Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Growing Up?? Too Fast??

It started with Annette Funicello in the 1950s. I wasn't there to see it, but I believe that it did happen. In recent years (months) we have watched the rise and subsequent disintegration of teen pop icons Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Amy Winehouse, Nicole Richie, Lindsey Lohan, R Kelly, Kanye West- do we need to go on to sports figures, political leaders, etc.?

Now we see a huge hubbub concerning some pictures of current tween queen Miley Cyrus. (You may know her as Hannah Montana.) There are photos of Miss Cyrus in the current issue of Vanity Fair magazine. Some of these photos include Miley with her father, country singer and television actor Billy Ray Cyrus. The furror is about what seems to be the sexually suggestive nature of some of the pictures. Some have said that they are completely inappropriate for a 15 year old girl. I have two thoughts. First of all, it is too bad that there is a whole generation of girls who will miss out on childhood. Secondly, the consequences of this tendency are frightening. If we dress 10 year olds like 16 year olds, we should expect 12 year olds to have unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

First of all, our culture glamorizes teen sexuality. We, whether we realize it or not, encourage children to grow up. We legitimize sexuality at younger and younger ages. Eight year old girls are wearing low rise pants and half shirts. They are piercing navels and being suggestive at earlier ages and in more situations. This is a tragedy. The great memories of life are of being children. If we push our young people into adulthood they will lose out on the greatest joys of life.

Finally, let's not get to worked up about the photos in question. Although you can read into them a tantalizing back-story, it is not necessary. You can look at a teen-age girl who seems to be recently finished with a sexual encounter, or you can see a young girl. Period.

I lament the state of our world. I am sad for what our culture is doing to young people, especially girls. But I am going to do everything I can to not further complicate the situation. I am going to give Miley Cyrus and her parents, and photographer Annie Liebovitz the benefit of the doubt. I am not going to see trash where I do not need to.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Of Raging Bulls and Life Choices

Most decisions that I have made in my life are pretty insignificant. No one cares what color socks I wear each day. The college I attended, my major and GPA are all unimportant for most people in most situations. Usually the outcomes of my decisions are not known, or are so inconsequential that even I do not notice or remember.

Sometimes, however, my decisions have long-term effects. Those long term effects can be positive, but too often I find that I am sorry for decisions I have made. There is embarrassment, debt, and other problems. These are all the residue of not thinking through what is important and what will happen when and if...

The biggest problem is that most of these decisions were made when I was too young, or too naive, to take into account the full impact of all that I was doing. Fortunately for me, although I made some silly choices, the consequences have been minor and short-lived. That is not true for everyone. The consequences of addictions, sexual encounters and other experiments can be devastating and long-lasting.

That is the lesson that is brought home clearly in the classic film, Raging Bull. In the film, Robert DeNiro plays middle-weight boxing champion Jake LaMotta. Time after time we see LaMotta make bad, impulsive choices. He his violent with his wife. He has an affair. He beats his new wife. He beats his brother. He associates with the Mafia. He throws a fight. He gets involved with young girls in his bar. LaMotta makes one bad choice after another.

The reason this happens to LaMotta, and too many of us, is that LaMotta only sees right now. He is not concerned about ruining his relationship with his brother, only about satisfying his rage at the moment. The future is too far away to take seriously. "I'll worry about tomorrow when tomorrow gets here" is the attitude that many of us have.

We all need to learn something from Raging Bull. We need to take the future seriously. Plan for the future. Think about what ingesting that substance will do to the rest of your life. Consider the implications of everything you do for the future. Go ahead and have a great time, but make sure that your great time lasts beyond today.

Monday, April 28, 2008

What I Believe About the Afterlife

Let me begin by saying that I believe in the afterlife. I believe that all humans, good and bad, saved and lost, will live after death. There will be a judgment someday- either after we die, or after the return of Jesus at the last day. When this takes place, every human will have to answer for him or her self.

Here are some questions that you might have about the afterlife. I will answer them as well and as scripturally as I can.
  • How can a loving God send people to Hell? The easy and pat answer is that God sends no one to hell. People are judged based on their own choices. Those who do not get to enjoy eternity with God are those who chose not to live with him in life. God is loving, but he is also just and fair.
  • Will my dog be in heaven? (I cannot believe that I am even tackling this one.) I do not know. But I do believe that heaven is a place of eternal joy and bliss. If it requires a pet to have that joy, Fido will probably be there for you. However, my hunch is that we will be so excited and fulfilled to be in the presence of the King of Glory that other concerns will seem unimportant.
  • Where is heaven? I am not sure where heaven might be now, but I know where it will be in the future. Jesus told the disciples that he was going to prepare a place (John 14.2). So heaven is somewhere. It may be in a spiritual place rather than a physical or geographical location. I compare the current location of heaven to “warp factor 2” on Star Trek. It may be that heaven is all around us and we just cannot see into that dimension. Eventually, after the second coming, the New Jerusalem will rest on the New Earth.
  • What about my saved family and friends? Will I know them in heaven? Jesus teaches that there is no marriage in heaven (Luke 20.35). However, I believe that when reaching heaven we will recognize one another and remember good things and good times.
  • Will I think about or miss my unsaved friends? The Bible teaches that there will be no crying in heaven. All will be peace and joy according to the hymn writer. That means that we will not remember, or dwell on all those who are not in heaven. The best answer for us is to pray hard and share consistently with those who are not Jesus followers now.
  • How can I be sure that I will go to heaven? The Bible teaches that all people are sinners and need the work of God through Jesus Christ in their lives. To be sure that you are going to heaven, confess your sins and your need for Jesus in prayer. Ask God to save you and he will. Then, get involved in worship, prayer and Bible study. Only through consistent effort can you maintain the faith.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Prayer of the Week

Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29.12-13

Here is a promise and a proclamation. We humans are so interested in hearing and receiving God's promises that we miss the rest of it. But in these verses we get both. First the promise. God promises that he is available. Even though sometimes it seems that my prayers are useless and that no one can hear. When I think that praying is a waste of time, I can rejoice in the promise that God wants to hear my prayers. He is available. He wants to be found by me. This is great news. His promise is that when I pray, he hears.

The command is this; when I may be discouraged with my prayers and my relationship with God, I need to continue nonetheless. I need to seek God with all my heart. I need to search with all my strength. I need to pray until I reach him. When I cannot find God, could it be that I have not persevered in the search? Is it possible that I have given up too soon? You and I need to be persistent with our prayers. God will hear.

PRAYER: How soon we want to give up and throw in the towel, Lord. Every little distraction seems to be an insurmountable obstacle. But you have given us this great promise. Teach me to search for you with all my heart. Give me the patience and the persistence to seek you until I find you. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.

Speaking or Listening??

Babel made my list as one of the best movies that I saw in 2007. There is no question that is true. There are four seemingly unrelated stories that all tie seamlessly together by the end. What a surprise. Time jumps back and forth, and sometimes you don't know what is happening. Brad Pitt gives his best performance as the husband of an American woman who is shot by a sniper. The wife is played by Cate Blanchett who once again is perfect.

Then there are the two pre-pubescent brothers who seem to know nothing about anything serious. One brother likes to watch his sister undress and bathe. The other thinks that is an offense to Allah, and decency. These young Moroccan boys are filled with play, mischief and sibling rivalry.

There is the deaf girl in Tokyo who longs for someone, anyone, to love her. After the death of her mother her grief is almost unbearable. And although her father tries to connect with her, he is reserved. He tries too hard. She is left to reach out to her teen-age friends who seem incapable of any real emotion or connection.

Then there is the Mexican immigrant who cares for children in southern California. Although she is a legal resident of the USA, circumstances require her to take her charges to Mexico for the wedding of her son. One thing leads to another and the caretaker and two children are lost in the desert.

It is a heart-rending movie. There is never a dull moment. But I can summarize it for you. No one listens. In this film no one listens to anyone else. The American couple are having a marital crisis because they will not listen to one another. The Japanese teen-ager is desperate because she can get no one to pay attention to her. The Mexican woman can get no one to care for the children, and then when she is lost in the desert with them, no one can hear her calls. There is a lot of talking in Babel, but there is not very much listening.

So learn a lesson. Do not be afraid to speak to people. But when others are speaking, be sure to pay attention. Listen and hear what they are saying.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Things I'm Learning

This has not been a banner season of life for my family. At Christmas time we had a financial problem- nothing any more serious than everyone else is dealing with. Then there was the requisite "we have a teenager in the house" crises that every family deals with. Then just recently we had a flood in our basement. There were 6-8 inches of water everywhere. And last week, my wife had major surgery and the results of pathology will not be available for a few days yet.

Although we are going through a rough patch, we are learning a lot.
  • If my purpose in life is train leaders, and it is, then I should be willing to let others lead. I am learning to delegate and to let others take responsibility for tasks, work and ministry.
  • I (read that as, everyone) need to be gracious when receiving help and ministry from others. I am used to being the one who gives, serves, ministers, but sometimes it is appropriate to receive ministry.
  • Others are called to minister. Sometimes they are called to minister to me and my family. I should learn- and I am trying- to let others serve and minister.
  • I, like you, am called by God to humility. There is no quicker way to learn to be humble than to let someone help you. What a wake-up when you are faced with your own lack of self-sufficiency.
  • I am trying to learn to not be judgmental. Although people have their own agendas and motivations, I need to allow them to deal with their own stuff. I need to not assume that someone is serving me just so I will "owe them" in the future.
  • I am learning to ask for help when I need it. There is something in me that keeps me from asking others for help. I want to solve my own problems. So, if I haven't called you yet, your turn is coming.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Evangelism in the Real World

One of the most disconcerting problems in all the Christian world is sharing your faith with someone else. We are all concerned (maybe consumed) with seeming normal. If I were to tell someone else about my faith in Jesus, that would necessarily make me a fanatic. I would be embarrassed for others to know what I believe. And heaven forbid that they think I was different than them.

Bill Hybels has been criticized greatly in the church at large. Sometimes the critiques have been justified, but too often we minimize his importance to the work of evangelism. Hybels and his staff at Willow Creek have done as much- perhaps more- for practical approaches to evangelization than anyone else in contemporary western Christianity. His book, Just Walk Across the Room, is filled with hands-on suggestions, opportunities and inspiration. There are three suggestions that Hybels makes that I would like to mention here. Each of these are part of the Hybels canon. If you have heard Hybels speak, been to a conference at Willow, or heard anything about the church, you have been exposed to these approaches.
  • Do/Done. So many people think that the Christian faith is all about following rules and meeting requirements. The problem with this approach is that it is as exhausting as it is futile. It is impossible to "do" enough to make God happy. The better approach, and the one that is historical and biblical is to recognize and receive what God, through Jesus, has already done. You cannot earn salvation, but you can receive it.
  • The Ladder. If the Christian faith were all about doing good deeds and being good enough for God, that would mean that there was some sort of spiritual ladder to climb. Are you good enough? Billy Graham, one of the most famous holy men in America, finds many faults and sins in his own life. He would not place himself very high on the ladder- maybe half-way to heaven. Could you be higher than that? If not, you cannot climb into heaven. You need to know that God offers a different plan, one that does not require you to be perfect.
  • The Bridge. If God is holy, and we believe that he is, he cannot associate with sin. People are sinners and therefore there is divide between humanity and God. All of our attempts to cross that chasm are futile. We cannot get to God. But, God, through Jesus Christ his Son, used the cross as a bridge to get humans to God. All we have to do is cross that bridge through our faith.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Power of Youth

I love spending time with young people. Although it is often frustrating, disappointing, exhausting and aggravating, kids are good for me. Being around young people is generally good for me as well. I am energized by the times I get to be with them.

I have often said that kids either keep you young or make you old. I have felt both of those experiences at different times, but I keep investing in teens. I invest in their technology. I have a MySpace page and a Facebook site. I text message (to the best of my ability) several times a day. I try to listen to the music that teens listen to, watch their television programs and be informed about what they think is important in the world.

I place a high value on communicating with teens. I try to know their language, because it is different than adultspeak. I spend time with youth, just for the sake of spending time with them. I care about them and I want them to know that I care about them. As far as I am able, I will continue to value young people and my relationships with them indefinitely.

This is all important to me because of things that I have written before. It is important to reach out to young people. But in addition to that, I believe that there is power in youth. Of course our culture teaches us to long for youth. The cosmetic surgery industry is growing exponentially. Diet plans and cosmetics sell like hotcakes. Media conglomerates market everything to a youth market. In fact, the demographic that is most important is always younger than me. Cool people are always young. Everyone wants to be young, or act young, or look young.

But that is not the power that I refer to. Young people are powerful in a number of ways.
  • Young people have power because they are naive. They are not old enough (or experienced enough) to realize how corrupt and negative the world is. That means that young adults often believe what they are told. They will give you the benefit of the doubt. They look at things in hopeful and positive ways.
  • Young people are not bitter. They do not give up at the first sign of disappointment. They keep going, keep believing, keep trying. They always have hope that the next time will be the best.
  • Young people have a lot of energy. They can keep going when the rest of us want to give up. They do not tire as easily. They bring new ideas and creativity to problems that the rest of us cannot solve.

I try to surround myself with young people because they bring so much to the table. They have so many assets to offer that I lost long ago. I want to re-capture my own youth, yes. But more importantly, I want to be sure that the youth of others is not wasted.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Movies and Music

Music has always been an important part of film. From the very first "talkie," The Jazz Singer, to the great movie musicals of the 1930's and 40's music was crucial. Since that time music has been relegated to a predominantly background device. Music sets the tome and creates a mood for the dialogue and action on the screen. Of course, there have always been concert pictures, but the audiences for these films is almost always very small. And every few years, some enterprising director will bring a Broadway musical to the big screen. However, those endeavors usually fail financially.

But 2007 may be the beginning of the end. Two excellent films and one pretty good film with music as a central character/theme were well-received and relatively successful commercially. Not only that, they were enjoyable.

August Rush- August Rush was the pretty good film. The movie begins as an accomplished classical cellist and a rock musician have a one night stand. The result is that the cellist becomes pregnant and her son is ultimately given up for adoption. The child, August Rush, turns out to be a musical prodigy. He believes that his music will lead him to his parents. The remainder of the film is about that quest. There is all sorts of music, a nice romantic story and a sympathetic child in this movie. Almost everything you want.

Across the Universe- Across the Universe is revolutionary in terms of modern popular cinema. It is a musical, with characters singing and dancing; breaking into song at odd times and places. All of the music is from the Beatles Songbook re-imagined for the 21st century. Highlights include Joe Cocker singing Come Together, T.V. Carpio singing I Want to Hold Your Hand as a melancholy lesbian ballad.

Once- Once is the story of two aspiring musicians and their almost-romance in Dublin. When the guitar-playing troubadour meets his piano-playing love interest they literally make beautiful music together. The song, Falling Slowly, won the Oscar for best song of the year (as well it should have). The girl helps the boy to realize his musical dreams before personal complications try to destroy their relationship.

I think things look good for the future of music in films. I am excited to see what will come next. Wait a minute, I didn't even mention Juno, which had the best overall soundtrack of the year.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Prayer of the Week

"If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear." Psalm 66.18

If only there were a nickel in my pocket for every time that it felt that God did not hear my prayers. There are times when I am sure that I am praying from some sound-proof room. It seems that none of my struggles, none of my petitions reaches much beyond my own shadow. I think there are many reasons for this. Sometimes it is because I do not have the right attitude in praying. I am praying from obligation or responsibility. At other times I believe that my prayers are ineffective because I am praying against the will of God. Unfortunately, sometimes I know that prayer is outside God's will, and yet I pray it nonetheless.

But today, I want to focus on the most important and prevalent obstacle to prayer, SIN. The Bible is very clear that sin will keep God from hearing your prayer. Too many times we ignore our own faults and failures and hope that God will ignore them as well. We justify our actions and hope that God- and everyone else- will not notice. How naive we are. God is perfect, holy and pure. He can have no part in our sin. Be sure that confession is important in our prayers because it is the only way we get the privilege of bringing our other concerns to the Lord.

PRAYER: Lord God, we are not perfect. In fact, often we seem, even to ourselves, to be hypocrites. Forgive us our sins. Make us a holy people, filled with your righteousness. Cover us with your grace and make us the people that you want us to be, now and always. Amen.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Weekly Prayer Thought

"You will seek me and find me, when you search for me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29.13

Today I want to challenge you to pray for yourself and your own needs. Often we find ourselves thinking only of the needs of others and neglecting to pray for our own concerns. This should not be so. You are a child of God. He wants the very best for you. Therefore, you should pray in at least the following ways.
  • Pray that you will live and be healthy enough to complete the dream that God has given you for your life. Remember that God's purpose is not something to be forgotten or dismissed. Pray for yourself that you will be able to do God's will.
  • Pray that you will be able to complete your season of worship. Worship has to do with our relationship with God. It is important that we are intentionally involved in developing that relationship. Spend time with God regularly. And pray that nothing would keep you from that priority.
  • Pray that you would be healthy enough, confident enough and that you would live long enough to share the grace of God with others. You have a story that no one else has. Your testimony will be effective where someone else's will not.

PRAYER: O God, be near me in times of distress. Encourage me when I am alone and lonely. Care for me when I am neglected and abused. Comfort me when no one seems to care. And always speak to me your word of truth and love. May I be empowered to do your will and work as long as I live. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Gossipy Prayer

I get a little bit concerned about some of the prayer concerns I hear from time to time. It seems that some people want to share a "prayer request" just so they can give the latest news on someone else. Now, to be sure, Christians ought to be concerned about there fellow people. We should be praying for one another. But there has to be a line clearly marking the difference between genuine concern and unhealthy fascination.

The same can be said for the morbid curiosity that we get about the needs and concerns of others. We all can fall prey to this. When we know that someone else is in need, we can become so consumed with that need that it helps us minimize our own needs. It feels good to think about and point out how someone else's problem is worse than my own. But, my heart cannot be filled with empathy and prayer if I am thinking along these lines.

Finally, sharing personal concerns can be a dangerous proposition when we get a thrill from the "celebrity-status" that we attain in a crisis. Sometimes we like being sick, or in need, or in danger. To that end we become tempted to exaggerate our needs for the sake of those who enjoy the gossip of prayer.

So here is what we should do...
  • Share only what is necessary to get the gist of the concern.
  • Get in the habit of hearing only the essential elements of the prayer concern.
  • Learn who the people are who "gossip" their prayer requests. Avoid listening to those "concerns."
  • Pray that God will give you a heart that truly cares about the needs of others.
  • When sharing personal requests, do not give information that will make your need seem more pressing than someone else's, or more dramatic than it really is.

It is truly a shame that we have taken one of the highest callings of humanity, prayer, and made it an occasion for a grievous sin, gossip. Let's be careful in our sharing and our praying.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Harlan County Lessons

A few years back, on two different occasions, I spent a long weekend in Harlan County, Kentucky. I was struck by the beauty of the Appalachian region of the USA. The hills and hollers were breathtaking on those sunny and cool autumn days. The people were wonderful. I met several local residents who struck me with dignity and pride, even in the midst of extreme poverty and despair.

I experienced all of this in the context of two mission trips to assist some folks in a food pantry and clothing distribution ministry in the little community of Smith. We enjoyed serving along side the many great and grateful people of that area. It was only after my visits to Harlan County that I learned about the coal miner's strike of the 1970's and the way it had been celebrated in films.

When I first learned of the film Harlan County War, a 2000 production starring Holly Hunter and Stellan Starsgard, I worked hard to find it. When finally I got to see the movie, I was shocked. Although the movie was made before I knew Harlan County, and the story was set way before I knew Harlan County, I felt that I knew the people on my 25" screen. They were hard-working, committed, minimally-educated humans. This film focuses on one family and the effects that the strike had in that home.

This week I saw another film about that strike. Harlan County USA, is a documentary that was released in 1976. This Academy Award winning movie depicts the events of the miner's strike with footage from picket lines, campaign speeches and union halls. It goes behind the scenes of the strike to look at the power structures that seem to conspire to keep a division between rich and poor.

I am probably more interested in these two films than most because of my personal connection to that area of the USA, but I cannot help feeling that this is/was a tragedy. People were bullied, beaten and finally murdered so that those with money could keep others from having money. What a tragedy!

I recommend both of these films. They are hard to find, but worth the effort. (Harlan County USA was being played on the Independent Film Channel this week.) A much-forgotten struggle in our history is depicted in a powerful way in both.

Now, a few things:
  • People in America are comparatively wealthy. We, yes all of us, are better off than most of the world. We need to understand how blessed we are.
  • With that prosperity should come a sense of responsibility. We cannot oppress and neglect those with less than us simply because we have money and power.
  • We should never use our wealth in such a way that further diminishes those without wealth.
  • In the USA there is an ever-growing divide between those who have money and those who do not. I am not advocating some Marxian re-allocation of wealth, but sensitivity and responsibility to care for those who are in need.
  • Whether there is money involved or not, we need to love and respect all people. Those who have fewer resources are just as valuable as humans as those with the most financial resources.

I learned from Harlan County and from these two films. I was reminded of the Golden Rule and the Great Commandment. It never hurts to review an important lesson.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Weekly Prayer Thought

"In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name."
Matthew 6.9

Prayer requires a lot of work. It is not easy and that is why so many people struggle with it. But now I am going to making uncomfortable. In the most familiar Christian prayer in the world, Jesus begins with the words, "Our Father." I know that it is tempting (and easy) to focus on the intimacy of Jesus calling God his Father. And although that is important, I want you to pay special attention to the "Our" in the prayer.

Our is always a plural word. In the English language there is never a time when you can use our in the singular. Therefore, when Jesus instructs us to pray "Our," He is asking us to pray with others. When we pray together we can rightfully use our.

Finally, remember that there is extra power available when Christians pray together. What a waste if we don't pray together.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us. We need you to work in our lives so that we can learn to pray together. Give us courage to find prayer partners, prayer teams and prayer meetings that we can join. Help us this day, and always, to pray in ways that will be pleasing to you. Amen.

Saturday, April 5, 2008


Recently, while watching a television program, I noticed this "E/I", in the corner of the screen. I have no idea what that was for. Eventually I noticed this symbol on a lot of programs. It seems to appear most often on Saturday and Sunday morning and afternoon programs. I have made a guess that E/I stands for something like "Educational/Informational" because of the sort of programs that it appears on. Although that may be the right meaning, it didn't satisfy me. There could be something more at work here.

Evangelism is imperative. Christians are required to share their faith. It is not a suggestion that Jesus makes. He is very clear. We must be witnesses. We cannot do evangelism when it is convenient or comfortable. We are to be witnessing all the time.
  • Evangelism Imperative. There are no options when it comes whether or not to do the work of evangelism. We are to do that work. There are options when it comes to how we share. There are different methods and strategies. Choose one that you are comfortable with. Make sure that your method suits your personality and lifestyle. But remember, Jesus said, "You will be my witnesses." (Acts 1.8)
  • Evangelism Intention. If we wait for the opportunity to share our faith, it likely will never come. We must be vigilant in a search for evangelistic prospects and opportunities. Every day should begin with a mindset that seeks out relationships for the gospel. Every conversation should be moving toward the gospel. Evangelism must be intentional.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

For vs. Against

Here we are in a presidential campaign year. For more than six months we have been listening to candidates tell us how great they are. Well, that's not exactly true, is it. Candidates don't often talk about their good qualities or positions, they tell us how bad their opponents are. Muckraking, mudslinging and negative campaigning are at an all-time high. And there are still seven months until the election.

And Christian people are no different. In fact, they are probably worse. We support candidates or causes not because of what we, or they, are for, but what they are against. We are against immigration. We are against gay marriage. We are against abortion. Over and over it happens. We surround ourselves with negativity and try to hold onto a little corner of the past. We want to remember and return to the 'good old days' before all this bad stuff came up.

My own denomination is a perfect example. In a few weeks the General Conference of the United Methodist Church will be meeting in Texas. At that assembly delegates will make decisions on various issues and church policies. Most of the campaigning that is happening (campaigning in a church is a scary thought) is against the evils that seek to destroy.

How sad it is that the good news is overshadowed by complaints against someone else and their position.

It is time to make a change. I suggest a different approach for political candidates, churches, denominations, organizations and individuals. Let's focus on what we are for.
  • I am for affordable, quality education for all people.
  • I am for affordable, quality health care for all people.
  • I am for supporting all people with the love of Jesus.
  • I am for conversations and dialogue to deal with our disagreements.
  • I am for a standard of living that will allow everyone to have a measure of dignity.
  • I am for telling everyone I know about the difference that a life in Christ can make for them.
  • I am for supporting families.

I am going to do my best to be for things from now on. Maybe you would like to join me.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Just the Most Over-used Word

I sometimes find myself thinking like a snob. I don't think that I really think I am better than others. In fact, most of the time I feel socially and economically like a member of some mysterious "under-class." My problem comes with a different kind of snobbery. I think that I am a snob of the worst kind.
  • I prefer hard-cover books to paperbacks.
  • I detest celebrity gossip.
  • I cringe at grammatical errors in conversation. Subject- predicate disagreement is the worst violation of this prejudice.
  • Over-used phrases really bother me. I get anxious when people say "same old, same old," "same difference," or "like" after every other word in a sentence.
  • Using the wrong word, using a word in the wrong way, or using a word that does not exist also bothers me. The best example of this is "irregardless." AAAUUGH!!

But, the most over-used word, and therefore a violator of my snobbery is "just." I work in church and it may be used most in prayer and "spiritual talk," But I am sure that the violations go beyond the Christian world. Here are some example of inappropriate or unnecessary uses of just.

  • Lord, we just want to thank you...
  • I am just a janitor...
  • Just give that to me...
  • Just now...

Give it up, people! Find a new word. Clean up your language.