Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Hmmm...Let's See If I Can Change Your Life

Looking for a new career? Why not publish a book and become a famous author? If you have $ could happen! I was loaned a new book yesterday, by a very good friend, who wrote it, and published it! He published five copies to loan to friends before he attempts to publish it for the rest of the world.

He did this through You can publish your own book for very, very little upfront cash. Hey, why not? Could make a very interesting Christmas or birthday gift to your family and/or friends! Who knows? Maybe even a book like "The Blogging Adventures of a Country Parson!" has a chance! Go on. Take a chance! Write! Publish! Leave your mark! It could change your life!

The Future: Exciting or Terrifying? It's Your Choice

Weeks ago a good friend pointed me to a video presentation making the rounds in educational circles. The emphasis is on how we need to prepare our children (and ourselves) for a future that is racing toward us at light speed. Click on it to get a glimpse as to what's ahead...

(Note: This video took a little long to start up. Could be that's it's being accessed by all those people in India and China and being overrun. If your patience runs out, click here for the YouTube link:

It is simple, yet clear in its implications. Change is happening faster and faster and faster. Those who refuse to adapt will be faced with an altered world regardless. Christ, much smarter than His opponents (or supporters, for that matter), knew this fact when He said, "No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved." (Matthew 9:16-18)

Read any new books lately? Attempted to learn a new skill lately? Experienced anything new lately? Better hurry up, the future's coming, and it's coming fast! The future? Exciting or terrifying? Depends on whether you decide to go it alone or with somebody. It might be a good idea to put some "renewed" energy and effort into knowing the only One who's already been there, and Who knows the way to it and through it!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Thank God for Teachers with Passion!

I found this clip from "Ratatouille," a movie that you may grow tired of hearing about, but it may be a final attempt to get people who normally shun animation to see this inspiring tale of a rat who refuses to give into difficulty, selfishness, family pressure, cultural norms, fear, etc., to pursue his passion of cooking. This clip focuses on Colette, a frustrated cook who has been given the duty of instructing Linguine, the inept "garbage boy turned chef" who needs to learn the ropes of cooking. Remy, the movie's real hero, sits atop Linguine under his toque (chef's hat) manipulating him (to cook) by pulling on his hair. Click on the video...

It amazes me how Pixar can animate characters who can communicate so much emotion. Later in the film, these two fall in love, which is a nice twist. In my academic life, I was blessed with great teachers all along the way, none of whom ever threatened me with knives! I keep in touch with two who continue to be friends (in spite of sporadic communication from me), and who continue to exemplify everything great about teaching. So to Corinne and Dan, thank you for everything you've taught (and continue to teach) me through the years! Thank you for having the passion of Colette, without the intimidation!

PS. For more insight into the making of Ratatouille, go to:

Saturday, January 12, 2008

In Case You Need to Make a "Formal Apology!"

If any of you ever suffer, like I do, from "oralpedolitus," (Foot-in-mouth disease!) this form might help you get out of hot water with someone. Then again, used in the wrong circumstance, could escalate the damage from the original offense. Use with extreme caution!

Please Be Careful Forwarding Stuff...It Might Not Be True!

I received a disturbing forward in my email from someone I love dearly the other day, and it was something a dear friend of theirs had forwarded to them and to many other "Christians," who feared our nation is in danger with regards to our next presidential election. I promise that those forwarding this thing to me did not know they were being tricked into spreading untruths.

This blog post is NOT about who needs to be our next president; it is about being careful when distributing false information about another person. The biblical descriptions for such activity include "bearing false witness" (It must be pretty important to make it in the Ten Commandments.), "slander," and "gossip."

In short, the email accused presidential candidate Barack Obama of being a radical Muslim, among other anti-American activities, beliefs, etc. The email that is circulating is claiming the truth can be found at, and that this website substantiates their claims. Well, I go to snopes quite a bit, so I did for this item. Guess what? The email was lying. Snopes completely contradicts the claim that Obama is a Muslim of any kind, or ever was one. Here is the official response to the email:
(By the way, it was on the top of the lists for distributed urban legends this week.)

I have read in several places (that I trust including Snopes) that Obama is member ("baptized" and everything!) of the United Church of Christ since 1985, long before he had presidential aspirations. Who you vote for in any election is your business, but "our" business as Christians is to speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15), put away ALL slander (Eph. 4:31; Col. 3:8; Titus 3:2; 1 Peter 2:1), and one of my favorites: Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Eph 4:29)

So have at all of these candidates as they promise us the world, declare their fitness for office, etc. Attack them all you want on their political stances (as long as you are dealing with their "actual" political stances and not some untruths you received in an email). This is just a reminder that God commands us not to spread untruths about any of them, in either party, ever! Just take less than a minute to check out an email before you forward it.

By the way, this all applies to everyday life, too! Most people have probably experienced the pain about some untruths being spread about them (ask anyone in the ministry). Just remember to THINK before you speak (or forward)! Ask yourself, is what I am about to say or forward:

T - TRUE? (go to or

I - INSPIRATIONAL? (i.e. good for "building up" another)*



*One variation of this is that I stands for INVOLVEMENT. Am I "involved" in whatever I am passing on to others, or just a spectator?

Thanks for letting me ramble, now go out there and say something that is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Don't Let Circumstances Get the Best of You

When I saw this...(Oh, you have to click on it to see "the point.")

I had some rambling thoughts. Typical isn't it? Anyway, these goats remind me of how we can over-react to unexpected circumstances. Aren't some people just like these goats? I confess that I am sometimes. I thought about how amazed I am at how often we allow our circumstances to have so much control over us.

I'm still (at a half a century) trying to learn to "respond" to circumstances, vs. "react" to them. Learning to respond more effectively to life events takes time, discipline, study, meditation, maturity etc. "Reacting" to life doesn't take so much time to learn and has more to do with the hypothalamic - pituitary - adrenal axis located deep within your brain. You can find more about this at wikipedia if you want, but it won't do you much good. Most of us don't really know how to manipulate our HPA axis for our own good.

Instead we probably need to spend more time learning how to respond more effectively in 2008. Sure, it takes more work up front than depending on brain hormones, but in the long run, you'll be better off.

Who knows, you may even experience more joy in your journey as James did when he wrote in the first chapter of his epistle: Consider it pure joy, my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (1:2-4).

It does help me to know that if I'm willing, God can teach me some very powerful lessons, if I don't just roll over and give up like a fainting goat. Trust me, I'm not there yet , but I'm wanting to be! For more insight into learning how to respond to life, check out Choosing to Learn from Life: The Life Shapes Circle by Mike Breen.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Another New Year Reminder!

I took this picture over the holidays. The "cloud" was small, and passing close to the church.

Reminds me of Psalm 39:4-7: "Show me, O LORD, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man's life is but a breath. Selah Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it. But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you."

Happy, Significant, Bright New Year

Here's a picture from New Year's in Oslo, Norway, taken at midnight! (Click on it to enlarge!)

"The air above Oslo, Norway, exploding, two minutes after midnight on January 1, 2008"

Hmmm...reminds me of Philippians 2:14-16: Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.

Shine, people, shine!

Tigger or Eeyore - It's a Choice!

I am convinced that the majority of our contentment is NOT dependent on our circumstance, but on our PERSPECTIVE and on how we process reality and respond to it. Abraham Lincoln once said that people can be as happy or unhappy as they make up their mind to be. It's about being Tiggerish, not Eeyorish!

My first children's sermon on the first Sunday of the year was memorable. I was trying to teach the kids the importance of having a positive outlook on life by focusing their attention on a container of punch that was "half full" or "half empty" depending on your perspective. Well, none of the kids had either of those two perspectives. I kept coaxing them to say one of them, and finally, one said tentatively, "halfway?" In all my preparation, I had not considered that as an option. It was accurate, true, even insightful, but not what I had wanted.

I commended her for getting the answer right, and then pulled out my ace in the pocket....actually, two aces....Tigger and Eeyore figures. They all knew who they were. I said Eeyore tended to look on the sad side of life and he'd say the bottle was half empty, while Tigger, always the optimist, would bounce up and down saying it's half full! I reminded the adults (the "real" target of many a children's sermon!) that children learn life perspectives from adults, and a negative life perspective is not what God calls us, too. I extended the sermon into my adult message focusing on how gratitude is a powerful....make that necessary perspective to see God work in one's life. I used Christ's feeding of the 5,000 (and that was just the men) from the five loaves and two fish, reported in all four gospels as an example. Each gospel records that before the "multiplication" of the food happened, Christ prayed and gave thanks. I maintain He wasn't merely thanking God for the food in his hand, but the miracle that was about to occur.

At the last supper as He broke the bread, Christ again thanked God. Then I made a few simple points about gratitude...throwing in the biblical teachings that complaining and worrying (sort of the opposite or absence of gratitude) were both sin. In away, doesn't the Bible tell us to be more like Tigger (minus the annoying part!) than Eeyore? Isn't that what Paul is telling us in Philippians 4:8: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

This is my prayer for us all...that we might be more Tiggerish in 2008 than Eeyorish because the world is watching, and so are our kids!

Another New Technology For Me

Here is my first attempt at embedding a photo album slideshow. It is through

Here goes...

To see pictures individually, go to: