Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"No way, I'M busier than YOU!"

Has busyness become the newest status symbol?

Sometimes I feel like my conversation day to day are simply a game of "Who is busier?" Quite frankly, it's driving me a little nuts. I have yet to meet ONE person who has said, "Life is really calm and there's just not much going on right now."

And yet...

The average, AVERAGE, American spends 3 hours a day browsing and engaging social media with 18-34 year olds coming close to 4 hours/day.

According to an article in NY Daily News citing a Nielsen poll, the average American will watch 5 hours of TV/day, and the aforementioned 18-34 year old demographic is right about 3.6 hours/day.

So I'll ask the question, are we really that busy?


Let me break this down for you real quick like...
168 hours/week
56 hours sleeping/week
50 hours working
IF the above stats are true...52 ish hours/week on social media/TV
Which would leave 9 hours/week for family, friends, driving, church, social activities, showering, eating, cleaning etc.

I'll ask the question again...are we really that busy? Or maybe we just are terrible time managers.

I know that most people say that they can multi task, or they just check social media on the toilet (me). But, let's get real, we are crazy about media (music, online, TV) and it's not getting better. We aren't busy, we just fear stillness and silence so we are filling our days with to much nonsense and not enough common sense (not the rapper...the actual thing).

I have been kind of crazy lately about time and money budgeting in my life. I have been giving every 15-30 minute interval of my day something to do. If I get that thing done early, then I have given myself 3-5 minutes to check social media if I dare say. Can I shoot you straight? Best thing I have ever done to reclaim my life. Seriously. I turned off all notifications on my phone. My email doesn't tell me when I have one. I ask it (Fetch Manual vs Push...which has done wonders for my battery BTW). I set aside about 1-2 hours/day to respond to emails and let everyone know to call my cell phone if I need to handle it before that.  I have been getting done with my days and can see all that I accomplished.

And then write a blog about it and post it on social media...I get the irony.

Just like with money, once I started budgeting my time, honestly, I no longer feel "busy," I feel productive, efficient, and in control. Do I have a lot going on? Yes. I'm a happily married father of 4 kids 7 and under who works a full time job on top of pastoring a church I helped start 4 years ago who also enjoys playing and watching basketball, working out, and seeing my friends. How does it all get done? I tell my time what's up now, it doesn't tell me. My life was spinning out of control with busyness and things were slipping. No more.

So, can we all just cut it with the "I'm busy" talk and get back being productive? Can we all say this out loud, "I spend too much time online and not enough time off it"? Can we all stop making an idol out of busyness? From a Christian perspective, I think the enemy has made his way into our hearts and minds. He has made us think we are too busy. And we are not. We have made ourselves that way.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

"Please steal my stuff!"

Alright, I've been back on Facebook now after a 3.5 year hiatus for a few months and I have developed a couple of huge pet peeves with this site and I'm going to breakdown a few here:

1) I'm on vacation/away for business - This post is absolutely stupid. You know that Facebook can be hacked or you might not be super close with all of your friends friends right? Live updating your vacation is open invitation to less reputable people saying, "Hey, please steal my stuff, I'm not home!" You know what, we can wait to see the pictures from your cruise when you get back home. Our lives are not changed one way or another if you wait. Waiting, is the best thing you can do for your home security.

The "away on business" posts (which a made a few of, sadly) when you are married and/or have kids is even worse than the vacation with my family. Stuff can be replaced. Telling the world that you have left your spouse and kids home alone could be way more devastating should someone want to act upon it.

2) Pictures/videos of your kids - Alright, I admit that I have done this a few times too, but I'm stopping. Here's why. The internet is backed up. At all times. Never before has a generation of kids grown up like ours will. Their entire lives documented through photos, videos, updates, stories, all accessible to almost anyone. I mean a few here and there is probably OK, but let's stop putting every little thing they do online. It's only getting worse and sexual predators are getting worse also. Be wise people and protect your kids identity. Give them some privacy. You and 1,000 of your closest internet friends don't really need to know what your kids are doing all the time.

3) Serious subjects - I really blew this one. I posted something serious and the conversation got WAY out of hand. It was my mistake. I deleted it. Nothing serious should ever be discussed on social media. 93% of all communication is done non verbally. Nothing will get accomplished through posts and message board arguments. 0. Save this discourse for real life conversations over a meal or drink with someone. I think that 99% of the harmful stuff said on these sites is done only because people have "keyboard bravery." It only causes greater division. Let's end it.

Alright, am I a bit paranoid or delusional? Maybe. But I would much rather err on the side of caution and concern when it comes to my home, family, and integrity. These sites are essentially a way to keep in touch on a very surface level with people. It's a tool for communication, but that's it. Use it WISELY. Minimize your time on these places and maximize your time WITH people. Even as I type this from a coffee shop, I'm looking around and there are 13 people here, 11 of us are alone with our computers typing and looking at stuff. We are living with our touch screens yet we are so out of touch.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Confessions of a natural born polygamist

Here we go...

I'm a natural born polygamist.

I can't help it. I was born this way. I am attracted to my wife and I see other women to whom I am attracted as well. Thoughts will tend to creep in like, "What it would be like to married to her as well?" Or even, "What would it be like to "be with" her?" This is my raw, natural state. It's how I was born. I've liked girls ever since I can remember. But not just one girl, I've liked lots of girls through the years. Tried to date them. Thought about marriage with a few of them. Being a polygamist is my natural state. I just. can't. help. it.

And yet...

I have remained sexually faithful to my wife. I have only ever been with her and that has only been within the confines of our marriage covenant. I have had to fight the temptations before marriage and thoughts during marriage. This is a struggle, was a struggle, will be a struggle. Fighting my natural tendencies to be obedient to a Law which transcends my thoughts and feelings. I fight, daily, my urges and desires to be with other women, lots of other women. I place restrictions in my life to avoid the temptations. My belief in God and my love for my wife demands it. I cannot slide into my natural state and give in. I must fight.

I think most heterosexual men are like me. Lots of them have given in to the temptations to be joined to another woman and women who are not their wife. It will continue happening. There is really no distinction in the Bible between having sex and being married. The idea of sex outside of marriage is quite false. Sex is marriage and many people have had many wives and many people currently have many wives. Maybe the state disagrees, but polygamy is wide spread and very real. It's not just a TV show. It hides in the names of player, pimp, slut, ladies man, etc. It's all just a giving in to our natural state as sexual polygamists.

This is where the dialogue needs to shift on conversations pertaining to all sexuality as well. Regardless of whether or not a "gay gene" is discovered, we are all fighting the same battle. How we are in our natural state is flawed and broken. We are ALL prone to sexual deviance of some kind. We ALL have to fight, should we choose, to be obedient to a Law. Christians and non-Christians alike agree that we have to have some sexual boundaries in place. I use the Bible to place mine. Polygamy is wrong, adultery is wrong, bestiality is wrong, homosexuality is wrong, incest, rape, etc. All wrong. Others disagree with the Bible as a moral authority in society. But we all agree there needs to be one.

So there you have it. I have admitted my natural flaws. I was born this way. I am born with inclinations towards heinous sin according to the moral standards set forth in the Bible. I have to fight these inclinations everyday. I would never propose to make a law in America that allows me to indulge further in my sin. I believe that if all people were to uphold the Law of God in their lives, our society would be so much better off. So I will fight my natural desires to remain faithful to my wife. I will fight against the sin that so easily entangles me. Even if I was born this way, I have been reborn into a family where I no longer have to give in as a slave to my desires. I am free. I am no longer a slave to these desires, but I'm a slave to right living. I once was lost, but now, I'm found.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Pascal's Wager

A few weeks ago I was preaching at church and I mentioned Pascal's Wager. I won't go into huge details here on what it is, but you can read more about it here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal's_Wager).

Here's the reason for this post regarding it and why atheism is an irresponsible worldview.

I was recently on an atheistic message board (that didn't have any new posts since 2007) reading about the inherent problems with Pascal's Wager. Mostly, that when applied by Christians to other faiths, it would falter. And here's the deal, they are right.

Nobody should deny this...if Islam is the right faith, then I'm going to Islamic hell. If Judaism is right, then I'm going to Jewish hell for following a false Messiah and calling him God. If I'm wrong about either of these faiths and they are right, then I'm in trouble. I had better be absolutely (or as much as possible) sure that Jesus is who he says he was.

But here's the difference and Pascal's Wager still matters.

If I'm right about Jesus, then the Islamic followers and Jews who don't follow Messiah are going to Christian hell. So, I have the risk of going to their hell if I'm wrong and the reward of going to heaven if I'm right. Based upon the evidence of Jesus, I'm taking my chances on being right about Jesus.

Onto the atheists and agnostics then and why their calling the wager foolish is, well, foolish.

The premise is based upon a risk/reward scenario. We make decisions daily following this principle. Does the benefit outweigh the cost? Then make the decision. Does the reward outweigh the risk? Then make a decision. I'm aware of the risks associated with being wrong and I take them very seriously, but there's also a reward for me.

For the Atheist, there's only risk and 0 reward.

Who takes these chances? Even people who play the lottery are more rational than the Atheist. At the very least, there's a reward for them (however small the chances may be).

You see, if the Atheist is right, at the end of the day, I just don't care. And neither should anyone else. The reward of them being right and me being wrong is 0. If there's not a God and no eternal life, then we both end up dead. In the same place. Nothing. Which is why, ultimately, pure Atheism will inevitably lead to Nihilism. As well it should. Without a belief in eternity or a moral rightness or a God, there is really no standard for justice. And when you can't agree on right and wrong moral principles, then what's the point.

So, Pascal's Wager ought to be useful for all people, Atheists and Agnostics in particular. Is it the ultimate argument? No. Are these new ideas? Not at all. But I just can't seem to wrap my head around why such people of science and philosophical intelligence can't see the simple fact that their rightness has 0 impact on the world. And, if that's the case, then why keep pursuing it?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Why I celebrate Christmas - Sweater Vest Wednesday Christmas edition

A blog post from a Christian pastor about why he celebrates Christmas might seem odd, probably even obvious. I mean, don't all Christians unashamedly celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas? Why even continue reading...it's all going to be the same stuff, just recycled over. Well, here it is...

I celebrate Christmas because Jesus celebrated Hanukkah.

wait, what?!?

I'll be honest, I have really struggled for awhile to celebrate Xmas. Why? Because it's not in the Bible. Nowhere do we see Jesus celebrate his own birthday. Nowhere do we see the early church celebrate the birth of Jesus. Nowhere are we commanded to celebrate the birth of Jesus anywhere. It was made into a "holy day" around 300 ad by the newly formed Catholic church. In Genesis, God said that he made night and day to mark the seasons and "holy days." So, let me get one thing out of the way, Christmas is NOT a holy day in the Biblical sense. It is special to a lot of people, but it is not a Biblical holiday. It's a man made tradition that used to be the winter solstice pagan celebration. As you can tell, I'm a bit of a scrooge when it comes to today. Especially in light of the fact that Jesus often times implores his followers to follow after the ways of God and not the traditions of the elders and teachers of his day. Seemed to me, that making Christmas a holy day would fall into the latter and therefore is theologically insignificant.

Which then brings me to John 10:22-23,
At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon.
The Feast of Dedication is referred to as Hanukkah today. It began as a man made celebration by the Jews to celebrate God's faithfulness to them during the Maccabbean revolt. God provided oil for the lamps for 8 days after Judah the Hammer (great name) drove the pagans from the temple and cleansed it. Here, in John, we see Jesus celebrating it at the temple. 

So what does this have to do with me and Christmas?

Jesus gives us a picture here. It shows us that it is OK to engage the culture around you and partake in fun things. He was involved in the celebration of the day even though it wasn't a Biblical holy day. He was with the people, celebrating, answering questions, walking around in the temple. I firmly believe if he were alive today in the physical sense, he would be hanging up lights, buying presents, decorating a tree, and throwing a killer party (remember, his first miracle was turning the party out!). 

Therefore, I will surrender my grinchiness this Christmas once and for all. I will celebrate it as a cultural celebration and use any opportunity to talk about Jesus that comes up. I will not engage in the greed, drunkenness, and gluttony that comes with this celebration. I will celebrate with my family. I will challenge people to think more about this day and the WHY's and HOW's that are behind it. We are free to celebrate Jesus everyday. Whatever we do (whether we eat or drink or celebrate Christmas) we will do it all for the Glory of God.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Gay marriage

Whelp. Here we are...another land mark decision where the SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) has unilaterally made a decision that affects, wait for it, 3.6% of the US population according to a study done by a gay professor from UCLA (much to the dismay of his gay followers). Christians think it's the end times, non christians who support the gay marriage worldview think all the problems have been solved. Everyone, let's calm down for a second.

There's a push in and among church folks to either say, "Let's get on the "right side of history" and call homosexuality simply a cultural construct during that time like head coverings" or they say, "the gay agenda is winning and I'm moving to Canad...er...Mexi...ummm...er...Japan!" Wow, like this isn't the first time the church hasn't had to deal with moral inconsistencies. I don't know how this is going to play out. Statistically, the 3.6% of Americans who are gay have a terribly difficult time remaining committed to their partners. It's substantially worse than that of heteros. So, in my mind, marriage as a whole just took a shot to the gut. But that's not the point of this post....

I have 2 points to make regarding this issue. If you are not a Christian, don't worry, I'm not going to be throwing the Bible in your face. But rather attempting to make a few common sense points about why gay marriage matters and why I don't believe we need to have it as a part of our society at large. You can call me a bigot or FUNdamentalist, but doesn't that just make you mean spirited and hateful as well?  We need diaglogue, not name calling.

First point, being gay is a choice. Uh oh, I went there. Here's what I don't mean by that. I don't mean that one day a guy or girl wakes up and says, "You know what, I'm going to be gay today! I love being made fun of, ridiculed, abandoned by my family, so that's my choice!" I believe that all sexuality is a choice. If you don't believe that, then you worship a very cruel and controlling god and your religion/worldview is severely lacking. I know that I can wake up any day and try to or succeed in having an intimate relationship with whomever I would like to. Now, I chose to wait to have sex until the day I was married. She is the only women I have ever had sex with and I think that is an amazing and wonderful thing. Personally, I know if every single person acted in this manner throughout all of human history we would have 0 STD's, unwanted teenage pregnancy with single moms at 16, adultery, and so on. But that's another conversation entirely. The point being, I can choose to wreck my relationship with my wife and kids if I would like to with a man or a woman on any given day.

So what the crux of the argument about homosexuality boils down to this. If we can agree that sexuality is a choice that humans make every day they wake up, then we can agree that hetero, homo, and bi sexuality are all choices. That we are not born one way or another. So the issue then becomes, what are we predisposed to and what makes us happy. Happiness is what people are really arguing, not the biology of sexuality. I know that I am happier being married to my wife and only having emotional and physical intimacy with her. I believe what most homosexual couples are pleading for is that they will only be validated and happy when they can be married to each other.

However, isn't this idea of happiness severely found wanting amongst marriage today?  46% of kids born in the US today are now out of wedlock. 52% of married couples in the US wind up in divorce. More and more and more couples are choosing not to get married. So, why then are gay people fighting to become a part of an increasing failing institution?  Why is it that they will finally be "equal" and "dignified"? When you use those words, you are implying that people who choose to not get married or cohabitate are not equal and dignified.

Of course, the conversation then goes here. That's not what is meant. What the point is is that unmarried or cohabitating couples have the OPPORTUNITY to get married to each other, they choose not to. Homosexual couples then are fighting for the opportunity to choose to marry each other. I mean, homosexuals have always been able to get married, right? They just can't be happy because they would have to marry someone from the opposite sex.

Why is marriage the ultimate pursuit of human intimate relationship? Don't get me wrong, I LOVE being married to my wife, but if I lived in say a country hostile to Christians and they didn't let us get married, I would still love her. A court does not determine the status of my love for my wife. We do. God does. Marriage, from a strictly secular level, is simply the government giving some tax breaks, survivorship rights, and then keeping an eye on you. Again, why fight for that?

Which leads me to my final point...if you're still reading. Where are homosexuals not equal to their heterosexual counterparts? In tax breaks?!? Just make a few more charitable donations. In survivorship? You mean there isn't an estate attorney who can't find a way? Why do they need the federal and state governments to validate their relationships when so many hetero couples are choosing to run away from it? And, why are Christians so busy defending an institution that even they are defiling through divorce and marital infidelity?

I think having the right conversation is critical here. We need to stop placing homosexuality in categories where it doesn't belong. Like the civil rights movement. We cannot compare the right to marry (which isn't even a right, it's a decision) with the right to education, voting, and human rights. Not being able to get married isn't persecution. It isn't inequality. It isn't a human rights violation. Gay people, by and large, aren't being strung up and killed with crossed burning on their lawns fearful for their lives. Gay people are fighting for tax breaks. Not the same thing, people. If I were a racial minority, I'd be furious with this discourse.

Lastly (which I said 2 paragraphs ago), if there are any gay couples/people reading this, PLEASE stop the militant nature that homosexuals and homosexual supporters are attacking the church. If there are churches who don't want to perform your ceremony, just move on to the next church. When there are people in the marriage industry who are choosing to disagree with your choices, please just find someone who will. The protesting, law suits, and fines are just going to cripple the Christian church in America. If that's your idea of equality and love and peace, then leave it at home please. This country needs a separation of church and state and you will be forcing churches to shut their doors in the near future because of your government pressure to submit to your moral views.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The case for Andre Miller

I get ridiculed quite a bit for my love of Andre Miller as a basketball player. I understand why fans of today's NBA don't really get it, but when he's on the court there's a sense of calmness about the team. I have to agree with Coach Karl that he seems to be one of the smartest basketball players in the NBA today. He certainly has a career in coaching after this (especially for a team with an intelligent PG with no discernible game outside of 12 feet).

 The guy is 36 years old and has developed into one of the most valuable players on a very young and talented Nuggets team. He is our best back to the basket player on the team, and at the end of the game, I personally want him or Gallo to have the rock (mostly because they seem to be the only guys knocking down FT's consistently). This may sound crazy, but I think he has a punchers chance of going into the Hall of Fame. He is currently 10th all time in assists and his win-share (go here for a description) is comparable to Bob Cousy, Joe Dumars, Isiah Thomas, and Earl Monroe. Basically, he has been as valuable to any team as this list of guys, which is pretty good company.

Yet, nobody really talks about him in this light. My opinion, because his game lacks explosiveness and highlights (other than lobs to Javale and Faried). He plays the game like an old soul only concerned with doing his part to win. He's a coach on the court knowing time and place in the game. He seems to know when he needs to make an impact and when to defer to the hot hand. Along with Alex English, Mutumbo, Dan Issel, David Thompson, and Carmelo, I think Dre will go down as one of the best Nuggets of all time. Kiki had a decent run, but it was short in the 80's. The 90's other than the 1994 playoffs and one of the 12 losses of the 70 win Bulls were forgettable, and Carmelo really dominated the 2000's thus far with the WCF run in 2009.

 So here's the old school, gym rat, 24" vertical, old man game of Andre Miller. Keep grinding and let's shock the NBA this playoff run!