Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Randomness

Three Whys:

Why is it that people pump themselves full of expensive supplements, versus actually occasionally eating fish and frequently eating vegetables?

Why does ABC run ads for their new aliens taking over the world drama during Charlie Brown specials?

Why is a** now an acceptable word to say on TV at any time of the day on any program, except the Charlie Brown special above?

Thoughts:

I am not a Wally World fan. Not for any reason besides being time consuming and having lousy service, but boy those clearance deals. The lawn and garden seasonal clearance is crazy cheap. I got Off Insect Repellent for .25. Random, but I was excited.

If Kelli and I ever build a personal home, we need accountability partners to make sure that we don't do stupid stuff. A co-worker and I were swapping stories and laughing hysterically about people who general their own houses. By the way, I'm not talking about anyone I know personally. They've all built cool houses people would actually want to buy.

Questions About Current Health Care Proposals

I'm just a guy sitting in the cheap seats, but I have some questions.

What federal programs are you satisfied with? Which ones deliver what they promise, and do it at or under budget?

When you have interactions with government employees, do you believe they have your best interest at heart, or do they deliver excellent service based on your ability to go elsewhere for the good or service you are coming to them for?

Do you believe that your survival on this planet is worth a financial investment? In other words, are you willing to fork over your own money to make sure that your life is preserved?

Exactly how is it that mandating that health insurance companies do things that they don't want to do because it negatively effects their bottom line bring down health care costs? If they have to cover people who have been irresponsible about their own health care, how will health care costs come down?

What is the name of the insurance company that owns their own Federal Reserve and can print its own money? What's the name of the insurance company that can require payment with automatic withdrawal with the power to fine or imprison behind that payment collection?

Who knows more about health care? You? A doctor? An insurance executive? A congressman?

Based on experience, the gov't definitely can be trusted with our health care.


Watch CBS News Videos Online

Friday, October 16, 2009

Brandstad vs. Culver. The facts on their differences.




There are stark differences between current Gov. Culver, and former Gov. Brandstad.

Brandstad has salt and pepper graying hair. Culver has redish/blond hair.

Culver's wife smokes. Brandstad's wife doesn't. Or not that we know of.

Culver has kids at home. Brandstad has grown children.

Culver likes to alienate his Union voter base, while Branstad (via Doug Gross), likes to alienate his Evangelical voter base.

Brandstad is Catholic. Culver is Presbyterian.

Culver hasn't raised taxes to cover a big budget. Brandstad has.

Branstad lives in West Des Moines. Culver lives in Des Moines.

Culver has a -D after his name. Brandstad has a -R after his name.

Culver hasn't expanded gambling in the state. Brandstad oversaw the origin and expansion of gambling in Iowa.

Culver's first name is "Chet." Brandstad's first name is "Terry."

Brandstad was in office when there was a major flood in Des Moines. Culver was in office when there was a major flood in Cedar Rapids.

I'm trying to think of more. Somebody help me out.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Some of my favorite customers

*Inspired by actual people and events* I hope this doesn't come across as complaining. I actually say this because these people are funny. And it would be good if we realized any tendency we have towards this ourselves.

The Engineer:

The engineer comes in and tells you he is considering building his own central vacuum. Yes, he's going to buy the parts on the Internet and the vacuum is going to take up most of one of the stalls in his garage. He rattles off a bunch of technical terms, to make himself feel smart and confirm your ineptness, therefore convincing himself (or more importantly, his wife) that he should build his own central vacuum.

The Snob:

The snob literally does keep their head at an upward slant at all times. They ask brief questions, tell you exactly what they want, and cut you off when you utter more than one short sentence. In between, they pepper in information about "their private secretary" or "at our house in Florida" or "or this stone is from Italy." When you call them, you always go to voice mail (or their private secretary) and they return your calls somewhere between 2 to 5 days later. Usually they are nice people, just superior to you in every way. The ones that aren't nice can literally make you feel like cursing or crying after every interaction.

The Nutty Negotiator:
NN: "Well Wal-Mart has the same TV for $999." Me: "Actually, they don't." NN: "Well, they've got TV's for $999." Me: I thought you were specifically looking for the XBR, and wanted it hung on a mount from your ceiling, with it connected to the satellite receiver and DVD player in the closet, with a remote that works through walls?" NN: "Well, all I know is that Wal-Mart has TV's for $999." Me: "You can buy that TV from Wal-Mart and we can install it the way we discussed." NN: "Why don't you have TV's for $999?" And so on.

The Small Town Builder:
The small town builder calls and asks for a bid on something. They ask you to e-mail it to them. You e-mail it. You call them to make sure they got the e-mail. They then tell you it's been a couple weeks since they got on e-mail. A week later you call again to see if they got the e-mail. They say they have. You don't want to insult them by asking them if they opened the attachment you referred to in the e-mail. Two weeks later, on Friday at 4:30 PM they call and say "Yeah, all that work you bid out for me, I need it done on Monday." You turn in the bid and somehow the guys are able to be out there on Monday. The next day you get a call. Small town builder is upset. "This isn't what we discussed." In the conversation you figure out that they didn't open the attachment that was the bid (they didn't understand "you will find the bid in the attached pdf" written in the text of your e-mail) and therefore everything is all wrong, because they never actually read the bid.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Interesting Little News Story

I found this pretty interesting. I realize we would prefer that people saw abortion from a spiritual perspective, but pragmatism that saves a baby's life is still pretty good. Between stories like this, Abort73, and movies like Juno and Bella, we might be making some real progress on this. As Abort73 explains, the only audience that needs to change their opinion about abortion is women at or before child-bearing age. Of course, that assumes the pro-life movement is actually about saving babies and protecting women, not gaining ground or funds for a certain political party or its politicians.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Outburst at Harkin Townhall

video

This was about as exciting as it got.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Favorite Birthday Free Stuff

These deals are all free. Not buy one, get one. Just free. I've enjoyed all three this year, and now it's time to get back to eating right.

Red Robin Free burger for your birthday. They give you about a week to use the coupon. Dine in only.

Ruby Tuesday Free burger for your birthday. Also about a week to use the coupon. Dine in or carry out.

Cold Stone Creamery Free scoop with stuff in it. Paying full price at this place is just crazy, but free is always good. If you are a 31 year old man, by yourself, and the girl behind the counter asks you if you want them to sing, the correct answers is always "no."

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

On Authenticity

*If you think this is specifically about you, it probably isn't. I have been contemplating these things for years, writing a blog like this for months, and now have finally written it.*

This is a struggle I have had, and my wife has had. Authenticity. Being who you are.

I grew up in a wonderful, Christian family. As a kid, I saw how people respected my parents and the way they people would come into our household and enjoy the love, freedom, structure, and reliability of it. My parents were not legalistic. Rules were few, and I knew the focus was on God, not on my parents. Somehow, though, I really struggled with self-righteousness. Probably because that is the core of our sin problem..."I can do this myself." As some of you know, when I was about 13 I went through some radical changes, and my faith in Jesus Christ become personal, not just something I knew, or believed, but something that was all-encompassing.

So, over the next couple years I believe God led me to actually take what I believed seriously. If the Bible says "(blank)" than "(blank)" is true and my life needs to be brought into conformity with that reality. I quickly become someone who was searching out truth, and then, usually prematurely, wanting to share that truth with others. Most of us have been there. We learn something, and want to share it with everyone, before, perhaps, it has even taken root in our own lives. In high school I was annoying most of the time. Teenage insecurities and an often hap-hazard passion for God blended into a nice little Pharisee, most of the time. Being a vocal "leader" on spiritual things shored up insecurities with my peers. At least I was good for something. I hope and pray that God broke through on some of the things I said and did, and made some of it useful for something, but I'm sure a lot of it was in vain.

The goal was simple. Strive for the righteous requirement, take comfort and security from any "good" stuff I did, and make sure that I didn't get caught sinning. Yes, people like me struggle, but we admit to stuff like "not spending enough time with the Lord" or "not praying enough." Not stuff like lust, bitterness, jealousy, hatred, slander, and covetousness. Was I always like this? No. Did I ever go to others in honesty, and really pour out who I was, and how imperfect I was? Yes. In private. In big dramatic moments. But I had to cover, cover, cover my daily ongoing struggle with the flesh. Be nice. Say all the right things. Think those profanes words and thoughts, just don't say them. Don't act on them.

I don't have it figured out yet. I know this, Christ in me is the only hope of glory. I want to be a person of integrity. Not because my behavior is flawless. But because my beliefs, thoughts, and actions are all consistent with each other. No acts. No shows. We know from Jesus that our outward words and actions flow out of our hearts (Mt 15:18). The essence of being a Pharisee is stifling anything bad from coming out in public, while pointing out the righteous standard to others, and holding them accountable to keep it. All the while, the inside of the cup is filthy. I want Christ to be formed in me. I want His resurrected life to be what people see when they look at me. I want to be conformed to the image of His Son. And when conduct that looks like Jesus comes out of me, I want it to originate with His life, not my desire to produce my own righteousness that I can feel good about.

Something really ironic happened yesterday (4 days ago, now that I am posting this). I was contemplating writing this blog, and specifically about how good little Christians think swear words, but never say them. About 30 seconds later, as I was driving, two teenage girls started crossing E. 14th (for those of you not from here, that's a major 4 lane highway through town). They just started walking, and all of us got to slow down, or stop, so they could walk across the street. I believe the exact words I said were "frickin idiots!" Oh yes, the Christianized f word and "idiot," a word that Jesus said is bad enough to condemn me to eternal, unquenchable, hell fire (Mt. 5:22). I don't think I would have said that if anyone else was in the car. Maybe my wife, but then it would have been under my breath.

The point is this. I want my behavior to mirror my heart. Authenticity. If something good comes out, it is by the grace of God. If something bad comes out, it is evidence that there's a raging sinful flesh still inside of me. God still has work to do on me, and I don't want to act like He doesn't. Do I just let whatever fly that comes to mind? Of course not. There's something to be said for being wise, not to mention polite. But there's a big difference between being polite and being a Pharisee. Yes, I still have self-righteous tendencies, so even writing this is dangerous because there's some accountability that comes with it. Just thought I would share something that's been on my mind for a long time now.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

It's sad when something that should be self evident is controversial

A recent dialog I had has me thinking about fatherless children. It's amazing how culturally we believe that it is fine for children to be raised without fathers, but not okay for children to be raised without mothers. Of course, mothers are soon also going to be unnecessary, too.

This is my source, and these stats are kind of old.

[U. S. D.H.H.S. Bureau of the Census]

  • 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes.
  • 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes.

[Center for Disease Control]

  • 80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes.

[Criminal Justice and Behavior, Vol. 14 p. 403-26]

  • 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes.

[National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools]

  • 70% of juveniles in state operated institutions come from fatherless homes

[U.S. Dept. of Justice, Special Report, Sept., 1988]

  • 85% of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless home.

[Fulton County Georgia Jail Populations and Texas Dept. of Corrections, 1992]

  • Nearly 2 of every 5 children in America do not live with their fathers.

[US News and World Report, February 27, 1995, p.39]


What does this mean? Children from fatherless homes are:

  • 4.6 times more likely to commit suicide,

  • 6.6 times to become teenaged mothers (if they are girls, of course),
  • 24.3 times more likely to run away,
  • 15.3 times more likely to have behavioral disorders,
  • 6.3 times more likely to be in a state-operated institutions,
  • 10.8 times more likely to commit rape,
  • 6.6 times more likely to drop out of school,
  • 15.3 times more likely to end up in prison while a teenager.


Friday, July 24, 2009

I'm currently out of the office rant

I am blown away that a sales rep for a vendor does not leave an "out of office" message on his voicemail or e-mail, nor does he check either one. I am not one of these people who expect you to return my call or e-mail within 30 seconds of getting it, but come on. No out of office message!? While I have a six figure bid I'm working on using their products. Then I find out their offices close at 1:30 on Fridays. Either they have a very high opinion of themselves and a long weekend or they have to cut hours and don't want to tell anyone.

Friday, July 17, 2009

How I contact my Congressmen

Leonard Boswell 202-225-3806
Charles Grassley 202-224-3744
Tom Harkin 202-224-3254

The numbers above are for their D.C. offices. I call during business hours. I tell the person that answers the phone that I am a constituent and I want to give my opinion on an issue. They say, "ok" and I say what I think about given legislation. If they aren't being rude, they get my name and address and I receive a written form letter back.

This is how I do it. I'm sure some of you look up the bill numbers and all of that. I figure they know what I'm talking about when I name a very specific piece of legislation ("the health care bill that recently passed out of House committee").

Your cell phone has no long distance charges, it takes about 2 minutes to do, so there's no excuse for not doing it. I always contact them regardless of their position or party.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Christian Business Man


I resist the notion of being a Christian business man. I resist the idea of marketing myself as a Christian business man, or expecting people to trust me based on the fact that I am a Christian. Part of this is just my rebellion against silly Evangelical trends, like "Christian Business Directories" or those don't do business with unbelievers. Some who market themselves as Christian business people are actually some of the most shady people you have ever met.

So I have these wonderful customers right now. They have made it evident they are Christians. They are just great people, in both a business and personal sense it seems. I keep being tempted to drop a line about my faith, as some sort of connection to them. However, as I said above, I just have this aversion to do this. Now, if this is for genuine motives, this is because I want my actions to be so evident of Christ, that people come to this conclusion on their own. Sometimes I've shared about it after we are done doing business. Then they are judging me on the results, and not on a sales ploy to try to building my credibility.

Just thinking out loud.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I can't sell ice to Eskimos *Kind of personal. If you actually know me, you might care*

At times like this I wish I was one of those natural born salespeople. People that could sell ice to Eskimos, not only sell it, but for a high margin, with plenty of commission in it for themselves.

I am a salesperson. I sell stuff. I find out what my client is after, I bid/design/draw/specify it, and see if I can get them their desired solution for a price they are willing to pay. I only put food on the table when I sell stuff. I have a little product management position, which brings in a fraction of a poverty level income.

Right now it is really hard to be a salesperson, period. Add to that the fact that the products I offer I heavily tied to the housing market. Add to that the fact that my largest client, Regency Homes, collapsed last year, under the weight of clueless, reckless, foolish management. The homes that are moving in this market tend to be bare bones, hardly the type of homes that require all the goodies we offer.

My identity is not wrapped up in being a salesperson. It is my job, my career of choice, not who I am.

I do what I do with, God willing, integrity. I don't jack up one person's price and cut an other's based on my perception of their income or likelihood of buying. I try to earn repeat customer's business not because I know the name of their kid's little league team, but because I deliver on what I said I would, on time, for the quoted price, and I take care of any issues by fighting for my clients when they need service after the sale. To whatever degree I do this, I credit God, because anything good I do in this life originates with Him.

So, the problem. Right now, this career of choice, that I've had at A Tech / Easy Living for 8 years doesn't seem to be enough to live on, in the manner my wife and I have chosen to live. We don't live extravagantly, but we don't have to have two cars, go on an annual vacation, or own two computers. Kelli does work catering some, and recently became a representative for Premier Designs. I'm really not sure what to do.

The easy answer is, "sell more." But since I can't sell ice to Eskimos, it can be difficult for me. I need people who are interested in buying. Unlike some salespeople, I can't use the force of my personality to talk an uninterested person in to buying something from me, nor would I want to, because I don't think I could sleep at night.

I know their are habits I could change. Small things I could do. Our management is pretty loose. They only babysit you when you prove you can't go it alone. No one is looking over my shoulder making sure I do the little things that might help me be a better salesperson.

I guess I'm just sharing what's going on. Nothing really profound, just sharing.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Normal Names with Unique Spellings

Parents, before you decide to make your child's name unique by giving a common name a unique spelling, please be aware that your child's educators and business ties may spell their name wrong indefinitely. There's nothing like finding out that I spelled a common first name wrong all along because I mistakenly thought I knew how to spell it. And yes, I know to ask about Ann(e), K(c)athy, Jo(h)n, and Bri(y)an. I also generally don't like names with like 18 different spellings, like Alycia. It's like if I spelled my name Tod. I'd either need to spell it for everyone or just accept that everyone spelled it Todd.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Free Lunch

So, there is a little secret a lot of us don't realize.

The city of Des Moines offers free lunch in several of the major city parks on weekdays. The program is there to feed needy kids.

My wife has gotten a free lunch for Elena on a couple of occasions. Sounds fine. Nice. Free lunch. They are strict about the food distribution, and make you dispose of any uneaten food. No one can take anything home...it's better to throw in the trash than to let you take it home.

So, I gave it a little thought, and then threw this out to her. Government programs are funded and perpetuated to whatever degree they are utilized. If they give out 100 free lunches at Union Park, then that means 100 needy kids needed lunch. Right? The only problem is, how many of these kids need a lunch? It's convenient. And it's free. But is it needed? Does Mom not have any food at home, or no ability to pack a lunch? In my neighborhood, at Union Park, it looks like there are people this needy. But what about the kids whose parents could pack a lunch, and just don't do it?

I know most of you reading this blog are conservatives. Do you take the lunch? Do you realize you're really being just a tad bit hypocritical by accepting a government hand out that isn't even needed. And for the handful of liberals who look at this...doesn't it seem wrong that kids in need and kids who have plenty are both getting free lunches. One out of poverty, the other out of convenience?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Non-crazy environmental rant



Usually I would not rant about environmental stuff, but this really bugs me.




#1

What's with the people in my office who print all their e-mails? Every single e-mail they receive! I could reply to an e-mail with "yes" or "no" and they would print the e-mail. You're spending our company's money on paper, toner, and you're throwing the paper in the trash can when you're done with it. They are doing their part to contribute to ridiculous fact that our paper consumption has increased since the advent of the computer.

#2

I don't need a bag for the single, tiny item I purchased at your store. For instance, I buy a little Wyler's drink mix pack from Walgreens. You know, the little packets you can put in a 20 oz. bottle of water and shake up? If I don't tell them I don't want one, they put it in a plastic sack 100 times the size of the product. The same thing is true of nearly every retail store.

Please ask me if I want a sack.

When I sell stuff from our retail store, and it's a single small item, I usally ask if people want a sack. I sometimes get a shocked, condescending look. As if to say "What!? Of course I want a sack for this tiny item I purchased which I can easily carry in one hand, along with the receipt, to my car."

I am now trying to tell cashiers not to give me a sack for small purchases. We do recycle these plastic sacks as trash bags in our home, but we have a crazy over abundance of them. Once in awhile I remember to bring a bag full of them back to one of those recycle boxes inside the grocery store.

I could probably think of more rants, but feel free to add your own.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Is it a sin to laugh at other Christians?

I'm not sure if it's the picture or the job title. It must be the combination of the two.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Trip to Minneapolis (Saturday)

Well, one of Kelli's friends got married today, so we ran up to Minneapolis with two little girls. It sounded like a fun reason to get away and enjoy some family time. My line of work hasn't exactly been flourishing in this economy, so we had to do it on the cheap.

Step 1. Book a Marriott with one of our free nights. Yeap, sign up for a Marriott credit card (or many other major hotel chains) and get anywhere from 1 to 3 nights free. Watch out, some of them have annual fees, so we'll be closing our Marriott account here shortly.

Step 2. Pack everything but the kitchen sink. Pack and Play, water toys, food, pop, milk, juice boxes, snacks, beyond the normal overnight stuff that we all need. For those of you who don't have kids yet, you have no clue how much stuff you'll need. Take your normal amount of luggage and triple it (for the first kid).

Step 3. Leave town (on time!)

Step 4. Make the big out-to-eat treat for the weekend the McDonald's dollar menu at a McDonald's with a playland. To quote Elena, "Is this a kid's meal?" "Yes, because you're a kid and you're eating it." Kelli and I ate stuff we packed, minus her side salad. $3 at McDonald's has been our only expenditure so far, other than gas.

Step 5. Go to the wedding. Very nice service. The bride walking down the aisle to "All Creatures of Our God and King" sang by a girls' chorus was pretty cool. This makes the second wedding in as many weeks that I have mistakenly not worn a suit coat to. How do you know what the dress code is at a wedding? Just when you think that no one except the guys in the wedding party, dad, and the pastor wear a suit coat to a wedding, you're shown up two straight weddings. Of course, if I would have fully understood which church this was, and that Central Baptist Seminary was a part of it, that would have clued me in to the necessary suit coat. Being at the church brought back visions of FBBC, mostly good, but some not so good. I still wonder how sinners and tax collectors can be ushered into churches where everyone else is nearly perfect in every way.

Step 6. Go back the hotel and play in the pool for a good hour and a half. Oh yes, go back to the hotel after getting totally lost. In what city do they name a street the same name on both sides of an interstate? In west Minneapolis they do.

Step 7. Do an improvised dinner in a hotel room with the food we packed. Feeding a hyper 18 month old in a hotel room with no kitchen table or high chair is a mess waiting to happen.

Step 8. Spend some family time together, put the girls to bed, and let Kelli run out to do some shopping while I sit here and write this and keep an eye on the girls. And yes, the shopping will also be on the cheap.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Inward Witness and Outward Fruit, Part 2

So, what is the inward witness and the outward fruit? In other words, what authenticates conversion? The criteria of the Scripture is much higher than a single profession of faith.

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
(Rom 8:15-17)

There is one obvious allusion to the inward witness in this passage, and a more subtle reference, also.

Verse 16 says that His Spirit bears witness with our spirit. There must be an inner witness of the Holy Spirit saying to our inner man, "you are a child of God." This is a mystical thing. It is something spiritual, that happens between God's Spirit and our spirit. This is the most crystal clear verse on the inward witness. Anyone who is saved, has this witness.

In verses 15 & 17 we see family kinship with God as a form of inward witness. There is a closeness to God that relates to him as "daddy," versus Supreme Ruler/Creator of the Universe. Verse 16 says we are God's children. Verse 17 says we are fellow heirs with Christ, as if we were His brothers. So, another part of the inward witness is kinship with God.

Other forms of the inward witness I believe are:

  1. An ongoing, Romans 7 style struggle with sin (Rom. 7:7-25).
  2. Progressive (perhaps) slow inward growth (Phil. 1:6).
  3. And others that I won't go into here, like communion with God.
So what about outward fruit? The Scripture is plain. Someone who is getting their supply from the Vine, will bear fruit. Are there death bed conversions? Sure. We know this from the thief on the cross. But you aren't on your death bed, nor are most of the people you know, so the only exception to a fruit-bearing life is a deathbed conversion.

Here are just a few of the many verses that talk about outward fruit:

You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Mat 7:16-21)

As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty." (Mat 13:23)

"The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. "Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do what I tell you? (Luk 6:43-46)

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (Joh 15:5)
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? (Rom 6:1-2)

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Php 2:12-13)

So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (Jas 2:17)

For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. (Jas 2:26)

If someone professes belief in Christ, and has the inward witness and the outward fruit, the only conclusion that can be made is that he or she is indeed a Christian, saved from their sins and on their way to heaven.

Now the problem that particularly the outward witness presents is this: Innumerable people have made a profession of faith, as discussed in previous blogs, but are not and do not bear fruit in keeping with repentance. What's our attitude towards them? Evangelism. What damage is there in repeating the gospel to someone who has already heard it? Either they will repent of their carnal living and continue to grow (if they were saved), they will reject Christ either actively or passively by continuing to suppress the truth in unrighteousness, or they will be converted.

This inward witness and outward fruit applies to all, but we should go back and think about our children. If and when they make a profession of faith, we should rejoice assuming that they have been born again. But we do not stop teaching the gospel, nor do we present a model of "eternal security" that turns into licence. Then we look for them to have inward confidence that they are a child of God, and display outward fruit confirming God is their Vine. We must look for all three: Profession of belief, inward confidence, and outward fruit.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I will be posting soon...

I will be doing more posts soon. I have been busy at work and home and I am trying not to post these blogs about salvation in a hurry.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Inward Witness and Outward Fruit Part 1

First, let me make it clear that most people's conversions are clear cut, defined experiences that they can point to and say, "that's when God saved me." This sort of conversion was the norm in the book of Acts. People preached, people heard, believed, and were baptized. What I am meaning to warn against is:

#1 Neatly packaged sinner's prayers that guarantee entrance into heaven, regardless of internal witness or outward fruit.

#2 Those who would question the conversion of someone who has both the inward witness and outward fruit of regeneration, without having a concrete date and event to point to.

Neatly packaged sinners prayers has done a great deal of damage to the church. These little rituals of salvation, as far as I can tell, only came into existence in the 20th century. It was a great way to hit all the bases of what a conversion to Christianity was all about, and do it in a very tangible way that people could latch onto in masses. To this day I believe that part of the reasons these are used is merely for the evangelist, personal or mass, to put notches on his or her belt. I remember visiting a Baptist church and seeing a bulletin board with children's names of those who made decisions for Christ during VBS. Great. But do these kids have the inward witness and outward fruit of salvation? Or did we simply lead them in a prayer and walk away, feeling great about ourselves and the numbers we reached?

Please, do not misunderstand. A sinner's prayer is an accurate way of walking people through the gospel and what they must believe about themselves and about Christ. But, taking people, especially children, through a "repeat these words after me" prayer, and then turning to them and saying they are a "new creation" and from that point on saying that they will go to heaven when they die, while they may not experience the inward witness nor manifest the outward works of salvation, is a terrible disservice to them. I have used sinner's prayers before, and may again in the future. The problem isn't the prayer itself. The problem is the assumptions we make about the prayer and the person praying it.

The other problem I mention above is evangelists who question the authenticity of Christians who have believed "ever since they can remember." As is the case of two young people that have come through our youth group, and must be the case for others. They have the inner witness, and the outward fruit, but can't point to a single event of the new birth. I have heard preachers say "if you aren't sure, pray this prayer after me." Why? Is there something magical about it? Is it a condition for salvation? As posted in the last blog, our faith/trust/belief/confidence in Christ is what saves us.

So, I haven't really put Scripture in this blog, so upcoming, I plan to post:

The Inward Witness and Outward Fruit Part 2 (What are they according to the Bible?)

The Godward and Manward sides of redemption.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

"Does Jesus Live Inside Everyone's Heart?"

Elena asked us a little over a week ago. Just out of the blue, at the dinner table. We carefully answered her, explaining that He doesn't but that He does for those who believe in him.

When I was a kid, the Evangelical church had been taken over by the invitation, walk the aisle, "repeat these words after me," mode of evangelism. Terms like "accept Jesus into your heart" were the norm.

As I have grown as a Christian, and wrestled with my first profession of faith at 4, after being led in a tract and a sinner's with my Mom versus my later profession of faith, when I was 13 after my world had been rocked by suicidal thoughts and actions and gross rebellion, I've realized saving faith is more complex, and more simple than a sinner's prayer.

Was I saved at 4 at 13? We may never know. Of course, if we are living in a world of "spiritual birthdays" this is a most disturbing thought. What if I wasn't saved either time!? What if I didn't say something right!? Or do it right!?

Or course, that begs the questions, what does an expression of saving faith look like?

Paul and Silas knew what it looked like when the spoke to the jailer:

Then he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.
(Act 16:30-32)

Paul in Romans:

For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
(Rom 10:13)

Or just Jesus, in the most famous of them all:

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
(Joh 3:16)

The central issue is our belief, our trust. It's not about repeating certain words, or making sure that "repentance" or "submission to Christ's Lordship" or "accepting Jesus into your heart" (more to be said about this term in an upcoming blog) are part of some equation. Did the thief on the cross hit all the high points of a sinner's prayer on his way to paradise?

So instead of writing a massive blog tonight, which no one would probably read to completion, I'll start with this and post more thoughts in what will hopefully be an upcoming series of blogs on children and salvation.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Stupid things I've seen people do to leave themselves vulnernable

#1 Put their kids, young or old, in lower level bedrooms with giant egress windows with those convenient landscape timbers making stairs (window wells) going down to the bedroom window.

#2 They have a garage keypad for their garage door, and the code is their numeric address. Or it's 1-2-3-4

#3 Leaving the door going from their attached garage to their home unlocked. All the time. I mean, they never lock it. Ever. Uhm, ever heard of thieves driving through neighborhoods pushing a button on an universal garage remote and waiting for a door to go up? It happens.

#4 Leaving the front door unlocked and unattended. Guy is on the riding lawn mower in the back. House is unlocked. Crook walks in, grabs tens of thousands of dollars of jewelry, and walks away.

#5 A combination of #2 & #3.

#6 Having a security system and never turning it on because they feel that is somehow reflects badly on what they tell themselves about their neighborhood, their ability to protect their family, or because they own a gun.

#7 Trusting a deadbolt on one door to keep an intruder out. Oh, I'm so impressed that you got the Titan 1000 Mega Tough HD Dead Bolt for your front door. What about the other doors? Or that giant window as tall as a grown man that is 6" off the ground that's concealed from view behind your home?

#8 Believing gun ownership secures their home and family. "Excuse me crazed rapist burglar guy while I go down to my gun safe, put in the combination, find the right hand gun from my collection, disable the trigger lock, and shoot you with it." Oh yeah, that's right, I forgot that you'd let him commit the crime an then track him down bounty hunter style and kill him. Right.... Yeah, that's really goin happen.

I guess there's a little sarcism in this blog. Just a little.

Some thoughts about the crimes in our community

So this is what have the phones ringing off the hook at work. Tons of people want security systems or want to activate the ones they have.

It makes you wonder all kinds of things.

What would you do as a husband or father?

What about the husband who was there at time and the perpetrator only told him them he had a knife?

I talked to a lot of scared people today. A lot of scared parents.

What would you do? How far would you go to protect your family?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Plagiarism

I'm getting tired of plagiarism in all it's forms. Including:

  • Quotes in your facebook status that aren't cited. I never know if someone had an intellectual epiphany or if they are just ripping someone else off.
  • Sermons or lessons that are 90% inspired by a book or a sermon from someone else but the source is never cited.
  • People who quote radio talk show hosts and pass it off as if it was original. Just a hint, if there's like 40 million people listening to the same show you are, someone is bound to catch you.

I know there's tons of other instances of this. What can you all think of?

There's even an entire website devoted to this.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Why healthcare needs an infusion of capitalism

Why is it that we pay a ton for health care, both to our insurance companies and directly to the provider but don't treat it like it's a business?

We recently learned that my wife might have a blood disorder called Factor 5. We wanted to get her tested. When she went in, the doctor said they'd just do a "full panel." Never did it occur to us to ask how much this would cost, or even what it meant. Because we were acting like patients, and not like customers.

So, she does not have factor 5. We received a bill for $1200 for the lab work. They didn't have our current insurance info, so we got the bill and now our fingers are crossed as to if they will pay it at all, since we just chose to have it done.

Later we got a call. They "spun" Kelli's blood and then realized they could not then use it for one of the tests. So she had to go back in for another blood draw. Now, in business, usually if someone is offering you services and they completely botch the job, they offer to do the services free or compensate you to make up for the mistake in some way.

We got another bill. Now our total is $1400+. Because, of course, we got billed for the second round of testing. Must be nice to work at a job where you can screw something up and then still bill full price.

We're waiting on insurance and need to make some phone calls. This is just stupid. And to think that some people think that it would be better off with more government control. Take these problems x10 and you'd have socialized medicine. And you, all of my friends and neighbors, would be getting the bill for their mistake.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Isolation & Friendship

Isolation kills. Being alone, and feeling like there is no one that can help you is deadly. Women are good and not being isolated. Men are lousy at it. Especially once they get married. Thankfully, most of us marry our best friend, and our lover. The comfort and companionship that a man can find with his wife is unrivaled.

However, men needs friends. What happens when a guy needs to talk about his marriage? He probably does nothing. What happens when his wife is not suitable for the conversation, or to accomplish a task that she would not know how to do? Again, he probably does nothing, or calls his dad or his brother. We need friends. Just normal friends, like we had as kids and teenagers. Guys to hang out with, guys to talk to, and someone you can go to with anything, even if you never have, at least you know that person could handle it.

The often quoted, seldom practiced, standard verse on friendship:
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!
(Ecc 4:9-10)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fax or deliver petitions to your county recorder.

Get a county recorder petition here

Check out a Senator who is actually standing up for separation of powers and the legislator's exclusive right to make law here.

County recorder is an elected office.

I am not a legal scholar, but I know that the only body that makes law in Iowa is the legislator and I know that the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction to enforce rulings. If you are unsure about that, ask yourself if they have they have the authority to arrest people, or dispatch the National Guard, or dispatch State Troopers. The Supreme Court makes the ruling, and then it is up to the legislator to make law that is Constitutional.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Crazy Louis


I saw crazy Louis today. One of my customers from 4 or 5 years ago. He's an old man who is literally dying of cancer. He bought a surveillance system from us. When he's not angry, he's actually really sweet, in a crazy way. I am not saying crazy lightly. He was showing me a picture of a waterfall and explaining how the Virgin Mary, Jesus, Mary Magdeline, and the dog Jesus gave to Mary Magdaline were in the picture. And he was showing me the demon that was watching us from across the street. And when I was reviewing the recording on his DVR, he pointed out Jesus sitting on his front step. He also was offering to give recipes to my wife, he gave me a hug, and he blessed me with the sign of the cross as I left. He was in tears.

Monday, April 20, 2009

How does paying your bills reflect on Christ?

Two Christian Home Builders...

Builder one is open and vocal about his faith. He goes to a Bible believing, gospel preaching church. He has built a home entirely for charity, for missions work. His wife is involved with a missions organization. As I am saying, they are extremely active in the Christian community and let you know about it.

Builder two is quiet about his faith. I only happened to learn about it, when he said, "well, actually that house is for my pastor..." I don't know much about builder two. He is honest, has never used profanity when working with me (of the many builders I work with who claim to be Christians, he is only one of two who does not swear), and he is on top of things.

The only thing is, builder one is slow to pay his bills. Very slow. Borderline delinquent on a regular basis.

Builder two pays his bills on time. Always.

Builder two has always had more credibility and a better testimony to me. And the number one factor in that is that he pays his bills.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Just being myself, I guess


So, I've thought about blogging for a long time. Perhaps blogging on social issues, or politics, or the church, or family life. Then I figured out that I don't have the energy, or intellect to keep a blog sustained with one profound topic for very long. So, I'm just going to do what many of you do, and post my thoughts and opinions, mostly as they come to me. By the grace of God, hopefully some of it will be profound, but most of it will probably be random.

And I may clutter it up with random pictures, hopefully most of which I have taken myself.