Thursday, January 29, 2009

Can't get no satisfaction

Results of a Pew Research Center survey released recently showed that nearly half of Americans are not satisfied with where they live. Among the findings:
"City residents disproportionately are more likely than people living in other types of communities to say they would prefer to live in a place other than a city," Morin says. "Fewer than half of all city residents say there is no better place to live than in a city."

Good grief! Many Americans are not satisfied with their possessions, and spend most of their energy trying to acquire more. And now, to think that many Americans want to live somewhere other than where they live. Something is wrong with this picture!

And down the hallways of time, I hear the Apostle Paul slowly proclaiming, "I've learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content."

Life, the commercial

Big thanks to Between Two Worlds for passing along the following commercial, which is airing in select markets of BET:

Regardless of your political views, the spot is at the very least provocative.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Reading in the new year

My personal reading goal for 2009 is to read at least a book a week, as well as to read through Scripture twice (in different translations). Here are the first books I plan to tackle:

1. Outliers (Malcolm Gladwell)
2. Called Out of Darkness (Anne Rice)
3. I Promise (Gary Smalley) - I'm reading through this one as marriage enrichment with Crystal
4. Jesus Wants to Save Christians (Rob Bell)
5. Inkheart (Cornelia Funke) - I haven't purchased this one yet, but would like to get it soon to read with Caedmon, before the movie is released
6. Point Man (Steve Farrar)
7. Culture Making (Andy Crouch) - I read the first two chapters of this last year, and recognize my need to read through it-and learn from it-completely this year
8. Everything Bad Is Good for You (Steven Johnson)
9. Tell It Slant (Eugene Peterson)
10. Intuitive Leadership (Tim Keel)
11. The Importance of Being Foolish (Brennan Manning)

In with the new

I really like this post at Overcoming Bias. I don't know if it's possible right now in my life, especially with two small children, but I'm keeping it in mind. Here's a sample:

Sometime in the next week - January 1st if you have that available, or maybe January 3rd or 4th if the weekend is more convenient - I suggest you hold a New Day, where you don't do anything old.

Don't read any book you've read before. Don't read any author you've read before. Don't visit any website you've visited before. Don't play any game you've played before. Don't listen to familiar music that you already know you'll like. If you go on a walk, walk along a new path even if you have to drive to a different part of the city for your walk. Don't go to any restaurant you've been to before, order a dish that you haven't had before. Talk to new people (even if you have to find them in an IRC channel) about something you don't spend much time discussing.

And most of all, if you become aware of yourself musing on any thought you've thunk before, then muse on something else.

Out with the old

1) What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?
Led a powerful and important small group.
Planted a big garden (big for us, anyway).
Ate alligator.

2) Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
If I made any for 2008, I forgot them. Better that way, I guess.

3) Did anyone close to you give birth?
My sister had a little boy (on her fourth try)!

4) Did anyone close to you die?
No, thankfully.

5) What countries did you visit?
Stayed in the good ol’ USA in 2008, but headed to Cozumel in three weeks!

6) What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
Spiritual perception for the present and the future.

7) What date(s) from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Of course, November 4th was an historic day for the nation. Also, December 25 was our first Christmas at our own house with our children.

8) What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I passed the certification exam for Loan Review, which was the culmination of more than 2 years of training. Also, I preached on several passages and subjects which I hadn’t previously.

9) Did you suffer illness or injury?
No, thankfully.

10) What was the best thing you bought?
Nikon D40 – I’ve never had an expensive camera before. Now if I could just come up with the extra cash for a 200mm lens.

11) Whose behavior merited celebration?
My son went without any discipline action during the whole first two quarters of kindergarten! My daughter learned to walk before she turned 1, and she thinks she’s ready for kindergarten! My wife stuck by me faithfully through the confusion and frustration of what to do next in our ministry.

12) Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
I continue to disappoint myself in many ways.

13) Where did most of your money go?
Mortgage, bills, and giving.

14) What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Revival back in March. I got excited about revival in October, too, but then had to cancel it. My wife and I got excited about our upcoming cruise (five days with no kids – wow!).

15) What song will always remind you of 2008?
Mark O. from YS mentioned Viva la Vida, which I would have to agree with. Also, one of the best songs on Christian radio was “Give Me Your Eyes” by Brandon Heath; and “Stay” by Sugarland was an incredibly moving song, once I realized what it was really about. Is there a better, more passionate singer out there than Jennifer Nettles?

16) Compared to this time last year, are you:
Wiser? Here’s hoping so.
Healthier? Probably not, but that’s fixing to change.
Richer? Slightly. Still more debt than I desire, though.

17) What do you wish you’d done more of?

18) What do you wish you’d done less of?

19) How did you spend Christmas?
As I mentioned, with my wife and kids at our own house, for the first time ever!

20) Did you fall in love in 2008?
More in love with my wife and family.

21) What was your favorite blog post that you wrote?
I wasn’t big into writing long blog posts – mostly small comments with links. I greatly enjoyed seeing (and posting) for the first time the YouTube video with Roger Miller and Johnny Cash.

22) What were your favorite TV programs?
Lost was in great form after the strike. Also, House continued to amaze, although the supporting cast underperformed.

23) Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Down with hate!

24) What was the best book you read?
Hard to choose – it was a bad year for reading straight through books. I did a lot of jumping around. However, I read more fiction than ever, including The Road (actually audio) and The Millionaires, as well as The Shack and a little bit of Flannery O’Connor.

25) What was your greatest musical discovery?
Became a bigger fan of Marc Broussard. Shawn McDonald put out a great album. Best deals: A Mozart CD for a buck at a pawn shop, a Dierks Bentley greatest hits CD (what a voice!), and, on December 30, Amazon offered 99 Beethoven tunes for $1.99.

26) What did you want and get?
A garden, and a promotion.

27) What did you want and not get?
Prolonged revival.

28) What was your favorite film of this year?
Can’t put one ahead of others, but these were the best: The Visitor, The Dark Knight, Wall-E, Juno, and Definitely, Maybe.

29) What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 33, and I worked on my birthday, and had dinner with my family. My wife surprised me with an iPod touch!

30) Which celebrity/public figure did you like the most?
Toss up between Sarah Palin and Tina Fey.

31) How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
Jeans and a sport coat won out over dressy casual!

32) What kept you sane?
My family.

33) Who did you miss?
Roemer and Penrod.

34) Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2007.
Change happens, but I can also make change happen. And sometimes it won’t happen without me making it happen.

35) What did you gain this year?
An invaluable relationship with the O’Rileys.

36) What did you lose this year?
A little more idealism concerning ministry – if that was possible.

37) Who was the best new person you met?
Not sure about that one.

38) Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Well, I'm just a simple man with a simple plan, trying to find my way home
And this dusty, dirty way, with nothing left to say, I stagger and I roam
And I'm tired, and I'm worn and my clothes are kinda torn
From this long, hard road
My arms and legs are weak, I continue to seek, and leave behind this load

I need clarity and truth to be, and peace to make me whole
I want freedom to come, and hate to be done,
And love to guide my soul
I want love, yeah, I want love
~from Clarity by Shawn McDonald