Sunday, March 24, 2013

Creeper's Gonna Creep

My kids love to play Minecraft.  I don't get it.  It seems like a really dumb game with 1980's graphics.  Minecraft has some kind of character called Creeper and there is a saying and even a song with the same title as this post.  I am not a creeper fan, but I have been doing some creeping on my friends' Facebook pages.

Every year for the last 3 or 4 years, for Lent, rather than give something up (like my Catholic friends), I have added something.  I have committed each year that during the period of Lent I would pray specifically for each of my Facebook friends.

Last year I did a bad job of being faithful with the commitment so I ended up praying for each friend on the last day.  This year I wanted to do better and I did (a little).  While the effort wasn't as focused as it was the first few years, I have prayed for several of my Facebook friends over the last few weeks, as they have come to mind.  But with a week left before Easter, I still had many more to pray for.

Last night I went to bed with a bit of an upset stomach and this morning I woke up feeling the same.  So I stayed home from church while my family went without me.  I slept for a few hours this morning and even this afternoon.  But in between sleeping, I worked my way through my entire list of Facebook friends and prayed for each one.

I prayed generically for everyone to be healthy physically, emotionally financially, and (most importantly) spiritually.  I also prayed for some of the specific concerns that they had Inboxed me about.  But I also spent some time "creeping" their Facebook profiles to see what they are up to and get ideas for how to pray for them.

I prayed for sick friends, their aging parents, and even their children who are sick.  I prayed for sprained ankles, broken arms, broken toes, pneumonia, emergency surgeries, cancer diagnoses, cancer treatments, and life threatening trips to the ER.

I prayed for some who have struggled with drugs or alcoholism.  I prayed for strengthening of marriages, healing of friendships, men to be better husbands and fathers, and women to be better wives and mothers.  I prayed for teens to be able to stand even if they have to stand alone when faced with peer pressure and I prayed for them to be surrounded by friends who would stand strong with them.

I prayed for friends who have lost loved ones, friends who are expecting, and friends who have recently welcomed new humans to the planet.  I prayed for a friend who blames herself because she stopped a friend to say "Hi" and then let him out of the parking lot before her only to see his life ended too soon when he was T-boned right in front of her.

I prayed for pastors and their spouses to be faithful ministers of the Gospel and for them to be encouraged when times get tough.  I prayed for a friend who started doing Biggest Loser at work and lost 14 pounds in the first 2 weeks.  I prayed for friends with new jobs, friends who need a job, and friends who are retired.  I prayed for friends who are trying to raise the money to follow God's call on their life to become missionaries (shameless plug

I prayed for young families, old families, teenage years families, college decisions, and empty nesters.  I prayed for those who are single, married, divorced, in a relationship, and it's complicated.

In short, if you are my Facebook friend, I prayed for you today and maybe even a few times over this past Lent season.  I'm not telling you all of this so that you can think that I am such a great guy, because I'm not.  I don't want you to think that I am such an amazing spiritual person, because I'm not.

No.  Why I am telling you this, and what I learned the most from this is that I need to be praying for my friends more than just this one time of the year.  You all have way too much going on in your lives to only be prayed for during Lent.  And besides... your needs don't just wait until this time of the year.  You have needs, concerns, and struggles all year long.

So, I think this is the last time that I take up the Lent prayer commitment.  Instead, I hope to commit to praying for my friends all year long.  So, if you are reading this, and if you are my friend, and if you could use prayer, just give me a call or drop me a line and I'll be more than happy to pray for you (if you call, I'll even pray with you over the phone at that moment).

Oh, and one thing... would you pray for me?

Thursday, February 14, 2013


For Christmas, I gave my 17.3 inch HP laptop to Nate.  The computers (my old ones) that he had been using just weren't powerful enough to play Mine Craft smoothly.  So he had begun to borrow my laptop anyhow.  I decided that I would give him my laptop and put Linux on one of the old ones.

That worked well... for a while.  Then the power cord for the old laptop went bad and it wouldn't charge the battery or power the laptop any more.  This wasn't the end of the world because I have a laptop at work that I can bring home any time and use it for whatever I need.  But I didn't really like carrying home my work laptop every night, especially because it tempted me to do work... first world problems, I know.

I primarily use computers at home to surf the web and do e-mail; though I have switched to doing almost all e-mail on my smartphone these days.  I realized that I don't need a hugely powerful laptop or one with a large screen, like the one that I gave to Nate.  So, I started looking around and decided that I would try a Chromebook.  If it met my needs, I couldn't go wrong at $250.  They even have a version for $199.

The Chromebook, if you aren't aware is basically a small laptop made by Google (about the size of the Mac Airbook 11).  Only it doesn't run Microsoft Windows or some Apple OS or even some mainstream flavor of Linux.  It actually runs some scaled down version of Linux, but to the user it just runs Chrome... the Internet browser by Google.

Everything that you do in a Chromebook, you do in the browser.  It doesn't have a large hard drive or the ability to install software on the device itself.  Everything is cloud based.  I save all my files to Drop Box or Google Drive (though I can save some files locally on the small built in hard drive, or a thumb drive or SD card).  You can create Word, Excel, and Powerpoint compatible files, but you must do it using Google Docs online.  You can do g-mail or your normal e-mail, but you must do it online via the Chrome web browser.

The Chromebook is small, light weight and so far has excellent battery life.  I really like that mine is quiet, because it doesn't have a normal hard drive, like we're used to, and it doesn't have a fan.  The main limitation is that if you are somewhere that doesn't have WIFI available, then you are severely limited with what you can do on the Chromebook, because everything it does is cloud based in the Chrome browser.  This isn't a concern for me because I rarely ever take a PC anywhere with me and if I do, WIFI is usually available.  Google is getting better at making more things available in offline mode.  This problem is minimized in that I can always borrow Nate's laptop or run to the office and grab my work laptop if I need to.

There is a Chromebook store where you can download 'apps' or 'extensions' to be able to add some functionality to the Chrome browser (Angry Birds, Mint, Evernote, Internet TV, Kindle Cloud Reader, etc.).  The selection here is a bit limited, but it seems to be growing quickly, much like the Google Play store for Android phones a few years ago.

I really like my Chromebook and recommend it for someone on a small budget who is just looking for something to use to surf the web and send e-mails.  You can do the other normal computing stuff as well, you just need to find the right cloud based solution for it, like Google Docs.  One note of caution, mostly for older folks and you know who you are, just like any small laptop with 11.6 inch screen, you might want to test one out at the store to make sure that if the font is too small, can you adjust it to be big enough to be comfortable for you and still not make the display render everything else too wonky. 

I bought the Samsung Chromebook 3.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Who Is Jesus?

Our men's small group has started a study on the Gospel of John.  Our normal leader asked me if I would teach for a few weeks and I said yes.

So tonight, I taught a Bible Study for the first time in a while.  I have been teaching in youth groups for the last 3+ years so for the most part I have been doing most of the talking and mostly to people less mature in their faith than I am.  Tonight was a little different as there were some more mature Christians present and I am rusty at creating the good dialogue over the passage at hand.  I don't think the lesson was too bad, but the delivery was rusty.

The Gospel of John is so good because it really paints a picture of who Jesus is.  It says in John 20:30-31 that is the purpose of the book, "Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."

I made 3 main points or pictures of who Jesus is:

Jesus (the Word of God) is the Creator.  He was there in the beginning.  Even before Genesis 1:1, Jesus was there.

John 1:1-5, 14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Jesus (the Word of God) is the Sustainer.  He holds the whole world (and more) in his hands.  He is the Strong Force that scientists puzzle about that holds atoms together.

Hebrews 1:3
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.

Colossians 1:17
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Jesus (the Word of God) is Savior.  In him alone, our hope is found.

1 Peter 1:23
For you have been born again,not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

I don't know where you are right now.  But where ever that is, won't you let the Word of God speak to you?

Do you need to know that he made you and created you because he loves you?  Do you need to know that he has a purpose for you?  Listen.  I mean really listen.  Can you hear him calling you?

Do you need to know that he can sustain you.  Do you need to know that he has you in his hands?  Do you need to know that what ever the struggle, he knows and he cares and he is there waiting for you to give it to him?  Romans 8:28 tells us, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."  Do you love him?  He loves you.  Listen.  I mean really listen.  Can you hear him calling you?

Do you need to know him as Savior?  Have you messed things up?  Don't know where to turn?  We have all been there.  Romans 3:23 tells us, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."  But Romans 3:24 continues, "and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."  It is grace.  It's a gift.  There is nothing that you have to do to earn it.  In fact, you can't earn it.  Not even on your best day.  Listen.  I mean really listen.  Can you hear him calling you?

He's repeating Matthew 11:28, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Husbands Love Your Wives

When the annals of history are published for our generation, I most certainly will not be in there as one of the greatest husbands of our time.  Fact is I'm too selfish, lazy, and grumpy to even be considered.  But I am trying...

In recent weeks and months, I have been doing a lot of thinking about what being a good husband looks like.  Hopefully, one of these days I may get around into putting some of it into practice.  I think I have settled on a mission statement for being a better husband: Love Her Like You'd Die For Her.  Every time I come up with an idea of something that I could do to be a better husband, it boils down to that mission statement.

As I have been working through this, I've drawn insight from 3 main places -- the Bible, my experience (married almost 19 years), and the experiences of others.  The Bible talks about marriage in a number of places.  I'm going to share a little from the 4 places in the Bible that talk about a husband's responsibilities which have helped me the most.

Genesis 2:24
Genesis 2 tells us that a man is to leave his father and mother and unite to his wife and become one flesh.  That is, the man is supposed to make the relationship that he has with his wife the most important  human relationship that he ever has... more important than his guy friends, more important than his father and yes, more important than his mother.  This is God's design for the marriage relationship.   Many marriages struggle and even fail because this concept is not practiced.  Can you see it?  Love her like you'd die for her.

Colossians 3:19
Simply put, this passage says that husbands are to love their wives and not be harsh with them.  What else can I say about that?  Love her like you'd die for her.

1 Peter 3:7
This passage tells us to be considerate as we live with our wives and treat them with respect.  The interesting thing about this verse is that it seems to indicate a negative impact of not doing it.  Now, I don't really know what it means that something could hinder your prayers.  But I do know that if I don't want my prayers to be hindered, then I'd better love my wife like I would die for her.

Ephesians 5:21-33
This just may be the most referenced passage from the Bible when it comes to the topic of marriage.  As I read it, I only see one directive for husbands... to love your wives like Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.  How did Christ love the church?  He died for her.

You may ask... what about the wife?  What's her job?  Ephesians 5 (and the other passages too - if you read the surrounding verses) spells this out perfectly.  The wife is to submit to her husband.  Now mind you, I do not believe that this teaches some kind of caveman mentality where the husband should have some power trip over the wife.  After all, the Ephesians passage starts out saying that we (as Christians, not husband and wife) should submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.  This general principle for our relationships with other Christians also applies to our relationships between husbands and wives.

Also, Ephesians only has one command for the husband... to love his wife like Christ loved the church. Notice that the passage does not say that the husband is supposed to make his wife submit to her.  However, I do believe that Ephesians 5 does have the recipe for how a husband can 'make' his wife submit to him. He must love her like Christ love the church.  He must love her like he'd die for her.  If she refuses to submit to the husband, then she will have to answer to God about that.

When I was in college, I once sat in a Bible discussion group about this passage.  One of the young ladies in the group who was initially debating against the idea of submission for wives came to a realization that changed her way of thinking.  She said that if her (future) husband would live and treat her in such a way that is consistent with his role as described in Ephesians 5, then she would have no problem submitting to him.  If that was the case, then she would know that his every action and intention would be for her good, because he would be loving her like he'd die for her.

Do I have this all worked out?  No.  Do I know how to always practice loving my wife like I'd die for her?  No.  If I did know how to always do it, would I?  No -- I already told you that I'm too selfish, lazy  and grumpy.  But I will keep trying.  Pray for me in this area -- but make sure you're loving your wife and treating her with respect first.  I don't want your prayers for me to be hindered.

Monday, December 31, 2012


It has been one year since my last blog post.  I can't really call myself a blogger can I?  Well, I did sit down to write several blogs during this last year.  But I never completed them.  I think some of them were really good ideas and I'm bummed that I never completed them.  I'll try to write more often in 2013.  We are currently sitting down as a family to write goals.  Maybe my personal goal will be to blog more frequently.  For now, I will use the rest of this blog to look back on my 2012.

January: The attempt to find a job and move to Florida was in full swing.  I spent many a night online submitting resumes and filling out applications.  There were several that rejected me and several that I rejected.  We knew that we wanted to move to Florida (well I had some thoughts about North Carolina).  The house repairs, painting and remodeling would soon be in full swing.

February: Working with the middle school students at The Bible Chapel was a blast.  I really love those students.  I feel like I was doing some of the best teaching that I've ever done in February and March.  I love to teach Biblical principles to youth.  The spring of 2012 really felt like a time that I was doing something that God wants me to do.

March: This was probably the most awkward month for me.  Plans to move to Florida hadn't really made any serious progress yet.  But I was starting to feel like it was a foregone conclusion.  I noticed that I started to withdraw from things in Pittsburgh.  It was a self-defense mechanism.  I didn't want the move to hurt so much.  It really was the worst month of the year for me.

April: We put our house on the Market in April.  We got an offer in 4 days.  We didn't have a job or place to live in Florida yet, but we accepted the offer anyhow.  It was a dreadfully wonderful experience to just throw logic aside and trust God with absolutely everything.

May: I got a job offer in Jacksonville Florida and headed south on May 15th after my last day at Dick's Sporting Goods.  We found a place to build our new house on the 17th and a short-term rental on the 18th and I started my new job at Stein Mart on the 21st.  The world was spinning fast in May.

June: We officially headed south with all of our belongings on June 1st, after Paige's last dance recital.  We had closed on the sale of our house 2 days earlier.  We also officially became members of our new church and jumped right into a small group.  Small group is a great bunch of guys and ladies who we really love.  I think we could spend every day with them, but they'd probably get too tired of us too quickly.

July: Perhaps the least eventful month of the year for us.  The major event was that we hosted our first visitors from up north as Tammie's brother and his family came and spent the week of the 4th of July with us.  We spent a lot of time at the beach :)  I think July is also the month that our friends, the Olsons, took us out for a day of jet skiing.  What a blast!!!!!

August: Early in August, out of the blue, I got a call from a corporate recruiter for DMEautomotive.  Normally I just let unexpected calls go straight to voice mail  but for some strange reason I answered this one.  A few short weeks later, I started my new job.  It has been a long time since I have learned this much, this fast at work.  It is both exhilarating and exhausting at the same time.

September: The main event for September was a camping trip to Navarre Beach, near Pensacola Florida with our friends from up north, the Konrads (now living in Mississippi).  There they told us that their dog was soon to have puppies.  We asked if we could have the runt.

October: Perhaps the most stressful month of the year.  Our house was scheduled to be done being built by the 31st.  We didn't ever think they'd get it all done in time.  But thanks to a bunch of great guys from small group, we had a very easy move to our new place in time for Halloween.

November: Our first full month in our new house.  Lots of little things happened in November.  New furniture arrived.  I got a 60 inch HD 3D TV and DirecTV to watch the Penguins and Steelers (ok so not everything came up roses in 2012).  Thanks to friends from small group, I had my first fried turkey for Thanksgiving. YUM!

December: Perhaps the best thing in December... NO SNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  We picked up our dog, Cocoa.  She is easily the best puppy that I've ever had.  She is some kind of a Chocolate Lab mix.  Everyone who meets her tells us that the mix is Doberman.  I can see it in her coloring, but her sister had unmistakably German Shepherd coloring.  We may never know.

There is way too much more to write about 2012.  But you're certainly bored already.  To be sure, God is good all the time and 2012 was no exception.

Wishing you a richly blessed 2013!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: The Good, The Bad, the Ugly, and the Beautiful

It's New Years Eve day.  2012 is just around the corner.  I'm sitting at my computer reading FaceBook and working on my lesson on the first 31 chapters of the book of Job for church tomorrow... well, now I'm also blogging (blogging = procrastinating).

As I'm reading FaceBook, I'm saddened to see that so many of my friends and family had a crappy 2011.  As I'm reading Job, I'm encouraged in 2 ways.

First, no matter how bad your or my 2011 was, it is almost impossible to be as bad as just one day was for Job.  Job was a very blessed man.  He had fame and fortune.  He had a good family, a successful business, and  good friends who could and would see him through tough times.  He had iPads, iPhones, HD TVs (plasma, LCD, and LED - just so he could really be sure which one was the best), and all the other latest tech toys.  He drove a BMW 5 series on the odd days and a Hummer H2 on the even days.  His garage also housed  several Mercedes ragtops, a '69 Mustang GT, 3 different Harleys, and a '59 Studabaker that was currently being restored.  His bank account was larger than Bill Gates' and his 401K  was so large that they referred to it as a 4010000000K.  Then in one day, in fact, in one half hour period it was all taken away from him.  His vehicles were all stolen and taken to a chop shop.  The government issued bail out that completely devalued the dollar and sent the market into a downward spiral.  His children and their families were wiped out by a tornado.  His tech devices were all fried by unexpected solar flares that caused high levels of destructive electromagnetic radiation.  His banker funneled all his money into his own off shore account.  In short, he was ruined.  And if that wasn't enough, his body was soon to break out with the most painful and disgusting looking boils ever imagined.

Second, no matter how bad it gets, the proper response is to praise God for His goodness.  I know.  That doesn't seem to make sense.  But the reality of it is that no matter how bad you or I have had it, it could be worse.  Even in Job's case, it could've been worse; his wife could've died, he could've become blind of deaf, the list goes on.  As in Job's case, it is normal and OK to question God as to why all this has happened.  It is even normal and OK to tell God that you feel like it isn't fair.  But, like Job, we must also give glory and honor to God for the blessings that you do still have and for having had the time and opportunities with those you have lost.

So with all that in mind, I figured that I'd list my top 3 Good, Bad and Ugly thoughts from 2011.

1. We all have our health.
2. The Steelers made it to the Superbowl.
3. We had a great vacation to Disney this year.

The Bad:
1. Had to go to 2 funerals this year (2 funerals too many).
2. The Steelers lost the Superbowl.
3. Didn't spend enough time with family and friends.

The Ugly:
1. My step-brother, Amon died in November.

Thankfully, my Ugly list is limited to 1.

And finally we also have a Beautiful list to counter the Ugly list:
1. Tammie and I have a new dream that we are actively pursuing.  More to come on this later.

My prayer for you this day is that you can look back on 2011 and still give glory and honor to God for all of his goodness and that your 2012 is more like the end of Job's life.  In case you haven't read the story, Job ends up more blessed and more prosperous than ever.  To God be the glory!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

It Has Been a While

It has been a busy summer of getting almost nothing done; including blogging.  The last couple of weeks have included trips to Virginia and Washington, DC, attending the Washington County Fair (almost every night), working on my resume, interviewing for new jobs (both inside DSG and outside... no good leads yet), teaching Jake how to shoot guns, helping friends move and potentially preparing to adopt (can't really say much more about this yet).

I'm behind on yard work.  We're behind on getting our house ready for sale next year.  I'm behind on continuing a conversation with a friend about buying property from him.  I'm behind on getting into better shape.  And we haven't been in the pool in weeks.

But we serve an awesome God.  We have been wrestling through several things this summer and have been trying to determine God's will for us in many areas.  The coolest part is that we are more open to anything than we have ever been in the past and that has helped us to sense God's blessing in new and different ways.

I think the next few weeks and months are shaping up to be an amazing ride for our family.  My only prayer is, "Have Your way, Jesus.  Have your way in our lives.."