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Peaceful Attending 
Wednesday, October 10, 2007, 08:33 AM - Extra Christy
Recently I was visiting a church member that could get no peace from phone calls with sales offers. It made me think about how one does one get peace. Is it the addition or presence of something or the absence of the noise of the crying phone and other distractions? If "Peace" was called during attendance taking, would it ever answer "Present"? Or would the noise of answering mean peace was absent?

The only way to be completely peaceful according to the "absence" view of the world's way of peace is to be dead. R.I.P. on gravestones stands for the Latin "Requiescat in Pacem" "may he rest in peace". Finally! No sales calls! This is the peace that this world offers.

Yet Jesus gives us peace in this life. For Christians Peace is a gift, it is the presence of the Holy Spirit, and that is something! Seeking to get to nothing, to be free of everything, is different than to receiving peace as positive presence in the world. In worship, we greet one another with a wish for the presence of peace, "Peace Be With You" and the response "And also with you". Folks in the Mideast, both Muslim and Jew, greet each other with a wish for peace. Peace is not just an absence of conflict but a presence of justice, understanding, integrity, and even love which makes no room for war and strife.

Peace is right relationships with God and neighbor, not an escape from relationship into a solitary hole. It is living life in harmony not seeking the still quiet of death.

"There is no way to peace, peace is the way." said A. J. Muste. Make the presence of peace alive in your life today.


Peace is a Gift

I give you peace, the kind of peace that only I can give. It isn't like the peace that this world can give. So don't be worried or afraid. -John 14:27 (CEV)



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Adjusting Halo 
Wednesday, October 3, 2007, 08:00 AM - Extra Christy
Angels are no longer the first image when Halo is mentioned. Halo is now associated with a series of computer battle games played against (and with!) computer driven characters, on-line groups, or networked computers.

Halo 3 went on sale last week and brought in a record setting $170 million in sales on its first day. (The previous first day record was held by Halo 2 at $125 million.) More than 1 million people played Halo 3 on-line on the first day, this all according to Paul McDougall in an article in Information Week.

In a Wired.com article by Clive Thompson, Damian Isla, half of the duo who built the smarts of the computer characters in Halo 3, admits that, at first, the artificial intelligence produced chaos when the virtual marines were ordered to go from here to there. "They'd be running into each other and getting in each other's way and doing all kinds of crazy (stuff)," Isla says.

Each marine character in the game had been programmed to navigate around trees, boulders, and other landscape features. The problem is that they treated the other marines as part of the landscape: obstacles to avoid. So Isla taught the program to recognize other marines as fellow travelers, not stumbling blocks, and the marines started "slowing down for each other and sort of coordinating their movement and actually looking like they're aware of each other."

Games are enjoyable partly because they model life. Even a war game can teach us the benefit of treating other people as persons with goals in common with our own. Everyone suffers when folks are seen as obstacles or dismissed as merely the landscape for our life. Chaos becomes order with the addition of the recognition of a shared purpose, when people become real to us in community and not just part of the background of our solitary life.

Teammates not Obstacles
Stop being bitter and angry and mad at others. Don't yell at one another or curse each other or ever be rude. Instead, be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ. -- Ephesians 4:31-32 (CEV)


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Kiwanis President's Dinner Invocation 
Friday, September 28, 2007, 04:00 PM - Prayers
Gracious God, we pray for leaders in Kiwanis, in our community, in our nation and in the world.

Grant wisdom gained from reflection on the past, awareness of present needs, and courage to face the challenges of the future.

May we seek to solve problems instead of fixing blame, to build up and not tear down, and gather together in community rather than hide alone in fear.

We ask you to bless this food and this fellowship to give us strength to change the world one child and one community at a time. Amen.
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Let's Wrap It Up 
Wednesday, September 26, 2007, 08:00 AM - Extra Christy
Have you seen a wrapped car? These vehicles are "ad-wrapped" with a vinyl covering displaying images and messages of an advertiser. Free Car Media reports they pay drivers to drive the billboards on their own car or even give them a pre-wrapped car to drive.

There is a bit of a wait for most, about.com's Apryl Duncan reports that "Free Car Media has more than 30 wrapped cars on the road and a waiting list of 100,000 people."

What catches my eye is how they select the .03% that get wrapped in an rolling ad (and why 99.97% of the applicants are waiting). The wrappers want to know who you are and what you do. What is your age, gender, race, hobbies, marital status, income, children, occupation, driving habits...and that is just the preliminary application. There is also training involved so you can be a spokesperson for the product. Your sponsors want you prepared to represent their product well. It is all about sales after all!

Been wondering if there is a Bible verse that covers this situation haven't you? Never fear! Christians get wrapped as well. Ephesians recommends armor instead of graphic laden vinyl, but it is advertising as well as a protective covering! Christians are encouraged to wear truth, justice, good news, peace, salvation, and the gospel so they can fearlessly explain the mystery of the good news to others in a world that is hostile and dismissive to our sponsors message.

There is no waiting period to be wrapped in salvation and peace and start advertising the good news to others. May your God wrap continue the person to person marketing of the good news to others.

God Wrap

Finally, let the mighty strength of the Lord make you strong. Put on all the armor that God gives, so you can defend yourself against the devil's tricks. We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world. So put on all the armor that God gives. Then when that evil day comes, you will be able to defend yourself. And when the battle is over, you will still be standing firm. Be ready! Let the truth be like a belt around your waist, and let God's justice protect you like armor. Your desire to tell the good news about peace should be like shoes on your feet. Let your faith be like a shield, and you will be able to stop all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Let God's saving power be like a helmet, and for a sword use God's message that comes from the Spirit.

Never stop praying, especially for others. Always pray by the power of the Spirit. Stay alert and keep praying for God's people. Pray that I will be given the message to speak and that I may fearlessly explain the mystery about the good news. I was sent to do this work, and that's the reason I am in jail. So pray that I will be brave and will speak as I should. -- Ephesians 6:10-20 (Contemporary English Version)



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A Fine Sign 
Wednesday, September 19, 2007, 08:02 AM - Extra Christy
A few miles from the church I serve there is a street sign: Maximum Fines Imposed. That's all. I hope that another part of the sign is missing; one that specifies what will incur the imposition of the maximum fines.

I think folks see this sign on churches: Maximum Fines Imposed. Inviting folks to church is received by some like a bench warrant for spiritual arrest and a threat of "soulitary" confinement. For them church offers no guidance, no support, no comfort, just a place to be maximally fined for spiritual offenses. They are fearful of being found out that they are not perfect.

What would be a good sign for churches? Maximum Love Imposed? How about Rest Stop or Fueling Station?

Those would be good. But for the person feeling the threat of heavenly fines hanging over them for offenses known and unknown, probably not enough. What about the guilt, the judgement, and condemnation? All of us have sinned and fallen short and, for some, that is all they can feel when they consider the church.

Maybe a picture of a cross, with the edited caption, Maximum Fines Already Imposed. Folks need to know the Good News that the judge himself has paid their fines, both real and imagined. Now that's a fine sign.

Maximum Fine Paid
This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; -- John 3:16-17 (Message)


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