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.