Previous month:
September 2009
Next month:
November 2009

49 posts from October 2009

What has the Lutheran church done with the Reformation?

Today's a much bigger day than just Halloween.  It's also Reformation Day, a celebration of the actions of a Roman Catholic priest, Martin Luther, who took on the practice of his church body which had made a relationship with God and getting to heaven something that had to be bought and earned through works.

I invite you to read this post by the Rev. Paul T. McCain from his blog Cyberbrethren about what happened that day.  What Luther did created a societal tsunami of epic proportions. 

It restored the truths of the Bible to the "who, what, when, where, how, why and so what" of God and how to be right with Him.  It was a revolution bigger than others.

But, the question has to be asked about what the Lutheran church has done with the freedom gained by Luther's action?

Have they used the true freedom gained from the gospel of Jesus Christ with all the hope that comes from it in a way to change the world around them?

Have they become reflectors of the love of Jesus right where they are and not just in a Sunday service?

If one of their churches closed down or moved would their absence be noticed?

I pray that the spark ignited by Martin Luther back in the 1500s be re-ignited again and that the Lutheran church pulse with the love that comes with being free in Jesus and what he did on the cross.

Should Michigan be a target for foreign missionaries?

I just read this Detroit News story about Massachusetts and how New Englanders have turned away from religion and from God.  Conservative Christian denominations see it as a mission field ripe for attention.  The story points to a new church plant, Redeemer Fellowship Church in Watertown, Mass. as a new church plant in this mold.

How about Michigan?  How strong is belief in God in Michigan?  Have people embraced their faith during these difficult economic times or have they set it aside?  How many people have no exposure to God at all?  How many have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Should the Great Lakes State be considered a mission field?

Perhaps we need some missionaries to be sent here from Africa or India or from the Far East.

THE MICHIGAN UGLY: What will Gov. Granholm line-item veto from remaining budget bills?

Michigan's dysfunction in the political arena will probably continue today when Gov. Granholm is expected to use her line-item veto on remaining budget bills.  What will those be?  Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop warns that the money won't be replaced.  It's time for a governor and for legislators who know how to govern that builds, rather than tears down.  Stay tuned.  Here's the story from the Lansing State Journal about what's expected.

What about your privacy?

How much privacy do you have?  Quite a bit?  A fair amount?  A little?  None?

My son, Justin, in his blog - Oatmeal Stout- brings up the topic in light of the high participation of all age groups on social media like Facebook and Twitter.  He points to a CNN column by Mashable founder Pete Cashmore who writes about a new camera that you wear around your neck and which takes a picture every 30 seconds.  It's a visual log of your daily life that you can put online.

Does getting one interest me?  No.  You?

Is it time to pull the plug on the MSU School of Journalism?

I've always been proud of being an alum of the Michigan State University School of Journalism.

But I seriously wonder if it has reached the end of its lifecycle.  It seems to be stuck in the past which has been like a deep hole that it will never emerge from.

Newspapers served a vital historical role in this country.  But for the most part they're either dying or dead. And the MSU School of Journalism which used to be one of the top "j-schools" in the country is not in the hunt to reinvent what the new journalism looks like.

How many millions of tax dollars does it get?  Living in the past can be fun in the coffee shop, but not in the real world where change seems to be happening at warp speed.  Maybe it's time to let go of this once proud part of academia.

Where's the independent eyes and ears of the media to help people learn and to see the truth of what's happening?  They have hearing aids with dying batteries and big cataracts causing almost blindness.

Check these figures in a Tech Crunch post about declining circulation of major U.S. newspapers.  It's sad.  We all lose because of the decline of the news media.  

Does the AARP put seniors interests before their own financial gain?

Being a little less than two years away from Medicare age, I'm very interested in this Washington Post story about how AARP stands to gain from the healthcare reforms being discussed in the U.S. Congress.  AARP has an insurance end of their organization where they handles hundreds of millions of dollars of business.  Whose interest will they put first, senors or their bottom line?

I'm voting for Carol Wood for Lansing (MI) mayor

It's time for a change of leadership in Lansing (MI).  That's why I'm voting for Carol Wood for mayor.

I didn't come to that decision easily as I tried to look carefully at city government and at both candidates. I've known the incumbent Virg Bernero for a longtime.  We worked together when he was on the staff of the Michigan Senate and we worked together on various issues when he was in the Michigan House of Representatives.

He was always very open with opinions and he usually wore his passions right on his shirtsleeve.  And when you disagreed you could be open with him.

I've watched the downtown development that's taken place since Bernero has been mayor.  There's the condos across from Oldsmobile Park and there's the promise of the unfinished Accident Fund Headquarters. And there's a whole lot of tax breaks given to various businesses.  And that's it.

For Bernero life seems to start and end downtown with the exception of when there's an emergency in a neighborhood, an ugly homicide, a block party gone wrong, a shooting in a school yard.  That's when you see him.

Meanwhile problems and challenges in the neighborhoods persist and it's downtown that gets the biggest chunk of Bernero love.

I've also seen evidence that he's grown into being a bully of scary proportions.  Part of me hesitates to state publicly that I'm for Wood because of backlash from him and from city hall.  That's not right.  

Carol Wood has demonstrated her ability to lead and she's been attacked for it.  In her role on the city council she has provided accountability to Bernero and to city departments and she has done it in a professional way.  

She has a consistent presence at neighborhood meetings and she participates with ideas built on her experience on the city council.  

I've questioned her publicly in a pointed way about the charges made against her and she replied in an informative way without getting defensive.  

Wood lives right in the heart of the city and she understands its people and that joys and the challenges that come from city living.

I feel that she has the best chance of bringing people together in our city and to help maintain and raise the quality of life in the town where I've spent most of my adult life.  

That's why I'm voting for Carol Wood on next Tuesday, Nov. 3.

My focus for today in Lansing, MI

It's hard to get excited about the gray day outside my window in Lansing, MI.  That's why I really need to spend time focusing my attention for the day as it gets started. 

It would be too easy to get wrapped up in all extreme politics going on in our city and our state.  There's a lot at stake.  I know that I have to turn my head and my heart farther than that and to what Joe Stowell talks about in Our Daily Bread, the devotional from Radio Bible Class.

He writes about being like Jesus and what that means.  He bases it on Romans 8:26-29.

  • Being like Jesus is not about keeping the rules, going to church, and tithing.
  • It’s about knowing His forgiveness, and committing acts of grace and mercy on a consistent basis.
  • It’s about living a life that values all people.
  • And it’s about having a heart of full surrender to the will of our Father.

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul says 2010 elections will be most important in U.S. history

Ron Paul makes a compelling argument in his letter that next year's elections will be the most important in U.S. history.  He gives 11 reasons why he fills the 2010 ballot around the country will shape this country in a major and lasting way.  Everybody ready to be involved?

Is Lansing's (MI) incumbent Mayor Virg Bernero in trouble because of anti-incumbent attitude?

Our city's incumbent Mayor Virg Bernero could be in trouble with Lansing (MI) voters because of an anti-incumbent attitude among voters. 

He's up for re-election on Nov. 3 and local coffee shops have been buzzing about how he and his challenger City Council-member Carol Wood stand neck-and-neck in the polls.  

Are Lansing voters just upset about the continued downward decline in the local economy and are they going to take it out on Bernero?

Look at this story from and how this voter unease with incumbents is affecting other city hall races.

Is Michigan's new state budget a fraud?

Read this column from Nolan Finley of the Detroit News about the recently adopted Michigan budget.

Is he right that Gov. Granholm and the whole Michigan Legislature flunked in passing a balanced budget?  He points to all the federal stimulus money used to pay this year's bills and how that only masks the true deficit.

Too bad both political parties will do nothing more than finger-pointing and loud bleating about how the other side is to blame. 

Is anybody really happy with this mess?  It's far from over.

Is Reformation Day still important?

Today, super-wife and I will worship at Trinity Lutheran Church near downtown Lansing, Michigan.  I bet they will celebrate Reformation Day where the music will be pretty predictable and so will the sermon.

It would be easy to whip into church, sit in the pew, go through the motions and leave.

Reformation Day.  So what?

What relevance does it have to my life today in the heart of Michigan?  First, some context.  Back in the sixteenth century the Roman Catholic Church had all kinds of rules about what it took to have your sins forgiven by God and to develop a relationship with Him.  Usually it involved forking money over to the church and then doing something. 

A Roman Catholic priest, Martin Luther, came along and found that the harder he tried to feel forgiven and to be close to God, the more he felt distant. 

Back then, the Bible was not available to the masses and was reserved for church leaders.  Luther got one, translated into the language of the masses.  Along the way in his biblical studies, he found that there's only one way to God.  You couldn't pay for it or do something to gain it.

You just had to believe that God provides forgiveness and hope by believing in his son.

What about today?  Life here and life anywhere else can get pretty sucky and one can lose hope easily.

Reformation Day reminds us of the answer.  It's in my favorite Bible verse from John 3:16.

Michigan needs to listen to Tom Watkins' ideas for public school changes

Michigan's public schools don't have enough money to pay their bills and they will have to change.

Tom Watkins has some ideas about what needs to happen.  He's the former state superintendent of schools who has always been a forward thinker in education.

Read this article from the Grand Rapids Press describing what he's proposing and click on the links for more details.

Any reaction, comments? 

Michigan local government needs to blog now more than ever before

Most Michigan city council members and township board members would laugh if they read this.

They need to communicate with the people they represent on a daily basis about their local unit of government's ability to provide services is changing.  That change is a fact of life in Michigan as revenues are locked in a death dive because of the near death of the auto industry. 

What's going to change on the local level?

Services like police and fire will be affected for many.  But there will be other changes.

Read this story from this morning's Detroit Free Press about how cities in southeast Michigan are being affected.

Local government leaders are not used to the new media and the new communication paradigms.  They need to start changing their attitudes and practices and they need to start now.

If they don't, the phone calls and bad vibes from constituents will only skyrocket.

New name for public health care option--Medicare Part E

First, the Cato Institute has a post on their blog this morning that the new name for federal health care for all is Medicare Part E.  Okay, what about the rest of the post about Medicare?  Is it as ineffective and destructive as it says?  In less than two years, I turn 65 and I'll be forced to take it.  Good deal?  Bad deal?

Can you enjoy God in Michigan?

Mark Batterson is a young pastor in Washington D.C. who I've heard a couple of times while visiting our son.

On this gray, ugly day with the cold rain, it's easy to think about stepping on a warm sunny beach in Florida.

Then there's all the political ugliness at the State Capitol where there seems to be a death wish for our great state.

What's to enjoy Pastor Mark?  In his blog post today, he says "enjoy God."  

Stay away from the when/then syndrome, he says.  For a baby-boomer like myself, it's easy to think that life will be better when we winter in Florida or when the Republicans take over the world or the Democrats?

He says enjoy the journey and enjoy God:

Jesus told us not to worry about tomorrow. Why? Lots of reasons. But one of them is this: so you don't waste emotional energy on things you cannot control. Don't waste guilt on yesterday or anxiety on tomorrow. Spend today's emotional energy on today!

I need to process his advice.  Is it possible to do what he says when you feel like you're going through a meat-grinder?

Saginaw's State Sen. Roger Kahn explains more about MI state school aid battle

Michigan's state school aid battle is confusing and hard to understand for the person who's not involved in the issue at the State Capitol.  Here in the grassroots we are hearing a variety of voices, one side saying that taxes have to be raised to support local schools and the other saying the money's there and has been appropriated.

State Sen. Roger Kahn, a Republican from Saginaw, added this explanation on my Facebook page.  It's helpful, I think.

Roger Kahn

There was revenue passed from the senate that the House has not taken up that addressed the shortfalls. The shortfall occurred because the original budget was rejected in the House because they wanted more money.... The budget was renegotiated and 100M was added ( covered by the senate revenue) and... now the House has not passed the revenue source... Very dissapointing.

Michigan legislators need blogs where they share more about what they are doing and what they are thinking.  There's a real need for real transparency and not the phonied-up variety that just serves partisan purposes.

Thank-you Sen. Kahn.

How are your schools in the Saginaw area affected?

Anybody else have a word of explanation?