Saturday, September 27, 2008

Positive day at Franklin Covey seminar

This last spring and summer, I felt that my schedule was getting out of control and that I had lost focus on what I was supposed to be doing.  So in August, I decided that I would attend a Franklin Covey event in Fresno on time management.

I was ponying up some dollars for an event that I had listened to the CD last summer.  However, I had just come to the conclusion that I needed time not driving but really concentrating and reflecting on how I schedule my days and weeks.

Overall, the seminar was really incredible.  The workshop presenter was really engaging and effective.  I gained some insights that somewhere I had lost.  I messed with my schedule and really gained some insights.  I knew them, but had not really found a way to apply them.

For me it took a moment of me admitting that I had a problem.  Then seeking help.  I think in about year I might need to do it again, maybe 18 months.  Then in two years.  That reminder of how to organize life when I let it go.  In the end, a couple of hundred bucks for a seminar that provides more focus during the week makes me more productive for the congregation and is beneficial for my life.  It is worth it.  So, today I have my planner out and am focusing on next week.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Let's redo the VP Candidates

Alright John and Barack, here is a mulligan. Sen. McCain pick up Fiorina, Bloomberg or Romney, we need the economic wisdom today. Send Gov. Palin back to Alaska, it will be alright. Sen Obama take Byah, he is a dufus on foreign policy but he actually seems to have enough insight into the ecomony that is needed. He is a great moderate, efficient regulation. Tell Joe, let's make you Sec. of State.

The campaign has changed and neither side seems to adept at dealing with issues that ail us now.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Porn passed over as Web users become social: author | Technology | Reuters

Quoted from

Porn passed over as Web users become social: author | Technology | Reuters

Porn passed over as Web users become social:

I think this is a reflection that perhaps the internet is providing a healing space.  Pornography and its use on the internet is caused by a desire to be intimate or lonely.  Why is there porn channels in hotel rooms? because lonely and frustrated business travellers.

If people are using networking sites to connect to real people instead of fake porn stars then that is a healing thing.   That is grace.

Now can Facebook be a time waste like porn becomes for folks.  You betcha.  But, at least the guilt of connecting with real folks instead of folks of fantasy...that is a way lesser evil.

Who knows you might wind up meeting Drew Powell in a video.

Wall Street and Main Street

This week I opened my portfolio it is not a lot, but it is what we are using to send kids to college, finance our retirement, and be savers not consumers.  Seeing in the last five days that some of the low risk items in our portfolio get creamed caused some concern.  Losing 20% of your money causes some concern.  My experience is not greater or lesser than anybody's, but is just a repeated experience as I called my broker and he ran 'bullet points.'  I had to tell him, "I don't care, here is what I want to know..."

Wall street hits main street.  It hits school funds, retirement funds, and just the hopes and dreams funds.  With some folks nearing retirement see that go look at having to work a little longer if it does not come back.

I am pretty laissez-faire in my disposition, free market let it burn.  However, free markets only really work when there is a level of transparency.  I don't think we have that.  Jim Rogers has stated that the American companies' balance sheets cannot be t rusted.  It seems that he was right.  After Enron we learned little.  We lost an accounting firm and an energy company.   This time, we will lose our status as the financial capital of the world.  It will shift to England, China or Japan.  We lose it by being greedy.

I am not sure that Obama or McCain have the wherewithal to make the right decisions in this arena.  I don't know who does.  I don't know if anyone has the chutzpah to do the right thing.  To be dispassionate and lack self interest to fix it.m

I am glad that Social Security is still done by the government, because we would be forced to bailout individuals who supported the hyperactive stock market.  All of the stocks would be even more inflated because more capital would have went to the strong stocks and those stocks would burst.  The holders would be broke but the brokers would have a fistful of dollars from fees.

This is a difficult time and it is a little disconcerting...48 days away from a change in government and I feel certain that neither one is up to the task.  The playing field changed on Monday and neither campaign was ready to do anything except exploit the issue  to win the White House while main street suffers. 

I know a little cynical, but this one is in my gut.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Lunes Negro or Black Monday

1.) Michael Slaughter stated a few years ago that the church was going to change in the next millenium. He stated that the church would go big and it would go small.  The medium sized church was going to be a dinosaur, not large enough to provide high quality anonymous group but too much structure to go small.  Slaughter was talking about a Barbell. A large small contingent, small medium contingent and a large group of large churches.  It can't happen...see today.   We are seeing that in the banking industry were Bank of America is going to be the largest bank in the US and the medium regional sized banks will go under.  The local banks will stick around. John Lewis said that is what is happening...he is CEO of Bank of American and today he took over the largest Investment bank on wall Street, Merrill Lynch.

Do you see it?

2.) Greed.  Greed is what brought us here.  Back in 2002 in the economic malaise of post 9-11.  New York City was hopping.  I could not figure out why, because NYC is at the core of the economic downturn.  People were making huge amounts of money and real estate in NYC boomed.  Made no sense, Doug Kass shares his thoughts.  That greed moved from Wall Street to Main Street.   We bought homes, more than we needed.  We bought cars.  We extended ourselves.  You can be a bear and bull, but don't be a pig.  Greed is not good.  Greed kills us spiritually.

Perhaps, as a Christian we need to remember that second one.  I know parishoners who buy cars and extend themselves too much.  I get frustrated, but I rarely say a word about it personally to them.  Maybe, I need to be a better shepherd and keep the sheep from the wolves.

What do you think?

Thursday, September 11, 2008


This morning I was getting out of the car and I was reminded that surrendering is  a daily practice.  I thought about how faith is explained, "Are you saved?"  We put our faith's defining moment as one experience of salvation and commitment to that salvation.

My life works best when I give up daily to the grace of God and put away the idol of my own self sufficiency.  I cannot change the things that I so desperately want and need to change in my life to make me a better human being.

I need to say, "God, I want you to take it away.  I will do my part, but I will not be able to do it alone."

So, in the dark of the morning after a five mile run...I gave it up.

I hope to do so tomorrow, again.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Praying for the vision of the 2009 General Assembly to be realized.

Something that has got me stirred is the 2009 General Assembly's vision.  The GA is usually an attractional, old style gathering.  Let's get a bunch of folks together to talk about stuff that is only important to us.  This year we are moving outdoors in a missional way. I feel that a significant group of folks need to pray for this.  So, if you are moved let me know and we will keep you updated.

HIPAA and Prayer requests

When I went to college, I went to a church that took prayer requests from the congregation. It was so fresh and new 20 years ago that I it was one of the things that kept me there. People cared for one another, we were building a community.

Now it is 20 years later and I feel that freshness is now stale and there needs to be change for two important reasons.

1.) Prayer Requests have devoided into what is ailing you or a family member. As congregations get older the concerns about cataracts and cancer rise. Not that we should not pray for these, but I am not sure that Jesus or his Disciples had these prayers.
2.) Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), has as part of the law privacy issues. Meaning that doctors and medical staff can only pass information along to certain members of the family. As clergy, I am having to overhear conversations. In my first years in ministry, nurses and doctors would share with me. There has been a tide change.

This tide change has changed the culture of medical issues. Meaning that when the congregation shares about somebody ailments they are not reflecting the norms of culture. Now, there are times to conform to culture and not to conform. We conform in use of governance, music, and programs. We also need to conform in this way, because this deals with people's issues of privacy. I remember one person being irate with me that I prayed for his upcoming surgery publicly. His feelings were deeply hurt. This was a rare occurrence, but I see on the horizon where this will be the norm. Will the church and its leadership be naive and ask, "Are we not family?" The answer is "No, we are church."

Monday, September 08, 2008

Seth Godin's article on Infinity

From Seth Godin's Blog

Getting used to infinity
I have a new thing to collect.
I collect pictures of crowds stunned by a baseball bat heading their way. I don't collect photos where anyone is injured, just the ones where people are all weirded out.
This, of course, is a crazy thing to collect, but the fascinating thing is that it's possible at all. All of us grew up in a world of content scarcity, and now we live in a world of content infinity.
That means, for example, that finding a rare song is essentially banal. There are no rare songs (except on LP). It means that finding a photo of what you're looking for isn't the hard part, it's deciding what to look for in the first place.
Of course, it's not just photos or music. It's service providers, freelancers, employees, charitable tools, places to live, vacation spots, dogs to adopt, people to date.
If you find a great baseball bat flying in the stands photo, I'm hoping you'll send me one. In the meantime, don't be afraid of infinity. There's a lot of it going around.

Think about this in the realm of the church.

Used to be that there was nothing to do on Sunday morning but to go to church if you wanted to be social. Then the Blue Law's ended, Malls opened, and people could shop. First it was only after 12 noon. Now they open before 12.

Now there are many churches and people move to the church where they feel comfortable, there is a buzz, they like the pastor or music, good program for families, etc. In fact, Sarah Palin, an evangelical attends several churches. This is going to be the norm in the future where people will not be committed to a church but be part of various churches. That means leadership will be done more by staff who are committed to a paycheck and less by laypeople. It also means that churches to maintain will have to work hard to keep helping the consumer.

Do church leaders need to meet the needs, desires, and expectations of people even if those people are not committed to the vision and mission of the church?
What does this new way of being a Christian in American mean for the church and how do we adapt?

walking down my block this morning

Today is monday and on my street that is trash day.
Number one priority for me is to get the trash to the street.

Today as I was taking the little one to school, a woman was walking down the street a dark skinned Mexican woman. She was carrying a bag and looking in the recycle bins up and down our block. I watched as she went.

As I watched her, I had a couple of emotions. One was that I wanted her out of my neighborhood, just for own safety. My neighbors might call the police and I just wanted for her to be away. It reminded me that poverty is close to my house and can come into my neighborhood. I lost control of my life and now it was being confronted by her life. I did not really want that, because I had no solution.

The other emotion was compassion. So, I called to her, "Senora, Aqui." I brought out of my garage a trash can full of aluminum cans. She was not asking for money, she was scavenging off the crumbs from our tables. So, I was going to give her what she asked for I brought out the cans that Samuel and I had been collecting. I saw that she was born in Mexico by the immunization scar that no longer graces the arms of American kids. We talked and I wanted to be honest, "Para Mexico, Honduras?" She said, "Mexico" I asked, "Durango, Sonora, Guanajato?" She told me where, but I forgot. I prayed for her and told her that God will bless her. She said, "God bless you."

I am not sure what is the proper response is during such instances. What is just? What are the moral hazards? But, I would not this day let her go unnoticed. I needed to tell her that she was not invisible to me. Was it just my need, not her's? I don't know. Moments like these are complicated and the depths of scripture give no clue as how to do it as an individual. It gives way of governing as a large system, but individual's in America you are on your own.

So, we are left with only one response..."Compassion"
I pray that I was compassionate enough today and if not God, "I am sorry, I did the best I could at that moment."

How do you show compassion?

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Jocko is my favorite Walrus in the world

Jocko the Walrus, the most disgusting zoo experience the ever.

A couple weeks ago, la familia made a trip to Vallejo to the Six Flags Discovery Park and there is one of Jocko's experiences.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

A point to ponder

One of the issues that is real in Visalia is that people are using bikes instead of driving cars. So people are being encouraged to drop the cars for bikes. We are the country with the most cars in the world.
As I watched the Olympics China was dropping the bike for the car. They are the country with the most bikes in the world.

Who is moving towards the future?
It is an amazing time folks.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Time Management hits real life

To make myself better in my time management skills, I picked up a Franklin Covey Planner last year. Difficult task for me, one to commit myself to a planner. I decided that Outlook kept me tied to a screen and I wanted to be able to get away from a screen. Second, to find a planner that had at least an ounce of testerone was pretty hard. They market to women. My time management has been better, not great but I am improving.

Last night, I spent some time organizing my week with Amy. Pick up/Drop off, meetings, dinner. Then I worked on my tasks for the week.

This morning, the alarm did not go off so I missed my workout. I put sleep in its place and that is alright. That pushed back prayer time and then the son's got up. I did the dad duties of making sandwiches, breakfast, and getting everybody ready for the morning.

Somewhere we missed the bus. It had been coming late but we must have missed it by a couple of minutes. So, we stood at the bus stop looking at the Spider garden along the street and finally decided that I would take the eldest to school. Meaning, that this delay caused me to miss a moring Bible Study where I meet with folks each Tuesday.

In this confusion to get out the door, I forgot a check to the YMCA for after school care.
We get the eldest to school. No problem.

Upon arrival at the youngest's school, he has to be held. He is crying to be held and it is a moody three year old thing. It is best handled by the velvet glove of consoling and tough love. "I love you and you are alright, but now I have to go." This was another delay. Then leaving the Christian School, nobody would let me out of my parking space. They just kept moving along. It was not a faux pas, but it was a moment of being mild inconsideration. It would have been a nice grace. I think that is the church's and school's name.....

In the past, I think I would have been frustrated and this would have ruined my whole day. However, I know that my goals in life is to be a good parent, this is my primary mission field and the secondary mission field is the world. In the end, I understand that my life is a bit beyond my control. That gives me a bit of a compassion this morning. Thanks Jesus for journeying with me this moring.

Fearless Joy,