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Showing posts from 2007

His Miracle Story

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Scott Southworth, right, met his adopted son, Ala'a, in Iraq and brought him to live in Mauston, Wisconsin.

MAUSTON, Wisconsin (AP) -- Capt. Scott Southworth knew he'd face violence, political strife and blistering heat when he was deployed to one of Baghdad's most dangerous areas.

But he didn't expect Ala'a Eddeen.

Ala'a was 9 years old, strong of will but weak of body -- he suffered from cerebral palsy and weighed just 55 pounds. He lived among about 20 kids with physical or mental disabilities at the Mother Teresa orphanage, under the care of nuns who preserved this small oasis in a dangerous place.

On September 6, 2003, halfway through his 13-month deployment, Southworth and his military police unit paid a visit to the orphanage. They played and chatted with the children; Southworth was talking with one little girl when Ala'a dragged his body to the soldier's side.

Black-haired and brown- eyed, Ala'a spoke to the 31-year-old American in the limited …

My Year In Review 2007: Worst Films

For the next couple of weeks, I will be giving you my "Top (insert number)" list for a variety of things. From books, to movies, to trips, to music, I will list my personal favorites from 2007.

The following movies came out this past year and I can say for all of them I regret I will no longer have the 2 hours of my life back I wasted watching them. To me all these films lacked either a good story line, good dialogue, good acting, or a combination of all three. Here are my top 5 worst films from 2007:

1) Happy Feet (actually released in '06 but saw in theater in '07)
2) 1408
3) Transformers
4) Vacancy
5) Bridge to Terabithia

My Year In Review 2007: The DVD's

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For the next couple of weeks, I will be giving you my "Top (insert number)" list for a variety of things. From books, to movies, to trips, to music, I will list my personal favorites from 2007.

The following DVD movies were seen this past year for the first time. Some are fairly new and some are classic that I never got around to watching. Some are blockbuster hots while others are lesser known borderline indie films. Here are my top 17 DVD flicks from 2007:

1) Little Miss Sunshine
2) 28 days Later
3) Lucky Number Slevin
4) Usual Suspects
5) L.A. Confidential
6) Life is beautiful
7) Stranger Than Fiction
8) American Beauty
9) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
10) Sideways
11) Punch-Drunk Love
12) Everything's Illuminated
13) Waiting for Guffman
14) Adaptation
15) Best in Show
16) The Pursuit of Happyness
17) In America

My Year In Review 2007: The Movies

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For the next couple of weeks, I will be giving you my "Top (insert number)" list for a variety of things. From books, to movies, to trips, to music, I will list my personal favorites from 2007.

The following movies were seen in theaters or released in 2007 and received at least 3 stars from me. Here are my top 11 movies of 2007:

1) I am legend
2) Into the Wild
3) Pan's Labyrinth
4) The Departed
5) Blades of Glory
6) Harry Potter: Order of the Phoenix
7) Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
8) Spiderman 3
9) Knocked Up
10) Number 23
11) 28 Weeks Later

My Wanted Wicked Tickets

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Beth and I are HUGE fans of the the Broadway hit musical "Wicked". So needless to say were were jacked to find out the tour version was going to be making a 16 show stop in Charlotte next April. As I anticipated the Nov. 30th sale date, I never could have imagined that I'd be competing to get the hottest ticket in the state. By the time the online sale started at 10am most of the 16 shows were sold out (in person box office sales began at 8am. People started camping out for them at 6pm the night before) Sadly I never got our tickets.

No fear, I just figured I'd be able to find some on eBay or some online ticket broker. Which I have...at a 300%-700% mark up!! Tickets that sold at the box office for $32 are going for $150-$200 and $100 seats are going for over $700.

Would someone please explain this to me: if scalping tickets is illegal how can brokers and ebayers get away with it??

I know this is a shot in the dark but if anyone has or know of someone that has a couple …

My Movie Review: I Am Legend

I went in to "I am legend" with absolutely no idea what to expect or what the movie was about other than Will Smith being the last man on earth after some kind of world wide catastrophe. What I got was one of the best movies I've seen this year.

"I am legend" is half "Castaway" and half "28 days later". It takes the best elements from both films and creates and phenomenal movie that you don't want to end. In fact my only complaint with the movie is that it was too short (1hr 40 min).

The plot is this: Robert Neville, a brilliant scientist, isn't quite brilliant enough to stop a man-made virus from escaping and killing everyone in sight. Somehow, though, Robert is immune. But what good is surviving if you're the last person on the planet? After three years of searching for others, Robert soon discovers that he is in fact not alone; mutant victims of the virus are watching his every move. As Robert realizes that his time may be up, h…

My Thoughts On The Baseball Steroid Controversy

So the Mitchell report came out today detailing his 2 year 20 million dollar investigation into the use of steroids in baseball. His findings were shocking...there IS rampant steroid abuse in baseball! Really? I had no idea? I mean I thought it was natural for guys to become better athletes when they hit 35 years plus. Or for guys domes to grow 5x the normal size. I really thought Mcgwire and Sosa hit all those home runs legit. And you mean Bonds may have lied when he said he never knowingly took steroids?

Look, all this report did was put names/faces on the drugs. Even the most casual fan knew something was going on. We as fans didn't care because we love power in sports. Whether it's our guy hitting the long ball or our ace topping 100mph and racking up 10 K's a game, we want to see impressive human feats. No matter how they may or may not have been achieved. The owners turned a blind eye because after the strike they would do anything to gets butts back in the seats and …

His Story: Jim Grobe

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The following article comes from http://www.prodigalsonmagazine.com/
One of the reasons that we love sports is because there is always the chance that the underdog can overtake the favorite. We watch to see which team that is said to have no shot will prevail over the more powerful or more storied team, giving us the hope that we too can overcome incredible odds in our lives. When these upsets happen, they offer a sense of hope to all of us that we will have a day that we will shine as well.

Last season, the Wake Forest Demon Deacon football team proved that they too could overcome the odds and become champions. In the preseason, they were picked to finish last in their division with the experts believing that they didn’t have what it took to excel in the ACC. They believed in themselves and overcame injuries, history, and skeptics to win the ACC Football Championship and play in the Orange Bowl. A school long known for its’ basketball and golf, with such famous alumni as Arnold Palmer…

My Meeting With the Man Who May Be President: Mike Huckabee (Part Deux)

I arrive at the home where the reception for Mike Huckabee is being held around 5:45pm. The house was a very large, older, multi-million dollar home in a high profile location in Greensboro. Once I found a place to park I made my way to the house and passed Mike Huckabee outside giving a speech to a flock of local reporters and media outlets. Once inside the home I found the person who had been my contact and was nice enough to allow me to attend. I offered to help that evening in any way and she said she did have one thing that needed to be done; she asked if I could pass out "Huckabee for President" stickers to everyone. I guess all my years of passing our stickers for WBFJ at the Dixie Classic Fair did come in useful.

This is where I made what would be the most critical decision of the night. I could stay inside and mingle throughout the already crowed house and pass out the stickers which would require me having to start up conversations with people or I could go outside …

My Meeting With The Man Who Might Be President: Mike Huckabee (Part One)

Last week my friend Ginger emailed to say she was going to attend a Mike Huckabee fundraiser in Greensboro. The "gathering" is a $100-$2,000 per person event. Needless to say I didn't have the money to join her. So on a hunch I emailed the Huckabee folks and told them who I was (a young Baptist pastor) what I did (youth, college, and young adult ministry) and what I've done (served as a presidential volunteer when President Bush came to Kernersville in 2005 - you can read all about that in my blog archive for December '05) I also told them that I'd love the opportunity to meet Mike but there was no way I could afford the cost of the gathering. The Huckabee folks emailed back and said they would pass my email along to the fundraiser host and if they would/could let me join them then they would be in touch. A week went by with no word and to be honest I had forgotten all about it. Then yesterday I receive an email from the fundraiser host informing me that that…

My Time On The Farm

My friend Bob Lightner recently planted a church (May '07) and has found what I think is a very unique nitch for reaching the unchurched. His church is call "Philadelphia Fellowship" ( www.phillyfellow.com ) and is geared toward people who enjoy the outdoor, farming lifestyle. Not that you have to live or work on a farm to enjoy his church, you just have to have a desire to sometimes get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and want to slow down for at least a couple of hours a week. He took a barn on his 93 acre property and converted it into a very nice place of worship. Last night his congregation held the first of a two night living nativity. My family decided to go check it out and was very impressed with what they had done both as a Christmas outreach to their community and as a new church plant.

Having planted a church I know how hard it can be find your God given gifts and then find the right target group for those gifts to be fully utilized. Bob and the p…

My Forever and Ever

nuff said.

My Football Love'n Weekend

To me one of the best parts about the extended Thanksgiving holiday is the seemingly 24/7 football you can watch on TV. Most years the games are meaningless or rather boring but this week featured 3 of the best games I have seem in a long time. First was Arkansas' 3OT thriller over #1 ranked LSU, then the 4OT defeat of UK at the hands on Tennessee. And not to be outdone the NFL had one of their best games of the year last night when Chicago came from behind to defeat Denver in OT. What a great weekend for football fans.

To top it off Wake crushed Vanderbilt on their way to their 8th victory of the season (only the 5th time in school history they have reached that mark) and back to back bowl births for the first time ever. Right now it looks like Wake will be in the bowls at either Charlotte or Nashville. Beth and I have decided that which ever game they go to we'll be there. I'm hoping for Nashville!

During my many hours of football gluttony this past weekend, I heard some a…

My Black Friday 2007 Recap

As always, I made my way out into the frenzied crowds this morning for little holiday shopping. Here's a brief recap of highlights and low lights...

3:45am: Wake up
I threw on some clothes and headed out to my first destination - Kohl's

4:10am: Kohl's
This year Kohl's broke with Black Friday tradition and opened at 4am, one hour before the next major group of stores including Walmart. I usually hit Kohl's first just because it is an easy in-and-out store. With the new earlier start time this experience was anything but that. When I arrived the parking lot was full. I had to park at an adjacent store just to find a spot. Once inside the shoppers were fast and furious, trying to get what they needed so they could head off to their next big store opening. After standing in line for 20 minutes at the jewelery counter, I was told that the jewelry I wanted...err Beth wanted... was not located there but in another part of the store. What?? How can jewelry not be in the jewelr…

My Fair Tax Explanation

A friend ask me what is the "Fair Tax". Since this will be one of the top issues in the upcoming election, I'll do my best to explain it.

First, here is the definition from www.fairtax.org

What is the FairTax plan?
The FairTax plan is a comprehensive proposal that replaces all federal income and payroll based taxes with an integrated approach including a progressive national retail sales tax, a prebate to ensure no American pays federal taxes on spending up to the poverty level, dollar-for-dollar federal revenue neutrality, and, through companion legislation, the repeal of the 16th Amendment.

The FairTax Act (HR 25, S 1025) is nonpartisan legislation. It abolishes all federal personal and corporate income taxes, gift, estate, capital gains, alternative minimum, Social Security, Medicare, and self-employment taxes and replaces them with one simple, visible, federal retail sales tax administered primarily by existing state sales tax authorities.
The FairTax taxes us only on wha…

My Political Darkhorse (Part Deux): Mike Huckabee

Several months ago I asked my friend Ginger, who is very involved in politics, to point me toward a candidate she thought might appeal to me. She immediately mentioned Mike Huckabee. I had never heard of the guy and after doing some research it became very apparent 99% of people being polled had never heard of him either. So I casted him off as a nice guy with the some good ideas that would never have a chance of winning.

Now we fast forward to November 16th and two polling stats are worth looking at. Mike Huckabee who was an unknown former governor of Arkansas a few months ago is now second in the Iowa polls at 24% (just 3% behind the leader Romney) and is tied with Romney nationally. The amazing thing about his campaign is that Romney has spent over $10,000,000 on television ads in IA, NH, and SC. Huckabee has spent $0.

Again, I'm not ready to throw my support behind any candidate but here is Huckabee's stance on the major issues. You can find out more at http://www.mikehuckab…

My Big Small World

"It's not such a small world, after all" by Catherine Bodry

"Although the Disney company doesn't admit that plus-sized tourists are causing "It's a Small World" boats to bottom out, longtime Disney watcher Al Lutz notes that "heavier than anticipated" loads have caused boats to come to a standstill on more than one occasion. The problem has become common enough that Disneyland has built a platform next to one tricky area where boats commonly get stuck. Disney denies that weight issues are the cause of stuck boats. Instead, the company suggests that "layers and layers" of fiberglass have built up where maintenance teams have patched and re-patched problem areas. Nevertheless, "It's a Small World" will be getting an inch more of water, and some lighter boats. The ride will be closed for ten months beginning in January 2008."

Disney is really in a bad spot here. If it were me and I'm sure Disney would rather do…

My Lego Commandments

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I'm currently right in the middle of a sermon series on the Ten Commandments. I was reminded of a web site I found years ago by a guy who is putting together the entire bible with Lego's. The web site is called "The Brick Testament" and can be found at www.thebricktestament.com

Some of his stuff is very graphic. Which I think is way cool. The Bible is one of the most graphic books you can read and kudos to this guy for not hiding the rawness of it. He has each passage labeled if it contains sex, nudity, or violence. He holds nothing back. The Lego interpretation is directly word for word from the Bible.

Here's a peek at his take on the Ten Commandments...

#1 & #2. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything

#3. You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God,

#4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy

#5. Honor your father and your mother

#6. You shall not murder

#7. You shall not commit adultery

#8. …

My 2007-2008 ACC Basketball Predictions

Last night my family and I had the chance to share in something special. We loaded up the car and headed out to the "Joel" for the opening game of Wake Forest's 2007-2008 season. But the night was much more meaningful then just another opening season game. Last night was all about our late Skip Prosser who passed away suddenly this past July. With the honoring of his family at mid court, to the announcement that the ACC distinguished service award would be renamed the "Skip Posser Award", to a video tribute, to the unveiling of a commemorative banner in the rafters of the "Joel", it was a night I am proud to say I was able to witness first hand.

Onto the game...I didn't have clue what to expect out of this team as far as talent or emotion. But boy did I LOVE what I saw. I know Wake was only playing Fairfield but the talent and execution of their game plane was light years ahead of the past two Wake teams. They played with confidence and a "let…

My Pride and Prejudice

Last night I attended East Forsyth’s production of “Pride and Prejudice”. I’ve never read the book or seen any of the 100 movie adaptations of it and honestly only went to support two of the students form my youth group. All in all I had a great time and thought all the students involved did a wonderful job with it.

Top eight highlights from my trip to see Pride and Prejudice”:

8) Drama teacher getting the mic and blasting the students for talking during the play. Quote: “If you have to talk you have to leave!!!”
7) Students then “ssshhhhing” very loudly when the lights went back down.
6) Drama teacher yelling on the mic with the lights off, “That’s not helping!!”
5) Kaylyn explaining to me that if Beth and I rented and watched “Pride and Prejudice” then we’d have sex. (Beth and I not Kaylyn and I)
4) Melinda being denied entrance into the auditorium until she finished her candy.
3) Catching Lindsay’s kiss with “Mr. Darcy” on my cell hone then posting it on You Tube.
2) Lindsay & Shekinah…

My No. 200 - The Office Preview / Review

Tonight on The Office:

INTO THE WOODS-SPECIAL GREEN WEEK EPISODE - After Ryan excludes Michael from a corporate wilderness retreat, Michael heads into the woods for his own survival adventure with nothing but the suit on his back. Back at work, Jim tries to revolutionize the office birthday party.

Highlights from last week:

Michael Scott: You cannot take the hilarious black guy from the office. Stanley is part of what makes this branch extraordinary. The blusy wisdom, the sassy remarks, the crossword puzzles, the smile, those big watery red eyes. I don't know how George Bush did it when Colin Powell left.

Oscar: Besides having sex with men, I would say the Finer Things Club is the gayest thing about me.

Michael Scott: Look, this is very hard for me but I am going to give you my best man. You may have Toby.
Karen: Toby's not a salesperson.
Michael Scott: You can train him! He's very, very smart and funny and charming... Lehhargh! You know, I can't do it. Toby is the worst. Tha…

My Political Darkhorse: Ron Paul

Last week someone in my neighborhood put out two "Ron Paul for President" signs in their yard. When I got home I asked Beth if she knew who this "Paul" guy was and she had never heard of the guy either. But like countless other Americans each day, I now know who Ron Paul is and for the first time this year I'm actually intrigued by one of the 2008 presidential hopefuls.

If you were like me and had no clue who Ron Paul was/is, then check out the following news article and clip I found online:

"This morning, a collective gasp of dismay was heard coming from the Republican party candidates for president. The news? Texas congressman Ron Paul has set a new GOP single-day fundraising record. In a 24-hour period Mr. Paul raised $4.2 Million dollars through on-line donations. The astonishing total suddenly has people wondering: Is this guy for real? Though he may not win the Republican nomination, his candidacy can no longer be written off as "the longest of lo…

My Shameless Plugs

Over the course of the past few years I've had the privilege of meeting and working with some wonderful musicians. Two such very talented artist I'd like to pass along are Cindy Johnson and Bethany Crooks.

Cindy and I met a few years ago when I was the speaker at a camp for the week and she was the worship leader. Since then we have become good friends and she has come several times to lead worship at The Refinery. Cindy is a national award winning artist and has opened up for bands such as Jars of Clay and Point of Grace.

You can check her out here: http://myspace.com/cindyjohnsonmusic

Cindy will be returning to The Refinery @ Main on Sunday, December 9th for our 11am service.

I discovered Bethany Crooks a couple of months ago when her manager emailed me to inform our church of an upcoming concert in our area. After listening to her on her website I thought I'd give her a try and invite her to lead worship at The Refinery. No one was disappointed. To only be a Junior in high …

My Office Preview & Review

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Tonight on the Office...

BATTLE OF THE BRANCHES - When Karen tries to woo Stanley away from Scranton, Michael fights back, dragging her ex, Jim into his war. Meanwhile, the existence of a "Finer Things Club" further disturbs Dunder Mifflin's calm.
Last week on the Office... Andy: Best ad ever, 'gimme a break, gimme a break, break me off a piece of that--' I am totally blanking. What is the thing?
Jim Halpert: Nobody tell him!
Andy: Wh- no, why?
Jim Halpert: You got it. You're so close.

Dwight Schrute: Second Life is not a game. It is a multi-user, virtual environment. It doesn't have points, or scores, it doesn't have winners or losers.
Jim Halpert: Oh it has losers.

Dwight Schrute: I signed up for Second Life about a year ago. Back then, my life was so great that I literally wanted a second one. In my second life I was also a paper salesman and I was also named Dwight. Absolutely everything was the same. Except I could fly.

Michael Scott: Little girl, in a f…

My Movie Review: "Into the Wild"

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"Into the Wild", Jon Krakauer's book detailing the final two years of drifter/adventurer Chris McCandless, is one of my top three all time reads. So when I heard last year that Sean Penn was working on a movie adaptation this quickly became my most anticipated film on '07. I was trying not to get my hopes up. The book was so amazing that surely there was no way Penn could recreate such a moving and soul stirring story. What I discovered was he not only met the books magnificence but may have exceeded it.

Sean Penn's beautifully filmed "Into the Wild" will capture the soul of any true lover of nature, adventure, and mystery. Christopher McCandless, the film's central figure, completely cuts himself off from his dysfunctional family to pursue a life in the wild. McCandless (perfectly portrayed by Emile Hirsch) is a real person, following the call of the wild in his heart, while, at the same time, punishing his family and deftly avoiding the deep emotio…

My Night At the Office

Tonight begins the regular 30 min episodes of The Office. I've gotten quite spoiled having an hour each week of the best comedy on TV. I've really enjoyed how the show has evolved. if you go back and watch season one, the shows style is now night and day from it's original format. Both are very good, but different. The show now digs deeper into story lines and isn't afraid to use outlandish if not improbable situations to push it's trademarked awkwardness. It reminds me a lot of Seinfeld in the way that as the show matures, the story lines have grown from a short 30 min situation comedy to one that has streams of story lines flowing through several episodes. The Office has gotten better with age.

Tonight's preview is this:
THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF ADVERTISING - When the Scranton branch is asked to participate in a Dunder Mifflin ad, Michael seizes his chance to exhibit his creativity. Meanwhile, Dwight explores the online world of Second Life.

In case you've mis…

My TV, Movie, Book, & CD Reviews

TV

Carpoolers
I tuned in to the show without much enthusiasm, since I had not seen or heard anything about the show at all. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised. Laugh out loud moments, an original premise, and well-developed characters. The episodes are progressively getting better every week! I really hope they keep this one on the air. 3 Stars

Cavemen
You take the caveman make-up off and it's just another show about some guys and what they do. There are a few jokes in there about them being cavemen, but they are very forced. There is no real struggle with them being cavemen. They have jobs, getting phd's, hot blond girlfriends. Where is the struggle. I thought about "The Munsters". They were misfits that people were afraid of and didn't understand, but THEY didn't know it, which is what made it funny. These are normal guys that just happen to be cavemen. The commercials were funny with the premise, but it wore thin very quickly. Skip it. 1 star

Movies (DVD)

The Invis…

My Quest For Peace

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A friend of mine that teaches at a local university quizzed his students on the fact that Al Gore was nominated for the Nobel Peace prize. Two-thirds failed the question by guessing he wasn't. Not only was he but then he goes and wins the Noble Peace Prize for his fight against global warming.

Before my democrat / liberal friends start accusing me of making this a political statement let me assure you it has nothing to do with politics. Heck, Rush Limbaugh was nominated too and I think he deserved to be picked less then the Mr Internet Inventor Al. So no, this is not a political slam.
Most know my thoughts on global warming: I think it's a myth with no hard evidence to prove otherwise. For every "scientist" that says they believe in global warming there are 5 more that disagree. Whether it's real or not isn't the issue, what is the issue is that from now on the names Mother Teressa, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Al Gore can and will be used in the same sentenc…