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.
SHAMELESS PLUG: Need affordable web hosting for your church, non-profit or your blog? E-mail me for more information.

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.

Four things young adults want in church

LifeWay Research conducted a survey among people age 18 to 34 that discovered a major factor causing young adults to leave the church is the church’s inability to minister to them in their transition stage.
Among Young Adults:
  • 73% of churchgoers & 47% of non-churchgoers indicated that community with other young people is extremely important in their lives.
  • 71% of churchgoers said they want to participate in small-group meetings to discuss life application of Scripture.
  • 68% of churchgoers & 45% of non-churchgoers said that in small group settings they can find “advice from individuals with similar experiences.”
  • 66% of churchgoers & 47% of non-churchgoers agree that meeting the needs of others is also an essential element to this generation.

    Jim Johnston of LifeWay Christian Resources identifies four needs among young adults:
    1. Relationship
    2. Biblical Community
    3. Social Action
    4. Genuine Church

    Do you agree with the results? Do you think your church is meeting these needs?

    Here are two responses from those surveyed:
    "Young adults are in the middle – not married, not old enough, not in high school; [we're] in this 'ugh' stage," said one survey respondent in the latest LifeWay Research report.

    "After graduation, they (the church) give you a pat on the back and say, 'when you start a family, we'll be here for you,'" said another respondent.

    “The church’s responsibility is to reach every generation with the love of Jesus Christ,” stated Jim Johnston, director of young adult ministry at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, in the report. “It just so happens that this generation’s biggest need is relationship. The church ought to be the author and purveyor of the best, deepest, most loving friendships around.”

    “The lost and the saved in this age group are looking for just what the church can provide in Biblical community,” said Johnston. “They want absolute truth but they embrace the struggle of finding it themselves. They don’t want it to be spoon-fed to them.”

    "Young adults gravitate to churches that are making an impact,” Johnston noted. “This age group is embracing service, social action and missions. They will embrace the church with a cause as well.”

    "They (young adults) want to embrace church, but only the genuine, earth-shaking, Christ-powered New Testament church. For some churches, that’s going to mean changing methodology – but not the message of the Bible.”
  • Saturday, February 03, 2007

    Robert Wilonsky discusses plans for Deep Ellum

    The Dallas Observer's Robert Wilonsky talked to Channel 11 about the city's plans for Deep Ellum. He said the current plans are disastrous for the historic area.

    Thursday, February 01, 2007

    Add a Bible search to Firefox

    I was looking up a Bible passage for my last post and found this great list of plug-ins for Firefox.
    As you may know, Firefox has a pull down menu for searching right from the tool bar. A number of search engines have already been installed.
    But now you can also add searches from You can do a generic search with your default Bible translation, or you can choose from nine other versions including the NIV, The Message, King Jimmy, New King Jimmy and others.
    Super easy and very handy.
    install your preferred Bible search

    Help Wanted: Man seeking adventure in life. Tired of ho-hum working conditions.

    I thought this was a very interesting Meta thread: How do I get over my laziness, procrastination, and foot-dragging in my office job?
    I have fallen into an embarrassingly lazy state. I turn things in at the last minute or late. I have come to regard almost all deadlines as fuzzy. I still make the major deadlines, and I'm still doing my job, but I tend not to complete non-essential job duties unless someone chases me.
    I've always been an over achiever in the past I am horrified to realize that I've become mediocre in my job rather than excellent. It's making me feel awful about myself, and I really don't want to be the slacker everybody hates working with.
    There are lots of interesting ideas in the responses -- from setting a 15-20 minute timer to keeping a personal journal.
    One of the challenges we discussed Wednesday morning at our men's breakfast was "overcoming the mundane or the routine."
    John Eldredge writes a lot about that in wild at heart and suggests that men really need adventure in their life. Men need a battle to fight, a beauty to rescue and an adventure to love.
    I wish I had underlined more points that stood out to me in the book. For some reason the only one I did underline really doesn't have much to do with this topic. But the more I think about the book after reading it the more the truths seem to resonate within me.
    "The tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives." - Albert Schweitzer
    Eldredge talks a lot about our "inner man" that we all strive to be as young boys and how somewhere along the way we lose that. We end up working an 8 to 5 job in a cubicle dreaming of the world outside.
    I think about Wilson and how he's 150% boy at almost the age of 3. He's got his trucks, tractors, Star Wars toys and he's always out seeking adventure.
    He's constantly flipping over the couch, running through the house, jumping on the trampoline, or maybe even climbing ladders on to the roof of his second story home.
    I think most boys are like that. Maybe not to that extreme but we all dream of being John Wayne, Wyatt Earp, the Lone Ranger or Buzz Lightyear. We want to be the hero.

    Yet somewhere along the line we lose that.
    Somewhere we lose our desire to be William Wallace and take the "safe alternative."
    Eldredge suggests we're wired to take on a fight and be a hero because we're made in the image of God.
    Now -- is Jesus more like Mother Teresa or William Wallace? The answer is... it depends. If you're a leper, an outcast, a pariah of society whom no one has ever touched because you are "unclean," if all you ever longed for was just one kind word, then Christ is the incarnation of tender mercy. He reaches out and touches you. On the other hand, if you're a Pharisee, one of those self-appointed doctrine police... watch out. On more than one occasion Jesus "picks a fight" with those notorious hypocrites.
    Look at Luke 13. The Pharisees try to accuse Jesus of being sinful because he healed a leper on the Sabbath.
    Does Jesus simply turn the other cheek? No -- Jesus doesn't walk away.
    But Jesus shot back, "You frauds! Each Sabbath every one of you regularly unties your cow or donkey from its stall, leads it out for water, and thinks nothing of it. So why isn't it all right for me to untie this daughter of Abraham and lead her from the stall where Satan has had her tied these eighteen years?"
    When he put it that way, his critics were left looking quite silly and redfaced. The congregation was delighted and cheered him on. (Luke 13:15-17)
    Jesus draws the enemy out, exposes him and then shames him. He puts up a fight.
    Eldredge also suggests that if you doubt God loves wildness, spend a night in the wilderness... alone.
    Take a walk out in a thunderstorm. Go for a swim with a pod of killer whales. Ge a bull moose mad at you. Whose idea was this, anyway? Most of the earth is not safe, but it's good.
    God made all of this and pronounced it good. Eldredge says it's His way of letting us know He prefers adventure, danger, risk, the element of surprise.
    I think I've written long enough -- for now.
    But here's to adventure and here's to finding your passion groove in life.
    What are you doing to find your passion groove?

    [Cue the choir chorus and light from above]

    Get Firefox
    Ureeka! I've found three new shortcuts for Firefox. Yeah. I know. You probably already new about them... but I didn't. So now the angels are singing from above like they did when you discovered them.

    CTRL+T opens a new tab in Firefox. (Cmd+T on Macs)
    CTRL+Shift+T opens the last closed tab!
    And CTRL+L moves your cursor to the address bar.

    Ok you can stop singing now. No seriously. You can stop.

    Via: Lifehacker

    SHAMELESS PLUG: Need affordable web hosting for your church, non-profit or your blog? E-mail me for more information.

    Let it out

    I read a comment on a blog today...

    Isn't this what church should be like? A place to come and talk about your feelings, hurts, fears, challenges and get someone who will simply listen, love and not judge.

    Burnam files House Bill 1000 to create sales tax holiday for energy efficient products

    (Austin, TX) – Representative Lon Burnam, D - Fort Worth, has filed HB 1000 that will establish sales tax exemptions on certain energy efficient appliances for three weekends each year. These exemptions would apply to those products designated as “Energy Star qualified” as defined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy.
    “These products use less energy which protects the environment and saves consumers money,” said Burnam. “Our state should recognize the benefit of these products to our communities and should reward consumers who invest in Energy Star appliances with a chance to purchase the products tax-free.”
    The bill will grant tax exemptions on clothes washers, ceiling fans, dehumidifiers, dishwashers, incandescent or fluorescent light bulbs, and programmable thermostats, as well as refrigerators priced at less than $2,000 and air conditioners costing less than $6,000.
    The sales tax holidays would correspond with three high-energy consumption weekends in the summer months. Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and the sales tax holiday on clothing and footwear will be Energy Star tax-free weekends under this bill.
    “We no longer have room for the ignorant assumption that there is energy to waste,” said Burnam. “Part of being a responsible citizen is realizing that each of us must do what we can to conserve the energy we have. This legislation will provide an incentive to do the right thing.”

    Windows Vista over hyped?

    I did a "review" of Windows Vista this week for my tech column in the WDL.
    I use the term "review" lightly because I haven't actually sat down and played with the new OS like I do with other products I review.
    But from all I've read and seen other than a cool new GUI I don't see any strong reason to upgrade from Windows XP SP2 to the new OS - especially when there's not a single computer in our office (including my laptop) that the OS will run on.
    I need a new video card to run the OS and that's gonna be a little hard to do with a laptop.
    So hope that XP support sticks around for another 10 years or so.

    Here's a run down of the system requirements:

    Basic edition requirements:
    1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
    512 MB of system memory
    20 GB hard drive with at least 15 GB of available space
    Support for DirectX 9 graphics and 32 MB of graphics memory
    DVD-ROM drive
    Audio Output
    Internet access

    Home Premium / Business / Ultimate requirements:
    1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
    1 GB of system memory
    40 GB hard drive with at least 15 GB of available space
    Support for DirectX 9 graphics with:
    - WDDM Driver
    - 128 MB of graphics memory (minimum)
    - Pixel Shader 2.0 in hardware
    - 32 bits per pixel
    DVD-ROM drive
    Audio Output
    Internet access

    As a side note we ran an ad of a local office supplier selling brand new laptops with Windows Vista installed. None of them would run Vista Ultimate. There's something amusing about that.

    Tuesday, January 30, 2007

    Food for thought

    From Mark Batterson's blog:
    "Your baptism is your ordination into ministry."

    "Ask the grandparents in your church: how many of you would lay down your life for your grandchildren? Every grandparent will raise their hand. Then ask them: how many of you would lay down your musical preferences for your grandchildren?"

    "Sometimes God is more active in the world than he is in the church. Who's had more impact alleviating suffering in the world: your church or Bono?"

    "When you're in incarnational mode you're always living on other people's terms."

    Every Nintendo game ever made

    I won't lie. This is incredible! Absolutely incredible! 670 original NES video games are being auctioned on E-bay right now.
    Wow. What a flashback down memory lane.
    The current bid is at only $30,600. That averages to a little over $45 a game but the package also includes a NES system, Power Glove, Power Pad, NES Advantage Contoller and more.
    Here are some of my favorites from the list:
  • 2-in-1 Super Mario Bros / Duck Hunt
  • Bad News Baseball
  • Bases Loaded (I, II, III, IV)
  • Battletoads
  • Chip 'N Dale: Rescue Rangers
  • Contra
  • Contra Force
  • Double Dragon (I, II, III)
  • Duck Tales
  • The Empire Strikes Back
  • Ghostbusters (I, II)
  • Major League Baseball
  • NES Play Action Football
  • NFL Football
  • Power Blade
  • RoboCop
  • Skate or Die
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Tecmo Bowl
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game
  • Tecmo World Wrestling
  • WrestleMania
  • WWF King of the Ring
  • WWF Wrestlemania Challenge
  • WWF Wrestlemania: Steel Cage Challenge
    I'm sure I could keep listing more games, but this is long enough. What about you? What are your favorite NES games?
  • What if corporate America went Web 2.0?

    Found this on the Church Marketing Lab on Flickr. Lots of great ideas there. Check it out if you haven't. Below is a look at what corporate America's logos might look like if they converted to Web 2.0.

    SHAMELESS PLUG: Need affordable web hosting for your church, non-profit or your blog? E-mail me for more information.

    11 days till Obama makes his announcement

    Barack Obama is planning to make an announcement regarding his 2008 plans on Feb. 10. I'm excited to see what goes down if he does in fact announce his presidency.
    If you haven't seen it, here's his video announcement from a few weeks ago.

    Or read a transcript.

    10 Tips for writing your book

    Brian Bailey from Fellowship Church in Dallas has several tips for writing your first, second or 100th book.
    I keep meaning to sit down and work on my first attempt at fiction but I just haven't been motivated. Maybe it will come later or maybe I'll move in a completely different direction. Either way, here are his pointers. Anyone else have any ideas? What book would you write if you had all the time in the world?
    Top 10 Steps to Writing a Better Book
    10. Get more exercise
    9. Allow time for editing and formatting
    8. Have a regular place to work
    7. Schedule rewards at each milestone
    6. Disable wireless for long stretches
    5. Write a small amount each day
    4. Set aside time for book busywork
    3. Develop one writing process and stick with it
    2. Print it out
    1. Schedule regular getaways to write
    Read the full post

    SHAMELESS PLUG: Need affordable web hosting for your church, non-profit or your blog? E-mail me for more information.

    British Muslims more political

    According to NPR a new study shows that young British Muslims are becoming more and more political.
    Click here to listen

    Monday, January 29, 2007

    Friends are friends forever

    The L21 gang got together at Power FM Sunday night for Rick's show, Powertalk.
    We had a good time hanging out and talking about friendship on the air.
    Give it a listen and hope you enjoy it like we did.

    Powertalk 01/28/07

    Reminder from my dad

    I talked with my parents briefly tonight and my dad reminded me of an important lesson...
    "Work like its all up to you and pray like it's all up to God."

    New songs on OrangeNoiseRadio

    We've got new tracks being added to OrangeNoiseRadio all the time, including the latest songs from Thaxton. The Midlothian based rocker's got some great music coming out on his next EP release.
    Check him out and our other top 10 requested songs (including a tie for the number six spot) at And be sure to click Submit Request on our website to request your favorite songs on OrangeNoiseRadio.

    1. Mirac - Take A Stand
    2. Need to Breathe - Shine On
    3. John David Webster - Made to Shine
    4. Thaxton - Best Of Me
    5. Weird Al Yankovic - White And Nerdy
    6. Dave Barnes - I Have and Always Will
    7. U2 - City of Blinding Lights
    7. TobyMac - Made To Love
    8. Spur58 - Sleepwalkers
    9. KJ-52 - Rock On
    10. Jack Johnson - Good People

    OrangeNoiseRadio::True Music
    Burnam Files House Bill 936 To Adjust the Minimum Wage for Inflation
    (Austin, TX) – Rep. Lon Burnam (D - Fort Worth) filed HB 936 that will adjust the Texas minimum wage for inflation based on the consumer price index today. This legislation follows on the heals of the U.S. House of Representatives, which passed legislation increasing the federal minimum wage to $7.25 over the next two years.
    ʺThe federal government made the important first step in raising the minimum wage,ʺ said Rep. Burnam. ʺThe Texas Legislature needs to take the next step by linking the wage floor to inflation. The workers in this state cannot afford to wait years for lawmakers to raise the minimum wage. We need an automatic increase of the minimum wage tied to the cost of living.ʺ
    Burnamʹs legislation would cause the minimum wage floor to automatically adjust each
    year based on the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers as
    computed by the United States Department of Labor.
    Major opponents to the federal minimum wage increase cited the potential damage to
    businesses that are faced with a sudden wage hike. Because Representative Burnamʹs bill adjusts the wage floor each year based on inflation, this legislation will ensure that businesses are protected from sudden wage hikes in the future.
    ʺThis bill will eliminate the time spent legislating the minimum wage in the future,ʺ said Burnam. ʺIt gives Texas workers the dignity of a living wage without having to fight for increases during every legislative session. This is a practical and necessary solution to a problem that affects the working poor all across the state of Texas.ʺ
    Currently only the states of Oregon, Vermont, and Washington have laws that adjust the minimum wage annually according to measures of inflation.

    Gorge yourself in 2007

    From the February 2007 issue of Texas Monthly.
    Eating Myself Alive
    Jim Atkinson cures what ails us.
    I’M A BIG BELIEVER in New Year’s resolutions. Nine years ago I decided to quit smoking, and while it took me a few months, in March of 1998 I stamped out my last butt. At the same time, I resolved not to gain any weight after giving up nicotine—a more difficult challenge—and began exercising at least an hour a day. Nearly a decade later, I weigh the same thing. This year? I’m attacking my diet. And I’m not just referring to cutting out the fries. Healthy eating is proactive: It means consuming more of those foods whose properties prevent such life shorteners as heart disease and cancer. With the help of Lona Sandon, an assistant professor of clinical dietetics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, I’ve settled on ten things I’m going to gorge on in 2007. Try my plan yourself—and see how many years you can add to your life by eating more.
    Here are Jim's top 10 things to gourge on. Read more in this month's issue.
    1. Go upstream: salmon.
    2. A tomato a day keeps the Big C away.
    3. Synergy, baby: garlic.
    4. Brown power, part I: whole-grain pasta.
    5. Brown power, part II: whole-grain bread.
    6. The new mayo: avocado.
    7. Say yes to red meat.
    8. Pintos with that?
    9. Fig out.
    10. Room for dessert? Cave to cantaloupe.
    So, you may say, resolutions are good and well. But are there any caveats to this healthy feeding frenzy? Well, yes—two. The first is that I’ll still allow myself a cheeseburger or soft tacos once a week. It’s not that the human body can’t handle any cholesterol or fat; it just can’t take too much of it. The second is that, even if I falter at incorporating one or two of my ten foods here, I’m intent on, uh, staying the course. Because proactive eating is not just a year-long project—it’s a lifelong one.

    SHAMELESS PLUG: Need affordable web hosting for your church, non-profit or your blog? E-mail me for more information.

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

    St. Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225-1274), Italian scholastic philosopher, argued that, “A King who is unfaithful to his duty forfeits his claim to obedience. It is not rebellion to depose him, for he is himself a rebel whom the nation has a right to put down. But it is better to abridge his power, that he may be unable to abuse it. For this purpose, the whole nation ought to have a share in governing itself; … No government has a right to levy taxes beyond the limit determined by the people. All political authority is derived from popular suffrage, and all laws must be made by the people or their representatives. There is no security for us as long as we depend on the will of another man.” This language, according to Lord Acton, contains the earliest exposition of the Whig theory of revolution, and it was this theory as passed on and developed through English Whigs, which America would use to form the basis for its own revolutionary raison d’être.
    If we adjudge the march of freedom over the span of the entire Middle Ages, some 1,000 years from the fall of Rome, great good had certainly come about and what a difference it was from the Dark Ages that had initially followed collapse of empire. Representative government, which was nearly unknown to the ancients, was almost universal. The methods of election may have been crude, but the principle that no tax was lawful that was not granted by the class that paid it, that is, taxation was inseparable from representation, was recognized. Not a prince in the world, said Philip de Commines, can levy a penny without the consent of the people. Absolute power was deemed more intolerable and more criminal than slavery; and the right of insurrection was admitted and defined as a duty sanctified by religion. Ironically, religious influence on the state actually declined. Whereas, in the days when every state made the unity of faith its first care, it came to be thought that the rights of men, and the duties of neighbors and of rulers towards them varied according to their religion. Society certainly did not acknowledge the same obligations to a Turk or a Jew, a pagan or a heretic, or a devil worshipper, as to an orthodox Christian. When the ascendancy of religion grew weaker, this privilege of treating its enemies on exceptional principles was claimed by the state for its own benefit. The idea that the ends of government justify the means employed, was worked out systematically by the Italian statesman and writer on government, Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527). Unfortunately, his political philosophy was accepted and studied by the ruling class in Europe and gave immense impulse to absolutism by silencing the consciences of religious kings. Kings resorted to wicked acts, treachery and murder in the name of political science, in order to further their statecraft and political agendas, and to dispatch rivals. What Lord Acton calls Machiavelli’s “studied philosophy of crime” and “thorough perversion of the moral sense” made good and bad kings look very much alike. The clergy, who had in so many ways served the cause of freedom during the prolonged strife against feudalism, were associated now with the interest of royalty. Initial attempts to reform the Church within failed, and its hierarchy united with the crown to oppose systems of divided power. It was this situation that gave rise and impetus to Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. Religious wars twixt Catholics and Protestants had as much to do with freedom as anything, and ultimately, the challenge posed by the Reformation not only stemmed the flood of absolutism in the state (eventually) but helped to reform the Catholic Church. But then I sweep much cruelty and excess under the rug as masses of people were involved on both sides, and masses of people tend to engender both cruelty and excess. For the belief that it is right to murder tyrants, first taught among Christians by John of Salisbury, the most distinguished English writer of the twelfth century, and confirmed by Roger Bacon, the most celebrated Englishman of the thirteenth, had acquired by the sixteenth century a jaded and fatal significance. Moreover, that men should understand governments do not exist by divine right, and that arbitrary government is the violation of divine right is good only so far as it goes. It gives little aid to progress or reform, because the mere resistance to tyranny implies no faculty of constructing a legal government in its place. If you substitute nothing else positive, then you trade one bad situation for another. The principles, which discriminate in politics between good and evil, and make states worthy to last, were not yet found. This required a few more innovations. In the meantime, after so many years of religious wars and assassination, strong monarchies prevailed. The church muffled its view that resistance to kings might be a religious duty. A sixteenth century preacher warned, “You will perish, not by invasion or war, but by your infernal liberties!”
    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:

    Web to become primary vehicle for LA Times breaking news

    From Editor and Publisher:
    Speaking to hundreds of Los Angeles Times journalists in the newspaper's Harry Chandler auditorium this morning, editor James O'Shea outlined a bold plan to increase traffic and revenue from in the face of an increasingly difficult economic climate for newspaper publishers, and urged journalists to think of the Web site as the newspaper's primary vehicle for news.
    "We can't hide from the fact that smart competitors such as Google and Craigslist are stealing readers and advertisers from us through innovative strategies that are undermining the business model we've relied on for decades," said O'Shea, whose remarks were published in their entirety on the paper's Web site.
    "Currently we have a newspaper staff and an staff," he said. "No more. From now on, there are no two staffs, there is just one. And we will function as one. One of Russ's first jobs will be to help set up that newsroom."
    He said that would become the paper's "primary vehicle for breaking news 24 hours a day."
    I wonder how quickly other newspapers will take notice and start changing with the times.

    SHAMELESS PLUG: Need affordable web hosting for your church, non-profit or your blog? E-mail me for more information.

    'Sometimes you've just gotta cuss'

    It's been said by two very important women in my life that "sometimes you've just gotta cuss." So when that guy cuts you off in traffic, or your cell phone company over charges you, rather than yelling at the perpetrator, visit the Profane Game.
    See how many words you can think of in the one-minute time limit.

    YouTube to offer revenue sharing

    What a great idea:
    People who upload their own films to video-sharing website YouTube will soon get a share of the ad revenue.
    YouTube founder Chad Hurley confirmed to the BBC that his team was working on a revenue-sharing mechanism that would "reward creativity".
    The system would be rolled out in a couple of months, he said, and use a mixture of adverts, including short clips shown ahead of the actual film.
    YouTube has more than 70 million users a month and was recently bought by Google.
    Read more from the BBC

    SHAMELESS PLUG: Need affordable web hosting for your church, non-profit or your blog? E-mail me for more information.

    Sunday, January 28, 2007

    Getting to know her

    My amazing fiance Laurie has posted a bio about herself on her blog.
    Hope you enjoy it and get a better glimpse into why I love her so.

    Why I love Texas

    Where else in the world can you find a pond in someone's backyard that's built in the shape of their state/country?

    A county commissioner told me about this pond on Friday. Pretty cool if you ask me.
    It's in Ellis County south of Midlothian near the intersection of Matthews Rd and Armstrong Rd.
    I'm going to try and find out more about it later this week. I'll let you know if I do.

    An Army cup of tea

    My mate Thomas over in Scotland is a member of the local Salvation Army and they've put together a great way to connect with those around them.
    Church members were given two coffee mugs with a wafer and free trade tea bag. The mugs also come with a prayer card for receivers of the gift to respond with prayer needs to the church.
    As i understand it, members are encouraged to connect with a family member, friend, neighbor, co-worker or whomever over a cup of tea.
    what better way to make a personal connection and promote the message of Christ.
    I wonder if churches could get the local Starbucks or another company to donate a "buy-one get-one free card for a coffee or tea. That might be a helpful push to get church goers to invite a friend or family member to spend time talking with them over a cup of coffee.
    Otherwise it would be super cool to do the same thing with a custom coffee mug.
    Get out and invite someone to coffee at your favorite local spot, or even into your own home. Show them the love of Christ in a real way.

    Friends of God

    We watched Alexandria Pelosi's documentary, "Friends of God" Thursday night on HBO. The Christian Wrestling Federation was featured for a full 1 min and 50 seconds. I thought it was a very fair portrayal.
    Sure I've read a number of comments online with people laughing at the idea. But they've been doing that for the last seven years.
    I believe our spot on the 56 minute documentary was the only one with an actual Gospel presentation. Pelosi said in an interview with the San Fransisco Chronicle that as a "lapsed Catholic" a number of evangelicals tried to convert her to Christianity off camera. I'm sure that was frustrating to her. What would you have done in her shoes or if she was doing a story on you?
    I also thought it was interesting that she said no one really made the connection about her and her mother (Nancy Pelosi) but once Jerry Falwell did he kicked her off his bus. Gotta enjoy that Christ-like love.

    More coverage:
    Americans United for Separation of Church and State
    ABC News

    Americans spend more time with their computer than spouse

    From Lifehacker:
    A recent "Cyber Stress" study shows that 65% of Americans spend more time on their computers than with their spouses. The study also found:
    The average consumer has experienced computer troubles eight times - about every four months - over the last three years.
    The average American is wasting 12 hours per month - the equivalent of half a weekend - due to problems with their home computer.
    And my personal favorite:
    A majority of Americans (52%) describe their most recent experience with a computer problem as one of anger, sadness or alienation.
    Oh, and don't let this poll make you late to dinner with your wife/hubby. — Gina Trapani
    SHAMELESS PLUG: Need affordable web hosting for your church, non-profit or your blog? E-mail me for more information.

    Walking the walk has released the results of their latest poll.
    According to the site's readers, walking the walk is the #1 means of church promotion.
    That even tops a give away a church recently did with Chipotle.
    The poll does underscore our constant refrain that Christians who do what they're supposed to do are the best marketing ever.
    How do we encourage folks at encounter our your church to do that?

    Dear friends, do you think you'll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, "Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!" and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn't it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense? - James 2:14-17

    Quote for the day

    We think evangelism is telling people what they need to know instead of getting them where they need to go.
    - Erwin McManus (Mosaic Church)

    via: Mark Batterson

    Wednesday, January 24, 2007

    Catholic church in UK fights gay adoption

    The head of the Catholic church in England threatens to close Catholic adoption agencies rather than comply with anti-discrimination laws which force children to be placed with gay couples. The Anglican Union also objects to the laws.
    According to NPR Tony Blair is caught in the middle between his Christian faith and his government's urging for anti-discrimination laws.
    Listen to the full story from NPR's Morning Edition

    Tuesday, January 23, 2007

    Bill filed to study potential impact of global warming on Texas

    (Austin, TX)–Representative Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, filed legislation today to establish a global warming task force which will assess the economic and public health impacts of global warming on Texas. The bill was filed on the day when President Bush is expected to address global warming in his State of the Union address.
    "For too long, there has been a bogus debate on global warming fueled by junk science," said Rep. Burnam. "Now, that ‘debate’ is over. Just last week ExxonMobil admitted that global warming is a real threat and that greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide contribute to the problem. It’s time the state of Texas begins to make preparations to deal with the potential fallout from this very real crisis."
    2006 was the hottest year on record in the United States. The scientific community agrees that global warming poses significant risks and dangers yet the United States continues to be the number one emitter of carbon dioxide and Texas is the number one emitting state.
    “We have 600 miles of coastline in Texas. If temperatures rise enough that sea levels rise a foot or more, there could be a serious economic and health impact on the state,” said Burnam. “The state is like the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand. We need a plan to deal with this challenge.
    “At the same time, the reality of global warming provides excellent opportunities for businesses that innovate and create solutions to these problems. My bill directs the global warming task force to investigate and prepare for the worst while seeking opportunities for businesses that do the right thing.
    “I do hope, as it has been reported, that the President addresses global warming tonight. And I hope that the state of Texas will take the necessary steps to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for a carbon-constrained economy.”

    Monday, January 22, 2007

    Public domain photos

    Here's a mega collection of public domain photos that can be used for... well anything.
    They're in the public domain, use them for worship slides, message illustrations, newsletters, blogs, websites or whatever.

    Victim of theft gets purse back after sending text messages to thief

    Pan Aiying, a teacher from China, had her bag stolen recently. Inside the bag was approximately $630, a cellphone and other goods. Instead of doing the norm and contacting police, Aiying decided to start sending text messages to the thief.
    Maybe everyone should just change their phone's wallpaper to read "Please return if stolen."
    Read more

    Do conservative evangelicals regret justifying the Iraq war?

    The Baptist Standard has an interesting article about how some conservative evangelicals may be changing their stance on the war in Iraq - despite justifying it with a "just war theory" before the wary began.
    By Robert Marus - ABP Washington Bureau
    WASHINGTON (ABP)—As the number of American soldiers killed passes 3,000 and Congress debates President Bush’s latest strategy for winning the war, some Christians who supported invading Iraq in 2003 are wrestling with whether the invasion was a “just war” after all.
    While most progressive evangelicals, mainline Protestant leaders and the Roman Catholic Church opposed the war prior to the March 2003 invasion, many Baptists and other conservative evangelicals justified the war in Christian theological terms.
    “Military action against the Iraqi government would be a defensive action. ... The human cost of not taking (then-Iraqi dictator Saddam) Hussein out and removing his government as a producer, proliferator and proponent of the use of weapons of mass destruction means we can either pay now or we can pay a lot more later,” said Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s ethics agency, in a Sept. 2002 article published by the denomination’s news service.
    Land later organized a group of prominent conservative evangelicals who signed an open letter arguing that the proposed Iraq invasion satisfied classic Christian theological criteria for justifying a war—often referred to as just war theory.
    The article references a letter by Chuck Colson who wrote argued that the classical definition of the Christian just war theory should be “stretched” to accommodate a new age in which terrorism and warfare are intertwined. He concluded that “out of love of neighbor, then, Christians can and should support a pre-emptive strike” on Iraq to prevent Iraqi-based or -funded attacks on the United States or its allies.
    David Gushee, a Southern Baptist ethicist and professor at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., was much more cautious about the war than many of his fellow evangelicals from its beginning.
    But Gusheee has turned increasingly against it in recent months. In a Dec. 11 column published by Associated Baptist Press, he cautioned his ideological cohorts.
    “The massive carnage in Iraq should serve as a permanent reminder to my fellow Christian conservatives that war is a moral-values issue,” he wrote.
    “Indeed, war is a sanctity-of-life issue. Every day’s body count in Iraq should drive this point home with greater and greater urgency. Every body that turns up with holes drilled in it, every head torn apart by gunshots, every soldier whose helicopter crashes and ends his life, every veteran who will spend the rest of his or her life with three or two or one or no limbs, is a human being of immeasurable worth, made in the image of God.”

    Online study tools

    After Brian’s message yesterday I went online to look for an online daily reading plan for the Bible.
    I found one at — which gives you a reading for every day of the year and you can pick from any number of versions including King Jimmy, NIV, The Message and others. What online tools/resources do you use to spur your faith?

    Create your own Simpsons character

    Get your mouse out and start clicking away to create your own Simpson character. I'm seeing a fun encounter animation/comic coming - sometime.

    Verse and Quote of the day

    No king succeeds with a big army alone, no warrior wins by brute strength. Horsepower is not the answer; no one gets by on muscle alone.
    Watch this: God's eye is on those who respect Him, the ones who are looking for his love. He's ready to come to their rescue in bad times; in lean times he keeps body and soul together.
    - Psalms 33:16-18

    Jesus took the command to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, and pushed the definition of who is our neighbor, out, out, and still further out, until it reached to the ends of the earth and included all of humanity - all of God’s children.
    - Alvin Alexi Currier

    New Susan G Komen advertising

    The Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Foundation is launching a new advertising campaign this year for their 25th anniversary.
    The foundation will advertise with T-Shirts that say: "If you're going to stare at my breasts you could at least donate a dollar to save them."
    Funny. Will probably grab a lot of attention.
    Reminds me of a certain "treasure chest" T-Shirt. Ha. That's another story for another time.
    Ladies, would you wear the Komen shirt?

    Boost from big stores has religion books rising

    "There's no question American's love to read about the Almighty."
    From NPR's Morning Edition: Sales of books on religion have sold to a wider audience since the Sept. 11 attacks. Now major retailers are creating much more room for religious titles, and writers are taking notice.
    Why do you read religious titles? Is it because of "tribal dynamics," to know why you're faith is right, who the bad guys and good guys are, or why your world view is better than the others?
    With The Prayer of Jabez, The Left Behind Series and The Purpose Driven Life is showing big box sellers that religious books can sale.
    Wal-Mart doesn't see the secular/spiritual split - they simply see books that sale.
    It's an interesting listen, including mention of Jim Wallis' book.

    Listen to this story

    43 million

    Today is the 34th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.
    The case was argued Dec. 13, 1971, re-argued Oct. 11, 1972 and finally decided Jan. 22, 1973.
    The “right” to abortion has expanded in the decades since Roe. Many states now pay for abortions with taxpayer dollars. Thirteen states, plus DC, allow abortion at any point, right up to the day of birth. Ten states, plus DC, don’t even require that abortions be done by a doctor.
    Since 1973, an estimated 43 million abortions have taken place, creating a $400-million-per-year industry.
    In the time it took you to read this post, two more infants were torn from the wombs of their mothers and tossed into the trash.

    Sunday, January 21, 2007

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

    When Constantine the Great carried the seat of empire from Rome to Constantinople, he reputedly carried nails employed at the Crucifixion, which his mother was believed to have found in Jerusalem. Constantine, in adopting the Christian faith, had not intended to renounce his arbitrary power. Nevertheless by promoting Christianity, he surrendered some prerogative of former Caesars. Constantine was the acknowledged author of the liberty and superiority of the Church. He was appealed to as protector and guardian of its unity. He admitted the obligation, accepted the trust. His power was absolute within this altered context. Nevertheless, the Romans became aware of a race of men, who had not abdicated freedom—not even for revealed religion, or in response to the edicts of Constantine. Kings of barbarians did not preside at councils and were sometimes even elected and could be deposed. They were bound by oath to act in obedience to the general wish, and they enjoyed real authority only in war. The primitive Republicanism held fast to the collective supremacy of all free men, as well as to the concept of constituent authorities, a remote germ of parliamentary government. The first effect of Teutonic (Germanic) migration into the regions civilized by Rome was to throw back Europe five hundred years in terms of science and knowledge. The collapse of the Western empire, however, released Christianity to a new and wide-open horizon—namely, to the conversion of the barbarian peoples. Conversion in fact occurred at an amazing rate, chiefly brought about by barbarian kings who converted. Much knowledge would eventually make its comeback through schools of the clergy. New states established by invaders, out of the old Roman Empire and along its borders, came to regard the Church as something infinitely vaster, stronger, holier than earthly political authority. The states at first conferred spiritual authority on the Church, and the Church helped develop state frameworks for governments.
    The monarchies of the Goths in Spain and the Saxons in England had nobles, as well as the semblance of free institutions surrounding the throne, but these passed away fairly quickly. The people who prospered and overshadowed the rest were the Franks, who had no native nobility and whose succession to the Crown was guided by superstition. The system they developed to excess was the feudal system, which essentially made land the measure and the master of all things. The nations of the West lay between the competing tyrannies of local magnates and of absolute monarchs until another struggle challenged vassal and lord alike. When the progress of feudalism threatened the independence of the Church, by subjecting the prelates to personal dependence on kings, this ushered in a period of four hundred years of conflict to which we owe much of the rise of civil liberty. The towns of Italy and Germany would win their franchise, France got her states general, England her parliament; and as long as the conflict between Church and state rulers persisted, there was no rise of Divine Right of kings. The disposition existed to regard the crown as an estate descending under the law of real property in the family that possessed it. But the authority of religion, and especially of the papacy, was thrown to the side that denied the indefeasible title of kings. Except in France where the reigning house was above the law, oaths of fidelity to monarchs were conditional. That is, fealty to a ruler applied during his good behavior, i.e., so long as his actions were in conformity with the public law to which all monarchs were held subject. A sort of reverse doctrine of the Divine Right of the people was invoked to raise Edward III to the throne in England after it was used to depose his father. But the idea of the people raising up and pulling down princes, after obtaining the sanctions of religion, was made to stand on broader grounds than the Church and state, and strong enough to resist both. In the struggle between the house of Bruce and the house of Plantagenet for the possession of Scotland and Ireland, the English claim was backed by the censures of Rome. But the Irish and the Scots refused it; and the address in which the Scottish parliament informed the Pope of their resolution shows how firmly and exactly they held the doctrine of people’s sovereignty: “Divine Providence, the laws and customs of the country, which we will defend till death, and the choice of the people, have made him our King. If he should ever betray his principles, and consent that we should be subjects of the English king, then we shall treat him as an enemy, as the subverter of our rights and his own, and shall elect another in his place. We care not for glory or for wealth, but for that liberty which no true man will give up but with his life.”
    This expression of doctrine essentially crosses concepts found in the Republicanism of barbarian invaders of Rome with tenets of Christianity and illustrates how these merged and spread with the Gentile conversion after the fall of Rome during the Middle Ages. Similar expressions of doctrine were adopted in quarters of the Church itself and expounded by its leaders, the likes of whom included St. Thomas Aquinas.
    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:

    CWF on HBO

    Didn't realize this till reading a recent review, but we met Nancy Pelosi's daughter a few months back (Pelosi is the recently elected Speaker of the House).
    Pelosi came and shot footage of the CWF for her documentary Friends of God, which airs on HBO Thursday night.
    It will be interesting to see what the documentary says about us.
    Review from TV Squad
    HBO's synopsis
    Kansas City Star report
    Look for the documentary to begin airing Thursday night 8 CST on HBO. Check your listings for more information.

    Late start benefits HS students

    The National Sleep Foundation has been saying for some time that it makes a lot of sense to start high school classes later in the morning -- not at 7 a.m., as is the case in many school districts nationwide. Now, some school districts are beginning to respond, and they are seeing good results. Some districts are even saving money by cutting bus runs.
    See it wasn't just me who was tired every morning. Apparently all high schoolers do better when they get to sleep in every morning. I say run the school day from 9 to 5. Any thoughts?

    Debunking Global Warming

    In Thursday's Daily Light:
    It is amazing that so many people believe global warming is real and is caused by humans. This myth has been largely promoted by the major media that gives much attention to those who support it and very little to those who debunk it.
    For example, in December, U.S. Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma chaired a “Climate Change and the Media” meeting. He said that global warming is a hoax. The meeting received almost no major media attention.
    At this meeting, Dr. David Deming, a geophysicist at the University of Oklahoma, stated, “I was contacted by a reporter for National Public Radio. He offered to interview me, but only if I would state that the warming was due to human activity. When I refused to do so, he hung up on me.”

    Confederate Nugent

    This morning we ran a story on Ted Nugent's appearance at Gov. McDreamy's inaugural ball early this week.
    Nugent showed up wearing a cut-off T-Shirt with a Confederate flag on the back.
    Gary Bledsoe, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People of Texas, said the Confederate battle flag is never appropriate.
    “Whenever someone sports the Confederate battle flag, many Texans will be offended, and rightly so, because of what it symbolizes the enslavement of African-Americans and more recently the symbol of hate groups and terrorists,” Bledsoe said.
    Perry's spokesman Robert Black said the governor would never try to squelch anyone's freedom of speech.
    Locally, Ellis County Republican Chairman Rusty Ballard said he didn't have a problem with Nugent playing.
    “He believes in many of the conservative issues the Republican Party does," Ballard said. "I thought it was a great deal having him play. Nugent is a great supporter of the governor.”
    Ballard said he also had no issue with Nugent’s use of the Confederate battle flag.
    “The flag is a part of Texas’ history and it doesn’t represent what a lot of people have come to believe that it does,” Ballard said. “You can’t try to restrict people’s freedom of expression – especially artists. I don’t think there was any political statement being made, it was just typical Ted Nugent.”
    I don't have a problem of granting free speech as long as you're not going to harp on someone else's right to free speech when it offends you.
    Just this week I read about people getting up in arms when the F-word was shown on TV, or when Howard Stern says something offensive but if there are threats of the government censoring them they claim freedom of speech as well.
    Where do you draw the line? Can you draw the line and still grant freedom of speech?

    Thursday, January 18, 2007

    The Bible Experience

    I'm all over this.

    The Bible Experience is a fully-dramatized and symphonic-orchestrated reading of the New Testament performed by an unprecedented ensemble of distinguished African-American actors such as Denzel Washington, Blair Underwood, Angela Bassett, Juanita Bynum, Shirley Caesar, Samuel L. Jackson, Cuba Gooding Jr., Kirk Franklin, Dule Hill and many more. Visit or for more info.
    Also listen to the NPR story.

    War in Iraq - $1.2 TRILLION

    Yup, you read it right. It was announced this week that the war in Iraq has cost the U.S. taxpayers $1.2 Trillion a year.
    According to the Pentagon before the war began, the estimated cost for the war was in the neighborhood of $50 billion.
    David Leonhardt writes in the International Herald Tribune that Democratic staff members in Congress largely agreed with the estimate. Lawrence Lindsey, a White House economic adviser, was a bit more realistic, predicting that the cost could go as high as $200 billion, but President George W. Bush fired him in part for saying so.
    To put it into perspective, it would be like getting a $500 estimate for car repairs and then getting a bill for $120,000.
    But what is $1.2 Trillion? Let's write it out: $1,200,000,000,000 or 10 to the 12th power. That's 12 zeroes to the left of the decimal point. A trillion is a million million dollars.
    One trillion dollars would stretch nearly from the earth to the sun. It would take a military jet flying at the speed of sound, reeling out a roll of dollar bills behind it, 14 years before it reeled out one trillion dollar bills.
    Click here to see another visual image.
    Here's another thought, let's count to a billion. But first, let's see how long that will take. I can count pretty fast for a while. I mumble a little, like "sev-sen" for "seventy-seven." After a while (in the 100,000's), it takes me a lot longer than a second for each number. If it takes me a second for each number (which is a little unrealistic), then it would take me about 24 hours to count to 86,400. I can count to a million in less than half a month. It will take me more than 30 years to count to a billion (not a trillion mind you).
    At a minimum wage of $5.75, $1.2 trillion would pay the salaries of 100,334,448 Americans for a year.
    The National Cancer Institutes budget is $6 billion a year. $1.2 trillion would pay that budget for the next 200 years.
    On today's market a barrel of oil (42 U.S. gallons) costs $52. Not bad but think of all the oil you could purchase with $1.2 trillion - more than 23,076,923,076.
    It's estimated that the U.S. consumes roughly 20 million barrels a day. So with that knowledge, $1.2 trillion would purchase enough oil for the U.S. to survive on for 1,153 days or 3 years at the current rate of consumption.
    According to David Leonhardt, universal preschool would probably cost $50 billion a year. So would a treatment program for heart disease and diabetes.
    So that estimated $20 million for 20,000 additional troops in Iraq doesn't sound that bad now does it? How much is your protection worth?

    Wednesday, January 17, 2007

    Build your family tree online

    You can now track your family tree and watch it grow online as your family adds to their tree/network.
    Geni has several impressive features, like collaborative family tree building and editing. If you add a new branch to your tree and include an email address, that person can visit your tree and build branches directly related to them. Geni is flash-based, so all of the tree-building is done dynamically with a really nice drag-drop-and-zoom interface for moving around your branches.

    Via Lifehacker

    Why do we wear suits?

    Luckily I don't have to wear a suit for work. I am asked to wear a collared shirt anytime I'm going out any public. Not a big deal, you have to wear that to play golf in many places.
    But suits? Mark Cuban feels their unnecessary as well.
    Someone had once told me that you wear to work what your customers wear to work. That seemed to make sense to me, so I followed it, and expected those who worked for me to follow it as well.
    After I sold MicroSolutions I decided that I never would wear a suit again. I was able to hold true to that while I was making a lot of money trading stocks for the next 5 years, but then Todd and I started AudioNet which would morph into
    With our new business, I decided that I would have to wear a suit, but would modify the rule so that I would only wear a suit when someone I was selling to was wearing a suit. If they were selling to me, I didn't care if they were wearing a tux. I was going to go comfortable and not wear a suit.
    When was sold, the suit went out the window completely. I vowed to never wear one again other than weddings and funerals, and only then because it wasn't worth the hassle to deal with people asking why you didn't wear a suit. I'm certain the people getting married dint care, and I don't think anyone is going to be looking down at me wondering why I showed up at their funeral without a suit. Suits make no sense whatsoever.
    Cuban suggest employers give their employees a raise and let them come to work with no suits required. Thoughts, comments?

    Meteorologist - maybe the easiest job in the world

    Reid Slaughter at Frontburner suggests meteorologists may have the easiest job in the world. I think he's right.
    Consider the following: to be a TV weatherman,
    1. You do not have to have any knowledge or opinions of your own. All you do is wake up in the morning and log on here and download your forecast from the experts. Let your fancy graphics do the rest.
    2. You do not have to be good-looking, unless you're a woman (in which case it helps to be a smokin' hot babe).
    3. You certainly don't need much personality, or a good wardrobe.
    4. You get to be wrong ALL THE TIME and still keep your job.


    Cuban and the team he owns have created MavsWiki, an interactive site between the Mavericks and their fans, and akin to Wikipedia. It is the first such site in the NBA. Co-oool. Cuban says not only will fans be able to construct the Mavs' history, but they can "share their Mavs experiences with us and other fans."

    Via Frontburner

    What would a Wiki look like? What history and stories would people share about your church?


    From the local Fox affiliate this morning,"The Metroplex has become the Mess-O-Plex."

    Winter Blast Hits Ellis County

    Ismael Alfaro

    A severe winter blast cripples Ellis county bringing life as we know it to a pre-historic –like situation. Do not venture into this environment as roaming Mastodons have been spotted terrorizing the countryside.

    Gimp vs. Photoshop

    Blogger and commercial-prepress worker Philip McClure runs Photoshop by day and Gimp by night. Which is better? Read his comparison to find out.
    McClure comes to the main conclusion that because of its press capabilities (specifically CMYK and Pantone modes) Photoshop is a must for any professional printers/designers.
    But Gimp is the better choice for home users instead of pirating a copy of Photoshop.
    I've been using Gimp for my graphics program since my hard drive crashed in December and while it's taken some getting used to I've enjoyed it. Yes, it's not Photoshop which I have become extremely dependent upon over the years for countless applications and would love to be able to afford for my home computer - but I can still do good/decent work with it and its way better than Microsoft Paint.
    Here's a few banners I put together in a couple minutes with Gimp. I could have done more but I just needed a couple quickies to advertise OrangeNoiseRadio:

    Via Lifehacker

    Tuesday, January 16, 2007

    Perry looking for VPOTUS?

    According to a very reliable source, Perry has said quite profanely that he is not interested in the VP job in 2008. The AP also ran a story last week confirming that.
    But Vince over at Capital Annex is pretty certain Perry is thinking otherwise with his inauguration speech today.
    Pop Quiz time!
    Who said the following:
    Our greatest threat is no longer a Cold War enemy that advances a Godless ideology, but fanatics that kill the innocent and themselves in the name of a Higher Power. Rogue states and terror cells have made nuclear proliferation a greater threat, and leaders in Europe and Latin America have risen to power and popularity based on anti-American appeals.
    Was it: A. President Bush, B. Condoleeza Rice, C. Rick Perry, or D. John McCain?
    If you answered “A” you’re wrong. If you answered any letter other than “C” you are wrong.
    Yep, those words escaped the lips of Texas Governor Rick Perry today during his inauguration.
    The governor also addressed Sudan and AIDS in Africa and Asia. For that I applaud him for thinking globally. Not sure what the Governor of Texas can do other than raise awareness - but I'm all for anyone that wants to help the cause. Maybe he'll surprise us with a very bold initiative in the coming months.
    Vince continues:
    Even though he’s evidently actively campaigning for a Veep spot (wouldn’t Texas bloggers love that?), he evidently didn’t get the memo that Republicans don’t talk about the genocide in Sudan.
    I don’t think I’ve ever heard a Republican say that we ought to do something about genocide in Sudan. It’s interesting, because it shows that Perry is trying to (a) show people that, in spite of being an Aggie and former Agriculture Commissioner, he can think globally; and (b) he’s evidently advocating a—hold onto your chairs for this one—less isolationist foreign policy!
    You can bet Perry just got a big “check plus plus” on Rudy G’s “Possible Veep Candidates” scorecard, and a big red “x” on Senator McCain’s “Monitoring Sheet Of Conservative Tendencies Of Potential Vice Presidential Nominees.”
    It will be interesting to see what happens over the next several months. I heard on NPR today that Barak Obama plans to officially announce his campaign for POTUS in mid-February and it's almost a given that Hillary will announce very soon as well.

    You know it's cold when...

    5. You can see your breath while sitting at your office cubicle.
    4. Your money really is burning a whole in your pockets to keep you warm.
    3. The television meteorologists have been predicting the end of mankind for the last six nights.
    2. Republicans and Democrats are holding hands and gathering in small huddles with each other just to stay warm.
    1. You put your coat on at 7:55 a.m. before you leave for work and don't take it off again until you climb into bed at 11:30 p.m.

    Monday, January 15, 2007

    Ice storms?

    One bloggers opinion: Don’t get me started on how the “It’s Gonna Freeze! Get your portable radio and flashlights” mentality of television newscasts in markets where it rarely snows/sleets is nothing more than a conspiracy to drive people to the grocery stores to ramp up their profit margins so they can buy more TV commercials.
    - Vince Leibowitz

    50 most influential has released it's list of the 50 most influential Christians in America. I wonder how that's decided.
    Joel Osteen from Houston is number one.
    I still crack up when I see/think of the Texas Monthly cover with him on the front and "On the eighth day God created Joel Osteen"

    Re: What to do with the homeless

    Just an added verse reminder that I thought fit...

    I can't stand your religious meetings.
    I'm fed up with your conferences and conventions.
    I want nothing to do with your religion projects, your pretentious slogans and goals.
    I'm sick of your fund-raising schemes, your public relations and image making.
    I've had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
    When was the last time you sang to me?
    Do you know what I want?
    I want justice — oceans of it.
    I want fairness — rivers of it.
    That's what I want. That's all I want.
    Amos 5:21-24 (The Message)

    Thought for Monday

    Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.
    Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they're happy; share tears when they're down. Get along with each other; don't be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don't be the great somebody.
    Don't hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you've got it in you, get along with everybody. Don't insist on getting even; that's not for you to do. "I'll do the judging," says God. "I'll take care of it."
    Romans 12: 11-19 (The Message)

    Thanks for the reminder Thomas

    Horse Sense: Army Goes Rolling Along (Part II)

    George Friedman, writing for Strategic Forecasting, tells us “The Army is the heart of the matter,” i.e., of regaining freedom of action militarily and putting teeth back in American diplomacy. Today’s U.S. Army was designed in the 1990s, on the assumption that the need for extended combat operations was a thing of the past. Not only was the Army reduced in size, many key components of combat divisions and critical specialties, such as civil affairs, were shifted to the Army Reserve and National Guard. The administration’s expectation for Iraq was that there would be a buildup of forces for several months, a short, intense period of combat operations and a drawdown in forces from a pacified country. The 1990s force was designed just for these kinds of conflicts. The Reserve and National Guard components were mobilized to join and backfill for units deploying to the combat zone. By the end of the year, it was expected, the force would return to peacetime operations. Iraq didn’t work out that way. The drawdown never took place because major combat operations were followed by a major insurgency. The expectation of the administration was that the insurgency would be dealt with in a reasonable time, so the Army was not reconfigured for extended warfare. At any point, proposals for dealing with the fundamental problem—that the force was too small—were rejected, with the thinking that there was no need for a significant overhaul to deal with a problem that would be under control in a matter of months. This expectation turned into hope, the hope into dogma. Thus, the 1990s Army continued to fight a multi-year insurgency with a multidivisional force, while also fighting a second war in Afghanistan and having to stand by for the unexpected.
    Having learned from Vietnam that constantly rotating individuals into units for one-year tours undermines unit cohesion, the Army shifted to rotating entire divisions in and out of Iraq after roughly one year. Had the conflict ended in two years, it might have worked fine. But it now has been more than three years and divisions are doing their second tours, mobilizing Reserve and National Guard units as they go. Consider this example: The 1st Cavalry Division is embarked on its second tour to take control of the Baghdad region from the 4th Infantry Division. For the coming year, the 1st Cav is going to be locked down in Iraq, but the 4th ID will not be available for operations elsewhere. Upon arriving back in the United States, they will need to rest, repair and integrate new equipment and integrate new recruits to replace veterans leaving the Army. The 4th ID will not be available to deploy anywhere for many months. In effect, for every division in Iraq, one division is being overhauled. Add to this the weakness in the Reserves and National Guard, and you begin to appreciate the United States’ strategic challenge.
    Iraq is eating up U.S. geopolitical options by eating up the Army. This is the first major extended ground war the United States has fought in a century without dramatically increasing the size of the Army. World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam all brought massive increases in military size, mostly through conscription. The Bush administration did not view Iraq as a potentially multi-year, multi-divisional combat operation. It maintained the force roughly as it started, and now that force is headed towards broke. Indeed, the administration had come to the conclusion prior to the mid-term elections. In October, one sign of a strategy shift was Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, long an opponent of expanding the Army’s budget, agreeing to allow the Army to plead its case directly for more money to Congress. In the past, Rumsfeld wanted the Army to find more efficient ways to run counterinsurgency operations, relying more on technology than manpower. That’s a good idea and might happen some day, but it didn’t happen for this war. It is now pretty late in the game to cut the Army loose for funding—plus, any new funding won’t impact the battlefield for a couple of years. But Rumsfeld’s move signaled recognition that a basic assumption up to this point was flawed, and this is where he leaves the nation and its Army at the end of his tenure. With its troops and equipment worn down by years of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army needs to receive a spike in its share of the Pentagon’s budget request when it goes to Congress this year. Significantly, increases to the size of the Army made by Congress since 2001, amounting to 30,000 troops, have become a permanent fixture of the force. Beyond that, the Army is discussing internally whether it should expand by tens of thousands more. Pentagon officials are likely to seek $138 billion, compared to its $112 billion request last year. Army officials say the service was already $50 billion short in equipment when terrorists struck September 11, 2001. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan require $17 billion in extra spending for 2007 to repair and replace destroyed and worn out vehicles and equipment, and at least $13 billion additional spending for the next five years after that.
    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 article condensed from an October 2006 STRATFOR Geopolitical Intelligence Report by George Friedman. Army budget figures are from Thom Shanker and David Cloud of the New York Times. Email: