was a lot of fun. We went on a 1.5 mile nature walk through the dunes. And then went to Lake Michigan and swam. It was frickin' cold! But we went all the way out to a sand bar. Despite the cold, it was fun.

Then on the way home, since we were in the cherry captial, we stopped by the Cherry Hut Restaurant and got my parents a cherry pie and some cherry jelly. And we even got the dog some cherry treats. All in all it was a great vacation and I am not looking forward to having to come home tomorrow and get back to the real world.

But I am looking forward to getting home.



Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Manistee Update (3 July 2007)

Today, was really great. It started off a little overcast and rainy, but then the sun came out and it was beautiful. A little chilly (mid 70's or so) and then we had my whole family (about 30 or so, spanning 4 generations) all together for lunch and then a family picture. I will have to post the pic later.

But sadly, the big fireworks show was cancelled due to wind and rain. I am sitting here in my tent staying mostly dry. But the rest of the week should be nice. Rain ends tomorrow (hopefully, the parade won't be cancelled) and it should be almost 80! And then Thursday we are going to Michigan Adventure!

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