Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Blog Visits

The record of previous visits to my site may be interrupted, since previous versions of Google Analytics showed visits from New Mexico - but here's the latest record of year-to-date visits to my blog.

Green = 1 visit.
Blue = 2-9 visits.
Purple = 10+ visits.

The only thing I can't explain is Texas, save for the fact that it's a big state. I have friends and/or family in New York, North Carolina, Indiana, Kentucky, Utah, California, and Nevada.

Monday, June 25, 2007

After many long years, it looks like we are going to be putting our dog to sleep this week. She still has her good days, but she has trouble moving around, has had problems with various ulcers, and has lost most interest in eating. She's quite literally skin and bones now. Still, it was not an easy decision,

We've had Holly since I was in High School, and she's been about the sweetest dog in the world. An irrepressible beggar, she did manage to learn that the most she could get away with was to lay her had in your lap while you ate and look up at you. More often than not, it worked.

Needless to say, it's going to be a long week.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


I mentioned a little over a month ago that our church had given away something (free office space for the pastors) to another church that needed it more. I was glad for this, since I like the tone that it sets - giving when it's hard, not just when it's easy.

There's an update on what used to be the bulletin-blog, and is now to be a blog for the pastors to use from time to time. The short version is this: we got more free office space - this time in South Reno, which is where the church is. This was not an advance thing - when the office space was given away, it's not like this was already lined up and waiting in the wings. It appeared only after-the-fact.

Answered prayer is encouraging.

All too Easy

It can be all too easy to fall into a routine. All too easy to claim victory in a war when you only managed to fight a skirmish to a draw. All too easy to justify mistakes. All too easy to judge other's weaknesses while excusing your own. All too easy to take the easy path. All too easy to hate your enemies and love those who love you. All too easy to surround yourself with friends for advisors. All too easy to hear only what you want. All too easy to do only what comes naturally.

We want life to be easy, and we like to rest, letting the course of our life flow ever downhill. But we are called to run, to fight, to persevere. To pick ourselves up when we fall, not to wallow in the mud. We are called to endure, to be tested, to be put through the fire so that undesirable things will be burnt away.

This means different things for different people. Some people lose their children. Some watch their marriages decline into a bitter, never-ending fight (as I watch sitcoms, is there any other kind?). Some see their hopes paraded in front of them, forced to watch the course they wanted for themselves lived out in other people's shoes. Some people are hungry, poor, and sick - and some people have to watch their loved ones go through it.

It is a conceit of oppulence that Americans believe life should be easy, as though ease is a birthright. But it is the meek, the humble, the poor, and the weeping that will inherit the earth, enjoy comfort, and be filled.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

From the New York Times editorial page

"It would be better if Congress focused on the problems from globalization that it could actually solve rather than blaming China for America’s economic ills. The problem of American business competitiveness — and Americans’ economic anxiety — would be best addressed by health care reform. The problem of growing income inequality could be ameliorated with a more progressive tax code."

New York Times Editorial, 6/20/2007

Do you see the problem? It sounds somewhat reasonable on the surface, in the context of Congress "doing what it can" to address "problems associated with globalization." And I'm overlooking whether the "problems" listed with proposed solutions actually are problems (eg, is growing income inequality a problem? Why?).

How about this: The proposed solution for problem #2 directly leads to an order of magnitude increase in problem #1. And problem #1 is a real, serious problem. I guarantee that you harm American business competitiveness by taxing the pants off American businessmen, and American businesses.

I favor l imited government intervention because there are no subtle tools in the Congressional Toolbelt. They are blunt things, and always have plenty of consequences beyond the stated objectives.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Stories Worth Telling #2

Not everyone's life is so comfortable as ours. Oppression, tyranny, and slavery exist, in force.

Stories that need Telling

What do you do when you are sitting in the ER, your wife is dying, and the nurses won't help? When she's vomitting blood on the floor, and no one will do a thing?

I can't imagine feeling this helpless.

How much would you pay

For a car that uses no gas? Max speed of 90 MPH, range of 130 miles, and with an independent charger, will charge to 95% capacity in 10 minutes (6 hours otherwise).

Would you pay as much for a SUV as for a new Suburban? Because this company is looking to start selling them in California in 2008 or 2009. And I've elsewhere seen a price point of $45,000

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I recall in the early months of this year

Congressional Democrats made a bunch of hay about President Bush's very low approval ratings.

Bush's Approval Rating is still only 32%, but we haven't heard about this in a while. Could it be because the Approval Rating for Congress is only 25%?

The funny thing is even with these abyssmal ratings, it's more likely than not that many of the same people will be elected back to office a year from November. This is in large part because people may loathe "The Legislature." But they often have a fondness for "their" legislator.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Stories Worth Telling

We were sharing stories last night about things happening in the church. One pattern became apparent:

People who had sworn never to set foot in a church again are coming to Coram Deo.

I got choked up when I heard this, and was close to fighting back tears of joy. The news is seriously that good. If the church is all about the same people shifting back and forth between congregations, it rather doesn't seem worth the effort. But when we are attracting those who were hurt past the point of breaking, or who wanted nothing to do with God... well, I've heard there's more rejoicing over one lost sheep who is found then over 99 who don't need to be found.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The other half

I realized something a month or so ago, as we were discussing the state of the church. Each of us, while commonly seeking to serve God and the church as best as we know how, have personal passions for areas of service, or the need for fellowship, or worship, or evangelism.

I realized that one guy that I thought had a very similar bent to my own, instead has a different sort of passion. One of our three "arms" in the church philospohy is "Serving the World." We like to call this "Servant Evangelism" in that we believe we show Christ to the world best when we are doing what he did and serving others. This is the direction that I really wanted to see a church participating.

He has a passion for this too, but I came to realize that his passions point him towards evangelism - that the point of such things is to, as much as we can, interact with others for the sake of revealing Christ to them in our words and actions.

I, perhaps, am more selfish. I've been thinking about how "The greatest in the kingdom of heaven must be last of all and servant of all." I want to give (of our time and efforts) so that the right hand does not know what the left is doing, so that our Father who sees what is done in secret will reward us. I'm in favor of serving the lowest in any way we can, even if we cannot show them to their face who Christ is. I don't want the noteriety, the publicity, the attention, or the glory.

And so we have slightly different objectives when looking at "how can we serve?" I want to find private, useful things. He wants to find real, personal things (where there is the opportunity for face-to-face conenctions). Neither of us is wrong, I think. And it's nice to know that we aren't all the same, sharing the same blind spots.

I have also been thinking about how to put this principle to work. One small way was picking up the hotel room as much as possible before I left - leaving used towels on the counter so the maid wouldn't have to stoop to grab them, putting my used soap, shampoo, and soap-wrappings in the trash, using only one trash can, resetting the AC to the same level as when I arrived.

I'd say that it means being the doormat of the world, but even Jesus retired when it was necessary - though I think we're more likely to use that as an excuse not to go the extra mile than we are to be really pushing to the limits as He did.

So the next time you feel imposed upon, when you want to demand your rights and assert your dominance, remember that those who are great in the kingdom that matters, are those who are the last of all, and the servant of all. And "all" includes the person doing the imposing. And serve them, and God, with a smile.

Serving the Community

This Saturday, from 9am - 3pm, Coram Deo will be hosting an "Alex's Lemonade Stand" at Butcher Boy Prime (7300 South Virginia Street). This is an event to raise money for fighting childhood cancer that one of our more proactive members decided to get involved with, and the rest of the church climbed aboard.

Come by, get a cool drink, say hello, and donate a little cash. I'll be there from 10am to noon, or thereabouts.

What happens in Vegas...

Is evidently more boring for me than for most, though by choice.

I flew to Las Vegas Tuesday morning with 6 co-workers for an economic forum on Wednesday. We drove the strip, with those who were familiar with various projects pointing out to the rest of us what was going where, how construction was coming, and gaining a familiarity with the heart of the city that drives Nevada's economy.

We had lunch, and heard some presentations in the afternoon about the state of the Las vegas economy. Interesting for me, probably boring for anyone without an Economist's twisted take on the world.

We got to the hotel in the afternoon - staying on the Strip so it was accessible to anyone. I went out on my small balcony to take in the unimpressive view - the other hotel tower. I thought I heard someone sasy "Dave!" so I looked around, thinking a co-worker might be trying to get my attention. I finally spotted the man trying to get my attention, but he wasn't a coworker, and he had no shirt on. After a couple baffled looks from me, he finally conveyed his message.

His room number. A shirtless guy in Las Vegas was shouting his room number down to me. Ick. I left my balcony, went back inside, shut my curtain, and turned on the news.

I had dinner with my coworkers in a mall attached to Caesar's palace. I took a wrong turn on the way out, and walked a bit of the casino floor, leaving by the main entrance to Caesar's, instead of the mall entrance. On the way, I passed throngs of people gambling, and scantily clad women dancing in what may have been like the oft-seen-in-movies "cages" that women dance in in clubs - except these were surrounded by a bunch of slot machines.

I was going back to my hotel room, with my skin almost crawling with the debauchery all around me. The faux statues of Bacchus seemed more and more at home with every step. Here is a city that thrives on gratifying the lusts of the flesh. Vans driving by with 4-foot letters announcing "GIRLS WHO WANT TO MEET YOU DELIVERED TO YOUR DOOR IN MINUTES." Guys hanging out flyers on the street that (I have heard) announce much the same thing (hands in pockets, I strode past, trying to avoid eye contact). Wedding chapels and adult theaters sharing the same building in strip malls.

Everywhere, the message flows over you in torrents: do what you want. It's okay. Indulge your pleasures, live your fantasies, ignore consequences. It's nigh impossible to find a message more at odds with what I have been contemplating most of late. But that's another post entirely...