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Category: 10 things

09/24/07 11:16 - 63ºF - ID#41301

10 things I like about being home alone

1. I can sprawl out over the whole bed.

2. I can eat what I want, when I want.

3. I don't have to share the computer, or the tv, or anything else.

4. I can drive the car that I like.

5. I can walk around in whatever state of undress I would like.

6. I can work late (I know this is weird, but I like my job).

7. I can sleep in (especially if I work late).

8. As long as it gets cleaned up by Wednesday, I kept the house clean the whole time.

(these last two are the sappy ones--just a warning)

9. Nice phone calls from my wife every night.

10. Saying good-bye and welcome home.
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Category: sermons

09/24/07 08:47 - 54ºF - ID#41283

You're fired. Now get to work

This sermon is from Luke 16. You've really got to read the story before you read the sermon, as it is quite unusual. First the reading, then my sermon below that.

1 Then Jesus said to the disciples, "There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. 2 So he summoned him and said to him, "What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.' 3 Then the manager said to himself, "What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. 4 I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.' 5 So, summoning his master's debtors one by one, he asked the first, "How much do you owe my master?' 6 He answered, "A hundred jugs of olive oil.' He said to him, "Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.' 7 Then he asked another, "And how much do you owe?' He replied, "A hundred containers of wheat.' He said to him, "Take your bill and make it eighty.' 8 And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. 9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes. 10 "Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? 13 No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth."



"You're fired. Now get to work."


How many of you remember the Apprentice?

One of the big hit television shows recently is "the Apprentice." On this show, Donald Trump, mega-billionaire, has a number of different people working for him, on a trial basis, completing different tasks for him. Those that do a good job stay in contention to become "the apprentice," but after every task, one person is brought into Trump's board room, where he or she hears Trumps catch phrase, "you're fired." After they get fired, they're done, off the show, and gone.

Now imagine something different:


Now, imagine if the show had a little twist. Suppose one of Trump's contestants had completely abused his or her expense account, got fired, and THEN were sent out on one more task.

Things are different when the contestant has one last chance.


There is one more chance to be seen on tv, one more interaction with Trumps customers, and one more chance to make a deal-only now they know that they are not going to win the game. Because they are freed from that pressure, they have the chance to deal in a whole new way. They can take advantage of Trump's resources, and do something with them that they never would have done when they were trying to win the game.


Now Trump, of course, would be an idiot to do this.

Why would anybody put their money in the hands of somebody that has already demonstrated themselves to be incompetent?


Why would anybody give money to a person that hasn't demonstrated any loyalty?

But isn't that what God does?

In this story, WE are that bad manager that gets fired.


We know that God puts his wealth in the hands of managers (us) that have a bad habit of abusing the expense account, squandering the boss's resources on ourselves.


And, like the manager in the story, we know we have heard Trump's trademarked phrase "you're fired."


Think about it . . . We were given the task of managing God's stuff, but we've been terminated from the position.


We're fired, because we know that our jobs as managers of God's stuff will come to an end. We were given the job in Gen 1:26, when God said, "Let us make humankind in our own image, according to our own likeness; and let them have dominion (MANAGEMENT!) over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth."




We see that God put us in charge as managers, but the fact that we die (which is revealed in the next chapter of Genesis) tells us that we aren't going to keep our position as middle management. It turns out that the old cliché is true. You can't take it with you.

So where does that leave us?

So we have some resources, and we have some authority, but we know that ultimately, we've been fired, and those resources won't be ours forever. So what do we do?

The manager in Jesus's story doesn't think "I'm fired, I might as well go home." He considers a new job, but he know he isn't fit for it. So then he thinks, "what can I do now?"


And this manager rightly figures, "I've got to make some friends!"


Therefore, the manager uses his bosses wealth on other people, making friends for himself.

And surprisingly, the boss commends such an activity.

Now here's the big question. Why would Jesus tell such a story? Why would Jesus tell us to make friends by means of dishonest wealth?

First, let me tell you what this phrase does NOT mean.

I don't think it means that we should lie, cheat, and steal, so that we might make friends. I don't think that this is to justify the church taking money from Casino operators or drug dealers.

In this story, the dishonest wealth was the bosses' wealth. And who is OUR boss?


The fact is that we have already lied, cheated, and stolen, whenever we have pretended that anything belonged to us. Any wealth that WE possess is dishonest wealth, because we are but managers. Everything belongs to God, not to us!


Jesus is telling us that we've already got the dishonest wealth, and we might as well use it!


What for? God, through this story, recommends that we use it to make friends! Friends with who? People outside the company. You know, other people. Our faith is a blessing to us, but it isn't only to bless us. We are blessed so that we may bless other people!


The true test of us as Christians is how we treat those outside the family-non-Christians.


We are to share the best of what we have-and this includes, but isn't limited to, our possessions, our time, and our ideas, to bless those outside of our family.


And, of course, we've done a bad job of this-and that may be why the Church (big C) struggles so, because even though it is in our own best interest bless those that are different then us, to use God's stuff to make friends, we tend to horde our resources!


But it IS in our best interest to let these things go, because, like the like manager in the story, we need some friends! Don't forget that we are still getting fired-and it is hard to get through this world alone! Thank God that he lets us use his stuff to make friends.


But this isn't good for us alone-it is part of God's fantastic plan to further his kingdom.


Why? Because when we, in our self-interest, use God's resources to make friends. we are doing exactly what God would want us to do!

All along, God wanted to put his resources in the hands of God's people. The biggest mistake we can make is using it on ourselves, or taking it out of circulation!

When we think in human terms, our goal is to maximize efficiency, to collect maximum profit, or to sell more widgets. But God's plan is different. He told Abraham that he was going to bless him, so that through him, all people might be blessed.

Here's what I want you to do today. Consider what dishonest wealth you have. Consider the stuff you have, but also the less tangible gifts that you might have.

I got to think about it ahead of time, so while you are reflecting, I'll share 3 things of mine.

Education. I've spent more time and money on my education than I have on anything else. Now I can squander that, and I can use it to puff myself up, or I can use it to make friends, right?

My house. By far the largest possession that I have ever made. Do I use it for welcome? Am I hospitable? Am I contributing to the neighborhood? Again, I can make my house a trophy and a source of pride, or I can use it to make friends.

My family. I realize that this is not a typical kind of gift, but it is something that I in no means earned, and that isn't mine, that I count as a gift from God. I am who I am because of the people that love me. My choice is whether that love stops with me, or extends through me.

God's plan is to bless all people! And to accomplish that, God has already blessed us, these blessing are not ours to horde, but to disperse it! And for hard-headed people like us, it takes the message of "you're fired" to start doing that!


Here is the good news for us today: We were lousy managers of God's resources, and we've been fired. Now we have been promoted to specialists of distribution. Our budget is unlimited, and our goal is to win friends to ourselves and to God, to be exorbitantly generous with somebody else's assets, which we can find conveniently placed in our own wallets, bank accounts, and homes-ingrained into our very lives. And we better get to work, because this position lasts only a short time, and we have a large territory to cover.
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Category: house

09/22/07 06:07 - 75ºF - ID#41255

Stain.

That's what I've done this weekend. Our porch once had the color of pressure treated wood. Now it is a nice chocolately brown and should last longer. I'd post a pic but I don't know where my USB cord is.

Other fun from the weekend included eating Kuni's! (great as always, and last night they had a seafood salad special that was exra-awesome), eating breakfast at Amy's with somebody from my church (I found Amy's to be as good as everyone said it would be), and watching deathproof (an ok, but not great movie).

Janelle is now out buying sake and is going to make dinner, so that's pretty good, too.

Tomorrow starts three days of bachelor life as (e:Janelle) goes away for work. That means I'll have to scoop cat litter. Bummer.
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Category: 10 things

09/21/07 05:37 - 83ºF - ID#41241

Ten things I like about Tina Fey

1. The glasses.

2. The fact that she was the first female head writer at the male dominated SNL.

3. She was an awesome update host.

4. Mean girls.

5. She tells yo mama jokes and delivers other such similar lines as well as any guy.

6. She's the smartest person to come out of SNL ever.

7. She has quite the extensive improv background. Second City and ImprovOlympic.

8. She still does improv, quite well actually, with asscat.

9. She answers questions online at nbc.com/30_rock.

10. 30 Rock is the funniest show on tv. Each episode is packed with jokes, and yet there is still a compelling story that develops over the season (and you can watch online for free!).
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Category: 10 things

09/20/07 10:27 - 66ºF - ID#41212

Ten things I like about Thursdays

1. For me, they are Fridays (I take Friday off.)

2. Thursday night is 30 Rock night. 30 Rock is the funniest, most underrated show on tv, starring the brilliant Tina Fey. (Have I done 10 things I like Tina Fey yet? Maybe that's next.)

3. At work, I try to make Thursday, "encourage the congregation day." I send letters and make phone calls. It feels good to do that, and it goes a long way in terms of building up the community, too.

4. There's a new Artvoice on Thursdays.

5. Often (e:Janelle) and I grab a beer and/or some wings on Thursday night, and I always like spending time with her (not to mention beer and wings!)

6. Janelle has a standing commitment early on Thursday evening, so in addition to quality time WITH her, I get a little bit of time to be alone.

7. Thursday in the square. Is tonight the Dropkick Murphy's? I may have to be there.

8. Thursdays are relatively chore-free. I knock out a lot of work on Friday, so I tend to chill on Thursday.

9. If this Thursday is a representative sample, Thursday is an active estrip day.

10. Thursday is named after Thor, who's hammer got referenced in the comments of (e:Janelle)'s post. Maybe today is the day that we can finally grab his hammer. "What would we do with it anyway?" you ask? Well, "if I had a hammer, I'd hammer in the morning, I'd hammer in evening, all over this land. I'd hammer out freedom. I'd hammer out justice, all over this land."

Why do we need a hammer for justice? Is it for the toes of filibustering senators (see (e:Dcoffee) )? I guess I never got that song. Maybe I will when I get a hammer. Please hammer, don't hurt 'em.
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Category: religion

09/19/07 10:31 - 62ºF - ID#41192

Patrick Henry College



A good exchange regarding right wing students/political activisits at slate.com.
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Category: religion

09/18/07 02:00 - 65ºF - ID#41176

How do deal with scary prostelitzing

Here are a number of helpful tips, if you are the focus of aggressive and/or pushy people who are "sharing" their faith. Not all of these necessarily should be used every time, they are just different tools one may utilize, depending on the situation.

a. If you are in a public place, just keep walking. Like a lion, they are more likely to go after the slowest in the heard.

b. Politely explain that you are happy with your beliefs right now, and are not seeking to change them. This will not work with everybody, but it will satisfy reasonable people.

c. Politely refuse to answer any questions, and then remain silent. Most of the time, the person will be working from a script (consciously or not) that requires a response. Deny that, and he or she is in a rough place.

d. If you are comfortable lying, tell them what they want to hear. Your answer key: If you were to die today, you would go to heaven, not because you are a good person, but because you trust in Jesus Christ. And yes, you already worship at a church (use mine if you would like). (NOTE: This is the conservative Christian answer key. Mormons and Scientologists will need something different). I'm not saying that you should lie, but if you DO lie, this is an easy out.

e. If a person begins a conversation because they see that you are with your same sex partner, I would not recommend any conversation at all--the "conversation" is not likely to move past sexuality.

f. Ask for something in writing, so that you may consider their ideas at the time and place of your choosing. (I stole this one from the "how to deal with telemarketers" file.)

g. remain calm, and stick together with your friends.

h. if you really feel gutsy (and you have time), ask a person to back up their claims from scripture. A surprising number of people will not be able to do this, or will do so while distorting scripture in a way that is easy to see.

Ok, I don't really recommend this one for most people, but it is fun if you know your Bible to actually engage.

i. If you DO engage, ask about the big picture. Some people will ask you to believe/do something so specific in order to attain salvation that most people who have professed to be Christians (even some people in the Bible!), throughout time and history, would not be able to believe/do.

j. Ask questions. This is, I think, a good thing for everybody that engages. The more you can get a person talking off of their script, the more you will see who they really are.

k. Share your own experience (again, this is another "advanced technique"), due so in such a way that will not give the person ammunition, but will cause them to see you as a person, rather than a soul to be converted.

j. Ask to see a miracle. I don't really think this will help, but it might be interesting to try!

l. Tell the person that you are willing to try their belief system if they will try yours, first.

m. pretend not to speak English.


That's enough for now.



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Category: religion

09/17/07 12:28 - 62ºF - ID#41152

Is religion harmful?

Short answer: yes. As seen in the post that inspired this, from last week by (e:paul), it is perfectly clear. Add abortion clinic bombings, terrorism, and the crusades, and it's simple. Religion brings all kinds of problems into this world.

Then, why, pray tell (haha! pun!) would I so involved in religion?

There's a few reasons: In no particular order--

a. (using letters so this is not confused with my "10 things lists") We are, by nature, religious people. By saying this I mean to say that we are all prone to ask questions about meaning for our life, and we are all likely to give ourselves in worship. I believe that even those of us that deny the existence of GOD have other "gods," because we need them. My devotion to u2 and to the Steelers is borderline religious. I know that is pathetic, but I offer it up as an example. Our tendencies to ask "why," to connect with other people, and to give ourselves to something bigger than ourselves are religious tendencies.

b. Religion is still a force for good. Ironically, religious people invented the ideas of religious tolerance and of the separation of church and state. Although we have been on the wrong side of these issues, too, Christians were the driving force behind most of the positive progressive social movements in this country.

c. The best cure for bad religion is not "no religion," but "good religion." This is just my opinion, of course, but I think that the best way to help Christians that behave badly is not to ask them to abandon their devotion (unlikely, to say the least) but to show them a truer picture of the one they are devoted to. I really do believe that the best picture of true justice and true grace is found in Jesus as shown in the Bible. Name calling, threatening encounters such as the one that (e:Paul) had to deal with are, to put it simply, inconsistent with how Christians are called to act. Good religion seeks the best, not for itself exclusively, but especially for its non-adherents.

d. Personal experience. I know that this is different for everybody, but based on what I know and what I've experienced, I believe that God exists, that he existed on earth in the person of Jesus Christ, and that those statements affect everything about the way that I live my life. I COULD try to make sense of those things on my own, but I am better off trying to do so with other people, and that's the seed of religion.

I think my next post will be a guide for non-believers and believers to deal with scary people of faith.
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Category: 10 things

09/13/07 06:12 - 72ºF - ID#41080

10 Things I like about flying

I'm going away this weekend on (you guessed it) an airplane! Hence the latest installment of the series named after the number of fingers I have right now.

1. Taking off. I like the feeling of being pressed back into the seat and the roar of the engines. (e:Janelle) does not like this, but this is my list.

2. Snacks. I would probably like hell itself if they came around with a cart of snacks. For that reason, they probably don't.

3. Newspapers. I don't even buy one (yes, I am that cheap), but there are always some around airports, and I like to grab one and read it.

4. The little puffer machines that sniff you to see if you have explosives. I don't even know if they have these in Buffalo, but they amuse me.

5. Seeing all sorts of people have to take their shoes and belts off. Sure, its inconvienient, but it also gives me a good, democratic feeling that the bigwig buisness travellers go through the same stuff as schlubs like me.

6. Moving sidewalks. When will the rest of the world catch up to airports?

7. Free internet stations. Ok, so I have only seen this in foriegn airports. The US needs to catch up on this one.

8. Airport drinks. Sure they are expensive, but there is no better way to pass the time waiting for a connection than at an airport bar.

9. My favorite Men's room in Minnesota. Just kidding! I've never been to Minnesota!

The real 9. Landing. It's like taking off, but its where you want to be.

10. Going through the gate after landing, and re-joining people with out tickets. I love it when there is a crowd waiting and people holding signs, even if none of them are looking for me.
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09/11/07 09:14 - 65ºF - ID#41056

Sometimes life sucks

Tonight I was driving a kid home from church. He came because his friend invited him--we welcome high school guys on Tuesday nights and we play ball, discuss the Bible together. Its good for our church to have some kids that are a little bit more "street" around.

Anyway, I was driving a kid home, and it was his first time here, so he is kinda checking us out. He asked me for advice about how to deal with a girl he likes (such a ninth grader!), and we talked about that for a while, but then I realized that we are driving through a neighborhood that looks more and more menacing.

"So do you feel safe here?" I asked, tenatively.

"Not really. My best friend got killed here three weeks ago."

The kid's in ninth grade. Not a thug. A sweet, kind, skinny, freshman.

His friend was shot because he hit on a girl, and the girl's brother didn't like it.

No kid his age should have to deal with crap like that.
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Permalink: Sometimes_life_sucks.html
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