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19 posts from July 2010

Lansing City Council-member Carol Wood reflects on her mom's murder three years ago

I've talked to and read about many who have lost loved ones to murder.  They are left with a deep pain that never goes away.  And it's a trauma that seems to be more and more common in our culture today.

Lansing City Council-member Carol Wood lost her mom Ruth Hallman to murder three years ago to a killer who has been blamed in a series of serial murders inside the city.

Her mom was regarded as an icon of compassion and love for those who needed help.  She was a difference-maker.  She and Carol were close.

This is a story worth reading and sharing.  It helps one to understand the pain and suffering left behind.

Carol opens her heart and shares how she is processing such a huge loss.  

Click here to read what she wrote.


My weight this morning proves that Weight Watchers Online works

I stepped on the scales this morning to verify that my weight loss efforts were working and I saw the Scales number in this photo which shows that I'm still under 200 pounds. This is music to the ears of this almost 64-year-old baby-boomer.

A year-ago, two words started to scare me:  risk factor.  I've seen friends suffer through heart problems, blood pressure and diabetes.  I knew that I was voluntarily standing in line waiting to get one or more of those.

That's where Weight Watchers Online comes in along with my wife, Gladys, who whole-heartedly endorsed and joined by effort to get more healthy. 

It's working.  Just check this picture of the scales below which I took this morning.  For perspective, I was 248 two years ago when I weighed in during a physical and a year ago, I was 238. 

My Bible verse for the week: Hebrews 12:1-2--Running the race with endurance

Satan is good at causing “roadside distractions” that tempt us to look at him rather than at Jesus. If he can get our attention, he may be able to get us off track and delay our spiritual progress. He even tried this with Jesus Himself!


It's Sunday morning before church, before my shower and before my bowl of oatmeal with strawberries on top.

I'm trying to prepare my heart for today and for the rest of the week.

I know there will be distractions this week. What can distract me? The after-effects of having an impacted bowel on early Friday morning that sent me to the ER. There's the toxic political atmosphere that saturates our city, state and country.

It would be nice to ignore the politics, but it affects so much of everyday life.

Then there's the uncertainty of what sent me to the hospital coming back. It's driven me to eating prunes, drinking prune juice and drinking large volumes of water.

There's also the uncertainty of finding your place and purpose as somebody who's at the top end of the baby-boomer scale.

That's where Hebrews 12:1-2 comes in. My focus has to be on Jesus Christ and not on all the stuff that can distract me.

The challenge comes in maintaining that focus on the real difference-maker.

Anybody feeling the same need?

Here's the verses from Hebrews 12:1-2:  1-3Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! (Hebrews 12:1-2, The Message)

Michigan Republican candidates for governor are not being asked the right question

Lansing -- The Republican race for governor is a three-man contest two weeks before the Aug. 3 primary.

There's a virtual tie between U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Holland and state Attorney General Mike Cox, followed closely by Ann Arbor businessman Rick Snyder, according to a Detroit News-Local 4 WDIV poll.


There's more to being governor of Michigan than talking about what you want to do.

You have to be able to get it done.

And none of the Republican candidates to be our state's governor have talked about their skills to accomplish their goals.

What does that mean? They can only get done as much as the legislature will let them do.

You have to sell the Michigan Legislature and you have to get 148 people to agree with you. These are folks who have their own ideas and their own sense of self-importance.

What's the right question? How will you convince a majority of state lawmakers to cut taxes and reduce spending?

I've not seen one talk about it.

Their answers are important. Believe me.

We learned about "contentment" in church yesterday

I need to listen again to yesterday's sermon in church about contentment.  It seems so relevant in many different ways living in Michigan, a severely challenged state that seems to become more politicized with each passing day.

There are also other things that can challenge contentment.  Lots of people have lost jobs, lost their houses, lost family and lost hope.

At Ada Bible Church, Pastor Jeff Manion preached about how the Apostle Paul went through the "school of contentment" and how he had to learn about it through all phases of his life.  At the end of his life, he was a Roman prisoner and he was content.

I will listen to it again.  Then I may share more about what I learned or re-learned. Adabible


After one year with Weight Watchers Online, I'm below 200 pounds

I don't remember the last time I stepped on a scales and it said I was under 200 pounds, but it did this morning.

I've been using Weight Watchers Online for one year where I record everything I eat and stay within a certain number of points.  This means that I can eat normal people food, but do it with a certain degree of restraint.

When I stepped on the scales this morning, it read 198.4.  I should note that my official weigh-in day is Wednesday.  So that could change slightly.

My goal is to stay healthy.  I'm an almost 64 year-old baby-boomer who has seen friends become too personally acquainted with two words, risk-factor. 

How much health potential do I have?  I want to find out.

Are you afraid of or fearful for anything right now?

I could probably spend the next hour or more making a personal list of things that could produce some fear in me.  Do you have your own list?

This devotion from Our Daily Bread pulled me back to Psalm 23 that I've heard hundreds of times throughout my life.  It says that all I need to do is look at who's walking with me through every experience and challenge. 

I need to make sure that I have these verses memorized and pumped deeply in my heart.  Do you have a favorite Psalm?

 1-3 God, my shepherd! I don't need a thing.
   You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
      you find me quiet pools to drink from.
   True to your word,
      you let me catch my breath
      and send me in the right direction.

 4 Even when the way goes through
      Death Valley,
   I'm not afraid
      when you walk at my side.
   Your trusty shepherd's crook
      makes me feel secure.

 5 You serve me a six-course dinner
      right in front of my enemies.
   You revive my drooping head;
      my cup brims with blessing.

 6 Your beauty and love chase after me
      every day of my life.
   I'm back home in the house of God
      for the rest of my life. (Psalm 23, The Message)

Do you need to watch Pastor Dave Maier's video about the Prodigal Son?

In my life, I've found that it's easy to get distanced from God.  When I allow myself to spiritually drift, it seems like I hit every pothole in life's road. 

God then seems distant and I question whether he's there at all.  Can anybody identify with that? 

I've found strength and power in the Bible's story of the Prodigal Son from Luke 15:11-32.   Like the wayward son, when I move toward God, he comes running to me.

This short video from Pastor David Maier is a practical, but heavenly reminder of that.  He's a real guy who speaks from a platform of life experience.  I invite you to take a minute-and-a-half and watch it.

Lansing home invasions skyrocket for first six months of 2010

Police recorded 573 breaking and enterings. For January to June of this year, that number jumped to 640.


Are private residences in Lansing becoming more vulnerable to emboldened thieves who break into your home whether or not it's occupied.

According to Darren Cunningham of, home invasions in the city have risen almost 12 percent for the first six months of this year, from 573 last year to 640 this year.

Is this just a blip on the local crime horizon or is it an indicator of a longer term negative trend?

Was Sarah Palin right about death panels?

The president recess-appoints a fan of rationing and Britain's National Health Service to direct one-third of American health care. Why does the administration want his views hidden from scrutiny?


Too bad there can't be a real debate about rationing of health care.

There are going to be winners and losers with the new health care law.

Losers don't get the care they need. What happens then? What are the choices?

Thanks to my friend Saul for pointing to this article.

Have we made LeBron James and other athletes into false gods?

I wanted to throw up. Bad enough that we adults have to watch the decline of grace to where a guy who calls himself The King gets a prime-time TV special to announce where he’ll play basketball


In church, we just heard a series of sermons about the kings of Judah and Israel from the Bible and how they struggled with false gods.

Their futures were determined by how they regarded the one true God and whether they worshiped Baal or other false Gods.

Check the above quote from Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom about his reaction to Lebron James and the whole ESPN show on which NBA team he was going to play for.

Is "King James" the new Baal? Just wondering.

Michigan Lutherans are retooling their ministry efforts in the city of Detroit

Still more have said that “Lutheranism” can no longer impact Detroit like it once did because of Detroit's multi-nationalism and multi-culturalism.


There appears to be a reformation of sorts going on in Michigan with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod about their involvement in the city of Detroit which could be duplicated in other urban areas of the state.

Click on the link above which is underneath the quote at the top of this post and you'll read about an effort being led by Pastor David Maier, the president of the Michigan District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.

Its pure Gospel ministry that touches the lives of individuals in both an everyday and an eternal way.

The effort is bold and outside of the usual paradigm for his denomination which has the perception of being staid and set in its ways.

This is worth watching and putting on your prayer list.

How are the churches in Michigan doing at "showing up?"

Sometimes you’ve got to “show up” before you speak up. No one really wants to hear what we have to say about the love of Jesus until they’ve seen it in our lives (Matt. 5:16). Then even the most ardent opponents to the gospel may just be glad you’re in their town, their office, or their neighborhood. And then you just might be able to tell them about Jesus.


It's hard to drive more than a couple of blocks here in Lansing without going by a church or two.

I often wonder how they are affecting the people around them. Would they be missed if they moved or just closed.

The Our Daily Bread devotion this morning is about showing the Gospel of Jesus is in your everyday life. It's based on a portion of the Sermon on the Mount.

What are the churches in Michigan that stand out in practicing what Jesus was talking about?

Do you know churches that talk about it, but don't practice it?

Twelve ways to measure every political candidate

How do you decide who gets your vote?

That's a relevant question here in Michigan and other states where voters will choose candidates in a primary election on Tuesday, August 3.  Our ballot in the Great Lakes State will include candidates for everything from county commission, the Michigan House of Representatives, the Michigan Senate and for the U.S. House of Representatives.

Voters are sick of campaigns filled with eyewash

I think most voters would rather stick their fingers down their throats and vomit in the toilet than face another round of political candidates who all seem to say the same thing. 

But the stakes are high right now for all of us with all three levels of government.  The local, state and federal government are linked together like never before in our history.  Decisions to be made in the next year or two will directly affect us, our children and our grandchildren.

What they decide will affect your and their ability to get a job, get an education, live in a local area where there's money to pay for services like adequate police and fire protection, get health care when you need and have enough food on the table.

So what should you do?

Expect to be frustrated with how they respond

First, you need to know that the effort will produce frustration that won't be satisfied easily.  Why?  The effort requires getting candidates to open themselves to open conversation where they disclose about themselves and who they are.

And just about ten out of then don't want to do that.

Here's 12 qualities and skills that every candidate should have and should be able to answer or demonstrate that they possess it.  How do you get them to answer the questions to show where they stand on the 12-point scale?  I will write about that in an upcoming post.

Here's my list of 12 qualities and skills that every candidate should have and I will talk more about each one in coming days.  You need to determine where they stand in these areas:

  1. Honesty--When they say something can you trust that they are giving an honest answer that's not twisted or turned and that's complete?  Can you rely on what they tell you?
  2. Listening--Do they truly listen to you when you are talking?  Do they reflect back to you what you are saying and do they ask questions?  Do they seem interested?
  3. Transparency--This is a biggie too.  How open are they about their strengths and weaknesses?  Can they talk about those moments when they made a bad decision and talk about it openly?
  4. Communicate--With the current death spiral of most newspapers, this is more important than ever.  Can the candidate communicate in their own voice what he or she is doing and feeling?
  5. Learning--Most elected jobs, particularly the ones you will be voting on in August have a high learning curve.  If somebody is learning disabled or not motivated, then they are cheating the people they represent.
  6. Motivated--Make a judgment about what motivates them to get out of bed every morning and why they are running for this office.  Is it the money?  Prestige?  Are they bored with their present lot in life?  Trying to escape a spouse they don't enjoy spending time with?
  7. Sacrificing--Can they do something, give up something just because they want to and do it without expecting publicity and adulation?  Just about every special interest group in Lansing gives out multiple plaques to "legislators of the year."  Why?  Guess.
  8. Humility--This is important.  Can they put their constituents' needs ahead of their own and not expect anything in return.  Do they or will they send out news releases every time they help an old lady across the street?  What do they grab credit for?
  9. Compassionate--Do they sympathize with people and their varying situations?  The old?  Young?  Abused?  Victims?  Is it sincere?
  10. Principled--For many these days being principled is synonymous with being a crackpot.  Don't buy it.  Everybody operates on a set of principles.  How do they define right and wrong?  Ask and find out.
  11. Vision--Do they have a vision for the area they want to represent and for the state?  How do they visualize the future, short-term and long-term?  Ask them.
  12. Responsibility--When they make a mistake, do they take responsibility?  This includes some personal failing or a bad decision like drinking too much and getting caught.

As a voter, don't let candidates off the hook.  They want to come to your door and have you remember their name and that they are for more jobs, better schools, safer neighborhoods and health care. 

Grab the bull by the horns and start asking questions. 

Are there others that you have? 

Our government won't change until we get beyond the level of campaign literature and other eyewash in selecting candidates for whom we are going to vote.

What about the fireworks in your neighborhood and on your street?

Levi Haight went to the fireworks tent at the Meijer store on Lake Michigan Drive NW Thursday, hoping to buy firecrackers.

But because state law prohibits explosives or aerial fireworks, the 32-year-old Grand Haven resident walked away with just sparklers and smoke bombs -- items he said he uses with his children -- instead of fireworks that pack a bit more punch.


On the Fourth of July our neighborhood looks and sounds like a neighborhood under siege.

When the sun goes down the fireworks come out with many that light up the sky and that would take out a low-flying plane or helicopter.

Tomorrow morning we will find remnants of these fireworks that have flown into our yard. The local police refuse to enforce the law.

The Michigan Legislature is looking at making them all legal.

How do you feel? You don't have to use your real name just give your honest opinion.

Lansing needs to turnout big time for the young widow of slain cop Jeff Kocab

• A benefit dinner will be held from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Ponderosa Steakhouse, 6727 S. Cedar St., Lansing, with proceeds going to the family of Tampa police officer Jeffrey Kocab, who was killed in the line of duty Tuesday.


Jeff Kocab was born and raised in Lansing (MI) and has lots of ties here. He was murdered while on-duty as a Tampa, Florida police officer.

He leaves and wife and child and his former employer, the local Pondersoa is donating the total proceeds from supper this Wednesday to go the family.

We will be there and I hope the rest of Lansing will be there also. We DO need to support widows and orphans just like God says in the Bible.

My friend asks, "Will America cease to exist?"

Therefore, we must conclude that if God is clearly willing to strike his beloved bride Israel in this way, then certainly America, is she continues the path of degradation might also find herself under the judgment of God.


Today's the day to ask the question raised by my friend Dave Porter who is reading through the Bible in a year and blogging about it.

Dave is a retired Michigan business-person who lives in Arizona and spends some serious time with God everyday through the Bible and then writes about it.

Right now, he's going through the section where God strikes down Israel and his favorite people.

Think of all the favors the United States have received from God and think about our post-Christian culture and about the lethargy and lukewarmness of the churches.

Is this country headed for extinction? Too late for a revival and movement back to God in this country?

So don't give me crap about buying a Honda Civic

That Ford sales lot down the road? Its stylish Fusion is assembled in Mexico. Engines in the Chevrolet Equinox sport-utility vehicle are from China. The Chrysler 300C is assembled in Canada with a transmission from Indiana and a V-8 engine made in Mexico.

Conversely, the Toyota Camry has 80 percent of its parts made in the U.S., where the company has more than 28,000 employees


My patriotism to this country and its workers was questioned a couple of times when we bought our Honda Civic about a year-and-a-half ago.

I got a few snarls from folks who talked about my foreign car which was built in Indiana and which some have said has more domestic content than a Chevy Malibu.

On the whole topic of "buying American", check out this story from Ted Roelofs of the Grand Rapids Press about the high degree of difficulty of buying something that's completely built here in this country.

It's probably a safe bet that Michigan wine is domestic. How about the corks? Where are those from?