Thanks Jordan for sending this great things to think about

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Short-Term Missions

(Tony Meridia,

I recently read through Engaging the Church: Analyzing the Canvas of Short-term Missions, which is a practical book on short-term mission efforts commonly emphasized in the church. Temple has a number of short-term trips every year, and I was helped by reading some of the selected chapters. One chapter in particular is called "Short-Term Trips Are Great, IF...."
Here are some helpful reminders:

  1. Short-term missions are great if volunteers remember that the career missionary knows the field better than they ever will.

  2. Short-term missions are great if participants remember that their primary responsibility is to be servants to the missionaries and national partners.

  3. Short-term missions are great if they increase the mission spirit of the church back home.

  4. Short-term missions are great if they call people into career service.

  5. Short-term missions are great if volunteers remember to give God all the glory and the missionary credit for the planning, preparation and labor that made their trip a success.

  6. Short-term missions are great if they are never viewed as substitutes for career missions.

I would add a number 7 to the list (mentioned elswhere in the book); namely, that short-term mission teams work great if there is a long-term commitment to an area, and communication is sustained with the long-term missionary. One of the new emphasis at Temple is the fact that are short-term trips are plugging into long-term commitments with various ministries in Ukraine, London, East Asia, East Africa, Puru, and other places.

Another helpful set of reminders is provided by Jim Lo in a chapter entitled "What Have We Done?" Lo shares four reasons why short-term missions have gotten out of hand. We will do will to keep these in mind:
  1. Lack of Training - Even though we "are all missionaries" sometimes Christians leave for other countries without adequate training. This includes everything from apologetic training to social customs and physical fitness training. Often Christians go to foreign countries and complain about the food, the amount of walking, etc. They end up being a distraction rather than a help in these cases.
  2. Tourists or Servants - Lo is also concerned that mission trips are sometimes "spiritualized vacation trips." Mission teams must go with a mindset of service and help.
  3. Self-centeredness - Lo provides some expressions of American self-centeredness like our quest for immediate results in evangelistic presentation, which is sometimes more about personal glory the the good of others. Another example is wanting to go on a trip because it is a new location or other selfish reasons that have nothing to do with the Gospel.
  4. "Youth Camp" Mentality - Lo cautions us to guard against taking youth who are unready for the mission field. Granted, many of our students will do well, but unprepared students may create more of a headache for the long-term missionary. If students must be "entertained" then they are not ready for certain experiences.

These are some helpful reminders for us as we seek to make disciples of all nations.

May God be gracious to us and bless usand make his face to shine upon us, Selah2 that your way may be known on earth,your saving power among all nations.3 Let the peoples praise you, O God;let all the peoples praise you! (Ps. 67:1-3)

2nd interesting article of the day, take it with a grain of salt

Tuesday, February 24, 2009
I have become fascinated by what's going on economically. I have been reading a lot trying to keep up and really enjoying finding out more. I found another article about our current financial times that I though was very interesting.

10 Ways To Survive Without a Bailout

  • Monday February 23, 2009, 8:06 am EST

If you haven't qualified for a bailout by now, your chances are sinking fast. Washington has spent just about all the money it can stomach for awhile and done its best to give something to everybody. If you're not in a line for a tax cut or housing rebate or mortgage modification or green-energy job, you may have little choice but to wait for the next financial meltdown.

But who says the whole solution has to be about jobs and money? There are plenty of ways to while away a recession and maybe even bail yourself out in the process. Such as:

1. Fix something. Look around your house. There are plenty of things that don't work right. Maybe it's something old and mechanical, like a blender or the bike you haven't ridden in years. Or maybe it's something new and digital, like a camera or a laptop with a virus. You used to pay somebody else to fix things like this, or just trash the offending gizmo and buy another one. But now you're cutting back on extravagances. So find the manual, or download it, and tackle the job yourself. And when you start to feel comfortable with your new repair skills, come over to my house and help with my pile of projects.

2. Learn how we got into this mess. For people who don't work in the financial industry or the news media, the financial crisis is hard to comprehend. But new resources are emerging that do a good job of demystifying esoteric stuff like subprime lending, mortgage-backed securities, credit-default swaps and all the other things that helped cause the recession. The nonprofit Milken Institute has published a dry-sounding report - "The Rise and Fall of the U.S. Mortgage and Credit Markets" - that's actually a concise, readable explanation of how the housing boom and bust produced the worst recession in at least a generation. A new book by Dave Kansas, The Wall Street Journal Guide to the End of Wall Street As We Know It, tracks the crisis back to its roots in the S&L debacle of the 1980s - in merciful plain English. Other useful primers are sure to materialize soon. A better understanding of what happened won't end the recession, but it will make you a lot smarter about your financial life and other decisions in the future.

4. Start a blog. Feel like adding your voice to the growing national rant? This is how. A lot of hosting sites, like, are free, while others, like, charge a few bucks a month and give you more control. If your friends like what you have to say, your blog will gain popularity. If they don't, then it's better that you channel your vituperations into cyberspace anyway. And there's a good chance you'll discover other bloggers who feel the same way you do.

[Find out how to skirt taxes and still land a plum job.]

5. Solve a problem. We've all become experts at complaining about the problems that ail America. How about solving one? Start small. Mediate a family spat or help a struggling student raise his grade by a notch. When you get bogged down, pretend you're Tim Geithner or Ben Bernanke trying to solve the foreclosure epidemic: Sure, you could dither forever trying to figure out the fairest outcome for everybody. But you might die of old age first, while the problem mushrooms. So do a little something now instead of waiting for a universal solution to materialize later.

6. Make a movie. Decent digital videocameras cost less than $200, and less than $100 used. Software for adding background music and special effects is cheap, or free. Your movie doesn't have to be great - in fact, it probably won't be. But it will fire up some synapses that have been dormant or dedicated to worry, and it will be fun to see it on YouTube. Combine with No. 3 above, and you'll discover the most profitable industry on the Internet.

7. Stop using clichés. Please, no more economic tsunamis or Ponzi schemes for awhile. Stop throwing out the baby, with or without the bathwater. Everybody knows the party's over, so you don't need to keep reminding us. Stop looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. And if you feel the audacity of hope or some variation, keep it to yourself. Mouthing clichés is a hard habit to break, because these well-known turns of phrase often express ideas in more vivid terms than most people can come up with on their own. But speak a little slower and give it a try. Maybe by the end of the recession, we'll be a more eloquent nation. Bonus points go to anybody who can come up with fresh words to replace "bailout," "stimulus," and "shovel-ready." (Send nominations to

8. Innovate. Come up with a better way of doing something. You don't need a business plan or investors, just some keen observational powers and a bit of cleverness. Maybe there's a better way to clean up after your dog. Or get your groceries home without using plastic bags. Or plan a week's worth of school lunches for your kids. When you feel like you've actually done it, say so in your blog or just mention it to friends. Even if you don't get paid for it, you'll find it satisfying. And who knows, you might discover the kernel of a business idea.

9. Babysit for a working Mom. Everybody's got it tough. They've got it tougher. Just an hour or two of extra childcare per week could ease a great deal of stress. Tell yourself you're doing it for the children of the world. If you really want to be a saint, do it for a single working Mom.

10. Help fix capitalism. Spend your money smarter. Pay as you go. Ask a million dumb questions until you're sure you understand what you're getting into. Take intelligent risks, but ask yourself what could possibly go wrong - and have a plausible backup plan in case they do. Shame the deadbeats by outperforming and outmaneuvering them. Most of all, solve your own problems instead of hoping that somebody else will. Because there will never be a bailout big enough to cover everybody.

Oh a world without sbarro or Krispy K, and 6 flags yeesh, Fargo has neither...

5 Companies That Might Not Survive 2009

February 06, 2009 09:29 AM ET

Corrected on 2/9/09: An earlier version of this article used the wrong company name for Apollo Management and gave the wrong year for real estate declines.

Who’s next?

With consumers shutting their wallets and corporate revenues plunging, the business landscape may start to resemble a graveyard in 2009. Household names like Circuit City and Linens ‘n Things have already perished. And chances are, those bankruptcies were just an early warning sign of a much broader epidemic.

Moody’s Investors Service, for instance, predicts that the default rate on corporate bonds – which foretells bankruptcies – will be three times higher in 2009 than in 2008, and 15 times higher than in 2007. That could equate to 25 significant bankruptcies per month.

We examined ratings from Moody’s and data from other sources to develop a short list of potential victims that ought to be familiar to most consumers. Many of these firms are in industries directly hit by the slowdown in consumer spending, such as retail, automotive, housing and entertainment.

But there are other common threads. Most of these firms have limited cash for a rainy day, and a lot of debt, with large interest payments due over the next year. In ordinary times, it might not be so hard to refinance loans, or get new ones, to help keep the cash flowing. But in an acute credit crunch it’s a different story, and at companies where sales are down and going lower, skittish lenders may refuse to grant any more credit. It’s a terrible time to be cash-poor.

That’s why Moody’s assigns most of these firms its lowest rating for short-term liquidity. And all the firms on this list have long-term debt that Moody’s rates Caa or lower, which means the borrower is considered at least a “very high” credit risk.

Once a company defaults on its debt, or fails to make a payment, the next step is usually a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. Some firms continue to operate while in Chapter 11, retaining many of their employees. Those firms often shed debt, restructure, and emerge from bankruptcy as healthier companies.

But it takes fresh financing to do that, and with money scarce, more bankrupt firms than usual are likely to liquidate - like Circuit City. That’s why corporate failures are likely to be a major drag on the economy in 2009: In a liquidation, the entire workforce often gets axed, with little or no severance. That will only add to unemployment, which could hit 9 or even 10 percent by the end of the year.

It’s possible that none of the firms on this list will liquidate, or even declare Chapter 11. Some may come up with unexpected revenue or creative financing that helps avert bankruptcy, while others could be purchased in whole or in part by creditors or other investors. But one way or another, the following 15 firms will probably look a lot different a year from now than they do today:

Rite Aid. (Ticker symbol: RAD; about 100,000 employees; 1-year stock-price decline: 92%). This drugstore chain tried to boost its performance by acquiring competitors Brooks and Eckerd in 2007. But there have been some nasty side effects, like a huge debt load that makes it the most leveraged drugstore chain in the U.S., according to Zacks Equity Research. That big retail investment came just as megadiscounter Wal-Mart was starting to sell prescription drugs, and consumers were starting to cut bank on spending. Management has twice lowered its outlook for 2009. Prognosis: Mounting losses, with no turnaround in sight.

Claire’s Stores. (Privately owned; about 18,000 employees.) Leon Black’s once-renowned private-equity firm, Apollo Management, paid $3.1 billion for this trendy teen-focused accessory store in 2007, when buyout funds were bulging. But cash flow has been negative for much of the past year and analysts believe Claire’s is close to defaulting on its debt. A horrible retail outlook for 2009 offers no relief, suggesting Claire’s could follow Linens ‘n Things – another Apollo purchase – and declare Chapter 11, possibly shuttering all of its 3,000-plus stores. (Update: See this response from Claire's.)

Chrysler. (Privately owned; about 55,000 employees). It’s never a good sign when management insists the company is not going out of business, which is what CEO Bob Nardelli has been doing lately. Of the three Detroit automakers, Chrysler is the most endangered, with a product portfolio that’s overreliant on gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs and almost totally devoid of compelling small cars. A recent deal with Fiat seems dubious, since the Italian automaker doesn’t have to pony up any money, and Chrysler desperately needs cash. The company is quickly burning through $4 billion in government bailout money, and with car sales down 40 percent from recent peaks, Chrysler may be the weakling that can’t cut it in tough times.

Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group. (DTG; about 7,000 employees; stock down 95%). This car-rental company is a small player compared to Enterprise, Hertz, and Avis Budget. It’s also more reliant on leisure travelers, and therefore more susceptible to a downturn as consumers cut spending. Dollar Thrifty is also closely tied to Chrysler, which supplies 80 percent of its fleet. Moody’s predicts that if Chrysler declares Chapter 11, Dollar Thrifty would suffer deeply as well.

Realogy Corp. (Privately owned; about 13,000 employees). It’s the biggest real-estate brokerage firm in the country, but that’s a bad thing when there are double-digit declines in both sales and prices, as there were in 2008. Realogy, which includes the Coldwell Banker, ERA, and Sotheby’s franchises, also carries a high debt load, dating to its purchase by Apollo Management in 2007 – the very moment when the housing market was starting to invert from a soaring ride into a sickening nosedive. Realogy has been trying to refinance much of its debt, prompting lawsuits. One deal was denied by a judge in December, reducing the firm’s already tight wiggle room. [Update: See this response from Realogy.]

Station Casinos. (Privately owned, about 14,000 employees). Las Vegas has already been creamed by a biblical real-estate bust, and now it may face the loss of its home-grown gambling joints, too. Station - which runs 15 casinos off the strip that cater to locals - recently failed to make a key interest payment, which is often one of the last steps before a Chapter 11 filing. For once, the house seems likely to lose.

Loehmann’s Capital Corp. (Privately owned; about 1,500 employees). This clothing chain has the right formula for lean times, offering women’s clothing at discount prices. But the consumer pullback is hitting just about every retailer, and Loehmann’s has a lot less cash to ride out a drought than competitors like Nordstrom Rack and TJ Maxx. If Loehmann’s doesn’t get additional financing in 2009 – a dicey proposition, given skyrocketing unemployment and plunging spending – the chain could run out of cash.

Sbarro. (Privately owned; about 5,500 employees). It’s not the pizza that’s the problem. Many of this chain’s 1,100 storefronts are in malls, which is a double whammy: Traffic is down, since consumers have put away their wallets. Sbarro can’t really boost revenue by adding a breakfast or late-night menu, like other chains have done. And competitors like Domino’s and Pizza Hut have less debt and stronger cash flow, which could intensify pressure on Sbarro as key debt payments come due in 2009.

Six Flags. (SIX; about 30,000 employees; stock down 84%). This theme-park operator has been losing money for several years, and selling off properties to try to pay down debt and get back into the black. But the ride may end prematurely. Moody’s expects cash flow to be negative in 2009, and if consumers aren’t spending during the peak summer season, that could imperil the company’s ability to pay debts coming due later this year and in 2010.

Blockbuster. (BBI; about 60,000 employees; stock down 57%). The video-rental chain has burned cash while trying to figure out how to maximize fees without alienating customers. Its operating income has started to improve just as consumers are cutting back, even on movies. Video stores in general are under pressure as they compete with cable and Internet operators offering the same titles. A key test of Blockbuster’s viability will come when two credit lines expire in August. One possible outcome, according to Valueline, is that investors take the company private and then go public again when market conditions are better.

Krispy Kreme. (KKD; about 4,000 employees; stock down 50%). The donuts might be good, but Krispy Kreme overestimated Americans' appetite - and that's saying something. This chain overexpanded during the donut heyday of the 1990s - taking on a lot of debt - and now requires high volumes to meet expenses and interest payments. The company has cut costs and closed underperforming stores, but still hasn't earned an operating profit in three years. And now that consumers are cutting back on everything, such improvements may fail to offset top-line declines, leading Krispy Kreme to seek some kind of relief from lenders over the next year.

Landry’s Restaurants. (LNY; about 17,000 employees; stock down 66%). This restaurant chain, which operates Chart House, Rainforest Café, and other eateries, needs $400 million in new financing to finalize a buyout deal dating to last June. If lenders come through, the company should have enough cash to ride out the recession. But at least two banks have already balked, leading to downgrades of the company's debt and the prospect of a cash-flow crunch. (Update: Moody's recently upgraded its long-term outlook for Landry's - but maintained the company's short-term liquidity rating - after the company refinanced some of its debt.)

Sirius Satellite Radio. (SIRI - parent company; about 1,000 employees; stock down 96%). The music rocks, but satellite radio has yet to be profitable, and huge contracts for performers like Howard Stern are looking unsustainable. Sirius is one of two satellite-radio services owned by parent company Sirius XM, which was formed when Sirius and XM merged last year. So far, the merger hasn't generated the savings needed to make the company profitable, and Moody's thinks there's a "high likelihood" that Sirius will fail to repay or refinance its debt in 2009. One outcome could be a takeover, at distressed prices, by other firms active in the satellite business. (Update: Sirius recently averted a bankruptcy filing when Liberty Media took a 40 percent stake in the company.)

Trump Entertainment Resorts Holdings. (TRMP; about 9,500 employees; stock down 94%). The casino company made famous by The Donald has received several extensions on interest payments, while it tries to sell at least one of its Atlantic City properties and pay down a stack of debt. But with casino buyers scarce, competition circling, and gamblers nursing their losses from the recession, Trump Entertainment may face long odds of skirting bankruptcy. (Update: Trump Entertainment declared bankruptcy on Feb. 17 but said it will continue to operate normally.)

BearingPoint. (BGPT; about 16,000 employees; stock down 21%). This Virginia-based consulting firm, spun out of KPMG in 2001, is struggling to solve its own operating problems. The firm has consistently lost money, revenue has been falling, and management stopped issuing earnings guidance in 2008. Stable government contracts generate about 30 percent of the firm's business, but the firm may sell other divisions to help pay off debt. With a key interest payment due in April, management needs to hustle - or devise its own exit strategy.

—With Carol Hook, Danielle Burton, Jenny O'Shea, Bobbie Kyle Sauer and Stephanie Salmon

misconceptions from the movie Fargo

Saturday, February 21, 2009
1. I don't think I have seen a woodchipper the whole time I've lived here, now I have seen my fair share of snow blowers maybe that should have been used. (I'm just sayin)

2. Most of the bars are in town so you don't have to travel way off in the boon docks to get to them

3. Some people do have the wicked strong accent
but not all, but some (I have to say that again)

4. Lot of people do like to fish, summer, winter (the other two season are to short to mention)

5. Minneapolis is farther away from Fargo than the movie lets on

6. There is a real metro police dept in the FM and also NDSU and MSUM have full police forces now brainerd maybe they do look like this and act like this but I have't seen it haha.

7. Fargo is much more than a bar in the middle of no where-a town of 120,000 but with the sister city it is almost 200,000 (depending on the stat you're reading of course).

8. Now while there are stretches of road where there is nothing and if a car was run off the road and people murdered it might be a little while before they are noticed but at the same token usually there is some movement. (this would be 50 or so miles outside of Fargo heading west where the stretches are).
Forreal I don't let my car get below 1/2 a tank on long car trips.

9. A true statement, there are towns where everyone knows everyone and there are no real secrets. but isn't that true in every state ?

10. Lastly another true statement There are a lot of crazy names up here that really struggle to pronounce. HA. hjelmstad (how would you say it)(kjristen)(lutefisk)

I hope you enjoyed the Fargo ramblings and if reading this compels you to watch the movie I caution you it is a murder mystery and I would also invite you after you watch it to consider coming for a visit.

"Although the film is named Fargo, the location of the initial scene in
North Dakota, most of the film's action is set in Minnesota (the towns of Brainerd and Minneapolis) and on the road to and from Fargo, during approximately a week of time in late January and early February. None of the film was shot in the city of Fargo."

"Janes addiction" no no Johns addiction

Well peoples I have to go ahead and admit something, it might make all of you think less of me (I know for some that's not hard). A few months work laid off a lot of people because of the tough economic landscape. I kept my job but I had to scale back hours a lot. Things are almost back where they were on the hours front but in the mean time I picked up an addiction.


That great ABC show has sucked me in and won't let me out. You can ask Abby through Nov and Dec and Early Jan that is the vice that regularly kept me up till 2 or 3 in the morn. Now I didn't let it take away from responsibilities but it sure did take away from sleep. Guys it is a really good show and they have all of them online. If you want to watch go to and go little by little. I have found it nice to have it on in the background while I am doing other stuff.

So people ask what are my fave shows

West Wing
Cosby show

The addiction has subsided but I still watch it every other week. There it is out in the open I am on the patch now so I am recovering but I hear it a long road of 18 steps, so life a journey now it's time to go to my L.A. group and talk about how the dharma intiative and the smoke monster!

Lets take a poll

Thursday, February 19, 2009
Go ahead and chime in when you think Abby is going to deliver. March 9 is the due date so please lets get some thoughts on when Julia is going to join us here on the outside. I was hoping for fri the 13th but alas it was a no go. ANY THOUGHTS?

New things a hapnin

Sunday, February 15, 2009
We have had a crazy turn of recent events.

Around the first of the year we had a new tenant move in upstairs. We were glad to bring in a new neighbor. The very first night we smelled a super strong scent cigarette smoke. we called our landlords and told them about it. This began a string of 10+ times telling them we smelled smoke. With Abby being pregnant and the dangers of second hand smoke we began to get frustrated by the situation not being reconciled. I approached the housemate but he became very combative with me and that was the end of that conversation. I set up a meeting with our landlords the next day and told them about what was going on and that it needed to be fixed. To complicate the matter the housemate in question is their youngest son. He is in his early thirties and has been going through a sort of life crisis the last few years. So he is a little unstable and has always made us nervous.

The meeting went ok but at the end of it all we didn't feel that they had our best interest in mind anymore. So we started the search for a new place. They even suggested we move(ha) we feel confident we have done nothing wrong but see the need to make our own change if nothing is going to be done. We start this process with no ill will but a knowledge that being in a more stable and secure environment will be best for Abby and Julia Ruth. We think we have found the place but we shall soon find out we are looking at moving some time in late March early April and are in need of your prayers. We are thrilled the Lord has called us here and re pressing on to the goals of starting Churches. (He never said it would be easy) thanks for all your support.

Now this is bad

Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Guys I thought we had it bad in Fargo, wow this is bad news.

Guess we shouldn't complain. Its never as bad as it could be.

Remote start is always good...but what about a remote plow????