Monday, February 26, 2007

Amazing Grace

We saw Amazing Grace on Friday night and we were left in silent wonder.

Harriet Beecher Stowe praised him in the pages of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Novelist E. M. Forester compared him to Gandhi.

Abraham Lincoln invoked his memory in a celebrated speech. In the houses of Parliament,

Nelson Mandela recalled his tireless labors on behalf of the sons and daughters of Africa, calling Britain "the land of William Wilberforce—who dared to stand up to demand that the slaves in our country should be freed."

William Wilberforce (1759-1833) led the twenty-year fight to end the British slave trade, a victory now regarded as He finally succeeded in March 1807 and continued to fight for abolition until, days before his death in 1833, he saw the institution of slavery abolished throughout the British colonies.

Not limiting himself to just abolitionist work, he dedicated his life to what he called his "two great objects:" abolishing slavery in the British Empire and what he called "the reformation of manners [society]."

To this end, he advocated for child labor laws, campaigned for education of the blind and deaf, and founded organizations as diverse as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and the National Gallery (of Art).

"Good causes," it has been said, "stuck to him like pins to a magnet." - Wilberforce biographer, Kevin Belmonte.

Let me urge you to see this great movie. I have not been so moved by a movie since I saw the "The Mission" about 20 years ago.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I have always been a water dog

Since I was a child I have enjoyed being in, near or around the water.

I was always around ponds or lakes fishing with my Dad, his father, Orville, or my great grandfather Cecil.

I can remember damming up creeks to create pools of water large enough to swim in as a kid. I loved building little boats to float down stream. Later, when we moved to Belpre, I had a family friend who lived on the Ohio River. Probably to the detriment of my health I swam in the Ohio all during my teenage years.

Later when I went to live out east I would be romanced by the ocean. I loved going to Cape Cod and Nantucket at some point every summer. Maine also holds a special place in my heart for its lakes and for the rocky coast.

And now the pond in Vermont is my personal sea. I have paddled all along the shore and all the way around its 100 acres. I have paddled into its secret coves and marshes in search of– ducks, beaver, loons, moose, and blue heron to observe.

I have fished at night with just the moon above for light. We have watched the beaver swim back and forth in front of our camp smacking his tail on the water – trying to scare us away. I have snow shoed across it in the deep of winter.

And in each instance I never fail to acknowledge the blessing that water and this earth is to all of us.

Psalm 42:7 "Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me."

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Let it snow Let it snow...

We picked up another two or three inches today... these are pictures from Wednesday... All of this snow is still here...

This is what it looked like in the front driveway.

This one gives you a good idea why it took most of the day to get the entire drive done.

Friday, February 16, 2007

I was out of the office today

I spent today conducting a team effectiveness workshop for a group of about 40 people. They were open to learning about what would make them more effective at what they do.

The foundational issue for truly effective teams is always, always, trust.

There are a lot of people that just don’t get this. Lots of managers think that trust is the last thing that matters when trying to build an effective team. They lead their team with a “My Way or The Highway” philosophy that leads to high turnover and lack of results.

Today I saw a team that knew they could trust their manager and each other. They are one of the top investment teams within my organization. The manager gets it. He knows that if his people trust him and he keeps his commitments to them that they will work their hearts out for him. Same goes for his clients. They know that he has integrity and that his team has the same characteristic.

It was a terrific day with great people who have values that are reflected in their lives and in their work. That gives me lots of hope.

More snow coming this weekend. I have some pictures of the blizzard here on Wednesday. I will download them later. I shoveled and blew snow all day long just to get out of my drive. If my lazy nephews had been here I could have hired them! But they live down in warm North Carolina.

A couple of summers ago we took Zach with us to Vermont and he caught a very large chain pickerel.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

With All The Blue Etheral Sky

“Father and Friend, Thy light, Thy love,
Beaming through all Thy works we see;
Thy glory gilds the heavens above,
And all the earth is full of Thee.

Thy children shall not faint nor fear,
Sustained by this exalted thought;
Since Thou, their God, art everywhere,
They cannot be where Thou art not!”

It’s not an idea that is as common today as maybe it once was…this idea that the earth is full of God. We hear it occasionally expressed in public prayers that God’s beauty and wonder are seen in nature – but that is pretty much it.

Somewhere along the way we bought into the lie that world is a nasty, sinful place and that we are the good folks who are just trying to hang on in this hostile environment.

“Living below in this old sinful world
Hardly a comfort can afford
Striving alone to face temptations call
Where could I go to the Lord?”

Have we forgotten that God created this world and called it…good?

Have we forgotten that God did not send his Son to condemn the world, but to save the world through him?

Jesus is described over and over again as:

· as the light of the world
· as the one who gives life to the world
· as the Savior of the world
· as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world
· and as the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for the sins of the whole world

You get the idea. We, being the embodiment of Jesus, are supposed to be taking light into the world, reaching out to the world, sharing life with the world.

And I understand that to mean the people and the planet.

This world was created for our enjoyment and it should remind us that our Father takes care of us.

It should remind us of our stewardship. God always wants us to be good stewards of what he has given us.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Busy Time

I have been somewhat remiss in blogging the last week or two. Work has a way of interfering with my real life.

And while I have been busy at work - I also had the opportunity to preach this past Sunday and so preparing those two lessons also pulled me away from the normal writing I would do for this blog.

Valentine's Day is this week and I am scrambling to find something chocolate and romantic! Wish me luck!

With the cold weather and the snow I have also not been walking for the last two weeks. I say that as a confession. I hate walking on a tread mill but that looks like my only option till things warm up.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Be sure to watch or Tivo Oprah Tomorrow

This from my friend Mike Cope’s Blog -

Several weeks ago, the NT Times carried a feature article on seven children in Ghana who were sold into slavery by their impoverished parents.

So what happens? The 1.6 million subscribers read the story, feel bad about it, and go on — right?

Normally, maybe. But, thankfully for the children, this article came out when my brother and my sister-in-law were in NYC. As I’ve mentioned before on the blog, since their son’s death in 1999 they have been on a mission to provide care for orphans around the world. In the beginning, it was mostly in SE Asia. But that concern has expanded.

Since the article came out, it has expanded to children in Ghana.

My sister-in-law has been praying for those children since then. But it was prayer backed up by action (the best kind). She asked me for contacts in Ghana. So I put her in touch with Dan McVey, a longtime Ghana missionary and now a professor at ACU, and with Tommy Drinnen, who is one of the leaders at Village of Hope. Through those contacts, the seven children were rescued and brought to Village of Hope.

Recently, Pam and my niece, Crista (an ACU freshman), went to Ghana to care for the children. They have horrifying stories — such as one young boy who was tied to a tree for a night because he hadn’t met his quota — yet they also have amazing stories of hope and deliverance.

Tomorrow (Friday) their story is going to be on Oprah…. Check your local listings…

Monday, February 05, 2007

Our Shack…

I had known Mike and Sue for 12 or 13 years at the time. I lived with them for a while in the early 1990’s and Mike had been my best man at our wedding in 1996.

They had a drafty old cabin on a lake in Vermont and asked if Christine and I were interested in using it for a vacation get-a-way. Having both lived in New England we jumped at the chance to use their place.

It turned out to be one of the most relaxing peaceful weeks either of us had ever spent away.

We just spent the week reading, sleeping late, observing nature, sailing on the pond and scouting the area. We found some great restaurants close by with local cheeses, breads and summer fruits that just delighted us.

The people were friendly and helpful to “flatlanders.”

After about four days I looked at Chris and said, “We should get a place here.” She gave me that look that says, “Nice idea dreamer boy!”

We poked around the pond and found a couple of old cabins that looked as if no one had been around in a long time. I did some research with the neighbors and the Walden town office and got the phones numbers of the owners. After we returned home to Cleveland I called both owners and left a message that went something like this, “We were up on Coles Pond last week and we saw your place and wondered if, when you are interested in selling, you would give us a call!” I left our name and number.

About three weeks later we got a call from a woman on Long Island who owned the place at the end of the pond called “Sommersett.” She was interested in selling because she was building a new home and she rarely got up to use the cabin.

It was a little quick for us… we thought it would be years before someone actually called us. But we mulled it over and made her an offer and to our surprise she accepted it!

When we were on vacation the previous summer we had only walked around the exterior. We had never seen the inside of the place. But our friends, Mike and Sue, got a key and inspected the place for us. With Mike’s approval we purchased it.

That was seven years ago and we have enjoyed it every summer since. With a nod to Christine’s Irish roots we renamed it “Tearmann” (Pronounced cheer-munn) which is Gaelic for “Sanctuary.” It has truly been a sanctuary for us. We have fixed it up through the years but without a well and only a wood stove for heat we were never able to use it year round.

This summer we are planning to build a new place on the site of the old cabin. It will allow us to realize some dreams sooner rather than later. We spent the weekend looking at counter tops, tile, and carpets - thinking about exterior finishes and metal roofs.

The thought of building is a fascinating and scary process.


Friday, February 02, 2007

I have lots of things on my mind today and no where to put them…but here

-I do not understand why people hate Hillary Clinton so much. It has been my observation that women in particular hate her even more than men. I don’t get it. Democrats and Republicans alike despise her and they have a hard time putting into words why.

Now I do not think she is a good candidate for the Democratic nomination. First, the right wing of the Republican Party will come out in droves to vote against her if she is THE Democratic candidate.

Second, not only can we not afford to lose the next election – we cannot afford to win it by a slim margin. The next President of the United States needs to win by a real majority of the votes with a real mandate for change.

But given those reservations – I do not hate the woman. She’s intelligent, politically savvy, ambitious, and hard working. Her proposals on Health Care reform were forward thinking and outside the box.

- I am sad that we lost Molly Ivins this week. She was great satirist with a keen way with words. Paul Krugman wrote a great piece on her today in the NYT.

- A year and a half later and New Orleans is still in crisis and no one in the Federal Government seems to care. Whole sections of the city are still full of houses abandoned to mold and decay. Hundreds of thousands of residents still have no way to come home - or no home to return to. Businesses can't function without workers. Workers can't return if they have no place to live. At this point in the crisis NO should be federalized and one person put in charge to restore the city. The Mayor and the Govenenor are both worthless!

Where’s Rudi now?

Where’s the well paid corporate CEO who is willing to take three years and lead Project New Orleans?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Molly Ivin's Last Column

In November I had the chance to hear Molly speak in San Francisco, CA. I met and spoke with her afterwards for a minute or two. She was captivating and funny. She is gone too soon to the ravages of breast cancer.

Bush won't end Iraq war on his own

Molly Ivins, a syndicated columnist based in Austin, Texas: Creators Syndicate
Published January 5, 2007

The president of the United States does not have the sense God gave a duck--so it's up to us. You and me.

I don't know why President Bush is just standing there like a frozen rabbit, but it's time we found out. The fact is we have to do something about it. This country is being torn apart by an evil and unnecessary war, and it has to be stopped now.

This Iraq war is being prosecuted in our names, with our money, with our blood, against our will. Polls consistently show that less than 30 percent of the people want to maintain current troop levels. It is obscene and wrong for the president to go against the people in this fashion, and it's doubly wrong for him to send 20,0000 more soldiers into this hellhole, as he reportedly will announce next week.

What happened to the nation that never tortured? The nation that wasn't supposed to start wars of choice? The nation that respected human rights and life? A nation that from the beginning was against tyranny? Where have we gone? How did we let these people take us there? How did we let them fool us?

It's a monstrous idea to put people in prison and keep them there. This administration has done away with rights first enshrined in the Magna Carta nearly 800 years ago, and we've let them do it.

This will be a regular feature of mine, like an old-fashioned newspaper campaign. Every column, I'll write about this war until we find some way to end it. STOP IT NOW. BAM!

So let's take a step back and note, for example, that before the war, one of the architects of the entire policy, Paul Wolfowitz, testified to Congress that Iraq had no history of ethnic strife. Sectarian and ethnic strife is a part of the region, and the region is full of examples of Western colonial powers trying to occupy countries, take their resources and take over the administration of their people--and failing.

The sectarian bloodbath we see daily completely refutes Wolfowitz. Now, Bush has given him the World Bank to run. Wonder what he'll do there.

Let's keep in mind that when the Army arrived in Baghdad, we, the television viewers, watched footage of a bunch of enraged and joyous Iraqis pulling down the statue of Saddam Hussein, their repulsive dictator, in Firdos Square. Only one thing was wrong: The event was staged. Taking down the statue was instigated by a Marine colonel, and a psychological operations unit made it appear to be a spontaneous show of Iraqi joy.

When we later saw the whole square in which the statue was located, only 30 to 40 people were there (U.S. soldiers, press and some Iraqis--and one of several U.S. tanks present pulled the statue down with a cable). We, the television viewers, saw the square being presented as though the people of Iraq had gone into a frenzy, mobbed the square and spontaneously pulled down the statue. Fake images and claims have been a part of this fiasco from the beginning.

We need to cut through all this smoke and mirrors and come up with an exit strategy, forthwith. The Democrats have yet to offer a cohesive plan to get us out of this mess. Of course, it's not their fault--but the fact is we need leaders who are grown-ups and who are willing to try to fix it. Bush has ignored the actual grown-ups from the Iraq Study Group, the generals and all other experts who are nearly unanimous in the opinion that more troops will not help.

So, like I said, it's up to you and me. We need to make sure that the new Congress curbs executive power, which has been so misused, and asserts its own power to make this situation change. Now.