Friday, December 19, 2008

RIAA finally gives up.....

When you retard fair use with pointless DRM and then sue anonymous children for illegally downloading music while ignoring those of the execs at the top of the music industry, well, you're asking for a public relations nightmare. Now, with more than 35,000 lawsuits to its credit, the RIAA says it will finally end the legal assault against consumers that began back in 2003. The Recording Industry Association of America will instead, focus its anti-piracy efforts with ISPs. Under the new plan, the RIAA will contact ISPs when illegal uploading is detected. The ISP will then contact the customer with a notice that would ultimately be followed by a reduction or cessation of service.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Vacation Days


Despite earning the least amount of annual vacation days, Americans will leave an average of 3 days unused.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Church Evangelism during Xmas

This week, we received two pieces of mail from two different churches. Both were churches that we visited during our 2007 Church Field Trip Tour. Both pieces of mail are quite different. I'll let you weigh in on the obvious differences.


Solara Church - We received the typical full-color mailer announcing their Special Christmas Services on Dec. 20th and 21st. Nothing special, really. Just a simple invitation to join them for their Christmas services.



New City Church - We received a letter from Pastor Tullian letting us know that their congregation is in dire need of funds as these economic times have not been kind to the church budget. Currently, they are running more than 25% short on their budget on a weekly basis. They don't have a building, so this shortage is due mostly to their staffing costs.

Pastor Tullian says that during the Great Depression, Christians gave 24.2% of their income to the church, while today Christians give about 3.4% to the church. He says that a church of 600 people (with no building) ought to be able to finish the year with a surplus rather than a deficit. He says that most Christians are no different than their worldly counterparts - spending more than they make.

I'd go so far as to say that most Christians probably learned that lesson from their church - spending more than they bring in, and hoping for a year-end miracle. (This isn't the first time I've heard a December financial plea from a church - aiming for those "year-end gifts" that always seem to come - for tax purposes of course.)

Unfortunately, I've also seen churches/ministries "spend-out" at this time of year, so that their budget won't get reduced by a financial board in the new year. Either way, its a bit disheartening.

We don't receive regular pieces of mail from either of these two churches. I just thought it was interesting that these two churches would reach out to us - more than a year later - in such vastly different ways.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Names for my son

We've got a few months to give our son a name. What a weird concept - giving someone their name. It just doesn't feel right. It seems that the child should have a name, not be given it. I'm not sure what to do. I'm hoping God will just tell us in a dream, or something, what our son's name is.

Names we've come up with, so far, for our son:

Greyson
Graham
Grantham
Lincoln
Liam
Leopold
Roman
Ryder
Wyatt
Kingston


We like names that start with G's and L's. We like names that don't fall into the pop culture of names - this goes for just about every overused Biblical name. You know, the Johns, Matthews, and Marks.

Bailout




Monday, November 24, 2008

Black Friday: In the midst of the current Economic Toilet Bowl


Sawgrass Mills, the gargantuan shopping mall that sits across the street from our neighborhood, is opening it's doors at midnight on Thanksgiving this year. An obvious attempt to overcome the doom and gloom of the retail market of late.


My wife actually likes the sound of this idea though. She has never participated in Black Friday's madness, primarily because she is not about to wake up at 5:00 am for anything. But shopping at midnight is definitely a possibility. We'll see how it goes. Being awake is one thing, but avoiding crushing crowds of shoppers is also a concern.


At Concord Mills in Charlotte, N.C., last year there were crowds approaching 20,000 people waiting outside the mall at 11:15 p.m. for the midnight opening.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Chinese Democracy

Dr. Pepper said it before and is saying it again: Chinese Democracy means free soda for everybody.

The soft-drink maker said in March it would give a free Dr. Pepper to every living soul in America if Axl Rose finally stopped remixing and put out the fabled Guns N' Roses project sometime in 2008.

Now it's official: The soda comes Sunday, Nov. 23, at 12:01 a.m. (presumably Eastern Standard Time). Coupons for a free 20-ounce soda will be available for 24 hours on Dr. Pepper's Web site, DrPepper.com. They'll be honored until Feb. 28.

"We never thought this day would come," Dr. Pepper VP of Marketing Tony Jacobs said in a statement. "But now that it's here, all we can say is: The Dr. Pepper's on us."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My favorite seasonal pop: Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash


Fall/Winter:


Pumpkin Pie, Carmel Apples, Candy Corns, Turkey and Stuffing, Cheeseballs with Crackers, Dark Beer, and ......


Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash. I love it.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Legal Drinking Age Throughout the World

No Minimum
Armenia
China
Fiji
Nigeria
Poland
Portugal
Thailand
Vietnam



Age 16
Austria
Belgium
France
Germany
Greece
Italy
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Spain
Turkey
Switzerland


Age 18
Argentina
Barbados
Bermuda
British Virgin Islands
Chile
Czech Republic
Indonesia
Jamaica
Israel
Latvia
Luxembourg
Mexico
Mongolia
Philippines
Russia
South Africa
United Kingdom
Uruguay
Australia
Bahamas
Brazil
Canada
Colombia
Denmark
Finland
Hungary
Ireland
Jamaica
Lithuania
Malaysia
Moldova
New Zealand
Peru
Puerto Rico


Age 19
South Korea



Age 20
Japan
Iceland



Age 21
United States



(ht: Pilgrims Pub)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

McDonald's Sales rise 8.2% in October as more people switch to eating crap.




Times are tough, sure. But who are these people? I can't remember the last time I ate at McDonalds. And don't give me the line that goes - "Well, you don't have kids. Just wait until you have kids and then your tune will change". Uh, no. My kids won't even know that McDonalds exists. And the person that teaches them of its existence will die a slow death.




Now, Taco Bell, that's a different story.






How have your buying habits changed these last couple months? Cancelled anything? Changed allegiances? Downsized?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Guitar Praise


Taken in its entirety from my good buddy, Shane:
Christian kids with music-Gestapo parents won’t have to be disappointed by yet another Christmas with no Guitar Hero under the tree. Not this year!
Just in time for the holiday, the folks at Digital Praise bring you Guitar Praise - a less attractive, less fun, Christian sub-cultural version of its more popular heathen counterparts Guitar Hero and Rock Band!
Teens can get their praise on to over 50 tracks from some of today’s hottest Christian acts such as Bride, dcTalk, Petra and Whitecross! I’m kidding. Not about those bands being on the soundtrack, but about them being some of today’s hottest artists. (To be fair there are a number of current bands that are featured as well.)
Rejoice Christian kids, rejoice! No longer do you have to be embarassed by getting your friends booed off the stage in Rock Band because of your inability to keep up with System of a Down. You can now secretly master that fretboard controller in the sanitized confines of your own bedroom while rocking out to the tunes of Paul Baloche!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Could the same be said of Roe v. Wade?

More than 52 percent of Californians voted this week to change the state's constitution to define marriage as between a man and woman, reversing a state Supreme Court decision in May that made California the second U.S. state to allow gay couples to wed.

As of yesterday afternoon, more than 99 percent of the state's precincts had reported results. While some provisional ballots were still being counted, opponents acknowledged the ban had passed.

Proponents say the outcome shows that the law is ultimately determined by popular sentiment and that the Supreme Court is out of touch with the state's residents.

Could the same be said concerning Roe v. Wade? Out of touch? Or even out of date?

Granted, 52 percent, is by no means a large margin at all. And if the court was split in its decision, then it would indeed be in touch with the state's residents. But at the same time, there is a part of me that would rather be led by the majority instead of a small court of judges. Of course, I realize the peril inherent in being led by mob rule / majority vote, so I guess we're stuck either way.

Funny thing, is that I would gladly trade the right to marriage for everyone in exchange for the right to life for everyone. I think that it is obvious that one far outweighs the other. Too bad. Right now, it just seems like everyone loses.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Staying awake during a boring sermon.....

Recently, I've had to go to a few training seminars at my company. For the most part, they have been un-useful and pretty boring. So much so that I find myself zoning out where my vision starts to blur as I fight to stay focused and awake. You've been there right? You know what I'm talking about?

It's funny, because it reminded me of listening to sermons as a kid. As a kid, every sermon was mind-numbingly boring. My mom would usually let us draw on the church bulletin so that we could keep our sanity.

Since I became a Christ-follower in 1999, the large majority of sermons have held my attention. I'm sure that there have been a few times that I've zoned out during a sermon, but for the most part, I've become immune to the disease that I had as an adolescent. Either that, or I'm just listening to better sermons these days.

I just thought it was funny that - as I zoned out during our last training session - I was reminded of church.

How sad that the church worship experience would be synonymous with fighting to stay awake.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I want to be a Tech-Whore, but I can't afford it.

I am a wanna-be Tech Whore. Oh, the things I wish I had, but I am unwilling to actually spend the money in order to acquire these things. I used to have a subscription to Wired Magazine, but I've since given it up - realizing that it only fueled my techno-lust. Of course, I still borrow the issues from a friend of mine, but somehow, I feel less guilty.

Here are a few of the items for which my lust knows no limits, other than those limits imposed by my empty wallet:

  • The iPhone - I could be convinced to pay the few hundred dollars for the device itself, but the monthly bill that would ensue afterwards is an insurmountable obstacle.

  • An iPod, or an equivalent Mp3 player - Admittedly, I don't actually own an mp3 player. I used to own one, but the 128 mb player stopped working at least a year ago. There are a few reasons that I have not acquired an mp3 player. Ideally, I'd like a multitasking device like the iPhone, but as stated above, that is not going to happen. Otherwise, I just can't seem to make the decision between a solid state flash driven mp3 player or a hard drive style mp3 player.

  • A 73" projection LCD television. I saw a Samsung at Brandsmart for $2200, which means that I could easily talk them down under two grand for this monster screen.

  • A new Desktop computer - Our desktop is about 7 years old, a dinosaur by computing standards. I've just about filled up the 120 Gigs of Hard Drive space. I could probably score a decent one for less than $500.

  • A new laptop computer - Again, a dinosaur by computing standards. Ours is about 5 years old. It has speed, but it has no peripherals and it weighs a ton. Also, the battery is original and it goes dead after about 20 minutes.

  • The Rock Band Ion drum set - a $300 custom drum set for Rock Band and Rock Band 2. Gratuitous, yes. But it really makes me salivate, and I'm pretty sure that I could argue that it is a necessity somehow.

  • A new Ford vehicle equipped with Microsoft Sync. Purchase a $25,000 vehicle just to get my hands on Ford/Microsoft's groundbreaking in-vehicle technology - I WISH! I've tested it out and it is the future of the driving/tech-whore experience.

  • XM Satellite Radio - No way I'm paying $13 a month for a radio. But that $5/month offer I received in the mail is tempting.


Recently, I actually gave in to one of my techish lusts. Last month, I gave in and got a DVR from Comcast. I'm paying a discounted rate for the next 6 months, but after that, I'll still balk at paying a full monthly charge for such a service.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pornography Vs. Social Networking

For the first time, pornography has been overtaken as the most popular destination for Internet users.

Ten years ago, pornography accounted for 20% of Internet searches. That has recently dropped to 10%, with social networking sites, like Facebook, taking up much of the slack.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Rock Band: II and GH: World Tour

As if our lives hadn't already become consumed by the phenomenon of Rock Band. Since last February, many of our weekends have been spent trying to blow out the windows courtesy of our Playstation 3, Rock Band, our stereo, and a few very large speakers.


With the release of Rock Band 2, Guitar Hero: World Tour and their cross-compatible instruments, our windows, our neighbors, our eardrums, and our poor pets are in for a world of hurt.

Unfortunately, with my wife's delicate condition of late, we've lost our lead (and easily most talented) drummer. At least she can still play the fake guitar.

With Rock Band releasing full albums like Blood Sugar Sex Magic (Red Hot Chili Peppers), an entire Stevie Ray Vaughn album, and an entire greatest hits live album by AC/DC - I'm not sure if there is enough time, talent, or money available to satiate our lust for this game. I'm pretty sure there isn't enough.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Porn Again Christian: Table of Contents

Just so you can get an idea of the way that Driscoll tackles the subjects of Pornography and Masturbation, here is the Table of Contents for this small booklet. (FYI, "toilet water"is Driscoll's analogy for pornography - i.e., men drinking from the toilet of sexual lust.)



Table of Contents:
Introduction
Chapter 1 - A Tall Glass of Toilet Water
Chapter 2 - The Fear of the Lord
Chapter 3 - A Theology of Pornographic Lust
Chapter 4 - A Practical Theology of Pornographic Lust
Chapter 5 - Masturbation
Practical and Theological Reasons to Not Masturbate
Practical and Theological Reasons to Masturbate
Chapter 6 - Manly Men
Chapter 7 - coming October 17th Answers to Common Questions
Chapter 8 - coming October 20th Pornography and the Slippery Slope of Ted Bundy
Chapter 9 - coming October 22nd Final Word to Military Men and Men Who Like Prostitutes
Chapter 10 - coming October 24th Sex Slavery
How Are Women Procured?
“Breaking” the Women
Chapter 11 - coming October 27th Organized Crime and Corruption
Chapter 12 - coming October 29th U.S. Military and Prostitution
Chapter 13 - coming October 30th Most Prostitution is Slavery
Chapter 14 - coming November 11th Conclusion

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Porn Again Christian: by Mark Driscoll


You'd have to be living in a hole to not know that Mark Driscoll is my favorite author and preacher. His first two books have had a major impact on my life. If I had a role model, he'd be a top contender.

Of late, he has published a couple more books, but I've dragged my feet in getting to them, because they look to be rehashes of his recent sermon series, which I've already seen. Also, they just don't seem to have that punch that his first two books had - something akin to a sophomore slump? I don't know, and admittedly, I haven't even read them yet.

But he has a new endeavor that has my curiosity piqued: Porn Again Christian. This is a small booklet that Driscoll wrote a long time ago and has been a staple at his church in Seattle. Because of its incendiary nature, the booklet never made it off of the church campus and into a publisher's hands. Driscoll has finally decided to publish the booklet for free as an E-Book on the Resurgence website. He is going to release one chapter each week throughout October and November.

I've read the first couple chapters and I can already see that I like it. Driscoll warns that the book is not intended for women, and it is most definitely not intended for uptight, religious types.
Alas, I don't even think that I am comfortable re-posting some of it here, for fear of the flack I will take from the "uptight religious types."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

It's the end of the world as we know it.....

Are the scientists going to kill us all with the Large Hadron Collider?

They are going to start collisions on Oct. 21.

The Large Hadron Collider is expected to tackle some of the deepest questions in science:

Is the foundation of modern physicsright or wrong?

What existed during the very first momentof the universe's existence?

Why do some particles have mass while others don't?

What is the nature of dark matter?

Are there extra dimensions of space out there that we haven't yet detected?


Some folks outside the scientific mainstream have asked darker questions as well:

Could the collider create mini-black holes that last long enough and get big enough to turn into a matter-sucking maelstrom?

Could exotic particles known as magnetic monopoles throw atomic nuclei out of whack?

Could quarks recombine into strangeletsthat would turn the whole Earth into one big lump of exotic matter?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Pope says that we bit off more than we could chew.

Within 12 to 18 months, about 40 percent of U.S. borrowers, or 20 million households, will owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. The problem will be most severe in California, Nevada, Florida and Arizona, where housing prices soared and reckless lending practices were rampant during the housing boom.

That's almost the same number of American households that are spending 30 percent or more of their income on housing, according to recent U.S. census data. With little cash cushion or home equity, the slightest financial problem can put a family behind on its mortgage and into the realm of foreclosure.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Church - Something is Missing.....

I miss the rag tag bunch of believers that was our last church.

Not all the time.

But sometimes.

The church that we belong to could easily be described as a modern day mega church. Each weekend, more than 4,000 people flock to the campus for a quick, one-hour worship service. Our preacher is now on TV - as well he should be because it suits him and his style of preaching. Our worship team is loud and energetic and as professional as they could be. Our building is outfitted with all the amenities a modern church could need.

But something is missing. Not from our church. But from me.

I notice it when the service is over and the music is fading. It takes less than 4 minutes for 900 people to exit the building and another 5 minutes to exit the premises. If I dally at all with talking to people and socializing, I find myself standing almost alone in the huge auditorium, unless it is between services, in which, it quickly fills back up. There is a coffee bar outside in the courtyard, but I find that it is largely used by the regulars and the people who practically live at the church serving in its various ministries. Everyone else aims for the parking lot.

I miss the rag tag bunch of believers that we had at our last church. That rag tag bunch would have to be kicked out before they'd leave.

Don't get me wrong. We love our church. Pastor David's preaching is creative and easy to follow. He consistently preaches the Gospel for the lost. When my wife was in surgery last month, David was on phone with me while I waited for her to come out of surgery. By the time she got out of surgery, Pastor Scott was standing there with me and my good friend to greet her.

The worship team leads with an energy that is usually unmatched by the crowd of worshippers - something that is quite often lost on me.

But something is missing.

We know plenty of people. We have plenty of friends there. My wife even works there.

But there is a sense of connection on a certain level that we are missing. And I don't have a solution, because, if I did, then it wouldn't be missing.

I just know that, sometimes, I miss our rag tag bunch of believers.

Joe Six Pack Drinking Game: Maverick.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Political Junk Mail: McCain is a a close-minded jerk

In the past couple weeks, I've received 4 separate mailers espousing John McCain's positions concerning a woman's right to choose whether or not to kill her own baby. I should clarify that these mailers come from McCain's opposition, usually featuring a large picture of a nurse telling why McCain's position is downright wrong, and evil to boot.

By now, you've figured out that I am not a fan of John McCain.

But these flyers have the opposite of their intended effect. They pretty much remind me of why I should vote for McCain - despite my desire not to do so. The Pro-Choice crowd would be much better off if they just stayed out of my mailbox.

In the past year, we've lost two children before they had a chance - I would never have guessed that it would have been as emotionally difficult as it has been. I've also discovered, firsthand, that you can see the baby's heartbeat on an ultrasound, before it even "looks" like a baby. I also couldn't have guessed that that experience would have been as emotional as it was. Suffice to say that my "platform beliefs" on the sanctity of life now have personal life experience to back them up - not that they needed it.

So, if you please, Pro-Choice advocates, please stay out of my mailbox. I don't want to vote for McCain, but you are pushing me. You are pushing me.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Death Magnetic: Thank you, Rick Rubin.



Metallica is one of the greatest rock / metal bands of all time, probably the greatest. Rick Rubin is one of the greatest album producers of all time.

Metallica's last album, St. Anger, was really bad - I mean it, really bad. What made it worse, was the documentary, Some Kind of Monster, which showed exactly why the album was so bad. (I should clarify that the documentary is actually awesome - like a watching a train-wreck in slow motion.) Given that the two previous albums, Load and Reload, really weren't that great either - it pretty much looked like the band had lost their magic.

Enter Rick Rubin, producer of such classics, and band reimaginings as:



Johnny Cash's American Series - his last five albums

Blood Sugar Sex Magic - Red Hot Chili Peppers

License to Ill - Beastie Boys

Raising Hell - Run DMC

Demonsweatlive - Danzig

Divine Intervention - Slayer

Wildflowers - Tom Petty

Toxicity - System of a Down

The Black Album - Jay Z

Subliminal Verses - Slipknot

It goes without saying that I own each of these albums, plus most of Rubin's catalog.

Rubin is also given some credit for the melding of rap and metal into auditory masterpieces. He was the co-founder of Def-Jam, and the original DJ for the Beastie Boys. He is currently the co-head of Columbia Records.

I'll let you know what I think of Metallica's new album, Death Magnetic. Although I am a little bitter that there isn't a single Florida date on their new 44 city North American Tour. Especially since three of my favorite metal bands are opening for them on this tour: Down, Lamb of God, and Machinehead.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Terrorists have laptops in their hideouts. Can we afford to have a leader who can't use one?


Osama Bin Laden is in a cave somewhere plotting the destruction of the western world on a laptop computer. So why is it that the Presidential hopeful, John McCain, can't seem to step into the 21st Century?


When the Republican candidate described himself earlier this year as a computer illiterate who had never gone online, it just made him look odd. And old.


When McCain was asked to avow Mac or PC and replied "neither"—a totally great response if the question had been "boxers or briefs?"— it sounded pretty last-generation.


After the September 11 terrorist attacks, the head of the National Security Agency went on television and described the United States as "behind the curve in keeping up with the global telecommunications revolution."


So McCain's admission that he was behind the same curve raises a larger, more troubling question: if Osama bin Laden beat us with a laptop, shouldn't we at least have a president who is reasonably conversant with one?

Monday, September 15, 2008

High Tech for Jesus

Call me a tech junkie, but I really do appreciate the availability of HD video via the Internet. Especially when I can stream it through my PlayStation 3 to my TV.

I especially appreciate being able to watch Mark Driscoll preach - on demand - on my television.

Here's the set up that makes it possible at Mars Hill Church, as well as their justification for such a massive expense.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I kissed a girl and I liked it..... then I went to Hell.



This is the sign out in front of Havens Corners Church in Blacklick, Ohio (just outside of Columbus). Dave Allison, the pastor, says that the sign is a "loving warning to teens."


ht: CMS

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Pastor's Salary

If you're a Senior Pastor at a church in the United States, you're probably making about $81,000 per year. That is the finding of the 2009 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff survey of nearly 5,000 churches and 11,000 employees.

Here's the breakdown: If your church averages 100-300 people, the average pay is around $73,000. If your church has a weekly worship attendance of between 300-500, that number jumps to $88,000. And the salary average for the senior pastor of a church if attendance is 500+ is $103,000 and up.

According to the survey, pastors in the suburbs tend to make as much as 50% more than their rural and urban counterparts.

(ht:MMI)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

McCain throws us a curveball


I have to admit that I am a little perplexed with the VP nomination of Sarah Palin. I had absolutely no interest in voting for McCain, mainly because of his age - and a little because of his gung-ho obstinance. But by having a young woman as his heir - especially considering his age - he has definitely given me something to ponder.

It will have to be something that my wife and I will discuss - she was, after all, rooting for Hillary. I don't blame my wife for wanting to see a woman president. I just wanted a pro-life woman president, that's all. Or a pro-life black president for that matter.
Let's face it, as far as our household was concerned, Obama shot himself in the foot when he chose an old white dude as his VP. Now that McCain has chosen a young woman, we are thoroughly confused. Now, more than ever, I'd like to just throw away my vote on the Libertarian Party, or even write in "Jesus", or just stay home for that matter.
I don't know if I can bring myself to vote for McCain and then pray that he falls and breaks his hip or has a stroke. That just seems wrong, though it would ultimately be for the best.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Setting up Church every week

This is a video by Independence Church in Weston. When we went to this church last January for their inaugural launch, it gave me a bit of the heebie jeebies for a few reasons that brought back memories from our own church planting experience:




  • The physical set up in the school cafeteria could easily be described as overkill - as was ours.


  • The weekly work that went into that setup must've been rough, and probably done by a small handful of people - much like our own experience.


  • It seemed that they might just be in over their heads - as were we.


  • Their church didn't have a worship leader and our church couldn't keep a worship leader.


Despite the heebie jeebies, I have continued to follow this church for the past year, and was mildly amused by this video for their "Fit Club" - the pastor's humorous attempt to cajole the membership into helping to set up the church each week.



I feel for you Nathan, I really do.






Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Shining

I saw The Shining when I was much too young and it cost me years of sound sleep. To this day, I still have some latent issues associated with that movie. To be sure, it is a horror masterpiece and Stanley Kubrick was one sick individual - as can also be seen by 2001, Eyes Wide Shut, and Clockwork Orange. But there was something about The Shining and the young age at which I was first exposed to it which had a lasting effect.



I thought I was alone until I was listening to This American Life recently. This is an NPR weekly radio show that I've listened to for the past 14 years. Here is the six minute clip of the show about people who are afraid to fall asleep:





video

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Giving Blood.....and Receiving It


I've given blood a handful of times in my lifetime - perhaps a few dozen. But I am by no means religious about giving blood every eight weeks - that would be my mother. My wife is unable to give blood because she has a disease which makes her an ineligible donor.

All the same, I would like to thank everyone who gives blood. The look on the doctor's face after my wife's surgery was positive about the outcome and yet equally grim concerning her blood loss. Immediately after her blood transfusion, my wife looked noticeably improved in appearance and mood. Her lips and face actually had color again.

After this experience, I'll try to be more proactive about giving blood - like my mom.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Spending the night in the hospital.....again

Please pray for my wife. We are spending our second night in the hospital tonight. She has internal bleeding from an unknown source and they are most likely going to perform surgery tonight to find the source.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

BIL CORNELIUS

video

This is a new venture for me but I couldn't pass it up. A while back, our church had a guest speaker named Bil Cornelius. He is a young, humorous pastor from Texas. During the sermon, he told a story that has stuck with me ever since. So I felt compelled to share it with you. This story is about twenty minutes long, but it is worth it. Please give it a listen and tell me what you think.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Why I love James Bond

Spike Channel (the channel for men) shows a James Bond movie every morning at 9 am. Now, most mornings I am at work during this time. But occasionally, I get to sleep in and catch a 007 movie. And, of course, there are those occasional "James Bond Marathons"that certain channels will run.



There are a variety of reasons for my love of James Bond movies:


  • they are long, often clocking in at more than 2 hours
  • the story lines run kind of like a play - with Act 1, Act 2, and Act 3
  • they are simultaneously sophisticated and primal
  • Roger Moore is my favorite
  • they rarely spare expense
  • they consistently abide by a proven formula

One of these days, I need to buy them on DVD. Actually, I think I only need to buy the Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan movies.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

UFC Cage Match in Church? Not Quite.....

We arrived at the worship service at our church tonight to find that they had installed a full-size UFC style Octagon Cage in the middle of the auditorium, with the seats situated around it rather than facing the stage.

It made for quite a spectacle and a pretty powerful worship experience as well. In the eight years, we've been going to this church, This is probably the most impressed I've been upon entering the auditorium - that is saying a lot considering how far they've gone in the past to create an inspiring atmosphere.

The cage will remain in the auditorium for the next four weeks, as they continue their series - The Cage. Today's topic was "The People You Find In Your Entourage". The band performed their set from within the cage at full volume - I'm pretty sure they had it turned up to 11 and I was loving every minute of it, the louder the better. And then the pastor was led to the cage by his entourage of dancers, an announcer and obligatory posse of thugs.

Here is my guerrilla video / via mobile phone in all of its grainy wonder:


video

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Bleach Pen



For three months now, I've been wearing a dress shirt and tie every day. No matter how careful I am, I can't seem to get through a week without something hitting my shirt. These aren't major spills, but minuscule spots that appear upon my shirt - coffee, yogurt, curry, etc.


Thank God for the bleach pen. I hit the spot with the pen and it disappears. I wouldn't say that I am a messy person, but with a white dress shirt, chances cannot afford to be taken.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wrong Phone Number


I've been working at my new job for 3 months now. I work in the E-Commerce department for Maroone - the South Florida Brand for Autonation, the largest auto retailer in the country.

I call people every day and leave them a friendly message with my office number, asking them politely to call me back.

I've had a few people tell me that they couldn't get through on my office line, that it just rang and rang, but I've blown them off as dolts who didn't know how to correctly use a phone.

Today I decided to call my own office line from my cell phone. I don't know why exactly, just a whim. It never occurred to me that anything could be wrong.

I discovered that my number does indeed ring directly into Limbo - with no response. When people call me on the inter-office extension, it works. When the receptionist transfers a call to me, it works. But if someone tried to dial my office line directly from outside the premises - they got nothing but ringing.

How many calls did I miss in the last three months?

Do you know how many times I gave out my phone number in a three month span? - around 20,000 times.

I could have thrown myself from a bridge with the frustration of knowing that I've been giving out the wrong number for so long.
I'm going to go home and watch office space now.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

BMX is Back! I hope.

BMX will be added to the lineup of the Beijing Olympics this year. Why is this important?



Because Rad is out of print. Rad is one of the greatest movies of all time. As a child of the 80's, I watched this movie countless times before risking death on the handlebars of a BMX bike.



And Rad is now out of print. This is a travesty. An utter travesty.



But there is hope. With the inclusion of BMX at the Olympics, perhaps the studio in ownership of Rad will consider re releasing this 80's classic on DVD.



Here is a scene from Rad, for those of you who might be unfamiliar with it. This scene captures Rad in all of its glorious wonder.


Monday, August 4, 2008

The Highlight of my Summer?

Be warned: these are Red Band Trailers.



Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Drive In Movie Theater

We go to the movie theater about once a year. Every time we go to the theater, I drop at least $30 on two tickets, a popcorn, and a pop. Ouch. So we limit it to about once a year. Last year was Transformers. This year was Iron Man.

But we still manage to see most first-run movies when they come out. But not at the theater. And not on bootleg DVDs. We go to the Drive In. And we love it.

The Swap Shop Drive In, Ft. Lauderdale, has 14 screens all showing first run movies. The tickets are $6 each. When we moved down here in 2001, the tickets were $3 each. We bring our own food: popcorn, candy, drinks (usually a cooler of "beverages"), and something for dinner - Papa Johns, Taco Bell, or Publix Subs. If we forget anything, they've got about 5 on-site concession stands and golf carts driving around with more concessions.

Did I mention that we usually see two and even sometimes three movies in one night? Such an extravaganza at the traditional movie theater would cost me upwards of $75.

We had our last vehicle, a Ford Ranger, modified to better suit our drive-in experience. We had the fixed rear window replaced with a sliding rear window. Our current vehicle selection was largely driven by our frequency for going to the drive-in. We bought a Ford Sport Trac because the entire rear window goes down automatically. When we go to the drive-in, we sit in the bed of the truck and line it with cushions, comforters, and pillows. It couldn't be more comfortable.

Another great aspect of the Drive-In is that you can see other screens while you are watching the movie at hand. This is a great way to get a sense of whether or not another movie might be worthwhile. Also, sometimes we'll watch a portion of a movie and decide that it sucks and switch to another movie.

Last week, we watched Wall*E, about an hour of Love Guru (it sucked), and Dark Knight. Next week, we hope to pair up Step Brothers with The Rocker. And two weeks after that, we hope to pair up Pineapple Express with Tropic Thunder. I will admit that I have high hopes for both Thunder and Express - they both look equally funny.

Monday, July 28, 2008

So-called "Watchdogs" are not immune....

Apprising Ministries has crashed and burned. Or at least crashed. Ken, the blog's author, wrote a scathing piece on author Richard Abane in 2005 that Abane thought was slanderous. So, Richard contacted Ken's ISP and asked them to remove it from their servers. Ken's ISP looked at the article, and told Ken he'd have to remove that one post, or else they would take his site down completely. Ken, ever the martyr, decided to leave it up; and thus, lost his whole site.

Let this be a warning to those who would confuse self-righteous watchdoggery with slander and libel.

ht:MMI

Sunday, July 27, 2008

South Florida Living


Yesterday, I fell asleep in my swimming pool. On the raft of course. My wife has our pool heater turned up to about 95 degrees and when the air started to cool down around 6 pm it became the perfect combination. Of course, it didn't hurt that I had the television on in the background or that I had just finished a Pina Colada.

Sometimes I get the feeling that most South Floridians don't really take advantage of the weather the way that they should. More specifically, I feel that they don't really take advantage of owning a swimming pool. Or even having access to a pool.

We grew up in Michigan. Most people didn't own a pool, and if they did, it was a small 4 foot deep above ground pool. Also, the weather in Michigan only permitted you to swim in that pool between June and August.

I'm glad that we're getting our money's worth out of living in South Florida and owning a pool. I probably take a dip in my pool at least 5 times a week - year round. As a matter of fact, maybe that's why I'm behind on my household chores lately. Maybe I'm spending too much time drinking frozen drinks in the pool. Ah well, at least my wife isn't complaining. She's usually in the pool with me, shirking responsibility, and enjoying life to its fullest.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Politics

Have I said anything about politics yet? I don't think I have. It's weird because I read Newsweek every Tuesday and it is filled with politics. Yet none of it really sinks in for me.

In the past, I've always been a one-issue voter: abortion. This year may be different. I am beginning to give up hope that my vote will actually make a difference on this issue. As much as the abortion statistics make me somewhat nauseous, I may just table the issue this fall and see where I am led.

First off, I am not going to vote for McCain. He is too old and I am unashamedly biased against old people making decisions for me. I don't know about Obama. I like him. But then again, I like George W. and Bill Clinton too. I think that they were both equally entertaining. If I had to guess, I'd say that it is unlikely that I'll vote for Obama. Unless Hillary is his Veep, and I'll be forced to vote for him by my wife.

Maybe I'll vote libertarian. Or maybe I'll write in Jesus or Scooby Doo.

Most of you probably care more about politics than someone as apathetic as myself. Here is your chance to influence my vote. Give me your two cents. If you don't, I'll assume that you are as apathetic as I am.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Money Pit

We've lived in our house for three years now. We've seen it change in value from $280k to $380k and back down to $280k. In three years, I've managed to avoid having to hire a professional to do anything to our house. I've handled all the repairs myself, so far.

Lately, the list of things that I need to fix in our house has been piling up. To the point of seriously considering hiring someone to do something. Anything.

  • I still need to fix the roof leak that started on July 4, 2007. I've "fixed it" three times already, but I think I may need to hire a professional finally.
  • I still need to install the section of fence that my neighbor ripped out last December.
  • I need to replace our washer, which is now hemorrhaging water onto the floor every time we do a load of laundry.
  • I need to fix the drainage on our back porch which doesn't drain properly during a hard rain - which happens every afternoon in South Florida during the summer.
  • I need to fix a couple of broken tiles in our kitchen.

This month, we gave in and hired a professional on two separate occasions:

  • Hired a guy to come and fix the broken pool pump at a hefty $200. A reminder of why I do everything myself.
  • My wife hired a lawn maintenance company to trim our 12 foot hedges as an anniversary present to me this month. $60 saved me from 3 hours of blood, sweat, and tears.

I suppose, through all of this, I am building character. Or at least following in my dad's footsteps. Last year, when he passed away, we discovered that he had been replacing the support beams in the crawlspace of his house. My 52 year old 6'5" father had been spending his weekends by himself in the crawlspace jacking up the house and replacing the 8 foot long support beams. A last testament to my father's willingness to work hard and save money. Something that I had learned long ago while working on the car and fixing up the house with him.

I am trying hard not to give in and pay someone else to do something that I myself am fully capable of doing or at least capable of learning to do. I call it my Michigan work ethic. Because I live in a culture in South Florida where people pay other people to clean their house, wash their car, do their yard work, their laundry, and just about anything else they can think of.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Walt Disney World

1000 apologies to those of you who could care less about seeing these pictures - I totally understand and sympathize. But I do have some family-types that might enjoy the slideshow.

Being residents of South Florida, we've managed to make our way up to Orlando at least once a year. So we couldn't resist the idea of going to Disney World with our nieces.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Watering Hole

It took us three years, but we've finally found a decent local watering hole close to our home. Sure, we'll go to places like Chili's, Fridays, the Quarterdeck, and the Ale House. But on a Friday night, these places are crowded, noisy, and most importantly - impersonal.


There are a few dive bars near us, but they usually fall into one of three pitfalls which make them unworthy watering holes:


  1. They allow smoking indoors - most establishments in Florida do not allow smoking and we have become happily accustomed to that luxury. This is a definite deal breaker.

  2. Their food isn't very good. I like bowling alley french fries as much as the next guy, but there has to be some good food on the menu for it to be a regular part of our lifestyle.

  3. They have no drink specials on Friday and Saturday nights. I realize that I am cheap, but I refuse to pay $6.00 for a beer just because its Friday night. This is what brings us to the Ale House and Chili's more than anything else - drink specials all day every day.

This weekend, we finally found a place that was a perfect fit for us. It is called Lefty's Tavern and it is located at Hiatus Rd. and State Road 84. Lefty's is somewhat larger than I expected, and also more family friendly than I expected. They actually have an arcade/game room. But here are the reasons that we had an awesome time at Lefty's last Friday night:



  1. Our bartender was that perfect blend of kindness and white trash - you may think that is a derogatory term, but in this case, it isn't. She even gave me a few bucks to get the jukebox started - to which we added a few more.

  2. They had a digital jukebox. For the uninitiated, these jukeboxes have a boatload of songs on them, and you can download more songs to the jukebox if you like. When I walk into a place like this, I kind of like to dominate the musical arrangement for the next two hours - Kid Rock, Saigon Kick, Warrant, Slaughter, Notorious BIG, JayZ, House of Pain, Prince, Primus, Violent Femmes, Ice Cube, Whitesnake, White Zombie, Metallica, Lynard Skynard - you see where I'm going with this?

  3. The menu was huge and the food was the bomb! I had a Cajun chicken Philly with seasoned fries - some of you know that this is the staple of my restaurant diet. My wife had a sandwich called the Soprano (the theme of the restaurant/bar is modern gangsters) that was chicken, fresh mozzarella, on focaccia bread - equally awesome. And her brother had sweet potato french fries with marshmallow sauce - I've never heard of such a thing.

  4. They had Buzztime/NTN Trivia. We played trivia on the t.v.'s for a bit, but then we switched over to playing No Limit Texas Hold Em. At which point I proceeded to clean out everyone in the bar with my unmatched poker skills. I do believe I ranked third highest take for the month for South Florida.

  5. Drink specials - all day, every day. Smart.

We had such a good time at Lefty's that it was all we could do to keep from going back there the very next night.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Office Pranks: Jim vs. Dwight

Here is the second reason that we love The Office:


Monday, July 7, 2008

That's what she said....

It has taken us four years, but it has finally happened. WE LOVE THE OFFICE.

Here is reason number 1:

Friday, July 4, 2008

Nathan's Hot Dog Contest

It is the Superbowl of the Graff household. It is, quite possibly, the only time that we actually turn the television to ESPN. It is televised every July 4th at 1 pm on ESPN. It is the Major League of Competitive Eating's Nathan's Hot Dog Contest. It has taken place annually since 1917. In recent years, the event has been dominated by Takeru Kobayashi from Japan. Last year, an American, Joey Chestnut beat Kobayashi.

For the record, the Graff household roots for Kobayashi. Chestnut just doesn't have his charisma.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Rambo: Coolest Movie Ever

Why didn't anyone tell me about the new Rambo movie? How did I hear nothing about it? That was the most gruesome, bloody movie I've ever seen. And I mean that in a good way.



Stallone, also the writer and director, said that he submitted his director's cut to the MPAA expecting an NC-17 rating for the violence and they rated it R because of it's realistic depiction of the ongoing violence in Burma.



I would like to thank you Sly, for a movie that I will most definitely have to watch again.




Also, you've brought my expectations for blood and gore to a new level.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Wrestling with God

Genesis 32:22-31



Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, "Let me go, for the day has broken." But Jacob said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." And he said to him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Jacob." Then he said, "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed." Then Jacob asked him, "Please tell me your name." But he said, "Why is it that you ask my name?" And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, "For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered." The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.



I pray to God a lot. But sometimes prayer just doesn't seem like it is enough. Sometimes I earnestly yearn to see God face to face. Of course, this really means that I would love to meet Jesus face to face. Most of the time, I'd have nothing but lavish praise and thanksgiving to offer should such a meeting take place. But other times, I'm more inclined to want to wrestle as Jacob did. Knowing that I wouldn't stand a chance in a wrestling match with God wouldn't matter at times like these. I would simply ache for the cathartic release that might come could I strive against God and His mysterious will.



God. I love you. But sometimes I want to wrestle with you as Jacob did. Though I might never be the same afterward.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Boyz in the Hood


Cause the boys in the hood is always hard

Come talking that trash, we'll pull your card.

Knowing nothin in life, but to be legit....


That's right. Despite the fact that we moved as far west as we possibly could (right next to the Everglades), we've never managed to leave the hood.


This week, there was a drive-by shooting on the house two doors down from ours. Apparently, some ghetto nutjob (actually, he lives in our neighborhood) decided to take a few shots at his baby-momma and her boyfriend. He wasn't too happy with her trying to extort him (child support) while she had sex with someone else.


So the cops closed off our street for about six hours for the CSI. It was interesting. It brought back memories of the neighborhood that I grew up in outside of Detroit. If nothing else, it was a good excuse for us to hang out outside and meet some new neighbors - as a dozen police cars certainly draws a crowd. Plus, one of neighbors made me some meatloaf for dinner as we stood outside chatting.


During our conversation with the neighbors, we also learned that the young man who was living at the house across the street from ours recently was busted for robbing a local Dunkin Donuts.


That's right. I'm just trying to keep it real. Only in South Florida, can you live in a $300,000 house and still be right smack in the middle of the ghetto.


Good thing we've got our Bluetick Coonhound Security System looking out for us. She's worth her weight in gold.

Monday, June 23, 2008

How the world views our upcoming decision


Friday, June 20, 2008

How I know I'm gay

I like Coldplay now. I don't know how and I don't know why. I just do.

At first, I just thought they were a bad rip off of Radiohead. I have never been a big fan of Yellow.

8 years later, they are growing on me with their last two albums.

Maybe its old age.

Or as my wife would say, "You know how I know you're gay? Because you like Coldplay."

For the uninitiated, this is a reference to The 40-Year Old Virgin, one of the funniest movies of all time.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Gas Prices




How depressing is this picture?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Letters from Kamp Krusty

One of my favorite blogs to visit belongs to Brant Hansen: Letters from Kamp Krusty

Brant is the morning DJ on WAYFM in South Florida. His on-air personality is not quite the same as his blog personality - something I haven't quite figured out yet. But I do enjoy the biting edge that is present on his blog. He regularly sticks his neck out much further than I do and with a lot more to lose too.

Here is his latest post, in its entirety:

There's this one Pastor who doesn't like Pirate Pastors! Pirate Pastors are pastors who start competition where there are already churches!

This pastor started his church in the unreached area of Grapevine, Texas! He's expanded into other frontiers, like Dallas! And he's also now franchised in South Florida, where we didn't have any churches! I'm glad we've got one, now!

It's BAD when pastors take business away from other pastors! Like this Pastor says, if people did that in the corporate world -- stole business -- they'd be in JAIL!

Piracy is bad, because pirates take money that really doesn't belong to them -- and they use it for themselves! They pretend they're kings, but it's not their money! I hate pirates for doing that, and I'll bet you do, too!

I'm glad, at least, that his church hasn't been completely plundered! They still have enough of God's money to build an arcade and climbing wall and $16 million ultra-awesome Communications Building and they're building a Church Lake so that more dads will bass-fish with their kids on church grounds and they're asking people to give sacrificially for the new "Town and Country" program to build an awesome new retreat center and they also have a bookstore full of the Pastor's own books and videos and a cafe that has coffee cups printed with the Pastor's favorite recipes!

Stupid pirates haven't gotten everything, yet!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Customer Service

Went to Office Max:

Me: "Can you please call someone over to help me find something?"
Cashier at front of store: "What are you looking for?"
Me: "A ten pack of storage boxes."
Cashier: "We don't have anything like that."

1. He ignored my request for someone who could actually help me find an item.
2. He was wrong. I found the boxes after searching the store on my own.


Then went to Office Depot:

Me: "Do you know where I can find a 10 pack of storage boxes?"
Cashier at front of store: "In the back."

At both stores, I was left to search the store by myself looking for something that could very well be anywhere.

Don't get me started talking about the salesman at Sawgrass Ford (his name was Trevor). I was so upset at his lack of customer service that I am not yet psychologically ready to discuss that episode.

I EXPERIENCED THREE EXAMPLES OF PATHETIC CUSTOMER SERVICE IN LESS THAN ONE HOUR.

Hence, the need for a ranting post.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Watching UFC with my wife


Why is my wife a keeper? How about spending a Saturday night watching 3 hours of Ultimate Fighting. I'm not a huge fan of UFC because I am just not that kind of alpha male. But I do occasionally enjoy watching mixed martial arts. Here's the caveat: I don't enjoy doing much of anything without my wife. Yea, yea, yea. Insert whatever derogatory statement you'd like to at this point. The fact is, there is very little that I do without my wife.

So it is with that little bit of added satisfaction that I can sit and watch a 2 hour special about Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell with my wife. She and I are on the same page when it comes to mixed martial arts. We don't want to see grappling, wrestling, or any other type of homoerotic behavior taking place on the mat. We want to see punching, kicking, and as much blood as possible.

Yes, we paid a slight bit of attention to the debut of CBS' prime time Extreme XC and Kimbo Slice. But let's face it, who wants to watch Kimbo "Back Yard Fighter" Slice when Spike is smart enough to run a two hour special on Chuck Liddell. Good luck, CBS. Spike and UFC get our vote. Not to mention that we've been watching UFC since back in the 90's when it was Shamrock vs. Gracie. (Remember Tank Abbott?)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Airing One's Dirty Laundry

Its not that I disagree with everything that he says, its the way that he says it. It doesn't seem to me that he is defending Jesus' church, it seems to me that he is defending "his" church, and even his own pride.


Friday, May 30, 2008

Addiction: Can Jesus Overcome Addiction?

Addiction is a popular buzz-word in our culture. Maybe because of popular psychology. Maybe because of a prevalence of artificial and and natural chemicals that we are now able to introduce to our bodies. Maybe because of the prevalence of pornographic entertainment. Are these "outside factors" the source of our addictions? Or is it something deep within us?


Interestingly enough, the Bible actually speaks to the phenomenon of addiction. The Apostle Paul chooses to use the metaphor of slavery to deal with our addictions. In Romans 6 and 7, Paul discusses the power that sin holds over every one of us. And he also discloses that the power and sacrifice of Jesus is sufficient to break that bond that sin holds on us. So, why then, do we continue to hear so much about addiction to sinful desires from those who would call upon Jesus as a savior and friend?


Because these Christians are choosing to believe popular cultural psychology and medicine over the truth of the Bible. The Bible says that when you choose to follow Jesus, you receive freedom from your addictions by the power of His Spirit. I simply find the language that Paul uses inconsistent with our present day language and understanding of temptation, sin, and addictions. This doesn't mean that I can simply explain and define the nature of addiction, but it does mean that I see a certain disconnect between how Paul would explain it and how many modern day theologians would explain it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Paradigm Shift

A paradigm shift occurs when you suddenly find yourself standing in unfamiliar territory. When the culture around you has moved and you failed to move with it. Though often, you've deluded yourself into thinking that it hasn't shifted at all. But this is exactly that, a delusion.


Christians are notoriously well known for ignoring paradigm shifts. Their resolutely faithful adherence to writings that are thousands of years old causes them to mistakenly forget that those writings themselves are timeless and concrete despite the shifting culture around them. The scriptures haven't changed, but neither do they demonize the shifting of the culture around them. Rather, the scriptures teach that one must manage to live "in the world" while avoiding being corrupted by its selfish influences.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Does Ministry Fuel Addictive Behavior?

Here is an article by Sally Morganthaler, written last year. Sally is usually known for her take on "Emerging Worship", but in this article, she divulges the story of the downfall of her own husband from his ministry.

Does Ministry Fuel Addictive Behavior?

Here is an excerpt:

"Entrepreneurial church wisdom is that pastors must be visionaries, risk-takers, and innovators, as well as spiritual guides. They are expected to be top-of-the-heap speakers as well, their stage skills honed to the highest cultural standards.

Realistically, very few pastors are cut out for this kind of leadership.

The average pastor may be at his best as teacher, coach, or theological guide. He might shine as a catalyst: a convener of collaborative vision and process; a facilitator of deep community. If he tends toward the empathetic and intuitive, he may excel as a nurturer, counselor, wound-dresser, or heart-holder.

But he is not megachurch material.

Still, he makes the trek each year to the mecca-church of his choice. He takes copious notes in workshops, hoping to find the secret passage to "church success." He leaves these multi-million-dollar facilities with eyes big as saucers, telling himself that he, too, if he tries hard enough, can take his church of 90 or 200 and make it a 2,000-attendee destination point.

And what if he doesn't have the assertive, sole-visionary style? He'll learn it. He'll even fake it. He'll become someone else, invalidate and dismiss his own gifts, his own unique, God-given leadership style and strengths and passions, all in order to emulate the large church pastor he's admired from afar."


Read the entire article.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tim Ferris on Spritual Death

"I have quit three jobs and been fired from all the rest. Getting fired, despite sometimes coming as a surprise and leaving you scrambling to recover, is often a Godsend: Someone else makes the decision for you, and it's impossible to sit in the wrong job for the rest of your life. Most people aren't lucky enough to get fired, and they die a slow spiritual death over 30-40 years."

- Tim Ferris, The Four-Hour Work-Week

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Craig Groeschel on Accountability

"I have an intricate system of checks and balances. A while ago, my mentor and accountability partner had an affair, and he stepped down from ministry. A few years later when I started LifeChurch.tv, he asked to come and work for me, and I had him sit on the bench for a year. Well, he ended up stealing money from the offering as an usher. I confronted him on it, and he killed himself. It rattled my world. I saw what sin could do.


Today, my life is set up so it would be very hard to fail—not because I plan on failing, but because I plan on not failing. My Internet access is monitored. I have no access to the finances here. My salary is set by lay people. I haven’t been alone with a woman besides my wife in I don’t know how long. I never travel anywhere alone. Every moment of my day is kept accountable by someone." -
Craig Groeschel, pastor of Lifechurch.tv

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Empire Strikes Barack

I'm not into politics, but if videos like this were the norm, maybe I would be.


Thursday, May 8, 2008

My Mom: a mother's day post


I'd say that my mom is a role model for me, but that wouldn't be terribly accurate. I find that I don't need to "model" myself after my mother at all, we're too much alike for me to even bother.


What aspects of my personality come from my mother, you may ask?


  • Quiet introspection.

  • Flippancy. No stress. Everything rolls off our backs like water on a duck.

  • A mellow, content attitude for just about everything.

  • A willingness to talk openly about just about anything (even sex - that one really bugs my wife.)

  • Slow, cautious, defensive driving.

  • Frugality.

  • The ability to utilize/eat 100% of the leftovers in the refrigerator (or freezer).

  • A healthy appreciation for The Andy Griffith Show, Yentl, and a slew of "black and white" television shows and movies.

  • The "shock" of gray hair that's presently coming in at the front of my head (my mom had one in the same spot.)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Evolution of Radio

Terrestrial Radio - When you've got no other choice, you've got no other choice. Hey, at least terrestrial radio is free. But it's value, thanks to companies like Clear Channel, has definitely fallen over the years. Clear Channel answers to the almighty dollar and radio programming has suffered because of it. I'm reminded of this most often by bands like the Foo Fighters, Daughtry, and Nickelback - bands that I would probably dig if the radio didn't drive them right down into the ground by overplaying them.

Satellite Radio - You've got two choices: Sirius and XM. Of course, they're about to merge and you'll be left with no choice (the almighty dollar strikes again). Also, you've got more than a hundred stations available, but someone is still programming those stations. I get really annoyed by the channel names in Satellite Radio - like Squizz, Fred, Ethel, and Boneyard. Would it kill them to give the channels names that are actually descriptive rather than cute and meaningless. HAVE I MENTIONED THAT YOU'LL HAVE TO PAY NOT ONLY FOR THE SATELLITE RADIOS THEMSELVES BUT A MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTION AS WELL? I'm sorry if I don't get too excited about paying to listen to Fred and Ethel.

The iPod Solution - You can plug your MP3 player into just about any radio these days - in your car and in your home. You can make an endless variety of playlists only hampered by the size of your music catalog. I, myself, have a pretty big music catalog and I've spent time putting together some decent playlists. But it still doesn't quite replace the experience of radio programming. There are no surprises when you're listening to your own catalog. Not to mention that you'll drop a dime on the music as well as the music player.

Enter Pandora - I've built about a dozen stations on Pandora - with names like 80's Rock, Metal, 80's Pop, and Blues. Pandora takes my input and expands upon it with music that is either unfamiliar to me or just music that I would have never thought of adding (this is its great advantage over the iPod). If I don't like a song, I can simply skip it and go to the next song (this is its great advantage over satellite radio). Pandora continually "tweaks" the station based on my input. If the mood strikes me, I can actually combine stations for a mega mix station (like 80's Pop/80's Rock/Old Skool Hip Hop). Have I mentioned that Pandora is FREE?

Here is the only drawback I've found with Pandora - I have not yet figured out how to get it in the car. Some entrepreneurial computer genius out there needs to figure this one out. Pandora streams to AT&T and Sprint phones, unfortunately, I don't have either. Sooner or later, they're going to have to figure out how to stream it to a car. When they do, I'll be first in line.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Iron Man is the shiznittlesnipsambam!!!

I've never read an Iron Man comic book. I know nothing about Iron Man. I'm not a fanboy. I went to see Iron Man last night, opening night, with little expectations. I liked what Jon Favreau did with Elf, so I was interested in how he might handle this movie.

IRON MAN WAS AWESOME. From start to finish.

I think it was about two hours long. Jon Favreau knocked it right out of the ballpark. It was gritty and real and yet, still managed a PG-13 rating.

Robert Downey Jr. was perfect for the role, can't say that I've ever really "liked" him in a movie before.

The soundtrack was straight heavy metal from beginning to end (by now, you all know about my penchant for metal).

Seriously, this was the best blockbuster movie that I've seen in a long time, probably since the LOTR trilogy.




BTW, stick around past the credits for the last scene with Samuel Jackson....

Friday, May 2, 2008

Deal Alert: Scruby's BBQ


Places that claim to have the best ribs and places that claim to have the best wings abound everywhere. For baby back ribs, we've got two favorites - Damon's (which is 15 miles away) and Scruby's (much closer). For the past couple years we've been dropping $32 every few months on a couple full racks of ribs at Scrubys.


Last Sunday, I noticed a coupon in the back of the Local Section of the Sun Sentinel (the coupon is actually there every week: $9.99 for a full rack of baby back ribs, plus choice of potato, plus coleslaw, plus the best BBQ baked beans ever, plus two big onion rings, plus one piece of garlic toast. Smokes! That is a killer deal. All that grub for 20 bucks? We'll be hitting that place more than once every few months from now on.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Dip - Knowing When to Quit


I saw this book on a couple of reading lists, and the sub-title grabbed me, "A little book that teaches you when to quit." Honestly, I didn't expect the book to be so short and small. It took me about 20 minutes to read it, and I think it took Seth Godin about 30 minutes to write it. If I were you, I wouldn't bother. If you want to read a small, short book, try "Everything I ever needed to know, I learned in Kindergarten" or something of that nature.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Reading through the entire Bible

I've been a Christ-follower since March 29, 1999. I read a lot. And I also spend quite a bit of time studying and reading the Bible. But admittedly, until this year, there were parts of the Bible that I had never read. So last July, I set out to read the entire Bible cover to cover.

You may remember that my father died last June. I took the opportunity to bring back a bunch of his study materials, including an unused Notemaker's Bible (NLT). Last July, I decided to use that Bible to read through the entire thing. The NLT makes for an easy read, and the Notemaker's Bible has plenty of room for writing.

I didn't actually start in Genesis and read through to the end, nor did I use an suggested one-year Bible reading plan. I sort of had my own system for the read-through.

  1. I started reading at Exodus 19 and worked my way through Deuteronomy.

  2. Then I picked up in Luke and read through Revelation, skipping John.

  3. I simultaneously read through the Poetry books while reading the rest of the Bible, because, for me, the Poetry books are the least interesting. Though I do now have greater appreciation for them and there were definitely a few Psalms that really stood out to me.

  4. Having completed most of the New Testament, I went back and read Joshua through Esther.

  5. I then went back and read Matthew and Mark.

  6. Then I read Isaiah through Lamentations.

  7. Then I read John.

  8. I read Hosea through Malachi, quickly realizing that I had never read some of these books.

  9. I saved Ezekiel and Daniel for almost last because of their oft-maligned End-Times content.

  10. Lastly, I finished with Genesis and the first half of Exodus

You may not see it, but there was a method to my madness.

  • I read through the Book of the Law first because I felt that it was the foundation needed to comprehend everything after it. I skipped Genesis and Exodus 1-18 because I felt that I was too familiar with the narrative and I needed to start in more unfamiliar ground.

  • I started in Luke because it is my favorite gospel and it flows right into Acts and the Epistles. (When asked, I always suggest that people start in Luke. It is an easier read than John. Do you really expect a new or non-believer to understand the first paragraph of John?)

  • Reading the History Books is easy and even easier if you've got a timeline handy (its even better if you are able to place the Prophets within that timeline as well.) The History Books have some awesome stories worthy of being made into Rated-R movies that could compete with the likes of Pulp Fiction and The Departed. Seriously folks, there are some intriguing stories in there.

  • Isaiah through Lamentations was good reading, but not easy. I love it when I see Jesus in the Old Testament, though, I get really excited about it.

  • I had actually forgotten that I had skipped John, so it was a breath of fresh air when I realized it. (It was easy to see what I had covered based on the scribbling along the margins and the notes at the bottom of the pages.)

  • Hosea through Malachi was awesome - I know a lot of people who need to read these books. I think that they really speak to our generation. Its all about empty worship - a generation of people that "go through the motions."

  • Ezekiel and Daniel weren't as bad as I'd thought they'd be. Talk about a contrast though, Daniel is continually blessed in an earthly sense, and Ezekiel just gets crapped on over and over again. Literally, at one point God has Ezekiel cooking his food with poop. And that's before he kills his wife as a sermon illustration.

  • I believe that it was fitting to end my reading with the Beginning - Genesis. Genesis is well-trod, easy reading. I didn't want to just read the "easy stuff" first, so I saved Genesis for last.

Where do I go from here? Glad you asked. There were plenty of question marks scribbled throughout the margins; places that I struggled to understand, but I didn't want to get bogged down by beating my head against a wall. Maybe now, I will go back and delve deeper into those question marks. If you are one of my mentors or peers, expect some emails to come your way.

Obviously, one never stops reading and meditating on the Bible, but having been a Christian for almost a decade, it was starting to weigh on me that I had never systematically read through the entire Book. It took me about ten months to read through about 1500 pages. That's about 5 pages a day. Not too bad.

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