Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Merry Christmas

This poem is by one of my favorite authors, G.K. Chesterton-


There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.
The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.

For men are homesick in their homes,
And strangers under the sun,
And they lay their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done.

Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honour and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.

A child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam;
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost---how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky's dome.

This world is wild as an old wife's tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.

To an open house in the evening
Home shall all men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.

(Gilbert Keith Chesterton)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Unemployment

Helpful and comical analysis of the national unemployment rate-



Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving

During a week when most Americans get together to celebrate Thanksgiving with friends and family, it is important for keep this in perspective. While we have been blessed with much (and too many of us take this for granted) there are so many in the world who are lacking even the most basic necessities.

The Sacramento Bee has an ongoing photo blog called The Frame that is full of breathtaking images. Last week, The Frame posted a new entry called "The World's Children". These images show heartbreaking examples of children fending for themselves in circumstances that I can barely even imagine.

As you take time this week to be thankful for what you have, please consider those in the world that have almost nothing to be thankful for. They are hungry, abused, tired, sick, scared, lonely, and many of them are young. Look at these images of the least of these- some of the poorest children in the world- and let it affect you. Let the looks in their eyes break through the callousness on your heart, and the indifference in your head. Can we help them? Of course we can. Just because we can't fix all their problems right away is no excuse for not starting somewhere. There are charities, non-profits, and churches everywhere that are getting involved in these difficult places. Find a way to support them.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Freedom 4/24

I have begun a series of blogs for a non-profit group that I volunteer with named Freedom 4/24. You can find their blog here.

Freedom 4/24 is an organization that exists to help raise awareness of sexual exploitation that is very prevalent in southeast Asia. Please take some time to read through their site, and consider if there is any way that you might be able to help, or get involved.

Big problems don't necessarily require large, complex solutions- sometimes they just need attention, and for people to choose action over apathy. What will you choose today? What part could you play in alleviating the suffering of others? After reading more about Freedom 4/24, please consider what you could do to get involved.

I do not believe in a fate that falls on men however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on man unless they act. - G. K. Chesterton

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

On Health Care

Here is good insight from Matt Perman as the pundits continue to jabber and the politicians continue to waffle-

One thing we need to remember is that health care is not a right, like freedom. It is a need, like food. You posses your rights simply by virtue of being human, but you have to earn your needs. For example, we don’t say that people have a “right” to be supplied healthy food by society. You have to earn the food that you eat. That is as it should be. Likewise, it is right and appropriate for health insurance to be something that people have to earn by either paying for directly or as part of the compensation package their employer provides.

Read the whole article about Health Savings Accounts at What's Best Next.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Finally

Foxnews.com reports-


Benny Hinn Ministries doesn’t publish its finances, but one report estimated it takes in $100 million a year. Hinn says only that the ministry pays him more than half a million dollars a year — but that income doesn’t include money from the sales of his books and his other private business ventures.

He says he plans to cut his salary in half, and eventually to receive no pay.

That decision comes amid an ongoing probe of six evangelical ministers and their megachurches by the Senate Finance Committee, headed by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa). Benny Hinn Ministries is one of the six.

The committee is investigating whether the ministries are using their tax-exempt status to further God's work — or to fund luxuries like mansions, expensive cars and private jets.


Read the whole story here.

For some perspective on the prosperity gospel, watch this video.



Thursday, October 8, 2009

Demography Matters

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life came out with a fascinating report on the global Muslim population. Take a look for interesting facts and figures that might challenge some of your assumptions. Reading this report reminded me of an article written by Mark Steyn- It's the Demography, Stupid.
(Thanks to Mike for passing along the Steyn article.)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Wheels are Falling Off

From the Wall Street Journal-

The basic fallacy of cash for clunkers is that you can somehow create wealth by destroying existing assets that are still productive, in this case cars that still work. Under the program, auto dealers were required to destroy the car engines of trade-ins with a sodium silicate solution, then smash them and send them to the junk yard. As the journalist Henry Hazlitt wrote in his classic, "Economics in One Lesson," you can't raise living standards by breaking windows so some people can get jobs repairing them.

Monday, September 28, 2009

International Readers Sound Off



I've noticed that this little blog has acquired a few international readers. Go ahead and sound off in the comments section to say hi, and to let everyone know where you're from. So far, there are readers from-
  • United States
  • United Kingdom
  • Brazil
  • Japan
  • Peru
  • Australia
  • Netherlands
  • Canada
  • Turkey

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Rich Mullins (October 21, 1955 – September 19, 1997)



It is weird to miss someone you never met. Rich Mullins died twelve years ago this past week. He was a musician, poet, writer, and modern-day Franciscan. Through his music he touched and inspired thousands (millions?) allowed many of us to feel like we knew a man that we never even spent time with or spoke to. If you are not familiar with him, take some time to listen to his music, read some of his articles, or read through his biography.

Here are some things he wrote/sing/said-

"There's a wideness in God's mercy
I cannot find in my own
And He keeps His fire burning
To melt this heart of stone
Keeps me aching with a yearning
Keeps me glad to have been caught
In the reckless raging fury
That they call the love of God"
"Nobody tells you when you get born here
How much you'll come to love it
And how you'll never belong here
So I call you my country
And I'll be lonely for my home
And I wish that I could take you there with me"
"But when I leave I want to go out like Elijah
With a whirlwind to fuel my chariot of fire
And when I look back on the stars
Well, It'll be like a candlelight in Central Park
And it won't break my heart to say goodbye"
"I had a prof one time... He said, 'Class, you will forget almost everything I will teach you in here, so please remember this: that God spoke to Balaam through his ass, and He has been speaking through asses ever since. So, if God should choose to speak through you, you need not think too highly of yourself. And, if on meeting someone, right away you recognize what they are, listen to them anyway'."

"The thing about being forty is it's not as surprising to me as it used to be. I used to think about death a lot, and it was always a little bit intimidating to think about. Now I know a lot of dead people. It's not as big a deal as it used to be, but maybe because I'm not the one who died. I'm the one who's still living. I think I always grew up with a good attitude about it. You know, that's the advantage of coming from a large, extended family."

Monday, September 21, 2009

Watch Your Wallet


I came across an interesting article regarding money problems for retired NFL players. This article cites a report by Sports Illustrated which states "78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce." Given the ability of really rich guys to waste their money, I found a sermon given yesterday at Redeemer Presbyterian (Lynchburg, VA) to be particularly insightful. Given that tough economic times make people reflect more on their finances, I would encourage you to take time and listen to this sermon.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Advertisers- Pay attention


Commercials that will cause me to turn off my radio or change the TV station without even thinking-

  1. Furniture sales
  2. That annoying girl from Progressive Auto Insurance (her name is Flo)
  3. Anything with Sally Field
  4. Nutrisystem
  5. Subway- I won't buy their footlong sandwich if it is $0.05
Consumers have changed, but advertisers refuse to change with them. We are smarter and better informed, so stop treating us like children. Take a week, read some Seth Godin, and then try again.

What commercials would you add to this list?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Worthy Read

From Amusing Ourselves to Death (pg. 68-69) by Neil Postman-

What steps do you plan to take to reduce the conflict in the Middle East? Or the rates of inflation, crime and unemployment? What are your plans for preserving the environment or reducing the risk of nuclear war? What do you plan to do about NATO, OPEC, the CIA, affirmative action......? I shall take the liberty of answering for you: You plan to do nothing about them. You may, of course, cast a ballot for someone who claims to have some plans, as well as the power to act. But this you can do only once every two or four years by giving one hour of your time, hardly a satisfying means of expressing the broad range of opinions you hold. Voting, we might even say, is the next to last refuge of the politically impotent. The last refuge is, of course, giving your opinion to a pollster, who will get a version of it in a Niagara of similar opinions, and convert them into- what else?- another piece of news. Thus, we have here a great loop of impotence: The news elicits from you a variety of opinions about which you can do nothing except to offer them as more news, about which you can do nothing.



Thursday, August 13, 2009

Happy Birthday Joe

I want to wish a happy birthday to my friend Joe. Please head on over to A Few Things and Some Other Stuff to check him out. Be sure to leave him a happy birthday comment.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Unique Music Project

For a very unique and extremely interesting music project, check out in Bb 2.0. Give your browser a minute to load everything, turn up your speakers, and enjoy! Click here for more info on the project.

Clash of the Titans


I would like to buy an iPhone really bad (really, really, really bad). It would sync seamlessly with my computer, and the 3G data connection would be helpful while traveling. If have used an iPhone, you know what I'm talking about. However, the bewildering decision by Apple to partner with only one carrier (AT&T) makes the switch tricky. Additionally, the cost is not exactly competitive when compared to other smart phone with data packages. These reasons aside, a recent decision by Apple to not allow a Google Voice app is troubling. Adam Pash posts a great rant on Lifehacker detailing the whole controversy. This affected me today as I struggled to decide what my new Google Voice number will be (yes, I got an invite!). Either way, I'm sure if a free iPhone was offered to me today, I would not hesitate to take it. Technology is an ever changing and developing field, and who can expect a perfect track record from a corporation? In perfect satirical fashion, The Onion took a shoot at iPhone users today. Give it a read it you're looking for a laugh.

Side note #1- You can get around most everything by jailbreaking your iPhone.

Side note #2- Apple stock closed today at $160, Google closed at $439.

***Update 8/14- I cracked and bought one this week!***

Monday, July 13, 2009

More Posts Coming Soon

Sorry for the delay, I've been out of town and very busy. I'll have some more posts coming soon- I promise.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Father's Day

For an outstanding photography project, check out Days with my Father by Phillip Toledano. The website is very unique, and you'll need some practice to learn how to navigate it (hint: put your mouse at the bottom of the screen). I would encourage you to take the time to watch and read your way through the entire project. The photographs are beautiful and Phillip adds commentary and personal stories which help to punctuate the emotion found in the pictures.

I won't say much else about it, but take the time to check it out, and then if your dad is still alive, take the time to call him or visit him to tell him that you love him. If he has passed away, then perhaps take the time to write him a letter and maybe you'll be able to say some things that you were never able to express before.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

An Interview with Scott Klusendorf


Scott Klusendorf has written a new book called
The Case for Life. He recently gave an interview to Trevin Wax about the pro-life movement. He concludes the interview with these thoughts-

Admittedly, a book about pro-life apologetics may not appeal to some lay Christians. It seems many believers would rather focus on end times rather than these times. That’s a mistake. Humans who ignore questions about truth and human value may soon learn what it really means to be left behind.

Read the whole interview here.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Albert Mohler Regarding Twitter


Albert Mohler shares his thoughts about the social networking tool Twitter.

He states-

We need to be very careful that we do not become overly enamored with any technology. As observers like Jacques Ellul and Neil Postman reminded us, our technologies shape our lives perhaps more than we realize. As followers of Christ, Christians have a special stake in this, for everything must come down to what most honors God and serves the Kingdom.



Read the whole article here.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

An Apple a Day

With the health care debate ready to go into full swing in Congress, Americans would be wise to take some time and study health care systems from around the world. This way, they can write thoughtful, informed letters their respective members of Congress instead of just parroting back whatever they heard from their favorite cable TV pundit.

Mark Steyn gives a snapshot view of Canadian healthcare-

In the Province of Quebec, patients suffering from serious incontinence - ie, they have to aller aux toilettes jusqu'à 12 fois par nuit (that's 12 times a night) - have to wait three years for a half-hour operation. That's 3 years times 365 nights times 12 trips to the bathroom.

There are only two urologists in the province who perform the operation, in part because hospital budgets are so tight they decline to buy the necessary "neurostimulator".


Read the whole article here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Who is Tim Keller?


Christianity Today profiles Tim Keller and his ministry in their latest issue. This pastor of Redeemer PCA in New York city was a virtual unknown outside of his immediate context just a few years back. However now, thanks to the success of his latest two books (The Reason for God and The Prodigal God) as well as his work in the Gospel Coalition, many people are able to benefit from his wisdom and teaching.

Read the full article about him here.

Also, check out Keller give a summary of The Reason for God, complete with a Q&A session at Google headquarters, here.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Best of the Week


A list of some of the best technology related links from over the past week-

  • Google changes everything. They will soon change the way you look at electronic communication. Check out Google Wave for the future of email, file sharing, social networking, etc.... Seriously, give yourself a few minutes to watch the video.
  • The next version of the Xbox seems to add much of the gesture functionality that the Wii has, but incorporates real time communication. Give Project Natal a look.
  • Say goodbye to cable and satellite TV with their terrible contracts and customer service, and welcome the Hulu desktop.
  • Can't figure out what is wrong with one of your old gadgets? Then take matters into your own hands with iFixit.
  • More Google news- check out Google Squared for help with comparing and analyzing your search results.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Moving at the Speed of ___________?

Tonight, with a couple of minutes left in game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, I decided to find out what day the finals start (I found out they start Thursday). Naturally, I used Google, and went to the Wikipedia entry for the NBA finals. Like I said, Cleveland was still playing Orlando, and even though they were down by 18 points, the game still had some time left. Regardless, Wikipedia had already been edited to declare Orlando the winner and spelled out which games would take place in L.A and which would happen in Orlando. I am not sure if I should have been startled or surprised by this (who's to say, anyway?), but I was. Information is moving so fast it is, in a sense, reaching conclusions before we do.

Reading

From Kevin DeYoung-

"I'm convinced it is a sign of God's grace moving within people when they start to read."

Download the full sermon here.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

E-Manners

Sad as it might be, many people don't find etiquette and manners regarding laptops, cell phones, and other mobile technology (pagers? remember those?) self-evident. Some of you know who you are, but others might be oblivious. Therefore it is up to you, their annoyed friend, to pass along this article from the New York Times on to them- just don't email it while you're driving.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Where do you live?

If you find yourself unsatisfied with where you live and you are looking for a move, check out this report from Kiplinger ranking the top 10 U.S. cities.

How much time do you spend online?


The iMonk shares some thoughts on the uses and role of the internet (including social networking) in our day-to-day lives. A highlight from the full post-

It’s too much. It’s not community. It’s not socializing. It’s too much. There are things I need to do. Books to read and write. People next door and in hospitals and shut in to talk to. Letters to write. Thoughts to think. Dreams to dream. Music to listen to. (And I can do all of this without taking another two hours of my day to tell you all about it.)
You might remember the Internet Monk from a post that Drudge linked to predicting the coming Evangelical collapse.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day


Thank you to all the men and women in uniform- every sailor, soldier, and marine who protect the safety and integrity of the United States every day. Memorial Day helps to commemorate those who have fallen while in service to their country. We also honor those who are currently serving- noble men and women who put themselves on the line and sacrifice time away from their families for the sake of the rest of the country. For them I am thankful, and I am honored to know some of them as friends.

Kevin DeYoung gives this holiday a theological perspective-

It is always tricky to know how the church should or shouldn’t celebrate patriotic holidays. Certainly, some churches blend church and state in such a way that the kingdom of God morphs into a doctrinally-thin, spiritually nebulous civil religion. But even with this dangers, there are a number of good reasons why Christians should give thanks for Memorial Day.
Read him give his five good reasons here.


Friday, May 22, 2009

You Can Help


We who live in the U.S do not (yet) have to worry about religious persecution. We descend from those who fled persecution and came to the New World in the hope of worshipping how they saw fit. Thanks be to God that they were allowed to worship here freely, and as a result men like Edwards, Whitefield, Watts, and others proclaimed the gospel with boldness.

Unfortunately, in many places in the world today, Christians still face torture, imprisonment, and even death. The church is commanded to remember those who are undergoing persecution (see Hebrews 13:3) but this is too easily forgotten since our lives are filled with too many distractions- from Twitter updates, to fast-food choices, to new music.

Take some time today and learn about the story of Gao Zhisheng, a courageous Chinese Christian who is currently imprisoned for his faith. You can find all the details of his story here, and I would encourage you to take action. Be thankful for the freedom you have, and take a minute today to slow down from your own life and get involved for the sake of a man who needs help.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Yes Virginia, There is an Alternative to Google




Google does a great job with most everything. From Google Reader, to Docs, to Calendar and soon to Voice, (plus much, much more- just check out the Labs) they continue to churn out quality products that meet needs. As a search engine, Google is still the default for most people, and for good reason. However, if you are looking for an alternative, try Wolfram Alpha, a new site that will not only give you search results, but help to intelligently analyze the results for you.

At Wolfram you could compare the financial reports from two companies, check the weather record in your area for the last 100 years, complete complex calculus problems, or just about anything else you can think of.

Dogs are great


Dogs make great pets, and good companions. When someone compares dogs to cats, I laugh a little bit, because I can't understand how any comparison exists between a really cute puppy and a kitten. Either way, check out an interesting article from the Seattle Times about how dogs maintain a certain sense of morality and display emotion (cats on the other hand are soulless creatures that are probably here to do the devil's work). So take off your theological hat for a few minutes and read an interesting article about man's best friend.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

On Management

Matt Perman has a great post on management. Below are the highlights. This post brought to mind a great quote by C.S. Lewis from The Weight of Glory- "There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations- these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals who we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit- immortal horrors or everlasting splendours." People seldom think or act this way in the workplace. How would your day change if your perspective moved in this direction?

Originally posted here.

A common definition of management is getting things done through others.

I don’t like that definition very much because it leaves out the human component. This definition could just as easily apply to machines.

I think a better definition is provided by Stephen Covey: management is developing people through tasks. This brings in the human component. Management is not just about getting things done, but developing people in the process.

The result is, ironically, that you will in turn be able to get even more done in the future, since whenever a manager’s team is productive they are at the same time increasing in their productive capacity.

But that is not why you manage in this way. You manage with this goal in mind because it is the right way to treat people — that is, because you are managing people, not machines.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Sky is Falling- Tweet Everyone!

How much more can we take? Each day we are all bombarded with media letting us know about our impending doom. We must be afraid of everything. Whether it be rogue dictators, new diseases, comets, climate change, or a deranged killer, it seems that we have good cause to be alarmed. Hopefully sociologists in 50 years will be able to look back and decide how this has affected our psyche.

Pre-industrial societies dealt with their own set of fears. Plague, disease, and war all clouded their horizon, only they did not have to hear about it on 24-hour cable news networks, on the internet or through email forwards. However, the pre-industrial man would see these impending disasters as the hand of Providence, and mostly outside of his control. What could a colonial settler do against a hurricane coming up the Atlantic coast? How could a medieval peasant ward off the Black Death? I am sure they did not accept their fate passively, but there was an understanding of their finitude in relation to the rest of the universe. Death was out there, a threatening menace and an enemy to be avoided, but not with the hysterical, Chicken Little mentality common today.

Perhaps our fascination with social networking comes from a desire to revolt against these constant reminders of our own mortality. When we let everyone in our online reality know where we are, what we are doing, seeing, tasting, experiencing, etc.... then we are declaring "I am alive"- just look at this proof. When we do this in the context of a massive electronic pseudo-community, then we are able to be part of something larger than ourselves and declare that we matter. We do not have the tight-knit local community that was common in pre-industrial societies. A town, village, or hamlet could band together to fight off invaders, rebuild after a major storm, or take care of the sick together. How can we deal this impending doom today? Maybe these status updates, tweets, and even blog posts are no more than screams out into the digital void to prove we are alive, and we are all in this together.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Listen to Jacob Zachary


Jacob Zachary writes and plays beautiful music. He writes deep lyrics filled with vivid imagery and profound insight. His guitar and voice overflow with gorgeous melodies. You can stream most of his music from his site, and if you contact him, you can purchase hard copies of his CD's (this is getting more and more rare). Listen to just one of his songs, and the odds are that you will find yourself bookmarking his site and telling a friend before you know it.

Photo by Ryan Portnoy.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

You Are What You Eat

Most of us find it difficult to eat healthy. For anyone stuck in an office all day, temptation abounds. Many people want to eat out, and some bring unhealthy snacks or goodies from home to share with co-workers. At the same time, even some who cook at home can create fat-saturated caloric nightmares.

Check out these examples of home-cooked heart attack platters.

Click here to see how fast food generally isn't what you thought it would be.

My advice- find a good deli and pack your own lunch.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tax Day


April 15th produces consternation for many Americans. Some pay their taxes begrudgingly, others indifferently, and still others lie and cheat. In our time of increasingly partisan politics, with everything from Tea Parties to tax dodgers, many claim to know what the founders of this country wanted and intended. Many invoke their names as magical incantations to prove their point. Interestingly, they often prove as confusing and contradictory as the talking heads today. For example-

“Every proposal for a specific tax is sure to meet with opposition … It must be the province of the legislature to hold the scales with a judicious hand and balance one by another. The rich must be made to pay for their luxuries; which is the only proper way of taking their superior wealth.”- Alexander Hamilton
"Taxes should be proportioned to what may be annually spared by the individual." --Thomas Jefferson

"No taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant." - George Washington

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Great Music, Best Price


Generally, I purchase music from iTunes but with their new change in pricing, I decided to branch out and explore other possibilities. Today I downloaded the new album Swoon by Silversun Pickups from the Amazon MP3 store for only $3.99. Compare this with the price of $9.99 at iTunes. Just like the iTunes store, Amazon automatically adds the songs and album artwork to your iTunes library. Also, Amazon offers many samplers and songs for free (I downloaded free tracks today from Death Cab for Cutie, Bell X1, Iron & Wine, and others- completely legally!). Check out Amazon for a great way to stretch your dollar.

ready...set....go

The blogosphere contains (too) much information and noise, but nevertheless I will enter into the fray. Here you will not find some thoughts, but mostly links to those who say it best. Think of this as the lite version of Between Two Worlds mixed with the Drudge Report.

Please check out the blogroll for guys who are worth reading, and have plenty of good information to share. I will pull from many of these sources to comment on theology, music, management, marketing, and politics.

Please feel free to comment and interact- "If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas."- George Bernard Shaw

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