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26 posts from March 2012

Can the city of Detroit be saved from its free fall crash into bankruptcy?

It's easy to ignore what's happening in the city of Detroit as it struggles for its life, especially if you don't live there.  But there are lots of reasons to follow what's happening there.

There are hundreds of thousands of people who live there and whose daily life is affected by a city on Detroit the edge of being ungovernable.  The state is a few hours away from taking control of a city that doesn't want to be controlled.  The state is on a path to appointing a financial manager to supercede the mayor and the city council.  The manager will have the power to do just about everything.

How will the Motor City react when the state of Michigan comes marching into a city that has gone through hell in the past several decades with crime and with public corruption and the loss of a whole lot of jobs?  

Read this story from today's Detroit Free Press about everyday people and how they are reacting.  Also check the mention of city streets where street lights don't work because the city can afford to fix them. Here's the Detroit News story summarizing the city's and the state's positions and their next moves. 

We all have a stake in what's happening there.  What other cities in Michigan are heading towards bankruptcy?  

Do I really believe that God's strength is made perfect in my weakness?

I know that I will have a busy week filled with lots of challenges with a pretty long to-do list.  My human frailities and weaknesses could very well be tested.  And this includes more than sneaking an extra swallow of Great Lakes Red.

I love snow!
As I sit on our Lazy Boy couch with my feet up, things seem pretty manageable and doable.  But, I know the quiet of the early morning will be followed by some test and then another one.  These can be big or small.  It could be a bunch of little ones that add up to something big.

I know the limits of my strength for such stuff.  That's where this morning's devotion from Radio Bible Class becomes personally relevant.  It's about how God uses his strength to be made perfect in my weakness.

The text for the devotion is from 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 where the Apostle Paul talks about "three thorns" in his flesh and how he prayed for God to take them away.  Here's what he said:

8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

It's a strong message and promise.  I need God's help in believing this.  I want my heart to believe and embrace it.  I want this to be part of me.  




How informed should a person be about what's happening in the news?

Visiting my Clydesdale friends in St. Louis
I grew up loving newspapers.  As a young boy, I would read my hometown paper, the Bay City Times and as I got older I added to that list with the Sunday editions of the old Detroit Times and then the Free Press or News.  And then my newspaper addiction grew geometrically when I went to journalism school at MSU.

There was a time when newspapers served a solid role in providing information about what was happening around you.  In our area that could be the city council, the county commission, the state legislature and all sorts of police news.   Local and state issues were looked at with both the pros and the cons provided.

That has morphed today into big collection of online resources including newspapers and other news sources.  But, this mother lode of so-called news is laden with opinion that requires sifting through and discernment to get to a nugget of fact.

This brings me to my personal question of the day.  Am I spending too much time reading online news with a fair amount of print stuff like Time magazine?  Could I be doing something that is more profitable with my time?

Before I went to bed last night, I read an online Wall Street Journal story about the guy in France who murdered all the people and who went out in a blaze of gunfire.  How important is it that I spend 10 minutes reading this?  I read this morning about burning couches in East Lansing after last night's MSU basketball defeat.  

How important is the political news about the hissing between Romney and Santorum?  

As I try to rejigger my priorities for the next year and lop things off my daily activities, I'm looking at my consumpion of news.  

How much effort should one exert on staying informed?  An hour a day?  Two hours?  What return on investment do you get?

My meeting with God about James 4:1-10 and about genealogy of Jesus

Do you read the Bible at the start of your day?  Some other time during the day?

Our Daily Bread devotional
I've found that my day goes better if I start with my focus on God, who He is, what he says, what He has done and what He wants me to do.  This usually means getting up early while the house is quiet and it's dark outside.  My distractions have to be a minimum.

As I move farther into being a senior citizen and march into becoming elderly, I've learned some lessons about doing this.  I've gone through a progression of experience in my prayer life and reading the Bible.

The number one item on my "kinda, sorta bucket list" is building a strong relationship with God.  In the past, I've made lip service to this more or less.  As I see the sands of life move through the hour glass pretty fast, I know that I have to use my time wisely and on items that are important to me.  I know that it all starts and ends with God.  This is one item I need to get right.

My practice for the past year or so is to start my day with my MacBookAir in my lap and a visit to the Radio Bible Class website.  I view this site as one big collection of jumper cables to connect the reader to God and everyday life.  This is a treasure trove.  It's a start point for me.

Today, the Our Daily Bread devotion on the site is based on James 4:1-10.  It's all about

Discover word
Discover The Word
the  consequences of putting yourself first in what you do, think and say.  My biggest problem, as the devotion writer says, is the one I see when I look in the mirror.  What's the answer?  Putting God first.  That means I need to know what he's thinking, how he helps me get there and what happens when I don't get it done.

The second part to my time with God today centered on the genealogy of Jesus as given in the Bible.  I actually listened to a segment of RBC's Discover The Word which is a daily and short discussion of some chunk of God's Word.  There was five women mentioned in his line of ancestors, both Jews and Gentiles and one is a prostitute.  What does that mean?

It means that son of God comes from a line of people that is inclusive of all ethnic groups, male and female, single and married, rich and poor.  There's hope for everybody.

There's a lot to digest here.  I am not filled with profound and scholarly Biblical insights.  I know that I have to take my eyes off myself and put them on God and that my Savior who gives me hope came to this earth for everybody.


Detroit News columnist Nolan Finley raises questions about how much control we should give government

Tomorrow I will probably stop at our neighborhood Biggby's coffeeshop for my usual two dollar coffee before I go to help lead a class in East Lansing.  I wish they would have a discussion question for the day.

I'd love to see the folks who stop in there react to Detroit News columnist Nolan Finley's offering today about how government programs are being bungled in the Motor City.  He points to what he says are daily stories about misspent funds, cheating and audits which raise big, big question marks.

His question for our local coffeeshop:  How much control over private institutions and our personal lives do we want to give a government who can't manage the money it has now?

Resetting my spiritual compass on a Sunday morning in mid-Michigan

It's Sunday morning and it's about an hour or so before I start getting ready for church.  I find myself in need of resetting my spiritual compass to regain a proper focus on my life and the direction that I was to go.  With everything happening all around, it's easy to get distracted.

To help with that process this morning and many other mornings, I went to the website. As a young child, I remember watching his crusades on a small black & white television in our very humble living room.  My mother who faced impossible odds to support us and who worked incredibly hard would stop everything to hear his message.  I know that she found hope in what he had to say.

This morning I watched an online video summary of his ministry as seen after 60 years.  His message has touched people around the world.  I find it like a set of spiritual booster cables attached to the terminals on my soul.


What would Jesus says about ABC's new show based on "Good Christian Bitches"

I'm offended by ABC's new Sunday night show called G.C.B. based on a book titled Good Christian Bitches.  It totally puts down Jesus Christ and anybody who believes in Him.  Am I overreacting?  Take a look.  Newt Gingrich described it as anti-Christian and suggested that a show like that would never happen if Muslim was substituted for Christian.  

God has to be unhappy with us.  Look in the Bible at see how he dealt with nations that engaged in similar behavior.  There wasn't a good outcome.


We are learning how to enjoy being long-distance grandparents

How many of you are long-distance grandparents?

We are and our long distance is more than a few states away.  Our grandson Xavier, our daughter Krista and her husband Adam live in Bosnia.  That's a long plane ride away, another one across the Alps and then a car ride from Croatia to their home.

How do you maintain family closeness when there's such a distance?  We've not found a way to duplicate family dinners that take three hours because of lots of table talk that could be about anything from "A" to "Z" with a fair amount of politics and current events mixed in.

But, we have made great use of online video chats using Facebook, Google Plus and Skype.  Last Saturday, we visited for more than an hour with our grandson trying to feed us Cheerios through the computer and where we got some terrific news.  Our daughter is pregnant with her second child.  That means more news, more family happenings and all that good family stuff.

Xavier with chalk


Grand Rapids "Laugh Fest" reminds how important laughter is to just about everything

I wonder if my city, Lansing, could take a lesson from Grand Rapids where they are opening a "Laugh Fest" this week.  Inspired by the late comedian Gilda Radner, the event emphasizes the importance of laughing to dealing with and healing a disease.

I wonder how it could affect life in a struggling city like Lansing.  Would our City Council be a more productive body if they could sit down and openly laugh with each other?  

Check this story from WKAR by Scott Pohl where he interviews the head of the event that will bring in well-known comedians from around the world.  And, there's one doctor, Patch Adams.  Remember him?  Robin Adams played him in a movie who believed that laughter was vital to a paitent's healing process.

Do you look at your register receipt when checking out of Wal-Marts or Meijer?

The Michigan Legislature torched the state's item pricing law about a year ago.  This required retailers to put a price sticker on most everything on their shelves.

With most stores using price scanners, you have a way to check to see if you were being overcharged.  State lawmakers said they removed this requirement because it was too expensive for businesses.

A lawmaker from the Detroit-area,  Rep. Douglas Geiss, D-Taylor, illustrated the challenge in protecting yourself from being charged too much when he bought a package of nuts.  The price should have been three-plus dollars and he was charged ten-plus.

He took the store where he purchased the nuts-Wal-Mart-to court and won.  He won $250 plus legal costs.

How about you?  Do you check your register tapes?  What do you do to protect yourself from being overcharged?


How do you find perspective in life when you're staring death in the eye?

Pastor Ed Dobson of Grand Rapids has Lou Gehrig's disease.  It puts your body on a steady slide that ends in death.

How do face day-to-day life when you know your end is near?  How can you find perspective and purpose in your life.

In this video, Pastor Dobson shares how he's doing this and how he's made the transition from preaching to thousands every week to working with individuals one at a time.


Check this Forbes magazine interview with my daughter-in-law, Lauren Thorp, about Umba Box


Lauren and forbes

My daughter-in-law Lauren is changing her world one Umba Box at a time.  It's about her new business where subscribers pay her to send them the best of the best handcrafted items for women.  She started it last year and since then it has gotten media attention around the country.


Check this interview in where she's interviewed about her experience as a new entrepeneur, especially as a woman breaking into the business world.  

I'm really impressed with her insightful answers to the questions and to her whole business approach.  It's worth a read and Umba Box is worth a look.

It's hard to use my new Honda 525S snowblower when it's in the 60s in mid-Michigan

In January, my gut told me that I better get a new snowblower to handle all the snow we'd probably get here in the heart of mid-Michigan.  I'm not a snow person, but I've found that blowing it gives me a sense of power and it's fun.

When it snows, I usually do a big chunk of our block.  Don't tell my neighbors that it's not because I'm a good guy, but because I really get a kick out of doing it.  But, the snow never came.  And that's okay.

Look at the story from the Detroit Free Press about how it's going to reach 65 in the metro Detroit area today.  

Read through the story and you'll see that the weather man says the temps and conditions this time of the year can turn on a dime.

Check out this interview with Rick Santorum's wife

Are you trying to decide who you are going to support as a Republican candidate for president?  I am.  It would be easy to ignore all the babble coming from all sides, including both parties.

I'm tired of all the carping, the meaninglless rhetoric and the seeming phoniness coming from the political and media camps.  On television, give a choice between watching a debate among the candidates and reruns of Army Wives or the Good Wife, I'd probably go with the latter.

Then I saw this CBS interview with Rick Santorum's wife.  I see a sincerity and an openness that you don't see with the other candidates.  She gives a revealing look into her husband and to their family life.  She provides a snapshot of her husband's values as seen through her eyes.  I'm impressed.  I want to learn more.


Would Jesus voter for President Obama, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul?

When I get to our neighborhood coffeeshop in a few minutes, I'll have to throw this question out kind of like a hand grenade with the pin removed.  Just who would Jesus vote for?  And Barry Goldwater is not a choice.

Check out this post from the CNN religion blog where the head of a NGO answers that question. Remember that Jesus was not oblivious to politics.  Was he conservative or liberal?  Was he pushing for inward or outward transformation of individuals?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: I'm not afraid of being dead, it's getting dead that bothers me

I'm drawn to people with stories who are facing these bigger than life-sized challenges.  And that's why I added the blog of Pastor Ed Dobson to the blogroll on this blog.  You'll find it by scrolling down in the right margin.Are you facing a bigger than life challenge today?  I think of the people in Marysville, Indiana who lost everything to a tornado over the week.  Their whole town was wiped out.  There are people facing severe health problems with huge suffering and no answers in site.  The list could go on and on.

Pastor Dobson has a nasty, degenerative disease called ALS.  Hearing it described, it sounds like wading through the fires of hell before you die.  He writes about it in his blog.  Now like a lot of blogs, it hasn't been updated in a few months.  But his posts are timeless.  He's a real guy who's facing a disease that can shove you through the door to the dark side.

I found this quote on his blog:

I’m not afraid of being dead. It’s getting dead that bothers me. For me, “getting dead” involves choices about wheelchairs, communication assistance, feeding tubes and breathing assistance. It’s not pleasant when I think of the future. Of course, I try to ignore it but the underlying reality is always there. 

He does share how he deals with this.  It's very real.  He's not always, "Glory Alleulia" and "Onward Christian Soldiers" and "Thank-you God for giving me this disease."  

Even though his blog hasn't been updated in a while, I will keep it in my blogroll as a reminder on facing obstacles.  I've seen a few, but none like his.  Perhaps, others might find it helpful.


Think of and pray for Marysville, Indiana as you start your week

It's nice and sunny here in mid-Michigan and there's a spring crispness in the air.  It's easy to forget what happened this past week in other parts of the country where tornados struck.  The folks in Marysville, Indiana lost every home in their town.  They are waking up to a harsher reality.  The country needs to pray for them and all the others struck by these disastorous storms.  Check this video from the Wall Street Journal.