Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Giver of Rain

"Ask the Lord for rain in the springtime; it is the Lord who makes the storm clouds. He gives showers of rain to men and plants of the field to everyone." -Zechariah 10:1

I really like this verse and the perspective it gives on who is in control of nature. In Biblical times, rain was a hugely important part of their agrarian society. When it didn't rain, that meant the crops weren't going to grow and with no crops you were in a tight spot.

The rain is something that isn't within our ability to control but definitely within God's. It doesn't do to worry about that which we can't control. By remembering that He is in control of the rain, we keep in mind the One who provides for us in all things whether physically, financially, emotionally, or in some other area. The peace that comes from this trust goes a far piece down the road.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Singing Christmas Tree

On Friday evening, I went to the Singing Christmas Tree at Pleasant Valley Baptist Church. They had some really fun music and drama as well as more reflective types of music to focus on the Biblical aspects of Christmas. The evening was finished off with the audience invited to sing the Hallelujah chorus with the choir/tree.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Is the Government the Best Doctor for the Economy?

While I think there are some things that the government can do to assist the economy and companies through legislation, I am very much in support of a free market system. It is aggravating that financial companies, insurance companies, and now the auto industry have made business decisions which have led them to the brink of collapse and then ask for the US taxpayers to bail them out. These same companies charge high prices to the very taxpayers they are receiving a rescue package from.

By dilly dallying around and not significantly improving car quality compared to foreign cars, the big three have allowed foreign car makers to overtake them through better a better quality product. Consumers can not be expected to "buy American" if American made cars do not offer the same quality level. It is a matter of survival of the fittest. Yes, there are some good quality American made cars but in several cases the comparable foreign cars are simply better.

While I sincerely hope the American car companies can improve in quality and in their business practices, it is not right for the taxpayers to provide a rescue to them for a crisis they have brought much on themselves.

An area I do agree with the government on is the request for management changes if assistance is to be provided. A leader must take responsibility for where his or her organization is at and the current dire straits of the companies are largely the responsibility of the executives in charge.

If a parent always bails out a child whenever they get in a tough spot, it does not encourage the child to take responsibility for his or her actions. Similarly, I think that companies should be allowed to go through some tough times to encourage them to make wiser and more responsible business decisions. I sympathize with the individual employees who work for these companies that may suffer. My hope is that companies will turn things around, become competitive and prosper in the future.

One way the government can help is by working with countries that have trade embargoes and tariffs in place. By pursuing fairer market practices internationally, the worldwide economy will benefit.

From a government involvement perspective, I understand the desire to stimulate the economy but at times, it is better to let things run their course. If we compare the economy to the human body being sick, government interaction is like pumping drugs into the body to make it well again. Can it work? Sure.

At the same time, the government is not always the best doctor and does not always prescribe the right medicine. When these cash infusions, funded based on budget deficits and increasing debt loads, are pumped into the market, sometimes they help and sometimes they don't. There are also the ever present lobbyists pushing agendas and skimming precious dollars off the top that are intended to help the economy not line the pockets of lobbyists. The best medicine is a dose of thoughtful planning followed by a regimen of good business practices.

I believe the economy has the ability to heal itself if the government will stay out of the way and allow things to settle down. America's economy and business community is resilient and will bounce back in time.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Kansas Basketball

Today, I went to the University of Kansas basketball game against Jackson State at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas. For those who don't know, James Naismith, the father of basketball, invented basketball a few years before joining the University of Kansas as a physical education teacher and the first University of Kansas basketball coach in 1898. One of his players, Phog Allen also went on to coach the KU basketball team and became the 3rd winningest coach at the time of his retirement. While Allen was at KU, he coached legendary coaches Dean Smith and Adolph Rupp the number 1 and 2 winningest coaches prior to Bobby Knight passing Smith's record.

The Jayhawks won the game by a fairly large margin after Jackson State played them very close during the first half. When opposing players are shooting free throws, the students "wave the wheat" by holding their arms to one side then shifting them just as the player is about to shoot. They also roll the wheat. Each of these are intended to distract opposing players and I can definitely see how they would need to focus intently on the basket to keep it from distracting them.

I'm still trying to figure out exactly what a Jayhawk is and what "Rock chalk, Jayhawk" means. I gather it's something to the effect of "we wish you well in your endeavors to obliterate the opposition."

What It's Like

Asking out girls is a lot like jumping off the diving board. There's the nervous anticipation where you build up the guts to do it. Then once the jump is made, the question asked, a few moments of heart pounding free fall. This followed by either sweet success or painful flop.

Brave is he who after counting the cost takes the the plunge no matter the result.

Friday, November 28, 2008


This evening, I went to see the movie Fireproof. I was very impressed with the quality of both the technical components as well as the story. Kirk Cameron and Erin Bethea did a very good job in the lead roles and Ken Bevel was very good in the main supporting role. The story was told in a very believable way. Even for people who are not married, it provides a challenge to seek after the things of God and His purposes for ones life.

The main character, Caleb, is the captain of fire department who is a hero to many in the community but has challenges at home with his wife. At the beginning he is selfish and has anger management issues. Their marriage is on the rocks and heading for divorce when Caleb's father challenges him to take a "Love Dare" in which for 40 days he does things to be kind to and love his wife. Over the course of the 40 day period, his heart begins to change towards his wife and through an encounter with God he becomes a follower of Christ and turns his marriage around.

There were some intense moments as well as some lighted hearted fun moments. You always know it's a well made scene when your heart gets beating real fast. Sure there were a few parts where a $50 million Hollywood production might could have beefed up the quality a little but for a $500,000 budget I thought Sherwood Pictures did an outstanding job. This movie will be such an encouragement to so many couples to hang in there when the going's tough. The theater I went to was pretty much packed and this is about 2 months after the original release. If you haven't seen Fireproof yet, be sure to go check it out for an entertaining and uplifting movie.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Heaven Has Blue Carpet

Heaven Has Blue Carpet by Sharon Niedzinski

If you've ever thought you couldn't do something because you were unqualified, Sharon Niedzinski provides a modern day example of chasing a dream despite having no qualifications. While she was in the middle of raising a family in the land of Michigan suburbia, she and her husband purchased a farm when their real estate agent from several years past called them up out of the blue one day with a farm for sale. She had dreamed of living on a farm and raising sheep when this opportunity presented itself.

They sold their home packed up the kids and moved out to the farm. Niedzinski then proceeded to order a flock of white sheep to "decorate" the hillside. Knowing virtually nothing about shepherding, she quickly began reading up in the library, magazines, and asking questions to anyone who would listen to her. Over a number of years, she became an accomplished shepherd but not without some very humorous moments and tough labor involved.

The book is really a metaphor of mankind as sheep as portrayed so frequently in the Bible. The Master shepherd teaches her many lessons through the behavior of her sheep and how many times we act so similarly to sheep. She got an up close understanding of the examples throughout the Bible referencing sheep. The book was well crafted to incorporate timely scripture passages as she learns various lessons during her journey as a shepherd.

Also, incorporated in the book were sheep metaphors. The Good Grain section discusses points to absorb related to God's promises. The Shearing Shed is where we learn through difficult circumstances or God's "shearing" of us. Chew On This provides insights or topics to think about and discuss.

The only slightly annoying thing I found was Niedzinksi referring to her husband as "Honey" throughout the book and never by his actual first name. The reader gets used to it after a while but can be a little grating at first.

This book would be good to read as either an individual or as a part of a Bible study. There are plenty of discussion topics and scriptures to study in gaining perspective on life and the Bible's view of mankind as sheep. The humorous elements as well as the various pieces of wisdom shared based on the author's years as a shepherd will be enjoyable to anyone wanting a better understanding of sheep and how their actions parallel our own.

If you found this review helpful, please let Amazon know at this link.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ludacares Turkeys

On Sunday, I handed out turkeys as a part of my mom's school's partnership with the Ludacares program, a foundation set up by hip hop artist Ludacris. They identified needy families in the area and we handed out a turkey, sweet potatoes, collard greens, and a lemon meringue pie to each house. My Espanol came in handy for a couple of the houses. I believe all told 500 homes received the meal.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wild Goose Chase

Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson

In Batterson's follow up to In a Pit With a Lion On a Snowy Day (see here for review), he continues to challenge readers to pursue God given callings and break free of mediocrity and the status quo. Wild Goose Chase goes into further detail on some of the "cages" that hold us back from pursuing God's call on our lives.

Be careful though, don't read this book if you just want a warm fuzzy pick me up. Batterson is not afraid to get up in your face and make you uncomfortable. This is exactly the type of challenge that many people need. Rather than sitting back and being "irresponsibly responsible" he encourages readers to pursue "responsible irresponsibility." In other words sometimes, the Holy Spirit, known to Celtic Christians as the wild goose, will prompt you to do something which seems illogical on the surface but when seeking after and pursuing Him, will take you on adventures and higher heights never imaginable from the comforts of the routine.

The book is filled with examples of people who seek after the wild goose and do dangerous things. Satan is afraid of dangerous Christians. He much prefers nice timid Christians who are afraid to break out of the mold and pursue challenges laid before them by God. Like a wild animal in its natural environment, Batterson encourages us to be wild and dangerous in the environment God has called us to.

Read this book then go out and be a mighty warrior, chasing where the wild goose leads.

If you found this review helpful, please let Amazon know at this link.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Word of the Day

Eminence Grise: a person who wields power or exerts influence behind the scenes.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

La Jolla and Sunset Cliffs

On a recent trip to Southern California, I had the opportunity to check out some very nice scenery at La Jolla beach (pronounced la hoiya) and Sunset Cliffs in San Diego. Both were very beautiful and a part of the country I wouldn't mind spending a bit more time enjoying. While at La Jolla, I got to see some seals barking, playing in the water, and sunning themselves on the rocks. There were also a ton of Seagulls, Pelicans, and some black birds that made a sound like a straw going up and down in a cup. Since it was on Halloween, there was a random pumpkin on the lawn which a seagull was investigating and nibbling on. Not something you see every day.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Lost Your Cellphone?

If you ever misplace your cell phone and you know that it's close by but aren't sure where, check out Wheresmycellphone.com. It will give your phone a call so that you can hear and locate it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Kansas City Marathon & Half-Marathon

Here are a few pictures from the Kansas City Marathon & Half-Marathon that I took on Saturday. Along with a few friends, we spent the morning running from spot to spot along the course to cheer on Andy, Sue Ellen, and Sarah. Having run quite a few races myself, it's kind of fun to be on the sidelines cheering on people. I like the race organizer's idea of putting people's names on the race number so you can cheer for random people by name. The runners appreciate it.

For more pictures, please see the Community Faces link here.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Joshua Tree National Park

Last week I was in the Los Angeles area for work and while there I took a quick trip out to Joshua Tree National Park. Due to the sun going down earlier these days, it was almost dark when I arrived. Joshua Trees are very unique looking and a bit of a cross between a palm tree and cactus. They're suited for desert dwelling and the accompanying low quantity of rain.

I first became aware of the existence of Joshua Trees from the music album "The Joshua Tree" by the band U2.

On the way to Joshua Tree National Park, I saw a windmill farm with thousands of windmills. Due to the geography in that particular area, wind is funneled through the mountains and so the wind power is harnessed in using these windmills.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Japan Festival

A couple weekends ago, I went to the Japan Festival in Overland Park, KS. They had a variety of Japanese culture items such as bonsai trees, candy art making, martial arts, dance, and Taiko drumming. I also partook of some fairly tasty noodles mixed with salmon topped off by coconut cake which I don't believe was necessarily Japanese. Johnson County Community College hosted the event and it is assumed that some of their culinary students prepared said fare.

For more pictures please see the Community Faces link here.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Final Salute

Final Salute by Jim Sheeler

Final Salute looks deep into the inner part of grief and sorrow that is experienced by families affected by the war in Iraq. The numbers of people lost in the war reverberate and ripple through numerous lives both on the battle field and the home front. The thousands of lives lost represent tens of thousands of those who loved them and are affected by their deaths.

The book gives the reader a sense of intense sadness and loss but you don't want to stop reading it the way you don't want to stop listening to a sad song. It touches a nerve which gives a far deeper grasp of and sympathy for those who are directly affected. It helps put a face on the numerous fallen heroes.

Jim Sheeler tells each family's story genuinely and without a hidden agenda. When finished, the reader is left with a strong sense of the tremendous sacrifice given. The story is told from a variety of viewpoints including the wives and children, parents and siblings, fellow soldiers as well as casualty assistance officers who notify and provide support to the families once the news is shared with them.

Included in the book are striking photographs capturing moments throughout the families ordeals which provides an additional element of realness. Sheeler first wrote the stories for a newspaper which went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing.

Those who make flippant comment about the military would do well to read the deeply personal stories of these families and how the soldiers they loved willing volunteered and served their country. Politicians would also do well to read this book and put a face on the people and families they are sending into battle. If you want an understanding of the impact and loss experienced by countless families as a result of the war, read this book.

If you found this review helpful, please let Amazon know at this link.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


In this segment, we'll look at a topic related to online identity theft. From time to time you may receive legitimate emails from your bank. However, people called phishers sometimes send an email masquerading as if it were from a legitimate financial institution. The obvious homonym of fishing for phishing indicates the style of theft which occurs. Let's take a look at a couple of examples.

In this first example it appears to be a legitimate email from the security department at Bank of America. They request that you login to a specified site and provide information about your account. In the last line of the first paragraph, there is a misspelled word which reads "submin" when it should have been "submit." An official Bank of America communication would have at a minimum had a spell check completed. Another key sign if you note the address listed in the bottom left corner directs you to an address which is nothing like Bank of America's web address. This was found by hovering over the link instead of clicking on it. If a user goes to this site and provides the requested information, it is likely they would have wiped any money in the account.

In the second example, everything looks legitimate including the web address. However, if you note the other email addresses in the To: line, it looks very much like a bunch of auto generated email addresses. Phishers use software programs to automatically generate email addresses hoping that they send one to an actual address being used. They sometimes also use bots which browse the web and anytime an email address shows up online will capture it and use it when sending out this phishing spam.

Be very cautious anytime you receive an email from a financial institution and especially if they request your personally identifiable information. A legitimate institution will not ask for this information in the unsecure medium of email. When logging into a bank's website, always type the web address in yourself rather than following a link in an email. This helps ensure that you are at the actual bank's website and not a fraudulent site masquerading as a legitimate one.
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