Sunday, December 25, 2011

Apology to My Non-Christian Friends

I'm sorry that we Christians have defined this holiday as "the war on Christmas." I'm sorry that we get our panties in a bunch over the use of the word Xmas. I'm sorry that we write CHRISTmas, as if you hadn't seen the root word before. I'm sorry that we display the zeal of politicians in our embrace of Christmastime. I'm sorry that some Christians will read this and think, "Don't apologize for me!"

Even though you may not embrace Jesus as the center of this season, I appreciate that you like to embrace the general goodness and generosity of this season. I appreciated that you too, try to make this world a bit better during this season. I appreciate every kindness you extend to strangers regardless of your beliefs. I'm sorry that some of my fellow Christians don't appreciate that about you because "you're not getting it exactly right" from a Christian perspective.

I want you to know that like my fellow Christians, I too am guilty of making it a point to say things like Merry Christmas and God bless you, more than I am actually serving people in compassionate ways. I want my life to be exemplified as the hands and feet of my Savior, but sometimes--maybe even especially at this busy time of year--I give lip service to my faith more than actual compassionate acts. I'm sorry if I've displayed my Christ-laced words more than my Christ-based lifestyle.

But I want you to know that I and other Christ followers are trying to do better. I am so proud of my church. Can I share just a little? Just one small paragraph, I promise.

This past year we've given over 20,000 lbs of food to people in need in Kokomo. We've given 4,000+ man hours to help people and organizations in need. We've built two wells in third world countries. We bought a trailer this year just so we can take tangible things to people in need. But please don't hear bragging; I'm just proud that we're stepping up our tangible ways that reflect the heart of Jesus.

Like other churches, my church isn't perfect. We're doing better trying to live out our Christ-centered beliefs, but we have tons of room to grow. We are trying. I am trying.

Even though we Christians get it wrong, turning this season into a war and showing you our zeal; I want you to know that my heart breaks a little every time we don't lead with love. My Savior was all about love. He is love. That's what I want you to see and know. That love...the real love of Christ changes my life a little every day. I'm sorry it's not always the first thing we lead with.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Merry Xmas...


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Politically Incorrect Music Editorial

There are two groups of singers/front men pictured. Take a look at them. Look closely.

One of these I can naturally relate with; the other not-so-much. As I write this I am 47. I relate with the older guys, but not because of age. It's because of something less tangible.

One these groups simply isn't very manly. They embrace their not-so-toughness and wear it like a badge of honor. I have no problem with that. No problem.

It's just that I don't relate with it. As I was coming of age, it was all about becoming a man. Not like a mindless macho douche kind of way, but in the completeness of manhood. Tough enough to not run from a fight. And tender and intelligent enough to appreciate art.

One group looks like it would have been chased down the halls of high school. The other group might be the chasers. One I relate with and the other I don't.

I'm not trying to trash a certain style of band here. It's just that I've been wrestling with why I'm not identifying with a lot of the current music style. Part of it is my age. I'll give you that. But the other real part of it is I don't relate with guys who could get beat up by most of the girls on their high school volleyball team. There. I said it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Thoughts on Guns and Protection

(Just for the record, my interest in shooting for recreational enjoyment started months before our little ordeal in Haiti. My interest in guns is not a reactionary response to what happened there. I am interested in recreational shooting. I'm not interested in guns for the protection of my home. Currently I do not yet own a gun. I do love to borrow them ;-)

So a few months ago my friend Daryl B. asks me to go to the shooting range. I've always been fascinated with guns so I said a quick yes. Honestly I had low expectations. I figured he'd be a great shot given his current military career. And I figured I'd suck, since I hadn't fired but a few guns in my life; none of which was recently. I guessed it would be like playing horse with Kobe Bryant.

It was a banner day. It turns out I didn't suck! I wasn't ready for Top Shot, but I did ok. Physically, it was fun. And the big surprise was what an emotional therapy session it was. Holding something lethal in one's hand has a singular way of focusing one's thoughts. It de-cluttered my mind. It did for my gray matter what a masseuse does for my back muscles. And did I mention it goes BOOM? In your hand?

On the periphery of this new hobby (and coming back from Haiti) is a line of thinking that I'd like to address.

People want to keep a handgun in the house to protect themselves and their family.
I have no problem if someone wishes to do that. But I do want to state that the idea of any kind of gun in the bedroom is a last resort; a last line of defense. So here are some thoughts on this:

a.) Before you spend money on a gun for the bedroom, spend way less than the price of a gun for lighting around your house and property. Lights are proven to be a great deterrent to bad guys.

b) Invest in solid doors on your house with solid dead bolt locks.

c) Keep you cell phone by your bed. 911 is a great defense. Even if you have a gun, don't you want back-up? (As many of us have dropped our land line, our cell phone is often charging in another room. Safer to keep it charging by your bed.)

d) If you're legitimately concerned about people getting in your house, get an alarm system. A gun alone is a horrible defense plan. Putting several things in place like lighting and an alarm system that greatly prevent you from having to use the gun, is a plan.

e) Having to shoot someone has strings attached. As my friend Daryl said,

"Be thankful none of you had to kill one of those Haitians. That creates another whole level of trauma and personal issues."

This is from a man who knows firsthand of which he speaks. Also consider the trauma to one's family.

f) A gun is not a system. Put a plan in place so the gun is the last resort, the final line of defense in your multistage system.

Plug: My friend Rodney Godfrey owns & runs Griffon Alarm & Security 765-513-6131

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Baby is Proof...God Cries Too

Click here for a free PDF copy of my message text.
   (Click here if you need FREE Adobe Reader to read PDFs.)

By Tuesday afternoon an audio version shows up here.
Or you can open iTunes & search for "Oakbrook Podcasts"

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bought a Car...via TWITTER!

So Meg was able to buy her first car today--through Twitter! She and I were looking at used car lots last Saturday and quickly realized that the amount she had saved was more of a private sale car price than a car lot price.

I thought, "Hmmm, wonder if one of my 800+ Facebook friends might have or know of a car for sale in that price range?" I tweeted it since my Twitter automatically dumps into Facebook.

Within a minute I get a tweet from someone I didn't know that says he has something in Meg's price range. I tweet back to find out where he is and we're off to Adam's Auto Group.

We get there and a man flags me down. "Hi I'm Jeff Kearnes. I'm Kevin Sprinkles brother. He said I should follow you (on Twitter) because you're funny. I recognized your picture from the Haiti deal and so I said to our manager, 'Can we make something happen for this guy?'"

So he shows us this late model Grand Prix with the 3800 engine they just took in. He said they'd go over it, make some repairs and even though they'd planned to price it much higher, they'd give it to us for what Meg had saved. Wow...seriously?!

How cool is social media? When shopping for a car, a car can find you! And how cool is the generosity of Jeff Kearnes and Sam Holloway that they'd try to make a deal for a guy they didn't know, but through a story in the local news?

And how cool is God who uses creative means and good-hearted people to provide yet again?

See you on the Twitters!

p.s. Thanks to my other friends who immediately replied to Facebook and offered to help as well.