Monday, June 30, 2014

One more thing I'd do as president

I think I could still squeeze this idea into my first four years in office.

I'd like to disband the electoral college.  (I'm not even sure if disband is the right word here.  Remove? Destroy?)

When the country was founded and the constitution was written the electoral college made perfect sense.  It wasn't possible for Joe Somebody to know much about a candidate at all, so they could vote for someone they did know believed like they did, and that person could vote for the president.

Today, we often don't even see the names of the people in the electoral college that we're actually voting for in a presidential election.  Technology gives us the ability to know as much as we want about a political candidate.  Joe Somebody can be just informed (maybe more!) as someone in the electoral college.

So there you go.  Get rid of the electoral college.  I'm not sure how that will affect my reelection, but as I said before I'm good with four years.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Cure or the Story (by Seth Godin)

At the end of March Seth Godin had this post on his blog:
The cure or the story?
The plumber, the roofer and the electrician sell us a cure. They come to our house, fix the problem, and leave.
The consultant, the doctor (often) and the politician sell us the narrative. They don't always change things, but they give us a story, a way to think about what's happening. Often, that story helps us fix our problems on our own.
The best parents, of course, are in the story business. Teachers and bosses, too.
Parents, teachers and bosses... I can fit into each of those categories sometimes.  What about you?

And if what Godin said is true... if giving people a story can help them fix their own problems...

Why do we spend so much time just handing out cures instead of telling people the right story?

Monday, June 16, 2014

What Would Jesus Buy?

(This is a repost/rewrite because I needed the reminder.)

What would Jesus buy?  Would he have a purchased a 'WWJD?' bracelet back when they were popular?  What about a WWJB bracelet?  I tend to think not, but see if you can follow my logic in this unapologetically-longer-than-normal blog post.

"Come now, you rich! Weep and cry aloud over the miseries that are coming on you... Look, the pay you have held back from the workers who mowed your fields cries out against you, and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts." (James 5:1,4)

If you're reading this and you're from America, you are rich.  You may have heard it before, but just so you don't think I'm bluffing, the United States of America tops all of the following lists:
I'll say it again, you are rich.

On the flip side, the clothes that I'm wearing while I type this are made in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Vietnam, and Guatemala.  The computer and accessories I'm using right now are made in China.  Not one of these five countries made the above lists.  What gives?

"Do not exploit a poor person because he is poor." (Proverbs 22:22). "Deliver those being taken away to death, and hold back those slipping to the slaughter. If you say, “But we did not know about this,” does not the one who evaluates hearts consider? Does not the one who guards your life know? Will he not repay each person according to his deeds?" (Proverbs 24:11-12)

Are we exploiting the poor in other countries? Are we holding back pay from those who, in a real sense, have worked for us?  In many cases it is hard to truly know, but the glimpses we get from news articles seem to say by and large, we are.  Some articles to get you thinking:
It can be a little scary to take the time to fully read those articles, especially if you stop and think about what they mean for your current buying habits.  The Lord who rules over all said, ‘Exercise true judgment and show brotherhood and compassion to each other. You must not oppress the widow, the orphan, the foreigner, or the poor, nor should anyone secretly plot evil against his fellow human being.’ (Zechariah 7:9-10)

What does this all mean for me?  It means I want to shop a little bit more like Jesus.  To do so, my wife and I came up with a series of questions to ask ourselves:

Before you shop, ask yourself:
  • Do I need it?  Can I do without it? Do I already have it?  If you answer these questions honestly, you won't have to check the rest of this list as often as you think.
  • Can I make it myself?
  • Can I buy it used?
  • Can I upgrade or repair something I own rather than buying it?
If you make it through the above list and still need to go shopping, ask yourself:
  • Is it made in the USA or another developed country? 
  • Is it Fair Trade? 
  • Is it produced by a company that is at least claiming ethical labor and/or buying practices?  Many companies make some sort of statement on their website.
  • Is it produced by company that has known cases of unethical labor and/or buying practices?  A few Google searches normally turns up any poor standards or practices.
  • Is it quality?  Will it last a long time or will you be buying another piece of junk in less than two years?
This is a journey I'm on.  I still buy stuff I don't need that is most likely made by people who are being exploited.  But I'm working on it and I wanted to invite you to do the same.

Ask yourself: What would Jesus buy?

Additional Scripture: Proverbs 21:3, 15; 22:16, 22-23;  24:11-12, 31:8-9, Zechariah 7:9-10, Romans 13:7, I Timothy 6:17-19,  James 5:1-6

Monday, June 9, 2014

Parenting Check-In

Here is a great idea suggested in Shepherding a Child's Heart that my wife and I try to do at least once each year:

Have a "check-in" discussion about each of your kids.  Take notes while you do.  Talk about things like:
  • Where are they growing?
  • What areas are we concerned about their growth?
  • How do they do at relating to God?
  • How do they do at relating to people around them?
  • What one character quality do we need to focus on teaching them?
It's so easy to go through a year... and then two... and then three without actually taking the time to talk about your kids.  We'll spend hours discussing house projects, but miss the biggest projects under our roof.  Here's to being intentional.

Monday, June 2, 2014

$7455

For my family's recent house selling, buying, move I paid my Realtor $7455.

That's a lot of money.  And you might be expecting me to start complaining.

On the contrary, I would tell you that my Realtor was worth every penny she earned in commission.  This isn't a promotional post, I'm not even going to share her name.

I simply want to say: Doing your job with excellence while caring for people in the process is nearly invaluable.  I'm going to venture to guess that will apply to your work situation as well.  How are you doing at it?