Monday, April 30, 2007

Smoke-free's the way to be

I got this from, I thought it was extremely noteworthy.

With increasing anti-smoking sentiment in Ames, impending Iowa legislation may give the Ames City Council a more effective way to ban smoking in public places.
Although the form the law will take remains in question, legislation is being passed through the Iowa Senate and House of Representatives that would raise the tobacco tax by another dollar and ban smoking in bars, restaurants and other public places.
"I think the net effect we will see is that we are just able to enforce the ordinances we already made," said Councilman Matthew Goodman, owner of Smiles & Gyros and co-owner of The Flying Burrito.
The Senate approved raising the tax by $1 and creating a statewide ban on public smoking, but the House is debating leaving the option up to each individual town. A Senate committee also endorsed a plan to allow harsher restrictions to be dictated by each city than the laws passed by state legislators.
Much of the controversy surrounding the smoking ban in Ames revolves around the loss of revenue for restaurants that no longer support smoking. Many business owners opposed the ordinance enacted in August 2001 that prevented smoking indoors from 6 a.m. until 8:30 p.m., with the argument that they would lose customers and profits.
Goodman said there was no empirical evidence to show that restaurants had lost any revenue since the ban.
"From everything I've seen, we really haven't lost any customers or profit," he said. "Although a lot of people were against the city enacting laws that restricted some of their smoking, they've adapted to the change. They can still smoke outdoors and then go inside the building."
Mayor Ann Campbell echoed Goodman's sentiments, noting that even when the ordinance was first declared unconstitutional by the Iowa Supreme Court, many restaurants did not revert.
"In terms of outcry, when any change that is significant is made, we always have some controversy from people who do not want the change," Campbell said. "When the law was first struck down by the courts, however, I noticed many of the restaurants that had been complaining about possibly losing business didn't go back to allowing any smoking."
The council unanimously approved the smoking bans and will continue to support the legislation.
If approved, the new legislation would not affect the recently enacted 25 ft. nonsmoking radius around all university buildings.
Unfortunately for smokers, Iowa State may follow the University of Iowa in the complete banning of smoking on campus. The new state laws will give more freedom to the university to ban all smoking on campus.
ISU President Gregory Geoffroy said he hoped to pass a rule banning all smoking on campus which would be in place by 2009.

I am extremely envious of a smoke-free campus. As one of my famous groups on facebook says, "having a smoking section in a restaurant (in this case, a public place) is like having a peeing section in a pool".

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Moved to Tears

I got this out of my John Piper devotional:

"Not long ago, a phone call moved me to tears. I had never recieved one like it in my life. Never. I hacn hardly believe it even now. It was more gracious than I could have legitimately hoped for.

A friend of mine called from out of state. He is a pastor and a school administrator. He is busy in multiple ministries and has a family. He told me that he was at a conference recently and the speaker challenged those present to consider the impact they might have if they devoted themselves to praying for someone every day.

He said that as he was praying, the Lord brought my name to mind. He had given it thought and prayer, and he wanted to tell me that from now until he dies or I die -- or Jesus comes back -- he is going to pray for me everyday.

I could hardly believe it. No one but Noel, my parents, and Jesus has ever made such a commitment to me. Imagine it. That means, if he and I live out our three score and ten years, he will pray for me more than eight thousand times. It means rain or shine, he is praying. For better or for worse, he is praying. If I make shipwreck of my faith and commit apostasy, he is praying.

This kind of commitment takes my breath away. It brought tears of joy and gratitude. It made me tremble. It was, in fact, an inexpressible demonstration of God's covenant love to me. I feel that I have been loved with bands that cannot be broken. I am overwhelmed.

How is such a thing possible? It is possible because it really is a part of God's covenant and not just a human imitation of it. This kind of love is an overflow of God's commitment to be everything my friend needs in this life and the next. God has said to him and me: "I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put hte fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me" (Jeremiah 32:40). This means that God is the guarantor of our constancy. If we do not turn away from what we promise to do, it is God's work; "I will not turn away from doing them good."

I hung up the phone and prayed: "Thank you, Lord. I need this power and this guidance so much. O that I might be docile in the Lord's hands. Lord, bless my friend in his intercession for me. Strengthen him. Use me for his good in the way you touch me through him. May we be mutually empowered by this commitment."

What an amazingly foreign thing this is in our unstable culture! Someone who says, "Not just if it feels good, not just if I think of it, not just if you respond well, and not just if I am fulfilled by it -- John, you can count on it, every day until the Lord returns or I die, I will pray for you, whether it's one minute or one hour."

What prayer promise might God be leading you to make? This is not the only good king of commitment you can make. There are all kinds. For example, I am committed to pray for our church staff by name every day as long as I am the pastor of this church.

Pause and ponder the possibilities."

When I read this, it kind of blew my mind. I mean, prayer is crucial. Through prayer God is able to work in our lives, touch and shape our hearts and move us forward in life. Prayer is powerful. God does hear and answer our prayers. Sometimes it doesn't seem like it, but I believe that God always gives us one of three answers: "Yes", "Not now" or "I have something better in mind". With that in mind, we've all heard stories about the power of prayer in people's lives. People who have prayed for missionaries and then those missionaries have brought people to Christ. People have prayed for prisoners and seen them change their lives. People who have prayed for their friends and family and seen them flourish. The best part is that God is working in your life while He's working in the life of the person you're praying for. God can do great things through prayer. It would be great if each of us could find a person, a group, an organization, a nation, whatever each day. Obviously, it would be good to learn about the person or group of people that you're praying for, but a good start is to just pray that God would hear the prayers of that other person and address their needs, showing them His loving mercy each and every day of their lives.

Just a thought...I'll wait and see what comes of it, though. If you have more to contribute or thoughts on this topic, totally share them with me...I'd love to hear it.