Tuesday, September 30, 2008

$700 Billion

OK, so $700 billion is too much for me to get my head around. As a result, I've had a hard time deciding where to land on the whole bailout issue. Until tonight, when Lou Dobbs talked some sense into me on the news. His point is, basically, if you want to fix the problem, don't try to do it by giving lots of money to the people who screwed things up in the first place. And don't listen to a President with the second worst approval rating and a Congress with the absolute worst approval rating in history.

I'm with Lou. You can read (or see) his comments on CNN's website (www.cnn.com).

Monday, September 29, 2008

Florida

In Ormond Beach, Florida for the week. I’m writing while sitting on our balcony overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. If there are any drawbacks to being here, this in itself makes it all worthwhile. We're here at a timeshare with Vicki's mom Bev and her husband Frank. Frank is standing just maybe twenty feet away on his balcony smoking his pipe. Every now and then I get a whiff of it. Kind of reminds me of being around my dad when I was a kid.

My dad was a sailor in WWII and I sometimes wonder if I inherited some of his love for the sea. If my understanding is right, he came very close to making a decision to make a career out of the Navy. But he was older when America entered the war- in his late 20’s- and in his early 30’s when it ended. So maybe the Navy had no interest in him at that age, or perhaps he loved my mom more than the Navy. I don’t really know. Regardless of the reason, he left the Navy, returned to his native Cincinnati and married my mom and eventually started our family.

Whether or not it comes from my dad, I love being near the ocean. I have a spiritual connection with it that I really can't explain. All I know is when I'm around it, I feel closer to God. I completely understand why water is used metaphorically in the spiritual writings of every culture and every major religious tradition. And more often than not, I come back from it in a pretty good place mentally and spiritually. I'm hoping for the same result this time around!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Powerless


We just regained electricity at our house after 30 hours. I had no idea how spoiled I am- I almost get depressed going a day without power. And this was really nothing. For one thing, power was still available just a few blocks away if I really needed it. But more importantly, we hadn't lost anything: our house wasn't damaged and our health and safety were never even remotely threatened. It makes me wonder what I would do if we had a serious emergency.

I've never been one to worry much about disasters. I think you can get really weird about that kind of thing. But that's no excuse for not being smart and not preparing for what is likely to happen. I think you can compare it to some of the things Dave Ramsey says about money and the need to be prepared for financial troubles. His point is troubles will come, so they shouldn't be a surprise. The same could be said of emergencies like what happened this weekend. So really I should be better prepared.

Vicki and I were talking about the fact that it's not really all that difficult to do without electricity for a day or two. People do it all the time. It's just a lot easier if you know when you're going to have to do it. So here's what I think we should do: once a month, we should have to go a day without it. Think about how good it would be for our environment. And think about how much money we could save. I think it could work.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Cross


Every now and then I'll read or hear something that just seems to literally overwhelm my thinking for a few days. Joe's message this weekend had that kind of impact on me. If you weren't there, you can check out his message at the link below:

https://www.vineyardcincinnati.com/lastweek.php
(It may not be up until Wednesday due to the holiday)

Joe was speaking on Simplicity to end our "Awe" series. Towards the end of his message, he focused beautifully on the simplicity of the central message of Christianity: that God loves the world so much that he sent his Son to die for us and to rise again to fix the otherwise irreparable tear in our relationship with him brought about by our sin and rebellion.

It's been a long time since I've thought about the cross as much as Joe's message has led me to these last couple of days. I was brought up Catholic, and in the Catholic church crucifixes almost always had Jesus on them. There were times when I would be bored with mass and I would just stare at the cross with Jesus on it and try to figure out what it all meant. I knew I was a sinner, I knew I did wrong and even that I did wrong intentionally, and in doing so I knew I violated what I was taught God's rules were. But the fact that God was so offended by my fairly petty misdeeds that someone had to die for them seemed to me to point to a rather thin-skinned deity. After all, if I could get over a friend lying to me in a week or so and be his friend again, I thought God should certainly be able to do the same.

Of course, I was missing the point completely on multiple levels. I certainly hope I have a better understanding now than I had then of God, of the real and devastating impact of sin on my relationship with him (and on every relationship in my life), of concepts like salvation, redemption and atonement, and of God's tremendous and relentless love of humanity. But none of that knowledge can take the place of the need to reflect on the cross and consider what it really means to me today.

As an adult I think the biggest challenge is that the cross can begin to be relegated to the status of an historic event like D-Day or Lincoln's assassination, something that certainly helped shape the world I live in but has only indirect and unconscious impact on how I live today. Yet nothing could be farther from the truth. If anything about Christianity is true, if it has any power at all to bring healing to broken lives and hope to a helplessly messed up world, then the cross is and must be as relevant to my life today as it was the day it happened.

So that's where I've been the last couple of days- just thinking about the cross. What impact do I allow it to have on me daily? What kind of effect should it have on me? I don't have all the answers yet. I suspect I never will. But it's well worth considering.