Monday, December 31, 2007
My New Year's Resolution is to become a better follower of Christ. I also look forward to exciting changes as I will become one with Shelly Campbell on June 7th, 2008. God has blessed me so much with the best family in the world and now the best partner I could have ever imagined, and I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with her. May God bless our marriage and our future together. May He protect all of my loved ones who are so dear to me, and may He reveal himself to those who don't know Him and His glory. May He give me the courage in the coming year and the years to come to spread my faith with others. Thank you for visiting my blog. Now, go in peace to love and to serve the Lord and one another!
Monday, December 24, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
An easy an popular way to prepare for Christmas during advent is to light the advent candles. During each meal we light the candles as a reminder that God is the light of the world and he is present with us today. Each week of advent symbolizes a new focus. During the first week of advent we focus on hope. The lighting of the first candle symbolizes the HOPE that Jesus is coming. During the second week of advent we focus on faith. The lighting of the second candle symbolizes the FAITH of Mary and Joseph. We recall when the Angel came down from heaven to bring Mary the good news. You can imagine the courage of Mary to accept God's will. The third week of advent we focus on joy. We are symbolizing the JOY of Jesus' birth. Only at the resurrection do we experience a similar level of joy. The fourth and final candle symbolizes peace. This symbolizes the message of PEACE that Jesus brings and the angels proclaim. Each day and each week of advent we should take time to reflect on the journey of Jesus, who became man so that we might be saved. During lent we give something up as a sacrifice, but during advent we should also give something up as a sacrifice. Maybe we don't give up material goods, but maybe we give up some of our free time to spend in prayer and reflection. During advent we are hopeful, we are faithful, we are joyful, and we are peaceful. An advent of prayer, repentance and reflection will create for us a most joyous Christmas!
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
“For in the things through which they suffered distress, since they were tortured by the very things they deemed gods, they saw and recognized the true God whom before they had refused to know”
In chapter 12 of Wisdom, the author is explaining God's providence over his people specifically during the time of exodus. If you recall in exodus, the people of God often found themselves doubting God only to find themselves begging for forgiveness and mercy in times of crisis. They made idols of golden calves and put their faith in worldly things. Today we may not idolize golden calves, but we do often place so much importance on worldly things that they almost become "gods" to us. The lesson being taught over two thousand years ago still applies to us today. Let us break down Wisdom 12,7."For in the things"
What does the word things consist of? I remember when I was young and I didn't know how to describe something I just called it a thing. It's a broad term for any material object without life or consciousness.
"Through which they suffered distress"
The author notes that some of these "things" cause distress in people's lives. If you read the two quotes together, you'll see that he is speaking only of those things that cause distress. You will also note that he uses "suffered" as a description. Obviously these "things" are causing problems in the lives of those who use them.
"since they were tortured by the very things they deemed gods"
This is the line that probably caught your attention. I know it did me. Speaking of those who suffer from these "things," the author explains to us that these things were deemed gods in the eyes of the possessor. They were "tortured" by these "things (lifeless objects)" that they deemed gods! These were not things they cared little about. He's not talking about a rock or a stick, but about prized possessions. Hes talking about valuable material goods that are highly valued by the people of the time whatever that may be. These material items that were once so valuable and precious are now the very things that cause the most pain. Ironic and often times very true.
"they saw and recognized the true God whom before they had refused to know”
Often times it takes times of serious distress for us to realize what is missing in our lives. Why is it in times of tragedies such as 9-11 there are record numbers of church goers? Why is it that often times, a dying person will ask for a priest so that he can confess his or her sins? It is a natural reaction in times of torture and distress that we turn to God. Unfortunately, it takes life changing events before many come to recognize God. Fortunately life changing events do take place in people's lives and they do eventually come to recognize God. They had once refused to know God. Refused to know are interesting words. It does not say that they couldn't have known God before, but rather it was a conscious decision to not know God. God is present in the Holy Spirit and in each and every person. If you look closely at anyone, you can see the presence of God. It may be hard to find in some cases, but he is present in each one of us. The Holy Spirit guides our conscious, but we do not always listen. Sometimes we think we know better or we'd rather ignore God's whispers in our ear because we'd rather not hear them. We'd rather satisfy ourselves with "things" than live a life of giving and thanksgiving to God. The important lesson to learn is that these "things" we think are valuable now, may be the very things that are causing us distress and refusing us to come to recognize and worship God. God is Lord. God is good. Praise God.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Hotels across the country are choosing to do away with bibles, which used to be available in nearly every hotel room, and are choosing to include new amenities that are said to cater to younger, perhaps less religious clientèle. Such new amenities may include new electronics like ipod docks or flat panel televisions that seem harmless enough, but that's not all hotels are including. Things such as "intimacy kits" are appearing in more hotels. Such kits encourage promiscuous behavior that is becoming widely accepted in our society despite the obvious damage it causes both mentally and spiritually. The shift in amenities is said to be in part due to the fact that leisure trips are becoming more frequent and business trips are declining. One other concern for some hotels is the fear of offending people of different faiths. So what does all of this mean? Is hotel spokeswoman Lori DeBlois right when she justifies not having bible's in her hotel because "society evolves"?
If this is the way society is truly evolving, then I want no part in the evolution. I am not naive enough to think that certain lifestyles I disagree with are not present. Promiscuous lifestyles are present all around us and can almost feel overwhelming. The general sense is that this lifestyle is normal and simply a societal (sexual) evolution. It's not just promiscuous lifestyles that are cause for the change in hotel amenities, but a change in lifestyles in general. Even those of us who choose less promiscuous lifestyles are confronted with much more options than generations past. Before the industrial revolution and more recently the technological evolution, there were less electronics and gadgets consuming our time. Everything now is a rush, and everything has to be new and exciting for the younger crowd (as well as much of the older crowd it should be noted). Reading in general is frowned upon by many in the younger generation. We just don't have the time or patience for books. Ipods are way more fun and if that gets boring we can turn on the tv and watch just about anything we want.
I can't entirely blame hotels for this move to reduce the number of bible's available. It is our own fault that these changes are occurring. How often did we open the bible when we went to stay at a hotel? If we did notice the bible, did we let the hotel management know that we appreciated that the bible was included or did we focus on how large the tv was? Hotels are a business and many clearly don't think that a bible is an amenity that their customers require. Before we go and blame others and raise an uproar about how bibles are no longer in hotels, maybe we should look at ourselves and the people around us. What are we doing and how are we living? Have we fallen into the trap of "societal evolution" and forgotten God?
There can be no positive change without God. If we are moving in a direction that eliminates our closeness to God and our reliance on him, than we are moving in the opposite direction. Progression toward the elimination of God in our lives is regression. We are responsible for keeping God in our own lives, but we are also responsible for spreading the word of God to others. Unless we do this, we can not expect to see bibles in hotels or any other place and we can expect more action taken to eliminate any public display of religion. We must not let "evolution" take us into a world that ignores God. We must continue to trust in God and follow Jesus' teachings regardless of the changes that we will always encounter. We must be leaders in pushing for positive changes that include God and refuse to follow a movement that discourages God in our lives.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
UNCLE DAVE. Dave wins the 2007 Duquaine Family College Football
Pick'em, winning by the slimmest margin in the two year history of the
game. He very narrowly defeated Uncle Don by just 4 points! Dave won
the bonus 25 points for the best record, which turned out to be the
difference in the game. I can only hope that future Duquaine Pick'em
games are as exciting. Get ready for the Duquaine Bowl Mania. I will
send out the spreadsheet when the bowls are announced.
I am looking into buying a plaque for the Football Pick'em winner and
the Bowl Mania winner. Dave, I hope to get the plaque to you sometime
before the end of the year if possible. The plaques will be engraved
with the previous winners and I plan to make these traveling trophies.
Dave will hold on to it until next year's winner. I'm asking that
each of you consider contributing $5 - $10 to help pay for the plaques
but your contribution is completely voluntary. I am really hoping to
make a website that will have all the stats and news about the
Duquaine College Pick'em game as well as photos (David, I'd really
like to get a picture of you holding the plaque). This is all a work
in progress so I will let you all know when it's up and running.
Thanks again for a great season!
I am also planning on starting up my sports blog. Check back with MyFavoriteBlogs links at the top left corner for my other blogs. Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving and I look forward to posting more frequently in the coming weeks.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Below is a good thanksgiving prayer that was in my church bulletin this morning.
"Lord, give us grateful hearts and keep us mindful of the needs of others. We give you thanks and praise for food and all the gifts of love. Look on us with mercy, Father, and bless us all our days. Amen."
Next week we will celebrate Thanksgiving day. Most people think of two things when they think of Thanksgiving: food and football. Thanksgiving is all about the "f's", family, food, and football. Most of us are pretty good at giving thanks on thanksgiving day. We are thankful for family, food, and football. The word thanksgiving suggests that we should not only be thankful, but also be giving. Food baskets and food donations are a couple good ways to give to those less fortunate. We could also give our time. Sometimes the gift of time is more valuable than any material gift. Often times the church will set up events to make it very convenient to help. Even modest gifts can make a big difference. My boss does not have a thanksgiving dinner because he delivers food baskets on Thanksgiving day. We should always be mindful of our many blessings and be selfless as opposed to selfish. I am very excited to go back home and see my family for Thanksgiving. I wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving! God bless and happy eating!
Friday, November 16, 2007
It was a long and hard season, but we got it done. Many of the 60+ in attendance for the Championship game today didn't think we had much of a chance. We were playing the #1 seed that beat us by double digits in the regular season. They had the best player in the league by far, 6'6 Sam Hines, who currently plays professionally overseas! He even has his own website! We were the #3 seed and went 8-4 in the regular season. What we had that no other team could match was the most balanced team and the team with probably the best chemistry. It was a wild atmosphere. When the game tying three bounced off the rim and the buzzer sounded the celebration began Rockets 55 Bulls 52.
This may sound funny, but A LOT of guys in our basketball league take it very seriously. After the win, some of the guys were so happy they were almost in tears. Some had been playing for many years and had not yet won a league championship. It made it all the more special to win it with a great group of men. Each player on the team had an integral part.
Early in the season I got plenty of playing time. We started 7-1 and we were feeling good. Then our point guard and second leading scorer had surgery on his right knee and was out for the season. It looked like our season was over. We were able to pick up an extra player who was not quite the point guard, but he did an adequate job. We had a difficult stretch on the schedule and proceeded to lose our next three games and I was getting almost no playing time. The new guy was not player real well, he had a bit of an attitude, and our team chemistry was off. I was getting upset because I saw that I could come in and help, and it was tough watching us play bad. After our third consecutive loss there was some finger pointing and some frustration unleashed. The new guy started blaming himself for the team's collapse although he was just part of the problem. We came together as a team and won the final game easily. Our players were starting to get healthy and we still were the #3 seed out of 12 teams which was pretty good. This is a competitive league.
Our first match up was against the Hawks. They were not as bad as the Atlanta Hawks. In fact, we should have lost to them in our regular season game in a game that turned out to be the highlight of my basketball league career. We were down by 2 with 6 seconds left in the game and we just put one of their best free throw shooters to the line for a one and one. Normally we have one guy back at half court, but we needed to get the rebound if he missed the shot, so I told our guy to get on the blocks and crash the boards. I blocked out the free throw shooter. He missed and I got the rebound and sprinted up the court. I was amazed that I was all alone. I actually had enough time to take it to the hoop for a layup, but I knew time was running out and the 6'6 Royal Maxwell would be hot on my trail. I pulled up for a three and drained it with no time left. We had just completed a double digit comeback, with no subs, and beat one of the best teams. It was a really great feeling, but I made sure the guys knew that it was a team effort and if it weren't for some of their plays I wouldn't have had the chance to take that shot.
We had another tight game with the hawks in the playoffs and won just barely. Our semifinal game was against the Nuggets who beat us by 10 in our regular season game and had come fresh off an upset of the #2 seed. They were playing great but we got some interesting news before the game. They would only be able to have 3 players. We could have forced them to play with 3 but we decided as a team to let them pick up a player as long as he wasn't above average. It turned out we were the team with a short lineup. Our new guy Cliff couldn't play because he was at a funeral and Dan couldn't play because of work. All 6 of their guys showed up! It was 4 on 6 against a team that beat us with a full squad. It turned out to be our advantage. I did not get to play more than a minute the first time we played them, but I had to play the whole game in the playoffs. I had the game of my life. I started 4 of 4 from 3 point range and the crowd was going wild. They did not respect my shot and it was probably the difference in the game. By halftime they put their best defender on me and it freed up our other two scorers who went to work. I finished with a career high 19 points and we won by double digits.
For the Championship game, I spent most of the time on the bench rooting on my team. I did get 4 or 5 minutes in the first half and made some good plays but I did not score. That was fine by me. I was over on the sidelines cheering and coaching and doing what I could to support our team. The game got a little physical and you could definitely tell it was the championship game. Everybody was focused and it turned out to be a great game. We were the underdogs again and we won again. We won as a team and we won with classy guys. Not everybody in the league is of great character, but our captain made that his first priority when picking. It worked. We will be receiving trophies at the post season banquet. I told you this league is a pretty big deal! We are PCW Basketball League Champions and it feels great!
Check out the League Website
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Growing up I always looked at professional athletes in awe, but I've come to realize that they are just people like you and I. Barry Bonds is arrogant and selfish and he is now in serious trouble. When the feds issue an indictment on perjury charges it is serious business. Unfortunately, athletes and other people in the position of power often think that they can get away with anything. Bonds also gives the impression of being extremely selfish especially as he was chasing the home run record. He is always trying to turn the attention to himself and belittling the accomplishments of others around him or before him. He is always trying to persuade us (or himself) that he is the greatest player of all time. He is always trying to get us to love him, while at the same time doing things that prevent us from loving him. This sort of arrogant and selfish character is becoming more and more common and it is getting old fast.
The Bonds story is just beginning. We will be hearing more information about Bonds and his involvement in performance-enhancing drugs. As much as I am against the fact that Bond's used steroids, I'm more upset at his arrogance, his lying, and his selfishness. I'm not naive enough to think that Bond's is the only one to use performance-enhancing drugs. His greatest fault was not his using drugs, but his constant denial and his ego. We are a forgiving people and we will forgive mistakes and give people second chances. I will forgive Bonds, but it will not be easy. It's so much easier to forgive those who are apologetic, honest, and sincere. Bonds has not been apologetic but hostile, he has not been honest, and he has been anything but sincere. This act of arrogance and selfishness may appear to exist exclusively in sports, but it exists in every industry at certain levels. Bonds is the perfect example of a bad example. Hopefully this story will change the arrogant and selfish culture currently seen in sports. Hopefully, we will be able to once again look up to athletes for the positive impact they can and have had on numerous lives.
Monday, November 12, 2007
It has been suggested that we are uneducated about the issue and should therefore stay out of the picture. It is true that I am no biochemist and couldn't tell you the difference between various human body tissues, but I do know a couple of things for a fact. I know for a fact that a human embryo is a human life. I know for a fact that in order to "do research" on human embryos involves the destruction of the living embryo. I know for a fact that there are alternatives to embryonic stem cell research that do not threaten human life. Still don't believe what I'm saying? The following link will take you to an interview with Dr. Fazale Rana, an accomplished biochemist. He discusses the issue of embryonic stem cell research and answers some of the tough questions regarding this issue.
Embryonic Stem Cell Research
Sunday, November 11, 2007
We are not called to live a life of ignorance. Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone thought that ignorance was the way to supreme happiness? Nothing positive would ever get done! I seem to remember another popular phrase: knowledge is power. We should learn something every day and put that knowledge to good use. We should never be afraid of knowledge. We can not possibly make a difference in this world without knowledge. The more we know, the greater understanding we have about this world we live in and the gifts God has given to us. We owe it to ourselves and the people around us to gain as much knowledge as possible and to go out and be a teacher. We can change people's minds and hearts with knowledge. With knowledge and determination we can do miraculous deeds.
Saint Thomas Aquinas (perhaps my favorite saint) is known for his popular writing Summa Theologiae. Summa Theologiae was a thirteenth century summarization of theological teachings of the time. It was a time when faith and reason were brought into question and Saint Thomas Aquinas eloquently and reasonably defended the existence of God. He did not resist knowledge, but welcomed it with open arms and used this knowledge to reinforce his faith as opposed to tear it down. His common sense approach to explaining the existence of God and the importance of the connection between faith and reason was badly needed in a time of cynicism.
We must be like Saint Thomas Aquinas and continuously search for more knowledge so that we can strengthen our faith and improve the lives of those people around us. Ignorance does us no good. We may think that we are happy living in our own fairytale world, but this world is real and there are real issues in this world. We do not live in a bubble and we can not possibly live a fulfilling life through ignorance. Knowledge gives us the power to make changes in our imperfect world. Knowledge provides us with satisfaction. Knowlege when applied to make positive changes, can be a bliss that the ignorant will never feel or know. Hunger and thirst to know God more closely and completely. We should make it our life's goal to know, love and to serve God.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Brownback gave his endorsement to fellow senator and friend John McCain. This should come as no surprise as I stated in my earlier blog when Brownback pulled out of the race that he would either endorse McCain or Huckabee. He chose his friend McCain who has a strong pro-life background because he is the "best pro-life candidate to defeat Hilary Clinton." Despite Mike Huckabee's recent surge in the polls, his underdog status surly had something to do with Brownback endorsing McCain. His endorsement for McCain is no way a slap in the face to Huckabee and the decision to back McCain and not Huckabee was not due to a disagreement with Huckabee on the issues. In fact Huckabee aligns more closely with Brownback on the issues, but it was a political decision.
So what's my take on Brownback's endorsement? It definitely gives me reason to look closer at McCain. I have a lot of trust in Brownback and if he thinks that McCain is the right man for the presidency than I will definitely take McCain into consideration when casting my vote. I won't say however that this means I will definitely back McCain and jump off the Huckabee bandwagon. I still think Huckabee is a great choice and that Brownback would also endorse Huckabee if it weren't McCain. Honestly, McCain and Huckabee are the two guys who I see myself backing. I will need to do more research on both before I make a final decision, but I don't think we could go too terribly wrong with either one of them. Of course we want anybody except Hillary Clinton, but I have to hope and pray that the US citizens are smart enough to realize what a disaster Hillary Clinton would be. There is a long way to go so the best thing to do right now is just stay posted and learn as much as we can about the candidates so that when the time comes to vote we make the right choice.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
As a baby in her mother's womb, Lakshmi absorbed her twin fetus and gained extra organs as well as limbs. It is miraculous to me that she has survived this incredible birth defect. I can hear pro-choice people making their argument about how inhumane it is to let a baby with such a horrible defect live a miserable life. Well guess what, Lakshmi recently underwent a successful surgery to remove the extra limbs and organs, and there is hope that she will be able to walk like a normal girl. The procedure was extremely dangerous (there was a 25% chance Lakshmi would not survive the surgery) and expensive (over $600,000), but the hospital paid for the procedure since the family could not possibly afford the procedure. Says doctor Patil, "this girl can now lead as good a life as anyone else." She has a beautiful smile and she is a precious gift from God. She has already brought many people great hope and joy. When you hear someone say that their life or someone else's life is worthless for whatever reason, think about Lakshmi and explain to that person that no life is worthless. God performs miracles to this day and every life is precious in his eyes. Stories about people helping save lives and stories about life are so refreshing. What a great story!
Monday, November 5, 2007
I love my car and it works about 97% of the time, but that 3% of the time it won't start I have to wait 10 minutes before it will start. Don't ask me to explain that, but it's just the way it works. I have always been thankful to have a car, because I know that not everybody has one and it makes my life a lot easier, but the first couple of times I had trouble starting it I found myself a little frustrated. I found that it usually didn't matter that I was 10 minutes later to get started to wherever I was headed, but what if I had to be somewhere quick and it didn't start? This would be a big problem. I thought about what I could do to solve the problem. The answer I came up with has been one of the best decisions I have made.
I brought my bible to my car every morning and in the case that the car didn't start, I decided I would say a prayer and read scripture while I waited. I had nothing else to do for 10 minutes so I figured I might as well use my time wisely. What I have found is that I never really was in as big of a rush as I always thought I was. I always used to be in a hurry to get everywhere, but knowing that I might have to wait 10 minutes has made me get ready earlier and provided me time to pray when I used to think I didn't have time. I have since bought a second bible so I can keep one at home and keep one in my car at all times. I now see those 10 minutes when my car won't start as a blessing in disguise. It has brought me closer to God and relieved me from my stresses much more than it has caused me stress. God sure does work in mysterious ways!
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Sports can bring out the best or worst in people. One of the positive characteristics sports often produces is competitiveness. In order to be successful in sports and in many of life's endeavors a competitive edge is necessary. I have been competitive since my little league days, and growing up with four brothers who like to play games doesn't hurt either. I still stay active in sports with a softball league that just ended and a basketball league at work that is nearly year round. When I'm not competing in sports or games, I'm competing in a different way. I call it competitve sports watching. That's right. I don't even have to be playing to be competitive, but I can simply be an observer. Fantasy sports and my now famous College Football Pick'em game are two ways that I keep competitve off the playing fields and courts. These are fun games, but I sometimes need to be reminded that they are just games. Shelly does a pretty good job of keeping me in line. It helps to have someone there for me to give me a voice of reason when for whatever reason it is eluding me.
I'm sure that I will hear people talk about how great Tom Brady and the Patriots are tomorrow morning and it will be the opposite of music to my ears. It will probably sound more like cats fighting, but I will survive. The Colts will survive. The Patriots may have won the game of football, but they do not win the game of life. I am not disappointed that the Colts lost to the Patriots. It does not bother me that people speak highly of Tom Brady's football talent. What bothers me is that people place guys like Brady as model citizens because of their sucess on the football field. For those of you who don't know, Brady recently had a kid out of wedlock. ESPN and a large section of the public saw this event as another moment to praise Brady.
So Brady wins the game and can go home happy with the victory, but Manning will go home to his loving wife and family as a winner in my book. Afterall, football is just a game.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Jason Street is the star quarterback for the Dillon Panthers. He has everything going for him until a freak injury after making a tackle paralyzes him from the waist down. This is how the first season of the NBC show Friday Night Lights kicks off and it leads to numerous dramatic storylines.
Friday Night Lights is a show about a Texas town that loves it's high school football. The show does a good job of balancing the football action with the stories of the players and the town. The show is more about the lives of these kids and their families and friends than it is about football. Each character has different issues and personalities. Most characters face serious decisions and many fall pray to immorality, but there are also many moments where characters show moral backbone and strong character. This show does a good job presenting many of life's difficulties from many different angles, and it does a good job explaining the background for these characters and their choices. Many times the characters make the wrong choices, but the show does a good job of showing the consequences of these actions.
I like this show for a number of reasons. Firstly, I like it because I love sports and football is part of every episode. I also like it because it brings up many life issues in a real and honest way, and allows the viewer to think about these issues sometimes in a different viewpoint than we usually would. The characterization is so good that I imagine myself in each of the character's shoes and wonder what they are thinking and what I would be thinking. For me, I know when a movie or show is good when I am emotionally attached, and Friday Night Lights has me emotionally attached. When one of the "good" characters makes a stupid decision I find myself frustrated with them. When one of the characters makes a good choice and shows humility I find myself cheering for them.
I have not found the show to take sides on issues so much, but rather present the issues through the characters lives and let the viewer decide whether or not the character made the right or wrong choice. This show may not be for everybody, but for me it presents an opportunity to see issues through different characters and helps me think about my own positions on important issues. I think that when issues are brought into question it provides an opportunity to strengthen our positions on life issues as opposed to weaken them. Overall, I would highly recommend Friday Night Lights to the late teen and up crowd. So many issues come up in this show that it is very likely I'll be posting about some of them in the near future.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
All Saints Day is more than a celebration for those saints who have gone before us, but it is a day for us to reflect on our lives. Are we living saintly lives? A while back I asked myself this and wrote down two questions on a piece of paper. What does it mean to live a saintly life? What can I do to lead a saintly life? I thought and prayed about this. We are all called to be saints. A saint is a person who is of great holiness and virtue, and one who models his life after Jesus. Jesus is our example of how we should live our lives. We are not perfect and so may not always be able to follow in His footsteps, but we are called to be more like Him. We are all called to be diciples of Jesus. Our mission is to reach heaven and in order to do this we must live a saintly life. We must not think that saintliness is something that is unattainable to us. You and I can be saints. We are not perfect, but we can be saints and we are called to be saints. Live for God. Praise God.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Eagerness can cause anxiety. Eagerness is another natural human emotion that we all experience and can often lead to excitement and joy. In fact, we are called to eagerly await the second coming of Jesus. We often eagerly await big celebrations whether it be a birthday, holiday, wedding, anniversary or other big life event. It is natural for us to be eager and anxious for such things and we shouldn't have to hold back these feelings of eagerness. Only when our eagerness affects our lives so much that it prevents us from functioning in a normal manner in our daily lives should be become alarmed. It should be noted however that eagerness can lead to anxiety, and anxiety will not do us any good. The best response to eagerness is patience.
Anxiety often leads us to a feeling of distress. When we are distressed we are in severe mental and sometimes even physical pain. We often feel hopelessness and constant misfortune. Obviously this is not healthy, but not only is it not healthy but it affects every aspect of our life. Nobody lives a stress free life. We all experience stresses in our lives and how we deal with these stresses is the difference between one who overcomes and one who is overcome. Any time we reach the point of distress we must pause and clear our minds. Take a minute and pray. If you don't have a minute, take 10 seconds. If you have time, rest and take a nap. Often times I go to sleep with a hundred stresses on my mind and wake up free from all stress. Prayer, rest, and sleep are three things that work for me.
Uneasiness about the future is silliness, but we all worry about the future. Planning for our future is smart, but worrying about our future is fruitless. We don't know what will happen in the future any more than a dog would know. We can help shape the future by our actions today, but we can not predict the outcome. We should never worry about things that are out of our control and concentrate on improving ourselves and focusing on things we can control. We can control our emotions and we can prevent anxiety. God does not want us to suffer from anxiety. Fear not for the Lord is listening. He knows our stresses, our pains, and our struggles. Remember that God does not abandon his people. Worry is for fools. Yes I worry so I guess I am a fool, but honestly when I look back I see it gained me nothing. Everything works out in the end and if you have faith in God there is no reason to worry. Trust in God and there will be no reason for anxiety.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
What is Bella? Bella is a must see independent film about life and love. I will not pretend to be a movie critic, but I would like to encourage all of you to visit David's blog which has an excellent review of this movie. You can find a link to David's blog to the left under my Favorite Blogs.
Bella opened in limited theaters last Friday, and I had the pleasure of watching this movie with David, Megan, and Shelly. I encourage all of you to go to a movie theater that is showing Bella and watch this movie in the theaters. If it is not currently in a theater near you, they expect to add it to more theaters at a later date. Check their official website to find what theaters will carry Bella. We need to support people and films like this who do not necessarily have the financial means of big Hollywood films, but have a great story to tell and a positive message to send. For more information on the making of the movie and the people who made the movie I also encourage you to check out this site:
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Likewise, when we work for a good cause, we don't always see an immediate return on our investment. We may work hard to make a positive difference and see little or no tangible progress. We must continue to pursue our work and trust that God has a plan for us. It has been said that he who serves God willingly is heard. We must place our trust in God's promises. We must not rely on the strength of our own, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit. Hope will bring joy even in the most difficult times. Faith, hope, prayer, and trust all go hand in hand. You can not have trust without faith, faith without hope, or hope without prayer. Hope is placing our trust in God. We express our hope through prayer. Prayer in turn strengthens our faith, which is based our our hope for eternal life.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Have things in our society gotten so out of control that we actually have a situation where a Middle School would provide contraceptives to their students? Middle Schoolers! These kids are freaking 11 - 14 years old! Excuse my language but this gets me riled up. King Middle School is the first Middle School in Connecticut and one of the few in the nation to provide contraceptives. The health center has apparently been handing out condoms since 2000, and has recently decided by a 7-2 school board vote to provide a number of girls with birth control pills. This is unbelievable! I literally laid in bed in disbelief and horror. Where are these kids' parents, where are the teachers, and where are the responsible adults? Under no circumstance should a Middle School provide birth control. None! This is absurd! Let's take a closer look at the situation, because undoubtedly there are people out there defending the school board's decision.
King Middle School is in an economically poor area, where half the kids take part in the federal free lunch program. There was one pregnancy last year and a handful over the last couple of years. The school is said to be racially diverse as well. Is that enough excuses? Is the situation so bad here that it is necessary to provide birth control to these kids? One supporter of the school board's decision had this to say, "it's much more important that we reach out to these kids and get these kids the tools they need to stay safe, stay in school and get an education." Let me pause and take a deep breath before I destroy this woman's argument.
You don't reach out to these children by providing them birth control, mam! You are encouraging bad behavior, and you are not being a responsible parent, mam! You reach out to your child by educating them yourself and instilling in them morals and principals, mam! Birth control is not a tool for kids but a vice, mam! Kids stay safe by staying pure, not by having sex, mam! When parents, teachers, and other respected adults support a measure which provides birth control to middle schoolers they are sending a terrible message. Birth control does not protect our kids, it is destroying our kids. It is destroying the moral character of our young people.
Under NO circumstances do I see providing middle school kids birth control as acceptable. They try to defend their position by saying that the kids must go through counselling before they get the contraceptives although they don't need their parents permission to receive birth control. They say they only provide birth control in rare cases. I'm sorry but this does not convince me that it is right to give kids birth control. There are no excuses. Thankfully, there has been loud and numerous outcry at the news and they are considering taking another look back at the issue. Hopefully, the decision will be overturned and the adults in the area will start acting like adults. We are talking about 11-14 year old kids! When we provide them with birth control, what kind of message does that send? What are we really telling our kids? Across the nation and the around the world we need to better educate our children not about the use of contraceptives but educate them on the consequences of their actions. If kids understand that they are responsible for their actions then there would be no need for birth control. I will not just 'get over it' like the supporter of the decision tells us to do, because I will not back down on this issue. I will not give up on issues protecting life and the well being of our young people. We need to instill in our kids character, morals and principals. It is a message you will hear me repeat often and a word my fifth grade teacher made us repeat every day: RESPONSIBILITY!
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Everyone struggles with their faith. I believe this is a very important message so I will repeat it once again. Everyone struggles with their faith. There is not a priest, bishop, or pope who has not at some time struggled with their faith. Nobody who is human is perfect, and faith is an ongoing process. Jesus' closest apostle, Peter, denied him three times did he not? God knows that we will struggle with our faith. We struggle because it takes so much work to keep our faith growing and strong. It takes work, and when we struggle with our faith we are looking for an easy way out. We all struggle with our faith, but we do not have to lose faith. There are a couple of reasons why we struggle with our faith and there are a couple of ways we can deal with these struggles. The important thing is how we react when we are faced with situations that challenge our faith.
As I said earlier, the losing of one's faith is a process. I don't believe that you just wake up one day and decide that you don't believe in God anymore. There has to be a series of events in order for this to take place. If we don't practice our faith, we will lose our faith. I think back to the press conference a couple years back when the basketball player Allen Iverson blew up at a reporter for asking him why he dogs it in practice. "What are we talking about here, practice? We aren't even talking about the game. We are talking about practice!" Iverson's words are very irritating to my ears. My ears don't like what they hear. Yes we are talking about practice! In order the be the best basketball player you can be, you must practice and practice hard! If you don't practice hard, you will not play as well in the games and you will not be the best player you can be. The same thing can be said for us in regards to faith. If we do not actively and passionately practice our faith, it will not be as strong as it could be. If we do not go to church every Sunday, we are missing out on more than just a one hour service. We are failing to practice our faith, and when we get into the habit of ignoring our faith we are bound to lose our faith.
Pray. Just pray. Turn off the television. Turn off your phone. Pray. Pray to God and see what happens. Your faith will be strengthened I can guarantee you that much. We can not possibly be strong in our faith without prayer. It's impossible. We must pray and pray as often as possible. When we let other things get in the way is when we start to lose our faith. When we don't have enough 'time' to pray or go to church or when we would miss out on our sporting events or movies or whatever is when we start to lose our faith. We must pray everyday. Pray that God will strengthen your faith and reveal his wondrous plan for us. We must pray and pray constantly or we will begin to lose our faith.
Lastly, I believe we lose faith because we place our faith in something other than God. When we are encountered with situations that challenge our faith, we are posed with a tough decision. It shouldn't be tough, but it is because we think we know better than God. We place our trust in people of earthly power, the environment, money, false idols, even ourselves. Sometimes we actually think that we know more than God. This may be because we don't like the answer God gives us. Living a good Christian life is not always easy. In fact it can be very hard, because the devil is good at tempting us. He knows our weaknesses and he tempts us often in the hopes that we will stray away from God. Wasn't it in the Garden of Eden when the devil in the form of a snake tempted Eve to eat the forbidden apple? How did he tempt? By making Adam and Eve believe that they knew more than God. From day one our faith has been challenged. We must always work to keep our faith strong, because the moment that we let up our faith will be challenged. The best way to prevent a loss of faith is to pray often and to stay active in our faith. Faith is a wonderful thing, and the more that we work on our faith the more God will reveal to us. Tonight I will pray that God will help me grow in faith, help you all grow in faith, and reveal himself once again to those who have lost faith. God bless.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
It is not known at this time if Brownback will endorse another republican candidate, but if he did it would likely be his senator friend McCain or the man who most closely resembles his political stances Mike Huckabee. I have not done extensive research on any of the candidates besides Brownback, but it appears to me that our best remaining choice is Huckabee. Huckabee was a southern baptist minister who is very similar to Brownback on most of the important issues. He is a strong pro-life candidate unlike most of the front runners. I know that we need to look at more than just one issue when deciding on a candidate, but we must at least agree on the most important issue. Personally, I can say that I will not vote for a candidate that is not pro-life. If it comes down to a choice between Guliani and Clinton for president, I will not vote for either. In that scenario, I would probably vote for Brownback as a write-in vote. I can not vote for a person who is pro-choice because it would go against everything I believe and what I'm standing up for in this blog.
It's time to jump on the Mike Huckabee bandwagon and ride it as long and as far as he'll take us. I am so thankful for Senator Brownback's couragous attempt at the presidency. He is a great man and would have been a great president, but unfortunately his run has come to an end. If Huckabee eventually falls out, we will have to reevaluate who is left and find the best remaining candidate. One thing I will never do is vote for someone because I think they have the best chance to win. No candidate will be perfect, but we must chose one that lines up most closely with us on the most important issues. Now that Brownback is out, that man is Mike Huckabee.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Like the old proverb says, desparate times call for desparate measures. I grew up in Indiana where the grass is green and the water is a plenty, so when I moved down to Georgia and heard about the outside water ban naturally I was shocked. A ban on water? Are they serious? This has to be some kind of joke. We could never run out of water, could we?
They say that this is the worst drought the area has seen in over a century. Lakes are drying up, and the lack of water is really becoming a major concern. I can't speak for anyone else, but I had never thought much about conserving water. In fact, when I first heard about the outdoor water ban, I thought it was downright ridiculous. How could the government tell me that I can't water flowers outside? It's my water and I should be able to use it how I see fit. This drought has opened my eyes. I can look back now and realize how selfish I was being. Although I am still not sure that I like the idea of the government punishing individual citizens for watering flowers when big business are wasting thousands of times more water and without penalty than any one citizen could, I can at least understand the concern about a resource that is running dry.
I think that anyone who lives in the areas of severe drought has heard about the water issue. We know for a fact that there is a problem, so the question is will we continue to be part of the problem or become part of the solution? I'll tell you straight forward that I don't plan on skipping showers or stop washing my clothes anytime soon, but I will be more conscious about conserving water. I am willing to turn off the sink when I'm not using it or take a shorter shower. I'm not sure I'd even call these things a sacrifice. I just plan on being responsible.
A popular thought that goes through everyone's mind is: I'm just one person. What will it matter if I break a few rules? Everone else is watering their grass, so why can't I? I don't have any flowers or a yard that needs watered, so it might seem easier for me to say I will conserve water. This may be true, but making excuses is never a way to win an argument or solve a problem. Any time we try to justify our actions based on the negative actions or inaction of others, we have already lost the argument. Instead of looking at this situation as one that others will have to deal with, let's look at it as an opportunity for us to become part of the solution and not part of the problem. We don't often realize how important some things are to us until they are gone or on their way to being gone. Water is essential for life, and there is no guarantee that it will be around forever. We need to be conscious of our water usage and be responsible. Our awareness and minor change of lifestyle is a very small sacrifice, but if everyone makes a small sacrifice then we will all eventually reap the rewards. Now, can we please get some rain! (Just don't rain during my softball game :).
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
This story about how National Boss Day came about is pretty brief. A woman named Patricia Haroski registered National Boss's Day with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 1958. She was working for State Farm in Deerfield, Illinois at the time. She chose October 16th because it was the birthday of her boss, who happened to be her father. Hallmark did not create a Boss's Day card until 1979, despite popular belief that the day was a Hallmark invention. This "Hallmark Holiday" has been a source of some controversy in the United States because of its commercial nature. It is customary to provide your boss a small gift or a card, but the celebration of this holiday is not yet widespread. Some bosses use this day to treat their employees. Ms. Haroski's purpose for the day was not only for employees to show appreciation for their boss's hard work, but also in the hopes of improving the employee-supervisor relationship. So knowing all of this, what do I think about National Boss Day?
Although the idea of having a holiday to celebrate your boss is a little silly, I don't find any harm in a National Boss Day. In my opinion, anytime there is a reason for people to show appreciation for others, it can't be a bad thing. I don't know that it is necessary to have a big celebration with gifts and whistles, but I think a thank you letter or a few words of appreciation to your boss is a great idea. Of course we could do this on any day, but often times if we don't have a reason to do something, we don't do anything. Sometimes we get so caught up with work that we forget that we couldn't do nearly as much as we do without the people around us. It is also important for bosses to make sure to let his or her employees know from time to time that all their work is appreciated. So if you did not tell your boss today that you appreciate all the hard work he or she does, make sure to do so sometime this week. Everyone likes to know that they are appreciated - even your boss. Take this time to also let your other coworkers know how much you appreciate them. Just don't be a brown-noser, be sincere!
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Jimmy wakes up later that morning and reads the newspaper. A black corvette carrying four college students crossed over the median on the highway and struck a minivan killing everyone in the van and all four college kids. Who is at fault for this accident? You could argue that Jimmy is partially at fault for knowing that these kids were doing something bad but did nothing about it. I made up this little parable, but it is a story that is very real. This sort of thing happens. Who is at fault could be debatable. There is probably plenty of blame to go around, but I ask you who in this story was at no fault whatsoever? The minivan carrying a family who was nearing the end of their trip to grandma's house was obeying all the traffic rules. When the car came flying at them, the driver had no time to react. This whole family died innocently. They never had a chance to survive, much like an unborn baby. We are like Jimmy, watching millions of innocent babies are killed and we watch this happen but do nothing. Yes those who are performing the abortion are making the choice, not us. You could also argue that those college kids were making a choice when they drove while drunk.
Drinking and driving kills between 1000 - 2000 people per year. Abortion kills 126,000 PER DAY! In the United States alone, abortion claims 1.37 million lives per year. On average, every woman will commit one abortion! Drinking and driving is against the law, abortion is not. We are hearing politicians say things like: "I am personally against abortion, but I don't feel I can legislate against abortion." Oh, so this is like: "I am personally against drinking and driving, but I can't legislate against a person's right to choose." Oh wait, we can legislate in regards to that choice. People have choices, but choices have consequences. It is ridiculous to say you can't legislate because it will interfere with a woman's right to choose if she wants to kill her child. Oh it's against the law if the child is outside the womb, but if it's still in the mother I guess it's not real. That makes sense. If we fight dogs we are looking at major time in jail, but if we kill our own child, we get off scott-free; sometimes we even get applauded for making a smart choice.
I'm tired of what I call Passive Politics. Passive politics - avoiding important issues so as to please the most people or at least upset the fewest. It is a fact that abortion is a split issue. Hundreds of thousands support abortion rights. The only explanation for this is that we are living in a culture where this gradually became an accepted position. A culture of death. If people understood the facts, I don't know how abortion could remain legal. Those who fight that keeping it legal will help reduce abortions are misguided. I want politicians to stand up for life, make it the number one issue and act on this issue. Words mean nothing, actions mean everything. The only presidential candidate that is pro-life, whole-life is republican Sam Brownback. We need Brownback in this critical time. When the primaries come around, I ask that you prayerfully consider the best candidate and go out and vote. No other issue claims as many lives, and no issue is more important.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Often times we set ourselves up for disappointment by expecting too much. We set a goal and imagine this great feeling we will have when we finally reach our goal, but when our goal is actually reached we feel an odd and often intense feeling of disappointment. I believe that often our disappointments and frustrations in life are due to the fact that we don't understand our real goal and our true reward.
Life is God's gift to us, and just to be able to breathe and have life is a blessing. We should not live for earthly rewards, because earthly rewards are the result of earthly goals. Our purpose on earth is not to accumulate power, praise, or wealth. These things in and of themselves are not evil, but often times the means we take to gain these things are. We set these goals for ourselves and when we reach them, we often find ourselves wanting more. We want more and more, but we are never satisfied. Setting personal goals for ourselves is a good thing, but we must go about achieving these goals the right way, and we must never lose sight of our supreme goal. Whenever our personal goals interfere with our supreme goal, we must reevaluate what is really important.
The one goal we can have that will never leave us disappointed is the goal of reaching heaven. It is the only goal that is truly worth our desire. All other goals should help lead us to achieve this much larger goal. Our reward for living a humble and holy life is eternal. Our reward is eternal happiness! What greater reward is there than having eternal happiness in the presence of God? Nothing. We get so caught up with the grinds of every day life that we forget our purpose in life. We see people succeed in life who are of poor character, ethics, and morals. On the surface they appear to have everything, but I guarantee you when their life comes to an end and the time of judgement comes, none of their earthly possessions will join them. God knows and sees all things. No good deed goes unrewarded and no good life goes unrewarded. Those who live a lifetime of serving others and serving God will be rewarded. Make heaven your ultimate goal, and as long as you keep that as your ultimate goal all other goals will be stepping stones. You will be walking the stairway to heaven and your reward will be eternal.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
We are made in God's image, but we are not God ourselves. We are sinners and God knows that we will sin, but he still loves us. We should treat all our neighbors, regardless of their weaknesses, as brothers and sisters. It should not be the sinner we hate, but the sin itself. Instead of hating people we should try to help them rid their sinful ways. Afterall, we are also sinners, and we need help at times too.
I am thoroughly convinced that if everyone looked at each other as an image and likeness of God, most if not all the world's problems would be solved. I am thoroughly convinced of this. Violence begets violence. Peace begets peace. Anger begets anger. Forgiveness begets forgiveness. Hate begets hate. Love begets love. When we show kindness and love towards one another, kindness and love will spread. I am thoroughly convinced of this.
When we see people do bad things on television or hear about it on the Internet or see it with our own eyes, instead of cursing them publicly or even privately, perhaps we should pray for them. I believe that it is very possible that the reason they commit terrible crimes is because they don't know God. It is very possible that they were not raised in a stable household. Their parents may have never told them about God and all of his goodness. We can not live another person's life, and we cannot know everything they have been through or where they've been, but we can show them God's love. We can lead by example. We can have a great impact on people's lives. Remember that through God, all things are possible. We can save a sinner. We can save a person. We can save one who is made in the image and likeness of God.
Monday, October 8, 2007
Reverend Jim Jones was the founder and leader of the People's Temple, a religious organization founded in 1955. The People's Temple was organized in California; the one place Jones thought could survive a nuclear holocaust. Jomes was able to recruit new members through manipulation and by his supposed miracle healings. The People's Temple moved to a secluded area in Guyana after there was an investigation over tax evasion. Jones envisioned setting up a utopian society based on socialistic principals, and his members truly thought they were going to make a difference in the world. Little did they know that their time left on earth was nearing an end.
Jim Jones was widely believed to be a drug and human rights abuser. He was always looking for positive press, but he also feared negative press. When a U.S. congressman came to visit with a number of People's Temple detractors, Jones staged a party based on the false announcement that the People's Temple basketball team won their game. When the congressman interviewed the People's Temple members, surprisingly most of them appeared happy. The congressman invited anyone who wanted to leave (about a dozen people) to join him back to the states, but when they were boarding the plane they were fired upon. The congressman and four others were killed and Jones knew this would bring bad press. This led to the unimaginable events that followed.
Children were ordered to go first to drink the poisonous kool-aid. Audio recored crying kids and Jones speaking of the necessity of the act. Just listening to this tape makes me sick to my stomach. It is unknown if all 900+ casualties committed suicide or if some were murdered, but judging by the tape it didn't sound like many wanted to die. The Jonestown mass murder-suicide occurred in 1978, but it is a prime example of what can happen in a culture of death. People can easily be manipulated to believe just about anything, and when fanatical leaders have the power to manipulate people, tragedies like this are possible.
Over 900 people were murdered or convinced to commit suicide by a fanatic who thought he was solving society's problems through a revolutionary suicide. We must never let anyone convince us that abortion or premature death is right. Life is priceless, and the cowardly act of suicide is never the answer to our problems. The basketball players are among the few People's Temple members that survived this terrible tragedy. Tonight I ask that you pray for the victims and survivors who lost someone in the Jonestown mass murder-suicide. Pray that a similar tragedy will never again occur.