Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Social Commentary

I usually try to stay away from Pop Culture. Truth is, I don't know all that much about it and I have a little bit of a fear of embarrassing myself, particularly when it comes to the music business. But, every once in a while I'll spy something that sticks out to me. Yesterday was one
of those days. The juxtaposition of these two headlines/links was jarring to me.

I understand that the gift "Diddy" gave his son was as much of a business expense as anything. It was broadcast on an MTV show for millions of potential record buyers to see. (Does Diddy still record songs that other people already sang or is he just a producer now?)

What does it say about our society that this gesture is more powerful than the one that Radiohead made? (I did notice that Radiohead is helping give other people's money away and not their own, but still...) Do we covet riches that much, even in the face of tragedy? Do we still worship excess when we are faced with images of death and destruction every day? Are we that good at tuning out the bad and seeing what we want to?

Maybe it's just a generational thing. It seems some apples fall further from the tree and some chips aren't right off the old block. (Notice the second line in the article's actual headline.)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Painful Reminders

I've been sick for 4 days. 2 and a half of those I spent firmly planted on the couch. Those other times there were things I had to do.

New windows for our house arrived last week, the weather was right on Saturday and I had help, so I loaded up on the Day-quil and put those in. I fell down the steps . . . while carrying a ladder. Sunday I had to preach, so it was Day-quil again. After church I helped cook and fell down the steps again, carrying an armload of things to the freezer in the basement.

Today my head and throat feel better, but I'm sore.

My knees are killing me and that makes me feel like an idiot. What kind of grown man falls down the stairs? Twice in one weekend? Every step I take reminds me what happened.

My hands are also sore, but that makes me feel good. Putting replacement windows in an old house means scraping and pulling and twisting and cutting and prying and drilling and adjusting and caulking and cleaning, all done without gloves. So, my hands are scraped and cut and dry and cracked and sore. Everything I do reminds me of the new windows.

Pain is one of those things we instinctively run away from. We automatically associate it with bad things, but that isn't always the case. Growing hurts. Getting in shape hurts. Learning hurts. Love hurts.

Pain is a message, but not always for what we think.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

As simple as a cup

What does it mean to be a disciple?
Giving a cup of water to a child, what could be more sweet? But it is this seemingly insignificant act that Jesus uses to describe the acts of his disciples. Simple & selfless, it is this kind of action, done for the right reason that signifies what a disciple is and what they do. Following Jesus by loving him and loving people, simple and selfless.
So, why don't we do it more often?
(Not because it makes us feel good, not because someone on TV tells us to, not because we feel guilty, not because we should - because we're a disciple and that's what Jesus would do.)

Matthew 10:42 - And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.

Monday, January 18, 2010


I know that it isn't such a huge thing, but this is post number 200. To me, that's a sign that I've stuck with this when its been easy and when its been tough. I think some posts have been pretty good and I know some have been pretty poor, but I've kept going. To me, that's something to celebrate. What accomplishments (small or large, significant or not so much) do you have to celebrate?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Solid Foundation

If I want to lay a foundation in any area of my life, my personal foundation has to be firm. So, what does that mean? I've been to the gym every other day since Christmas (but my wife makes my look bad by jumping on the Wii Fit every day), so that's a start. But If I want to really build a foundation, I've got to go deeper than a couple miles on the treadmill.

I've never read the Bible. Okay, that's misleading. I've read every part of the Bible at some point, but never systematically gone through the whole thing. I think it's about time. So, I'm doing the M'Cheyne reading plan on YouVersion.com. It's a plan to read through the Bible in 1 year. Specifically, it is to read the OT once and the NT & Psalms twice. There are a few reasons why I'm doing it with YouVersion and why I'm doing this plan.

First, by using YouVersion I can read anywhere - from a paper and ink Bible, from my computer or from my phone and I can keep track of what I've read from my computer or my phone. (This is important later.) On my phone or computer I can also switch versions (to start I'm sticking with ESV, but that could change).

The M'Cheyne plan does small chunks of different parts of the Bible, instead of big chunks. Call me a heathen, but reading multiple chapters in certain parts of Numbers or Chronicles can really make it tough for me to stay motivated. One chapter mixed with chapters from other places is more doable.

The electronic version of this plan also lets you customize things. If I really get into reading a particular part of scripture, I can keep going and record that I read several chapters. The electronic version will let me record that reading and modify the plan accordingly. (The same goes if it takes me a little longer to get through certain sections.)

Finally, YouVersion will hold me accountable. I'll get emails if I'm not up to date on my reading to remind me to get back on track. There's also the option to share this accountability with someone else, so you can keep each other on track. Anybody else want to work on their foundation with me this year?

Monday, January 11, 2010

One Year

One year ago I was working part-time at the mall. (Sure it was for one of the greatest companies on the planet, but still...)
One year ago I was living by myself in an ancient apartment next to the railroad tracks.
One year ago I was completely debt free.
One year ago I was still kind of contemplating ditching everything here and heading back east.
One year ago I was not married.
One year ago Parkside's River Campus didn't exist.
One year ago I turned 30.

I never thought my 30's would be a time of new beginnings. It always seemed to me that the 30's were a time to reap some of the rewards of hard work in your 20's. It was a time to get serious and bear down. It was a time to stop having so much fun and really focus. It was a time to be an adult. Boy, I was wrong and I was right.

Year 30 saw me starting a job, starting a marriage, starting yet another project/house, starting a new car payment and starting a new church campus. I should be starting to feel a little overwhelmed by all the change and flux, but somehow I'm not.

If year 30 was the year for breaking ground, year 31 should be the year for building a firm foundation. Our house is about 106 years old. I've owned houses with slab foundations (229 N. 5th St), poured foundations (9522 Damascus Dr) and block foundations (2647 Ocosta Ave), but this is the first with a stone foundation and it is by far the oldest.

Each stone is unique, they all have their own characteristics, yet they are properly placed and fitted together. They are bonded with mortar that has kept them solid for a century. It is much more work to make a foundation from unique, individual stones. Blocks are all identical, they are designed to fit together perfectly, quickly and easily. Poured foundations and slabs are made in huge chunks by creating a form and then filling with concrete. None of these require the time and attention to detail that a stone foundation does. They are quick and easy.

What kind of foundation am I going to build in year 31?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Snow Days

Every kid loves snow days. Waking up and seeing those fluffy white flakes falling filled us with excitement. We'd run downstairs and turn on the TV to watch the news - the only time it might say something we cared about. Inevitably, the alphabetical listings would be just past the name of our school, so we'd switch channels in the hope that one of the others would have better timing. Once we'd cycled through all of them, we'd eventually wind up sitting and waiting, figuring out in our heads if Lakeland school district came before or after Lake-Lehman.

Finally, we'd see those magic words scroll across the bottom of the screen: Lake-Lehman School District CANCELLED. Delight. Excitement. Bliss. Sure, it might mean an extra day of school at the end of the year, but that feels like years from now. And now we had a whole day just for us. We could sled, we could build, we could fight. It was ours to do with what we wanted. It was a change from the day-in day-out drudgery of life. It was a gift.

As you grow older, snow days lose that luster. We think about tomorrow, and what we'll have to make up. We think about the traffic and the shoveling and the ice and the salt. Gone is the child-like wonder. Instead of thinking of the day as a gift, it becomes a burden.

When we are young, we know how to have fun. We know how to live in the moment. We know we were made to play and we jump at the chance. As we grow up, responsibility sets in and starts to take over. We lose touch with that playful innocence, we drift from the wonder and from living in the moment.

We were created with a purpose. Each day when we wake up there is possibility. This might be a day where I get to be who I was created to be. This might be a day where I can do what I was created to do. The signs will be less subtle than fluffy white flakes falling from the sky and no one will announce it on the news, but with God the possibility exists. The excitement is up to us.

Monday, January 4, 2010


What makes a good gift?
I got 3 yesterday. They were wildly different - from different people, different prices, different motives, different meanings. The common thread? A little bit of thought and effort and a whole lotta meaning.

One gift was a simple card with a heartfelt thank-you message. It was great to be reminded of how I helped someone else this year. Never underestimate the power of a simple Thank-You.

One gift was expensive. It was wrapped not just in paper, but in a book that represented a bond my wife and I have with the givers. The gift itself filled a desire that the giver knew we had (and it was more than generous).

The last gift might have been my favorite. It falls in line with the widow's mite, but is much deeper. This gift showed a connection, a commonality that I can share with someone who at first glance is nothing like me. For me, this was a symbol, an affirmation that God has prepared me for a time such as this. How else could I explain my excitement at receiving the un-butchered front leg of what must have been a tiny deer? (The third time someone has given me venison this year and the second time from a non-family member.) I'm guessing that only a small percentage of the population would either give or happily receive such a gift. And that makes me glad.