Sunday, December 28, 2008

Dolphins WIN!!!!!!

Dolphins win the AFC East with a win over the Jets!

Some people may not like Bill Parcell's style, but there's no denying that he can sure make a difference.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Happy Anniversary!!!

I could hear the cars rushing by outside every time the door opened. It was actually reflex more than anything else, but it gave me a chance to see who was coming in off of the busy street. Our church was located alongside a main street and I did not want to assume that every visitor that came in had the best intentions.

This time, it was two young ladies, teenagers, it seemed. One I knew; a frequent visitor to our church. The other, whom I hadn’t seen before, appeared to be the same age. They walked in and sat down. I went back to what I was doing .

This church was a small church, so every visitor was given the opportunity to address the church. This opportunity was extended to our new visitor.

She walked to the microphone and smiled. Then, I heard her speak. I was captivated, both by her maturity and her beauty. This was no teenager, this was a woman.

However, having broken up from a previous relationship a month earlier, I was in no hurry to start a new one. So instead, we became friends. That friendship grew, and right before I left for law school, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her.

I asked, she said yes, so she got a ring, and I went off to school. Halfway through law school, eleven years ago, we got married.

Baby, it’s been a great ride, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Thank you for being patient with me.

Thank you for sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Most of all, thank you for these 11 years. I love you. Happy Anniversary

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Birthday Jesus

I pray everyone has a blessed and joyous day today!

Merry Christmas!

P.S.:  I know Jesus wasn't born on December 25th.  It isn't the first time we've chosen to celebrate a birthday on a different day.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Valley of the Shadow of Death

Abraham was told he would have children. He waited a decade and managed to make a mess of things. David was told he would be king, he waited decades while running for his life. Joseph was told he would rule over his family. His wait seemed like forever, and he lost it all in the process. Moses poured himself out to get Israel to the Promised Land. Yet, in the end, he died just outside its borders.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
Psalm 23:4

What is this valley of the shadow of death? Often, we see the 23rd Psalm as a passage of comfort during some tragic time, and rightfully so.

But as I was meditating on the passage, it began to take an additional meaning for me. To me, the valley represents the time between the promise and fulfillment. This is where faith is tested, and where it sometimes dies. This is where our walk with God grows stronger, or is snuffed out entirely.

When we pray for healing, but she dies anyway. When we believe for a breakthrough, but still lose the house to foreclosure. When we are faithful in what we do, yet still get laid off. When we get passed over for a promotion, the car breaks down, our children act up, or the bank account goes in the negative.

That, to me, represents the valley of the shadow of death. This is when our faith in the divine faces the blur of the mundane. When our expectations of easy, swift deliverance fall to the request that we bear our cross. We fast, pray, tithe, do whatever we need, begging to be delivered. Instead, we hear God say:

My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9

That is the valley of the shadow of death.

Hanging over our heads is the nagging doubt that maybe, just maybe, this is the end. Maybe God does not intend to come through. Maybe I'm destined to remain broke, sad, disillusioned, or whatever else we feel.

So, we read Psalm 23:4 again. We read it for what it is. A promise that we will never be alone. When we see life at its darkest (which will mean different things to different people), God is there. He will comfort us and His hand will reach out to guide us. No matter what it may look like in our eyes or our minds, God is promising not to leave us. Rather than falter during the journey, we can draw on His strength for the trip.

And ultimately, it's the destination that counts. It's the hope that we will spend enternity with Him in heaven. Our issues here are momentary Our future with Him is eternal.

So, let's hold His hand as we walk through this valley together.

Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Psalm 23:6

Friday, December 19, 2008

My Cat

Someone asked me about my Stoeger Cougar. It's basically the newer cousin of the Beretta Cougar, made by Stoeger, a Beretta brand. Mine is in the .40 SW caliber, though it also comes in 9mm. It's what I use for daily carry (in a Don Hume holster), and I love it. Even though some have told me it's a bit big, I can carry it while wearing a t-shirt and no one notices. This is true even after I've lost 38 pounds.

Waking Up

I know it's been a minute since I've posted. I'm trying to take this whole idea of vacation seriously. I should have something to post later on today or early tomorrow.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tossing Keys

I was in my front yard the other day, absent-mindedly tossing my keys in the air. Now, because of my job, I have a lot of keys. Add keys to the house, gun safe and locks, document safe, etc... you end up with a pretty big bundle of keys.

So anyway...I gradually kept tossing the keys higher and higher. Finally, at one point, I hauled back and tossed the keys as high as I could. As the keys were coming back down, I placed my hands in position to catch them.  A gazillion keys, sharp points spinning in various directions. Not a good idea.

Sin can be like that.  Sometimes we get in trouble not because we start off with a desire to sin, but because we flirt with the line so often that we lose sight of where we are. We start off with entertaining a thought. Rather than exercising control over the thought (2 Corinthians 10:5), we nurture and feed it, until it eventually breaks the barrier between thought and action. When we finally catch ourselves, it's too late and we're trying to figure out how we got to where we are now.

James 1:13-15 says:

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

James speaks of being lured and enticed.  He does not speak of a sudden fall, but a gradual sliding into disobedience.  This slide comes from our own desires. We will not be tempted with things that hold no sway over us.  Instead, it is our own desires that will be manifested in our thoughts.  The desire to sin is already there.  That is human nature.  It is no defense to say that if we were meant to be free from sin, we would not have the desire.  

Instead, we must strive for self-control. We cannot give in to all of our desires. We must bring our desires and thoughts under God's control and trust Him to help us obtain the victory. Otherwise, uncontrolled thoughts will give birth to sin, and sin will separate us from communion with God.   And although catching my keys will not kill me, living a life in sin will bring forth eternal death and will ensure eternal separation from God.

I'm getting a headache

Why, please tell me?  Why is Congress meddling in the BCS system.  Several Congressmen want to pass legislation to force a College playoff!  

It's not like they're getting anything else right.  Do they really need something else to do?  Are they bored?      

Since when did this become a matter of national legislative importance?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Roger Goodell's Utopia

Give me a break!!

Roger Goodell has simple advice for NFL players:

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has a simple mantra when it comes to players feeling the need to carry a gun: Avoid those situations. "The real issue to me, is when the players feel they're unsafe, they shouldn't be there," Goodell said. "So get out, don't be there. If you feel the need to have a firearm to be someplace, you're in the wrong place."

Are you kidding me??

Richard Collier (Jacksonville Jaguars) gets shot while in his vehicle outside an apartment complex. Link Should he have stayed home?

Sean Taylor (Washington Redskins) gets killed in his home! Link Should he have stayed outside?

Steve Smith (NY Giants) was held up IN HIS OWN DRIVEWAY!!! Link Should he have moved to Mars?

So, Goodell's solution--Don't stay home, don't stay outside, don't stay in your car.

What is this notion that trouble will never find me? News reports are replete with stories of people going through their lives in an ordinary, law-abiding manner, only to have that interrupted by some scumbag with destruction on his mind. Check out this collection: Link

Under Goodell's paradise, players should avoid the outdoors (where shootings and robberies take place), vehicles (100% of carjackings take place in vehicles), and indoors (home invasions, shootings, robberies).

Well, sir...where do they go?

So, I surrender my hope for peace and a quiet day to armed lowlifes who have zero regard for my life or that of my family. So I stay away from civilization because someone might get hurt. It amazes me that people think that someone who has no respect for laws against stealing, hurting, or killing will suddenly have respect for laws against guns. They respect no laws, no boundaries, and will look for any opportunity to create a victim. They are predators and will act accordingly. We are their intended target.

In Luke 22:36-38, Jesus knew that His time on earth was drawing to a close. He knew that He was about to leave the disciples. He knew that there would be violence and that they would be responsible for their own defense. So His advice?

And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” 36 He said to them, But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” 38 And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.

Luke 22:35-38 (ESV) (emphasis added)

Take your money, take your bags, and if you don't have a weapon, sell your coat and buy one. Then, the disciples mention that they have, **GASP** weapons!! Jesus says, in effect, "That's good."

Unless, of course, you are in the NFL. There, good vibes are all you need.

PS: You know, I don't mean to pick on Roger Goodell. He was instrumental in rolling out the new NFL Personal Conduct Policy and has worked hard to clean up the NFL. I just hope he realizes that no amount of hard work will clean up society. We will never live in an utopian society. The Bible makes that clear. The best we can do is be true ambassadors for Christ, live our lives to please God, and do right by our families--yes, even to the point of defense.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Seeker Sensitive Baby Food

So funny, yet so sad.

Those who know me well know my feelings about the whole seeker sensitive movement.  I have a problem with watering down the Gospel, just to make it more attractive to unbelievers.

That's like making life preservers out of downy pillows.  Sure, you'll feel a whole lot better, but you're still going to sink.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Stress Relief

I was finally able to go to the gun range this weekend. Work has been so busy, that I have not been able to go as often.

My friend invited a few others to come, including a first time shooter. There were five of us in all, and since the range was packed, we were given three lanes to share. I had three guns (Stoeger Cougar 8000, Luger P08, and a Ruger 10/22 rifle). Three others in the group had Springfield XDs (two compact and one full size). We shared the lanes and the guns and got to send a lot of lead down range.

For my Ruger 10/22 I used two Tactical Innovations TI25 magazines. One of them wasn't adjusted well, so it did not function as well as it should have. That's not the magazine's fault. I had fiddled around with the adjustment screws and threw off the alignment. The other magazine functioned flawlessly.

These friends are all involved in security in one way or another, so they were pretty knowledgeable and safe. Even the first-time shooter did well. All in all, a good day at the range and a whole lot of stress relief.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

No stinkin' wonder!

No matter how you slice it, parents and teachers are the custodians of our future. We set up our future (for our children) by the decisions we make today and how we train our children for tomorrow. In effect, our children become a reflection of what we believe and how we act.

That's why this report card from the Josephson Institute is depressing. Here is their introductory paragraph:

Josephson Institute's 2008 Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth is based on a survey of nearly 30,000 students in high schools across the U.S. The results paint a troubling picture of our future politicians and parents, cops and corporate executives, and journalists and generals.

I'll let you click on the link to get the actual numbers, but just note that dishonesty among students is rampant! Furthermore, in some categories, students of private religious schools are more likely to be dishonest than their classmates in non-religious schools! That's enough to set me on a huge tangent--another subject for another day.

How about that! No wonder our markets are going down the porcelain Jacuzzi. If our children reflect our values, we are seeing the results of our way of doing things. As our financial markets are reeling due to rampant dishonesty, we are raising children that will continue our dubious legacy. It's a frightening look at what we will be facing in our future. These are our future leaders, the advisors to our future leaders, and those who will hold our future leaders accountable.

1 Corinthians 1:18 says:

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

It seems that the more we abandon Biblical principles of morality, honesty and character, the faster we head to into a future we may not be prepared for.*

*Note that I refer to the Biblical principles themselves. I mean actually following the principles. The study underlines what should be obvious. Sending our kids to a religious school does nothing to combat the principles they are learning from us.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Feels like Fall

To all my neighbors:

Please accept my deepest apoligies. I know that the wind is blowing the leaves off of my yard and onto yours. In fact, it's been so windy, you folks are collecting more leaves than I am. I deeply appreciate your efforts to rake the leaves. Especially since you have few trees of your own.

Look, this will be a week of early mornings and late nights. For the next four days, I will leave the house before you are awake and I won't be home until after you are all asleep. But come Saturday, I will take care of whatever leaves are left on my yard. And I promise to do that before I head to the gun range to unwind.

Unless, of course, it rains again.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Political Season

I am so glad we are almost done with this election. There's nothing like the activity of the political season to make me feel like an idiot.

For some reason mass media seems to think that I take everything they say at face value. I guess they figure that if they claim one candidate is the savior and the other evil incarnate, I'll just blindly believe them.

I don't really care what their opinion is. I will do my own research and make my own choice--one not based on soundbites and youtube clips.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Road Trip!

Windsor Hills Baptist Church was going to give away an AR-15 gun?

 I got this from a friend.  I thought, this has to be a joke!

 Nope.  It's real (although initially cancelled).  Instead, they gave away a shotgun in a shooting competition.  The AR is supposedly reserved for next year.

Might need to arrange a road trip.   I wonder if I can get the time off from work...  I'm trying to complete the set: a pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun.  So far, all I have is two pistols. 

 Oh well, too far away.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Surprise Visitor

In my line of business, we have certain services that are intended to help people with immediate, tangible needs, even though those services are not our primary mission.

Right before closing time, I received a text message from my assistant, who was on her way home. Yes, I know—texting while driving. What can I say? I’m a whip-cracking task master. She informed me that there were emergency vehicles in front of our main building.

I interrupted my meeting and headed over. I saw a fire truck and an ambulance parked right outside the visitor’s entrance. Since I was not feeling like a hero, and my medical training is limited to WebMD and Wikipedia, I took my time to get there. By the time I arrived, the Hero/EMTs had already taken the visitor into the ambulance.

My Director of Operations, Maintenance Supervisor, and Receptionist were all standing around the welcome desk. Although I knew I would get a written report anyway, I asked for the details.

A suicidal man walked into the building, distraught and asking for help. He pulled out a can of bug spray and repeatedly sprayed it into his mouth. Since their medical training is no better than mine, they called the real professionals.

A chill ran up my spine as I took in the scene. I am so glad that all he brought in was a can of bug spray. There are times when those who wish to die are not content with ending their own life. They take others with them. I’m so thankful that this visitor did not bring a firearm into the building. If he had come in with a firearm, there would have been no one there to stop him and this would have been an entirely different post.

Not that I have anything against firearms; I own two—they are inert, emotionless and possess no malice. Instead, they are only dangerous as a result of the actions of an untrained, inattentive, or evil individual.

Time to review our security policy.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

On my way...

I just learned that a friend of mine paid off his house using David Ramsey's method, outlined in his book, "Total Money Makeover." I'm excited for him, and it has renewed my commitment to being debt free.

Over the past couple of years, my wife and I have paid off almost all of our credit cards (we only owe $200 on one). We have one personal loan and a colossal ton of student loans. Even so, we have not used a credit card in well over a year, so whatever we are doing now is strictly cash (0r debit card). I've been selling a lots of stuff on Craigslist to pay down bills, and have started looking for another job to occupy my time off.

As I heard my friend tell me this yesterday, it occurred to me--he's debt free. High gas prices will not affect him as much as they affect me. Heck, high anything won't really affect him. He has several months of expenses saved up, his entire paycheck is there to cover utilities, groceries, etc...

So, I am motivated.

Gazelle intensity.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Ignoring My GPS

I took a short trip out of town yesterday and I used a GPS navigation system. As I was driving back home, I noticed that one of the electronic interstate signs warned of a five mile backup ahead. Since I was in familiar territory at this time, I decided to take a different, longer, yet backup-free route. This drove the GPS navigator crazy. Because this route was longer, the GPS kept asking me to turn around every time I reached an exit.

This reminded me about my relationship with God. There are times when God takes my life through something that makes no sense to me. After all, I know exactly where I should be going. It appears to me that God is taking a longer, more circuitous route. Frustrated, I constantly remind God that I am headed the in wrong direction. At every possible turn, I assist God with new directions and more suggestions on getting to where I need to go. Because, after all I know where I’m going.

It really boils down to one of two things: either I personally believe God wants the best for me, or I don’t. If I don’t believe in God, then any discussion about Him is irrelevant. If, on the other hand, Jeremiah 29:11 means anything to me, the choice then becomes whether I will trust Him.

The difficult thing about trusting God, at least for me, is learning to shut up and sit down. You see, God’s way is not always the easy way:

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Matthew 7:13-14

When I review my life and my plans, God’s directions may not make much sense. But, to follow my travel analogy, it very well may be that God sees the backup ahead and desires to avoid it altogether. After all, taking a little longer to get there is better than not getting there at all. What may appear to be shortcuts could be nothing other than fast exits out of God’s perfect plan.

That is the essence of trusting in God. I have to unequivocally believe that He knows what He is doing and where He is taking me. Had I paid attention to the GPS, I would have been stopped in traffic for a long time. Though the route I took was longer, I arrived faster than I would have had I gone the way the GPS directed.

So, if I want to end up where God wants me to go, I will allow God to direct my steps. Any delay in the process cannot compare to the hassles and pain of going my own way. Initially, God's way may not make much sense, but in the long run I'll get to hear the words of Matthew 25:21:

Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Shawn Chacon

Sometimes I think I’m too dumb to understand life like professional athletes do.,4670,BBNAstrosChacon,00.html

 So, let me get this straight:  I’m called to a meeting with my boss.  I refuse.  He insists.  During our vigorous discussion, I place my hands around his neck and throw him to the ground.  I then jump on him to continue our heartfelt exchange of opinions.  After I’m separated by my co-workers, I’m suspended, then fired.

 Tragic.  After all, this cannot be my fault.  So I'll have my union file a grievance because I was fired without cause.

The world of a professional athlete.  Funny thing is, he’s concerned he may never pitch again just because he grabbed his boss by the neck.  He’s not upset that he was fired for insubordination or physically assaulting his boss. He just wishes he’d been left alone.,4670,BBNAstrosChaconSuspended,00.html

 If I did that, I wouldn’t be filing a grievance; I’d be asking for bail.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

James Fagan

Ladies and Gentlemen, here's a winner!

Massachusetts State Representative James Fagan is an attorney. He is describing what he will do when he defends someone accused of sexually assaulting children.  The objects of his ire and targets of his vitriol are the children witnesses.  The victims.

The ethical rules under which I am to operate state that I am to zealously represent my client's interests. I understand and abide by that obligation. I understand that such an obligation may require vigorous and steady examination on the witness stand.

But to have as your goal the desire to destroy those that have already been injured is beyond my comprehension. To derive pleasure from adding more injury to those who were unable to defend themselves in the first place is simply deplorable.  Let me tell you, to brag about how you, an adult, can torment abused children is not a mark of intelligence or class.  It is because of people like you that attorneys have a bad reputation.

I am sick to my stomach and embarrassed that you share my profession.

Shame on you.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Gas Prices and Paintings

This is interesting:  It seems that Sadie and Pyper Vance are exercising their First Amendment right to protest by picketing in downtown Salt Lake City to draw attention to escalating gas prices.

 Kudos to their parents for setting an example by getting involved in current issues.   They should be proud that their daughters are learning civil involvement at that age.  Furthermore, though two girls by themselves may not qualify as a huge movement, their parents did not tell them that.  Never tell a child that they are incapable of triggering change.

 But, that got me thinking about this whole gas thing.  Everywhere I turn, I hear people complain about the gas prices.  It appears that, as a nation, we are missing the point.  Somewhere along the way, we either slept through or entirely skipped a basic economics lesson—the effect of supply and demand on prices.

 At its most basic, the price of a commodity is set by some simple forces—how much are you willing to pay for what I have, and how much am I willing to receive for it.  Let’s say I have a painting, which you want to buy.  In my mind, I want to sell it for about $200.  You, on the other hand want to buy it for around $100.  If we are the only two people in the equation, the price will shift somewhere between the $100 and $200 until we both get to a price where we are comfortable with the deal.  If either of us attempts to walk away from the deal, the other will have to adjust if they want to complete the deal.

 Now, let’s add one other person who is interested in the painting.  Now, the balance shifts in my favor, because there is only one painting (supply is limited) but two potential buyers (more demand than supply).   Now, if you walk away, I can still deal with the other potential buyer, so the price stays high, in my favor.  Let’s go one step further and say that four people now appear with paintings that are identical to the one I have.  Now the balance shifts in favor of the buyers.  There is now more supply (five paintings) than demand (two buyers).  Now, I have to bargain to be one of the lowest two prices if I want to sell.  Overly simplistic, I know, but I’m not trying to write an economics text book.

 Let’s apply these principles to gas prices.  For decades, we have demanded fuel for all of our toys and castles.  Don’t get me wrong, I love toys, and would love to live in a castle.  But those toys require fuel to work, and the castle is powered by fuel.  So, the bigger the toy or the bigger the castle, the more fuel is needed to make everything hum (or roar, as the case may be).  We have been constantly increasing our demand for fuel.  To return to my painting example, we have many buyers who want the painting.

 On the other hand, due to various environmental and governmental factors, we have done close to nothing to increase our own fuel supply.  We have increased our demand, while shrinking our supply.  We have been slow to develop new fuel sources, we have refused to drill into our own oil deposits, but have instead placed our supply needs in the hands of other countries that have little or no interest in our well being.  Again, in my example, this means that although there are many buyers that want the paintings, there are still few paintings. 

 The balance will swing in our favor only when there is more fuel available than what we are using.  We complain about oil companies making a bazillion dollars in profit.  Why shouldn’t they?  We have in effect given them a monopoly on our fuel supplies.  They have a strong grip on our wallets because there is no one else we can bargain with—and that’s our own fault.  

Complain all you want, but until we either decrease what we use, or increase our own supply, we will be at the mercy of the oil producing nations.  They know that, but it seems that all we know to do is complain and picket.  That’s admirable and great when you are a young citizen, but as adult consumers, we ought to know better.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Time to Sharpen my Knife

Working for a church is at times like a grade B horror movie.  If you’re not careful, you will soon be absorbed into the organism.  I have watched as my free time has gradually disappeared, being replaced by more church-related activities.  I have also watched as more church leaders (at all levels) have been affected by the same family problems that I saw while I was in private practice as an attorney.  I have seen divorces caused by too much time at work.  I have seen children rebel because they feel like they are competing against the church, and losing.

 With today’s technology blurring the line between the office and the home, we can be reached just about anywhere, whether by telephone, text, or email.  As much as I hate when it happens to me, recently, I have found myself doing that to my team.  I need to stop.  There is a reason why God demanded a day of rest.  We all need a time to unplug, unwind, and just do nothing “productive.”

 The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught.  And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. Mark 6:30-32 (ESV)

 Previously, I worked a job that required the use of sharp knives.  At times, I would be so busy working, that, in my mind, I did not have the time to sharpen the knife.  It got to the point where my boss would force me to stop and sharpen it.  Interestingly, I found that when I cut with a sharp knife, I more than made up the time I had spent sharpening it.  Furthermore, although it might be counterintuitive, it was actually safer to cut with a sharp knife.  When the knife was sharp, it went where I wanted it to go and I did not have to fight it or strain against it to get it there.  

 The same has to apply to our life.  If all we ever do is stay absorbed in our work, we will grow less effective over time.  In fact, we will not only hurt the work of our ministry, we may also hurt the ones we love.  Work can wait.  We need that time to come away and rest, time to sharpen our knives.