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February 2018

12 posts from January 2018

Would I want my grandsons to go to Michigan State University?

 

My MSU graduation day.
A picture from my graduation day at MSU in 1969. I'm on the right.

 My enthusiasm for Michigan State University started at a young age.  My interest was piqued in the early sixties when my aunt who lived in Okemos had a friend who worked at the school's daily newspaper, the State News, as an assistant to Louis Berman, its advisor.  This friend encouraged my interest in journalism and the School of Journalism at MSU.  I was hooked by East Lansing and I knew I wanted to go to school there.

Fasst forward to Friday night when my seven-year-old grandson comes to watch the Harlem Globetrotters play at the Breslin.  I got really good seats which we will fill after eating supper on campus.  In the past, part of my "bleeding green" would focus on showing him stuff to plant a seed for attending there when the time comes.

I've had to rethink that after watching how the university responded to the Dr. Larry Nasser case where he molested more than 150 girls and young women who he treated during their gymnastics career.

At best, the university responded defensively giving the appearance that they knew nothing and that they have no responsibility.  They have dodged and weaved as facts about their knowledge of the case started to dribble out.  They still take less than minimal responsibility.  

Do I want my grandson to think about becoming a Spartan when the time comes?  I'd probably encourage him to think about going one one of the Wesleyan colleges that his parents attended or to one of the Concordias that my wife attended.

My Spartan pride is waning.  But we will have fun watching the Globetrotters play on Friday.


Was it the voice of God that I heard this morning while sitting on our couch?

 

Pastor Marvin WilliamsPastor Marvin Williams speaking this past weekend at Trinity Church in Lansing, Michigan.

 

 

I was not latching onto the current sermon series at Trinity Church in Lansing, Michigan where the topic had been on how to hear the voice of God and to get on his Frequency, the name of the four sermons.  I come from a denominational background where there had been minimal teaching about the topic of listening for His voice.

Being in the "Third Act" of my life, I really wanted to get this down.  I want my wife, my kids and grandkids to remember me as having a close and personal relationship with God.  I want to be on his Frequency.  I can say that I've never heard his voice in the same way I'd hear my wife.  I know her and how she speaks and most of the time I listen closely.

I can't say the same about God.  However, I can say that I am recognizing his voice more and more.  Take this morning for example.

As retirees, my wife and I have an early morning ritual where I sit on one end of a long couch and she sits on the other with our devices either in hand or on our laps.  Typically, I will start my morning--about 6 a.m.-- by going to the Our Daily Bread website to read that day's devotion.  It's about 200 words and serves as a connecting point to real life.  There's also a Scripture that it's based on.  

I try to let my thoughts marinate on both and I try to learn how both apply to my life.  This morning it was based on Psalm 46 on which the hymn "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" was based on.  The Psalm states "God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.  So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.."  It goes on for nine more verses.

After reading this, I went to the New York Times, Washington Post and Drudge to follow the latest turmoil in Washington, D.C.  You can see the tumult coming and the dark clouds are very visible.  

This Psalm says very clearly that I shouldn't worry.  God is bigger than all this.  I don't interpret it to mean that I should be apathetic about our government and our leaders, but it shouldn't worry me.

Was I hearing God's voice?  I think so.  He was saying "Don't worry."  He's in control.  As Pastor Williams said and as I recorded in my notes, God will reveal himself to each one of us.  I'm learning.

My sermon notes.
Part of my sermon notes from this past weekend.

 


I need to ask President Trump if The Pentagon Papers are "fake news"

 

My copy of the Pentagon Papers
This is my copy of the Pentagon Papers purchased for $2.25 in 1971.

 

 

This morning was the first time in our thirty-six years of marriage that my wife and I went to a movie on Sunday morning.  We saw "The Post" with Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, a story about how the Washington Post dealt with a federal government and President Richard Nixon who knew that the Vietnam War was unwinnable for our country.

The fight was over the so-called Pentagon Papers a government-commissioned study of the situation back then in Vietnam and a chronology of how we got involved.  The overwhelming evidence showed that the President Lyndon Johnson and the Pentagon knew that we had lost the war which cost us more than 50,000 men.

The struggle was over the Washington Post's efforts to public these documents so citizens would know the truth about what was really happening.  The case ultimately went to the U.S. Supreme Court which declared the newspaper's efforts to be constitutional.

The movie laid out the tension that existed between the federal efforts to squash the publication of the papers and the Post's efforts to publish them. The rights of the governed won over the rights of the government.

These days news media is held in the lowest esteem by President Trump, most Republicans and other Tea Party types.  They put the news media on the same level as drug dealers.

I wonder what Trump would say about the Pentagon Papers.  Would he say they are "fake news?"  Would he believe the people had a right to see them and to learn how the federal government was lying?  

It's worth seeing and talking about.


New Holt, Michigan gas station raises question about mixing liquor and beer with cars

 

We've driven by the southeast corner of Holt and Aurelius Roads maybe a hundred times during the almost nine months we have lived in Delhi Township.  When we moved in last spring the corner was just a vacant lot.  

During the late spring, summer and fall, we've watched it transform through various stages with the careful installation of below ground gas storage and the building of the store that has become a destination for high end liquor, beer and wine.  There are also high end snacks that would usually be sold in a specialty store.

Cool.  Right?  Well, what's the thinking behind mixing the sale of gas for cars along with very adult beverages?  Any concerns about the message that it sends?  Am I being hypersensitive about this?

It must be legal or they wouldn't be selling this where you fill up your car.  What about the Delhi Township Board?  Did they have to approve it?  Were residents asked for input?  What about the Michigan Liquor Control Commission?  Is getting their permission necessary?

Where does one go these days to get township news, whether it's mine or the several hundred in Michigan.  Newspapers don't really cover townships anymore.  
 


This advice from Pastor Adam Weber takes some of the fear out of praying

 

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In less than an hour, three of us, including my son Justin and my friend Ken, will get together online to check on what's happening in our lives and to pray.  Usually, my son-in-law Adam is part of this, but he and the family our on the East Coast this weekend.

Praying has not always come easily for me.  I'm 71 years-old and have been heavily influenced by former pastors who pray using high-sounding phrases making me think that I just can't talk that way.

A couple of months ago, I found the below quote from Pastor Adam Weber who leads a series of campuses in South Dakota.  He shared this on his Twitter feed.  It resonated with me and made me unclinch my intestines when it came time to pray out loud.

I'm learning.  My time with God has become more regular and more open.  For those who experience the same challenge, here's the tweet broken into an itemized list.

  • Just talk with God.  
  • We can’t mess it up!
  • My best advice on prayer: say exactly what’s inside you.
  • Just talk with God.
  • We can’t mess it up!
  • My best advice on prayer: say exactly what’s inside you.

YOU GUESS: Which three countries in the world don't have Netflix?

Watch this video from Beme News and you'll find out that Syria, North Korea and China are the three countries where Netflix is not available.  But that's not the main point in this video from the news service where CNN partnered with Casey Neistat, a well-known YouTuber.

Lou, the affable narrator of this piece, outlines how many of the new businesses depending on tech in some way, shape or form are not making a profit yet.  Amazon grows and grows, but has yet to make a profit.  The same with others.

To corner a market, the report says these companies are playing "the long game."  They are looking to the future where they hope to dominate.

This contrasts with historical thinking where capitalism was all about the hope of making a profit now.  This is worth a view.

 


Have you had your iPhone battery replaced yet at the Apple store for $29?

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Alexa just told me that it's 10 degrees above zero outside right now which could affect whether I go to the Apple store today to have the battery on my iPhone 6+ replaced for $29.

My wife and I both have one and we've noticed that the battery charges have been lasting less and less and that both phones have been getting slower.  

I'm curious to learn how long it takes to have the batteries swapped out.  Waiting at the Apple store Genius Bar can be an exercise in patience.  But store employees seem exemplary with service once your name is called.


My Amazon Echo Dot reads Kindle books to me

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When we were in our usual couch spots this morning and catching up with the news on our devices, my wife Gladys pointed out to me that our Amazon Echo can read Kindle books to us.  

I have 50 or more Kindle books covering a wide-variety of genres and topics and I have a serious case of glaucoma which can make reading at certain points of the day very challenging.

A few minutes ago, I tried it and it works.  The only thing I haven't figured out is how to direct the Echo to rewind to the beginning or to a specific chapter.

This is great for grandkids too.  Now they can have a book read to them.  Amazon's Kindle books for kids are plentiful. 

Before the day is over today, I will experiment with this more.


Just like in Ezra 1: 5, I am asking God to move my heart this coming year

IMG_0383-2I really appreciate written devotions, especially those published by Our Daily Bread, formerly Radio Bible Class.

For me, they have served as a connecting point between me and God.  

The devotions from the Grand Rapids-based ministry are usually written in the first person by a diverse team of writers from around the world.  They a Bible-based and never lose sight of the Gospel and what Jesus did for each and everyone of us who accept him.

Today being the first day of 2018, after getting up early, I went right to the devotion for today in the online version of Our Daily Bread.  As I do errands, quite often I'll look at the mobile app and get it there and ask for God's help in making the Biblical truth in the piece personal to my life, particularly, the text from God's Word.

How many of you remember the story of the Israelites when they were taken captive by the Babylonians and King Nebuchandnezzar.  They were in captivity for 70 years.  Then God spoke to his successor King Cyrus who told him to let them go back to their country to fix the temple that had been destroyed.  Not knowing what this year will bring for me and for others, I feel the need to load up with hope and then share it.

This all happened because of God's grace.  The author of the devotion, Kirsten Holmberg, writes:  

No matter what lies in our past, when we confess our sin, God forgives us and gives us a fresh start.  What great cause for hope! 


Amazon's Alexa gives us the temperature and weather everyday

Do you have an Amazon Echo?  We have the smaller Dot version and we use it everyday, chief of which is the temperature outside and the weather forecast.

Click on this video for the forecast for today, Jan. 1.  It was colder last night after we got home from a three day trip. 

What do you use your Echo for?


Our new gas station in Holt, Michigan, opened while we were visiting relatives

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When we first moved to Holt about nine months ago, the space at the corner of Holt and Aurelius Roads was just a field.  

Last night after being gone for a couple of days, we noticed that the gas station which started construction about six months ago, had opened.  It's a Mobile gas station with a pretty fancy store with craft beer and wine in addition to convenience store items.

For us who live less than a mile away, this will give us an important option to fill up our gas tank.  Is there enough business and traffic going by to support it?  Probably.


After being way for three days, we had to smile big when we saw these faces

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It was about 10 below zero when we pulled in our garage after visiting relatives in the Chicago-area for a few days.  We had gone there via Amtrak train and left late yesterday afternoon for home.  It was a comfortable ride through southwest Michigan to the central part of the state.  But it was cold, real cold.  

Our Honda Civic which had been parked in an outdoor lot started like a charm.  Then there was the ride home a few miles over crunchy snow that reeked of frozenness.  We pulled into our small garage, got our stuff out of the trunk and with tired eyes unlocked the door.  And we saw this calendar made from grandkid pictures.  For January, this is the picture that got our first glance.

The smile it produced set the tone for the rest of our New Year's Eve.  These are two of our five grandkids with different pictures of them for each month.  

Thank-you to our daughter Krista for making this special Christmas gift.  It's a heart-warmer.