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19 posts from July 2009

Getting my heart ready for church

I can easily go through the motions in going to church. I've watched myself do that more than I care to admit.

That's why I try to check myself and spend some time before going and see where my heart is at that moment. It's too easy for me to be distracted when I walk through the church door.

To get ready, I meditate or give serious thought to the daily devotions from two sources, Our Daily Bread from Radio Bible Class, and Portals of Prayer from Concordia Publishing, the publishing arm of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.

Today's devotion from Our Daily Bread is based on Philippians 2:12-18 is about our attitudes as we live life from day-to-day and why they are important. It says:

Every day, people are watching us. As followers of Christ, we are guided by Paul’s challenge to “become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15).

It's scary to think about the people who might be watching me for how I deal with daily living. My personal catalog of habits, traits and attitudes that people could find off-putting is long I'm sure.

The Apostle Paul's instruction to "become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault . . ." seems downright impossible for so many reasons.

So, am I defeated before I start this day? Is that an impossible to obey and follow?

No I'm not. Hopefully, those who watch this week how I conduct myself can clearly see the grace of God operating in my life. It's not me, but him.

Our son, Justin, shows off his Kindle 2 from Amazon on Washington D.C. television

Our 25-year-old son, Justin, is a reader and that's why he got one of Amazon's e-book readers, the Kindle 2, for his daily one hour commute each way for his job with Clearspring Technologies.  His Kindle holds 1,200 books and it gives him access to newspapers and magazines.  He loves it.  He was on Washington D.C.'s TV-9, WUSA, yesterday talking about it.  Here's the clip (of course, it starts with a commercial) and here's their written version of their story:

What does Ford's quarterly profit of $2.3 billion mean for Michigan?

It's been a long time since I've seen the words Ford Motor Co. and profit go-together in a Detroit Free Press story and that's why I was surprised this morning.

The story says that Ford had a quarterly profit of $2.3 million in the quarter that ended June 30. Its balance sheet was positively affected by one time gains from debt restructuring.

So what does this mean? Is Ford better managed than General Motors and Chrysler? Is it because they didn't take a government bailout?

Is it time to get out the good coffee in the morning and celebrate a little?

Michigan needs Sim City-type game to let citizens trim state budget

Our state is spending way more money than it takes in and our state lawmakers can't agree about what to do.  There's a lot of sentiment that more can be cut, but there are very few volunteers who agree to have their program cut.

The city of Washington, D.C. if facing a big budget deficit and the Washington Post has put together a Sim City type exercise where participants can decide where they want to make more than $600 million in cuts.  Check this post from the blog WeLoveDC that describes the deficit and the newspapers challenge to readers.

Sim city dc budget

Saline (MI) school superintendent deserves big "atta-boy" for his budget blog

The big topic in Michigan right now is money and a lack of it for just about everything, especially public schools.  They live in a constant state of uncertainty about their budget and how much revenue they will get from local, state and federal sources.

Most local school superintendents in our state seem to prefer talking about their budgets through either a spokesperson or a well-prepared Powerpoint presentation.

One exception seems to be Scott Graden, superintendent of Saline Area Schools, near Ann Arbor.  He has a budget blog where he has started talking about budget issues.  He deserves a big "atta-boy" and he needs encouragement to start a community conversation on his blog about how dwindling revenues are affecting his students.

Are there other superintendents in Michigan and around the country who do the same thing?  Any advice for Superintendent Graden?


Phoenix Rescue Mission shares tips to deal with 116 degree heat

As I sit at our kitchen table and wondering if we moved from almost summer into fall and football weather, I see this blog post from the Phoenix Rescue Mission with the top 10 tips to beat 100 and big plus heat.

I can't imagine living in the streets period, let alone being homeless in that kind of heat.

The homeless in Arizona and other places moved higher on my prayer list.

What was state of Michigan's involvement in the life of 9-year-old Shylae Thomas of Flint?

Read the Flint Journal's story about the life and death of 9-year-old Shylae Thomas and then ask yourself a question.

What involvement did the state of Michigan have in the life and death of this little girl who died from medical neglect, malnutrition and dehydration and then was found dead stuffed in a storage unit?

Keep in mind that our state has a large and reasonably sophisticated child protection unit. We also have a state ombudsman charged with investigating troublesome cases especially those with a bad outcome like a death.

There are all kinds of questions that should be answered like:

  • Had any complaints about potential abuse or neglect been made to the local department of social services?
  • Had any child protection or other workers investigated her condition by visiting her and her home?
  • Is the Michigan Office of Children's Ombudsman reviewing the state's involvement with her case?
  • If they are will they make their findings and recommendations public?

What happened that allowed somebody so vulnerable to fall through the cracks of the safety net we are supposed to have for at-risk kids?

We all should be demanding and expecting answers.

Did you know about super-son's "Justin Loves Food" blog?

Our favorite son really likes food.  He likes to both make it and eat it.  He's very comfortable in the kitchen and at the table.  He's only turned his nose at two foods, peanut butter and dry cereal.

Food memories with Justin include when he was a pre-schooler and he'd pull a chair up to the counter when my wife was preparing food and he would help and he would love it.  This interest only grew.  He and I would also make weekly trips to the grocery store where he would visualize the dishes we could make with the items he saw.

Now as he travels around the country for Clearspring, he's able to sample all kinds of food in a wide-variety of places.

He's sharing all this in his new blog--Justin Loves Food.  I invite you to visit, leave a comment and friend him in his Facebook group for his blog.


I am still thinking about those cherry burgers we had last night

My wife is a pretty creative cook. She likes to try new things and she's not afraid to comb the web for new recipes.

That's what she did with the cherry burgers we had last night along with homemade cherry catsup. Wow. They were great. Tasted the perfect combination of sweet and savory and the cherries were from Michigan.

Here's a short Flip video describing what she did:

VIDEO: Council-member Robinson talks reports on neighborhood fireworks

More than 190 calls were made to Lansing (MI) police for fireworks complaints over the July 4th holiday, according to City Council-member A'Lynne Robinson.  On the Averill Woods neighborhood blog, she reports in a video about the problem, how city police responded and what citizens can do in the future. 

Alynne robinson

The day after five teens were killed driving through Canton Township railroad gates

This story from today's Detroit Free Press sucks the air out of the lungs of any parent of teens. A teenage driver with a suspended license blows by down railroad gates with four others in the car.

An Amtrak train drags them more than a mile resulting in the death of all five.

The story looks at the aftermath on the day after it happened.

My neighborhood forms Twitter group

Read about the Averill Woods Neighborhood Association in southwest Lansing (MI) starting a Twitter group to allow real time communication.

In our blog,Southwest Lansing (MI) and my neighborhood, you will find details about the reasons for the formation of the group and how to join it.

This follows two shootings in the neighborhood in the past month and will allow neighbors to stay in touch with each other easily and with the appropriate officials.

Averill Woods Neighborhood Association on yesterday's shooting

In the past month, the Averill Wood's neighborhood on Lansing's southwest side has had two shootings. The second happened last night and was fatal for the 28-year-old victim.

Averill woods The incident resulted in residents on the Rayborn and Malibu Streets mobilizing in a menu of actions that helped police, but kept them safe.

Melissa Quon-Huber, president of the Averill Woods Neighborhood Association, has been in contact with the Lansing Police Department and others. Here's links to three posts on the neighborhood blog-Southwest Lansing and my neighborhood- about what she learned with links to news stories about the incident:

GM's new board of director's--the U.S. Congress

So, this is how the new government-owned General Motors looks. The U.S. Congress is getting ready to pass a law requiring that GM and Chrysler to reopen the dealerships it closed last month.

The Detroit Free Press, in a story today, outlines how the U.S. House has enough sponsors for the bill to pass it when it comes up for a full vote. Three Michigan Republicans have signed on as cosponsors, U.S. Reps. Thad McCotter, Vern Ehlers and Pete Hoekstra.

Hold up your hand if you think the U.S. Congress can do a better job of managing the auto company than private enterprise.

Dealing with neighborhood fireworks

I try to be a good neighbor and I like to give my neighbors room to live their lives without complaining. But that was severely tested this fourth of July and the next night.

Some of our neighbors took a quiet residential street and turned it into all the sights and sounds of a combat zone with what had to be illegal fireworks.

It happened around midnight the first time and around eleven on the second. Both times kids were either nearby or they lit the fireworks themselves.

On the second night, one neighbor lit fireworks that would resemble those from a small community event. This happened in an urban neighborhood and in their backyard with kids around.

The police seemed to ignore it. The streets were filled with smoke that made it look like a battle had been fought there.

Lots of questions need to be answered in my opinion. This is a Flip video shot from my front stoop from the first night.

Anybody have a similar experience?

Did Michael Jackson accept Jesus Christ at the end?

Some people will say that Michael Jackson's religious beliefs were unimportant. It's my belief that there's no question more important than the one each individual faces about who Jesus Christ is.

Michael Jackson was raised as a Jehovah's Witness, according to this article from the Houston Chronicle. There were rumors that he looked at other belief systems.

Did he discover the source of eternal peace?

He apparently met with Christian singer Andrae Crouch within the last month and asked him pointed questions about his faith.

So, any opinions about whether Michael is in heaven?

How much praise do I have on my heart this morning?

It's almost shower time and then off to the worship service at Christ The King in DeWitt. I'm trying to prepare my heart so I do more than go through the motions of singing, praying and listening.

My attention was poked by today's devotion from Our Daily Bread that draws attention to all the life situations that can suck the hope out of you.

The answer comes from King David's Psalm 103. He's a guy who has gone from having it all to losing it. He did great things and he made decisions that had terrible consequences.

How did he handle it? In Psalm 103, he says in the first half of the 14 verses from the Message version of the Bible:

1-2 O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I'll bless his holy name!
O my soul, bless God,
don't forget a single blessing!
3-5 He forgives your sins—every one.
He heals your diseases—every one.
He redeems you from hell—saves your life!
He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown.
He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal.
He renews your youth—you're always young in his presence.
6-18 God makes everything come out right;
he puts victims back on their feet.

I pray that my heart gets the message from this Psalm. I need to praise God this morning and I need to understand why I'm doing it. Psalm 103 lists a lot of reasons.