Archive for April, 2008

When you start talking about social justice and advocating for the poor as a Christian some may wonder where you are at spiritually. When we moved to Minneapolis we were looking for a church community that was focused on creating change in the community and serving the “least of these.” We found some places that were doing excellent work but we felt that they were also taking away the importance of Christ for salvation. We have found a church that we feel is doing a good job of both caring for our neighbors while at the same time preaching salvation through Christ alone.

Both aspects of that can be pretty tricky and scary for others, but both are vital to our Christian faith and walk. We believe that salvation is through Christ alone, but we must also work out our faith.

I have read many books by “liberal, left-wing Christians” who many on the right would say aren’t really Christ followers because of their positions. I often find myself agreeing with the so called left-wingers on many issues. So I was quite pleased by this recent interview with Jim Wallis, who many see as the leader of the “Evangelical Left.”

For me it was great to hear him say this line:

And I just said, “… we’re committed to the central lordship of Jesus Christ and the authority of the Scriptures.”

But many of his responses were powerful to me. I have mentioned before (1 2 3) that I am against killing unborn children – but the answer isn’t necessarily outlawing abortions.

But the abortion question is real. It’s a moral issue. The number of unborn lives that are lost every year is alarming. It’s a moral tragedy. And I want Democrats to say it’s a tragedy, and to take it seriously. Whichever Democrat wins, Barack or Hillary, I’m going to work very hard to make abortion reduction a central Democratic Party plank in this election. It never has been before. Their plank is simply a woman’s right to choose. That’s not adequate. The Democratic Party is not going to call for criminalization, but they can call for serious abortion reduction. And I want Republicans to not have only a plank that they trod over every four years to win elections. I want them to try and actually help reduce the abortion rate.

Bottom line: Jesus came to save us as individuals, but also to redeem the world. We need to be His hands and feet in the world bringing about salvation and change. Being a hater isn’t showing Christ love for a world in need of Love.

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I broke Coach’s advice and ran a little bit during my “2 weeks off”. Its bound to happen especially when you are part of a team that has races scheduled! It was a good race despite the bad weather! You’ll have to go over to Team Cross Runs to read the full report, but here is an excerpt:

This race is billed as the annual rite into the spring racing season. Well it definitely wasn’t spring out there. I awoke to a car completely covered in snow and snow covering most of the grass. It wasn’t sticking to the roads but the air temperature was about 30 with the wind chill of around 18. It was pretty windy and intermittent light snow. YUCK! Why did we move to Minnesota??

I’ll start out by saying that I was pleased with my time after the race given the conditions. When I got home I became even happier when I realized that I was only 2 seconds from a PR. That happiness was tempered with the thought that I should have found a few more seconds and actually PRed but oh well.

Mile 6 seemed pretty long but it was a difficult mile. We continued along the river before making a quick loop to get onto the Ford Parkway bridge. In my mind this meant we were pretty much done, but in reality we had almost 3/4 of a mile to go from when we actually got on the bridge. The bridge was brutal because we were running right back into the wind. I tried to draft off of some people but it wasn’t really effective and actually slowed me down a bit (maybe my 2 seconds for a PR!). A small group of us went back and forth for the rest of the race. After I crossed the bridge I kept thinking – we have to be almost done. Finally we came to the 6 mile mark and I ran it in 6:52.

Somalia, the country made famous in America in 1996 because of the movie Black Hawk Down is still roiled by intense fighting. Is there anything the US could do to help end the violence that continues to displace families? A recent report by Refugees International thinks so. OneWorld reports that (emphasis mine)

there is “a staggering scale of need” for the displaced people, as malnutrition rates for children under five have become “alarmingly high.” UN estimates suggest that since January nearly 60,000 people have fled the Somali capital Mogadishu, most as a result of “search and sweep” operations conducted by the government of Somalia and the Ethiopian military against the Eritrea-based opposition groups.

RI says its members have spoken to some of the 200,000 civilians who have settled on the road to Afgooye, a village approximately 20 miles west of Mogadishu. That area is now the most densely populated settlement of internally displaced people in the world.

“Somalis perceive the United States as supporting the Ethiopian presence and the reprehensible behavior of Ethiopian troops in their country,” said RI’s Patrick Duplat. “The heavy-handed bombing of individual targets in Somalia and other military actions fuels this anti-American sentiment.”

This is another conflict in a Muslim country where we are seen as the bad guys by almost everyone. If we could do more to end this war it could help our “War on Terrorism.” I am not advocating sending US troops back to Somalia or even a UN Peacekeeping force. But I agree with the report authors who say

that by condemning human rights abuses and holding the Ethiopian military accountable for their actions, the United States can go a long way towards defusing tensions in the Horn of Africa. [The US is giving lots of financial and physical resources to Ethiopia for this campaign]

During a conversation with a well-esteemed Somalia elder here in Minneapolis he said something very interesting about our governments actions in Somalia. I’ll paraphrase here:

Somalia had an Islamic government that was beginning to make progress. Yes, there were some members of Al-Qaeda involved in the government but their extremist (terrorist) views were marginalized and not allowed to be part of the official policy. The US then encourage Ethiopia to invade Somalia to over throw the Islamic government – this created a power vacuum allowing Al-Qaeda to step into full power and bring their extremist ideas to the forefront.

This may be a simplistic idea but it seems pretty logical. We have a problem with knocking out governments that might be good – if they aren’t fitting into our policy ideals. (Look at Hamas in Palestine, a democratically elected government which we refuse to recognize)

There is not a simple action point with this post, but you can contact your legislators and share your thoughts and opinions about Somalia and the crisis.

Read the full report from Refugees International.


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Welcome to our group. We are still trying to figure out who we are and what we want to do but we are seeking Jesus in our lives by being friends and challenging each other!

or something like that :)

Whether you believe global warming is our biggest issue or a government hoax I think we should all agree that it is a good idea to try and make our life a little more enjoyable by reducing some of the carbon in the atmosphere.

I think some of the liberal elites and more radical conservationists would have us believe that costs a lot of money. That doesn’t always have to be the case. It can be as simple as shutting off the lights when you leave a room!

created a list of twelve ideas that cost very little (or are smart financial decisions) but can make a large impact. I’ve listed my thoughts after each item!

1. Skip a trip. Did you know that forgoing a single international trip just might offset all of the carbon emissions produced by running your car and your home over the course of a year? On top of that, you’ll save a decent chunk of money by sitting tight (unless, of course, it’s a business trip that you’re skipping). That’s an interesting number – we aren’t planning on traveling internationally anytime soon. The last major trip I took included some carbon saving portions such as public transportation and taking the Megabus.

2. Hire someone to seal up your house. Simply sealing leaks around windows and doors and insulating ducts could save you upwards of $100/year and reduce your carbon emissions by at least 1,000 pounds per year. If you’re too lazy to do this yourself, hire someone. We rent, but our landlords pay the gas bill! They actually did get all the windows replaced or sealed or something before we moved in!

3. Work from home. Instead of carpooling or taking mass transit, a much easier and more effective way of reducing your time in transit (and the resulting cost and environmental impact) is to telecommute. While this isn’t always possible (consider blue collar jobs, or those in the service industry) doing this just once a week cuts you commuting costs by 20% straightaway. Moreover, companies like American Express have apparently found that telecommuting actually increases worker productivity. Not everyone can sit in their pajamas all day at home! I take public transit every day to work and we reduced Christy’s commute mileage from 50 – 8 by moving here and we walk to a lot more places.

4. Drive a fuel-efficient car. Spend a bit of extra time picking out a fuel-efficient car and you’ll automatically save a decent chunk of gas money, and pollute considerably less, over the life of your car. Our Honda gets over 30 mpg and sometimes close to 35!!!

5. Use cruise control. With the possible exception of driving in hilly terrain, cruise control is a great way to save gas. Indeed, tests have found that using cruise control can improve mileage by as much as 7%. I’ve seen this myself in real life, as I’m a big fan of cruise control and my wife isn’t. Guess who gets better mileage on long roadtrips? Me. By a long shot. Even better: adaptive cruise control, which automatically adjust speed to keep you at a safe distance from cars around you. Blah, blah, blah… I don’t really buy some of these things. This one might actually work but the whole slow down thing bunk in my opinion. On a recent trip to Indiana when I drove at about 80 I got better mileage than when I drove at 80 and our friends drove at 70 or 75. It is more about where your car runs most efficiently. “Sorry officer, I was trying to improve gas mileage by speeding up!”

6. Cool your water heating bills. Check the temperature on your water heater and, if necessary, lower it to 120 degrees. Beyond this, whenever possible you should wash your clothes in cold instead of hot water. Landlord pays for it and we are all on the same unit.

7. Don’t wash the dishes. While it’s possible to wash your dishes by hand using a relatively small amount of water, most people keep the faucet running while they do this chore. Instead, load up the dishwasher and run it. Assuming that it’s full, you’ll save about 30% of the water that you would’ve otherwise used. Moreover, you should skip the pre-rinse (take that, Mom!) and just let the dishwasher do its thing. We do this now!! But our washer doesn’t get all the gunk off so we still have to pre-wash.

8. Use a laptop, and let it nap. Replacing a desktop computer and display with an energy-efficient laptop, and setting it to go to sleep when not in use, can save a substantial chunk of money — and reduce carbon emissions by as much as 500 pounds per year. That’s an interesting stat.. we both have laptops although her HP doesn’t automatically sleep when you shut the top like mine. I wonder if some brands are better than others…

9. Drink tap water. Why lug bottles of what is essentially tap water home from the store with you when you can just open the spigot and pour a glass? You’ll not only save a ton of money, but you’ll also save the carbon emissions associated with bottling that water and hauling it to its ultimate destination. Do this most of the time! Hope I don’t get cancer or whatever from reusing the bottles.

10. Stay married. Converting one household into two means bigger utility bill and more greenhouse gases. Not to mention mountains of legal bills. A recent study out of Michigan State University estimated that divorced families consumed and extra 73 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, corresponding to an extra 6,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per household. Yea I was planning on that!! I guess this is another good reason to stay married :)

11. Consider carbon offsets, but be careful. If you’re too lazy to do any of these things yourself, you can always pay someone to offset your emissions for you. Just be sure to work with an entity that actually does what it says. Here’s a nice summary. Nah… that costs money!

12. Support carbon taxes. A variety of experts on both sides of the aisle have argued that imposing a carbon tax on gasoline, coal, and other fuel sources would be the simplest and most efficient way to reduce carbon emissions. In essence, this would be a surcharge that’s based on the amount of carbon dioxide produced by a given amount of fuel. Because this will place yet another burden on businesses and consumers, some have argued that the revenue should then be used to fund income tax cuts or direct rebates. I doubt it would really change anything in the short-term.

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Today actually marks Earth Day, but I ran the race over the weekend in St Cloud, MN. It was a great day for a race, unfortunately my performance didn’t quite equal the weather.

Here is an excerpt of the full race report:

We finally turned off the main road and headed into a sub-division next to the St. Cloud Country Club. There were some little hills up and down along the way. I managed to to run a 7:25 for the 10th mile. As we continued through the sub-division I was running near the edge of the road and managed to scrape my arm on a metal fence post. That pretty much describes how I was feeling. I was quickly getting exhausted and was starting to get passed by more and more people. Occasionally I would try and go with them, this would work sometimes.

I’ve already moved on. I signed up for my first marathon: Twin Cities Marathon in October. It is a good thing I did since it is already over half full. I’m currently taking a few days off before I start training again for some smaller races over the next few weeks!

How far are you willing to take that whole, Love thy enemy thing? You are probably praying for lots of people that you know – and maybe some you don’t.

Are you willing to take the next step and pray for Muslims? A good first step would be doing some research at the Crescent Project or Voice of the Martyrs.

Now for the big-one: Adopt a Terrorist for Prayer. This new ministry is still under construction but has a lot to offer. It guides you through various ways to pray for your adopted terrorist. I like in their FAQ that is says the word adoption was used because it signifies a deeper relationship of love for the individual you are adopting.

You get to see pictures of those waiting for adoption, read their dossier from the State Department and other US agencies as well as other information about them.

You can also read their blog.

Confession: I’m not going to sign up to adopt a terrorist, although I think it is a great idea and is a good step for Christians. We should be praying for the Peace of Christ to infiltrate every person’s heart – including those who want to create terror.

HT: Answers

picture is of Ramadan Abdullah Mohammad Shallah

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