Thursday, January 3, 2008

Very Random Reflections to Start The New Year

HAPPY NEW YEAR all you internet lovers of truth!!

Yes yes yes, a little belated. So what. Time is relative.

Well, this blog is called RANDOM reflections, and the blog today will show why. I'm going to push randomness to a whole new level. I'm just feeling in a random mood. (We should coin a new adjective: "I'm feeling randomy.")

1) I'll start by telling you about my New Year's celebration. As we always do, Shelley and I ushered in the New Year with our small group, our kids and a bunch of their friends. It was a packed house. We played lots of games (including our favorite, Mafia). We also played a new game where you have to shout out random word associations, and I was reduced to tears (of laughter) when Marcia Erickson (our small group paparazzi) tried to convince us that "Ostriches fold." You kinda had to be there.

2) Our daughter Denay and grandson Soel came and stayed with us for the week between Christmas and New Years. Heighlos, our son-in-law, joined us for a day as well. He manages (very successfully I might add) the Buckle clothing store in Fargo, so he had to get back for the day after Christmas opening.

Soel wakes up every morning and wants to watch videos of drummers on the internet. Then he wants to play drums. Then he wants to watch more drumming videos. Then he'll drum when he eats, takes a bath, watches TV, gets changed... basically always. He drums with drum sticks, spoons, pens, markers, straws, tooth brushes... anything. And the little dude is getting good! How many 19-month-old kids do you know that can do a "long roll" (where you bounce each stick twice eat time you hit)?

3) Well, ladies and gentlemen, the rock-n-roll band I play in -- NDY (Not Dead Yet) -- debuts tomorrow night (Friday, January 4th) at "The Dugout" in Mahtomedi, Minnesota. NDY is composed of the guys in my small group (Dave Churchill, Greg Erickson, Alex Ross and myself) and we'll be joined by the very talented Steve Lutz on keyboard and the musical genius worship pastor of Woodland Hills Church, Norm Blagman. We've been practicing a lot, and NDY is getting NTB (not too bad). If you're in the area, stop by (music starts at 9:00). We're going to have a blast! It's a fund raiser for Providence Ministries and the suggested donation ("cover charge") is $5. Marcia plans a pictorial blog of the watch for that.

4) Speaking of Providence Ministries, we raised almost $20,000 in December for the Haitian Education Project that supports three different schools through Woodland Hills Church and other supporters! Praise God, and a hearty "thank you" to all who are sacrificing for this great ministry. There are of course always far more needs in Haiti than there are resources, so we can always use more support. Visit their blog for more information.

5) Speaking of Haiti, it's been a delight having the lovely Dr. Jen Halverson back with us the last two weeks. As many of you know, Jen is in the middle of a 9 month stint doing medical work in Haiti. She too can always use more support. You can find out about her ministry by visiting her blog.

6) Saw The Great Debaters last night with Shelley. Very uncreative title, but excellent movie. Yes, it's a bit formulaic, but it's a sweet, feel-good formula! This is the true story of an African American debate team from a tiny Texas town who in 1935 ended up beating the Harvard team which was, at the time, the reigning national champion. It's a nice "against all odds" sort of flick. But it's also a story also about racism, courage, hope, love and -- believe it or not -- non-violent civil disobedience. And it has a good dose of suspenseful drama. What more could you ask for from a movie!

7) Also saw Enchanted the other day. Very cute, funny and touching. A nice escape from reality movie. The lady who plays the cartoon-turned-real Princess (forget her name but she's from Minnesota) deserves an Oscar. Well, maybe not. But she is perfect for the role.

8) In a couple of days, Christus Victor Ministries will have a new web site! Yes, I know we just got a new one last year, but for a number of reasons it wasn't working for us. This new one rocks! Even before we launch the site, I want to say thank you to my good friend Julie Ross who has graciously poured her formidable website designing skills into making this a first rate site. Check out the above link in a couple days (if all goes smoothly).

9) Another person in my small group, Terri Churchill (married to Dave the lead singer of our famous rock band, NDY) started her own blog the other day. You can check it out here. This is good news to the world, because as everybody who knows Terri can testify, this woman is an insightful thinker and incredible writer. We've been encouraging her to publish some of her stuff for years. This is a nice move in this direction and I bet those who check out her blog will be blessed.

10) Finally, as you all know, today the rat race officially begins. By the time you read this the Iowa Caucus will probably be about over. Only 10 more months of insanity left!!

I think it's fun to try to guess who'll win. So, just for fun, here's my two cents.

I've been saying to Shelley for the last five months that Huckabee is going to win the Republican nomination. Five months ago hardly anybody knew who Huckabee was. He's the only candidate who conservative Christians could possibly rally behind, and he's the only one who knows how to push all the evangelical buttons. But he didn't appear "winnable" until recently. Now he does. I'm guessing that Evangelical leaders like Pat Robertson who threw their weight behind Rudy Giuliani (despite his rather liberal stances on certain issues and less than stellar personal life) and Mitt Romney (despite his Mormonism and notorious flip-flopping) are kicking themselves right now. I suspect he'll win Iowa, but however it goes in Iowa, I'm predicting you're going to see the conservative Christian crowd rally together (which concerns me, of course), and Huckabee will take the nomination.

But it's just a guess.

On the democratic side of things, it's obviously wide open. But if I had to, I'd put my money on Obama. I've thought from the get-go that Hilary just has too much baggage. Her last name is Clinton. Her political involvement in the past has been very polarizing -- at a time when people are exhausted from the intense polarization of the present administration. Consider also that almost half of all people polled say they would vote against Hilary regardless of who her opponent is. That's a very hard deficit to overcome. Not impossible, but formidable.

So, I'm guessing it will in the end be Huckabee against Obama. And, despite the conservative rally I don't think Huckabee stands much of a chance. Obama will be our next president.

Or not.

And none of this matters much -- which is the main point for Kingdom people to remember. Whatever happens in this rat race, please don't let yourself get sucked in. Have you're opinions, make your guesses, vote if you want to. But always remember that the power that will ultimately conquer evil and save the world is not the power that flows from Caesar's throne. It's rather the power that flows from Calvary.

This year, lets commit to exercising that power 24/7.