January 31, 2008

Why are Liberals so Afraid of Baby Jesus?

Here's an article from this past Christmas that I just read. It was pretty good. Written by John Ridley, formerly of my favorite morning show, Morning Joe.

January 28, 2008

Getting raw (at lunchtime)

Starting today, I will start a new food fad in my life. I will only be eating raw foods from now on - only for lunchtime, though. I'll still have a healthy share of chicken, deep fried foods, baked goods, and other things that are good for the soul.


How did I know that question was on your mind? I came to this decision late last week for several reasons. Firstly, I am trying to streamline my operating expenses so I figured bringing lunch from home could help. However, when all the costs do get factored in, the savings experienced really aren't that great when compared to eating out in the $5-$6 range. However, if I eat only fruit and vegetables, I can find savings.

Secondly, I had a nagging cold that just wouldn't go away. The worst of the cold was about a week and a half ago, but I still have the phlegm in my nose that doesn't require a Kleenex, but I can hear and feel when I breathe hard through my nostrils. So to help get that outta here, I figured eating "healthy" would help, which then led me to the conclusion... "why not eat healthy even when you are not sick... that might actually help in other ways..." So I decided to heed to my conscience.

And finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the concept of a "raw diet" was initially placed in my head a while back on Shaun Groves' blog which I read on a regular basis. I don't know if I can be as hardcore as he is doing this raw diet for all meals, but using it for one meal a day is a big first step. If I survive for the next 2 weeks, this will be a great feat.

So to kick things off, I went to the grocery store yesterday specifically to buy cereal for breakfast (which I have been skipping for the past few months) and a big bag of spinach I was going to consume today. However, in keeping with my tradition of starting things off on the right foot, I forgot it at home. So I will have to go buy a $8 salad for about $1.50 worth of ingredients. Which is more important? Health or wealth? I guess that makes the $8 salad a little easier to swallow...

January 26, 2008

Who am I? Who else is me?

Have you searched for yourself on the internet? I just performed two searches. First on Facebook. Then on Google.

Ok, on Facebook. Turns out that there are 68 other "Ryan Abel"s on there. How bizarre. This is on only one site, so clearly there are a bunch more out there. I'm not sure if there is a need for a Ryan Abel convention were all of us can get together and talk about our shared name.

On Google, 523,000 hits came up. Two of the top 10 hits though are actually me so that is pretty cool. This blog is currently number 5 on a search of my name, and a news article that mentions me is number 7.

I guess by putting these screenshots up, you can discover that a Mac is my computer of choice. Oh yes, I did blog about it some time back when I broke it....

January 25, 2008

How to Save the Obama Campaign

I wouldn't consider myself in the Obama camp. I would say he is the best orator of this new millennium. I could sit and listen to him talk for hours. Does that make him the best guy for president? Not sure about that. Mike Huckabee totally re-wowed me last night preventing my acceptance of any sort of defeat (reality, noted). Still my favorite candidate out of everybody is that guy. But if the Democrats pick Obama, and the Republicans pick Giuliani or Romney, I think I'd vote Obama.

But let's not get too ahead of ourselves here.

Obama's campaign is sinking because of several things, the biggest one being the Clinton attack machine. So if he wants to get the nomination, the following is my proposal to save his campaign. The Clintons have made race an issue. It can't be unmade at this point, and he can't clearly attack back successfully because it hasn't been working too well for him since the Clintons are just so good at it.

But I am a politics junkie, and I like to watch a good race, so here it is...


1. Hold a "major address" press conference. Let all the networks know that you have a major announcement to make. This would naturally result in coverage by CNN, Fox News, and my favorite, MSNBC. Deliver this next week, fresh off of your win in South Carolina.

2. Start talking about the politics of hope, again.

3. Admit that your campaign shifted its focus to counter all the attacks from the Clinton camp. Acknowledge that the campaign has resorted to "politics as usual."

4. Make the vow that from this moment on, that you expect better from yourself, and that the people can expect better from you as well. That you will once again be talking about your grand vision for America. Not to worry, that each and every false attack hurled against you will be debunked on your website. But when you are addressing people directly, you will be talking about this vision. There is no time to waste on dirty politics.

5. Call on America to expect far more from its candidates than bickering. In turn, in addition to expecting more from you, tell the country that you expect a great deal from them.

6. A vision of America that isn't divided by party, age, race, or gender is possible. And we can't allow for those who choose to divide us this way to succeed. By falling to their level, they have won. We must rise above it. It might be hard, but we can do it.

7. Remind people that your campaign isn't about race. The Clintons sought to make it about race, and you had to defend yourself. Iowa answered the call and put America before race, and tell people that you no doubt that all of us can do that as well. Here on out, America is what it's going to be about.

8. The Clintons (yes, be blunt) have brought down the debate. Tell America that you and they are going to rise above it. A new day in politics.

January 24, 2008

Redskins, McCain

There has been a lull in blogging! I apologize! School hit! I warned you, I guess.

Since last post, the Redskins are looking at Jim Fassel (gross... he's been with the Giants!) for the vacant head coaching job. A decision could be made any day now, but odds are against Gregg Williams. Looks like we get the classic Redskins coaching overhaul which has become standard operating practice with good old Danny boy. Great.

And secondly, John McCain has done pretty well, now with his win in South Carolina. I think Mike Huckabee's loss there has essentially ended his campaign. I think McCain is where it's at right now. I am morally against voting for Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards. McCain is a decent candidate... not my ideal, but very good nonetheless.

I got my copy of "Pagan Christianity" yesterday. I'm sure I will have response and reaction fairly soon.

That's all for now. I just wanted to let my legion of online readers know that I haven't fallen off them map. Yet, anyway.

January 16, 2008

Back to School!

This week I have started my spring semester at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary through their distance learning program. For you regular visitors of my site, I thought I would use that as my excuse for not posting anything yesterday.

(Interestingly enough, I have recently gotten a surge in traffic due to my completely brief, random post on the Maryland tax increase. That is NOT the point of this blog, people!)

Anyway, I will be taking 2 classes for the next 8 weeks. And they are... (drumroll, please)

CLED510: The Foundations of Christian Leadership
NBST654: Hebrews

I will probably be commenting on random things about these topics sometime over the next few weeks so this will explain why.

January 14, 2008

Blessing the Food

This past weekend we did the Lord's Supper as a part of our worship service at my church. I was asked if I could perform my elderly role by asking a blessing upon the grape juice. And this has resulted in another lack of understanding between myself, our modern church, and the scriptures.

I was supposed to ask a blessing upon the juice, which I guess is supposed to make it holy. When looking through scriptural references to this process in the Bible (found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and 1 Corinthians), I was unable to find a good model upon which to base my prayer or our service in general simply because it was rather different in both regards.

I thought my prayer should be a prayer of thanksgiving, thanking God for the blood of Jesus which gives us the gift of salvation. Apparently, I am supposed to be praying (in addition to thanksgiving, of course) mainly for the blessing upon the juice.

What this blessing is supposed to do, however, is what has got me all confused.

My church's position is that we pray for the bread crackers and the grape juice and they become holy. Leftovers must be disposed of in a very precise manner because of this holiness.

Something about this setup really baffles my mind because to me it seems like the process really is more people-based. To me, it seems, that we totally focus on the objects more so than what it is they represent. We are supposed to examine ourselves and not participate in an "unworthy" manner. Do we really ever address what this means?

Additionally, in our daily lives, when we ask for a blessing upon our meals, what exactly are we ask for? Is it a more "thank you God for giving me another meal and for not letting me go hungry" or is it "please transform nutrients/make this unhealthy meal healthy for me/cause this to become a holy meal" type prayer? What it it supposed to be?

This is a very recent development in my current state of confusion about the modern church so I will be looking deeper into it. I will hopefully share something helpful sometime very soon.

January 11, 2008

Building Without Cement (or Wood)

If someone told you to build a church, what would you do? You'd probably contact an architect and describe to them your vision for a nice building. Steeple or no? Modern or traditional? What about ceilings? Windows?

In Matthew 16:18, Jesus says, "Now I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it."

Jesus says that he is going to build his church, but he makes no mention of blueprints, hammers, nails, windows, doors, or wood frames. None of this, yet the church will stand. And not only will it stand, but the supernatural powers of hell won't be able to destroy it.

If somebody asks you to describe the word "church," please do not use any sort of physical structure in your definition.

January 10, 2008

The Polling Difference

After watching some analysis last night as to why the polling on the Democrats side was so off, some said that after Hillary's "emotional, humanizing moment," a flurry of older women came to her defense which wasn't reflected in the polling.

Something else that Chris Matthews and Michael Dyson were promoting on Hardball was that race played a role with people saying that they were going to vote for Obama but then when it came down to it, they were scared of the "swagger" of a successful black man (according to Dyson) so they went with Hillary. The called it the Bradley effect redux.

I have problems with this theory simply because, A) Bradley happened 20 years ago and B) this was a DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY. Between the polling difference and the results, Obama lost in the double digits. Bradley was a GENERAL ELECTION campaign. Democrats who vote in the primary are of the more liberal wing of their party. There are certainly racists of every race in both parties, but not that many. I have a hard time believing that that many of them are racist.


Having not heard it from anyone else in the media, I am quite comfortable claiming it as solely my own.

The reason in the polling difference was that it was the Hillary factor. With all the media fueled momentum Obama was bringing with him after Iowa, Hillary was going to be the big loser. So if a pollster asked someone who they'd be voting for, it'd be FAR easier to go with the hot, young, Obama and be on the perceived winning side.

They said they were voting for Obama because they were ashamed to say they were voting for Hillary.

That, coupled with the "emotional, humanizing moment" which brought in older, sympathetic women (and some men, I'm sure) after the utter bashing Hillary was receiving, was easily enough to give her the thousands of vote needed to edge out Obama.

January 9, 2008

The Best Chicken Caesar Salad in the World

Can be found at Panera Bread. Had it last night. Tried Cosi's today.


Panera's is amazing. It's pulled chicken instead of chicken cubes. Makes all the difference in the world.

Check it out.

How Embarassing!

I got home late last night after a Bible study, and turned on the TV for a moment right before I was going to go to bed. I figured that the New Hampshire primary would be won by Barack Obama by a landslide, and John McCain by a hair. The plan was simple. Just confirm the results, and go to sleep.


When I turned on the TV and saw that Hillary Clinton had defeated Obama, I was in shock. I yelled "Oh my goodness!" or "You've GOT to be kidding me!" for about five full minutes after I seeing the results. My roommate woke up and came to my room to see what was going on. (I thought I had covered my mouth effectively, but clearly not.)

Ever since Iowa, every single person who has a TV show who comments on politics was doing a postmortem on Hillary's campaign. What will she do now? Who will the republicans nominate to beat Obama? Even the Clintons were talking about how they were expecting to lose.

But somehow, EVERYBODY was wrong. Hillary won. The media hype was wrong.

Chris Matthews, who I really despise (banned him for a while, but now watch again in controlled settings), has been the biggest Obama pusher (not officially, of course... he thinks he is objective) sat it shock and amazement to see the election results. It was quite funny to me to see it.

These results are very refreshing to me, (not because I support Hillary... I'm a Huckabee man!) because the media totally created Obama mania and have been hyping him, hoping to shape our elections based on their preferences. However, New Hampshire showed us anyway, people actually do have the ability to think for themselves (sometimes) and will not lead them where the media is trying to take them.

So I got home a bit after midnight, but I sat in shock until about 2:30 AM watching re-airs of coverage, victory speeches from all candidates, and various media talking heads trying to wipe the egg off their faces.

Such exciting times to be a politics junkie.

January 8, 2008

Great (American) Expectations

Here's an article I read today which is quite good. Really puts things into perspective. The church in Kenya has close connections to my own.


Barack Obama, still fresh from his victory in Iowa last week and confident of another in New Hampshire tonight, has as his signature campaign theme the promise to "end the division" in America. Notice the irony: The scale of his Iowa victory, in a state that's 94% white, is perhaps the clearest indication so far that the division Mr. Obama promises to end has largely been put to rest.

Meanwhile, in Kenya last week a mob surrounded a church in which, according to an Associated Press report, "hundreds of terrified people had taken refuge." The church was put to flame, while the mob used machetes, Hutu-style, to hack to death whoever tried to escape. The killers in this case were of the Luo tribe, their victims were of the Kikuyu, and the issue over which they are bleeding is their own presidential election.

Click here for the rest.

Such "big" problems that we Americans face. As a nation. As part of the church. As individuals. It's embarrassing, really.

Joe Gibbs Resigns

It has taken me some time but the shock is wearing off about today's announcement. I thought at minimum he'd be around until the end of next season. I wonder who the next guy is going to be. Gregg Williams?

January 7, 2008

What Would Happen?

This morning, I started reading a new book, The Shaping of Things to Come by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch. It's still way too early for me to make an endorsement, but I will say while reading it got me thinking.

What would happen if every church in America was forced to close it's doors? Would church still exist? If every building with a steeple or one with those illuminated signs with (sometimes) witty sayings was no longer open for business. What would people do? Would our faith be strengthened or weakened? How many people would walk away? How many people would just be washed away? What would YOU do?

No answers. Only questions for this Monday morning.

January 4, 2008

Culmination and Commencement

Yesterday was an interesting day in my life. It was a day of culmination, but also a day of commencement.

Thursday was the day of the Iowa caucuses. After months (years, for some) of various candidates campaigning in the state, it finally arrived. While I haven't (I don't think) blogged about the actual 2008 race aside from my hopes that Virginia's Mark Warner would run, I became a Mike Huckabee fan in the early summer, back when he was simply a second tier presidential candidate who was quite witty, engaging, and the only authentic person who was running. I didn't have any hopes that he'd actually win a primary, but then something happened.

Over the past couple weeks, my level of excitement began to build as he started surging in the polls, starting in Iowa, but then steadily across the country. Not only do the other candidates running for president leave much to be desired, but Huckabee actually offers something that none of the other candidate's do... he brings something completely new to the political process - a way of thinking that has caused the republican establishment to revile him. He is not "one of them" as both they, and he, frequently remind us.

Challenging the establishment is something that has been on my mind lately. Not questioning a political process, but wondering why it is we do church the way that we do it.

When I read the Bible, the church model that is prescribed is far different that what we live with today. I wondered why. Each element we have today, and why we do it, I was curious about. I thought that I would need to spend plenty of time researching this, just to put to rest my own personal concerns. But then, when I was blog surfing yesterday, I randomly stumbled upon this post by Brant Hansen. Check it out, and then come back here.

Thanks for coming back.

So it turns out, a book that deals with the exact issues that I had been wondering about is coming out this month! It was a moment of excited fear in my gut as I realized that these issues clearly are bigger than me, and are on the hearts and minds of many others out there.

So I'm not going to delineate my issues with the church establishment now because that will come with time on this blog. But it was exciting to know that there are "professionals" out there talking about this, and I'm even more excited to see where God takes it.

Culmination and commencement. After months and months of anticipation, Mike Huckabee scored a huge win challenging his party. On the very same day, I stumble upon a book that puts everything that I was taking issue with in one place, challenging our modern church. I feel like I have a book that was written just for me, done by professionals. It takes out the stuff that would seemingly slow me down (research)so I can rapidly put it to good use - both within my own church and in my life. Huckabee challenges his party, not because he hates it, but because he wants to make it better where its weak. In a far greater way, I hope that those of us who see the dire need to reform our church is not because we don't like it, but simply because we want to return it to its biblical (not man-made) roots.

When you arrive at your destination victorious, it is a great feeling. However, starting a journey such as this is actually far more exciting. The destination and end result will be far more incredible than anything the world has ever seen. Literally.

January 3, 2008

Maryland Sales Tax Increase Day

To all my fellow Marylanders:

Today our sales tax increase of 20% goes into effect. From 5%, we are now at 6%. This totally changes my dollar menu meals at McDonald's! I'll now have to use pennies in addition to silver coins. Put this money to good use government of mine! (Yeah, right.)

Thank you, Democratic Governor O'Malley and State House!

Stuck in My Head

As evidenced by previous posts, Melinda Doolittle from last season's American Idol was my absolute favorite. Hopefully this upcoming season will provide me a similar level of enjoyment. But for the time being, please enjoy this song which has been playing, and replaying in my head ALL MORNING for some reason.

January 2, 2008

Interesting Fact

I am currently on break from my school work (starts back up on the 14th) so now I have free time in which to do some reading. My options are limitless. What did I pick you ask? My fun reading is a book on church growth. How fitting for a seminary student.

Anyway, today while I was reading Organic Church by Neil Cole (which I highly recommend and I'm only halfway through) while riding in to work, he made the following observation:
If any one Christian alive today were to lead just one person to Christ every year and disciple that person so that he or she would, in turn, do the same the next year, it would only take about thirty-five years to reach the entire world for Christ

Did you read that? If only ONE person were to start this process, the entire world could be reached in 35 years! Christianity has been around for 2,000 years! What's going on here?

And what's more:
If every Christian alive today were to reproduce in the same way, the world would be won to Christ in the next two to four years.

What are we doing church? What are we doing?

January 1, 2008

No Resolutions

Welcome to my newly reformatted blog. I was reviewing some old posts in the past week and I realized how cyclical my blogging is. After not blogging for several months, I post a new message lamenting my lack of blogging and make a promise to blog more frequently. Every time, slightly a different story.

So this time, I will will make no such promises. We'll see if this results in anything different. If it does, great. If not, whatever. I definitely hope be a regular blogger though...

On that note, with today being the first day of 2008 and all, I thought I would share something with you:

This year I have resolved to have no new year's resolutions.

In the same way my promises to blog collapse, in years past anything I have resolved to do in a new year never really happens beyond the first week or two. So instead of resolving to do something and failing (for whatever reason), I decided not to even bother.

This is not failure. Nor is this premature acceptance of defeat. This would actually be something far more self-disciplinary than any sort of new year's resolution.

I propose instead of deciding upon new year's resolutions, we create new day resolutions. Every day, we resolve to make whatever changes we need to make happen, and we actually do them.

Many people, after "falling off the wagon" as it were, kind of go through days accepting defeat waiting for another major life event (i.e. new years) to implement what they hope will be a lasting change. But clearly, these hardly ever work out.

The coolest part about days are, you start them by waking up and you end them by going to sleep. And you only have several hours you need to manage. This is a ton easier than trying to bother with entire days, weeks, and months. You get a fresh start every 24 hours. Not every 365 days.

So whatever is important to you, do it. Today. Whatever junk you need to get rid of from your life, make sure you get rid of it. Today.

Make today better than yesterday.