Showing posts from February, 2007

News: Bob Woodruff's Report - To Iraq and Back

Absolutely riveting (complete video) report by Bob Woodruff on his experience of recovering from brain injury suffered from an improvised explosive device while covering the Iraqi war. The report goes on to explore how the Veteran's Administration is trying, not entirely successfully, to provide medical care for the injured soldiers.With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
-- Abraham Lincoln

World: Good news-bad news from Iraq and a commentary

This item was on today.

Good News:
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraq's government has agreed on a plan to divide the country's oil wealth and open the industry to international investment, a move seen as necessary to a political settlement of the nearly four-year-old war, ministers announced Monday.

Hopefully, since most of the oil is in the Kurdish north and Shiite south, the Sunnis will turn against the insurgency and join in a national unity direction now that oil revenues will be shared. And likewise hopefully the Shiites will not hunt down Sunnis for fear the Sunnis want a return to a Hussein-like strong man from the Sunni faction of the country.

Bad News:
Insurgents bombed Iraq's Ministry of Municipalities building as top Iraqi officials gathered there Monday morning for a celebration, Iraqi officials said.

The attack killed at least 12 people and wounded 42 others, including Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi, the officials said.

Will there be a point when the warrin…

Devotional Thoughts: What would Paul think of the Protestant work ethic?

Finishing up with 2 Thessalonians 3:6-18.

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat." We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right. If anyone does not obey our instruction in …

Movies: HD Buttercup's Silver Screen Challenge

They are at it again!

Customers who spend between $2000 - $10,000 can get their furniture for free if they can correctly pick the winners in the 7 categories.
1. Best Feature Film of the Year
2. Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
3. Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
4. Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
5. Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
6. Best Original Screenplay
7. Best Art Direction

As usual, I have seen very few of the films nominated!

But that doesn't stop me from guessing!

1. Picture - Babel
2. Actor - Forest Whitaker - The Last King of Scotland
3. Supporting Actor - Alan Arkin - Little Miss Sunshine
4. Actress - Helen Mirren - The Queen
5. Supporting Actress - Jennifer Hudson – Dreamgirls
6. Screenplay - Little Miss Sunshine
7. Art direction - Dream Girls

Bonus pick:
Director - Martin Scorsese – The Departed (essentially a lifetime achievement award)

News: That's huge! 990 pound squid!!

Check it out!!!

Excerpt:WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) -- A fishing crew has caught a colossal squid that could weigh a half-ton and prove to be the biggest specimen ever landed, a fisheries official said Thursday.

If calamari rings were made from the squid they would be the size of tractor tires, one expert said.

The squid, weighing an estimated 990 pounds and about 39 feet long, took two hours to land in Antarctic waters, New Zealand Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton said.

The fishermen were catching Patagonian toothfish, sold under the name Chilean sea bass, south of New Zealand "and the squid was eating a hooked toothfish when it was hauled from the deep," Anderton said.

Recipe: Barilla's Celebrity Pasta Cookbook

Check it out and print it out if you like!

Life: Student's haiku

Have some friends who are in school and one friend preparing for the bar exam ... its been a long time since I've been holed up studying but the memories are still fresh.Winter time of books
Hours pass, rustling pages, hot coffee
Loud mind in study nooks.

News: Radioactive wastes near Arches NP

Good grief!

There is 130 acres of radioactive stuff left over from old mining for nuclear material during the Cold War. Unfortunately, it is near the Colorado river near Arches and Canyonlands National Park.

Excerpt:The land they occupy sidles up to the Colorado River, and some fear the wastes could pollute that river, which 25 million people in the West and Southwest rely on for drinking water.

While the government agreed in 2005 to remove the wastes, with an eye on accomplishing the task by 2012, now officials are saying they might not be able to accomplish the job until 2028.Like most people, I have mixed feelings about the Federal Government. We do expect them to be capable of doing things but we know they often don't do it well and take too long and spend too much to do it.

Faith: Poking a bit of fun at ourselves

Ben Witherington is no stuffy academic. Yes, some of his stuff on the blog is very academic. But this item pokes a little fun at ourselves in the Christian realm. The item is called, We Are the Light of the World -- But Who Changed the Bulb?

Since I have been a part of both Baptist and Presbyterian churches, I had to laugh out loud on the parts pertaining to those two denominations:How many Presbyterians does it take to change a light bulb? None. God has pre-ordained when the lights will be on and when they will be off.
How many Baptists does it take to change a light bulb???? CHANGE ????????????

Devotional Thoughts: Direct your hearts to Christ's perseverance

Previously, I wondered about the ratio of verses in 1 and 2 Thessalonians that were about the future and which were about the here and now.

Here is a quick look:
I Thessalonians verses that appear to be about the future
Chapter 1: 1 verse of 10
Chapter 2: 1 verse of 20
Chapter 3: 1 verse of 13
Chapter 4: 6 verses of 18
Chapter 5: 12 verses of 28.
II Thessalonians verses that appear to be about the future
Chapter 1: 6 verses of 12
Chapter 2: 12 verses of 17
Chapter 3: 0 verses of 18.

Thus, 39 verses out of 136 which is about 29%.

2 Thessalonians 3:1-5:

Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you.

We need that prayer today just as much as Paul needed it then. With all our modern communication technology, the message of the Lord can spread so many ways. But even with all the technology in hand, the message is not just words but it is carried about by you and me. If I sit here and blog about the message of the Lord,…

Culture: 24, 3-4pm

Forgot to set up the VCR!

But you can download for $1.99 the latest episode from iTunes!

Anyway, a fast-paced evening.

Milo survived and the Bauer family secret is fully revealed to Jack.

Meanwhile, we find out that the Russian who had the nukes deliberately gave them over to Fayed so they would be used and the Arabs would get the blame.

In the White House Lennox decides to try to unravel the plot against Palmer but gets beaten with a flashlight for his troubles.

On CSPAN's coverage of Heritage Foundation's program, "24 and America's Image in Fighting Terrorism: Fact, Fiction, or Does it Matter?", Gregory Itzin (President Logan) was asked if he would appear in Season Six. He said he would! Well, Logan made his appearance in this episode's cliff-hanger finish.

As far as implausibilities, I do have to wonder how come it is so easy for people to be driving around the streets of Los Angeles after a nuclear blast. You would think the streets would be clogged with pe…

Elsewhere: Cool items I've seen while web surfing

Ben Witherington is honest about the limits of his craft but he does make interesting points and especially so in this item about the possibility that the "Beloved Disciple" of the Gospel of John was Lazarus!

In this item Ted Slater shares about how he struggled in his Christian faith when he started college. He urges college students and those who care for a college student to check out this item. The article gave the following advice: Find and join a good church, Choose your friends with biblical criteria in view, At all costs, remain sexually pure, Study, Call home, Remember the counsel of God.

I know the Super Bowl has past already but I thought this perspective (from God's point of view) was kind of neat.

YS Marko is the Green Lantern. Apparently, I'm Spiderman! I haven't even seen any of the movies!

Your results:
You are Spider-Man
Spider-Man 75%Robin 60%Hulk 50%Green Lantern 50%Superman 45%Batman 45%The Flash 45%Iron Man
45%Supergirl 35%Wonder Woman 25%Cat…

Devotional Thoughts: Keep on keeping on

But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

The above passage is from 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17 which comes after bunch of thoughts on the Return of Christ.

The theology of the Second Coming of Christ is complex but its bottom line is simple: Jesus will be victorious over evil and will balance the scales of justice at the end.

Interestingly, if you think about the last few decades, secularists also have end is near scenarios. …

Non-profit of the month: February 2007 - Young Life

I was a kid a long time ago. Life was less crazy back then. I can't imagine all the challenges kids face today.

One group reaching out to kids in the city is Young Life. They have a national web page so you can see where they are in your neighborhood. I hope you will consider supporting them.

My familiarity with Young Life is through people who have worked with Young Life. To hear stories about how the kids enjoyed going to camp was delightful. For so many of us, we figure getting out into the natural beauty of the world is a regular part of growing up. But for many kids in the city, it is a treat.

In addition to camps, Young Life hosts local events on a weekly basis.

Its a great organization and I just donated online. I hope you do the same!

Culture: 24, the following takes place between 1pm and 3pm

We got a double header on Monday night.

Poor Chloe, Morris gets tortured to make him arm the nukes and it looks like Milo is probably going to be dead in the next episode as he tries to flee from the bad guys while protecting Marilyn.

Implausibility alert: Morris seems in remarkably good shape for someone who was beaten a number of times with a baseball bat and punctured by a drill bit with corresponding blood all over the place.

Meanwhile in DC, the intrigue within the White House continues. I have the feeling the plotters are not planning to try to invoke the 25th Amendment?! It isn't clear to me who is in on the plan to stage a coup of President Wayne Palmer. They will, of course, make it look like a terrorist incident. In any case, you do have to wonder why Tom couldn't write his own resignation letter. Bright guy that he is, I'm sure he could have typed on his MS Word:Dear Mr. President,
I thank you for the opportunity I have had to serve you and our nation. Howeve…

Life: Where will they be when they are 25?

I'm a volunteer with the youth group at my church. It is a joy to spend time with young people doing fun things. Recently, we went roller skating which was a first for me! We also went indoor rock climbing last year, also a first for me. It is also a joy to spend time with them doing "serious" things like study the Bible and talk about what it means to follow Jesus.

The other day during a time of reflection (I'm an introvert so that kind of comes naturally!) I found myself stepping back from the trees to try to see the forrest.

I thought about my young friends and asked, what will they be like when they are 25?

I pondered what I hoped I would see if I ran into them 10+ years from now and asked them, hey, fill me in on your life since youth group!

What would they say ... ?

I'd hear them describe their lives such that it is clear that they are living out Christianity; that Christianity would be a verb for them. From their description, of what they do and their life…

Sports: Bruin basketball and recruiting

Saw this over at BruinsNation. The poster dug up the ratings on the current crop of Bruins based on rankings of recruits.

The average UCLA recruit was 3.64 of which only 1 was a 5-star but 10 were 4-star. This put UCLA #2 in the Pac-10 in terms of recruitment reputation.

When compared to other big reputation programs, we are still far behind. Duke, Kansas and UNC each have SEVEN 5-star recruits!

But a basketball team is more than the sum of its parts and UCLA can now be talked about in the same breath as these top-tier programs. Got to give a huge shout out to Howland for bringing in solid players and getting them to play as a team.

Devotional Thoughts: The Return of Jesus the Defeat of Lawlessness

Continuing on in a look see through 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12.

The Thessalonians were concerned that Jesus might have returned and they got left behind so Paul addressed that concern by telling them some things have to happen before Jesus returns:
(1) A rebellion occurs

Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs

(2) The man of lawlessness is revealed

and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God. Don't you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things?

However, we have to remember, the Thessalonians probably received this teaching around AD 50-51. So it is possible that what was for them future is now in our past!

Anyway, Paul continued to remind them of what he had taught them.
(1) There was something restraining the law…

Life: A Wintery Haiku

My "artistic" impulses are in photography, essay writing (blogging!) and the occasional attempt at poetry. With our wintry weather this past weekend I took pen in hand and scribbled ... Falling rain, cool air
A good friend shares hot coffee
The heart warmed, God's care

Life: Kids say the darnest things about marriage

Making its way around the world in people's email inboxes.

I just had to LOL = laugh out loud!

Subject: Kids Say the Darnest Things

See below for a cute bunch of thoughts from kids.

HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHO TO MARRY? (written by kids)

You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like,
if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she
should keep the chips and dip coming.
-- Alan, age 10

No person really decides before they grow up who they're
going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out
later who you're stuck with.
-- Kristen, age 10

Twenty-three is the best age because you know the person
FOREVER by then.
-- Camille, age 10

You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to
be yelling at the same kids.

@ the movies: Amazing Grace

Am looking forward to seeing this film!

Culture: 24, 12-1pm

Well, the three threads continue to unfold.

(1) Fayed finds an engineer to arm the nukes and its Morris! I didn't see that one coming but should have when they got Morris to leave CTU to see his allegedly dying brother. It was of course just a ruse to nab him. Will Morris survive for next season or will once again Chloe be left to mourn yet again?
(2) White House inner circle intrigue continues. This is familiar territory from some past seasons when one part of the government wants war and the other side urges restraint. We shall see whose side who is on in the episodes to come. These kinds of power struggle scenes can get boring if they get too talky and aren't properly paced. So far so good.
(3) Meanwhile in the family Bauer we get a twist that was telegraphed: turns out daddy Bauer is in on the plot with the brother Graem and not surprisingly this week the tables are turned and Graem appears to be dead.

TWP recaplet.
Full recaps at TWP.
Official Fox 24 recaps.


Devotional Thoughts: Days of future past?

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 gives us Paul's teaching on when the day of the Lord will arrive.

Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

Right off the bat we see two events: (1) the rebellion occurs and (2) the man of lawlessness is revealed.

What I wonder is to what degree is Paul expanding on what Jesus said in Matthew 24 and to what degree did Paul receive additional revelation from God?

Matthew 24:10 said: At that time many will turn away from the faith which seems similar though the Greek words are not the same. In 2 Thessalonians the word is apostasia while in Matthew 24 it is skandalisthesontai.

The idea of lawlessness more closely tracks with Jesus teaching in Matthew 24:12, Because of the…

Sports: UCLA 70 USC 65

UCLA wins!

Another very close game!

UCLA's defense finally got some stops in the final 5 minutes to get a small lead. Then a USC technical foul and an intentional foul allowed UCLA to hit a few extra free throws to pad the lead. But USC responded by hitting some threes to cut it back down and the final minute became a free throw shooting contest which UCLA hit enough to preserve the win.


As a UCLA alum, I root for the Bruins but as an honest sports fan, I have to take my hat off to the job Tim Floyd is doing over at USC. Henry Bibby's volcanic temper and erratic coaching ran the program into a ditch and he was finally fired early in the 2004-2005 season. The team limped to the finish line with an assistant coach serving as an interim. Ironically, that assistant coach was a former assistant coach under Steve Lavin the UCLA coach who was ousted the year before Bibby was ousted at USC. Tim Floyd was hired at the beginning of the 2005-2006 season and he began the turnarou…

Politics: The meat and potatoes of local Los Angeles government

Tonight, I attended a neighborhood meeting to hear about some issues in our community.

Tom LaBonge came with one of his aides. Also, in attendance was a lighting engineer and his crew and the captain and a few officers from the Wilshire district LAPD.

We stood on the street corner as LaBonge introduced the lighting engineer and we were told about some of the technical details about how street lighting works and how much it costs to fix and upgrade. There was talk of increasing the wattage of the lights at one of the intersections in the hopes it will help reduce crime. Some residents mentioned that on some streets, the trees have overgrown so much that they block the lights. LaBonge's aide took note of which streets were mentioned so that the city service tree trimmers could be sent.

The next speaker was the LAPD district captain. He told us to report all crimes because if it doesn't get reported, the police will think the neighborhood is safer than it actually is. He share…

Devotional Thoughts: Don't be alarmed

Am looking at 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 this morning.


This is one of those passages that is a bit confusing. What we have on hand is Paul's response to something ...

Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come.

But what was the something that prompted this response?

We can only put together a few loose pieces.

The important piece was that the Thessalonians were being mislead by somebody to think Jesus had come back and had gathered the saints and that they had been left behind. That would indeed be a source of anxiety!

What we don't have was how did the Thessalonian church view the return of Jesus?

I heard theologian Robert Morgan talk about how scholars believe there are three layers of knowledge regarding the words and deeds of Jesus. (1) Jesus actual words and de…

Culture: Coaching the Lord's Way

Congrats to the Colts, Coach Dungy, Peyton Manning and their whole team and organization.

But what is wonderful is that the two head coaches are such decent and honorable men.

To read about their Christian commitment check out this web page.

Life: A Persistent Reliable Mentor

Don't always get the print edition of newspapers these days because news happens fast and the internet is constantly updated.

But today, I picked up a Los Angeles Times and was drawn to the "Column One" story on the left side. Very moving and inspirational to read about the dedication of Thomas Higgins in his mentorship of Milena Slatten and the work of Covenant House. Excerpts:CONSIDERING that her mother tried to throw her out a third-story window when she was 3, and that she spent five years in an orphanage in the destitute former Soviet republic of Georgia and five years in American foster homes, a psychiatric hospital and a lockdown facility for troubled kids, Milena Slatten, 20, is faring incredibly well.

Two years ago, she was homeless, but now she's earned her GED and works full time as a clerk in the Los Angeles County courthouse. She has no criminal record. She doesn't drink. She doesn't smoke or do drugs, even prescription medications. When she was a…

Sports: UCLA 69 Oregon 57

Woo hoo!

Bruins take care of business and seize the lead (for now) of the Pac-10.

We can't have a let down against Oregon State on Saturday!

UPDATE: Listened to the post-game show a bit as I drifted off to sleep last night. The team played solid defense and seized the lead in the first half and never let it go. Afflalo clearly took the lead for the Bruins by scoring and locking down Oregon's top scorer. Players often only concentrate on offense so this helps Afflalo's stock that he prides himself on defense. If Afflalo keeps this up, he may go NBA after this season. My guess is that he won't be a lottery pick but would be a solid mid- to late-first rounder. Certainly, his drive and leadership will be key to any serious run by UCLA in the NCAA's March Madness. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute vacuumed up rebounds against Oregon. In some games where I have seen UCLA struggle I have seen that a Moute was in foul trouble and thus either not in the game or playing tentatively.