Category Archives: Cultural Commentary

Costco Ice Cream

6-19-13 CostcoLogo

Last night, our family had a night out at the luxurious and refined food location known as Costco.

Who can beat a hot dog and drink for $1.50?

While eating at our table, the following conversation ensued:

Child of Mine (COM): Can we have ice cream after we eat?

Me: I don’t know, but regardless, you haven’t eaten all of your food.  There’s no way I’m giving you ice cream if you don’t eat your food.  In fact, your other siblings have eaten more than you.

COM: Ok.  (this child begins to eat their food)

(Some time passes)

Me: Good job eating!

COM: My stomach aches.

(A little while later)

COM: Can I have ice cream?

Me: I thought you said your stomach ached?  Besides, ice cream will probably not be good if your stomach is upset.

Child of Mine #2 (COM2): (thinking that I said that ice cream would help an upset stomach)  My stomach is hurting too!

Me: Oh, well, I said that ice cream will NOT be good for an upset stomach.

COM2: (immediately) Oh, well, my stomach is all better now.

COM: Mine too.

Me: I still never promised you ice cream!

Apparently, people will shift their attitudes and feelings if the benefit is worth it.  In this case, an upset stomach wasn’t enough to stop them from wanting to get an ice cream.

All of us have benefits and rewards that we are willing to sacrifice for.  It’s the carrot on the stick that is in front of all of us.

All of this is acceptable and even desirable.

But, true satisfaction lies somewhere else.

It lies in the journey, not just the destination.

Work for the purpose of making money is enjoyable and acceptable.  Work for the enjoyment of that work brings satisfaction, regardless of that paycheck.

Forming relationships for the purpose of mutual benefit is enjoyable and acceptable.  Forming relationships for the enjoyment of those relationships brings satisfaction, regardless of the benefits.

Loving God, knowing that you will be blessed by Him is enjoyable and acceptable.  Loving God for the enjoyment of loving him brings true and real satisfaction, regardless of his blessings.

On this point, I think too many people see God simply as someone who will answer their prayers and give them what they want.  While this can and does happen, God is more interested in intimacy with us, which causes us to be ultimately satisfied!

The carrot on the stick isn’t bad, but some things in life are good enough as they are, regardless of the benefits received from them.

Enjoy life!

*By the way, for purposes of full disclosure, we did not get the ice cream.  My kids were happy nonetheless!  That’s because when I tell my kids what to do, they obey completely, with the best attitude possible.  My kids are quite possibly the greatest of God’s creations.  Oh, you didn’t get kids like mine?  Your kids fight, whine, and cry?  I’ll pray for you.  (/sarcasm)


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The Spotlight


Here’s my roundup of some news stories that I think will interest you.  Enjoy the reading!

1. Census: White majority in U.S. gone by 2043

Our country is changing and is becoming more and more diverse.  I do not necessarily believe that it is becoming “mono-ethnically” diverse (as in ethnicities staying “pure” without mixing with other ethnicities).  The reality is that inter-marriage happens and some of the “lines” get blurred over time.  Either way, the study is interesting and shows how much our country is changing in a relatively short period of time.

2. Where I Find My Creative Ideas by Phil Cooke

To all of you people who do creative work out there and to all who would like to do creative work, this is a helpful  post.  I use Feedly also (as he mentions in his post), and his other ideas are definitely worth it.  Take a read.

3. Iran votes for a new president

This will be something that is interesting to watch in the coming days.  Regardless of the political implications between Iran and the U.S., this election will also have an impact on the Middle East.  Definitely something to keep our eyes on!

4. Immigration

Regardless of your political beliefs, the immigration bill presently being debated in the Senate affects millions of people in our country and very likely affects people in your home, your neighborhood, your school, your church, etc.  Our system is broken and it does need to be fixed.  Will this bill fix it?  We shall see!  Regardless of what happens, people who I know and love will be impacted by this legislation.  Let’s keep watching and praying!

5. How much would you pay for a parking spot?

You will be amazed by how much this woman in Boston paid for 2 parking spots.  Click on the link above to find out the amount!

6. What do you do if you’re afraid of heights?

Typically, going somewhere high up in altitude is the exact opposite of what you do when you are afraid of heights.  Apparently for this Austrian man, going high is the answer.  Check it out!

7. How do you capture a runaway llama?

So, what do you do when a llama is running away from you and poses a danger to itself and others?  Besides attempting to play your own version of a rodeo or putting it down permanently, there must be another way.  These sheriff’s deputies found a way to make it happen.

That’s it for this week.  Happy reading!


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“Offended” Video

Click on the above link to check out this video of comedian Steve Hughes.  This is the one I showed yesterday at CityLife.  It was great!  We need to take into account our ideas about being offended.  FYI, we did “bleep” out one of the words in our service yesterday (which is not taken out in this link).



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The Spotlight


Here is my collection of stories, blogs, and other interesting things that I found this week.  Enjoy!

1. 15 Simple Truths About Selling by Geoffrey James

You may not know it, but we are all selling something.  So, this is a good article for those who are in the selling business, and for those who think they aren’t in the selling business!  He has some great truths packed in there!

2. Principles vs. Methods by Frank Damazio

In this post, pastor Frank Damazio gives one of the most important lessons on how (and why) we actually do what we do as pastors, church leaders, etc.  Many people get confused between what a “principle” is and what a “method” is.  For this reason, many churches face major problems.  Read this post and get understanding about the difference between both of these concepts!

3. 5 Temptations for Successful Preachers by Joe McKeever

If you preach (or communicate) regularly, you need to read this.  Some good insights about how we approach and view what we do, especially in relation to God and people!

4. 7 Bizarre Ways Kids Entertained Themselves Before Video Games

Ok…this is not news and it may not help you become a better person, but I had to put it on here.  There were some interesting games a generation (or generations) ago.  Enjoy!

5. Hoarding Information by Seth Godin

This is a short, yet good read about what we do with information.  I was just having a discussion with someone about this yesterday.  Could this same concept apply to pastors and churches, knowing that there is so much teaching (by good teachers) available online for free?  Something to think about!

6. The Ultimate Church Potluck Menu by Stephen Pepper

Ever wondered what to have at your church potluck?  This situation has now been completely resolved.  Read this post and get ready to laugh!

7. Mind Blowing Facts About People Over 50

Check out this video…it makes you think about how we leverage our resources to engage different groups of people.  We, even in the “church” world, tend to ignore those who are older in favor of those who are younger.  This video might change that perception!

That’s it!

Have a great weekend everybody.


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But Samuel

5-22-13 Student of the Month (But Samuel)


The book of Samuel talks about an amazing man who was used by God as the kingdom of Israel was in the midst of huge transition.

Samuel’s mom, in her desire to have a child, made a commitment to give her child up to God after being born.  So, when God blessed her with a little boy, she named him Samuel and took him to the temple to serve with the priest Eli.

In the first of the books on Samuel’s life, we see an interesting distinction.  In chapter 2, verse 12, there is a description of Eli’s own sons, who were absolutely wicked.  They would essentially steal from the sacrifices that were being offered, in order to eat whatever they wanted.

Right after describing their wickedness, in verses 18-21, it says this, “18 But Samuel, though he was only a boy, served the Lord. He wore a linen garment like that of a priest. 19 Each year his mother made a small coat for him and brought it to him when she came with her husband for the sacrifice. 20 Before they returned home, Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife and say, “May the Lord give you other children to take the place of this one she gave to the Lord.” 21 And the Lord gave Hannah three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.” [bold is mine]

I am not normally one to compare one person to another.  Well, maybe I am.  Just a little.

But, in this story there is a distinction made between Eli’s sons and Samuel.  It starts with “But Samuel”, then goes on to explain what was different about Samuel compared to the others.

Normally, when comparisons are made in today’s society, we compare based off of success, talent, intellect, or any other number of categories.

In the description of Samuel’s life above, it compared him to Eli’s sons based off of a different set of requirements.

When talking about Samuel, 2 things stood out: his faithfulness and his service.

He was a young man who committed himself to “serving the Lord” and he was faithful to stay “in the presence of the Lord”.

When you think about how people perceive you to be (especially in comparison to others), what do you normally think of?

As a pastor, I might want people to compare my church size to others.

As a parent, I might want to compare the success of my kids in school to other parent’s kids.  Isn’t that why we have all of those “Student of the Month” bumper stickers?

As a leader, I might want to compare the success of my organization to others.

As a communicator, I might want to compare my success in speaking to others.

But, when I dig deep down, I think that the description of Samuel is what I should truly be hoping for if I am ever  compared (or not) to others.

When people look at me, I want them to admire my faithfulness and my service.

How about you?  Do you ever deal with the world’s way of comparing, knowing that they are empty comparisons?


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We Are Stronger With Our Weakest Link

5-16-13 Weakest Link


Have you heard the following proverb?

We are only as strong as our weakest link.

We typically take this phrase to mean that when we have someone involved with us who is weak, then that makes the rest of us weak.

So, we live our lives making sure that in whatever setting we find ourselves, we get the best, the brightest, the quickest or the most qualified to work with us.

After all, none of us desire to be left behind.  We all want to progress.  We all desire to succeed.  We wouldn’t want anyone to slow us down.

Might I propose to you another view regarding this proverb?

While most people agree with what I said above (and I agree, too!), there is also another reality:

As a society, we are STRONGER when we have many who are WEAKER.

In evolution, the concept exists of “survival of the fittest”.  It is simply a process of natural occurrences that the weaker, over time, die off, leaving the strongest to continue living.

It is my contention that humans are different than animals.  As a society, we should choose to value those who are weaker.  In ascribing value to those people, we show that we are a society filled with compassion, strength, love, and mercy.

One area where this is easily seen is in the abortion debate.  Because of people’s worries to have a baby that might be the wrong gender, they might get an abortion.  Check out this video for an example of this.

Or, others desire to get rid of babies because of certain “problems” with the baby, such as down syndrome.  Read this article for more information.

My point today is not to get into another abortion post (I did that on Tuesday…read that here).

What I have realized is that we believe that in order to progress in life we need only the strongest among us. What we end up doing by default is attempting to eliminate the weakest among us.

I believe that when we eliminate the weakest, we become weaker.

We are only as strong as our weakest link.

The statement is true, but in a different way:

The more we invite those who are weaker into our life’s experiences, the stronger we become.

Last summer, I got the chance to speak at a retreat with parents and their special needs children.  It was amazing.  I had a great time getting to know many of the families.  I was blessed by those that society would declare as “weak”.  I was not weakened by their presence…I was strengthened!

This year, I have the opportunity to speak again at this camp.  It is hosted by Joni & Friends and World Impact. You can click here for more information.  You can either let families in Southern California know about this, or you can get involved yourself to serve these wonderful families.

According to, “inhuman” means “lacking qualities of sympathy, pity, warmth, compassion, or the like; cruel; brutal”.  It also means “not suited for human beings”.

Can we agree that humanity is strengthened when compassion, sympathy, etc. are a part of our regular experience?  Then, can we agree that compassion and sympathy can only be shown in a society where those who are weaker are valued?

That’s what I believe.




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The Spotlight


Hey everyone!

Here is some good Friday reading for all of you.  These are stories and blogs I’ve picked up from different places.  Enjoy!

1.Mega-Church Central Christian Bringing Jesus to Sin City 

This article is about a great church, pastored by Jud Wilhite, that is being used by God to bring transformation in area of Las Vegas.  I have heard him speak multiple times and have been impacted by him.  I love it when secular news sources talk about what the church is doing!

2. Massive Submerged Structure Stumps Israeli Archaeologists

Check out this interesting story about something that has been submerged in the Sea of Galilee for thousands of years.  It will be interesting to see what it is, whenever they get a chance to find out!

3. I Want to Answer Your Leadership Questions by John Maxwell

John Maxwell is a leadership genius.  He is writing a new book.  He needs to know your questions on leadership.  Visit and submit!

4. People’s Church in Oklahoma

Here is a church that is working to help people in the midst of the storm that passed through Oklahoma.  There are many churches who are helping.  Here’s one!

5. The Single Defining Characteristic of a Manipulator by Donald Miller

A great read on people who are manipulators.  He recommends a strong course of action with them.

6. Yesterday, a bridge collapsed in Washington

Thank God no one died.  When the bridge collapsed, cars (and people) fell into the water below.  Interesting story.

7. Boy Scouts Approve Plan to Accept Openly Gay Boys

This issue has been front and center in our country for quite a few years now.  Many people have had a stake in the game regarding this policy with the Boy Scouts.  It will be interesting to see what happens with their membership as a result.


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