Archive for August, 2008

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The Rain God Exposed

August 30, 2008

Vince, of the Nikao blog, rightly chastised Focus on the Family for going on record with a wish that God would rain all over the acceptance speech of Obama. I pointed out on that blog that this is more than just a whimsical wish on the part of FOTF, but actually playing around with Witchcraft praying (I wrote about this several months ago). Why would anyone want to see God rain judgment or anything else upon another human?

But I guess to be fair, now the other political viewpoint wants their share of the Rain God. Michael Moore is now thanking God that the latest hurricane may disrupt plans for the Republicans and their convention. You can read about it here.. As he continued the discussion with Keith Olbermann, it becomes clear that he is glad that God is bringing Gustav on a path of Disruption.

Where does the world get off claiming God as their own personal vendetta settler? I know that the human race has done this for centuries, but it has no veracity to it. Has no one read “Vengeance is mine” in the Bible. The particular Greek words that make up that phrase literally mean “Vengeance is my territory and only mine.” Not only are we not allowed to enter into the foray of enacting vengeance, it is not even our office to suggest where it ought to happen or to whom. I will assume this means we are not even to speculate where we think it has happened without God’s permission. I doubt Moore or Focus on the Family have received such an edict.

They would be well advised to read history and see what happened with the aftermath of the Lisbon Earthquake. So many groups during those early days of the Enlightenment were claiming God’s blessing on their path. Even the atheists were claiming that their non-reliance on God had some kind of magical blessing. But after the great earthquake shook the continent, many people despaired. One philosopher, Voltaire, deeply considered suicide, because to him the earthquake represented the end of society. Others looked outward and pointed fingers at one another and claimed God’s judgment everywhere. What baffled many people is that during the Lisbon earthquake, both protestant chapels and Catholic cathedrals were destroyed, but an entire row of brothels near the waterfront remained relatively untouched. What are we to conclude from that?

God is not our personal rain God, or destruction God, or “teach-them-a-lesson” God.

Sometimes, rain just happens.

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All Suffering Is Local

August 27, 2008

On September 11 at about 7 a.m. local time, my daughter and I hugged each other as we considered the implications of what we had just witnessed. She was up early to get to a CD production meeting at her charter school. The radio woke her with news all over its format instead of Avril Lavigne. She quickly got me up and told me we had to watch the news. It wasn’t hard to find. It was on most television stations.

I turned it on just minutes before the second plane hit the towers. As I said, she hugged me and I hugged her and we cried softly. All day I went through the motions of work, more captivated by hearing news than with feeling or carrying opinions. I want to say that I felt the pain of all those dead people and their mourning families. I guess there was a level of empathy that gave me enough space to feel some pain. But really, I just had the mentality of those who travel slowly by a car wreck to see if anyone could possibly survive. I wanted to be informed. I would sort out my feelings later.

My writing teacher that afternoon said we shouldn’t write anything about this day of horror for many months. A tragedy this extensive needs time to marinate and we need space to contemplate its deeper implications. So I didn’t write anything down about it. Today is actually the first time I have written about it at all. Let me tell you why. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Intersection Intercession – August 27, 2008

August 27, 2008

Today’s intersection for prayer is the corner of Blackrock Dr. and Del Paso Rd. This is the site of three of Natomas’ charter schools. It is also the site (right across the street) of Natomas’ newest Subsidized Housing conglomerate. As you can see, this intersection has many crime stats. Would you be willing to go down there this week and pray over this intersection?

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Not for Lack…

August 26, 2008

So someone sent me an email this weekend asking why my volume has decreased so much in recent weeks on the Blog.

Simply put, no one is reading it. Well, that would be an exaggeration, but not really. I can put it down to the Olympics, Internet fatigue or my waning abilities as a writer. All of which are legitimate reasons.

But a person writes to be read. This time last year, this blog was getting over 1,000 hits a week. Now it doesn’t generate that in a month. What discourages me is that our call to prayer and focus on intersections in Natomas may be the most important entries I have ever written.

Please don’t post your “here we are” comments below. I am not looking for sympathy or encouragement, just clarification. I have hundreds of things I want to talk about here…I don’t lack for material or ideas, but I do want to be effective in teaching and communicating.  But I have other ways to spend my time if this medium is no longer helpful. If you have a comment to me privately, just email it. If you have a theory why the traffic is down, then post it here.

UPDATE: I admit it. I made a mistake. There were 1,200 hits this month. So maybe the question is “Why are there so few comments?” One emailer said two minutes ago that it is because I won’t allow anonymous comments any more. So, you have your wish. There are now anonymous comments allowed. But don’t abuse the privilege please.

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Intersection Intercession – Northgate and W. El Camino

August 13, 2008

How easy is it to pray and intercede for the area around an intersection? It is about as simple as thinking. Here are four obvious and easy steps if you want to pray for a particular area.

1. Print off the picture and the crime map below these instructions. Then as you look at them, ask God what He wants you to be praying.

2. Whatever comes into your head, pray that.

3. If a burden comes to you and won’t leave, pray as many times as you like for that neighborhood until the burden does leave. If necessary, go to the intersection and either drive through or walk around it and keep praying.

4. Whatever God shows you to pray for, come back here and report what God showed you. For those who read this from the Bay Area or Temecula or Montana, you can still pray and God can still show you. God does not recognize how far away you are from a location to begin praying.

The intersection in question is one of the most crime-infested in our city. Northgate and W. El Camino has seen several violent episodes in recent months. But it is also very close to the location for the Greenhouse Ministries that are just a couple of blocks away. In addition, there is a ministry to orphaned children just a few blocks away from this intersection. Here is a picture and the crime stats.

El Camino and Northgate

El Camino and Northgate

Crime stats

Crime stats

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Self Esteem Attacks Feet

August 12, 2008

Poor self-esteem is a symptom of living in a world where we experience being cut off from God. To counter poor self-esteem, God spends so much time telling us of our value and of God’s love for us. But when we get suckered into focusing on ourselves too much we can see all our supposed imperfections.

Even feet.

This picture is from an online album of a friend of mine. She is a beautiful girl with a rich heart and a wonderful way with people. Here is the pic of her feet, taken with the feet of several of her friends this last weekend.

Fat Feet

Fat Feet

My friend’s comment on this pic: “My foot is the fat one“.

I looked for several minutes and couldn’t determine which one was the fat one. That just gave me one more reason to pray for all the women I know who think their feet are fat. Or who think that it matters.

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Don’t Waste Time on the Olympics

August 9, 2008

I didn’t say “don’t watch the Olympics”. Just don’t waste time by allowing the television coverage to suck you in like a black hole. It is so easy with events that don’t end (such as war coverage, the Olympics, election coverage, American Idol) to keep watching long past your original point of interest. After all, do you really care who wins the fencing competition?

Here is a way around that. NBC has over 2000 replays and live events on their website. You will only have to add a very small video program called “Silverlight” in order to view it but it only takes about a minute to add it. Just go to www.nbcolympics.com and everything else will be explanatory. This way you only watch the events you were originally interested in and you don’t get all the rest.

Now, excuse me while I go back to watching New Zealand and Mali in Women’s Basketball qualifying level, pool B.

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A Rant Against Repair Shops

August 8, 2008

Both of my sons are older than this guy. Now I don’t normally practice “ageism”, but I was annoyed. He was insulting my intelligence and I wanted him to know it wasn’t respectful.

“Four hundred dollars to change my transmission fluid?”. I was appalled.

“Well sir, you obviously haven’t had it done in this kind of car before. It takes a special kind of fluid. You probably take your cars to places like Aamco, don’t you.” The way he said it was akin to telling a parent “you let your kids play with razor blades, don’t you.”

“What does that fluid have in it…gold?” I thought I was being funny.

Annoyed, he glanced at me out of the side of his eyes: “In fact, sir, we call it Liquid Gold. Sir, if you don’t want to do it today that’s fine. But we are giving you a break on the price. Because you are having your 30,000 mile check done we are cutting $100 off the cost. Or you could take it to….Aamco.” As he said it, Read the rest of this entry ?

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Intersection Intercession – August 6 2008

August 6, 2008

Let me remind you again of the purpose of these blog entries. Each Wednesday morning, I am posting an intersection in Natomas that I would like the readers of this blog to pray for. More people travel through Intersections than any other place in a community. And we know that prayer changes things. Therefore, the syllogism goes that you can change things by praying at intersections.

I am trying to cover all the different parts of Natomas regularly. We have done South Natomas two weeks ago and North Natomas last week. This morning we begin to pray for a significant intersection in West Natomas (also known as Gateway West). The intersection in need of prayer is the corner of Duckhorn and Arena Blvd.

Here is the lowdown on the crime stats in that area. Please note that the “multiple exclamation points” represent multiple crimes in one spot. Also, this just covers from 2006-2008. Click on the picture to get a bigger version of the statistics:

Duckhorn and Arena Crime Stats

Duckhorn and Arena Crime Stats

In addition, I want you to see the intersection so if you can’t get there in person to pray, you can at least have a mental image in your prayers. As always, if you have pertinent prayer information that comes while you are praying, please let everyone know here. As people read it, this can make us one huge prayer circle.

Corner of Arena and Duckhorn

Corner of Arena and Duckhorn

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Alex the Example

August 5, 2008

Alex was oozing cuteness. Somewhere around 3 years old, Alex quietly explored the entire swimming area of the hotel, systematically lifting up everything, climbing over everything, even tasting everything. His mother followed him incessantly, trying as she could to keep him, or others, safe. Finally, she settled for just herding him in the general direction of safety and oversight. I tried to read my book from the lounge chair, but honestly, Alex was much more interesting. He reminded me of the familiar comic strip from my childhood – Family Circus. Occasionally, the comic strip would feature one of the many children going somewhere or coming from somewhere, winding their way in a tortuous route instead of a straight line. Alex was a living embodiment of the Family Circus children.

I should have guessed he also resembled another of my comic companions from childhood: Dennis the Menace.

His mom finally settled in her own poolside lounge chair as Alex had formed a predictable pattern. He would go through the following circuit: Eat an animal cracker, go to Mom and ask her an inane question, throw something small, run over to the fence and inexplicably bounce off it, return to the animal crackers bouncing the entire way. Three-year old Alex was finally following some kind of pattern and mom began reading her novel. That is when Alex noticed that she was taking him for granted. At that point, he began to channel Dennis the Menace. He must have noticed that no one was in the hot tub for the first time that morning. Earlier, I had heard his mother warn him to go nowhere near the hot tub, but somehow he forgot. He wandered purposefully toward the warm water, even as I watched with fascination. Just feet away from his goal, the amazing mother’s intuitive radar kicked in and she forcefully warned: “I told you not to go near the water Alex.” I’m pretty sure she didn’t even look up from her book as she said it.

This tone of voice had worked all morning. But this was where Alex decided to take his stand. He didn’t move away from the water but stopped just two feet from its edge. If this had been earlier in the morning, I am sure that his mom would have rushed over and whisked him back to her side. But she was now too comfortable to get up. So she let her voice take over for her superior size.

“Alex, do you remember your verse?”

“Yes mom.” Alex didn’t move a muscle. He just inched closer to the water.

“Can you say it with me?”

“Okay.” Still inching closer.

“Children….”

Alex responded, “Children….”

“Obey…” mom prompted.

Alex paused, looking at the water. “I want to stay here.”

“Obey…” mom tried again.

“I’m staying here.”

“Say it with me Alex. It’s your verse. Children….”

Alex said it, “Children…”

“Obey…”

“I want to stay here.”

“Children…” mom attempted a third time.

“Children…” Alex parroted.

“Obey…”

Alex was right over the water’s edge now. “I like the hot water.”

Finally mom got up and retrieved Alex and brought him over by her. The bible memory verse never got finished. I imagined that Alex had got the verse word perfect over breakfast. I can just hear Mom and Dad squealing with delight as he said it perfectly. But saying it in a theoretical breakfast setting is much different than saying it when it meant something.

That is the problem with learning truth. We often separate truth into two columns: The column of theory and the column of practicality. We often embrace all truths when they line up as noble theory. Similarly, we tend to ignore truths when they obnoxiously venture over and interrupt the column of practical daily life. That is when they stop being a source of joy and become a babysitter we try to ignore at first and deny at last.

Alex is every man. Alex is the example of the flesh sitting by the pool, denying the very truth he was pleased to embrace hours earlier.

Of course, Alex is just a child. We know better than Alex.

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