Friday, June 29, 2007
For about a year, I have been using Google Alerts to let me know when news stories about certain subjects hit. I have been using it primarily to track certain subjects and players in my business industry. It's free, easy to set up through the Google advanced page, and very helpful in keeping informed.

  posted at 8:41 AM  

Thursday, June 28, 2007
The group of folks from our church who went to Israel this year returned yesterday. Today, I ran into Chris, our senior pastor who led the trip, and Cynthia -- one of my fellow pilgrims from last year who returned this year. Besides Chris, I think she was the only one to go back this year.

The glow was still on their faces. Chris mentioned he already feels a bit "homesick" for this far away country that he loves. I can relate. It's been more than a year since I went and I really cannot wait to return.

Violence or not. Government scandals or not. There is something about seeing the world that Christ Himself saw and walked.

  posted at 10:13 PM  

A short while ago, my girlfriend wrote a review of the book "Same Kind of Different As Me" by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. Now, I have to tell you, as I watched her read that book, I wasn't really sure that I wanted to read it. It seemed pretty girly-girl to me. It made Lisa get all teary-eyed and stuff. But she kept telling me how good it was ... and it had been awhile since I'd read anything that had a "story" to it ... so I broke down and have been reading it. Not quite finished yet but almost. You really must read this book. If you read this book and it doesn't show you God, if it doesn't help you find a purpose for your life, if it doesn't drive you to a better perspective on life, if it doesn't make you reach places you maybe never thought you'd reach ... please call me. I want to be your friend ... forever. (That will make more sense when you read the book.)

  posted at 2:06 PM  

A friend and mentor of mine recently posed this question to me (as he had been posed it by a friend of his):

Is the fruit you are currently producing consistent with your potential at this season of your life?

Wow. If that isn't a thought-provoking and good question.

I have thought quite a bit about it. This season of my life seems like a very busy one. Of course, all of the prior ones did, too. Perhaps I am my own worst enemy in that respect.

As I age, I am finding that I am more of an "idea guy" than a "do-er". I used to laugh at people like that. I used to say things like "Those who can, do; those who can't, consult."

But I am discovering that wisdom does come with age. Part of that wisdom is the increasing knowledge and awareness that I always need to keep learning, keep reading, keep listening. Somehow, that increase in knowledge creates an increase in creativity and that is where the ideas come from.

Fleshing out those ideas is where I need help in order to be as effective as possible. But my fault is in sometimes being too controlling of the fleshing out of those ideas, often not empowering others enough, and sometimes simply tossing out ideas whose time really has not yet come.

Of course, on the other hand, I crave seeing creativity in others. I get tired of being the "idea guy" ... I want to see others grow and flourish and come into their own with ideas and successes. I actually have no problem being an "Indian" (just an old saying -- no slur intended) beneath a good chief who has the creativity and casts a strong vision and direction. No problem at all. I enjoy following good leaders. I see a real lack of them in many organizations, though, including my own company. And sometimes I worry if I have created that situation by being too controlling and not empowering enough. I see people who want to lead but they don't want to really step out with fresh ideas and the clear vision of a true leader.

Sometimes there is a deception that takes place wherein the leader claims they are empowering others but yet they send mixed messages, don't provide the right tools, etc. I wonder how much I fall into that and how often that impacts the fruit I am producing.

Am I being as fruitful as I can be in this season of my life? Probably not. There would be something prideful in saying that I am.

So I move forward, press on, striving to better myself, striving to empower those around me, and striving to help them be as much as they can be, whether I am leading them or following them. I enjoy serving and helping others and want to do more of it. That is my life I think.

  posted at 7:13 AM  

Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Over at The Familyhood Church, Codepoke has a review of NT Wright's book, The Resurrection of the Son of God. I need to add that to my reading list.

  posted at 10:38 PM  

One of my strong interests lies in the subject of Faith in the Workplace. There is no bigger mission field in the world today for Christians than the workplace and the vast majority of us are in it day in and day out. How do we find meaning in that? How do we live out our faith there? How do we see God's calling on us in the workplace?

This recent article is by no means comprehensive on this subject but it shares some good insight from the perspective of an executive at Coca Cola.

A Christian Business Worldview

"...whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." (I Corinthians 10:31)

  posted at 7:55 PM  

Yesterday was my wonderful Lisa's birthday. Words cannot express what a difference she has made in my life. If it were not for her, I would be an even grumpier and even more confused old man than I am.

Lisa, thank you for all you are ... for all you do ... for being the love of my life these past 26 short years ...

Why do birds suddenly appear,
Everytime you are near?
Just like me, they long to be,
Close to you......

Why do stars fall down from the sky,
Everytime you walk by?
Just like me, they long to be,
close to you.........

On the day that you were born the angels got together,
And decided to create a dream come true,
So they sprinkled moondust in your hair
And golden starlight in your eyes so true...

Just like me, they long to be,
close to you......

I love you, babe.

  posted at 10:26 AM  

Working from a coffeehouse a bit this morning and just overheard a group of older women discussing how cell phones are polluting the air. I am wondering if I need to alert Al Gore of this.

  posted at 10:13 AM  

Interesting reports on the CIA's recently-released Family Jewels:

Globe and Mail


  posted at 9:56 AM  

A great follow-up to the Apostle Peter story from Steve Troxel of God's Daily Word Ministries ...

Peter heard the call of Jesus in the middle of a storm and "got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus" (Matthew 14:29). Peter knew the voice of his Lord and knew that if He called, He would also provide a way to follow. But Peter soon "saw the wind...and, beginning to sink, cried out, 'Lord, save me!'" (Matthew 14:30).

Matthew 14:31-33
"Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. 'You of little faith,' He said, 'why did you doubt?' And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, 'Truly You are the Son of God.'"

Jesus' words to Peter might seem a little harsh. After all, Peter had stepped onto the water while the other disciples remained in the boat. But Peter needed to be encouraged in what true faith could accomplish. He needed to clearly see that "with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26), but only if he kept his eyes focused on Jesus. God had great plans for Peter - plans which would require great faith - so Jesus ministered to Peter's doubts and fears by meeting him on the water.

Jesus then climbed in the boat with the other disciples. Rather than chastising them for their lack of faith and telling them how they should have climbed out of the boat, Jesus simply allowed them to worship. These disciples had failed to understand who He was, and now they needed to just spend time loving and worshiping their Lord. Jesus ministered to the needs of these disciples by meeting them in the boat.

The Apostle Paul had a clear understanding of ministry opportunities:
"To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some" (1 Corinthians 9:22). Paul never sinned in order to save the sinner, but he understood where a person was in their Spiritual journey and met them on their road to begin his ministry.

Every day God places people in our life who need encouragement and desperately need to be directed onto a path which will lead them closer to God. None of us know all the answers, and we certainly don't need to force everything we know into a single conversation, but we each are given an opportunity to minister - an opportunity which may only last a moment and may never truly return.

Let's look for the specific needs of those who cross our path and be prepared to encourage with the truth of God's Word. But as we speak the truth, whether on the water, in the boat or even back on the shore, let's minister as we meet them where they are.

  posted at 6:14 AM  


Well, it finally happened last evening. My friend the kidney stone is now free. Attached is a picture of it.

Actually, of course, this picture is not really my stone. Mine was miniscule in comparison. But this is a stone that was surgically removed from an eleven-year-old boy in Afghanistan.

I cannot imagine the pain he was in. We can complain about doctors and medical costs and insurance all we want but we are so fortunate to have a medical system here in the states that probably never would have allowed something like this to develop undiagnosed.

Here's a link to the story if you're interested. Maybe say a few prayers today for folks all over the globe who do not have the benefit of the medical system we have here in the states.

  posted at 6:07 AM  

Here's the daily devotional I received today from

"...but glory and honor and peace to every man who does good, to the Jew and also to the Greek." Romans 2:10

"Does Good" – Do you want honor and glory and peace? Do you want these more than you want a better job, a bigger house and prestige within your community? Do you want them more than pleasure, security and ease? When the accounting books are ready to be closed, will you have entries that produce GHP (Glory, Honor, Peace) or will you be left with the verdict, “They have received their reward?”

I want GHP results. What else really matters? Money can’t buy me love – and it can’t buy any of the other things that really count either (like GHP). God is gracious. He tells us that GHP is available – and He tells us exactly how to get it. The verb is ergazomai. Oh, if you thought it was about being a good person (doing good), then you didn’t understand the word. The word is about working! It literally means, “who having worked out the good.” You can’t sit around and hope for the best. You have to do the hard work of receiving glory, honor and peace. Don’t be fooled. This is struggle. No one enters the Kingdom without a fight.

Working out the good is a full-time occupation. Yes, I know it’s hard. But did you think that Jesus went to the cross so that your life could be easy? He went to the cross so that your life could be redeemed, not relaxed. And when you live in a war zone, when you are surrounded by the enemy 24/7, when you have a fifth column doing sabotage work inside you, then you know that redemption does come easily. What Jesus guaranteed is the result. You will make it if you persevere. He insured that. But He did not die a torturous death so that you could skate along into heaven. He died so that you could be called His friend – and join Him in the battle of a lifetime. You are fighting the greatest enemy the universe has every known – Sin (with a capital S). Victory is insured. Jesus saw to that. But the battle is fierce and rages daily. Yes, you have plenty of help. You could not survive on your own. But don’t for a second think that life is R&R. Life is fighting hell on earth, reclaiming the ground for God. Get used to it.

Work out the good. Sweat through those times when the enemy tries to undermine your resolve. Give until it hurts (did you think Jesus shed blood without pain?). Let go of your need for protection, your desire for status, your hope for pleasure. No one goes into a battle thinking they are on vacation. Find out where God is changing things and sign up. Glory, honor and peace are at stake. Or did you think that you could get glory through career climbing, honor through personal alliances and peace through prosperity? Does the Bible lie?

  posted at 6:04 AM  

Tuesday, June 26, 2007
JAMES 5 (The Message)
Humility, grace, authenticity, reconciliation and redemption. James doesn't mince words as he explains these things. I only wonder if, in view of verses 1 - 6, James wouldn't throw pretty much the whole lot of we Americans into the very things he is warning about.

  posted at 5:47 AM  

The following was written by Os Hillman of Today God Is First Ministries. It speaks pretty deeply to me right now, particularly in light of my Pride issue.

When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly. - 1 Peter 2:23

Have you ever been wrongfully accused? Oh, the need to defend and justify becomes so great. "What will people think if they believe these things are true?" we reason. Imagine what Jesus thought as they hurled insults and threats upon Him. The God of the universe had visited planet earth only to be slandered and accused of blasphemy.

Jesus could have done two things in response. He could have used His power to put the people in their place. He could have responded "horizontally." He could have fixed the problem right then. However, He chose to respond in a different way. He chose to "entrust Himself to Him who judges justly." It requires great faith to entrust ourselves to God in the midst of personal assault. However, if we can do this, we will discover a level of grace and wisdom that will be birthed from this experience that we never thought possible. We will discover a freedom in God we never knew before. Whenever we suffer for righteousness without seeking to protect our reputation and rights, we are placing our total faith in the one who can redeem us. This activates God's grace in our lives and enables us to experience God's presence like never before.

Ask God to give you the grace to stay vertical with Him. Avoid the temptation of responding horizontally each time some event comes into your life that you want to "fix." Entrust yourself to the one who judges justly. It may be a divine appointment for your growth to another level in grace.

  posted at 5:35 AM  

If you read one thing today, make it this story about reconciliation and hope brought through the life of Amy Biehl.

  posted at 5:32 AM  

I won't vouch for its scientific validity but here's an interesting quiz to take: How Real Are You?

I was rated "79% Real": You know who you are, and you're pretty darn comfortable with yourself. Like everyone, you struggle with the parts of yourself that aren't so great... But you're good at accepting who you are and not dwelling on your faults.
As a result, you're confident, optimistic, and very real.

I need to work on that remaining 21%.

  posted at 5:19 AM  

Monday, June 25, 2007
You're cheating on God if you always want it your way. There is so much in here speaking to pride as well as to always trying to push ahead under my own power. "God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble."

"Get down on your knees before the Master; it's the only way you'll get on your feet."

Today, Father, I give this day to you. I realize that giving each day to you is my only answer. Without you, I am helpless in the face of this world. Without you, I am helpless in the face of my own pridefulness which only works to drive me deeper into trouble as I work harder and harder to face things on my own without you. Today, I give that all to you. The day is yours. I will not shirk responsibility but I will listen to you and, in all ways, work to follow your precepts and direction. May this day be wholly yours. Thank you for loving me so much. Amen

  posted at 6:02 AM  

The following was written by Steve Troxel of God's Daily Word Ministries. It really speaks to me right now. I have been falling into a trap of taking things into my own hands, especially when things are tough. I am not doing enough to invite God to be part of the process and to give me His wisdom and leading.

I've always been impulsive. I was one of the first to follow Jesus. I didn't even know who He was, but when He said "Come, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19), though I didn't know what He meant, I dropped my fishing nets and followed. After three years, I foolishly told Jesus I was "ready to go with You to prison and to death" (Luke 22:33), but that same night I denied I even knew Him - three times! And in the garden, when the soldiers came to take Him away, I drew my sword "and struck the high priest's servant, cutting off his right ear" (John 18:10).

But the most impulsive thing I ever did was that night in the boat. The waves were rough and we had "rowed three or three and a half miles" (John 6:19), when I saw Jesus walking on the water. I told Him I would come if He called, and the next thing I knew I was jumping out of the boat! And I didn't sink!! I kept my eyes on Jesus. I knew in my heart He was "the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16), but the wind was blowing so hard and the waves kept crashing against my legs.

Matthew 14:30
"But when he {Peter} saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, 'Lord, save me!'"

Jesus said Peter began to sink because he doubted and had little faith (Matthew 14:31). But let's not be too hard on Peter - remember, no one else even left the boat! Peter stepped out of the boat and took several steps on top of the water!! But then he lost his focus.

Peter was in the middle of an awesome display of God's power, and yet he "saw the wind," or at least the effects of the wind. Peter began to look at the turbulence of the world and not at the One who created the world; "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2).

There are times when we clearly see God's hand at work. Our eyes become focused on Jesus, His peace fills our life, and the foundation under our feet feels solid and secure. However, it's usually not long before the wind begins to blow, the waves rise up, and we feel that sinking feeling. When this happens (and it will) we must not despair, for this is also part of God's wonderful plan. As we are sinking, He always reaches out His hand as an invitation to draw near and know Him better - to know He will always be there when we cry out "Lord, save me!"

The walk of faith cannot be accomplished in our own strength. With each step we must "put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature" (Colossians 3:5), and "clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 13:14). Every day we must take our eyes off our own ability and the pulls of the world - take our eyes off the wind - and commit to trusting and keeping our eyes focused on Jesus.

  posted at 5:42 AM  

CNN has a neat article on how CHARITABLE GIVING by Americans set a new record last year -- alomost $300 billion, most coming from individuals, and most being given to faith-based organizations.

  posted at 5:37 AM  

Sunday, June 24, 2007
This is my 750th post. That's all I have to say about that.

  posted at 9:49 PM  

First of all, if you read my original post on James 3 which was up for a few hours this morning, I apologize. I had written it while I was half asleep and had not at all invited God to be a part of the process. When I read it over a few hours later, my how that showed! I hope it is a little better now.

Next, one thing I love about summer is being able to wear my Nothinz which are basically "Crocs" shoes. I bought them last summer when we were on vacation. I bought tan colored ones but maybe would have been better off with navy. They are ugly as all get out, and they probably look very feminine to boot. But, man are they comfortable!

Have a great week! It is Vacation Bible School at our church and many others this week. We will probably have nearly 300 kids involved as well as many youth and adults. Please keep them in your prayers.

  posted at 9:35 PM  

JAMES 3 (The Message)
Sometimes it seems like everyone's fallback sin is "pride". You get a group of Christians together and share what you're all struggling with and, almost invariably, "pride" comes up. When this happens, everyone looks very serious and nods their heads in agreement.

I used to wonder if, in situations like this, we aren't all afraid to admit to struggles with something we deem to be "more serious." Pride becomes our "fallback sin." We feel like we can admit to it, have everyone nod in agreement, and move on. If we tackled something that folks may view as heavier than "pride," gasps may be heard and folks -- even Christian folks -- may talk about us for weeks. So, we resort to "pride". A good, safe choice because it is something we figure everyone deals with.

As I deal with the pride in my own life, I fear that it is easy for me to not take it seriously enough. In God's eyes, of course, no sin is worse than any other. Jesus made that very clear in His teachings. Also, there is probably nothing more warned about in the Bible than pride. Because one sin is just as bad as any other, it is impossible to "rank" the sins in our lives but "pride" probably is the number one thing with which I struggle. Yet I am afraid that I don't take it seriously enough. Part of the fallacy of pride is that, by its very nature, it makes you want to deny ever being prideful. Therefore, I think that I have relegated it to being the "fallback sin" that I can openly admit to and then move on with my life, unchanged.

If in a situation where we're openly sharing our struggles, someone admits to one of "those really bad sins" like stealing, not telling the truth, lust, infidelity, or addictive behavior, we twitter to ourselves or go home and, without names, tell our spouse. That stuff becomes great water cooler discussion at work, doesn't it? But pride? Aw heck, everyone's doing that. That's a safe one to admit to. Never mind how much our pride is showing even in this sort of thinking!

There's such a fallacy in thinking that any sin is more or less dangerous than any other but yet with "pride" I think we do indeed (or at least I do) consider it to be a "fallback" thing that isn't really that dangerous. How dangerous that really is though!

Pride is a tough thing for me to deal with. It is almost as if our society demands pride of us, and even moreso if you're in what others view as a "leadership" position. (There's a great deal of deception in that idea but maybe we can discuss that in a different post sometime.)

How do I deal with pride? Lots of prayers for humility. Lots of reminding myself that we're all the same. But still I struggle.

Check out James 3, especially verses 13 - 16 for a great perspective on this.

And, if you're really feeling brave, check out Charles Spurgeon's 1856 sermon on Pride and Humility.

  posted at 8:32 PM  

Saturday, June 23, 2007
Two hydrogen atoms meet. One says "I've lost my electron." The other
says "Are you sure?" The first replies "Yes, I'm positive."

  posted at 3:43 PM  

At risk of aggravating my friend the kidney stone (who was pretty agitated yesterday for some reason), I spent some time today trimming the shrubs in front of our house. Trimming shrubs is not one of my favorite things to do. That is why it doesn't get done nearly as often as it should. And it almost didn't happen today ...

The morning started with the discovery that my battery operated hedge trimmers are no longer working. I had tried to charge the battery but it apparently won't take a charge. It has been a couple of years (at least) since I last used it.

So, placing the silent hedge trimmer aside, I decided to instead tackle some serious cutting on the weeping crabapple that someone (before us) planted way too close to the house. Unfortunately over the years, the trunk keeps getting longer and, as a result, I have to keep trimming the foliage closer and closer to the trunk so that it doesn't grow into the house's overhang and gutters. This is creating a very oddly shaped tree. At one point this morning, I seriously considered giving up. I already have an issue with not being good at completing things and it is made worse by projects that are frustrating. With assurances from Lisa that the tree was looking better, I kept at it though. And now we are the proud owners of what looks like one of those things that they use in cartoons to stuff cannonballs down into cannons. We basically have a long stick with a bit of a poof on the end. It also, from one angle, looks a little bit like the tree in the Dr. Seuss book where the dogs are having a big dog party in the top of a tree. I think that is the "Do you like my hat?" story if I remember correctly.

After creating the abstract Seussian tree, I decided to go buy a new hedge trimmer. However, I realized I would want a battery-operated one and that would mean that the batteries would have to be charged before I could use it ... which would mean that I would never get the shrubs trimmed today. Man, that was tempting!

However, I called my dad and he has an electic hedge trimmer which he said I could borrow. I am not a fan of electric trimmers because I invariably cut off the extension cord at some point. I will be trimming along and all of a sudden there will be a GRUNT, a ZZZOTTT, and the trimmer will stop as a bare live wire falls dangerously down the side of my leg. I am not a fan of that. But I decided to risk it ... I borrowed dad's electric trimmers. Surely I could be careful and not cut off the end of an extension cord this one time.

Things went slowly but okay for the most part. Because they haven't been trimmed much, we are the proud owners of very large shrubs that take awhile to trim. I often think you'd have to pay a lot of money to buy shrubs that large. Yeah ... right ... whatever, Todd.

We have one shrub which I especially hate trimming though. It is a taxus. Most taxus are easy to trim ... except for this stubborn one. Most shrubs when you trim them sort of take on a natural shape and contour that you can follow. But this shrub grows wildly with no semblance of natural shape or form. So, as you trim it, you really don't know what you're aiming for.

Because it is the thing to do for Christians to think of analogies to God when they work in their gardens and yards, I had to follow suit. As I trimmed this stubborn shrub, I wondered if God considers me to be a stubborn shrub or a shrub that is easily trimmed to the desired shape. Ultimately, He is striving for something in me as He prunes but do I make it easy for Him ... or difficult?

Things were humming along nicely as I reflected on this. Birds were chirping. The temperature was just right. The trimmers were working just great. And then , all of sudden ... GRUNT ... ZZZOTTT ... the extension cord, bare and hot wires exposed, fell down dangerously alongside my leg.

So much for reflective moments. I thought about swearing ... but then I remembered ... I want to be that easy shrub for God to trim.

  posted at 2:40 PM  

JAMES 2 (The Message)
I really like the way that The Message translation explains James' take on the whole "faith without works is dead" idea. Peterson keeps the emphasis on faith and God's prevenient grace but yet he describes the Christian life as "that seamless unity of believing and doing." We may be saved by grace alone through our acceptance of Jesus Christ but a natural outflowing of that is going to be good works as a manifestation of the fruits of the Spirit.

  posted at 7:14 AM  

GOOD ONE (but not mine)
A group of friars were behind on their belfry payments, so they
opened up a small florist shop to raise funds. Since everyone liked to
buy flowers from the men of God, a rival florist across town thought the competition was unfair. He asked the good fathers to close down,
but they would not. He went back and begged the friars to close. They
ignored him. So, the rival florist hired Hugh MacTaggart, the roughest and most vicious thug in town to "persuade" them to close.

Hugh beat up the friars and trashed their store, saying he'd be back
if they didn't close up shop.

Terrified, they did so, thereby proving that only Hugh can prevent florist friars.

  posted at 6:36 AM  

Friday, June 22, 2007
The word is "Metronome" (noun)

Definition: A small, stylish man who wears pointed hats and lives in the city. Metronome.

  posted at 10:21 PM  

Wow. That was interesting. Normally I leave for work between 6:15 and 6:45. This morning I didn't leave until 7:20. That was sort of refreshing. It had been a very long time since I went to work that late. There was definitely more traffic though.

  posted at 8:27 AM  

What do you look for in a relationship with someone else? I heard someone recently say that, in developing a relationship with someone else, you look at what you each bring to the table for the other. I have thought a lot about that. I have never approached relationships that way -- personal or business. I try to look strictly at what I can bring to the other person because that is what Christ commanded us to do (love one another) ... I figure that my reward for doing so will eventually come in some form.

Any thoughts? As I have thought about this, I have realized that my ideas are so diametrically opposed to this other person's that I really feel I need a reality check here and would love your input. Furthermore, is there a difference between relationships that are strictly personal and those borne out of business?


  posted at 6:11 AM  

One of the things you can do with Google Desktop is add a "gadget" which tracks the blogs you freqient for you. It pops up and alerts you whenever one of your favorite authors adds to his or her epistle. If you're like me and get confused (okay, maybe don't care) about things like Technorati and RSS feeds, this Google gadget can be very handy.

  posted at 5:59 AM  

JAMES 1 (The Message)
In my attempt to look at a Bible chapter each day, it may seem natural to move forward to II Corinthians since I just completed I Corinthians. However, I am going to go to the book of James.

The book of James has been subject to great controversy. It talks a lot about good works. This has caused people to contrast it with Paul's teachings about how we're saved by faith alone, not by good works.

To me, James is not saying we're saved by good works but rather that our lives as Christians should be Spirit-filled, naturally involved in good works. We give out of our blessings. We love others because we are commanded to do so ... our life is now under new authority.

Some of the good works described in James I include grace under pressure, living a life of Christian character, and living a Spirit-led life fully transformed in Christ.

  posted at 5:52 AM  

So my good friend Kelly (yes, he's a guy with a girl's name) and I took off work at 2 yesterday to go put our jet skis in the water for the first time this year. We had intended to take the entire day off but busy-ness at work and concerns over the weather ended up delaying us. Still, it was nice to get away for a few hours.

We trailered the skis into the lake which is always interesting. I absolutely cannot back a trailer so that fun always falls on Kelly. He's pretty good at it but yesterday we had a bigger vehicle than usual and it was much harder to see out of. Still, he did a nice job.

We got both skis in the lake and, despite it being close to 7 at that point, we decided to go riding a bit and then head in for dinner. I was riding Kelly's ski and he was on mine. We hadn't been riding too long when I shut his off so I could talk to him. That was fine. The problem came when I turned it back on and it wouldn't start. We'd had a little problem like this when we were on dry land but we thought we had resolved it. Apparently not.

Last summer, my ski died on Kelly when he was taking his son for a ride. Unfortunately, he learned the hard way then that it is very difficult to tow a jet ski without tipping it over. So, yesterday, he tried towing me a little bit and it was indeed going to be difficult at best. That is when Kelly had a wonderful idea.

He went ashore and got a paddle for me. So, I ended up paddling back to shore.

Like I said, I have always wanted a kayak. I just maybe didn't want one that weighs 400 or so pounds!

  posted at 5:33 AM  

Sorry it's been a couple of days without a post. Just haven't felt inspired I guess.

Over at Strange Culture, RC has a post contrasting God and spiritual gifts with Captain Planet. It makes for a good read.

  posted at 5:31 AM  

Tuesday, June 19, 2007
I wish I had time to really read this ... maybe one of these days.

Why The Web Will Win The Culture Wars For The Left

  posted at 7:48 AM  

If you hang around church folk much (which I do), then you're going to frequently hear about this idea of "waiting". It usually revolves around waiting on God to reveal His will or future direction for our lives -- we're waiting on the "next big thing" if you will. Last night the devotional Lisa and I read touched a little bit on this subject. And I have to admit ...

I just don't get it!

Maybe someone out there can help me.

Supposedly we're all remaining open to God's direction and leading at all times. We all will be quick to admit that God will take us all kinds of places in our lives that are very different from anything we ever imagined. We all want to be open to that.

So here's my question: If we don't know what we're waiting on, and we shy away from pre-supposing what it might be, then how can we really know that we're in a period of waiting? Are we not exactly where God wants us?

It just doesn't make sense to me.

I am not a Bible scholar. While the last few years I have learned my way around the Bible a little bit, I am still far, far away from being really knowledgable of it. I know there are stories in it of people and groups who are in this period of "waiting." Here's my question, though (and I am serious about this): Except in the case where perhaps they intentionally put themselves into a specific time of waiting in order to more clearly hear God, did any of these folks, while they were in the midst of "waiting," really realize that they were waiting? Or was it aftward that they looked back and saw their past as a period of waiting?

Wasn't the interim period, while they were living it, just "real life" when they were doing the best they could with what they had? Wasn't it more a period of "preparation" than of "waiting"? And isn't all of life a period of "preparation"?

Am I in a period of "waiting" right now? Frankly, I haven't a clue. How could I possibly know that I am waiting without pre-supposing what I am waiting for? I am in a period of preparation, yes. And God expects me to do all with that that I can.

A famous U2 song says "I still haven't found what I'm looking for." Isn't that an oxymoron or something? If we know what we're looking for, haven't we already found it?

Maybe someone can help me understand this idea of "waiting". I can see myself "waiting" on a pot of water to boil or "waiting" on a package to arrive from Amazon. Those are, for the most part, physical certainties. I know the eventual outcome and so I am "waiting" on it. However, when It comes to discerning God's will for my life ... that is a continual process ... but to me it isn't "waiting" ... it is following obediently one step at a time and realizing that, at any given time, I am where I am and God has a purpose for me being there. My focus must be on living that out and accepting the preparation He has for me ... there may very well be a "next big thing" out there for me ... I don't know and I don't want to pre-suppose. Right now, I just want to accept and to let myself be prepared.

  posted at 7:18 AM  

For the past couple of years. I have talked, usually half-jokingly, about moving to Airzona or New Mexico. For the past several weeks, we have had the hot, dry weather of Arizona or New Mexico and I am re-thinking my desire to move there. God, if this is you making a point that I need to be happy where I'm at, enough already! Please send some rain!

  posted at 6:11 AM  

I CORINTHIANS 16 (The Message)
Verses 13 - 14:

Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you've got, be resolute, and love without stopping.

What a great reminder as I start the day! A day that will be full of challenges but yet, as Samuel Peeples once wrote, "The circumstances of life, the events of life, and the people around me in life, do not make me the way I am, but reveal the way I am."

  posted at 5:59 AM  

The Familyhood Church has some interesting thoughts on "Christianity Uber Alles" that you may want to check out.

  posted at 5:50 AM  

When I first became aware of YouTube a couple of years ago, I was mildly amused. Sort of like a personal version of America's Funniest Home Videos. Over time, I have seen YouTube as an interesting place to learn and research things. There are some videos out there of incredible talent. A friend recently told me of the guitar mastery of Phil Keaggy and, yep, I could find him on YouTube.

Increasingly, though, YouTube seems to be a place of really stupid and even downright bad (as in immoral) videos. Now that they are posting shots of and links to videos currently being watched by others, it really isn't a "safe" place for anyone to hang out.

A few weeks ago, George Lucas contrasted "art" and the "circus," saying that YouTube is the "circus". Many people are calling him to task saying that the circus can be art. They are, I feel splitting hairs and missing his point ... a point which I find to be very valid.

Here's what Lucas said. Any thoughts?

“Circus is random and voyeuristic. What you see on YouTube right now — I call it feeding Christians to the lions. The movie term is, throwing puppies on a freeway. You don’t have to write anything or do anything — you just have to sit there, and it’s interesting. Like American Idol. Just put a camera on your neighbor’s window and see what happens. Then you get to art — where a particular person contrives a situation and tells a story, and hopefully that story reveals a truth behind the facts. With voyeurism all you’re getting is the facts.”

  posted at 5:31 AM  

Monday, June 18, 2007
I was talking with someone today about the two general "schools" of sales. One is to get the sale because it will increase your success. That is very much "old school". The other is to help your customer be successful at meeting their needs, knowing that your success will follow. It may sound like a minor difference between the two but it isn't> Your internal motivation for getting the sale shows all over the place, whether you like it or not. Today's consumers immediately know which type of salesperson you are. Guess who they always prefer to work with?

Can you switch from being "old school" to contemporary selling? Maybe ... but it will require a lot of humility. Unfortunately that doesn't often go along with "old school" selling.

  posted at 11:23 PM  

We need rain here in west central Ohio. Real bad.

  posted at 9:38 PM  

I am a complete dullard when it comes to electricity. I really don't understand how it works.

A good friend of mine once remodeled an entire house by himself, including re-wiring much of it. I told him how amazed I was that he did the electrical work because I wouldn't have a clue what to do. He told me that wiring was easy. My response was that I never know what to do with the ground wires. "Oh, that's not a problem," he said. "I just snip those all off because they don't do anything anyway."

Remind me to never buy a house from him.

Anyway, did you ever wonder how birds or squirrels can sit on high voltage power lines without being hurt? I have. Link here for the answer.

  posted at 9:34 PM  

I may have to start a website ... or something like that. Do they really think that flashing headlights, open hoods, triangle banners, and cars parked at odd angles resting on ramps or rocks helps them to sell anything? That's just crazy.

As many of you know, I am part owner of a sales training business. Over the years, one group we can never interest in sales training is car dealers. That is because they receive their training from the car manufacturers. That training is all features and benefits. Yes, gizmos and gadgets do sell cars. Those things are all very emotional. But as far as one dealer attracting business over a competing dealer? Flashing lights and open hoods? These guys do not have a clue what they're doing. It's just plain crazy!

  posted at 3:20 PM  

Is anyone else using Google Desktop? I have been using it for sometime, primarily just for its ability to index and quickly search everything on my computer. I have seen a few quirks with it which forced me to dump it and re-load it but that is pretty quickly and easily done. Does anyone know of anything similar but better than Google Desktop?

  posted at 11:47 AM  

Awhile back, I had a post about Marketing which ended up talking about Church Marketing. In it, I was echoing a couple of things I have heard before. One is to promote the sizzle, not the steak. The other which really is sort of the same thing, is that marketing any sort of ministry is about Mission, Vision, and Changed Lives.

Church marketing is also all about embodying and living out the Spirit. The more churches and the individuals in them do that, of course, the more God's story is told and the more that barriers which folks have built up between themselves and church can be broken down. (Actually, in most cases, I believe that those barriers were built by the church itself but that is a post for another time.)

I have also recently discovered and despite my difficulty with its name, I am looking forward to exploring it more.

  posted at 7:54 AM  

My industry, the roofing biz, tends to be very weather-driven. Oftentimes roofs are replaced only after a severe hail, wind, or ice storm has left them worthless. Here's a site where you can track reports of severe weather.

  posted at 7:40 AM  

It's been a bit over a year since I started this blog and, more than 700 posts later, I have been wondering lately if I have run out of things to say. However, Lisa and Evan got me a book for Father's Day which, for me, has shed new light on blogging and given me a different perspective. That book is The Blogging Church. Intended really I think for church pastors, it has been a very interesting read. Overall, it's a pretty easy read and there is some basic stuff which I skimmed.

However, in the future, I am going to try to re-craft my blog a bit. It will still be the story of my life ... Moving Forward ... but you will probably see shorter posts, perhaps more posts, more short "observational" posts, and more links to other blogs and websites. I will also probably be having more posts about my business life but, since they'll be shorter, they will be easy to skip over if you wish.

We'll see how this goes for awhile. I will appreciate your comments. It would be cool to see more dialog occur. The Blogging Church talks a lot about how blogging has become a coffeehouse that is wherever you're at. That's a good point. We can all use our Senseo coffee makers to brew a good cup and then sit and read each other's thoughts and ideas ... striving to challege and be challeneged in a community that allows us to do that. What could be cooler?

Lisa and Evan got me other really cool stuff for Father's Day including a much needed short sleeve shirt in my favorite color, the book 12 "Christian" Beliefs That Drive You Crazy and the latest Sanctus Real CD.

It was, as is any day I am with Lisa and Evan, a very special day.

  posted at 7:29 AM  

This is very cool. Check out what former Amazing Race (one of my favorite shows) participant Blake Mycoskie is up to these days ... I discovered this over at Donald Miller's place where he is announcing a search for companies that are doing the "right thing" from a social justice standpoint, even though it may not be the easy thing.

  posted at 6:07 AM  

Just an update. Thank you to all who have been praying for me and my kidney stone. I have been fortunate to escape horribly painful bouts other than last Monday. However, I am pretty sure that the little guy is still inside of me. It's hard to know for sure unless you're straining your urine. (I know -- yuck!) And urine straining is something I never do. It's just pretty awkward to carry a plastic strainer with you every place you go. However, based upon certain pain and burning I do have, I can pretty much tell that the stone is still there. (Been this road a few times before, I have.) I will just keep trying to wait it out for now. I have been very blessed to not have more pain that I have had.

  posted at 6:03 AM  

Donald Miller (the author, not my father) has apparently been busy working on a movie version of his book Blue Like Jazz. Making the book into a movie seems pretty much incomprehensible to me but I have a feeling that Miller will do it very well. Click over to if you would like to know more.

  posted at 5:49 AM  

I CORINTHIANS 15 (The Message)
I had a friend challenge me recently in my thoughts on the afterlife. I have never shared this with him but for sometime I have been starting to think of the afterlife more as a different realm of what we now know as life rather than as floating around on a cloud playing a harp which is the general understanding that many of us in America have grown up with. In general, though, I have never thought a lot about what God promises after this life. I have sort of been a "take it by faith that it's gonna be great and something way beyond what I can comprehend now" sort of guy in regards to this issue. But, lately, I have been thinking ...

I Corinthians 15 is Paul talking about God's promise of life after death. There are numerous Old Testament references in it and as you read it, though it hits on many points, there is no real obvious timeframe to everything.

The friend I mentioned earlier has introduced me to some of N T Wright's thoughts on this subject. An interview with Wright appeared in Christianity Today a few years ago and it is a great primer on his thoughts. Check it out and then bounce back here to comment what your thoughts are.

  posted at 5:39 AM  

Our church has two services each Sunday. We used to have three but, about nine months ago, despite a growing congregation, we went back to two. We were able to do this in part because of our recent capital campaign which allowed us to remodel the balcony, seating considerly more folks at each service.

Now, both services appear to be hitting near that 80% mark, meaning that we may need to start looking for some other options which might include using an overflow room in the church with video feed. They say that, at 80% of capacity, a church will feel full and uninviting to new folks. I can believe that. Especially our church which tends to have bottlenecks at most entrances and exits.

Anyway, yesterday we attended the 9:00 service which is the more traditional service. That is because we were helping out in Sunday School during the other service. I grew up a pretty traditional guy. However, a few years back, we started trying the contemporary service. At first, it seemed rather foreign to me but it worked well schedule-wise all things considered so we stuck with it. Now, it is where we feel most at home.

We sat with my folks yesterday. They remain pretty traditional. In fact, they remain "last five rows of the church" traditional. That was a little odd to be back there again. Lisa has helped me over the years to realize that the church has other rows you can sit in and actually see better from and perhaps even feel more a part of things from.

It was neat yesterday to be in the traditional service again for once though. It was quieter, yes. But the Spirituality was still there. I wanted to sing louder than the others there but, with my voice, that could have been disastrous so I held back best I could. (I sing a bit like a ferret in heat.)

You know what was really neat though? All of the faces I saw of people I didn't know. Yes, I suppose the average age was a little older than the later contemporary service but not as much as you may think. It was great though to see a whole new group of faces and to realize, too, that there are quite a number of people who apparently attend both services.

It helped to remind me of the importance of switching things up a bit once in awhile. I don't think God wants us stuck in ruts. He has created a wonderful world for us and gifted us individually to embrace that world. Getting stuck in a rut is somehow denying His call.

  posted at 5:16 AM  

Sunday, June 17, 2007
Just a hunch but I suspect that someone out there is itching to know more about the paint finishes used on metal roofing. Following is an article written with the help of my company's paint supplier, Valspar. And, of course, if you want to know more about metal roofing, CLICK HERE.

A critical part of any metal roofing system is its finish. While some exotic metals such as copper, zinc, stainless steel, and titanium are often sold with a natural or “mill” finish, most metals are sold with a paint finish which provides protection and aesthetic beauty. Galvanized steel and galvalume steel are sometimes sold without a paint finish, or with a thin clear coating but consumers should keep in mind that those products are the “economy” end of metal roofing with minimal benefits for residential application.

There are several types of paint finishes available on metal roofing today. In most cases, these coatings are applied to the metal before it is formed into roofing – while it is still in coil form. The fact that these coatings can then endure the forming process is strong testimony to their ultimate durability.

Paint systems consist of three parts: Pigment, Resin, and Carrier. Let’s take a look at each of these and how it impacts the overall paint chemistry.

Pigments provide paint with its color. There are various types of pigments -- principally “organic” (contains the element carbon) and “inorganic” (sometimes called “mineral” or “ceramic”.) Organic pigments generally are less opaque, more difficult to control for color fastness and may also be water soluble. For that reason, quality paint finishes use Inorganic pigments. Inorganic pigments can be simple (and inexpensive) such as Red (Iron) Oxide or they can be complicated mixtures of metal oxides. The latter type, such as Cobalt Blue, may exist naturally or, more commonly, may be industrially prepared. These complex oxide types have high heat resistance in addition to extreme resistance to weathering-and are referred to as Ceramic pigments. In developing a paint system the appropriate pigments are suspended in a material called Binder (or Resin).

Resin binds the pigment particles and forms the smooth and adherent surface that we expect. There are many types of chemistry suitable to prepare paint but only a few can withstand the rigors of roof exposure and the destructive UV rays of the sun. Three types are in widespread use today: Polyester, Polyester Silicone, and Fluropolymer. Let’s take a further look at each of these:

• Polyester An organic binder, polyesters are moderate price with moderate performance. As an exterior coating, these finishes are typically used on low-demand products such as residential rainware, soffits, fascia, or sometimes siding. Polyesters are often formulated in light colors such as white or beige. The Metal Construction Association (MCA) would rate the best examples of polyester paints as “Standard” meaning they pass 5-year Florida Exposure Fence testing.

• Polyester Silicone The addition of a significant amount (30%) of silicone to a polyester finish increases cost, decreases hardness/flexibility and most importantly increases color holding and chalk resistance. An important chemistry, polyester silicone provides long term durability especially for sidewalls. Use on roofing, especially for high visibility applications such as residential or consumer commercial is a little questionable for these finishes, especially in Southern locations. They also meet the MCA criteria for Standard Performance.

• Fluropolymer-aka Kynar or Hylar When it comes to metal roofing, this is the best known and best performing finish category. These finishes offer top performance in terms of flexibility and maintaining color. They are ready for the most challenging needs. They are definitely the answer for the types of “difficult” that are usually used residentially such as dark earthtones, low gloss finishes, metallics and even “saturated” colors such as intense reds or blues. These are the only coatings that satisfy the MCA criteria for Premium System including 10 years Florida actual data.

Carrrier-This is the part of a paint system that you never see! The carrier gives proper fluidity, assists with adhesion to the substrate, and adjusts the speed of evaporation / drying. When the metals used for roofing are painted, the carrier disappears during the heat curing, or “baking,” process.

In many cases, distributors and contractors handling metal roofing are completely unaware of the various paint systems. As a result, they may anecdotally make performance claims which are unrealistic and misleading. Homeowners considering a metal roof should always know and understand the chemistry, attributes, and expected performance of the finish on the product they choose. Manufacturers and contractors who care about the metal roofing industry will gladly explain and guide homeowners through this process.

  posted at 9:46 PM  

For the past year or so, I have pretty much religiously carried an EnerGel pen with me. I never used to be a pen-carrier. I felt like Herb Tarlick as I started carrying a pen -- always looking to close a deal. But, fact is, I fell in love with these pens. But now I have a problem. I am not sure they're still being made.

It's not that these pens write that well. They aren't extraordinarily plush or beautiful. But they do have one cool feature. When you go to clip them over your shirt pocket, if the inky part is still sticking out, it automatically retracts. Now, I have never ruined a shirt with a non-retrected pen but apparently doing so was a fear I carried with me. Because, once I saw these pens, I fell in love and couldn't quit carrying them.

But WalMart no longer has them. I am now carrying a pen with a cap which still saves my shirts but, well, it just isn't as cool as the EnerGel pen.

I need to keep looking.

  posted at 6:03 PM  

As I sit to write this post, I want to call it "MishMash" as I think it will cover a lot of varied topics. "MishMash," though, makes me think of the word "applesauce" and I like applesauce so that is what I will call this post. In reality, though, this post will have very little to do with apples ... perhaps you may think I was sauced when I wrote it but I assure you I am 100% sober.

Speaking of applesauce, I remember watching my grandma make applesauce. Does anyone else remember that? I believe she would cook the apples first and then drop them into a large cone-shaped metal colander that had very tiny holes in the sides. She then had a well-used wooden cone-shaped masher she would roll around and around, squishing applesauce out through the holes in the colander. Does anyone make applesauce at home anymore? We should. Kids shouldn't grow up not seeing that.

Lisa and I taught 2nd and 3rd grade Sunday School today. We do not see ourselves as being gifted in working with kids but, if you're going to have a kid, you'd better pay your dues and help out now and then. We were trying to teach the kids about "peace" as a fruit of the Spirit. We talked a lot about cooperation and working together and letting the Spirit live in and through us. It was all pretty much over there heads. But we played a real cool game we found on the internet. We divided the kids into two groups of six. We gave them each a long piece of yarn and tied one end of each piece to a common rubber band. By pulling on their strings, they had to work together to open and close and maneuver the rubber band in a way that allowed them to stack and manipulate styrofoam cups. That was pretty cool.

We did not have them make anything for their dads for Father’s Day but we did ask them each to think about what they most like doing with their dads and then go home and tell their dads about it. I felt that would be far better than any card, keychain, or paper necktie we could make in Sunday School. Plus not making one of those things meant we had time to play the Styrofoam cup game. (Yippee!)

Okay, switching gears … our senior pastor left yesterday with a group of about 30 from our church to travel to Israel. It’s been a little more than a year since the similar trip I went on. I would have loved to have gone back this year but I really missed my family last year while I was gone. There is a tentative plan to take a “second-timers” trip in a year or so. I would love to be on it. There is something about visiting the Holy Land that really gets under your skin.

Switching gears again … for the past few weeks, the board at Evan’s school has been working through a process for developing a renewed Mission and Vision for the school. We have had a great process in place and my buddy Todd R has done a great job of pitching in and facilitating our meetings. A little over a week ago, though, I had a call from Chuck -- one of the people that has been participating in the meetings. He wanted to talk to me. Now, you have to understand the huge respect that I have for this guy. I feel honored that he has been helping us through this process. He has spent his entire career in the upper echelons of Campus Crusade for Christ. Chuck was picked by Bill Bright to lead the transition team when Dr. Bright announced his retirement. This guy knows leadership and he knows how to work a process. I always learn so much from him and am humbled to be around him.

Chuck started the meeting by informing me that he didn’t think we were ever going to get anyplace in the meetings we’d been holding at the school. My immediate thought was “Oh, oh. I don’t think I am going to like this meeting.” He then proceeded to explain that he felt we were stalled, and why he felt that way. My prideful arrogance had to really be squelched down as I listened to him. It wasn’t easy. However, he handled the things he had to say so marvelously that, without him ever saying it directly, by the end of our meeting, I knew what he was telling me. He was telling me that, as president of the board, I had to play a stronger leadership role. I could not just rely on the process to naturally play out. I had to drive the process to a stronger degree. By the time our meeting ended, I did not feel beat up but instead I felt empowered. That is because of Chuck’s giftedness in listening to the Spirit and following the Spirit’s lead.

So, I am striving to take a stronger leadership role. I have written about it before. I have known for some time that I have not been stepping up the way I should be in certain areas. I thank Chuck for taking the time to help me see that. I just pray for God’s guidance, direction and wisdom through all of this. If I try to force my way through on my own power, then I will fail. It must be all about God as I walk this path.

Today, with our senior pastor gone, Chuck delivered the message. He told the Parable of the Prodigal Son as the Parable of the Loving Father. He did an awesome job. Here are a few notes I took:

In this parable, the father knew when to let go, when to receive back, and how to define the restoration of the relationship. When the son came back, the father was scanning the horizon for him. The father is always there and sees the son no matter how far away the son thinks he is. The son wanted to make it about himself again as he sought to apologize in order to restore the relationship but ultimately the father restored the relationship, lovingly, willingly, and before the son was even fully back. A love that was strong enough to let go is even stronger to welcome back.

Chuck then talked about how, once we accept Christ, we enter into a new relationship with a new Father. No matter how bad or messed up or missing our relationship may have been with our biological father, God wants to re-parent us. He wants to re-parent us the right way. What we are – where we have been – is an excuse for our behavior only until we become Christians. Once we accept God as our Father, it’s a whole new ballgame.

I don’t think he was saying that past pains ever just magically disappear. We know that doesn’t happen. But he was helping us to see that God offers us something new and refreshing. He will re-parent us regardless of how our pasts might have been.

I appreciated hearing that.

On a final note, about 75 youth and adults from our church just returned from the Ichthus Christian music festival in Wilmore, Kentucky. It sounds like it was a greta trip.

So, there you have it – a MishMash of Applesauce. Have a good week.

  posted at 4:12 PM  

To dads everywhere, as well as to all who play the "father" role in someone's life, whether you're biologically the dad or not, Happy Father's Day!

For me, may today be a day of reflection. Am I really being the dad, the husband, and the man I am supposed to be? Am I really always modeling what I should model? Am I consistently being the godly man I want to be? Am I really seeking, discovering, and following God's call on my life?

Big stuff, this is. Worthy of much more than just one day a year but I want to give it extra attention this day.

We're all pulled in a lot of directions in life today, forcing us to constantly make choices. Sometimes we like to say that we don't really have choices in various things such as how we spend our time but, fact is, we do. Those choices live out our priorities and that is very critical.

Switching gears a bit, I heard that close to $10 billion will be spent on Fathers Day in the US this year. That is a lot of dough and we all love gifts, we all love thoughtful recoginition. But $10 billion? Wow. That money could sure go a long way in helping others -- those who really need it.

Finally and perhaps most importantly on Father's Day, this is a day for me to give thanks. God blesses us all individually and for me those blessings have included a wonderful son and wife. I thank God for both of them and I pray that I can always fulfill my responsibilities to them.

  posted at 6:29 AM  

Saturday, June 16, 2007
Did you know that the first season of "WKRP IN CINCINNATI" is now available on DVD? Click here if you would like to learn more. The first season includes the infamous "Turkeys Away" episode. Admittedly, this show started when I was just 14 and it had Loni Anderson in it, but WKRP was in my opinion one of the funniest sitcoms ever.

  posted at 10:46 PM  

Friday, June 15, 2007
I have never seen anyone speak in tongues, though I would like to someday.

I think it is interesting how adamant Paul is in this chapter that speaking in tongues is speaking to God, not other believers or non-believers. He is not downplaying tongues as a gift but he is pointing out that it is something between God and the individual. And, I believe that later in I Corinthians, Paul admonishes folks to not speak in tongues unless they have an interpreter present.

  posted at 5:29 AM  

Thursday, June 14, 2007
Me: Uh, God, remember my blog the other day about having difficulty loving people I don't even like?

God: I do.

Me: I really struggle with that. It seems like other people do, too. Several people have mentioned it to me and, really, I see it all around. It's even on the news. We have a real shortage of love.

God: Love one another, as I have loved you. Not a real difficult concept here.

Me: Yeah, conceptually, I got it down. But it's real, real hard, God. There are people down here I clash with.

God: Love them anyway.

Me: But I can try to and I still get negative vibes back from them. I've even seen them stab me in the back.

God: Love them anyway.

Me: But they aren't nice to me, even when I am nice to them.

God: Um, it's really not about you. Love them anyway.

Me: Okay, you make a good point. But I can love them and they just don't get it. They're not changing or being affected or seeing you at all in the midst of love. My love isn't growing your kingdom at all.

God: It's not always about them, either. Love them anyway.

Me: Then, if it's not about me, and it's not about about them, what's it about?

God: Obedience.

Me: Oh, yeah ... that.

  posted at 8:28 PM  

Wednesday, June 13, 2007
A thick layer of dirt will protect your car's finish from scratches and oxidation.

  posted at 8:22 PM  

Tuesday, June 12, 2007
I CORINTHIANS 13 (The Message)
Regardless of the translation, if this isn't one of the most beautiful chapters of the Bible, I don't know what is.

Can we ever love enough? I don't think so.

  posted at 7:08 PM  

With apologies to Dylan. (Bob, not Thomas.) Can you guess how I have spent the past 24 hours?

Well, they'll stone ya when you're trying to be so good,
They'll stone ya just a-like they said they would.
They'll stone ya when you're tryin' to go home.
Then they'll stone ya when you're there all alone.
But I would not feel so all alone,
If everybody would just get kidney stones.

Well, they'll stone ya when you're walkin' 'long the street.
They'll stone ya when you're tryin' to keep your seat.
They'll stone ya when you're walkin' on the floor.
They'll stone ya when you're walkin' to the door.
But I would not feel so all alone,
If everybody would just get kidney stones.

They'll stone ya when you're at the breakfast table.
They'll stone ya when you are young and able.
They'll stone ya when you're tryin' to make a buck.
They'll stone ya and then they'll say, "good luck."
Tell ya what, I would not feel so all alone,
If everybody would just get kidney stones.

Well, they'll stone you and you’ll feel like it's the end.
Then they'll stone you and then they'll come back again.
They'll stone you when you're riding in your car.
They'll stone you when you're playing your guitar.
Yes, but I would not feel so all alone,
If everybody would just get kidney stones.

Well, they'll stone you when you walk all alone.
They'll stone you when you are walking home.
They'll stone you and then say you are brave.
They'll stone you till you are set down in your grave.
But I would not feel so all alone,
If everybody would just get kidney stones.

Well, they say the stones are made of calcium.
All I know is that they’re really quite a bum.
Or sometimes they’re made of uric acid.
And they leave you feeling rather placid.
But I would not feel so all alone,
If everybody would just get kidney stones.

Well, they say it feels like having a baby.
I suppose that could be so, just maybe.
Or they say that it’s worse than getting shot.
Either way, you’re not feeling very hot.
But I would not feel so all alone,
If everybody would just get kidney stones.

Well, they’ll start to give you vicodin.
Until you scream that that is just a sin.
They’ll say that you cannot have morphine.
And then they’ll send you home, not to make a scene.
But I would not feel so all alone,
If everybody would just get kidney stones.

  posted at 7:02 PM  

Monday, June 11, 2007
I CORINTHIANS 12 (The Message)
This is one of the great Bible passages which explains the idea of Spiritual Gifts. This chapter is the one that also talks about the various parts of the body and how we must all work together accoridng to our giftedness as part of God's body as well. I think that this concept is embraced fairly well at our current church. However, not embracing this concept has led to the demise of many groups of believers. Churches would be wise to visit and re-visit I Corinthians 12 on a regular basis.

  posted at 5:20 AM  

I CORINTHIANS 11 (The Message)
Why, in verse 1, does Paul say to "follow my example, just as I (he) follow the example of Christ"? I suppose it is because Paul had known Jesus and he understood the importance of having a mentor whom you know first-hand that you can follow and aspire to be like.

I think this holds true for us today as well. Whether in a formal program or not, it is wise for us all to have mentors whom we can watch and learn from. In my life, I currently have several string spiritual menotrs. My main "business" mentor over the years has been my father although there have been a few others passing in and out of my life as well, often only for a season. There is also a gentleman by the name of Bob Chapman who heads up the Sandler Sales Training franchise I am associated with. Bob has been a great mentor of mine in recent years.

Normally we think of a mentor as being someone older than ourselves. I am currently reading a book which also talks about "reverse mentoring" which involves having a mentor who is younger than yourself who is willing to give you the "younger generation's" perspective on things. That is an incredibly neat idea that I think we would all benefit from as well.

  posted at 5:05 AM  

Sunday, June 10, 2007
The following was written by Os Hillman of Today God is First Ministries. It reminds me of a speaker I heard recently who said one of his biggest goals in life is to make sure that, when he leaves this earth, the devil is happy about his departure.

One day the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" - Acts 19:15

Are you a threat to the kingdom of darkness? If satan and his demons had a board meeting and your name came before the board, what would they say? Would they say that you are one of their most feared enemies and they needed to keep many demons harassing and opposing you? Or would they say, "Gentlemen, this person poses no threat to our activities. Leave him alone. He needs no help from us." There are millions of church-going believers sitting in pews Sunday after Sunday who pose little threat to the kingdom of darkness.

If we truly believe that we war against rulers and principalities that cannot be seen, then we must realize that their mandate is to hinder any believer who is seeking to walk in the fullness of God. However, "greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world" (1 Jn. 4:4b KJV).

If you are seeking to fully follow the Lord, you can expect harassment from the enemy. God permits temptation because it drives us deeper into the soil of God. These times reveal God's power to keep us and walk us through the temptations. Our message becomes fruitful when it is born out of obedience and suffering for His name. Do not consider it strange if you find yourself fighting major battles the more obedient you become to the Master. God desires each of us to become a feared enemy of hell in order to affect satan's domain. When you begin to feel harassed, chances are you are beginning to affect the kingdom of darkness, and satan doesn't like this. So, how many demons do you think are assigned to you?

  posted at 6:10 AM  

Saturday, June 09, 2007
When you tell your wife, who already fears you may be addicted to technology, that you are taking your computer into the bathroom with you while you shower, you get a look that is a mixture of horror, disgust, and pity. That look improves only slightly when you explain that the purpose is that you want to listen to an N. T. Wright sermon that a friend forwarded to you.

  posted at 9:26 AM  

Friday, June 08, 2007
"Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Communications majors." Because, if they do, there's probably more than a fair chance that they're going to end up in Marketing and goodness knows that none of us in Marketing really have a clue what we're doing. Oh, we may pretend to. We may haul out statistics and demographics and sociographics and cluster groups but, when it gets right down to it, ascertaining predictable behavior for consumer response to marketing efforts is little more than educated guessing and that boils down pretty much to a crapshoot, which is something that Marketing people do a lot -- shoot the crap.

How do you like them apples?

Of course, there is one oft-quoted adage of Marketing which really sort of guides us all and, certainly, it is very true -- sell the sizzle, not the steak. What this boils down to is selling the emotional benfits of a product, not the actual product. The sooner you can get the consumer emotionally involved in the decision-making process, the better.

Let's go back to the steak analogy. Have you ever been to a really nice steakhouse? They don't sell steak by telling you how many grams of protein and fat it has, how many calories it has, how it will fuel your body, etc. -- do they? No, in fact, the really expensive places simply bring out a bunch of raw meat and let you ooo and ahhh over it. They get you really salivating and then let you choose what you want. They have clearly taken you from a standpoint of logic to a standpoint of emotion. You can smell and possibly even hear others' steaks cooking. You see them being carried through the dining room to the various customers. You're not buying sustenance, you're buying the entire experience and emotional benfit. However, it is out of their emotional realm that people will change. Logic rarely provides enough impetus for the human mind (or heart) to change. But emotion will.

A couple of years ago, I approached our senior pastor about me possibly doing a presentation on Marketing for the church staff. How do you "Market" church? Is it wrong to even think about Marketing church? If it is done properly, I certainly don't think so. In fact, I think it is exactly what God calls us to as His witnesses.

Our senior pastor graciously agreed to let me do this and we selected a date. For some reason, though, I had a conflict come up and ended up cancelling at the last minute. Then I later sort of him-hawed around and never got another date set. That was my fault. Sometime we need to get back on this idea though.

So, how do you "market" church? Well, it has to go back to that old axiom -- sell the sizzle, not the steak. We all have emotional needs and, dare I say, we are all fairly emotionally fragile. Out of that fragility can come change. On the other hand, we all feel relatively stable from a logic stand point. And that stability is not conducive to change.

I see churches put up signs or run advertisements that say things like "Jesus Saves," "Experience God Here," "Exciting Worship," or "Inspiring Praise Team." Those things do nothing to prompt someone to change. They all speak to logic and, if one feels relatively stable from a logic standpoint (which we pretty much all do), then we're not going to respond to signs or advertisements that say such things. Our emotion -- our heart -- is left untouched.

That goes back to why personal invitation has historically been the best way to get a new person to church. And I am all for that. I am not arguing that personal invitation isn't effective. It is. But it is effective because the personal plea starts to play on the invited's emotions ... and they respond to that. For one thing, they may simply not want to hurt your feelings by saying "no". That gets them emotional and causes action on their part.

But then we only keep them in church if we can keep them on the emotional side until logic starts to set in. That is a job all its own but still based on the same thing I am talking about -- exciting people with the sizzle (and, of course, hoping that they also start to receive some steak then which starts to change their logical side.)

So, what is the "sizzle" about church? What is the "sizzle" for you? How did God "get" you? Chances are it came in the form of something very emotionally-laden. Life was overwhelming you. God was speaking to you. You felt enslaved. These are the things that prompt most of us to really seek God and effect change in our lives.

So, what should we do when "marketing" church? Sell the sizzle, of course! Talk about Mission, Vision, and Changed Lives. Use advertising and public relations to tell and share those stories of life transformation. Show the change from frustration and enslavement to freedom in Christ. Those are the things that will send someone into the emotional realm and cause them to seek something different. Search for their pain, use personal stories to show the church's relevancy to them and to their pain, and welcome them on a personal journey of compassionate acceptance and grace.

  posted at 11:35 PM  

I CORINTHIANS 10 (The Message)
This chaper does a great job of laying out the paradox of "freedom in Christ". This idea that letting our "selves" die so that Christ might live in us actually brings us freedom indeed presents an odd and difficult-to-understand paradox. Yet those who walk this path begin to grasp just how true it is. We're human, though, and problems arise when our "selves" start to take over again but then we learn once again what slavery is and, hopefully, we are drawn back to freedom through God's grace and compassion.

  posted at 5:29 AM  

Wednesday, June 06, 2007
I have spent most of my life without hugging. I did not grow up in a family that hugged. We just didn't do it. Neither side of the family. Except for Uncle Sanford.

Uncle Sanford was a pretty distant relative and he only came around once every few years. He was a preacher and he lived someplace in upstate New York. Uncle Sanford was a hugger. Oh, and a kisser. The whole family talked about him. The kids were grossed out. The men were rather miffed whenever he came around. The women folk? Well, even from the perspective of a six-year-old boy ... they seemed strangely ... atwitter about Unce Sanford ... by his hugging and his kissing. Especially the kissing I suppose.

Yes, there were all the women in their pastel-colored polyester knit dresses .. and were they ever atwitter about this preacher from New York with the wavy gray hair. They all teased their hair to go extra high when Uncle Sanford was coming around. Seriously, for several weeks leading up to the annual family reunion, the big talk was whether Uncle Sanford would be coming out this year. We kids called him the "Kissing Bandit" but he really wasn't much of a bandit because he did all of his kissing right there in broad daylight.

And, whenever one of the men in the family might voice displeasure to his wife over all of this kissing and hugging (which they, having grown up in the fourties and fifties, were generally pretty uncomfortable with), what response did they get from their wives? "Honey, be serious! Uncle Sanford's a preacher for goodness' sake! He's just showing his Christian love for his relatives!"

You're probably wondering how the story ended with Uncle Sanford, aren't you? You're wondering if he ended up in a penitentiary someplace, aren't you? Well, fact is, I don't know what happened to him. He just sort of quit coming to family reunions altogether. Maybe he got news that he was going to be lynched if he didn't quit all the hugging and kissing. Despite the men questioning whether it was "proper," fact is, he made them look bad. Those women were getting more action on that hot summer day under the maple tree at the family reunion than they'd seen in years!

Okay, maybe I have carried this a bit too far. My point was, I didn't grow up a hugger.

Now, when I reached high school and hugging involved girls who weren't 25 or more years older than me, well, then it did start to mean something. And it still means so much with that girlfriend who has been mine all these years.

But, hugging people other than Lisa? It's still uncomfortable. But, problem is, it's becoming popular. It's like I'm surrounded by Uncle Sanfords.

Actually, I don't have a problem at all with hugging people. Relatives, friends, spouses (oops -- make that spouse), people at church ... I am okay with all of them. It's hugging etiquette that I just don't get. I honestly don't know what I am supposed to do!

Are you supposed to touch cheeks, faces, noses, actually kiss on the cheek? I just don't know! Ever have one of those hugs that turned into sort of an odd "face-plant" with your cheek squished up against theirs and not knowing at all what you're supposed to do? I have had those happen.

Honestly, can anyone help me with this? I keep wondering if I could find a tutorial on hugging on the internet. I need to look for that.

I love hugging. It's a great way of showing friendship and care ... I just don't know how the heck to do it!

I do know this though -- aside from Lisa, I'd almost rather hug a guy than a girl. At least with a guy, I know there won't be any kissing to worry about and there really shouldn't be any cheek contact. I have had that cheek contact happen a couple of times when I hugged guy friends from church. It gave me the heebie-jeebies for hours afterwards and I wondered if they had the same feeling. I really couldn't pick up the phone and call them to ask them though. ("Hey, dude, was that, like, really gross for you, too?" "Yeah, man. Let's not do that again." "Greeaatttt.")

And also when I am hugging another guy, there aren't really upper body parts I am rubbing against that make me wonder if I've just sinned. That's a good thing.

So, help a fella out -- do you have any special techniques or suggestions on friendly hugging? How can I do it and have it be sincere and meaningful but yet not ... well, uncomfortable?

  posted at 9:59 PM  

I had something happen last evening that I had no intention of posting about. It wasn’t that unusual of a situation. Our church is located in the downtown area. Anyone who spends much time there will, with at least some frequency, have people around the church ask them for handouts. Our church and the people there are known for being Jesus to folks in need. That’s a good thing.

As I was walking into the church last night for a meeting, a gentleman on a bicycle stopped me and explained his story of being homeless, living by the river, and waiting for his next social security check to come in. He was looking for some money to help him get through. I opened my wallet and it opened to a $10 bill which I gave to him. I have to admit, I had been thinking of $20 but a ten was there so that was what I pulled out. He immediately started crying as if he’d won the lotto. We chatted a bit and I learned that he is in touch with some resources to help him hopefully get back on his feet. I got his name and said I’d pray for him. He said “God bless you” to me and we both went on our ways.

Fairly ordinary stuff.

But God had more in the story for me …

As you know, I like coffee. I had this idea that perhaps this morning I would have a chance to drive about 10 miles away to visit a Starbucks located oddly enough inside a Kroger store. While there, I could get a hazelnut latte and a pumpkin scone. I had it pretty much figured out.

Until I started praying … and I started praying for Rick who I had met the night before. It occurred to me that the $10 I gave him apparently meant a lot to him. Admittedly, I do not know what he spent it on but it meant a lot to him. It wasn’t a huge sacrifice for me to give it to him though.

And then I thought about my possible Starbucks visit:

Hazelnut Latte -- $4
Pumpkin Scone -- $3
Gas to get there -- $3

Total cost -- $10

Silly as it may sound, this was to be my sacrifice for giving $10 to Rick.

So, instead, my breakfast this morning consisted of

Cup of coffee made at home – 20 cents
Pecan Pie Muffin made by my wonderful girlfriend last evening – priceless, and delicious

And then I went out to get in my car to drive to work … my car is filthy right now. I haven’t washed a car “by hand” in years. Instead, I go through the automatic things. The cost for that? Basically $10.

Should have given Rick the twenty last night, eh, Todd?

And then in my email this morning, appears this devotional by Skip Moen. Enjoy …


"He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8)

To Love Kindness -- Micah's choice reveals a deeper meaning. You see, Micah does not choose a verb (to love). Instead, he chooses a noun. It isn't grammatically correct in English, but it communicates something absolutely vital in Hebrew. If you want to know what God really wants, then you better pay attention to the Hebrew version.

The phrase is ahavat hesed. Once again, we are familiar with the second word. Hesed is that powerful umbrella covering concepts like mercy, goodness, faithfulness, kindness and steadfastness. Read Psalm 136 where hesed is used twenty-six times. Hesed is ultimately a description of the loving character of God, seen in every single act He performs. If you love hesed, then your life is a mirror image of the Creator. His attributes shine right through you, radiating the world with the glory of His person.

So, why does Micah choose a noun to describe this requirement of the Most High? The answer is this: ahavat is a noun that is often associated with the deep intimacy of love between human beings (Jacob and Rachel, for example). This word is used ten times in the Song of Solomon (nearly one-third of its occurrences). It covers the emotional and volitional aspects of the closest taste of heaven given to men and women on earth. It is the noun of personal delight in someone else. And, it is used to describe God's particular enthusiasm over His people (Deuteronomy 7:3).

Do you love kindness like this? Do you delight in mercy and faithfulness? Are you thrilled at the thought of delivering your enemies, providing for the needy and weak, lavishing mercy and goodness of those undeserving, maintaining steadfastness in the face of betrayal, and, more than anything else, upholding the covenant commandments with your Lord? Do you look upon the redeeming work of the Kingdom with the same intensity that you have when you look into the face of the one you love here on earth?

Micah picked the right word. We can't skate by with some watered-down sentiment of general goodwill toward kind acts. To love kindness is costly. Those who understand ahavat know that the symbol of ahavat is the cross. That's what is required of you, O man.

Now what are you going to do?

  posted at 7:47 AM  

I have been thinking a lot recently about how to deal with the people in my life who I find difficult to like. It could be any of a number of people – a family member or co-worker, the person next to me at church (gasp!), or even someone on the freeway or in the grocery store. But the point is that there’s a chasm between them and me and I am finding it very hard to like them. How do I deal with that?

Jesus’ commandment was to love everyone but, man, it can be tough sometimes!

As I was thinking this through a bit, a song came on the radio that reminded me that Jesus loves all of us – equally and the same. He yearns for a relationship with each of his creations. He yearns for intimate communion with that relative, co-worker or other “unlikable” person every bit as much as he does with me.

When God looks at all of us, He could see us as contemptible and unworthy -- prone to sin, and full of pride. Yet He looks beyond that and what He really sees is a child who He loves and longs for.

How can I capture that attitude toward those in my life with whom I have issues? Yes, it is a matter of allowing God’s love to flow through me. And how I want to do that! But yet there is still that human element which pulls me back and makes it such a challenge.

I know that part of this revolves around not building walls between myself and others. But I confess, I struggle with this. I hit points where I see others as just standing in my way and my reaction is to just don’t deal with them. That is a pride thing for me. Humility can win out over that.

Moving forward, reminding myself of how God loves me despite my faults, and how He loves that other person despite their faults, can help.

But it’s still a challenge.

Like I have said before, no one ever said this whole "take up your cross and follow me" would be easy. But, with God's help, I can make progress.

  posted at 6:16 AM  

I CORINTHIANS 9 (The Message)
Great reminder to faithfully and unbegrudgingly support those who are doing God's work. Also, I love verses 26 - 27 where we're reminded, as Christians, to stay ever-watchful for the opportunities that He brings to us.

  posted at 6:05 AM  

Tuesday, June 05, 2007
I CORINTHIANS 8 (The Message)
Along with freedom in Christ comes responsibility. Even though our lives are held by God's grace and love, we have a responsibility to live a life worthy of respect, to set a good example for those around us, especially for non-believers. We are not to "flaunt" God nor His grace as something that protects us or allows us to do whatever we want and then seek forgiveness. Instead, we are to live responsibly, and care for others in ways which cause us to set a good example for them. Sometimes nothing can cause a non-believer to become more firmly entrenched in their non-belief than seeing a believer who behaves no differently than they always have, who does not visibly show their transformation in Christ. If we are living out an attempt to show others the love that Christ showed for us, then that is not a worry.

  posted at 5:53 AM  

Monday, June 04, 2007
It dawned on me recently that Evan is basically mid-way between birth and high school graduation. That is a rather sobering, though exciting, thought. It all happens way too quickly, though. What seems to drag on forever as kids (childhood) is but a fleeting moment from this parent's perspective.

I have seen a lot of changes in Evan recently. He seems more caring and interested in others. He seems to be developing passions and interests which I think will carry him throughout his life. Those are exciting, neat things ... and I am particularly excited because I feel he is already on a faith journey where he will discover his "God-call" and pursue it the way that we're called to.

But it all makes me a little wistful ...

The little baby in him is long gone. Except for memories, gone is the baby who stiffened hard as a board and screamed when he needed fed. Gone is the little "jumpy guy" who would bounce for long periods in a chair hung from the doorway. Gone is the baby who never cared at all if he had a wet or dirty diaper. Gone is the baby who slept face-down by holding his hands under his chest, tucking his knees under his body, and sticking his little baby butt up in the air. (Though we do occasionally still catch him in that general position!) Gone is the baby who learned the alphabet when he was just barely a year old.

Gone, too, is the toddler who went around with one shoe on, the other shoe off. Just a memory is the tike with no modesty who would run through the house as "Captain Underpants" ... often without his underpants. Gone is the little guy who taught himself to read at age three and was doing addition and subtraction problems to boot. Gone are the countless hours of playing board games with him, one after another (usually Monopoly). Gone is the kid who needed his mom and dad for everything and whose world revolved around us.

More and more, as I look at him even at age eight (almost nine!), I am seeing the young man appear. And I like what I see. A young man who cares for others. A young man who is developing passions and interests. A young man who is academically gifted beyond his understanding. A young man becoming increasingly interested in the challenges of this world. A young man with friends who he cares about, and they about him. A young man with a true gift for music and in particular rhythms and playing the piano. A young man who is growing to be tall and strong and handsome.

It is hard to think about ... it brings tears to my eyes. His mom and I love him more than he will ever realize. You hate letting go of the baby and the toddler but ultimately Evan is God's child, not ours. (Although Lisa, after 27 hours of labor, may have disputed that!) I just pray that we give him the foundation that God wants him to have ... and I thank God for the blessing that is ... Evan.

  posted at 11:12 AM  

I got into the office this morning and had a message from a salesperson whose "30-second commercial" was "we improve leadership results with a predictive index." Not really sure what that means but the only thing I could think was "I improve leadership results with a whip." (It really isn't true but it was funny!)

  posted at 7:37 AM  

This particular chapter is often held up for much debate and discussion pertaining to subjects like infidelity and divorce. The way I see it, we are called to follow God's commands. Marriage is an institution established by Him. If God is in the marriage on the side of both individuals, things can be worked out. If He is there in even one of the individuals, things can perhaps be worked out. But, as Paul points out in this chapter, our time here on earth to do God's work is short. Being caught in a bad or immoral personal situation only hinders us from doing that work. Our responsibility is to order our lives in a way which best allows us to do God's work.

  posted at 5:54 AM  

The following was written by Steve Troxel of God's Daily Word Ministries. The message in this is a topic which seems to increasingly be placed on my heart. That topic is being aware of the words we say, and the impact of those words. We all have that grandmother or great aunt who, after they pass away, everyone says "You never herad them say a bad word against anybody." Sometimes, our memories on such things serve us correctly and sometimes they don't. Generally, though, it is usually women of whom we have this memory. That bothers me. Are men not also called to watch what we say? Are those of us in the workplace (regardless of our gender) not called to constantly be testimonies of God's grace, love, and compassion? Unfortunately, the world doesn't support that viewpoint very well. Forstunately, it is something we can do something about. As Steve says, our words are a powerful gift; let's use them for good -- let's use them for God.

Every day we are given the opportunity to make a difference in someone's life. Every time we open our mouth to speak, we send forth words which have an effect on those around us. Our words, which come "out of the overflow of the heart" (Matthew 12:34), will either cause a positive or negative reaction - our word are rarely neutral. Knowing the power of our words ought to cause us to use them with great care.

Ephesians 4:29
"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."

This means that every time we speak, we have the opportunity to encourage and minister. With just a few moments of our time and very little effort, we have the opportunity to brighten someone's day, to ease their burden, and possibly draw them closer to God. This precious opportunity must not be taken lightly; "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken" (Matthew 12:26).

Though our careless words are eternally forgiven, they are also a reflection of our heart. If we have received Jesus as our Lord and Savior, our heart ought to be filled with devotion, and our words should be filtered through a desire to bring Him glory and honor. I'm afraid we will one day be deeply ashamed to see how much damage our words have caused.

We seldom realize how harmful and discouraging our words can be:
"Like a madman shooting firebrands or deadly arrows is a man who deceives his neighbor and says, 'I was only joking!'" (Proverbs 26:18-19). Sarcastic and joking words are "deadly arrows" which are never useful for "building others up." Over time, this mode of communication is sure to destroy a relationship.

Before we speak, we must carefully listen. What is the real question? What are the real needs? "He who answers before listening
- that is his folly and his shame" (Proverbs 18:13). We may only be given the opportunity to speak a few words, but we can make every effort to use our words wisely; "The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil" (Proverbs 15:28).

Our words are a powerful gift. Let's honor our Heavenly Father by effectively using this gift to encourage. Let's speak so those who listen may benefit and be built up in their faith. Let's continually encourage one another to draw closer to our Heavenly Father and never squander the opportunity of our words.

  posted at 5:48 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.

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