Thursday, October 8, 2015

Sudden blend of dream and reality

I don't normally share dreams but this one moved rapidly right into reality. Slightly annoying, slightly humorous, so I thought I'd share.

I live in a neighborhood that has been turning over in the past few years. I live right next to a middle school in a small townhome. There is some crime in the area. Mostly car break ins, some home break ins and some close calls where an alarm scared off a potential intruder while the residents were home. Occasionally gun shots are reported but I've never heard of anyone actually getting shot, so I mostly believe it's fireworks and some people are just naturally on edge. But I think in the 2.5 years I've lived here, I've only once or twice felt unsafe, the most recent was when a police helicopter was making low tight circles within yards of my front door. I set that up to let you know that I'm not ever scared of where I live.

Last night I went to bed around 11 PM and left my bedroom windows open to let in the cool Autumn air instead of running the air conditioning.

So, in my dream, I'm sitting at my kitchen table during the day with the windows open letting in a nice cool fall breeze. I'm cleaning my Glock after some time on the range and it's fully disassembled. Some of my neighbors (who to my knowledge don't actually exist as seen in my dream) are having a get together to watch a football game and are pretty drunk tossing the pigskin in the parking lot.
One of the guys happens to look in my window after an errant toss and sees me cleaning my gun. He proceeds to walk right inside, lifts up his shirt, revealing his belly fat and a gun tucked into his waistband.
"Want to compare Glocks?" He drunkenly slurs.
For you non-gun owners, Glocks aren't something you really compare. They are pretty ubiquitous.
He proceeds to pull the gun from his pants and limp-wristed, starts drunkingly flopping it around.
I quickly stand up and am now on full alert. I don't feel threatened per se, and I don't believe that is his intent. But the guy is wasted and I don't trust half the sober people I know with a gun and certainly not this drunk guy. As he's waving it around, he has already pointed the barrel in multiple unsafe directions, which is a huge pet peeve of mine when it comes to responsible gun ownership.
After some coaxing, I try to calmly put my hand on the top of the gun so I can direct the barrel safely towards the ground. While doing so, I manage to slip my hand around and hit the magazine release. I grab the magazine and put it on top of the fridge. He's pretty drunk and I don't think he notices.
While I think I've prevented anything from too crazy happening, I cannot say with any certainty if there is a round in the chamber.

I stupidly turn my attention always from him for half-a-second when I hear a loud "POP!"
Wait, HOLY SH*T! That was in real life!

I roll straight off my bed to get to floor as fast as possible and am now mentally 100% awake and in fight or flight mode despite half-a-second earlier being in full REM sleep. Only problem is, I rolled off to the opposite side of where I actually keep my gun. And my glasses. Something I probably need to try to remedy should I ever need to quickly be at the ready again.
A few seconds roll by and just as I'm contemplating an army crawl or quick flip over the top to get to the other side of the bed, I hear a second loud "POP!" This time, however, I hear it followed by a familiar fizzle.
Fireworks. Not a chambered round from uninvited guest.
My pulse quickly decelerates. I stand up and crawl back into bed. Another few seconds of silence go by followed with a rapid succession of fireworks. Maybe 20 in row coming from the football field about 200 yards away on the other side of another townhome row. All followed by the distinct fizzle lulling me back into safety.
I look over at my phone. It is 2:01 AM.

Who does that?!? I mean, probably some kids. But, those jerks!

I spend about another 10 minutes waiting to see if there are anymore fireworks. Chuckling a little to myself and replaying the vividness of my dream and how it quickly blended with my reality.
I drift off back to sleep to see what REM might hold for me next.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

I'm back. Again. Maybe.

It has been a long time since I've written anything. Especially on this blog.
But, recently, I've been having a ton of thoughts that are too big for the character constraints of Twitter and would crowd Facebook too much.

So, perhaps I'm back to this. Expect the future to be be messy both in content and in grammar. Most thoughts are just going to be written directly from my phone.

Read it, or don't. I don't mind either way. Comment if you want. Otherwise I'm just going to continue to write and when I eventually die, someone will perhaps unearth this and share that I was deeper and more thoughtful and more soulful than I felt safe to reveal in person. I think most people are.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Running for President

It occurred to me in the shower this morning that by the time the 2016 elections roll around, I will be 35 and eligible to run for President of the United States. Ergo, it would be wise to put together a platform just in case. Right?

Obviously by 2016 the landscape may have changed significantly especially depending on how the 2014 elections turn out. Therefore some of these may change given new circumstances. They are not listed in any order of importance merely in the order they came to my mind. If President doesn't work out, maybe I can land a Senate or Representative position.

As President of the United States of America, I would commit to the following:

  1. Refuse to sign any bill into law until the Senate completed a budget and the House approved how it was going to be paid. We cannot keep borrowing at our current rates and without a plan in place to reduce our debt, we are going to always have a political fight on the debt ceiling.
  2. Institute a line item veto. Quit attaching stupid pet projects to important legislation for our country. If your State needs Federal money, get it in the budget, or get it individually passed and approved. Otherwise, figure out how to get your State on board to pay for it.
  3. Withdraw all military from foreign countries with the exception of those that whose government has specifically requested our presence for stability. We have the ability to mobilize and get troops anywhere in the world within 24 hours or less should a situation arise. If citizens of a foreign country are being murdered by a regime, troops may be sent in as a peace keeping force with instructions to keep citizens alive. They will definitely not be handcuffed if they come under attack but their roll will not be as an aggressive force unless it is a matter that ties directly in with the defense and preservation of the United States of America.
  4. Active military will be deployed to the United States/Mexican border. Their job will be to engage any drug traffickers, sex traffickers, coyotes, or terrorists trying to gain entrance to the United States. They may return fire with extreme prejudice if fired upon. Any others trying to sneak across the border in hopes of a better life will be shown compassion, immediate aid if required and given detailed information for how to come into the United States legally.
  5. Streamline the immigration process by providing more resources to process applicants more efficiently while maintaining the utmost security to prevent those who wish to do American citizens harm or who are determined to be detrimental to our society based on prior actions or convictions within their own home country. Both of my parents are immigrants. I love the idea of America being a place immigrants desire to relocate to.
  6. End the drone program that spies on our own citizens or bombs targets abroad but creates a high risk of also killing innocent civilians.
  7. Gut the Department of Education. Education should be returned to the States and individual communities while only having slight oversight from the Federal level to ensure there are not breaches in discrimination of any kind.
  8. Work on a plan to reduce the power of the IRS or at least shift its focus. I am a fan of the Fair Tax system where one is taxed on what they spend and consume as opposed to what they make through their labor and endeavors.
  9. Create a system of minimum wage where those counted as dependents may be paid at a certain minimum wage while those who are not dependents may be paid at a more appropriate living wage. This will allow business who do not require high skill positions to determine for their business if they can justify providing work experience for high school and college age students and a reduced rate while those who are not dependents may still seek low skill work if necessary. I would also abolish the practice that allows servers to be paid below minimum wage and solely reliant on tips.
  10. End tax breaks and incentives for those that ship manufacturing or telecom jobs overseas. Companies based in the US would still be free to use this model for labor but will no longer be granted any incentives or breaks to do so. If products come from overseas, current or modified trade agreements will still be worked upon to benefit both countries.
  11. I believe the Affordable Care Act is a complete disaster and no citizen should be forced to buy into it. I would work on a new system of Health care that dismantles the ACA while maintaining some its more reasonable features. Among those that would be retained would be the inability to deny citizens health care due to a pre-existing condition. In my dismantling of the ACA, I do want to make sure that citizens that require affordable health care have access to it. I think that promoting competition among health care providers and doctors is more beneficial in a free market society and can ultimately drive down prices. I would include the ability for insurance companies to sell policies across state lines. I am not an expert in this area so I would listen to how health care affects those involved in the industry.
  12. End the Federal ban on Marijuana. I've never used nor wanted to. But this is an industry where the potential taxation of it's purchase far outweighs the harm of the drug on responsible adults and the cost to police it. Make the age limit for it's purchase 21 (because I have read some horrifying studies on its affect on the developing brain and potential problems later in life). Make it illegal to drive or work under it's influence just like alcohol. I would also consider a ban on its use in public because of the secondhand effects.
  13. Promote the building of additional refineries to help with gasoline production. The same promotion, whether it is through tax incentives or better deregulation, will also be applied to help research and promote alternative energy sources.
  14. Give more fair rights to private farmers and create tougher regulations on companies that manufacture or harvest genetically modified foods.
  15. Encourage the implementation of term limits for Senators and Representatives and end lifetime benefits. Additionally anything they vote to enact on the citizens of the United States, they are also subject too in maters not pertaining to our national security. I will veto any bill for which this is not the case.
  16. Find better ways to take care of our troops, police, firemen and teachers. These are the cornerstones of security and progress in America and should be treated with that value.
  17. Promote better access to mental health. This point could become a book with all my thoughts on it. But it affects marriages, families, business, homelessness, schools and public safety.
  18. Audit the Federal Reserve. No idea how this is not being done.

I suppose that is all for now. There are many issues I have not even touched upon because I either don't see them as important, the issue is complicated enough where I need to do a better job fleshing out my ideas, or I am just not aware they need to be addressed in my initial platform.

Again, these can be modified based on better research and how things are looking as we approach 2016. But this is my base. All donations from businesses or individuals is an indication that you agree with the majority of my positions (maybe not all) but is not an investment in getting me to change my mind or grant you favors should I get any semblance of power. 

Vote for Kevin Lock in 2016!

*This if of course where my beliefs lie and what I could only hope for in a Presidential candidate. I currently have no actual plan to run for office though I would not renege on the opportunity should it come available.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Worth of a Woman

When I was in college I was involved with a group now known as CRU. One Valentine's Day the men positioned themselves strategically around campus (mostly outside of the girls' dorms). We had a buckets of carnations with a note attached and handed it out to EVERY girl that walked by until we were out of them to ensure as many women as possible got a flower on Valentine's Day. While most people who read this today are not in college, I think the message on the note was timeless and have posted it below. May you read it and feel loved and blessed:

Today, you are hearing many messages from the world. You are hearing that your value and worth is dependent upon your success, your physical appearance, your relationship status, and even in the question, “Do you have plans for Valentine’s Day?” You might be experiencing several emotions: From feeling lonely to feeling connected; from frustration to satisfaction; from feeling rejected to feeling accepted; from feeling unattractive to feeling beautiful; from feeling unappreciated to feeling valued…

However, your identity is not tied up in who you are or aren’t dating… your identity is not tied up in how the world tells you to view yourself… How you might feel today does not define who you are. On this Valentine’s Day, may this flower serve as a reminder to you that Jesus loves you – so much so that God has declared you to be “fearfully and wonderfully made”. You have been created to bear the image of God and to know Him personally. Today, you can believe Jesus as He says “You are beautiful, you are infinitely valuable to me, and you are eternally special…I love you.”

If you are at a place where you needed to hear this message or want to know more about its meaning and how Jesus loves you unconditionally, please feel free to message me and I would be happy to follow up to talk, listen or answer any questions. Otherwise, know the message to be true and feel loved today even if no one verbally expresses it to you.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

How long does it take to forget?

If there is any indication in the news, the magic number for an event to become practically irrelevant to the media is 69 years.

As I write this on December 8, 2010, yesterday marked the 69th anniversary of a "day that will live in infamy." Although, that did not appear to be the case. The anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor did not even receive a scant mention on the news. In modern history, America has been attacked twice on its home soil leading to consequential wars that took our brave service men and women overseas to fight on out behalf. Those events deserve to be memorialized and remembered as they both permanently changed the direction of this country.

I understand that 69 years is not a significant milestone. I also recognize that most, not all, of the veterans that were at Pearl Harbor are no longer with us. But to give up on this memory is beyond me. Sure, the media does not need to put a full page spread of the event. But Fox, CNN, and MSNBC all failed to even mention the 69th anniversary of Pearl Harbor on their home page. (sometime after 4 PM CNN posted a link to a Life or Time slide show of the event) .
At 12:48 PM (7:48 Honolulu time), the hour of the bombing, I wandered into my break room to see if CNN would show the annual memorial service or be having a moment of silence. The answer was no. Instead some pundit was talking about the WikiLeaks scandal. A topic that has been done to death over the past several weeks and no fresh perspective can be offered at this point.

Maybe it is just me making a big deal out of nothing. That is possible and fair. But my position is that Pearl Harbor was the powder keg that put was where we are as a world power today.
Personally I think it is reprehensible of the media to not even give mention to this anniversary on their home page instead opting for political banter (banter not relevance) and juicy celebrity headlines.

And for those counting today, the anniversary of the death of musician John Lennon is plastered all over the news. Love it while you can Lennon supporters. In 2049, no one will care.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Remember Knee High?

This is the second guest post by my friend Bryce Baker.

So I have been asking the Lord for a Nehemiah moment recently and today I got it. I was wanting to see the big picture of events and where God wanted me to go from here. It's been my prayer for quite some time. Recently I've been reminded of the book of Nehemiah because of his faithfulness and unfailing big picture moments. I've been a faithful man of God but I haven't been able to see the next destination of this journey. The consistency of God in my life has been to not reveal the path but the destination so I have been patiently praying for it. In this way I shall only rely on Him for transportation to get there. It's a way of refining my faith and trust in Him. I see clear evidence throughout my life of these times and it's comforting to know that He will be faithful again.

It happened again last night. I was sitting with two friends and a question was brought up by one of them. It was a deep Biblical question that gets us all thinking and debating. I enjoy these times with my brethren because it's a chance to pull together years of different foundational knowledge into one conversation. As I was sitting there I realized that a couple years ago I would have had 4 relevant answers to this question. It got me discouraged. The forgetfulness of humans and the Word of God is nothing new. Even the chosen people of the God, the Israelites, forgot the words spoken and taught to them. It happens daily because humans are forgetful and we get distracted easily, however this is of no excuse, just reality. Needless to say I was convicted so I began to think about the path that got me here. It was a path full of Biblical devotion and worship. Non-fiction literature, child ministries, and city-wide worship gatherings has been my diet for some time now. All in itself is good but how can we stay healthy and sharp without the protein of the Word? Don't get me wrong, my diet consisted of God's Word yet the question remains. Which is more important? The concepts, truths, and lessons of God's Word or the non-forgetting memorization? The same could be asked, which is more important wisdom or knowledge? Both can be argued and we see clearly in the New Testament where the latter has failed civilizations from succeeding. We must memorize the scriptures yet without learning the concepts and truths of the Words it has no meaning. The same is true for the first that if we learn all the lessons and truth without remembering the Words then how in the future can we defend ourselves from the temptations of the evil ones?

Back in Biblical times it was required of the people to read and memorize the entire Old Testament. They read it daily and memorized every word. They experienced the true power of God and saw Jesus Himself in full earthly glory yet still didn't believe. Memorization alone will not save your soul but it is a necessity in continual growth. David writes in Psalms 119. "Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee…", "…I will delight myself in they statutes: I will not forget thy Word." It's a song we need to sing more often and a practice we need to refine.

I have never intentionally ridden on the coat tails of grace but I believe, we as Christians, ride on the coat tails of the past. It's comfort is familiar and it's emotions still ring true yet the words that touched us are as but a distant memory. In my heart I know what I believe and I lean of it daily yet the words from my mouth are like a song whose words I've forgotten. Reassurance is found back in the pages of God's Word which is like a long lost friend who returns and you interact like they never left. I'm convicted by the fact I can see the path I've taken, though it not being in the wrong direction, it's journey has made me forget the details that got me here in the first place. It is something I will be more cognizant of it in the future.

If you are like me and feel as though you've forgotten knowledge don't be discouraged. Be encouraged that you recognize it now and use it to return to the roots of your salvation and faith. Remember that there is not a final destination of growth but that it is a continual journey of your faith and relationship with God your Father. So the point I've learned is that sometimes the next destination in life can be nowhere at all on this earth but the direction you need to take is pointed directly inside yourself. Read Colossians 3, renew your mind, pray for Nehemiah moments, and sing worship to your Creator.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Can You Spare a Reminder?

Two things to keep as the focus of this post. Atlanta and Arbys. I'll come back and make those relevant points no matter how far I stray.

This weekend I went to Atlanta to spend some time with my best friend, his wife and their baby. I also got to attend the last Braves game of the season. On the way back I was hit with several "reminders" and wanted to share. As with some of my previous posts, I am tying in Biblical references but I promise if you read through it, you will see both Biblical and secular application.

One of my goals before I turn 30 is to read the Bible the whole way through again. One of the places where many people trying to read through, including myself, get bogged down is in Leviticus. Leviticus is essentially divided into three sections. Ritual Law, Moral Law, and Social Law. In reading through we find some seemingly strange laws such as: Don't wear clothes made of more than one fabric, don't have a variety of crops on the same field, don't marry people from other nations, and certain animals should not be eaten.

After Jesus, many of these ritual laws were no longer expected to be followed to the letter and I will show an example. In Acts 10:9-19 Peter has a vision where he sees a blanket of animals such as pigs, that according to his Jewish culture were considered unclean. But God says, "do not call anything unclean that I have made clean."

So what is going on here and how does it relate to Atlanta and Arbys (besides both being unclean - zing!)?

The afore mentioned laws must have had some sort of purpose. I believe that many of these laws as well as some of the others were simply to demand obedience from God's people (the Hebrews). In doing so, he was reminding them they were separate from the other nations that were not under his laws and were not chosen. Separate livestock, separate fabrics, separate crops, do not marry them, do not eat what they eat, etc.

Are you seeing the theme? Sometimes we need reminders in our lives so that we do not stray from a goal or purpose. In later books of the Bible you see God's people do away with some of His practices and laws. They ate what they wanted, married who they wanted, etc. and eventually forgot that they were separated out and belonged to God. They stared making false idols and so God eventually has them, as a nation and people, rounded up and placed into captivity to remind them they are different from every one else. Reminders.

I think I only shared with my best friend that I had recently been strongly considering a move back to Atlanta. It had gotten to the point that I was actually looking for jobs and figuring out what parts of town I could live in. It would have been for no other reason than to shake things up a bit in my current life and return to a place of familiarity.

But while I was there I was reminded: I hated living in Atlanta. I did not like the smell, the dirty looking streets and buildings, the difficulty finding places since 71 roads have some variant of "Peachtree" in them. And the thing I hated the most was the traffic! I now remember my early years of driving watching no less than three accidents where a person in one lane put on their turn signal and the car in the next lane they would get in front of, sped up to cut off the two-car length gap and ended up running into the back of the next car! Drivers in Atlanta are maddeningly frustrating and inconsistent. And as I sat there, trying to get in and out of the city, I felt my blood pressure rise to levels it had not reached since I last lived in Atlanta.

That is not to say I did not enjoy Atlanta. I love my friends there, the history, the sports teams, the diversity, the international farmers market, the memories and many other things. But I needed to be reminded that Atlanta was my past and nothing, short of finding the perfect woman there, was going to bring me back.

On the way home I stopped for gas in South Carolina and, being one who enjoys efficiency, also grabbed dinner. The closest place on the exit was an Arbys. I had not been to an Arbys in about three years and even made mention of the fact to the cashier as I painfully scrutinized my dinner options. Settling on a Arbys Roast Beef and Cheese, I hopped in the car and continued my way back to Charlotte. As I opened my sandwich in the darkness of the car and took my first bite, I was instantly reminded of why I had chosen not to eat at Arbys in so long. What they call cheese sauce tasted more similar to bile and in the dark, I could not promise you I had been given roast beef instead of baloney.

Both my Atlanta and Arbys experience had served as reminders why I had previously left both out of my daily living. Unfortunately, I needed to suffer and re-experience both to ensure that I did not do that again. But it also got me thinking...

What areas in my life do I need to be reminded of? Either a reminder for a goal or task or a reminder to avoid something that, for example, could cause bowel shaking earthquakes of guilt and remorse (an appropriately non-contextual line borrowed from the band Cake).

What about you? Do you have reminders in your life? I know I have a few guys in my life for when I am heading towards a wrong line of thinking about my direction or self worth, can remind me of who I truly am and what I truly desire. I have guys that point me back to God for answers on life's tougher questions. I know other guys that wear a rubber band around their wrist to remind them to pick up their kid from day care or get to a home improvement project started. Obviously many use pop up calenders to remind them of important meetings, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. All serve as reminders.

But I believe we need reminders in our lives of who we are and what we want. Because we get pulled so many different ways: Our loved ones want us to change one way, advertisements tell us who we should become, jobs mold us into their structure. Eventually, we risk straying from our purpose or identity.

So find reminders for your life that tell you what to draw closer to and what to avoid because otherwise, after time without reminders, you will absolutely and regretfully, forget.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Not Being a Counselor, Have I Lost My Identity?

As I wrote earlier this week in my last post, I am no longer considering myself a "counselor." While I have seen this on the horizon for the past several weeks, it is still at the forefront of my mind as the finality of it all is still working its way into my core. Being a counselor was in fact not just my profession, it was my identity. One of the first four questions anyone new asks is, "What do you do?" I no longer have a great answer for that. My only answer is a long drawn out explanation of a meaningless mid-level job that provides me no satisfaction and is not worth the breath explaining it to those that inquire.

Hi, I'm Kevin. I am an Implementation Specialist where I build ethic reporting programs for companies who have contracted us to be a third party reporting avenue for their employees or customers. No, I do not listen to complaints. No, I'm not a lawyer. I work with HR reps, CEOs, CFOs, etc. that have already purchased our programs to make sure it is set up to work how they want it to. I like to think I'm good at what I do and strive to do a good job daily, but I get no satisfaction from it

See? Meaningless to me. If life was a fully functioning watch, I have just learned I am a cog that was put in accidentally and is not moved by any other cogs nor do I effect the time keeping in any way.

Even in profile tags such a Twitter and Facebook my little byte started out with my identity. "Counselor, Christ follower, more involved in politics than I care to be. Daily working to turn inspiration into action." I am reticent in taking them down thinking if I hold out just long enough, life will circle back around and provide me again with...identity.

Counseling was not providing me very much income but it was still who I was and what I was working towards being. Writing some finality to that as I sat at my lunch break the other day just about brought me to tears for the first time since November 2007 right at my desk. I am still wrestling with the brevity of my little counseling career and how much of me I poured into it. By the way, thanks to all of you who have reached out to offer condolences and/or encouragement. It really and truly has meant a lot.

But this situation has also got me thinking. Why had I let this career path consume me? Why had I labeled myself or let others label me as "Kevin the Counselor" (not literally, but for all intensive purposes)? Should I be drawing my identity from my career, my girlfriend/wife (or lack there of), living situation, etc? It is absolutely the easiest place to look at and help provide a definition for who someone is.

But in reality that is not who I am or where I should find my identity. My faith is extremely important to me and I should be finding my identity in Christ. In other words, and in non-religious terms, when people look at me I do not want them to see "me." I want them to see Jesus. So I have to embody what Jesus is. Showing constant love to everyone around me, lifting up the poor and destitute and projecting his message for the world.

I do a poor job of showing Jesus and his love when others look at me. People more than likely have been seeing "Kevin the Counselor" or "Kevin the Sports Fan" or "Kevin the Semi-Disgruntled Employee" or "Kevin the One Who never Likes to Loose an Argument" or "Kevin the Guy Who Walks at Fast Pace and Has No Pocket Change for You."

As the identity I have clung to for so long is being laid to the side for a while, I must reclaim my true identity, "Kevin the Christ Follower; Lover of People; Care Taker of Friends, Family, the Poor, the Rich, the Sinners and the Saints alike."
It will not be easy. Others want to give me other identities. I will be tempted to cling to another identity for myself or go back to trying to be "Kevin the Counselor."
But when that happens, I should make those identities only a part of me...not who I am.

Monday, August 30, 2010

To Everything There is a Season, and This Season is Done

My time as a counselor, for right now, is done.

In January 2007, I graduated Gordon-Conwell with a Master's in Counseling. I zipped through the program in record time because I knew the track in life I wanted and had only that goal in mind. I busted my rear and graduated Cum Laude while taking extra classes to get out 1-3 semesters earlier than my peers.

In December of 2007 I joined Peer In Counseling Center as a counselor under supervision and working towards becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). I needed only to pass the National Counselor Examination (NCE) and accumulate 2000 supervised hours, 740 of which had been obtained in graduate school.

In July of 2009 I passed my NCE and statistically was within the top 5-10% of people who took the same test as me. In December of 2009 I completed my 2000 hours. However, because of life circumstances, a budding practice, and general distractions it was a few months before I turned in my final application.

What I learned after submitting my application was that in October of 2009, my licensure board voted to change several of the requirements to become a counselor. Chief among the changes was to move the required hours under supervision to 3000 hours and make the 740 hours obtained as a graduate student only count as an educational requirement and not count towards the 3000 necessary hours.

This was a huge blow to the progress I had made because I was now not considered up for licensure and the additional requirements voted on by the board made it much more impractical to obtain the additional hours needed. In essence, they made maintaining my private practice close to impossible. They also refused to grandfather me in under the old requirements because during several discussions with them, I got some terrible process advice and things were done incorrectly.

I am not going lie. I am livid. I am hurt. I am distraught. I feel slighted. I have nothing but disdain for the licensure board. But, after checking many options, there is very little I can do about it. So, I must move on in the confidence that God has brought me to this point and given me my proclivities, training and skills for a reason.

So where does that put me today? No longer able to successfully proceed in my current environment, my counseling supervisor and I have mutually decided that I will no longer be a part of Peer In Counseling Center. We have left on very good terms. I was not fired and I did not quit. I have nothing but love for Kim Honeycutt and the work she does. We both hope that our professional lives will intertwine again. We just agreed, that based on the board's new requirements, it was no longer in my best fiscal interest to continue paying rent on a space that I would not be able to adequately use.

As of September 1, 2010, I will no longer be considered a counselor because any work that I do will be outside of the necessary supervision required to legally call myself one. However, just because I am not currently pursuing my license does not mean I have lost hold of my therapeutic capabilities. I am currently looking at options for how to still involve my daily passions help people in their daily life struggles until I find the environment best suited to continue on in getting my LPC.

I am sure there will be more to come on this in the future, but in addition to following up on a few job possibilities, I may for a time, become a Life Consultant or a similar title. This will provide an opportunity where I can be contracted to work with individuals and families who need someone to provide an outside perspective on their troubles and situations or need a mediator in their marriage or family dynamics. Just because I don't currently hold the title does not mean I do not have the skills.

I may also step away from the field altogether for a while journeying through corporate America trying to positively impact those I come into direct contact with.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Killing with Kindness

Kindness made a wrong turn somewhere
and bred an unrequited hope.
Impregnated with expectations,
it bore it's child known as "Despair."

Kindness swung its heavy scythe,
separating grains of chance.
Dividing notion from reality
its job became to now end life.

Kindness gambled to let it ride,
losing its first intent.
Revealing plans for its creator,
Kindness doesn't kill, it's a suicide.

© Kevin Lock, 2010

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Quit Being a Jonah

A few months ago my small group went through Jonah. We were quite proud of ourselves because we made it through the whole book consisting of four small chapters in one night where we normally get through only a chapter or two of a book, but alas, I already digress.

Jonah is an interesting book because most people grow up or learn of the cutsie story where Jonah was commanded by God to preach to Ninevah and instead fled in the complete opposite direction so God had him sit in the belly of a giant fish until he agreed to preach. But there is so much more to this story and a lot of practical application for Christians and non-Christians. Really? Some of you are already prepping to argue if it was a whale, a fish, or how it is even possible Jonah survived that.

Let's first get past the part about the giant fish. It can be debated into the ground with no real resolutions. It is a very simplified story that does not even touch on the historical versus allegorical arguments that stem from this book. Second, this only takes the readers through the first two chapters of the story. There is a practical reason I wrote this so hang with me with a second so I can catch everyone up to speed. Then we will circle back around to what this means for you regardless of your faith.

Ninevah was a wicked city in God's eye. God sent to Jonah to warn Ninevah of their impending doom. Jonah however hated Ninevah because they were Assyrian invaders (enemies). He was okay with their destruction and did not see hope for them. After the whole surviving a fish's digestive tract thing, Jonah reluctantly agrees to warn Ninevah. What he does not expect to happen but actually did, is Ninevah fears the Lord and begins a period of repenting and fasting to avoid their own destruction.

Here is where Jonah should be celebrating God's mercy and grace for once lost people. But no, Jonah gets pissed. He wanted to see Ninevah get pounded to dust like Sodom and Gomorrah. So Jonah retreats to a hill over looking the city to sulk and express His displeasure with God. God rebukes him and says "Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?" Basically God told Jonah to quit his belly aching and abide in His concern and mercy for a city that had not known or followed Him.

I get the impression far too many Christians cannot not wait for the end of the world. It comes out in our language. "Don't worry about your troubles, Jesus will be back soon." "Hurry up rapture (my friend James-Michael could have whole debate on what the rapture might actually mean for Christians)."
But like Jonah, how many of those calling yourselves Christians are so intent on Jesus' return and the new Earth, that you fail to take care of what is currently before you? How many of you fail to witness or tell of God's greatness and mercy because you think someone deserves God's wrath. I know in the past I was guilty of this and used my anger to project God. While God does have a plan for the wicked, He would much rather have them turn and follow Him and accept His gifts so He can shower them with His mercy and love.

If we call ourselves Christians, we should reflect this same attitude. Avoid grumbling when God does not administer swift justice to our enemies, instead be light and show God's love to them. You cannot predict who will turn away from their wrong doing to give their lives over to God. Jonah certainly could not predict Ninevah's reaction. Certainly do not rejoice in another persons downfall and quit waiting for the end. Live in today.

Oh yes, I promised application for those not who do not follow Christ. In the same way, point out to those who have wronged you, their follies and misdeeds. Some may apologize and seek to rectify the situation. Be happy about that and empty your heart of bitterness. As a counselor, I cannot tell you how many times a husband or wife has come to a session with pent up rage because their spouse wronged them. However, the spouse had no idea the extent to which they were being blamed. Upon confrontation, the spouse immediately apologized and sought to change their behavior. If someone is willing to change their heart or actions, should you not allow them the opportunity to do so instead of condemning them and maintaining your anger or resentment?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


When roots are firmly planted,
it never dissipates.
Its growth may slow after quick spurt,
but it never dissipates.
It may disappoint,
but never dissipates.

The pursuit may consume time,
it is not a waste.
Foundations may shake,
but won't be laid to waste.
It will one day expire,
but never be a waste.

This is the true essence of love,
come and have a taste.

© Kevin Lock, 2010

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Why the iPad Failed to Impress [Me]

Unless you have been living under a technological rock (and it is actually okay if you have), you are well aware of Apple's latest product - The iPad. Originally dubbed by the rumor mill "The i Tablet" it was joked to be the most important tablet to come around since Moses descended from Mt. Sinai. With a pre-billing like that, it was almost inevitable that it was being set up to disappoint. Don't get me wrong, it is visually stunning and can be extremely practical. But alas, here is where it failed me and what I needed to stay interested [disclaimer; I'm not a tech wiz so forgive the absence of the jargon. I just know what I like and what I don't]:

1. The operating system - The iPad has a very similar operating system to that of the iPhone and iPod Touch. The movements are the same. The display is mostly the same. Thus, the uses are practically the same. Think big screen iPod Touch with some minor modifications.
To win me over, this really needed to be a touch screen version of Leopard. If you are already using Leopard, imagine ripping the keyboard off your laptop and being able just use the screen with an added touch screen keyboard. I would have been in the store yesterday for that.

2. It's noticeably absent of flash capabilities. Even as Steve Jobs demoed the iPad, he made the mistake (as I see it) of visiting a web site that typically contained Flash. Instead there existed an icon for the missing plug-in. For those of who are unaware of why flash is important, borrow your friend's iPhone and visit half of the sites you normally do and see how they display. I know a lot of the ones I visit use flash in some capacity and it is no fun to visit them only to see white boxes where a video or flash displayed picture would normally be. I do not understand why it has taken so long to make flash available on Apple's mobile devices. If you wanted to "wow" me today, announce that upgrade.

3. The price point - it is actually not that bad at $499 until you look a little bit closer at what that means. $499 is for Wifi capable only with no 3G and for 16 GB. If I am not storing my music on the iPad, that is not terrible but if I am going to store my music, watch downloaded movies , play games and use it to work on documents, I am going to need at least a 32 GB and more likely a 64 GB. At this point I am now looking at $699. Still not terrible until you consider it is missing that stupid 3G which makes the iPad uber portable. So tack on another $130 to make it $829. Now I have to consider if I need this, my iPhone and a laptop.

4. Still tied to AT&T - I will spare you the percentage of my bi-weekly pay check that goes towards paying off the bane of the telecom world, AT&T. The iPad has two data plans which are both run though AT&T. Ranging from $14.99 to $29.99 you are paying another monthly bill on top of the definite half grand you already dropped on the iPad. And forget getting it subsidized, this is contract free. Not that there is anywhere else to take it right now.

5. No Camera - If I am going to use this as a portable work device (which I assume I would since it is capable of installing iWorks), then it should have some sort of mobile camera for video conferencing. This would also be beneficial for using Skype.

6. No CD or DVD drive. Again, if I am making this my go-to portable device, it would be useful to have a CD drive to load up any software, CDs, or to make a CD version of a presentation. I've been working on. Also, if it is made to withstand a 10-hour flight to Tokyo, I may want to bring a DVD I already own rather than downloading a new one off iTunes.

So while the iPad has definitely revolutionized that particular niche and made the Kindle seem like parchment paper comparatively, I do not believe it offers enough for me to run out and buy version 1.0. Keep trying Apple. I know you have it in you.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Help for Haiti

For those of you who have been following this blog, you know last summer I spent a week in the Bahamas rebuilding homes with Bahamas Methodist Habitat. I believe strongly in this organization and the director Abraham McIntyre has become a friend of mine.

Right now they really need your help as they are working around the clock to respond to the crisis in Haiti. Just to give you a few statistics regarding how Bahamas Methodist Habitat (BMH) is aiding in the Haitian relief efforts:

  • First BMH plane was in the air only 10 hours after the earthquake
  • 17,000lbs of medical supplies have been delivered
  • 32 people have been evacuated
  • 9 private pilots are assisting (from NC, TN, AL and even Iowa!)
It is AMAZING how God is leveraging the BMH team in such a big way and so quickly! Their biggest need is financial support to continue the flights in and out of Haiti. Right now, 100% of donations are going toward fuel for the planes. It costs $1500 to fuel these planes to continue dropping off supplies and assisting with the evacuations. Time is of the essence. Please visit their site to get up to date stats on their efforts and donate to them directly. It only takes a few seconds but having to turn these planes around as fast as possible, each cent and second counts.
Thank you.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Copying Christians - Firing Off About Christian Chirp

This my first post in several months because I have been really busy and unfortunately it is going to be a rant. If you have been reading this blog for some time, you have either inferred or know that I am a Christian who holds true to a fairly conservative theological perspective. In other words, my faith and devotion to Christ would be hard to be called into question. Please take that into context when I fire off about this absurd Christian practice.

I am an avid user of Twitter, a social networking platform called micro-blogging. Perhaps I could be accused of using it too much. The basic ebb and flow to it is that you write your thoughts down in 140 characters or less called "Tweets." Other people using the network can choose to follow you (key word "choose") and thus be updated each time you share your thought with cyberspace. By now, so many people are sharing their thoughts on such a diverse amount of topics that there is no feasible way to follow everyone. Heck, I can't even keep up with everyone in Charlotte.

Twitter has been plugging away for a few years but has only gotten serious consideration from the masses in the last year or two. Just like MySpace, FaceBook and even Gmail, it will go through its occasional bout of spam but they do work to control it.

So now for the rant. I recently caught wind of a "Christian Social Networking site" called Christian Chirp. Just think, tweet-chirp, chirp-tweet. This actually infuriates me as a Christian. Certain individuals, in this case James Paris, think that Christianity should be its own subculture (more examples towards the end). So in all his brilliance, Mr. Paris copied the idea AND format of Twitter (even the mascot is a bird just like Twitter's and the color scheme is the same) and got a couple thousand Christians to start using it as a "Christian alternative to Twitter." I am not going to sit here and judge each person using Christian Chirp but I will stereotype them based on my experience with the Christian subculture. Most of them probably do not read their Bible in any sort of context instead opting only for key verses they want to have pertain to their lives, believe everything written in the Old Testament about Israel was also written about their own lives, believe that all Christians should be Republican, and believe that their belief system is a popularity contest; the more people who believe the same thing, the more right they are.

Here are the things that really aggravate me about this. We, as Christians, were never called to be separate from non-Christians. Hear that? No subculture! We are called to be a part of the world but not of the world. This means live among and participate in life with non-believers but just behave in a way that is not contradictory to God's commands like the world often does. Have a beer but don't get drunk, get mad but not un-righteously or viciously, oppose abortion but still have love for those who have already made that choice, work in a secular job but do so with honest practice, humility and with good work ethic.

Second, if you are going to make a subculture and use our Savior as your backing, at least be innovative about it. Again, chirp-tweet? A Bread Crumb and Fish shirts that are patterned off of Abercrombie and Fitch, or Add Jesus instead of Adidas, oh my I could go on all day with the ridiculousness of it all. Christians seem to like to take something popular, copy it, put their Christian spin on it, and make it look cheesier or lamer than the original. However, Christians who use their faith as a popularity contest eat this garbage up.

My other problem, with Christian Chirp in particular is, what is so un-Christian about Twitter that a spin-off had to be branded? You choose who you want to follow. If someone that is a little seedy is following you on Twitter, you can block them. Or better yet, make your tweets represent the Gospel and perhaps serve as a witness in love as they read your written thoughts.
I will be the first to admit that as much as I love Jesus and am devoted to serving Him, I am not always his best witness. But if I let that push me into separating myself from the rest of the world to avoid having them be able to see my grime, no one would ever see the good about Christ through me either. I firmly believe that as I walk with God, he will use my blunders for His good to reach someone else. Likewise, He will pull examples from the world and teach me my follies and strengths so I can grow in deeper relationship with Him.

Through this, I am not saying that there is no value to Christian products, but if the secular world has done something well and it is not in direct opposition to God, use it and witness through it instead of simply repackaging it with a Christian label.

Editors note: Shameless plug, if you really liked this post or it pissed you off check out my past post, Who Cares if We Are a Christian Nation

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Higher Expectations

Pushing through the thicket,
Brambles of desire seek
to catch the cloak.
Flee like Joseph,
Proud Stag not weak
As pressures work to choke.
Press forward into hope,
Perfection seems bleak
In search of missing yoke.
No respite in streams,
Where too easily pulled from the creek
Is water of intentions broke.
Searching in ceaseless vain,
Wanting to find and speak
To the one of whom God spoke.

Support for Obama Dwindling

What seems like ages ago, and yet not long enough ago, I wrote a blog declaring my support for Obama. As a fiscally and socially conservative (not to be confused with being 100% Republican), I thought it best to support the President as a figurehead instead of trying to find fault in everything he did like so many liberals tried to do with Bush. As much as I knew I would disagree with Obama, I said I would fairly criticize him but not moan just for the sake of it.
Unfortunately I am not sure I can lend my support much longer. I now see Obama as very dangerous for the American people on several different levels. To begin with, Obama has been circling the globe apologizing to our enemies. Sure, there are some wrongs that need to be righted. Our hands are not clean. But my gosh, he is coming just shy of saying that all past and any future attacks against our military or citizens would be perfectly justified. As a world power, we cannot seem like a paper tiger. It emboldens enemies to carry out their irrational murders.
Obama has also been firing off his mouth in areas he should not be working in. The arrest of his Cambridge friend has turned into a huge debacle. Obama pretty much race baited the nation before getting facts. Instead of apologizing to those he wronged, he tried to justify his actions. I am sure more will come out about this story but there are some things a President should just be silent on instead of acting like a child a verbally lashing out irrationally.
However the biggest point has to be with his sheer failure at commonsense in spending. After bilking the country with the wasteful stimulus package which, every report I have seen, has failed miserably and has not benefited the citizens it promised, he is ready to move onto Cap and Trade and make his mark with a healthcare plan that is flat out dangerous. While Congress will be the one drafting the actual plans, Obama has been putting increasing pressure in a public forum to have Congress rush these bills through. So, like the stimulus bill, they will go unread meaning our deceptive politicians can put whatever the heck they want in it. Consider it a blank check that results in the government owning a bigger chunk of your life and your money.
As citizens, we just cannot afford these things. The plans call to only tax the rich, but they will soon run out and the effects will filter down.
I still have to support Obama as our President. I know he has a hard job. But as a rational and dedicated leader to our nation, I am finding him down right despicable. I am not so sure how much longer I can support him as President because at every turn, he is trying to turn America into something our founders were adamantly opposed to. At that point he becomes an elected tyrant. I will not support a tyrant and like our founding fathers will pledge to America over our ruler.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Ahhh High School

After asking for some tips on what to write about, my old friend Lauren (Bowen) Train suggested I write about some memories from high school. Why high school? Well, for her that was the period she knew me best in and also my ten-year reunion is next year. Meaning I have approximately a year to win the lottery, lose 35 pounds, and start dating a supermodel (those who know actually happen to know a single supermodel, I would be very appreciative if you can make that one a reality).
I have decided to just post her questions as she asked them (in bold) and answer them. This will give you a little more insight into what I was like during my more formative years.

1. What was your fondest high school memory?
Do fond high school memories actually exist? Towards the end I actually had a lot more fun. I think my favorite memories were when I was heavily involved in making a few of our student produced movies. We made two of them and they actually did not turn out too bad. One was good enough to be a feature presentation at a nearby School of Arts. I really enjoyed all of the hype that was attributed to our second movie including an official screening and all of the work that went into it.

2. What was your most embarrassing high school moment?
I have chosen to block that out. I think the closest thing I can think of was my homecoming date my senior year. I took this girl who had just moved to town earlier in the year and didn't know any better. I mean...know anyone. We had a pretty decent time but at the actual dance, she kept disappearing to the ladies room. Over the course of the year we remained loose friends. though she never explained why she kept disappearing. When prom came around I thought about taking her again since everyone else had "paired off" already. It was at that time I found out she was a lesbian. Seems everyone but me knew that bit of information.

3. Who was your favorite high school teacher and what did you liked about him/her? (my money is on Mr. Lloyd here)
Dead on. No doubt it was Mr Lloyd. Mr Lloyd cared more about his students than any teacher I have ever known. He was a passionate English teacher and invested in the education of every single student. He would have students over to watch movies and sometimes just hang out (before any of you go anywhere with that, Mr. Lloyd did not have nefarious bone in his body). He had a sharp wit and was not afraid to unleash it on his students. He was so popular with us that we made him the villain in our movie "The Jade Monkey" just to have him in it. He would spend time after class or on the weekends shooting the movie with us. He also gave me the nickname "Polar Bear" because when I slept in his class he said I looked like a polar bear lounging at the zoo.

4. If you could have nominated yourself for one senior superlative, what would it have been and why?
I think "Nicest." I tried really hard to be nice to everyone I met. I tried to go above and beyond to accommodate others even when it was an imposition to me. Unfortunately it led to me getting trampled on and taken advantage of a bunch. In high school, nice guys do not finish first.

5. Who of your high school friends are you still in touch with (and facebook stalking does not include being in touch with).
Mike Comer was pretty good friend in high school. He has become a great friend since. He now lives in Charlotte and is in my Bible study. I very loosely have stayed in touch with Brain Wages, Lauren (Bowen) Train and Mosi Smith. That is not a great track record. My parents moved 3 years ago so I no longer return to Atlanta, hence why I have lost touch with most of them. There are a few I talk to from time to time.

6. What is one high school experience that was so exciting you would love to relive?
I think my conversion to Christianity and the months following it. I felt so alive (still do) and passionate. Other than that, I had such fun writing, acting in, filming, and editing our movies that I would do that again in a heart beat. I still look for opportunities to do stuff with film these days.

7. What is one high school moment you wish you could take back?
Can I opt for the whole thing? There are so many things I would do differently if I could go back. I was so unsure of who I was and ended up missing out on a lot of potential. It is not so much what I would take back as it is what I would do different. I do wish I hadn't been misdiagnosed with Spinal Meningitis. That wrecked a few days of summer as I was put in isolation at the hospital and had a spinal tap. Turned out to be strep throat.

8. What was the wildest thing you did under the age of 18?
For the most part I was straight edged kid that generally stayed out of trouble. There were a bunch of "wild" adventurous things I did as a Boy Scout. I still have few scars to show it. Some of the cooler things I did were scuba diving with sharks and I once spent a night in the mountains of Virginia with with nothing but a pocket knife and had to build my own shelter for the night.

Well I hope you have enjoyed this look into my past. Feel free to ask anymore questions or follow-ups. Also if you have any other ideas for me to write about, let me know. They don't all have to be about me.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What to write about?

Today I am just restless. I have typed and deleted my thoughts about six or seven times already. I want to write. I want to get my thoughts out but for some reason I just can't. I have so many things I want to write about but find most of them reveal more than I want to or are too self-involving. But here is the thing...I have to get my creative juices flowing somehow or I feel I will explode or repress everything. So what I would like is crowd participation.
What should I write about? Any topic. No matter how serious or ridiculous it may be. It can be news related, a question for me or about me, a funny or interesting topic, etc. I will take anything. Basically, I am trying to unwedge this writer's block.
Will you help?

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Path of Experience

I ventured on a troubled path
And pushed the brush aside.
Through the woods and through the muck
To the places light would hide.

Finally I reached the road of ease
A smile crept across my face.
Proud of my difficult walk,
I had finally found some space.

Later I went back to the path I had forged.
But the brush returned to block the way.
I attempted to clear it out again,
And make it back to view the day.

Over and over I took the vicious stroll.
The twigs and vines would always snare.
Each time I swathed a path
To bring finality to despair.

I wondered why the track always had debris.
Forever leaving my soul drained.
When I cried out for an answer
God quietly explained:

The reason the trail was so often blocked
And I had to fight the gray
Was to make me an experienced guide.
To show others the way.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Maggiano’s and Chima Raffle to Support Habitat

Yesterday I informed people that I currently have in my possession a $25 gift certificate to Maggiano’s which was thoughtfully given to me by one of my friends. She gave me the gift certificate in order to hold a raffle to raise money for my mission trip this summer. @CLTdining on Twitter learned of my contest and very graciously decided to chip in and up the ante. @CLTdining has donated a $50 gift certificate to the new Brazilian restaurant Chima! So now there will be two winners!

I tell you this because one of these gift certificate can be yours for the low price of $2. You read that right, $2.00! Think of what you can do with a $50 or $25 gift certificate to a great restaurant. Impress your friends, your boss, your spouse, that girl you like…wait, I wouldn’t try to impress the girl you like with a gift certificate. Save that for when your Facebook status is changed to “In a Relationship.”

So here is how you can win this $50 Brazilian culinary explosion or the $25 payment for a little slice of Italian heaven:

1. Visit my support letter here by May 10, 2009. (

2. At the bottom of the letter there is a “Donate” button for Pay Pal.

3. Donate as much as you would like in increments of $2. Each $2 increment is considered one raffle ticket. (ex. $10 gets you 5 raffle tickets).

4. Important: Email me at to personally let me know you have entered and how many raffle tickets you bought (I will receive a confirmation email from Pay Pal too). Because other people are donating through this site as well, I want to make sure I know who is entering the contest. It also gives me a sure fire way to contact you if you are the winner.

5. The winner will be announced on this site on May 11, 2009 and they will be contacted by email (provided they gave it to me).

If you are on Twitter, help me get the word out with: “Win a $50 gift card to Chima or a $25 gift card to @Maggianos and help @UTKevDawg repair homes and restore lives. “

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Who Cares if We are Christian Nation?

A few days ago Newsweek seemingly shocked a lot of Christians with this article declaring we were getting closer to the end of a Christian America. They have since backed off that statement a little with subsequent articles here and here. Now, albeit to the author Jon Meacham, who penned the original and one of the follow-up stories clarifying the first, he does a very good job of clarifying a distinction of Christianity in America and a Christian America and worked off of verifiable data to make his point. This is not a post to attack or argue against him. In fact I could I say I have long already held this decline in assumption.

However, I want to speak to those who became up in arms or worried about the content of the article. As you can read in other posts and my profile, I am a faith believing Christian and agree with many things the "Christian Right" holds of value with the addition of a lot of social justice issues. So I will start my conversation with a question. Who gives a rip in the world if America is seen as a Christian Nation? Add to that: Who cares if Christianity is the most popular mind set or faith?

I for one did not get into Christianity because it was the most popular things to do. I got into because when I began asking questions at the age of 17, it was the only faith that had answers for evil in the world, restoration for my wicked acts and atonement for sin, an explanation for death, and the concept of Grace (which upon initial exposure made my heart respond in full). From the very beginning I was never told it would be easy, popular, or the rule of the land. My own parents made my first year as a Christian tough by asking me to live a suddenly magical higher standard and then calling me a hypocrite when I failed (the no longer do this and respect my choice of faith).

In 1966, Time Magazine asked "Is God Dead?" and went on to assume faith was on the decline and there was no need for God. Since that time millions around the world including myself have become Christians. What I am trying to get at is, don't rely on a writer or another human being to project your own personal faith or God's rule. Jesus told His followers the path would be narrow and would not be easy due to persecution. Jesus' intent was never to use faith to legislate either. He never told the Romans how to conduct their business. Who did he get mad at? Those who used the name of God to conduct shady practices. Who did Paul warn and lash out at? It was not the government. It was not even Hebrews who chose not to follow Jesus. It was those who followed Christ. Everything you see Paul and others write about was directed at Christian believers and how to conduct their lives as individuals and as a community under oppressive rule. Paul knew that you could not tell someone who did not follow God how God was going to make them live their lives.

But here, there can be found the crux and the challenge. Paul told us to witness to non-believers so that they may know God and do His will so they may be spared from eternal separation, worldly desperation, and sinful exhibition. So, if the level of Christianity is declining in America, it is your fault and it is my fault. Why? How? Because I believe that any person that exposed to the Truth, Love, and Grace of Christ cannot ignore it and that is where lives and opinions are changed. So if that is not evident, it is because we are not doing enough to present it as such. Not through legislation or forced religion. Does that mean we give up on issues like abortion? No. Of course not. Lives are at stake there. But do not ignore the mother and their living life. Do not ignore the gay man who desires to be with their partner. Sure they have bought into what we know to be a deception. But my oh my, if we do not love them as Christ loved us, then they will NEVER see Christ and never turn away from the lies of the world. My friends, concern yourselves not with the numbers in mass that claim to be Christians, concern yourselves with your neighbor, co-worker and family members. Show them Christ as He displayed himself in love and compassion and concern for the lost. Leave the judgment for Him.
As for being a Christian Nation. One day God will come back to claim ALL nations. It may or may not be in our life time but there is blessed assurance that He is still in control.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Will This Become a Habit(at)?

I have been presented with an opportunity to complete number 29 on my list and work with Habitat for Humanity in rebuilding homes. Shortly after completing and publishing my list, one of the guys in my Bible study informed me that every summer he travels down to the Bahamas to repair hurricane damaged homes on the island of Eleuthera. This year he decided to invite a larger group to join him to help out Bahamas Methodist Habitat Center.

After a little consideration but a lot of praying, I have decided step out in faith and join my friend on this trip. I will be down there from July 19 to July 25, 2009. However, I cannot do this alone. I have to raise $1000 in order to pay for my flight, lodging, food and the construction supplies necessary to assist. One of the reasons I had to pray a lot about this trip is that I have never done a missions trip before. The largest reason I have not, is because I hate asking other people for money. I have never even liked asking my own parents for financial help. They had to impose their grace on me in order to pay off my credit card.

But as I said, I am stepping out in faith, knowing that God will bring about people who will provide for this trip. If you have a few moments, please check out my posted my support letter (with a few internet modifications). You will be able to read more details about the trip. At the end of the post, if you feel inclined, I have provided a few ways for to help support my trip. You can take it as a tax deduction and I will provide you with updates leading up to the trip and post trip (I am not sure the internet situation down there to provide updates on the trip as they just got air conditioning last year).

Thank you for reading and your support prayerfully and/or financially.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Monday Morning Chuckle

Today I was emptying out my email folder (a tedious task) and ran across this email from my mother in 2004 (yeah I know, I am waaaay behind). She sent the original list and, having a terrible time with my computer during this period, sent the cynical italicized responses. I think it is good for a Monday morning chuckle.

If Only Life Could Be Like A Computer...

If you messed up your life, you could press "Ctrl, Alt, Delete" and start all over!

Unless you have my computer in which case the computer has frozen everything leaving me stuck in the same awful situation in life until somebody had the mercy to unplug me.

To get your daily exercise, just click on "run"! If you needed a break from life, click on suspend.

My computer seems to run forever with out finding the file, which would mean that my poor little legs would just fall off until my computer froze resulting in my impending heart attack.

Hit "any key" to continue life when ready.

Since there is no "any key" on my keyboard, my life would never get back on track and I would end up a piece of crap on the side walk like my computer is about to become if it doesn't start working

To get even with the neighbors, turn up the sound blaster.

Ok you got me I can't think of anything witty for this one...more sound is very good!!

To add/remove someone in your life, click settings and control panel.

In my case I would be removing the things I don't want, yet they seem to still leave traces of themselves eating up hard drive space. And forget adding anything! That is how my hard drive got screwed up in the first place

To improve your appearance, just adjust the display settings.

So I can become Black or glow white? What kind of benefit package is that?

If life gets too noisy, turn off the speakers.

No. Sound is good. But I may one day be able to turn off my hearing aide when I want to tune out my mom

When you loose your car keys, click on find.

And by typing in "keys" it would give me some directory that would lead me to the keys I thought I got rid of when I removed my first car and give me nothing for the one I actually tried adding.

"Help" with the chores is just a click away.

See...this relates because my computer is about as slow as the police and ambulance that I would require if I ever needed help.

Auto insurance wouldn't be necessary. You would use your diskette to recover from a crash. (note: diskettes were these small square plastic thing that held minimal information so you take a file off one computer and put it on another. Same intention as a jump drive.)

Except that I lose those little black things, meaning I would still be screwed just like the auto insurance company does and I would be paying for it later

And, we could click on "SEND NOW" and a Pizza would be on it's way to YOU...

Except when you get a failure notice because you typed in the email address wrong in which case your pizza would get delivered to Botswana.

Monday, March 23, 2009

How Much Can I Bend Before I Break?

Growing up I was an avid fan of comic books. I no longer read them but I happen to remember one storyline particularly vividly. Over years and years one of my favorite superheroes, Batman, had locked up countless of insane villains in a place called Arkham Asylum. In a concerted effort to do away with Batman once and for all, a guy known as Bane orchestrated the mass breakout of all of the prisoners Batman had put away. The city was now overrun with decades worth of the craziest people, some of which also possessed superpowers. Because the police could not handle the load, Batman had to go after each individual.
Batman spent countless sleepless hours re-apprehending each villain often succumbing to hard falls, bruised bones, and general fatigue from all of the fighting. At the end of it all, Bane finally confronts Batman. On any other day, Batman could easily dispose of Bane despite his super strength. But on that particular encounter, Batman was worn down physically and mentally from days of non-stop fighting. After a small tussle, Bane picks Batman up and easily breaks his back over his knee. The greatest super hero was now crippled and defeated. Broken and left for dead.

That is somewhat how I feel right now. I am constantly fighting the tasks that come before me. I am currently working a full 40-hour week at the job that pays the bills. I am putting roughly 10 to 20 hours each week into my future career as I see clients, plan to teach classes, conduct assessments and read so I can get licensed, most of which is not paid time. I volunteer for CharlotteOne and lead the Ministry team which commits me there every single Tuesday in addition to follow-up throughout the week with people who ask for connections or prayer. Bible study meets every Monday at my house. That is my weekly schedule.
I was just somewhat involuntarily commissioned to lead a new class in mid-April. so I need to learn and prep the new material. I have to start thinking about and raising support for my missions trip in July since some more money is due soon. I still have to get in touch with all of my contacts for references on my licensure application. I need to schedule a new crop of assessments. I foolishly embarked on an aggressive 30 things I want to do before 30 list. I have recorded my grandparents giving an oral history of both sides of our family and need to edit those videos so that they can see their life's works before the opportunity expires.
All of this to say I am wearing down and wondering at what point I will be broken. I would not trade any of it and am not the type to give up on anything and certainly not anything that would let others down. But something is going to have to give soon as I find I no longer have enough hours in the day. I feel like Batman. But unlike him, I know my Bane is coming to snap me in half. I just don't know from where or when.
The good thing about the Batman story is that others were ready to step in for him while he recovered. And he did recover. Batman came back from being broken in half to continue his mission. Part of me desires the break to come so I can get to the recovery and bounce back stronger than ever.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Absolute Intolerable Government (AIG)

While for the most part I veer away from discussing specific political policies on here, preferring to speak in more over arching generalities, I cannot ignore this AIG tax because it is a flat out scary precedent. For those of you who need to be caught up to speed real quickly, please follow because this could affect you one day.
Simplified, American International Group, Inc. (AIG) got into some serious financial trouble and to avoid going under, got bailed out with much more than a couple billion dollars by the US government (essentially, we the people, because our taxes are paying for it). Word recently got out that despite their short comings and borrowed money, $165 million was being paid out as bonuses to some of AIG's employees. It was certainly outrageous because no one who dooms a company to financial failure should be given a bonus, but my understanding is that these bonuses were promised before the bailout. There was even a provision in the stimulus bill protecting these bonuses (yeah the same stimulus bill that your Representative signed without reading the whole way through).
Okay, now that you are caught up with the drama and outrage, here is where it gets flat out scary. The government, in an attempt to correct their own error, wants to tax these bonuses at 90%!!! Let me a go a bit more in depth, because if you don't realize what is happening, you should be enlightened. Despite the sheer stupidity of the undeserved bonuses and our taxes that will be paying for it, it is the government's fault for protecting that and allowing those to be guaranteed.
Why I am very very concerned is because the government is REWRITING TAX CODE TO TARGET SPECIFIC PRIVATE CITIZENS. They are not going after AIG as a corporation or criticizing them for paying billions of your tax money to foreign banks (oh, that is a whole other rant). No, they are targeting private citizens on specific money and at an outrageous 90% of the earnings. Why this is scary is because you could be next! I am not trying to fear monger, but with our growing deficit, that money is going to need to paid back. What is to say that the government won't come up with a tax that targets a certain group that you are in? And to what excess? 90% is very excessive. Even though I admittedly did limited research, I am not so sure that this is even constitutional.
I have long been a proponent of the Fair Tax system for reasons like this. The government has too much power over private citizens and it is overstepping their bounds. Rewriting tax code in a matter like this is very serious. As much as I hate AIG right now, I abhor this measure. Do you think it will stop with AIG? I think the government, if they are allowed to get away with this will use it for future taxation policies. Scary future potentially ahead.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Where Do You Value Education?

A few days ago the unfortunate news broke that CMS is planning on cutting nearly 500 teacher jobs here in Mecklenburg County. Currently I am not directly affected by the move but at the outset I was outraged at the poor planning. After thinking about it for a day or so, I am even more pissed off. Education is the one area of our society that is already neglected in teacher pay and now we don't even have enough money to pay their already paltry salary? In my opinion, it is a horrible mismanagement of money and terrible budgeting.
As a country, we already boast some of the dumbest and most ignorant kids in the developed world because of overcrowded classrooms, crappy administration and more politicking with our kids futures than I care to discuss. I would love to know what pet projects in out our state and county are taking money away from our teachers. Between the state lottery and the amount of taxes that are taken from us, we should be able to make it work.
I do not know how you begin to justify this idea. The one area you should be trying to grow especially in a recession should be education. We no longer have a farm society that everyone can default to if education does not work out. No, we now have wellfare. And congrats, by making cuts in education, you are growing that now and for the future. Right now there are an influx of professionals who could share their gifts and knowledge with students and could be given jobs or you could pay the teachers better than what they get to attract a higher standard of teacher. Cutting education screws over the future.
I won't have to worry though. As I told one person the other day, at this rate I am bound to homeschool my kids anyways. That way I can guarantee they get the education they deserve and will be smart enough to one day rule over the kids of these dumbasses that cut so many needed teachers.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Knowing the Price of Everything But the Value of Nothing.

Written by my friend Bryce Baker as a guest post. He needs his own blog because his stuff is fantastic. This really echos my heart.

I have been so humbled this week by the Holy Spirit. It is so incredible to see how God is moving within people. How He brings things together in such a bigger picture that we could have never imagined. He has been moving even within our group of friends. Twice I have noticed friends asking themselves tough questions concerning their relationship with God. I could see in their faces they were yearning for something more. Desiring answers and a better understanding of what God was trying to say. It broke my heart. When I saw this story I immediately was convicted and felt a burden. Every day each of us interacts with guys and girls who, on the outside are happy and normal, but on the inside they are teeter-tottering on righteousness or destruction.

"There was this couple who sold their house to buy an old elegant house in the city. It was their plan to renovate and live in this house that was built in the 1800s. So they started with new plumbing, new addition, and new HVAC system but when the contractor came in, the first thing he did was pull out leveling jacks. He started to level the house and make it square and plumb. Once he had done that he started to notice that doors wouldn't close, windows wouldn't shut, and plumbing sat sideways. What had happened was that slowly over time the house settled. Whoever was living in that house before all those years didn't notice anything because it's not like it settled or changed all at once. Every day a little bit here or a little bit there. However, when they made it level, all of a sudden everything was out of sync. The contractors came in and had to use special tools to level it. You couldn't square up the walls by trusting your eyes or level the floors by your feet. You have to use a tool to compare them to. God has given us a way to level and square our lives. It is the cross and it is His Holy Word."

Our talks in CharlotteONE have been about Love and Loving others. How much do you love your friends? No seriously think about it. How much do you love your friends? Do you love them enough to buy their lunch if they are hungry? Do you love them enough to cheer them up when they are sad? What about saving their relationship with God? Do you want to see them for 15 minutes on this Earth, experience a funny story together, and then let them fall by the way side? That is what we do every day. Satan didn't just fall from Heaven and become an annoyance to God. Satan deliberately turned his back on Him. Satan deliberately is waging war with our Creator and with us. He is trying to take the thing most precious to God, our love, and make it worthless. We know the price of a loaf of bread in a grocery store but we never think about the value that bread has to someone who is truly hungry. We know the price of our souls, the cross, but we never realize how valuable we are to Jesus.

Every day Satan manipulates us in ways we don't recognize. He lies to us making areas in our lives "settle" without us knowing. Little by little over many years we become non-square and unlevel. A good example would be our country over the past 200 years. We don't realize how we've changed at first but years later when we look back we see how far we've strayed from Him. Just as Casting Crowns’ song says, "slow fade." Piece by piece we give our souls away. We accept the sex that perverts our minds and the alcohol that clouds our conscience. We may not lie, cheat, or steal, but we will sure miss time with God on Sunday morning because we had too much to drink on Saturday night. We are all hurting and we are all looking for answers to fill the void within our hearts. Use the tools God gave you to level and square your life and then help square the lives of your friends who you should Love like yourself. Once you do, your sight will no longer be foggy, and your eyes will open to the areas that have "settled." If we all come together and help each other become square and level…then we can be a house that the Holy Spirit can live in. You are responsible for your own soul, but as a Christian, you are responsible for the souls of others.

That is my prayer request this week. That our friends who are questioning right or wrong and those who may not know Him find answers. We can make a big difference in someone’s relationship with God by doing little things to encourage. Pray with me.

My friend James-Michael has also posted this on his blog, which is a frequent read of mine. Check it out!