Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Crazy Typing Game

I got this typing game off Marko's blog. It is crazy.... I did not do as well as many other people reported doing... People we posting 50K and 60K scores on his site, mine was just over 28K but it was Crazy fun.... Try it out!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Ethical Realism

In their new book Ethical Realism, Anatol Lieven and John Hulsman argue that we need need a better agenda in our foreign policy. Anatol Lieven was interviewed on Open Source Radio this week and I think it was their best episode yet. For those of you who agreed with my points in my Kingdom of God and Terror - A Response post these authors present much of the same idea from a more secular sociological perspective. I believe that being citizens of the kingdom of God should lead us to these conclusions, they feel being human should, but we end up with many of the same conclusions.

Whether you agree with me or not it is worth listening to since they vocalize these ideas more articulately than I did.

Friday, November 17, 2006

100% High School Knowledge Score

You paid attention during 100% of high school!

85-100% You must be an autodidact, because American high schools don't get scores that high! Good show, old chap!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?
Create a Quiz

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

An Ode To Blogging!

This one goes out to all 4 of my readers!

Thanks, Marko

Senator Obama On Dr. King

Senator Barack Obama spoke yesterday at the groundbreaking for a new Martin Luther King Junior Memorial. Although I have serious political issues with spending federal dollars on memorials (other than Arlington Cemetery) the text of his speech was a fabulous tribute to the legacy of Dr. King's work. I have excerpted the best part below, or you can read the full text at Senator Obama's site.

Like Moses before him, he would never live to see the Promised Land. But from the mountain top, he pointed the way for us - a land no longer torn asunder with racial hatred and ethnic strife, a land that measured itself by how it treats the least of these, a land in which strength is defined not simply by the capacity to wage war but by the determination to forge peace - a land in which all of God's children might come together in a spirit of brotherhood.

We have not yet arrived at this longed for place. For all the progress we have made, there are times when the land of our dreams recedes from us - when we are lost, wandering spirits, content with our suspicions and our angers, our long-held grudges and petty disputes, our frantic diversions and tribal allegiances.

And yet, by erecting this monument, we are reminded that this different, better place beckons us, and that we will find it not across distant hills or within some hidden valley, but rather we will find it somewhere in our hearts.

In the Book of Micah, Chapter 6, verse 8, the prophet says that God has already told us what is good.

"What doth the Lord require of thee, the verse tells us, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"

The man we honor today did what God required.
I think that we should praise God for those who live their lives and inspire us to live our lives in the challenge of Micah 6:8.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

My First Blogger Beta Post

Here is my first official post using the new Blogger Beta. It strikes me as strange that in this case Beta means better but whatever who can know the mind of Google. The new beta has support for labels and I am very unsure what it is going to do with my template, but I guess we will see that momentarily.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Emerging Pensees

Mike Clawson pastor of an missional church plant out in the Yorkville area called Via Christus suggests adding training in nutritional cooking techniques to our church benevolent ministries. I think it is a great idea!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


So I had the conversation with my wife last weekend as we were passing the Apple Store in Woodfield Mall. Is Bono and Oprah's Red campaign really a sham that though grows out of good hearts does more damage to the cause than it does good. I am going to be honest about myself in this post as I analyze the problem I see.

Buy a $200 and $10 goes to HiV/AIDS relief in Africa. Buy a $60 T-shirt and $10 goes to HiV/AIDS relief in Africa. The contrast is I can buy a $50 MP3 player and sent $150 to Africa through a credible NGO. I can buy a $15 T-Shirt and send $45 to Africa through a credible NGO. Still the other contrast is (being honest) I am probably going to be shopping at Gap and Apple anyway!

This is where things get tricky for me. I am the person the products are marketed to, and if I am going to making these purchaes anyway, I should be buying (RED). The problem is why does a movement that is concerned about HiV/AIDS relief in Africa really want to continue to ENCOURAGE my consumerists lifestyle. The answer is a lack of LOVE!


Then I found (Red)emption and think it is a great idea! Can you participate with a $10 gift to Africa with no consumerist return?

An Apprentice of Jesus

Church of the Exiles: An Apprentice of Jesus:
  1. An apprentice of Jesus lives with a sense of legacy and destiny.
  2. An apprentice of Jesus practices desert reflection.
  3. An apprentice of Jesus practices radical repentance.
  4. An apprentice of Jesus makes a public statement of their commitment to live in reverence towards God (ie. Baptism).
  5. An apprentice of Jesus practices abstinence from normal consumption and activity in order to strengthen spiritual clarity and resolve.
  6. An apprentice of Jesus is aware of both human physical needs and desires and intangible spiritual realities.
  7. An apprentice of Jesus resists the urge to obtain power and authority in human kingdoms through surrender to God.
  8. An apprentice of Jesus resists the desire for status and reputation through humility.
  9. An apprentice of Jesus seeks the good of reverent people and does not depend on religious institutions or groups for validation.
  10. An apprentice of Jesus identifies with the poor, imprisoned, blind, and oppressed and seeks their liberation and restoration.
  11. An apprentice of Jesus communicates God’s favor for all people."
Following Jesus is so amazing because it is so simple and equally so complicated. Jesus' first command was simple, "Follow Me!" Yet, he spent the next three years with his disciples explaining the depth of what that command meant. If you are as moved as I am, read the full list of the 73 attributes of a Christ Follower.

Monday, November 06, 2006

I Tried To Read Richman's Article

So if you are a food lover and subscribe to food blogs you did not get through recently without reading about the GQ - New Orleans Food Article by Alan Richman. The man has been called every offensive term under the sun and so I decided it was time to read the article.
I got bored and quit reading before I found anything offensive. I could certainly see some of the offensive and crude points in other's excerpts. I wanted to include the link in case anyone else wants to read through and see what a fool he supposedly made of himself, after all he is an award winning food critic.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

A Knack For Offending A Person I Like

So I seem to have a knack for offending my friend Mildred (name changed to protect innocent). Several months ago at a church potluck I put what turned out to be a very strange deviled egg on my plate. Sitting at my table with my friends (including Mildred's husband and mother in-law) I was poking and prodding and generally playing with the deviled egg rather than actually eating the egg. If I recall the facts correctly, Mildred's mother in-law commented on the deviled egg games and I replied how "strange" I found the composition of this deviled egg. Turns out it was Mildred's deviled egg. As any good person would do she did not hold it against me I was not a fan of the deviled egg.

The other day I posted about my horrible experience at church Wednesday night thinking that only 2 people from church read my blog and I was OK. Well it turns out that Mildred's sister was reading as well and hooked onto my comment about, "So here we are 10 years later at church the other night. A lady who I value for her simple uncomplicated faith... " which she knew was speaking of her sister and she had her sister read it, and well I once again looked like a loser.

So here is my official defense and disclaimer.

1. That sentence is a compliment! I regret the fact that I don't posses the ability to have a simple faith. I am rat who struggles with my faith constantly! I hold God out at a Deistic distance and protect myself from intimacy with him and others through theology, philosophy and intentional arrogance. I want to accept God and believe in him without 10,000 questions. Several of my favorite people in life are those who do that.

2. Mildred is one of those super people who are far more important and valuable to our church than ANYONE realizes. Few people are as involved in leading and serving in as many ministries as Mildred is. She is a diligent servant in our children's ministry, our women's ministry, and our benevolent ministry. I do not believe there are two ministries in a church more important than children and benevolence. She is a leader who shows diligence in both. My 5 year old daughter LOVES Ms. Mildred's bible class and is often offended that her mom and I can not arrive to Bible class on time on Sunday morning. There is no one in our church with a more important role to me than Ms. Mildred and their Wednesday night teacher for their continual service to my daughters!

3. Mildred reminds me of my mom. I have often watched Mildred with her teens and she soooooo reminds me of my mom when we were teenagers. I believe my parents were nearly perfect parents. Few people I know bat 100% with their children being involved faithful members of their church in their adult years. My parents did that! I see too that Mildred will have the same positive effect on her kids. I value that in a person!

4. Mildred did not take offense in either the deviled egg or the "simple uncomplicated faith" comment. I assume the worst in the people, and that is such a poor quality in a person. Mildred addressed my comment and asked for clarification which I deeply value in a person. She did not let pettiness cloud her vision. Imagine a world where more of us acted like that rather than being catty and self-centered.

As those of you who are regular readers know, I often find myself VERY frustrated at the values and lack of vision and mission I see in the decision making from our church leadership. The contrast to my rants, which I often post, are the reasons I am a part of Cardinal Drive. There is positive to the church, that I don't record here often enough.

2 years ago this February my wife and I joined Cardinal Drive as members. We had been attending on Wednesday Bible class for six months at that point, and had visited on Sunday mornings on a few occasions as well. There were 3 things about Cardinal Drive that led me to desire to place membership there on a full time basis. Although two of them are irrelevant to this discussion, the number one reason is very relevant. It was the friendliness of the membership. There were no airers of pretentiousness, instead it was a warm welcoming body of people. There were most certainly a few families that made this true, we were welcomed with open arms by the members of CD. Few churches had ever felt as open as CD did. My friend Mildred was among those people who were so open and welcoming! It was hearts like hers that made CD so attractive to our family.

Thank you Mildred for not being offended by my comment. I respect and treasure you!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Kingdom of God and Terror - A Reponse

I think my brother hit the nail on the head when he asked the question, "Are the teachings of Christ scalable?" According to the Tech Dictionary Scalable means: "Able to be changed in size or configuration to suit changing conditions." We agree that Christ teachings were for his disciples, but the debate at hand is would they work as principle model in other situations.

I want to begin the discussion by comparing the Operating Systems made by Apple and Microsoft . Apple disciples claim that the Macintosh operating system is a much better user experience. However it is not scalable software since it works only on a specific set of 6-10 computer models. Microsoft's operating system has MUCH GREATER scalability since Windows is used on a virtually infinite variations of hardware. This means for the issue at hand my brother feels Christ's teachings are like the Macintosh operating system. If you accept Christ then you will be blessed by following his teachings. If you are not a Mac (a Christian) then as a PC (a Muslim, a Buddhist, an atheist, or a national entity) the principles of Christ bear no value to you since they can not run on your spiritual architecture. This is where I find myself in deep disagreement with my brother. I believe we were created to follow the principles of Christ: therefore when we follow those principles there will be a consequential blessing. In example, if I have eyes only for the wife of my youth and keep my eyes and my mind sexually pure that is a spiritual blessing to my wife despite our relationship with God. Or as another example, if I choose to harbor bitterness there is a physical penalty to that choice to my body despite my affiliation with or without God. My spiritual choices do not have an impact on the results of following the principles of Christ.

So therefore how does this play out on a Geo-Political scale? In order to answer this question most honestly I need to clarify a few things about myself. Firstly, I am not a pacifist but I do support the Non-Aggression Axiom of Libertarianism . Secondly, I do believe my brother, who this post is directed to, makes a well thought out and well argued point for Iraq as a an aggressor and enemy. Finally, I believe "We The People" can act and should act independently of our national policy in matters of conscience. In addition to those three points I also believe one should clarify that a major point of disagreement in these matters seems to be in the doctrine of interpreting what Christ means when he speaks of the "Kingdom of God ." There are three views on the "Kingdom of God." There is the Theocratic Kingdom, the Apolyptic Kingdom, and the Universal Kingdom. Many evangelicals in America today subscribe to the Theocratic Kingdom of God. Their view is that America is the sword of God and should nationally submit to the laws of God. Augustine agreed with this idea (not America) and it has surfaced from time to time throughout the history of the church. To a certain point the Crusades, and the Kingdom of Jerusalem are a direct result of this ideology. I do not believe this is the idea my brother presents in his comment s on my Amish and Terror -4 Questions post. Instead my brother presents the second idea of the Kingdom of God. This idea draws heavily from the Revelation of John and teaches that Christ will one day establish a true, permanent kingdom on earth where he will sit as the literal physical king of the earth. This kingdom is in contrast to the current kingdom of the earth which is ruled by Satan. Although I do believe in an ultimate sense this idea is Biblically sound, I think Jesus presents a third idea of the kingdom of God in his own words that differs from the final kingdom John speaks about in the Revelation. Jesus speaks of his kingdom in such a way that the original church fathers defined it as, "The kingdom of god means, then, the ruling of God in our hearts; it means those principles which separate us off from the kingdom of the world and the devil; it means the benign sway of grace; it means the Church as that Divine institution whereby we may make sure of attaining the spirit of Christ and so win that ultimate kingdom of God Where He reigns without end in "the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God." This idea means that each member of the church universally has the responsibility to understand that he bears the weight of the kingdom of God on daily basis. The Kingdom of God is in any place and in every place where God's people are.

So as we come back to the Geo-Political question at hand, can the principles of the Kingdom of God be present in our "War on Terror ?" I answer a most resounding Yes! Christ taught that each person in need is my neighbor. That means if I have affluence and I encounter a person whether here in America, or in Africa, or in the Islamic Middle East who is suffering from the kinds of radical poverty where Islamofascism is growing our response to that on a personal should be deep sorrow and a deep need to respond to that suffering. We should on a personal level see these enemies as failures to love like Christ loved rather than as evil psychopaths. On a personal level we should be challenged to respond in the kind of sacrificial love that the early church demonstrated in their own economic care of their "cultural" enemies. Our response must be two fold, as a national government employed to "promote the common defense" our military must do precisely that against those forces currently presenting formidable aggression against our nation and our national interest. However the second side, that would be a much more long term and much more difficult road to walk would be to respond to the forces of poverty that open doors to this ideology of hate. If the Islamofascist were telling young boys they could leave poverty by entering their world of hate, and the Christian response to the poverty present present in these region was showers of love through the distribution of water and food, there would be no growth in the Islamofascist camps. This movement grows because it promises a better hope for the future, we should be using our wealth to present that better hope for the future in the name of love not hate. This can be the American response. If the people of America, outside of sectarian lines, poured hope in the form of food, water, and medicines into the Islamofascist controlled regions of the world Christ's principles WOULD SCALE to eliminate the recruiting tools of our enemies. Our enemies would become our brothers. An understanding of history teaches us that Christ's methodology would work, since previous nation states have built revolutions on meeting the basic needs of their constituents.

So how would the Amish response look to the war on terror. I believe a delegation of Ambassadors, Anthropologist, Economist, and Sociologist could go to these parts of the world and find REAL answers to meeting these needs. I believe this delegation would repent to the people of these parts for our previous exploitation of their people and their resources. We would find mutually amenable solutions for using their resources in ways that build their communities rather than destroy them. If we took these actions we would eviscerate the political strength of the Islamofascist. If we treated the people of these parts of the world as our neighbors the terms of this war would be radically altered.

So this brings us to our LAST and final question, which my brother redefined to "Was Jesus concerned with Politics?" I agree with him that Christ would not have been in the "Political" arena. Jesus would not have encouraged the Roman government to have an "Office of Faith Based Iniatives" The church in Acts did not from a Political Action Commitee and hire lobbyist to bring the issue Jewish Widow Poverty before the republic's senate. However that was not the question I asked. "Was his (Christ) language a poignantly social and political praxis illustrated by an intentional counter-cultural lifestyle?" The answer to this question is another resounding yes. Jesus challenged every political idea and every social boundary of his day. Christ ate meals with the Mafia Dons, Homeless Schizophrenics, and $2 Hookers of his day, an act which no respectable Rabbi would tolerate, let alone be involved in. Jesus did not tell others to respond to the very different the needs of the tax collectors, lame, demon possessed, and prostitutes. Christ responded, getting his hands dirty with the mud that made a blind man see, getting his nose full of the rotting smell of flesh as he healed a band of lepers, and suffering a cruel agonizing death. Christ's setting aside of self-interest for the sake of others was the complete antithesis of any political or spiritual leader of his day, and for that matter of any day. The people of Christ should be acting in direct step with Christ in these matters. It is our responsibility to find sustainable answers to meeting these needs. We do not need to change the "Politics" of our nation by encouraging our government to send these "delegations of hope" instead we need a MASSIVE effort to unite our the kingdom of God to provide these answers and resources.

Our immediate National response (Big N) was correct to the aggression against our nation on September 11th from a Political perspective. Our national response (small n) was abhorrent and should have been far more in line with the response molded by the Amish in their response to the terror against their community. A concerted effort to follow the principles of Christ responding on a macro scale to the most poverty stricken areas of the world would have drastically reshaped the five years since that dark day entered our memories. The only sustainable force of change in the Middle East will not be Political nation building, it will be instead for the Kingdom of God present in the western world to respond to the actual needs of the suffering in the Middle East. That is the lesson we can learn from the Amish.

P.S. - My brother linked to an article by Orson Scott Card on this issue as well. I do not agree with everything Orson Scott Card writes in the article but it is well worth the read.

Kicked Out Of Bible Class

I got kicked out of Bible Class at church this past Wednesday night. It has been a long time since I have been ejected from a Bible class. Here is the whole story from Junior High till the other day.

When I was growing up at church in Junior High I used to get kicked out of Bible class VERY regularly. There was one member, to whom I am deeply indebted for his commitment to instilling the words of scripture into us young men and women by sending us home with pages of homework to complete each week, who kicked me out of class EVERY SINGLE WEEK. I believe he thought I was being cheeky. I will still argue that even at 12 years old I had serious faith issues in the status quo of the church and my questions were genuine, but looking back now as an adult I am sure that a Junior High boy asking the deep troubling questions of faith did probably seem disingenuous. As I matured I realized that people did not WANT to answer the tough questions, instead they wanted to ignore them as if Faith was Left Brained exercise of quantifiable fact so I stopped asking the questions and made it through my remaining years of secondary school.

In College I was honored to be instructed by William Kooi, a man who was unlike any other Bible teacher I had ever had. I found my hope for faith in the teachings of Dr. Kooi. Dr. Kooi was not only willing to ask and provide guidance to the answers to the tough questions of faith, he basically demanded his students to ask them. I changed a lot in my two years with Dr. Kooi and I once again was renewed in my hope for the church and it's honest search for truth.

So here we are 10 years later at church the other night. A lady who I value for her simple uncomplicated faith asked a genuine question that one could possibly imply was "blasphemous" for a person of faith to ask. She was attacked by the crowd, and I raised my hand to defend her. In my defense and answering of her question I called the "answer" of an older member of the church who is a retired minister an "immature and irresponsible" reading of Psalm 22 (My wife died on the spot) and explained a holistic view of the gospel from the fall in the garden to the cross as it related to the relationship between the Father, the Son, and mankind.

Well, the teacher OBVIOUSLY did not agree with my answer. Although I was not physically ejected from the room, as I had been so many times in those younger days, I was clearly ejected from the remaining conversation. The teacher would look directly at my hand raised in the air and refuse to call on me as if there was no one waiting to comment, or by taking the comment of another class member. Towards the conclusion of the class, another member asked an equally serious and challenging question. The instructor directly LIED to her and told her that the Bible did not address the question. I raised my hand a final time to offer rebutal to his ignorance, but was shunned from the conversation.

So Wednesday, November 1 2006, can go down in the memoirs of my life as the first time since Junior High that I have been kicked out of Bible Class.

P.S. - I actually had book, chapter, and verse to answer the question since it is answered PRECISELY by Christ's own words in scripture and my daughter and I had just read that chapter of John two evenings before. Funny!!!

P.P.S. - I mobed the previous P.P.S. to the correct post :-)

Blogger Beta Excitement

Today is the first day the new Blogger Beta has the option for Publishing to an FTP server. I tested it out with a Fake blog I set up on my server and it worked AWESOME!!!

I Am VERY Excited that Blog Migration will be arriving VERY SOON!!!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Is It a Sin not to Vote? - Prison Fellowship

Years ago I was a HUGE fan of Chuck Colson but have honestly just lost touch with his organization and ministry in the last several years. Assuming he was deeply loyal to his republican roots, and my current disdain for all things Republican and Democrat, I didn't feel he had much to offer me.

A friend emailed this article to me and I read it just to confirm my view about Mr. Colson. I admit I was VERY WRONG! Mr. Coloson had a wonderful perspective and his aruments summary held a dead on accuracy.

"This is why Christians must never “fast” from politics. And it’s why Christians, of all citizens, ought to be lining up to vote on Tuesday. Do your civic duty because you’ll do your duty to God in the process.

And to abandon the battle on behalf of the sick and the suffering, the prisoner and the unborn: That would be a true sin."

No endorsements along party lines, no minimizations of the problems facing our nation and our world. The article is straight talk from a man who has sat at the highest echelons of the political power process. Thank you Chuck, I am sorry I missed out these past several years.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A Fifth Column In The Illinois Governor's Race

Although no one will read this for days since Blogger sucks these days!.... I have seen several Christian's I like heartily recommending the Green Party candidate for governor here in IL. He certainly beats out either of the two major party offerings, but still does not bring a bang for the buck to the table. Additionally running in this race is the Constitution Party Candidate who actually thinks that in a time of a nation at war gay marriage and gambling are major issues. He appeals to a set of narrow minded ultra-right wingers who think America is the "Kingdom of God." and I can not support that even though he is only 100% Pro-Life Candidate in the race. (I will not be a one issue voter) Next there is the Libertarian Candidate who has little to say on the issues at all other than some typical regurgitated Libertarian ideology's. I am a supporter of the Libertarian party, but I still am not finding myself rallying behind Mr. McCoy since his presentation is half hearted an insincere.

Now I certainly don't agree with Mr. Whitney on MANY issues like education, healthcare, etc. But he has something going for him that the other two mentioned candidates do not have, he is actually ON THE BALLOT. To me this is enough of a reason to vote for him. I want to send a message to the Republicans and Democrats ans I don't think a write-in candidate can do that. So please forgive me for going green, but what's a boy to do?

Andrew Peterson: Behold the Lamb of God

Andrew Peterson's Behold the Lamb of God is seriously my favorite album ever written. Now it is available on a web player. If you have never heard this album, I am sure that after one listen you will be buying it. It is so much more than a Christmas album, it is the gospel presented in a beautiful medley of songs. Stop by an listen.

Andrew will be singing the music live at Christian Heritage Academy, in Northfield on December 2nd with Derek Webb and Sandra McCracken.

If you live in Chicagoland and are not there that night than you are a square.

Tatooing For Christ

I plan on seeing if I can get the wife to go up to Detroit on the weekend of the 18th of November. There is a new ministry that wants to stretch out to the people our churches are usually blind to see. Sacred Ink is a ministry that brings the love of Christ to the art of body decoration. Since my wife are planning on getting matching wedding bands tattooed for our anniversary, I think it would be well worth the drive to support this work when it come time to get that done.

Praise God that this man saw a need. Praise God the church at Rochester got behind him!