November 6, 2012
I did my civic duty of voting today. It was not thrilling or even mildly exciting, but it was important. I knew years ago who I was voting for today for the national races. The local stuff is always the ones that I have to wait until the last-minute to decide who or what to vote for. Most of the time I will just vote along the party lines, but every now and then I want to shake things up. This year I voted for the “write in” on three different races.
In SC, the national race always goes for the Republicans. My vote means very little there. But I think the real way to make a difference is on the local positions. Often one or two votes decides who will fill some of these positions. Because many of these people are locals, you can actually vote for someone who you know and not just from a campaign ad or what the media says about someone. But in three of these I did not know the person, and there was only one person in these, so I used the “write in”
I did not know the person on the ticket for one of the county council seats. I had not seen a sign nor an ad, so in this one I wrote in my youth pastor. I think that he would do a fine job. If you ask him, he would tell you that he does not have a clue about what this position does, so I figure that he is perfect for the job and will fit in nicely with the others who don’t have a clue.
I did not know the person running for the water and sewage person. I am not sure why this is an elected position and I don’t remember the actual title of the position, so I wrote in my youth pastor’s wife. She would be the first to tell you that she has to put up with a bunch of crap, so I think that she will do a fine job. Between the two of them, I am confident that my little portion of our country will rapidly start improving.
The last position that I used the “write in” for was a school board position. Again I saw no sign nor ad for the only person on the ballot so I wrote in my wife. As I have said before, she loves kids and can’t seem to get enough of them around her. She thinks that she knows everything, and she will be the first to tell you that, so a position in the education part of politics is perfect for her. I know that once these guys read this and especially if any of them get elected, that they will thank me later.
Yes, the American political system is working well in my precinct. I can’t wait to see the results of this year’s voting. I hope that my wife and my friends serve us well and if they don’t, I can’t wait until next election to vote the bums out of office!
June 12, 2012
I am not an economist so I can’t speak with great authority on the state of our economy, but I am pretty sure that it isn’t that good based on the anecdotal evidence that I see in my hometown. My wife and I went out to eat the other night and within a block saw no less than 7 businesses that were closed. When you ride down the main thoroughfare of our town there is business after business that is closed or going out of business. My friends who own their own business tell me that it is really tough to make ends meet. All of those millions of jobs that are being created don’t seem to be here, but like I said, this is purely anecdotal.
Anyway you slice it, business is not the best that it has ever been. And since the recession has started, and seems to never end, you would think that those who have a job would go out-of-the-way keep that job and earn your business. It is what use to be known as customer service. This is where the customer is served in such a way that they feel as if you appreciate them doing business with you and you try to ensure that they come back the next time that they need your service. I am finding it harder and harder to feel as if I ever want to go back to the places that I give my business to or in some cases trying to give it too.
I was in a store the other morning about 8:30am picking up a few items that I was going to need when I go to Cuba on my mission trip in a couple of weeks. At the check out when I swiped my card, the machine asked me if I would like cash back and I hit yes and asked for $20. The cashier looked at me and said, “You know ATMs are open 24 hours a day.” I was not sure what to say back to her. I told her “Yes, but the machine asked me if I wanted cash back and I said yes.” She again said, “You know ATMs are open 24/7”. So I asked if she worked for the bank or the store that I was standing in.
This store was not busy. It was not a small “mom and pop” store. They had cash in the drawer. I was only asking for $20 so I did not see the problem.
I have been trying to get the guy who installed our AC in our church to give me a quote on routine maintenance for our heat and air system. When we got our last unit installed I asked the owner 3 times for a quote and have called him twice since. I know that this time of year is busy for AC guys, but I want to give him money on a regular basis and hopefully for an extended amount of time.
A couple of Sundays ago, our fire alarm went off because something in our coffee shop started smoking. It was a piece of bread or something, so there was no threat. The alarm company called and I told them the situation and they said thanks. A few minutes later the fire trucks pull up and tells me that the alarm monitoring company said that no one from the church could be reached and so they were dispatched. I called to find out where the confusion was and in mid sentence was hung up on by the operator who monitors my church alarm system. When I called back to talk to the supervisor, she told me that no one hung up on me, that I was put on hold. I responded by saying, either way, I was in mid sentence when it happened, and that they need to have their phone system checked because their hold button hangs up on people.
The latest bout with non customer service is with the people who inspect our fire extinguishers. Every year they need to be inspected and a tag put on them saying that they are in good working order so when we are inspected by the fire marshal, he can see that we are meeting code. Every year we call to have them inspected and every year we tell them to put us down for annual service. So I am on my fifth day of leaving a message to one of the few people who do this and have still not gotten a return call. This inspection takes every bit of 15 minutes and they charge $75 to do it. That comes out to $300 dollars per hour and I can’t get them to even call me.
Customer service wins people’s loyalty. I know that some customers can be a real pain in the butt sometimes, but the majority of us just want some basic courtesy. We don’t want to inconvenience you by offering to give you money for a service that you provide. If it is that hard, we will find someone else who wants it. Thank you, is enough most of the time. Please come back, and is there anything else I can do for you today, would go a long way for most people deciding to come back. I have decided that as of today, I will not do business again with anyone who does not proved basic, courteous, customer service. Anyone want to join me?
May 7, 2012
When I was in the second and third grade I had to write a full-page about what I did over the weekend every Monday. I was usually very busy on the weekend as a kid, so it took the full-page. I don’t know why this was on my mind, but I thought I would share some things I did this weekend with you.
We had our youngest grandson, Bryson, over the weekend. He is somewhere between 1 and 12 months old. I think it is closer to 9 months, but I wanted to be safe with my guess. He has teeth now and bites. He likes to pinch and pull arm hair. He likes to scoot across the floor and turn over the dog’s water dish. He likes to wake up and cry and have Mimi come get him and sleep in my bed. So this weekend, I got bit, pinched, cleaned up water, and slept on the couch.
My wife has a room full of stuff that is too important to throw away. I really don’t know what it all is, but when I suggest throwing it away, she gets less than friendly with me. No one uses this room, I think it has something to do with the fact that it is full of stuff, but it was just a spare room. Some of my stuff, mainly tools, like three large boxes full, were in this room. So while I was gone to a meeting that ended up being on another day ’cause someone didn’t read the text message completely, my wife cleaned out some of the stuff in this room. When I came home from my “meeting” I found all of my tools in the hallway. So I spent my weekend moving my tools to shelves on the back porch.
Sunday was church day. As a pastor, it is hard for me to miss church without someone getting upset. But I love my church and my job and preaching. Before church I had to go to the local radio station for a friend of mine’s radio program. I was the special guest. I knew that I was special and it took going on the radio to have someone call me that. Sadly, his show is at 7:30am. As I told you earlier, I spent some of my weekend sleeping on the couch, if you can call it sleeping. So getting up early was wonderful. But the radio gig went really well and I had a blast. I was told that I looked extremely handsome on radio.
After that, I went to my church and preached about God calling us to do something special. I used the story of Moses meeting God in the burning bush. We had a full church and many new faces and 5 people got saved. After church we went on a motorcycle ride and ate at a greasy burger joint. Man, it was good. Especially since my wife has me eating leaves and lean meat most of the time. Then back to church that evening for a new teaching about the life of the Apostle Paul. During the morning time I challenged people to quit complaining about Monday and some actually listened, at least on Facebook their posts were positive. So I spent my weekend telling people what to do and some actually listened to me.
It was a great weekend! I love my church, my family, and my God!
February 1, 2012
To work or not to work? Poverty is a problem world-wide. It always has been and always will be. In Matthew’s gospel, the 26th chapter and 11th verse, Jesus said that we would always have the poor with us and I believe what He says. That does not mean that we should not care about them, the question is how should we care for them? Our country has an ongoing argument about how the poor should be dealt with and I have talked about this before in a few blogs.
The best thing a poor person can do is to get a job. I am not saying that we should not provide for those who can’t work, and I am not saying that it is a simple thing to get a job. I am saying that if you can get a job it is better than living off handouts. In fact the Bible says that if a man will not work, he should not eat. Sadly we have developed a culture of people who believe that they deserve to have the government and anyone else who will, take care of them. I get many calls a week from people who are “professional” beggars that have developed a phone script to ask for handouts from churches. They know the agencies that I try to refer them to before I can even get the list out of my drawer. I ask them if they are willing to come do some work around the church and they almost always say no. FYI, I have never turned someone away who is in true need of food or shelter.
Many people who are poor are going through a difficult period in their life that is due to circumstances beyond their control. Sadly they often become comfortable with having the unemployment checks sent to them and begin to enjoy not having to work for their money. Soon they stop looking for work and become a burden on society. Often the excuse in the beginning is that they can’t find a job making enough money. Many times people are not willing to do a job for less than what the last one paid but are more than willing to take less for doing nothing. I have a problem with that.
Working more than one job can overcome the difference in salaries. I know of multiple places that are hiring right now if you are willing to work for minimum wage. Having two and even three jobs is not a bad thing if it pays the bills. Many of our parents and grandparents worked multiple jobs as a way of life. It is not something to be ashamed of. And before you jump to the conclusion that I don’t know what it is like to work two jobs, I do. I have done it as recently as last year. Why? Because I needed to pay my bills and I was not willing to sit around and sponge off others when I could do something to help myself.
Being on government welfare is too often the hindrance of people who would work, but don’t because of convenience. Unemployment insurance should not be extended automatically to everyone who is accepting it. The money does not come from the government, it comes from the tax payers. Sure, most pay unemployment insurance while they are working, but it is not for indefinite benefits. After the allotted time for those benefits, it becomes other people’s money that pays for it. If the checks stop, people are more likely to look harder and take whatever jobs needed to feed themselves and their families.
The bottom line is not about being compassionate or not. It is about enabling those who are fully capable of working but won’t. People who can’t work and are in need must be helped. It is the right thing to do. One of the commands of the Bible is to help those who are in need. But personal responsibility is also a command of the Bible. Laziness is a sin. Not supplying the needs of your family when you are able, is a sin. The church nor the government, should ever help someone sin. But we better be ready to help those who can’t help themselves. If we don’t, then we sin.
But when someone can work, they should. We do no favors by letting people have handouts when they could find a job. While they are in that difficult spot of in-between jobs, we need to help. We need to assist in food, housing, and the overall well-being of anyone in that position. But we must remember that old proverb that says, give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. To work or not to work? WORK!
December 13, 2011
By now you must be wondering where in the world do some of these ideas for my blogs come from. It is simple; I have some weird people who go to my church. This morning I get a Facebook tag about omens saying that I should blog about it. I am not sure why, but I thought okay, this could be a sign…get it? Sign? Omen?
As usual, I will start with the definition of the word omen. (noun. anything perceived or happening that is believed to portend a good or evil event or circumstance in the future; portent)
Let me be the first to say that I thought the movie was stupid. Also, I think the word is a weird word. I don’t even like the way it is spelled. Just by changing one letter it could be AMEN! Maybe that is a good direction to go with this blog.
The common fear of an omen is that it points towards the rest of a bad day staying that way or getting worse. We rarely hear of people talking about good omens. It certainly would not have sold a lot of tickets at the box office. People think that if you burn your toast that it is a sign that you will get fired, wreck your car, or be called to jury duty. I don’t believe that is true. Maybe its is a sign of something good. Let me elaborate.
You get up the morning of an important day and because you have been taught that breakfast is an important meal, you began to fix your toast, which by the way, hardly qualifies as a real breakfast. As you are fixing your coffee, which is an important part of a nutritional breakfast, you smell something burning and turn to see smoke rising from your toaster. The toast is burnt! An omen of a disastrous day to come or could this be the start of something really good?
Because the toast is burnt, you spend a little more time thinking about what makes this day so important. Perhaps it is your day to fix cupcakes for your child’s class party, or you have an interview for a job, or you are going to take your pastor a surprise gift, like money, or a free round of golf. You remember that verse from the Bible that you just read, either because you have been reading the Bible or you have been reading this blog. It says, (Acts 20:35) that it is more blessed to give than to receive, so you not only bake the cupcakes, but you grab some more money to give to your pastor, and head off to have a blessed day. If you had not burned the toast, you may have spent the money that you were going to give your pastor on store-bought cupcakes, and felt even worse than before, thus allowing the burnt toast to become an omen of bad things to come.
Romans 8:28We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God—those whom he has called according to his plan. God does not have bad omens for His people. He has only your best interest at heart. Even in the toughest things, God is preparing us for a blessing. Job who lost everything he had, was being prepared to receive double everything that he lost. Peter and the other fishermen were taken out in a terrible storm so that they could see Jesus speak and calm the storm. Onesimus, the runaway slave, was caught and thrown in jail, only to meet the Apostle Paul and find eternal life. Jesus was falsely accused, sentenced to die, and killed for the sins of others, only to rise from the grave and offer eternal life to all who ask.
So…Next time you think that you are getting a negative omen, be creative and change one letter and make it AMEN. With God, all things are possible.
September 22, 2011
On the news for the last week I have been hearing about a satellite that will fall out of its orbit and hit earth in the next couple of days. It is said to be about the size of a school bus and weighs 6.5 tons. NASA says that they are not sure where it will hit, but are pretty sure that it won’t hit you. I feel better now that I know my tax dollars are being used well.
They say it will break up in the atmosphere and that there will be only about 26 large pieces that make it to earth. They do not say what constitutes a large piece, but I feel good knowing that a scientist can be at least as specific as this. There is a 1 in 3200 chance of a person getting hit by some of this debris. That sounds high, but you have worse odds of getting struck by lightning, bit by a shark, and winning the lottery. I don’t know about you but I fell much better now.
When I was in the Navy, we had a message that came through and it was a bit strange at first and due to many of the unknowns it had been classified secret. It said that a Japanese fisherman had been killed by an object that fell from the sky while his boat was about 200 miles out in the Sea of Japan. As the day went by and the messages kept coming in, it got weird. Next it said that a fisherman was killed by a cow while his boat was about 200 miles out in the Sea of Japan. A few days went by and we got the summary of what had happened. A Soviet cargo plane was flying back from an undisclosed destination and one of the crew had purchased a cow and they brought it on board the plane. The cow apparently experienced some sort of panic or discomfort at 15000 feet and began to thrash around and broke its restraints so the crew lowered the loading ramp and pushed the cow from the plane. The cow fell, hit and killed a Japanese fisherman on his boat about 200 miles out in the Sea of Japan.
Once I was camping in my back yard under a tree and I had a pecan fall and hit me in the head and it woke me up, but that is the closest thing I have to a story that is personal when it comes to stuff falling from the sky.
About now I am thinking that I need to stay inside for the next day or two, or maybe do a lot of driving on curvy roads. If one of the large pieces falls and hits the building I am in, I am not sure that it will help me, but the insurance will at least pay for the building to be fixed and if it just happens to be my house, we need a new roof. If I am driving on a curvy roads it will be like running away from someone who is trying to shoot you. They say you should zig-zag as you run and it reduces the chance of getting hit.
I just had this funny thought of cops pulling all these cars over for the next few days thinking that they are all drunk drivers, but everyone telling the cop that the are reducing their chances of getting hit by something that falls from the sky.
I am not worried about this satellite or even a cow hitting me as it falls from the sky. I do still hate it when pecans hit my head as they fall from the tree. We have a pecan tree in our yard now that has really large pecans and they do hurt if they are falling from the top few limbs. But I don’t think they will kill me and if so, someone else will have to promise me that they will do a follow-up blog to this one and tell the world of my freakish death.
I was reading in the Old Testament book of Job this morning and this is what it says: Job 14:5 If the number of his days and the number of his months are determined by you (God), and you set his limit, then he cannot go past it. That means when it is our time, God will take us home. Nothing can change it and we should not live our lives as if we have forever. We should live for God and for His purpose that He has set for our lives. Live it fully and not worry about tomorrow because we are not promised tomorrow. God has great things for each of us to do and for some He has spectacular endings in store for us! You just never know what God has in store for the stuff that falls from the sky.
August 19, 2011
The other day I talked with someone about why they need to stay on their job. It was hard to believe that they were even considering quitting a job in this economy. They wanted to quit because they did not like anything about the job. The people were difficult to work with, the pay was lousy, the job was difficult, and the hours were unpredictable. That has to be tough, but is there a positive twist you can put on it?
First, from the standpoint of the economy, we could all probably give an account of someone we know that does not have a job and can’t find one. Few places are hiring and those who are have so many applicants that they can be very picky over who they hire. Many people are looking for any job, and that means employers can set the highest of standards. Add to that the number of people who are applying for these few jobs and it is tough. Quitting a job now is a recipe for even harder times if you do not have another job to transfer into.
Second, let me share a biblical point of view. This will be fun, so read on.
God gave you that job. Rejoice and be glad in it. He said that He would meet our needs not our wants. Perhaps God wants us to show faithfulness in the small things before He gives us the big things. The workplace today needs to see what a good work ethic is. It would be a great witness, to those who don’t believe, to see a Christian work hard and honor those in authority. People need to hear and see that our actions match up. They need to see that we believe that good things come from God and a job of any type right now is a good thing.
Sometimes we forget that the strongest witness we can give to others is in our workplace. Another time is when we are going through a struggle. Combine the two and there is a real opportunity to let our faith shine. We live in a world that promotes a victim mind-set. People really believe that life should be fair and I have never found that to be true. The only two things that are fair in life is the fact that we all face judgement, the same judgement, for our sins and God through Jesus Christ forgives us, any of us, if we ask. Other than that, fairness is only equal to the opportunity that is in front of us not the results of it. If fairness is what was important, it would only be fair that a blind man could drive a car on our interstates and I could be a brain surgeon even though I know nothing about it. I mean, it just isn’t fair that I don’t get to do what I want, is it?
I believe that God puts us in various situations to see if we remember to honor Him in all things, not just the stuff we think is good. Difficult work means a chance to test our perseverance. Those people who are so hard to work with may need to see Jesus in you. You may be that only example of Jesus that they will see. Low pay means a chance to practice good stewardship and faith that God will provide. Unpredictable hours mean a chance to be ready to share our faith in season and out of season.
Let me leave you with this example of someone who had a tough job, with tough people to work with, unreasonable hours, and their pay sucked. His name is Jesus.
He was hired to work with fishermen and tax collectors. He left Heaven to work on earth during a tougher time that we know now. He was on call 24/7 and never got the pay that He deserved. No matter how hard He tried, people turned on Him and ended up firing Him from His job in a most cruel way. All the time He never quit, never gave up, and never stopped honoring God. In return, many were saved, He is the example for all to follow, and God said, “A job well done!”
March 11, 2011
Unleashed Conference in Anderson, SC
I just got in at about 9pm tonight and I am wiped out. I did not sleep well last night because I knew that I had to get up earlier than normal in order to drive a couple of hours to a conference that started at 8:30am. The alarm went off at 4:30am and the day began. We ate breakfast as we drove down I-85 and talked about traffic, kids, and how much we looked forward to what we were about to experience.
I have also had a horrible week due to some work stress that I chose to do. It was not church work stress it was, ‘I will help someone out on a job that I really don’t want to do’, type stress. What I am saying is that I brought it on myself. I usually end up with a headache when I get stressed and it usually lasts for a few days even after the stress is gone. This is no different.
I have been very optimistic about our church for a while now. God has been doing some amazing stuff and I love it when I get to be part of what He does. However, I have had some decisions that needed to be made and some prayers that have been tough to get an answer for and I really needed to hear clearly from God on a few things. Quite frankly, I needed some motivation.
I GOT IT!!! The conference was through the roof. It was all about not being afraid to do what God wants you to do. Hold tight to your vision. Don’t be afraid of the unknown because we know the One who knows it all! It was about loving and living for God.
I was motivated by the people who volunteered. Who took a Thursday off from work and school and pick up trash, open doors, smile at me. I was motivated by the musicians who played with such excitement and skill to bring me into the presence of God. I was motivated by the people I met that traveled from further than I did to learn how to better serve their churches. I was motivated by a pastor who opened his church and opened his heart to help other churches and pastors understand the mission of preaching the gospel. I was motivate by my friends who wept and prayed and worshiped and learned. I was motivated by my wife who held my hand, touched my heart and loved me. I was motivated by God who allowed all this to come together just when I needed it the most. There is nothing better than God’s timing for God’s plan for God’s people.
Motivation is a precious thing!
Thanks to New Spring Church for the Unleash conference. WOW!