An American Idol

30 Apr

Home PictureRecently, my wife and I have toyed with the idea of moving from the small quiet community of Blair to the hustle and bustle of Omaha. It seems that we get this idea every couple of years. This one began when I drove by a sign that said “Six bedrooms”! It seemed perfect. We made an appointment to look at the house a couple of times. After viewing it, we liked the house but were concerned with the traffic etc. on the street. What that one house did though, was set off a three week house hunting trip. We poured over the internet MLS listing of the Omaha metro area. We made appointments to view houses. We expanded our price range to more than I ever thought we would or could pay for a house.

After one busy weekend that consisted of five or six house showings, my wife asked me if I notice all of the religious statues in the different yards. The she asked, “You know in the Bible, people would build and worship idols and turn away from God? Are houses our idols?” My understanding of her question is: Do we put so much time into making our houses our palace that it has indeed become our idol?

Besides all of the actual “idols” we saw in various yards of these homes, we noticed that with each successive house we looked at, each builder or owner tried to outdo each other with various luxury upgrades. Granite counters, walnut cabinets, oak floors, porcelain tile, walk-in showers, bath tubs the size of a small swimming pool. Home theaters, multiple laundry rooms, ponds and fountains. Landscaping professionally done. As these “features” piled up, so did the price. As the price skyrocketed, so did the property taxes until the monthly amount that I would have to pay for property tax was greater than what my mortgage payment would be. Which is what prompted the question. Have we created our own idols? Are our houses and all that goes in and around them more important than serving God? Do we spend so much time trying to one-up our neighbor that we really don’t get to know them? I know driving to church on a Sunday morning, I notice many people slaving away in their yards. I often ask myself – do they know God?

It gets me thinking…

So, are we moving? Nope – at least not in the foreseeable future. After looking at many houses, we realized that we’re perfectly satisfied with our present house. Sure, we would love more room in our kitchen but other than that, we’re comfortable. [And it only takes me 45 minutes to mow the lawn :)] We would love to live closer to church but I guess we will just have to make a bigger commitment to get more involved; knowing that it will mean more driving. We would love to be part of a small group – to make friends and develop relationships.

Jott: Your Own Personal Assistant

19 Apr

Jott LogoHave you ever been driving and wanted to remember something you saw or heard but couldn’t write it down? Has someone ever told you an address that you wished to remember but didn’t have paper? How about that homework assignment or that great idea that comes to you in the middle of the night? Don’t you wish you could just tell someone to remember it for you and know that anytime you needed it, it would be there? Ever wanted your own personal assistant?

GeekBrief.TVI was recently made aware of from Cali of GeekBrief.TV. I thought the concept was cool so I decided to sign up and try it out. I can see where this could be addicting! I live in post-it hell! I have little bits of paper all over with notes of things I don’t want to forget. Usually they end up in a pile on my desk or stuffed into various pockets, planners, notebooks etc. When I want to find something I wrote down, I have to try to remember where I put it and then search through the pile of notes until I find it. I usually find it – but not without a great deal of effort. Enter Jott.

With, you register your cell phone (or any other phone you want to use) with their service and provide an email address. After everything is activated and confirmed, you are now ready to use Jott. Just call the toll-free number and when the automated service asks – who you want to send it to, say “me” and then tell it what you want to remember. Shortly after you hang up, you will receive an email with your message transcribed. What’s great about this is that I use GMail and with Google’s indexing, I can find just about anything in my email by doing a quick search. Essentially, I’ve just moved my pile of Post-Its into the electronic realm.

You can also register your contacts with Jott so you can send messages to people. You can send messages to individuals or groups that you create. If you register their cell phone number – they can also receive text-messages from you.

So far, I love this service. We’ll see how they scale once more people start using the service. It’s still in beta now and although it is free now, they say that they will eventually have to go to an ad sponsored or fee based business model. My hunch? They will build it, prove the concept and then sell it to Google for millions and millions of dollars! 🙂

Send me a Jott!

Time for a discussion in the church about Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered Issues

18 Apr

I just read an interesting post from Rich Tatum of the Blog Rodent entitled, How to get arrested at Central Bible College. Plus: The Unremarked Transgendered Issue. He talked about two Gay-Rights Activists from a group called Soulforce who were arrested at Central Bible College and used that story to comment on how the modern church – and Assemblies of God in particular have dealt with the issues of gay, lesbian and transgendered people.

Reading posts like this always stirs up a certain angst inside of me. It’s a feeling that I know something is wrong but I don’t know how to fix it. For years, our society has been slowly pushed into believing the normalcy of gay, lesbian and transgendered lifestyles. Now, if we believe differently, we are labeled as “homophobes”. I have wrestled with how to minister to people who believe this for years. I keep asking myself – how can good people, who believe they are Christians, embrace this lifestyle? Even to the point of encouraging more people to “come out of the closet”. My heart aches, as it does with anyone I see who is openly sinning against God. I want them to know that God does love them but He desires them to not act on their desires. Everyone sins – no argument there – but I believe that it is the person that is embracing his sin that is endangering his eternal outcome. Rich uses some great analogies in his post that describe the difference between someone who is tempted to sin and doesn’t act on it and those that do.

The transgendered issue is one that I haven’t thought much about. Rich lays out his personal view rather nicely and has me thinking. I would love for this discussion to continue. I encourage you read Rich’s post and also read the comments as there is likely to be a lively discussion.

Latest Fortune Cookie

14 Apr

From my latest fortune cookie:

You can make the best of a bad situation – they make diamonds out of coal.

James said it a little different:

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. James 1:2-4 from The Messsage