Archive for January, 2007

Do you believe in luck?

cal-adventure.JPG Everytime I see Donald Trump on TV or listen to him talk I wonder how in the world can a guy like him be as successful as he is.

Then I read this quote from one of my favorite authors, G.M. Ford (see the posting “Living in the Northwest is like…”) and it explains everything.

Ford writes: …we have to believe in luck, or there is no way to explain the success of people we don’t like.

Now I understand.


January 30, 2007 at 4:14 pm Leave a comment

The happiest place on earth?

welcome-to-california.JPGAlong with my brother and sister in law, Linda and I spent a day at one of the Disneyland Resorts called The California Adventure.  We had done Disneyland many times before so we thought we would visit this newer park.  It was very nice and typical of Disney projects in lots of ways.  We don’t care to go back but it was worth the day.

While we were there the Disney phrase kept going through my mind-the one that says… Disneyland…the happiest place on earth.  I certainly don’t doubt that it could be the happiest place on the planet because it is mostly about fantasy and good times so not being happy there, would be a shame.

The question I kept asking myself was this “why isn’t church the happiest place on earth?”  After all it is supposedly full of people whose destiny is certain and whose hope is placed in a God that is determined to love them no matter how they treat Him.

And yet most of the churches I know anything about are rarely happy places.  I often said when I was leading a church, “church should be fun” but mostly the response was that people didn’t think it should be or didn’t think it was.

Why aren’t most churches the happiest places on earth?  Why don’t we consider church to be fun?  (I need to make sure I say that the church we attend now seems happy and there are probably lots that I don’t know about that are happy places). 

Here is the answer I came to, for why churches are often not seen as happy places: Churches are often loaded up on the side of justice rather than mercy. 

When we sin, we want mercy but when someone else does it, we want justice.  By justice I mean, punishment for sin.  When someone does something wrong, they need to pay.  There needs to be justice.  If we let them get away with it then others will do it too or they will just do it again. Something must be done and it is up to us to do it.  That is justice.  You get the picture, I am sure. 

Mercy, on the other hand means nothing needs to be done.  No punishment will be required.  Mercy is undeserved, mercy is given without expectation.  Mercy is like a pardon.  You don’t deserve it because you are guilty, but you get it anyway.

If churches were mercy driven than they would be happy places, but they are often driven by the desire for justice and so they are not happy places.

When the sinner confesses and repents of their sin, God gives mercy.  The sacrifice of Jesus covers the sin and mercy is applied.  The repentant person lives in that mercy and is happy.

Churches have some how gotten to the place where justice is more important than mercy and until that is turned around, Disneyland will still be the happiest place on earth.

What can we bring to the Lord to make up for what we’ve done?  Should we bow before God with offerings of yearling calves?  Should we offer him thousands of rams and tens of thousands of rivers of olive oil?  Would that please the Lord?  Should we sacrifice our first born children to pay for the sins of our souls?  Would that make him glad? (Micah 6:6-7)

Micah asks the question, is there anything we could do to satisfy the justice of God?  The answer comes in vs. 8.

No, O people, the Lord has already told you what is good, and this is what he requires: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. 

When we want mercy for others as badly as we want it for ourselves then the place we call church will be the happiest place on earth.

January 29, 2007 at 4:35 pm 5 comments

Be like Jesus or do what Jesus did?

It seems to me that  people struggle with Jesus, not because He has called us to follow Him but because what He has called us to is to do what He did.  Following Jesus, which is what most Christians think they are called to, means we admire the things that He did and that I try to learn more about the things that He said. 

But Jesus said this is not enough.  Simply following Him and honoring Him for His miracles was not all there was in the call to discipleship.

Most of us miss in the call of Jesus that He called us to do the things that He did.  In fact He said “you will do greater things than I do”.

The challenge for me is not following Jesus but doing what He did.  That scares me. 

Can you imagine what it would look like if even 10% of the followers of Jesus started to do what He did?

January 28, 2007 at 8:47 am 1 comment

Nothing much.

My older brother, Mike and sister in law Vicky are here visiting us in California, from Colorado.  We spent the day yesterday at Disney’s California Adventure.  It was a neat place that we had never seen before.  Rode a roller coaster that just about killed me but that is for another time.

Today we are off to visit the The Getty Museum.  I will post something later about both the Getty and the California Adventure.

There is one new post on the blog located under “pages”.  The title is My blog philosophy -to this point.

Thanks for reading.

January 27, 2007 at 8:48 am Leave a comment

Dialing down our expectation meter.

sd-zoo-2007010.jpgWhen we find ourselves frustrated, exasperated, depressed or just plain angry could it be that our expectations are too high?  It would be great if everything in life worked out exactly as we expect it to, but that is hardly realistic.

I have always had very high expectations for myself and for those in the sphere I was part of.  Often I was disappointed by my own shortcomings and by the failures of those around me to meet what I expected of them; that led to frustration, disappointment and sometimes anger.

I have learned that dialing down the expectation meter does not mean becoming pessimistic, nor does it mean I don’t hope for the best nor work for the best.  Lowering expectations means being more realistic.  Kids don’t always act the way they should or the way we want them to.  Work is not always fulfilling or easy.  Parents are imperfect and make mistakes. The house we wanted is not the house we have.   God doesn’t always work things for good, sometimes He works them for our good (check out Romans 8:28).  Equipment breaks, traffic is slow, food burns, most of us are always a little short of the money we would like to have, people are sometimes mean, the weather doesn’t always cooperate, the job we want seems out of our grasp, our bodies don’t work perfectly or look like we might want.  Stuff happens.  It is the way it is.

“It’s a matter of being amenable to what is, to what you’re able to do and to others limitations.” says Halcyone Bohen, a psychologist in Washington, D.C.  “People who are more accepting tend to get more joy out of life.”

When we adjust our expectations in such a way as to reflect reality, we are not giving in, we are simply acknowledging that everything is not under our control.  We can do our best and still it doesn’t work out just the way we expected. 

If happiness and general well being could be enhanced by dailing down our expectations a couple of degrees, wouldn’t it make sense to adjust it a little?  Hopes and dreams are important and a valuable part of life but life is best lived acknowledging that enjoying what you have right now and appreciating each day as a special gift is a lot better than wanting what isn’t and expecting what won’t.  With that in mind we keep working and trying to find ways to accomplish the goals we have, knowing it will probably take longer than we expect and the end result may be different than we first expected.

Let’s all dial our expectation meter down a little today and see if our day isn’t just a little bit brighter and a little more fulfilling. 

January 25, 2007 at 8:49 am 4 comments

The San Diego Zoo and Noah.

sd-zoo-2007020.jpgBring a pair of every kind of animal-a male and a female-into the boat with you to keep them alive during the flood.  Pairs of each kind of bird and each kind of animal, large and small alike, will come to you to be kept alive. (Genesis 6:19-20)

Spent the day at the fantastic San Diego Zoo.  Many of you have been there or to another Zoo somewhere so I will not bore you with the details.  The animals are great the birds terrific and the weather here is outstanding so it makes for a memorable day.

But being in the Zoo raised lots of questions for me.  Especially the animals from Austrailia and New Zealand.  How did they get to the Big Boat?  Was there really enough room in that boat for a pair of every kind, species, sub-species?  There are about 400 different animals and many more birds at the San Diego Zoo and they have a few hundred acres.  How could there be two of every kind of animal and bird included in the Ark?  Were the continents all together at that time?  If not did they swim to the loading dock?

I know, there are hypotheses that abound to answer my questions, but these questions and others like them are some of the reasons why people do not come to faith in a personal Creator.

For me, it is a faith issue.  Will I, can I trust the Biblical record about these things?

The San Diego Zoo is very active in working to preserve and protect the Earth’s wildlife and their habitats.  As people of faith in a personal Creator shouldn’t we be part of the solution to species and habitat preservation?

Have a great day enjoying what ever part of the planet you inhabit and remember you are the only species that can do anything about the environmental problems the world faces.

January 24, 2007 at 7:17 am 3 comments

Taylor Guitar Company.

taylor011.jpgThere are a few of you out there who are avid Taylor Guitar people and you will be excited about this post.  Perhaps some of you, not so much.

Linda and I are here in San Diego, Chula Vista actually, about 8 miles from Mexico and about 25 minutes from El Cajon, the home of Taylor Guitars.  So we toured the factory yesterday.

It was really interesting.  Taylor is now one of the largest builders of high end guitars and is run by Bob Taylor who started the company with no guitar building experience and has become the leading innovator in the business.  The company makes about 270 guitars a day with 400+ employees. 

The neat thing about the process is that, while they have some very creative automation that actually enhances the product, they still keep the human touch in a number of ways. 

Taylor is another company that is very pro-employee while still being privately held and another company whose roots are deep in faith.  Their employees are young and energetic and the R&D side of the company has taken it where it is today, the most innovative and yet in many ways traditional guitar company in the world.

If you play guitar you know Taylors.  If you are thinking about learning to play guitar you can’t go wrong with a Taylor.

(Justin, Dan, Kasey, Gale, I have the piece from your sound hole they were saving for you.)

January 23, 2007 at 8:38 am 4 comments

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