Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Ever since a book came out on this subject a couple of years ago, there has been a lot of discussion given as to why more men aren't in church. I have never read the book but it is my understanding that at least one of the major assertions in the book is that churches are too feminine -- that they cater to women and kids. I think that may be a case of the chicken and the egg though. Do churches not have men because they cater instead to women and kids or do churches cater to women and kids because that is who is showing up?

I have some strong feelings on this subject but first let me say that I think it's a very worthy subject. A study done by the United Methodist Church a couple of years ago showed overwhelmingly that, in an unchurched "traditional" family, if the husband goes to church first, then there is a strong likelihood that the wife and kids will follow. If the wife and/or kids go to church first, though, well, good luck on getting daddy to follow because it probably isn't going to happen.

Now, do I think men stay away from churches because churches are too feminine? Balogna! I don't think that's the problem at all. I may not be the most manly of men but I'm also no PeeWee Herman (sorry, PeeWee), and I absolutely have never avoided church because it felt too "fufu". I have written before that churches need to be "comfortable" for the people they are trying to reach and I still feel that way but, I'm telling you, churches could be like sports bars or cigar bars or even topless bars and not one more man is going into them unless he's invited and unless he sees a need in his life that casues him to go to church.

Saying that men don't go to church because churches cater to women and kids is a convenient line of thought because it blames the problem on the institution itself. What I am saying, though, is different. I am putting the blame firmly on the shoulders of all of us who do go to church -- especially men.

I think the book also talks about the importance of small "affinity" group ministry directed to men and I am all for that. That can make it more comfortable for us to invite other men to church functions.

But, what about this ... what about spreading the Good News of God's redemptive grace to get men into church? What about talking to them about the importance of making sure their kids are in church? Studies clearly show that most Americans believe in God but yet many of those folks are not going to church. How about telling them of the importance of going to church to worship, to praise, to learn, to be trained, and to build relationships with other believers? What's wrong with that? It's intimidating, yes. Hugely intimidating to an introvert like me. But it's putting the responsibility firmly where it belongs -- on my shoulders -- rather than taking the easy route of blaming the institution of church.

  posted at 10:56 PM  

I only have one time that I remember playing hooky from school (at least officially -- I am sure there were many days when I pretended to be sicker than I really was if it kept me out of school that day). It was my senior year and it was Senior Skip Day. But I didn't go to the lake with my classmates ... no, I went to work that day ... and no one wrote an excuse note for me (nor did I forge one) so I was one of just a few who served detention for missing that day.

Well, I have been sick the last couple of days and I stayed home from work. I felt like I was playing hooky though. I am quite sure that everything went on just fine without me but, still, I felt like I was playing hooky. Even though I was home sick, I had to venture out a couple of times to attend meetings and once to go to the annual awards program at our son's school. I felt bad about that. If one of our team members at work stayed home sick but then went out and did personal stuff, it would undoubtedly be frowned upon, but yet that is what I did the past couple of days. This evening, though, I skipped a church meeting. And I felt like I was playing hooky from that! (I am SO conflicted!) It's just that I feel miserable with a sinus infection and I have no voice so I could not have talked at the meeting anyway. Of course, I tend to be pretty quiet at meetings ... sometimes, meetings seem surreal and sort of "out of body" to me. It's like I know what the outcome will be so I just sit there listening to the back and forth, knowing exactly where it will all land. But then there are times when things are going different from where I foresaw them going and that tends to be when I speak up.

All of this not feeling well has reminded me of what a horrible patient I am. I think most men are that way. We're big babies. I swear, my wife could have her entire body riddled with shrapnel, bullet holes in each extremity and a poison arrow stuck in her abdomen and she'd just keep on going, taking care of our son and me in her usual quiet way. She is incredible and so under-appreciated. I need to work on fixing that "under-appreciated" part.

Back to playing hooky but doing personal things that day anyway ... sort of a double standard as I would frown on my team members for doing it. I am sure that people at work see double standards in my actions on occasion. It's hard for me to be 100% consistent in my decision making. Heck, at my age, I can't even remember what decisions I might have made in the past, so I often forget any precedents that have been set. But, it's more than that. Relationships are complex ... sometimes, for various reaons, you look for ways to reward certain team members. Maybe they have put out some extra effort or brought some extra creativity to the table. You want to reward them but then you're in a situation where you will be accused of having double standards which favor some people over others or perhaps some folks will see an occasional "reward" as an "entitlement" down the road. I know, I know, I need to strive for fairness and equity at all times. I also need to do better at just congratulating folks when they go above and beyond and challenging folks when they are not working up to par. I'm not good enough in either of those areas.

I don't want to scare anyone but I was probably never meant to be a business manager. I never really had anyone tell me what I should be though, so I fell into this. I really wasn't trained or mentored for it so I am learning every day, even after all these years. I really don't like difficult situations and I prefer to make decisions from my gut more than anything else. The problem is, when you're the manager, all eyes are staring at you, just waiting on you to make a mistake, show a double standard, or accidentally go back on your word. I don't like being in the hot seat, especially when there may be days that I really do play hooky. ;-)

  posted at 8:40 PM  

One of the headlines on today is about the president of the Congo reacting with dismay and disgust when he saw a CNN film on the rapings, mutilations, and killings being enacted on women and girls in his country by his own military. He described the actions as "unforgivable" and the opposite of what a military force should be doing. He went on to talk about how the Congo is a huge land, though, with poor infrastructure and few roads. He said that these things are hard to control but they will try.

This just makes me think of how truly blessed we are here in the United States. It gives me feelings similar to the sole survivor of a mining accident -- "Why us?" I don't know the answer to that but I do know the Truth of Luke 12:48 -- in The Message, it is "Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities!"

I have to lump myself right in there with everyone else in this country, though, and say that I think we're so blessed that we don't even know what sacrifice is. If I say I want to sacrifice for my needy brother, that sounds well and noble. But, I am so blessed, is it really sacrifice when I give only a small portion? Can I really feel the pain of sacrifice and then go on tooling around in my late model car and going to my comfortable house in a nice neighborhood? Is that sacrifice? Certainly, as proved out in his life, it wasn't sacrifice to Jesus.

This type of thing troubles me greatly. I understand giving out of our blessings. I understand being blessed by blessing others. I get the picture on all of that. What I really wonder, deep down, though, is am I really carrying this out unless I am giving my all and my everything? Giving of my time, energy and talents -- that is pretty easy (especially when you're as talentless as I am); tithing and then some is easily doable with some planning. But, still, look at all the "stuff" I have -- that we all have in comparison to 90% of the people on this earth! Am I -- are we -- doing enough? I don't believe so. Will I change? If so, when?

  posted at 1:22 PM  

Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Generally, Jesus hung around more with the hurting of the world, not the aristrocracy. What would He think of us today? And, for that matter, what sort of crowd is attracted to most of our churches today? Primarily the well-dressed and well-heeled or at least the upwardly mobile? It unfortunately seems that way from my perspective. Donald Miller, in his book “Searching For God Knows What,” makes the great point that, if Jesus aligned Himself largely with the “low life” of society or at the very least, “commoners,” why have we created institutions today that those folks do not want to go to? Why do they not want to be around the “churched” and the churches of today? Is it the traditions we have created? The buildings we’ve built? The attitudes we’ve copped? How can we create a church which not only looks, but thinks and feels more like a Seven-Eleven than a church?

The trend of many growing churches in recent years has been to make their buildings feel like a gymnasium. I am not all that keen on that concept. Some of us are gymnasium-averse. We get hurt in gymnasiums (emotionally maybe even more so than physically). Churches should be places of healing and transformation, not pain and despair. How can a church be more like the place where I stop to get a cheap cup of coffee (a coffee shop, not a coffee house,) or the place where I could go to get a microwave burrito, if I really ate such things? It’s not that I envision folks running in for a “six pack of grace” or a “microwave-ready pack of God’s Love – Super Size today, please, because I am feeling very needy” but just a place that anyone can approach, and feel comfortable in so doing. Fact is, God’s love, forgiveness, and grace are even way cooler and more convenient than “convenience store grace” because Jesus already paid the price and we can receive them at no cost, wherever and whenever we like. And there’s no sales tax. (Not that He wouldn’t want us to go ahead and pay it if there were one.)

Interesting story here … not for the faint of heart perhaps but nonetheless I am sharing it. (So skip a paragraph or two if that is you, please!) I saw a news story (warning: it may not be possible to trust all of my news sources) where a couple (man and woman) went into a restroom at a convenience store. They came out with something wrapped up in paper towels which they asked the store clerk to microwave for them. Apparently, though, they were not sure how long it should be microwaved. It started smelling really funky so the store clerk took it out of the microwave and proceeded to unwrap it, revealing what, much to her horror, appeared to be a severed penis. Upon further investigation, it was actually a fake penis used to pass drug tests. Apparently, the woman had urinated her “clean” urine into it and the man was about to take it and use it someplace for the purpose of passing a drug screen. The microwaving was to ensure that the urine would stay body-temperature warm. I am a bit curious why they chose to do this at a convenience store rather than at home but, the point is (I think), that they were incredibly comfortable at the convenience store. I am not condoning that it would be wise for us to have churches people want to go to for the purpose of staging fake drug screens (all in all, a bad thing) but there is a lot to be said for creating an atmosphere where the folks who are most sought-after by Jesus would want to be. Let’s face it, people go where they feel comfortable.

Now, not that criminals necessarily want to be in jail but I am a big fan of prison ministries because they reach the folks Jesus wanted to reach. The same goes for holding AA meetings and other 12-step programs and recovery groups at churches. God has an answer for the broken and that is who He strives to reach more than anyone … I think He’s pretty certain that it’s too late for the “comfortable” among us. Let’s make our churches not look intimidating. Let’s bring in the folks that Jesus was so passionate about, the folks that we are called to be passionate about and to show His love to.

I apologize if my story about the incident involving the couple in the convenience store shocked anyone. My point is this – there are lots of folks out there today who, even in their moments of greatest despair and brokenness, are absolutely not going to just pop into the local church and “get Jesus”. We must be constantly reaching out to them but we must also make our churches more comfortable and inviting to those who Jesus reached out to. To some degree, what I am talking about is almost akin to the Reformation. Today, I think that many Christians are too committed to church buildings and traditions. Having grown up in the late 1960s, I have seen some major shifting back and forth over the years in regards to this and, if anything, we seem to be heading in a better direction today but the focus must be, just as Jesus showed us, on small group relational ministry, reaching those who are at points of brokenness and just seeking love, acceptance, and a new life direction. The question is, where will we reach them?

  posted at 10:37 PM  

Psalm 63
1 O God, you are my God,

earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.
2 I have seen you in the sanctuary

and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life,

my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live,

and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;

with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

It’s hard to travel around Israel without thinking a lot about water. Except for the Sea of Galilee and a few valleys, it is a parched land. In the areas where it is less dry, though, the water creates a wonderful oasis of green.

It occurs to me that the spiritual landscape of our own country is much like this. We have many parched areas where God is continually rejected. Most TV shows and movies fit the bill for that. Many social settings do, too. As Christians, it is our call to bring God’s love to those areas, providing the living water to change the landscape. How often do I, though, prefer to stay in the lush valleys because, well, it’s just a lot more comfortable there. I may have to get dirty, hot, and sweaty if I wander out of the lush areas of life and work to bring water to a thirsty world.

When we visited archaeological digs, we would see aqueducts, cisterns, pools, and wells, built to create systems for carrying water over long distances, storing it, and then providing it as needed. The similarity to God’s call to us as Christians cannot be missed.

In the New International Version translation of the Bible, there are 620 references to “water”. This is just a few more than the number of references to “heaven” and a few less than the number of references to “love”. When God laid it on the hearts of people to write about water, though, it had to stir up huge emotions because water was so precious. Today, I think that we have lost our emotion about water. If we need water for cleaning, we turn on the tap and don’t think twice. If it’s not quite the right temperature, we will just let it run down the drain until the temperature adjusts to where we want it to be. If we want water to drink, we will go get a bottle of water, hold a glass up against a little spout on our refrigerator door, or maybe go to the water cooler. It’s all very easy and very taken for granted. That simply wasn’t the case during Bible times.

Water was truly a precious commodity then. We saw ruins of old streets that were built with beautiful huge slabs of marble. It made me think of heaven’s streets of gold. To us today, those slabs of marble are precious and would only be used in the finest and most expensive construction. Certainly they’d never be used to pave streets. Not so 3,000 years ago in Israel though. They had plenty of marble. Water was their precious commodity.

Yet, here again, God freely gives His love – His “water” if you will, to us. He only asks that we in turn store it in our hearts as best we can, carry it to those in need, and give it away. Just as the aqeducts would serve as never-ending sources of water, God’s love for us never ends. We have to work by continually refreshing ourselves with His word and by relationships with His people to keep that aqueduct open and life-sustaining but it is ours for the doing and His love is ours for the taking.

The walls and floors of the cisterns we saw were lined with a plaster-like material which preserved them and kept the water from escaping in unintended directions. If the water would run dry in a cistern, the plaster on the walls would crumble and, without repairs, that cistern would leak and cease to hold water. It seems to work that way in our lives as well. If we are not continually re-circulating God’s love – giving it away and replenishing it before it evaporates, we lose our value as a well and as a conduit for carrying God’s love to others. Much like the reality of living in the desert – if you are not continually maintaining your water supply, you lose your life.

  posted at 9:05 AM  

I used to follow politics. Heck, I was even at a Ronald Reagan rally once. (I was also at an anti-Reagan rally in West Germany once.) And then there was that unfortunate interlude with Ross Perot. But no more ...

Politics are nothing more than a sport. With all of the sparring and low blows, it is impossible to see them as anything else. The Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board controls our economy.

I am not a fan of many sports except baseball. So, I hereby declare myself independent of the sport of politics as well. My voting from here on out will be based solely on who I think will best protect my family.

(Okay, that is overtly shallow and I apologize. It is borne out of frustration and I probably don't entirely mean it but there is some truth to it.)

  posted at 8:58 AM  

I put together this silliness when ... well, you'll understand ...

Plumbing is a serious thing
‘Specially when it doesn’t drain
This took place on a Saturday morn
When I wished I’d never been born

I dove into the potty of water
My poop went down, down, down
But the water came higher

And it’s wet, wet, wet
The potty of water
The potty of water

Plumbing works so neat
When your poop is oh so sweet
But when you add some mire
The water comes higher

I dove into the potty of water
My poop went down, down, down
But the water came higher

And it’s wet, wet, wet
The potty of water
The potty of water

I had to clear the clog
My hand, it felt a log
But it wouldn’t budge
Without a big old nudge

I dove into the potty of water
My poop went down, down, down
But the water came higher

And it’s wet, wet, wet
The potty of water
The potty of water

Now all is well,
I’m feeling so swell
But all I’ve got left
Is that doggone smell!

I dove into the potty of water
My poop went down, down, down
But the water came higher

And it’s wet, wet, wet
The potty of water
The potty of water

And it’s wet, wet, wet

The potty of water

The potty of water

  posted at 8:57 AM  

The following silliness was written after my dad was convinced someone was stealing sod from one of our properties. Turns out, he had seen some areas where we had had some very large stumps recently removed. But the odd thing is that, later that day, I read on cnn about some poor bloke in California who had a neighbor come and steal his new sod lawn, putting it in his own yard instead!

Stealers of the sod
Stealers of the sod
Into this house we're born
Into this world we're thrown
Like a dog without a lawn
A yard boy out on loan
Stealers of the sod

There’s a sod thief on the road
His brain is squirmin like a toad
Take a long holiday
Let your children play
If ya give this man a ride
Your sweet yard will die
Killer of the sod, yeah
Man ya gotta love your lawn
Man ya gotta love your lawn
Take it by the blade
Make it be high grade
The grass on you depends
Your lawn will never end
Gotta love your lawn, yeah

Wow!Stealers of the sod
Stealers of the sod
Into this house we're born
Into this world we're thrown
Like a dog without a lawn
A yard boy out on loan
Stealers of the sod
Stealers of the sod
Stealers of the sod
Stealers of the sod
Stealers of the sod
Stealers of the sod

  posted at 8:52 AM  

Why a paradox and not a parageese? We have plenty of geese around these parts.

There was a book written last year titled "The Paradox of Excellence: How Great Performance Can Kill Your Business." I have not read this book but I have read about it enough to think that I understand its point. I think my business suffers from this on occasion.

The claim is that, when your business does things well, be they technology related, customer service related, quality related, whatever ... you and your customers both take those things for granted over time. Customers start demanding more from you, as well they should, and you strive to give it to them. However, when you mess up in that quest to give them more, they are ready to flush you down the toilet. They can easily switch to another vendor, and train them on all the things you did well but both of you took for granted.

How do you avoid this? Well, I believe that the authors propose that you tactfully and continually remind your customers of the good things you do -- of your key competencies and shining points.

I believe that we are experiencing The Paradox of Excellence right now with at least one of our customers. They are a particularly good account and I appreciate them most for the way they continually challenge us to better ourselves. That is a good thing. However, when we encounter times that we cannot react as quickly as we should or we cannot accomplish some of the things they ask of us, I feel like we're walking on eggshells with them. Now, they are a very loyal customer and they have not dumped us yet but my point is that, when we cannot do the things they would like us to do, I feel like they completely forget about the good things we do, the things that drove them to us in the first place, the things that benefit their business day in and day out. They seem to forget about the uniqueness of our products, the quality of our service, and the integrity with which we approach our relationship.

The question is how do you continually remind them of these things without it seeming self-serving. I suppse I can think of a few ways to do that. But maybe I need to read the book ...

  posted at 7:25 AM  

Well, I guess that I must have an obligatory "here I am" first post. All that usual stuff about not knowing why I am doing this ... To me, writing is pretty narcissistic. I think it is a bit bold of me to think that anyone else's life will be made better by anything I write. In that case, I am just creating a tremendous time waster for anyone who reads this. In fact, I do wonder how much time is being wasted by blogging these days. Not just the actual writing but also th thinking about blogging -- you know, having things pop into your head that you then dwell on and wonder whether they can be developed into something blog worthy.

Like most folks, I do not intend to tell many people, if any, about my blog. I suppose if someone stumbles across it, that is fine; as long as I did not direct them to it.

All in all, this should be a good way for me to keep track of my thoughts and ideas ... basically a public journal.

Life's been hectic lately. Several not so good things going on and a resulting feeling of being overwhelmed. I was reading the other day about someone who was saying that times like these really test their faith. Sort of a "if you really love me, God, why am I having to go through this?" thing. Well, people have asked that for several thousand years, certainly back to the Israelites wandering around in the desert. So, there's nothing new to that. For me, though, it is the tough times in life which remind me of why I have faith in God. He gives me strength during the tough times, just knowing that He is in control and that the tough times are actually times of preparation. The knowledge that I will late look back and see how God was at work in my life even in the tough times is hugely comforting. If this is all preparation for things yet to come, though, it sort of keeps one on the edge of their seat wondering what will come next though, eh?

Well, I have to run.

  posted at 5:39 AM  

Who Am I?

Todd M


An ordinary guy. A wife I love very much. A great son. Wonderful friends. A metal roofing business and a sales training business. A loving church family. A few trade associations. A Christian school. And a four-pound poodle. Just trying to follow God and see where He leads.

My Complete Profile

Buy My Book! (please)
  • Trying To Lose My "Self" In Israel

  • Past Posts

  • Great Blogs
  • Dan Gildner
  • Hope Shifts
  • Trey Morgan
  • Hey Jules
  • DadBloggers
  • David Porath
  • Antique Mommy
  • Tony Morgan
  • Chris Reeder
  • Gary Lamb
  • Perry Noble
  • David Foster
  • Scott Hodge
  • Mark Meyer
  • Donald Miller
  • Sidney First Leadership Community
  • Irenic Thoughts
  • Sidney First UMC

  • Archives
  • May 2006
  • June 2006
  • July 2006
  • August 2006
  • September 2006
  • October 2006
  • November 2006
  • December 2006
  • January 2007
  • February 2007
  • March 2007
  • April 2007
  • May 2007
  • June 2007
  • July 2007
  • August 2007
  • September 2007
  • October 2007
  • November 2007
  • December 2007
  • January 2008
  • February 2008
  • March 2008
  • April 2008
  • May 2008
  • June 2008
  • July 2008
  • August 2008
  • September 2008
  • October 2008
  • November 2008
  • December 2008
  • January 2009
  • February 2009
  • March 2009
  • April 2009
  • May 2009
  • June 2009
  • July 2009
  • August 2009
  • September 2009
  • November 2009
  • December 2009
  • January 2010
  • March 2010
  • April 2010
  • June 2010
  • September 2010
  • July 2011

  • Gargantuan List of Methodist Bloggers

    Credits and Links


    Christian Blogger Network