Thursday, December 31, 2015

Top Ten Films of 2015

10) "What We Do in the Shadow" Because I love the vampire/were wolf comedies.

9) "Antman" The Marvel Movie of the year (sorry, Avengers)

8) "Ex Machina" - My favorite Oscar Isaac film this year (sorry Star Wars)

7) "Bridge of Spies" - Sure, some of it was corny. But Spielberg and Hanks still bring some great moments.

6) The Martian - Funny and smart, about as good as the book.

5) "Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter" - Japanese film about a woman who believes "Fargo" was real (we've all been there)

4) "Mad Max: Fury Road" - Not as good as "The Road Warrior" but what is?

3) "Brooklyn" - A sweet love story (though the heroine isn't so sweet when you think about it)

2) "Spotlight" - An ugly story told as well as it could be told.

1) Inside Out - Once again, Pixar makes the best film for adults, for the kids.

Bottom Five Films for 2015

I'm sure there may have been worse films, happy to have dodged them, but here are the five worst films I saw last year.

5) "Blackhat" Michael Mann has made great movies. Thor as a computer hacker was not one of them.

4) "Do You Believe?" was a bad Christian film. But it was almost worth it to see Maddie Hayes married to the 6 Million Dollar Man.

3) "Taken 3" - I was all for Liam's daughter rescue the first time around. The audience felt taken this time around.

2) "Pixels" - Adam Sandler crushes your childhood dreams of video games coming to life. The Anti-"Wreck It Ralph".

1) "Woman in Gold" - The Holocaust used as way to save Ryan Reynolds' career.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

My Top Ten Books of 2015

Favorite 2015 Nonfiction

You don't have to got much further than 'Black Lives Matter' to see the Civil War still matters.

Jesus said we should visit the prisoner. It's sometimes not an easy thing.

That other big boat sinking is also a fascinating story.

Orville and Wilber come across as two interesting men of integrity.

The main reason to read this is to laugh a lot. The other to be reminded that people you know are going through difficult things that they are afraid to share.

Favorite 2015 Fiction

You get Sherlock and Dr. Who stories in one place.

Non Fanny Brice, but an interesting story of the making of a sixties sitcom.

The TV show did not know how to end the story by Lindsay does. (As for that title...Spoilers!)

Is everyone on the train reading this? They have good reason to.

This book got hated on a lot. But as a quite imperfect father, I liked reading this part of Aticus Finch's story.

And why are these my top ten? I think the main reason is that these are the only ten things I read this year that were published in 2015.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Problem with Heroes

I'll admit to mixed emotions about the protests against Woodrow Wilson at Princeton University. I first read about the racism of the former president (of both Princeton and the United States) in junior high in a piece claiming he endorsed the film Birth of a Nation as being "History written in lightning." Though I subsequently learned that the quote is dubious, Wilson's favorable writings about the  Ku Klux Klan were not, nor was his work to promote segregation in the federal government and in the armed services.

Seeing a man formerly considered a hero of liberals and the Democratic Party torn from a podium of honor like communist statues after the after the fall of the Wall, as a Republican, has its appeal for me. But another part of me - the better part, I think - sees the foolishness of a cultural revolution to purify unpleasant history from our presence. I think a healthy perspective comes from my faith and knowledge of Scripture.

One of the great heroes of the Bible is Abraham, the great man of faith who followed the call of God to find the Promised Land. But the book of Genesis repeatedly presents embarrassing episodes of this great man denying his own wife in moments of cowardice. And his son, Isaac, did the same thing. And his son, Jacob, was a momma's boy and a swindler. Yet these men are honored as the founders of the nation of Israel.

Moses, writer of the first five books of the Bible, was God's agent in presenting the Law to the nation of Israel and, in turn, the world. But Scripture also records the unfortunate fact that he murdered a cruel overlord who was abusing a Hebrew slave. David, of course, murdered to cover his adultery.

Those of us who grew up with the Bible learned these stories from an early age. And yet, I don't remember any Sunday School protests. Never any occupations of the Christian Education building. Never any talk about throwing the Ten Commandments out of the Bible because the words were given by a killer or throwing out the Psalms because there were written by a philanderer who arranged the death of the man he cuckolded.

Those Bible stories prepared us to face the ugly truths of life that all men were imperfect and that noting on this Earth was pure. That's why, I think, we were able to accept that many of the Founding Fathers (Washington, Jefferson and Franklin among others) - who wrote so movingly about liberty - were slave owners. Just as Moses presented Laws he himself failed to follow, our country's Founding Fathers often failed to live up to their own ideals. They recognized their weakness, which led to such important concepts as the balance of powers.

How much better is to have, as an example, men and women who stove to do better, to proclaim virtue greater than they could themselves accomplish than to look for perfect heroes? We who believe in Original Sin are not surprised by the shortcomings of the cast of history.

There are a great many people in our history more worthy of respect than Woodrow Wilson but - for better or worse - he's an indispensable part of our nation's history and, specifically, of Princeton's. Past or present, none of our leaders has ever been perfect. But many of them served a God who is perfect and sought to honor ideals greater than themselves.

There is a place for evaluating the honors bestowed on figures of history. This should be done with thoughtfulness and humility. It should not be a temper tantrum. Someday, these campus protesters may come to realize they aren't perfect either.

(Thanks to Ricochet editors for the polishing.)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

All the Fun the Actuaries Allow

In Young Life we routinely sent kids to the electric chair. It was called the Hot Seat. A chair hooked up a 6 volt battery. Some games were in a quiz format with kids getting zapped for a wrong answer. Sometimes the shock came as a surprise at the end of a skit for a kid or leader. (Campus Life actually can take the credit or blame for innovating this particular stunt.)

At Woodleaf (Young Life's camp in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains) during the fall retreats, fields were watered down, if they weren't already swamps of mud. Many years ice and frost covered the field. We then played a game called Wells Fargo. The campers were divided into two teams, the Cowboys and the Indians. Each leader and high school student got a piece of tape on the forehead that became the "scalp". One of the objects of the game (along with stealing gold from the other team's "bank") was to "scalp" as many members of the other team as one could. Girls could scalp guys, but guys couldn't scalp girls. So roving band of ten or twelve girls would target guys, often bringing down linebackers. After the game, muddy campers would jump in the chilly lake to clear off. (Do I need to mention that doctors visits after a round of Wells Fargo were not an infrequent occurrence?)

A game less likely to cause physical damage (though perhaps not free of psychological damage) used a sheet and lipstick as props. Three girls and three boys were chosen as volunteers. The same lipstick was applied to each of the girls who then went behind the sheet. Small holes in the sheet revealed three pairs of lips. Each boy was assigned a pair of lips. They were told to kiss the lips and guess which girl he had kissed. The boys didn't know that each had kissed his own mother who had been asked to sneak into club.
Young Life is an interdenominational Christian organization that uses camps and clubs as a means to form relationships with High School students (and Middle School students) and present them with the Gospel. The games and skits were tools.
In I Corinthians 9, the Apostle Paul wrote, "Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible... I have become all things to all people so that by all means possible means I might save some." Young Life did a lot of crazy things to win kids over because it was the  motto of founder Jim Rayburn that "It's a sin to bore a kid with the Gospel."
Of course, this was all thirty years ago. Now the insurance companies and adult committees have reined in much of the insanity that was common place.
I did some fairly stupid things as a youth pastor. Once, the church had a piano that was well past its prime. So I let kids attack it with a sledgehammer. It did make the most amazing sounds but a kid could have gotten badly injured. Not to mention the time we did bowling at color TVs.
I'm older now and currently out of youth ministry. I'd be much more cautious these days because that happens with age. Professional Youth Ministry in Churches and Parachurches has been tamed.
But I can't say I don't miss the wildness. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

WWJD with Gotcha Questions

As the presidential primaries gear up, it's time again for Gotcha Questions; or at least the accusation of Gotcha Questions.There is much disagreement about what constitutes a fair question. I don't blame candidates for being annoyed by some such questions. If I was on a talk show and was asked to spell the capital of Somaliland, I would not be pleased. ("Dang! The 'I before E' rule doesn't apply for Hargeis?") A candidate that can't recall what the Fourth Amendment is all about gets less sympathy in my book. The motivation behind the questions makes all the difference. Is the questioner genuinely trying to get information or just trying to embarrass or harm the person answering the question?

Gotcha Questions are not a new phenomenon. They've been around for at least a couple of thousand years. Jesus got a slew of Gotchas. I think it would be helpful for your average presidential candidate (which obviously doesn't include Donald Trump) to look at how Jesus handled them. I think his answers might also be helpful for the average voter...And Christian. So, four observations about how Jesus dealt with verbal traps through looking at for different Scriptures:

1) Jesus acknowledged the fact that it was a Gotcha Question, but answered nonetheless.

13 Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. 14 They
came to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by
others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in
accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not? 15 Should we pay
or shouldn’t we?”
But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a
denarius and let me look at it.” 16 They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose image is
this? And whose inscription?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
17 Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
And they were amazed at him.  (Mark 12)

Notice what Jesus said in verse 15? "Why are you trying to trap me?" He acknowledged that
that his answer could cause real controversy and perhaps even get him in real trouble with certain
answers to those questions. If he said, "Sure, pay your taxes. You don't want to get the Romans
mad", he would have been portrayed as a coward and a collaborator with the Evil Empire and
lost favor with his Jewish followers. If he said, "Caesar is a pagan infidel, don't give him a red
cent" he might have found himself charged with treason by the Romans.
The religious teachers are playing dirty little games and Jesus doesn't let them get by without
pointing it out. But he goes on to answer the question nonetheless. Note first that he slows things
up by asking for a coin. He doesn't rush an answer.
Then his answer is short and succinct and yet profound. His few words have provided fodder for
discussion for theologians, ethicists, and philosophers for centuries.

2) Jesus questions the premise of the question.

18 Then the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 19 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 20 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married and died without leaving any children. 21 The second one married the widow, but he also died, leaving no child. It was the same with the third.22 In fact, none of the seven left any children. Last of all, the woman died too.23 At the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”
24 Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of
God? 25 When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like
the angels in heaven. 26 Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the Book of Moses, in
the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of
Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly
mistaken!” (Mark 12)

Jesus isn't about to let someone ask a "Have you stopped beating your wife?" type of question
(and not just because he wasn't married). The Herodians are asking a brain teaser that has no
Scriptural basis. Despite the impression you get these days from sappy romantic fantasy films,
the Bible never says romantic love or marriage is eternal.
And again, Jesus moves beyond oratorical games to an issue of great importance: eternal life. He
uses one of the most important passages of the Scriptures, at the heart of Jewish tradition, to teach about the eternal nature of God and man.

3) Jesus treats everyone with respect.

2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and
he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman
caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this
woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such
women.Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis
for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.7 When they kept on
questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be
the first to throw a stone at her.”8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus
was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman,
where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8)

Most anyone who looks at this story can't help but notice that the woman is used by the
questioners as a prop. The man who was committing adultery is nowhere to be seen. Jesus treats
the woman with kindness. While all eyes might otherwise have been focused on her, Jesus subtly
draws attention to himself by stooping down to write on the ground.
But I recently heard it pointed out in a sermon that Jesus also treats the accusers with kindness.
After his statement, "Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her"
forces the men to examine their hearts, he allows them to do so in private by again stooping to
write on the ground.
Jesus would at time criticize people (calling Pharisees "whitewashed tombs"), but he never
weasels out of answering questions with name calling. These questions were intended to be
confrontational, but Jesus manages to avoid hostile confrontations in these situations.

4) And on a few rare occasions, Jesus doesn't answer the Gotcha Question.

One day as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple courts and proclaiming the good
news, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to
him. 2 “Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this
3 He replied, “I will also ask you a question. Tell me: 4 John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of
human origin?”
5 They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Why
didn’t you believe him?’ 6 But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ all the people will stone us, because
they are persuaded that John was a prophet.”
7 So they answered, “We don’t know where it was from.”
8 Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.” (Luke 20)

Yup, sometimes Jesus just doesn't bother. They asked a Gotcha Question that Jesus saw no
benefit in answering. So he didn't. Jesus didn't let himself be a slave of the question. Because he was the answer.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

What Could Possibly Get To Trump Supporters?

After Thursday’s debate and aftermath, with the Donald loving on Scottish healthcare and ripping on that darned cute Megyn Kelly, it’s hard to imagine what the man could say that would make a dent in his approval ratings. But there must be something. Would any of these ten things Donald Trump might say or do dim the affection of his followers?
10) “If elected, I’m bringing back New Coke.”
9) “You know, Al Frankin really had a point about Rush Limbaugh.”
8) He shaves his head to make room for a smiley face tattoo.
7) “If elected, I’m carving over those Presidents on Mt. Rushmore to honor the stars of that new Fantastic Four movie.”
6) Going commando in the next debate.
5) Dating Honey B00-Boo.
4) Asks Bill Cosby to be his vice president.
3) “You know, I was wrong about Political Correctness. PC is awesome and if you disagree you’re racist.”
2) Kisses Jeb! full on the lips.
1) Telephones every supporter and says, “Your mother is a tramp”. (Though you know they would probably brag about it on Twitter and Facebook.)
Would anything work?

Where Did I Go?

It's an odd thing with blogs. They sometimes just fade away. I had a satirical movie blog I haven't written on for years.  Because Mindy and I have been doing our "Go To Church" blog and I've been doing my "Movie Churches" blog, I haven't had time to write here.
So blog will probably fade away in time. But I'll still post here occasionally when something just doesn't have another place go. And it probably won't be read. But that's okay. Because historians will enjoy these posts, I'm sure.
And I'll also post today something I posted at Ricochet.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Conservatives or Liberals - Who are the Real Christians?

I just finished reading Anne Lamott's "Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace", which is a wonderful collection of essays about unexpected sightings of God's work in the world. But there was one thing that seemed less than gracious in this book on grace. Lamott is a liberal Democrat and she speaks often about the evil policies of conservatives, Republicans and Tea Parties. She takes the last four Republican Presidencies as personal affronts. This is because Republicans are warmongers who manufacture false evidence to start conflict for their own nefarious gain. Greedy Republicans steal food off the tables of the poor. Sure, Republicans call themselves "Christians" but that's to hide their hypocrisy.

On the other hand, I just read something quite different on the conservative website, Ricochet. Someone put up a post about making the social faux pas of admitting he was a Republican at a party where most everyone was a Democrat. He said he suddenly felt all eyes upon him as if he were a space alien. The post was fine, but the responses were something else. People asked why he would want to spend any time with liberals with Democrats, because such people are either stupid or evil or both. They support abortion which is another word for baby killing. Their policies have torn apart families, particularly in urban and minority communities. And liberals are leading a war on religion, trying to drive Christians back into the catacombs.

Reading Lamott's work, I'd think she really loves Jesus. And many conservatives I've known, who've lamented the evils of liberalism (another word for "secular humanism") claim to love Jesus as well.  But how can both Conservatives and Liberals be Christians, when apparently one or the other is quite evil?

Gay Marriage is the most obvious dividing line now between conservative "Christians" and liberal "Christians". Those who believe in Same Sex Marriage deny the clear teaching of teaching of Scripture and the tradition of the Church in a vain pursuit to be loved by the world. Those who oppose Same Sex Marriage are bigots who have no love or understanding for those who differ from themselves (especially those who are oppressed or marginalized).

It's all quite discouraging.

But I was encouraged by reading the Book of Philemon. It's only a chapter long, so if your time is so constrained that you must choose between reading this post or Paul's epistle, than go to now! Philemon deals with an issue that divided the church for most of its history. It was a particularly divisive issue in America in the 1800's. There were Christians who argued from Scripture for the abolition of slavery and Christians who argued for the institution of slavery from Scripture. I think it's fair to say that there is a consensus in the Church today that slavery is a very bad thing. It's an evil thing. So were the people who believed in slavery really Christians? Were they evil?

This is why I found Philemon very encouraging. The Apostle wrote this letter to a man named Philemon and Philemon was a slave owner. So was Philemon an evil man? How could he have possibly been a Christian? This is what Paul wrote to Philemon the slave owner: "I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus." And this: "Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord's people."

Paul treats the slave owner Philemon with civility, grace, love and respect as he tries to persuade Philemon to free his slave, Onesimus. Paul doesn't command Philemon to free his slave ("but I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do would not seem forced but would be voluntary") but uses every other means at his disposal, including logic, Scripture, guilt trips and the calling in of favors ("not to mention that you owe me your very self").

In this short book, Paul took on one of the most divisive issues in the history of the Church and treated someone "on the other side" of the argument with kindness and humility.

The political issues that divide us are important. Issues of war and peace, family and freedom, life and death are at the core of our faith. When we get to heaven, we'll have God's heart on these issues. We all think we would have been the ones who saw slavery for the evil that it is. We would have been right then and we certainly are the ones with the true views on issues today. But even if we think we're Paul and the other person is Philemon, let's attempt to have the graciousness of the Apostle Paul. Philemon may be wrong, but he's our brother.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Sloth – Rest’s Deleterious Doppelganger

Proverbs 26: 13 – “There’s a lion in the road; a fierce lion roaming the streets!”
You won’t find the phrase “Knock, Knock…Who’s there?” in the Bible. Chickens are mentioned in the Book, but there doesn’t seem to be any interest in the reasons for their travels. Light bulbs were not yet invented. This doesn’t mean there are no jokes in the Bible.
The sluggard saying, “There’s a lion in the streets!” is funny even a few thousand years after it was written. Sure, the joke might have been told differently in another age. In the era of Carson’s Tonight Show it might have been:
“This guy is so lazy…”
“How lazy was he?”
“He was so lazy, he wouldn’t leave the house for fear of shark attacks! Not many Jaws II fans here tonight.”
Okay, maybe not comic gold, but still kinda funny. 
Why do Biblical writers use this kind of material? Because some behaviors deserve mockery. Laziness is one of those behaviors.
“Sluggard” is a great word. Sure, we’re talking English here rather than the original Hebrew; but the image of a slug captures perfectly the slow motion ineptitude of a lazy person. The image of a sloth works pretty good as well. The image here in Proverbs is a guy so lazy that he won’t leave his house, perhaps won’t leave his bed, because of the lamest of excuses. “I can’t go out because… um…because there’s a lion in the street! Yeah, that’s the ticket!”
If Proverbs were written today, the lion might become zombies or an alien invasion. Perhaps, the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man in Ghostbuster proportions. Any lame excuse not to go to work or school or any other effort requiring location.
These days, one might get the impression sloth is no longer an issue. You ask people, “How ya doing?” and often the response is, “I’m so busy! Work, family, all my obligations, I just don’t have any time to spare!” To which we respond ,”Me too!”
Though, perhaps, there seems to be no time to spare, we still spare it. Why else would USA Today always be writing about people binge watching a season of Downton Abbey, The Walking Dead or Banshee over a weekend? Someone is taking the time to read those 50 Shades books. And beds are still very popular locations for stretches exceeding eight hours. Much time in our lives is still lost to sloth.
It is interesting that the writer of Proverbs uses a lion, because many sloths look to lions as immobile role models. A lion can sleep up to twenty hours a day. Is a lion a sloth? (Don’t say Yes or you’ll flunk your biology quiz.)
A lion may well sleep twenty hours in a day, but only after its taken care of its responsibilities. Its responsibilities pretty much consist of finding enough food to eat. If it can do that in four hours or less, its obligations are fulfilled. Most of our obligations are a little more expansive. We need to not just care for ourselves, but for others.
Rest is a valuable part of life, neglecting rest is a dangerous course in life. An analogy can be made to eating. An anorexic endangers his or her own life. A person who neglects proper rest does the same. But being a glutton is not healthy any more than being a sloth. We need that balance in life only God's Spirit can fully provide.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Sure, This Is a Tad Cheesy, But...

The Apostle Peter wrote, "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." 
So whether weak or superpowered, you are Incredible in His sight.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

One More Stupid Common TV Show Trivia Game and Then I'll Quit for the Month

What show do "The Wild, Wild, West"'s Robert Conrad and "Night Court"'s John Larroquette have in common?

What show do "Boardwalk Empire"'s Shea Whigham and "Gilmore Girls"' Chad Michael Murray have in common?

What show do "Silicon Valley"'s Martin Starr and "Cougar Town"'s Busy Phillips have in common?

What show do "Barney Miller"'s Ron Glass and "Homeland"'s Morena Baccarin have in common?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

More Stupid TV Trivia - Can you guess the common show without Googling?

What show does Timothy Olyphant of "Justified" have in common with Anna Gunn of "Breaking Bad"?

What show does Tony Danza of "Who's the Boss?" have in common with Danny Devito of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia"?
What show does George Clooney of "ER" have in common with Cloris Leachman of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show"?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Stupid TV Trivia...What Show Do They Have in Common? Can you guess without Google?

1) What show does James Sikking of "Hill Street Blues" have in common with Neil Patrick Harris of "How I Met Your Mother"?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

I Already Posted This At Facebook, but...

ACTUAL DREAM: I'm at an amusement park and see Foghorn Leghorn. I say to him, "Boy, I say Boy!" as Foghorn says in the cartoons. The guy playing the Loony Toons chicken takes off his costume head and it turns out he's African American. He starts lecturing me on making racist remarks and asks me to apologize to all the children in the vicinity.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Direction in the New Year

Garmin and I don't always agree. Not as smart as some GPS systems, Garmin doesn't know about road construction or traffic snafus. Garmin doesn't always understand that we want to see the ocean or the trees. But there are times when we do what Garmin says without question because we have no idea where we're going. Garmin usually comes through.

We'll be relying on Garmin a bit more this year as we begin a new adventure. We're taking our Church Pilgriming on the road, out of Sonoma County, visiting churches throughout California. Just to show (perhaps most of all to ourselves) that we're serious about seeing variety in the state, in the month of January we'll be going to a church as far north as we can, and then to a church as far south as we can go, then east, then west. And we'll be listening to Garmin on those weekends. Not always obeying, but listening.

In this New Year, we'll all be looking for direction one way or another; perhaps for vocation, finances or relationships. Or you might be looking for spiritual direction. You might be looking to grow in your relationship with God. But, of course, there's no spiritual Garmin.

Or perhaps there is. God's "Garmin" tools include Scripture, prayer, mediation, and counsel from wise friends. Perhaps even finding a good church where God speaks to you. Just a friendly traveling tip for the New Year: God's direction, unlike Garmin, always gets you where you need to be.
-- Dean