October 30, 2008

And Your Vote Goes To....??

Election day is only days away and some of you may have already voted but I thought I would take a little poll of 'A Journeyman's Catalog' readers to see who you are voting for and why or if you are undecided at this point, which way are you leaning or why still undecided.

I recognize that some of you may not want to share this information and I respect that so for those individuals might I suggest leaving an anonymous comment with your choice. It is simply the curiosity of the politics of those that read this blog that make me ask this question, not to mention I think it could be kind of fun to see what kind of response we get and the conversations that might follow. Feel free to get it started or keep it going.

October 27, 2008

Common Decency

This post is a few weeks overdue but I have finally gotten to the point where I can't take it anymore. Have we lost all decency as a consumer society that the lines have become so badly blurred that I have not only seen Christmas things in various store windows but have even seen Christmas decorations on the houses and in the yards of private citizens weeks before Halloween?!?

I feel like I'm a pretty tolerable person. It doesn't bother me in the least to have your yard telling me which political candidate or party you support; heck, go ahead and turn it into a used car lot but when I see an inflatable "snow-globe" at the beginning of October then we might have some issues. They might be my issues or theirs but clearly there are some issues.

Don't get me wrong, I really like Christmas, especially when it's Christmastime but since I've recently made a personal commitment to Fall as my favorite season, I'd like to enjoy it without being blinded by Rudolph's nose.

October 22, 2008

A Delicious Slice of Mudpie

"He who slings mud generally loses ground."
-A.E. Stevenson
Election day is getting closer by the minute and the mud flying through the air between the two campaigns is getting heavier and more frequent.

We all know there are people out there that don't like you or me for whatever reason. They would like nothing more than to throw a juicy mudpie right in our face or maybe they already have. What happens when the mud doesn't stick? What if, not only our elected leaders but you and I lived in such a way that because of the things we say or don't say, do or don't do the mud can't stick? What if we stop trying to serve up a delicious slice of mudpie to someone we don't like, wouldn't that make it that much harder for the mud on our face to stick?

If we want to clean things up, then we need to quit playing in the mud.

October 16, 2008

Angels Unaware

It was around lunchtime and I headed to the bank just down the road from my office at the church, literally less than a mile away. There happens to be a Speedway right across the street from my bank and so I thought I would zip in there really quick to fill-up then maybe grab something to eat before my 1:30pm meeting. It didn't quite play out that way for me. I was just about to get in my car after filling my tank when I noticed a lady walking toward me. I smiled politely and that's where the "adventure" began.

"Excuse me sir, I'm trying to get to a church a little further north from here and have walked quite a ways to make it this far. Is there any chance you could drop me off at the church?" Right or wrong I immediately started to size this lady up and wonder things like...could I take her in a fight if I needed to?...what if she has a gun?...I know exactly where the church is she's talking about and it really would be easy to drop her off...I have a meeting in less than an hour...weird that she is asking for a ride and not money. Those were thoughts that went through my head before I said, "Sure, hop in."

After introducing ourselves she proceeded to tell me how her grandma had just recently passed away in Orlando and she was trying to get help to pay for a bus ticket to get down there for the funeral. She shared how times have been tough for her as of late and that her disability check doesn't come until Nov. 3rd and that she was short the necessary funds right now. I asked her if the church knew she was coming and how they were planning to help her and that's where the story takes another "twist".

"Well the church didn't really say they could help but I was hoping to see if they could help come up with the remaining $77 I need for my bus ticket. I know that the church office is closed from 12:30-1:30pm for lunch so maybe you could find it in your heart to help me and we wouldn't even have to go to the church?" Of course all of this is taking place while we're driving north to this church and are over half way there. She goes on to ask if I would be able to drop her off around 42nd St. which is in the opposite direction we are currently traveling.

After turning around and promising she'll pay me back $100 I tell her that I don't have that much cash on me. She proved to be extremely flexible and courteous as she mentioned that she would not mind if I needed to stop by an ATM so that I would have enough cash to meet her request. At this point I'm thinking I need to end this "adventure" so that I can make sure I'm back in time for my meeting. I tell her that $100 is not going to happen but that I would give her $80 to cover the remaining cost of her bus ticket. So I get the cash, buy her a sandwich and drop her off at 42nd St. only to get back to the office to have the meeting be rescheduled.

I have no idea who this person was and I in no way condone or recommend letting strangers into your car. I have no idea if I got scammed. Is there a possibility that I did, of course but there is also a possibility that I didn't. I had a similar "adventure" a few years ago and I remember talking to our senior pastor about it and I'll never forget what he said to me, "If you're going to err, err on the side of generosity because ultimately it's between the individual and God." Was this inconvenient, yes. Was it awkward, yes. Was it the right thing to do, no idea. The only reason I was able to have the patience I needed to enjoy this "adventure" was because of Christ, it had little to do with me. I couldn't help but think of Jesus' words, "Whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me." and who knows, maybe the writer of Hebrews had a point when he said, "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it."

October 15, 2008

Racing To or Running From the Church

Certain crises require different responses than others obviously but what I find interesting is our response to the Church in the midst of these different crises. A natural disaster or catastrophic event typically garners the response of people racing to the Church. People are seeking comfort, reassurance, support that the Church usually does a good job of giving. I'm wondering if this economic crisis is causing people to run from the Church. I'm afraid that people have a perception that the Church is out for their money and when people don't have a lot of it, they avoid going to church so they don't feel guilty for not giving. It's not so much that the Church is making people feel guilty on purpose but I think the guilt comes from inside the individual because they know the offering plate is going to be passed each Sunday.

Now I know this might not make sense but I honestly think that the best response to this economic crisis is to give. Giving to God is not about the Church, your checkbook or the economy. It's about forcing us to get our priorities in order which will not only help each of us make it through this crisis but I would argue any others that might come our way; whether globally, nationally or personally. I hope you don't find yourself running from the Church in a time when we can all benefit from what, or rather who, it represents.

October 10, 2008

Evil Inside vs. Evil Outside

"Evil" is such an interesting word, when used it tends to evoke strong emotions or reactions in people. I'm guessing part of the reason is because it sounds so extreme, so final, so...well, evil. If you checkout the definition of the word it's pretty interesting and really would seem that a lot of different things could be considered evil by a lot of different people. Does that make "evil" relative? Oh man, well enough of this, though it's definitely something to think about but not even what I want to talk about.

Remember just over 7yrs ago when a group of men used 4 planes as weapons and thousands of innocent people died and remember how the word "evil" was associated with that act? The response of our country was profound. We were united against a common foe, an evil from outside our borders that was attempting to instill fear into our hearts but we would not have it. We stood together and we stood tall, and though some have strong feelings about our current stand today, we continue, especially our dedicated men and women who serve in the military.

Fast forward to now. Our country (and arguably the world) finds itself facing another crisis as a result of what some could consider evil but the difference this time is that this evil is coming from inside. Through the greed of our very own banks, lenders, financial institutions and a lack of leadership from our government (both parties are at fault and I would hope we could all agree on that) we have actually created this crisis ourselves, the evil is coming from the inside.

Notice the different reactions in the face of these two evils. One united us as a country by allowing us to point our national finger at an evil from the outside; where we saw people do extraordinary things for other people and where heroes who sacrificed everything were made. The current evil is breaking us apart, making the divide between those that have and those that don't have as much wider than it ever has been before. Our national mood swing of "I'm going to get mine" to "I'm going to protect mine" is causing us to do extraordinary things to other people. It's as though we'd rather cut our hand off then point the finger at ourselves but maybe that's just the loss of blood talking.

October 8, 2008

So Many Thoughts

With all that is happening around the world right now I am finding that I have so many thoughts running around in my head that I'm having a hard time keeping track of which ones are coming and which ones are going. So over the next couple days I'm going to try and share some of them starting with this one...

I don't know how many of you know or care (either of which is understandable) that I work for a church but I have been wondering how the current economic and political times will impact the Church (I use 'C' to mean the church around the world, not just my local church or even a specific denomination). Will uncertain economic times cause us to "turtle" and retreat into our shells with an attitude of having to "hunker down" and ride this out? I can't help but think that this mentality doesn't exactly match-up with that of Christ's. The reason I say this is because as times continue to get tougher for so many people, whether losing jobs or homes, it seems that with so much need all around us the worst thing we could do as followers of Christ is retreat...is "protect" ourselves. I hope that if we've learned anything from this whole economic debacle it's that the very idea of "protecting ourselves" has been blown out the window.

What an opportunity for those of us that have to help those of us that don't have as much. I can't help but think about when Jesus said that those who have been given much, much will be asked.

Some other thoughts I've had that I'll be sharing: evil inside vs. evil outside; racing to or running from the Church; a delicious slice of mudpie as well as responses to any of your thoughts or comments...

October 1, 2008


I know that Fall "officially" began on September 22nd but it is actually starting to feel like Fall and that made me remember how much I like Fall. It is easily one of my favorite seasons and quite possibly my favorite overall. There are a few things that are very vivid in my mind when I think about this time of year...

...the smell of fresh grass on a cool, sunny afternoon...

...pumpkins (carving, making pumpkin pies from scratch, roasting pumpkin seeds)...

...growing up in Michigan playing backyard football with my brother and friends...


...blisters on my hands from raking leaves, which I HATE doing by the way...

...always wondering how fun it would be to go deer hunting with my uncles and now that I'm a little older realizing that the idea of sitting in the woods being really quiet and potentially never seeing anything actually sounds kind of boring.