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Showing posts from 2006

Merry Christmas

Here is a photo I took at a friend's wedding last weekend. Thought it turned out fairly well for my snap and shoot digital camera.

On a side note, you might want to check out http://myholidaysweater.com
It's pretty sweet.

Our Deliverer

"I love you, O Lord, my strength.

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whome I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies." Psalm 18:1-3

"From the Lord comes deliverance." Psalm 3:8

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift of deliverance that came through his Son, Jesus Christ!

Merry Christmas, everybody.

Peace.

The Kingdom of God is Like...

A place where the King and Lord cares about the oppressed, the marginalized, the fatherless and the afflicted and he gives encouragement, redemption, hope and freedom.



"You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more."
Psalm 10:17-18"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:6-7

This is the kind of kingdom the world truly wants, but much of the world doesn't know that God's kingdom is truly like this. They haven't seen this light amidst the darkness.

"...but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God." -Jesus

Random

I can't believe it's been nearly a month since my last post. I guess this month has been busier than I realize! So much going through my mind right now. Right now I am reading three excellent books. The Gospel of Mark. It is always a great read. I love Mark's overuse of the word "immediately." Ever notice that? I'm in the middle of Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy & Fairy Tale by F. Buechner. It's my first experience with Buechner, and I am quite impressed. He's such an artistic writer, he really brings the words to life. In the third book I am reading, a section of his book, Sacred Journey, was quoted and I was blown away. This third book is Simpler Living, Compassionate Life, which I just started, but I'm pretty excited about it. Simplicity is a subject that has been flodding my mind ever since I was in South Africa. I'll have an update on that one down the road...

And of course the biggest news is that I am …

Give It All Up

A friend sent me the transcript from a message given by Billy Graham in 1957 at the University of Illinois. I just finished reading it and Graham's words ring just as true for our us today as they did nearly 50 years ago. He spoke about how Christ has called us to live committed, disciplined, self-denying lives (Luke 9:23) and about how we have become soft, particularly as men; hearers of the Word, but not doers (James 1:22). I don't have much time to write for now, but I want to leave you with one quote from his message that really stuck with me.

A young university girl said to a Christian worker in England, "I would give the world if I had the Christian testimony you have." The dear sweet old lady said, "My dear, that's exactly what it cost me, the world."

Frozen Pizzas and the Cycle of Poverty, Part IV

In Part III, I closed with this thought:

"Yes, on the global poverty stage, Americans do not struggle at the same level (millions upon millions living on less than a $1/day), but this does not justify ignoring or setting aside the mandate of scripture to care for the poor and needy (widows and orphans).

What does God's Word say on this topic?"

Well, if you've ever read the Holy Bible or have heard it read, it doesn't take long to recognize that God has a special place in his heart for the poor. There are hundreds of references to the poor in Scripture. And not just poor financially, but poor in spirit, as ones who are humble and recognize that we are the created and we have been created to fellowship with and glorify our Creator. But, I want to just highlight some passages of scripture that have impacted me on the subject of caring for the poor. We have much to learn from them (even as a one working in full-time ministry in the US, I am probably in the wealthies…

Having Beat the Odds

Cardinals nation is still rejoicing over the recent world series victory (500,000 attended the victory party in STL...500,000! It's amazing how sports will unite so many people), and having been a lifelong Cards fan (see photo...my last minute halloween costume), I can say that it is sweet. I grew up bonding with my grandpa via our shared love for the Cardinals, but I was born three months after the last Cardinals' world series victory, so this is the first for my lifetime. And now as Roland pointed out to me, I have a five year cushion period in which it doesn't matter what the Cardinals do :) But, with Pujols leading the way, I can't imagine us not being in the mix come next year.

In other news, St. Louis was just today named the most dangerous city/metropolis in the United States of America. Did the Detroit Free Press have a hand in taking this poll?

Beating the Odds

I was just over at ESPN.com and saw that 7 out of 8 baseball "experts" had selected the Tigers over the Cardinals, most often in five games or less.

But here we sit, Cards up three games to one. If we can hold off this rain tonight, our Redbirds will probably crack open the champagne this evening.

Go Cards!

Not of This World

Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world."

These words spoken by Jesus in response to Pilate's questioning hold a wealth of truth, mystery, hope and power. These words will set us free if we seek the truth that motivates their utterance. How often we lose sight of this central fact--that God's kingdom is from another place--while living out our faith in a fallen and broken world! While reading Oswald Chambers yesterday morning, I was struck again by some of the ways in which I have allowed the patterns and attitudes of this world to influence the way I live out each day.

Take productivity for example. It can weigh me down like a wet blanket sometimes. I can feel so restricted by this feeling that I must always be a productive and useful individual. But where is that in scripture?

Chambers says that "an active Christian worker too often lives to be seen by others...In our Lord's life there was none of the pressure and the rushing of tremendous acti…

Keep it Tight

I'm always up for discovering a new favorite artist, so I wanted to recommend one that you should check out. The guy is Amos Lee and he's from Philly. Think fusion of acoustic and soul. I dig the tracks Keep it Loose, Keep it Tight, Arms of a Woman, Give it Up and Colors; although, I can listen to this album straight through. I found his stuff randomly about a month ago, and I can't get enough of his self-titled debut album. You can check it out here. He just recently came out with a new album, Supply and Demand, but I haven't had an opportunity to listen to it yet.

You won't be disappointed.

Confession

This weekend, I visited an old friend, whose dad was my pastor during most of my childhood. I hadn't heard him preach in many years, so I visited his church this morning and while there, a very cool little story was shared by a member of that fellowship. This woman came forward to share about her many years of running from God and living in rebellion and ultimately how God had drawn her back into fellowship with him, and an event involving her son gave her the final push to come forward. And now I am going to retell her retelling of that event to you.

"A couple weeks ago, several of us from church were over at one friend's house, and the adults were chatting while the kids played in the pool. And as we were sitting there in coversation, my son Andrew, who is four, came up towards the adults and as he stood there, he just dropped his trunks. Right there in front of us all. I look over at the pastor, and he's averting his eyes, trying not to stare at it, and I'…

Frozen Pizzas and the Cycle of Poverty, Part III

Round and round she goes, where she stops, nobody knows! Hard to say how far I could or will take this series of postings, because one could devote an entire blog to the issue of cyclical poverty in inner cities. But there has been some good discussion generated (for a novice blogger such as myself at least!) and I hope to continue posting on this issue in the future, although I may only carry this particular series on to one more installment.

So, what does Wal-Mart have to do with this? Well, let's make it clear that I am NOT saying that Wal-Mart is the answer to revolutionizing the purchasing habits of low-income & low-education inner city dwellers! Although, maybe that's what Sam wanted. Over the past few years, Wal-Mart has been making strides to enter the major American urban markets, a demographic that it had left virtually untouched for many years. Today, New York and Detroit are the only remaining untapped urban markets by the low-priced retailing giant. The m…

Frozen Pizzas and the Cycle of Poverty, Part II

The beauty of "to be continued" blog posting is that it entices people to come back for a follow-up (as evidenced by my friend Christine's latest post on her blog). I mean, let's be honest here. I am not just keeping a blog for the sake of a personal online journal. Yes, it is nice to revisit my thoughts now and again, but part of my desire is to have an influence on visitors and meet bloggers from other parts of the world. So, the drawback is that there are no deadlines for blogging and therefore I can lose inspiration when I take a two or three day hiatus from a "to be continued" post. Note to self: when writing a post with the intention of drawing people back for more, write the follow-up immediately following the first post (or fairly soon thereafter).

Now, where was I. Oh yes, the pizzas, or poverty in the inner cities rather. Upon finishing Part I, I read through my thoughts again, which were more or less stream of consciousness, and I realized t…

This is the Title Line

After several months (already?!) of blogging here, I thought it was time for a face lift. Hope you enjoy. If it isn't your style, guess you'll have to live with it. I've updated some links on the sidebar as well.

While I'm here, I'll leave you with a humorous and thought-provoking little story that I heard on the radio from the wisdom of Peanuts:

A Peanuts comic strip showed Linus and Lucy sitting indoors one day as it poured outside. Lucy exclaimed: “Boy, look at it rain -- what if it floods the whole world?" Linus calmly responded, “It will never do that. In the 9th chapter of Genesis, God promised Noah that would never happen again, and the sign of the promise is the rainbow.” “Phew!” said Lucy. “You’ve taken a great load off my mind!” Linus explained, “Sound theology has a way of doing that.”

Frozen Pizzas and the Cycle of Poverty

I was struck with a realization recently and I thought I would share it with you today. That will have to wait, though, for I must fill you in on the story that was the impetus behind this post.

Not too long ago, Amber and I thought it was about time we actually have a go at a "dinner and a movie" (Can you believe that we've only been to the movie theater once now in about a year?). We were meeting in a neutral location to shave off some driving time for one of us; consequently, we found ourselves on a wild goose chase to find a movie theater that we didn't have directions for. As we were driving around--not lost, but not going in the right direction either--we wound up in an impoverished area of the inner city. Unafraid to actually stop and ask for directions (sometimes for the sake of time, you just have to ignore the testosterone), I suggested we pull off at the next gas station or corner store. At the first gas station, we rolled into the empting parking lot,…

One Little Word

What a difference a word can make. In. Take these two statements as an example.

"I believe in God."

"I believe God."

How about you. Do you simply believe in God, or do you believe him? There's a world of a difference. Don't you think? I should point out that I am thinking of the phrase "believe in" in the typical American English sort of connotation that people use when they say, "Oh yeah, I believe in God." Not the true essence of the phrase "believe in", which would probably be better stated as, "Oh yeah, I am staking my life on God." So what does it mean for you and for me to actually believe God? God has made a lot of statements. His Word is filled with his promises and his truth. In fact, his Word (logos) became flesh and blood and lived here on the earth in the person of Jesus Christ, and he made a heckuva statement about God's views on life, statements that literally turned the Jews world upside dow…

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So Big. Isabelle's first glimpse of the vast ocean.

Into the World

Here's a guy who's doing something right.

Damian Williams had a vision for what it means to be the church in an urban setting and today that vision has spawned the Steel City Church in Pittsburgh, PA. See http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06256/721297-51.stm for more about how this unique urban church is trying to live as followers of Jesus Christ in a very real way, right where they should be: where hurts, pain, emptiness and needs are, right on the main Strip of downtown Pittsburgh.

Here are a few thoughts that I grabbed out of the article that really spoke to me about how he envisions what it means to be the church--to live out the gospel.

"If the sermon's about loving one's neighbor as oneself, we might ask 'What does that look like?' 'How am I living that I can make that happen?' "

"The real church is what we do through the week."

"We want to build a community in which none of us can do it on our own."

"[Damian] spent th…

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Three little critters. Snapped this one on Labor Day.

Testing the Message

Either to my detriment or to my benefit (depending on whether you think it would be good or bad for me to watch TV and movies desensitized to the messages being given), I've noticed that over the past several months I've been watching the tube a bit more closely. Not more frequently. Definitely not that. Just more closely. To see what messages are really being given.

This morning, while doing some stretching after a short bike ride, I turned on Today, clearly the best morning show even w/o Katie. A minute in, the commercials started, this one for Botox Cosmetics:

"I did it just for me."

"It's time. I've waited long enough."

After the commercials, the first segment investigated a woman's midlife crisis and its difference from the traditional man's midlife crisis (does this happen all over the world or just in the West?). They called it an awakening for women as opposed to a midlife crisis for men, because they do more introspection throug…

The Mystery

Do you ever just become overwhelmed by something? Something grand. Something mysterious. Something beautiful. Something powerful. As I read the words at the beginning of Psalm 50,

"The Lord, the God of gods, has spoken;
he has called the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting,"

an image of the earth penetrated my mind. An image of the earth as seen from space.


WOW. Just stare at that picture for a minute. How lucky we are to be able to see such a majestic image! But at the same time, how desensitized are we to such things?

"From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God." Romans 1:20

Now we can see the earth at our feet and from outer space. Looking at this photo, I am just overwhelmed with the awesomness of the inner workings of the earth. Atmosphere. Gravity. Weather.…

Photo Frenzy!

I've managed to pare down my 600 photos to around 140 and I have divided them into three albums for everyone's viewing enjoyment. Alright, I know the first step is admitting my addiction... :) Unfortunately, my snorkeling pictures are from an underwater camera, but I may scan some of those in.

The first is Island of Maui, highlighting the landscape in particular with a family photos thrown in.
The second is Flowers of Hawaii, no explanation needed. I was pleasantly suprised at the clarity of some of these considering I am using a fairly basic digital camera.
The third is Isabelle Fun in Maui, showing a collection of photos of my absolutely adorable niece who just turned one a month ago along with the rest of my fam.

Once I get my brother's photos, I may add some of his to my collection, because he's got a good photographer's eye. Then again, it's hard to take a bad pic in Hawaii, because it's so stunning. Hope you can enjoy Maui vicariously through these phot…

The poor

In reading the Psalms this morning (108-113), a couple themes kept arising from the pages and one of those is the continuing reference to the ways in which God will redeem and rescue the poor and needy on this earth.

Two excerpts:

Ps. 109:30-31 "With my mouth I will greatly extol the Lord; in the great throng I will praise him. For he stands at the right hand of the needy one, to save his life from those who condemn him."

Ps. 113:5-7 "Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap."

As I finished reading these Psalms and opened my browser to come jot down some thoughts on this blog, I was greeted with an additional reminder of realities of those who are poor and in need today in our world. The spotlight for Operation World today is Mozambique, one of the poorest nations on earth. Operation World is a website that provides d…

Maui Travel Journal

I'm waiting on some pictures from my brother, before I put up the link to all the photos, but in the meantime...If you ever make it to the Island of Maui, I highly recommend checking out the following:

1. Snorkeling. Having never snorkeled, much less snorkeled in Hawaii, I didn't know what to expect, but I was blown away. Depending on the time of year, the clarity of water and plentifulness of fish will vary on different parts of the island. Summertime, the snorkeling is better in the upper west coast and north coast. These are the hot spots: Molokini Crater, Black Rock (Ka'anapali Beach), Turtle Town and Honolua Bay

2. Surfing. It's been a desire of mine for many years to give surfing a go and I never made it happen in South Africa, so I was determined to do it this time. All three of my siblings and I took a long surfing lesson and it was totally kiff! All four of us stood up nearly every time we tried to catch a wave. If I lived closer to a surfer's haven,…

Aloha

Two weeks. Two glorious weeks. God did a good thing when he dreamed up Maui. My holiday on the island was incredible and I can't wait to get my photos up online for all to see. Here's one just to get the ball rolling.

Well, guess it's back to reality. Thankfully, the midwest heat and humidity of August weren't too bad when we arrived home today. I feel invigorated and recharged, despite the fact that I am a zombie right now...can't wait for a good night's sleep tonight!

Corners

I heard something this morning that I thought was too cool and I just couldn't pass up the chance to make it blog-worthy. A nice, short and sweet post before I leave for the next 2 weeks.

As Michaelangelo lay on his back, spending countless hours painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, an observer noticed that he was going to great lengths to meticulously paint the corners of the chapel ceiling. The observed asked, "Why are you so worried about that. No one will ever see the corners."

Michaelangelo quickly responded, without missing a beat, "God will."

To have such integrity in all of my work. How sweet a day that would be... The Good Book says that we should work at all things with all of our hearts as if working for God and not men. Kinda goes back to my last post. It's all about Him, not me.

Well, I am signing off for a good while now. I am going on holiday to Hawaii and I will return hopefully rejuvenated in two weeks. No blogging while I am g…

Who is it all about?

I was reading some discussion online recently and one man in his comments recalled the following situation that unfolded while driving with his daughter.
My five-year-old daughter read a billboard this weekend for real estate. Their tagline:
"It's all about you."A few minutes later we stopped behind a car with a similar bumper sticker. It read:
"It's all about me."Those sentences...reflect the new age tendency that each individual can define his own God. Or as my daughter put it, "Those people are silly, Daddy. Don't they know it's all about God."I've always heard that "kids say the darndest things," but I've also heard this one: "From the lips of children and infants You have ordained praise." I think that little girl had it right and how often we lose sight of that infinte Truth. It's all about God. It always has been and it always will be.

I was reminded of the fragility of life this week when I got a cal…

Deep Breath

Several months ago, I began reading through the Psalms one by one with sort of an agenda to understand the truths of God's character a bit more. Yes, it is certainly a book filled with emotive poems that oft hold very raw, uncut words, but that doesn't dismiss the presence of God's tried and true character that is spoken of. As anyone who has ever read the Psalms before can tell you, the word Selah often appears. For the longest time, as I read the Psalms, I just assumed this to be some sort of musical notation for the guys back in the day when they put these poems to music. But I began to notice that this strange word usually appeared at very climactic points of the Psalmists poems. (If this is old news for you, feel free to stop reading).

So, as any good young pupil I began searching the depths of human wisdom...on, you guessed it, Wikipedia :) This is the beginning of the entry on Selah.

"Selah ( Hebrew: סלה) meaning "pause, reflection", within the co…

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Orphans

Much of what I write on posts such as this is simply me collecting my thoughts and corresponding resources with the added benefit of you gaining some insight into what has been grabbing my heart. I do hope that you are stirred to action, to prayer, to conversation with friends.

The second greatest commandment that Jesus gave us was to "love our neighbor as ourselves," and caring for orphans seems to be a natural progression in obeying that command. True redemption and hope comes through Jesus, I believe, after all, I am staking my life on that. But what does it mean for us to carry that message of redemption to a broken world? Does it mean we only tell people that Jesus died for their sins and wants them to go to heaven to be with him and ignore their desires in this world or does it mean we focus on meeting the physical needs of a devastated world, rooted in a belief that God cares about the poor, but we leave out the important message of hope that God has brought to us …

Hot Pockets

If you haven't seen this Jim Gaffigan bit on hot pockets and you are in need of a laugh then watch this video. It's scary how true it is!

Leatherbound Books

If you're into reading or just like thinking that you are, you should check out LibraryThing. Pretty sweet site actually. I have many leather bound books in my online catalogue. You can see for yourself: http://www.librarything.com/catalog/jdkinglt. The site allows you to see users who have similar reading tastes as you and then you can check out their book reviews and other reading selections. I didn't have time yet to upload the Bearenstein Bears books I read back in high scho...I mean kindergarten. Mostly--well entirely, actually--my catalogue is filled with some books I've had the chance to read since the start of college. The point when I began to take reading seriously. Useless site? Ah...I wouldn't say so. It may help me to broaden my reading intake a bit. Or, maybe I'm just a sucker for these novel sites that allow us to connect with others and share knowledge.

How to not get fireworks in your eye

Well, since I didn't have much planned here in Sparta for the 4th, I decided I needed a holiday up in Champaign. So, I drove up on Monday morning and chilled (or tried to at least, it was durn hot) with Fred all day. We sat in Aroma Cafe and I did a little reading and some people watching. I really enjoy sitting at a table at the window front to just watch the people striding up and down the sidewalks. Roland came over for dinner and the three of us ate meat. Lots of meat. It was such a fun, zero-pressure day and I also saved some money, too. Here's how. So, I've known that the gas mileage on my near 19 year-old truck has been steadily decreasing over the years (been driving it for 7.5 years). And to combat that with the near $3 gas prices, I decided to drive slow on the interstate. Sounds like a drag, eh? Well, it pretty much was, but decreasing my average interstate speed by 15 mph saved me like 10 bucks on gas. I figured it was worth it. We'll see how …

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Happy 4th of July!

Future President of the USA?

If you live in Illinois and you haven't been hiding under a rock the past two years, you are likely familiar with the name Barack Obama...he is one of your senators after all. Even if you aren't from the great state of Illinois, you may very well remember him delivering the key note address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. I just so happened to be living in Boston that summer, so I followed the convention very closely. Despite all the terrorist threats and Homeland Security color-coded warnings (it was orange, or mauve, or some color that is supposed to invoke fear and make us head for the hills), my brother and I survived and we even ventured down to the Convention to watch the picketers and the millions of armed forces trying to ward them off.

I listened to the freshman senator's address to the Democratic audience, and I have to say, he is one charismatic, confident and well-spoken individual. Let's be honest, his speech trumped any of the oth…

Say it ain't so, Illinois

Our corn-covered state is now home to a church in the small town of Harvey that is actually paying people to come to worship services (the first 75 people at least). For some reason, I get a feeling that Jesus might be overturning some money tables at this church. Or, there might not be any tables overturned at all...which should probably scare them even more.

Please note, this offer is only valid to those 16 and over. Seriously. It's in the article.

Comm-Unity

This morning I was reviewing some notes I had taken on Paul's first letter to the Corinthian church from a few months back, and I felt compelled to just share one passage and subsequent parallel passages (I don't like just grabbing verses out of context, I really don't, but I think these particular passages are fairly cut and dry) with you that really hit home on the subject of unity within Christ's body.

I was listening to a message by Rob Bell a couple days ago, and in it he was discussing Moses and Pharoah and why God would choose to work through a human man to free His people, the Israelites, and Rob used that scenario to springboard into a discussion of his belief that throughout history, since that moment in Egypt, God has been looking for a body to inhabit on this earth to display his glory and bring shalom to this earth. Today, after the resurrection of Christ, we the church are Christ's body and in order to reach a hurting, rebellious, lonely and hungry wo…

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It's that Time Again

One year ago, I was living the high life--litterally--in Estes Park, Colorado. About 8,750 feet to be precise. And in the midst of that outrageously beautiful place, I wound up training for a marathon. (I'm going to spare you the details, but if you want to know how I got myself into such a ridiculous endeavor, drop me a note) Seven of us battled the hills of Colorado to begin training for the Chicago and Indy marathons. Despite the fact that just a few short weeks prior to this, I would have told anyone that I never had any itentions of running a marathon, because sprinting was always my first love. But low and behold, we ran and we ran and we ran some more and in the third week of October I found myself in Indianapolis with Bemi and Nick to face that giant beast. It turned out to the be the one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I had two primary goals: no walking (except at the water stations) and a sprinting finish. God must have given me an extra dose of h…