Monday, November 29, 2010

5 1/2 What I Can't Live Without - Well, Because I Have Everything Else

My apologies for a late post today. The Internet was no where to be found in our region at the very time I had allotted to write.

It made me think of a few things - things some days I feel that I can't go without.

Perspective is everything. As a member of the working- and lower-middle-class for most of my life; with an occasional stint of homelessness, being rich was pretty much out of the question. Even so, I have a lot of luxuries that I have come to rely on. Certainly I am grateful for them. I have traveled extensively in the Caribbean and also in Brazil.There are lot of folks living without running water, central heating and easy access to food. There is no Internet, no iPods, and no cell phones.

Life is not about stuff, but I do have some cool stuff. A lot of folks believe that if you have your health, you have everything. I want to agree - especially now that I have a friend suffering the trial of serious cancer, another friend that is disabled by cancer and another that needs a new kidney or two. Let me know if you want to pray or donate a kidney.

In America we have running water, electricity, heat, food, toilet paper and the like. We donate to those that don't. My state also has a pretty good welfare system along with food pantries and homeless shelters. (I am sure there will never be enough - but there is a lot!) Therefore; I really do enjoy; without guilt, the following things in life.

-1 My Wife: I can't begin to imagine a day without her. Even when she is away for a few days, I talk to her on the phone and share life via cell phone videos, pictures and text messages. I look forward to being in her presence - especially right after I have completed something on the Honey-Do list.

-2 My Kids: It is pretty much the same with them. Though I can pass a few 24 hours without them, I look forward to my phone calls and Facebook posts from the older ones, and my goodbye kisses and hugs from the youngest.

-3 My Computer: The creativity outlet of my computer for music, graphics, writing, socializing and managing my unmanageable life blows my mind still. So much of who I am is here at the keyboard. The fact that I can connect my iPod, camera and Blackberry to it, makes it even more amazing.

-4 My Guitars: I have been playing guitar since August 24th, 1978. Like my computer, it has become an extension of me. With it I express my emotions, things in my spirit, and I find it relaxing.

-5 My Car: It is just part of life. I always thought I would like to live in a big city where you didn't need a car, but then I had to go shopping in the rain back in the day of paper sacks. I was a guitar buyer and without a pick-up truck, I couldn't have made pick ups in New York City.

5 1/2 Jesus...

How about you, what would it be hard for you to live without?

Friday, November 26, 2010

When Black Friday Calls - More Geek Gifts

Because today is Black Friday, I am going to pick some extra geeky, but still biblically approved gifts. And I am posting at 4:00 am in case you want to read it before you hit the Mall! There are only 29 days left to shop [COUNT DOWN HERE], so get going.

The past 3 Fridays I recommended biblically authorized geek Gifts for Him, For Her and For the Kids. If you are going to start shopping now, check them out.

Remember, each Friday, from now until Rudolph's Red Nose hovers over the chimney, I am going to suggest Geek Gifts. Here are some inspired by folks that need more to do.

Time is Money Clock: Pull this out at the next business meeting. Wives keep track of all the hours you spend running the household while the Honey Do List grows ever longer. As long as you know what you and your team is worth, every meeting can be valued!

2 Kings 5:26 But Elisha said to him, “Was not my spirit with you when the man got down from his chariot to meet you? Is this the time to take money or to accept clothes—or olive groves and vineyards, or flocks and herds, or male and female slaves?

Moon in My Room: Remote control moon - right out of Bruce Almighty! Clouds and the rhythm of the months is never a problem. You can display a thumbnail or a full moon with the click of a remote.

1 Corinthians 15:40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41 The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.

 42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable.

Airzooka: A whole load of fun for your New Year's Eve party. Silent blasts of wind that can really mess with your guests. From cross the room the winds blows.

Here it is in action on YouTube.

John 3:8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."

Bluetooth Laser Virtual Keyboard: Well, this is about as geeky as my gifts get. This displays a virtual keyboard on your desk or table, and works like the real thing.

1 Chronicles 9:27 They would spend the night stationed around the house of God, because they had to guard it; and they had charge of the key[board] for opening it each morning.

USB Beverage Chiller/Warmer: Cool it off, warm it up and control your favorite beverage temperature right from your keyboard!

Isaiah 25:1 [The Message] God, you are my God. I celebrate you. I praise you. You've done your share of miracle-wonders, well-thought-out plans, solid and sure. Here you've reduced the city to rubble, the strong city to a pile of stones. The enemy Big City is a non-city, never to be a city again. Superpowers will see it and honor you, brutal oppressors bow in worshipful reverence. They'll see that you take care of the poor, that you take care of poor people in trouble, Provide a warm, dry place in bad weather, provide a cool place when it's hot.

Clocky: Get out of bed or chase the alarm clock around the room! Clocky will give you a few snoozes, but that is it!

Daniel 11:27 The two kings, with their hearts bent on evil, will sit at the same table and lie to each other, but to no avail, because an end will still come at the appointed time.
LiveScribe Echo Pen: Write, record, remember - just a few of the things that I am too busy to do. I records everything you do, that you say and that you write! A great meeting attendee and computer all in one.

2 Corinthians 1:13 For we do not write you anything you cannot read or understand.

TRENDnet 54Mbps Wireless G USB Adapter w/ HotSpot Detector: Well, sometimes you just need to find a place to logon. This will help you find Hot Spots at restaurants and coffee shops and wherever else there is a Wi-Fi connection.

Luke 20:5 They were on the spot, and knew it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Don't You Just Hate Insincere Thanksgivings?

The Thanksgiving holiday is upon us. Abe Lincoln the proclaim-er of the day which the Pilgrims and Wapannoag Indians started, is now a National tradition - with a few additions which I am not thankful for.

In 1621, the colonists at Plimouth (Plymouth where the Rock is displayed in a pillared hole in the sidewalk.) and Wampanoag Indians shared a harvest feast that is heralded as the first Thanksgiving celebration. I haven't checked Guinness Book of World Records though, but we'll leave it at that; it seems factual. In 1863, smack dab in the middle of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.

Interesting how we become thankful when folks are dying all around us.

Legend has it that John Wilkes Booth assassinated old Abe because he broke the rules of political correctness. A TEA Party Republican who actually had the audacity to thank Almighty God in the presence of Atheists! But I digress.

As a descendant of the Mayflower, I want to thank my great-great-great-something-or-other William Bradford for his part. He was an awesome man of God. Unfortunately for him, alcohol was legal in the New World - and well, after a few billion pints, a few hundred years, and a number of ungodly ancestors, here I am. Really, thanks Uncle Bill - nice hat.

The blogosphere is burgeoning with over stuffed posts I call skyrockets of thankfulness. Like jailhouse religion - it's hard to find the real sincerity in it. I am grateful for my job, wife, family kids - right - got it. One guy I read about was honset. He was thankful for beer, his truck, sex and Brad Paisly, but not President Obama. Another guy was grateful for love, sex, pizza and President Obama. (Sounds like it's time for another summit with benefits.) But how is that going to change what people do or think the day after Turkey Day when they hit the malls flipping off parking spot snatchers in Jesus' name?

I am grateful, I really am. There are still few things I hate about the holidays.

-1 Advertising: Oh look, here is some plastic junk made in China you don't want, or need - and your kid is going to pitch a major hissy fit when they don't get it - complete with Christmas lights! Honestly, if we could stick to Super Bowl quality advertising, it would be more bearable. The same dopes are going to do the same stupid commercials wearing Santa hats.

I have a message from God for advertisers: If I didn't buy a Mocha Maker/ Electric Shaver Combo Gadget in July, then the Santa hat is not going to convince me. Honestly, has anyone noticed that the As Seen on TV stores in Malls are pretty much gone? There's a reason! They should have known when they purchased the web site URL!

Save your money, buy a Dave Ramsey book or something.

-2 Football: It's a dumb sport. I mean the rest of the world already has football. We should just combine the two and let the soccer players use their hands. And by next year Randy Moss will have played for every team in the NFL anyway.

There are a lot of activities we could get beer and hot wings for - Sunday service?

-3 Sweet Potatoes: I am not feeling the love. You need to make Candied Yams in order to make sweet potatoes sweet. In my book, pecan pie is the clear winner when it comes to sweet, and it is far more nutritious. I mean there are starving folks in other countries that could use the sweet potatoes - ALL of them!

-4 Tryptophan: This is on the top of my Ask God When I get to Heaven list. I get a few days off, and you put something in the turkey that makes me nap through half of it? I am thinking caffeine would have been a better additive. And for a real boost a 4 Loko would have been a distinct possibility for basting the turkey. We could stay awake and not remember what grandma looks like when her dentures fall out.

-5 Social Media Slowdown: With about 400 friends on Facebook, a few dozen on Twitter, and more on MySpace, the social media web slows to a crawl. People are actually with their friends and family; albeit having a text social, acting nearly human. Hardly worth turning on the Blackberry!

One can sit for hours on Thanksgiving afternoon, and Christmas morning without nary a post. For a generation that can't seem to walk straight on the sidewalk, drive a car, or sit though dinner without an alert, this is big news!

-5 1/2 Green Bean Casserole... I mean on a list of all the possible dishes one could have at a holiday meal, I think this one rates at the bottom - right after creamed onions.

How about you, are you truly thankful?

And don't forget to look for my Black Friday Gifts for Geeks. I'll be posting it at 4:00 AM so you can read it before you leave the house!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Faith vs. Belief - And the Winner Is...

For most Christians, faith and belief are synonymous. I suppose that in a few cases they actually are. Microsoft Word's hand-dandy thesaurus says they are. Of course it includes trust, confidence, reliance, assurance, devotion, loyalty and conviction too. There are a few references for these words in the Hebrew and the Greek. Strong's 529, 520 and 5012.

I usually refrain from teachings on Fire & Grace, however; this one is very important. Why? Because of the splintering of the church over doctrine, the mixture of politics and religion in the culture war, and mixture of religions that has no substance; just philosophy and practice.

First, the word faith is used almost 500 times in the Bible, and the word believe about 300. The word belief, just 3 and one of those it is the same Greek word as faith. Context always seems to matter in the Bible.

So what is the difference, and why does it matter?

I am going to tackle belief first. In the Old Testament it seems to have it muddled up together with righteousness; the act of obeying the law. (Romans 3)

Genesis 15:6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

Jews were taught the law, and for those that obeyed, they were considered righteous. Abraham was one of the first to be considered righteous, however; he appeared on the scene before the written law of Moses. Job was also one of righteous.

Job 11:4 You say to God, "My beliefs are flawless and I am pure in your sight."

The Rich young ruler was another. (Luke 18:18-22)

The trouble today is that people can believe anything. They can believe in the teaching and philosophies of the New age, Oprah, the Bible, the Qu'ran and horoscopes. A lot of fundamentalists get caught up in what they believe, and make that a requirement for salvation. This is how come there is a battle within the church which includes lots of finger pointing. Don't hear what I am not saying, what we believe as Christians is important. The problem, honestly, is that so many seem confused about what they believe because they judge it all with their mind and not with their spirit. (1 Cor 2:10-15)

Judging things by the spirit is not always easy as the writer of Hebrews penned.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

The human soul is very close to the human spirit, just as bone is to bone marrow. Only the word of God can separate it. That's why it is so easy to make mistakes in knowing what God wants.

True righteousness comes from believing the truth and having faith.

2 Thessalonians 2:13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.

Sin of course, is the opposition.

Psalm 78:32 In spite of all this, they kept on sinning; in spite of his wonders, they did not believe.

So where does that leave us with faith, and how is that different from belief? The essence of belief is in knowing the truth and acting on it. Simply said, belief is in knowing the word or principals of God, and doing it. It can sometimes lead to religiousness and wooden literalism; dead religion without faith. That was the problem with the Pharisees, they interpreted the law, acted righteous and yet, Jesus said they led folks far from salvation.

It is only through faith in the resurrected Jesus, and the work on the cross that can save us. It is belief in the truth that allows us to carry that out.

We even receive our righteousness, the kind that will allow us to stand before God the Father, by faith.

Romans 3:22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.

Belief is believing God; faith however allows us to see the unseen.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

Faith is eternal! Belief is not. When we are in Heaven, or resurrected, or raptured we will not need to believe anything, because our faith will place us with Jesus.

Here are a couple of guys that saw some stuff by faith.

Hebrews 11:4 And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.

Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.

Other than being eternal, what good is our faith here on earth? Well, it is the very thing that allows us to endure trials.

2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

We can believe that God wants to heal, but without faith it cannot happen. In fact, with belief alone, we cannot please God. Only faith can do that. (Hebrews 11:6)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Geek Gifts for Kids

The past 2 Fridays I recommended biblically authorized geek Gifts for Him and For Her. This year while you are skipping the smoking jackets and skimpy nighties, you can add some of you favorite kids or nieces and nephews if you have any.

Gone are the days of Barbie and Daisy BB Guns.

This generation of kids, although sometimes suffering from entitlement and other serious social disorders such as rolling eyes, is pretty tech savvy - and you don't want to disappoint a kid on Christmas!

There are only 36 days left to shop [COUNT DOWN HERE], and here is your chance to win big for the kids in your life.

Each Friday, from now until Santa bites the cookie, I am going to suggest suitable gifts for men, woman, couples, children of every age and maybe even pets. Here are some inspired by imagination and fueled by a sugar high.

Lego MindStorms: This is the coolest of cool, and probably a blast for parents too! The Invention Kit is amazing. you can build robots, engines, machines and program their movements. Why do I get the feeling this only applies to me?

2 Samuel 7:3 Nathan replied to the king, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the LORD is with you.”

Fizzy Bath Bomb Factory: The world can be a scary, fizzy place for a dirty kid! This will get them in the tub blowing up stuff and pulverizing dirt, leaving them washed white as snow. You can make your own bath bombs, funny foam, magic tricks, and more. Experiment with marbleized bombs, haunted balloons, and volcano mix.

John 13:10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean.

RockStar: Every kid wants to be a rock star, but in the end, most just want to hang out with their friends. No more laying around an incense laden bedroom, with an iPod. With RockStar, they can hook up with their pals and listen to U2 or Anberlin.

Obadiah 1:2 "Listen to this, Edom: I'm turning you to a no-account, the runt of the godless nations, despised. You thought you were so great, perched high among the rocks, king of the mountain, Thinking to yourself, 'Nobody can get to me! Nobody can touch me!' Think again. Even if, like an eagle, you hang out on a high cliff-face, Even if you build your nest in the stars, I'll bring you down to earth." God's sure Word.

Levitation Wand: You kids can amaze their friends and if they work at it, pick up their rooms with this little gem.

Psalm 24:7 Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

So Why Don't I Have a Wednesday Blog?

Good question.

I have a good answer. I didn't have time. Here it is bedtime, and I thought I should put something up - it's like a commitment, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

So, what was I doing? I was playing guitar and getting my thoughts together for a CD. And I was working on my families web sites. Shoemaker's kids and all.

Here is one I did for Zöe. She is an aspiring fashion designer. If you need a dress for New Year's, check her stuff out. (Not you Tony!)

And this is the one that I did for my wife's pet sitting business.

I also wasted my lunch hour actually having lunch. But I did manage to comment on Charlie's Church of Christ, Godly Sheep, The Church of No People, Tony C Today and Abundant Living this week.

And one more thing: Please pray for my friend Curtis; he's been ill.

I'll be back on Friday with more Geek Gifts! Or if you are not a reader of Kingdom Bloggers, check them out. I write there each Monday.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Turning a Big Ship with a Small Rudder

I have been part of a discussion that asked this question: Spiritual Maturity - why wouldn't Christian leadership want their people to achieve it? Of course most of the respondents had a bone to pick with pastors that were prideful, greedy, controlling, afraid of folks with strong gifting and things like that. All of which are problems in the church.

I have a different view.

It appears that the consensus is that somehow leadership likes to keep folks uneducated. I agree, there are lot of pastors that probably like control, the limelight, and are wounded; finding a false sense of value in their job.

The real question for me, is: "How did we get here?"

If you think about it, church structure is pretty much a business model in most countries - especially in America. The pastor is the CEO of his church, compete with salary and perks. He may surround himself with a few elders to support him. Much like the president's cabinet. They are not elected, they are chosen. For the spirit-led pastor, this is a wonderful opportunity to staff for his or her weaknesses - some don't.

I don't believe that leaders want Christians to be pathetic, anemic, babies forever. I think that as a church and a religious institution, we have simply, limited the options of leaders and followers - in some cases severely.

Paul wrote many times about how we are supposed to be a body with spiritual and service gifts. These gifts are varied (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4), and they are "body parts" that make up the local and global church. Unless leaders are able to recognize and organize these gifts, the church largely becomes a Jesus play; complete with music and a script. The fans will come and spectate once or twice a week, but few will participate.

The list of options for serving is usually short. Pastor, elder, deacon, ministry leader or ministry worker - or spectator. I happen to think there is a lot more to it. the mold is usually set too, where certain giftings go unrecognized.

The discipling model in the Bible is foundationally defined in Ephesian 4. It describes a leadership for the local church that includes supporting roles for the pastoral, evangelical and teaching ministries. It is about training and equipping the saints to do the work of ministry which is as diverse as cleaning toilets to raising the dead.

Many churches approach members about joining some of the established ministries with the typical "we have these ministries, and need to fill the slots." It is the plight of many churches. I once belonged to church where the pastor often picked up that sanctuary of bulletins and coffee cups left behind from a service. He decided that this was not the best use of his time, and put a request for someone to volunteer to do it. No one did, and he left the sanctuary as it was. Of course the person that vacuumed each week noticed. The pastor told her not to worry about it and they left it until Sunday. Some folks complained, and he simply said that he was to busy to do it, but would welcome their help.

How can you complain if you are not going to be part of the solution?

It is easy to create programs and look for volunteers. I am not always sure that is God. I do believe that if a church has a building that it needs to be cleaned, it should be. That could be a paid or volunteer position, but it needs to get done.

What if we just find out what people are passionate about (gifted), and see if we can create some ministries from that? That's sort of my approach.

I have a friend that only wants to visit folks in the hospital and keep in touch with them every day of their stay. I think it is awesome, and I am sure his church will get behind it.

There is a down side to passion based ministry too. If a church needs children's workers, and no one wants to do it, then what? Now they have to decide if the are going to continue pleading for workers, or close the ministry until someone has passion for it.

We need Jesus to build the church! Honestly, he's really good at it if we let him.

How about you, are you involved in ministry? Did you create it, or volunteer for one that already existed?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Geek Gifts for Her!

Last Friday I started recommending biblically authorized geek gifts. This week you can skip the skimpy nighties and get her something SHE wants.

There are only 43 days left to shop [COUNT DOWN HERE], and here is your chance to win big for the woman in your life. And if you get them now, they'll be totally amazed because the gift slip isn't dated December 24th!

Each Friday, from now until Rudolph eats your carrots, I am going to suggest suitable gifts for men, woman, couples, children of every age and maybe even pets. Here are some inspired by estrogen.

USB Heated Gloves: If you let your woman use the PC during the football game; and especially if you bought her a leaf blower last year, then you need redeem yourself and purchase these heated USB computer gloves. They'll keep her hands warm for kitchen work cuddling - it's a win-win.

Daniel 10:10 A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees.

James 2:18 Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove. The Message

Waterproof Shower Mirror: (Amazon) The perfect gift. It wirelessly streams audio from your iPod, TV, PC or other audio source! Fogless mirror - and as shown in the picture, you can use it after you finish your chores.

James 1:23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

USB Aromatherapy Oil Burner: Because Glade Plug-Ins are so 1990's! Add a few drops of your favorite scented oil, and your whole cubicle turns into a day spa - sort of. Make your nostrils shout for Christmas joy!

Matthew 25:10 But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived.

Wireless Key Finder: There you have it, the alternative to driving home from work to discover your beloved's keys are right there in the door.

If you are the type of person that wishes you could call you TV remote, your car keys, and your eye glasses, this is the perfect self-gift.

Isaiah 33:6 He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure.

Well, there you have it, a few geeky gifts for your God fearing woman.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Charlotte is 7!

Today my youngest turns 7! She's been so excited about her birthday that she's had a hard time sleeping. She's been pouring over the gift catalogs from which she has made numerous demands suggestions over the past few weeks.

As a dad, it is a whole lot of fun to watch her be excited about something in her life. As an adult, those times seem to grow fewer and farther between.

I want to brag about my kid for a few minutes. She has a lot to be proud of. Charlotte is:

- Bi-lingual, speaking Spanish nearly fluently.
- Does well keeping herself entertained in a neighborhood devoid of kids her age.
- She is very analytical, bright and well, quickly sets traps that her parents cannot easily back out of.
- Looks like her mom!
- Likes her purple guitar!
- Has figured out how to get both boys and girls to chase her in just about every social situation.
- Has said some classic things!
- Likes to know things about Jesus.
- Likes goodnight kisses.

I guess my favorite thing is that I can still pick her up and hold her in my arms. It is always a special time for me.

Preanting is sure not for kids. That is why I have dedicated her to God. Whatever life brings, He will never forsake her. He knew knew her before I did!

Charlotte, today is your day! Love you Princess!

An Old Man and a Little Girl

My Daughter and I went to the grocery store a few days ago. Just inside the entrance was a large man behind at a small card table, dresses in VFW uniform with a handful of poppies.

That's where Charlotte and I met Harry Serulneck, the quartermaster for the Framingham Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 929.

I couldn't help but think of my dad who would have been about the same age, though Harry was 8 years older. I just keep looking at him, thinking of my dad; thinking of the last salute he received from the Sergeant. "We salute Sergeant Johndrow, she said." And the closed his casket forever. I thought about the last time I saw his face.

Harry is out there supporting a brother in arms - a blind one. His post is taking up a collection to provide a hand held reader for another soldier who served our country.

I read a couple of online articles about Harry, and two things struck me. One, most of the posts don't have any comments, but this one particular POST has comments that frost my freezer bulb.

It is bad enough that we can't spend 3 minutes to thank a vet for the freedom we have, but some jerk jumps right in with a bunch of propaganda that has nothing to do with those that have fought a battle in a foreign land.

Veterans day is about people, about people that took and oath to protect your freedom. Personally when I sit down and ask, WWJD? I think he would throw some love on our vets. He'd sit and listen to a war story or two, he'd pray for them.

I enjoyed Harry - we had a tearful chat about the way things are, and what he fought for. At 92 there are only few WW II vets left. I thin I am going call him for another chat.

How about you, did you thank a vet today?

And happy 7th Birthday Charlotte!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

5 1/2 I Need Something New - Like a Phone or a Church!

I had a glorious 4 day weekend. I enjoyed lots of things while I was off: relaxing, guitar music, dinner out with Mary Anne, a walk with Charlotte, a hamburger with a friend, church and some sleeping in. I also endured the demise of my Blackberry. :(

I promise, this is going to be spiritual, but I want to rant a little about my "Dumb Phone". Even after a few hours on the phone with tech support, I had to take it to the Sprint store 2 times to get things working. Even with a back-up and restore, there was a lot of stuff that had to be configured again.

I need a new phone. Any suggestions?

I was at church Sunday morning and ended up praying with a gal who was first-timer. It was obvious to me that the Lord had given her a writing gift.  After the closing prayer, I shared that with her.

"Well, that is interesting she said, I am writing about 'how to find a new church'."

I thought about how I found a new church, one in which things are going pretty good - God like even. HERE is a little more on that story.

When I attended AA meetings almost daily, I was also involved in their service structure. We had a saying, "all you need to start a new meeting is a resentment and a coffee pot." It was really true. There was never a lack of criticism for the way things were already going, nor a lack of ideas for how to run a meeting better. The same seems of be true of church. The difference, however; is that God only has one way of doing things - His way.

He may have many methods, but there is only one authentic God's will.

It's a bad idea to just leave a church because they aren't doing it your way, but when it's time for something refreshing, how do we find something different that is still God? What's the process? Here are some points that make it clearer as to what we should do.

- Prayer: I know you feel dry and thirsty, or you are offended. Possibly you don't feel significant, or valued in your church - especially if you are thinking about leaving. It's easy to say "God where do you want me?" - and then hope that you feel better somewhere else. That is not how it works.

Can you ask yourself these questions?

Am I upset with someone or some group at the church that did not meet my expectations? Maybe you need to go to them and get things squared away.

Is there a ministry that I want to do, that they are not supporting? Have I asked and they said no? Have I been persistent? Can you I make a case for what God is doing in my life? Do I have the education? Have I proven my self? Do I have a prophetic word or promise from God? Am I doing everything that I should be doing to get where I am going?

If I was king of the church, what would I be doing? What would God be doing?

When you answer all those questions, then it is a lot easier to go to God for that change you are desiring.

-1 Biblical Church: What the heck is that? For the most part, churches tend to run on one cylinder when they were meant to run on 5. (Eph 4:11) I have written a lot about this 19 times before: HERE.

If you are looking for a phone like I am, then you need to decided what it should do. The phone I am looking for needs to have a phone - but the truth is that I don't use my phone as a phone very much. That is part of the problem with the church. If they only have a pastor, all you'll get is pastoring.

My phone needs to text, do chat, play music, Facebook and surf the web. So does my church.

My church needs to prophesy, teach, have deep and meaningful fellowship, have great worship music, and I need to want to be there.

Church is wherever two or more are gathered together, but it's got to be more than teaching and music!

-2 Fellowship: The cross is about both the vertical and the horizontal relationships. We are to love God and our neighbor. Any church that is thin on getting to know others, is thin.

Without others it is going to be hard to stay free of sin, to connect with God and to experience His Kingdom.

-3 Passion: A church without passion is not going to be advancing the Kingdom. in fact it may turn folks off. We need to be passionate about Jesus, about His people, and about those in our communities - that comes from spending time with Jesus!

A lot of churches have ministries in which they try to fill the slots with folks to help out. I personally think that it is better if someone approaches leadership with their passion for a ministry, and then they support them in doing it.

I am not saying that we don't try to recruit someone to clean the toilets, but we should also make room for a personal vision that individuals have. Leadership may not even be interested in a ministry that an attendee has passion for, but that doesn't mean it's not God.

Does it matter if I like my Blackberry and you like your iPhone? What matters is that we are able to do the tasks with it that we need to do.

-4 Opportunities to Serve: I think that everyone should be serving. How long does it take to be ready to serve? Well, that Gadarene Demoniac started witnessing right away (Luke 8:26-39). So did Paul the Apostle. (Acts 9) I am not suggesting that you make a new believer the pastor 3 weeks after they get saved, but you can let them park cars, print bulletins and other service gifts.

I also believe that everyone should be trained to pray for the others. When it comes to salvation, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, healing, confession, and the laying on of hands; which Paul said was elementary, is for all believers.

-5 Encouragement: Folks need lots of encouragement. It allows them to stand firm in tough times, and step out in others. It is the pit stop between laps in the race of life.

So many Christians could achieve their destiny with an encouraging word.

-5 1/2 Grace...

Monday, November 8, 2010

5 1/2 Random Thoughts

Now that I am slowly returning to normal after the elections, I am thinking about much more spiritual things again. I took a few days off from work to recharge my batteries.

With nary a ripple in the pond if life I think and therefore I share it on my blog.

-1 Does Anyone Read This Stuff? I really wonder if it is all worth it. I think that most folks read my comments on other sites and come to see if I am for real.

-2 Retirement? I am a little more than 10 years away - well unless somebody changes the age. Every weekend I pretend that I don't have to go back to work ever again - and then the alarm goes off on Monday morning. I pretend that I am just hanging out with Jesus, flowing from guitar to PC, to family activities to naps and then to lunch and back again.

-3 Money: Who doesn't think about money? I think about all the good I would do with it - the mission trips, feeding the poor. And the stuff I could have too. I am angling for a Nikon camera for Christmas

-4 Vacation: I've had a few days off, and I enjoy not having something to do. I'd like to go to Australia or take a London, Paris Rome tour with my wife. I also look forward to taking some time to visit friends who no longer live in New England.

-5 Apostolic School: It looks like things are lining up to do a class about the5-Fold ministry and the spiritual gifts, my pastor and I are slowly working through the details, I have written a booklet to go with it.

-5 1/2 Prayer ...

How about you, what are you thinking about today?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Geek Christmas Gifts Nov. 5th

There are 50 shopping days left 'til Christmas! [CHECK IT HERE!] As a Christian I really like Christmas, pagan roots or not, it's my favorite holiday. Because of that, Fire & Grace is going to become "Gift Idea Central"!

Each Friday, from now until Saint Nick shoves his flabby posterior down your chimney, I am going to suggest suitable gifts for men, woman, couples, children of every age and maybe even pets.

Each one will be scripturally suitable, a distraction from the brumal days - and geek approved.

USB Rocket Launcher: Defend your office or cubicle with a computer-controlled USB Missile Launcher (USB Powered Air Darts). The USB Missile Launcher is the Ultimate Desk Toy and stress reducer - fully "geek" approved!

2 Corinthians 10:4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.

I'm Bloggin this T-Shirt: Get the message out and let your non-virtual friends know your passion for obnoxious Internet blather!

Jeremiah 36:2 Take a scroll and write on it all the words I have spoken.

USB Fiber Optic Christmas Tree: If the weather outside is frightful, shut the blinds, crawl into your computer cave, and bask in the festive glow of the USB Fiber Optic Christmas Tree.

Romans 11:16 Behind and underneath all this there is a holy, God-planted, God-tended root. If the primary root of the tree is holy, there's bound to be some holy fruit.

USB Turntable: The first USB turntable that lets you convert your old vinyl collection directly to CD or MP3, the Ion Audio iTTUSB is a must for people who don't want to deal with clumsy adapters or mismatched software when transferring formats. A trial version of Bias Soundsoap 2 to clean and restore vinyl recordings. Once connected, the turntable transfers both 33-1/3 rpm albums and 45 rpm singles to digital formats in mere minutes.

Esther 9:1b On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned.

How about you, is their a geek in your life?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Running of the Bulls - The Festival of Kicking the Bums Out

Well Election Day 2010 has passed, and political aspirations have been decided for some number of years divisible by two.

When I think of politics, I think of bull. There was plenty of that - but connecting the dots of my rather warped thought process, I thought of the Running of the Bulls. I found the following description of the yearly festival on Wikipedia. I have changed a few words to make my point - those are in bold

The Running of the Bulls (in Spanish "encierro," to shut/lock up) [back room deals with live bull] is a practice that involves running in front of a small group (typically a dozen) of bulls [house speaker, Majority Leaders, etc] that have been let loose. The most famous running of the bulls is that of the on the first [Tuesday of November]; although there are others in towns and villages across country. Unlike bullfights, which are performed by professionals, anyone may participate in the Running of the Bulls [elections].

The purpose of this event is the transport of the bull from the off-site corrals where they had spent the night, to the bullring where they would be killed [pundits] in the evening. Youngsters would jump among them to show off their bravado.

Every year, between 200 and 300 people are injured during the run although most injuries are contusions due to falls and are not serious. Since 1910, 15 people have been killed during the event.

Folklore claims the origin was the transportation of bulls in order to sell them at the market. Men would attempt to speed the process by hurrying their cattle using tactics of fear and excitement. After years of this practice, the it turned into a competition, as adults would attempt to race in front of the bulls and make it safely to their pens [offices] without being overtaken. With the popularity of this practice by the expanding population, a tradition was created and stands to this day.

Election Day - I hope you voted. Tell us about it!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Political Tuesdays - Today is Election Day!

Today is Election Day. After this year's negative attack ads, I am glad it's over! This will be the last Political Tuesday post until the rhetoric reaches a fevered pitch again next Fall.

I am voting in Massachusetts. We have local, State and Federal candidates to consider. I have done my best to research the candidates; watched debates, read campaign web sites, listened to a few ads, checked voting records, and ignored gloom and doom: Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Keith Olberman and John Stewart. As always, it bothers me to vote for questionable character or worse questionable character - but I am going to do it regardless of the quality of the choices!

How we vote here, particularly for Congressional and Senatorial candidates affects you! How you vote, not just in the US, affects me. Please pray, research and get out there!

We have 3 Ballot Questions: Two involve repealing state sales taxes added during the current recession, and the other is about permits for low-income housing, reducing the bureaucratic process. This proposed law would repeal an existing state law that allows a qualified organization wishing to build government-subsidized housing that includes low- or moderate-income units to apply for a single comprehensive permit.

Although I think everyone should vote, there are a handful of folks that I doubt are actually qualified to handle a Sharpie in the Balloting Cube.

The Parents that Would Need These Instructions:

Anyone the Shops Here Because of This Sign:

These Two Guys:

This Woman:

These Guys - But It Looks Like We Won't Have to Worry About Them:

The Driver:

The Person that Put This Sign Up:

Did you vote?
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