Friday, July 18, 2008

As if Baristas can be intimidated

There are so many life lessons in this story:
  • no cuts (didn't we learn this in kindergarten?)
  • if you really enjoy a good cup of coffee, law enforcement might be a good career choice
  • expect irrational behavior from people who drink six specialty cups of coffee daily
  • people can be fanatical about their Starbucks beverages, but that rarely leads to good things
  • when you are lying, don't be the first to mention taking a polygraph test
  • refrain from making idle threats - your bluff will probably be called
  • if your name is "Major," avoid employment where your title might be "lieutenant"
There's a saying often quoted in and around the IRS tax court: "Pigs get fed. Hogs get slaughtered."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ever eat an $8 hot dog?

Have you ever gone to a stadium or amusement park and ordered food? It's outrageously expensive, isn't it? When was the last time you bought popcorn in a movie theater? It costs more than your admission ticket!

In 2002, my wife, Debbie, and I volunteered for several high school parent fundraisers. We were helping our daughter, Mary Alisa, raise money for the Pulaski High School marching band trip to take part in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Expensive, and very worthwhile.

One of the events we worked was serving food at Lambeau Field (the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Packers that day). I was trained to run a cash register, and starting to feel like I knew what I was doing by the end of the first quarter. I was caught by surprise when a man order a cheeseburger. Nothing else - just a cheeseburger.

I'd been ringing up $20 and $50 orders all day. But when this order came to $7, I thought I had hit the wrong key somehow. I voided the transaction as I apologized, and re-entered it slowly and carefully. Still $7. Now I was really apologetic. I couldn't believe that a cheeseburger cost $7!

My pastor, Rev. Dr. Thomas J. McCoy, spoke several years ago at Thompson Station Church on the subject of global missions. I'll never forget his declaration that day. After explaining that he and his family have pets, and assuring us that they were well-cared for, he said, "If you spend more on your dog this year than you give to global missions, you are living in sin."

Pastor Tom can be direct like that.

I thought long and hard about what he said. Our family has owned dogs before, and I have some idea of the expense involved. Food, flea collars, food, a new leash, Milk Bone biscuits, food, vet bills. It adds up. When I did have dog, I'm pretty sure I wasn't giving global missions an equal or greater share.

Nathan Sheets, a friend and e3 Partners Ministry colleague, reminded me today that the Israelites left Egypt with gold. Lots of gold, plundered from their former slave masters. God intended for them to use the gold in constructing first a tabernacle, and later a temple. It didn't take long, though, before they thought Moses and God had abandoned them in the desert.

In their despair, they used some of the gold to make an idol in the shape of a calf. To make matters worse, they arbitrarily decided that this golden calf had brought them out of Egypt and slavery - not the true, living God. They worshipped their new idol, which angered both Moses and God. Not exactly what the Lord had in mind.

How quickly we can move from clear understanding of God's direction and obedience to confusion and disobedience. And from there, it isn't far to worshiping something completely false. You can read the whole story in Exodus 32.

Special thanks to my e3 Partners colleague Mike Congrove for forwarding this thought-provoking video:

God's word is pretty clear about a Christian's responsibility to support kingdom work financially. So, when was the last time you bought a $7 bag of popcorn or an $8 hot dog? And how big a check did you write that week for global missions?

Food for thought, maybe.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Discovering Twitter

What are you doing?

That's the question you'll be asked at Twitter.

Perhaps it doesn't sound very useful at first. That could be, as they say in Washington, DC, "a failure of imagination." Twitter might seem a little like a toy, at first. But I suspect it will soon rival - even surpass - Facebook in popularity.

The genius of Twitter is in its simplicity. You sign up for an account (free of charge). Then you can send and/or receive short text messages (either on the web or your phone). Your choice. You can even add the Twitter application on Facebook and permit your Twitter messages to update your Facebook status. If you're feeling really creative, you can tweet photos.

Once you've registered, you can follow me on Twitter. Or any one of some very cool people, like Toby Mac or Rebecca St. James or Gov. Mike Huckabee, to name just a few.

You only get 140 characters for each message, so be pithy.

Here's a good video that explains Twitter quite well. Happy tweeting!