Saturday, April 28, 2007

Cowboy at a crossroad

Having just returned from a three day leadership conference, I am truly confused, in a good way.

I feel a shift in my focus coming, a turn from the easy path that I have been on towards a harder and steeper trail.

I am not so naive as to think that stepping from the background to the front line of ministry is going to be easy on me or my family. However I am going in with my eyes wide open.

I have seen the toll it can take on people. They start off with a head of steam and a Devil may care attitude only to burn out. They get discouraged, they find themselves doing all the work, the get beaten up by those inside the church. They try hard, fail, and give up.

It's easy to spot them in any church, they are the ones who sit quietly towards the back of the church and sing with little emotion in their voice, they roll their eyes when the pastor announces a new ministry or outreach. They've been there and still have the scars from their attempt at doing what they thought would be a fun meaningful ministry.

The one thing I took away from this conference is effective ministry is messy. I am not expecting perfection, loads of support or even agreement, what I do expect is hard work, long hours and more that a few heartbreaks along the way.

I am not sure what ministry God is leading me towards, that is the confusing part. I would love to grow our men's ministry. I hope I can start a new outdoors ministry to bring others to Christ through our love for the outdoors, hunting, off road sports, horses, the list is long.

As much as I want to find others to share my enjoyment of the outdoors, there is one question that I will constantly ask myself. Are these activities leading people to Jesus Christ and are we equipping them with the tools to they need to grow in their faith? That has to be the focus.

We have a great message that really matters, so to be effective we must have a passion for lost people.

Fun? You bet, we should strive to have fun at every turn no matter what the activity.
Fellowship? Darn right, reaching out to make new friends is important.
Faith? It will take time for some people to make that commitment, but leading people to Christ must be the primary focus.

Without faith, everything else is just a club. Having a good time and making good friends is not the goal of ministry, it's a by product, it is the result of people caring for one another and encouraging them as they grow in faith. Getting people involved in your ministry is the first step, making them feel welcome and wanted is crucial, but the ultimate goal is to have lost people know how much Christ loves them.

Pastor Ray summed it up in his general session.

Good Deeds leads to Good Will that leads to the Good News.

If you're so moved, please pray for me as I try to get a little closer to what God wants me to be be.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I have never been to Germany but...........

A photo released by police on Tuesday, April 24, 2007 shows a horse standing next to a sleeping man in the foyer of a bank in the east German village of Wiesenburg on Monday, April 23, 2007. The obviously drunken man tried to rest with his horse in the bank's entrance, when passers-by called the police who could convince the man and horse to leave the bank. (AP Photo/Police Handout)

But I have waited in a warm bank lobby for my friend to get back with my truck after giving a pretty girl a ride home at 3:00 in the morning.

But hey, I was young and not especially bright.
Come to think of it, the latter description may still fit.

I will be attending the Thrive Conference in Granite Bay Thursday and Friday so blogging will be light or non existent.

I hope to be back this weekend fully charged and ready to go.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Islam vs. Islamists: Voices from the Muslim Center

Too bad you probably won't get to see this piece on PBS. At least in its current form.

I hope Gaffney and PBS come to some arrangement, this is a topic that needs to be front and center.
The flap over Islam vs. Islamists was largely driven by a piece in the Arizona Republic which reported that WETA had demanded the firing of Gaffney and another co-producer for their involvement with the CSP, and aired a laundry list of complaints about WETA's involvement during the production. "A WETA manager pressed to eliminate a key perspective of the film: The claim that Muslim radicals are pushing to establish 'parallel societies' in America and Europe governed by Shariah law rather than sectarian courts," the Republic reported, adding that one of WETA's advisors had shown a clip of the film to the Nation of Islam, a subject of the documentary.
The article goes into the finer points of how PBS, the CPB and the station WETA operate and interact, but it seems that Gaffney is persona non grata in the Public Television world.

The series 'America at a crossroads' has been worth watching. The piece by Irshad Manji about women in Islam was thought provoking and well produced. I bet the 'Islam can do no wrong crowd' over at CAIR had kittens when they saw it.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

General Reid sues for peace.

In a stunning move, the commander of all US and coalition forces Major General Harry Reid, declared today that the war in Iraq is lost. General Reid handed his engraved sword over to a 19 year old Muslim Jihadist and said "we will go home and fight no more". The two shook hands and posed for a photograph to record the event.

The young Jihadist thanked the General then promptly detonated the suicide vest he wore under his coat, killing all in attendance. Thus ended the surrender ceremony.

I realize this is silly but my point is this, just because you stop fighting doesn't mean they will stop trying to kill you.

The Democrats are only fearful of one thing, success in Iraq. They cannot allow the surge to show any signs of success. They want to cut off funds before the surge has time to work, ensuring it's failure and emboldening our enemies.

Way to go Harry.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Small group leader, what was I thinking?

Have you ever thought about doing something you really should do, but always chickened out? I have thought about being a small group leader in church Bible study ministry for years. Well its too late to turn back now. I have 10 people who signed up to meet once a week at my home to participate in the 40 Days of Community small group study.

The reason for my poultry-like behavior is my feeling of being completely unqualified. I go to church almost every weekend, participate in our mens group and I have been a lay pastor for a two years. I have been asked to perform the wedding ceremonies for two of my friends and a funeral service for a friend's father, yet I still don't consider myself a worthy Christian by any means. I am just a man who is trying to shut up and listen to what God has in store for me. So why did I sign up to lead a small group?

God uses broken people. In that department, I am over qualified.

We are using Rick Warren's program for our study, I watched the group leader DVD last night and I came away feeling relieved and exited. We are going to have a great time, make some new friends, learn about God's purpose for each of us and for our church. We will also pick a group community service project to complete.

I have to make sure the kids clean their rooms and be sure the dishes are done for six Thursdays nights, but the payoff could be life changing for me or anyone in our group.

Six night of watching television or six nights of making our community and ourselves better, that choice is easy.

Monday, April 16, 2007

A black day in Blacksburg

As the details come in from this tragic day, as of this posting the details of the murderer are yet to be released, we struggle to find the reasons for such vicious acts. The reasons and motives behind this tragedy will never be fully be known as they died with the murderer. Even if we knew the thought process behind this evil act, it would do the families of the victims little good. An act of murder on this scale defies all logic and reason.

The truth may be simple yet disturbing, the killer did not think like the rest of us. His mind was simply not wired right. No one in their right mind who finds themselves in despair or anger concludes the only way to solve their problem is to murder scores of innocent people. Rational people can snap, but this was not a heat of the moment event. If the Norris Hall killer was the same person who murdered the first two people at 7:00 and then went to the Hall at 9:15 and chained the doors so people could not escape, this was a deeply disturbed killer who wanted to kill as many as possible.

Americans are shocked and angry. Our universities and schools are supposed to be safe places. We look at this tragedy and wonder what, if anything, we can do?

Some are angry at the police for what seems like a lack of real time action, why wasn't the campus locked down after the first two murders? Some are now calling for an end to 'gun violence'. Some want to ban firearms all together. What is the proper action for us to take?

If proximity and availability of guns were the problem, there would be a dozens murders every day at every shooting range in America. I never feel more safe then when I am at a shooting match with 100 people who are armed. I have more firearms than I can count and I have yet to harm a single person with them.

Sadly, there is little we can do to prevent unstable people from killing our fellow citizens. We walk down the street and the only thing that separates us from the unstable person who wants to kill us in his car is a stripe of paint. Every time we get into a airplane to go on a business trip or vacation, we are completely vulnerable, if the pilot was served divorce papers that morning and whats to end his life in a spectacular way, there is nothing we can do. Airplanes and automobiles are not the problem, its the unstable person in control of them. Taking my guns away will not make you safer. Taking disturbed people off the street will.

As we learn more about the killer and his possible motives and actions in the days and weeks that led up to the murders, maybe we can piece together some useful information that can identify and possibly avert another tragedy. After Columbine, schools and parents were on full alert, many students were identified as possible problems and while we may never know how many were capable of murder, I would bet that a tragedy or two was averted by parents and teachers just paying attention to troubled students.

Not everyone follows the rules of society. Unstable people put poison in Tylenol, they mail anthrax to reporters and politicians, the drive SUV into groups of students at universities. Humans are capable of wondrous joy and terrible evil. That evil showed its face today in Blacksburg.

Every life is precious, and I can only imagine the sorrow and grief the friends and families of the victims are dealing with, there are no easy answers, only more questions.

Please pray for the fallen and the families.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Strawberry and Mushroom pickers qualify for $720,000 house?

I think someone needs to spend a little time in the poky, and I'm not talking about the produce pickers.
The husband and wife work as strawberry pickers in the fields around Watsonville, and each earns about $300 a week. They have three children. Not only did they dream the impossible dream, they managed to finance it.

It all began when they were talking to another family about escaping their subsidized apartments and getting a real house. The other couple -- Jesus Martinez and his wife, who also have three children -- work as mushroom farmers, earning about $500 a week each when there is work. The two couples decided to pool their resources and begin house-hunting. Given their total income, they estimated that they could afford payments of $3,000 a month. They spotted an ad in the local magazine La Ganga for Maria Avila of Rancho Grande Real Estate and called her.

"We wanted to live in Watsonville," says Rosa. "But [the real estate agent] said the houses there were older and more expensive." One of the first homes they were shown was a "new" four-bedroom, two-bath house in Hollister for $720,000. When the Ramirez's heard the price, they worried that they couldn't afford it.

But the couple says they were assured them it was possible.

Worried they couldn't afford it? Ya think!
"The monthly payment was supposed to be $4,800, but then after we bought it, it went up to $5,378," says Rosa, speaking of their zero-down mortgage with a one-month "teaser rate." "Our agent told us that once we refinanced, we could get the payments down to $3,000 or less." For a number of months Avila, who arranged for the loan with New Century Mortgage, paid the difference between what the buyers had said they could afford -- $3,000 -- and the actual loan payment. According to the buyers, this arrangement was supposed to carry them over until the group refinanced.

The money-saving refinance failed to materialize, and eventually, Avila stopped subsidizing their current mortgage.
The farm workers may be really dumb financially, but the mortgage company and the real estate company should have their licenses yanked.

Wow, who signed off on that loan?
Fired? For sure.
Arraigned? Quite possibly.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Iran, playing both sides in Iraq?

Not really, they are playing one side. That side is called 'we at at war with America' and anything it can do to weaken the Iraqi government and therefore America is fair game.
Iran accused of arming both sides in sectarian divide

American military officials say weapons that appear to have been manufactured in Iran as recently as last year have turned up in the past week in a predominantly Sunni area.

The chief spokesman for the American military command in Iraq, Major-General William Caldwell, said that prisoners in US custody had said Iranian intelligence agents were supporting Sunni insurgents, and that surrogates for the Iranian intelligence service also were training Shiite extremists in Iran.

"We have in fact found some cases recently where Iranian intelligence sources have provided to Sunni insurgent groups some support," said General Caldwell, who sat near a table covered with arms that he said were largely of Iranian manufacture. They were found in a mostly Sunni neighbourhood in Baghdad, he said.

The US has previously suggested an Iranian link with Shiite militants in Iraq, but the accusation of a link between the Iranian intelligence service and Sunni insurgents is new.

Arm the Shiites to kill the Sunnis, you bet, Arm the Sunnis to kill your own Shiite brethren, you bet, and if you can kill some Americans along the way, you get a gold star.

When will we wake up to the fact that we are already at war with Iran? Or more to the point, they are at war with us.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

And people did feast upon the lambs, and sloths, and carp, and anchovies, and orangutans..

Ok, so it was tri-tip roast and chicken, but the Yolo County Republican Party Lincoln - Reagan dinner was a hit.

Keynote speaker Ron Nehring was on the money as he spoke about the power of Republican ideas. The tribute to Ronald Reagan given by Kirby Wells also spoke to the power of those ideas.

The annual dinner is a chance to keep in touch with old friends and make a few new ones. I bid on a few of the silent auction items but in the end only walked away with one.

Great job to all at Yolo GOP.

(name the movie from the post title)

Monday, April 09, 2007

And the point of this is what?

I like guest opinions in newspapers. Every once in a great while you find a talented person who has something important to say coupled with an ability to write.

Then you have this.
...But no one would dream of making it more difficult to have children. Imagine financial penalties for having more than two children, for instance. Why two? Well, that is replacement growth — two parents, two children. But such a platform would be unthinkable politically: millions of large families casting their votes for the other, pro-creation candidate. That’s right, no one talks about birth control at a national level — growing economies are predicated on growing demand for products and that hinges on a growing population.
But in China they limit family size. The one-child family is still national law. In China, they have to. After all, it is the most populous country in the world, with 1,314 million people. But we are not far behind, after India with 1,095 million, the U.S. weighs in at number 3, with 300 million. Surely, there will come a time when large families are frowned upon, when the government will sanction against large families either in monetary terms or by making them illegal. Right now, larger families are rewarded through our taxation policies — more children, more deductions.
So if you worry about rural Yolo becoming urban “Sacramento West,” the bottom line is to tell your kids not to have children of their own. If they want families, adopt, and if they must have “biological” progeny, stick to one or two — replacement growth. But no parent ever says that.
Read the whole piece if you must, but the basic point seems to be the Government of the United States needs to limit in some way the number of children you are allowed to have. Talk about social engineering. I would bet these folks have read the population bomb a number of times. The problem is there are too many Americans, and I guess we are bad people who must be stopped. Besides, with less people, the carpool lanes will be less crowded and we can drive our Prius without having to dodge all those SUVs, right?

Al Vallecillo and Tim Caro are the authors of this deep thinking, replacement growth idea. I wonder if these two men, who seem to travel around together protesting the war when they are not pondering guest opinions, ever thought about having children in that world.

Would you have to fill out an application at the Department of Procreation? Oh, I'll bet that would be a great experience.

Blong ( the sound of the computer operated waiting line prompt) Now serving number 765 at windown 65.

Yes, my wife and I have our paperwork all filled out, we both have our blood work, medical exam clearance, past 5 years tax returns, forms from our local planning department and a Procreation Lottery winning numbers for you Mam.

Yea, well you see line 163 on the DPD773EZ form? You didn't have your local building and planning department notarize the change in your home zoning to allow you to convert your extra bedroom into an 'authorized new human occupancy space"..

You mean the nursery?

Don't interrupt me gain, yes, your nursery needs to have a rezone before a new human can occupy that space.

That was my mothers old room, she past away last year, I've already had the room rezoned.

Your mother died last year?


Last fiscal year or last calendar year?

I don't know, last June.

That was last fiscal year, if the room's occupant dies and the room is not rezoned before the next fiscal year begins, you must re-apply for re-zoning.

It took me six months just to get an appointment with the planning department last time.

I'm sorry, it's time for my break. But you need to get the rezone notarized by next Monday because your Procreation lottery number expires then.

When is the next lottery?

Oh three years from now, but if you have been a winner, you are ineligible for another turn. I gotta go, my bunions are killing me.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Jim Smith gets his freak on....sort of

If you read the Daily Democrat, Woodland's newspaper, you know editor Jim Smith. I like Jim, I don't always agree with Jim, but he's a good guy. I called the newspaper office one day at 7:00 pm to ask for a meeting location that ran in the paper a few days before, Jim picked up the phone and dug through a few old papers to find the article for me. You know you have a small staff when the editor answers the phone at 7:00 pm on Wednesday.

I'm not quite sure when it happened, but our good man Jim has gone crackers. If I knew how to get a screen shot from a Google video, I would post a picture of Jim doing a news broadcast wearing a feathered mask.
Let me assure you that-

Plus this

To be fair to Jim, he is a rather plain looking fellow who lacks the flair and panache to excel in a visual media format, but for the love of all things good and pure, it is time for an intervention.
I will have to speak to someone down there and see if he just needs some time off, or serious professional help.

Jim, friends don't let friends wear feathers.

(Jim's photo is from the Daily Democrat's website, I don't know who the credit goes to)

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The last guy you want to see in your rear view mirror.

Well, except for Ted Kennedy.

If you are Stuart Appleby, the last person you want one stroke behind you is elTigre'.

I don't know much about the mental state of the thirty five year old Australian, but the only thing I would eat tonight is dry toast, a Pepto bismol milkshake and chase that with a couple of sleeping pills.

Actually Appleby is a very consistent golfer. Steady and cool, just what you need when your playing partner is the Tiger freakin' Woods on Sunday at The Masters.

How are you going to stop a golfer who is worshiped like a God? No kidding, there is a Church of Tiger Woods.

My money is on Jesus in a match play format.

Have a Happy Easter everyone. Hide the eggs for the kiddies, eat the chocolate rabbits, pass on the Peeps, but for goodness sakes attend a Sunday Easter service at you local church. Easter Sunday is a great way to discover the message of Jesus Christ.

Crawford Peace House, another Utopia crushed by reality.

No matter how much they hate George W Bush, peace activists are still just people. It seems that some of the people in the movement are greedy and dishonest.

With allegations of money mismanagement, threats of court action and some members leaving, a group that has sponsored war protests in President Bush's adopted hometown has been anything but peaceful.

The Crawford Peace House recently lost its corporate charter with the state, and a former member who now has rights to the name is threatening legal action because the group continues operating.

Sara L. Oliver and some others are calling for a state investigation as to why only $14,700 is now in its bank account, saying tens of thousands donated during Cindy Sheehan's 2005 war protest are unaccounted for.

"There are people who have said, 'Don't say anything because you'll hurt the peace movement,'" Oliver said. "But if the peace movement isn't pure and transparent and holy as it can be at its heart, then it's just like George Bush: lying, thieving, conniving, backstabbing bastards."

Maybe they gave out a few no-bid contracts to Haliburton or gave some kickbacks to Saddam before his necktie party. Probably not.

More than likely, someone just wanted to buy more pot and tie dyed t-shirts, oh and tacos from Jack in the Box. Two tacos for 99 cents is a good deal, but a house full of stoned peacenicks can consume a metric ton of tacos in a very short time. I afraid the bong hits for peace rally was a bit too successful.

Maybe they should hook up with 'accountants for peace'. I'm not sure if a group like that exists, but someone needs to be minding the store in Crawford.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Brilliant move.

Some may take exception to my opinion, and it is just that, but I think Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is pretty pleased with himself right about now. He kidnaps a dozen or so British soldiers, holds them hostage for a while, parades them on Al Jazeera to show the Islamic world that he is not afraid of the West and when the heat gets a little too hot, he lets them go and is treated as a wise diplomat.

He also gave the anti-war left a great public relations gift. How long will it be until Nancy Pelosi comes back from Damascus declaring that all you have to do to get results in the Middle East is talk to them? Oh I can hear it now.

'They are not monsters, they are people who value open and honest dialogue. If this administration would only talk to Iran and Syria like I did, we would not be over there fighting an unwinnable war.'

Sure Nancy, and all they want is to live in peace, quietly going about their 14th century lives if we would just stop selling them Coca Cola and Brittney Spears CDs.

Mahmoud may be completely crackers but he does know how to spin the all too spinnable left and undermine the President at the same time.

Crazy like a.... like a Jihadist fox.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Jackass Journalism

CNN's Michael Ware has finally thrown off the mask of objective journalist to reveal what many of us have know for years, the MSM is filled with liberals who would be marching next to their anti-war activist brethren if they didn't think they were doing more by poisoning public opinion in front of the cameras and behind their newspaper by-lines.
During a live press conference in Bagdad, Senators McCain and Graham were heckled by CNN reporter Michael Ware. An official at the press conference called Ware’s conduct “outrageous,” saying, “here you have two United States Senators in Bagdad giving first-hand reports while Ware is laughing and mocking their comments. I’ve never witnessed such disrespect. This guy is an activist not a reporter.”

Senators McCain and Graham flew into Iraq and drove into Bagdad, making stops at an open market and a joint Iraq/American military security outpost before appearing at the press conference.

This is not the first time Michael Ware has taken issue with Senator McCain’s comments about early progress in Iraq. Last week, after Senator McCain told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that he needed to catch up on the news coming out of Iraq, Michael Ware responded, saying:

“I don't know what part of Neverland Senator McCain is talking about when he says we can go strolling in Baghdad.”

Michael Ware has also publicly expressed his views on the war last year in an interview with Bill Maher, saying, “I've been given a front-row ticket to watch this slow-motion train wreck … I try to stay as drunk for as long as possible while I'm here … In fact, I'm drinking now.”
Not a bad idea, lets get all the White House press corp drunk as skunks and let them show themselves for who they are. But then again, if you know how to read the news, you already know how they think.