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30 posts from October 2008

Father Jack talks about all the hub bub at Christ The King Anglican Church in Dewitt, MI

Right in the midst of historic economic anxiety in mid-Michigan, there's an island of hope and excitement at Clark Corners Shopping Center in Dewitt, MI.  That's where "superwife" and I spent the morning waiting for a delivery truck to drop off more chairs for the 5,000 square foot worship center at Christ The King Anglican Church.

It's a church plant of the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMIA) which is a mission of the Anglican Church of Rwanda.  That's right, it's a mission from Africa to this country. 

Now I've always pictured the Anglican Church as being staid and usually housed in big cathedrals where there's lots of religious ritual.  That's not the case here.

We've been visiting there for a few months and we've found a fresh excitement about the Gospel and about Jesus Christ and the difference they can make in our daily lives. 

For some day-to-day ammo for living, I invite you to listen to one of these sermons given by Father Jack Lumanog, the rector of the church.  Whether you live in central Michigan or on the outskirts of Timbuktu, Mali, his words provide an easy handle to help you grab onto hope given through Jesus Christ.

Listen to this short Flip video clip from Father Jack this morning:

What did my church get for its move to the suburbs?

My church was going downhill little by little and many of its more affluent members and leaders said it was because of its location inside the city.  After several years of trying, it was finally able to move to the suburbs where everybody seemed more homogeneous.

Last Sunday, it held its first worship services in a brand new sanctuary.  We went to the early service.  The K-8 day school has been holding new classes in another part of the building since September.

The move to the new location was described as an opportunity for "relocation and renewal."  The hope and the prayer was that the move to a new location and a new building would raise everybody's spiritual temperature and that it would attract new members.

So what were my impressions?

At the first service, I didn't see anything different, except for a new building.  My perception of the spirit or the tone and the tenor of the service wasn't any different than before.  There were the same folks with the same spirit, just in a different building.

Let me be clear that I owe my denomination and my church a lot.  It's where I was introduced to Jesus.  It's where I was baptized.  It was where my kids were baptized.  It's where I met my wife and where we were married.  It's where a funeral service was held for my mom.

Has a new building moved Our Savior Lutheran Church, Lansing, MI closer to renewal?  I hope and pray that it has and that the sparks will turn into a fire for the Lord.

Here's a Flip video clip of the first sermon in the new building delivered by Pastor Roy Olson:

First sermon at new Our Savior, Lansing, MI from Wes Thorp on Vimeo.

Question: Do you recognize the voice on this Clearspring Widget Network video?

Listen to this short video and name the person doing the voice over in this video from the Clearspring Widget Network.  Call our house and there's a good chance that you'll hear a similar voice, but I'm not on the video.  It's our son, Justin, who is the community manager for web developers at Clearspring.  Second question:  Do you know what a widget is?

Michigan State University football team shows that sometimes you have to take a risk when its fourth down

I'm a football fan once a year when Michigan State University plays the Unversity of Michigan.  My allegiance for MSU started when I was a kid growing up north.

In the past, they've usually lost, but yesterday, they took a chance when it was fourth down with one yard to go.  It paid off big time.

Detroit Free Press does a great job telling about it.

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Hope in Michigan: Retired NFL player Courtney Hawkins returns to Flint Beecher

As many get ready to go to church this morning on a gray Sunday in Michigan, the Detroit Free Press tells the story of Courtney Hawkins, former NFL and Michigan State University player who returned to Flint Beecher, one of the poorest parts of our struggling state.

This story should be a must read because it shows the difference one person can make.

Hawkins presents a template for others to follow, especially men with kids who are starving for the attention of their fathers.

Read it and you will feel the hope.  This guy is a gift to a lot of people who need it.

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What's it going to be like for the salaried Chrysler workers left behind?

While eating my oatmeal this morning, I saw this Detroit Free Press story about Chrysler's intention to cut its salaried workforce by 25 percent at Christmas time.

Tom Walsh of the Free Press writes about the scary adjectives used by CEO Robert Nardelli.  The top gun at the car company didn't paint a pretty picture of what's to come for the auto industry.

But, I wonder what practical effect slicing 25 percent from the salaried workforce will be on day-to-day operations.  Are these workers being cut performing important roles right now?  Who will pick up the slack?  Will the "left behind" workers have to do more to keep the company running?

It might be a bad time to buy a Chrysler product.

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Post #3--Mark Dec. 11 on your calendar to bring cookies and punch to Averill School

Averill School on Lansing's (MI) southwest side will be holding a "Neighborhood Walk Through" starting at 1:30 pm on Thursday, Dec. 11 where there will be special music, art displays along with physical education demonstrations.2830748410_3977b2319c_m

Principal Rosa Thill has invited Averill Woods neighbors to participate by bringing cookies and punch to be served to parents and students and other members of the community.  Watch my neighborhood blog--Southwest Lansing (MI) and my neighborhood--for more details.

She extended the invitation at last night's meeting of the Averill Woods Neighborhood Association.

Post #2--Plans for neighbors to help spruce up Averill (Woods) school

Neighbors in Averill Woods in Lansing's (MI) southwest side are adopting their neighborhood's elementary school, Averill Woods, for some outside improvements and sprucing up.

At last night's meeting of the Averill Woods Neighborhood Association, plans were presented and discussed to help the school clean a next door stand of trees and to make other improvements.  For more details, visit my neighborhood blog--Southwest Lansing (MI) and my neighborhood--and watch this short clip from my Flip video camera:

Learn about Averillwoods neighborhood break-in details

I've started publishing on my neighborhood blog--Southwest Lansing (MI) and my neighborhood--details from last night's Averill Woods Neighborhood Association.

The meeting included a Lansing Police Department report about an increase in home invasions on the south and southwest side of the city, including Averill Woods.

I will be posting to that blog throughout the morning and early afternoon.

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Watching Michigan State and drinking apple Jones soda

Our team--Michigan State University--is getting clobbered right now in a game just down the road in East Lansing.

What do you drink on such an occasion like this? No alcohol for us. We threw back some green apple Jones soda. Yum.

Our soda of choice for today is also in honor of our new son-in-law, Adam Jones, a Tar Heel fan, who hasn't had the joy of seeing the Spartans beat the Wolverines. That comes next week.

For that we might vary the beverages with something more reflective of the intensity of the competition.

Do you actually believe that Barack Obama would sit down and go through fed budget line by line?

Barack Obama needs to be called out on his claim that he'd attack wasteful federal spending by sitting down with the national budget and go over it line-by-line.  I may not have gone to Harvard like the Illinois senator, but even I know that this will never happen.

I was reminded of what he said in Peggy Noonan's Wall Street Journal column this morning:

There is now something infantilizing about this election. Mr. Obama
continued to claim he will remove wasteful spending by sitting down
with the federal budget and going through it "line by line." This is
absurd, and he must know it. Mr. McCain continued to vow he will
"balance the budget" in the next four years. Who believes that? Does
even he?

The reason I question this:  I spent most of my working life in and around the Michigan Legislature.  The legislator who just looked at an appropriations bill, let alone the finished document was the rare exception.  They occasionally look at carefully-sculpted staff summaries which are finely tuned through the perceptual filters of analysts with their own biases. 

Think about the federal budget--the finished product--and the hundreds of pages of bills which are needed to enact it.  These are line items with out much explanation of how the money would be used.

And even if he or if McCain found a wasteful item, they would have to get the U.S. Congress to agree to the cut.  How likely would it be that the selfish interests in the House and Senate would stand up and salute the President and say "yes sir, we will do it?" 

Cutting the budget will take skillful legislative maneuvering where there's a relationship with members of Congress and where the sitting president has the knowledge and ability to leverage his or her power.

Anybody disagree?

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What would happen if General Motors runs out of cash before the end of 2009?

Living in the heart of Michigan, it's hard to escape the footprint of General Motors on our daily life.

That's why, this morning's story in the Detroit Free Press about GM and its supposed attempt to bring Chrysler into its fold is alarming. 

Apparently Chrysler has a stack of cash on hand, some say $10 billion, that GM could use to stay in business.  The car company needs it to stay in business and Chrysler would have to be shuttered to make the cash accessible.

About GM's need, the Free Press says: 

GM, which lost $18.8 billion in the first half of the year and has
been burning through at least $1 billion a month, is believed to have
enough cash to make it through the rest of 2008, but several analysts
worry the company will not have enough for 2009.

Capital analyst Brian Johnson, in a note to investors, said GM is about
$2 billion short of what it needs to make it through 2009 -- even with
help from the government and drawing down an additional $3.5 billion on
its credit line.

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Who's right about the polls of the McCain-Obama race?

Here I thought it was all but certain that Barack Obama would be our next president, then I read these stats in the Wall Street Journal.

There are nearly twice as many undecided voters this year than there were in the last presidential election, according to story.

The Investor's Business Daily/TIPP poll now says this is a three-point race.

I need to dig through my garage for my McCain yard sign.

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I can't get the thoughts about persecuted Christians in Mosul, Iraq out of my head

For some reason, the headline in the prayer letter from the Voice of the Martyrs caught my attention.  It screamed at my eyes:  "Christian killed, hundreds forced to flee in Mosul, Iraq."

I've seen this kind of headline in the e-newsletter which comes once a week and shares stories of how Christians in other parts of the world are facing extreme persecution where they are often tortured and murdered.

Perhaps, I felt a connection to Mosul from a cousin who used to teach at the university there and who shared stories about the experience.  Check this video about the situation as reported by AlJazeera:

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Is this true: There are more slaves today than at any previous time in history

Riding in the back of an old van in Bamako, Mali a couple of years ago, I was jolted into reality in a brutal way when I saw the sign warning parents to keep track of their kids so they would be kidnapped into a life of slavery.

Then we met a grown man from Burkina Faso whose face was highlighted by an old scar made by his parents when he was a child to brand him so he could be easily identified if he was taken by slave traders.

Now, I read about this new documentary film titled Call+Response.  It supposedly brings today's slave trade up close and personal.  It comes to theaters this week, according to Mark Earley of Prison Fellowship.

In an online column, he writes:

From the brothels of Cambodia to the brick kilns of India, the film
exposes the fact that there are more slaves in the world today—some 27
million—than at any previous time in history.

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How's your mayor using his/her city credit card?

Every taxpayer in the country should be asking whether their mayor has a city-provided credit and then ask for specifics on how it's being used?

Well, you ask, shouldn't we trust those municipal officials who have credit cards where taxpayers foot the bill?  Answer:  Nope.

Take former city of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick who was forced from office for various misdeeds.  He had a reputation for being free with city taxpayers' money, especially when he had their credit card in his pocket.

The Detroit Free Press has reported
that Kilpatrick had used his city-funded credit card to pay for "swanky meals, spa visits and chauffeured sedans . . ."

City auditors are expected to release an update of Kilpatrick's credit card charges.  Public officials need to be held accountable.

If the news media doesn't fill that role, then citizens need to step in and do it themselves.

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Do GM Hamtramck layoffs mean the end is coming for big Buicks?

When I was a kid growing up in Bay City (MI) in the sixties, big Buicks almost always meant a comfortable ride.  It was the kind of car your rich aunt and uncle drove when they went to Florida for the winter.

That's why it was kind of sad to see General Motors layoff of 500 employees at the plant in Hamtramck where the Buick Lucerne is made.  The Detroit Free Press says the layoffs will occur two days before Christmas and are happening because of reduced demand for the big car.

But, take a look at the website for the Lucerne.  It reeks of luxury with features like quiet tuning, heated washer fluid, magnetic ride control, ultrasonic rear parking assist, stabili trak and the Northstar V8 engine.  Click on the online photo gallery in the left margin.

Even if you can afford this vehicle, you face social pressure to downsize.

The Hamtramck plant is slated to be the plant where GM's new electric car, the Volt, will be produced.

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Eliminating the budget deficit in the city of Lansing (MI)

At today's meeting of southside Lansing (MI) residents sponsored by City Council-member A'Lynne Robinson, updates were provided about efforts to close a $3 million shortfall.  Two other council members shared their views and efforts, Carol Wood and Eric Hewitt.  Here's a video clip taken with my Flip Mino video camera:

Picking apples with our friends from Christ The King Anglican Church at the Country Mill in Charlotte (MI)

This afternoon we joined our friends from Christ The King Anglican Church to pick apples at the Country Mill in Charlotte (MI).  The goal was to pick apples for the Lansing City Rescue Mission.

Located about 20 miles south of Lansing, the apple orchard's parking lot was packed with a steady stream of traffic.  It was warm outside and the trees were filled with apples.

Both "superwife" and I enjoyed the group apple project and we enjoyed picking a 1/2 bushel forourselves.  Here's a look at the two of us busy in the orchard: PA110065 PA110072