Saturday, July 29, 2006

What else do we not know?

A couple of days ago, we discussed butterfly stickers on the rear windshields of hip young people...I didn't know what it meant. It appears no one in our community here knows either. I asked a couple of hip young guys at work...who apparently aren't as hip as they are young...but they'll get back to me.

A couple of months ago "All American Rejects" came to Tampa and I saw a full page, front page spread in the entertainment section of our paper, and had no idea who this group was, what they sang, or even what genre of music they played (although the picture had them looking like N-Synch without a shower for two days in grungy clothes). Right then I knew it...I was out of touch with my teens.

You see, I'll be 40 this year, but got saved "late in life", post college, as an I thought I'd seen enough and done enough to stay plugged in to know what was going on with my teens. It was the one upside of living such a long "lost" life. But it appears God had the last laugh, 'cause it wasn't quite long enough to really know. So...

What else do I (we) not know? I'm assuming that my readership is middle aged - no offense - I just don't know any of you...but take it as a compliment because all of you sound very mature. Other than the butterfly...what else do you see in our culture that you'd like to know what it is?

Friday, July 28, 2006

I really don't see how they do it...

Single Moms.

Recently placed a new associate on probation at work. Three weeks later she resigned and moved back home. Being on her own, with her 3-year-old son, in a new town was too much. I felt a bit guilty, but you really can't descriminate either way...if the requirement is to be at work from 8:30 - 5:30, Monday - Friday...that's the requirement. It's really irrelevant why...right?

My wife has been out of town for the last two days. She took our two teenagers with her. Kay Arthur women's and teen conference in TN was the draw. That leaves me with the three younger ones. We arranged for summer camp/pre-school/day care (whatever you want to call it) for the two pre-schoolers, and my son comes to work with me. To get them all up, fed, dressed, groomed, loaded up, to school puts me about an hour later to work than usual. To pick them up, feed them dinner, get my son to soccer practice by 6:00, has me leaving work an hour earlier than usual. Lunch was an hour longer to go home and let the dog out to do his I was about 35% less productive than usual. But I own the company, so I guess it's ok...I guess?

I further rationalize that this is the exception, not the rule (our probated associate missed 8 of the first 20 days). I also freely admit, if my wife did not stay home we would definitely not have five children, and if I were single, things would be much different...however, that being said...

...Single moms have a rough road to hoe. They absolutely have to make concessions and choices regarding what they can and can't do, and what their children can and can't participate in.

Somehow, in an effort to not make anyone feel bad, or like they made a bad choice, we don't talk about this. And often the choice wasn't their's at was some crappy dad/husband. But can we back up and be more descriminant with our choices for mates...or are we that desperate to fit in? What are the odds you can find a single mom, who really admits their path is tougher for them and their child, willing to talk to high school girls about the choices they face and the results that follow.

So, my thoughts are:
1. Single moms who are struggling should put pride aside and put themselves in a position to talk to young girls about the hard reality of their situation...and I don't mean in posh churches or Christian schools, but at youth centers, inner city churches and public schools.
2. As Christians, we need ministries to single moms to help give them a break...a place for the kids to show the love of Jesus to those in need.

Any other thoughts on this?

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Now that it appears some people read this thing...

Been seeing lots of butterflies on rear windows of cars lately. If it were 20 years ago, I would have thought Jethro Tull, but today, there are way too many and most of the drivers are way to young and hip to listen to Tull. What does a butterfly mean?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Late in commenting, so I'll try this...

From Brent's Blog in Holland, July 16...

"I admit it: I wasn't expecting much from the sermon at church yesterday. Not because of the reality that I listen to Tim Stevenson every Sunday and most everything else is a "notch below" (brazen, but true, suck-up mention of the boss) but rather the dynamics of going to church in another country. There's a translator and I struggle with that. So, I'd resigned myself to the hope of just paying attention.Well, the speaker got my attention, alright. Early on he says, "Evangelism isn't about us doing the right thing, it's about allowing the other person to experience God." I was IN. I wrote it on a folded up post-it note and scrambled to find more scrap paper. Even with a translator I was already provoked.The speaker was a Dutch missionary to Spain. He shared about how Western Europe as moved from a "post-Christian" world to a "post-modern" world and is now in a "multi-cultural" state...the latter meaning that all religions are mixed and regarded as equal, morals & values are derived from anything that isn't the Bible, and there's no "status-quo" anymore. Sounds an awful lot like the training we gave our teens before they came here.He talked about how if Jesus ran into Zaccheus, a wee little man was he, in Europe, how would he evangelize to him? So, in Luke 10 he pointed out how Jesus saw him as a man with needs, built a relationship with him and then gave him the information he needed to know. Sounds an awful lot like the training we gave our teens before they came here.His applications?Love people as they are, where they are. See the unsaved as humans, not evangelical targets.Every conversation doesn't have to devolve into "God-talk." If someone says how beautiful a flower is, sometimes just agree with them. Don't take it into how amazing our God is unless the Spirit so leads.Begin from where that person is in their life. We tend to want to change the behavior of non-Christians rather than build the relationship over time and allow the Holy Spirit to work.Good stuff, translator or not."

Also wondering about a recent Brent quote regarding evangelism - "not much has been successful in the last 40 years."

Now my thoughts:

Who HAS had success recently? Who is effectively doing God's will regarding "creating disciples"? I want to read what they are doing. I want to see several people at work and in my family in heaven who aren't going to be there if Christ came back today. And I AM close to these people, I AM their friends, they all respect me, and see a difference in my "lifestyle", but all think my FAITH is what's WRONG with me...they want no part of it...and it breaks my heart. So I back off and continue the relationship on their the Dutch guy says above. Now what?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Founders

Just got back from a vacation to Virginia. Highly recommend hiking up to Mary's Rock in the Shenandoah National Park and tubing down the Shenandoah river and Jamestown, Yorktown, and Williamsburg are all cool...just wait till your kids are grown to'll enjoy it more.

Big is man. Our founders, although great men, weren't much different from great men today. They all had their issues, went to others for help, argued about the details...Jefferson had this need to impress that left him heavily in debt, Washington needed help and advice from the French in Yorktown, Jamestown (our first settlement) was a disaster, the Gentry class (those running the show) were a useless lot...

Don't get me wrong, our country's history is facinating, and I think collectively these guys all accomplished a ton, learned from their mistakes, and were great men. It was just nice to see the "normalcy" in them. It gives me great hope for our society and our culture.

Friday, July 14, 2006

A Missionary or A Businessman

If I'm on an airplane, and the person next to me asks me what I do for a living, what do I tell them? Until now, I would most definitely state..."I own a small business."

However, I feel very convicted now to respond..."If I tell you, do you promise to still talk to me? (assuming Yes) I'm a missionary in the business world."

Paul never led off any of his letters with "Paul, a tent maker for Jesus"...or, "Paul, tentmaker"...he always led with "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus", or something in that light.

I think my opportunities to live out the great commission will increase if I take on the right perspective, and reposition myself in God's economy, not so much in the economy of this world.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Why I liked Zidane's headbutt.

First let me say, I was watching with my son when it happened, so my joy was reserved. I didn't want to send him (a soccer fanatic) the wrong message, but I thought it was very cool, and I spent the last two days trying to figure out why. So here's what I came up with:

First, the sport, which I like alot, has very little room for reciprocity. All of the major sports (at least football, baseball, hockey) have room for the players to keep things "right" on the field of play. But in soccer, there doesn't appear to be an on-field answer to the extremes - the writhing in pain acting by the strikers, or the brutal mind games and chippiness by the defense.

Second, I really like Zidane. His class and intensity are unmatched in our generation...very Jordanesque.

Third, I really dislike Materazzi (the reciever of the headbutt). I didn't like him in the US game, and after further research, I dislike him more now. He's a third rate thug, who is kindly referred to in the Italian press as a "late bloomer" who "worked his way up through the minors". Any hockey fan knows that's code for enforcer who thugged his way up the hard way. Add to the thug factor the fact that he's smart (a professional soccer coaches son), and you get a guy who is playing mental games too. In fact, rumor has it Materazzi's chippy mind games began referring to Zidane's modest Armenian heritage (his father brought the family to France for work and immediately provided by doing jobs the French wouldn't do) by referring to him as a "terrorist" and telling him "to go play for his own country". These last two jabs were what set Zidane off.

All this said, I didn't mind the headbutt. I kind of liked it. The American sports media has been brutal toward Zidane, and I think wrongfully so. Dan Patrick of ESPN paralleled it to Mike Tyson biting Evander Hollyfield. Michael Wilbon called it the worst action in the history of sport (come on). My parallel is way different. I equate it first by who are the characters. This Materazzi fellow is no Evander Hollifield...he's more akin to Bill Lambier, Dennis Rodman, or Brashiers (the Flyers thug). And Zidane is no Mike Tyson. Tyson didn't represent dignitty and class to the boxing world, he was just the opposite. Zidane is a father of 4 boys, a good one at that, and every father in France wishes their kid could grow up like him...more akin to Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, or John Stockton. So let's replace the characters with John Stockton and Dennis Rodman. Make the scene game 7 of the NBA finals, tie score with 2 minutes to play, and Rodman has been chipping away at Stockton, mentally and physically, the whole series. The refs have done nothing to this point. Then, away from the ball, as Stockton is slashing through the lane, like he always did, he drops Rodman to the floor. The replay shows what happened, and because Rodman, being escorted off, stops play, the refs see the replay and eject Stockton...Jazz lose the series. I'm still deep down inside, glad Stockton did it. That's where I'm at with Zidane.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

How would I handle difficult issues?...(you know, if I were President)

Knowing that you can't legislate the heart of man, which would be my overall decision making criteria, I would lead through encouragement and public debate, hoping that others would learn to love the overwhelming wisdom of God's Word that we have come to know and love.

For example, abortion...Abortion is murder. But even if you don't see life starting at conception (not murder), at a minimum, abortion is skirting you're responsibility and accountability for a poor choice. We have public drunkeness laws, and DUI laws that hold people accountable for thier indescretions, why don't we have the same scrutiny for equal indescretion. I would appeal to persnal accountability.

As for teaching kids about homosexual lifestyles...I would appeal to logic here too. When comparing children raised in various homes, statistics play out overwhelmingly that our highest producing, most well adjusted children come from traditional families where Mom & Dad are their biological mom and dad and stay maried through their adulthood. This isn't prejudice or bias, this is encouraging. This is teaching the stereotype that is most likely to produce the best results. For example, we don't show lousy athletes in sports instructional videos...we show the best athletes...why wouldn't we use the most promising example for our children?

In the end, I would teach, promote, discuss, truth in a positive, enlightened, freeing way. I'm sure there would be some who are offended, and put off by my "narrow mindedness", but in the end, I think MOST people are still drawn to truth.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Bolter in 2012?

I don't want to be President. I do think I have a vision that could help someone win. The theme would be "Recreating a Culture of Achievement", and I would stay on message and and paint a vision of possitive results. I would discuss regaining global prominance in education and technology inovation. Again having the best and the brightest the world has to offer. I would promise that we would pool our collective resources to have a legitimate alternative energy source that would make us a totally independent nation again. I would encourage and support programs that develop athletes to win on the global stage, placing America above self. That would lead into a discussion on the pitfalls of unchecked selfishness...the real, deep seated reason behind the woes of our day (abortion, corporate malfeasance, prison overcrowding, and more). I would promote a defense policy of "walk softly and carry a big stick". This would be enforced by encouraging but not bullying. If someone asks for help, and it's legitimate, we'd help, but the asking would be very public and their would be no doubt they want us there. In other cases of abuse, I would encourage countries to do the right thing, and encourage freedom throughout. But in all cases, the people need to want something so much to be able to sacrifice.

I'm not completely refined in my stance yet...but it's a start. Man do we need some leadership and communication of said leadership.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Revival at Home

My wife and I are spending more time talking about the Kingdom, the burden we have for the lost in our midst, our frustration for why they don't "get it", encouraging each other when one gets down for possibly not doing enough or sharing enough or pleading enough, reminding each other that God is God and with or without us, he will have control (becoming more Calvinest by the day). It's cool to have God on the throne again at our home. That all of our suburban activities and business needs to be all about Him.

Welcome Home Jesus.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Sins of omission

I've spent a lot of time talking lately about grey area convictions and moral compasses (smoking, drinking, music, etc.), and have really lost sight of the mark ("pick a card, any card"...see yesterday's post). We are commanded to go and make disciples of all nations, we are commanded to share the we doing there?

A survey of all churches with over 1000 members...NONE were growing because of conversions! Also, among practicing evangelicals (not mere believers, but evangelicals), less than 10% shared the Gospel with a non-believer in the last year!

The shoe fits me. How 'bout you?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Moving Convictions???

My friend Bill paints a great word picture of Satan. He has him at a card table in Vegas, with the visor, white shirt, black bow tie and vest, sleeves rolled up, laying a deck of cards out in front of you, grinning, saying "pick a card, any card." Each card is something that will cause us to stumble. Satan knows them all, he's seen our actions and behaviors. He doesn't care which one, he just wants us to pick one...any card will get us "off track" to our pursuit of Holiness.

As culture advances, some of my convictions have moved a bit. You see, only 15 years ago, it was very easy to discern what would get me off things get a bit more complex. For example...I think Ben Folds is a fabulous musician, lyricist, and pianist. About 15 years ago, I bought his latest album, only to be disappointed to find 3-4 of the songs to be very explicit and hindered my ability to stay on track. Easy enough, carve it out, don't own the album anymore, Ben Folds was on my personal black list. Then, enter iTunes. I can select a song, not explicit, in fact with a great message (like Jackson Cannery) that describes the conflict between Ben and his brother and the career paths they choose relative the value society places on them, great music, and no conflict. Have my convictions moved?

Another example...certain movies are very funny, but the raunchy meter outweighs the funny meter, so I avoid them. However, if the airlines show the same movie during a flight, the movie gets sanitized and much of the raunchy is weeded out. Why can't we buy that version? Does the fact that the 'clean version' would keep me more on track mean that my convictions are moving?

At the end of the day, do all of these advances in technology that provide us ever increasing access to our culture in larger and larger doses (even if they give us watered down versions) give Satan a larger deck of cards to lay out on the table?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Does nitpicking hurt the Gospel?

Elect or Select?
Grace and Law!
Drinking, Smoking, Rock Concerts,...
Worship style at Church.
Chairs or Pews?
Evangelistic or Expository preaching?

The list goes on, and on, and on. A customer/friend and I were discussing me changing churches a few months ago. He goes to my old church and I felt I owed him the respect to tell him in person...frankly the discussion lasted over an hour and in any other venue other than his office, may not have gone so well. My friend threw out on the table that "nitpicking among Christians does more to hurt the Gospel than anything else." He relayed a story of a lost family member who supported it.

When I left his office we were still friends. We discussed my reasons for leaving the church...and frankly there was no delicate way to say it without somehow condemning what they were doing, otherwise we'd still be there. He countered with you need to plug in and change what's wrong...and I countered, etc. Had a non-Christian been in the room, I'm not sure this conversation would make a hill of beans difference in whether or not God grabs hold of their heart. In many ways, it was because of the way in which we had the rulled the day.

My friend Brent and I are doing some nitpicking on his blog today. I hope we are doing it in such a way that those who are lost or weak in the faith aren't turned off. I hope that those reading see love first, opinion second. I hope we are an example for those reading. If not, I hope we grow to that.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

World Cup

Just some random thoughts about the World Cup...
- I like it...alot.
- There aren't many things that will draw me to sit on the couch for 6 hours straight like the two quarterfinal games yesterday...I recall the same interest in the NFC/AFC Championship games, and the Semifinals of the Final Four on Saturday.
- Even though the Italians and Portuguese flop and cry more than any NBA player ever, I've learned to deal with it, and it's cool when the ref calls them out for it. Racist note here: You rarely see predominantly "anglo" nations dive, writh in pain on the ground, then get up and run a 4.4 second 40 withing 5 seconds of said dive...England, Germany, USA, Netherlands are all pretty stand up about the whole faking injury thing to gain an advantage.
- Normally the players are pretty courteous about giving folks the benefit of the doubt, so the other team will voluntarilly kick the ball out to stop play during an injury...but Portugal faked so much, particularly when England was on a run, that England quit being the gentleman...much to the ire of Portugal's star...I was glad England called their bluff.
- The world is flat. When I was a kid, I didn't know their was soccer outside of my local rec league. My son has Crespo's jersey (Argentina), Renaldinho's jersey (Brazil), Henrey's jersey (Arsenal, club team, but of French fame), and v. Nistelrooy's jersey (ManU, club team, of the Netherlands). He wears them constantly, with pride. Most of his friends know who these guys are, how good they are, and at his school (albeit a soccer power in Florida) these 4 guys are as recognizable as Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Payton Manning, and Barry Bonds.
- Now that it's almost over, there's NO WAY the USA was the 5th best team going into this tournament. I think they ranked us high to raise awareness and hope and get TV ratings up in the largest TV market in the world...or some other reason...but those teams who played yesterday would all eat us for lunch.
- Add "go to the world cup" to one of the things I want to do before I die.