Thursday, February 28, 2008
Brutal. That's all I can say at this point.
If I had a sandwich board sign with the word DUNCE in huge letters, I would need to wear it, and walk up and down the street drawing attention to my ignorance.
Last summer, I signed up for a promotion for a FREE two-night hotel stay. It coincided with Father's Day, and if we purchased more than $100 of Dockers clothing at a Kohl's department store, we were eligible to get the voucher. I even did my homework. I thoroughly researched the restrictions and the list of participating hotels. All looked good.
But, it couldn't be THAT easy, could it? Of course not.
Here I am, eight months later, and I still do not have confirmation on my requested hotel nights. In fact, I just got off the phone with the "Customer Concierge," and they told me that it's too early to confirm my reservation. The trip I am planning is in late May. We're only 90 days out, but they tell me it's TOO early to confirm it.
Add to that the fact that we have already booked our flights in and out of Boston for the requested weekend, and if you are as pessimistic as I am, you see that this is the perfect recipe for disaster.
I could spend days typing out this entire ordeal from beginning to end, but I'll spare you. Suffice it to say that it has been ridiculous. I think I have a pretty good idea what Jesus' brother, James, meant when he talked about being "tossed about like a wave in the sea."
I'm not sure why companies put their customers through this amount of grief to cash in on a promotion that benefits WHO? Oh yeah, it's supposed to benefit me. I must have forgotten that in the dozen phone calls I have made to try and speak to someone who can give me some answers.
Just remember that things are rarely as they appear. And, usually a much bigger headache.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Entertainment Weekly's Top 10
Greatest Sidekicks of All-Time
10. Dwight Shrute (sidekick to Michael Scott) - The Office
9. Tattoo (sidekick to Mr. Roarke) - Fantasy Island
8. Ed Norton (sidekick to Ralph Cramden) - The Honeymooners
7. Samwise Gamgee (sidekick to Frodo Baggins) - Lord of the Rings
6. Dr. Watson (sidekick to Sherlock Holmes) - Sherlock Holmes mysteries
5. Ethel Mertz (sidekick to Lucy Ricardo) - I Love Lucy
4. Chewbacca (sidekick to Han Solo) - Star Wars
3. George Costanza (sidekick to Jerry Seinfeld) - Seinfeld
2. Robin (sidekick to Batman) - Batman TV Series, Movies, and Comics
1. Ed McMahon (sidekick to Johnny Carson) - The Tonight Show
Monday, February 25, 2008
One of the toughest things as a parent is watching your child struggle or fail at something - particularly something you excelled at when you were young. But, even tougher than watching your child fail is allowing your son or daughter to fail.
As a dad, when I see either of my little boys struggle, my tendency is to protect them from failure. I step in. I rescue them. Not because they want to be rescued, but because it hurts me to see them make errors and mistakes. But, isn't that how we all learn...through our mistakes??
It's funny. My sons' mistakes bother me a heck of a lot more than they bother them. They don't think much of it. They shrug it off, and they're ready to try again. That is, until I discourage them with negative words, expressions, or actions. That's when they want to stop. That's when it's no longer fun.
I've heard this expression many times before, but someone pointed out recently that when a baseball game begins, the umpire yells two words: PLAY BALL! And, I'll be honest...I've not thought too much about it. But, to overlook the first word - PLAY - is a dangerous thing. The expression isn't "TRY HARD BALL" or "BE DISCOURAGED BALL" or "WIN AT ALL COSTS BALL" - it's Play Ball!
Now, I am an extremely competitive person. I want to win...badly. But, if I have won the game and caused three or four of my players to never want to play baseball again, have I won? Of course not.
In Matthew 16:26 Jesus says this: What good will it be if a man gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?
Man, those words sting. But Jesus knows that often times we sacrifice the best things in the long run for the things that satisfy us for only an instant.
I've really had to work these past couple years at allowing my son to PLAY the game of baseball. I want him to be the best. I want him to get a base hit every time. I want him to catch every ball thrown or hit his way. And, rarely do I think about the enjoyment he gets out of just being on the field with his buddies. Playing.
As parents, we've gotta let 'em play. It's likely they won't get to play beyond the age of 18 or so. They've gotta cram a lot of play in just 10-12 years. And, it'll fly by.
But, that 10-12 years could become 1 or 2 if we don't let them fail. If we don't let them make mistakes, and rebound on their own.
If' we don't let 'em play.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Let's face it. The minute we are born, we begin to die. Well, at least physically. Kind of a depressing thought, isn't it?
But here's the deal: it's only depressing if we focus on dying. Personally, I don't like to think about death at all. However, in the Book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon had this to say:
A wise person thinks a lot about death, while a fool only thinks about having a good time. (7:4)
In Psalm 90:12, Moses tells us basically the same thing:
Teach us to realize the brevity of live, so that we may grow in wisdom. (NLT)
I think what God's word is telling us is to always keep in mind that we are going to die, but not to stop living.
I recently had the opportunity to view a powerful speech that perfectly illustrates this line of thought. A gentleman by the name of Randy Pausch, who is a professor at the esteemed Carnegie-Mellon University in Pennsylvania, was reprising what's known as his "last lecture" to his students. You see, Randy is dying. He has pancreatic cancer, and he has been told he only has a couple months to live.
And, that is exactly what he is doing. He's LIVING. He's not spending his final weeks on earth dying. He's passionately sharing his LIFE with anyone and everyone who will listen. He is continuing to touch lives, and will likely touch millions more even after he passes away.
As I watched Dr. Pausch, choking back tears all the while, I couldn't help but ask myself one question: WOULD I BE FOCUSED ON LIVING, OR DYING, IF I WAS IN HIS SITUATION?
I was inspired by his words, lifted by his positive attitude, and challenged by his resolve in sharing his "final" message - not with the world - but with his three children.
I hope you can take 11 minutes out of your hectic day to watch this life-changing speech. If you do, I think you'll get a picture of a life that Paul said builds a "solid foundation for the future, so that we know what true life is like."
To view the video, please click HERE.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Hottest Temperatures Recorded in 10 Places
in the World
North America: Death Valley, California - 134 degrees (1913) Asia: Tirat Tsvi, Israel - 129 degrees (1942)
Australia: Cloncurry, Queensland - 128 degrees (1889)
Europe: Seville, Spain - 122 degrees (1881)
South America: Rivadavia, Argentina - 120 degrees (1905)
Canada: Midale and Yellow Grass, Saskatchewan - 113 degrees (1937)
Oceania: Tuguegarao, Philippines - 108 degrees (1912)
Persian Gulf (sea-surface): 96 degrees (1924)
Antarctica: Vanda Station, Scott Coast: 59 degrees (1974)
South Pole: 7.5 degrees (1978)
Bonus: Highest Recorded Temperature on Earth - El Azizia, Libya - 136 degrees (1922)
Friday, February 15, 2008
In our day-to-day lives, we are subjected to all kinds of accidents. Fender benders. Spills. Falls. Miscalculations. Mis-dialed phone numbers. Adding an extra zero on that check we wrote to the mortgage company. Oops.
Accidents happen. We’re human.
In virtually every area of our lives, we are prone to slip-ups – usually innocent mistakes.
But, did you know that there’s one area of our lives where we are safeguarded from being “all thumbs?” It’s the area of pursuing God and becoming like Him.
I recently read a quote by Franklin Graham, son of the great Billy Graham. He once said, “You will never become righteous by accident.”
Think about that. Godliness will never just happen to you, even when we have turned to Christ and have been forgiven for all our past and future sins. In fact, that is only the beginning of a long journey towards being molded into the likeness of a perfect and powerful Creator.
Unfortunately, most of us believe that holiness is simply a light switch that just gets flipped on when we make that first – and most important – step in walking with Jesus Christ. But, hindsight is 20/20, and we all know looking back on our lives that it doesn’t work that way.
We have to be deliberate. Intentional. Calculating. We have to make choices. Tough decisions.
And, through it all, we have an enemy who is skilled in the area of distraction. He knows how to get to us. Exploit our weaknesses. He’ll knock us 1-degree off course today, knowing months or years from now, we’ll be worlds away from where God wants us to be.
But, there is a fool-proof security system that will prevent us from losing our way. It’s called obedience.
You see, God doesn’t expect us to understand. He doesn’t expect us to know all the answers. He even knows that we’ll struggle often in making life-altering decisions. But, all He asks for is obedience.
Obedience is one of those things that’s SIMPLE…but rarely EASY. Because we want to do what WE want to do. You and I are stubborn.
But, even more than that, we’re short-sighted. We want what we want right now. That’s why New Year’s resolutions fail. Because we don’t lose 10 pounds the first month of our new diet, we decide it’s not working and bail out.
And, just like interest that accrues on a credit card balance, there are compounding effects of our choices – both good and bad.
Spiritual growth works the same way. Ten minutes a day, or an hour per week (or whatever amount of time we spend with God) may not seem like much, but over the course of a year, the payoff will be amazing! The problem is that we place unrealistic expectations on ourselves, and before long we lose heart and become discouraged. What we’ve got to realize is that WE cannot make ourselves mature believers. Only Christ can do that within us.
It requires discipline. It requires determination. It requires hunger.
But, mostly, it requires making a choice each and every day to follow Him. Not a one-time decision, but a daily one.
Because living for God – and becoming like Him – doesn’t happen by accident.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Ten of the Worst Gifts Ever Given on Valentine's Day
1. Vacuum Cleaner
2. Paper Shredder
3. Electric Frying Pan
4. Crock Pot
5. Rug Shampooer
6. Pencil Sharpener
7. Ice Scraper
8. Can of Soup
9. Wisconsin Cheese
10. Cold Pizza
Honorable mention: Anything that looks like it may have been purchased at a gas station.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Well, it's that time of year once again. The time of year when you spend four times the regular cost for roses. The time of year when you get away with going off your diet to eat chocolate and other assorted candies. The time of year when everything in retail stores appears as if a bottle of Pepto-Bismol exploded. The time of year when you have to make reservations for two at virtually any restaurant, even Waffle House. If you don't you'll end up eating at Krystal.
It's the day each year when we celebrate love. The day we make time to spend with that special someone in our life. It's a day when we CHOOSE to show our love for our significant others more than we normally do.
Perhaps you have never thought about it, but real love is not a feeling - it's a choice. A feeling, often times, is something that simply cannot be helped. When two people meet, click, and have chemistry, love has not entered the equation. Intrigue has. Perhaps admiration. But not love.
Love is not how I feel about someone; it's something I do. I DO love. Many times I'll say to Amy, "I love you." And, sometimes, she'll ask "Why?" Usually I am at a loss for words because WHY you love someone is difficult to articulate.
Now, I could tell her all day HOW I love her - things I do, words I speak, gifts I purchase. But, WHY is tough.
But, really, I love Amy because I CHOOSE to love her. And, you are no different when it comes to your significant other - IF you truly love them.
Unfortunately, more than half the couples in our country confuse the feelings associated with being "in love" for REAL love. When you are swept up in the emotions of being "in love" you are simply FEELING good because your circumstances are favorable. Most of the time, "in love" couples are not dealing with reality. They aren't balancing work schedules with kids' schedules. They aren't balancing a checking account. They aren't balancing personal time with quality couple time. Why? Because they're "in love" and they are oblivious to reality (more or less).
So, when the Righteous Brothers start singing to these 50%-plus couples who have "lost that lovin' feeling," bad things happen - unless both the man and the woman make a CHOICE. A choice to continue to love one another.
Think about it. If real love came naturally, why would Jesus have to remind us so often that we are to love? In fact, when he was asked what the two most important Commandments were, his response was essentially to love. To love God above all else, and to love others as we love ourselves. And, he only had to say this because he knew that ultimately it was up to us to make a choice to love.
This Valentine's Day - whether you're half a couple or not - make the choice to love. Not only that day, but each and every day. Don't base your love on a feeling or on a set of circumstances. Base it on the fact that your Savior chose to love you above all else.
Choose to love.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Ten of the Closest Presidential Elections in History
- 1800 - Thomas Jefferson - 73 Electoral Votes/ Aaron Burr - 73 Electoral Votes - the House of Representatives broke the tie, with 10 states choosing Jefferson, only 4 choosing Burr.
- 1824 - John Quincy Adams - 84 Electoral Votes/ Andrew Jackson - 99 Electoral Votes/ William Crawford - 41 Electoral Votes - With no majority, the House of Representatives voted on the top three candidates; 13 of the 24 states voted for Adams.
- 1876 - Rutherford B. Hayes - 185 Electoral Votes/ Samuel Tilden - 184 Electoral Votes - Hayes won the presidency, but Tilden had 200,000 more popular votes.
- 1880 - James A. Garfield - 214 Electoral Votes/ Winfield Hancock - 155 Electoral Votes - Garfield only had 7,000 more popular votes than Hancock.
- 1916 - Woodrow Wilson - 277 Electoral Votes/ Charles Hughes - 254 Electoral Votes
- 1960 - John F. Kennedy - 303 Electoral Votes/ Richard Nixon - 219 Electoral Votes - Kennedy only had 118,000 more popular votes than Nixon.
- 1968 - Richard Nixon - 301 Electoral Votes/ Hubert Humphrey - 191 Electoral Votes - Nixon only had 500,000 more popular votes.
- 1976 - Jimmy Carter - 297 Electoral Votes/ Gerald Ford - 240 Electoral Votes - Carter only had 700,000 more popular votes.
- 2000 - George W. Bush -271 Electoral Votes/ Al Gore - 266 Electoral Votes - Gore had more than 500,000 more popular votes than Bush.
- 2004 - George W. Bush - 286 Electoral Votes/ John Kerry - 252 Electoral Votes - Bush had 3 million more popular votes than Kerry.
Monday, February 4, 2008
I was sitting in the church service yesterday, when one of the scriptures we were reading punched me right in the face. Sometimes that'll happen when you read God's word. It's alive and active, and it has a tendency to speak to us when we least expect it.
The verse was Matthew 20:32: Jesus stopped and called them. "What do you want me to do for you?" he asked. (NIV)
The first two words of that scripture speak volumes about Jesus.
Think about that. Here's a guy (God, actually), who is going to be dying soon. He's got a lot of stuff to do, right? Big fish to fry before his work is complete. He's teaching, preaching, walking on water, fightin' with the devil, praying, etc. But, he does something uncanny. He stops.
Against popular opinion, Jesus hits the pause button and turns his attention to two outcasts. These are blind beggars who call out to Jesus to have mercy on them and restore their sight. Now, Jesus' followers recognize that Jesus is an important dude, and he's got places to be. They tell the blind guys to be quiet and stop making a scene.
In the process, these disciples of Jesus fail to see that they are truly the blind ones. They are blinded by their selfishness and ignorance. Oblivious to their lack of humility. But, Jesus stops.
It's fascinating (and convicting) to read that Jesus - a man who had to accomplish an eternity's worth of work in just three years of ministry - can make time to stop and serve others.
I'd venture to say that most of us would never stop if we didn't have to. We are forced to stop at stop signs (rolling stop), traffic lights, traffic jams, telephone calls, text messages, and car breakdowns. We consider these interruptions. But, maybe God just wants us to stop.
Jesus had the most important - and time sensitive - mission in history. Yet, he consistently MADE time to stop and serve others. He knew that the only way to truly SEE the need was to stop and look.
How much more would our eyes be opened to what He has in store for us if we took the time, in the midst of our crazy days and schedules, to come to a screeching halt and take a look around.
I think we'd be stunned.