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Never mention free food to a journalist. Whenever a kind soul brings food into the newsroom, my co-workers spring to life, pop out of their cubicles and dash like lemmings to the free offerings, with little regard for their  dignity. I’m different, in that I don’t sit in a cubicle. I usually try to not be the first to race for the food. I said I try. I do, though, show restraint, limiting myself to only one piece of chocolate. (One piece of each variety, to be clear).

Speaking of free food, Lakepointe Church in Macomb Township on Sunday, March 18, is celebrating its second year. After the 10:30 a.m. service, there will be a free luncheon for all guests. It will mostly be a great time to get to know the fine people at Lakepointe. If you are looking for a church to check out, I strongly recommend Lakepointe. I’ve talked with Pastor Scott Blanchard a couple times, and I have lots of respect for him, as well as Jared Sabo, who leads youth ministries at Lakepointe.


You’re most likely way ahead of me in hearing about the KONY 2012 video that is very viral.

The video already has 37 million hits and counting. According to this story by The Associated Press:

Despite an International Criminal Court arrest warrant and the deployment last fall of 100 U.S. Special Forces to four Central African countries to help advise in the fight against Kony, few Americans know who he is.

Myself, I find it more than coincidental that Joseph Kony is suddenly getting all this deservedly bad press. A day ago, my daughter asked me if I knew anything about this Kony guy. It rang a bell, yes, but I’ll admit I couldn’t quite place it. Then after 2o seconds of watching the video, it was one of those, “Oh, yeah, of course!” moments. Two days before that, I was reading “The Hole in Our Gospel,” a book on which our church based a series that has just concluded. (Well, sorta. It’s more like just the beginning.)

In the book, author Richard Stearns makes a reference to Joseph Kony and his KLA. Not anything in depth, but enough to spell out clearly what a monster Kony is. I just find it a little weird that I was reading about this guy two days prior in a book that was written two years ago.

What’s more, it  was about a month ago that I was visiting my Aunt Nell, whose daughter’s family has been on the mission field in Kenya, Uganda and nearby countries for most of their lives. Aunt Nell was telling me about how her grandson, who repairs trucks, had to be cautious about venturing into certain areas because that was the domain of the KLA, which is led by this monster Joseph Kony, who she said could barely be called a human. Like I said, just too strange to be coincidence.

The KONY 2012 campaign is a testament to the amazing power of technology and and increasingly interconnected world. I’d be ecstatic if a viral campaign like this could topple this evil regime. It’s frustrating to know that Kony and people like him have been perpetrating these horrors for years now. Nonetheless, the KONY 2012 effort could become a template for significant change in the world.

This weekend marks both the end and the beginning of a special four-week series at Kensington churches. The series is based on the book, “The Hole in Our Gospel,” written by Richard Stearns, president of World Vision U.S.  Kensington has intertwined the messages of the book with its outreaches already in place. The challenge for Week 3 was, “Think about water everyday.” You’d think that we’d think about water every day, but you must admit we take it for granted. There are probably a lot of us today who are thinking about how much we depend on power. I thought about water this morning because our dishwasher has died, and now I must wash the dishes the Old Fashioned Way, which, apparently, is a skill my children will never be able to grasp. I also heard a story this week about how in these United States, everyone west of the Mississippi will soon be coping, if they aren’t already, with a dwindling supply of fresh water. We are surrounded by the world’s most precious supply of fresh water. For this reason, I’m glad that the water monitoring system in southeast Michigan will continue to guard us. I used to complain about my ever-increasing water bills. They’ve gone from $30 a month when we first got here, to close to $130 a month now. I may still complain, but in reality, I’m so glad I have the option to pay for fresh water. When you get a few minutes, look at this video, and you will better understand how good we’ve got it.

At the end of each message, we were enticed to purchase an empty gallon jug for $5. The jug did not contain gas or milk, just air. But what a bargain! The picture at the top of this post is of the label attached to each jug. Many chose to give well above the five bucks, and many fetched more change from others by piquing curiosity about the empty gallons. As of Friday night, the people at Kensington had raised $125,000 — and counting! That money will be used to drill water wells for people in Pokot, Kenya. The author of “The Hole in Our Gospel” challenges us to think twice about what we believe is true. One of those “truths” is, there is nothing we can do to help the poverty of Third World countries. Give that some thought today and take a deeper look, because that “truth” may be a big lie.

I found the top two comments to this video very enlightening.

Here’s the first:

I always worry when I donate to charities like this. If you do this, give these people a well, is it going to lead to an increase in their population? The reason there is trouble is that there are too many people living in an area which can’t support them. So what then? We have two villages instead of one, and again we have trouble. So we give them another well? How about they control their population instead. I have seen what the population growth in Africa is like.

Followed by:

As a teen I cant do much but me and my friend are trying to find ways to raise money to donate. Keep up the good work!

Now it’s easy to me to say what a jerk that first person is, and say bravo to the teen with the big heart. But do I really have more hope than the first guy? I’d like to think so, but I’ll admit I’ve often felt there is nothing that can be done. I wonder how many times teens get their spirits crushed by the things we say?

As I said earlier, the series may be wrapping up this weekend, but the adventure may just be starting. The challenge for Week 4 is, “Be Part of the Solution.”

Here’s a confession. I never had Ramen noodles in college. Mac & cheese, definitely. By the truckloads. It was later I discovered the beauty of a seemingly harmless package of dried noodles with a mystical silver pouch stuffed somewhere inside. According to this article, Americans consume 4 billion packages of Ramen noodles a year! That stat will be skewered a bit upward on Wednesday. Kensington churches have challenged attendees to join the Hole in Our Gospel challenge. The second week of the challenge is A Hole in Our Menu. Each day has its own focus. Here is Wednesday’s:

Eat: Ramen Noodles 
Focus: Local Refugees
Southeast Michigan has a huge population of refugees from the Middle East. Many of these immigrants have suffered grave injustices and lived in places where they had little or no control over their lives. Many have lost family, friends and homes. They usually arrive with almost no money, possessions or understanding of American culture. They may not know English, and most lack access to a car – critical to getting employment. Thousands of Iraqi refugees who fled the war have gravitated to the Detroit area, home to America’s largest Arab population as well as a sizable Iraqi Christian (or Chaldean) community. Kensington is partnering with local schools and agencies to reach out in love and support for our new neighbors.

The idea is to try living on less than $2 a day, like 2.6 billion people do in this world every day. Take what you normally spend on food and give it to someone else. If you’re already in, I’m sure thank-yous are in order. If not, maybe give it a try.

Besides, Ramen noodles are the main ingredient to the most diverse dishes on the planet.

For guys, the words “marriage conference” can seem pretty scary. “Oh, boy! What did I do now?” is often our defensive response. Last weekend, my wife and I attended the “Love and Respect” conference at Christ the King church in Oxford. “Love and Respect” is the well-recognized mission of Emerson and Sarah Eggerichs. Along with many other couples, future couples and others wanting to learn, we viewed the DVDs of the seminars over two days. I was impressed and glad I attended. You see, “Love and Respect” explains to women — yes, better than we probably ever could — what makes guys tick, why we do the things we do. There is no pressure, guilt or anything in this series to make you uncomfortable. Lest you think this is slanted toward guys, have no fear. We also got a great understanding of how women are wired. You will learn things you do not know, I guarantee it. I highly recommend that you learn more, maybe read the book, find the series or consider hosting a conference at your church. I would also challenge non-Christian couples wanting a better marriage to give “Love and Respect” a chance. In fact, there is a conference coming up in Fowlerville on Feb. 24-25. Finally, thanks to the staff at Christ the King Church for being so hospitable, even during the worst snowstorm of the year.

Chrysler’s Super Bowl ad featuring Clint Eastwood was considered by many to be the best commercial of the big game. It certainly struck a chord in southeast Michigan. It’s a sequel to the wildly praised Imported from Detroit spot from last year featuring Macomb County native Eminem. As sequels go, at least this one was better than Grease 2.

Yes, it’s Halftime in America. That sounds like Obama’s campaign theme. This commercial was as much a campaign ad for Obama as an attempt to sell a Ram. The president has not shied away from noting his support for the auto bailouts, on which Chrysler mounted its comeback. There have been other Super Bowl ads that pull on the heartstrings. I can remember the Budweiser ads where soldiers returning from the war were greeted with building applause while walking through airports. It made us want to thank a soldier and drink a beer at the same time. Now, our rallying cry, the thread that unites us, is a Dodge Dart. I’m on board, especially if Blondie says I should be.

Clint Eastwood

"Be nice to each other and get along ... or else!"

I thought the Chrysler ad was a bit on the dreary side, but that seemed to be the theme this year for the Super Bowl. I felt more like I was watching Blade Runner. I should have seen it coming when the opening Bud Light commercial took on a serious tone. I was hoping a dog would jump in at the end and ask for sausages. That was followed by an extravagant vampire ad to sell headlights. Chevrolet actually intentionally made a post-apocalyptic ad, imploring viewers to buy a Chevy pickup and not a Ford if they want to make it through the Mayan mayhem, and received no small share of criticism for doing so.

But most of the controversy around here was saved for the “Made in China” campaign. Pete Hoekstra, challenging Debbie Stabenow for a Michigan Senate seat, arrived on the national stage and immediately stoked claims of being racially insensitive.

So, I guess the lesson is, Imported from Detroit is a slogan that works, Made in China doesn’t work? Next time, Mr. Hoekstra might want to hire Chrysler’s marketing department to run his campaign.

Maybe New England coach Bill Belichick should have shown the Chrysler ad in lieu of his halftime speech.

With all the hype surrounding Super Bowl Sunday, why let the opportunity slip?

Kensington church each year errs on the side of going overboard for Super Sunday services.Last year at Clinton Township, the service was played out in four quarters, with Kid Rock (wink) performing at halftime. Rory even penalized pastor Chris for using words from a previous sermon.

This year, the topic is (natch) Tim Tebow! Yes, why we love/hate Tim Tebow.

If you only attend church on holidays, maybe you’ll want to add this holiday to your schedule. Kensington never fails to deliver an entertaining Super Sunday service. And, I may add, never fails to drive home a message.

Last time I heard pastor Dave Wilson speak at Troy, the Lions chaplain had a few things to say about Tebowmania.

Being that nobody else has weighed in about Tebow, let me be the first. Well, there’s a chance I won’t be the first.

Unfortunately, I understand the hate for Tebow. Why isn’t there hatred for Jason Terry of the Dallas Mavericks? To me, he is far more outspoken about his beliefs, but I’ve never met at Jason Terry hater.

On the flip side, I think Denver is obligated to take an honest assessment of its future. If the Broncos get a quarterback the caliber of Andrew Luck, or  that Matt Flynn guy in Green Bay, how could they not go after them? Also, what if you had a receiver the likes of Calvin Johnson? Would you be happy with Tebow’s eight completions a game? I can tell you most NFL players would have a hard time playing in Tebow’s system.

Tebow, to me, proved all he ever needed to prove by getting the lowly Broncos into the playoffs and beating Pittsburgh. It may be the high point of his career. Hopefully not, but Tebow is mature enough to handle what comes his way. Tebow is an inspiration, and one sorely needed in our Jersey Shore society.

Click on that logo to go to the EACH website.

Just wanted to connect you with a great article by Annette Kingsbury on what’s in store for EACH.

She talked to Ron Risher, executive director of EACH, and Doug Schmidt, senior pastor at Woodside Bible Church in Troy.

The story emphasizes both the cooperation among Detroit area churches, and the outreaches planned.

“A huge group of metro Detroit churches and Christian organizations is taking that message directly to the community this year. They will spend the 40 days after Easter working to heal hard-hit parts of metro Detroit in what organizers believe is an unprecedented attempt to resurrect a community in its time of great need,” Annette writes.

When all is said and done, EACH will mean one million hours of service to metro Detroit. I’m thinking that could make a huge difference. Hope you’ll hop on board.

There’s another important facet to EACH: The 2 Word Story. I heard some this weekend, and they were awe-inspiring.I hope to hear many more! Here’s a vid that tells more about the 2 Word Story.

Kensington is making a big move this weekend. Two of its campuses, Rochester and Lake Orion, are merging and will meet as one at Lake Orion’s home, Lake Orion High School.

Carol Hopkins has the story.

Don’t mistake this for downsizing. Call it streamlining instead. Rochester has been meeting at Rochester Adams High School. In the short term, Rochester’s 1,800 visitors and Lake Orion’s 1,200 will have to share some space. After Easter, services will expand to three each Sunday: 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and noon. I love that noon service! That sleeping-in excuse just doesn’t fly.

Click on the pic to watch video. Becky Lee, Campus Director for Kensington Orion church inside the Lake Orion high school auditorium. Kensington church is merging both their Rochester Adams and Lake ORion congregations into one at Lake Orion starting this weekend. The Oakland Press/TIM THOMPSON

Somewhere on the horizon, sites are set on a big building becoming the permanent home to the Rochester-Lake Orion congregation.

“Plans are under way to acquire a building of our own in north Oakland County,” says church spokesman Karl Nilsson in the article. “If all goes well, we will move from Lake Orion High into an existing 72,000-square-foot warehouse located about one mile north of the Palace on M-24.”

BTW, if you haven’t made Good Friday or Easter plans yet, Kensington’s churches have some awesome services planned for the weekend.

Get your tickets now. They’re free, but going fast.

Last weekend’s Easter egg hunts across the area were a hit, even amid a downpour. If you missed them, don’t fret. Here’s two more (at least) this Saturday.

The first is at Heritage Church in Sterling Heights.

Did you catch the part about INDOORS?

And then there’s the Egg Drop at Lakepointe Church, which BTW has a cool new website. An Egg Drop, you ask?

The bunny can fly a chopper?

Kensington’s Clinton Township campus helped the bunny scatter tens of thousands of eggs last Saturday. The rain had no prayer!

egg hunt

Alanna Clark, 3, and her brother Ashton, 18 months, gather eggs during the event for 1- to 3-year-olds Saturday at the football field at Mount Clemens High School.

The 4- to 6-year-old group hopped to it. (Photos by Craig Gaffield, The Macomb Daily)

OK, so Easter is about much more than bunnies and egg hunts and those awesome Reese’s eggs! When my girls were young, we used plastic eggs to tell the Easter story. I stumbled across this vid that explains how.