Friday, October 31, 2008

I read this today and liked it.

I thought you might like it as well.

Joaquín shrugs. He can’t read Lucas, doesn’t want to offend him. He goes diplomatic. “Don Arroyo waited also, for years, to court my mother. He wrote a waltz and hired músicos to play it on the street below her window, spent months writing words to it that satisfied him, took lessons to learn how to sing it. He waited. He paced, around and around. At last, one August night, when he knew she was home, he brought the band over. On the last three notes, his voice broke, and she opened the window. My father was already there with her. Don Arroyo was confused. How did you win her? he said. And my father said, I saw her in the butcher and asked.”

I'll leave it to you to decide if the moral of the story is worth believing, or if it's just a pretty lie that convinces us to do poor work.

But it's a great story.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

VCC gets written up

This is fun. Some of our VCC volunteers got written up in a local paper in Nawlins. Speaking of VCC attender Rich Reis, the story opens with a great line: "With a cold drink in hand, he talked to God as if he was standing next to him." It goes on:

Rich Reis, a self-proclaimed "chainsaw fanatic," worked long hours sawing through trees, branches, and stumps. Soon, the smell of Louisiana Yellow Pine settled in his nostrils and lingered for days after the trip. Each deep breath recalled memories of people like the Scaffinis; a family he befriended while freeing their home from fallen trees.

Click here for the full story

I love this church.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

And as for zeroboxing...

I was unsuccessful in getting a clean inbox. I'm currently sitting at 50; I'll attack it this evening. For a while it was coming in faster than I could send it out.


Good free music

I have no idea what musical styles you like, but I've been enjoying JJ Heller's new album, "Painted Red." For the next few weeks she's giving it out for free! Check it out... pretty good.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I have a love/hate relationship with my email. On the good side, I can use Gmail instead of Outlook. Outlook was spawned in the fires of hell by Bill Gates himself. On the bad side, I get a lot of email. And most of it's not of the FYI variety. So I end up having a lot of email that requires a real response.

My system is to keep something marked as unread until I've handled it. Unfortunately this comes out to a lot of unread email. So this week I'm zeroboxing: pounding away on my email to get every single email out of my inbox. Tuesday when I got in I had 120 unread conversations, and I didn't allow myself to go home until I was at 60. Yesterday the goal was to get answer everything that came in since Tuesday, plus get down to 40. I hit 27. Today the goal was 20, except that I've been away from my computer all day so I'm backup to 61. Gah.

It's been a long day... I'm not sure if I'm up to solving 41 problems before I go to bed. But I'm not done working tomorrow until that thing is clean.

We'll see how it works.

Don't waste your time in a Bible Survey class...

Here's the whole thing in 60 seconds!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Saturating the market

Last week Judi and I drove to Tennessee for a funeral, and I saw something I've never seen before. We stopped for gas twice, and both times I noticed that the gas station we fueled up at was also on the other side of the highway. First we hit a BP on the east side of the highway, and when we got back on we noticed an equally large BP on the other side. Two copies of the same gas station, located less than a football field apart. On the way home, we saw the same thing with Shell stations.

After thinking about it, I get the logic. People driving aren't looking for a specific chain, they're looking for a gas station on their side of the highway. So I have no doubt that both locations will thrive and do well... there's plenty of people buying gas.

Saturation's an interesting strategy. It seems like we're hard-wired to expect scarcity, even when there's no real scarcity. It's easy to imagine the manager of one Shell station worrying that another Shell on the same exit would make him lose money, but obviously the larger corp doesn't think that's the case. There's some similar issues with churches, I think.

Joe recently had someone ask if he felt threatened by the success of other churches. His response was perfect, I thought: "They could grow to 100,000 people and we could grow to 100,000 people and the majority of Cincinnati would still have no connection to a local church." If we think there's a scarcity then we're clearly focused on the wrong folks.

A big church within a couple miles of the Vineyard just opened up a young adult ministry. They're going to be able to throw a lot more resources at it than we will. How do I feel about that?

If I'm about the Kingdom of God, instead of the Kingdom of Micah, then there's really only one answer to that.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Christianity: Self-Defeating?

Here's a great quote from John Wesley that I had to dig up for something else recently.

Christianity has a tendency, in process of time, to undermine and destroy itself. For wherever true Christianity spreads, it must cause diligence and frugality, which, in the natural course of things, must beget riches! and riches naturally beget pride, love of the world, and every temper that is destructive of Christianity. Now, if there be no way to prevent this, Christianity is inconsistent with itself, and, of consequence, cannot stand, cannot continue long among any people; since, wherever it generally prevails, it saps its own foundation.

--John Wesley, 1789

It's an interesting problem. Wesley reached out to men and women who were squandering their lives, and he taught them diligence and frugality. Being content with what you have is a pretty amazing financial principle, really. If followed over the course of time, however, it leads to wealth. And wealth, Wesley feared, would lead to people putting their trust in things other than God.

Wesley's solution was to encourage his people to make as much money as possible, and to save as much as possible, and then to give it all away. He goes on to say that he himself followed this example:

I call on God to record upon my soul, that I advise no more than I practice. I do gain, and save, and give all I can. And so I shall do while the breath of God is in my nostrils.

I'm not there. But I'd like to be.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Anything + Benny Hill = Hilarious

The shrimp by itself isn't that funny. Add the soundtrack, and it becomes hilarious.

This deserves further study... clearly this is a new force of nature.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Coolest service ever: StopForwarding.Us

I'll be using this gem a few times this week.

Hi {name},

One of your friends has sent you this message from StopForwarding.Us, a website that allows individuals to anonymously email their friends and politely ask that they stop the habit of sending forwarded emails or FWDs.


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Politics makes me weary

So I'm in Tennessee, where apparently the election is on everyone's mind. Both sides just make me tired.

One time I read this book with a great quote: "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

Like many of Jesus' words, I take this as simple wisdom. It's not a message on the importance of tolerance, it's a straightforward explanation of cause and effect. The measure you use for others is the same measure they'll use for you. If you cut them some slack, they'll do the same for you. If you go out of your way to paint them in the worst light possible, they'll do the same for you. Turnabout's fair play.

In an election season where neither side seems to have a grasp on basic human decency, it tires me to no end to hear defenders of either party try to lay claim to the moral high ground. You think your guy is the lesser of two evils? Fine, I'll not disagree with you. But please don't talk about character unless you're ready for the tables to be turned.

Just once in my life I'd love to see an election where somebody was worth voting for instead of voting against.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Seen this yet?

What do gin and Desperate Housewives have in common? It's not what you think:

Seriously, Clay Shirky has a great mind. And this piece (you don't need to watch the whole thing; the first 5 and last 5 minutes are enough) intrigues me to no end. I don't care much about Wikipedia but I care a lot about what people could be doing instead of watching TV.

I'm in the T-N.

Judi's grandfather passed away this week, so we're in Tennessee for the funeral. It's a weird situation. On the one hand, it's always sad to be at a funeral. On the other hand, Pawpaw was 94 and a strong Christian. Plus we see a bunch of family and friends that we haven't seen in years.

I feel vaguely guilty that I don't feel more sad. Odd.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A gem from C.S. Lewis

There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else. There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others.

The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit. The essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.

Does this seem to you exaggerated? If so, think it over. I pointed out a moment ago that the more pride one had, the more one disliked pride in others. In fact, if you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way is to ask yourself, 'How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronise me, or show off?' The point is that each person's pride is in competition with every one else's pride. It is because I wanted to be the big noise at the party that I am so annoyed at someone else being the big noise.

This is why I'm so competitive... my pride. I want to be the big noise.