Sunday, July 26, 2009

Car Safari III - You Can Always Get What You Want

Most people hate buying cars, and I would have to agree. If you treat it like going to Wal*Mart, you're not going to like it. But if you treat it like miniature golf-- like one with animals and stuff, it can be kinda fun. This is my third one in two months thanks to the tax hike in Massachusetts and the federal incentive to get a more fuel efficient car.

Let me digress. You may remember the Yaris that I helped my daughter buy. When I went for a second one they offered me a $50 discount, I walked out. Some Cowboy he turned out to be-- didn't even bring a horse to the rodeo.

I tried another dealer, this time a Yaris for Mary Anne. Her Chrysler mini-van went out of warranty and ran up three months car payments a day later, and two more months worth the next week; failing the state safety and emissions inspection. Since neither the heat or A/C was working, we decided it was time to put her down. We went on Craigslist to buy all the stuff that would never fit in two Yaris-es (or is that Yari?). On the way to the dealer we delivered a Queen Ann couch for the living room.

We had a pretty good sale. When you don't need a car, it's easier to buy one. I got the dealer to agree to a much better price the the daughter got-- she was in a hurry. Never be in a hurry to buy a car. And they gave us a lot more than the van was worth.

We dropped the van off with a dead battery -- I had M-A back it in so they could jump it if need be. That also made it harder to see the dent in the passengers side that we never fixed. You just feel better when you can't see those ugly scars.

She got in her new car and went away with the promise that a company with hundreds of employees could manage to do one simple registration transfer. We should have hired the Three Stooges as consultants. Our insurance agent called three days into this endeavor to let us know that they hadn't received the paperwork. I got an email from my banker about the same. No problem, we have seven days-- and God knows, we needed them. They failed, and we had to drive the car to our own inspection center on the eighth day.

Yours truly sent them a nice email letting them know that we were unhappy and contemplating sending their address to North Korea. It would have been funny, but they didn't know what North Korea was. They gave us a couple of free oil changes and a check for the inspection.


This weekends safari brought me to all the muscle-car dealers including Ford, Dodge and Chevy. I drove the fastest American metal in production today. From the legendary Corvette to the new Camaro (both Government Motors offerings), to the Mustang and Challenger. I even drove a Roush 427-R. It was a fun time scaring the daylights out of the salesman as I yanked 2nd and 3rd gear!

When you don't need a car, you don't feel pressured to buy one. I got in and out of them most of the afternoon on Saturday and again today. I think they know. One guy is like, can I just get your phone number? Sure, 866-668-6463 (not-mine). It's toll free. ;)

Today I was embolden by my previous victories. I finally decide that I would work the trade-in angle. The rule is that you set a price before you tell them that you have a trade in. But everyone knows that now-- probably from reading Fire and Grace. I dunno.

I looked up my pay off on the Mustang and sent it to my cell phone. I checked the interest rates, knowing that they make money on the leases and loans. So the match begins. I always ask a lot of questions to see if they can answer them. How much horse power does it have? All the guy stuff. How much is the document fee? All the stuff my wife is going to ask. We move in to position, take a test ride and I tell him my budget-- $4K under the sticker. He checks the inventory and he comes back with a used car right at my price. Amazing slight of hand.

We sparred at the desk, and they took my Mustang for a ride. (I always go with 2 sets of keys in case they loose them or decide not to give them back until they have a deal. They did that to Mary Anne once!) I am waiting for the magic number. They think I care about the price of the new car, but I really care about the trade-in allowance. I already gave them a price- $4k under sticker.

"You're a guitar player?" he said, looking at my t-shirt.

"Yes, I am. I play at church, you're always welcome." I replied.

The salesman writes a price quote out on the worksheet while we chat and turns it around expecting me to be thrilled. I sat up in my chair and then slumped. "Did you make a mistake?" I asked.

"Nope," he said.

"OK, well thanks for taking time to work with me," I said standing up and reaching across the desk to shake his hand.

"Wait a minute, isn't that a good price?" he said.

"It might be for some unsuspecting customer, but not for me." I smiled.

"What do we need to do to sweeten the deal? He inquired.

I took his worksheet and changed the price of the car and upped the trade in on my Mustang to the Kelley Blue Book "Private Sale" price. He left to check with the sales manager.

He came back and said, "this is less than invoice." I stood up and reached across his desk. "Are you sure we can't come up with $1200 more in this deal?" motioning me to sit back down.

I studied the worksheet for a moment (not really) and I took a pen and wrote "NO!" next to the price.

He went back to check with the sales manager. When he returned, he said, "they want me to see if how we can get some more money out of this deal. Have you done anything to the Mustang in terms or repairs?" he said.

"Just services. Its only got highway miles on it-- 40,000 of them." I replied.

"OK, well I am just going to sit here so they think that I tried to negotiate a better deal with you." He looked a little defeated.

He took the offer back to the sales manager and returned. It's going to take time to approve that one if we even can.

"It's OK, I'm not in rush. I can take a run down to [competition's name] while I wait." I quipped.

"Let's go see what colors we have in stock"-- and we took a ride around the lot.

Finally, after some time, the deal was approved! "Hey, maybe I'll see you at church." he said shaking my hand.

I know the finance manager is going to try to tack on a bunch of stuff when I do the paper work tomorrow, so I have written the numbers on a card-- you know they won't give out a copy of that worksheet. But I have a plan for him (or her)-- I just need to finish coaching Mary Anne. ;)

As much as I love the new American metal, and have been driving one for a few years, I know what's around the corner when the warranty is up. I am getting out now. After being unemployed and thinking over the cost of owning one of these beasts, I decided to get something cheaper and more dependable. In the end, they are twice the price of my latest trophy. And my last Honda went 275,000 miles-- and it's still on the road today with over 300,000!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I Should Be Committed - And Maybe You Should Be Too!

Does the church make you nuts?!? I was musing over some of the comments and emails I received from my most recent posts. I have discovered that there are a lot of angry and disillusioned Christians out there. It makes me sad to think that the church, the place with the "standard" by which all men will be judged is taught, disregard even the simplest of commands and live selfishly. Here are some Biblical situations, what would you do? (WHAT WOULD I DO? WW I D)

Luke 19:29b He sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, "Go into the village ahead of you; there, as you enter, you will find a colt tied on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here. 31 "If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of it."

Let me paraphrase: Go into [your city] and find a brand new Mercedes E500 with the keys in it. Take that, and if the dealer asks you why, say that you need it for Jesus. If you are the dealer/owner, can you hand over the keys?

Luke 10:1 After this the Lord appointed seventy (-two) 2 others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. 2 He said to them, "The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. 3 Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. 4 Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. 5 Into whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this household'."

Let me paraphrase again: Get a buddy and plan a mission to serve someone else besides you and your family (if you have one). Ask, get a vision, and do it. Soup kitchens, VBS, overseas missions, feeding the poor and homeless in your home; there are lots of ways to do it Don't worry about danger there will always be some, don't worry about money, it's all His anyway (spend what you were saving for the big screen TV, your team isn't going to be in the Super Bowl anyway!), and be peaceful and loving to all you meet-- but look for the ones that are ripe.

Luke 10:38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.

Ummm... open you home. Sure this was easy for Martha, it was Jesus. He wasn't going to steal anything or stink up the new couch. Didn't He say, "Whatever you do unto the least of these, you have done unto Me"?

John 5:19 Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.

Let me paraphrase: If it's not God, don't bother. If it is God, you better be listening.

Following Jesus is a tall order. It is hard to make a commitment to serve Him in the ways described in the passages above when we are immature, and in many more cases, too comfortable with pursuing our lifestyle; whatever that is. It could be 2 cars, 2.5 kids and home of our own. It could be something devious, addictive or destructive. If we are living a life that is not prescribed by Him, we will never be fulfilled spiritually.

For those of us that have had years of Christian teaching and can't get there, we can't blame it on God. We can't just go to church and Bible study once a week, be nice to others, and think that is what we are called to do. That sounds more like Wal*Mart, don't you think? How is it that we love our neighbor as our self anyway? The simple answer is we treat them like we treat ourselves. We eat steak, they eat steak. We give them the same quality we give to the great "I." We start to serve them in times of need knowing that our needs will be taken care of, while we get involved with others. I mean, if we are in God's will, then our life is none of our business, now is it?

As we reach out, we need to be sincere, letting our "yes," be yes (a commitment) fulfilling that which we have already said we would do. How about we start with that, and then, at some point, there may be a knock at the door asking to use our car, take in a homeless person, make a meal, or give some cash. Hopefully we'll hand over the keys or open the door, while we praise God that He has chosen us.

Are you committed?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Are You Tired Yet?

I live near Boston, and all sides, from the Cambridge Cops to the president, have weighed in on the arrest of some black Harvard professor. There were four reports every 15 minutes on my ride home. The poor kid from Cape Cod that died in Afghanistan so all these idiots could have freedom, got 15 seconds for the day. Pathetic!

I am taking the side of the cops on this one. They put some big mouth who went ballistic because the cop was trying to protect his house, from what was thought to be a burglary, in the slam. Go figure, the president gets involved because it's his friend. Who cares? The big mouth got cuffed for being a jerk and the governor of Taxachusetts says everyone has the right to raise their voice to the cops in their own house. Please. Can this get anymore pathetic? I almost said that I wished we could get more Michael Jackson news. Nah. BTW - I denounce any sort of racism.

With two wars, a sad economy, record unemployment, and the potential for being heavily taxed for the new health care plan, don't we have anything better to focus on? Am I the only one that thinks our news reporters have to be dipped in one topping or the other skewing the reports? I am sick of it-- and what we focus on is even more amazing to me. I don't know about you but I am tired of spin from both sides. I would like to see some honest facts presented.

How about you, more stupidity, or honest facts?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mall Cop - How Stupid Can You Be?

Last night I watched Paul Blart Mall Cop. I had seen the previews as well as having some co-workers that were extras in the film. I have also been to the Burlington Mall in Massachusetts and eaten at the Rain Forest Cafe. Familiarity, relationship and the few tenths of a second where I knew someone, peaked my interest.

As I think about some of the scenes, it still makes me laugh to myself.

It wasn't a 10 for sure, but I did find the relationship, the action and some of the characters pretty interesting. It also made me think about church. I always think that it's funny how Hollywood sees life-- I am glad it was comedy. But so much of what we are taught in church is out the window in this film (and hundreds of others). I did like the fact that the father protected his teenage daughter from the evil theives. She actually listened to him-- now that's not reality!

I was also thinking about a recent incident that happened with someone at church. Have you ever had someone say, "If you need anything, just let me know." It is the kind of thing that a person might say after someone dies. It is also pretty popular at church. People mean to help out, and do have good intentions. I just find much of it as insincere and shallow as the pen salesman in the movie. I mean, what if I did show up for the dinner you said we should have, or called you to make sure that you knew I was moving this weekend?

Well, I stupidly took someone up on their offer, and made a plan to have them help me. I received a phone call about an hour before everything was supposed to go off saying that it wasn't going to happen. I'm furious! You see, I am no Paul Blart, and I can't just go buzzing around life on my Segway, outsmarting the bad guys like Kevin in Home Alone. I just wanted to protect my teenager and needed a little help.

Monday, July 20, 2009

You're Kidding Right? - 40 Things About Middle-Age Kids

Today I got one of those personal surveys-- you know-- forty questions about what you like and what you hate-- does someone have a crush on you? How come 14-year-olds send these to old people? I am rebelling. Here are my 40 questions.

-1 Do you have a mortgage?
-2 Have you ever bought your own toilet paper?
-3 Do you own your own car?
-4 Who pays the insurance?
-5 Ever been pulled over for DUI or DWI?
-6 Ever been on Cops?
-7 Do you save money?
-8 Do you even have a full-time job?
-9 Do you have a 401k?
-10 How many inches has your waist gained since high school?
-11 Do you dye you hair because you have to, or like to?
-12 Do you have hair?
-13 Do you have hair growing in places it didn't used to?
-14 How many cars have you owned?
-15 What was the drinking age when you were old enough to drink?
-16 How many pounds did your first cell phone weigh?
-17 How long did it take you find the @ key when you first got email?
-18 What's your favorite TV show that is not on MTV?
-19 Do you pay taxes and not get them all back at the end of the year?
-20 How many kids have you taken to the ER?
-21 Did you know that cell phones can be used for calling and texting?
-22 Have you ever traveled using a map, and not a GPS?
-23 Have you eve had to get off the couch to change the channels?
-24 Do you go to church?
-25 Why do you go to church?
-26 What was the first book you read?
-27 What was the last book you read?
-28 Are you on Facebook to "creep" your kids, or find old friends?
-29 Is dinner burning?
-30 How do you feel about colonoscopies? If you don't have feelings now, you will at some point.
-31 How much does the Tooth Fairy give?
-32 What's it like to be in love?
-33 Who is you favorite musician?
-34 Do you have clothes older than your kids, nieces or nephews?
-35 Are you doing what you studied in college for?
-36 Your next vacation is to?
-37 Anything you wish you had done before now?
-38 Anything you wish you hadn't done before now?
-39 Anything you need to do before you die?
-40 Where are you going after you die?

Pass it on to your kids and their friends, thanks.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

My, How You've Changed

Today I attended a class reunion of sorts; actually a picnic. There were were a number of 50-somethings that I have not seen since we were teenagers. Sure, there are those that have lost hair, gained weight and added a few wrinkles. But there are other changes too. Some have really grown up, are well educated, socially engaging and a few have become Christians. Sadly, and somewhat disturbing, some have gone the way of addiction.

I was thinking, what was this person really like then, and are they the same now? Most were older versions of the previous "model." For others, the changes seemed so drastic, only a thread of the original seemed to remain.

The passage of time only makes me ponder all the things that I wish someone had told me long ago, and helped me learn. Here I sit at the half-century mark, and finally feel like I have enough wisdom to give life a go-- yet the energy to run out there and turn the world upside down is pretty much gone. Oh well, it's water over the dam. I remember my dad had so very few tools in life, and no faith until the very end. I also thought of the guys and gals that I graduated high school with that have died -- mostly of cancer -- but they are gone.

As my body enjoys flexing less and sleeping more, my spirit longs for a drink of His spirit like a deer pants for water. My mind, however; minus a few forgetful moments, seems pretty well off. Have you thought about what makes a person a person? Is it their voice, there personality, the memories in their brain or their body? I mean even as folks age, you can see the resemblance of a younger face. Some minds seem to be sharp throughout a lifetime. My mother was like that until her last breath. My father on the other hand, had brain cancer and reached a point where he didn't even recognize his own family. Another relative had a brain injury in a car accident. What will they be like in their resurrected and healed bodies? They never seemed to be themselves after the injury and sickness.

There are loads of Bible versus that speak of our mortal bodies and eternal spirits. There are those that elude to our existence in Heaven after this life. Although, the details of eternity we pretty much have to take on faith. It seems a mystery, yet according to Paul, the mystery of salvation has been revealed. Paul was a much deeper thinker then I am.

In the end, what will it be like? The Bible says that for those that have not received Christ there will be a judgment-- and accounting of sin. As some vignettes of our life have faded, others where we have done wrong, have not. Even a few minutes pondering those things that I have said and done which I wish I hadn't, sort of make me feel ashamed even now. As I mediate on the good things that I have accomplished since I stepped into the Light, the sin nature is ever present to rear its ugly head. But who really wants to think about Heaven and Hell? Does it matter what we did as a teen as long as today we are helping others and doing good things? Has God forgotten about and abortion, or a robbery?

The age old questions still remain, who are we? Why are we here? And how does God see us?

I want to share a simple story. The very last time I saw my father before his death in February of 1998, I drove to Vermont to be with him. I took my two oldest daughters and we spent part of the day at his house. I just wanted to be in his presence, and while I was there, I thought about our history together-- some of which was not all that great. Just a few months before, we had lunch together on the Hyannis docks. He never let on that he know he was going to die. It was a good week that we spent that November, and I enjoyed him very much. But this day, it was to be one of his last two. The girls and I prayed for him, and I asked God to let him understand the words that I wanted to speak to him; words of my love and forgiveness, blessing for his journey from this life into the next and for him to understand the love the girls had too. The presence of God descended.

My father came out of his brain cancer fog, and said, "Zöe and Erin, I am so glad you are here. I love you girls." They stood back for a moment and rushed to hug and kiss him. Then he said, "son, I love you too."

I kissed him on the forehead and said, "I love you too, Dad." Those were our last words together.

That was the real dad, I know it. And because he ended the race with faith, I am looking forward to being with him for eternity.

There is something I discussed with my daughter on the way home from the reunion picnic, and that was the fact that Jesus has given me something wonderful--I have changed.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Restoration - The Art of Grace and Accountability

In 1976 I bought a 1965 Mustang with 88,000 miles on it for $350. It had been left in a barnyard parking lot and it was covered in pine sap, left buried by the snow plow, and had a number of dings. My dad and I went over, jumped the battery, and drove it the 120 miles to my garage in Connecticut. I carefully began to take it apart, bagging every bolt, and marking parts with masking tape and a Magic Marker. For three and a half months I cleaned, sanded, welded, ratcheted bolts, turned screws, ran wires and finally it was ready for orange paint and black racing stripes.

In the process of restoration, I took the best parts, cleaned them up and bought new ones as needed. It took 3 Mustangs to make one-- one fully restored 2+2 fastback. Some days the process was arduous as I found more rust, traced severed electrical wires, broke off the oil sensor in the engine block and skinned more than a few knuckles. I kept up my moral by taking it out for a few rides around the block during the reconstruction.

The process of restoration in people, although analogous to my Mustang, is a bit different. When Christians fail morally, we can't just take them apart, or piece them together with parts from another person. No, we have to take the broken and battered soul, and find a way to be vessels for the Holy Spirit so they can be regenerated them.

2 Corinthians 5:19-20 ..."that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.

What do we do when a brother or sister in Christ fails? We have seen ministers fail from the PTL Club, to Ted Haggerty and Priests of the Boston Dioceses. But what do we do when someone from our church falls into a sexual relationship outside marriage, an intercessor shows up having had a few too many at home group, an elder gets divorced or one of our favorite teens is arrested for selling drugs? What is the church supposed to do about sin?

Here are the responses that I often see.

-1 Do nothing, every one sins.
-2 Call them on the carpet and ask them to leave the church.
-3 Call a meeting of the leadership to discuss this sinful person openly with the congregation.
-4 Pray for them and hope their lives get better.
-5 Ignore them hoping that they'll leave of their own volition.
-6 Provide pastoral counsel to see if anything can be done.

Certainly we don't reject sinners who are repentant of their sins. I am not talking about the unsaved today. I am talking about those that are genuinely saved. How do we restore them without taking one the above mentioned short-sighted approaches? Certainly the Bible says that we are to rebuke a sinful believer in private and when they will not listen, to bring along another believer to try to convince them to repent. Surly there are those that do not want to be restored and can be rebuked from the pulpit and put out of the church. That is the Biblical mandate. For the unrepentant, we are to sever fellowship. But then what? Shall we glory in our authority? I think not.

There are many people in church that get saved but still have addictions, failing marriages and a myriad of other dysfunctions. There are some good Christian recovery groups, meaningful books, classes, and small group curriculums. Some churches make these available, and others do not. In some cases they become just another church program that misses what God really wants to do.

For those that are truly relational, we want to understand the person's failure, be sensitive to their shame and guilt, while being firm about the changes that must be made in their lives. We are never to punish, yet we cannot allow them to continue participating in leadership or authoritative roles of any kind. These can be difficult decisions when someone plays an important role in the church. However; regardless of a members stature, we need to be godly, loving and predictable in addressing sin.

Real restoration need to address the root of the sin issue. We can't be fooled by cunning addicts, and liars. We need to be factual in dealing with denial and delusions of grandeur. More importantly we need to walk it out with our fallen friend because we too, could also fall. The fallen need fathering, consequences and nurturing. It takes godly wisdom to apply loving pressure, while being ready to give grace and mercy. Restoration takes time, counsel, accountability and eventually a proven track record showing the fruit of the spirit.

King David, although he did not ever achieve the same status he had before his sin with Bathsheba and her husband, was allowed by God to continue on as King. He continued to write and many Psalms are attributed to him. And thus he was a man after God's heart.

Psalm 51:10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

How about you, do you need to be restored?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Relationship 201

This weekend I was in CT visiting some long-time friends with my 18-year-old who came along for the ride. We stayed with a family that I met 10 years ago at a conference. We've kept in touch by phone, taken mission trips together, and gotten together whenever our schedules permit.

I took a ride back to my old neighborhood, where I noticed that the street sign is probably the same one that was there so many years ago. And that it apparently hasn't been stolen I moved out.

Saturday afternoon I enjoyed a cool drink with the daughter of a another long-time friend; the miracle of Facebook Mobile. Her dad and I bought guitars the same day back in August of 1978 in downtown New Haven.

I also had lunch-- sushi-- with another friend. She and I have known each other since kindergarten (1964), went to same schools, were in an occasional class, and finally went our separate ways in 1976-- she 11th in the class and me 222. Wow!

I am having trouble wrapping my little mind around 30, 40 , no nearly 50 years of history. There is something surreal about it. I think what I find interesting is the details I remember about knowing these folks so long ago. I remember sitting in that kindergarten class, the silver stars for good deeds and scholastic accomplishments taped to the coat closet doors, giggling on the playground, playing kickball, riding black Murray tricycles around the sand box, and going home on school bus #32. Who would have guessed how I'd turn out then? And who would have thought my old neighbor and I would eating sushi 40 some odd years later?

I have also been thinking about how poorly I have kept some relationships that I have started over the years. I have been better at some then others, that's for sure. But as I grow older, it is harder to start news ones, and more important to re-energize others. I am fascinated when I reconnect with kids I once went to school with.

Sitting with my host over coffee, he told me the story of a man that had gone to church, gotten saved, but he just couldn't get connected. The pastor's wife made it her job to contact this member daily by phone. He didn't answer the calls, but she continually left a message saying that he was missed and that they were looking forward to his return to their family. It took nearly a year, but he came back. It is a touching testimony, and one that stirs me to think about who I could do that for.

So, for now, I am making an effort to contact people and make my self available for whatever lays ahead-- for them and for me.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

8:21 am - Random Thoughts of a Tired Blogger

This morning I am sitting in a quiet house. My wife and daughter are off at the farm taking care of horses, goats, ducks and chickens. My adult daughter is asleep, and the dogs are quietly laying in their beds after their morning meal. I am chuckling to myself wondering why we've never seen the headline, "Psychic Wins Lottery?" I am looking forward to church this morning-- I haven't been in a few weeks, therefore; I am thinking about God's presence and wondering what it will be like today.

I am still savoring the picnic for my older brother's birthday I attended yesterday in the Green Mountains. As we were sitting on picnic table beneath the maples and pines, my sister-in-law briefly critiqued my blog-- "it's not always so serious or theological, I like that" she said. Apparently a few funny thoughts are more uplifting than a treatise on worshiping in Spirit and in truth or a thesis on the the five-fold ministry. :) On my way home I was meditating on that as I tore up the pavement in my Mustang GT on VT 131 -- nah, not really. I was practicing apex cornering, blasting Tim Hughes' Happy Day and redlining 350 horses, all while running through the gears; rounding each corner, racing by mountain pastures, old farm houses and an endless array of Yard Sale signs. It was, however; a very spiritual moment.

I confess the picnic was more fun than church has been for me lately.

Last night I was also reading a blog about how one can be deceived by chasing after signs and wonders-- something Charismatics need to be careful about. By the way, you may be wondering how many charismatic Christians does it take to change a light bulb? The answer, three, one to cast it out and two to catch it when it falls.

Over the decades, I have experienced God in so many ways I can't describe them all. The warmth of His Holy Spirit, the healing of Jesus, and awe of his majesty... amazing. Once you've experienced the real Jesus, you would think it would be easy to stay away from empty religion. Remember this thought, there will be a test.

Why is it, that many Christians fear the supernatural, and yet read horoscopes? Honestly, hasn't the church been under that same management for 2,000 years? Is it the lack of teaching, the lack of excitement, or the lack of brains? We report, you decide.

It has been my diurnal pattern to think about what church is really all about. When I distill all the pieces of the things which I read and talk about with others, it always leads me back to the big picture. I really hate the word balanced-- I prefer in-whack as opposed to out-of-whack. The Bible is very clear on what a church body is, what it does, and how it functions. So what is the problem with the blueprint? Possibly it is the blueprint readers?

I think that it is entirely possible that we are so concerned about being deceived, that we can't make any progress at all. I always think that it is a good idea for two or three to gather in His name so they don't have to figure out each nuance of life in the spirit on their own. That is such deep revelation, it should be a Bible verse!

I was also wondering how religious you think you are. Hypothetically speaking, as you enter the church on Sunday morning, you suddenly trip and fall. What do you do?

a. Remain prone and break into fervent prayer.
b. Yell out, I need healing!
c. Wave your arms in the air and begin speaking in tongues.
d. Crawl to the nearest chair.
e. Blame the deacons for not posting a sign warning of stairs in the church.

As you can see, our responses to church can vary depending on our worldview, our training (or lack of) and our religious experience.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Grind - Back to Work

I started back to work this week. Against all odds, I actually had a job offer in place within two weeks of losing my previous job during a workforce reduction. I applied for one job, had one interview and got one offer. I did have interviews with about a dozen hopeful recruiters-- even a verbal offer, but nothing panned out. Nothing. Pretty amazing, hunh?

My new commute, for now, is shorter than the old one. I understand the it gets a bit slower during the school season -- I don't know. I guess I am a bit of a space-shot in the mornings, as I have missed at least one turn on my "customized by friends" route each day. The GPS gave up yelling at me a few minutes after I left the driveway... apparently, "make a legal U-turn," and "recalculating" can only play 244 times each.

This first week has been hours of phone calls with an off-site consultant, meetings with my manager, trying to remember where my office is, the headaches of configuring a new computer to talk with the rest of the network, and making notes about all the things that they want done.

I do find that working around attorneys and paralegals to be a very new type of environment. It is certainly a little quieter and a bit more stoic then what I have been used to. These are just observations -- first impressions -- and in the midst, there two men that have the same coffee schedule as I do. We've had some small talk about how long they have been with the firm and what my role is. After all, there are hundreds of attorneys in my building.

Outside my door runs the bank foreclosure machine. My only perspective of this industry has been on the news. I have to say, the doom and gloom of the reports that I have heard, left me wondering if there were any ethical people involved. I should have known that even those reports were biased. What I found out is that 85% of people that receive foreclosure notices in my region, don't lose their houses. Certainly for those that do, it can be one of life's most sad and stressful times.

As America, the great America, adjusts to the reality of her overindulgence of credit, there are still real families out there that need real grace-- and only One name on earth to receive it from. I am pretty sure some also need a class in personal responsibility too. For those that are subject to unavoidable personal tragedy, the church needs to be there for them.

As I review my work week, and sit here enjoying my first paid holiday, I am thinking about what is next for David.

This is the first job that I have ever had in which I am required to take a one hour lunch. It is taking some getting used to for me. I like to go to work, and go home -- I am not much for breaks, and I eat at Al Desko's every day. I am still trying to find something productive to do during that time -- besides stuffing my face with calories I could easily do without. I don't have a regular Internet connection, and there is no wireless in the building, therfore; amusing myself online is pretty much out of the question. Maybe, I'll practice Spanish in support of my daughter's new bilingual education-- I don't know. So far, except for lunch out with one of the senior partners, I have just worked through it.

The actual work I find is a lot of fun. I have been full-time programmer pretty much since 1994. Honestly I can't see the real me, doing anything else in terms of making tents. I'll be learning a new programming language, which I always enjoy. As I navigate these unfamiliar, and at times confusing, new surroundings, I keep wondering what God has in store for me beyond this job?

Until I hear something...

1 Thessalonians 4:11 Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands.
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