Thursday, January 31, 2008

Vote Chooser

Answer 10 questions, and this website will tell you who you should vote for. Pretty nifty!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Foreclosures up 75% in 2007

NEW YORK ( -- The number of foreclosures soared in 2007, with 405,000 households losing their home, according to a report released Tuesday. That's up 51 percent from the 268,532 homes that were repossessed in 2006.

Total foreclosure filings soared 97% in December alone compared with December of 2006, according to RealtyTrac, an online seller of foreclosure properties. For the year, total filings - which include default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions - grew 75%.

More than 1 percent of all U.S. households were in some stage of foreclosure during 2007, up from 0.58 percent the year before.

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Watch a Show on the Wall

This morning I am at home with Adam for a few hours. My mom will be here a little before lunch, at which time I will go into the office. Until then, though, it's dad/son time. The projector from church is here, so I decided that we would do one of Adam's favorite things: watch a show on the wall. We rented Madagascar this weekend, so, as I write this, we are in bed, watching a show on the wall. Good times!

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Church@ Hickory Hollow

This past weekend marked the 10th anniversary of The Church@ Hickory Hollow's first worship service. Mark, my former pastor, wrote a great post here. I did most of my reflection a few months ago.


This afternoon I learned that a friend (Linda) from our church in California (Hillside Church) was killed yesterday in a car crash. A drunk driver was involved. Her husband, Bob, is in critical condition, and as I write is going into his second surgery. He does not know that Linda had died. They have two daughters (Basia, age 5, and Bo, age 3), both of which have only minor injuries.

What is the response when something like this happens? Right now my only response is to pray, first for Bob's physical healing, but then primarily for spiritual healing. I know that our Father draws near to the broken-hearted, and my prayer is that he would make himself so real to our friends.

A blog has been set up here for updates. Please join me in praying.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Gospel

Yesterday I finished reading Mark, and today I started reading Galatians. The Gospel is a common theme throughout both of these books. I decided to look up verses that contained either "gospel" or "good news". Here is the list if you're interested.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Small Groups at National Community Church

Here is a list of NCC's 83 different small group opportunities offered this semester.

Here is an FAQ on their small groups.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

How did the housing market get to where it is today?

If you've ever asked that question (and chances are that if you own a home you have), here's a possible answer.

It wasn't inevitable that Alan Greenspan would tout adjustable-rate mortgages in February 2004, when the average rate on a 30-year fixed was hovering just above 5.5 percent. Remember what Greenspan said back then? "American consumers might benefit if lenders provided greater mortgage product alternatives to the traditional fixed-rate mortgage."

I repeat: When Greenspan uttered those words, the average rate on a 30-year fixed was 5.6 percent in Bankrate's weekly survey. Five-point-six percent for a fixed-rate mortgage, and he was saying how adjustable-rate mortgages were a good deal!

It wasn't inevitable that lenders would take Greenspan's hint to provide greater mortgage product alternatives. They started marketing subprime ARMs to anyone with a pulse who was willing to exaggerate his or her income. It wasn't inevitable that lenders would underprice their risk (or, in other words, charge rates that were too low). It wasn't inevitable that so many borrowers would lie about income or occupancy status on their loan applications.

It wasn't inevitable that homebuyers would get swept up in the mania, taking advantage of cheap loans to bid up the prices of houses past the point of common sense. As a matter of mass psychology, the house mania was understandable. But it wasn't inevitable. Some people saw that they were in a housing bubble, and they didn't succumb to house fever. Two-and-a-half years ago I profiled four families who were what I dubbed bubble sitters -- they saw that house prices were inflated, so they chose to rent. They waited for the bubble to pop.

"I'm pretty sure the prices around here will plummet," economist Dean Baker said in the summer of 2005. A few months before I interviewed him, Baker and his wife had sold their two-bedroom condo in Washington, D.C., and rented a similar unit nearby. "We felt it would have been foolish to stay there," he said.

Prices fell later than Baker had expected. But the bubble did burst, and prices did fall. He and the other bubble sitters were right.

You didn't have to be an economist like Baker to see that a bubble was inflating. The Fed, legislators, the White House, regulators and lenders could have recognized the problem before it got too big. The bubble and the burst weren't inevitable.

For Paulson to say that the housing bust was inevitable would be like saying that Bill Clinton's heart bypass surgery in 2004 was inevitable. The guy clearly liked Big Macs and doughnuts. After he ate a train carload of them, a heart bypass was necessary. But it wasn't inevitable. He could have chosen to eat broccoli and falafel instead of burgers and fries.

Policy makers, lenders and borrowers made choices that caused the housing bubble to inflate and for it to pop. Nothing inevitable about it.

RATES: Bond prices have spiked since Friday's lousy employment report, and that means mortgage rates have plunged. In last week's Bankrate survey, the average rate on a 30-year fixed was 6.14 percent. This week, it's on track to be 5.9 percent. It hasn't been that low since September 2005.

Take that as a hint that this would be a good time to get a fixed-rate mortgage instead of an adjustable-rate loan.

Monday, January 07, 2008

2007 Top Ten List: Books for 2008

Here's my final Top 10 list. These are some books on my shelf that I'm hoping to read (or reread) this year...

  1. Community and Growth, by Jean Vanier
  2. The Radical Wesley & Patters for Church Renewal, by Howard Snyder
  3. Renovation of the Heart, by Dallas Willard
  4. Seeking the Face of God, by Gary Thomas
  5. Breaking the Missional Code, by Ed Stetzer & David Putman
  6. A Theology as Big as the City, by Ray Bakke
  7. Ministries of Mercy, by Tim Keller
  8. unChristian, by David Kinnaman & Gabe Lyons
  9. The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, by Leslie Newbigin
  10. The Externally Focused Church, by Rick Rusaw & Eric Swanson
  11. The Confessions, by Saint Augustine
  12. Confessions of a Pastor, by Craig Groeschel
  13. Money, Possessions & Eternity, by Randy Alcorn
  14. Extraordinary Leaders in Extraordinary Times, edited by H. Stanley Wood
  15. The Bible, or at least most of it - here is our church's Bible reading plan for this year

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Adam's Trip to the Hospital

Yesterday Adam fell while playing at the Children's Museum. The cut was right above his eyes. It was small, but Mandy said that it bled a lot. Mandy called me and I met them at the Children's Museum. About an hour later we ended up at Lebonheur. Five hours and $100 later, we were home with with some Neosporin and a Band Aid. I don't know about you, but that seems a little extreme to me. I don't know if it's just my sense of entitlement, or if the system is just this bad. I've heard stories about people in other parts of the world waiting all day to get basic medical care, so I'm grateful that it wasn't longer than five hours. I'm also grateful that he wasn't more seriously hurt. There were lots of other kids there who had much more serious issues.

I don't know if it's the same way with all other emergency rooms throughout Memphis, or if it's just this way here in the heart of the city. I think we'll do a little research before we have to do this again.

I do have to praise Adam, though. He was such a trooper. He was much more patient than Mandy and I were, and he's the one who was hurt. I was very proud of him.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Acts 18:24-19:10

Before beginning the story of Paul's third missionary journey, Luke introduces another character to us: Apollos. Apollos was a Jewish convert from Alexandria. He had been taught about Jesus, and now his passion compelled him to share what he knew. This eventually led him to Ephesus. He was apparently a great communicator, but he lacked one thing: thought he "taught accurately the things concerning Jesus...he knew only the baptism of John" (Acts 18:25). Priscilla and Aquila heard him speak, and sat down with him to explain things more accurately. His desire was to go to Corinth to share there. Apparently a new church was emerging in Ephesus, because the men of the church decided to write a letter of reference to the Corinthian church on Apollos' behalf. Luke says that when Apollos arrived in Corinth, "he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus" (Acts 18:28).

Paul arrived in Ephesus soon after Apollos left for Corinth. Ephesus was the third largest city in the Roman Empire, after Rome and Alexandria. During Paul's day, the population probably numbered around 250,000. The city's most famous landmark was the temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

When Paul entered Ephesus, he met "some disciples" (Acts 19:1). It is unclear who these people were. It is possible that they had been disciples of John, or at least followed the teaching of John, but this does not imply that they were Christians. Paul asked them if they had received the Holy Spirit, and their reply was that they didn't know what the Holy Spirit was (Acts 19:2). They had received John's baptism, which dealt with repentance. It seems that they did not know that John's ministry was to point to Jesus as the Messiah. They were eager, though, and when Paul told them about Jesus, their desire was to be baptized into this new way of life. The Holy Spirit came on them, and they began to prophesy and speak in tongues. Luke points out that there were twelve men.

From there Paul went into the synagogue, most likely with these twelve men following him. For three months he had an audience there, and he "spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God" (Acts 19:8). Some of the Jews refused to believe, though, and began stirring up trouble. Paul took the disciples and went to the hall of Tyranus, where he spoke of Jesus every day from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM. The hall of Tyranus was a public meeting hall, and thus had to be rented. Paul therefore must have had a few wealthy converts in this young church. Paul lectured there every day for two years, and the end result, according to Luke, was that "all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks" (Acts 19:10).

Bankrate's 8 Smart Moves for 2008

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Acts 18:18-23

After Paul's encounter with Gallio, he stayed in Corinth "many days longer" (v.18). After that, it was time for him to leave. It seems that this time, Paul was very deliberate in his leaving. It was time for him to go to a new city, and he knew exactly which city that would be. It also seems that this time, Paul was intentional in his strategy. He had a plan. He would go to Ephesus. First he asked Priscilla and Aquila to leave Corinth and move to Ephesus. He wanted them to go ahead of him, most likely to get settled and for Aquila to get his business going.

I've always been very fascinated by this story. The Corinthian church had been with Paul for over 18 months, and now he was leaving. Not only was he leaving, he was taking Timothy, Silas,Priscilla, and Aquila. What would they do? We have to remember, though, that they were not the only leaders of this church. If Paul could raise up leaders in just a couple of months, imagine the leadership that was in Corinth. The names we know are:
The lesson once again is that Paul trusted the Holy Spirit to grow the church and to raise up leaders.

Before boarding a ship bound for Ephesus, Paul cut off his hair. It is not completely clear why he did this. He most likely was coming to the end of a Nazarite vow that he had taken earlier. Part of the Nazarite vow forbid cutting one's hair (Numbers 6:2-5). At the end of the vow, the one taking the vow was called to shave their head, then dedicate it as an offering to the Jerusalem (Numbers 6:13-21). That is why Paul needed to go to Jerusalem.

Their first stop was Ephesus. They stayed there for a few days, long enough for Paul to spend a Sabbath at the synagogue. He reasoned with them there about the Messiah, but when he was asked to return the following week, he told them of his vow. They understood that he must go to Jerusalem. He did tell them that he hoped to return to them soon.

After leaving Priscilla and Aquila in Ephesus, Paul, Silas and Timothy boarded a ship headed for Caesarea. Many scholars believe that this voyage marked Paul's second shipwreck experience (2 Cor. 11:25). From there they walked the fifty miles to Jerusalem. After fulfilling his vow and spending some time with the church, Paul, Silas and Timothy journeyed north back to Antioch.

This marked the end of Paul's Second Missionary Journey. The year was AD 52.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2007 Top Ten List: Music

This is a hard one. I love music, and I love finding new music. This Top 10 list is a little random. It consists of artists, albums, and even songs. Enjoy! Oh yeah, I'm breaking another rule: there are a few bonus selections.
  1. Dave Barnes - I actually first heard Dave Barnes at last year's Catalyst Conference (October 2006), but I didn't purchase his albums until this year. So good.
  2. Andy McKee - I discovered Andy McKee from Steve McCoy's blog. I have one of his videos here. Listening to him is good. Watching what he does on a guitar is amazing.
  3. Damien Rice - Mandy and I got to see him at the Orpheum this year. It was just him, his guitar, a bassist, and a drummer. They were super tight.
  4. Bibo No Aozoro - This is from the movie Babel. After watching the movie I went straight to Itunes to buy this track.
  5. Derek Webb - His last few albums (I See Things Upside Down, Mockingbird, & The Ringing Bell) have been great. Not a week goes by when I don't listen to something by him.
  6. Hide and Seek - Imogene Heap is kind of weird, but this song is amazing. I also love the Frou Frou album Details.
  7. Hillsong United - I purchased United We Stand and All of the Above this year. I missed a chance to see them live this year. That would have been an awesome experience. If you're not familiar with them, check out this and you might just find yourself wanting to.
  8. Continuum (John Mayer) - I know that this album is a couple of years old, but I still have to include it for the number of times I've listened to it this year. When it first came out I didn't like it that much. Not sure why, but a few months ago I started listening to it nonstop.
  9. O Magnum Mysterium - This is on my top 10 list every year. It's from a composer named Morten Lauridsen and from a recording by the LA Master Chorale. I bought the CD quite a few years ago, but I listen to it any time I just need to be still. Here's a great recording of it on YouTube.
  10. Over the Rhine - OK, I know they've been around for awhile, and I'm not sure how I've missed them...but all is not lost...I'm making up for lost time! My dad had burned me a couple of their CD's (yes, I know that's not good but this too is ok for I am now buying their CD's). Anyway, a few months ago Mandy and I were painting our front room and I tuned into OTR on my Ipod. I was captured by their music on the spot. I'll stop writing now. Just watch this.
  11. Give Yourself Away (Robbie Seay Band) - I haven't really gotten into their previous albums, but this one is awesome! My favorite songs on the album are "New Day", "Shine Your Light on Us", and "Song of Hope."
  12. Jon Foreman - You might know him as the frontman for Switchfoot. I heard him to a solo performance at Q last April. He is an amazing guitarist. Let Your Love Be Strong is one of my favorite songs of the year.

2007 Top Ten List: Podcasts

I've really enjoyed listening to podcasts this year. Here are my favorites for the year (in alphabetical order).

  1. Acts 29 Network
  2. Catalyst Podcast
  3. The Dave Ramsey Show
  4. Fermi Project
  5. Imago Dei (Portland)
  6. The Journey (St. Louis)
  7. Mars Hill Bible Church (Grand Rapids)
  8. Mars Hill Church (Seattle)
  9. The Official LOST Podcast
  10. Resurgence