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Category: 10 things

09/10/07 04:56 - 74ºF - ID#41037

Ten things I like about Troy Polamlu

1. His hair.

image

2. His car. Dude is a professional athlete, making millions in salary, plus endorsements, but he drives a Kia. Why? Because he doesn't need a fancy car. A Kia seemed good to him.

3. He's super fast.

4. He hits REALLY hard
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5. He's a Pittsburgh Steeler.

6. He never lifts a weight over 15lbs. Sure, he trains really hard, but its all speed, flexibility, and repetition. He believes this sort of training is more conducive to football then lifting weights. I'm not going to argue with him.

7. He's anti-Gatorade. He thinks water is better for you and Gatorade is all marketing.
image

8. He's a spiritual guy.

9. He's Samoan. I don't know why I like that, but its cool.

10. He's not even that into football. Well, he likes playing, but he doesn't watch it at all. I guess we are different in that way, but I appreciate that he is interested in other things.

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Category: 10 things

09/07/07 10:22 - 79ºF - ID#40984

10 things I like about the Bible

1. Lot's of "dark heroes," i.e good guys that do bad things or bad guys that do good things (well, guys and girls actually, even if it is guys in most cases). Really, there's only one completely good guy in the whole thing, and his contemporaries thought he was a bad guy.

2. The language. It was written, mostly, in Hebrew and Koine Greek. Both are relatively simple, for ancient languages. The Greek used was not literary (Attic) Greek, the language of the marketplace, which means that it was written to cross languages and cultures.

3. It surprises me. Still. Even after reading it as much as I have, the Bible still kicks my ass. Martin Luther used to call scripture, "my enemy," because he said, "it destroys me."

4. It's an underdog story. The younger brother gets the inheritance. The slaves get land of their own. The Romans get beat, non-violently at that! Remember the term "David and Goliath story" comes from a book that is full of David and Goliath stories.

5. It's honest about where it comes from. For example, there are four different accounts of Jesus' life, and while they DO converge, they DON'T completely line up. Rather than just pick one, and "get the story straight," early Christians included all four in the Bible, because all four had value. Some thing with other sections of the book (actually, the Bible is better described as a library than a book, but I digress . . .)

6. It reads well. The church has tried to ruin this, by chopping the stories up, or always skipping ahead to its favorite parts, but exodus is exciting! So is Mark. Esther is regarded as great literature by plenty of people who could care less about whether the Bible is "God's Word" or not.

7. It reads even better in community. It raises questions that have to be discussed. It's a "book club" kinda book. (Instead of a book you club people with, which is how it often gets used!).

8. It really does show me God. Sometimes its easy, other times its hard, but God is revealed in that book.

9. It also shows me humanity. No where is it clearer how dumb/selfish/stubborn we can be, but also what God can do with stupid humans like us. It's a pretty good mirror

10. It's got a happy ending. (like this list, I hope). Despite other interpretations that have become popular in recent years, the Bible isn't about how sinners finally get their comeuppance. The Bible is a love story, and thus it ends with a wedding. Humanity and God are made one again, and there's no more death or pain or sickness. Is there judgment? Yes, but that is second to last. The story ends well (and many would argue [using the Bible no less] that it ends well for everybody, not just Christians).

Next: 10 things I like about Troy Polamalu, unless somebody makes a better suggestion.
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Category: football

09/05/07 11:03 - 75ºF - ID#40963

Polamalu



Felly reminded me of a favorite song. Enjoy. well, only if you like Steelers football. You see, we have a great player named Troy Polamalu. Some people (even some tv announcers) have a hard time saying his name. The twin muppets get it right.
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Category: free

09/05/07 06:00 - 86ºF - ID#40952

First Smart, now Scion

Today they are giving test drives of scion cars, with $15 SPoT coffee gift certificates.

I am happy to get $15 of free stuff (and a t-shirt to boot), but the whole experience made me less likely to buy a scion (and I liked the brand before today!). The reasons I am disappointed are that the new models are bigger, and that they are trying SO hard to be cool. I really would rather buy a car than an "image," especially when the image that they seem to be selling is "poser."

But go and drive the car by the blockbuster on Elmwood and get the free stuff anyway.
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Category: 10 things

09/05/07 12:43 - 65ºF - ID#40945

10 things that I like about Pandora.com

1. It exposes me to new music that I like, something I desperately need.

2. It's free, the best cost ever.

3. I love to give a quick "thumbs up," when really good music plays, like Derek Webb.

4. I get to feel a sense of indignation when it plays something lousy, and I give it a thumbs down.

5. The thumbs down kills the song playing, and it moves on to something else.

6. It showed me "Omar and the Howlers," who I had never heard before, but sound pretty good.

7. It sounds good on my new speakers, complete with a subwoofer, all of which came to me in a yard sale.

8. Thanks to those amazing tubes of the internets, its available at home and work and wherever else.

9. It gives me the satisfaction of being a part of a musical genome project, or something like that.

10. I think I can listen to what my friends like, too--but I haven't checked that out yet.
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Location: Buffalo, NY


Category: sermons

09/04/07 11:36 - 57ºF - ID#40927

The elevator effect.

Haven't posted a sermon in a while, but I really do write one just about every week. Keep in mind, they come out of my mouth significantly different than what you see here, because there is give and take with the congregation, and I sometimes stray from my notes.


Jeremiah 2:13

13for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and dug out cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that can hold no water.


luke 14:1, 7-8

On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely. . .

7When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. 8"When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; 9and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, 'Give this person your place,' and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. 10But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, 'Friend, move up higher'; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. 11For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." 12He said also to the one who had invited him, "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. 13But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."


Did you ever notice that you can't feel an elevator moving?

Sure, you can feel when it starts up, and when it slows down, but when speed is constant, you don't notice it.

Which is just one way of pointing out that we are all relativists. At least about some things.

It's hard to judge "fast" and "slow" without a point of reference. But we can always tell "faster" and "slower."

Here's a tricky question: How much money does a person have to have to be considered rich?

So much depends on circumstance, on who is around you, or where you have been.

Now some things aren't relative, right? The speed limit is 65, regardless of who you are, what you think, or what you drive.

But even then, other variables come into play. When I drove a Buick LeSabre, I got speeding tickets all of the time. Why? Because I would speed accidentally. Everything was so smooth. Since that car, I've always purchased little cars.

Have you ever gone 65 in a Geo metro? It feels a lot faster than 65 in a Buick! Same speed, different feeling.

This week was move-in week for so many college students. When I was a freshman, moving into a dorm was the greatest thing I could imagine! How many of you would be excited to move into a dorm now?

This goes to show us that we are feeling people. We like to think that we are rational, but we aren't. We always compare. I want my lawn greener, my car newer, my phone smarter, and my computer faster! We don't know what we have until we compare.

That's what's happening in today's Gospel lesson. Jesus saw the pharisees scrambling for the best seats--establishing their hierarchy. If this story took place on the first day of summer camp, the pharisees would be comparing their flashlights. For some reason, every kid, on the first day of camp, wants to have the biggest and best and fanciest flashlight, and they've all got to compare.

Every kid at camp needs a great flashlight, And every church needs a tall tower and an organ with lots of pipes. Or a bigger projection screen, or prettier stained glass. Or a preacher that can really preach, or a really long list of members, but guess what?

Jesus says, in this story, says "don't reach for status." Not in what seat you have, not what stuff you have, and not even in what your church can do.

Take low status.

And in doing so, you will find joy.

Why? It's the elevator effect. We can feel the change of speed, not the speed itself.

And when we start out humble, God who loves us and wants the best for us will bless us. When we choose to lower ourselves, we can feel God lifting us up.

I'm going to ask a silly question today.

How much does God love you?

Can you quantify that?

On a scale of 1-10, does God love you at about 8.5?

This is what Jesus said: "Greater love has no one than this; that he lay down his life for his friends."

In Jesus, we see that God loves you, and me, and us, enough to die for us.

And he always has.

And always will.

The writer of Hebrew says it this way, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."

Do you see the problem?

It's the elevator effect.

We are loved eternally, and infinitely. But because we are loved eternally, we can stop noticing how we are loved infinitely.

And when we stop noticing, we don't stop searching for that love. So we try to find meaning in other things. This is what God was talking about inJeremiah when he said "they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and dug out cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that can hold no water."

We trade the fountain for a cracked cistern. A spring for a tub. We take the ever-flowing loving kindness of God, meaning and purpose and worth, and we put that aside to focus on getting somebody that we don't even like to like us. or we focus on doing well in our career. Or making sure people notice us. Or making sure we feel good.

No matter what we use to make ourselves feel worthwhile, be it sex, drugs, money, power, popularity or comfort, ITS NOT NECESSARY. God has already deemed you worthwhile.

Which frees us to take the "lower seat," which I believe means, "you can put that other thing that you think makes you worthwhile aside."

And in stripping away all the lesser stuff, we discover the greater stuff.

That's why this table is so simple. We've got bread, we've got juice. When we gather around it, our new family is with us, and God is with us.

And we have all need.

Friends, this is, at the same time, a simple meal and a great banquet. We humble ourselves as we approach, because we are not worthy to eat at the King's table, but he is inviting us to a higher place.


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Category: 10 things

09/03/07 10:57 - 74ºF - ID#40905

10 things I like about Labor Day weekend

1. Sleeping in.

2. Seeing anti-labor folks take a day off to celebrate labor.

3. Football season is approaching!

4. Getting projects done (this is a new one for me, but I think I will like it)

5. 4 day weeks are SO much faster than 5 day ones.

6. Cooking out.

7. Beer, be it on Sunday Night or Monday afternoon.

8. The annual outdoor brunch that (e:Janelle) and I host.

9. estrip birthday parties (our first--sorry that we had to leave early!)

10. I'm only going to come up with 9 today--I don't have to do ANY work!
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Category: 10 things

09/01/07 09:19 - 57ºF - ID#40873

10 things I like that clean the planet


1. Hybrid cars.

2. Electric cars (even better!)

3. Bikes (even more better!)

4. Fluorescent light bulbs (gotta get some of them)

5. Mass transit (when its done right)

6. Picking up litter (learned this one from my arch-conservative Dad)

7. Carpooling (it's more fun, too!)

8. Shopping at thrift stores (another candidate for a 10 things list of it's own)

9. Geo-geothermic heating/cooling systems (So cool!)

10. The windmills on lake Erie: may they be fruitful and multiply.

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Category: 10 things

08/31/07 09:42 - 59ºF - ID#40853

10 Things I like about our planet


For Tinypliny...

1. The large amount of fresh water (much of it in our backyard!)

2. Mountains.

3. Changing seasons.

4. Trees.

5. Beaches.

6. Streams, Rivers, Waterfalls, and other water in motion.

7. Bison (they were my favorite animal BEFORE I moved to Buffalo.)

8. It's resources are enough for everybody here.

9. There's so much about it that we still don't know.

10. It's distance from the sun. Just right!

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Category: 10 things

08/30/07 09:46 - 71ºF - ID#40826

10 Things I like about the war in Iraq

Hmmm. This is going to be tough.

1. The higher gas prices that have resulted have encouraged people to drive less and consider alternative energy.

2. The war rhetoric of "support the troops" as the same administration de-funds VA hospitals has made acceptable to offer patriotic dissent.

3. People have been brought together to oppose this war. We are still a deeply divided nation in many ways, but there is a 7 in 10 chance any American is against the war. Who would have ever thought that Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader could agree on so much!

4. The war has led people to see that the concept of "faith and values" extends WAY beyond abortion and gay marriage. Peace and Justice voters are voting their religious values, too.

5. Withdrawal is likely to begin in 2008.

6. This should get more people to vote and bring us closer to becoming a Democracy again.

7. It has become easier to win political arguments with my conservative parents.

8. I don't think we'll try "pre-emptive" war for a long time after this one.

9. No draft, yet.

10. All of my friends who served (some WAY beyond what they should have) have come home safely.


That was tough. Next: 10 things I like about the planet (should be easier)
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