Thursday, November 29, 2012

HIRI: The Call by Os Guiness

A few thoughts and points from The Call by Os Guiness.

Quotable: "The more I resist Him and try to live on my own, the more I become dominated by my own hereditary and upbringings and surroundings and natural desires.  In fact, what I so proudly call 'Myself' becomes merely the meeting place for trains of events which I never started and which I cannot stop." - CS Lewis, pg 25

What I Liked: A book about the idea of calling.  I thought the book started very well and strongly stated strongly truth about being called by God.

What I Didn't Like: I have to be honest though, overall The Call was too long and too wordy for my liking.  I finished it mostly out of obligation, but about halfway through I lost interest.  Specifically it felt like each chapter had so many random stories and quips to illustrate his point, that the overall force of the points he was making was lost.  (I'll fully admit that's just my opinion as there are plenty of smarter wiser people who have endorsed The Call.)

2012 Personal Impact Ranking:

Monday, November 26, 2012

A leap of faith?

How do you tell the difference between taking a leap of faith and taking a leap of what-you-want?

What do I mean by those?  A leap of faith is doing something that God calls you to do, not knowing exactly how it is going to work out.  A leap of what-you-want is doing something that you want to do, not knowing exactly how it is going to work out.  I think sometimes we justify what-we-want by calling it faith; thereby placing the fault on God if what-we-want doesn't work out.

But on the front end of a decision, the two are awfully hard to tell apart.  I wish I had an answer here, but currently I don't think I do.  (I realize there's some obvious ones, God doesn't want me to take a leap of faith and rob a gas station.)  But beyond what's plainly wrong, how do you determine between good and best?

What do you think?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Merry Thanksgiving

As long as I'm auto-posting on Thursdays, I will always have a post similar to this on Thanksgiving:

Why are you on the computer?  There's turkey to be eaten, football to watch, and most importantly people to build relationships with!

If you didn't read this until Friday you get 50 bonus points and a high-five the next time I see you.

Monday, November 19, 2012

BOOR November 2011: 2 for the money, 1 for marriage

I have a few things to pass on from last year's November.

The first two are about money:

1) A PLAN for Giving Generously  I think that spontaneous giving is great too, but more often than not, if I don't plan on giving generously out of what God has given me, I don't give at all.  This is great to think about with a new year coming up.  How are you going to honor God with your finances?

2) Drive Free. Retire Rich.  This is a fun one to watch.  It's also a must watch if you have a car payment or think that a car payment is a necessary expense living in America today.  I'll let the video tell the rest.

And just for fun:

Dude, Where's Your Bride? is a thought provoking look on why men and women are getting married later (or not at all) in the church.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

My Imaginary Jesuses

After I read Imaginary Jesus I realized there are two versions of Jesus that I frequently spend time with.  Are they the real one?  What do you think?

Super-Dad Jesus:  You can tell this Jesus because he's hanging out with kids.  He loves kids and spends time with them all the time.  Playing, running, laughing, talking... anything... with his kids.  He may or may not drive a mini-van but he definitely frequents playgrounds and sports fields.

What's wrong with this Jesus?  Jesus loves kids, we know that (Matthew 19:13-15).  But he didn't just focus on kids.  He saw men, women and children all equally and all needing love and forgiveness.  It's a small distinction, but an important one: "Jesus loves everyone, including kids" vs. "Jesus loves kids."

Next up?

Polite Conversation Jesus:  This Jesus is always having a good conversation with people.  He just loves talking with and getting to know others.  He's good at asking questions (so long as they are not too deep) and always ready to rescue an uncomfortable moment with his quick wit and light-hearted humor.

What's wrong with this Jesus?  Do you think the real Jesus shied away from uncomfortable moments (John 4:16-18) and deep questions (Matthew 16:13)?

Any Imaginary Jesuses you're dealing with?

Monday, November 12, 2012

HIRI: Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos

A few thoughts and points from Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos:

Quotable: "Let's be frank, Matt. The real Jesus is inconvenient. He doesn't always show up when you call. He asks for unreasonable things. He frightens people. He can be immensely frustrating. But you can still serve him while working with an imaginary Jesus."

What I Liked: This book was hilarious, crazy and convicting all at the same time. It's a short, smart and worthwhile read. You jump into it thinking, "this is a little bazaar" but by about 1/3 of the way through you're hooked: Who is the real Jesus? Can Matt find him?
I don't want to spoil more of the story than that.  Most of all I like that this book bought me face to face with the fact that my version of Jesus is often not the real one.  (Coming next post I'll describe two Imaginary Jesuses that the author didn't mention but I spend too much time with myself.)

What I Didn't Like: There's not much I don't like here. It does take a few chapters to even figure out what is going on, and some of that might be the author's writing style. But that same style helps the story immensely too.

2012 Personal Impact Ranking:

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What Would Jesus Buy Shopping Guide

It's Christmas time!  (Well not really, but you'd think it was happening tomorrow by walking through most stores.)

And what do Americans do at Christmas?  We shop 'til we drop baby!

This post is mainly for myself.  But if even one person slightly changes their shopping habits this holiday season because of reading this, then I'll call that a win.  Why do I keep coming back to shopping Biblically and responsibly?

Two reasons:
The Bible calls us to it (check out James 5:1-4).
I keep running into stories like this: Which tires are on your car?  and Where do you get your sports equipment?

Here's a specific list of questions I'm going to attempt to live by over the next two months (and longer).  I challenge you to ask yourself at least 1 of these questions each time you shop this holiday season:

Before you shop: 
  1. Do I need this? If Yes, go to question #2. If No, stop here. 
  2. Do I already have it? Think about this one carefully, we often re-buy stuff we already have because we have so much. If Yes, stop here. If No, go to question #3. 
  3. Can I make it myself? If Yes, go for it! If No, go to question #4. 
  4. Can I upgrade or repair something I own rather than buying it? If Yes, go for it! If No, go to question #5. 
  5. Can I buy it used? Used is better than new in that it keeps something out of the junkyard (for a while longer at least.) If Yes, go for it. (Check out ebay.com, half.com, paperbackswap.com to get started.) If No, go to “When You Shop”.  
When you shop: If you make it through the above list and still need to go shopping, ask yourself:

  1. Is it made in the USA? If Yes, go for it. If No, go to question #2. 
  2. It it made in a developed country? (Check out this list.)  If Yes, go for it. If No, go to question #3. 
  3. Does it have any fair trade certification? If Yes, go for it. If No, go to question #4. 
  4. Is what you’re buying known to be produced with child or forced labor? Check this report (starting at page 17). If Yes, find a similar product from a better place. If No, go to question #5. 
  5. How does this product or company rate on goodguide.com? (Bar-code scanning app available for smartphones.)  If you’re satisfied with the rating, go to question #6. If you have concerns, look around for a similar product, then go to #6. 
  6. How does the product or company rate on free2work.org? (Bar-code scanning app available for smartphones.)  If you’re satisfied with the rating, go to question #7. If you have concerns, look around for a similar product, then to to #7. 
  7. One last time: Do you really need it?

Last thing: Drop a comment or reply to my email if you'd be interested in some sort of "pocket guide" version of this that you could easily take with you while shopping.

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Personal Reality Check

All of my family's attempts to sell our house have to this point proved fruitless.  But IF we get a buyer for our house sometime in the next couple months, we'll have been in our current house for about 7 years.

7 years.

I recently asked myself the sobering question: How much different does my neighborhood look since I've arrived?  How much different does the town of Pekin look since I've lived here?

Sadly I think I must answer: "Not much."

And even with the things that are different/better, I'm not sure that I deserve any credit.

But when the apostle Paul moved from a synagogue to a lecture hall in the city of Ephesus, the Bible says: "This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks." (Acts 19:10)

Think Ephesus looked different after Paul was there for just two years?  Read Acts 19:23-26 if you're not sure.

May my next two years (wherever I am) have a Paul-type impact!