Friday, August 31, 2012

My Ears Do That!


‘He who has ears, let him hear.’
 
I always thought that was an interesting statement made by Jesus. I have ears. Doesn’t everyone? I don’t think I know of anyone who doesn’t have ears. I guess some people are deaf, which is something my dad would accuse me of being.

In my more dense moments as a child, my dad would also accuse me of lacking for brains. Apparently there was this assembly line for handing out brains. He may have insinuated that I heard 'train' and assumed I was going on a trip somewhere. He also said I had a brain like a strainer, which I didn’t get for the longest time, but that may have been proving his point.

Before you think my dad unkind, let me assure you I am glad he said stuff like this to me. Otherwise I might not have anything to say to my kids when I am most dumbstruck by some of the things they do.

But what’s most interesting to me is where I recently found a similar line from Jesus regarding the having of ears. To be sure, he said it a few times as He preached. But in this one instance, He said it after explaining a parable. All my dad wanted was for me to understand the words coming out of his mouth. I imagine God wants us to understand His Word, and His heart, as well.

Perhaps you are like me and have laughed along with pastors as they talk about how dumb the disciples seemed at times. They could often be seen arguing about who was the greatest, or getting scared out of their mind, all while in the presence of Jesus. Or they would ask questions that we would know better than to ask God.

At times they would just come right out and tell Jesus they had no idea what He was talking about. It had to be a real face-palm moment for the Son of God. But the disciples would be honest and ask for explanations. One example is recorded in Matthew 13:36-43, where Jesus does explain the Parable of the Weeds. And Jesus ends it with, ‘He who has ears, let him hear.’

I get that Jesus is talking about understanding, something He also compares with our eyesight. ‘Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?’ (Mark 8:18). The great irony is we can have working eyes and ears and yet fail to understand the bigger picture of what God is accomplishing.

If the great irony is having the correct equipment without the ability to use it, the great shock would be to not even comprehend the answer when it is explained to us. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Rick Nier says Woo: August 30, 2012

I like great questions. Questions that require thought. Questions that have no answers until Heaven. Questions that make me shake my head, sometimes with laughter.

I like questions.

Last week I gave a shout out to a good question. Here's another one. It comes from a pastor friend of mine, Stevan Sheets. I think his question here is one of the reasons why pastors don't ask for volunteers in front of everyone. If you ask the congregation for people who want to sing, be prepared for everyone who has only heard themselves in the shower. And let's face it, everyone sounds great in the shower.

So when Stevan asks if the thought always counts, I think it's a great question.

Woo!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Youth Ministry Rules

Old People Sign

It's a weird feeling getting older in youth ministry. I don't see myself as 'old', and yet when you can measure your ministry in double digits, you're clearly past novice level. I sensed I was a veteran of sorts when I started seeing advice requests and didn't quickly think to myself, 'How can I help them when I am drowning over here myself?'

To be sure, the transition comes quickly. I passed quickly from the stage where you are told lighting things on fire may make for a good visual but is frowned upon by insurance companies to where teens stand in shock at the realization that you are older than their parents.

Yeah, there was a happy middle ground where I think people were impressed by possessed wisdom that seemed beyond my years. That lasted about 15 minutes until they realized I was older than the parents of the teens I work with.

But when people seek advice about youth ministry, I still have the same to offer. There are 2 rules and only 2. The first rule of youth ministry is that you don't talk about youth...

Wait, that's a different set of rules. Here are the real rules as far as I am concerned.

Rule #1: Run away.

Seriously, run as fast and as far as you can. Youth Ministry is nothing like you think it is. Sure, the highs are real high, but the lows are real low. So do yourself a favor and forget you ever thought about this...ever. Get yourself a mindless job that won't push the physical, emotional and spiritual limits of mankind.

If you choose to ignore Rule #1, there's a second rule.

Rule #2: Commit at the beginning to stay until the end. 

I'll admit. I blindly ignored rule #1 like a stop sign at 2am. But rule #2's timing is crucial. If you wait to commit until you see if you enjoy it, you'll be gone far too soon. So commit at the beginning to stick it out.

Parents will be angry. Teens will be foolish. Others will mock. Oh how they will mock. But commit to see it through. Why? Because youth ministry is nothing like you think it is. The highs are real high and the lows are real low. You will push the physical, emotional and spiritual limits of mankind.

But it's worth it!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Paying Attention

If someone out there keeps up with all of the current things with culture and then fell asleep for 4 months, they might assume I was keeping current. For everyone else, you know I like to comment on things after everyone else is done.

Keeping to form, I'd like to mention Spotify, the music listening service that appears to let you listen to anything at anytime. I'd noticed people using the service and figured out that Spotify is connected to Facebook so you can read about all the music your friends are listening to.

Look at me explaining to you what you already know. It's like explaining strikes and balls to Derek Jeter.

It strikes me that I use Spotify's 'private session' all the time I want to listen to my guilty pleasures. I could tell you it was Glee remakes, but that would ruin my secret.

I thought about attempting humor and going public and listening to 8 hours of Michael Bolton. But there's two problems with this idea. The first, obviously, is having to listen to 8 hours of Michael Bolton, something I'd likely regret after 30 seconds. The second is that, though it's connected to Facebook and there'd be a status update, alerting everyone to my grievous lapse in judgement, I'm not convinced anyone would notice.

I could rail against all the noise in this world. I'd be justified in saying so. But perhaps the real issue is in my incessant need to be noticed. Aren't I on a journey to insignificance. It's awful hard to get there when crying out with every action, 'Here I am!'

If we're going to say 'Here I am', it should be directed to God. We're here for Him. Everything else is just noise. When Isaiah said these 3 words, it was to carry an unpopular message to a people who would mostly ignore him.

Who wants to do what God wants and be ignored by people?
Here I am!

Monday, August 27, 2012

God First, Man Second: Moody Monday

I am sure there have been times that if someone asked me a question, the answer they received depended on the mood I was in. Surely I am not the only one who just gets in a mood and wants to see what happens when he says what he's really thinking. (Never mind the fact this would be called honesty and can be done with class.)

Sad man holding pillow

Whether or not I should answer questions based on feeling, I can't help but wonder if God is doinga  little of the same in Ezekiel 20. Check this out;

On August 14, during the seventh year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity, some of the leaders of Israel came to request a message from the Lord. They sat down in front of me to wait for his reply.2 Then this message came to me from the Lord: 3 “Son of man, tell the leaders of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: How dare you come to ask me for a message? As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, I will tell you nothing!’ ~Ezekiel 20:1-3

Uh-oh, the silent treatment?

Not exactly, because what follows is probably one of the clearest sections of scripture on what is motivating God and what should motivate us.

God accounts Israel's history, noting the many times He was going to destroy them. What stopped Him? His Name.

But I didn’t do it, for I acted to protect the honor of my name. ~Ezekiel 20:9

His. Name. His. Glory.

The rest of the chapter becomes laughable as God goes on about each discretion Israel had. Remember that time you disobeyed and I wanted to destroy you? How about that other time you started worshiping other gods? You crazy rascals, you. What God basically told them was that it was His Name that kept Him from giving them exactly what they deserved. He repeats it a few times so they get the picture.

We need to get past the idea that God is so enamored with us that He couldn't possibly punish us or (gasp), use someone else.

It is God's glory that gets top billing.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Monday Mornings Are Not Fair

It's Monday morning and I'm reading early in the morning when my son, in third grade, comes out and asks if there is a 2-hour delay for school.

Ghost Walker

I look outside. Though it's early morning, the sky could not be bluer. Oh yeah, it's only the second week of school. So not only is the likelihood of a school delay slimmer than every 8-foot basketball star I've ever seen, but my kids probably shouldn't be tired of school this early in the year.

At this rate, he might get senioritis by the time he hits sixth grade. That's probably something we want to avoid, right?

Here's something else we want to avoid. Fairness. You read that right!

Fairness.

We cry foul an awful lot. We should stop that. I wrote awhile back about how my kids cry foul. You can read that and smirk since I am sure you have been there. But here's what I've been thinking.

Had my kids cried fair to my parents, they would have told them stories of an Earth shaped so oddly that they could walk uphill to school and then somehow walk uphill back home, as the Earth shifted while they filled their brains with knowledge. Oh, and it would be snowing as they grew up in the poorest of economies, as their hard-working parents could only provide cereal boxes for footwear.

Now either my parents were making stuff up or I haven't been everywhere on this planet. My guess is that this God-forsaken uphill-only place exists somewhere in Canada, and then so far north that only a few hockey fans continue to live.

My habit, when the children cry unfair, is to repeat fair in a questioning tone that doesn't address matters of justice. Rather, I keep repeating the word until the kids realize on their own that life is not fair.

I think it's great to let kids learn lessons the hard way. Besides, fair focuses only on me. To prove it, it's rare to see people cry foul when they are living large.

It's not fair! Fair?

Fair?

Fair?

See how well this works...


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Rick Nier says Woo! August 23, 2012

I get attracted back to some of the same writers. I know there's danger in that. I'm also working on continually expanding the influences. But that won't mean leaving some of my faves behind.

Here's one who continually makes me pause and rethink things. It's Matt Mcgill, youth pastor in California, asking a good question.

And since we should probably pause to actually consider it, I'm gonna make that my one link this week.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wisconsin: Land of Opulence

Recently my family traveled to Wisconsin. We'd never been. Now many people know this state as a place to find great cheese. But I am here to reveal the truth.

Wisconsin is the land of opulence!

We went to Wisconsin Dells, home of many great resorts and land of great water parks. It was a good thing that the slides were big and some distance from one another. Because I needed to walk to work off the buffets that I continually found myself at.





But buffets can be found anywhere. The overindulgence continued everywhere, including this hot tub, able to fit 5 normal sized children. But just as the water spilled out of this tub, the opulence of Wisconsin spilled over into the next state, Minnesota.

Just below, at the Mall of America, you can see Mr. SquarePants welcoming us to the famed indoor theme park. If you have not been, you may have been like me and assumed it was one roller coaster. That would be impressive enough, but nay my good friend. There were 36!



The craziness continued just by walking around the mall. Going into every store of the Mall of America would cause you to lose 10 years of your life, plus your life savings. But we managed to lose some time and money in the Lego Store. The picture above may not tell you enough, but that is a helicopter made entirely of Legos. The picture below reveals a wall of different Lego pieces. The people at the bottom were giant Norsemen from the North, showing you a freakishly tall wall of Legos.  


Perhaps the scariest of all was entering the American Doll store. Keep in mind these dolls sell for $100 each. On top of that, know that they come with more accessories than I have in real life. Then be shocked when I tell you that you're looking at a shop within the store where you can pay for your American Girl doll to have a hairstyle done, for $15. 

When I was a kid, my sisters combed their own doll's hair. 


To be sure, my disgust can only go so far, as I turned a few corners and found the greatest store in the world. You know what they say, 'when in Rome.' So I may have had a frosted brownie topped with a chocolate chip cookie. 

So disgusting.
So opulent.
So over the top.
So delicious!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ignorance is Bliss?

They say that ignorance is bliss. Even Solomon, this wisest of all guys, ranked the ignorant as being better off. Yeah, in one of his more cheery moments, Solomon said the dead are better off than the living, but even better than that is not even being born. (Ecclesiastes 4:2-3)

life's dirty little secret

I guess that makes sense. There's experiencing the darkest stuff in life. There's remembering it. Then there's not ever actually knowing about it. Isn't this why we try and protect our children for so long?

The problem is this is not the entire story. With much respect to the wise King Solomon, he probably should have paid a bit more attention to his dear old dad, David. In a Psalm that is better known for the actions he was apologizing for than for anything else, David made a very intriguing statement.

In Psalm 51, in the midst of wanting to be purified, forgiven and restored, he also said this;

"For I recognize my rebellion..." Psalm 51:3a

Ok, let's not sugarcoat this. He did some very bad things. Then he concealed those things. Then a prophet of God called him out. But it's a curious thing when we get caught with our hands in the cookie jar. Some continue to deny. Others will run to more rebellion. Still others might try to move past it too quick and get appearances back to what they were.

But David, this guy who connected with God on a deep level, decided to confess, admit and recognize. Not only that, but he added this;

"it haunts me day and night" (Psalm 51:3b).

He then goes on to discuss how it's only against God that he sinned, though I imagine Uriah's family may have something to say about that. (See 2 Samuel 11 for the whole story.) But David properly recognized what was really going on in the world, and in his decisions.

Guess what? Ignorance is not bliss. It's time we recognize.

Monday, August 20, 2012

God First, Man Second: Jeremiah 9:23-24

Ummm, this may cause some problems.
Shameless self promotion 
This is what the Lord says:
“Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom,
or the powerful boast in their power,
or the rich boast in their riches.
But those who wish to boast
should boast in this alone:
that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord
who demonstrates unfailing love
and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth,
and that I delight in these things.
I, the Lord, have spoken!   ~Jeremiah 9:23-24

We're not told we can't be smart, witty and great-looking. This of course, is good news for me. We can be wise, we can be powerful and we can even be rich. And as I read Jeremiah here, we're even told we're allowed to boast. 

We can boast, just not about ourselves.
D'oh!

Can you imagine if we took this to heart? We could be the ultimate one-up guy. You know, of course, about the one-up guy, right? He's the guy that hears about your achievements and then shares his better achievements. 

You: My kid made honor roll.
1-up guy: My kid helped his dog make honor roll!

But the one-up guy would be unstoppable if he applied these scriptures.

You: I saw Rick Nier today. That was pretty cool.
1-up guy: I know God. Epic win!

Actually, he'd be unstoppable, still annoying, but we'd all be better off boasting about God. 


Friday, August 17, 2012

Finding the Missing

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? 13 And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! 14 In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish. ~Matthew 18:12-14
How important are the lost sheep? (vs 12-14)

Boy and Sheep

The pasture land in Judea is narrow and located on hills. This means there were at least two sides which sheep could wander off, to their own peril. In Jesus’ day, it was common for the sheep to be owned communally, which explains how one shepherd would go off to look for the lost sheep while the remaining shepherds would watch the other 99. The lost sheep, once found, would have been celebrated by that community.

But perhaps the problem is that we don't connect with sheep. Even though we have been compared with sheep by Jesus and other writers in the New Testament, I don’t know that I’ve ever been sentimental over a sheep. We see cows around here. We see horses. If we went to the fair we could see pigs and chickens and bunnies. But I don’t get overly sentimental while eating a hamburger either.

But we all have children. We have likely had that moment when our kids were young and one of them came up missing.

A few weeks ago when I was down in Nashville with my teens, we were among several groups with many teens. On one of the nights I was hanging around with some of the teens. It had been the night where many had made commitments. So now the groups were having fun and talking and laughing.

And that is when it happened. I saw two leaders come through and ask if we had seen a couple of girls. The mood for every leader changed. You could see it in their eyes. Two teens were gone and it did not matter that we had the rest. The missing teens must be found.

And eventually they were found. When they were the celebration returned to one of joy and contentment. But not before they had been found.

We need to care about people like this. We need to be worried when we do not know where they are with God. We need to be fervently searching for them.

We need to care.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Rick Nier says Woo! August 16, 2012

Here we go, folks!

The other night my kids were very hyper, which is saying something for my kids. My wife commented that we should have a reality show. I asked what it would be called and my 9-year old son, without batting an eye, answered, 'Rick-diculous!' I swear if MTV announces a show by this name I will be asking questions.

But this first link is, quite easily, Rick-diculous. It's a premium fast food line, way beyond the McDLT, for those of you remembering how important it was to keep the hot side hot and the cool side cool.

Greg Stier, the guy who runs Dare 2 Share, frequently comes out with Top Ten lists. This one on the Olympics was timely.

This last one is also random, seeming to be the theme for today. But it's also not for the faint of stomach, as Matt McGill, long time California youth pastor, busts out a Sports Instructional Video. Yes, he's qualified.

Woo!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Space Between


When people find out I am a youth pastor and that I have been so for more than 6 months, I am often asked if I have aspirations for being a 'real' pastor. I have so many answers to this but that is an entirely different post. I think the questions comes partly from people's disbelief that anyone would actually choose to be around teenagers.

After all, we remember our teenage years and the limbo we often battled with. Some have raised teenagers in their own home and wondered what happened to the sweet little toddlers. Because the terrible two's weren't so bad, right?

It is for this reason I am glad to recommend Walt Mueller's book The Space Between: A Parent's Guide to Teenage Development. It's not his newest book, but this one is still timely. 

Walt tackles the gamut on teenagers, from how they are changing physically, socially, intellectually, emotionally and even morally. He's got something here for everyone, from stats and figures to personal stories. His is a voice that can be trusted, not only because he has raised his own teenagers, but because he has dedicated his life to studying the culture of adolescence. 

Along the way he offers tons of practical advice, and even a section for further reading. But be warned. If you are looking for a cookie-cutter plan to raising your own teen, you won't find that here. Walt reminds us of the unique qualities of every teenager. That is a good thing. In order to help your child survive the bridge to adulthood that is adolescence, they will need your unique perspective. 

And just as I choose to continue being a youth pastor, you can choose to live this adventure with your teenager, instead of closing your eyes and hoping you survive. 

You can find this book, and many other resources, at Walt's site; The Center for Parent & Youth Understanding

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

How Great We Are

About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” ~Matthew 18:1

There are eternal implications in how we treat one another. The disciples should not have been arguing over who was the greatest. Not simply because it was the wrong question, but because it shows a great lack of concern for one another.

The other day, and honestly this could be any and every day, I came upon my 3 children having an argument.
Bogatyr
That sounds very pastoral, doesn’t it? It makes it sound like I was walking around quoting scripture and I happened upon my 3 little angels who happened to be having a disagreement which could only be solved by someone with great wisdom.

In reality, I was trying to finish supper when my 3 hobbits, who always scarf down their own meals, started fighting with one another. Interrupted and slightly annoyed, I asked who started what, whereupon I received 3 different stories, all, of course, blaming one another.

After doling out some consequences to cries of ‘unfair’, I started back to my meal. But before I went back, I said what I have said everyday ever since the second child was born. “Let’s all play nice. Let’s remember that our brother and sisters are more important to us than whatever it is we fight over.”

The fact is, in many ways, we are all like my children, and we need constant reminders about who we are and what we should be doing and why we should be doing it. So it is good for us to encourage one another. Perhaps we should argue how others are more important than us. That might be a step in the right direction.

Monday, August 13, 2012

God First, Man Second: Isaiah 56:1-8

In case you're reading this early on Monday morning and are in no mood for long blog posts, fear not. I'll highlight and merely encourage you to read the rest.

But as I read Isaiah 56:1-8, I realized that it's possible for us to attempt false humility. I know I'm not the first to say that, but I imagine it even possible for me to only say I want insignificance for the sake of gathering a crowd. 'Look at the self-deprecating monkey!'

But truly giving focus to God means realizing how little our position in life means in connection with what God is doing. Here are two examples Isaiah gives us.

“Don’t let foreigners who commit themselves to the Lord say,
‘The Lord will never let me be part of his people.’
And don’t let the eunuchs say,
‘I’m a dried-up tree with no children and no future.’ ~Isaiah 56:3

Understand that as far as exclusive groups went, the Israelites of Old Testament fame were the best at leaving out others. But God had other plans, even while working out His Master Plan.

For this is what the Lord says:
I will bless those eunuchs ~Isaiah 56:4
and...

I will also bless the foreigners who commit themselves to the Lord. ~Isaiah 56:6
and to cement His point...

For the Sovereign Lord,
who brings back the outcasts of Israel, says:
I will bring others, too,
besides my people Israel. ~Isaiah 56:8
It didn't matter who their parents were (foreigners) or how many children they had (eunuchs). What mattered was who they were according to God. So never mind your position or status in life. It's not about you. God can reach you wherever you are! How's that for a way to start out the work week?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Is Not Willing

I preached recently from Matthew 18. I was actually glad, when my senior pastor assigned the verses, that he stopped before verses 15-18. Then I read the first 14 verses of Matthew 18. Now I can't get these images out of my head.

I believe you can hear the passion come from Jesus distinctly in 2 places in this section. Verse 6, where the alternative of hanging a large rock around your neck and jumping in the ocean is seen as desirable compared to facing Jesus after having caused a little one to sin. I imagine that this conversation to be a time when the disciples could see the face of God in Him. 
Millstone, Waterfoot 

You know how children take on the characteristics of their parents? I imagine this to be one of those times people could clearly see the face of God in Jesus. This would not have been said lightly. Imagine any parent protecting their children and we begin to get an idea of how serious Jesus is here.

The second place we hear passion ring through is verse 14. He says, “The Father is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.” 

Why don’t we have that attitude? Win the lost, at all cost. Are we really willing to lay down our pride and our desires to see lost people come to know God as Savior? The Father is not willing to lose them!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Rick Nier says Woo! August 9, 2012

Apparently, Ohio is close enough to the south
Wait, isn't this old news? Well yes, but I would like to add two things.

First, I am often late to discussions. I'm ok with this fact, because I like to give a lot of thought to a matter before I simply go public with my thoughts. (Insert comments about Rick being a slow thinker here.)

Secondly, and more importantly, this issue of how Christians treat the world and how the world views Christians, is not going away anytime soon. The incident with Chik-Fil-A is just the biggest spotlight on an already viral issue.

There were many things said on both sides of the argument, but the one I found to be very insightful can be found at Perry Noble's blog. Here you go -
BEN & JERRY’S, CHICK-FIL-A & POLITICAL CORRECTNESS

What do you have to add?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Spurs or Funoodles?

Let us consider how we may spur one another on…~Hebrews 10:24

Spurs 
Can you picture this? If we took the Bible literally here, we’d have a lot more cowboys in Church. Plus, we’d have a whole lot of people with spur marks on their body.

Spurs hurt. That’s why we don’t just use them right away. Actually, we don’t use them on people. But maybe we should. We’re told to consider how to spur one another on. Let’s face it, sometimes we need to be jolted in order to get something done.

What if, instead of spurs, we used funoodles? You know, those pool noodles that can be used to help you float or to beat your friends upside the head. We leave a few marks and cause mild irritation, but I don't foresee lasting change happen.

Love and good deeds don’t just happen. They have to be acted out. And they should be acted out by us. We should be loving and doing good deeds. This doesn’t make it about us. Rather we do good deeds to point others to God so that they can draw near and we can watch as God repeats the process of cleansing others so they can hold on and spur others on.

So if you follow this logic out, we might all end up with spur marks. It would hurt. It would scar. But at least we might heading in the right direction. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

God First, Man Second: Isaiah 49:4

I replied, “But my work seems so useless!
I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose.
Yet I leave it all in the Lord’s hand;
I will trust God for my reward.” ~Isaiah 49:4
Work in Progress
Yeah, ever had a case of the been there, done that? 

I was actually feeling pretty good about myself and my job the morning I read this verse. I know it's not supposed to work this way, but it did make me pause. 

And as I paused, I realized that, of course, many people feel this way. This is bound to happen when we apply ourselves and set goals that seem to make sense. But I'm pretty sure God said something about the ways and plans of man. 

This is putting God first and myself second. I have felt this way many times in ministry. But my calling is not about bringing me glory. It is all for God and so I am able to trust Him for my reward. The same goes for you. So be encouraged. The strength spent is not for nothing and the purpose is not wasted.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Keeping Company

New Counter Tops
(Actual counter top not shown)

Recently my wife and I redid our kitchen counter tops. Which is to say, we had them redone. I bring many great qualities to the relationship. The ability to fix things well is not one of them. I think my wife would agree that I make up for this lack in other ways. For instance, making her laugh.

Ahem.

We picked a company and started the process. I would share the name, but I now have a fairly Lowe opinion of them. But here's the thing. They did great. As we worked with them and picked out our products, they were very helpful. They were patient as my wife painstakingly chose between various sinks and then saw the hundreds of choices for faucets.

They helped us see several places where we could save money. They served well. Then came the time for actually placing the order and having the work done. We were given a timeline for certain steps to be done. We were given the name of the third-party company who would actually be doing the building and installing of our counter top.

They didn't make one deadline. Not even close. It was very frustrating. See, the old counter top had been painted and then covered with wall paper. Then it pealed. Apparently my wife did not like that look. Go figure.

You might counter that the broken deadlines of the third-party company are not the fault of the place with which I now have a Lowe opinion. True, but who we choose to do business with reflects on us. Their standards are now our standards.

It's true in our personal lives as well. It's not hard and fast, as I can spend time with people who do not share every value I do. But if I'm going to put my name next to theirs and vouch for them, then I better be prepared to be compared with them.

Have you ever been compared with someone? Did it help you or hurt you? What did you learn from the experience?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Rick Nier says Woo... August 2, 2012

You might think that after several weeks of silence I would have TONS of stuff which inspired me and blah, blah, blah..

I did read. Stuff has inspired me. But I am choosing not to bog you down with everything which may or may not have brought a tear to my eye.

For this first Woo! of the week, all I can say is, 'Holy cow, Jon, get out of my head!' Sometimes I feel like my blog is one big example of failure, but Jon Acuff, of Stuff Christians Like fame, puts the spin on that which I have been looking for. (By the way, I say failure in a ok way, not the please-pity-me way.) Anyway, here are 4 words Jon says when he fails.

The other post I will Woo! about comes from Doug Fields, the godfather of youth ministry. His new mantra, and my newest goal, has to do with paying attention to your marriage and family as much as you might your ministry. Here he gives 10 reasons not to date your spouse. I bet he's using reverse psychology.

Both of these posts are older, but again, I like to talk about stuff after everyone else is done talking about it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Viral



"Genesis 2 reminds us that we are all created to connect on a personal level in significant community. Yet, being one virtual profile among a sea of millions creates a competitive atmosphere where successful individuals become intuitive experts at self-branding."
--Brad Howell, "Finding Love One Byte at a Time"



I haven't read this book, or anything else by Brad for that matter. But I think this quote says something about us. Something is deeply wrong. 


What I have read is Viral by Leonard Sweet. As he puts it, "this book is a tale of two tribes." The tribes he identifies are Gutenbergers and Googlers. The Gutenbergers are those people who have been influenced and live in a world created by the invention of the printing press. Yes, that happened a long time ago, but the world of pre-Google was heavily influenced by this sudden spread of information.


Speaking of a spread of information, we'e living a new digital age where everything has indeed gone viral. This is the world of the Googler, a tribe that has embraced social networking in a way that seems foreign to older generations. 


Sweet does a good job of explaining the upside of all this new technology, even for the Christian who might celebrate the Bible being the first printed book off the printing press. At points, it felt like he railed a bit too much against philosophers as being stuck in the Gutenberg tribe. (I may be sensitive as someone who majored in philosophy.) I believe he was trying to convey that our sharing of faith cannot reside in listing out answers to every question posed in this world. But philosophers have often been the poets that he did praise. 


Along the way, he uses many new words, like 'complexipacity' and 'metaphor', words he uses to better define the culture we now live in. To put things in perspective, he quotes inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen as saying that "an eight year old today sees the internet with about as much fascination as you see the toilet."


In the end, Sweet is not arguing for Gutenbergers to simply 'suck it up' and accept the new realities. We do need to realize the world we are living in is constantly changing, and much like a missionary researches and adapts to the culture they live in, our effectiveness as a Church will require us to do the same. 


I received Viral from my good friends at Waterbrook Multnomah. They send me books and ask me to say things. They don't tell me I have to be nice. That part just comes naturally. You can check out this book at their site


You can check out Leonard Sweet at the following sites.