Saturday, December 29, 2007

Reefer Madness

I live in Denver, Colorado where there is a push by certain groups to legalize or minimize the penalties for marijuana use. One group uses the term “safer” as their motto. I think it has two uses. Many people will vote for something they don’t know anything about because it will make us safer. The organization using the slogan says that marijuana use is safer than alcohol use.

I’ve had a lot of personal experience in the use and effect of marijuana. I was around fourteen years old when I tried it for the first time. I fell in love but for two years, my use was limited by availability. At around sixteen, I used it more and within a year was smoking every day, all day. I was also selling so I had unlimited availability and some cash as well. This continued until I became a Christian at eighteen.

As I look back, I see two major problems with marijuana: it makes you stupid and lazy. You can even see that in movies that are sympathetic to pot use. The characterization is usually the goofy mess-up.

When I was smoking daily, that is all I cared about. My day was centered on pot. I had zero ambition concerning anything else. I had money and I had dope, that is all that mattered. My friend and I had great plans for the future but neither of us did anything to make it happen. The only constant was making sure the next pound was bought and that enough customers were serviced to keep the cycle going.

I came across some studies recently that cast an even darker light on pot use. It seems that the studies are showing that regular pot use can lead to psychosis. I’m going to give some quotes. If you are interested further you can look up the cites for more info.

Does Cannabis Cause Schizophrenia?

A meta-analysis suggests that cannabis use is associated with a 40% increased risk of psychosis in later life.

The risk for psychotic outcomes (defined as a range, with schizophrenia as the most severe manifestation) was higher in individuals who had ever used cannabis (adjusted odds ratio, 1.41) than in those who had not. A dose-response effect was observed, with increased risk in people who used cannabis most frequently (OR, 2.09).

— Leslie L. Iversen, PhD

Dr. Iversen is Visiting Professor, Department of Pharmacology, University of Oxford.

Published in Journal Watch Neurology November 27, 2007

Cannabis and Psychosis: Two Studies

Evidence for the association is consistent across population-based studies, and cannabis use is associated with later worsening of psychosis.

Comment: Clearly, cannabis use is associated with heightened risk for onset or worsening of psychotic symptoms. Degenhardt et al. point out that their study showed only a small increase in psychotic symptoms in people with psychotic disorders and daily cannabis use. However, cannabis use is a modifiable risk factor and is associated with increased rates of use of other illicit drugs, which may also worsen psychosis. The evidence seems sufficient to justify warning people of cannabis-associated risks and to try to minimize its use by patients with psychotic disorders.

— Deborah S. Cowley, MD

Published in Journal Watch Psychiatry September 17, 2007
As I look at these studies and my personal experience, I have many reasons to oppose loosening the reigns on marijuana use. However, I don’t think any of it would mean anything to someone who wants to get high. They are in a different world. I know; I have been there.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Jamie Lynn Spears

This is Britney's sister. Until last week I didn't know she existed. Now I know that she is 16, pregnant and the father is her boyfriend.

"It was a shock for both of us, so unexpected," she said. "I was in complete and total shock, and so was he."

Well I assume it wasn't a virgin birth so I don't understand the shock. I guess it must be the thinking that "it couldn't happen to me."

What really amazes me is the pseudo shock that the media is expressing. Are we to believe that the average Hollywood actress, 16 or not, is abstaining from sex? The reality is that most pregnancies like Jamie's end in abortion.

As the church in general, we don't have much room for outrage either. Statistically, twenty-four percent of abortions are done on women who identify as evangelical Christian. Depending on who you listen to, either a majority or a high percentage of youth group girls are sexually active and many of the resulting pregnancies are covered up by abortion.

So back to Jamie...I sure don't condone her situation but it is kind of amazing that she hasn't dealt with it by abortion.

We have to ask ourselves if the typical youth group girl would make the same decision or if she would feel that abortion might be easier.

It's difficult, but we have to learn to mix a stand for righteousness with compassion and forgiveness.

Of course, we should help them understand that even if they believe that sex is only for marriage, if they don't have proper boundaries, sex is almost inevitable. Their heart may say one thing but privacy mixed with aroused passion can get out of control very quick.


Friday, December 21, 2007

Don’t Borrow Trouble

From my morning reading.

You have a disagreeable duty to do at twelve o'clock. Do not blacken nine, and ten, and eleven, and all between, with the color of twelve. Do the work of each, and reap your reward in peace. So when the dreaded moment in the future becomes the present, you shall meet it walking in the light, and that light will overcome its darkness. The best preparation is the present well seen to, the last duty done. For this will keep the eye so clear and the body so full of light that the right action will be perceived at once, the right words will rush from the heart to the lips, and the man, full of the Spirit of God because he cares for nothing but the will of God, will trample on the evil thing in love, and be sent, it may be, in a chariot of fire to the presence of his Father, or stand unmoved amid the cruel mockings of the men he loves.

George MacDonald
From Daily Strength for Daily Needs
- Mary Tileston

One of my wife Wendy’s favorite sayings is, “don’t borrow trouble”. She will say it when I am talking about something that may or may not happen in the future. Her words and the above words are a reminder to live well in the present. Do what needs to be done now and deal with the future when and if it comes.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Agenda for 2008 Democratic National Convention

7:00 pm Opening flag burning

7:15 pm Pledge of Allegiance to the U.N. in Spanish

7:20 pm Ted Kennedy proposes a toast

7:25 pm Nonreligious prayer and worship with Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton

7:45 pm Ceremonial tree hugging

7:55 pm Ted Kennedy proposes a toast

8:00 pm How I Invented the Internet – Al Gore

8:15 pm Gay Wedding – Barney Frank presiding

8:35 pm Ted Kennedy proposes a toast

8:40 pm Our Troops are War Criminals – John Kerry

9:00 pm Saddam Memorial Rally – Cindy Sheehan and Susan Sarandon

11:00 pm Ted Kennedy proposes a toast

11:05 pm Collection of Osama Bin Laden kidney transplant fund – Barbara Streisand

11:15 pm Free the Freedom Fighters from Guantanamo Bay – Sean Penn

11:30 pm Oval Office Affairs – William Jefferson Clinton

11:45 pm Ted Kennedy proposes a toast

11:50 pm How George Bush Brought Down the World Trade Towers – Howard Dean & Rosie O'Donnell

12:15 pm "Truth in Broadcasting Award" – Presented to Dan Rather by Michael Moore

12:25 pm Ted Kennedy proposes a toast

12:30 pm Satellite address by Mohmoud Ahmadinejad

12:45 pm Nomination of Hillary Rodham Clinton by Nancy Pelosi

12:50 pm Speech and toast by Hugo Chavez to the departure of "the great satan", G. W. Bush

12:55 pm Hillary proposes a toast to our 89 million new Democratic Mexican voters

1:00 am Ted Kennedy proposes a toast

1:05 am Coronation of Hillary Rodham Clinton

1:30 am Ted Kennedy proposes a toast

1:35 am Bill Clinton asks Ted Kennedy to drive Hillary home.

Thanks to my friend Dave Rupert for sending me this.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Mio Auto GPS

I am amazed. I bought an auto GPS on Monday and am in wonder of what it can do. In my business, I am at a different location every day and sometimes several in one day.

I have had a set of maps from Mapopolis on my Palm handheld since 2001. The company hasn’t issued an update since 2005 so on occasion I can’t find a location as it is newer than the map. I couldn’t find a comparable map product since.

I first started looking at an auto GPS about a month ago. I didn’t want to spend a fortune but a must have feature for me was text to speech. This is so the GPS gives the names of the streets and not just “turn right at next intersection.” Most of the cheaper ones don’t have that.

I came across the Mio C230 and found that it had everything I wanted. It normally runs about $200. I saw it on sale at Radio Shack for $150 (till December 24). It’s very easy to use and makes navigation to the most obscure locations a breeze. With what I know now, I wouldn’t hesitate to spend the whole $200 if I had to. You can find them on Amazon for less than $200 as well.

Today I drove about 70 miles, which is much more than normal. I had three locations to go to. If you know the Denver metro area I was in Morrison first, then southeast by Park Meadows then west by Colorado Mills. I know all three areas fairly well but in each case, the exact location where I had to go was a little obscure. The Mio made it easy. Before I left this morning, I entered each address and it took over from there. On Friday I am going to Highlands Ranch and if you have ever navigated there you know a map or exact directions is essential. It will be easy now.

So if you get around a lot, an auto GPS can be an incredible tool. I have mine mounted in my work van but I can pop it out, put it in my shirt pocket and head out. It’s about 3.5 inches square and less than an inch thick. It will also be great for long bike rides next spring. I can see my wife wanting to use it as many times she asks me how to get to some location around town. As easy as it is to use, anyone can pick it up and be an expert navigator.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Goodbye Matthew Murray

I had the privilege to be at Matthew Murray’s funeral. It wasn’t announced, only family and friends were invited. There were several hundred people, every seat filled and many standing.

I spent a lot of time staring at Matthew’s picture on the front of the program. I looked deep into his eyes and wondered what went wrong with that young man. So many tried to reach him, to love him and yet it wasn’t enough.

I wondered how you do a funeral surrounded by such tragic circumstances. I was amazed. What came across was God’s incredible love, grace and forgiveness.

We heard stories from friends and family about Matthew and of what he meant to them. It was obvious that he was loved and will be missed by many people.

We heard about the meetings between Matthew’s family and the families of the YWAM victims. Love and forgiveness were poured out.

For many the pain will never end. Friends and family are dead. Questions will go unanswered. Lives will never be the same.

Another message from the funeral was a reminder of what Christmas is all about. Jesus came into a sinful world to bring redemption. He reaches out to each of us, wanting to free us from our bondage. We can be free and He wants to make us free yet many refuse the offer. Tricked by the lies of the devil some never experience freedom. Innocence turns to hardness. Hurt turns to bitterness. Lives are not what they could have been.

We were encouraged to take the message of love, grace and forgiveness out into the world with us. That is something we can do. Those of us who have experienced it first hand can make a difference. We can demonstrate God’s amazing love to a hard, hurt and bitter world.

Goodbye Matthew, I didn’t know you very well but my remembrance of you will cause me to live different in this world.


Here is an article about Matthew’s family.

Monday, December 10, 2007

When Homeschoolers Kill

People were killed yesterday at YWAM and at New Life Church. I heard of it in the afternoon.

This morning on talk radio, I heard people calling in and saying they thought a homosexual did it. Their reasoning was that New Life and YWAM were opposed to homosexuality so some poor oppressed person was striking back at them.

Now we know the killer had been homeschooled. I wonder if the critics are disappointed. Now they will have to switch gears and talk of the poor oppressed homeschooled kid.

I know the killer’s parents. We used to go to church with them. Matthew Murray, their son, was in one of my son’s Sunday school classes when they were very little. We had continued contact with the family through the years in homeschool circles and various events with common friends.

I didn’t really know Matthew but a way to describe him was “dark.” He always seemed troubled and I know his parents were always trying to figure out what to do. I can’t even begin to think of what they must be going through.

When my wife and I were married, we established a Christian home. We followed Jesus and were going to raise our children to follow Him too. We figured that everything would turn out well. Of course, we have had a rude awakening and many disappointments. We have a daughter who is a prodigal. She wants to figure things out her own way. She has had a lot of heartache and our prayer is that some day she will come to her senses and realize that all she ever wanted is what God has provided.

I know what it is like to have a child go the wrong way. I’ve seen it happen in many other good families as well. Children exercise their free will and they don’t always do the right thing.

Matthew Murray went to the extreme. When it all comes out, I think we will find out that he wasn’t just a kid who went the wrong way. Some will say he had mental problems and others will say that he was demon possessed. He could have found healing in Christ but something kept him away.

Pray for his parents, their life will never be the same.


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Death Comes Quickly – Part 2

This ten-year-old girl was killed last week. She was caught in the crossfire of a gang shootout involving her parent and some other people.

What brings me to write is an article in today’s paper showing a very nice school picture (above left) and the principal of her school’s comments. She knew the girl in the school picture. The girl represented by her parent’s MySpace page (above right) appalled the principal.

The shooting could have happened across the street from me. A household of gang members lives there. I wrote about them in Death Comes Quickly. At this point in time they are on their best behavior. They were about to loose their welfare housing, etc so they are doing their best to hide their true colors.

Look at the pictures below. They are from one of the boy’s MySpace pages. Their little sister is being trained from a young age to flash gang signs. She is part of a gang family. That will be her identity long before she understands what it means.

There was a shooting in front of their house a few months ago. Some of their friends shot at a car that was driving by. The friends took off on foot. When the police arrived, they wouldn’t even tow the shooter’s car. It didn’t matter that we saw all this happening out of our front window. The police took off after about 20 minutes. I guess a shooting isn’t enough, you must need a dead body. A few minutes after that a guy came and drove the car off.

The whole thing did bring some heat on the gang house. So now they are laying low. Instead of parking in front of the house, people will park down the street. The danger remains but I guess that's a risk of gang life. It’s sad how many innocent people are killed in the gang shooting crossfire, many times kids. People get upset but as time goes on, they forget about it until the next killing.

This isn’t the first and it won’t be the last. I do hope it doesn’t happen to the little girls across the street and especially not to my kids.


Monday, December 3, 2007

Rick Warren is off the Reservation

Rick Warren is off the Reservation

I thought this is a very good post from the LTI blog. Not just the part about Rick Warren but how people become the self-anointed spokesman for whatever.

How easy it is to think that because we are good with one thing that we can be good with everything. That is one lesson I have learned as a handyman. I can do many things very well and there are a lot of things I leave alone. It's good to know your limitations. It keeps you from getting in over your head.

I had a friend who was on a Focus on the Family broadcast in the early 90's. He had become very popular in the prolife movement. He told me that as they walked down the hall to the studio, James Dobson advised him, "don't believe your own press." Sadly, he didn't listen and became very arrogant over time.

We all get our 15 minutes of fame and sometimes a little more. Don't get used to it and don't sell out to keep it going.