Thursday, January 29, 2009

Redeeming those fringe minutes

I listened to a podcast today as I took my walk and heard about a woman who hadn't finished high school but had earned a masters degree while driving to and from work for several years. She participated in a program which provided classes she could listen to on her car CD player. That caused me to think about the 30+ minutes I drive to and from work each day. What had I been doing with that time? The answer is, listening to a call-in talk radio station. While that may be an interesting diversion, I wondered what else I might be able to do with that two and a half hours of time each week. And for that matter, what about the other fringe minutes of my week when I am standing in line, sitting in a waiting room, waiting for food to arrive at a restaurant, etc. When I know I will be in a time killing situation I sometimes remember to take a book with me, and I want to kick myself when I forget.

The truth is that I haven't yet learned how to manage leftover minutes the way I would like. But I do have the tools to help with that task. I have tons of books, some CD's, and an mp3 player (3 actually) that can download podcasts and audio books. Furthermore, there's always the possibility of Bible reading and prayer. Plus I have an admonition from scripture to "redeem the time for the days are evil." (Eph. 5:16). Perhaps this new year would be good timing for improving my usage of those leftover minutes to greater advantage. What a thought! Ed

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

De-populate our way to economic recovery

As thinking Americans we need to see behind stated words from politicians to the hidden agenda behind them. I read these words in an e-mail I received today from "OneNewsNow."

"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stirred up a hornet's nest by promoting the idea of spending of millions of dollars on birth control and abortion as part of the economic stimulus package.
"Contraception," argued Pelosi, "will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government." Her comments came on ABC's This Week when asked by host George Stephanopoulos how expanding "family-planning services" to the tune of millions of dollars will stimulate the economy."

So now we see abortion and population control as a new plank in the stimulus package to get our economy back in order. If we just stop having children we will solve all our problems. Well, excuuuuse me, but I am of the opinion that it is the lack of children in our nation that is producing many of our economic problems. In the last 35 years we have aborted about 40 million babies which would have grown up, gone to college, bought houses as well as goods and services, and would have been a boost to our economy. Their absence at this point could very well be part of the problem of our fizzling economy. We'll never know because they aren't here to help us prove that point.
I heard today that a mother birthed octuplets. Using Pelosi's logic, these folks just brought a hardship on our government through their prolific procreation. How could they be so careless as to bring in more mouths to feed, more kids to educate. If we could just get on board with the practices of the Europeans (who's populations would shrink dramatically if it weren't for immigration by folks from the Middle East and Asia) we could depopulate all our problems away. Thank you Nancy Pelosi for suggesting population control as a major plank in our stimulus package. With that kind of logic in action I can hardly wait to hear what's to come next from the "brainiacs" on Capitol Hill. Just a thought.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Welcome Home George W!

Yesterday was the inauguration day for our new president, but the highlight for me was not so much what happened in Washington D.C. as much as what happened right here in Texas. George W. Bush and Laura flew into Midland, Tx. where George gave a short speech to his friends in the town in which he grew up. I loved seeing the smile on his face, hearing his Texas drawl, and seeing his sideways glances at his loving wife as he spoke about making coffee for her the next morning. He is back in little ol' Crawford on his ranch. No longer hearing morning briefings on threats to our nations security. That's Obama's daily task now, and I'm sure that will sober him up quite a bit. But for George W. I say "Welcome home!" We loaned W. to the nation for a while, but he belongs to us here in Texas, and I'm glad to have him back. Just a thought. Ed

Friday, January 16, 2009

Edifice complex

A few years ago I visited a church in the Midwest. They were presenting a proposal that day to encourage the congregation to consider buying a new piece of property in another part of town. Their building had been built in the 50’s and was aging and failing to meet their current needs. Since we here were going through building plans ourselves, I was interested in the process they were going through to get the congregation on board with the proposal. I sat behind two ladies who were talking loud enough to be heard by myself and others around them. It quickly became obvious to me they didn’t like the proposal at all. I also caught on that they were long tenured members who had been involved in the building and financing of the building they were already in.
What saddened me was how willing these two were to broadcast their dissatisfaction with the direction the leaders of the church were trying to go. They seemed to be trying to stir up dissent in others by what they were saying so loudly there in the pew. I was saddened by their outbursts; saddened for the work the leaders were trying to accomplish; saddened to see that such a spirit of faction was alive and well in that church. And you must know that I’ve seen that kind of thing often before and since that time.
I’m certain these ladies saw themselves as pillars of their church. But on that particular day they looked more like boat anchors than pillars to me. Let me explain my metaphor. Pillars serve the useful function of holding an edifice upright and stable against anything that might come against a building to attempt to knock it down. Boat anchors are also useful to keep a boat still in the water while the people in the boat are fishing or doing something that would require the boat to stay stationary for a limited amount of time. But it is not the purpose of most boats to remain stationary in the water forever. Boats were meant to move from place to place. The ladies talking loudly in church were hoping that their church would remain stationary forever. They were more interested in their beloved, and aging building than they were in the ministries of their congregation. They had an edifice complex that blinded them to the purposes of their own church's ministries.

I'm proud of the worship center our congregation just completed almost 5 years ago, and I'm hoping we will get several decades of use out of it. The 1.1 million dollars we raised and spent was well worth the investment, and the building represented our dreams and aspirations for this time in our church's life. But as useful and aesthetically pleasing as the building is, I hope we never allow ourselves to fall so in love with it that we can never bring ourselves to leave it behind if our congregation would ever be better served elsewhere or with a different edifice in the place where it stood. Buildings are tools, just like shovels and rakes. Admittedly, a building is a very large and expensive tool, but still a tool just the same. Let us not, for the sake of a beloved building, stymie the future development of our ministry at any point in time. Just a thought. Ed

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy 2009!

Well, we've entered into a new year and are drawing near to the end of a decade. How time does fly! Folks often speak of new year's resolutions at this time of year. I made up my mind to bypass resolutions attached to January first years ago. I heard someone say that if a resolution is that important you should have started it months ago rather than wait till January to do it.

We are on a trip to Illinois and are reading the book "You, on a diet." It is very interesting and informative. So far I've learned that if someone eats 20 peanuts about 30 minutes before a meal, the 70 calories of fat will trigger the mechanism that allows us to feel full earlier than we would otherwise be aware of it. (they call it the satiety trigger) Well, I'm all for that. In fact, why not make that into a resolution for the new year (one that I just might be able to keep!) Just a thought. Ed