Archive for March 11, 2012
Tags: American Beverage Institute, Blood alcohol content, Driving under the influence, Ignition interlock device, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, United States
Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. It’s a good rule for dealing with those who have proved themselves to be untrustworthy. And it’s increasingly applied in a realm where a lack of dependability can be lethal: drunk driving.
Alcohol-impaired driving is a stubborn problem. The rate of fatalities in crashes involving drivers with a blood-alcohol concentration of .08 or more has fallen by half since 1982. But there is still a huge amount of carnage.
In the United States, some 10,000 people die in such accidents each year. It’s the equivalent of a 9/11 attack every four months.
In recent decades, efforts to curb drunk driving have grown — raising the legal drinking age from 18 to 21, stepping up police enforcement, lowering permissible blood-alcohol levels and stiffening penalties.
Social norms have also evolved. Groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, founded by a woman whose daughter was killed by a chronic offender, have fostered greater awareness and intolerance of a practice that used to be joked about.
But changes like these can prevent only so many episodes of driving under the influence. Some people just refuse to reform, and as long as they have free access to four wheels, they remain a menace.
So 15 states use another remedy. They force everyone convicted of DUI to install an ignition interlock before they can regain driving privileges. More than 20 other states mandate these devices only for the most serious offenders.
Congress may also get into the act. Legislation in the House of Representatives would give extra highway funds to states that mandate interlocks for all DUIs.
With an interlock, you have to pass a breath test before your car will start. Inducing chronic drunks to sober up is hard. But disabling their vehicles is not. It’s also supremely cost-effective, at least for the rest of us — because the expense of installing and maintaining the device is borne by the guilty party.
States that have gone this route typically achieve big improvements. A 2011 report from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that “after these devices were installed, re-arrest rates for alcohol-impaired driving decreased by a median of 67 percent relative to drivers with suspended licenses.”
There are, alas, ways for incorrigible boozers to defeat the device. They can get a friend or family member to blow for them, or they can drive a different car. It’s not a perfect check.
It’s also not a lasting one. Sarah Longwell of the American Beverage Institute (ABI), which represents restaurants, scoffed in an interview with USA Today that “in most states, the offender only has to keep the interlock for about six months. As soon as you take it off, recidivism goes back up.”
True, a temporary fix works only temporarily — but the lives it saves are permanently spared. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that imposing the devices on all drivers with multiple DUIs would prevent about 100 fatal accidents annually. But if every DUI conviction carried an interlock requirement, from 600 to 800 deadly crashes would be averted each year.
The restaurant group complains that all-inclusive rules “deny judges the ability to distinguish between a driver one sip over the limit and high-BAC, repeat offenders.” It would have us believe that seriously impaired is not seriously impaired.
In fact, notes the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a person who is “one sip over the limit” is 11 times more likely to motor off into a deadly wreck than someone who stuck to Diet Coke. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety attests, “The hard-core group isn’t the whole DWI problem or even the biggest part.”
Anyway, the penalty is not public flogging, five years on a chain gang or life without parole. It’s just an obligation for the offender to confirm he’s fit to drive before starting his engine. It’s a minimal inconvenience to the sober, but for the drunk, it serves as a potentially lifesaving safeguard.
When we give out driver’s licenses, we trust the recipients to use the prerogative in a wise and safe manner. Those who abuse it by driving drunk shouldn’t be barred from the road forever, but they should have to earn our trust. Like, every time they drive.
Tags: Christian, Christianity, God, Intercession, Jesus, Prayer, Redeemer, Starbucks
1. Bad Christian drivers with corny Christian bumper stickers. You rep Jesus, so drive better or scrape it off.
2. TV preachers who wear $3,000 suits, drive Mercedes and beg for more money. I can hear Jesus puking.
3. Fleece. Don’t ask me why but it hurts my teeth when I think about it (very true and very weird.)
4. That a “tall” is really a “small” at Starbucks. Shouldn’t it be the biggest one, or, at least, the tallest?
5. Christians who look to politics to redeem this nation instead of the Redeemer.
6. That intercessory prayer has been hijacked by little old ladies and crazy people. Let’s take it back!
7. Glorified air mattress type beds that cost thousands of dollars. Yes, I tried one…and hated it.
8. Churches that spend millions of dollars on buildings but leave evangelism and missions unfunded.
10. Muscleheads who grunt loudly in the gym when they work out. Hanz, send Franz to buy you a muzzle!
Tags: Ave Maria School of Law, Ave Maria University, Catholic Church, DomiNick, Domino Pizza, Monaghan, Thomas More Law Center, Tom Monaghan
If it weren’t for his faith, Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan said he’d be like Hugh Hefner right now, bathing in luxury after luxury.
His message was simple: God had grounded him and made him realize there were far more important things in life than million-dollar cars, yachts, and sports teams, all of which he once owned and took pride in.
“The most important thing I [can] do is help people get to heaven,” the pizza mogul said during the meeting, according to Patch.com.
His priorities were not always aligned, however, as they are now, especially when he began coming into large amounts of money with the success of his business – once a small, single pizza place in Ypsilanti, Mich., called DomiNick’s Pizza.
Having built the business from the ground up, the former U.S. Marine eventually became a millionaire after decades of struggle to pay off creditors and settle lawsuits over royalties, living minimally to reduce costs.
When things began looking up during the 1980s, Monaghan “went a little overboard” and wholly embraced the materialistic lifestyle, indulging in fancy cars and yachts and buying things like his favorite baseball team – the Detroit Tigers.
But he woke up to his superficial lifestyle and stopped his splurges when he read a chapter on pride in C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, which spoke about unhealthy goals and possessions – something he had plenty of.
He realized he had become the kind of person he never wanted to be.
Selling most of his big possessions, including his beloved team, Monaghan – who grew up in the Catholic orphanage – pledged to give away at least half of his possessions, signing Bill Gates’ “Giving Pledge,” and turned his focus to religious education and charity.
He also sold 93 percent of his share in Domino’s to Bain Capital, Inc. in 1998 and dedicated his time to the church and pro-life causes.
“I came into the world penniless and as a Catholic Christian, I know that I cannot take any of it with me, so it has long been my desire to use the material resources that I have been blessed with to help others in the most meaningful ways possible,” he wrote in his pledge. “I would not be living out my faith if I did not use the abundant resources God has given me to help others.”
Convinced that the most important thing in the world was the eternal state of souls, the college dropout looked for ways to be effective in people’s eternal lives.
“We Catholics have the cure for death,” he shared with students as quoted by Patch.com. “Christ came to redeem us and help us get to heaven.”
The best thing that he could do for people then was to help share that truth with others through the means of education.
Armed with new goals, Monaghan established several organizations and establishments like the Ave Maria Foundation, which focuses on Catholic education, media, community projects and charities, the Ave Maria School of Law, and the Ave Maria University, most of which are based in his hometown of Ann Arbor, Mich.
He also founded the Thomas More Law Center, a nonprofit law firm dedicated to the restoration and defense of the religious freedom of Christians, family values, and the sanctity of human life. The law firm calls itself the “Christian response to the ACLU.”
Currently, he is working on a military themed hamburger delivery restaurant called Gyrene Burger, which has two locations in Florida. The new venture will support the Ave Maria foundation, providing scholarships for youth.
Finding Monaghan’s story inspirational, Eric Stroupe, JSerra Catholic High School’s vice principal for curriculum and instruction, told Patch.com, “He had the humility to realize that his pride was getting in the way of really being fulfilled as a human being. It’s something the students needed to hear.”
Tags: Book Of Common Prayer, Christianity, Church of England, God, j john, Moses, Nigel Williams, Ten Commandments
A popular British preacher and evangelist has introduced a DVD teaching series for Christians seeking a better understanding of the Ten Commandments. The series is reportedly being used by 600 churches who find the modernized take on God‘s laws refreshing. However, some have expressed concern that “tampering” with Scripture may be taking away from God’s Word.
The “Just10 for Churches” series features a revamped and modern re-wording of the Ten Commandments the Bible says were given to Moses by God. The moral codes, including a list of “thou shall nots,” have been given a modern twist by Canon J.John, a Christian speaker who has authored dozens of books, some on making God’s “top ten” found in Exodus 20 more personable to believers.
The Decalogue’s “You shall not steal” is now “prosper with a clear conscience,” while “You shall not commit adultery” has been changed to “affair-proof your relationships.” As for “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God,” J.John has interpreted that to mean “take God seriously.” Where God instructs in the Commandments to “Honor your father and your mother,” the “Just10″ series presents it as “keep the peace with your parents.”
According to the product description, the “Just10″ series was “created particularly with local churches in mind, to equip leaders to communicate the relevance of God’s laws of love in a way that people can relate to today.”
“These core principles are designed to equip and guide us through life, keeping us on the right path, and helping us navigate through the tough times,” J.John says of the Ten Commandments on his Philo Trust ministry website.
Featured in a report by the Telegraph, the “Just10″ revamping of the Ten Commandments is said to have been inspired by the 2011 riots in England that left at least three people dead, dozens of businesses damaged, and hundreds of youths in trouble with the law.
The series has reportedly been a hit in the U.K. and in churches around the world, as the “Just10″ series is being “praised by religious leaders for bringing practical advice to modern congregations,” according to the Telegraph.
“It’s basically a way of presenting the Ten Commandments to help people connect with them in a positive way,” the Rev. Paul Roberts told the British publication. “Rather than just seeing them as a list of things you shouldn’t do, it is meant to help people live as God intended for our good.”
Roberts, who uses the “Just10″ series in his own church, added: “Unlike the dos and don’ts most people imagine when quizzed about the maker’s instructions, the message is meant to be both a challenge and an encouragement.”
Another minister, Wayne Dulson, told the Telegraph that the “Just10″ series has helped people engage with the Commandants in a “new and fresh way.”
“People keep telling me how ‘Just10′ has made them think much more about how they live their lives and also how much they have learned about the commandments as they found out things they never knew before,” Dulson said.
J.John’s series has even won the approval of the Church of England, whose spokesman told the Telegraph: “The Book Of Common Prayer is very clear that the faith needs to be taught afresh in every generation.”
Not everyone is a fan of the modern take on the Ten Commandments, however, as some of J.John’s Facebook followers insist that the Bible is clear about “taking away from or adding to God’s word,” as visitor Nigel Williams wrote.
“I have shared the Gospel with I don’t know how many people on the streets of the UK using the Ten Commandments and never once having to simplify them,” Williams wrote. “Why do you need to do [so] now (re-invent the wheel so to speak), when God’s word is as relevant now as it has always been through history?”
Another user named Tim H. Coad replied to Williams, insisting that “Just10″ does not really “simplify” the Ten Commandments, but shows that what was given to Moses so long ago are as relevant to 21st century believers.
“The gospel never changes but the way we present it does,” Coad wrote.
Williams persisted, finally writing: “I hope the course is not about generating moralism, but more about showing exactly how much we need Jesus alone, and that even our most righteous works are like filthy rags.”
J.John, who has reportedly spoken in 54 countries on six continents, is the founder of Philo Trust evangelism ministry. The evangelical preacher has said that his work is to show that Christianity is not only “reasonable, but relevant and vitally important.”
Tags: Christ, Christianity, Evangelism, God, Jesu, Psalm, Religion and Spirituality, Soul music
“Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee.” Lk 12:20
The ambitious fool. Jesus told the story of a successful farmer who said, “I will pull down my barns, and build greater” (v.18). Evidently he was a good businessman and planner. But then he said: “I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee…So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (vv.19-21). This man had a plan for time, but none for eternity. He thought about himself, but not God. He paid attention to his body, but not his soul. It’s said that the average body has enough phosphorus to make eight hundred thousand match heads, enough sugar to go into sixty cubes, enough salt to cover twenty spoons, and enough iron to make about ten dollars’ worth of nails. The rest is just dust and water. When you pamper, promote and protect the part of you that will only live seventy or eighty years and neglect the part of you that will live on in either heaven or hell, God says you’re a fool. This man told himself he had “many years,” but God said, “This night thy soul shall be required of thee.” Don’t you realize that an accident, a blocked artery, a stray bullet, a plane with engine failure or a drunk driver could take you out in an instant? Wise up! The question is not will you die, but when? And are you ready to stand before God?
Tags: David, Evil, God, Lord, Moses, Psalm, Psalm 64, Righteousness
The structure and trajectory of Psalm 64 follows a similar pattern to many other psalms. David, due to some tragic circumstance in life, finds himself at the mercy of his enemies. He is fleeing, afraid, fearful for his life, and lonely. With no one to cry out to, David pours out his heart to God.
For the first six verses, David voices his “complaint” to God of the enemies who plot against him and threaten to attack him. Then, in verse seven, David recognizes God’s sovereignty and righteousness in dealing with his foes. Finally, in the last verse, David is able to “rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him.”
We all know the struggles with evil we face daily; we all see the world for what it is; we all know it grows increasingly harder to say that the wicked fall to their doom while the good prosper. If we struggle with this issue, if our best theologians write books upon books on God’s goodness in light of evil, how does David accept with such simple faith that the good will prosper?
Perhaps David refers to the world to come, or perhaps David offers these words as a prayer more than a proclamation, but I think there is a different layer at work here. I cannot fathom that David, a persecuted person throughout his whole life, one who watched his children die because of his sin, believed in the simplicity of the good prospering. But I can believe, and take heart, from a David who sees the evil in the world, who knows it to exist, but still declares his desire to create a world in which only the good prosper and the wicked perish.
That is the key. We cannot know the answer to suffering; Jewish tradition teaches that this question eluded even the grasp of the great Moses. But we can work to create a world in which day by day, minute by minute, the good prosper.
So the challenge for each of us is what we will do when confronting with the evil of this world. Will we allow it to defeat us, or will we fight for a just world for God’s glory?
Tags: Arts, Christ, Frances Harper, God, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Literature, Peace, World Literature
They shall see Him in the crimson flush
Of morning’s early light, In the drapery of sunset,
Around the couch of night.
When the clouds drop down their fatness,
In late and early rain,
They shall see His glorious footprints
On valley, hill and plain.
They shall see Him when the cyclone
Breathes terror through the land;
They shall see Him ‘mid the murmurs
Of zephyrs soft and bland.
They shall see Him when the lips of health,
Breath vigor through each nerve,
When pestilence clasps hands with death,
His purposes to serve.
They shall see Him when the trembling earth
Is rocking to and fro;
They shall see Him in the order
The seasons come and go.
They shall see Him when the storms of war
Sweep wildly through the land;
When peace descends like gentle dew
They still shall see His hand.
They shall see Him in the city
Of gems and pearls of light,
They shall see Him in his beauty,
And walk with Him in white.
To living founts their feet shall tend,
And Christ shall be their guide,
Beloved of God, their rest shall be
In safety by His side.
Tags: Divine presence, God, Hebrew language, Jesu, Lord, O Lord, Prayer, Psalm
He has saved me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. And so I walk in the LORD’s presence as I live here on earth!
Recently, I’ve been thinking about what it means to live all of the time in God’s presence. I’m not focusing on the fact that God is always present in my life. This is a given, a wondrous implication of God’s grace. He is always with me.
But am I always with him? To be sure, since God is with me, then I am with him. But I am wondering not so much about this reality as I am about my awareness of it. Am I living each moment with a sense of God’s presence in my life?
The author of Psalm 116 is doing this very thing. He says: “I walk in the LORD’s presence as I live here on earth!” (116:9). Notice that he isn’t living “before God’s face,” as the Hebrew might be literally rendered, only when doing obviously religious things, like praying, attending weekly services, and reading the Scriptures. Rather, the sense of this verse is that the psalmist is living with a sense of God’s presence throughout his life on earth.
Notice, too, that the psalm writer is not doing this in order to earn God’s favor. Rather, he is doing so in response to what God has done for him already: “He has saved me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. And so I walk in the LORD’s presence as I live here on earth!” (116:8-9). Living before God each day is a response to his gracious salvation.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What helps you to be aware of God’s presence in your life? Are you ever aware of God’s presence as you’re doing your work? What difference does this make?
PRAYER: O Lord, how I thank you for the reminder of Psalm 116. I want to walk in your presence each moment of each day. I yearn to learn how to be aware of you, not just when I’m focusing fully on you, but also when I’m doing all the other things in my life.
Help me, Lord, to live in your presence when I’m sorting through my email. Help me to live in your presence when I lead a meeting. Help me to be aware of you when I’m talking with a friend. Help me to attend to you when I’m having dinner with my family…and in all the other actions of daily life. Amen.