Looks different, Eh? MT 3.2 has a nifty little plug in built into it that lets you reset all the templates back to the default. So this is what MT 3.2 looks like out of the box. Not too bad.
Of course, you’ll also notice that the recent comments are gone. The calender is gone (and likely to stay gone). The Blogroll is gone. The Scripturizer auto-linking is gone. The subscription form is gone. The real time preview is gone. The formatting buttons are gone. Heck, the entire left side column is gone!
So I’ve got a little bit of work to do to put some stuff back. 🙂 But it’s a nice, clean look, don’t you think?
More changes later.

Upgrade Complete, Sort Of

Well, it’s done. I thought by doing a clean install, following the great instructions at Learning Movable Type, that everything would be reset. I guess I was wrong. I’d kinda like a fresh start on my templates, so I’m going to dig into that a little more. Expect more changes to come.
You’ll also notice that there’s no more Secret Code. MT 3.2 has some more advanced anti-spam techniques that I hope will mean I don’t need that anymore. We’ll see.
Also, the formatting buttons are temporarily gone too. I hope to have a better version after a bit. I might put the old ones back up temporarily.

Upgrade Time

Well, I think I’m going to attempt the MT 3.2 upgrade today. It’s my birthday and I’ve got the day to myself. Things may get a little strange around here as a result. I’m going to do a fresh install instead of an upgrade, so my templates will get wiped out and I’ll end up with the MT defaults, so it will look different. It’ll likely take a few days to get everything back to normal, but hopefully it will work pretty quickly.
Wish me luck.

Just Like Jesus

There are several things that I need to post in this category, things that reminded me of Jesus.
First is an entire blog of comments by volunteers helping out in New Orleans. The blog title is Katrina Relief, but I like the address better: whereisawjesus.blogspot.com It’s a collection of stories of how Jesus is being revealed through the efforts of these folks. It appears to be sponsored by the Tammany Oaks Church of Christ of Louisianna, but there’s a link to submit your story and to link your organization. One Columbus area Church of Christ, the Northland Church of Christ, and a Columbus Presbyterian church, Northside Fellowship are participating as well.

On another Katrina note, Keith Brenton posted about how his Little Rock Arkansas church has reached out to the families that have ended up there in a former retirement home, Parris Towers. The Pleasant Valley Church committed to furnish 40 of the apartments, but to date have filled over 150 with furniture. In the process, they been able to bring many to church with them. Keith writes:

The people of Parris Towers are the mission field that came to us. The local media took note of our response. No one prayed aloud on a street corner to attract attention to it; no one sent out a press release about it.

How cool is that?

We subscribe to The Week magazine, which is really good by the way. It has a regular feature on the first page titled “It Wasn’t All Bad” This story was in the November 18th issue:

When Israeli soldiers accidentally shot to death Ahmad Khatib, a 12-year-old Palestinian boy, his family didn’t vow vengeance. Instead, they donated his vital organs, which have been transplanted into six Israelis. Ahmed’s lungs, kidneys and liver went to Israelis of 7 months to 58 years; his heart now beats in the chest of Samah Gadban, a 12 year old girl. Her mother, Yusra, hopes to speak to Ahmad’s family, especially his mother. “I will ask her to receive us for a visit,” she said, “so I can hug her and kiss her and thank her.”

Now that’s a peace plan. Did I read somewhere Love never fails?

Lastly, I’ve been meaning to point you to this post from the New Wineskins blog. It’s a powerful story about two Christian men and how their faith would one day be tested. One man, when confronted with an opportunity to be like Jesus, took it, though it meant sacrificing his life long dream and his life savings for the man who had cheated him out of it, just because that man was a Christian.

More than three thousand nights have passed since that evening. Chief still owes on his debt. Oh, he paid a token payment in the form of a few wormy sheep, but he’ll never fully repay the debt. Kiplagat has not required him to. The church has grown.
Kiplagat obeyed God, and what did it get him? It cost him his life’s savings and his dream house. But, oddly, Kiplagat says it cost him nothing. He says it gained him a friend. He says God used it to strengthened the Church. He says it built his faith. He praises God and he says his temporal losses don’t matter because: “This (pinching up the skin of his forearm) doesn’t last forever.”

You really need to go read the entire thing, it’s an inspiring story of love and forgiveness.

Those Greedy Oil Companies!

This fuzzy picture was taken with my cell phone a mile and a half from my home Sunday evening. That’s $1.89 for regular. Another mile from there and it was $1.86.
There’s a lot of talk these days about greedy oil companies and high gas prices. Yeah, they took a spike during the Katrina crisis, but they’ve fallen right back down again. Of course it put a scare into the mind of folks driving big vehicles. I admit I thought briefly that maybe having a 7 passenger van wasn’t such a good idea. Then I realized that renting one for the 10-15 days a year we actualy needed the space would cost much more than the gas we’d save driving something smaller for the rest of the year, even at $3 a gallon.
The other folks hollering about ‘Big Oil’ are the politicians. Of course, they’re never one to miss an opportunity to make points with the people. After all, those greedy oil companies made record profits. Well, according to Jeff Jacoby in The Boston Globe as reported in The Week magazine this week, Big Oil’s profit margins are actually lower than average, 7.7% compared to 7.9%. Pharmaceutical companies make 18.6% and banks make 19.6%. So while Big Oil made record profits, they also must have made record expenditures to get there.
I know, I know, facts can really ruin a good story.

Lesson to the teachers

Are you getting a lot out of reading Ed Anton’s book? I know that I am. I feel like I’ve repented on repentance. It’s been an eye opening experience, to see the true nature of repentance isn’t behavior modification, it’s mind modification.
Let’s read from 2 Corinthians 7:

Paul’s Joy
Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one. I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you. I have great confidence in you; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.
For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever.
Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while— yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter. So even though I wrote to you, it was not on account of the one who did the wrong or of the injured party, but rather that before God you could see for yourselves how devoted to us you are. By all this we are encouraged.
In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was, because his spirit has been refreshed by all of you. I had boasted to him about you, and you have not embarrassed me. But just as everything we said to you was true, so our boasting about you to Titus has proved to be true as well. And his affection for you is all the greater when he remembers that you were all obedient, receiving him with fear and trembling. I am glad I can have complete confidence in you.

If someone were to ask me the main point of this entire passage, I’m not sure that Worldly vs. Godly sorrow is it, although it is certainly an important point. It seems to be more about Paul trying to get the Corinthian church to see how powerful and important their relationship was. He already knew it, but they did not. Look at the opening verses, Paul is pleading to be let into their hearts. He assures them, they already occupy a special place in his, and he wants that place in theirs. I believe in you guys, I would die with you guys, so please, make room for us in your hearts.
After he talks about Godly sorrow, he explains why he wrote to them (aside from confronting their sin). He says it was so they could see how devoted to him they were. I had to read that several times. He wrote to them, and conftronted their sin, so they’d understand their own devotion to him? It sounds a little self serving, perhaps even controlling. No, I think Paul knew what kind of power there was in this close bond they had, and he knew they needed to understand this as well. What power? The power to produce a mind change, metanoia, mind metamorphosis, repentance. They didn’t get it and needed to.
We need these kind of relationships. More importantly, we need to understand, like the Corinthians did, just how powerful and important these close relationships are. They can and will change our lives, here and now and for eternity. Are we cultivating them or are we too busy or too timid? I know I can be both, and it can be hard to overcome, but we must. I’ve become convinced that a church dies as the individual relationships in it die.
I was also struck by Paul’s comments about his time in Macedonia. He was beat up there, “harassed at every turn” he says. But what encourages him? The news that the Corinthians had taken care of Titus and the news he brought back of how important Paul was to them and how they were concerned about him. It replenished his joy. OH yeah, seeing Titus was good but hearing about how you took care of him and missed me really encouraged me. I’ve felt similar thing recently as I’ve watched the church respond to James’ illness by going several hours away to sit at his side. I know seeing how concerned you were for them, filled their hearts. I know watching folks do it, filled mine as well.
As we take communion, we remember Jesus. I think that Jesus too was concerned that we have connections with people, relationships that will last (where do we think Paul got it?) He understood that it was relationships that were key. He could have preached hundreds of grand messages to thousands at a time, to be written down so that we could learn how to live. Instead, He spent his life on earth healing people one at a time and pouring his life into twelve men so that they could change the world. He taught us in Matthew 22:34-40 that the most important thig was not our Bible knowledge, but our love for God and our love for each other. Even while on the cross, he looked down and knew that his Mom needed to be cared for, and he made sure that she had the relationship that would make that happen.
So as we look at and remember Jesus at this time, let’s not just be thankful that our sins are forgiven. Let’s also remember who Jesus was and what He invested in while he was here.

Prayer Updates & More

I’ve asked you to pray for a few folks lately, I thought I’d give you an update.
James (see here and here) and his family were in town this past weekend for a wedding. He looked good (James always looks good), although he walled more slowly and deliberately and was using a cane. He said it’s been a huge adjustment and he’s frequently worn out. He’s planning on taking a sabbatical from work (he’s been back and even had to do some traveling to Connecticut) to rest. He could use continued prayers as they adjust to this.
My cousin’s husband Dewight (see here) is home and recovering. I have more details on what happened. He was in a Humvee with 3 other soldiers and the hit some kind of road side bomb. One soldier was killed on impact. The driver pulled Dewight and the other one out of the Humvee. The driver was in the best shape, and the other man later died from his injuries.
In addition to his broken neck, Dewight has nerve damage in both shoulders, damage in left ankle, shrapnel in left leg calf, missing teeth, and a damaged ear. His neck break is a clean break with no spinal cord damage. Because the break is clean, he won’t have surgery and will wear a neck brace for 6 months.
He’s home now with my cousin and their 3 boys. Please continue to pray as he heals both emotionally and physically.
Lastly, I’d like to ask for prayers fro a couple of other folks. First is my friend and fellow blogger, Paul Frederick who is recovering from another surgery. It’s hoped that this will reduce his ongoing pain in the long run, although the recovery will be long. (For an idea of what Paul goes through on a regular basis, see here.) Please pray for him, if you will.
Also, LJ a member of our church has gone back in the Hospital. He has congestive heart failure and his heart has gone out of rhythm for the third time. Prior to going in, he thought they would be putting in a pace maker. I’m not sure if that’s what will happen or not. When I saw him last Sunday, he was obviously quite shaken and by this. Everyone loves LJ, he brings a smile to everyone’s face. I wrote a little about him here. Pray for healing and peace, if you would.

Happy Anniversary

In some ways it seems like she’s always been there, it’s hard to remember life without her. It’s been 10 years today since she and I began our life together.
Over those years we’ve lived together in 3 different places in two states. She and I have traveled a lot of roads together, and tens of thousands of miles. Time hasn’t been kind to her, frankly she’s never been much to look at, but she’s almost never let me down.
She’s been a loyal and steadfast companion these ten years, but frankly I’m getting a little tired of her. Although reliable as the day is long, she’s never been very much fun or excitement, but as she’s aged it’s actually gotten worse. As much as I’ve appreciated the years we’ve spent together, I’ve grown impatient to see it end. I thought that we’d make it together through 2006, but now I just don’t know.
Ten years is a long time for any relationship, but even more so for one with a car.
Huh? What did you think I was talking about?
It was 10 years ago today that I traded my fun loving but very temperamental (lets not mince words, it was a lemon) 1988 Nissan Pulsar NX SE for a boring but extremely dependable 1993 Ford Escort LX 5 door. A plane Jane white 5-speed with no options but a tape player, AC and some kind of lighting package (reading, glove box, under hood, trunk – this thing’s got lights everywhere), this car has carried us through over 150,000 miles. There’s about 178,000 on the clock now. The body is rusty, the interior is grungy, the driver’s arm rest is long gone and the heater fan sometimes doesn’t work but it still gets me the 26 miles to work every day and gets 35-40 MPG.
There are still a few payments left on the Odyssey and I had planned to keep the old girl until then, but I am begining to hear the siren call of either a Mazda 3 hatchback or a Protege5. I’m not sure I can hold out much longer.

Great Minds Think Alike

A few days ago, Pinakidion posted a laments about what he calls the move toward a ‘Kinder Gentler ICOC’. In other words, essentially the same as we’ve always been, but with all the rough edges sanded off. We’ll take away the compulsory discipling, the stat sheets, the forced giving levels, the levels of staffing above the individual church level, but we’ll leave the same basic ideas – evangelism and growth focused, performance mindset, everyone ‘sold out’ – in place. He points to a few articles and studies that are getting at real reform as better models.
Sunday our minister articuated much the same idea with different words. He pointed out that when we are confronted with rotten fruit of sin in our lives, the temptation is to react by frantically yanking the rotten fruit off of the tree. Simply pulling the rotten fruit off may make us look better, but it does nothing to produce good fruit. The tree is cleaned up, but remains the same at the root. Instead, we should go to the root of the tree, to feed it, strengthen it and heal it so it would produce good fruit.

Just Say No to the Fish

Dan does it again. This time he tackles Christian “Adware” saying “Scrape the fish off your car. Please! I’m begging.” I cannot agree more. I’ve always found about 99% of those Christian slogan T-shirts, bumper stickers, fish symbols, etc at least tacky, if not offensive. Why? Dan sums it up best:

To be perfectly blunt (and when am I not perfectly blunt?), I can’t see what having any kind of Jesus fish or bumper stickers gets us except another reason for unbelievers to be hacked off at our lousy driving habits or the sheer hypocrisy of the plethora of other stickers we might have on our cars that cancels out that Ichthus. If a nut goes screaming past me doing twenty miles over the speed limit, he’s just a menace. But if he’s sportin’ the old Ichthus and doing it, well then he’s now a Christian menace.

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