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38 posts from October 2006

Weekend report #4--Was Ricky Holland victim of Michigan's child welfare system?

While I was reading the online Detroit Free Press yesterday morning, I put this story in to read later.  It's about how the state of Michigan's child welfare system seemed to fail Ricky Holland. 

Jack Kresnak reports that state foster care workers failed to document visits to the Holland home for about two years.  What happened?  Will we ever find out?  Will the Michigan Legislature do its job and provide legislative oversight in this area?

There's no indication that the legislature is anything more than a rubber stamp for state executive agencies.  To help the state gain more revenue, perhaps citizens need to consider a part-time, uncameral legislature. 

When it comes to representing citizen interests, the legislature seems to be a paper tiger against the executive branch.

Anybody disagree?

Weekend report #3--Should every sermon include the gospel?

I listened to a sermon podcast yesterday from the church--the National Community Church in Washington D.C.--where my son has been attending.  My wife listened too and we talked about what Pastor Mark Batterson said, particularly its relevance to our daily lives.

Even though it was long, almost 50 minutes, it was very relevant.  He talked about living out your faith in the drudgery and routiness of your daily life, particularly your job.  I could identify with everything he said.  And, it pumped me up to look at my attitude even though I'm semi-retired.

But, my spouse raised the question about what the sermon was missing.  She said, it included no gospel.  What happens when you fail in having that winning attitude?  Does that mean you are less of a Christian?  Where do you find the power and the guidance to get back on course?  What's our motivation for having the right attitude?

In the Lutheran church, you hear the gospel in every sermon.  Sometimes, I feel it's overused.  It seems on occasion like a rabbits foot that's pulled out to cover a multitude of sins without ever talking about our response as in His Love, Our Response.

Does the gospel need to be in every sermon?

Weekend report #2a--A look at Lutheran schools in America

I found these details about schools operated by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. They were deep inside their website.  More than a quarter-of-a-million students attend around the country.  I wonder if that's an increase or decrease from past years.

Note:  This is in response to my post about the survival prospects of Lutheran schools.

Weekend report #2: Can Lutheran schools survive changing culture?

Yesterday, our church, Our Savior Lutheran Church, celebrated the golden anniversary of its day school where grades run from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade.  Former students, teachers and principals returned for the special service.

My experience with Lutheran schools is personal because I attended one for eight years, my wife did and so did my kids.  I've seen and experienced the difference that a Christian education can make. 

However, as our school experiences declining enrollment that doesn't seem to stop, I have to ask myself whether Lutheran schools can survive in an urban or semi-urban environment. 

I don't feel secure in saying yes.  Our church, part of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod (LCMS), was driven 50 years ago to split off from its mother church by a dream and a passion to start a school.  They saw the vision for their children and worked with passion to see that accomplished.

The culture has changed.  The vision and the passion seems to be a hazy memory.  Other things seem to take precedence.

Go to the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod website homepage and look for any indicator that educating kids is still a priority.  I can't find it.  Am I too pessimistic?  I hope so.  Our kids and grandkids need Christ-centered education now more than ever.

Weekend report: Started Sunday morning with Radio Bible Class devotion

Even though it's getting harder and harder to find news in our local newspaper, the Lansing State Journal, my first tendency on Sunday morning is to grab it and scan the headlines and look at the coupons.  Yesterday, I knew I need more.

I went online to the Radio Bible Class' Our Daily Bread devotion for the day where I read a piece about what worship really means.  That's appropriate just before you start getting ready for church.  The writer, Vernon Grounds, shared:

Worship is the experience of being "lost in wonder, love, and praise," as Charles Wesley wrote. It's awe that inspires adoration.

Looking back at my church experience yesterday, I have to ask myself how my worship measured up to Wesley's criteria.  How many times have I been "lost in wonder, love and praise?"  If I'm honest, I'd have to say not many. 

Is Wesley realistic in describing what worship should be?  It seems like people never talk about this. 

What happens after Lisa Holland is found guilty of her son's death?

The jury is deciding the fate of Ricky Holland's mother, Lisa, who has been charged with murdering her seven-year-old son.  It's probably a safe bet that she will be convicted and then we move on.

Local television station WLNS summarizes the trial as the jury deliberates.

However, there will be more Ricky Hollands.  There has been a long line of young children murdered in this state, either by their parents or by care providers.  It happened when Gov. John Engler, a Republican, was governor and it has happened under the watch of the Democrats.

The time has come for the Michigan Legislature to step in and start performing some pretty aggressive oversight of the Michigan Department of Human Services and other agencies charged with caring for the well-being of at-risk children.

In case after case, the Michigan Office of Children's Ombudsman has exonerated state workers in any culpability in the outcome of kids who have been abused and neglected and finally murdered.

However, the legislative committees in the Michigan House and Michigan Senate have been unsucessful in getting the state files documenting what was done or not done to protect these children. 

State laws now exist to change that.  They need to act now that the Ricky Holland trial is over.

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U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers: Have you tried to get MI delegation to speak with unified voice

Voters in Michigan need to ask their incumbent Congressman a very important question:

  • Why doesn't our state's Congressional delegation meet to hammer out a common agenda of items needed to strengthen our Michigan's faltering economy?
This question is raised in an online editorial in today's Detroit Free Press.  Michigan has a congressional delegation with seniority and power.  Why don't they use all this clout?

Other state's, according to the editorial, have delegations where Republicans and Democrats meet together and develop a front line that delivers for their state.

Our Congressional delegation seems to have gotten lazy and they seem to be without passion for the district and the state they represent.  It's time to hold their feet to the fire.

Thanks to the Detroit Free Press for raising this point.  U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers who represents our area should explain why this hasn't happened.

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Dick DeVos, MI gubernatorial candidate, ramps up his candidate's blog

I've read the past four our five posts in Dick Devos' blog about his race for governor.  All the posts are signed by him and are about his various campaign stops. 

It's a semi-interesting account of of his various events and the people he has met.  I may have missed similar posts in the past, but these are a sign that he's maybe moving away from posts done by staffers where there's nothing but trash talk about his opponent.

His blog should be a must stop for any Michigan web surfer who will vote in the upcoming election.  People want to see him as an individual.  They want to see what makes him tick.  He looks good in a suit and he has an articulate daughter.

DeVos has to get more than a board of directors to trust him.  He has to get a majority of the voters of the state of Michigan. 

Is he a real guy?  Would he feel at home having supper and a beer with a voter in Allen Park?  What was his biggest challenge raising his kids?  How did he discipline them?  Did he discipline them?  Did he and Betsy rely on nannies?  Has having a lot of money been a blessing or a curse to he and his family?

When you're wealthy, what do you buy your kids for Christmas?  Corvette?  Do you actually go out and buy the gifts or do you have a personal assistant who does that?  Does he have any fear about the Michigan Legislature being an obstacle to what he wants to get done?  How is he going to win them over?  They don't take kindly to being told what to do, even if they from your own party.

Come-on man show us that you're more than a rich suit.

A blog is a perfect way to do it.  He has the resources to do it wi-fi from the road.  And, there's still time.

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In prison last night, we prayed for MI House of Rep candidate Bert Johnson

Last night, my friend Ken and I sat around a bunch of tables pushed together at Deerfield Correctional Facility in Ionia, MI where we joined about 20 inmates for Bible study.

This is something I've done hundreds of times before in many different institutions around the state.  In our prayers at the end of the study, we prayed for Bert Johnson of Detroit, a 32-year-old who has no opposition in his race to be a member of the Michigan House of Representatives.

What makes Johnson different is his status as an ex-con who pled no-contest to a charge about his role in a 1993 armed robbert at the Oakland Hills Country Club.  He served less than a year in prison.  He went to become a staffer in the Michigan House of Representatives and received high marks from everybody that was talked to.

Now House Speaker Craig Deroche and other Republicans want to bar him from serving in the House when the new-term starts in January.

I bet that Deroche nodded his head in affirmation when the Pennsylvania Amish publicly forgave a killer who murdered several of their children.  The Amish and their actions served as a positive witness to everybody on forgiveness.

Candidate Johnson paid his debt.  Speaker Deroche says the Michigan Constitution prohibits his serving.  However, well-regarded Republican lawyer Richard McLellan disputes that interpretation, according to the Detroit Free Press:

"Richard McLellan, a Republican attorney in Lansing respect for his knowledge of state government, said in July that his research shows that opinions by the state attorney general have held that a breach of the public trust must be an act that is committed while in office and harms the public."

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Gov. Granholm says Michigan is on the right economic track while Ford teeters on edge

Ask just about anybody in Michigan if the state's economy is getting better?

The only one to say that we are on the right track to more jobs and a better future is Gov. Jennifer Granholm who is running for reelection against her challenger Dick Devos.

Granholm is seeing a hope that seems to be written on a vapor that only she can see and nobody else.  Look at today's Detroit Free Press story about Ford and it's huge loss for the quarter.  It's survival seems to be an open question. 

How much difference would a new governor make?  It's probably time to find out.  I've heard nothing from Granholm that she has our state's situation sorted out and that she has a handle on what to do.

Anybody see it differently? 

Today's Lansing State Journal says about Granholm:

She insists she has Michigan on the right course to prosperity, a path
that includes demanding more from high school students, expanding
opportunities for workers to retrain themselves for good-paying jobs
and a $2 billion 21st Century Jobs Fund to invest in high-tech

How to pray for your local schools: For teachers, administrators, cooks, bus drivers

What would happen if everybody started praying for our local schools?  Here are some good practical suggestions from In Touch Ministries on where to start. 

When was the last time you prayed for a school cook?  A custodian?  Principal?  Bus driver?

Here's an example of how to start:

"Pray for strength to leave my own aches and pains at home so I can give my best to my class and for my students to have teachable spirits."  Pat Wood, First-Grade Teacher (25 years)

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Cuba: What would happen if this nation had free access to the Internet?

The nation of Cuba controls its residents access to the Internet, according to a new report by the group Reporters Without Borders.  Only two percent of its population is online and anybody online illegally faces the possibility of prison.

I wonder what would happen in this country if its citizens had full, unfettered access to the Internet.  What effect would this type of freedom have on the citizens?  Would they demand more from their government?  Are there any Cuban bloggers?

When I was in Cuba in the mid-70s during the short period when Carter gave Americans permission to travel there, I was astounded how friendly the people were.  Everybody had a relative in this country. 

Too bad we can't beam wi-fi off a satellite to this country so close to us.  Free access to information might ease the transitions there when Castro loses power or dies.

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For World Series games 1 & 2, get to downtown Detroit bars by 10 a.m. to watch on tv

The power of winning baseball can truly be magical.  Take this morning when I went to the local McDonalds.  It's in a racially-mixed part of town and usually whites and blacks respect the self-imposed walls they use to shield themselves from each other.

Not today.  I had old guys and young guys share their enthusiasm for the World Series games in Detroit taking place tomorrow and Sunday.  They were excited.  And skin colors didn't seem to mean a hoot.

Enthusiasm is building for the games.  Detroit Free Press says downtown bars with big screen televisions will be crowded early, like when they open in the morning.  Game starts at 7:30 p.m.  Thats a big wait.  But, I don't think people care.

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If you're going through a life storm, then read this devo from RBC

Right now, I think I'd rather be down on the beach in Naples, Florida or anyplace else than Michigan.

There are a lot of people in real need and our leaders, political, spiritual and community seem like either deer stopped in the headlights of oncoming cars or they're ignoring the pain that many are experiencing.

If you're looking for hope, check out this devotion from Radio Bible Class about getting "Peace In The Storm."  It provides hope and direction about where to look.  This is the first paragraph:

Life can seem unbearable at times.  Physical pain, difficult decisions, financial hardships, the death of a loved one, or shattered dreams threaten to engulf us. We become fearful and perplexed. Plagued by doubts, we may even find it difficult to pray.
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Detroit Tigers visit to the World Series give Michigan voters hope about state's economy

Things in Michigan don't look so bad right now because of the Detroit Tigers, according to many voters.  Our baseball team's success is providing hope for the future for many, according to a story in today's Detroit News. 

What happens to that hope after the World Series.

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MSU's Charles Ballard says Michigan voters want messiah, but won't find one

A MSU economics professor provides a big dose of reality for voters who will be selecting a governor for our economically-troubled state. 

Charles Ballard in today's Detroit Free Press says:

"What voters want is a messiah who will lead us out of the wilderness right now.  And voters will be disappointed because that is not going to happen."
Is Ballard right?  Are voter's expectations too high?  How long will it take to get Michigan aimed in a positive direction?  Or is that still dependent on the global economy and not state politicians?

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Michigan's hopes for ethanol production industry seem to be threatened

In Michigan, there has been an uptick in hope for the state becoming a hub for ethanol production.  Farmers who grow corn were smiling as were the people building new ethanol plants. 

Now the United Laboratories is removing its certification from pumps that provide the fuel for cars.  Detroit Free Press story this morning leaves the impression that the future for ethanol is on hold for now.

Is this just a temporary glitch that can be surmounted?  Or will this put the new fuel on hold for a long time?

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Dick Devos shows shortcoming of his campagin with tv spot featuring his daughter

My vote for Dick Devos should be a given.  I've been Republican all my life.  I firmly believe in the limited role of government in people's lives.  There should be a connect between me and our party's gubernatorial candidate.

There wasn't until last night when I saw one of his latest tv spots.  It features his daughter, Elissa, talking about her dad.  She did more in a few seconds than her dad has been able to do in the whole campaign.

She showed that her dad, our wanna-be governor, has a human side.  I can relate to him through his kids a little.  I have a daughter close his daughter's age.  It shows that he values his role as a father.  Okay, I'm tracking with you.  Now tell me more.

DeVos needs his own blog.  He doesn't need tart-tongued, poison-penned political assistants to write it.  It should be him.  He should be transparent.  He needs to be more than just another smiling face.

Before I vote for him, I want to know what makes this guy tick.  I want his words and not his writer's best efforts which haven't been very good so far.

Maybe his daughter's tv efforts were just eyewash for a corporate titan who is bored and wants a change of scenery.  Maybe DeVos is sincere.  There's more to Michigan than constantly slapping Granholm upside the head.  There has to be more to DeVos than his business experience.

Lift your skirt, Dick, and I mean that figuratively.  Let people see your values, your history, yourself as a real person.  You're losing, but I would like to get excited about you even though the election is just around the corner.

You could write your blog from a wi-fi laptop.  Need help?  Let me know.  Conservatives in the blogosphere can work you through it.  Read Naked Conversations by Scoble and Israel.  It's a quick read.  You can skim it on a ride from Grand Rapids to Detroit.  It shows how you can use your blog as a tool that gains votes and doesn't repel them.

Just my nickels worth.  I want to see more about the real candidates and who they are on both sides.  Anybody agree?

UPDATE:  You can view the DeVos daughter commercial by going to his website and clicking on the link on the bottom left of the homepage.

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In Michigan, the store of choice is quickly becoming the Salvation Army and other thrift stores

I really want to believe Gov. Granholm's great enthusiasm for the just-around-the corner potential for Michigan's economy.  But, it just ain't so from everything I see, hear and read.

Take this morning's story from the Detroit News about how the store of choice for a growing number of Michigan citizens is a thrift store like the Salvation Army or the Society of St.Vincent DePaul.  They sell other people's discards.

There's nothing wrong in using second-hand stuff, but the fact that thrift stores are becoming the place for many to shop out of financial necessity should be alarming.

I guess I'm thankful that these stores are there and serving people's needs.

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David Kuo writes about President Bush and how his Administration uses Christians

I saw the 60 Minutes interview last night with David Kuo about his book Tempting Faith--An Inside Story of Political Seduction. 

Kuo was the number two in the White House's faith-based office which was supposed to be a lever to fuel compassionate conservatism.

He describes the effort as sorely lacking on its best days and a tool to gain Christian right-wing votes on its worst. 

Is George Bush a phony Christian?  What should a real Christian look like in the public arena?

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