I have recently been reading Dallas Willard’s book, “The Great Omission”. The following excerpt still echoes in my mind:
“…there is absolutely nothing in what Jesus himself or his early followers taught that suggests you can decide just to enjoy forgiveness at Jesus’s expense and have nothing more to do with him”
Wow. A few years ago, God convicted me that there needed to be more to my life story than accepting Christ, calling myself a Christian, behaving reasonably well … and all the time still living my life. These were my thoughts at the time:
Bible Study? Boring.
Spiritual books? I’m too hip for that.
Fellowship with Christians? Will I have to wear different clothes or grow a long beard?
Pray? Only if I’m in trouble.
Quiet time? Life doesn’t happen sitting still.
Worship regularly? But Sundays are the only day I can sleep in!
Fast? Maybe for weight control.
God used a friend named Mark to disciple me – to convince me that there needed to be more to my faith journey. Mark shared with me his own spiritual disciplines – how he stayed close to God -- yet he kept his story real. He admitted his struggles but he told me how things were smoothest when God was the center of his life. Mark told me that the problems of life didn’t go away but his reaction to them changed.
I thank God for using Mark to encourage me to live life not just as someone who called himself a Christian, but as someone trying to be a true disciple. Powerful things happen when we come alongside one another. What if we all were sharing our stories and journeys in an open and intimate way with two, three or four co-workers, neighbors, friends, or family members? How would that transform the world?
“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” We must be the workers. For whom can I play the role that Mark played for me?
Here's something I overheard on an airplane recently. It still makes me laugh. We had just pulled up to the gate and heard that little bell sound so we were gathering our belongings, starting to stand up ... you know the routine. And here is what I heard from a few rows behind me:
Man #1 (nicely but with urgency): Sir, sir, excuse me, sir! You are hitting her in the face with your stuff.
Man #2 (polite with a hint of embarrassment): Oh, I am so sorry. Really, I am very sorry. I didn't realize what I was doing.
Woman (sounded fairly young and sweet): Oh, it's okay. Don't worry about it. It was soft and didn't hurt much.
Man #3: It's okay. She's cute. Probably happens to her all the time.
Me (to myself): What in the world?
Now, this is not any real trauma that I experienced ... no horrible emotional pain ... but still a painful experience I will not soon forget.
On Thursday, I went to a community luncheon. Sitting at my table just a couple of seats away was a gentleman who I have known for many years though I have not spent a great deal of time with him. I suppose he is in his early to mid 70's. Basically my parents' age or perhaps a few years older. I know this man mainly because I was in school with his kids. In fact, I was the same age as one of his sons. His son and I spent a lot of time together in high school. He was drum major for our marching band. I played trumpet.
So, I am at lunch and this older gentleman keeps looking at me. We all had name tags and I had made the grievous error of putting my real name on mine. I saw him read my name tag and mouth my name. And then it happened ...
here's what he said ...
"Say, Todd, don't you have a son who was in high school and band with my kids back in the 80s?"
To add insult to injury, I had a really tough time convincing him that I was the son, not the dad in this case.
By the way -- the next morning? I slipped and fell on ice in our driveway -- went down hard, in fact. For awhile, I just laid there thinking, "Man, this hurts." It's a wonder I didn't break a hip
It may seem silly to make a business analogy here but, several years ago, a number of us in our industry, got together and realized that, even though the products we manufacture may be very similar, we are not each other's competition. Our competition, jointly, is all of the products out there that are very different from ours which, at that time, commanded about 98% of a huge marketplace. Now, after several years of working together under a common banner, all of us are stronger and we have about an 8% marketshare instead of 2%.
What would it look like in your community if all those who are doing good work -- regardless of what particular "brand" they are -- came together, linked arms, and joined efforts? Would not more be accomplished? More for the Kingdom?
And you shall become a kingdom of priests for Me, a holy nation. Exodus 19:6
"Kingdom of Priests" – God chose Israel before He gave them the commandments. He elected Abram before he became Abraham and before he knew anything about God’s plan. He picked Isaac, not Ishmael. He blessed Jacob, not Esau. God chooses whomever He wishes to choose. We have no say in the matter. After all, it’s His plan. We don’t get to decide the strategy, but we have a lot to do with the tactics.
God’s strategy has never changed. He has always chosen to reach all through some in the same way He chose to redeem all through one. He often chooses those who seem ill-equipped or completely rebellious. He seems to prefer reluctant leaders, not campaigning politicians. If you’re anxious to have the job, you’re probably not the right person. God’s jobs require humility, self-abasement, sacrifice and, usually, lack of recognition. No one (except Jesus) volunteers for this kind of duty.
But that doesn’t mean that everyone chosen has no part to play. God determines the strategy and assigns us the tactics. This verse tells us the part we play. All those chosen by Him (whether as original vine or grafted branches) are to live as priests so that the rest of the world may see His glory. While the class of priests developed later in Israel’s history, God’s call comes before the Levites are designated, in fact, before the Law is given. Merely fifty days after delivery from Egypt, God announces His grand strategy. His chosen will be a kingdom of priests. That means that every citizen has a priestly function. Every citizen under God’s reign and rule carries a special mission.
This has a very important meaning for the children of Israel. In Egypt the term for priest (w’b) basically meant “a pure man” and there was no professional clergy. Every able-bodied man was a priest in his own home. Imagine the impact of God’s announcement. The Hebrews just spent the last 200 years under Egyptian rule and influence. They knew quite well that Egyptian gods were served by every man in every home. But they were slaves. No god battled for them – until Yahweh arrived and showed Himself superior to every Egyptian god. Then Yahweh tells His people, “All of you will be my priests. You will become what Egypt attempted – holy servants of mine, not to serve yourselves but to serve Me by bringing the world back to My glory.”
How will God’s children accomplish this grand strategy? Simple - by keeping the commandments! In other words, God’s strategy is fulfilled when God’s people live in accordance with God’s way of life. God guarantees it. Our mission, should we chose to accept it, is to live as pure men and women so that the entire world will marvel at the acts of God through us. Whenever we fail to live as pure men and women, we fail to accomplish God’s mission. The strategy does not change. We simply fail to participate in the greatest mission ever conceived. But when we put these tactics in play, God promises to do wonderful things through us so that the world will come to Him. What kinds of wonderful things? Well, that’s another story.
Me: Did you enjoy Seussical The Musical?
Evan: No. It was stupid.
Me: Why was it stupid?
Evan: I dunno. We only got to see part of it.
Me: Really? What part did you see?
Evan: "The Whores And The Whos"
Me: Excuse me?
Evan: I dunno. It was called "The Whores And The Whos" or something.
Me: Might it have been "Horton Hears A Who"?
Evan: I dunno. Maybe.
Let's hope so.
One answer might be found by going back to Romans 12. At the end of Romans 12, Paul is reminding us that judging and justice are not ours. He tells us that we ultimately fall under God's authority but then in the thirteenth chapter he reminds us that we are under the authority of government as well.
I think this all must be tempered with Jesus' obvious call for social justice, though. He always reached out to the lost and least and I think His anger would rise when those folks are not treated fairly. But ultimately, Jesus, too, recognized the need for and authority of government.
Back to Romans 13, in verses 8 - 10, Paul also has a call for justice -- treating others with love. And in verses 11 - 14, he brings us back to the ultimate call that God place son our lives.
So Paul wraps a lot into this text, touching on the authorities we fall under -- government, love for others (justice), and God.
After all these years ... relationships like that never change.
Somehow, though, I think that Bill Gates is having the last laugh.
God came through. No real surprise there, eh?
Part of my nervousness was over the fact that, having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I have problems praying for ten minutes without falling asleep. Heck, I have problems driving for ten minutes! I could not imagine praying for three hours! And, if I fell asleep, I knew that my snoring would drown out everyone.
When I arrived, I found that three circles of chairs had been set up at the front of the group. So, this was going to have a small group component! Interesting ....
I found a seat amongst a group of folks ... some of whom I knew fairly well, a few I sort of knew, and a couple I didn't know at all. We covered a pretty wide range of ages ... from probably late teens or early 20s up into the 70s.
More people arrived, more chairs were brought in, and more circles were formed. We probably ended up with 50+ people there.
The Evening of Prayer was led by Chuck Price. Chuck is an Associate Pastor at our church. I know him fairly well and think very highly of him. I trusted that he would create a situation that was not intimidating but that was very spiritual. He certainly came through on that.
We prayed using the "ACTS" model -- Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication. Chuck gave us ideas of what to pray for and he led us in prayer and scripture reading. We also had some music and singing off and on.
Chuck would then release us to pray -- sometimes in our large groups, sometimes alone, and once in small groups.
I was inspired by listening to the prayers of others. Over the course of the evening, hearts opened up and deep feelings and thoughts were shared. I had the opportunity to share and pray over some real personal stuff with a couple of other guys.
The three hours went by quickly (actually it wrapped up at about 2.5 hours) and I went home wanting more. I know that God heard our prayers tonight and I am blessed just to have been a part of it. It was a personal first but I hope not a personal last.
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain Deuteronomy 5:11
In Vain – Let’s settle this one right up front. This commandment is not about swearing, foul language or cursing. Cleaning up your vocabulary is socially proper and relationally correct, but it won’t get you any closer to obedience. Using God’s name in vain is about personal manipulation, not about four-letter words.
The Hebrew is la-shav (root word shav). If you want to see what it really means, take a look at Psalm 127:1-2. There you will find the same word with its proper context: uselessness, vanity, deceptiveness, without proper result and fraudulent. La-shav means using God’s authority, identity or character to endorse purposes that are not His. That is blasphemy! It is to appropriate God’s name for your personal gain or leverage. It is to represent what is not from God as though it is what God says.
Who breaks this commandment? Well, how about all those religious leaders who claim to be speaking a “word from the Lord” in one breath, and asking you to pay for their Lear jets in the next? How about the zealous practitioner who prays for God’s blessing on plans that ignore God’s compassionate heart? How about you and me when we ask God to grant the desires of our hearts by stamping His approval on what we want before we know what He wants?
Let’s get a Hebrew perspective on this. Phillips points out that this commandment is unnecessary if it is narrowly defined as cursing God. Why? Because every Jew knew that cursing God was a death-wish. Job’s wife says as much, “Curse God and die.” Many ancient religions believed that blaspheming the gods would result in immediate punishment. You don’t need a commandment about what is patently obvious. No, this commandment stretches the idea far beyond shouting curses at a deity. This commandment is about honoring God’s name. God’s name is the summary of His identity. That’s what a Hebrew name is all about; the true essence of the person. God’s very essence is tied up in His name. That means that His name is the summary of what is true, what is righteous, what is faithful and reliable, what belongs to covenant obligation and what is holy. Whenever His name is used in circumstances that do not honor His identity, He is slandered. The power in His name belongs exclusively to Him – and we are not free to wield it as though God were nothing more than our personal genie.
In the ancient near-east, the names of gods were often linked with magical properties like spells and curses. The Hebrews were freed from this demonic mythology because God reserved the use of His name only for those purposes that were initiated by Him for His glory. We need to remember that. “In Jesus name,” is no magical formula. In fact, any use of God’s name for any purpose, whether in business, politics, war or religion that is ultimately concerned with human leverage or effort is forbidden. And God says that those who ignore this will be punished. Think about that for a year or two.
"'ave some CoffeeMate, mate?"
Each day now I understand more and more that faith is a journey and that God calls us to live out our faith and seek a deeper relationship with Him at all times. I understand more and more that Jesus really was here to serve as a model for us.
I understand that ... but making the rubber meet the road can be a real challenge.
Anyway, I just completed Chapter 5 of Dallas Willard's book The Great Omission. Chapter 5 is titled "The Key To The Keys To The Kingdom". In this chapter, he writes primarily about honoring the Sabbath. When I was growing up, it was pretty much mandatory at our house that very little work was done on Sunday. I have continued that through most of my life but not always.
Willard, though, goes much further than just not working. He carries Sabbath to meaning a time of silence. As he explains, how can we expect to really connect with God if we're talking all the time? I have to admit that it is pretty thought-provoking stuff. I have often dreamed of going away for a short retreat of silence and doing nothing. Maybe someday I will be able to really give that a try as part of my spiritual discipline.
A little summary of what I have covered so far:
Chapter 1 "Discipleship -- For SuperChristians Only?" "Christian" and "Disciple" are not necessarily synonymous. Putting myself up as being "Christian" but not really trying to live out a life of striving to become like Christ has a cost of not knowing true peace and abiding joy.
Chapter 2 "Why Bother With Discipleship?" I cannot just simply "decide" my own forgiveness. I have to do something after that. I have to really overcome sin and change myself on the inside. Not just hide and repent my sin. I have to be "increasingly possessed and permeated" by Jesus's character traits.
Chapter 3 "Who Is Your Teacher?" Am I following the world, looking to it for answers and direction, or am I really studying and following Jesus? How am I doing in my spiritual discipline?
Chapter 4 "Looking Like Jesus -- Divine Resources For A Changed Life Are Always Available" I must seek to have Jesus's heart. I need to accept everyday problems and see them as opportunities for growth -- part of my ordained spiritual journey. I must open myself up to the Spirit, discover and use my Gifts of the Spirit and bear the Fruits of the Spirit. Question of the day: Do I really love (meaning really hope the best for) those who I feel have wronged me in the past?
I continue to witness the power of Billy Mays and Mighty Putty. If you mention Billy and his product in your blog, you get lots of hits from people all over the country who are trying to find details on this loud man and his amazing highly viscous miracle goo. I guess that, if they're searching for info on Mighty Putty, then these folks are "holy" and/or "broken" so, if they find what they need here, that's wonderful.
Well, the Buckeyes lost last night. I am not much for football. I suppose I could be if I wanted to be. But, if the Bucks are in the national championship, then that is the one game a year I will watch. I hated to see them lose. It was fun to watch Brandon Saine play though including a 44-yard run. Brandon is from the town in which I work.
I fixed dinner for our family last night. I don't do that much anymore though I need to be doing it more often. I used to cook a fair amount but, when Evan came along, Lisa and I's schedules changed some and I just ended up not cooking much. But, with life comes change and our schedules have changed again with Lisa's new job so I need to be fixing dinner more often. I enjoy cooking. Last night I fixed something Lisa saw on the Food Network. I enjoy experimenting with new things when I cook. Those around me may not always appreciate it but I enjoy trying new dishes and experimenting with variations on old ones. Last night, we started by frying some chopped garlic and shallots (never used them before) in olive oil, added basil, oregano, and a little red pepper, followed by a can of tomato sauce and a can of chopped tomatoes. We added some peeled raw shrimp to this and heated it up well, serving it over a bed of linguine. Our house still smells pretty Italian today (I suspect we do as well) but this was a delicious dish.
Have a great Tuesday! Look for the union label.
First, one of my favorite authors, Donald Miller, spoke up at Mars Hill Church about “Story”. A friend pointed it out to me and I listened online.
Then, last week, our senior pastor did a sermon on “The Power of Story.” It was incredible how closely it tracked to Donald Miller’s talk but yet Chris had not heard Donald’s talk. That is the power of God and the Holy Spirit.
This morning, as I was driving in to work, the DJ was talking about God’s story in her life and challenging us each to discover our own God stories. Hers is that she is a cancer survivor. She had a type of cancer that 75% of all people who get it end up dieing of it. She is very much alive and cancer-free several years later. She talked about how others might have a story like being a single parent and how God has seen them through that.
The fact is, we all have stories all the time. The question is what do we do with them. God gives us all potential for big stories because those stories can be used as “jumping off places” to do great work for Him. God gives us overriding stories that follow us through our entire life and he also gives us opportunities to make the most with many smaller stories … stories that may last just a year or a few weeks or, really, even just a few minutes or seconds. That is the power of God.
I have often felt bad that my faith journey doesn’t include any real dramatic conversion or transformation story. I have heard other Christians say that as well. Of course, feeling that way is sort of stupid because folks who do have dramatic stories of transformation or conversion or recovery will be quick to tell you that, while they would not want to deny God what only He could do through their story, life could have been a whole lot easier had their story not been so dramatic.
So, this morning, as I listed to the DJ, I thought about what is God’s big story in my life. What has he given me uniquely as a “jumping off place” for doing great things for Him? I can really only think of one thing and that is the people he has blessed me with in my life. First and foremost, obviously, are my wonderful family and close friends but my story goes far beyond that.
I do not say this to brag because it is not something I have done – it is only something that God could do and, because of that, I know He expects me to make much of it as part of my story. God has allowed me to meet and know many people during my life. Literally thousands. And He adds to their numbers daily. Again, I am not bragging on myself. This is only because of God. There is nothing special about me … never has been. I am not good looking. Have never been athletic. Have always been pretty quiet and am definitely an introvert in every sense of the word. I am not by any even remote stretch of the imagination a great leader even though God has given me tremendous opportunities to try in that area. I always got pretty good grades in school but, let’s face it, good grades and $4.25 will get you a nice latte at Starbucks and that’s about it. I make mistakes all the time. Sometimes I think I specialize in mistakes. I am good at ideas (sometimes) but lousy at follow-through. But, despite all these facts, God has blessed me with knowing thousands of people across not only the United States but the globe. These have come through business and other contacts. I know people from almost all walks of life. They’re all amazing but they run the gamut in terms of what they “look like” both literally and figuratively.
Knowing these thousands of people scattered all over, I think, is the story opportunity God has given me. It is my “jumping off place” to try to do something great for Him. It is a blessing. I must make much of it.
What is the “big story opportunity” He has given you? It’s there – believe me.
Yesterday morning at a church meeting, a friend of mine led us in devotion about how, if we want to change something in our lives, if we want a new beginning, we have to be willing to let something "old" die. Isn't that so true? And appropriate for this resolution-setting time of the year?
Have a great day. Don't step on any cracks. It might be your plumber. (Sorry ....)
But, if that is to be, it must start with me. (Not such an easy thing to say now, eh, Miller?)
Now, if you haven't yet placed exactly who he is, I will give you one more hint. A hint that is sure to bring him to your mind. Billy Mays is the yelling pitch man. Apparently sufferubf from a rare medical discorder that has left him unable to speak in a normal tone of voice, Billy is the one who excitedly yells at us about the benefits of his products.
I have never responded to one of Billy's ads. One of these days, though, I am indeed going to call the 800 number he yells about. And, when they answer, I am going to yell my order at them. Because that, apparently, is how they communicate.
I saw Billy pitching a product today that just may be the first product of his that I will have to buy. Mighty Putty. You see, for some time, I have been wondering if I don't perhaps need more putty in my life. And, if I do indeed need putty, well, Billy's putty is mighty -- a force to be reckoned with.
You can pull a semi truck loaded with a bulldozer with Billy's Mighty Putty. You can also put a handle on a mug that never before had a handle. You can fix table legs and other broken things. You can even make things stick to your shower walls, something which, I suspect, is not an easy thing to do.
Yes, as I watched (and listened to) Billy, there were several moments when I indeed thought that I really needed some of the putty. You can get six tubes of it for the price of two right now. They might even throw in a couple of extra tubes if you yell loudly enough when you call them. (I made that part up but you never know...) My mind wandered as I thought about all of the things I could do with six tubes of Mighty Putty.
Why, I could pull several semi trucks! (Something I have always wanted to be able to do.) I could fix everything that is broken in my life, and add handles to the things that need handles. I could put shelves where shelves aren't currently. I could stop up leaky downspouts or even leaky pipes. Yes, the more I thought about it, I needed Mighty Putty.
But Mighty Putty comes at a price. Not a mighty price necessarily but a price just the same. So I decided that, for now at least, I don't really need Mighty Putty.
Yes, I have things that are broken in my life. Things that need fixed and enhanced. Holes that need plugged. But they require a mightier putty than Mighty Putty. And all change comes at a price. Will I commit? Will I make change happen in 2008? Will I fix things and stop up the leaks? I hope so. It will take praying and persevering rather than yelling but change can happen. May 2008 be a year of change for us all. Mighty change. Courtesy of a Mighty God.
Over the past several months, along with input from throughout the congregation, a team has been working to gain insight into God's direction for the church. I have been privileged to be a part of that team. It has been a lot of work steeped in a lot of prayer and discussion.
As one of the final steps of this process, we wanted to come up with some sort of "summary statement" for the vision of our church over the next three or so years. Worsdmithing a short but easy to understand statement proved to be no easy task. A number of us served on a "writing team" to work on it. This micro-team worked together in a couple of meetings and also via email.
Only three of us were able to attend the final meeting of this small writing team. Those three were our senior pastor (Chris), one of our associate pastors (Barb), and me. With several possible summary statements on the board, and most of them pretty lengthy, we had our work cut out for us. But Barb was an absolute champ, pushing us to keep digging and refining.
I was a bit taken aback though when, after about a half hour, Barb and Chris stopped talking to me. They wouldn't say a word. They weren't talking to each other either. And then, all of a sudden but in nearly perfect unison, they got up from their chairs and walked out of the room. I didn't know what to think about this. So, I did what pretty much anyone would do. I got up and followed them.
Much to my surprise they walked out the back door of the church. I was glad I'd kept my jacket on. Still not talking, they walked out of the parking lot and started heading south on Miami Avenue. I followed them, several steps behind them actually. Eventually, they turned east, crossed the river, and came to the foot of Orbison Hill. Now, Orbison Hill is certainly no mountain but it is a pretty aggressive hike. I wasn't sure what they'd do, or what I'd do. I kept thinking about the work we had in front of us and how we really just needed to head back to the church and get back on task. But Chris and Barb? They started walking up Orbison Hill.
Well, with them not even talking to me, and having no clue what they were up to, I stayed at the bottom of the hill. About an hour passed with me watching the sidewalk for any sign of them when, all of a sudden, I could start to make out that they were walking back down the hill. Shortly after they came into my view, there appeared to be some sort of altercation between the two of them. They paused for a couple of minutes and I thought I heard a faint anguished scream from Chris, but then they started making their way diwn the hill again. I still couldn't see them real well but eventually I could make out that Barb was carrying something. Something that looked pretty heavy. (Why hadn't I brought my binolculars with me? Normally I bring them to all meetings at church.)
As they got closer, I could see that what Barb was carrying was a large stone tablet. This seemed rather peculiar to me but, the closer they they came and the more intently I stared, I could see words carved into that tablet. The words looked familiar to me but re-worked. Could it possibly be? Yes, it was! It was our summary statement for the writing team, now in completed form!
What an incredible way for us to be given this statement! I was in awe. Yes, we ultimately had to present it to the rest of the team and also to church council for approval but, with the words chiseled on stone from high atop Orbison Hill, how could anyone possibly ever argue with them?
Now ... for the rest of the story ... A couple of weeks after this all went down, Chris let a few additional facts slip. Facts that explained the altercation I'd seen and the faint anguished scream. It seems that Barb and he had actually each been given a stone tablet there on top of Orbison Hill. There were to have been two options for the Summary Statement that others at the church could vote upon. But Barb sort of preferred her tablet to the one Chris had and she tripped Chris on their way down the hill, causing him to drop his tablet. Somewhere on the side of Orbison Hill, that tablet still lays, shattered into thousands of pieces.
So, there you have it ... for the history of Sidney First. (Yet to be confirmed by Barb.)
He actually stayed awake quite well. Lisa was pretty droopy-eyed at that point. I was hanging on, but just barely -- fed by caffeine-infused cold medicines.
The ball was colorful this year as Dick Clark counted down the last 20 seconds before "2008" emblazoned the Manhattan skyline.
It was Evan's first time to see the ball drop on New Year's Eve. Apparently, after hearing all of the hype about it, he expected something more dramatic. I think he envisioned a giant ball being pushed off the top of a skyscraper by a hundred strong men, plummeting wildly to the ground, crashing and shattering amongst the revelers just at the stroke of midnight.
"What a rip-off!" was all he could say as he headed back to his bedroom. "That was a rip-off!"
I remember having similar thoughts the first time I saw the ball drop. I was about the same age as Evan and, while we did indeed have color television at that point, I, like Evan, was surprised to learn that the ball rides down well-controlled on a pole rather than really "drops".
There's something about hearing the word "drop" that leaves you expecting more.
But 2008 is here. And everywhere I turn, it seems like 2007 is being remembered as a year of random acts ... not of kindness unfortunately but of violence. Even the local "top 10 stories of 2007" were littered with violent acts.
Can we do better in 2008? Can we let 2007 really "drop," perhaps even forgetting about the shattered pieces and just moving forward ... forward for mankind, forward for Jesus? Forward for the impoverished in our country. Forward for those who are seeking justice of all kinds including one of my best friends who has a trial the end of this month. Forward for those seeking to establish control in areas where a lack of control seems to have prevailed for generations. Forward for those who feel like they have no control. Forward for those who are starving. Forward for those who are being tortured. Forward ...
Let's hope that 2008 is a year of "forward". Let's hope that random acts of violence drop by the wayside. Let's hope that, this time next year, "What a rip-off!" is a distant memory and instead we're saying "Much was accomplished in 2008 but much work is still ahead of us. Let us move forward into it as well."
Happy New Year. May it indeed be a step forward.