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!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dust Yourself Off and Try Again

As I lay face down in the snow I thought to myself, "That is it! It's over. Just lay here for a while and then give up." Let me rewind a bit and tell you how I got here. Last weekend, I embarked on trip to Snowshoe, WV with about 19 friends. One of my reasons for going, other than to enjoy an incredible weekend with people I like, was to knock off number seven on my 30 Things By 30 list. At the outset of the trip, five people, counting myself, were going to try and snowboard for the first time. By day two, it was just me.

So there I was. All by myself on the frozen slope. Everyone else was skiing/snowboarding with each other since their skill set was up to par. Already sore from the prior day's frequent and rough falls, I had just taken another tremendous spill that had sent me face first down the mountain. My goggles, which were perpetually fogged up, had flown off my face and were laying another five feet down the mountain. A few people had seen my fall from the ski lift and had made a few rude remarks about my obvious lack of skill. One guy cracked his skis together in an attempt to dump his accumulated snow on my head. I lay there feeling various pain receptors send signals to my brain urging me to cease the torture. My head and heart were starting to listen. "It is okay, you tried." "So what if you don't reach your goal." "Give up, you will never get it right." "You have failed yet again. It won't be the last time."

The last thought got me revved up. I was angry at myself now. Did I really think I was going to master snowboarding in a day and a half? I was now determined not to give up. I needed to prove myself wrong. As I pushed myself onto my knees, my body made one last plea to stop. I got up continued down the mountain taking a few bumps along the way. It was my last run of the day because the lifts would be closing soon. But now I was determined to continue my third day.

The third day started like the last with my body meeting snow at awkward angles. But I continued to press on and eventually got comfortable and competent enough on a snowboard to get safely down the mountain. You can read about it here.

The point of all of this was, day three was a huge pay off. If I had given up I would be sitting at home with regret still not knowing how to snowboard. But I did not give up and accomplished my goal. On day two I could never have envisioned that I was going to suddenly figure out how to go down the mountain without falling. Sometimes the bumps and bruises in life attempt to dissuade us from accomplishing a goal or vision. But I encourage you to press on. You might be met with physical pain, heartache, and sacrifice. But you never know how the next day will turn out if you do not press forward to see what will happen. In the words of the late Aaliyah, "dust yourself off and try again."

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Turning 30 in 31 Months

The reason I mention this milestone is because I want to introduce everyone to my newest blog site:
30 Things by 30 is a list of things I have compiled that I want to experience or accomplish by the time I turn 30 on August 15, 2011.
I will still post regularly on here and this will be my main blog site. 30 Things By 30 is a side project that I am doing with great ambition. Check in regularly over there as I will be posting stuff as I work on or complete things from list. Enjoy both!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day Surprise

It is just after 4:30 on Valentine's day. Despite the fact that I slept in today and the strong cup of Black English tea by my side, I am still shaking off the fog in my head. My mind typically moves so fast but it is in these times that I am forced to slow down as my mind spends a little extra time trying to kick start itself. This is also the time when I feel like God penetrates my mind the most.

As I mentioned earlier, it is Valentine's day. Ooh perhaps I should hammer that home for myself one more time. Currently I am sitting by myself in Starbucks trying to get some work done and just not finding the motivation.

Even though these are the moments God is speaking to me, it is also the times the Devil is trying to impale me with his full onslaught of lies. Here is the rundown so far. See if any of them sound familiar. (1) No one cares what I have to say (working on this note and my blogs). (2) I have nothing to offer and if I never attempted to contact my friends again I would be quickly forgotten because no one cares enough to reach out to me. (3) I am destined to live the rest of my life alone and unloved. (4) Because of the rotten person I am, the previous three are warranted and I deserve nothing more. (5) I am failure. I do not prepare enough to share my gift that God has provided professionally and in my friendships (6) Bringing my complaints to God is fruitless because I am only reaching out to him during the lonely times and don't care enough to spend more time with him during the times that he provides for me.

What a crappy way to spend a Saturday right? Well remember, I said this is the time that God is speaking to me. The Devil is constantly on his bullhorn shouting this condemnation. Digging his wretched fingers into wounds he cut and carved into my past. And while the Devil is loud, God is clear.

Here is what God is saying to me today: (1) He has put words in my heart and in my mouth. Sometimes they are intended for a lot of people, sometimes just one person. And sometimes He wants me to write things out so I can read it back and He can speak into me. Just writing that realization floods my heart. (2) I have been blessed with a tremendous group of friends. But the times that I am not with them is sometimes God giving them or me a break to individually spend time with him. As much as I love my friends, I should take advantage of this time more often. Just because they do not call, does not mean they don't care or if it is that much of a concern and they really do not care then I should find people that will. (3) This is huge. While I feel destined for companionship, a lack of it should never leave me feeling unloved. Jesus has demonstrated time and time again His love for me. I am deeply loved. I am deeply and compassionately loved and understood. I am deeply and compassionately and patiently and sacrificially loved and understood. (4) I may never understand why or how completely but I can trust in God's Word and know convincingly that nothing I have done will remove His blessing from me. (5) My times that I feel like I am failing is when I try to do things alone and apart from God. Find Him and I can not fail. (6) God's love and response is unconditional. Need proof, look at the story of the prodigal son. Look at the sacrifice Jesus made for me.

When I started writing this, I thought it would be an encouraging uplifting note for the singles on Valentines day. But what I came to realize is that it is during days like today that we are attacked by the enemy in terms of our value and worth. But you are worthy, you are loved. You have a great Counselor, Listener, Redeemer and Friend in God. You are never alone.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Loans Give Life

I would like you to meet Akua Kusasi. She lives with her family in Offinso in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. She has requested a $550 loan in order to buy maize in bulk so she can expand her business enough to pay for educational opportunities for her children. I have responded to her request in part.
You see, a few years ago I heard about an organization called Kiva is a person-to-person micro-lending website, who's mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty. What that essentially means is that Kiva works with trusted micro-lenders all over the world to provide interest free loans to entrepreneurs who can demonstrate the trust to pay back those loans over time.
The unique part about this is that Kiva is not really providing these loans. I am. You are. We globally are. While she needed $550, I could only contribute to part of that. But some one from Canada is contributing a portion. Someone from France has thrown in some money as well. And there are more. Alone, we might not be able to help Ms. Kusasi but with our concerted effort, we can get her the money she needs to make a better life for herself and her family.
I never really talk about my giving or how much I give but was inspired by someone else to share this. You see, this is not just something we throw money at and hope somebody else fixes it. Here you are investing directly into somebody that is working to make a better life for themselves.
The thing about is that when the loan is paid back, you get your money back and can decide how you wish to use. I am not going to say how much I put in to Kiva but lets say I put the minimum $25 (which many people do and it is very effective, nothing wrong with that at all). When Ms. Kusasi pays back her loan and I get my part back, I can chose to withdraw that $25 and put it back in my pocket. But what myself, and many others do, is we count it as a donation. So once that money is put back in our account, we can take the next person and begin helping them with their small business loan. With a small investment, this is potentially a never ending cycle of giving where millions of lives can pulled from poverty.
I would greatly encourage you to at least give a shot. If you later decide you need the money back or it is not worth your capital, then you can withdraw and not lose out at all. But honestly look at it. While you have little to lose, the lives affected have everything to gain.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Untitled (Currently)

With trepidation in the air,
the four valves spread their warning.
A time of hurt not long forgotten,
the nay and pain is theirs to spare.

Courage is a stifled thought.
The cavity beats with increasing force.
The mouth remains behind the lines,
sees another battle never fought.

To risk it all and come up dry
could come to ruin them.
In the concert of this chambered soul
The final note is sigh.

While the eyes glance forlorn,
the impending weight of chances pass.
Better not to cause a stir.
Eros never born.