Saturday, February 17, 2007

We've moved

In case you missed the announcement via our RSS feed or several comments posted on this page, Stranger in a Strange Land has moved.
Where to you ask?
Well to a new site powered by Wordpress and
You can find us at:
Come join us.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Upset with Blogger

I'm a bit upset - I've had trouble logging into Blogger all morning.
I tried to migrate to the new Blogger months ago. While it was still in Beta.
And all the time I've been told, "Sorry. We can't migrate your blog now. Please be patient. We'll let you know when you can."
Well, now when I go to log in I don't have an option. I get stuck in a constant loop that tells me I must log in to the new Blogger.
Yet when I do it I get the same message again. Somehow I was able to log out of my Google account and access my Blogger dashboard (for now). Either way I'm hearing Wordpress or someone else calling my name.
If you're a regular reader here now would be a good time to subscribe to the RSS feed (or e-mail subscriptions) to be sure you don't miss any of the action in case I move to a new server/domain at overnight.
Anyone else having problems?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

U2 - Window in the Skies

U2 - Window in the Skies

Just found this video on YouTube from U218. Love it. Great idea and super creative.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Wacky uses

Mike Mc found a wacky use website today while doing some research.
Here's a couple wacky uses on the site:

  • Clean a toilet bowl. Pour a can of Coca-Cola into the toilet bowl. Let the real thing sit for one hour, then brush and flush clean. The phosphoric acid in Coke removes stains from vitreous china, according to household-hints columnist Heloise.

  • Condition hair. To give your hair a great shine, pour a can of Coca Cola into your hair, working it in well, then rinse your hair with water.

  • Kill slugs or snails. Fill jar lids with flat Coca-Cola and set in the garden. Slugs and snails, attracted by sweet soda, will slither into the jar lid and be killed by the acids in the Coke.

  • Repulse deer. Drill a hole in a wrapped bar of Irish Spring Soap and, using string, hang it around crops. Deer mistake the smell of deodorant soap for humans, and flee.

  • Lubricate furniture drawers and windows. Rub Irish Spring Soap on the casters of drawers and windows so they slide open and shut easily.

  • Soothe a sore throat. Add a tablespoon of Smirnoff Vodka to glass of warm water and gargle. The alcohol helps numb the sore throat.

  • Remove grass stains from clothes. Rub the stain with a clean cloth soaked in Smirnoff Vodka, then rinse thoroughly.

  • Attract fish. When sprayed on fishing bait, WD-40 covers up the scent of human hands on the bait to better lure fish, according to USA Today. The WD-40 Company receives hundreds of letters from consumers confirming this use, but prefers not to promote WD-40 as a fishing lure since the petroleum-based product could potentially pollute rivers and streams, damaging the ecosystem.

  • Prevent grass clippings from clogging up a lawn mower. Spray WD-40 on the underside of lawn mower housing and blade before cutting the grass.

Ok... you'll have to visit the site to read the rest.

The Blogging Church

Brian Bailey's book "The Blogging Church" has been released and the publishers have put together an interesting video to promote the video with an interview from Bailey and co-author Terry Storch.

Check it out

Top 10 on OrangeNoiseRadio

Here's a mid-week peak a the top 10 requested songs on
You can still make your requests online at: The voting continues every week until midnight Saturday night.

1. Mirac - Take A Stand
2. Thaxton - Best of Me
3. Hokus Pick - Safe Assumption
4. U2 - Grace
5. TobyMac - Made to Love
6. Need to Breathe - Shine On
7. The Echoing Green - Safety Dance
8. Shaded Red - Collide
9. MxPx - I Can Be Friends With You
10. John Schlitt - There is Someone

Firefox flicks

Just found this today while browsing
Firefox fans are staring to air new TV commercials for their favorite browser. There's some good stuff out there.
I love to see fan interaction and involvement in marketing.
Viral-marketing is amazing. I only wish we could get more people to do the same things with our faith and churches.
How many pastors (even media ministers) would be excited if their church members started making ads and posting them around town or even coming together to do television or radio ads?

Watch a collection of videos submitted for the ads.

surviving on $12,000 a year

Student and writer Donna Freedman details how she's going to live on a meager $12,084 in 2007.
In a nutshell, it doesn't sound terribly fun (unless you're the romantic sort). Her article does, however, offer several frugal money tips that could come in handy if ever you need to financially bootstrap it for a while. Granted, the $12,000 living income is wholly unrealistic for some cities (she's only paying $525/month in rent), but the idea remains worthwhile: whether you've set up some aggressive savings goals or you're just completely strapped for cash, Freedman's tips offer a number of ways you can cut back on your living expenses if you're motivated.
Via Lifehacker

It's an interesting read. Freedman is basically living off of a little more than $1000 a month. Ouch. Granted my sister and her new husband are living off that right now, but they also have a free apartment and utilities where they're living. Lucky.
I already know my big-ticket annual costs, too: rent of $6,300 and $1,200 for car insurance. Subtract these from my income and I'm left with $382 a month for food, utilities, clothes, medical deductibles and co-pays, gasoline, renter's and life insurance and any help I give my daughter, who lives on even less than I do.
Freedman brown bags her lunch every day. Drinks only water and combines coupons and rebates for free items like toothpaste and toiletries.
But in order to thrive, you have to hustle, too, always looking for ways to save a dime or to make one. I exchange spent ink cartridges for reams of printer paper at Office Max. Whenever I see a candy dish, I put a piece in my coat pocket; if my energy flags midday, those toffees and peppermints keep me from buying snacks. After I won a basket of specialty coffees at a college event, I immediately sold it on; I sold a "free after rebate" phone that way, too.
It may not be super fun but if you can do it, think of the long-term benefits. We talked Tuesday night about how James says there's an actual army at war inside of us when it comes to envy and material possessions.
Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don't have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn't yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it. - James 4:1-2
It's funny how if you live without for so long you don't realize you're without. Many people I know that grew up in the depression have said numerous times, "We didn't know we were poor." It's the same with material possessions and me. I don't realize I have not if I don't see what others have. My 19" TV is perfectly OK until I go to a friends house and see their 52" plasma. Then the war begins. "How much more can I put on that credit card? How long would it take for me to pay that off?" I don't need it. I'm perfectly content with my 19" TV, that's actually sitting in storage right now. But when I see what others have I start wanting it and "needing it."
Read Freedman's story and see what you think you can live without.

Retelling the story

There's an interesting interview on Poynterwith Bill Dedman (MSNBC and Pulitzer prize winner) about his new move to online video work with MSNBC.
I think the most interesting part of this interview with Dedman is the statement that newspapers should not localize the national news.
Instead they should nationalize the local news.
Why do people want to hear the same story they've read or seen somewhere else again?
Find a story happening locally and find a way to make it a national story.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Horse Sense: The History of Freedom in Christianity (Part III)

The idea that religious liberty is the generating principle of civil, and that civil liberty is the necessary condition of religious, was a discovery reserved for the seventeenth century. Many years before the names of Milton and Taylor, of Baxter and Locke were made illustrious by their partial condemnation of intolerance, there were men among the Independent congregations who grasped with vigor and sincerity the principle that it is only by abridging the authority of states that the liberty of churches can be assured. That great political idea, sanctifying freedom and consecrating it to God, teaching men to treasure the liberties of others as their own, and to defend them for the love of justice and charity, more than as a claim of right, has been the soul of what is great and good in the progress of the last three hundred years. The Glorious Revolution in 1688 fulfilled this vision for awhile, resulting in Protestant William III, Prince of Orange and his wife Mary II ruling England jointly for six years. The greatest writers of the English Whig party, Burke and Macaulay, represent the statesmen from this Revolution as the intellectual forebears of modern liberty, as it developed and was ultimately established in America during the 1770s.
It was from America that the plain ideas that men ought to mind their own business, and that the nation is responsible to heaven for the acts of the state, burst forth like a conqueror upon the world they were destined to transform, under the title of the Rights of Man. Whether the British legislature had a constitutional right to tax a subject colony was hard to say, by the letter of the law. The general presumption was immense on the side of authority; and the world believed that the will of the constituted ruler ought to be supreme, and not the will of the subject people. Very few bold writers went as far as to say that lawful power may be resisted in cases of extreme necessity. But the colonizers of America, who had gone forth not in search of gain, but to escape from laws under which other Englishmen were content to live, were sensitive to appearances; and they reckoned the reasons why Edward I and his Council were not allowed to tax England were the reasons George III and his Parliament could not tax America. The dispute involved a principle enshrined as far back as Magna Carta (1215), namely, the right of controlling government. Furthermore, it involved the conclusion that the parliament brought together by a derisive election, had no just right over the unrepresented nation; and it called on the people of England to take back its power. Our best statesmen saw that, whatever might be the law, the rights of the nation were at stake. The first Earl of Chatham, William Pitt in speeches better remembered than any in parliament, exhorted America to be firm. Lord Camden, the late Chancellor, said: “Taxation and representation are inseparably united. God hath joined them. No British parliament can separate them.”
From the elements of that crisis Burke built up the noblest political philosophy in the world, from which he could also distinguish the righteousness of the American Cause from the errors inherent in the French Revolution. “I do not know the method,” said he, “of drawing up an indictment against a whole people. —The natural rights of mankind are indeed sacred things, and if any public measure is proved mischievously to affect them, the objection ought to be fatal to that measure, even if no charter at all could be set up against it. —Only a sovereign reason, paramount to all forms of legislation and administration, should dictate.” In this way, 230 years ago, the principle gained ground, that a nation can never abandon its fate to an authority it cannot control. The Americans placed it at the foundation of their new government. They did more: for having subjected all civil authorities to the popular will, they surrounded the popular will with restrictions that the British legislature would not endure. By the time of President Monroe and the Era of Good Feelings, it might be said no other age or country had solved so successfully the problems that attend the growth of free societies. The causes of old world trouble, popular ignorance, pauperism, the glaring contrast between rich and poor, religious strife, public debts, standing armies and war, were almost unknown in America. I do not like to conclude without inviting attention to the impressive fact that so much of the hard fighting, hard thinking, and the enduring that has contributed to the deliverance of man from the power of man, has been the work of the British and of their descendants in other lands. Perhaps more accurately, it has been the result and is indeed the legacy, of our most important and enduring Anglo and Anglo-American institutions, such as the university, stable currency, an independent judiciary, local self-government and most of all, the rule of law.
Wesley Allen Riddle is a retired military officer with degrees and honors from West Point and Oxford. Widely published in the academic and opinion press, he ran for U.S. Congress (TX-District 31) in the 2004 Republican Primary. This piece largely abridged and condensed from an address by Lord Acton to the Bridgnorth Institute in England on 28 May 1877. Email:

community 2.0

We're working on something exciting at encounter involving small groups and community. For now, the working title is community 2.0. We want to re-learn and re-focus and re-new our thoughts on what community means in the church body.
After reading more from Blue Like Jazz the other night and considering what our plans are, I wrote my thoughts down but haven't had a chance to fully complete it. Hey - it was 2:30 in the morning and I was getting a little to sleepy for me to continue.
Either way I want to share my beginnings and get your thoughts...
Well I only thought I was wrapping up and going to bed. I just had to get up and write more. I really wish I had a passion for writing my day-to-day stuff at the paper that made me want to get up at 2:20 a.m. and write.
But on to my current thoughts.
We're getting ready to start a new push for small groups at encounter and I'm excited to see where this will lead us. I've had a couple meetings with Brian over the last week or so and we're looking at a six week, church wide campaign studying community.
So I thought it was interesting that I read some of Don Miller's thoughts on community tonight before I got ready to head to bed.
I've been reading Miller's book Blue Like Jazz for a couple weeks now. It's a great read. But it's also been a struggle for me to read. I'm not sure why. Every time I pick it up to read I've read two or three chapters and then I have to force myself to put the book down and move on to other pressing matters (usually sleep since I read before bed).
Miller tackles both loneliness and community in the two chapters I read tonight.
He begins by saying that love is a lot like heaven. As someone getting ready to be married in less than three months (WHOOO!) I have to agree.
When I was in love I hardly thought of myself; I thought of her and how beautiful she looked and whether or not she was cold and how I could make her laugh. It was wonderful because I forgot my problems. I owned her problems instead, and her problems seemed romantic and beautiful. When I was in love there was somebody in the world who was more important than me, and that, given all that happened at the fall of man, is a miracle, like something God forgot to curse.
Miller said he used to believe that loneliness was the opposite of being in love but now views it as an opposite. He said when he is lonely there are other things he craves, like community, like friendship, like family.
I think our society puts too much pressure on being romantic love and that is why so many relationships fail. Romance can't possibly carry all that we want it to.
Miller adds that his friend says the words alone, lonely and loneliness are three of the most powerful words in the English language. They are words that say we are human.
Think about that.
Miller admits that he's a bit of a recluse by nature and that after living alone for some time it was hard to be around other people.
I would leave parties early. I would leave church before worship was over so I didn't have to stand around and talk. The presence of people would agitate me. I was so used to being able to daydream and keep myself company that other people were an intrusion. It was terribly unhealthy.
Miller's friend once told him about a story she wanted to write. The story was about an astronaut working on the space station in space. Suddenly there was an accident and the astronaut is thrown out into space spiraling around the earth in orbit. His space suit is able to keep him alive by recycling his fluids so he lives on in orbit around the earth. Everyone on earth thinks he is gone and dead but he remains in orbit -- alone -- for the rest of his life. Miller's friend said she believed the astronaut's story was a lot like hell. A place where a person is completely alone, without others and without God.
After hearing the story, Miller can't sleep. He keeps imagining himself as the astronaut, orbiting the earth as his hair grows longer and longer and eventually blocks his view in his space suit. Naturally he can't move his hair out of his view because the shield on his helmet prevents him from doing so.
After I thought about Stacy's story, I lay there in bed wanting to be touched, wanting to be talked to. I had the terrifying thought that something like that might happen to me.
Many times that can happen to us. We get so caught up in our problems, in our despair, in our loneliness that we might as well be an astronaut floating around the earth in orbit for the rest of our life.
God made us to desire community. We thrive when we're truly in community.
Loneliness is something that happens to us, but I think it is something we can move ourselves out of. I think a person who is lonely should dig into community, give himself to community, humble himself before his friends, initiate community, teach people to care for each other, love each other. Jesus does not want us floating through space or sitting in front of our televisions. Jesus wants us interacting, eating together, laughing together, praying together.
Miller finishes his thoughts on community by recalling the time he spent living in community with five other men in Portland.
He had to struggle to make things work after living by himself for four years.
He didn't like them and he didn't believe they liked him.
While Miller struggled to get past his dislike for roommates and community... (z...z..Z...Z...Z...Z...Z)

Keep your computer running

Nothing sucks worse than being in the middle of a project and watching your computer come to a complete stop.
While it wasn't a complete shutdown, the computer we use for running MediaShout at church completely shutdown the software package during yesterday's service. Quite annoying but made me glad it wasn't my week to run the presentation software. We simply restarted the software and were back on track but an annoyance - especially during worship. has 26 tips on how you can keep your computer running and functioning before the crashes occur.


Word on the street

Word on the street is that Google is getting ready to release an online presentation software package. Code named Presently (a likely play on Writely, whom Google bought out before releasing Google Docs.
No word yet on it's expected release.
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Churches rise from the ashes

One year has passed since nine churches in central and western Alabama were set on fire by three college-age students. Members continue to meet for worship as they begin rebuilding their churches -- with a little help from volunteers. Listen to the full report from NPR.

Bee Movie

I just saw a preview for this movie. Don't know anything about it other than Jerry Seinfield stars in it and the preview is hilarious.