January 31, 2008

Living Off-Line

There are a number of countries in Asia, the Middle East and Northern Africa that have lost their internet connections as the result of a broken undersea cable. Being pushed off-line has forced a number of businesses into a standstill and left people trying to figure out what to do without access to the internet. You can check out the story at CNN here.

This left me thinking about the days before I became aware of the internet. I remember growing up as a kid and not having heard of the word "email" let alone myspace.com or Facebook.com. I sit here typing this on my fancy little laptop that has the capability to access the internet wirelessly and wonder how I would survive off-line. I have no doubt that I could survive, I mean I could still cook my food without the internet, though my recipe database would be seriously lacking but when I take a step back and think about the impact the internet has on my life, it's kind of scary. I wonder how much time I spend on the internet a day, week, or even year. I must admit I don't spend a ton of time messing around online other than emailing and trying to update my blog daily but I bet most of my online time otherwise is fairly pointless.

Maybe for the 40 days of Lent I'll give up the internet and use that time for something else...but I guess it would be rude not to read or respond to people's emails...and I'm sure the few of you that actually read this blog would get bored with seeing the same post for 40 days straight...sooo maybe I'll try to survive off-line for 40mins a day....but what if someone IM's me.....or I get a friend request on Facebook........

January 29, 2008

The state of the State of the Union

I'm not sure how many people made it through the almost hour long speech from President Bush but if you noticed nothing else, you had to notice the ridiculous amount of hand clapping and standing ovations. I'm not saying that what President Bush was saying didn't deserve an applause but I mean seriously, every 2-3mins?

Now I know that the State of the Union address is typically used to recap the president's term, discuss the state of our country and to lay out plans for the future on pressing issues, all of which President Bush did but he also wasn't holding back from letting the Democratic members of Congress know they are cramping his style. As I sat and watched this spectacle play out, there were a couple things I noticed...

1) The cheers of the "manly" hoots and hollers I found to be somewhat funny and reminiscent of a college sporting event with a large section of frat boys.

2) The political term "across the aisle" became visibly apparent to me as one section of Congress found themselves clapping and giving standing ovations hardly at all. The partisan divide was painfully obvious and made me wonder how many things get pushed aside because of that giant chasm the size of a movie theater aisle.

The whole thing seemed to be a little theatrical but I'm hoping and praying that our leaders in government will start or continue (depending on your perspective) to address the basic needs of not only the citizens of the U.S. but also people around the world regardless of their ethnicity, religion, bank account, education or political views.

January 23, 2008

Finding Ourselves in the Wilderness

No doubt we have all had times in our lives when it seemed as though we were wandering in the wilderness, sometimes not knowing how we even got there. The wilderness I'm talking about can be a different experience from person to person. For one it might be a struggle in a relationship, for another it might be the health issue of a loved one and still for another it might be the loss of a job. Looking through Scripture, one can see that time in the wilderness can be life changing.

God meets His people in the wilderness. We see over and over again that God uses the wilderness as an opportunity to meet with and speak to His people. In Moses' life alone we see God leading him into the wilderness on two separate occasions and both times God speaks to him in powerful ways. In chapter 4 of Matthew we read that Jesus was "led by the Spirit" into the wilderness so that God could prepare him for his ministry that would change the course of history. The wilderness belongs to God and He uses it to meet us there.

Often times the "wilderness" experiences we have in life can cause us to feel confused, afraid, doubtful and uncertain of the direction we're headed but it's also in the wilderness that the other noises of life are stilled and we are able to hear God speak to us more clearly. Sometimes God leads us into the wilderness to find Him and only then truly find ourselves. So if you are finding yourself in a time of wilderness, be patient and seek God because He desires to meet you there.

OT Heroes Part III - Moses

I would imagine that one could study the life of Moses in great detail and it would take years to glean all of the meaningful insights and experiences. Here is a Hebrew who was raised as a son of Pharaoh's, a prince of Egypt. He had the very best money and Egypt could offer: food, education, clothes, shelter, etc and yet we find that he is convicted by the treatment he sees of his fellow Hebrews to the point of actually murdering an Egyptian slave master. As a result of this, he runs away into the desert and he stays there for a long time.

Most of us know the rest of the story and how God calls Moses out of the wilderness to lead God's people, the Israelites, out of Egyptian slavery and into the Promised Land with a short 40yr "pit stop" in the wilderness on their way. The significance of the Exodus from Egypt cannot be understated as it is one of the most important events in the history of the Israelite people as well as Christians today. If you have never read this story or you find yourself realizing it has been some time since you last read it, check out Exodus chapters 2 thru however-far-you-want-to-read to see a great story of God's presence with Moses and His people.

The part that I would like to key in on has to do with two things about Moses...1) often times we forget or overlook the fact that Moses was a murderer and yet God still choose Moses to lead His people out of Egypt and 2) like Abraham, Moses has an exchange with God and at one point, after God telling Moses to go get His people out of Egypt, Moses actually tells God he doesn't want to go and asks God to send someone else. At this point in Moses' life, he is shepherding out in the wilderness, comes across a bush that is on fire but not burning up, hears the voice of God speaking to him out of a burning bush and has the nerve, audacity, courage, stupidity (whatever you want to call it) to tell the voice of God coming out of a burning bush that he doesn't think God choose the right guy. The thing I like about this the most is not that Moses felt comfortable enough with God to share his own thoughts on the idea but the patience, faithfulness, trust and wisdom that is demonstrated by God as He deals with Moses.

This is the God I want on my side knowing that He is going to be patient with me when I am unsure, doubtful, questioning or willing to share how I think it should go. Be encouraged to know that it is the same God that showed patience and compassion to Moses who desires to do the same for you.

Through the Eye of the Needle

Everyone has heard that the economy is in a slump and on the verge of recession, if not already there. The volatility of the markets around the world is making it evident that there is little to no certainty in accumulating wealth because the next thing you know *poof* your investment is gone. It's interesting how many of us associate security and stability with the condition of our finances.

Jesus tells a story about a guy that has a lot of money and asks how he can go to heaven (Matthew 19:16-26). Jesus responds by telling the guy to follow the commandments, which the rich guy says he has and then asks Jesus what else he must do. The response that comes out of Jesus' mouth blows the guy away and leaves him dismayed. Jesus tells the man to sell all of his possessions, give his money to the poor and then follow him. Notice the guy's response in verse 22, "When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth."

Here we see an exchange between Jesus and someone who has obviously accumulated a lot of wealth with the misconception that it would somehow provide him stability, security and a future. Jesus turns this guy's world upside down by pointing out that one cannot pursue eternity by chasing after things that are temporary and remembering Jesus' words, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

January 17, 2008

Could Peace Really Happen?

President Bush made his first visit to Israel/Palestine last week in an attempt to motivate peace between the Israeli and Palestinian people. Regardless of why you think Bush actually went there (as many have claimed it was a last ditch effort to salvage some sort of legacy for his presidency) the idea of peace in the Middle East is one that everyone can jump on board with. The time line of seeing this happen within a year seems a little optimistic but I'm all about having goals.

How this peace will come about will be something to watch but I think President Bush made a strong point when he urged Israel to end the 40yr occupation of the West Bank. I must admit that I was somewhat surprised at Bush's pro-Palestinian comments, something that the extremely pro-Israeli media and lobbyists here in the U.S. couldn't have liked much. It's about time we consider both sides of the story instead of allowing ourselves to be "media-ed" into thinking that Israel can do no wrong or somehow the people of Palestine don't matter.

This is a region that is rich in cultural and religious history. As a Christian, it seems to me that we should be concerned about the welfare of all the region's people, hoping and praying that peace can be something to be realized by all nations and all peoples, not just the ones lobbyists or the media deem worthy.

January 16, 2008

OT Heroes Part II - Noah

I'm not sure how many of you have seen the movie 'Evan Almighty' but it's suppose to be a modern-day comedy based upon the story of Noah and the flood found in Genesis 6-8. I'm sure many of us have heard the story of the flood and Noah and his family gathering the animals 2 by 2 into the ark, 40 days and 40 nights of rain, and the promise with the rainbow but I wonder how many of us have thought about who Noah was before he built this large boat.

Noah's great grandfather was Enoch, who lived 365yrs and walked with God and then was no more, because God took him away. So you have to imagine that Noah heard stories of his great grandfather who was a godly man and never died, he just disappeared because God took him away. Being aware of something like this happening to a family member probably makes you more aware of other things that God is doing and saying, perhaps even to you. Noah lived in a time when society was not in good shape; people were selfish, mean, violent and didn't care about God (not to say that ours is necessarily much better now) but despite all of the things going on around him, Noah found favor with God because he was blameless and walked with God.

It seems that most of the Old Testament heroes we read about where God did extraordinary things in and through them were people that were already walking close with God. Do you think it is a coincidence that God used people that were close to Him or maybe God used these people because they were close enough to hear Him speak. If God wanted to use you or I would we be walking close enough to Him to hear Him speak?

January 14, 2008

To Serve and Protect

We had a surprise birthday party for my dad up in Michigan this past weekend (which I might make some comments on later) and on my way home yesterday I got pulled over by an Indiana State Trooper. A couple of details concerning this "adventure", to quote one of my sisters...I was driving south on US 31, posted speed limit is 60mph, I have no idea where the trooper was or where he came from, I usually set my cruise for about 8-9mph over the speed limit.

Trooper Patty pulled me over and quickly mentioned that he had pulled me over for speeding and then asked if I knew the speed limit. I replied by stating that it was 60 and answered his question of how fast I was going by saying 68 or 69mph. Trooper Patty said he clocked me going 72mph and then asked for my license and registration. After a few minutes, he returned with a written warning and told me to be careful as I pulled back onto US 31. Once back on the road, Trooper Patty sped past me while giving a short but polite wave as he continued his mission of service and protection.

What makes this a blog-worthy story, in my opinion, is that Trooper Patty was one of, if not the nicest police officer I have ever encountered. He was extremely polite from the very beginning of our time together. He laughed and joked with me but was still very professional and certainly made the point that I was driving, in his judgment, too fast. He did not keep me waiting long as he checked out my information and I like to think regardless of whether I got a ticket or not, it was one of the more enjoyable times I've dealt with the law. I found myself having a certain respect for Trooper Patty that I might not have had otherwise if he had been a trooper with something to prove. So here's to you Indiana State Trooper Patty for serving and protecting all of us so well and doing it with a smile.

January 13, 2008


Friday night I was watching 20/20 on ABC and they were doing a segment on happiness and how it was measured around the world. They had ranked a number of countries around the world, ranking them from the most happy or content to the least. A couple things you might find interesting from their research...

  • The happiest country in the world is Denmark where 62% of their income goes to taxes, their health care and educational system is paid for by the government, all occupations are considered fairly equal and community/relationships are encouraged by the government through paying for social activities.
  • The most unhappy country in Western Europe is Italy because the people do not trust their police or government due to uncontrolled corruption and deception.
  • The U.S. ranked as the 23rd happiest country in the world, where the "need" to "keep up with the Jones" causes people to constantly compare focusing on the things they aren't or don't have.
  • Iraq ranked as one of the most unhappy places in the world for obvious reasons.
  • Singapore was ranked the happiest country in Asia. This is a country where there are rules against gum usage and where breaking certain laws can result in a caning. It also has the highest capital punishment rate in the world.
  • There was not a direct correlation between poverty or wealth and an individual's happiness.
I thought 20/20 did a nice job of putting together a well researched report while at the same time emphasizing some important points that lead to happiness and contentment. Throughout their research they determined that happiness was not related to the amount of money we make but rather the relationships we have, the people we surround ourselves with and the community we are a part of. Seems to support Jesus' constant theme of loving our neighbors and looking out for the good of others. If I had to make a guess, I would guess that some of the happiest times in our lives have been when we were doing something for someone else. Interesting how much happiness can be found in bringing about the happiness of another.

January 10, 2008

OT Heroes Part I - Abraham

We are starting a study on some of the Old Testament heroes which will include David, Jonah, Noah, Moses, Rahab, Esther, Daniel, Ruth and a handful of others. The one I wanted to comment on right now is Abram, whose name later becomes Abraham. One of the parts of his story that I think is worth highlighting takes place in Genesis 17. It is here that we read about the covenant that God enters into with Abraham and his descendants. As you continue to read through the chapter, you come across an interesting exchange between God and Abraham that I think is worth noting.

"15 God also said to Abraham, "As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. 16 I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her." 17 Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, "Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?"

God tells Abraham that the world will be blessed through his descendants, that will be as numerous as the stars in the sky and all of these people will come from he and his wife Sarah. They have a combined age of almost 200yrs, not to mention Sarah has been barren up to this point in her life and God promises that this promise will be fulfilled through Sarah. I love that the author points out that Abraham first falls down in reverence and submission and then laughs. He actually laughs at what God says to him.

Two things I like about this: 1) God is hilarious and has a sense of humor. I mean come on, how funny is it that God, in His perfect wisdom, waited for Sarah to be over 90yrs old to have her first baby!?! 2) Abraham wasn't afraid to laugh in God's presence. I think sometimes Christians forget it is OK to laugh; to laugh at ourselves, each other, and maybe even at the things God does some times. Not only is it OK but it's good for you and I to laugh every now and then. Don't miss the joy found in following Christ by taking yourself to seriously.

Happy Birthday Dad!

I have to pass along birthday wishes to my dad who turned 50 yesterday, the 9th of January. If you remember a few posts back and put two and two together, you will realize that my dad is pretty young for having a son my age. Now I'm not sure which one makes a dad feel older, turning 50 or having a son that is almost 30? Either way dad, in my book, you're far from being old. Happy Birthday!!

Election Year

Unless you live in a cave without wireless internet or outside the U.S. and don't care about our politics, which is understandable, than I would find it hard to believe that you have not seen or heard something about the presidential election process. The process is in full swing as Republicans and Democrats try to decide who will be their candidate to take their party into the White House come November. Recently, I have found this process to be quite interesting and containing more drama than the 8 different CSI's and Law & Order's combined.

I don't know where your political views fall but I'm hoping that if you call yourself a Christian you will be taking the time to research and compare the candidates and plan on getting out to vote come November. I am certainly not saying that God is a Democrat or Republican but I do think we have a responsibility as Christians to be involved in the political process, wherever your vote may fall. So this election season...pay attention, pray and vote!

January 8, 2008


It's about 60 degrees and raining today and one might think that's odd for Indiana in January but for those of us who have lived in the Midwest for any length of time, you come to expect anything at any time when it comes to the weather.

I have always loved the rain. I might even like it more than when it's sunny out. I remember growing up in Michigan watching the rain fall from my living room window or opening the garage door, pulling out a lawn chair and setting it right at the edge of the dry garage and the wet driveway. I love the smell, sound, sight of rain. I'm not sure I can explain it really but there is something about rain that causes me to pause for a moment and contemplate the things of life. Nothing breaks up a stressful workday better than taking a couple minutes to sit outside under the canopy and watch the rain.

Rain carried a lot of significance in the Bible. With it came both judgment and blessing, flood and harvest. It falls on the just and unjust, it does not discriminate. I think sometimes we get caught up on the why of the "rain" in our lives and forget that sometimes it just rains, and sometimes with the rain comes blessing.

January 5, 2008

The Replays Play List

You may have noticed I added 'The Replays Play List' to my blog and now I'm hoping you will allow me to explain exactly what it is...

Do you ever run across a song that when it comes on the radio or your mp3 player you find yourself thinking "I wouldn't mind hearing that song again right now." and if you have the ability to do so, you hit the [previous] button and replay it? There are a handful of songs that, when they come up as I'm listening to the album they are on, I replay the song because I like it so much. Maybe this is something that no one else experiences but for whatever reason, these few songs evoke some sort of emotion that compels me to play the song over and over.

So I decided I would post some of the songs that do this to me and let you either: a) check them out for the first time if you haven't heard them, b) agree with me that these are worthy 'replay' songs, c) disagree with me saying that these songs don't deserve a 'replay', or d) suggest songs for me to check out that should be on my 'replay' list. I look forward to hearing your thoughts or maybe your own 'Replays Play List' because I'm always looking for new music to add to my library. Hope you enjoy checking out this list even half as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

January 3, 2008

Complaining to Content

Doesn't it seem like sometimes in life, when something goes wrong, there are at least 2 or 3 other things that go wrong with it? I was talking with my dad last night and we were both commenting on how things can be going pretty well, you find yourself just kind of cruising through life and then all of a sudden something goes wrong with your car, then the house, then work, then health, then a relationship and the list could go on and on.

I found myself experiencing something like recently as my car needed to go into the shop and has to go back in on Monday and as this has been happening, the sewer line at my house decided to back-up. It's sad how quickly in situations like this I can become so narrowed minded and self-centered. It's as if I have forgotten about all of the things that God has given to me and instead I go right to worrying and complaining about all of the things that have gone "wrong". I love that God has a sense of humor and is more than willing to slap me across the face with His faithfulness that brings me back to the reality of who He is. Funny how my attitude changes when I consider all God has done and provided for me. If I really think about it, I should be thankful that I even own a car to have to take in to the shop or a roof over my head that I can call my own despite the minor "leaks".

Think about what the year ahead of us could look like if we were more content and less complaining...

January 2, 2008

An Almost New Year's Baby

So today happens to be my 29th birthday. Now I don't say this to get special birthday greetings from anyone but simply to state that today is my birthday. Being born on the 2nd day of January makes for a really long year without any sort of excuse to break up the year like those of you born in May, June or July (luckies).

And since today is my birthday, I will take this opportunity to share my feelings on two particular things related to being born on this day (all in and for, fun). The first one has to do with never having a birthday that was celebrated at school. Remember when most of the kids in your class were able to bring in some sort of homemade treat to celebrate their birthdays? And because of this little treat, all the other kids in class really liked you, at least for that day. Maybe you were one of those kids that had the opportunity to bring in treats for your classmates, I however was not because we were always still on Christmas break. Unfortunately, I never could use the birthday treat trick to get my classmates to like me and when I would ask the teacher if I could bring in a treat after break, she would give me a look like "But no one would know why you were handing out those brownies?"

The second thing is in regards to its proximity to Christmas. I mean baby Jesus is cool and all but what about baby Matt? (j/k of course) I like to think that I am beyond the age of wanting "stuff" but there was a time when I wanted to get lots of presents and that came all at one time during the year for me, having a birthday just 8 days after Christmas. Though my parents have always been pretty good about not combining my gifts, I know there were some who used these 8 days as an excuse to roll two legitimate gifts into one. Now, having said this, I will admit there were times when I would use this to my advantage when I wanted something really big. So I guess you win some, you lose some.

January 1, 2008


If you are a music lover and anything like me then you have so much music on your mp3 player or computer that you forget which artists and albums you actually have. It's impossible for me to listen to it all regularly so every once-in-awhile I rediscover some of the music I have.

My most recent rediscovery has left me listening to the album Bridge by Blues Traveler frequently over the past couple weeks. As I've gotten reacquainted with this band, I've found that I like them more now than I did when I first started getting their music. And for whatever reason, I'm extremely fond of this particular album of theirs at the moment. I love making these "rediscoveries" because it's almost like getting new music but instead it's good music I already had but just forgot about it.