Saturday, January 30, 2010


Tim Tebow is scheduled to appear in a 30 second Super Bowl ad with his mother, telling of a time when doctors recommended an abortion and she chose life for Tim. The ad has sparked considerable controversy in part because of its sponsor, Focus on the Family. Tim has made no secret of his strong Christian faith and many have truly enjoyed the quality football leadership Tebow has provided, a leadership grounded in the values of Christ he has sought to embody with his life actions.

It is a terrific shame that he is being castigated for participating in something that is called "offensive", "bad taste" and "religious extremism." Even though the ad has taken strong measures to emphasize a "celebration of life" theme--it particularly being criticized by "pro choice" forces who often only seem to celebrate a "choice for abortion." If Tebow's message is offensive or religious extremism, then how am I to categorize the message put out by the powerful media and political forces being arrayed against Tebow and the ad's sponsor, Focus on the Family?

The "bad taste" argument is perhaps the most absurd. "whazzaaaa!!!!!!" or Go-Daddy's gyrating women ads surely earn that label far more honestly. Super Bowl ads have become a cultural phenomenon--a pop cultural display that often leads many of us scratching our heads thinking "That was worth 2 million dollars?"

Somehow an ad with some socially redeeming value impresses me more. Telling people that life is sacred - now that is priceless!

Thursday, January 28, 2010


I was on the phone to my wife last night--who is in Kentucky babysitting our grandson Jake. As such, I didn't get the television turned on to the State of the Union address until it was underway several minutes. I came in just as Mr. Obama had completed a joke. I even missed the punch line. It must have been bipartisan humor as the first camera angle took us to Congressman John Boehner (R-Ohio) who has laughing heartily, then back to Nancy Pelosi (D-California) who was bouncing to her feet applauding. To be honest, I take State of the Union messages with a grain of salt. They are filled with plans and platitudes that make great sound bytes but soon meet the gridlock of Congress and the backroom activity of the special interest groups and lobbyists, who hope to reshape any idea into their own image.

I suspect this sounds a bit cynical, or at least jaded. Unfortunately, I am one of growing number of Americans who are tired of failed promises and political posturing that leads us in circles -- that doesn't really lead us anywhere, except back to where we have been and "another day older and deeper in debt." (Are some of you old enough to remember Tennessee Ernie Ford's classic Sixteen Tons?)

One of things that we should have learned from last week's election in Massachusetts is that there is growing group in America, which may have reached majority status. They steadfastly refuse to be in lock step support of either Democrats or Republicans. They are called the Independent voters. The State of the Union is in such a state that we need all Americans to work together for the common good. This does not mean the common good as defined by a political party or ideology. This means a common good the seeks to maturely accept the interdependence of Americans instead of having so many Americans continue to declare their independence.

Later today I will read the text of this particular message to see if Mr. Obama understands the common good as President of all the people, not just as a Democratic office holder. And I will read the responses to see the Republican leadership is really committed to the common good. And to see if the Democrats have figured it out as well.

In the meantime - "Go Colts!" Peyton Manning for President!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


This morning they reported that still another person had been pulled from the rubble of Port-au-Prince --- alive. Late last week I saw a news report of a man who had escaped his home as it collapsed in the initial quake. His wife was still inside. He was convinced she was alive and remained doggedly next to the terrible mass of stone and boards lest a rescue team come by and not start digging for his wife. When she was carried out of the debris, she was singing a song of praise. Even the catastrophe-hardened reporter commented on the overwhelming example of love and dedication by a husband who refused to abandon his post until his wife was rescued.

Last week the Republicans won a crucial election in Massachusetts. This morning Toyota announced a massive recall of some of the most popular cars in America. Terrorists bombs have gone off in Iraq. American Idol is starting into crunch time. Tonight President Obama gives his State of the Union Message. All things that are important matters in the media. I continue to pray that they do not push Haiti out the back door. There is still much to do.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Yesterday morning I turned on The Today Show. I was eager to hear an update on the recovery efforts in Haiti. My thoughts and prayers have gone daily to this troubled island nation and its people. My church this Sunday is taking an offering for Haiti Relief. A few days ago I verbalized the thought that we might take a work team into Haiti to assist with the rebuilding. I already had my first volunteer.

My disappointment was great as none of the lead stories spoke of Haiti at all. We were treated first to story on John Edwards admission that he had lied about fathering a child during an adulterous affair he had while his wife was battling cancer. Next came a detailed story about Jay Leno's supplanting Conan O'Brien on The Tonight Show following a very public and acrimonious battle. Then we moved on to mudslides in Southern California (no one had died).

The remainder of the hour was used in filling out the John Edwards piece. It wasn't until the second half hour after we had spent time with a detailed report of Tiger Woods entering a sex addiction clinic that we finally got to Haiti.

200,000 people have died in Haiti, 250,000 are injured and as many as two million are homeless. The enormous tragedy still has not abated. People still have only received perhaps one or two meals in eight days. Loved ones are still missing. Perhaps 100,000 children have been orphaned.

Americans have often been accused of having short attention spans. Perhaps because politics and celebrities have a higher priority than our needy neighbors--both in Haiti and at home. Don't let Haiti out of your mind. Keep praying.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


A little over 30 years ago I made my first visit to Haiti. I was serving as the denominational youth director and flew in to conduct a youth retreat at our church and school at Borel in the Artibonite Valley of central Haiti. It was a somewhat sanitized visit where they carefully watched what I would eat lest I get sick and be unable to carry out my speaking assignment. My contacts were primarily missionaires and Haitian Christians, or doctors from the states working at our clinic at Pierre Payen (which is now recieving earthquake victims transported out of Port-au-Prince)- therefore my encounters were generally pleasant. Except for being bullied by an angry street vendor in Port who thought I should not hold so tightly onto my American dollars, I had no "bad moments" personally.

But what could not be hidden or sanitized was the extreme poverty of what was then called a "third world nation." Rivers of garbage running through the middle of Port-au-Prince, accident victims lying by the side of the road after being run down by a trucks, a gleeming new Shell Station with only rationed gas to sell, children with no clothes standing in the their "yards" bellied distended from hunger, children at the Albert Schweitzer hospital suffering from tetanus, people scavenging for food, people sitting by the roadside with looks of hopelessness in their eyes, soldiers at roadblock swaggering menacingly as they searched for who knows what oand suggesting that a bribe might move this faster. And in 1978 Haiti was relatively prosperous compared to today.

My second visit in 1998 did nothing to alleviate my original observations--except to see churches and Christian hospitals and school where hope and help were provided to people that their government had failed. But by now the hillsides were stripped of their trees to make charcoal to fuel cook fires. People were barely making $2-3 a month to have hard cash. Trash was everywhere and commodities that we could find at our local Turkey Hill or Seven Eleven were unavailable. We had to travel out of Port by a circuitous route because the US Marines could not assure the safety from the robber gangs in various parts of the city. By now Haiti had become what some would have to call a "fourth world country." In fact now, ten years later, there is no nation so poor and its people in such dire straits as Haiti. Some aggressive reinvestment plans initiated by the UN and former Presidents Clinton and Bush had barely taken hold when this earthquake struck, driving Haiti even deeper into a pit of problems and despair.

Supplies are finally getting out of the airport - barely. Despite one news commentator's callous comment, "the UN needs to get to work NOW", he obviously had not heard that the UN's presence had been devastated by the collapse of UN headquarters in the quake. The body of its chief officer found only yesterday in the rubble. The US military seems to be the most effective identity at this moment to help the Haitians, and even they must contend with logistical problems on the ground that make their work extremely difficult.

Right now - Haitian relief needs cash for supplies. Whatever your connection--church, Red Cross, whatever--stop packing clothes, boxing food and bottling water. Get the cash to the people who can use it best to help the Haitianms.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Walt Mueller from the Center for Parent and Youth Understanding in his blog LEARNING MY LINES shares some vital observations that I enocurage you read by following this link.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


November 10, 2009 the Eagles and the Cowboys renewed their annual rivalry for supremacy in the NFC's Eastern Division. The Cowboys won, then stumbled a bit. The Eagles recovered and have finished strong. This game will decide the division title and the seeding in the NFC playoffs. Ironically, one highly possible scenario has them facing each other again the first week of those playoffs. I was raised in western Ohio as a Cleveland Browns fan and remain such. Yet, who can deny the appeal of the "home town" favorite--the Eagles? Plus, I like Donovan McNabb. In a world of self-centered superstars, he is a man of character who is concerned about his teammates. He has battled back from the adversity of the unforgiving Philadelphia fans, several person injuries, and the divisive tantrums of Terrell Owens. I'd love to see McNabb and the Eagles get back to the Super Bowl. Rooting for the Eagles was a no-brainer, especially against a team that arrogantly calls itself "America's team" and has playboy Tony Romo at QB.

The next night I watched the Chicago Bears come alive and wipe out the Minnesota Vikings. What cheered me most was the defeat of Brett Favre. Favre has become an icon of a self-serving athleticism. He thinks he's bigger than his coach. He famously retired from the Packers and then tried to take back his QB job after Aaron Rogers, who had labored diligently to be Favre's successor, had been given it--without regard to the long term impact of undermining Rogers development in pursuit of an old man's ego-dream. Plus Lovie Smith, the Bears coach and a model of Christian integrity, had been under attack for a failing team--even though the real problem has been all along the injuries to key players.

We often choose our allegiances based on individuals that admire. In a world where the villains and dark-siders win too often, we are encouraged when the nice guys win.

GO EAGLES !!!!!!!!!

Friday, January 1, 2010


Henry and Richard Blackaby have written:
"Jesus does not need your resolutions, your recommitments, or your promises to try harder ... if you really love Him, your service for Him in the new year will
be of the quality He desires."

My "my new year" began around 3:30 this morning. I wasn't up particularly late New Year's Eve and normally this is when I awaken and begin my day. Not too many others are up at that hour and I try not to make too much noise lest I disturb my wife, who sleeps until at least 8:30-9:00 am if she can help it. So I went to Facebook to get caught up on friends around the country.

Typically, New Year's Resolutions was the theme for the first day of the year. There were a number of offerings, but none more extensive nor more creative than that of my brother-in-law Bosie Martin of Columbia, South Carolina. Among his resolutions:

* Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a beggar.
* Make time to pray.

* Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
* Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
* Dream more while you're awake.

* Each day give something good to others.
* Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Keep in touch.

LIFE ----
* Do the right thing!
* Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful, or joyful.
* When you wake alive in the morning, thank God for it!

A lot of wisdom there and I suspect, a good pattern by which to live in 2010. But in my morning quiet time, I came across the above comment from the Blackabys based on Jesus' question to Simon Peter, following Peter's betrayal of Jesus. Having basically blown it, Peter was given a chance to start over (sort of like a new year) and Jesus asked "Do you love me?" Actually it became three questions boiling down to essentially this, "Do you love me more than anything else?" In each case Peter answered in the affirmative, and in each case Jesus said "Care for my people, take care of those I love and care for."

We all make resolutions--and most of us break them or forget them within weeks of making them. Usually the more complicated, the more likely they are to fail. So perhaps the best way to sum up our strategy for the new opportunities of a new year is simply "to serve one another out of the love of Christ" and see what results.