Words for me today

2 Cor 5:16-21

From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 

It's not anything I did.

I'm Not a Christian, But I'm Coming to Your Church This Sunday

Everyone should read this blog:

Okay I’m not a Christian, but I’ve finally made the decision to come to your church this Sunday. Don’t expect much from me though. If something comes up I might not, but right now I’m planning on it. I feel like I need to go, but I’m not sure why. I want to tell you a few things about myself before you meet me.

via I'm Not a Christian, But I'm Coming to Your Church This Sunday | The Resurgence.

Terrific Resources about Human Trafficking

This is a subject I've wanted to get more into, because the idea of it crushes my heart. Sex trafficking isn't something that happens in Thailand or some other third-world country - it happens here, in the United States, all the time. And there's not nearly enough being done about it. Terrific article in the New York Times this past week by Nicholas Kristoff. In his companion blog, he offers a suggestion to resolving this epidemic:

The approach that seems to be gathering steam is the Swedish model, in which johns are prosecuted but the women/girls themselves are treated as victims and are given social services but are not prosecuted. The advantage of this is that it cracks down on demand, which in turn reduces the incentive for trafficking girls in Sweden. A growing number of countries are moving to adopt that approach, and police officials in New York City are studying it as well.

Another great story by NPR about prostitution in the United States (warning - this is a straightforward report. Not for the uber-sensitive).

The Faith Experience

When I see people who face real life tragedy full of faith, sure in Christ, I think, "Wow. What must they have been through in their lives to be that way." I think I understand. I don't want to have to have faith. It hurts to learn.

When God allows us to go through trials, it's not so that God can see how much we can handle. The same Bible that says that God allows us to be tried says that God will not test us with more than we are able to handle - and whatever He has allowed to come your way, He already has the resolution worked out.

Do you understand? God knows what you're made of - He knows how much you can handle.

So the purpose of the trial isn't for you to show God what you can handle - it's for God to show YOU what you can handle.

That's not an original thought, but it was new to me.

So while Heidi and I are home, and Lincoln is in the hospital, God is showing us our strength to teach us what to do when we're weak.

I like to do things myself. I like to deal with problems. I don't like avoiding people. I don't like beating around the bush. I don't like when there's an elephant in the room. I don't have patience for that sort of thing. When there's a problem, I like to handle it. If something's broken, I want to fix it.

I can't fix Lincoln. He has to beat the infection himself.

I can't repair Lincoln's lungs - he has to learn to breath on his own.

I can't tweak his internal thermometer - he has to gain weight to be able to keep himself warm.

I can't fix his low calcium or his high bilirubin levels - I have to let his body mature and grow through it.

I'm powerless. I stand by my son's bed, hoping for good news, but I can't do it. He's starting an antibiotic treatment for the next seven days. I can't talk it up. I can't turn the tide through force of personality of power of my will. I can't. I stand by, weak.

Faith, I suppose, is when submission meets powerlessness. I can't do anything, but I know someone who can. I've seen God work in the lives of others - my brother nearly died as a newborn/infant. But he's great now. In the past 3 days, I've heard countless stories from families who have endured similar situations and found God to be faithful, bringing their kids through and seeing them grow up. I've been encouraged by their testimony and moved by their love for Heidi and Lincoln and me. So faith, at this moment, is me saying, "God, I can't. I just can't. I'm too weak. I'm too tired. I simply don't have a way. But I know You can. I know You're able, because I hear testimony of what You've done in the past. Please, God, heal my son. Give him strength. Make him strong. Give Heidi and I peace during this difficult time. Help us to grow in You during this trial. Help us learn to trust You more."

Please, keep us in your prayers. Pray for Lincoln, because we want him to be healthy. Pray for Heidi, because she needs to continue to heal. Pray for all of us, because we need peace.

As I Look At Those Eyes...

lincoln, daniel, brad, titus, blog, heidi, titus, boruff, baby, newborn, kids, children, parenting, fatherhood, premie, premature, premee, wishard, memorial, hospital, nicu, intensive care, ICU ...I see trust, because he's never been betrayed.

...I see hope, because he doesn't know how to quit.

...I see faith, because he doesn't know how to doubt.

...I see peace, because he doesn't know strife.

...I see perfection, because he doesn't know sin.

News About Lincoln - Day 3

Wow. Life is busy. Sorry, everyone, that I haven't been updating, but I hardly have time to sit! Heidi got to see Lincoln for the first time about 8 hours after he was born. We visited him Thursday morning at about 3:00 am, and he was awake, so we talked to him and prayed with him, and I sang him to sleep. Thursday morning around 11:00, Heidi and I held Lincoln for the first time. As I sat there and looked into his face, I saw my whole world complete in that little guy. Never in my life has my heart felt so full of joy and love - I'm completely overwhelmed by the emotions and the feelings. Heidi and I are so blessed. Since I know what you all want, here's a picture of Lincoln; I'll update you all on the status after the latest pic of my beautiful son.

lincoln, daniel, brad, titus, blog, wishard, hospital, premature, baby, premie, boy, son, childbirth, CPAP, feeding, tube, pulse, oximeter

Last we talked, I told you about the criteria required for Lincoln to be able to go home: He had to be able to breathe on his own, eat, and maintain his body temperature (at around 98 degrees fahrenheit, they tell me). So here's what's up:

This Is the Air I Breathe

Lincoln is off the CPAP machine! Here's before:

lincoln, daniel, brad, titus, blog, wishard, hospital, premature, baby, premie, boy, son, childbirth, CPAP, feeding, tube, pulse, oximeter

And here's after:

lincoln, daniel, brad, titus, blog, wishard, hospital, premature, baby, premie, boy, son, childbirth, CPAP, feeding, tube, pulse, oximeter

It's an amazing difference, isn't it? When I went to visit Lincoln on Thursday morning, he had been taken off the CPAP. He was breathing on his own! What you see in his nose now is a nasal canula - just little tubes that blow air up into his nose. But there's no back pressure there, and he's breathing on his own with great O2 stats! When I saw it, I cried. So did my friend Jessica who was there visiting with us.

There have been a couple hiccups on the path to perfect respiration: Lincoln had a few episodes early Friday morning where his breathing was shallow and his O2 stats dropped down a bit. The nurse said that he recovered well on his own, which is great news, but we want to see him breathing well without any episodes or concerns. We're continuing to pray with him for his continued progress and development.

Get In My Belly!

Great news - Lincoln is eating! On Friday morning, they took the tube out of Lincoln's mouth that was draining leftover "stuffs" in his belly and inserted a feeding tube up through his nose. He is eating about 12 CCs of mommy's milk every three hours or so, and he's had a couple of dirty diapers now - we're super excited! Tonight, while he was feeding, Heidi and I were able to hold him and talk to him. It's such an amazing time. Lincoln is on the fast-track for the food (which, I have to say, is genetic on the Titus side).

Is it hot in here, or is it me?

Lincoln's external body temperature needs to hold steady at around 98 Fahrenheit (the hospital measures in centigrade, but those numbers are all European to me). Currently, he's been under a warmer that keeps him in about there. I went home this morning and washed some of his blankets, and when I got back, they wrapped him up in them to see if he could stay warm while swaddled. They took his temperature a couple of times tonight, and he was at 97 or a little lower, so they unwrapped him and put him back under the light.

According to the nurse, keeping the body warm burns a lot of calories, so it's important that while Lincoln is still trying to grow and gain weight, they don't want him to be hampered by warming himself. I totally get it, and I'm super cool with doing whatever we need to do to help Lincoln gain weight and grow. The nurse warned me that we may, at some point, come in and see Lincoln in an incubator. This isn't a sign that he is doing poorly; rather, it's just designed to keep him warm so his body can store fat and calories - this is how he'll grow.

So that's how he's doing. Like his daddy, Lincoln has no problem getting food down. He does, however, need to develop his lungs a little more and he needs to gain some weight in order to keep himself warm. So that's our prayer request - that Lincoln will continue to grow and develop and gain weight so he can come home to us. I talked to the pediatrician who has been with him the past couple of days - Dr. Juan Acosta of Riley Hospital - and he was super-impressed with how quickly he is advancing. Initially, Dr. Acosta told us Lincoln would stay in the NICU until he was term - May 8. Then, we were told that he was better than expected, so maybe about three weeks. After seeing him advance the past two days, Dr. Acosta told me this afternoon that Lincoln will probably only be in the NICU for about a week or so. We're so excited!

Also, say a blanket prayer for all the babies in the NICU. Lincoln is doing so very well, and Heidi and I are so blessed because of it. Friday, while Heidi and I were sitting with and holding Lincoln, we started feeling sorry for ourselves because we'll be going home Saturday without a baby in our arms (or, more appropriately, legally and securely buckled into a safety seat and driven home with incredible caution). While we sat there in the NICU forgetting about how great Jesus is, the place turned into a frenzy of action - a mother was delivering her baby at only 25 weeks old. Immediately Heidi and I looked at each other and thanked God for all of his blessings, and said a quick prayer for the new mommy and baby in that situation. We have so much to be thankful for.

Heidi and I go home tomorrow, and I'll update again soon with more pictures and any new details. You can get more regular updates on twitter.com/bltitus; you can see ALL the pictures of Lincoln at facebook.com/bltitus or at flickr.com/bltitus. Thank you to everyone for all your love and prayers.

About Lincoln: Updates on Heidi and my son

Today, at 5:16 pm, my son, Lincoln Daniel was born. He weighed 5 lbs 8 oz, and we haven't had a chance to measure him yet. He was born 5 1/2 weeks premature, and was breach, so he was born via cesarean rather than traditional childbirth. Heidi is doing great. She was a champ, and I'm super proud of her. She's worn out - naturally - but she's in great spirits and is recovering from the procedure very well. Kudos to the team at Wishard Hospital for a terrific, professional, and friendly experience on the single most frightening day of my life.

Because Lincoln was born early, his lungs are a bit underdeveloped. He is on a CPAP machine to help him breathe. The good news is that he's NOT on oxygen - he's breathing room air. So the CPAP machine is simply keeping the airway open - he is respirating well. That said, the pediatrician will be stepping down the pressure on the CPAP tonight, and by morning, Lincoln may be breathing completely on his own. I appreciate any and all prayers to this end.

Also, because he was early, Lincoln can't eat yet - he's on an IV for nutrition. Hopefully, once he's off the CPAP, he will be able to eat.

Heidi will be in the hospital for about three days - we hope to be home Saturday night in time to root (very calmly) for Butler in the Final Four. Lincoln, however, will be in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) until he can breathe on his own, eat, and maintain body temperature. While we want Lincoln to get all the care he needs, we are eager to take him home and to make him part of our lives. We appreciate all your prayers during this time.

On Stardom

miley, cyrus, miley cyrus, billy ray cyrus, hannah montana, justin beiber, justin bieber, haircut, justin bieber haircut, justin bieber middle finger, justin bieber first kiss, drugs, pot, weed, marijuana, celebrity, achy breaky heart, gq, gq magazineI just finished reading the GQ interview with Billy Ray Cyrus. It’s heartbreaking.

The interviewer seemed a too jaded, unable to share the pain of the subject. Either that, or he doesn’t believe that Cyrus feels the pain (or even has a right to. And maybe that’s it. The writer sees Miley’s situation as a joke, as not serious, and thus is unable to empathize with Cyrus’s concerns).

But I think I can understand, at least a little bit. When I see the young pop starlets flash and burn out, my heart breaks. It seems like Hollywood has become a voyeuristic culture of self-loathing and Schadenfreude, sadistically taking pleasure in the destruction of young lives.

I don’t enjoy borrowing from the far-right Evangelical worldview, which often smacks of isolationism and self-victimization, but I can’t help but share a nuanced version of their ideology: Hollywood and all of it’s trappings are poison; not just to the audience, but to the participants. Their souls are crushed; young, talented dreamers full of potential and hope are exploited for their talents, then made pariahs in their inevitable flame-out. And all of us are to blame.

We love them because they’re new and not famous, just like us. We love the story that got them there, because it’s our dream, too - to make it big. But once they’re big, like crabs in a tank, we hate them for the same success we dream of, and we take sick satisfaction in watching them self-destruct under the pressures of the fame, in the ever-watching eye of the paparazzi.

Maybe we’re to blame. I work for a web company that tracks and responds to popular news, and never in my life have I heard so much talk about Justin Beiber. We covered his birthday, his haircut, the subsequent auction for the shorn locks, his first kiss, and that he flipped off photographers who wouldn’t leave him alone.

I don’t care about Justin Beiber. I guess he’s a talented kid, and he’s acted on a couple of shows that my wife and I watch on TV. But I don’t care about the details of his life. He’s being scrutinized in a way that no kid should ever have to be. I remember me at 17; I certainly wouldn’t have wanted that much attention. How can society ever expect these kids - who we foolishly call role models - to grow up to be decent adults when they aren’t given room to, well, grow up?

You’ve heard of the observer effect - the act of observing a phenomenon changes it - and never is that more true than in the case of these children. We watch them struggle and fail, then turn and criticize the parents for not raising them better. For his part, Cyrus admits that he was too much of a friend and not enough of a father to Miley, but his failure is as much ours. In a world dictated by shock-value and popularity, every time we log-on to see the latest public disaster, we continue to contribute to these children’s delinquency.

BOOK REVIEW - Churched (and e-book giveaway)

churched, jesus needs new PR, matthew, paul, turner, MPT, book, review, christian, christianity, baptist, methodist, pentecostal, apostolic, jesus, blog, post, book, review, giveaway, kindle, ereader, ipad, technology, free For anyone who grew up in evangelical Christianity, reading the stories of Matthew Paul Turner (Twitter link) will bring the memories flooding back. His funny storytelling, weaving tales of his childhood as he tells his story of spiritual growth and development.

I first came to know of MPT through his blog, Jesus Needs New PR, where MPT posts some of the absurdities of the very diverse, very amusing body of Christ. He pushes the envelope and holds some views that, undoubtedly, people will find offensive, but he's always raising a serious point - if these are the people who are supposed to be representing Christ in this world, then, seriously, Jesus needs new PR.

At any rate, I downloaded Churched: One Kid's Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess onto my Kindle, and while I didn't read it straight through, I did open it from time to time - usually in the evenings before bed - to read a chapter or two and have a good laugh.

MPT begins his memoir by recounting the story of moving from a Methodist church to a Fundamental Baptist Church. As he said, "[Mom] and Dad had come to the conclusion that God wasn't attending our old church and it didn't make sense to go to a place even God didn't want to go to." Funny stuff.

Churched is a great read. I definitely recommend it. Below are a couple of excerpts that I found especially hilarious:

On the Second Coming:

The way we saw things, it didn't matter that God had created the heavens and the earth--he did not want us excited about living here. A good fundamentalist worth his weight in guilt was quick to remind any skeptic that the world was going to hell in a handbasket.

On Clean Living:

I did learn on thing about having Jesus as a bodily tenant: he would not tolerate cigarette smoke. Mr. Parsons, the assistant pastor in charge of children's ministries, made that perfectly clear.

"Do you want to give Jesus cancer?" His voice was gruff and he put his hands on his hips. "Well, do you? Think about it, young people. Do you want to be the person responsible for giving God's Son cancer? Or how about emphysema?"

After his talk, Mr. Parsons stood at the door, shook our hands, and gave us Hershey bars. Jesus didn't mind getting fat.

On Salvation:

"Matthew Turner was one of two boys who asked Jesus into their hearts this morning," said Pastor Nolan during the announcements at church. "Four years old! Wow. I wish I'd known Jesus when I was four. Imagine what kind of Christian he's going to be when he becomes an adult. Can't wait to see that."

Again, it's a great book. You can buy it on Amazon.com for Kindle or in paper. For those of you who have a Kindle (or a Kindle app) and would like to read Churched, I have a single copy I can share. Comment on this blog and let me know, and we'll work to get the copy sent to you.

Guest Post: So You Think You Can Write?

I published a guest post on rickyleepotts.com titled "So You Think You Can Write," offering advice to young freelance writers hoping to dive into the market. It appeared on February 14. Take a look and tell me what you think! If you're interested in a free consultation, you can contact me. I offer free copywriting, editing, and SEO services to non-profit organizations.

Invention Idea: Interactive TV

tv, cable, interactive, television, interactive tv, interactive television, broadcast, broadcasting, comcast, cable, high speed, high definition, HDTV, remote, control, live, tv, at&t u-verse, uverse, at&t, attMaybe it already exists. I have AT&T U-verse, and it doesn't. When I'm watching TV, an advertisement comes on for another show that looks interesting - something I'd like to see. It could be expanded to cover a lot of different things - a movie promo, a concert, an event, a company, anything like that - but I want to limit this idea to additional TV programming because I think it would be really easy to implement.

When an ad comes on to promote another TV show that is coming up, I'd like to be able to press a menu button on my remote and pause the current programming. Open up the DVR programming and schedule and let me see when the show is on, add it to my DVR queue, or receive an alert when it is on.

You could expand this idea, too. If an ad comes on for a movie, let me press the same menu button and see current showtimes. A product? Go to the website or Amazon.com to order. Concert or event? Ticketmaster.com. This isn't a big stretch - nearly all of the cable providers are also internet providers. The TV box can have an internet browser built in that enables this.

I think this is would be a terrific idea for U-Verse or Comcast to implement into their service. If either company wants to hire me as a consultant, let me know!

The Death Penalty

death, penalty, indiana, indianapolis, IMPD, IPD, David, Moore, Officer David Moore, Thomas, Hardy, murder, murderer, guilty, old testament, jesus, bible, grace, new testament, revenge, capital punishmentI'm against it. There are people on both sides of the argument in the Christian community, and basically, I err on this side - it's not a sin to keep a guy in prison forever, and it may be sinful to kill someone, even if they commit murder. Sort of a variation on Pascal's Wager, perhaps, but it's where I land.

In Indianapolis, we recently had a tragedy - a criminal who had been in and out of prison for most of his adult life was released from prison early by error, and shot a police officer during a routine traffic stop. That officer ultimately passed away.

My emotional response is, "This guy should be dead." But I struggle with that, because its vengeful and from a place of anger and hatred. I don't know how to process it. A political voice in Indianapolis, Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, posted a blog on this issue:

Let's be honest, some people are just evil and have reneged on their membership to the human race and it's time for their privileges to be revoked. You may say the death penalty is wrong and two wrongs don't make a right, but it sure as hell makes it even.

Sadly, I can at least identify with this mindset. I don't fully agree, but the argument is compelling. So I ask this question - is there ever a time where someone is so evil, so wicked, that it is simply better for them to be dead?

Book Review: The Quotable Chesterton

G, K, Chesterton, GK Chesterton, G. K. Chesterton, G K Chesterton, Gilbert, Keith, Kevin Belmonte, Kevin, Belmonte, book, review, wit, witty, funny, humor, wisdom, knowledge, smart, christian, christianity, intelligent, intellect, george, bernard, shaw, book, sneeze, book sneeze, booksneeze, review, analysis, quote, quotation, theology, religion, christian, christianity, conservative, liberal, atheist, atheism, socialist, socialism G. K. (Gilbert Keith) Chesterton, a metaphorical and literal giant of his day (in addition to writing hundreds of books, poems, and essays, Chesterton stood at 6'4" and weighed 300 pounds) is still one of the most influential Christian writers of modern times. His book The Everlasting Man was key to the conversion of C. S. Lewis:

I read Chesterton's Everlasting Man and for the first time saw the whole Christian outline of history set out in a form that seemed to me to make sense. Somehow I contrived not to be too badly shaken. You will remember that I already thought Chesterton the most sensible man alive "apart from his Christianity." Now, I veritably believe, I thought - I didn't of course say; words would have revealed the nonsense - that Christianity itself was very sensible.

This book, The Quotable Chesterton, is a collection of Chesterton's quotes, organized by topic and complete with reference to the original source. This, of course, isn't meant to replace reading Chesterton's works, but rather, to provide the Chesterton fan with quotes and references to Chesterton's thoughts on a broad set of topics and themes. Some brief excerpts:

Atheism: Rossetti makes the remark somewhere, bitterly but with great truth, that the worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank.

Beer: Let a man walk ten miles steadily on a hot summer's day along a dusty English road, and he will soon discover why beer was invented.

Bigotry: Bigotry is an incapacity to conceive seriously the alternative to a proposition.

Cheese: Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.

Cleverness: Cleverness kills wisdom: that is one of the few sad and certain things.

Education: Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.

Politics: It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged.

Political Theory: That is my political theory: that we should make England worthy copying instead of telling everybody to copy her.

Of course, I could go on and on, but that would defeat the purpose. This is a fun book for the Chesterton fan, and a terrific reference for when you just need that quote, or a reference, or a one-liner to bring the point home. If you're interested in this book, please purchase through my Amazon Associate's link.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

QUOTE: What I Believe (or, Your Faith is Too Small)

madeline, l'engle, lengle, madeline l'engle, l engle, engle, l, a wrinkle in time, a, wrinkle, in, time, book, lewis, clive, staples, lewis, c, s, cs lewis, c s lewis, brad titus, brad, titus, bradley, titus, bltitus, b, l, titus, bltitus.com, bradtitus.com, christmas, joy, love, christianity, christian, religion, god, jesus, christ, jesus christ, mystery, mystery of godliness, holiness, faith, religion Madeline L'Engle:

What I believe is so magnificent, so glorious, that it is beyond finite comprehension. To believe that the universe was created by a purposeful, benign Creator is one thing. To believe that this Creator took on human vesture, accepted death and mortality, was tempted, betrayed, broken, and all for love of us, defies reason. It is so wild that it terrifies some Christians who try to dogmatize their fear by lashing out at other Christians, because tidy Christianity with all answers given is easier than one which reaches out to the wild wonder of God's love, a love we don't even have to earn.

I read L'Engle's book A Wrinkle In Time when I was in elementary school, but I feel like I need to rediscover her writings. I know she's somewhat of a universalist, but I think she was a peer and a friend of C. S. Lewis, who is my favorite author of all time.

But I like the quote - and it's a position I've been moving towards lately in some degree. Yes, there are things that we can know, but there is so much about God and eternity and life and creation that are so far beyond our comprehension and imagination ... sometimes we make Christianity too small and tidy. I have more to say on this issue, but it will have to wait for another blog post.

Net Neutrality - Why You Should Care

Net, Neutrality, obama, FCC, open, internet, steve, wozniak, woz, free, press, freedom, first, amendment, netflix, comcast, att, at&t, cable, modem, DSL, t1, t3, high, speed, data, wireless, wired, sprint, t-mobile, verizon, google, apple, android, iphone, ios, smartphone, os, ipad, searchImagine the following scenario: General Motors - the car company - owns several construction companies in the Midwest, and finances the building of roads and highways across Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Kentucky. They receive tax incentives to build, maintain, and improve these roadways, are granted exclusive rights to the roadways (so no one else can build a competing roadway), and they charge anyone who wishes to use these roads an access fee.

In an effort to bolster car sales, GM proposes the following rules: anyone who drives a GM car or truck (Chevy, GMC, Cadillac, Buick, Pontiac, or Saturn) is allowed to use the roadway for free. People who drive cars made by Ford or Dodge pay the same nominal fee, and anyone who drives a foreign car pays an additional "domestic roadway compatibility tax" that is a percentage of the value of the car being driven.

Because Toyota has been such an frustrating competitor to GM, all cars manufactured by Toyota are prohibited from being driven on the GM roadways. Anyone who owns a Toyota vehicle must instead purchase a "GM Roadway Authorized Vehicle."

Ridiculous, right? I'm sure most people would agree that this sort of scenario would be completely unacceptable. Even though GM did build the roadways, they did so while collecting kickbacks from the government (also known as your tax dollars), and then they turned around and charged you an access fee to be able to use the roads. There is no reason why GM should be allowed to limit what brand of automobile can be driven on the roadways. However, this is the same thing that is happening with Net Neutrality rules.

On Tuesday, the FCC announced new Net Neutrality rules that are so toothless, so vague, and so full of loopholes that the Internet Service Providers shouted with glee. Now, Comcast, AT&T, and other ISPs can dictate what you do on the internet, where you can go, and how quickly you can do it. What does this mean now?

It means that sites such as Netflix and Hulu - sites that ISPs hate because they use bandwidth - could be severely limited or even banned by an ISP. Or, they could instead promote their own video subscription site to the exclusion of other sites.

Another aspect of the failed Net Neutrality rules is that it doesn't offer consumer protection for wireless Internet access. What this means is that AT&T could prevent iPhone owners from browsing sales on Verizon's website, or that Sprint could prevent users from visiting ESPN.com, requiring them to use Sprint's services to check sports scores and news. You think that's far-fetched? How eager do you suppose AT&T is for iPhone users to watch Netflix over their 3g network?

Finally, changing these rules gives improved access to rich, established companies who can afford to pay higher access fees, leaving other sites to battle through a bottleneck to reach the end user. This means the next Internet start up, won't.

For more information about Net Neutrality, including commentary from industry experts, see the links below:

The only people who are happy with these rules (or who want to do away with them altogether) are the Republicans and the Industry. That's a sure sign that the consumer is getting hosed.

Net Neutrality is just the start of it. What's to stop a company from limiting access to anything critical of a bill that they like, or a politician that they endorse? The internet is about the free exchange of ideas, no matter how wacky or ridiculous. Letting business dictate what we can do online is dangerous, unAmerican, and just plain wrong.

Thanksgiving 2010: I'm thankful for ...

- my wife. She's smart, wise, compassionate, thoughtful, funny, sarcastic, and beautiful. I'd be lost without her.

- my family. They encourage me, love me, help me, and support me. I also like that they disagree with me, too. Keeps me honest.

- my health.

- God's provision, grace, mercy, and love.

- an amazing church family, both at Calvary and in Bloomington.

- a handful of great friends who I can trust with absolutely everything in my life. You guys are life rafts.

- the little things that make life fun.

- simple pleasures.

- my two dogs. They are great companions.

- my unborn baby. Future fatherhood has already changed my life.

- laughter.

An Altitude Problem (or, Planes That Don't Fly)

I was talking with my wife the other day, and her brother has never been in an airplane. She has, and her parents have, but my brother-in-law has never flown. I was thinking about that today, and I remembered a story that I read in Time Magazine awhile ago about a new twist on air tourism for the poorest citizens in New Delhi, India. For $4.00, these faux-travelers can cram into a 120-passenger plane, run through the emergency procedures, try on their life vests, drink a soda and eat peanuts, and sit for two hours ... all while they go nowhere.

The plane doesn't fly. But the price of a ticket is too high for many of the poor residents in the area, so they go through the motions of flying. For some, it is the experience of a lifetime and as close to flying as they will ever get., and for others, it is a crash course in airplane etiquette for when they eventually do fly. No matter what, however, the fact remains - this doesn't count as flying.

I've been in churches that lack altitude. You're there, and you go through the motions, and everything is just like it is supposed to be ... but there's no altitude. Nothing that lifts you higher, that takes you beyond where you are right now. The same songs, the same traditions, the same ... everything. But there's no real lift. It's hollow and empty and insincere. A church - a real, spiritual church - should soar. In a church service, where there is a real move of God, the people there should be caught up. You should never leave a church service in the same place you started. It doesn't count as church if you haven't flown.

This isn't about emotionalism - it's about transformation. It's not enough to have a church experience if the experience doesn't change the participant. Going through motions doesn't change anyone. An encouraging sermon of goodwill doesn't change anyone. Singing songs heard on the radio doesn't change anyone. The Spirit changes people. The Spirit gives altitude.

A plane that doesn't fly isn't really worth anything. Neither is a church with no altitude.

(if you want to read the story in Time - http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1684522,00.html)