Monday, August 31, 2009

Kids say the darndest things . . .

The late Art Linkletter was famous for the phrase, "Kids say the darndest things", a segment of his radio and TV shows in which he interviewed kids and got some really funny responses. Kids are just naturally funny and you only have to listen attentively to hear some hilarious stuff come out of their mouths.

Just recently, I reminded my 29 year old son of a funny thing he said when he was probably about four years old. Hearing the little "toot" sound come from behind him, he turned around to look at his bottom and said, with a puzzled look on his face, "I burped from my bottom!" Burped from my bottom sounds so much more polite than fart.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Golf's Sacred Journey by David L. Cook

In Golf's Sacred Journey, Seven Days at the Links of Utopia, author David L. Cook, a sports psychologist, crafts a story of a frustrated golfer who escapes to the hill country of Texas after a disastrous melt-down during a golf tournament. In the backwoods community of Utopia, TX, he encounters a former golf pro who promises to transform his game if he will commit to spend 7 days with him. Thinking he has nothing left to lose, the golfer takes the challenge and embarks on what proves to be more than a game-changing journey at a run-down course that the locals jokingly call "Goat Ranch Country Club." Change his game he does, but he transforms his life in the process, too. "See it, feel it, trust it" prove to be important words in more than the game of golf.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The dark side of the moon

Julia and I just returned from her father's house in the mountains of western North Carolina, a place we affectionately refer to as "the dark side of the moon." Ed hasn't lived there in about 5 years and only occasionally visits so he's had the land line phone, Internet and satellite service all disconnected. There is no cell service in Sam Cove so when you're there, you're pretty much on "the dark side of the moon" from the standpoint of communication with the outside world. It's 14 miles to the nearest town of any size (pop. 2K) and that's on the other side of the mountain so it's not exactly a quick trip.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Using the "J" word - Part 2

In Using the "J" word - Part 1, I opened up the topic of how Christians are more comfortable speaking of God than speaking of Jesus. Let me say up front that I realize that this is true of me and that's precisely why I sat up and took note when I heard this statement made. It's easy to rationalize this behavior by saying that we want to keep the door open for discussion with those of other faiths and that we want to find common ground. Are not there other faiths that claim to worship the God of Abraham, as do Christians? Don't Christians believe in God, the Father, as well as Jesus, His Son?

If I believe what Jesus said in John 14:6 NLT, that He is the only way to the Father, the only way to Heaven, then it must be true that any faith that teaches otherwise is false. Someone explained it to me like this: Believing there is a God is not enough. Even Satan believes in God. The Christian faith is based on more than the acknowledgment that there is a god or even that there is only one true God. The core truth of our faith begins with the understanding and acceptance of how sin separates man from God, how God made provision for that relationship to be restored, and how Jesus was the sacrifice that made a restored relationship with God possible. OK, I admit that's a very simplified version and it won't satisfy everyone's definition of Christian theology (and maybe not even mine) but you get the idea. This is just a blog not a course in systematic theology. Jesus is the key to our faith so leaving His name out of our discussion of what we believe is probably not a good idea.

How then do you and I become more intentional and comfortable speaking the "J" word?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Using the "J" word - Part 1

A couple of Sundays ago, one of our church staff, Brenda Davis, spoke in the NewSong services at Christ United Methodist Church. To be perfectly honest, I don't recall exactly what her published topic was but I won't soon forget what part of her message made me sit up and take note. Speaking on a stage beside what must have been a 5 foot tall version of a picture similar to the one you see here to the left by Mike Lewis, she talked about how Christians are more comfortable speaking of God than they are speaking of Jesus.

When we use the "J" word (Jesus), we more clearly define who we are and what we believe. The "G" word (God) is so much more generic. I can speak of God with many others who worship any number of other gods and not reveal my true faith. When I use the "J" word however, I step into the spotlight and identify myself with the One who said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me." That, my friend, changes everything. And that is how it should be.

More on this topic in Using the "J" word - Part 2 to be published next week.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

All dressed-up and no place to go

Kinda like Forrest Gump sitting on this bench, an unemployed adult male is an awkward thing to watch. In the spirit of full disclosure, let me say that I'm not a behavioral scientist, just a recently unemployed male who's speaking from a first-hand, front-row position. I'm sure that there are exceptions but men are wired to be hunter-gatherer-providers. When we're not doing that hunter-gatherer-provider thing (a.k.a. we're unemployed), we're just a fish out of water and it's usually not a pretty sight.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Married 70 years!

Today Julia and I have been married 70 years! To be more precise, we've been married 35 years apiece, and that adds up to 70 years. Could that really be true? I don't feel that old but when I look in the mirror, I see that I am. Julia has aged better than I have but I have to admit that I can't attribute all of it to "nature taking it's toll." At least some of mine is a lack of self-discipline as it applies to exercise and diet.

Here's to 70 more years!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Trading for what's behind door #2

One of my sisters has a cross stitch sampler in her house that depicts an assortment of clothes pinned to a clothesline. It reads, "If all of our troubles were hung on the line, you would take yours and I would take mine." (For those of you who don't know what a clothesline is, it's the ancestor of the clothes dryer, a line hung outdoors between 2 points onto which one pins clothes to dry after being washed. Of course, if you don't know what a clothesline is you probably don't know what a cross stitch sampler is, either.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What do you think?

I'd like to know what you think about this blog. Please take a minute to evaluate it by answering 10 easy questions on this survey.

All responses are collected anonymously so feel free to be brutally honest . . . I'm tough, I can take it! Your candid feedback will be a great help in making this blog better!

Click Here to take survey

After I've collected enough responses, I'll report the results to you.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Stick a fork in me

Stick a fork in me . . . I'm done. Monday was my last day at Crossroads. No matter how many "final tasks" I completed, I just always seemed to think of one more thing I could do. I finally just had to call it quits and move on. The inventory and fixtures were successfully liquidated and the building was practically empty. The job was done.

As I drove back across the Bayway (the section of I-10 that crosses the river delta at the top of Mobile Bay) on my way home, I couldn't help but notice how beautiful it was today. The marsh grasses were especially green and I spotted more alligators swimming the open waters than I have ever seen. It was as though God was putting on a show for my last day of commuting.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Almost famous . . .

I had a short article title Sincerely Wrong published on MTLmagazine.com recently that you can view here and I just knew that the paparazzi would be swarming all over me today! If you've read much of this blog, you'll recognize it as an earlier post here. I'm just doing my part to help with the Green Movement by recycling on another platform what I've already written.

Not just anybody can string together 265 words into a coherent thought and maybe not me, either . . . but it was fun trying! I'm grateful to my friends at MTL (more to life) and the Munce Marketing Group for allowing me to contribute to this publication and I hope that they'll allow me the opportunity to continue to write for them on relevant topics.

Check out the magazine and let me know what you think by posting comments here.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Church Germ

In a recent post titled Being A Christian Culture Snob on Stuff Christians Like, blogger Jon Acuff sheds light on the problem of how Christian relevance can become Christian snobbery. With his trademark satirical humor, Acuff does great job of helping us see how easy it is to fall into this trap. I'm not much of a history buff but I'll bet you that if we explored the history of Christianity, we'd find that previous generations have experienced similar intolerance and disrespect for the practices of their predecessors. I confess that I've been guilty of being a Christian culture snob myself when, as an example, I've referred to a traditional worship service as "Big Church" because I choose to worship in a contemporary worship environment. It's commendable to search for new and relevant ways to communicate the eternal truth of Christianity but it's easy to slip into the trap of snobbery when you think that you've achieved that.

I know a pastor who leads what would commonly be called a "seeker-friendly" church. I commend his evangelistic spirit in focusing his efforts on reaching those who might be uncomfortable in a traditional church environment. I respect his focus and consistency. I know him to be a gifted speaker and know that there are people who have come into a meaningful relationship with Christ through the ministry of that church. I cringe, however, when I've heard him eschew some traditional practices of the church as having "the church germ". That, I think, is what Jon Acuff is referring to when he describes being a Christian culture snob. When you and I express disdain for the traditions of our faith in the name of being culturally relevant, I think we send a confusing message to the people that we are actually trying to reach. What do you think it says to the seeker when we diminish or discredit the history that was part of bringing the Gospel to us or a communication tool that is effective in reaching some, but not all segments of our culture? When I mockingly describe traditional worship as "Big Church", I minimize the value of that to anyone who finds traditional worship especially meaningful. If the truth of Christianity is eternal (and I know that it is), then must we not show respect for the past as well as the present and for the diversity of how that truth is communicated?

How can you and I communicate to non-Believers in a relevant fashion without becoming a Christian Culture Snob?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Many Thanks to Lane Hoage and G.A. Wright, Inc.

My dad used to say, "Even a blind hog can find an acorn every now and then." That was his way of saying that if you keep working at it, everyone will get lucky occasionally.  I wasn't just lucky to discover G.A Wright Marketing to assist Crossroads in the closing of our store, I was blessed to find them. Mr. Lane Hoage, our consultant, spent about 8 weeks managing the liquidation sale and helping us recover the maximum return from our assets. He took up residence in a local hotel, never left town during the entire process, and impressed us with his work ethic. I think his performance was commendable and certainly dispels many of the stereotypes that some of us have about business consultants. He earned the respect of our staff.

Although some aspects of their strategy were outside of my comfort zone (prize contest, extended time frame for the sale), we hired them to do a job and trusted their expertise. Over and over, their plan proved to be successful. They didn't disappoint us or our customers and their strategy generated a very desirable outcome.

I heartily endorse them and offer my sincere thanks to Mr. Hoage for a great job!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Jobless

It's official. I'm jobless. Our last day of business at Crossroads was August 1st and after I tie up the loose ends this week, I'm out of work. Creepy. At age 56, I'm too young to retire and I'm not exactly in the most employable demographic, either. I asked my wife if I could just stay home and be her "boy toy" but she told me that I was about 60 pounds too heavy and 30 years too old to be any woman's "boy toy."