print banner
blog

If I Only had a Brain

As I left the house this morning, I quipped “I'm off to see The Wizard,” and for comedic value could help adding “I need to ask for a brain.” Which led inexorable to me mock singing “I could whistle away the hour, conversing with the flowers. If I only had a brain.”

My wife corrected my mistake, and told me I would “...while away the hours, dear.”

After I said my goodbyes, and started walking away (no, I did not skip down the walk, as if it were a yellow brick road, nor did I sing “Good Ship Lollipop” but, I will remember to that next time) from the house I realized how much we Christians are like the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion. Except, it's not the The Wizard, an old man behind the curtain, we're asking, it is our Lord.

How many times have we prayed things like, "God, please give me peace" or "Lord, if it is your wll, give me boldness." Why do we need to ask for boldness or peace, doesn't God's word say we have them, the Word of God says 365 times phrases like "Do not be afraid" and “Do not worry.” The psalmists tell us, "With God on [our] side, what shall [we] fear?" and that "[We] can do all things, through Christ Jesus who strengthens [us]." I believe those to be true, but at times I ask God for strengthen. The Bible says he's already given us strengthen, so why do I have to ask Him for it?

It is because we have a habit of getting caught up in the moment, in the struggles of life, and we forget what we have been called to be and we have been blessed with. Troubles will come, and we will face times that make us feel fear, weakness, doubt and/or worry. But, those feelings should never come to say, they should come to pass. I wonder sometimes how many times Moses called out to God saying "Lord, I know you want me to do this, but I'm not good at speaking. I have no idea what you were thinking in choosing me."

I ponder if the little Shepard boy, David, had shaky hands when he stood before Saul and said, “Don't be afraid, I got this. I know he looks tough, and you're all scared of him, and I know I'm the runt of the litter – but I'm going to go out there and make that big jerk stop talking smack and telling 'Yo God' jokes. Sure, I'm just delivering food to my brothers – a bronze age version of Domino's or Pizza Hut -- not a part of this army, and lacking formal training, but, um, see I've scared off some animals while I watching my sheep. It'll all be good.” Or, was it his confidence that convinced Saul that this humble boy, maybe 16 years old, was ready to face a seasoned warrior. Did David walk in and say, “Hey, Saul, what are doing. He's only one guy. 40 days, really? Look, I'll go take him out, because I know a God who will give us victory. You've forgotten who we are, we're God's chosen. What do we have to fear? Give me five minutes alone with him and I'll make him regret that crack about your son being a bed wetter, and saying that yo' mama was so fat she sat on a quarter and squished a booger out of George Washington's nose. (No, I have no idea what a Quarter or a George Washington are – I don't think they exist yet, that's why it is such a bad insult for a Palestinian to use on an Israelite in the bronze age).” Alright, the idea of putting the Yo' Mama jokes, and equating David to pizza delivery, I must credit to Joe Giglietti's sermon "Scrap the Model, Change the World," (and don't forget to check out The 99).

The take away, is this: don't ask God for strength, peace or boldness, you have them already, If you need them, remember that God gave them to you when you received the spirit of the Lord. Remember that His ways are higher than yours, and His plans are not be the same as yours; but, even if He leads you down a tough road, all things still work together for the good of those who love Him. He has not given you the spirit of fear, but the world has made you afraid. When you need strength, remember that you have been called out by God, and when you need boldness, remember that you are a "Mighty Man [or woman] of Valor."

Reflections on the Independence Day

Independence day means grilled food, family and of course fireworks. A day off in celebration of our independence. What is often missed, however, is how important the actions our founding fathers took really was. In July of 1775, Patrick Henry stood before the group of men, and delivered a fiery speech, telling them that “The question before us is nothing less than the question of freedom or slavery.” Most of the colonists in the 13 colonies took pride in their British citizenship, and while they were unhappy with the Stamp Act and the Tax Act, few of these men were ready to risk everything and try to revolt. Some of them were willing to do things in secret like dress up like Native Americans, sneak aboard a freight ship and dump the tea in the water, but few if any were ready to start really talking about open rebellion. Henry's speech, however held weighty words and powerful ideas. At the end of that meeting they agreed to meet the next year and draft a declaration of war.

In congress July 4, 1776 The Unanimous Declaration of Independence for the Thirteen Colonies if the United States was penned and signed. It spoke of dangerous ideas, that sadly it is easy for us to take for granted. Following the short preamble, they begin, We take these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal. These were men who had studied the thinkers of the age of reason, and to call anything self-evident was a big deal for them. Particularly the sentiment that all men were created equal. It isn't clear if this spoke only of the white, land owning men or if this was an even more broad statement encompassing the slaves and women. The governments set up following this bold statement don't speak to the broader ideas, but Jefferson (while owning slaves himself) was a idealist pushing for abolition. Even if this “all men” concept was limited, it was practically unheard of at the time to say that, birth right doesn't matter. The nobles are not better than anyone bellow them, and the king and queen are my equals.

They continue, “That they are endowed, by their creator, with certain unalienable rights -- among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. At the time the idea of enlightened despotism ruled the day. God, most people thought, places kings and queens in power, and people were supposed to fall in line and blindly obey. This, however, spoke of rights for all men. Things that nature and nature's God had endowed us with. That we all had the right to live, be free and pursue our own destinies in life, a far cry from the serfdom, from religious persecution they were fleeing when they settled.

To secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, follows. The idea that governments derive their power not from the divine, but from the people which the governments rule. This would mean that the governments are there to serve us, not rule over us. That governments exists solely to protect our rights.

When Governments become destructive to these rights, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to set up new government... was the treacherous claim, in the eyes of the British thrown. That if people aren't happy with the government that rules them, that they have a God given right to amend government or to forcible replace it, if it doesn't serve them.

These are the ideals our system is based. No, the system of government we have since established isn't perfect. Slavery should never have been allowed, land ownership should never have mattered, women should have had equal rights from the very beginning, and so on... But, all things considered, our system was very progressive and a huge step in the right direction. Even with their faults, I think it is important to remember what risks these founding fathers took, that we might have the freedoms we do.

Character Matters

I had another post I was going to write, but I felt called out of the blue to write this post instead. It isn't aimed or inspired by any particular person, but is a topic that was placed on my heart. You often hear people talk about the divide between business. Public and private lives of people. When an elected official has an affair or other moral lapse in the private life, you hear a lot of people judging the media sources that cover the “story.” I don't know how I feel about those sources because most of them are only running the sensationalism of a scandal to get eyeballs on the ad space they sell; but, I do think that the public has right to know.

Now, some have taken to arguing that “it isn't our business,” but I'd have to disagree. I don't need to know all the sorted details, but I need to know if public official is trustworthy. When a man marries a woman, he makes a promise to his wife, either before God or the government of United States. This promise and how he treats it speaks volumes about his character. If a man or woman is willing and able to break a promise to the most important person in their life, then there is nothing stopping them from breaking the promises they make to thousands or even millions of nameless faceless masses. Character does matter. Even the appearance of scandal should be avoided. Where there is smoke, there is often fire, and even if there isn't people will think there is fire.

You and I aren't congressmen or presidents – well, I suppose it is possible that readership includes congressmen or the even President – so, how does this apply to us? Our integrity is worth more than financial gain, and we should endeavor to protect it. We are people with family, coworkers, employers and/or friends, and even to them, your character matters. To your children, your actions will speak louder than your words. My wife and I have always st rived to be moral people of character, but we also no that no one is perfect (at least by God's standard). Life gives us all tests of our moral fiber. I want my daughter to see me doing the right thing, not for gain, reward or out of fear, but because it really is the right thing to do.

When are your thoughts about character, public figures, personal lives and the example you are trying to set?

Book Review: Quitter

Jon Acuff, in case you didn’t know, is the author of the blog Stuff Christians Like, the book Stuff Christians Like, and the book Baby Steps, Gazelles and 37 Other Things Dave Ramsey Taught Me. His most recent work is Quitter. Shortly after his book was released he wrote a guest post on Micheal Hyatt’s blog, and ran a give away contest for the book. I was blessed enough to be among the winners. I am big Jon Acuff fan, and an even bigger fan of his boss, Dave Ramsey.

The book was very prudent to what I’m doing and where I am in doing it. I’ve talked about my dream of making Jesus go Viral, and how I’ve started a company with that as the primary focus. A lot of the book is filled with common sense things, like “don’t quit your day job too early,” “hustle, and work hard on dreams” -- but they are important to remember and often when chasing a dream easy to forget. A lot of the message is couched with in comedic encounters from Jon’s own path, for instance he talks about “the reverse superman” he had to pull in the restroom at his past day jobs when returning from a weekend at his dream job.

What I like is that he talks about the business end and the personal aspects of moving towards your dream job. If you aren’t careful to lay down boundaries, you have the potential to ruin relationships with those that matter most. He talked about some of the stresses that hustling toward his dream job placed on his marriage and on their children.

My personal takes aways is that it time, patience, persistence and a lot of hard work. That you need to focus, and build a tribe if you want to make it to your dream job. Through it all, though, you can’t steal time from family, your current job, or other obligations. I was reading on the bus, when I read about his realization he already had “enough,” that he had everything in life that he needed, and more, without the dream job. I cried, because I realized that I, too, already had “enough.” I’m blessed with a wonderful wife, beautiful daughter, a loving family, a great church family, a roof over our heads and gainful employment. I want my dream, but even if it never becomes reality, I already have "enough."

Maybe that’s what that spirit of unrest and greed I talked about recently is about. I think a lot of people don’t realize what they already have. I know I forget sometimes that I have what I need when I’m thinking about what I want. Keeping that in mind, I can afford to patient, lay the long course, and put in the hours of hard work to get to my dream job.

The book is great, and anyone who can fill in these blanks should read it: “I’m a ________, but I want to be a __________.” Also, if this is a topic that interests you, you should register for the Quitter Conference.

Small Town Cedarburg

I shouldn't be telling you about this. Telling you means there will be more people on the streets, filling up the little shops, and standing in front of me in line to be seated at the restaurants. However, I have to mention how cool the historical Cedarburg is. The Washington House Inn is an especially nice place to stay when you need to get away. I know I now sound like a travel commercial for the city, but I assure you I am getting nothing from any of the businesses or the anyone in the city, for posting this glowing review of it. We spent a night at White House in last weekend, and the day today eating our way down Washington Avenue.

One of the best things about Cedarburg is that hearkens back to a simpler -- more innocent -- time. I know all times really have their ugly side, but the world of today isn't like the way the world used to be. Crime rates are higher, everything has been sexualized, neighborhoods have lost their community and families have grown apart. All of these are casualties of progress. Don't me get wrong, I think there are very important advancements that have made life better in many ways, but everything has two sides.

I admire the communication and media systems we have, we have access to information in ways we never have before. Relatively cheap, nearly instant, easily search-able access to scientific findings, artistic works, literature and world events. That said, we lose some important things with each step forward. It seems that face to face human interaction is becoming less and weaker as we escape into a world of text messages, emails, FaceBook posts and tweets. Information overload lessens the importance of each message we encounter. We can look up world starvation statistics with the same ease we watch the latest “Will It Blend” video.

Cedarburg embodies the simple life of a historical small town, purposefully preserving some of the best aspects of our past and culture. Along the main street, Washington Avenue, you see the entrepreneurial spirit, a sense of real camaraderie and glimpse at what made America Great. Each store owner started with a dream, worked hard to get their businesses started, and are active in their businesses daily operations. Most carry other stories products, market the other shops goods, or at least refer people to other businesses. Few of the retail spaces are empty at any given time, and they never remain empty for long. That said, the area is a tourist trap, but as long as you know that going in, you'll enjoy yourself.

Book Review: Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters

I recently finished Dr. Meg Meeker's book Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters. It is an enlightening book for anyone who is a father to a daughter. The large take away is that fathers relationships with daughters have huge impact on the choices daughters make (that part isn’t surprising). Fathers, Dr. Meeker argues, are the “gold standard” that daughters will use to measure the men that they date. Fathers, especially in this age, need to protect their daughters from the messages that society would plant in their young minds. Girls are more prone to self esteem issues than boys are, and girls have higher incidents of eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Parents are the front line to control messages coming into the home, and should convey positive healthy messages to their daughter. Fathers need to tell their daughters they love them. They need to let them know how special and how precious they are, and they need to emphasize that a person’s worth is not determined by superficial things like appearance or wealth. Fathers need to tell their daughters that they are God's handiwork and they are beautiful for reasons that transcend the physical.

Dr. Meeker spends many pages talking about the rising cases of sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV, HPV, Herpes and AIDS. She mentions that most sexual education classes teach things that are incorrect, and even dangerous. She urges parents to take the matter into their own hands, and children need to know what their parent’s stance on sex is. The most important message for the sections on sex is the less sexual partners your daughter has, the lower the chances your daughter will get a sexually transmitted disease. Daughters who are taught their parents want them to abstain from sex, until marriage, have a significantly lower incidences of teenage pregnancy, STDs and depression. Parents, she argues, need to send a clear and concise message , set clear rules and enforce those rules consistently. Fathers need to meet the boys who seek to meet their daughter, communicate those expectation to these young suitors, know where their daughter is going and enforce a curfew. After all, it is a father’s duty to protect their daughters.

Her book also talks about letting your daughter know who you are, leading by example, teaching your daughter to be humble and telling your daughter who God is. Showing your daughter that you live by the principles you are teaching her is important. Most of what she learns from you, she’ll learn by watching you, not by the words you say. If you teach her about God, then show her in your walk with God – let her see your prayer life, your charity, your grace and your love for God. Teaching her to have self confidence and humility can be difficult, but the rewards in her life for learning those things will be many. It may sound contradictory, but I think Dr. Meeker is right. Lacking confidence can lead a teenage girl to do things she doesn’t want to do, just to fit in with the crowd, but an arrogant teen won’t take correction. Teen might sometimes seem mature, but we need to remember that they are still children and still need oversight.

The book made me shed tears -- of both joy and sorrow -- at different points. The stories of real patients interspersed with the narrative have huge emotional impact. I will personally be applying a lot of Dr. Meeker’s ideas in my own life. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is a father (or mother) of a girl.

The Tenth Commandment

You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's.
Exodus 20:17 (ESV)

What does it mean to Covet? Does this make all desire to have the same things your neighbors have a sin or is it just to want it at his expense? One has to ask if this is a ban on the ugly emotions of envy and jealousy or does this also prohibit sentiments like “Hey, that’s a really cool smart phone. Where can I get one?” The answer, I think, is that it is a law against former, but that the latter is a slippery slope. We are apt to compare where we are with where others are, and doing that will invariably lead to either pride or jealousy.

There is another distinction here that matters, and that is between such comparisons for a measure of our lives and looking to others for inspiration. I don’t think there is harm in saying “Wow, they are killing it. That’s what I want to do, and look it is possible. I can do it, and s/he’s proof.” Again take caution not to think things like “they don’t deserve that as much as I do,” “Why can’t I do that? I’m better/smarter/more faithful than they are,” or “it’s not fair.” We can all find people who we think “aren’t as successful” and others who are “more successful” than we are using man’s skewed judgement. God, however, has standards for all of us, and we all fall short. Yet, He loves us so much that He went to the cross for us, while we were yet sinners. We are not called to measure our lives by anything other than how close we are to what God has called us to be.

So, don’t be concerned about your neighbors new Jaguar, watch, purse, big screen TV, pool, trophy wife, etc., but instead pay attention to what God is calling you to do.

This idea comes in light of my recent political tension, my recent post "The Poor Get Poorer?" and the Milwaukee Journal’s recent article about the pay of CEOs. I think there is a growing feeling of envy and covetousness right now, and I think it plays in political unrest, protests and petty bickering we are seeing from both sides of the political parties.

The Poor get Poorer?

YearGDP
1950293.7
1960526.4
19701038.3
19802788.1
19905800.5
20009951.5
201014508.2

We’ve all heard it quipped that “the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer.” We are in a society where there is a widening gap between the highest and the lowest economic classes. This makes people believe that there is this idea the lower classes are exploited for the profit of rich. Michelle Obama’s quote “[S]omeone is going to have to give up a piece of their pie so that someone else can have more.” The implication is that if I have more wealth than you, you have less wealth because I have it. Say wealth were a pie and we are sharing a pie, and I take 60% of that pie, you can only have 40% of that pie. I would agree, if I believed that wealth were static, if it were a “fixed pie”. Wealth doesn't play by the law of conservation (in physics), wealth can be created and destroyed. There is virtually no limit to amount of value an individual can create. Going back to the pie analogy, does it matter if the I have more pie than you, if I am able to bake more pies when we run out? Just look at the GDP, and you can see value (wealth) being created and destroyed (not adjusted for inflation).

While the top 5% are making drastically larger percentage of the GDP than ever before, and the bottom 5% is making slightly lower percentage of the GDP than in the past, it all right because the total amount of wealth (GDP) is also greater (in aggregate, I realize that GDP has gone down since the housing market went south). Which means the that bottom 5% have more wealth today, correcting for inflation, than they have in the past (again, in aggregate).

Let’s, also, think about what it means to be poor. There are two ways to measure poverty, absolutely and relatively. Relative poverty compares people within a nation, i.e. you just take the lowest x% of income in the US, while absolute poverty looks at weather or not someone is able to meet the bare minimum to survive in a given region. In present day America, the absolute poverty line is an earned income less than or equal to $10,890 for a family of 1 or $14,710 for a family of 2, etc. That isn’t much money at all, and it is hard to imagine trying to get by on so little. That number doesn't include social programs, support from family, aid from churches or other religious institutions, and the like. Regardless, financial stress, struggling to make ends meet and more month than you have money is bad place to be and my heart goes out to people in that situation.

What does it mean to live bellow the poverty line? America does not make the list that the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations puts out on world hunger, where as India 217.05 million people who are “Undernourished.” People dying of starvation doesn’t happen here on a level of statistical significance. The most recent number I can find is for 2004 when 120 Americans died of “lack of food,” while the population of the US in 2004 was 295,734,134. I’d agree 120 deaths is too many, but I imagine each of those there was something going on besides or in addition to poverty. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t people who are undernourished or malnourished because of lack of funds. Certainly, putting food on the table and keeping the lights on are hard to do when you live in poverty, even in America. Even people above the poverty line worry about how they will feed their family in rough economic times. However, living in poverty in America is a lot different that being poor in any other country in the world. For instance:

  • 40% percent of all poor households actually own their own homes.
  • 80% of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
  • 30% of poor households own two cars.
  • 97% of poor households own a color TV set.

62% of poor households subscribe to cable or satellite TV service. Only 6% percent of poor households are over­crowded; two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.

Being below the poverty line in any country isn’t an easy life, and I would not wish it on anyone. However, if I were told before birth that I would be born and remain in poverty my entire life, but was given the choice of any country to live in, I’d chose the United States.

If you are one of those who is still yelling at the screen “But, the rich still get richer and poor still get poorer.” You probably see I haven’t addressed that statement directly, yet. Well, let’s take a look. I will concede that rich get richer, and how could they not? They have money to invest. However, the poor don’t get poorer, they get richer too. The data that shows that 86% of households that were poor in 1979 were no longer poor in 1988, and 96% of households that were poor in 1975 were no longer poor by 1991. This makes sense if you consider the fact that as young adults start out participating in the economy they start with little to no assets, little or no training and little to no work experience. As time goes on, they gain experience and/or education, move up in jobs and hopefully learn to save and invest.

This income mobility shows up in the fact that 80% of people with net worth over a million dollars are first generation rich. That means that most of the rich didn’t start out that way. They worked, saved and invested. They made their wealth in time of their lifespan. This is also reflected in the Forbes 400, 31% of the Forbes 400 came from families whose parents did not have great wealth or own a business with more than a few employees.

Recent Gap in Posts

Sorry for the small interruption in posts. As it turns out, things have been interesting. There will some changes to blog content, when and how it is posted. The small gap in posts is in part due to the fact that I’m trying to improve the quality of posts, as such, I want to re-read and edit them after giving ample time to let them “cool.” In addition, I’m also going to try to post more consistently.

Some of the delay in posting was also caused by work on Stones Throw CMS (the CMS for Giant Slayer Development), as I have done some basic updates for the bible study module, will be adding recurring events and improving the administration side of the photo gallery. In addition, my wife went to a ladies retreat with church, and so I spent some quality time with my daughter. On that note, I’ll also be posting some thoughts on the “Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters,” in the near future.

One of my dearest friends has also been in town recently, and had the pleasure of spending some time with him. Lots of Custard was consumed, as they don’t have custard in Afghanistan or in Arizona. He has recently returned to the United States after being stationed in Afghanistan for the past year, but he is now home in Arizona. No matter what your thoughts are about the politics of the war are, please take time to remember that we have brave men and women putting their lives at risk on a daily basis. My friend, for instance, was on a demolitions team finding and disarming Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) so that soldiers and civilians alike would not be harmed. There are many soldiers in Iraq and Afganastan today doing the same thing.

On a completely different note, I’ve been keeping an eye on the stats for the sheet music, midi and mp3 of the piano track(s) for the Come and Join the Chorus project, I know there are some people who are likely working on videos for the project. Our church’s choir will be doing a video sometime this summer, and I know a few people personally who have said they would join the chorus by posting YouTube Videos. So, expect to see me commenting about some of the submissions as they come in.

Last thought of the post, is that I won copy of Quitter by Jon Acuff from a guest post he did over at Michael Hyatt’s blog. I’ll post a review when I’m finished reading it. Very excited.

Big Ideas

God gave man imagination, and from the imagination man's dreams are born. Most dreams die in the stage of being a dream. We are taught that most dreams are impossible, and we don't pursue them. All the great inventions of the world started as dreams that were seemingly impossible. How many times do you think the brothers Wright heard the phrase “If man was meant to fly, then why didn't God give them wings”, or how many times do think people recanted the story of Icarious? If God did not intend man to fly, I'd argue, then why did he allow man to dream of soaring through the sky.

A dream is only the first step. After the dream you have to clarify your goals into a more concrete idea, ask yourself “what is this thing going to look like in reality?” After you know what you want to, you have then develop a vision of how you are going to get there. Only then can really start turning dreams into goals.

So, you've got a dream, and someone has told you that it is impossible. The same God who gave you dreams, can do anything, and with Him you can do the impossible. If your goal is Godly, if you're doing for the right reasons and it is where God really wants you to be, then you can overcome and be victorious. Winston Churchill once said:

Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never--in nothing, great or small, large or petty--never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.

Big Ideas for Giant Slayer Development

I recently got a few big ideas, that is dreams. I've mentioned here about how I was called to start Giant Slayer Development, but I haven't had a chance to talk about the non-profit I have a dream to spin off from it. One of the features that is planned for system I am building is a prayer wall and prayer diary. I also plan to allow the church to allow their members to share their prayer to a central location on another site. So there will be one site that has prayer requests shared from many churches around the country. This will mean each prayer will have more people praying for it than any one site can unite in a common prayer. I was afraid my wife would think the idea was silly, but when I told her about it she asked, “What if the site took on the task of being part of the body of Jesus Christ? What if people could provide real help to those with needs, in addition to prayer? Scripture says that we are the hands and feet. You know like that Casting Crowns song 'We are the Body'.”

Whoa. Of course.

So, eventually I plan to have a page where visitors can submit prayer requests that will also consolidate parishioner's prayer requests from churches using Giant Slayer Development's software and will enable people to volunteer to help people in their hour of need. The details still need to be ironed out, the prayer part of Stone's Throw CMS needs to be written and then the prayer site needs to be built... But, that is one of the places I've been called to take this dream turned business I've named Giant Slayer.

Inspiration for Unity

Two days ago, another big idea came to me, or rather I was inspired to recreate someone else's big idea. I saw the TED presentation about a virtual 2,000 voice choir, and it inspired me. Hopefully it inspires you, also. My new dream is to have Christians from around the world unite in singing Amazing Grace, and speaking the Lord's Prayer. Imagine a united voice to praise Christ that ignores the artificial divisions of denomination, politics and country borders.

I will be posting sheet music, lyrics, a video on YouTube explaining the project, and other resources on Easter Sunday. There will also be a Twitter hash-tag and a FaceBook page for the project, so people who participate can talk to each other. I encourage churches' praise teams, choirs and maybe even whole congregations to join in. Just part of the goal: Make Jesus go Viral.

The Ninth Commandment

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Exodus 20:16 (ESV}


In the strictest sense this bars perjury. Lying to incriminate the innocent, presumably in a court or justice setting is a terrible act. When one does such a thing, they bring unjust punishment onto the person they bare false witness against. It is despicable and immoral thing to do. But, is this law limited to just that, for the bible also tells us:

There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.
Proverbs 6:16-19 (ESV)

In this context, we see false witness is also rumors, gossip, libel and slander. Speaking or writing untrue accounts to damage the good name of person. An attempt to sew the seeds of contempt, mistrust, pain and anger. The Lord also tells us how valueable a good name is:

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.
Proverbs 22:1 (ESV)

To take that away from someone with untruths is tantamount to breaking the Eighth Commandment. I'd add that even if the rumor or gossip is true, if your spreading it is told in the wrong spirit, then you're also guilty of violating the spirit of the law, as you did not act lovingly and with forgiveness. What benefit is it to anyone to spread unkind words about another, unless it is in correction or warning? I think we can all learn something from Socrates in this area:

One day the great philosopher came upon an acquaintance who ran up to him excitedly and said, "Socrates, do you know what I just heard about one of your students?"

"Wait a moment," Socrates replied. "Before you tell me I'd like you to pass a little test. It's called the Test of Three."

"Test of Three?"

"That's right," Socrates continued. "Before you talk to me about my student let's take a moment to test what you're going to say. The first test is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?"

No," the man said, "actually I just heard about It."

"All right," said Socrates. "So you don't really know if it's true or not. Now let's try the second test, the test of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my student something good?"

"No, on the contrary..."

"So," Socrates continued, "you want to tell me something bad about him even though you're not certain it's true?"

The man shrugged, a little embarrassed.

Socrates continued. "You may still pass though, b ecause there is a third test - the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my student going to be useful to me?"

"No, not really."

"Well," concluded Socrates, "if what you want to tell me is neither True nor Good nor even Useful, why tell it to me at all?"

The Eighth Commandment

You shall not steal.
Exodus 20:15 (ESV)
So, again this one seems like a "no-brainer," but can it be that simple? Yes, it can. This doesn't only apply to physically taking something that isn't yours, though. It also extends to dealing treacherously, committing fraud, kidnapping, and swindling. The Israelites believed theft to be a step down the path of covetous desire that ultimately leads to murder.

Making Jesus go Viral.

Gutenberg's printing press brought God's word to the common man, in the common tongue. It was in an age when people thirsted for a new book and waited with baited breath for one to be printed every six months. Today, our generation has instant access to endless volumes of the world's accumulated knowledge. In minutes, they can look up just about any fact or figure. People are more connected than ever, and yet they are less connected than ever. Many people don't know the name of people just two doors down, but have regular conversations with people halfway around the world. The local church fights to remain relevant in an age of text-messaging teens and viral videos.

The Internet is a powerful network of people. Recently, a fourteen year old girl (Rebecca Black) made 14 million dollars in just a few days with one song (Friday). She reached over 2 million iTunes downloads, and nearly 53 million YouTube views. That's at least 57 million people who heard her message. What if her message was something more important than a teen trying to decide which seat to take in a car? What if all of those people were getting excited over baptisms instead of what day of the week it is? Now, imagine if those were downloads of a sermon recording, a Bible study or even a copy of the Holy Bible. The web is the greatest communication tool we have to spread ideas. That is my goal, make Jesus go viral and help the Gospel gain the same digital global reach as cute cat photos, inappropriately dressed Wal-Mart shoppers, Old Spice commercials and whatever the next trivial internet meme happens to be.

In that vein, I created Giant Slayer Development. Spread the word, so I can spread the word, to help churches spread The Word.

Seventh Commandment

You shall not commit adultery.
Exodus 20:14(ESV)

Alright this seems easy like an easy command to keep, too, just don't go sleeping with someone you're not supposed to sleep with, and you're fine, right? right? Well, again, it's not that simple. Jesus says:

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell."
Matthew 5:27-30 (ESV)

By the high standards of the Lord, to look with lust is the same as actually doing the things you fantasize about. We go a long way in this if we remove ourselves from situations which might lead us to look with lust. Sex is everywhere in our society, and is used to sell just about everything; and our media sets few limits on where the lines are as far flashy outfits, tight clothing and how much skin makes it to the silver screen. We must be vigilant in what we chose to set before our eyes.

David, the King after God's own heart, ended up lusting over a married woman. He knew his lust was wrong and repented. That'd be a great lesson, even if it ended there; if you fail, repent and turn from the sin. Unfortunately, lust proved to be slippery slope for the favorite King, and ended up putting her (Bathsheba's) husband in a situation he wouldn't survive, so that he could then marry her. Nathan the prophet had the unpleasant task of pointing out to King his folly, and delivering the message of what punishment the Lord would send down on David. When David was finally made to face his actions, he again repented and was forgiven by God's mercy, but not without punishment. the death of a beloved son and battle over the order of succession of David's crown.

If you happen to find yourself tempted or even looking with lust, repent and turn from the sin. We also learn from Joseph to even try to avoid things that could be construed as impropriety.

On the other foot, we should all endeavorer to wear modest clothing, and teach the next generation what is and isn't appropriate attire. We must draw the lines that our children don't see in TV shows, movies and their favorite musician's wardrobes. We may not be able to control what others wear out of the house, but my daughter will not be leaving this house in mini-skirt, low cut top or with something written across her butt.

Do something about it.

Recently our pastor preached on when Elijah was by the Brook during the drought, in a sermon titled You Can't Make it Rain. He talked about how Elijah felt the drought when the ravens stopped bringing him food, and he had to wait patiently. The message being God will do things in His way and in His time. That God won't always give us what we want, in the way we want, when we want it. He will give us what we need, the way we need it, when we need it. He went on to say that if it seems our prayers are unanswered, that either what we are asking for is outside of God's will, or that we are being impatient or expecting God's blessing in the wrong form. The heart of the message was that we should trust in God, wait patiently and not lose faith.

There is another part to this, that our pastor didn't mention, and that is the fact that faith demands a response. If you pray believing in rain, then you should also prepare for rain, trusting in God to provide. There is a great part in Exodus that I read about recently in a blog post, that spoke about when Moses when fleeing Egypt, with a contingent of Egyptians on their tail. They were trapped between the Red Sea, and the coming army. Moses told the Israelites to “Be still, and cry unto God” and God rebuking Moses' command said “Go.” The point being don't sit around waiting for God, prepare for God to move. Don't “be still”, instead “act.” We sometimes mistake laziness with patience. We sometimes mistake fear with reverence. We sometimes mistake faithlessness for faith.

The Lord helps those who help themselves. So many times we pray, we complain, we belly ache about things that we have been given the ability to change. The Bible says, “I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me.” If we can do all things through Christ, then if where we want to go is within the will of God, then why do often sit and complain about it instead of doing something about it?

Thoughts on Easter (well, Good Friday)

Easter is coming all too soon. In between ordering the ham, the music rehearsals for the Easter program, trying to remember when to change the clocks and which way you're suppose to change them (spring ahead, fall back) we forget that the big deal isn't what happened on the third day. Easter is the celebration of the proof, but Good Friday is the remembrance of when we were forgiven.

This always reminds me of the story about when Jesus returned to town in Galilee, and all people crammed themselves into a tiny house to see if the little boy they saw some years ago really is the Messiah. There were scribes and Pharisee in the front row, and the rest of the village crammed in so tight that there were people spilling out of the little house. Three brothers were bringing their lame sibling to Jesus to be cured, but couldn't get inside because of the crowd. So, they did what any sensible person would do, and cut a hole in the roof and lowered their brother in. Jesus, instead of being mad about the hole in his parents roof, saw the need. He said, “You are forgiven.” Meaning more than, “it is alright you cut a hole in the roof and barged in this way” but actually freeing him from all of the sin he carried. The Pharisees where ticked, the whole forgiveness thing was their racket – moreover, they can't catch this little miracle worker as a scam artist unless he tries to do more than forgive someone. Jesus then added something to the effect of, “You'll believe what I have just done, when you see what I'm about to do.” He then told the lame man to get up and walk. Jesus had performed a large looking miracle, and the crowd was in awe. I wonder how many there down played the larger miracle because of the glitz of the second miracle? (Mark 2)

That is what I see happen most Easters, Christians make a big deal out of the resurrection, and death being overcome; but, they often only give passing mention to the amazing miracle that happened the Friday before. Jesus gave his life for a world of sinners, Jesus purchased us from the wages of sin (death) with his own life. God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, and with his death saved not just His chosen people, but all who accept Christ as their savior. In his death, also, he tore the veil between the holiest of holies and the common man. Making God accessible to all, not just the head priest. Yeah, the resurrection thing is pretty cool, but it is just the proof of the larger miracle that came before.

This reminds me of of how we tend to reward the finish line and celebrate completion of things, and don't spend a lot of time thinking about the journey we took to get there. We rave over the final product, but often forget to reflect on the hard work that goes into things. I think about all the times I've heard people complain about a feature (or missing feature) in a piece of technology or program (I'm guilty of it too) and forget the amount of effort that went into it to make it as good as it is. I think the same shortsightedness applies to our lives, we get caught up in the end results of choices, the trials in our lives or the things we wish for and forget to take stock of what we've been through, what God has delivered us from and what we've learned along the way. I plan to post tomorrow about those complaints we have, and some ideas about dealing with them.

In the mean time, are there any other times you emphasis placed on the more glamorous proof of something rather than the event?

Long Time no Post...

I'm sorry for the hiatus, but my life, in the words of Will Smith, was “flipped, turned upside down.” My wife and I had wanted a child since we were married. We prayed about it constantly. We were prayed over by our church and a visiting pastor in May of 2009. We were also looking into home ownership, and in June we found a house we liked and learned our prayers were answered. We closed on the house in July. With my wife pregnant, and the new financial commitments of a house and a baby on the way, we began to pray for help with being a good stewards over what God had provided. Our church began advertising it was going to hold a financial class by some radio personality. The timing fit well into everything, but I didn't want to pay $99 to attend a course without knowing a little more about this Dave Ramsey fellow. I read his book would be an understatement, I devoured it. I became a huge fan of Dave's, and we attended Financial Peace University (my wife reluctant at first, but soon came around).

My wife gave birth to our beautiful daughter in January 2010. We decided that my wife would be staying home with our new daughter, as her pay would have basically just paid for childcare. The state began a 2% furlough which affected me being an employee of the University. I began to think maybe making a change made sense if I could find a company that I liked. I was listening to Dave's show online while I worked, and happened to hear a call that caught my ear. Dave mentioned that he was hiring web developers who write in the same programming language I write in for the University. So, I jumped at the chance to apply, thinking I wouldn't even get a friendly denial letter. Turns out, I was wrong. I went through 8 or 9 phone and Skype interviews, talked salary, and was scheduling the trip to do in person interviews – when I did the unthinkable. I withdrew my application for my dream job. That, by the way, was also when I stopped updating this blog.

So, why would one walk away from what promised to be their dream job? My family and church are here, and moving away from that support network was too hard for us. When we were earlier in the interviews, we thought it would be worth it. But, when the time came, we realized that our roots here are deeper than we thought. I was tears when I made the call, but I didn't want waste LAMPO Group's (Dave's) money or time after we decided to stay. So, I canceled the in person interview. But, there was something missing in my work. I had seen what it was like to do something that really mattered, and I couldn't resign myself to just doing a J-O-B anymore. This is when the hiatus began.

So, what has kept me sane with this new found drive for “work that matters”? What has been keeping me from posting on this blog? What has been keeping me up at night?

Working on Living Word's site and starting Giant Slayer Development. Taking first steps in using digital means to make the Gospel go viral.

I will be picking up the ten commandments series again as I start blogging again.
blog