Friday, October 31, 2008

Trunk Or Treat

Tonight, we put on trunk or treat for our downtown community. We ask members of our church community to come to our back parking lot and to decorate their trunk and pass out candy while the youngsters come around and trunk or treat.

We also had a table outside set up for cookies and cider. Our church family brought out plenty of cookies and the trunk or treaters appreciated having the cookies and cider after going from trunk to trunk.

It also just so happened that Halloween fell on the last Friday of the month. For us, our church community does a dinner and a movie. Thus, after they went around the trunks, they could go downstairs and have sloppy joes and chips and cookies while watching Casper.

It was a great night. The weather was absolutely beautiful and we had a fantastic crowd. We did not do a count, even though we had talked about have a "clicker" with one of our "trunk participants". We had about 27 cars decorated and passing out candy and we had well over 200 children and their parents come out. So, overall, we had about 350(?) on our parking lot. We had a ball. Here are some of the photos.

We had a blast tonight. For the Zion folks who check in on the blog, THANKS for coming out tonight and providing a safe place for the kids to be. I truly appreciate your willingness to help. You made tonight a HUGE success.

Obama & Psalms 23

C'Mon ... this is just silly people ...

The Lord is Obama's Shepherd,
He will not lack votes,
He makes him composed and not panicky;
The Lord leads him as like a Pastor tending great multitudes; The Roaring Crowds waving by;
Obama's table hath the Lord furnished;
In the full glare of Palin and McCain;
As Abel's Sacrifice was accepted by God in the full glare of 'Cain!
Obama's Vote boxes overflow with votes;
White house and Oval Office therein shall surely await Obama;
And he will dwell and reign there-from four years and four more;
To the pleasure of all Americans and all Men of Goodwill the World over


a few more days .....

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pray NOW for Senator Obama's Repentance

We need to pray for Senator Obama's repentance regarding numerous federal policies .......


You are right, I can not let the "political" aspect go.


We received the fax (titled as in my post) today at church and it went into details about the up-coming choice.

Here are some of their language:

Our nation faces a fork, a divergence between the high road and the low road -- and you and your congregation could very well determine the direction we take. The high road upholds America's peaceful tradition of Judeo-Christian tolerance and morality. The low road marches us toward militant secular-paganism, militant Islam, or both.

The high road upholds traditional marriage between one man and one woman, and the sanctity of innocent human life that springs from such unions. The low road favors homosexual "marriage" and child sacrifice (we're not referring to familiar abortion here – see below).

The high road upholds the rights of pastors, priests and rabbis to "speak truth to power" in the tradition of Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, (and for Christians) John the Baptist, Peter, Paul, Stephen and Jesus. The low road would officially censor the Judeo-Christian view from the public square.

They want us to show a "sermon" this Sunday to make our congregation aware of the issues at hand. Here is the video.

We, as a church, will not be showing the video.

I really struggle on how I feel about the Christian Community making thee pushes.

Shaq: Opening Night

From Yahoo Sports ....

This is too funny.

As some of you might recall, during the preseason doldrums, Suns center Shaquille O'Neal took offense with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich's liberal use of the Hack-a-Shaq strategy during the first round of the playoffs last year, calling it "a coward move."

Now fast forward to Wednesday night's Suns-Spurs season opener:

I love when the game is not taken too seriously.

BTW, The Suns did win the game and Shaq had a good game. He scored 15 pts and had 13 rebs and he went 5-8 from the FT line.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I Finally Did It ...

I went over to the election board and voted. I had to put the "election" behind me.

Yes, I was one of the "undecided" voters. I did not truly make up my mind until Monday. I had been weighing the pro and cons of the election in my head.

I listened to most of the debates and I read most of the transcripts and interviews.

I also did not limit my search to the Republican and Democrat Party. I researched the following parties and candidates:

Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Liberterian: Bob Barr
Green: Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader
Reform: Ted Weill

I walked over to the election board and was comfortable with my selection.

Have you voted ?
Will you vote ?
are you waiting for this to be over ?

Before I Believe, I Need A Statue Of God ...

I thought that this cartoon was funny. Maybe, you do not but after the last 2 days, I need some small laughs:

My New Nephew

My brother and his wife just had their first baby. If the pic is too blurry, I apologize. I tried to zoom it in and blow him up a little bigger and by doing so .... it messed up the pix's a little.

Congrats to them *clapping*

Now, that was a lot of walking .....

Well, since I have been wearing a pedometer, yesterday was my biggest day of walking. After Monday's night meeting, I had decided that I was going to purposely walk and try to clear my mind. I think that it worked. As I walk to the Free Clininc, I decided to try to reach a "big goal". I did reach it. Here are the numbers:

70,109 steps
33.17 miles
10 hours and 12 mins of on my feet moving

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Walking & Praying

That has been most of the day. I did have staff meeting and I did go to the free medical clinic to volunteer but besides that, it has been walking and praying ....

I am off to do more .... at the end of the day, I will share how many steps, miles and hours, I spent walking, praying, and contemplating at the issue at hand ...

Please Pray with me :)


Monday, October 27, 2008

Why Am I Continually Amazed ?

Why am I continually amazed after coming out of church meetings ?

You would think that after 15 years of ministry that I would have come to the realization that you never know what will occur in the meeting and you never know what decisions have been made in meetings out of the meeting before the meeting.

On my talk and proposal ...... didn't give.

An Internal Struggle

Today as been a battle for me. If I am to be completely honest, the last two months have been a battle on where I am at inregards to our Sunday morning schedule discussion.

Here in 98 minutes, we will be entering into another round of discussions. I am feeling sick and my stomache is turning and there is more to it then the white chili that I had for lunch.

So, when it is my turn to speak and council looks to me for my words of guidance and direction on this topic, will they like what I have to say ? Of course, maybe the more appropriate question at the present time is "what am I going to say?".

Yes, this issue in my mind should have been put to bed long time ago and it should be "polished" and I should be going in there "to close the deal". However, the turning in my stomache is saying, "no, don't make the hard sell".

For you see, the proposal rhat I am "scheduled" to make from most peoples standpoint is one that I am not sure that I can fully support and encourage. Now, don't get me wrong, if the council decides we need to go in that direction, I will work my "you know what off" to accomplish it and make the situation the best it can be ...

HOWEVER .... I think that from a family ministry aspect, we will be making a few mistakes and the mistakes may "haunt" us for years to come.

I am reminded of the following quote:

You can add without attracting attention; but you cannot subtract without attracting attention.

One of the aspects that I believe is useful to do when you are managing change is the following:

prune quickly, plant slowly

We are not doing that. I am not 100% sure how we could do that in our current situation. Yes, I do have a few thoughts ... BUT .....

Begin with the End in Mind

We need to do this, I am not sure that this will occur though.

Well, I have to wrap it up because we leave for church notes in 5 minutes.

My final point will be this:

a better path is to be strategic, however, I am afraid that we might slip into a "whatever" approach.

here we go .....

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bill Clinton to campaign with Obama

They are making their big run for the last 10 days ...

In yet another sign that Democrats are putting the contentious and hard-fought primary season behind them, former President Bill Clinton will campaign with Sen. Barack Obama for the first time in Florida on Wednesday, according to Matt McKenna of the Clinton Foundation.

Sen. Hillary Clinton will not attend the event but did recently campaign with Obama in Florida, a crucial battleground state that CNN currently considers a toss-up.

The Clintons also recently campaigned together with Sen. Joe Biden and Biden’s wife, Jill, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where both Joe Biden and Sen. Clinton have roots.

Obama met personally with former President Clinton in September at Clinton’s Harlem offices. Then, Clinton predicted that Obama would win in November “pretty handily.”


10 more days ..... of course, I am not sure if it will be done in 10 days, I am sure there will be something that occurs and we will not know ...

Day at the Pool

Jacob is now on the swim team and this was his first meet. He swam in 4 events today. There was a total of 89 events. He swam in the following:

8, 18, 44 and 88

He did very well. I was proud of him. He did not win but he finished each race and finished them with determination. To me, his biggest accomplishment was his 200m freestyle event. He was not scheduled to swim it. A teammate did not make it and they inserted Jacob into the event. He never swam 200m before in his life. Yet, he got up the block and did it.

He was also part of 2 - 200m relays. He did the back in the medley and he participated in the free as well. His other solo event was the 50m fly.

Later in the week, I may post his 200m race. I do not expect anyone to watch it. It will be for our memory of his first ever swim meet and his first ever solo race - a 200m that he was scheduled to do.

We are "newbees" to this sport. We met at the high school at 11 am and drove over to Louisville, Ohio for the event. We arrived at about 12:15 and settled in and they warmed up. The event lasted from 1:00 - 4:20. Then the travel home.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Obama as a Baby

Obama and his mom as a youngster.

A McCain Ooops

His words got twisted a little:

I guess that I should find Obama/Biden "gaffes" so I am not looking "prejudice".

Rough Day for the Dow ?

From CNN:

A wave of anxiety about a global recession was set to reach the United States at Friday's Wall Street open, with limits imposed on futures trading after they fell more than 6%.

Futures followed the lead of plunging markets worldwide, with Japan's Nikkei index ending down 9.6%. European markets down almost as sharply, with major indexes down 8%in France and Germany and 7% in London.

Markets were down 14% in Moscow when the exchange there suspended trading until Tuesday.

"Today might be the day where everybody throws in the towel," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist for Avalon Partners. "People are saying 'I've had it, I can't take it anymore, I'm selling everything.'"

Markets were so jittery early Friday that the New York Stock Exchange felt it was necessary to post a statement on its blog confirming that trading would open as normal at 9:30 a.m. ET, saying it felt it was necessary to answer widespread rumors that the open would be delayed.

The NYSE also posted updated details of so-called circuit breakers, which would halt trading for certain periods of time if the Dow Jones Industrial Average falls between more than 1,100 points during the trading day. It said it was posting that information with "the fervent hope we won't need them."


it will be interesting to see what happens as the opening bell goes off in 26 mins.

people are definitely concerned about economics, i know that i am ... and for me, it has nothing to do with losing "big bucks" on wall street ....

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sarah Palin & Shrimp

Hey, I thought it would be neat to show pics of our politician from their younger years. I will put pics of all of them up over the next few days ....

Isn't political season fun ????

One thing bad about living in Ohio is the over abundance of ads, phone calls, mailing, pollsters, campaigners and more ..... they are definitely out to win Ohio


Yesterday, I sat in on the outreach "committee" meeting.

We, as a church, are trying to be more intentional on outreach and ways that we can make a difference in the lives of those that we are in contact with and those that are hurting.

I am looking forward to the work that we may do and really excited with the possibilities of teaming up with community organizations already doing work - no need to "re-invent" the wheel.

Some of the agencies that we will be teaming up with will be the following:

- Interfaith Housing
- Salvation Army
- Children Services
- Free Medical Clinic
- People 2 People
- Pregnancy Care Center
- and .......

There are many things that these organizations are doing and doing well. Over time, I will share with you what they are doing and what we are doing to help them.

Yesterday, after the meeting, I went down to visit the Interfaith Housing office and the Salvation Army. It got me a little excited.

Hopefully, we can aim some of our ministries toward making a big difference in our community and county.

More later .....

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What A View

An excursion boat cruises by trees in autumn colors on the Lake Chuzenji at Nikko, in north-central Japan, on Friday October 17, 2008. The trees around the scenic lake, located within the Nikko National Park, began to turn bright red and yellow earlier than usual and the foliage season is expected to reach its climax in the middle of next week, according to the local tourist association.

Puppies, Puppies and more Puppies ....

I needed a 10 minute break. I saw this story and had to share:

Before Kyla gave birth, Stephanie Pino thought the Great Dane looked like a white cow with brindle spots.

Pino knew Kyla’s litter was going to be large, but she had no idea how large.

After about 20 grueling hours of labor, Kyla gave birth to 19 puppies on Sept. 11. Sixteen of the puppies survived and are happy, healthy five-week-old bundles of joy at 12 to 15 pounds apiece.

“They just kept coming and coming and coming, and we were like, ‘Oh my gosh,’ ” Pino said.

She had to deliver some of the puppies after the mama got too tired. Even the dogs’ veterinarian was shocked at the size of the litter, Pino said.

The head of the puppies’ daddy, Haze, is bigger than the entire body of one of his offspring. Haze weighs in at more than 200 pounds. When he stretches out, he’s roughly seven feet long. The Great Dane is one of the tallest dog breeds in the world.

Article From GJSentinel

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sufficient, Sustainable livelihood for all .....

We live in a world that is struggling. Poverty is up there as the #1 issue. Here is another post and ciew and document on the struggle that we find ourselves in ....

Our obligation and ongoing tensions

Based on this vantage point of faith, "sufficient, sustainable livelihood for all" is a benchmark for affirming, opposing, and seeking changes in economic life. Because of sin we fall short of these obligations in this world, but we live in light of God's promised future that ultimately there will be no hunger and injustice. This promise makes us restless with less than what God intends for the world. In economic matters, this draws attention to:

the scope of God's concern -- "for all,"
the means by which life is sustained -- "livelihood,"
what is needed -- "sufficiency," and
a long-term perspective -- "sustainability."

These criteria often are in tension with one another. What benefits people in one area, sector, or country may harm those elsewhere. What is sufficient in one context is not in another. What is economically sufficient is not necessarily sustainable.

There are difficult and complex trade-offs and ambiguities in the dynamic processes of economic life. As believers, we are both impelled by God's promises and confronted with the practical realities of economic life. We often must choose among competing claims, conscious of our incomplete knowledge, of the sin that clouds all human judgments and actions, and of the grace and forgiveness given by Christ.

Economic assumptions can conflict with what we as a church confess. Who we are in Christ places us in tension with priorities given to money, consumption, competition, and profit in our economic system.

While autonomy and self-sufficiency are highly valued in our society, as people of faith we confess that we depend on God and are interdependent with one another. Through these relationships we are nurtured, sustained, and held accountable.

While succeeding or making something of themselves is what matters to many in economic life, we confess that in Christ we are freely justified by grace through faith rather than by what we do.

While a market economy emphasizes what individuals want and are willing and able to buy, as people of faith we realize that what human beings want is not necessarily what they need for the sake of life.

While a market economy assumes people will act to maximize their own interests, we acknowledge that what is in our interest must be placed in the context of what is good for the neighbor.

While competitiveness is key to economic success, we recognize that intense competitiveness can destroy relationships and work against the reconciliation and cooperation God desires among people.

While economic reasoning assumes that resources are scarce relative to people's wants, we affirm that God promises a world where there is enough for everyone, if only we would learn how to use and share what God has given for the sake of all.

While economic growth often is considered an unconditional good, we insist that such growth must be evaluated by its direct, indirect, short-term, and long-term effects on the well-being of all creation and people, especially those who are poor.

When we pray in the Lord's Prayer, "Give us this day our daily bread," we place ourselves in tension with economic assumptions of our society. Rather than being self-sufficient, we need and depend on what God gives or provides through people, practices, and systems. "Daily bread" is not earned by efforts of individuals alone, but is made possible through a variety of relationships and institutions. God gives in ways that expand our notions of who "us" includes, from people close at hand to those around the globe. In stark contrast to those who seek unchecked accumulation and profit, our attention is drawn to those who are desperate for what will sustain their lives for just this day.


Can we provide enough so that everyone can have sufficient livelihood ?

Criminilation of Homelessness


The housing and homelessness crisis in the United States has worsened with many cities reporting an increase in demands for emergency shelter. In 2007, ten of the 23 cities surveyed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors reported an increase in the number of households with children accessing shelters and transitional housing. Six of these 23 cities also reported an increase in the number of individuals accessing these services. Even while the requests for emergency shelter increase, cities do not have adequate shelter space to meet the need. In the 23 cities surveyed in the U.S. Conference of Mayors Hunger and Homelessness Survey for 2007, 12 cities noted that they had to turn people away because of a lack of capacity often or always.

The lack of available shelter space – a situation made worse by the Gulf Coast hurricanes - leaves many homeless persons with no choice but to struggle to survive on the streets of our cities. Over the course of the year, 3.5 million Americans will experience homelessness, and this number is only expected to increase in 2008due to the foreclosure crisis, increases in poverty, and a pattern of steady increases in family homelessness.


An unfortunate trend in cities around the country over the past 25 years has been to turn to the criminal justice system to respond to people living in public spaces. This trend includes measures that target homeless people by making it illegal to perform life-sustaining activities in public. These measures prohibit activities such as sleeping/camping, eating, sitting, and begging in public spaces, usually including criminal penalties for violation of these laws.


The criminalization of homelessness takes many forms, including:

Legislation that makes it illegal to sleep, sit, or store personal belongings in public spaces in cities where people are forced to live in public spaces;
Selective enforcement of more neutral laws, such as loitering or open container laws, against homeless persons.

Sweeps of city areas where homeless persons are living to drive them out of the area, frequently resulting in the destruction of those persons’ personal property, including important personal documents and medication; and laws that punish people for begging or panhandling to move poor or homeless persons out of a city or downtown area.

Criminalization Measures Have Increased

City ordinances frequently serve as a prominent tool to criminalize homelessness. Of the 224 cities surveyed for our report:

28% prohibit “camping” in particular public places in the city and 16% had city-wide prohibitions on “camping.”

27% prohibit sitting/lying in certain public places.

39% prohibit loitering in particular public areas and 16% prohibit loitering city-wide.

43% prohibit begging in particular public places; 45% prohibit aggressive panhandling and 21% have city-wide prohibitions on begging.

The trend of criminalizing homelessness appears to be growing. Of the 67 cities surveyed in both NCH and NLCHP’s last joint report in 2002 and in this report:

There is a 12% increase laws prohibiting begging in certain public places and an 18% increase in laws that prohibit aggressive panhandling.

There is a 14% increase in laws prohibiting sitting or lying in certain public spaces.

There is a 3% increase in laws prohibiting loitering, loafing, or vagrancy laws.
Another trend documented in the report is increased city efforts to target homeless persons indirectly by placing restrictions on providers serving food to poor and homeless persons in public spaces.

While cities are cracking down on homeless persons living in public spaces, according to the latest U.S. Conference of Mayors Hunger and Homelessness report, cities do not have adequate shelter to meet the need.


Such a happy post and report, huh ?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Free Medical Clinic

A few times, I have mentioned that we have a free medical clinic in our community. The name of our clinic is called Viola Startzman Free Clinic . They do tremendous work and I applaud them for all the work that they do. I go up there about 3x a month and help them with filing their charts and shredding the meical papers that need to be destroyed. By me and other individuals going up there and doing that, it frees up the personel to focus on the patients and provide the care that they need.

Today, I had the opportunity to combine the Kids Care Club and the Free Clinic. Last month, I began a Kids Care Club in Wooster. They are a fantastic organization and I strongly encourage you to check them our.

Kids Care Club follows the very simple motto:

We believe that kids are empowered by their contribution to the world around them and that service is a natural way for young people to assert their positive qualities. By serving others, kids develop compassion and establish connections with people of diverse cultures and economic situations. Volunteering helps kids develop positive self-esteem and learn valuable life lessons.
Youth volunteering:

Promotes a healthy lifestyle and choices – Kids who volunteer are less likely to become involved in at-risk behaviors.

Enhances development – Volunteering heightens psychological, social and intellectual development and growth.

Teaches life skills – Volunteering stimulates skills needed for a productive adulthood, including responsibility for tasks. Children learn punctuality, cooperation, tolerance, problem solving and teamwork.

Improves the community – Kids have the opportunity to be resources and contributors to their communities.

Encourages a lifelong service ethic – Kids who volunteer early learn the importance of service and have a higher chance of continuing to volunteer later in life.

This month, our focus was Party Pals. We had our club meeting and we talked and learned about giving and we decided that we were going to throw a party and at the party we would collect gifts and those gifts would be used for the clinic. The more items that are donated to the clinic, the less they will have to buy and that frees up more money for patient care.

Here are some photos from the party and us at the car (loaded up) and in the clinic boardroom with the supplies that we donated to the clinic:

These are the nights that I love. Helping kids catch the spirit of volunteering and us doing something tangible that will make a difference in our community. My dream and vision is that we can do more ministry in this fashion.

We can make a difference in our community and we can tackle the big problems that our town face.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Poverty: What Me? I Don't Give a Shit

There is something that is stiring inside of me. Over the next couple of weeks, I am going to try to come to grips with it. It is going to be hard to explain and share, but we will see where it goes.

The post that you are reading is not going to be mine. This post is much better than I could ever do. It comes from one of my new blogs that I read called: Pragmatic - Eclectic. The post hits a homerun in my opinion:

As Jesus started on his way, the Church ran up to him and fell on it's knees before him. "Good teacher," it asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

"Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother."

"Teacher," the Church declared, "all these I have kept since I was young."

Jesus looked at the Church and loved it. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

At this the the Church's face fell. It went away sad, because it had great wealth.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!"

Poverty means illiteracy, inadequate medical care, disease and brain damage. Church when you tuck your children in this night - Thank God you were not born in the Third World relying on you for help. This night through your inaction thousands will die. I praise God that He is biased towards the poor, He needs to be due to our sinful unconcern.

After all, it is the poor who will judge us. It is the poor person we encounter in the crucified and risen Christ who calls us to account for our actions, and it is the poor person of Jesus Christ who says to us, "whatever you did or did not do for 'the least of these' you did or did not do for me."

"I have three things I'd like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don't give a shit. What's worse is that you're more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night." T.Campolo

There are 2,000 verses of Scripture that tell us we must be committed to protecting the poor and the oppressed ...

"I see Christ in the ... poor. Sometimes we meet Jesus rejected and covered in filth in the gutter. Sometimes we find Jesus stuffed into a drain, or moaning with pain from sores or rotting with gangrene, or even screaming from the agony of a broken back. The most distressing disguise calls for even more love from us." Mother Teresa

I posted these thoughts a few days ago.

How can the Western Church - share in the eschatological feast, some call communion, if we don't display God's future in which all will be equally fed, all will be equally clothed, all will be equally treated, all will be equally loved and all will join together in universal praise?

If we eat the body and blood of Christ in expensive churches without care for the hungry, the sacrament is no longer a fortaste of things to come but a trivialised picnic to which not everyone is invited. So Church - OPEN YOUR DOORS - invite ALL to come to the feast. Jesus is saying to you this day - Church go sell all you have and give it to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come follow me.

Church you got fancy expensive audio visual gear? How about a cappucino machine out front? Nice comfy chairs? Yeah ... you look really pretty .... in a wordly kind of a way. It is my prayer this night, you will hear in your dreams - the sounds of a grieving mother as she tries to nurse her dead child from her dry breast and see her mouth the words to you - help me, help me, please.....

This is so powerful.

I find myself in a struggle. I believe that we need to be doing so much more for our community. I feel that my family does and my church family. I am trying to get a better grasp on the problem.

This morning, I was having a conversation about my heart for the hurting and the poor and the need for more outrach and our church needed to step up to the plate more and it was drowned out a little by the sound of: we need more money to fix the building, we need money to pay bills, we need to concentrate on reaching families that will give, so we can have extra money to give to the needy ....... ugh

So, here is the deal, over the next few weeks, I will be sharing some more thoughts and stories on poverty and how they may be insecting our lives. I will also then begin sharing a project that I am going to attempt to work on to bring awarness to our community, both the church community and the community )county) that I live in.

To quote Mother Theresa:

It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.

To quote Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children.

To quote Gandhi

Poverty is the worst form of violence

Let me see where this journey will take me.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Joe The Plumber

Alot of airtime .... here is the actual conversation on video

Friday, October 17, 2008

U.S. Miltary Spending: Drop in the Bucket

I am amzed when I hear that our spending on defense and the war on iraq is "chump change" and a drop in the bucket ... let's take a look at the "drop in the bucket":

Proposed U.S. military spending for FY 2008 is larger than military spending by all of the other nations in the world combined.

At $141.7 billion, this year's proposed spending on the Iraq war is larger than the military budgets of China and Russia combined. Total U.S. military spending for FY2008 is roughly ten times the military budget of the second largest military spending country in the world, China.

Journalist Jim Lobe of the Interpress Service notes that proposed U.S. military spending is larger than the combined gross domestic products (GDP) of all 47 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

The FY 2008 military budget proposal is more than 30 times higher than all spending on State Department operations and non-military foreign aid combined.

The FY 2008 military budget is over 120 times higher than the roughly $5 billion per year the U.S. government spends on combating global warming.

FY 2008 military spending represents 58 cents out of every dollar spent by the U.S. government on discretionary programs - the items that Congress gets to vote up or down on an annual basis. This means that military spending is more than the combined totals of spending on education, environmental protection, administration of justice, veteran's benefits, housing assistance, transportation, job training, agriculture, energy, and economic development.

As the poverty rate continues to climb, the FY 2008 budget proposes cuts of $13 billion in non-military related discretionary spending, including cuts of $1.4 billion from the Community Development Block Grant; $436 million from Head Start; $1.1 billion from the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program; $669 million from Special Education; and $111 million from the Child Care and Development Block Grant.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Big Burger

As my header usually reads, you never know what I will write or post. Tonight, because I needed a "shake-my-head-moment", here is a worthless post with pictures"

In this Monday, Oct. 13, 2008 photo released by Denny's Beer Barrel Pub, Brad Sciullo of Uniontown, Pa., is seen before attempting to eat a 15-pound cheese burger with five-pounds of toppings including bun, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, onions, mild banana peppers and a cup each of ketchup, mustard, relish, and mayonnaise at Denny's Beer Barrel Pub in Clearfield, Pa., Monday, Oct. 13, 2008. Sciullo finished the concoction in 4 hours and 39 minutes.

(AP Photo/Logan Cramer, Denny's Beer Barrel Pub)

In this Monday, Oct. 13, 2008 photo released by Denny's Beer Barrel Pub, Brad Sciullo of Uniontown, Pa., is seen eating a 15-pound cheese burger with five-pounds of toppings including bun, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, onions, mild banana peppers and a cup each of ketchup, mustard, relish, and mayonnaise at Denny's Beer Barrel Pub in Clearfield, Pa., Monday, Oct. 13, 2008. Sciullo finished the concoction in 4 hours and 39 minutes.

(AP Photo/Logan Cramer, Denny's Beer Barrel Pub)

I have got to say, the burger looks inticing as it was brought out to him. With how he ate it, the angle of the pic and his mouth full ... enticement went away.

It took Brad Sciullo 4 hours and 39 minutes to finish a marathon. A meat marathon, that is. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound western Pennsylvania chef is the first person to eat a monstrosity called the Beer Barrel Belly Bruiser: a 15-pound burger with toppings and a bun that brought the total weight to 20.2 pounds.

For completing the challenge in the under-five-hour time limit, Sciullo won $400, three T-shirts, a certificate "and a burger hangover, as I call it," Liegey said.

Pulling My Hair Out

Yesterday was a very long day and at 10 pm when I walked into the doors of my house, I wanted to pull my hair out. It has been 10 hours since I have walked in the door and even after a decent night of sleep, I am in shock and disbelief over what occurred yesterday.

I am not going to "expose" all the dirty laundry from the meetings but I will just say that I was very disappointed. The reason for my disappointment is that I believe 100% that there is majority consensus maybe even unamious consensus from Council on the decision that needs to be made .... but yet ... no decision and another meeting on the table for Oct. 27th.

My fear is that in the end, we are going to suffocate the issue and it is going to be dead and in the end, we have WASTED numerous hours of peoples time for NOTHING.

Here is another thing that is driving me NUTS and I know some of it is just "my problem". But let me share it with you. I am in a constant struggle with the issues of the world and the issues of the church. With my work in the community, I see the need and struggle that is out in our community: poverty, homelessness, lack of education, health care issues and more. I like trying to help and assist in these community issues and then ..... yesterday, I spent 4+ hours in meetings at church about job descriptions and what time will our worship services be.

DON'T GET ME WRONG ..... those are issues and discussions and decisions that need to be made. HOWEVER, can we move on and focus on people and the issues of our community. We have a great opportunity to make a difference. We can influence the lives of the people and we can impact the community.

BUT, I am afraid we will never get to tackling these issues and when we get to heaven, what a conversation with God it will be .....

Yes, God, I know that we did not do anything about empowering parents to teach their children and we let our city go to hell in a handbasket BUT we did get a building up after 5 years of planning and we finally made a decision on worship times.

Now, that is something to get excited about.

To my church family that reads this, if this is offensive, please come and chat with me. We have the opportunity to quickly make the decisions that are facing our congregation and then move on to make an impact in our community. We can do it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Poverty: Where is the Faith Community ?

Today, I went to a a meeting on homelessness. The meeting was entitled: Homelessness: It is here too!

For those of you who do not know me or my "home situation", I live in Wayne County, Ohio. We are a "small" county of about 125,000 and we are in the middle of "Amish Country". Our county is "very white", we are not diverse. 96.5% of our county are white.

Overall, individuals believe that with our median family income of $ 50,000 that we are a wealthy community that does not struggle with poverty and homelessness. Part of the deception is that the "homeless" in our county really do not have a face. They are "hidden" and not out in the opening.

This meeting was an eye opener for me. Here are some highlights and at the end, I will highlight why I asked the question and attempt to answer the question.

In Ohio

- 147,000 annually are homeless
- Rural Ohio has seen an increase of 300% since 1995
- $ 10.81 an hour is what is needed to have basic needs met
- 30% of homeless in Ohio have a mental illness
- 14.6% of homeless live in cars / abandoned buildings
- Younger women with education are the highest growing % of homeless

In our county, we only have 26 individual beds and 18 family units. There is a continuous waiting list to try to get people away from homelessness. Our metro housing has a waiting list of 700 !!!

The Wayne Metropolitan Housing Authority has 224 units of housing in eight different projects that were developed with funds provided by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. Included in these projects are 120 units of housing designated for the elderly and/or disabled in high-rise buildings. Our family housing exhibits many of the features that new non-subsidized apartments have. Many of our public housing units have extra design features that make them most desirable.

The 'typical' wait could be over 18 months .......

Our town and county is experiencing "tent living". More and more individuals are pitching tents for their housing arrangements. The other area is community living where 10-15 individuals will be living in an apt. or small house.

Our children service folks were there and they shared their concern with their continue hardship on what the teens are doing when they reach the age of 18. A few individuals shared even a greater concern with the 14-18 year old population that is technically homeless ( no where to go - permanent home ).

After some speakers spoke on the issue, we got to listen to a forum from the following individuals: adult parole board, chief of police, inter-faith housing, every woman's house and the salvation army.

Each one of them gave statistics and stories that ripped my heart out. We, as a community, are failing in so many areas.

Switching Gears

In my opinion, noticeably missing from the 70+ individuals that were at the meeting was the faith community. Where were they ? Why were they not part of this conversation ? What was more important on their schedule then our county coming together to discuss poverty / homelessness in our community ?

I am not sure, but they were not at the meeting. A few of the churches were there and the ones that were there and represented were the "staples". Thank God for them.

One of our community speakers left us with a thought: the light at the end of the tunnel is not a train charging at us, it is instead, a light of hope.

We, as a community, can make a difference. We can solve the problem. We can end this vicious cycle of poverty and homelessness, but it will take all of us.

It was great to see some familiar faces today:

- people to people
- salvation army
- viola free medical clinic
- child services
- justice department
- interfaith housing community
- etc .....

What would have been nice was to see was the faith community. In a sense, it really saddens me. We, as churches, can easily combine our resources and knock this one out of the ballpark. It is not just about throwing money to them.

It is about spending time with them, it is about mentoring them, it is about listening to their stories, it is about providing life coping skills, it is about helping them navigate the muddy waters of the systems that are out there.

I think this is why I am excited about the Circles Initiative that is coming our way. It will be a partnership to help those on the fringes.

Then, as a big challenge .... if we (each church in the county) adopted one homeless family, there would currently be no homelessness in our community.

To those in the community that are providing free medical care, free counseling, free job skills, providing transportation for them to get to work, providing transitional housing and more .... THANK YOU.

To us in the churches, let us do something. Let's get off our butts and make a difference in our community. Maybe we can get together and have a meeting about how we are going to help the faithful rentals who are getting evicted because their landlords are going in foreclosure instead of deciding how we are going to spend $ 5 million dollars on new buildings ......

I am out

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Meeting on Homelessness

Tomorrow morning, I am going to be going to a breakfast and a forum meeting on "Homelessness in Wayne County".

I am looking forward to the meeting.

The reason for the "excitement" is that I am wanting to get a better grasp on the homeless situation in the county that I live in and to make connection with individuals who want to help solve the problem.

At times, I am in meetings an wonder if what we are talking about will really make any difference. This meeting, I believe will be different. I will be in a meeting, networking and gathering information that will help me be proactive in helping and assisting in a situation that is close to my heart.

Also, I am looking forward to grabbing the information and the ideas and bringing it back to the church and making a presentation on "how we can make an impact on the homeless in our community".

On a side note, I have a few other meetings tomorrow. I will share about those after they have occurred. I will definitely give an update on my early morning meeting.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Raging Bulls

Dow jumps 936 points in biggest point gain ever.

The Dow, S&P and Nasdaq all gain over 11%.

Well, there is a jump .... you figure it all out

Join the World in Suffering

A church is not a center for religious goods and service, where people pay a fee and receive a product in return. A church is not an organization that surveys its demographics to find out what the market is demanding at this particular moment and then adjusts its strategy to meet that consumer niche.

The way of Jesus is the path of descent. It is about our death. It is our willingness to join the world in its suffering, it's our participation in the new humanity, it's our weakness calling out to others in their weakness.

I do not think that we as individuals and as churches really want to suffer. We really love our comfortable life and we do not want Jesus to mess that up. Well, at times, maybe a lot of times, we need God to mess our lives up.

The gathering of the church, in a service or worship or teaching setting, is to remind, instruct, and inspire people about being Eucharist for the world they find themselves in.

We as individuals and as churches really need to have a fuller understanding of the Eucharist and what it means to our lives and to those lives that we come into contact with.

The Eucharist is ultimately about what we do out there, in the flow of every day life.

We need to fully understand (as much as our mind can grasp) the grace of God, so we can extend that grace to individuals. In my opinion, we are not good at extending grace.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Out of Digits

Here is an old pic of the national debt clock, guess what has occured ???

U.S. debt overpowers National Debt Clock

The National Debt Clock in New York City has run out of digits to record the growing figure.

As a short-term fix, the digital dollar sign on the billboard-style clock near Times Square has been switched to a figure -- the "1" in $10 trillion. It's marking the federal government's current debt at about $10.2 trillion.

Where Did the Clock Come From ???

The Durst Organization says it plans to update the sign next year by adding two digits. That will make it capable of tracking debt up to a quadrillion dollars.

The late Manhattan real estate developer Seymour Durst put the sign up in 1989 to call attention to what was then a $2.7 trillion debt.

With all the buy outs, it will continue to soar.

Thanks to CNN News for the story.

We, as a nation, are in so much trouble.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Be A Patriot .. Vote Pro Life

First, I want to make it clear, I DO NOT AGREE WITH THE HEADLINE !!!

Here is the definition of a Patriot:
a person who loves his or her country and passionately supports its interests

So, this sign or statement, if I am reading it correctly states that if I love my country, I will vote Pro-Life.

I am going to be honest with you .....

I got sick this morning because I saw this sign at a church that I went into today. They had this sign along with voter registration cards and how to vote biblically brochures all over the place.

It made me sick.

I thought that I had walked into a political headquarter building.

I can guarantee you one thing, if I was looking for a church to attend, I would leave immediately and as a minister, I would definitely not serve on their church staff.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Do you need or want a laugh ?

if so, watch the video in this post:

This is a video of Bethany trying to get a drink from the outdoor water fountain and having some trouble. Her laugh is great. I then attempt to help her get a drink and I "misjudge" her getting a drink.

I also did not know that we were being taped. I thought the wife was taking pics / not videos. Oh well. I think that I am going to bookmark this page and when I am having a bad day and need a smile, I will play it.

Her laugh has to cheer you up.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Obama Kills Children

I saw an individual with that button and this shirt .......

I think that could bring heat for pro-life / pro-choice

Quotes on Change

William Pollard

"Change" has been an internal battle that has been going on for the last few weeks. Recently, I came across a few from William Polard. Here are a few to think about and to chew on .....

No Change

Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.

After Deciding to Change

It is not always what we know or analysed before we make a decision that makes it a great decision. It is what we do after we make the decision to implement and execute it that makes it a good decision.

Going Back to the Drawing Board

Too often new ideas are studied and analyzed until they are suffocated.”


Thus, to have a shot at solving a "crisis", we must be innovative and that involves change. At some point and some point soon, we must make a decision and then we must execute that decision.

Church on Soccer Sidelines

This past weekend, I was up on the soccer fields as I watched Isaiah's soccer team lose a close game 2-1. As I sat there, I had a group of ladies from Orville sitting behind me. They were soccer moms and the moms of the team members that Isaiah's team was playing.

I entered into the conversation a little (when it had to do with our coach) but for the most part, I just listened in on the conversation. I was not really trying to listen in BUT they were right behind me and were a little loud, so it was tough not to.

If I had the opportunity though, I would have entered into the conversation and gave them a word of encouragement and told them "this is church".

For you see, the conversations and the actions of these ladies were church. They embodied in their conversation and action what church is about. Yet, a few were "down" a little because they had not been to church. I wanted to turn around and share with them that what they were doing was "more church" then what occurs in "church" on most Sunday's.

These ladies displayed great compassion. They were encouraging and lifting each other up. They collected money to give a mom who could not do a doc co-pay and they were sharing how they are "implementing" values/virtues into their children and they were sharing scripture and the implication that they were having on their family life.

To me, it was beautiful.

I guess, this is a little of my frustration going to with "church beyond the walls". We need to encourage and empower people and realize the great things the church is doing outside of the walls, even on soccer sidelines on Saturday afternoon.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Walk Continues ......

I made it to Brooks, Kentucky. Most of us probably have never heard of Brooks. If I was doing the actual walk-through, I would tell you a little about the town/city. But, alas, all I can tell you is that it is south of Louisville.

This past week, I walked 108 miles. It has been pretty consistent thus far. The totals for the first three weeks have been 107, 105 and 108.

Here are the pictures of the two maps from this week. One is from Covington, Ky to Brooks, Ky and the other one is the first three weeks of my trip:

** if you want the image a little bigger, click on the map **

Unless, I decide to walk a great distance this week ( and 108 is not ), I will remain in Kentucky for this week. The schedule is a little busy this week, thus I am shooting for Bowling Green. We shall see.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Friday, October 03, 2008

Every Minute ....

30 children die of hunger and inadequate health care, while the world spends 1.7 million dollars on war.

What a "just" world.

Golden Rule: Many Religions

Everything you should do you will find in this: Do nothing to others / That would hurt you if it were done to you.

Do not offend others / As you would not want to be offended.

The successes of your neighbor and their losses / Will be to you as if they were your own.

Is there any rule that one should follow all of one's life? / Yes! The rule of the gentle goodness: / That which we do not wish to be done to us, we do not do to others.

That which you do not wish for yourself / You shall not wish for your neighbor. / This is the whole law: the rest is only commentary.

In everything, do to others what / You would have them do to you. / For this sums up the law and the prophets.

None of you shall be true believers / Unless you wish for your brother / The same that you wish for yourself.

Earth Wisdom
Do one of the above; / And live in such a way that you will enrich, and not diminish, / Our relatives in the Earth family / Of animals and plants, soil, air, and water.

Sarah Palin: Avoiding Questions

I watched about 85% of the debate last night. Towards the end, we ( brother and I ) switched it to watch some of the football game ( pitt vs. south fl ).

Early on, Sarah "set the tone". She let people know that she is a "maverick" and it was going to be about her and making sure the people got to know the real her. Here is one of her early statements:

And I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I'm going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record also.

I will have to remember that the next time that I am getting asked questions, I will just change the subject and let the people know who are asking the questions, that I don't care about their questions and will talk about what I want to talk about.

Then, when people ask, why, don't you answer the question. I can say ...


Sarah, we could have gotten to know you and your stances if you answered the questions at hand.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Exorcizing Demons

I needed a small smile.

This gave it to me as I am working on the confirmation lesson.

Hands Are Tied

I absolutely HATE when I feel that my hands are tied and I can not do much about a situation. It just plain STINKS.

I am in that position today. Yesterday was a day from HELL.

My heart bleeds that we as churches cannot get on the same page and move forward. At times, it seems like we do nothing but take steps backwards and that is very frustrating.

I just wish that there was something that I could do or say but as mentioned in the post title, I feel that my hands are tied and I cannot make the necessary steps, moves, conversations or decisions and that really "tees" me off.

Yes, I know that this is completely vague. But, I have to keep some of this "undercover" because we are not fully talking about the issue in public and since this blog is "very public", I do not want to air it out.

In the future, I will be able to go into more detail and express and share the step process that I believe that we need/should be taken and maybe, just maybe, I will learn a lesson or two and can share with you how to / how not to act when you feel like your hands are tied and know that you need to do something BUT not sure what / how to do it.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Authentic Church

This past weekend, I was in Champaign / Urbana. Thus, I had the opportunity to attend a church and check it out. I love going to a church as a first time visitor and seeing what occurs on Sunday morning.

My in-laws live near the university. Thus, I wanted to attend a "downtown" church that I could walk to. There were quite a few options on the table but I decided to attend Twin City Bible Church.

I had heard the name of the church before hand but I can not remember where to be honest with you. I chose them for a few reasons. Some of them may seem odd:

- church name ( the emphasis on both cities )

- their vision (Christ-centered church where campus and community come together to make a difference for God's Kingdom throughout the world.

- sermon series ( the authentic church )

- website (emphasis on history and mission)

The experience overall was good. I was not in my Sunday best ( cargo shorts and a fair-trade coffee t-shirt) so I am not sure if my appearence "knocked" me down in some of their eyes.

The mixture of the attendees was a very good mix.

Their mixture of worship style was very intriguing. It was "blocked/chopped" up with both traditional and contemporary. Thus, I would not use the common phrase that it was blended.

The sermon was a "traditional" three point sermon with room for you to take notes. Overall, the message was good. Here was the Scripture:

Acts 11:19-30

The three points were the following:

- the joy of helping others journey with Christ (vs. 19-24)
- the rewards of recognizing our own need for help (vs. 25-26)
- the fruit of God-honoring help: receivers becomes givers (vs. 27-30)

I would have liked to heard more application to the points and where he/church leadership would/wants the people to do with the message and how we will strive to be "the authentic church". But, each message and message giver tackled The Word in a different manner.

If I lived in the area, I do believe that I would give it a second-look. Their vision and their mission work and their sense of connecting the campus and community is intriguing me.

I did feel a little "cold" with the greeters / usher / welcome booth BUT I did not "push" and wanted to see what their action would be. During the greeting time, I was greeted by numerous college / grad students. Maybe, they thought this old man was one of them ( only kidding ). They seemed very friendly to one another (church as a whole) and I am sure with a small initiative, you would feel welcomed.

Kudoes to TCBC on their vision / mission / outreach / education opportunities.

If I go back ( one sunday a year ? ), I may go back. However, I will be very tempted to check out another church and see what another church in town will be doing.

If you live in the town, go see them !!