Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I was just thinking it's been quite a while since I've done a book report. I don't even know what the format would be, but this is a book that I want to study in-depth. So I'll post tidbits here and there when I discover something that just makes me more in awe about what is going on inside of me.
This second chapter is talking about the difference between unmanly and manly men. Unmanly men in very short summary feel powerless, angry, and terrified. The one aspect I related to the most (although I can honestly relate with all three in some form or fashion) was being terrified. Some quotes that stuck out...
"Life itself continually demands that men do more than they feel capable of doing." And yes, dad's reading a newlywed's ability to relate to this will laugh to themselves and say, "Good luck with that..."
"The terror won't go away. Usually it remains hidden under the wraps of success, sociability, and routine." Uh oh.
"Enjoying God is harder work. Terrified men want relief now!"
In manly men, they are found to be active, gentle, and purposeful. Some quotes that made me scream inside my head, "YES, THAT'S ME!!"
"A manly man's pain doesn't interfere with his feeling the plight of others, even when their troubles are less severe than his. He has the courage to face his experience honestly. He therefore feels the sadness of living in a fallen world, and the loneliness of living in imperfect community."
"No matter what happens in life, manly men always find room to move. There is always something to BE, even when there is nothing to DO." This is so true...
"Manly men are enticed by the joys of freedom, by the unhindered chance to follow the call of manhood. A manly man is not addicted; he treats his body roughly, to avoid coming under a foreign power. He fights hard against his relentless desire for pleasure. He moves according to a plan. He is a PURPOSEFUL MAN who knows what he's about and what he can contribute to the purpose for which he is living."
I love how much time he is spending identifying the symptoms of being manly and unmanly. He pays extremely close attention to detail and somehow is broad enough to relate to all kinds of circumstances. I feel like God is running after me with this book. Like everytime I read it or open it, He's about to show me something that will save me from the path of misguided purpose and destructive planning. I feel so loved by God when I read this book, like I've been given something truly of value.
And I'm just done reading Chapter 2. At this point, if you're a man, please hear me. I've read a few books, not as many as I would have liked but a few. If you don't read another book next year, I beg you to read this one. Please join me in discovering who God made us to be. And if you're not a believer, I plead with you to read this. It's truthful and gets to the root of issues without hiding behind Christian language. This book will change your life and introduce you to a very real, intimate God that loves you where you are today... not one that is waiting for you to clean up A, B, and C before He can love you fully.
Monday, December 8, 2008
I'm living a very surface level life. This was hurtful for me to hear. I try to go deep in situations if possible. Even with myself, I thought I made decisions that allowed me to get beyond the surface. But when "the surface" is defined as materialism, then you're not exactly getting beyond the surface if one aspect of it is something you don't struggle with hardly at all. What my counselor explained to me is that through salvation in Christ I now have Jesus Christ living in my heart. In turn, I have the Holy Spirit dwelling within me, moving and stirring my affections for Jesus up at every possible turn. Because of that, I'm no longer only living in the flesh, but am living with the Spirit of God inside of me. With me so far?
He explained that God is infinite. He's never had a beginning and has no end. Because of that fact, God is free to create infinite reflections of himself in human beings. Therefore, I am truly unique. There has never been nor will there ever be a person that is uniquely designed as I was. I'm truly different. Because of my design, there are things in life that appeal to me and things in life that truly don't appeal to me. There are certain people I feel comfortable around and others that I can't stand to be around. There are verses that really resonate with me and then there are verses that are just words on a page to me. The cool thing is that it's different verses depending on where I'm at in life.
That alone is proof that God's Holy Spirit truly lives inside of me. He changes my heart on issues, he changes my mind on other issues. He increases my love for this person and impresses upon me to do something generous for another person. Whatever, I could go on and on... He's constantly in control regardless of how it appears.
Well because I've been subconsiously creating my own stable environment, I've been effectively telling God, "I don't really want to go deeper than this. If I start asking questions such as "Who am I?" or "what was I created for?", then I don't know that my world would be that stable once I found out the answers. Thanks but no thanks." I've been afraid to go deep, so I settled for my surface stability with endless strategies in place to keep me at that level. I became the very thing that I spoke against to everyone I know.
So when my counselor told me that because I was uniquely designed by God all I had to do was be completely, 100% who I was instead of having to do A, B, C in order to receive D blessing from God... I just sat there in disbelief. I was looking at the couch shaking my head while he said, "Your head is spinning now, huh?" I looked up and said, "Yeah! That is the most beautiful thing I've ever heard. I've even told people exactly what you just told me, but I wasn't living it."
As a result, I finally feel free. Feeling and being free are different. I'm working towards being free. How?
Well for one, I'm going through "The Silence of Adam" by Larry Crabb.
Second, I'm not building my strategies for studying Scripture. I'm going to read a book... let's say Colossians. When something jumps out at me, I'm going to dwell on it because the Spirit inside of me is saying, "There's a reason this means something to you. Sit here and dwell with me here so I can unpack another piece of your character." I'm going to stay there until I've exhausted the verse, until I truly have a grasp of it. Until I truly feel like I could move on without thinking I'm missing something. In other words, I'll let the Lord lead my bible study. I don't know how this is going to work because I've never done it, but in my head it makes sense. It's extremely profound.
Third, I'm going to write. I have to. The Lord is good in giving me a voice through words. May Jesus open the floodgates as far as that is concerned.
Lastly I'm going to live in community. I'm going to talk to friends, keep up with them, and love them. I'm going to volunteer and be available, only because it's what I really have a desire to do. I'm nervous sometimes, but that nervousness is my flesh not the Spirit of God. So I'm going to listen to the Spirit of God and let my flesh fall in line. It sure beats listening to the news and other people...
I was really encouraged this weekend. I still am encouraged. I'll keep you posted. Thank you for your prayers (those of you that prayed). They were answered in very real, specific ways in my life recently. Today I'm dumbfounded that God's understanding is infinite and in that understanding that He would allow me to walk in blindness to His plan for my life for so long only to use it to bring me back to Himself. I love Him. I have a hard time not loving Him more when I write down what He's done in my life. This Sunday during worship I just wanted to sing to Him. So I did :) He's who I live for...
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Well today marks my second ever counseling appointment. With all the events of last night and a conversation Becky and I were having before going to bed, I might have just figured me out. Well figured out the root of some anger issues at least... I think it's stability. And here's why...
Growing up that's all I ever wanted. At 12-13 (somewhere around there), I experienced the beginning of the most stable period of my life. Being home with Mom and Larry. That lasted until I went to Purdue, which in a sense was still stability for me. It was a new experience yes, but it was an experience that I was in charge of. I decided how to live out every minute of my life and it was a pretty stable environment. Then I move to Houston... same type of experience college was. I was in control.
And then I met Becky :)
Trust me, that came out a lot harsher than I meant it but I couldn't pass up the opportunity for a laugh. In so many ways, Becky has changed my life and I will be forever grateful to her for it. In talking all of this out, she asked the question, "Then why would you marry me?" meaning that she would represent instability in my life since I was no longer in complete control. My answer was because I knew I needed to be with her, I even felt I needed to be with her. I honestly believe that God allowed me to look beyond my need for stability for a brief moment in time to fall in love with my wife. Now temporarily looking beyond that need didn't permanently fix anything, but it put in place the most important person in my life... a person I would truly share everything with. And someone who would help me break this unhealthy sense of wanting stability.
A few examples of why I think this is the root...
- I get angry when I'm in the far left lane and Becky tells me to get over 3 lanes of traffic in 10 seconds. In traffic I zone out... set out on the course to our final destination. When that is interrupted I don't have a positive reaction... because instability has reared its ugly head.
- Ever changing plans aren't something I enjoy. I thrive at making a plan and even more so sticking to it. I LOVE routine. That sounds like prison to most of you... and the scary part is that it sounds like complete freedom for me. Inside of a plan, I can truly relax and live. I'm in a stable environment...
- Cleaning. Why do I enjoy cleaning so much? Why have I made the bed (or asked Becky to make the bed) 97% of the time I wake up in the morning? I want order, I want a home to come home to, I want to take care of what we have. I don't want to trash a place and then need to find another. I want a stable environment...
- ExxonMobil... self-explanatory.
- Financial planning. I'm borderline obsessive compulsive with finances. I pour hours into tracking our expenses, updating spreadsheets, running reports, tweaking the budget, and complaining when we spend money. I don't like the verse that says you can't serve two masters God and money. I want to serve God by managing money... instead I end up serving money and managing God. My flesh is weak, but I don't address this weakness because it would introduce instability.
Trust me, Becky and I laid these along with 30 different examples (no joke) last night of where this is probably the thing in my life that I am most committed to. It made me want to cry and yet I can't. We prayed together and I'm going to start doing whatever I can to work through this and not hope for a temporary fix. Writing will be a big part of that. On here, in my journal. Everywhere. I'm just praying I can get over the exhaustion of writing and sharing because it's honestly paralyzed me for over a year.
Please pray for me and Becky. I don't write this to get any kind of sympathy from anyone. I write this because I need to. I honestly don't care how much dirty laundry you find out about me or how many things I need to work through. I hope you find out everything because then I would never even have a reason to hide. I love honesty, I love realness, I love depth.
Why? Because it's stable... :) Don't worry, I'm in counseling.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
So I wanted to type out my vows to my beautiful bride as we begin another year that will inevitably leave us different than from when it found us... Lord Jesus, help us this year to be more like you and to stop at nothing to get there.
Becky, God in His wisdom decided it was not good for me to be alone.
So He made you to be my helpmate.
You are God's gift to me, perfectly suitable for my completion.
I receive you as my completion, just as you are with all your strengths and weaknesses.
Every quality in you is aimed at perfecting a quality in me.
I declare my love for you to be unconditional and nothing can discourage that love.
You are the Lord's primary tool to shape and conform me to the image of Jesus.
Therefore, I submit myself to you in the fear of the Lord that this might be accomplished and the Lord Jesus be glorified.
I choose to love you as Christ loves the Church.
I will provide for you.
I will protect you, give you loving leadership.
I honor you.
I am faithful to you.
I cherish you as long as we both shall live.
I love you sweetheart. Thank you for stopping at nothing to help shape and conform me to the image of Jesus. You are a wife that honors and serves the Lord in your service to me. You love me despite all circumstances, whether I'm in an angry mood, quiet mood, happy mood, or in a talkative mood. You love me in front of your friends, but even more so when no one is looking but me. I respect your willingness to live life and love how you push and pull me to areas that I would've formerly been afraid to travel. You are God's perfect gift to me. You're my wife, someone that I cannot and will not live without. How would I ever get dressed for church or pack for a vacation? I'm so thankful that I can talk to you and tell you the truth. I'm so thankful that you listen to me and that you tell me what you're thinking. I'm so thankful for your heart and for what it's doing to mine. I love you sweetheart... I always will.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
The companies need restructuring. I'm just wondering if there's a way to restructure without losing jobs or consumer confidence. From what I've heard, they are good cars (I drive a Nissan and no, I don't have an opinion on cars. I honestly couldn't care less). But will people want to buy them? Time will tell.
What I find extremely ironic is that our government is now attempting to "fix" a broken industry, all the while operating inside of a broken government. The principles of government I believe are still solid (some would call these the "fundamentals"), but what government is today is a far cry from the purpose it was created to serve. Take our tax code or "oversight" (I use that term very loosely) committees, different departments, lobbyists, etc. It's all patchwork and reactionary. Our economy is patchwork, it's not pure capitalism. As we've seen in the auto industry, the market (consumers) decided that they liked Toyota's cars better because of gas mileage, longevity, safety and overall style. There needs to be some consequences for business models that don't work. Example...
Growing up, did I honestly think, "Wait, wait, wait Mom, you can't afford that! Really, I don't need that for Christmas." Of course I didn't, it wasn't my money. I had no real appreciation for the hard work that she did to earn that money. I didn't know any better. I trusted her to make the decisions that were best for me and the rest of the family. And you know the strange thing? She swears we weren't well off, but we never went without. No one ever called us under privileged. We loved our '86 and '90 Toyota first cars. The '86 one even broke down because a screw fell out. Did Jason get mad when he had to call a friend to drive all the way to Andrews to fix it? NO, it was a memory. Did I get screaming mad when my car all of a sudden started honking uncontrollably when no one had ever told me my car had an alarm on it? Absolutely not... we all laughed while we covered our ears. The government has no reason to be smart with money because if they spend it all, at the end of the day they still get their checks.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
I'm no longer the teacher in my family. Becky is. I say that half-jokingly. In college I taught a few times without hesitation. I thought the messages were really good, but after speaking you hear hardly any feedback at all. Then you have to filter out the real feedback, the "i'm your friend so I'll tell you you did good" feedback, and then the negative feedback. Once everything balances out, you're left wondering if the message that the Lord gave you was even heard. To this day I still don't know... Well now that I've heard Becky teach a few times, I honestly don't know how to even reach that level. I think she's a phenomenal Bible teacher.
So what am I going to do? I'm going to teach about being authentic in our private and public lives, something I wrestle with every day that I'm alive. This is a topic that I'm intimately comfortable with, something that I could talk about for hours if only someone would listen. The private part is the part that I'm REALLY passionate about, mainly because that's the foundation of your authenticity. I've not always been an all-star at this.
Back when I really wrote, both personally and on a blog, there were days that I found myself writing to impress someone else (truth be told, a girl. Depending on which time in college depends on what girl I wanted to read it). I wanted to show them that there was depth in me and that I had a real relationship with the Lord. Looking back on it, I don't regret it because I worked my way through a lot of issues by writing, but I also created a few more to be dealt with at a later date. The biggest of those being pride.
Well fast-forward to November 24, 2007. Our wedding day. I had now reached the day where I no longer had to impress a girl that I was interested in. I had done it. I won! Now the goal was not becoming complacent but leading my family in a very focused direction... into deeper relationship with the Lord and with each other. So subconsiously I decided to not write. It wasn't some set in stone decision and I don't have a date to really go back to when I decided not to write, but somewhere at the beginning of our marriage I decided that pride couldn't be given such a comfortable role in my life anymore. So I choked it. I shut it down.
What did this mean? It meant I wanted to wear sweats on date night when we went to Pappasito's. It meant that I didn't shave for a while or get a haircut, because appearances were feeding my pride. It meant that I didn't read a whole lot, for knowledge puffs up. It meant that I didn't do a whole lot to grow because I was afraid of what I would grow into. And it's through this fear that I found the folly of my ways...
The Lord very lovingly showed me that if I make a commitment to stop growing, then I also make the same commitment to stop leading my family. If I purposely become unattractive... guess what, you're unattractive to your wife too. If I stop writing, then I all of a sudden have a lot of issues built up that have yet to be dealt with (giving way to my very first counseling appointment this Friday :) I'm excited, because now if Becky and I have a disagreement I proudly exclaim, "Becky, I'm in counseling ok? I'm working on it"). Purging the ugly in your life does not give you permission to purge the beautiful as well.
There's one breakthrough I'm glad to possess. I no longer write to impress, I write to process. I don't care what you think to be honest. I'd like to know what you think, but I'm not doing this for you, the reader, anymore. I'm doing this for my family and for me in hopes that I will become who God created me to be. I don't think hardly anyone reads this anymore, but the moral of this story is what you do in private will be what defines you. You may not understand it until years later, but if at any point you don't like the definition of who you are then a different course of action must be taken. A purposeful course. And it's along this path where true treasure is discovered.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
So last night I was visibly and verbally upset and depressed for most of the night. We had our friends Dustin and Cassi come over and for those of you who don't know them, Dustin and I are extremely similar. Luckily he brought a nerf ball to throw around so holes didn't end up in the walls. And yes, that nerf ball found itself speeding to different areas of the room for a good 4 or so hours. The TV was not exempt and in fact the main target at times. Our wives endured a very long night with us, talking us down from a ledge and dealing with our disgusted comments during the acceptance speech. I've already asked for forgiveness from Becky and am currently doing a lot of soul searching as to why it made me so angry and why I wouldn't let her talk any sense into me last night. Here's what I've come up with...
1) I'm selfish. When I'm down and don't want to talk, I don't want to hear anybody else talk either. This isn't the first time selfishness has reared its ugly head, just another episode.
2) I'm from Texas. Socialism and handouts and whining just doesn't to appeal to us. These last 2 years of campaigning has been infuriating to say the least. Hearing about the foreclosure "crisis" that wreaked havoc on 2% of homes in the country just makes me want to throw up. Our country should be celebrated for the opportunity and the prosperity that we enjoy, not put under a microscope so very small problems seemingly become nationwide issues.
There are a few things that I love about my state. We take care of ourselves. We give when there is need and when we can and towards things we believe in. We're responsible. And we don't have income tax. We're pro-growth. And some of us have a pretty great accent too, even if time in Indiana steals it away from us :) Now to my next point...
3) Can someone please realize that we are not in competition with each other? Class wise, state wise, part affiliation, etc. This whole false sense of partisanship in the country is ridiculous. I don't believe conservatives and liberals are as far apart as we are being led to believe. There are differences, yes, but when was the last time you went hunting for a spouse or significant other that was EXACTLY like you? And if you did... do you ever find your conversations boring and lacking passion? I mean give me a break, we embrace differences. We also embrace those things that we agree on because that is precisely what keeps us together in the midst of debate. Then why would the media want to drive us apart? Because it increases our dependence on them, not ourselves. If we can make them our barometer for the state of the country, then they are now in power. That's all it is. And guess what? Once you decide to take responsibility for your own life, the media no longer can get you down. It's been a very painful lesson that I've learned this year, but I'm much farther than I once was.
4) I believe America as a superpower is no longer a truthful statement. We've changed alright. Last night as I sat through the "Yes we can" mantra of the crowd (very eery to me), I turned to Becky, Dustin and Cassi and said, "Great, now we're the little engine that could..." That's exactly what it made me think of. I am now the little engine that could. "I think we can, I think we can..." I prefer the freight train myself...
5) If I can be Joe Biden for a little bit, mark my words... oil prices are about to skyrocket once these policies are enacted. The ban on emissions will, in Obama's words, bankrupt the coal industry. The coal industry supplies 50% of the energy needed for the electricity in homes. Once you remove that source of energy, you have to move to another. Oil is the most efficient today. Therefore there will be less available, driving the price up to higher levels than what we've seen. I wouldn't be worried if we were going to drill, but look for the ban on our offshore areas to come back into place around March. We're not decreasing our dependence on foreign oil... it's not pheasible today. Work towards it yes, but provide a bridge to get there with oil...
6) If I hear another sound bite as to why people voted for Barack Obama that sound like these, I will explode. I actually did this morning in the car when I heard this guy pushed as to why he voted for Obama. I yelled...
a) "I just think we need change" Why?
b) "I just like what he says, he speaks to me" What does he say to you?
c) "That we don't need 8 more years of the same thing" What's the same thing?
d) "Failed policies" ** This is where I gave up and yelled. It felt good...
7) I actually have a rational reason for voting against Barack Obama and I haven't even gotten into his associations. It's crazy to me. This is the most uninformed decision we've made in a very long time in my opinion. I hope it doesn't bite us, but I honestly think it will. And we won't forget it.
8) I'm not racist! One of the most profound comments I heard last night was that the youth of America is color blind. I believe this is true. The fact that the media kept talking about race made me sick. Bring anyone in office and as long as their policies are ones that will grow our economy and strengthen our country at home and abroad, I'll put him in office. Period.
9) This was the most telling reason why I'm so upset. I've placed my faith more in my government and country than I have God. That's the root of all my frustrations. I don't know when my dependence was being eroded away, but it has been eroding away. Who's to blame? I don't care honestly, I just know I want my dependence on God back. I need His help and I need your help... Our relationships with the Lord puts life in perspective in a way that makes it impossible to despair the winds of culture and change. I can't be depressed when I think about the Lord. I don't know what it is in me, but I simply can't bring myself to do it.
I love my country and I'll do whatever I can to support it. My congresswoman is very much a liberal and my goal is to make her sick of hearing from me, either through phone or email. I don't care. I just want her to know that I'm keeping up with what she's doing. I hope I can encourage her, but I definitely want to challenge her where we don't agree.
I'm ready to fight for conservatism and throw republicanism under the bus. It's a very different ideology and it's wrong. There should now be 4 parties instead of 2. Liberals, Democrats, Republicans, and Conservatives. The differences are too many to find much commonality anymore.
Here's a few books that I'm going to try to get my hands on to study and learn about our country, policies, and how we got to where we are:
- "Patriotic Grace" - Peggy Noonan
- "The Forgotten Man" (about the Depression)
- "Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism"
- "Liberal Fascism" - Jonah Golberg
- "Disraeli" - Robert Blake (This is about the Father of Modern Conservatism)
- "Churchill, Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War": How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World - Patrick Buchanan
- "Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship" - Jon Meacham
- "Imposter: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy" - Bruce Bartlett (former Reagan staffer)
- "The Hand of Providence" (Ronald Reagan)
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
- After the VP Debate, Tom Brokaw came on the air and said, "Many issues have still yet to be discussed. Immigration, Social Security, Abortion..." Well Tom, thanks to your moderating ability many issues remain so. You flat out wasted 33% of the debates this year.
- Can someone please explain to me why we allow 6.1% of people that are unemployed take center stage every time a candidate opens his/her mouth? I'm not heartless, but hear me out. There is about 66% of people in America that work. The unemployment rate stands at 6% of that total. In real numbers, 189 million people work, and 11 millon are currently unemployed. Does that seem out of balance to anyone other than me? Can anyone talk about the 178 million people that do have jobs? What about all the people that DO have healthcare? It's frankly insulting to me that our country is not represented. A subset of our country is. Believe me, the last thing I want is a government handout of any kind. That's not what I'm saying. But I wish candidates would talk about real things instead of only talking about issues that affect a very small number of us... Find solutions yes, but be honest. Don't characterize my family as struggling through this economic downturn because a small percentage of the country is. Now in a year or two when most people are struggling, then you can talk. But represent facts, not your agenda...
- Undecided voters. Again, after every debate on every channel we get introduced to the "undecided" voter. We suddenly care what you think. Here's my problem. These are the most indecisive people you have ever met. These are passive people, people who will not stand for anything because they don't want to upset anybody. I'm all for independent thinking (watch Lou Dobbs on CNN, he actually has ideas), but posing as an independent because a decision is just too hard to make at the moment makes me want to throw up. Again, the majority of our country stands for something. That's why we're where we are today. My fear is that the undecided voter is suddenly rising to the ranks of being a game changer in our country. The problem is the undecided voter has no real direction to take us. We will get there America... trust me, if we aim at nothing we will reach it.
- Lastly, the fact that I'm white and have a job does not make me a racist and an elitist. This characterization is probably the most frustrating thing I've heard throughout this campaign. As a little kid, I was raised in a predominantly white family (laugh when you get that joke...). I was loved by that family. I was brought up to believe in this country and to accomplish anything I set my mind to. So what did I do? With their help, I went to college and graduated in the top 10% of my class. Not because I was white, but because I worked hard to get the grades I ended up with. I studied. What did I do after that? I applied for a job. Why did I get a job? Because I was qualified for it. I had proven that I could study a subject and grasp it enough to be productive in the workforce. This does not make me an elitist because I work for a corporation (ExxonMobil even... you know, the one who got mentioned 6 times in the VP debate unsolicited. That press is hard to come by). This doesn't even make me someone who believes we should oppress the lower part of our population. I want all people to have opportunity, but for crying out loud when did hard work make you into a bad person? I'm just beside myself. It's wrong.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Here is what Cantor, Hensarling, Ryan are working on:
Economic Rescue Principles
Common Sense Plan to Have Wall Street Fund the Recovery, Not Taxpayers
* Rather than providing taxpayer funded purchases of frozen mortgage assets, we should adopt a mortgage insurance approach to solve the problem.
* Currently the federal government insures approximately half of all mortgage backed securities. (MBS) We can insure the rest of current outstanding MBS; however, rather than taxpayers funding insurance, the holders of these assets should pay for it. Treasury Department can design a system to charge premiums to the holders of MBS to fully finance this insurance.
Have Private Capital Injection to the Financial Markets, Not Tax Dollars
* Instead of injecting taxpayer capital into the market to produce liquidity, private capital can be drawn into the market by removing regulatory and tax barriers that are currently blocking private capital formation. Too much private capital is sitting on the sidelines during this crisis.
* Temporary tax relief provisions can help companies free up capital to maintain operations, create jobs, and lend to one another. In addition, we should allow for a temporary suspension of dividend payments by financial institutions and other regulatory measures to address the problems surrounding private capital liquidity.
Immediate Transparency, Oversight, and Market Reform
* Increase Transparency. Require participating firms to disclose to Treasury the value of their mortgage assets on their books, the value of any private bids within the last year for such assets, and their last audit report.
* Limit Federal Exposure for High Risk Loans: Mandate that the GSEs no longer securitize any unsound mortgages.
* Call on the SEC to audit reports of failed companies to ensure that the financial standing of these troubled companies was accurately portrayed.
* Wall Street Executives should not benefit from taxpayer funding.
* Call on the SEC to review the performance of the Credit Rating Agencies and their ability to accurately reflect the risks of these failed investment securities.
* Create a blue ribbon panel with representatives of Treasury, SEC, and the Fed to make recommendations to Congress for reforms of the financial sector by January 1, 2009
Other representatives working on this include Boehner, Bachus, Biggert, Campbell, Carter, Castle, LaTourette, McCotter, McCrery and Putnam. I thought it was only fair to list these guys and give them some credit.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Monday, September 1, 2008
This post may be long only because I have a lot of quotes and information I want to talk about. Last night I reached a point in watching the CNN political coverage to where I literally wanted to explode. I watched pieces of the Democratic National Commitee and watched Obama's acceptance speech in it's entirety, simply because I didn't want to judge him or the Democrat's based on what I've been raised to believe. I've been raised by a very conservative family which has helped shape my political views I'm sure. But last night I got to a point where I didn't just want to take my family's word for it. I wanted to see what I really, truly believe is right.
I'll begin with the statement that this journey is far from over. Last night I read for about 3 hours on the internet, starting with our Constitution, then going to some articles about our founding fathers and their vision for America, then reading about the differences between Captialism, Socialism, and Communism (which I haven't made it completely through yet, but I'll post the article I found and plan to read later). This morning I woke up with the same itch, so I decided to look at the voting records of Senator Obama and Senator McCain. Given the enormity of information that I've consumed in the last 12 hours or so, I've reached a different type of explosion. The amount of information is too great to comprehend at one time, so I will attempt to slowly but surely rehash some things that I've picked up along the way in hopes of cementing my beliefs in the pursuit of learning more. Here we go...
The U.S. Constitution
The opening line of the constitution reads:
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
This paragraph answers the question for me, "Why should I even care?" It's our country and how our country is governed is our business. We are the ones that employ politicians and we have the power collectively to determine whether they deserve another term of service. I heard a wonderful suggestion the other day by Ted Nugent, encouraging people towards activism in order to truly get involved. He said once this presidential race is over and finalized, be in contact with your state representatives (U.S. Representatives, U.S. Senators, and State Legislature) to really find out where they stand on issues that are important to you. Read comments they've made, speeches they've given and hold them to the promises that they've made. Their voting record is public knowledge and the link is provided above.
I don't have a lot of information concerning this because there's too many people to research. I ran across a couple things about Benjamin Franklin and a couple things about John Adams that either I think are important or simply entertaining.
One interesting thing about Franklin is that he developed Pennsylvania's state currency at the age of 23. Later he was asked to develop the nation's currency (the design of it) and went on to be a successful congressman and inventor. Once I read this, it made me think, "Mmmm twenty three... what are most of us doing at 23? Working yes, but becoming an expert at guitar hero would probably rank higher on our agenda than making an impact in our state." This convicted me, not because I'm an avid player of guitar hero, but I really do enjoy being entertained. It's incredible how selfish I can be. I don't know the answer to how I can impact my state, but I'm now starting that process.
A couple quotes he made I agree with whole-heartedly:
"I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer."
This is my main argument against government handouts. Giving people money to temporarily alleviate their situation is one thing. Training and educating people to become productive members of society is more the way I would prefer to go. America is the land of opportunity... so the question is how can cultivate an environment of opportunity for our people to thrive in?
"Many an unwarlike nation have been beaten into heroes by troublesome warlike neighbours."
This just struck me given our current war in Iraq. The quote speaks to the heart of our country. We don't truly shine until we have a reason to shine. Think of every major disaster or trying event our country has been through and what have we found? Perseverance, good will, charity and love. We're resilient and we're willing to contribute. From September 11th to World War II, American's want to get in the game.
This is the man credited for Uniting the States of America. I'm intrigued by him although I don't know that much. Here's a quote that speaks to the last point on Benjamin Franklin.
"People and nations are forged in the fires of adversity," he said, doubtless thinking of his own as well as the American experience. "
It seems like adversity was something they dealt with frequently given that they reference it so much. Mmmm.... there's a point to this. Keep reading.
I laughed hard at this next one given all the scrutiny behind the Vice Presidential selections:
"In the first presidential election of 1898, John Adams came in second in the electoral college, and was thus named America's first Vice-President - a position which caused him to remark that, "My country has in its wisdom contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived."
Nevertheless, as Vice President, Adams was able to do some good, serving as President of the Senate and casting 29 tie-breaking votes, earning for himself enough respect to be chosen as successor to President Washington.
He found a way to be effective where he was... something we should all do.
Pay attention to this story on how history was transformed based on belief and action:
When Adams became President, the war between the French and British was causing great difficulties for the United States on the high seas and intense partisanship among contending factions within the Nation.
His administration focused on France, where the Directory, the ruling group, had refused to receive the American envoy and had suspended commercial relations.
Adams sent three commissioners to France, but in the spring of 1798 word arrived that the French Foreign Minister Talleyrand and the Directory had refused to negotiate with them unless they would first pay a substantial bribe. Adams reported the insult to Congress, and the Senate printed the correspondence, in which the Frenchmen were referred to only as "X, Y, and Z."
The Nation broke out into what Jefferson called "the X. Y. Z. fever," increased in intensity by Adams's exhortations. The populace cheered itself hoarse wherever the President appeared.
How much have we longed for this type of experience? To really admire and love our President? It happened for about 2 weeks after 9/11 and ever since has gone downhill. One thing I will say is that watching the preparations from Hurricane Gustav and statements from the governor's that are involved, it seems to me that the Bush Administration has been obliterated for their non-responsiveness to Hurricane Katrina. Most of that blame has been avoided this time around (so-far) due to the preparedness of Governor Jindal in Louisiana. Local government stepped up and evacuated their people. Rightly so they should get the praise. The federal government has communicated that they are there to assist in any way possible, but that the local ground operation put forth by the local governments is taking the lead. Awesome. Thank you for showing us how government in America should work. The ill-preparedness of Louisiana last time is partly to blame for Katrina. Just distribute blame appropriately instead of turning this into a political issue.
Last thing, John Adams said this when he first moved into the White House:
On November 1, 1800, just before the election, Adams arrived in the new Capital City to take up his residence in the White House. On his second evening in its damp, unfinished rooms, he wrote his wife, "Before I end my letter, I pray Heaven to bestow the best of Blessings on this House and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise Men ever rule under this roof."
What a man... as I said, I'm intrigued by him. Hopefully I'll be able to do more studying about his life and policies.
This election season has done one thing to me. It's gotten me pretty fired up. Go ahead, call me Michael Phelps when reading doubters comments before a race. Oh man, am I fired up. Yelling at the TV when I hear something that either contradicts an earlier statement or hearing just blatant lies. I can't hardly stand it any more. I've nearly been standing on my couch at times. Well I've been able to work through these issues, in true Chris Kiser fashion, in a pretty systematic way. I'll put these issues and my thoughts down below and let you be the judge. I don't quite know what you're judging because I don't know that you can really change my mind, but by all means if you can make sense of some of these things that I'm about to type I BEG YOU to please leave some comments.
The main person I focused on last night and this morning was Barack Obama. There's been comments in his speeches that I know aren't right and that I know are contradictory to other parts of his speech, but I couldn't recall those things from memory. So this morning I found one speech that he gave in Flint, MI and read every word. I want to post excerpts from this speech and ask some honest questions I have about his words. Tell me what you think.
Obama began his speech with a comment about globalization.
"There are some who believe that we must try to turn back the clock on this new world; that the only chance to maintain our living standards is to build a fortress around America; to stop trading with other countries, shut down immigration, and rely on old industries. I disagree. Not only is it impossible to turn back the tide of globalization, but efforts to do so can make us worse off.
Rather than fear the future, we must embrace it. I have no doubt that America can compete and succeed in the 21st century. And I know as well that more than anything else, success will depend not on our government, but on the dynamism, determination, and innovation of the American people."
Perfect. I am on board with that statement. I believe in everything he just said. Let's keep going...
"Almost a decade into this century, we still have no real strategy to compete in a global economy. Just think of what we could have done. We could have made a real commitment to a world-class education for our kids, but instead we passed "No Child Left Behind," a law that, however well-intended, left the money behind and alienated teachers and principals instead of inspiring them. We could have done something to end our addiction to oil, but instead we continued down a path that funds both sides of the war on terror, endangers our planet, and has left Americans struggling with four dollar a gallon gasoline. We could have invested in innovation and rebuilt our crumbling roads and bridges, but instead we've spent hundreds of billions of dollars fighting a war in Iraq that should've never been authorized and never been waged.
We also need to encourage innovation, by adopting curricula and the school calendar to the needs of the 21st century; by updating the schools of education that produce most of our teachers; by welcoming charter schools within the public schools system, and streamlining the certification process for engineers or businesspeople who want to shift careers and teach."
Blood is now figuratively shooting out of my eyes!! Please answer these questions...
1. Did Barack Obama just say that it was old policies that believed we should build a fortress around America and say that he disagreed with that stance?
YES (Read above, I'm not making this up)
2. What has Barack Obama criticized the most regarding Big Oil and President Bush?
Bush's tax cuts. He's "in bed" with the oil companies. Really?
Please read this from FactCheck.com (Wonderful site, I've found out that political attack ads are false, both from McCain and Obama. Thanks for helping me trust you guys.)
Obama, Nov. 3, 2007: When I am president, I will end the tax giveaways to companies that ship our jobs overseas, and I will put the money in the pockets of working Americans, and seniors, and homeowners who deserve a break.
3. What does Obama want to do to end our addiction to oil?
He wants to provide tax breaks (or "incentives"... use your favorite word) for alternative energy initiatives. He wants to be energy independent in 10 years and will be if he's elected president. So what did he mean by his statement that "we could have done something to end our addiction to oil?". Here's what he doesn't mean (I still don't know what he truly means because it's not feasible to abandon oil as energy. There's too much infrastructure in place that is working today.) Obama is opposed to drilling. Governor Palin has stated in an interview that if she were guessing off the top of her head, it would take about 5 years to bring Alaska's oil to the U.S. for production (meaning you're pumping the gas into your tanks). The average Alaskan WANTS this to happen... they actually WANT to contribute to our energy crisis so we DON'T HAVE TO RELY ON UNSTABLE COUNTRIES THAT HATE THE U.S. FOR OUR ENERGY NEEDS. 5 years is half of 10 years. The democrat's argument against offshore drilling (and you can thank Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid for this) was that it wouldn't significantly bring oil prices down fast enough for the American public to experience relief. If I'm not mistaken, we're now at least one more year behind (given that the Executive ban on off-shore drilling was just lifted a few months ago and Congress has yet to lift the Congressional ban on off-shore drilling.). McCain's plan calls for alternative energy, but includes off-shore drilling. I think this will work given that oil is in the energy game now. Alternatives are just being researched or just being rolled out. They're unproven... yet with tons of potential. I just hope that the energy plan keeps alternatives as we see oil plummet as the world market is forced to bring their prices down because they've just lost their biggest consumer (we consume 70% of the world's oil).
Are you kidding me? Obama encourages innovation in every speech he gives and encourages American's to work hard, show that American spirit... He talks about providing income to middle-income families because that's where the heart of America lives.
Obama's policies say something different than his words. Obama encourages us to be innovative and competitive, but NOT TOO competitive (just like he wished Governor Palin luck the other day, but not too much luck.). It's the same thing. If you make over $250,000, you will experience a tax increase. If you make below $150,000, you will experience a tax break. So what that says to me is that you should strive to be successful at what you do, but ultimately you will be penalized through taxes for being successful at what you do. So try hard, just NOT TOO hard. Redistribution of wealth is another name of socialism. I'll write my views on Capitalism vs. Socialism vs. Communism at a later date. As promised, here's a website I found about the comparison.
The tax break is weak in my opinion. What would you rather receive in a year? A $4,000 check from the government or a job that gives you an income? I don't even have to state a number because just about any full-time job you take will give you at least $4,000 take home pay. Tax breaks to companies open up capital for that company to then go and invest in their most important resource - people. History has shown that they will do this. And keep in mind, if you "work hard" inside of your job, you will eventually be making much more than you started out with. Does the $4,000 tax rebate check from the government still sound appealing? Anyone excited about under-achieving yet?
Lastly, Obama has openly said he will bring the jobs back to America and stop the tax breaks for companies that are shipping their jobs overseas. Is this competing in a global economy? The reason our technology is so advanced today... to the point that our gulf-coast oil platforms can sustain a Category 3 hurricane without dropping a bit of oil into the ocean (watch out environmentalists... off-shore rigs are also good for the ecosystems of marine life, but don't get me started) is because of cost savings by private corporations. They're able to employ workers outside this country to do tasks that free up American's to be dedicated to specialized work. I don't believe we're more important than other country's workers, I really don't. But what my job with ExxonMobil (from the inside) has shown me is that there is opportunity for those that work. Your job isn't getting shipped overseas, and if it is, guess what? Companies don't lay off valuable employees. His positions make it seem to me like he is wanting to barricade the United States in a fortress and shut off our assimilation into the global economy that we currently find ourselves in.
I have to stop there... if any of you read this, I want to personally give you a hug for sticking with this. I hope you took breaks. These are just a couple of the things that really irked me this weekend about Obama. I know I can find the same things about McCain. I know I can. And if it makes any of you feel any better, I'll gladly do it.
What I'm hoping to accomplish by writing this is that we need to pay attention to what's happening. These candidates don't always get their facts straight and we know the liberal media (you can't argue that, they're liberal leaning. Just look at CNN.com and please tell me why the Republican National Convention's agenda is reduced to 5 stories when last week I couldn't read "real" news because the DNC info bombarded every inch of my screen.) is not going to report the truth. I'm so angry this year... angry because I feel backed into a corner and don't really know what to do. So I'm writing and undoubtedly I'll be discussing and watching as this whole historical event plays out. I'm proud to be an American, but now I find myself honestly wishing I would be given the chance to be one.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
As you can see, those blog posts never made it up for a pretty good reason. Becky and I received a surprise package yesterday that contained our wedding DVD :). So last night, for an hour an a half, we relived our wedding night together and decided to head to bed shortly after. It was so much fun seeing it all from another perspective, seeing all the people that we love being around in one room at one time as we commited our lives to one another. The DVD was absolutely perfect. And yes, we're willing to share if you were not able to attend or just want to fast forward to your favorite parts :)
So I'm going to try to blog about those 4 things in the near future. I need to write, that's all there is to it. I've talked to Becky for probably a year and a half now (well at least since we've been married) that writing is how the Lord really shows me things that I need to see. So why have I not made time to write? I think there's 2 main reasons and 1 not so main reason.
Main Reason #1: I'm scared.
Writing isn't something I do to pass the time. Writing isn't really something I consider relaxing. And it's definitely not something I think is short. I write to dump everything that is in my head onto paper (or internet) in an attempt to put my finger on the things that are most important. It helps me sort out my thoughts and see situations that I am deeply involved in from an outside perspective. It helps me make better decisions and helps me hold onto the things that the Lord teaches me. I have a real problem with reading and then recalling what I read from memory a week later. But if I write... chances are the things I read will stick with me for much longer. But I'll tell you what writing is to me. It's absolutely exhausting. Every journal entry I write takes about 45 minutes, which sadly has not been done since our wedding. I'm mainly scared (and you'll see how dumb this is when I actually type it out) that I'll figure too many things out... (see I told you. Yes I'm filled with an obscene amount of pride just so you know). Contrary to very popular belief, I don't have a desire to live according to a plan ALL the time. One idea I really tried to get my head around at Purdue was blind obedience. Could I follow the Lord when I had no idea where he was taking me? This was a topic that was discussed at the Elijah study last night too. Could you follow the Lord when there was no immediate reward available? When there was no earthly wealth accumulated as a result of your relationship with Him? We talked about raising kids and ourselves as craving obedience and not approval. Once I heard that last night, something in my heart screamed, "That's it, that's right!!" Oh how badly I want that... to be obedient and not consumed with the approval of others. Yet my sinful self today craves approval, both from Becky and specifically my boss at work. I want to do a good job and every time I think I do a good job I want to be told I did a good job. Becky must laugh every time she comes home and I say, "Did you see what I did?" But she doesn't. She pats my head and says, "I'm so proud of you, thank you." and lets me go on my merry way. So to sum it up, I'm scared to learn what God wants me to learn.
Main Point #2: I'm on marriage sabattical
When getting married, we received one consistent piece of advice. Take a year to be together. Don't plug into a ministry, don't jam pack your calendar with events, don't make others a priority. Spend time focusing on your marriage and truly getting to know each other. Well when my very extreme mind caught wind of this idea, I didn't just grab onto it. I ran with it. I've made a conscious effort to not be pulled in so many directions at once. And it's been difficult. Becky and I both are movers. I'm a little more stable, not-looking-for-the-next-thing kind of mover as compared with Becky, but I like to be in the mix. I like to be doing something. So when asked to take a year off, knowing that I would never get this year back for as long as I live, I decided that that meant I truly need to pull back from everything. Whether that thing would steal joy from my heart or fulfill my heart with joy, I was going to pull back from it. I still don't know that that's what people meant when they said to pull back, but that's the advice that I heard. This brings up a topic that Becky and I deal with on a daily basis that probably deserves it's own post. That's the issue of joining our spiritual lives together now that we're one. I had a certain plan that I followed when I was single in engaging the Lord and hearing from Him. Well when we got married, I started with that same plan not thinking much would change. Wrong answer. We both are honestly clueless as to what this looks like for our lives. Do we read together, do we pray together, when do we pray together, how often should it be, do we get involved in this ministry, do we stay home and just have a chill night as a form of rest, should we not do anything on Saturday because it can be a sabbath day for us, what does "nothing" during a day look like... ENDLESS QUESTIONS. And these questions go through my head probaby 10 times a day as I seek to lead our family spiritually. It's hard to lead (and for Becky to follow) when you haven't received much clear direction about what that looks like. Hence my need to write :)
Sub-point #1: I have a wife
Becky is incredible and if you've been around her for any length of time you'll pick up on the fact that she's an amazing woman of God who is passionate about many things and spontaneous in her approach to life. She has a slight form of ADD only because she loves to be surprised. She can focus when she needs to, but everything she does is extreme (are you catching on to why I was attracted in the first place?). She's everything I ever wanted and then everything I ever needed in a wife. Well for those of you who don't know, in order to know and truly love my wife she requires time. I require time from her. What that means is that whenever I have an option to drill deeper into the heart of my wife or write a blog, guess which one I'm going to choose? No not blogging... my wife. Therefore the Haran (crossroads) I find myself in is loving my wife. Not just with action or words, but with every inch of my being. That looks differently and the same every day. Writing is a form of loving my wife because she gets all of me and not the supressed version of me. But writing does not communicate love when she needs Chris time. This goes both ways so don't read this as Becky being some lonely woman who needs me to come rescue her from despair everyday I walk in the door. If that were the case, I would probably have a clearer direction as to what she needs. But being the independent firecracker that she is, she doesn't need me. She needs my love. God chose such a profound way to teach me how to love by giving me Becky... a lesson that I both love and hate at the same time. It forces me to grow and forces me to mold into who He created me to be. It forces me to admit that I'm not already perfect and deal with that reality.
And because of that, while it's frustrating to be pruned and refined, it's so unbelieveably humbling and gratifying knowing that the Lord of the universe is working directly, specifically on you.
That's all for now, I'll write more later :)
Friday, August 22, 2008
- The night the US men's relay team won the 4x100 relay by .08 seconds against the French (who were talking trash). As Jason Lesak touched first, Michael Phelps and one of the other guys proceed to yell. And I mean YELL... so what did we do? Well we went to bed right afterwards. Becky was asleep during most of the relay only to be woken up by me cheering. So she's fully awake now when we go to bed. I'm pulling back the covers when all of a sudden I get scared when a yelling woman walks into our bedroom. Come to find out she was imitating Michael Phelps! We hop into bed and for the next 30 minutes (no joke) Becky re-enacts Michael Phelps' yell and I imitate the small guy's yell (and actions as he came in under Michael Phelps arms to catch some oh-so-important camera time). Good times.
- Going to bed at 1 AM for the fourth night in a row, realizing that my night can't possibly be complete until I watch the gynastics all-around final... and then watch it on tape delay so Becky can see it (she had an Arbonne party).
- Waking up the next morning and realizing I'm not in college anymore.
- Watching swimming and willing them to swim faster by yelling at the top of our lungs "GO, GO, GO, GO, GO, GO!!!!!"
- Being upset every single time a Visa commercial comes up with the slogan "GO WORLD". Seriously? I'm an American. I only cheer for one country thank you, not all. "Don't go world" is more like it...
- Realizing that Nastia Liukin somehow towers over her competition in height. I'm thinking, "What is she, like 6'2"?". No no, she's 5' 0". Fooled me...
- For dinner one night, going to Kroger and getting sushi "in honor of the Olympics". And yes, we did watch the Olympics as we ate every piece.
- Watching the men's beach volleyball final against the American's and the Brazilian's. Becky turned to me and said, "Is his last name BRA? That's weird...". I looked over to her for about 5 seconds and said, "No, he's from BRAzil... You know, like USA." Then Becky realized she had to go to bed.
- Bela Karolyi... he has enhanced my life over these last 2 weeks.
- "They are in better position, number two, uhhh like under... uh... an umbrella. An umbrella of protection. A PROTECTIVE UMBRELLA!!" Oh Bela, I love it that you half way know English. Please don't ever fully learn.
- "She's going to be the Olympic champion. She's going to be the Olympic champion. She's going to be the Olympic champion. YYYYYYEEEEEAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!"
- Bela talking about the judging... "Here's where... I get emotional"
- Bela talking about the Chinese gymnasts... "Yes, they're underage. Look at them!"
- Last but not least, last night Becky was trying to get me to turn over halfway through the night. I tell her, "I just want to win the gold." And no, I don't have any recollection of this at all.
That's all for now. Thanks for being in my life Beijing Olympic Games. And for taking it over for two weeks :)
Friday, June 20, 2008
It drives me nuts...
You want to know what I wished for in college? I wished that I could be taken out of the holding pattern I was in and start living my life as a Christian in corporate America. I wanted to be an influence by my lifestyle. I wished that God would introduce me to a woman I was enthralled with and challenged by constantly. Some of the time I wished I was in Texas because things were "easier" there. And I wished I wouldn't have homework consuming my life and this constant weight on my shoulders to always be productive.
Done... every prayer was answered.
So it looks like I'm heading towards becoming an unemployed house husband. That's not it, it's just fascinating to me how God answers OUR prayers and accomplishes HIS will in the process. Absolutely fascinating. It'll be fun to see how He decides to move.
I am looking into counseling though. I have all these thoughts and all these issues and all these solutions... I just don't know how to sort it all out. It's honestly something that I really can't wait for. I'm extremely excited.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Becky's gone to Chicago for a Recreational Ministry Conference until Saturday. Before she went, I went back and forth thinking that it would be good to have relaxing time at the house and not have anything on the calendar and then really missing her. I honestly didn't think it would be too bad. 4 days, no big deal. And in the grand scheme of things, no it's not that big of a deal. But it's eye opening to me how much our lives are connected now. Marriage truly does change things. I feel like part of me is missing and while both of us are going to have "retreat" time at night when we're alone, I'm already looking forward to Saturday night.
So until then, I thought I would just post random thoughts from this past week. In other words, this is a post that you will read (not long):
- Can someone please tell MTV that the Real World should've been over 10 seasons ago? I've been wondering why in the world they let these people on TV for the longest time, and today of all days I find an article on MSNBC.com completely bashing the show. At the end of the article, I thought to myself, "Yes, finally someone in this country is thinking clearly."
- Subway sandwiches are incredibly good, but is it bad that you're eating a whole loaf of bread when you get a footlong? (Becky's thought, not mine)
- Does it seem ironic to anyone that the top 6 softball teams made it to the playoffs in our non-competitive league? Made me laugh...
- How much time would you have if you turned the TV off? Wouldn't it be easier to live life instead of always seeing it "lived"?
- These past 2 weeks at work have been really incredible... understanding personalities has done wonders to my perspective. It's also helped me understand other's expectations and my own limitations. It's been so freeing for me.
- Is it funny to anyone else when someone tells you "you're free in Christ" and then asks you to make a list of how you're free?
- Seeing a single roach can honestly make me run out of a room. Every time Becky and I kill one, you would think we were entering a war zone. We start yelling and throwing things. I still have not seen one bigger than my thumb. Why am I afraid again...?
Sweetheart, come home soon. I'm losing my head :( I'll post something a little more normal in the next couple of days hopefully.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
What I like is life talk. We can talk about work, about the type of job you're doing here and the position you want there, blah blah. But none of that stuff really matters. It does to the extent of securing your family's future. Outside of that I really don't see a good reason for pouring yourself into your job. I desire everyday to be an excellent employee at work. Some days I accomplish it and some days I get so frustrated because I know I could've done more. But work is work. It's not life. Tonight we were talking about some life issues... where we were at in our stages of life, things about marriage that I'm still getting used to, stories from the guys night that MetroLink had the other night, purpose at work beyond your given job. Things like that.
The more I think about it, these are the kind of nights that really encourage me to keep plugging away. I have the best support system at home with Becky. She's got enough drive for the both of us. I don't consider myself a lazy person at all, but lately I feel like I've lost my drive to work. It's just draining. I think I'm making a difference and then just have another thing to do. The job is never done. In college sure it seemed that way, but stick it out a few more weeks and take the final and bam... the job really is done. Don't like a class? Wait 5 months, it'll change. Four years was easy to get motivated for because there was an end in sight. Even from day one there was an end goal you were working towards.
Well now that end isn't in sight. I can't even see it with a telescope it seems like. When I look down the road, all I see is work. When I climb up on a tree to see a little farther... work. I could even hop on a plane and fly across the country and ahead of me would still be work. Where does it end? So I struggle daily with questions of, "Is this really how you want me spending my life?" or "What is your purpose in this?". I ask these questions constantly. Half the time I think I'm really making strides as a professional and learning good, marketable skills that will help me further in my career with ExxonMobil. But the other half of it I can't help but think I'm wasting the time I have. Shouldn't I be studying the Word, shouldn't I be spending time with Becky, seeing family? What am I doing?
Now that I write this is all kind of makes sense. I wonder what David thought when he was running from Saul for years?? I wonder if he sat there knowing, "Man this is rough. But I know I'm in God's will. No problem, let's run." And it's funny to me that I would be reading Psalms now. Do you think God's trying to show me something? This was confirmed through Becky the other night, but I really think He's trying to get me to get over myself. I know He wants me to live this out, not just talk to a few people and call it quits. He wants my life. That means my life when I'm rested and my life when I'm exhausted. My life when I can get 10 things done at work and my life when I can't get anything done. He wants all of me. And this pride that I have that tells me I can spend my time in a better way or that I'm not where I need to be is only distracting me from my real purpose. That is to be a Christian at my workplace. If I was anywhere else, the call wouldn't be any different.
So just like the commercial says, "A year and a half into the job and 30+ years to go... yeah, I'm there". What's encouraging about writing this tonight is I know I'm not the only one. And even though that thought doesn't do anything to my work load and doesn't answer one little email for me, somehow it's the most comforting thing to know right now. That God in His infinite wisdom place His children in the places that will grow them the most. In marriage, in dating, in singlehood, in professional life, in families, in churches, and in friendships. No matter how much they yell or scream, He keeps you where you need to be. I'm really thankful for you Lord. Thanks for loving me more than I ever could.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
This past weekend Becky and I were walking downtown after an Astros game and decided to go out to eat and go see a movie (which we haven't done in a very long time... I'm not the biggest movie fan. Honestly I think most of them are a waste of time). While Becky stood in line to get tickets for the movie, she told me to go and look at all the posters to see which one looked good to me. To my surprise, none of them looked good. I head back to line thinking, "Typical... I'm so difficult even the entertainment capital of the world can't entertain me." Becky suggests we see "The Other Boleyn Girl" and after a look that told her, "I know this one is bad, but I'll go ahead and go in so I can say 'I told you so' later" we were off to the movies.
Halfway through the movie we both realize that the movie is the story of Henry VIII of England and his annulment from Catherine of Aragon. I knew this was an important part of history but never really paid that close of attention back in my Senior year of high school to remember any details. The main one I remembered is that the Church of England was formed when Henry VIII decided to split with the Roman Catholics (which was unheard of). This was in some way a part of the Protestant Reformation which proceeded to have a huge impact on the rest of the world.
When this dawns on me, I instantly become fascinated. I'm not talking, "Oh that's cool". I'm talking, "I have to read every book that was ever published on this topic" fascinated. I couldn't stop talking when we left the movie theater and walked back to our car about how crazy God was. He used corruption, deceipt, dark, evil ideas and actions to spread the gospel throughout the world. And when you think about it, we know VERY LITTLE of what actually happened throughout the history of this world. We only know about those that are written about. We don't know about every common family, orphan, criminal, child, adult, grandparent... we have no clue. We know detailed history about less than 1% of the world's population. It blows my mind to see God's hand in the known. It absolutely floors me to think of His hand through the unknown. If he could use the wicked, just think what He could do with the willing!
There's so much to this. That night we headed over to Scott and Blakely's good-bye party and started talking to Laurie Johnson (a friend from church). We all three just started talking, not really knowing each other that well but just talking about the events of the day. Well I tell Laurie about this movie and she tells me about a sermon series that Tommy Nelson (yes, the Song of Solomon guy) preached at his church entitled "Church History". It was a 13 week series that took you from the book of Acts in the Bible to present day Christianity. Laurie promised to bring us a copy of the series so we could listen to it and did the next day at church, but to my dismay we didn't meet up. Thinking the pastor of our church would know where a good resource would be to learn about the history of the church would be, I went up to talk to him after the service. He suggested a book and then suggested this very same sermon series from Tommy Nelson. At this point, pure obsession took over my body and as soon as I got home I stumbled upon this website: http://www.archive.org/details/ChurchHistory. The complete 13 week sermon series free of charge. I could hardly wait for Monday.
To make a long story longer, I've now listened to the entire 13 week series in 3 days. I have to listen to it again after some studying. I can't get my head around this. Trying to see where God was at work and where man was at work. In the history of the church, there are examples of both. If I'm honest, you should know that I've never been really big on theology and doctrine. I've read through the Bible once in my life and have probably read it about half way through after that.
I have a big picture understanding of the Bible and have very basic core beliefs. I accept Jesus as the sinless Son of God who came to Earth for the sole purpose of dying for the sins of the world. A perfect atonement was provided to God for my sin through this act of love, therefore paving the way for me to spend eternity in Heaven. The only requirement to getting into Heaven is believing in Jesus. Faith.
Listening to this series has radically altered my perspective. I can't read fast enough now. I can't pray for enough wisdom now. Today I couldn't stop praying for my workplace and for our country. The sad part about this whole thing is that the status of today's world is not something new. It's old news. "New" belief systems are rooted in the 1500s, 1600s, 1700s, etc. There's so much behind our faith, behind denominations, behind worship service structure, behind the belief that you have to earn your way into Heaven as opposed to being saved by faith alone. Some of it is Biblical, some of it honestly is not at all. It's fallen man's opinion that went unquestioned or really uncontested for so long that now it is accepted as inerrant. It's insane to me...
My only question to leave this post with is this: What is truth? My answer is the Lord Jesus Christ and the Bible, the inspired written words of God through various writers. This answer should drive every action, every thought, every word, every prayer and every service that I ever take part in in my life. Part of me longs for the time back before I discovered this truth. The other part of me just wants to go forward and trust the Lord with the lost time and time ahead. I'm overwhelmed at the possibilities and currently trying to figure out how to live with what little time there is left.
Monday, March 31, 2008
This past year has been extremely foundational for me. I settled into Houston without too many pains. For once in my life I was truly overjoyed with the opportunities that lay ahead of me instead of regretting the ones that I had left behind. I started going to Houston's First Baptist, met a beautiful old girl named Becky (She's about 2 years older than me... not that I old but still I tease) and a few months later I found myself in a relationship. The funny part was when we first started getting to know each other one of my first questions was, "Have you read my old posts on my blog?" How sad, huh? I kid you not. Through that I found myself wanting Becky to do the work to get to know me (at least the person I showed myself to be) through a computer instead of hanging out with me. Thus the typical Chris freak-out moment. Without consiously knowing it, I rebelled against the blog world. I have to be me instead of always writing about who I want to be.
The next year and a half went largely unrecorded. Yes I do have entries in my normal journal and also a journal that Becky and I wrote in simultaneously (without reading what the other one wrote until we got married... and in case you're wondering no we haven't gone back to read all of the old journal entries. Oops...), but I don't have near the volume of work that I produced in college. Now that I lay next to a sleeping Becky and think back on my choice not to write, I don't regret it. Yes I would love to have it so our kids could read it one day. I'd love to see the intricate details of God's inner-working in both of our hearts and analyze it to death, but knowing what I know now is something truly special to me. I have memories of our time together, different dates we went on, different friends we hung out with, moments with family, babysitting, trying to show off while playing softball, our first Valentine's Day, our elaborate engagement, the exhausting wedding planning and now our marriage together. It's a special bond when the two of us are the only ones that know most of the details.
So, at my wife's prodding and my largely unspoken yearning to get back to writing, here I find myself again. I hope to accomplish a couple of things with this blog that will be different than past ones.
1. I'm going to do my best not to write about someone I want to be but write from the perspective of who I am and who God has created me to be. I found my people-pleasing attitude getting in the way of truly making sense of what was going on around me in the past and really have no desire to play the game anymore.
2. I want to write about the Lord. His works throughout one day blow my mind when I really slow down to dwell on them. The problem is I don't stop long enough to really understnad or act on what's going on around me anymore. I live halfway in survival mode and the other half in planning mode. I struggle immensely to live in the present. I want to see what He does on a daily basis again and writing is the best way for me to see that (unless He shows me differently now than I did back then).
3. I want to fully love my wife. I'm different when I don't process life. I'm not fully myself. I don't see simple beauties, I don't appreciate small things and I'm consistently bombarded with the thought that something has been left undone. The act of being stuck never allows me to move to the next thing. That adversely affects Becky because when I come home, she gets whatever percentage of me that I didn't give away to my co-workers, dinners with friends, the TV, cleaning, or the Lord. However if I process life (which mind you takes a considerable amount of already crunched time), I'm able to fully be with her (which again takes more time). So it's funny to me that I think I'm always stretched for time, but when I make time to do the things that are most important there seems to be an abundance of time at my fingertips. It's almost like it's designed to be that way... weird.
4. My final goal is that my posts will be long. I'm not a surface level person and therefore not a surface level blogger. I want to go deep because I believe that's where you gain value and understanding into matters that you normally would not take any part in. It'll also lead to fewer comments because few people will have the time or patience to read through the blog, which will help my people pleasing ways to not meet up with my ego. Anything I can do to help I'll gladly do it.
I'm glad to be back... I'm looking so forward to what the Lord is going to do through these words.