Monday, December 1, 2008

Black Friday

I stayed at home.  I watched TV.  I ran around the house with the girls. I watched a movie.  I ate turkey. I avoided Black Friday like the Black Plague. If you ventured out into all the commercial chaos - more power to you (come on - Kohl's opened at 4:00 a.m.)!  I've begin to notice something over the last ten years or so - as soon as Halloween is over the malls and department stores plunge head first into Christmas and pretty much ignore Thanksgiving. Oh they may run a few commercials for 20 pound turkeys and pumpkin pie but I see something else competing against pro football and glutton induced napping -  it's another full contact sport - Black Friday - and the crowd goes wild!!! Newspapers are larger due to the advertisements and coupons - you sit down to watch Clark Griswold go Christmas light crazy on Christmas Vacation and you are BOMBARDED by Target commercials every five minutes.  As my father-in-law would say, "this drives me whacko!"  What is it?  Black Friday wants only one thing - all the stinking money in your account - and we fall for it every year don't we?  

Now, don't get me wrong - Christmas is awesome - the tradition of gift giving to symbolize the Gift of Jesus Christ to this hell bent world is glorious indeed - I never ever get tired of it.  I'm tired of the commercialization. In fact I think I hate it. Why?  Because it's taken priority in peoples lives.  It's a known fact - research it yourself - more people go into debt during Christmas season - more debt means more stress, more fighting, more alcohol consumption, more depression, more anger, more divorce, more suicide - all in the name of 'gift giving and gift getting.'  What?  How could gifts get such a bum wrap? (pun intended) Gifts are supposed to be happy-love filled-joyous-things aren't they?  Yep - you'd think - but everything falls apart when we miss the point and over extend ourselves.  I don't have a problem with giving and getting but I do have a problem with going overboard - and that's what's happened to America and many American Christians - it's not that we forget about Jesus we just bury Him under all the commercial clutter.  This year, I want to step back and consider what I can do to keep Christ first and commemorate His birthday without losing my mind...and a ton of cash.
So here goes:
1.  Sell what you don't need right now. Craigslist or eBay - check it out.  It's simple to do.

2.  Use this cash for gifts - you can look at it like recycled funds.

3.  Keep it simple.  Give each child a few gifts instead of forty gifts each. How many times has some parent cried out in exasperation over discarded toys all over the floor - you hear them scream 3 blocks away, "they don't appreciate what they've got!"  How can they when they have 36 different games, action figures, dolls, and remote controlled cats? It's sensory overload.  Now if you run on to some awesome deals and you're financially able to purchase 20, 30 , or 100 different items (yikes!) - who says you have to give it all to them on Christmas morning?  Why not give some of the gifts that day and then wait and give some of them a month or two down the road?  Freak your family out some Saturday morning in March. Scream - wake up the whole house - beat pots and pans together as they all stumble into the living room and discover the gifts circled around a potted plant or something!  Explain your psychotic weirdness by telling them that this is what Jesus does - when we least expect it and when we least deserve it He blesses us with grace, mercy, and all out goodness (minus the pots and pans). I know, I know, silly stuff but I guarantee you they will remember that year and that lesson for the rest of their lives!  Now back to business - some items could even be stored away until next year - you might be saying, "wow now that's discipline" - I just think it's making good sense out of our cents. I think it's better to do it this way then live in regret when the credit card bill shows up.

4.  Participate in trustworthy charitable organizations.  
Samaritans Purse, The Salvation Army, Toys For Tots, etc.  Many churches have a toy drive every year - check into it.  Give 10, 15, or 20% of what you're going to spend on your family. It's called sharing. Last time I checked it was a Biblical principle.
5.  Keep it simple.  It's worth repeating twice.  It needs to be repeated twice. We need to read it twice. This is why.  Today, December 1, 2008, I was horrified when I read how a man lost his life last Friday. Did he get shot in the head by a mugger? No.  Did he get stabbed by an assailant trying to get his Playstation 3?  No.  Did he get ran over by a truck in a shopping center parking lot?  Close. He got ran over by a mob of people at a Wal Mart in New York.  Let me say it again.  A man was trampled to death by people trying to get into Wal Mart on Black Friday to get a good deal. Lord Jesus help us (The damaged doors can be seen in the pic above). 
Ellie Berhun went shopping there the day after the tragedy.  She said, "Some man lost his life because a VCR was on sale?  Please. It's just to sad for words." It's more than sad Ms. Ellie, it's shameful.  How do you think his family is going to feel this Christmas day?  
The man that died that morning was 34 year old Jdimytai Damour - a part time employee for Wal Mart.  It is even reported that other workers were knocked to the ground as they tried to rescue Damour.  Some customers simply stepped over him and kept shopping even after the store announced it was closing because of the death.  What in the world were those people thinking? Here is what they were thinking about: A 50 inch Samsung plasma HDTV for $798.  A Bissel Compact Upright Vacuum for $28. The Incredible Hulk DVD for $9.  Hmmmm, a movie on sale that depicts an out of control 'green' giant that obliterates and destroys everything in it's path - fitting after what happened in New York last Friday.  I pray that Wal Mart does the right thing and gives this mans family some financial security until they can get their lives back in order. No, this tragedy is not Wal Mart's fault but there should've been an appropriate plan of action when the crowd began to swell and surge.  Knowing Wal Mart, they probably do have a plan to avoid these kinds of accidents but something went terribly wrong on their parking lot.

I believe that story sums it all up and sadly illustrates how out of control this nation is when it comes to materialism.  Christmas. What has it become?  The capitalization of Christ's birthday.  I don't believe Jesus is very happy about it.  I know I'm not. Therefore, I think I'll stick to my 5 simple steps and stay away from Black Friday.  Sadly that name is more fitting now then it ever has been.

Merry Christmas.

(My apologies - what an eternal post - I'll keep them shorter in the future.  1.27.10)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


So much for trying to stay consistent on this blogging thing. Oh well, I hope that everyone is having a great Thanksgiving week. Time to reflect on all of God's goodness to us - past and present. I could fill this blog up with a thankful list so I'll do my best to limit it for the sake of time and space. Almost everyone knows we live in DC now - what an amazing place to live! I'm thankful we have a roof over our heads. I've seen many, many homeless individuals along the streets of DC - several in the shadow of our nations Capitol building. Sunday afternoon NCC served the homeless a Thanksgiving dinner on the lower level of Ebenezers (NCC's coffee house located a block from Union Station). It's easy to focus only on ourselves and our families during the holidays and forget about those who don't have a house or a family to make that house a home. Speaking of family - I'm thankful for mine. We took Macy and Mia to the National Museum of American History the past couple of days. Macy had her own little camera with her - taking pictures of things she thought were cool - the first Washington Monument which is a statue of George Washington - a very large stuffed buffalo and the real C3PO suit they used in Return of the Jedi. We also saw the actual Star Spangled banner - the same flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write our national anthem. Macy was so amazed by it that we went through that exhibit twice. We saw a lot of other amazing things while we there - the top hat that Abraham Lincoln was wearing the night he was at Ford's Theater - the chairs the Gen. Lee and Gen Grant sat in when Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court house - and badly damaged steel columns from the 70th floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center. When Macy saw this and the large photos of the towers in flames - she looked at me and asked, 'why?' I stood there wondering that myself.
I wonder what the victims families are feeling during Thanksgiving and Christmas time? I believe that's something that every American needs to think about on a regular basis and while we're thinking we need to pray for those families. I can't even imagine what they've had to go through.
Well, theres lots to get done in the next couple of days - this Thanksgiving celebration can get out of hand so my goal is to keep it simple and simply be thankful.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
1 Chron. 16:34


Praise the LORD, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

2 Praise the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits-

3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,

Psalm 103:1-3

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

November 5th - The Day After

Well - it's a done deal - we have a new president and vice president - congratulations to President Barack Obama and VP Joe Biden on their historical win. I also want to congratulate Senator John McCain and Governor Sara Palin on a hard fought campaign - I'm sure they're ready for some downtime. a nation - where are we headed? How does this presidential election affect all of us? Let me talk about perspective here. I don't have all the answers - you don't have all the answers - and President Obama won't have all the answers. There is only One who has all the answers because He is and has always been the answer - yeah I know - that's a cliche answer if I ever heard one but let me give you some scripture:

6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

7 Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David's throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.

Isaiah 9:6-7


10"Do you refuse to speak to me?" Pilate said. "Don't you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?"

11Jesus answered, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above."

John 19:10-11


To all of the Americans who didn't get their way last night - let these verses sink in. To all the Americans who got their way last night - let these verses sink in. One man and a political party will never be the answer because they are not the overall governing authority in this world. The first verse is a prophecy that Isaiah gave of the future Messiah - He finally arrived - His name is Jesus and the government is and will be upon His shoulders. Hey, let's not forget - there's another day coming. The second verse is when Jesus makes it clear that Pilate's power was nothing to boast about - it was simply allowed for him to possess for a season. Like I said - we can gain a mile of perspective from these short passages.

I never will forget working at Wood Specialities in Rogers, Arkansas when Bill Clinton became our 42 president. One man working near my drill press walked by - smiled a toothless grin and said, "Bill Clinton is gonna turn this nation around!" Did that happen? I guess the answer to that one depends on who you're talking to. I don't think he did. Did Bill Clinton lead us to an American Utopia? No. Did any president before Pres. Clinton or after him lead us there? No. Will a man or political party ever lead us there? The answer will always be no. Can we grasp this? Will we ever? Now - I realize that presidents and political parties have powerful influence and are to be held responsible for their decisions and actions. BUT, will we ever understand that the success and security of any nation depends upon the peoples response to the one Isaiah is talking about? Let me bring it closer to home. The success and security of this nation does not depend upon the White House - it depends upon two places - the Church House and Your House. Period. In other words, I believe that everything hinges on the Christians who are really following Christ and just how much we allow Christ to influence our entire lives. That includes our decisions and actions being based on love, Christ likeness, adherence to the Word of God, morality, justice, etc. And then take all of that (plus more) and allow the Holy Spirit to permeate our entire being - every day in every way imaginable in order to change us from the inside out. But...we don't always do we? So, what should we do? Christians need to grow up and begin experiencing spiritual maturity - learn to be patient with God - with others - and with ourselves during this painful but productive process. The flip side of the spiritual maturity coin isn't pretty - it's ugly and its known for it's apathy, laziness, materialism, and self absorption. All of the a fore mentioned can describe what many American Christian's allowed to slip into their lives and churches when they saw a conservative Christian named George W. Bush elected for two terms. Can the term 'spiritual coasting' apply here? I believe so. Christians in 'kick back mode' - yep, you bet. I saw it first hand - and I even participated. Yeah - I admit it. How about you?

So to answer the question - where are we headed as a nation? I believe it depends on the Christians - bottom line. We can't pass the buck anymore. Take care of the issues that matter most to God - people issues like taking care of the poor, the sick, the weak, the oppressed, give the hopeless some hope, etc. We must stop trying to abandon these issues and others like it on the governments door step. It's not their responsibility - it's the Churches. Don't believe me? Go read John 6:15 - Jesus cared about people - not politics - His ministry required a towel - not a title (Jn. 13). I've heard this before and so have you - if EVERY Christian TITHED - we could solve the issue of world hunger. I know, I know, we can't afford to do that - how silly of me to suggest such a thing. Christians have credit card bills, two maybe three car payments, Harley payment's, boat payment's, condo dues to worry about,......... Embarrassment should be sitting in about now. Let's do something together - let's re-visit our spending and entertainment philosophies and compare them to helping out on causes like ending the prostitution of little girls in Thailand. Provide for orphans in this nation and in other parts of the world who have lost their parents due to the AIDS virus - enable them to get an education - give so they won't be hungry and naked. God has blessed you and he's blessed me - why not try blessing someone else even if it means we can't go purchase a brand new iPod. So, how do we get started with this? Allow the Spirit of God to open your eyes - ask Him and then watch out - because He will. Go to the Assemblies of God website and do some research, contact your local DHS agency, do a Google search on something that breaks your heart, contact Glenda or me - perhaps we can plug you into someone or at least give you some ideas (go to and watch the video. I signed up immediately).

One more thing. I know that I will not agree with our new president 100% of the time. In fact, there are some issues that we're diametrically opposed on but I can't allow that to hinder my spiritual responsibility to President Obama and his administration. I've made up my mind that I'm going to pray for him and his family. I'm going to pray for the Lord to soften his heart, give him wisdom, protect him from harm. I believe that's what the Lord wants me to do. Now, if your man lost last night you may be screaming, "WHY WOULD YOU PRAY IN SUCH A MANNER FOR....HIM?" This is why:

1I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3This is good, and pleases God our Savior,

1 Timothy 2:1-3


"Don't curse God; and don't damn your leaders."

Exodus 22:28 (The Message)


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

The day has arrived. New leadership will be elected for our country. I'm not going to say much on the subject at the moment - perhaps I'll say more throughout the day. BUT I'm going to do my best to get more consistent in my 'blogging' so I hope you enjoy it. I will tell you this - if you want to watch a great message about POLITICS AND THE CHURCH go to - click the 'resources' tab and then hit the 'media' button. The title of the message is, 'The Political Elephant.' The speaker is Pastor Mark Batterson. This is message #5 in 'The Elephant In The Church' series - I encourage you to watch it plus all the other messages - they were excellent!
Not only will you get to see my pastor in action but you will also see some of my work - I'm the one holding the boom mic :) I loved it. Just a side note - this video was played in all 4 NCC locations - Ebenezers Coffee House - and the 3 movie theaters at Balston, Union Station, and Georgetown. The response was amazing.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Book of John Study

The proteges at NCC are studying the book of John and I'm really loving it so here's my thoughts on a passage that we tend to zoom past and ignore. By the way - the pic up top is a fig tree somewhere in Israel. Check out the people standing under it - that's one big fig tree!

47Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!"
48Nathanael said to Him, "How do You know me?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." (J2.47.48)

"I saw you." This is a powerful statement – a reminder – that Jesus knows exactly where we’re at – everyday – every minute – every second – even when we don’t think anyone is watching us – the quiet places – the lonely moments – when we’re at home – driving to work – doing menial tasks – or even when we’re just sitting around under a fig tree – Jesus ‘sees’ us. The Greek word for ‘to see’ is ‘eidon’ and it means to have regard for one – to cherish – to pay attention to – the word even means to ‘discover.’ Nathanael caught the Lord’s attention when he was simply sitting under a fig tree – and the first amazing thing I see here is that Jesus can step into the simple and make it supernatural. I believe that this could possibly be one of the Lord’s favorite things to do – it’s His hobby – show up where it’s normal and splash some color on it – drench the mundane with His presence – don’t believe me? He did it in ‘the beginning’, He did it in Bethlehem, He did it at the wedding banquet when all he had was thirsty guests and 6 stone jars of plain old water – He does it all the time – we simply don’t see it. Nathanael was kicking back under the fig tree – we say, BORING – Jesus says, AMAZING! Just remember the next time you’re drowning in simplicity – look up, you might have just caught the attention of the God of the Universe.

Now, I’ve got to go back to the ‘cherish’ part of this Greek word eidon because the second thing I see is this - Jesus was looking at Nathanael’s heart – believe it or not this word also means to inspect or examine. In other words, Nathanael was under the Lord’s watchful eye and when he least expected it he was under examination – and when he meets Jesus for the first time he receives a compliment he’ll never forget – ‘here’s a man who has no deceit in his heart’. Quick question – can the Lord say that about me after close examination? How about you? Who are we when no one else is in the room? Would you want to invite that person you were talking about on the phone to listen in on your conversation? Would you want the history of the internet sights you've visited to be published in the New York Yimes or at least examined by your spouse and children? Awkward silence follows those series of questions.
Now this isn’t a critical look that God gets blamed for all the time but one of love filled fascination – the way I watch and listen to Macy and Mia when they’re playing – when they don’t realize that I’m watching and listening – many times I’ve just stood there mesmerized – getting all teary eyed – thinking of how much I love them – how fast they’re growing up – how proud I am of them – how thankful I am for them - and they don’t even realize it. So that act – that emotion I experienced watching my kids has God’s fingerprints all over it – it’s like He’s smiling at me and saying to me, “see there – fun isn’t it?” Our Father does it ALL THE TIME. I’m glad He does because it shows me that He’s thinking of me even when I’m not thinking about Him.

And that takes me to my last point – Nathanael was probably not a flashy individual by the world’s standards. We wouldn’t have noticed him. Nathanael would’ve turned our heads if he wore Yankee pinstripe and averaged 50 home runs every season – if he graced the cover of GQ – if he drove a jet black Chrysler 300 – if he… get the picture – here’s the cool thing about this – the guy wasn’t doing anything impressive when Jesus said, ‘hey, I want Nate on my team’ –
he was just sitting under the local fig tree chewing on a fig.
My point is this –
I don’t need to get all caught up in what I can do, what I own, where I live, or who I am – self made men and women don't exist but the Grace of God does. And when it comes to people, Jesus doesn’t look at the ‘wow’ factor – I believe He’s more interested in the ‘who’ factor – the things He notices that no one else does. Examples – the Bible is chock full of them: shepherd boy David, Gideon the big wimp, loud mouth - bull headed – back stabbing Simon, Mark the quitter, etc, etc, etc. - PROOF that simple lives, scaredy cat reactions, and stupid mistakes don’t disqualify us in God’s eyes. The only guy I can think of that was perhaps impressive to behold was Samson – hmmmm…yeah…he was a letdown. Slow it up – don’t forget this – when it comes to focusing fully on outer appearances we've been given a standard - the prophet Isaiah tried to give us a heads up here:

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. (53.2)

Forget all the attractive Jesus’ on canvas that hang in church halls and on grandparents walls – Isaiah warned us – you’re not going to realize who He is because there won’t be any glitz – no glamour. The prophet was right – we rejected Jesus because we didn’t recognize that TRUE greatness lies within the person – not on the outside of the person. We’re still guilty of poor perception 2000 years later – I’m glad He’s not.

Thank you Jesus that even when I don’t realize you care or you’re there – you do – you are – you always will. Thank you for your infatuation with the fig tree moments in my life – help me to always keep my eyes on you because you’ve proven that you can’t take your eyes off of me.

Updates from Washington DC COMING SOON!

Hello! I just wanted to let everyone know that in the coming days I will be posting pics, video, and details of our new life on Capitol Hill. Glenda has a great blog and is WAY ahead of me on this - so if you want all the details leading up to now you probably will want to go her blog, - anyways I just wanted to give you a heads up in case you're wondering! Bye for now!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008