Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Exuberance of Internet Stocks, Homes and Obama's Cookies

The last paragraph of an article I read last November about Obama cookies someone put on the market around election time (the article I read is a dead link now) said:

"I think everybody just ... thought, 'Oh, great cookie, great president — the world is a happy place. Barack's going to fix all the problems and if I have a bite of this cookie it's going to make me feel good,'" Maxfield said.

As I read this story and in particular, the last paragraph, I couldn't help of a couple of other things:

• The internet boom when internet companies were WAY overvalued and every Tom, Dick and Harry was opening one and going public in hopes of making millions. And everyone was buying any stock related to a hi-tech, internet-based company. It didn't matter that none of these companies had shown a profit - and it turns out, most never would. They crashed and burned in mid 2000.

• The housing boom when everyone was buying way more house than they could afford. People working as grocery store clerks, delivery drivers, etc. were being given credit for some reason still unknown to me to buy $200,000 and 300,000 houses in the Dallas market when the most they could expect to afford in the way of a house in the past was a $50,000 house in an old, used up neighborhood in East or South Dallas - if they could even afford a house. Most rented. And now? They've lost their houses. The reality set in as the economy tanked and they lost their jobs and found themselves unable to sell their houses. And many of them took out interest only loans - so they were upside down - IN THEIR HOUSE! You expect that with a car, boat or something like that. But your house is always suppose to increase in value. Right? Apparently not.

And now, we have Obama's cookies making some feel like he is the latest "savior" that's going to make everything alright. If we would just all own wildly successful stocks, a giant house and elect a president that will solve all the problems that the aforementioned unreasonable expectations brought on, then we'll be happy.

Check out the video below for some of this irrationality:




Now come on people! When will we learn that all these things we run after hoping they will make us happy is futile thinking? No, really. When? Probably never this side of heaven.

The deal though is that there IS all that happiness to be found this side of heaven and more. There was this guy who said:

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

Now just for grins, think of the thief as those things or people or ideas (i.e. security, safety, assurance, etc.) that hold out all that promise for your happiness. Those are the thieves.

Now think of Christ - the "guy" who said the above. He can really deliver on that promise He makes. The issue is, are you willing to trust Him? Are you willing to see that "things", ideas and even people are not nearly as important as we believe them to be?

Now Christ will certainly not give you everything you want. But He will give you more than you ever imagined possible in the way of happiness and fulfillment - even and especially in the bad times when you think everything is going to come crashing down around you. Those are the times when Christ comforts and encourages you the most. And He reminds you that He has always provided for you. Maybe not in the ways you would have liked, but He provides nonetheless. I have learned this lesson many times (which means, in my stress and anxiety over those bad times, I have forgotten those lessons as well).

Think about what would make you truly happy. Truly safe, sound and secure. Does it involve Christ? It should. He's waiting for you to ask for His help. All you have to do is say the word.

If you do choose the rich and satisfying life Christ offers, let me know. I will be glad to help you in any way in your new life.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Contrast.

Here is an excellent example of Jesus.

And here is an example of selfishness.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

2, Count 'em, 2 Posts in One Day!

Okay, so it's not that exciting, but this post on Corrie Ten Boom and being thankful in all circumstances is good.

Thankful.

Being it's Thanksgiving, I thought I would write a little about those who are a constant presence in my life.

God.
How could I not be thankful for a Person who gave His life so I could live? Plus He gives grace, mercy and forgiveness every day of my life - 3 things I really couldn't live without.

My Wife.
She is beautiful, smart and caring and committed to our relationship and our family. I love her dearly.

My Kids.
Their ages range from 6 to 17 and I love everything about all 3 of them! Plus, as anyone who had kids knows, they teach me alot about myself (i.e. they're built in accountability partners).

My Mom.
I am thankful for my mom and her influence in my life. I wouldn't be where I am at personally or professionally without her guidance and her support.

My Friends.
I am not sure I could do life without my friends. They encourage and uplift me when I am down and provide me a sounding board for decisions that I need to make. You know who you all are and I am thankful for every one of your presences in my life.

What are you thankful for?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Jason Castro Sings "Clumsy"

He used to be part of the worship team at the church (Lakepointe Church in Rockwall, TX) my family attends... then a little thing called American Idol happened and I haven't seen him on stage since. This is one of my all-time favorite songs - not because of the music, but because of the words about what it's like to walk with Christ.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I'm Just Happy My Family is Healthy and Safe...

...as opposed to the turkeys behind Governor Palin in this classic video shown from a couple of different perspectives. you gotta watch the whole video on the first link. It is hilarious.



Thursday, November 20, 2008

Just When I Was Feeling Sorry For Myself...

... I see this photo of kids in their neighborhood in Peru. Notice the "houses" in the background. Makes my little house look like a castle.

Ronne, What Were You Doing at 7:30ish This Morning?

This morning on the way into work, I was praying through some issues and for various people in my life. The organization I work for is going through some rough changes and reorganizing. Jobs have been lost and there may be more. It's not a fun time at work these days. I prayed quite a bit about that and for my attitude in relation to that situation.

I was also praying for my family and a few friends that I had purposed to pray for. As I was praying and discussing them with God, some other names popped into my head unexpectedly - at least from my perspective.

So I prayed for the people behind the names and asked God to encourage them right as I was praying for them. I checked with one of them already just to see if anything was going on and there wasn't. He did say that he had just finished running a very "inspirational" 6 mile run - so maybe that was the form of encouragement God used in answer to my prayer. I haven't checked with the other person yet, but I plan to.

As a matter of fact...

Ronne... What were you doing at 7:30ish this morning? I prayed for you and asked God to encourage you and to remind you that you are "one in a million".

I am not normally a person who is curious about the mysteries of prayer - at least not from a superstitious standpoint. I know God leads people all the time to pray for others - I have heard many stories. It has only happened to me a few times in the past - the distant past. Perhaps this is due to the fact that my prayer life is sporadic at best. But with the events of this past Saturday night, I have purposed to pray daily in some form or fashion. So maybe I will experience more of what I experienced this morning and God will use me to intervene in another's life in a good and powerful way. Wouldn't that be cool.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Repenting, Rebooting, Reorganizing.

I walked into the church building last night like I always do to go to church. We were running late, so while I parked the car, Trudy got the boys checked in to their classes. We met in the large hallway that led to the sanctuary. Once I had the night's program guide in hand, I remembered that this was going to be a worship-only service. I expected to be singing most of the night and maybe having some devotional-type words, some scriptures relating to the music and prayer in between songs. Boy was I wrong. And boy was I caught off guard. I was completely unprepared for what God was going to do in my heart last night.

Turns out, we ARE singing worship songs, but that's not all. There will be no sermon. Instead, as God's family at Lakepointe Church, we are focusing on where our relationship with God is - where we have put Him in our lives. What we are allowing sin to do to our lives. What we are allowing worry, stress, jealousy, you name it do to our relationships with our family and with God.

There were 4 opportunities to do this as we reflected on where we are at. One was the Lord's Supper. One was writing a confession on a card and laying it at the foot of a simple wooden cross. One was lighting a candle for someone we are hoping and praying will come to Christ. And one was writing a praise on a white board that showed our gratitude to God.

Repenting.
The Lord's Supper is always a time of repentance for me. Not because the pastor stands up their and threatens me that I should not be taking communion if I haven't repented, but because it is a time for me to reflect on what a horribly awesome sacrifice my God made so I could be in His presence. It always brings me to my knees - and I am not talking about prayer here - I am talking about deep and abiding grief over His suffering and my own selfishness in how I have been living my life - how truly far away I have run from this Person who gave everything He had to see to it that I could live with Him in eternity.

This time though, was different. I feel as though God may have finally woken me up. I have often found myself repenting and rededicating my life to Christ. And that's a good thing because it stops you from doing some really stupid things. But this time, He laid bare before my eyes, just what I was doing to Him when I chose to sin even as I knew what I was doing was wrong. It's a simple as that. But it's also complex and hard to describe. When you have a million and one things swirling through your brain like I do most of the time, it's hard to focus on just one thing - one moment. But it became crystal clear to me that simply rededicating my life once again was not where it was at. I just simply wrote the sin I was most upset and embarrassed by on the card, and I went and laid it at the foot of the cross and I let it represent the rest of my sorry life I have been busy living lately. I didn't really utter a "sorry" or anything. I just acknowledged that I knew what I had done was wrong and that I knew God knew as well. And I asked Him to help me overcome it. I have never felt so broken and alone as I did at that moment for some reason. I was in anguish and in tears as walked over to the table to pick up my communion elements. My wife and I took communion together, she prayed over the "body" - I over the "blood". She was eloquent, I in my aguish blathered something short about being thankful for Christ sacrifice. It was at once a very awkward time between my wife and I and a very heart-wrenching time between God and I. But it was necessary.

Rebooting.
As I think back on last night, I realized that after I had went through the heart-wrenching experience of repentance, that the next 2 "activities" (for lack of a better term) were the beginnings of a rebooting process. A rebooting of a life with the right priorities spiritually-speaking.

My wife and I made our way back to the white boards so we could write on them something we were grateful for. I have been experiencing some fear and anxiety lately about what has been going on at work. I wrote that I thanked Him for the fear and anxiety of the process of wondering whether or not I would be employed or not after the first of the year. It's not a very comfortable process, but it's a necessary process to remind me that everything I am, that I have, that I get to do - it's all from God and all dependent on God and His Will for my life. I also thanked Him for the fact that no matter what, I would always have Jesus - He would always be there - unchanging and eternal. From an emotional standpoint - it was very freeing.

We then made out way up to the front to light a candle. The point of that candles are to ask God to change the heart of those we are praying for that are lost. I lit two candles: one for a wayward family member, and one for a friend who is not currently in God's family.

Both of these activities were the first steps, I realized, to regaining my spiritual feet. To be thankful for something God has given me (the white board praise) and to be praying for another's salvation (the lit candles). I am not sure there are 2 more important activities in your day to day life as a Christ-follower than to be thankful and to be praying.

Reorganizing.
The reorganizing part of this doesn't have much to do with what happened last night - at least on it's surface. My wife and I are beginning the process of making plans for our family's future. The plans are for where we will be at in any given category in 3, 5 and 10 years, The categories range from education, career and money to college, our walks with God and our health. Until last night though, the category labeled "Spiritual" was just that: a category. Not now. Not since last night. Now it will be THE category that every other category revolves around. It just goes that if we are dependent on God for our very breaths that we take, we need to make sure our walks with Him our thriving. By thriving, I don't mean successful. By thriving I mean we are plugged in to God - living every moment in His presence - and living as if every moment may be the one He chooses to be our last one on earth. That means much prayer. Much knowledge (Bible). And being a light to those around us - a light that draws them to God.

Result.
I am still working through all that I experienced last night. But I do know one thing - He was trying to get a hold of me - as He has all along - and He finally did it last night. This I cannot deny. My prayer is that somehow this experience will resonate with me like never before and become a lasting remembrance for God to use to send me back to when I get off track.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Obama and Dissenters

I thought of Wade Burleson and his many posts on those in leadership allowing dissent in the SBC (here's a hint: it's not allowed) when I read this. Southern Baptists could learn a few things from Obama about dissent. I hope he appoints those who disagree with him - not because they disagree with him, but because they are the best person for the jobs and they'll offset any sycophants he might have on his staff.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Living by Faith

From Bob Cleveland:

Far too many believers never really, and I mean REALLY, have to live by faith, IMO. I feel the blessed ones are the ones that do.

How apropos for the economic times we live in now. I wonder how many of us really do live by faith in this country. I am afraid Bob is right on - not very many. How strange an idea that must be to God - to know we don't live by faith in Him.

He commented on Wade Burleson's excellent post about a boy who knew more about living by faith than most of us combined ever learn.

Science is Not THE WAY

Check this out.

Now if it took science 200 years to figure out how ordinary bleach works, then how in the world is it that people think science (humanism) is the more intelligent choice than God?

Monday, November 10, 2008

One of Chelsea's Senior Photos & One of Her Early Photos



That's Sadie with her - she was a Christmas present from her step-mom and I this past Christmas. Amy Seale, a good friend of mine took the shot as well as many others. I will post more later.

And the below photo is so you can see she hasn't changed that much! She's still the cutest little girl I have ever met! (I know - that's kinda corny - but hey, I'm the proud dad!)

Billy Graham Nails It

From "Preaching the Minority View," January 14, 1991. In response to the question, "What motivates you to keep going?"

"I care less and less how many people come forward—whether anybody comes forward or not. The important thing is whether I have made clear the Gospel and the cost of following Christ."

Too many "Christians" consider their work done when they invite Christ into their lives. This is not so and Billy Graham said in a few words what I have tried to explain a million times to various people. There is a cost involved in following Christ. The true life of discipleship is not for the faint of heart or the weak in faith. It is hard, strenuous work - and that's just the intellectual side! The true work comes in serving others consistently and over time the way Christ would serve them.

The way Christ would serve them you say?

In a word, the answer is without condition, boundaries or disclaimers. Total abandonment to His cause is what is required.

What would that look like for you?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Good Side

A couple of days ago I published a post named, "Be Careful What You Say". It was a call to watch what we say because it affects others' perceptions of who we are. I used Scott Wilder and some negative stuff he said about Gary Busey after having him on his radio talk show.

I was thinking about that post and how others would in turn see me in a negative light because I used him and his failings in that particular case to illustrate a point. So in fairness, I also thought of a really cool thing Scott did right around the time his show went on the air.

I don't remember all of the details, but I remember a woman, who was a stripper or worked in some other capacity in the adult entertainment industry and was hurting. As she told her story, Scott began ministering to her in a way I have never heard anyone do on the radio - at least anyone who wasn't specifically there to counsel people. As I recall, once he was finished, he followed up and made sure she had the opportunity to get out of that world and begin healing. He followed up that she was getting help, but I don't recall much more detail than that. His actions that day on the radio show made me proud to call him a brother in Christ and I think, demonstrated the best a Christian has to offer a hurting person trying to make sense of her world.

In "Be Careful What You Say", I called for being aware of not doing anything to negatively affect another's perceptions of who we are as Christians. I will end this post by exhorting you to be watchful for people that you cross paths with that are hurting and need your help. Don't walk away from them. Help them. Christ may just want to use you to shine His light into their dark lives.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Be Careful of What You Say

I was watching some show on MTV that I usually don't watch - not much, if anything at all, is worth watching on that channel - but I was bored and watching some celebrity addicts in recovery. They are all under the care of some high dollar shrink. It's all pretty smarmy - the has-been celebs are doing it for one last gasp of a chance at continuing their careers. The doctor is doing it for the chance to make even bigger bucks through the publicity the show generates.

One of them is Gary Busey the actor - and he claims - a born again Christian. He is in complete denial that he is an addict and he is acting as if he is in charge of all of the rest of the celebs there at the recovery center. He's in pretty sad shape and looks to be on his last go around with his addiction. You get the sense when you see him that if he doesn't beat it this time, he's gonna die.

Every time I see or hear of Garey Busey, I am reminded of Scott Wilder. And tonight was no exception- I was reminded of him again tonight. Scott Wilder is host of his own talk show on a local FM station - the WORD FM here in the Dallas market. I used to listen to him all the time. He is one of those run of the mill conservative talk show hosts - only he has an explicit, conservative Christian angle to his material. Think Rush Limbaugh adding Jesus to the list of conservative politicians and issues he usually talks about.

The reason I remember him is because one time, many years ago, he had Busey on his show for some reason or another. Chances are, Busey was probably either in or promoting some Christian-themed movie or something like that. I don't remember much about the interview, but I do remember how much Scott ripped into Busey once he was gone. Busey apparently did something that Wilder didn't like and he just ripped into him. I don't even remember what he said,other than Busey not being a very pleasant person to be around. I thought at the time that it was pretty inappropriate that Wilder would speak of this on the air at all. I also remember that was probably the beginning of the end of my listening to his show.

To cut to the quick, be careful of how speak of others. I wonder what I would have remembered had Scott not said a word. I probably wouldn't remember a thing.

I Did My Duty!

I voted today. I voted straight republican ticket. I was joking earlier that I did my duty to offset my bosses vote and my wife cast hers to offset my mother's vote. Both are diehard democrats... and both wanted Hillary instead of Obama. My brother and his wife put us ahead in our family with 2 more republican votes. Not sure of my sister though... last I heard, she was also republican.

As a side note, I almost voted for my first democrat today. Mike Anderson, republican, who is running for state senate here in Texas and former mayor of my hometown, really annoyed me. I swear he has sent a mailer to me every other day for the last few weeks, called to bother me at home with robocalls a couple of times, and his election signs, with his big, warm, fuzzy family shots were blatant propaganda (God, family, country, apple pie, etc.). You can see the shot here. Plus, he's a complete clown when it comes to higher education. He says college hasn't gotten more expensive. I wonder what planet he was on while his clone was running our fair city here in north Texas.

To be somewhat fair, here is his competition's site. The photo isn't as nice, but then again, he probably didn't spend big bucks like Anderson did. Anderson must have some big-bucks friends who expect return favors once he's in office.

But in the end, he is a conservative. He seems to believe that government is just some huge feeding trough for those who don't want to take care of themselves, and he upholds my Christian values (though I wouldn't necessarily consider that a qualification for office - just makes me feel warm and fuzzy all over!). Plus, my conscience won't allow me to vote for anyone in a party that is so blatantly anti-life - and is set to become even more so with Obama seeming to be a shoe-in. SO I included a yes vote for Anderson. I held my nose.

The Essence of Jesus

Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them.

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.

Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?"

"Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments."

"Which ones?" the man inquired.

Jesus replied, " 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,' and 'love your neighbor as yourself.'"

"All these I have kept," the young man said. "What do I still lack?"

Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, "Who then can be saved?"

Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

Peter answered him, "We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?"

Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

Matthew 19:13-30