Monthly Archives: September 2010

Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

In E-Mail, Steve Jobs Comments on iPhone 4 Minerals | Gadget Lab |

For every choice we make there is a corresponding impact on the world.  One consequence in our love affair with tech is actually armed violence in other nations.  Here one customer and CEO reflect on the angst involved in producing and using amazing devices.
But it brings up a larger point.  How often do we stop and consider how our actions affect others around us?
1 Corinthians 8:9 (NRSV) “But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.”
Maybe we could consider it a lot more than we do.  Are Christians free to make “private” choices that are nobody’s business?  Or do we take the idea of community seriously?  Healthy community is where individuals live in love, placing the needs of others before their own.  Evidently early Christians weren’t much better at this than we are.  1 Corinthians 10-11 record the sad erosion of communion and love feast into a selfish banquet of seconds & thirds before others had been served. Paul says, “If you’re that hungry eat at home before you come.”
Of course, toxic community is where the group beats down the individual and seeks to control them for control’s sake.   So it’s a question to consider: am I my brother’s keeper?  Where are the boundaries between Christian liberty and Christian community?  I’d love to hear your thoughts…


New Planet Discovered: Gliese 581g is a ‘Goldilocks’ Planet

New Planet Discovered: Gliese 581g is a ‘Goldilocks’ Planet.

This one’s too hot!  (for water not to vaporize)  This one’s too cold!  (for water not to crystalize) But this one is Juuust right! (for water to pool on a hard surface under an atmosphere, teeming with life!)  Goldilocks & the three bears was one of my favorite stories from pre-Kindergarten days.  Since I was about ten, I’ve also been fascinated with the possibility of life on other planets.  So what do you think?  Will we find life on other planets?  Will they find us?  It seems like the infinite creativity of God might not be limited to this blue ball.  On the other hand it brings up all kinds of interesting theological questions, too!  What if Jesus died for the sins of more than just earthly beings?  What would happen to our concept of the image of God if Chewbacca and the Cantina band show up?  As long as most of them speak English as in Star Wars, we should be just fine…
To me it seems that we’ll find some planets with water, bacteria, and basic plant life.  The size and scope of our universe makes it likely to my finite mind.  But large reptiles, mammals, fish and birds? Humanoid creatures with self-consciousness and language?  I’m not so convinced…but certainly can’t rule it out.  I mean those retired Air Force guys claim they know what they saw… 😉
Feel free to share your views below and “May the force be with you!”

Pass it on…

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread… (I Corinthians 11:23 NIV)
This Sunday is worldwide communion Sunday! We’ll be gathering to celebrate and give thanks around God’s table. What strikes me this morning is how fragile the Good News really can be. As powerful and durable as this spiritual meal has been, it all comes down to the line…”what I received…I also passed on to you. ” What I know about Jesus, I know because my mother took me to church and told me. What if she had almost gone but didn’t? That’s what happened for years until her neighbor, Ruth Crow, knocked on the door of my parents’ apartment and invited mom to church through the screen door.
Who first brought you to church? Who passed on to you what they received? Who will know about Jesus because you told them? I’m so glad Paul and Ruth and then Lavada passed it on!
Invite someone to worship with you this week. If you don’t attend a church, consider yourself invited to NewHope 10:30am Sunday. After a fun and meaningful service we’ll feast together at our Fall Family Fun Fest! Pass it on!…

Oh, Man…I’m Breaking Away!

“With Positive Test, Contador May Lose Tour Title”

Anyone who knows me, knows I like to ride bikes. I’ve been a big fan since I was a little kid. I remember the training wheels coming off.  I remember the challenge from my dad to ride my old bike to the top of the huge hill to earn the bike I wanted.  I remember cresting that hill without stopping a few weeks later!  I remember riding all summer feeling free and strong.  I remember watching the movie Breaking Away and feeling so validated in my bike world.
While down with the flu shortly after my wedding in 1989 I was inspired watching Greg LeMond win the Tour de France.  As soon as I was well, I pulled out my trusty (and a little rusty) Schwinn LeTour and started riding again.  Ellen had to rescue me and my buddies a few times, but she enjoyed riding, too.  I ended up completing three 100 mile bike rides that summer.  We raised a lot of money for several charities and had a great time!  I was hooked again.
It proved a little too tough to maintain my addiction through grad school which began that Fall. When I became a pastor, I would ride to the library in the summer to plan my preaching. I remember the ingenuity required to strap my computer to my old bike. Interesting times.
Then, in the summer of 2000 I was beginning a church planting project.  We wanted to cover the region in prayer.  Prayer walking on every street was taking too long.  An idea sparked in me to do some prayer riding.  I would ride at a slow pace for a couple of hours each day, trying to cover all 12,000 homes with prayer, while others walked and some even did some prayer driving!  I didn’t quite get it all covered, but I lost about 35 lbs and gained a ton of perspective on our community.  Talk about life in HD!  I was surveying my world, feeling with wind on my face, saying hi to strangers.  I was having my bones rattled by the mean streets of NW Indiana.  More importantly, I was trying to put my faith into action.
I was also watching Lance win the Tour.  The excitement of cycling was back with an inspiring story of healing attached.  So bikes, connecting with God and my calling were fused together forever. Nudged in there was a very deep appreciation for the suffering demanded by this sport.
Cycling in Europe is epic. It’s said to be a uniquely spiritual sport. You have to face the truth when it’s just you and the wind. One has to carry his weight when riding with the team, often sacrificing personal goals for the higher purpose.  Even the eventual winner of a stage race has to depend deeply on teammates to draft him up the long mountain stages.  You have to have a pretty big ego to believe you can win, but at the finish line, that ego has been tempered by the struggle. The majestic visual backdrop of the big tours in France, Italy, and Spain is also beyond breathtaking.  The idea of cycling is a pure one: men and machines locked in simultaneous embrace/battle with the wonders of the created order, each other, and themselves.
The next Spring I started training for local races.  It’s quite a thrill to be going all out while shoulder-to-shoulder with others who want to win!  I never placed even once, (I led for a few laps at times) but did learn more about myself and how to overcome through suffering. That Spring I went home to Iowa for a race around the hills of a park I had loved growing up.  I did not remember how steep those hills were!  7 laps of pure torture: downhills so fast (38-40mph) I thought I couldn’t control the bike, uphills so agonizing I couldn’t feel my legs-over and over and over! I was the final finisher, but finish I did!  A few of the cocky guys who blew past me early received DNF (did not finish) so I technically wasn’t last.  On a cold Lazarus Saturday before Palm Sunday I found my limits but also a sweet surrender after the pain. Unbind him and let him go! Yes there seemed a deep connection between sport and spirit.
That’s the idea anyway…then along comes a spider called doping.  Ugh!  Tyler Hamilton, stripped of his Olympic medal. Floyd Landis, guilty.  Scales fell from my eyes…this beautiful idea crushed.  Just when I thought the sport might have found itself again, tonight’s headline hits.  Even Contador?  Well, I never really liked Contador anyway… (smile).  The pressures of sponsors, TV ratings, and, evidently, history bear down on these men with feet of clay and they crumble.  Oh, how I hope and pray Lance was never guilty of doping in his Tour victories!  So many millions of people believed in the idea of him: a pure idea of overcoming through suffering.
We’ve learned by now our earthly heroes can only take us so far, especially famous ones.  The Foo Fighters may have it right, “There goes my hero, he’s ordinary!”  All I really needed to know about cycling I learned from Breaking Away! Sometimes famous heroes cheat, but if you can stay true and suffer with courage you can become a hero to the ones you love, maybe even to your enemies.  Genuine heroes don’t have sponsors, they sponsor hope and faith in others.
I’m thankful for heroes like my Mom, Paul King, Ruth Crow, Fred Martin, and Rick Williamson who showed me faith in real life.  Today I’m thankful for real life heroes like Carol, Ellen, Jeff, Joy, Paula, Rachel, Rocky, Sarah and many others who sacrifice for Jesus to make NewHope Community Church shine.  So who are your heroes?

Donna prayer update

Hello everyone, sorry I haven’t blogged this past week.  Ellen’s sister Donna is now home from the hospital and seems to be making progress daily.  Her surgery to remove/evaluate the cyst on her pancreas is now scheduled for OCTOBER 20th.  She will not return to work until after her recovery from the surgery.  Please continue to pray for her healing and for financial concerns due to missed work.  Thanks!

Donna Prayer Update

Good news!  Things have taken a turn for the better!  Thanks for your prayers.  Donna still has a long recovery ahead, but plans are to release her late morning tomorrow!  After a few days of rest, a surgeon will meet with Donna to discuss removal/evaluation of the cyst on her pancreas.  Continue to pray for complete healing.  God can do amazing things even before this surgery happens.  Please pray also that no further issues with clots or bleeding complicate the time-table.

Best Buy: iPad Cannibalizing Up to 50% of Laptop Sales

Best Buy: iPad Cannibalizing Up to 50% of Laptop Sales.

Click above for a rather amazing story about Apple’s iPad fast becoming the notebook of choice for students.
I don’t own the device, but reading on one is a pretty cool experience at the store. The complaints that it’s heavier than a Kindle don’t make sense. It ways about the same as a hardback book, but is much thinner. If you read new best-sellers it’s easier.
Logos has an iPad version of their Bible software, which works very well. If you purchase a library, many of the books become available on it to use and search. Great to have a large Christian library in something that thin! I’ll strongly consider the iPad the next time I need a computer, which hopefully will be a few years away.
I like Apple products because they’re innovative. Evidently others agree.

Donna Prayer Update

Thank you for praying. Donna is having an up and down weekend. She has been up walking a bit, but the internal bleeding continues. On Friday they were saying she could come home Monday or Tuesday. Today the doctors have not mentioned her being released soon.
Ellen’s dad has arrived in Texas and is helping out a lot. Donna needs to improve soon so they can operate again to remove a cyst on her pancreas, which may or may not be cancerous.
Please continue prayers for Donna.

Music Review: Dark is the Way, Light is a Place

**** (4/5 stars)
Anberlin’s new album from Universal Republic will please most fans of their recent work. Anberlin is a 2 parts Alternative/Indie Rock, 1 Part Christian Rock band from Orlando, FL.  Their broad appeal has resulted in over 23million plays on Last.FM. What you notice first is the ambient rock ethos.  Lead singer Stephen Christian’s voice blends harmoniously with pleasing guitar hooks.  His voice is rich and broad and it wraps itself around your ears.
But then you notice that these guys know how to rock!  Their musicianship has continued to improve since their 2002 launch.  More complex melodies and a driving rock feel give you reasons to come back for more.  When you do come back what begins to shine is the high production values.  Some fans of Amberlin’s earliest Indie days might not enjoy this. But a whole new segment of adult listeners will likely take notice of this maturing band.
These driving love/love lost songs have broad appeal because you could sing most of them to God or your girlfriend/spouse.  There is so much energy in most of these tracks they could help you complete a tough workout or bring you home from a frustrating day at work.  Just a touch of EMO grabs your dark night of the soul and lets you light the fires of the sacred, putting pain in perspective.
The first 6 of the 10 tracks are definite keepers.  We Owe This To Ourselves, Impossible, Take Me (As You Found Me), Closer, You Belong Here, and Pray Tell will hold your interest the first time you listen.  Depraved will appeal to early fans.
Throw in a DVD and free T-Shirt for the kids and you have a nice box set!  Available in iTunes, from AmazonMP3, BestBuy and other retailers now!
Favorite lyrics:
“since when did bullets start to sing?” from We Owe This to Ourselves
“are you keeping safe distance? holding me arm’s length away?” from Closer
“take what you want from me, it means nothing now. take everything from me, it means nothing now” from Impossible
“The ground is shaking underneath Now that you’re here…The world is on fire since you’ve come near all I’ve ever desired is here with me” from Take Me (As You Found Me)
“But I’ll give you all I have It isn’t much, not much at all but a heart that’s not worth breaking isn’t worth much, not at all” from You Belong Here
“Lie to yourself, don’t lie to me. Lie to yourself, don’t hide yourself. Find yourself, let me find you. Find yourself, let me find you…I’m the only one who can save you now” from Pray Tell
“you’re not a slave, so get off your knees” from Depraved (perhaps about addictions)

Track 1 We Owe This To Ourselves 3:12 Anberlin, Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place
Track 2 Impossible 4:04 Anberlin, Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place
Track 3 Take Me (As You Found Me) 4:12 Anberlin, Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place
Track 4 Closer 3:47 Anberlin AAC audio file Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place
Track 5 You Belong Here 4:22 Anberlin, Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place
Track 6 Pray Tell 3:47 Anberlin, Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place
Track 7 The Art Of War 4:44 Anberlin, Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place
Track 8 To The Wolves 3:31 Anberlin, Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place
Track 9 Down 4:05 Anberlin, Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place
Track 10 Depraved 5:25 Anberlin, Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place

Anberlin Feat: Crash Kings & Civil Twilight

House of Blues Chicago

Chicago, IL
Sat, Oct 23, 2010 6:00 PM

Prayer Update on Donna

Latest on Ellen’s sister, Donna, from her husband, Jeff.

Day 8, 9:15 AM:  The doctor stopped by.  The bleeding is not stopped, but is at normal levels.  Her blood count is low, which is also expected, and hence the blood infusion.  There are no procedures planned for today, which is good.  Today is SPA day.  Rest and relax and watch a lot of TV.  Time for the body to start repairing itself.  No discharge date has been decided.

More good news – they removed the heart monitor!  No more sticky pads and bulky unit in her gown pocket.

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