Monday, February 19, 2007

Love Your Neighbor?

We're to love our neighbor, aren't we? Plenty has been written and proposed about what that really means. About who our neighbor really is, and just what does it mean to love? There are a variety of ways to go after that idea, and that's fine. But we know what its not, don't we? We can easily spot when "loving our neighbor" is kicked to the curb. Problem is, we can expect that from many in our world who don't know any better.

But Christians should know better, shouldn't they? The only thing more troubling than this story is that fact that it made the news. What's wrong with people??

Sunday, February 18, 2007

People Should Matter

This is an unbelievable story from today's AP....What's even more disturbing is that although the gravity of the situation might not always be this extreme, there are people who live their lives just like this unfortunate guy - alone, void of any sort of community with others. Tragic....

Man's body found 1 year after death
Television was still on, authorities say; body partially mummified
The Associated Press
Updated: 1:06 p.m. ET Feb 17, 2007

HAMPTON BAYS, N.Y. - The partially mummified body of a man dead for more than a year has been found in a chair in front of his television, which was still on, authorities said.

Vincenzo Ricardo, 70, apparently died of natural causes, said Dr. Stuart Dawson, Suffolk County’s deputy chief medical examiner.

Police found Ricardo’s body this week when they investigated a report of burst pipes.
The home’s dry air had preserved his features, morgue assistant Jeff Bacchus said.
“You could see his face. He still had hair on his head,” Bacchus said.

Ricardo’s wife died years ago, and he lived alone, Dawson said.
“He hasn’t been heard from in over a year. That’s the part that baffles me,” he said. “Nobody sounded the alarm.”

Neighbors said they had thought Ricardo was in a hospital or nursing home.
“We never thought to check on him,” said neighbor Diane Devon.
© 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Friday, February 16, 2007

Blizzards, Puzzles & Relaxation

Life here is beginning to get back to normal. Amazing what 14 or so inches of snow can do to a city that's not quite 'north enough' to expect lots of snowfall. For a good 48 hours, the hectic nature of our lives was brought to a screeching halt.

Pardon my contrarian way of looking at this, but isn't that a good thing? To occasionally cancel just about everything and stay home with our families and just hang out? Sleeping in is a good thing. Lounging about in comfy clothes that most of us wouldn't be seen in public wearing is quite refreshing. We worked a puzzle that took a couple of days - it was a puzzle from the TV show LOST, a family favorite. Perhaps the hardest puzzle I've ever worked (there was no picture on the box to follow!) But it was fun, we all took our turns, and it was a thrill to put that last piece in place.

So, unfortunately, life is getting back to normal. But does it have to? Can't we redefine normal? How liberating it would be if 'normal' looked a lot like the last few days, and our hectic schedules were a thing of the past. Or at least not our 'default settings.'

Gordon MacDonald says that "Rest was not meant to be a luxury, but a necessity." One of my personal goals, as well as for my family, is that we would clear the clutter and experience a weekly Sabbath rest. I believe God designed us that way (Genesis 2:2-3). And I wonder if every now and then, he might just unleash a 14-inch snow dump that shuts us down for a bit. For many of us, a "forced sabbath" is often the only sabbath we get...

(Oh, here's a gigantic snowman my kids made, right in the back window of our house! This was from a big snow a few weeks back, and this dude was staring into our house for weeks! This snowstorm brought much more of the white stuff, and they made some cool tunnels & air soft forts...)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Our "Big Game Bash" Parties

Here are a couple of pics from the two parties we hosted. We were planning one giant blowout with a 16-foot screen, but we quickly retooled our plans to fit within the suggested guidelines from the NFL, CBS, the apparent copyright laws, and Oprah (OK, I don't think Oprah was involved, though I think she owns most everything....the promo with her and Letterman during the "big game" was one of my favorite of the night!)

We hosted our parties for those in our community from 4 homeless shelters. We split the locations in at our place, another at the Christian Center Rescue Ministry. And we kept the screens at regulation size. Oh, and the good guys won! A couple pics......

This first pic is from the Christian Center dining room. We got there early to set up the tech stuff, decorate, and essentially roll out the red carpet. Many of those who attended were either residents of the shelter, or folks that visit there for a hot meal. Had a good mix of both Bears and Colts fans.

This is a glimpse of the scene at our place. We decked it out very cool. We were planning the 16-foot screen for this room, but instead went with the regulation 55-inch image. Small, but we made it work. Very cool event, and something that I hope we'll do annually. And perhaps we can find a resolution with the powers that be to let us do one big event in the future!

Church Super Bowl Parties Sacked by NFL

You undoubtedly heard the uproar last week regarding the NFL "coming down on churches and their Super Bowl parties." Well, at least that's how it was reported. Truth is, it all started with one church that 1) promoted an admission fee (although is was more of a 'we're getting pizza, and you can chip in if you want'), 2) planned to promote the image larger than the mandated 55 inches (they planned to go with a 12-foot screen), and 3) created their own logo that included the words Super Bowl. OK, so all of that was a no-no. #'s 1 and 3 are easy to just not do - and the church said as much. However, the screen size issue was the final back-breaker, since it's kinda hard to have 100 to 200 people and not have a screen of some size. I suppose another issue was combining their copyrighted event with some sort of "video testimony" or some other message. So instead of watching a video about NFL players who are Christians, they want us watching Prince and the newest Bud Light commercial. I guess I do understand that at least a little, not that I like it at all. I guess their "product" can be attached to any other kind of message or propoganda other than what churches might provide (Amway, Tupperware, KKK, etc.)

This has been labeled so many ways..."The NFL cracking down on churches"..."The Evil One wins a victory against the church", etc. Really? Sounds like the NFL just pointed out to one church (it was pretty easy to see their new logo & all their details on their website, or we would never have known), that they were in violation of a federal copyright law. Somehow, that story was leaked to the Indy Star, which got it on the evening news, which caused all sorts of uproar here in central Indiana (I'm curious to know if this was an issue anywhere but here, since the national media didn't really give it much attention). Truth is, those of us who have had Super Bowl, er, Big Game Bashes for the past buncha years (how long has the S.B. been around??), well, we've been in violation of copyright law. Every time we've done it, though we had no clue, no one was hurt, and a good time was had by all.

What should our response be? First, we should obey the law. Of course, there will be those (I'll call them "boneheads" who give all Christians a bad name) who see this as a chance to "stand up for what is right" and do their event anyway. Really? Stand up for what is right? Teach the impressionable youth you're trying to reach that if a law doesn't suit your fancy, no problem. Just ignore it! Aren't our prisons overflowing with folks who live by this philosophy? Nice going.

But I don't think we should avoid some discussion. I do think there are some solutions that can be found that wouldn't harm the product the NFL has with CBS (or whomever), would fit w/in the guidelines of the law, and would allow us to build this cultural phenomenon into a ministry event. So let's talk to the NFL, to our lawmakers, to the folks at CBS, etc., and try to find some common ground. All of this talk about a victory for Satan? Let's cut that out. I didn't hear anyone taking away our religious freedom or forcing us to stop praying, meeting, worship, etc. Whatever the response from Christians, I hope we're taking the opportunity to be salt & light in this conversation.

All that said, this cartoon made me laugh from the Indy Star. Also, see the previous post for a couple of pics from our retooled, sized-down, Big Game Bash party that fit within the stipulations that were so public the last several days.

Picture Worth a Thousand Words

This pic was apparently taken after the game. Word is, the team says the Lord's Prayer together after games. Pretty cool. I'm not a big fan of the "God helped us win" lingo that you sometimes hear from some athletes. But I think Dungy uses the platform of fame & recognition very well to put the fame on God, not on himself. Just a terrific person and example.

Thomas Merton quote

"If you want to identify me ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, and ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the things I want to live for. Between those two answers you can determine the identity of any person." -Thomas Merton The Man in the Sycamore Tree

Friday, February 02, 2007

The NFL - No Fun League

HDTV Receiver for the big game - $200

Renting a big projection screen - $100

HDTV antenna - $40

Pizza for 70-80 homeless - $250

Pop, chips, cookies, etc. - $200

The NFL sacking the plans of churches nationwide and not letting them show the game on a screen big enough for more than about 15 people and not allowing more than one screen in the building and generally flexing its "Nielsen Ratings" muscle and creating a PR nightmare for itself: PRICELESS...