The Grieving of Job

Beginning tomorrow, after a year and a half of sharing daily devotions on the red letter words of Christ in the gospels, I will shift my focus for a bit to the words of Job in the book named for him. My heart in sharing will be developing an understanding of the grieving process and what we can learn from someone who is suffering in deep pain. I hope that you will consider joining me in these devotional bloggings at my faith blog, An Eye for Redemption.

The Artist | ★★★★

I take exception to the rave reviews about this yawner of a flick. I think that reviewers have been caught up in the "ground breaking" aspect of this film and have largely ignored the overall boring factor of silent movies. I thought that the black and white filming gave it a dull image and cast the tone for the movie.

There were parts of it that were entertaining and I think that I would have enjoyed it if it were a one hour made for television endeavor. That said, I think that the lead actor, Jean Dujardin, did a great job in such a limited venue. His facial expressions and dance steps made the movie barely bearable.

For these reasons, on a scale of ten, I give this movie ★★★★.

Does God Hear Slurred Prayers?

My blogging friend Heather shared a wonderful post today. Here is an excerpt from it:
"I’m a little embarrassed to admit that when I first got into recovery, it shocked me to see God so clearly at work in the lives of people who didn’t call him by the “right” name or necessarily identify themselves as Christians.

The longer I attended meetings among such folks, the more I saw that not only was God helping them to recover, in many cases, they depended on him in a more actual way than I ever had—like a crippled person leans on and trusts a cane.

I noticed something else, too. No matter what people called their “higher power,” it always sounded a lot like the Christian God of the Bible—good, loving, just, and forgiving."
I suggest that you read all of Heather's thoughts here - and maybe follow her blog in your reader.

How will the High Court Rule on Obamacare?

Back in March Danial Fisher of Forbes Magazine said that Obamacare Will Survive The Supreme Court. Here was his rationale back the:
  • Justice Kennedy wasn't convinced by arguments healthcare isn’t a market Congress can regulate.
  • Chief Justice Roberts wasn't convinced the Supreme Court has the institutional competency to unravel 2,700 pages of legislation, most of which even he hasn't read.
  • Kennedy and Roberts, as moderate conservatives, will have a hard time getting past the idea they are substituting their wisdom for that of elected representatives if they strike down the law.
I honestly have no clue what they wil announce tomorrow and I doubt that many of the pundits do either. What do you think the high court will do? Any clue? If you are reading after the announcement - were you surprised? Will it affect this years election?

How to Get the Best Cup

Lifehacker has a few good tips on How to Get the Best Cup from an Auto-Drip Coffee Maker. Here they are:

THE BEANS :: Coffee goes stale quickly and the process goes even faster when the beans are already ground, so stick with whole beans. If you're stuck with a grocery store brand be sure to look for a roasting date on the package so you can get something fresh-ish.

THE GRIND :: Coffee gets its flavor and aroma during a process called extraction when the hot water passes through the ground up beans. If this happens too quickly, the coffee will be weak; if it happens too slowly, it will be bitter. The speed of this is decided by how fine the grind of the coffee is.

THE FILTER :: For most auto drip coffee makers you want a fine or medium grind depending on the type of filter your coffee maker uses. Here's an estimation of how fine to grind it:
  • Flat Bottom Filters: Medium (close to the texture of sand).
  • Cone Shaped Filters: Medium/Fine (A little finer than granulated sugar).
  • Gold/Plastic Permanent Filters: Medium.
THE WATER :: Since a cup of coffee is mostly water, the quality of that water is important. If you live in an area where tap water isn't very good then use filtered water for your coffee. You might think the taste of coffee can overwhelm the taste of bad water, but it doesn't.

THE RATIO :: You need to play around and get your water to coffee ratio right. In general, you want about 1 or 2 tablespoons of ground coffee per six ounces of water. Your preferences may vary, so feel free to try different amounts. Once you get a good ratio, stick with it.

THE POT :: If you're in the market for a new coffee maker it's worth it to splurge on one that pours directly into a thermal carafe because they don't use the heating element that burns coffee.

THE CLEANING :: If you're making coffee every day it's important to clean and spray out the carafe daily because otherwise you're just getting a second taste of yesterday's brew. You should also clean out the whole system at least once a month, but if you're a daily drinker then once a week is recommended.

Always from the Noblest Motives

The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls. -Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Each of us travels for motives exclusively his own. -Ella Maillart

The moment there is suspicion about a person's motives, everything he does becomes tainted. -Mahatma Gandhi

People's behavior makes sense if you think about it in terms of their goals, needs, and motives. -Thomas Mann

We would frequently be ashamed of our good deeds if people saw all of the motives that produced them. -La Rochefoucauld

Whenever a man does a thoroughly stupid thing, it is always from the noblest motives. -Oscar Wilde

Our souls may lose their peace and even disturb other people's, if we are always criticizing trivial actions - which often are not real defects at all, but we construe them wrongly through our ignorance of their motives. -Saint Teresa

But behavior in the human being is sometimes a defense, a way of concealing motives and thoughts, as language can be a way of hiding your thoughts and preventing communication. -Abraham Maslow

The Cremation Question

In his current sermon series our pastor, Adam Hamilton, is dealing with death issues. Here is his take on cremation:

An increasing number of people are choosing cremation today. Does the Bible give any guidance as to whether this is acceptable to God? Are the remains of our earthly body somehow needed at the final resurrection so that cremation would keep us from experiencing the resurrection? Here are a few of my thoughts:

  1. Our earthly bodies are not what is resurrected at the final judgment. We are given, Paul teaches, a new heavenly body.
  2. Christian martyrs have been burned throughout the centuries, and Christians have died in house fires, through fire in war, and in tragedies like 911. No one doubts that God will raise them up with a resurrection body.
  3. Cremation simply expedites the decomposition process and avoids more costly forms of burial.
  4. King David cremated Saul and his good friend Jonathon after they were killed by the Philistines - I don't believe he would have done this with his friend had he believed this dishonored Jonathon or offended God.

Adam goes on to say that he himself plans to be cremated and have his ashes inurned at the church's memorial garden. Ann and I are also leaning towards cremation. How about you? Have you ever considered cremation?

Social Media Donuts

This image makes me feel sorry for Google Plus.

I do wonder why G+ has never really taken off in the Social Media world. I go there a few times a day and find the content to be a bit different than stuff on FB & Twitter.

If you feel sorry for Google, click on the G+ image on the right and add me to your circles. If you don't want to do that check me out (above) on Twitter or Facebook. :)

This blog is so Cliché

I added a new tag, CLICHË, to my blog yesterday when I wrote about God's timing being perfect. It got me to thinking about all of the ways that we speak in clichés. This site claims to be the largest collections of clichés. Here are a few of my favorites.

     "Already got one paw on the chicken coop"

     "Eat your own dog food"

     "Show them how the cow ate the cabbage"

Take a look at their list and let me know if there is one you like.

Is God's Timing Perfect?

Saw this image on Facebook today and was reminded that this is the third time I have written about timing. The last time I wrote about having Faith in His Timing. Three years ago I shared a few quotes about Timing. There is something about this issue of things happening at the "right time" that captivates all of us.

I think that it stems from the ideas of sovereignty and providence. The former being "God's absolute right and ability to do all things according to his will" and the latter "the foreseeing care and guidance of God over His creation". Here is what, in part, I shared on that a few years ago in a post that I called
"I like Providence more than Sovereignty":
"We can error if we believe that because God is sovereign He wills bad things to happen us. We can also mistakenly take His providential care for granted thinking that our actions are not important because He can use bad stuff as well as good."
So when I think about God's timing being perfect I don't think of timing so much as a sovereign chronology of time but more as an opportunity to trust in the providential care and presence of God. I think more of God being there when things happen rather than God making things to happen. Maybe is more about the perfect presence of God rather than the perfect timing of God? What do you think about these ideas of sovereignty, providence and perfect timing?

Nelly Don

I can see this bit of street art (pictured below) from the deck of my loft in Kansas City and have wondered what the story was behind the image. Here is a bit of it from

John and Catherine Quinlan had 13 children. Nell was the 12th child and the fifth daughter. She was christened Ellen Howard Quinlan but her older sisters quickly took to calling her Nell. She grew up in the small railroad town of Parsons, Kansas, where her father worked as a farmer and worked in the shop at the Katy Railroad. ... Nell was relegated to wearing hand-me-down clothes from her older sisters and learned to sew early on so as to repair and re-size the clothes that she was given.
At age 16 she moved to Kansas City in 1905. Nell did not want to wear the everyday Mother Hubbard fashions women were resigned to wearing in those days so she started making her own dresses. She gave them away to her family, friends and neighbors who soon encouraged her to sell them, which she did. In 1916, Peck's Dry Goods Store in Kansas City ordered 18 dozen of Nell's dresses and her business was off and running.

The name "Nelly Don" was a creative transposition of Donnelly (i.e Don Nelly), her husband's last name, and her nickname. By 1923, Nell had 250 employees. By 1931, Nell had more than a thousand employees and $3.5 million in sales. Her factory was making five-thousand dresses a day and continued to do so under her leadership for the next 25 years. ... Nelly Don manufactured 75 million dresses from 1916 to 1978 making it the largest dress manufacturer of the 20th century. They were one of the first companies to apply assembly line techniques to clothing manufacturing. It was reported that she only had to dismiss one employee in the entire history of the company.
Nell was greatly loved by her employees. She was the largest manufacturer of women's military and work clothing during World War II. She fought unionization successfully. In 1947 she built the largest dress manufacturing plant in the world. Nell lived to be 102 years old, outliving all her brothers and sisters.

What doesn't kill you can make you stronger!

Saw this on Facebook and thought that I'd share here. I have experienced these three choices. I have gotten bitter over tragedy. I have let bad things define me. And thankfully these days (most of the time) those things are helping strengthen me and make me a better man. Can you relate?

Legal Loopholes for No Call Lists

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with a young man who called me on my home phone wanting to ask me some survey questions. I answered some of his questions but balked at many of them. He was a nice guy and I had an interesting conversation with him. When I told him that our number was on the "no call" list he informed me that the list only applied to telemarketers and not survey companies. Reminds me of the new "no call" law for cell phones just signed by Missouri governor Jay Nixon. Like other "no call" laws this new Missouri law doesn’t apply to unsolicited charitable or political phone calls and texts. Loopholes like these drive me crazy. Why should telemarketers be exempted from pestering me just because they work for a survey taker, charity or political group? Anybody else bothered by telemarketers or do you just screen your calls?

The Volkswagen E-Bugster Electric Car

I think that I can see this VW going electric. How about you?

Android to iPhone :: Been there. Done That.

The above chart is from a post titled "Android ICS already offers more than what is coming in iOS 6". A clip from it:
iOS 6 is a welcome update for iOS fans. iOS 5 Apple borrowed quite a bit from multiple platforms and improved the user interface elements. It looks like they did the same again, but ICS already has some solid user interface elements for these features and the differentiation isn’t as great as it used to be.

I find it hilarious that Apple compares the percentage of iPhone owners using the latest OS with Android when there is just a single device released from Apple each year and many released with Android. If there was just one Android phone, then of course everyone would be on ICS. It’s a dumb comparison made to slam Android.

With Google likely to reveal Jelly Bean later this month at Google I/O I can understand why analysts predict iOS to continue with a fairly flat rate of adoption.
Interesting thoughts. If you like the SIRI app for iPhone you might want to read "What’s better than Apple’s Siri? Android’s Tap & Speak, that’s what". Do you own iPhone or Android phone? What do you think of this comparison?

The Radical Center

I just finished leading a six week discussion group on this great book written by our senior pastor. These excerpts from the last chapter of the book wraps up this idea of seeing gray and being a part of the radical center:

"Some characterize the Christian center as middle-of-the-road or wishy-washy. It is neither. A word that many in the center have often used to describe themselves is "moderate". But I don't believe that the Christian center is moderate either. What does it mean to take something is "moderation"? When we speak of eating or drinking in moderation, we mean that people consume in smaller portions. But I don't want to take my faith in moderation, or encourage others to do this. I am not interested in this kind of tepid faith."

"The radical center holds together a liberal spirit that is open-minded, searching for truth, generous, and always reforming, with a conserving spirit that is unwilling to discard historic truths simply because they are historic. It is willing to question anything but requires a high level of evidence before setting aside what has been treasured as truth by previous generations."

"The radical center holds that God gave us both an intellect and a heart and that both are essential to our faith."

I have never been comfortable with the moderate descriptor yet I so resonate with being a part of the radical center. In my thinking God and life are so much bigger that the narrow black or white imagery that folks in the extremes embrace.

The Iron Lady | ★★★★★★★★

I did not have very high expectations of the this movie when I watched it last night. The word on the street was that Meryl Streep's performance of Margaret Thatcher was the only thing worth seeing. Now that I have seen it, I beg to disagree. In my opinion, the retelling of a contemporary leader's story has to be a very difficult venture. Yet this story was filled with such humanity and frailty. We see Thatcher at her peak of power and at the low points of her older age. For sure, Streep plays her with such a way that she becomes Thatcher in every way. But the story is what captivated me the most. Her passion for life, her drive for power and her stumblings once in office were all teachable moments. Yet I found that the grieving of that older widow was what moved me the most. Anyone who has an interest in politics or is interested women's rights should see this movie.

On a scale of ten I give this biopic ★★★★★★★★.

Dramatic Impact

I spent hours this weekend with a good friend as we ministered to prisoners at the Lansing Correctional Facility. On Friday night he shared the entire book of Philippians (combined with a bit of 1Corinthians) from memory dressed as the Apostle Paul. Hearing the scripture spoken to us with humor, compassion and tenderness made me feel like I was transported back in time and hearing these words for the first time. Kudos to my friend Rob (pictured left). Contact Rob at Dramatic Impact Ministries if your group would like to experience this kind of ministry first hand.

Coffee: Bag or K-Cup? Which is best?

According to an answer at a Yahoo forum that asked the question: "How many 12 ounce cups of coffee can I make with an 11 oz bag of coffee grinds?":

"There are about 52 tablespoons of coffee in a 11 ounce bag. I use about 1 tablespoon per cup of coffee on my drip machine. Each cup is 6 ounces. So, about 26 12 ounce cups or 52 coffee maker cups."

So I got to comparing the cost of an 11oz bag of Starbucks Verona coffee that I pay about 8 bucks for with a comparable amount of K-Cups that people are spending much more for and wonder why folks use K-Cups? Is it all about the convenience?

Old Testament Christianity

I do not mean to offer an exhaustive discussion about this but thought that I might offer a few things that bug me about the Old Testament imagery that I often see in the church these days. With that in mind I offer these words that are often used in church circles and my rants about them:
  • altar: I grew up in the Episcopal church where we had an altar located at the front of the building. Looking back I think that it is an odd carry over from the days of animal sacrifices. Not sure but I think that it was probably initiated by Roman Catholics who see communion as a re-sacrificing of Christ in communion.
  • priest: In my childhood church leaders were priests and we addressed them by "father". This idea is such a throwback to a Levitical order. Why do church folks continue to be so infatuated with titles like reverend, pastor or bishop when Jesus seemed to indicate that we should not be all about titles?
  • tithe: The idea that God is owed ten percent is an interesting idea. My thinking is that Moses had to give the Israelis a number because of the hardness of their hearts. Even so, I cannot imagine why anyone would mention such a limiting idea to folks who are called to generosity and loving charity.
  • prophet: Over the years I have witnessed strange things spoken by so-called prophets. My reading of the verses that speak about spiritual gifts doesn't leave me with the idea that God wanted to establish the position of prophet but rather raise up prophetic people. We limit this idea when we call people by a gift.
  • law: My life was been a convoluted mess when I embraced the idea that the bible was all about rules for living. Could it be that our desire for rules or laws is a sign that something is broken? It seems to me that Jesus spoke to this brokenness in the Sermon on the Mount when he contrasted internal brokenness and ineffective external laws.
  • sabbath: I am not thinking so much about the idea that humans need a day of rest but more about the idea that one specific day should be designated as that day that we go to a religious building. This idea seems to be rooted in Judaism where people worshiped on the Sabbath. Seems to me that worship is more of a lifestyle than a day.
I wonder what you think about these words. Do you think that churches today have embraced ideas that are rooted in the Old Testament? Or maybe you see things much differently than I do. I would love to hear your perspective.

Brother Lawrence

Have you ever heard of Brother Lawrence or his book, "The Practice of the Presence of God"? Did you know that he did not actually pen the book? And did you know that he was not really a monk in the theological/clerical aspect of the position? The following narrative and quotes are excerpted from

Brother Lawrence, born Nicholas Herman, a lowly and unlearned man, who, after having been a footman and soldier, was admitted a Lay Brother among the barefooted Carmelites at Paris in 1666, and was afterwards known as "Brother Lawrence."

Nicholas entered the priory in Paris as a lay brother, not having the education necessary to become a cleric, and took the religious name, "Lawrence of the Resurrection". He spent almost all of the rest of his life within the walls of the priory, working in the kitchen for most of his life and as a repairer of sandals in his later years.

Despite his lowly position in life and the priory, his character attracted many to him. He had a reputation for experiencing profound peace and visitors came to seek spiritual guidance from him. The wisdom he passed on to them, in conversations and in letters, would later become the basis for the book, The Practice of the Presence of God. Father Joseph de Beaufort, later vicar general to the Archbishop of Paris, compiled this work after Brother Lawrence died. It became popular among Catholics and Protestants alike, with John Wesley and A. W. Tozer recommending it to others.

"Let us think often that our only business in this life is to please God. Perhaps all besides is but folly and vanity."

"You need not cry very loud; he is nearer to us than we think."

"We ought to act with God in the greatest simplicity, speak to Him frankly and plainly, and implore His assistance in our affairs."

"A little lifting of the heart suffices; a little remembrance of God, one act of inward worship are prayers which, however short, are nevertheless acceptable to God."

"Many things are possible for the person who has hope. Even more is possible for the person who has faith. And still more is possible for the person who knows how to love. But everything is possible for the person who practices all three virtues."

"We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed."

Reading about Brother Lawrence this morning, and hearing what he said, reminded me that serving God is all about what we do when no one is looking. I think that practicing the presence of God is so much more than a religious cliché.

Count Me Out for #10

A little weekend humor that I found on G+

I grew up riding elevators in high school in Brooklyn and work in Manhattan but I cannot remember witnessing any like these annoyances.  Two years ago we moved to a building with an elevator - have not seen any bad behavior here.

The highest elevator ride I have had is to the top of the Empire State Building. Also rode the one in Lady Liberty. Not bad for Vertigo Bob. :)

Have you ever had a weird elevator experience? What is your highest elevator ride?

Just call me Kansas Bubba!

Bet you did not know about National Bubba Day!

Who is your favorite Bubba? Mine is golfer Bubba Watson.

This website says the day honors anyone named or called Bubba and that we can all celebrate by taking on the name "Bubba" for just the day.

So tomorrow you may address me as Kansas Bubba!