Three really cool devices to make your home awesome (Videos)

Here are a few devices that can save you time and even money.

The Nest Learning Thermostat

Nest is a company started by Tony Fadell, one of the designers of the original iPod. You may think “It’s a thermostat. Why would I need a fancier thermostat?” But this thing is truly amazing. Even at the $250 price point the company says you’ll make back the money on energy savings in less than two years and every year after that you can expect energy savings of $100-$150.

The way it works is simple: Any time you adjust the air, leave your house, or return it memorizes it and uses that to make a schedule for your heating and air. After a while it will automatically keep your schedule and make sure that energy is being saved. If you make changes, it will change with you. You can make adjustments to it with your phone from anywhere. It’s pretty darn cool.

Lockitron: Keyless Entry for your house

The first wifi locks from lockitron were released a year ago, and now they’re looking to create something even better. Now before you get all worried about hackers breaking into your wifi lock you should know that Lockitron uses the same level of security that banks use on the internet to protect your information. Lockitron’s latest product hasn’t been released yet, but they’re available at an introductory price of $150, which is pretty good IMHO.

If you have an iPhone then the Lockitron will recognize your phone’s unique UDID via bluetooth. When you walk up to your door it unlocks, when you walk away from your door it locks back. If you have a friend that needs to get into your house while your’e away then just have them text you when they need to be let in and you can unlock the door. I think it’s down right nifty.

Philips Hue Connected Lightbulbs

Most everyone knows by this time that CFL Light Bulbs save lots of energy. But they also contain dangerous mercury and studies have shown that the wavelength of light they put off can cause headaches and even depression. The answer is LED lighting, which until now hasn’t been readily available to the consumer. If you cut down your energy consumption already with CFLs then you can reduce your power bill even more by switching to LEDs. Philips has released a set of LED lights that are connected wirelessly to your home network. So in addition to saving power when they’re on these lights can automatically shut off, dim, brighten, and even change colors throughout the day according to your schedule.

In addition each bulb can generate tons of different colors including color schemes designed to promote relaxation, concentration, or vision for when you’re reading. The lights can be networked together to work in chorus. They can also be turned on and off from anywhere with the iOS app that also allows color mixing. These bulbs also use 1/10 the energy of traditional light bulbs. The drawback is the price. At $200 for the starter kit (that includes a measly three bulbs and the wireless bridge) and $60 for every bulb after that you won’t be replacing every bulb at once, but as they’re projected to last 8-10 years and save money on your power bill, you might find that they’re not a bad investment plus they’re just plain neato.

A few Thoughts on Les Mis

les-miserables-2012-comparison-poster

Here’s what you need to know first:

– First you need to know that I’m a pretty big fan of the stage musical, which I first saw live when I was only 11. It was performed by a broadway touring group at the Johnny Mercer theater in Savannah GA. I’ve seen it live one more time since and have seen the PBS broadcast of the 25th anniversary numerous times. I have been a fan for most of the past two decades.

– I’m also a big fan of the 1998 film adaption starring Liam Neeson and Geoffrey Rush. No, it’s not the musical, but to me it caught the essence of the story in a beautifully acted and wonderfully shot film.

What I liked:

– As for the 2012 film: The performances by the actors were excellent, especially due to the fact that the music was being captured live on the set at the time of the shooting: something that is almost never been done for a movie musical. As a result the performance controlled the pace of the music, not the other way around. This resulted in some really powerful moments.

– I love the story of Les Mis more than any adaptation of it, so as long as any given adaptation stays true to the story I will like ultimately.  As this edition stayed entirely true to the story, I accept it into the pantheon of interpretations there have been of this musical. I especially love that they didn’t skimp on the Gospel message which is clearly contained in the plot.

– Casting. Hugh Jackman was a great Valjean and… well I could go down the list. If you could get used to Russell Crowe’s singing style then there wasn’t really a weak one in the bunch and most of them were very good.

What disappointed me:

– The cinematography. The movie looked beautiful, but it lacked a great deal of variety in the way it was shot. I’m sure that because they were recording the singing live the director wanted to emphasize the resulting performances, so every solo is done almost entirely in close up. This succeeds in showing all the nuance and skill the actors had, but doesn’t take full advantage of the medium.  There are few establishing shots that give you the scope of a scene at it’s beginning. Only at the big finish do we see where we are and by that time the scene is over. They also do little to explore the space. In this sense they might have well have been a stage show. Almost all the solos take place within a space of ten square feet. There’s no walking around an entire huge space or passing from location to location – something that you can only do on film. Randomly they would have these very awesome crane shots that  were almost distracting as they seemed so out of place in what was a lot of stationary camera work. Also there are several really random uses of canted angle that seemed very out of place. A couple of times I thought “Is this building supposed to leaning?”

– There were also shots where they had chosen the musical performance over perfection. In the scene where Valjean is buying Cosette’s freedom you can catch her looking right into the camera for a few seconds while Thenardier grabs her and begins to haggle. There are also a few shots where you can tell that the Steadicam rig bumped into something mid-movement and the frame shakes randomly. This is perhaps most noticeable during the scene after the Bishop frees Valjean; when Jackman is circumambulating (again within his ten square feet) the bishop’s chapel.

But, at the end of the day…

I loved it, even if there were some thing I didn’t like about it. It’s such an incredibly powerful story, heavy with theological themes – especially surrounding grace. I would really recommend seeing it – it will tug at your heartstrings, and if you don’t find yourself crying by the ending then you might be an evil robot sent to destroy us. Just a heads up.

The Millennial Generation: An Introduction

I’m a member of gen Y, the Millennial generation, the mosaic generation, the screenagers. There are many varying ideas of what ages Gen Y consists of, but I believe that it ranges from those born in 1982 up to those born in 2000. Those people now aged about 12-30. Here are a few facts about us.

  • The Millennial Generation is the one that famously scored lower on math and science than almost all developed countries yet when asked how they thought they’d done they ranked the highest in confidence.The following clip is from the documentary Waiting for Superman.

  • But, as a result we’re generally positive. Because we’re so stupidly confidant we often do things that were thought too difficult by others because we’re too stupid to know they’re impossible.
  • We’re also not resigned to the world ending soon, because we know that if it doesn’t we’re stuck with it after the other generations are gone. That’s why we want to be good stewards and recycle. We don’t want to be living in trash heaps in our retirement.
  • We’re high maintenance, but it’s not totally our fault – it’s the way we’ve been conditioned. Most of our parents were extremely affirming. In a science fair or archery tournament we didn’t have to achieve anything, yet we’d get a ribbon just for participating. We’d play video games and after 2-40 hours we’d save the world. We’re used to instant gratification and lots of positive feedback. We need affirmation.

  • But we’re also high productivity. Mellinials are highly perfectionistic, but also efficient with time. Daniel Pink, an expert in the field of human motivation, says that this is why, despite our age, gen Y is starting at higher power positions than that which many members of gen X are still working.
  • Entitled. In a survey that’s the number one word that’s used to describe us by our employers when we first got into the work force and it is incredibly true. It’s what I hate most about my generation.

    sorry Varuca Salt, you can’t have the whole world right now.
  • We’re suckers for social Justice. Talk about rescuing orphans from sex-trafficking or feeding the poor an you have our attention. As a group we largely believe (incorrectly) that we’re the first generation to care about the poor, the widows and orphans. We do want the world to be a better place and haven’t given up on it yet (as we believe our parents have.)
  • “Fassionate” Is the term used by Dr. Tim Elmore to describe mellinials. It reflects Gen Y’s desire to be fashionably compassionate – that’s why organizations like TOMS, Charity Water and Warby Parker are popular with mellinials. Because they’re good causes that also make you look good by participating in them. Superficial? Absolutely. Admirable? Somewhat. Hey at least we want to appear to care about others.
Woah. Check out the altruism on her.
  • We’re more family oriented than the past two generations. Every year US high school graduates take an exit survey that has an array of questions. On of the questions is “who is your hero?” We were the first generation to not select “a celebrity” as our most common answer, but rather we said that our parents are our heroes. I know I did.
  • We are generally restless and impatient. We need stimulus. This is often times improperly diagnosed as ADD. I call it having a hungry brain and a drive to act.
  • We’re good at processing large amounts of information. Because we were born in the information age. Information is like air to us. Consider this:

 In 1985, the year I was born, it was estimated that the world contained the equivalent of 2.64 billion gigabytes of information. That includes all print, audio and video media that was in either digital or analog form. In 2007 it was estimated that the world contained just short of 300 billion gigabytes of information. If you think that’s crazy, get this: in 2010 the amount of information in the world reached over 1 trillion gigabytes or over 1 zetabyte. What’s even more insane is that in 2011 alone we generated 1.8 zetabytes of information. That means we generated more information in 2011 than in the previous 3,000 years of human history, a rate that is only expected to increase as the years go by.

  • But often we don’t keep information we process we pass it on or we save it some place for when we want to sound smart later. We think in sound-bytes and text messages. We like edible little quotes, not long lectures.
  • We are ‘spiritual’ but not religious. Despite the fact that we are notoriously unchurched, only 23% actually consider themselves atheists. More than 50% pray before a meal an a third discuss spiritual issues regularly. Organized religion isn’t preferable, having become disillusioned with large institutions of any kind; the government, political parties, education, etc. This was famously outlined in this controversial video (with which I largely disagree) the best response to which can be found at this blog.

  • We came of age in the worst job market in recent memory. In a well-written article, Jesse Rosen responds to criticisms toward gen Y written in a New York Times article reminding the authors that we may not seem as adventurous only because we’re practical; we don’t have money and we aren’t going to go into debt. The subtext of the article is “go ahead, go to italy we’re going to be here at home trying to figure out how to save the world.”
  • We’re the most visually sophisticated generation to date. Far more than previous generations. We have access to more photos, video and artwork than any generation before us. In fifteen seconds I can have any popular painting or photo as the desktop of my Macbook.
thanks google!
  • The result is that we’re not easy to impress and that content has become king. 20 years ago someone with a TV station had a unique position of being the only one with a channel into people’s homes. Now anyone can create a youtube channel. This last year all major broadcast networks took a hit in ratings. Every major motion picture studio has released at least one “guaranteed hit” that flopped miserably. The media that wins has nothing to do with the money it costs or the channel through which it came – it has to do with content. This goofy video took 1 night to shoot and will get more views by the end of next week than Disney’s John Carter did. It’s because this video is an original idea executed in a funny way and John Carter was weird and unrelatable.

  •  Some sociologists call us the boomerang generation, or the peter pan generation – they say that we’ve refused many rights of passages that other generations embraced as a result of not wanting to accept adulthood. Most notable is how the younger half (the ones in high school now) aren’t pining for their drivers licenses as they can interact with their friends digitally just as well. This was outlined by Shaputis Kathleen in her book, The Crowded Nest Syndrome.
  • Other sociologists call us that next “Greatest Generation.”  William Strauss and Neil Howe have written two books Millennials Rising and The Fourth Turning the latter of which identifies four cycles in which generations move, the last being the time of crisis from which a great generation rises.

So yeah.

I have no concluding grand thought save for this: don’t count us out – we’re worth your time and who knows, maybe God is going to use us to save the world.

The more you say “I don’t care what people think” The less I believe you.

I’ve seen an increase in the number of  “I don’t give a s___ what people think of me” posts out on the blogosphere lately. I remember this being a popular phrase when I was in high school so I was a little upset when I saw that ‘adults’ (or adult-age-people) were posting it.

A few issues with the “I don’t care what anyone thinks about me” statement.

  • At it’s core this is a statement about communication: it’s saying “I don’t care what I’m communicating to everyone around me.”
  • It’s not true. If it were true you wouldn’t say it, because you wouldn’t care whether anyone thought you cared. Me thinks Joan Jett doth protest to much.
  • It’s a selfish and arrogant thing to say. Think about the implications; “No one can give me any advice that can improve me.” or “No one’s opinion deserves my consideration.”
  • There are people who truly don’t care and they are called sociopaths. These people have a mental malady that makes them chronically selfish which usually makes life more difficult for them in the long run.
  • Caring what other people think isn’t the same thing as allowing them to determine everything about you. It doesn’t mean you’re dependent on that person to determine who you are. It just means you want to know if they understand you; if they get you. And yes sometimes it can mean that their opinion means a lot to you, but not always.
  • Yes you can care too much what everyone thinks, but ironically you’re probably someone who cares too much if you’re the kind of person who regularly uses this phrase.
  • Often times “Not Caring” actually means counter-dependence – it means that all you want to do is the opposite of what others want you to do – which is still dependence, just inverted.
  • If you’re a christian, believe it or not, even Jesus cared about what other people thought about him; In Mark 8 he asks his disciples “Who do you say that I am?” Not so that he could adjust to what they wanted him to be, but rather because he wanted to make sure they were getting it. He cared what they thought for their sake, not his.

To say that you care what people think about you doesn’t mean that you’re malleable or that you’re always self-conscious. It means that you’re conscious of what you’re communicating to others. It doesn’t mean that you’re willing to adjust the message. It does mean that you’re willing to adjust the means of communication. It doesn’t mean you’re a conformist. It does mean that you’re willing to appropriate the tools necessary to get your message across to everyone.

Tomorrow Television Will Change Forever.

A couple of years ago I wrote an entry about the future of TV. One of the major players in the prediction is the Apple TV. A device that is currently a separate box with WiFi and an HDMI connector for TVs. The catalyst of this proposed future is a device and or TV that simplifies the process of developing apps, monetizes it, and rolls it out in an ecosystem that works for the US.

Most of the major networks have an app for iPad and iPhone already whereby you can watch all the most recent episodes of their current shows. If only there was a way to access the same content on demand on TV in an similar fashion while still being able to stream live events live when the time arrives.

a mock-up of Apple's new TV set

Tomorrow is Apple’s annual Word Wide Developers Conference. At the conference Apple is rumored to announce an updated line of Mac computers and an upgraded operating system for their mobile devices. Mac rumors, a website that tracks patents and leaked news, got wind of the fact that Apple will be announcing a new operating system for their apple TV device, which will presumably be the same operating system that’s used on their fabled TV set, rumored to hit the market sometime this year. Steve Jobs’ supposed final revelation was in regards to this device. Shortly before his death, Jobs talked about the new TV with his biographer, saying that he “Finally cracked it.”

We stand on the cusp of an enormous change to the way we receive television. Tomorrow at WWDC Apple will be announcing that developers can now write apps for their upcoming TV Set. What this means is that NBC, ABC, CBS, TNT, TBS, Fox and most importantly – Disney will all be able to create apps for your TV that allow you to interact with their content as they see fit. If they want a world premiere to run live – it will. If they want to make it available for a week after it showed – they can. If you want to email a friend and have them pull up a clip of a TV show right to their TV set and watch it – shebang.

Other cool features like Skype on your TV and the ability to send video messages to friends are possible as well. Advantages like being able to have a live video chat while watching a live event are also feasible. Re-airing classic shows and movies with video commentary or live chat with the stars and creators. Imagine being able to watch something on your iPhone or iPad, pause it and then resume it in full HD on your TV.

And of course let’s not forget the gaming potential. Developers can write games that can be downloaded right to your TV. Using a bluetooth or WiFi connection you can use your iPod as a touch screen controller. You can use voice activation to command the action. You can use your existing Apple game center profile to connect with friends and play co-op games. Oops! Did Apple just merge the computer and console gaming industries – I think they did.

Perhaps most intriguing in this brave new world of TV is the fact that hierarchy will soon be gone. Much like the recording industry has become obsolete in the post-modern era of internet-based marketing and delivery, soon everyone can develop an app that can deliver TV content to the world. Youtube stars and non-profits can create a an app that can sit along side your ESPN app so you can receive new content from them the same way.

When it comes to mainstream content, thought Disney is going to be the Key. I wasn’t joking earlier when I said they were most important. Disney owns the station that most men would pay a premium to have – ESPN. They also own ABC, Disney, Disney XD, ABC Family, ESPNU, 2, 3, Classic Deportes and all associated radio stations and print media. This could be a big outlet for them so long as they can monetize it. And if there is one thing that Apple is good at – it’s making money. Plus Disney and Apple are intertwined as Apple owns the majority stock in Pixar and Pixar and Disney merged a few years back.

After that comes Time Warner and News Corp. Once CNN and Fox News are on board, all of the most watched stations currently only available on cable and satellite will be available through Apple TV. Though, I feel confident that regardless of whether they make the transition cable news stations are going to see a sharp decline over the next few years as most people under 40 get their news from social media. If they don’t adapt it’s entirely likely that CNN and Fox News could both die a slow death over the next ten years.

The biggest opponent to this change is Comcast which is about as big and evil as a media corporation gets. They’ve been under investigation by the FCC constantly for questionable network neutrality, data throttling and for their efforts to block any a la carte offerings by cable stations. Unfortunately Comcast owns 51% of NBC. The fact that NBC is the lead steak holder in Hulu.com is an encouragement, but Comcast is currently the biggest cable/internet company in the States. They might try to hold out in an effort to keep cable as king. If they withhold NBC’s content that would create a large gap in the programming. Even worse if they throw their digital weight around as such to make it harder for people to use their network to access on-demand content. (They’re already suspect of such in regards to Netflix.)

At the same time NBC has been in fourth among the major broadcast networks for several years now. And all of the broadcast stations have been in decline of viewership despite over all TV viewership being on the rise. They’ll all have to follow the audience if they hope to stay relevant. It’s questionable whether stations of any kind will be needed in this new form of TV. Studios could skip the middleman and present their content right to the audience. The structure remains to be seen, but undoubtedly there will be those who adapt and those who don’t survive.

Microsoft already announced their plans to open the Xbox platform to developers in hopes of creating a similar experience – so there is competition which will drive prices down and quality up.

Believe me when I say tomorrow marks the beginning of the end for traditional television, and the dawn of something way cooler.

A life without God

Westboro baptist church is, as you may know, an organization that claims to be a Christian church located in Topeka Kansas. I say ‘claims’ because their actions clearly show that there are large portions of the Bible that they ignore. WBC is best known for picketing the funerals of fallen soldiers and people who were openly gay. They often sport extremely hateful slogans that have no Biblical foundation and they teach their children to do the same. In the past ten years I’ve seen this church shown on national TV at least four times and I don’t even watch the news very much. It’s likely that they’ve shown up on TV much much more.

What is the significance of this? Westboro Baptist Church reports its membership at 40. The church that has probably appeared on national news more than any other single church has just 40 members.

I work at a church with seven thousand members. In my four years here we’ve made national news zero times. We’ve helped hundreds, if not thousands of people in need and we’ve seen people being healed of addictions and marriages being saved. We’ve seen people called to go work in other countries and poor neighborhoods. We’ve seen miracles take place and yet we haven’t made national news mainly because it’s not as interesting as hearing about a group of 40 really hateful people. But also because that’s not the way Christianity is depicted in the media.

In TV, film, news, books and popular music Christians are almost always shown to be ‘fundamentalists,’ ‘bigots,’ and ‘extremists.’ When statistically the average church-goer is more likely to be a nominal Christian who doesn’t know enough about their own faith to have strong thoughts on any controversial subject. That’s a problem unto itself, but it is not the one being depicted – instead we’re shown as unstable and hateful.

I haven’t heard any news stories about Mama Maggie Gobran who is living in the slums of Cairo, Egypt and working with the children there. Even Bono’s foundation to feed helpless children has gotten far less press than Sean Penn’s humanitarian efforts – the main difference between to two is their worldview. (It certainly isn’t their ability to get drunk and start fights, as they are both equally talented in that measure.) I haven’t heard a news story about Katie Davis who graduated from high school and immediately went to africa to work with diseased, disabled and otherwise less fortunate children. I don’t hear about the fact that Christianity is being persecuted more violently around the world than any other religion and that every day Christians in countries like Iran, Ethiopia and China put their lives on the line by witnessing to the truth of the Gospel. Because it’s more convenient and easy to place us all in the same box – along with these 40 hateful people.

It’s easy to take a cheap shot at Atheism and point out that almost all of the most terrible dictators have been proud Atheists. Joseph Stalin wanted to get rid of religion in the Soviet Union. Mussolini and Mao Tse-Tung wanted the same for their countries. All three were genuine monsters – killing their own people and anyone who would oppose them. At the same time one can bring up the crusades and the inquisition in relation to Christianity. So instead of basing an argument on unbalanced political leadership I’d like to look at more contemporary leadership right here in the old US of A.

In 1963 Madalyn Murray O’Hair won the landmark court case that removed prayer from public schools. It’s pretty interesting to look at the state of the public education system since then, but that’s another blog entry. O’Hair fought for her son’s right to not have the Bible read nor prayers prayed around him. Her son’s name is William Murray and he’s written a book about his life. You see, he’s a Baptist pastor now and his book entitled My life without God is all about the way his mother tried to raise her children to hate God. Aside from seeing that prayer was removed from schools Madalyn Murray O’Hair is perhaps best known as the founder of American Atheists – an organization that seeks to advance the cause of Atheism – rallying people to the cause of believing in – well, nothing.

O’Hair stole, she cheated, she lied. She broke the law on numerous occasions. She never paid taxes. She abused her children emotionally, manipulating them into unhealthy lifestyles. She and her children (and later grand children) were all morbidly obese. She believed in living ‘high off the hog.’ There wasn’t a charitable bone in her body. Before they were killed, O’Hair, Her Son Jon and William’s Daughter Robin (her granddaughter) all lived together and never separated. Jon never married – he never left his mother’s side. Robin, like her grandmother took to a decadent lifestyle and became severely overweight. None of them ever spoke to William who had become a Christian. When he first told them, they ridiculed him and called him a traitor.

O’Hair was proud of her lawless lifestyle and said she believed that the only law should be ‘do what thou will.’ She hired unrepentant convicted felons who were known for their violent crimes. She claimed that she supported their lifestyle. Ultimately this is what led to her death. A former employee kidnapped her, her son and granddaughter. All three of them were brutally murdered by one of her fellow Atheists.

William Murray said

My mother was an evil person … Not for removing prayer from America’s schools … No … She was just evil. She stole huge amounts of money. She misused the trust of people. She cheated children out of their parents’ inheritance. She cheated on her taxes and even stole from her own organizations. She once printed up phony stock certificates on her own printing press to try to take over another atheist publishing company.

This happened all within my lifetime and yet I don’t remember hearing about it. Maybe you did, but I didn’t.

I say all this because these aren’t some obscure people on the outskirts of the Atheist movement. These were the leaders – and yet it is the Christians that are depicted as foolish and hate filled. When I encounter this kind of hate I get angry. Then I get sad. Then I get energized to show the world the love of Christ.

In reality the difference between the Christian life and a life without God is quite simple.

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:18-23

 

10 Things this single guy has learned about marriage.

Over the past month I got to interview 18 couples about what it is that makes their marriage strong. I asked them lots of questions. I asked if there was anything they wished they had known before they were married. I asked them about things they do together that keep their relationship strong. I asked them what habits they have that help maintain their marriage. Some couples had been through illness, some couples had been through divorces, some couples met when they were kids others didn’t get together until they were adults. We talked about their mission as a couple. We talked about how they met. We talked about the advice they’d give to new couples. We talked about what they would say to a couple who’s considering divorce. I edited these interviews down to six videos totaling to about 27 minutes.

I tried my best to capture the thoughts of these people in the videos but it’s not possible to capture five hours worth of interviews in less than half an hour. So here is a summary of my findings in simple terms.

[list]
[list_item icon=”fa-home(Check Font awesomes for Icon Class Names)” color=”#ffd600″]As with everything else in life ITS NOT ABOUT YOU. If you get married just to get something, you’re going to be disappointed. If you’re always looking out for the needs of the other then you’ll be far happier than if you were only concerned with your own needs. What happens is reciprocity; when you empty yourself out the other person can’t help but give of themselves.[/list_item]

[list_item icon=”fa-home(Check Font awesomes for Icon Class Names)” color=”#ffd600″]As with everything else in life ITS NOT ABOUT YOU. If you get married just to get something, you’re going to be disappointed. If you’re always looking out for the needs of the other then you’ll be far happier than if you were only concerned with your own needs. What happens is reciprocity; when you empty yourself out the other person can’t help but give of themselves.[/list_item]

[list_item icon=”fa-home(Check Font awesomes for Icon Class Names)” color=”#ffd600″]Apparently married sex gets awesome after 40. I had two couples tell me this. No joke. One man said “Sweet Moses – it’s insane.”[/list_item]

[list_item icon=”fa-home(Check Font awesomes for Icon Class Names)” color=”#ffd600″]Several people said it’s more important to like your spouse than to love them. All of these people were women. I think that’s because when women think ‘love’ they think romance. They simply recognize that the romantic part of love isn’t the most important part. Endearing companionship is a more important aspect of love than romance. Romance is very important, but it’s not where you’ll live most of the time.[/list_item]

[list_item icon=”fa-home(Check Font awesomes for Icon Class Names)” color=”#ffd600″]Your spouse is no replacement for God. You can’t place that kind of faith in a person.[/list_item]

[list_item icon=”fa-home(Check Font awesomes for Icon Class Names)” color=”#ffd600″]Most people start by saying “We don’t have the perfect marriage.” That seems silly. The perfect marriage doesn’t exist. So don’t try to fool anyone – your marriage is just as imperfect as the next guy’s. You have fights, you may have even had some serious issues, but that’s okay. Don’t hold your marriage as an Idol.[/list_item]

[list_item icon=”fa-home(Check Font awesomes for Icon Class Names)” color=”#ffd600″]Most people start by saying “We don’t have the perfect marriage.” That seems silly. The perfect marriage doesn’t exist. So don’t try to fool anyone – your marriage is just as imperfect as the next guy’s. You have fights, you may have even had some serious issues, but that’s okay. Don’t hold your marriage as an Idol.[/list_item]

[list_item icon=”fa-home(Check Font awesomes for Icon Class Names)” color=”#ffd600″]Divorce is terrible. It effects the people getting divorced far more than they expect it to, but it also effects everyone around them. There is no exaggeration for the destructive power that divorce has. It is not worth it. It is most definitely not a ‘reset’ button for you life. You cannot get married, get divorced and just ‘go back’ to the way things were.[/list_item]

[list_item icon=”fa-home(Check Font awesomes for Icon Class Names)” color=”#ffd600″]Several women said that they were surprised to find out that they can’t change their husband. This sounds obvious, but don’t marry someone you don’t like, because while they can change, you can’t change them. It’s the Holy Spirit’s Job to change people. It’s your job to love them.[/list_item]

[list_item icon=”fa-home(Check Font awesomes for Icon Class Names)” color=”#ffd600″]Several women said that they were surprised to find out that they can’t change their husband. This sounds obvious, but don’t marry someone you don’t like, because while they can change, you can’t change them. It’s the Holy Spirit’s Job to change people. It’s your job to love them.[/list_item]

[list_item icon=”fa-home(Check Font awesomes for Icon Class Names)” color=”#ffd600″]Marriage is really hard sometimes. Really really hard. But it is worth it.[/list_item]

[list_item icon=”fa-home(Check Font awesomes for Icon Class Names)” color=”#ffd600″]We’re not big enough to fix all of our problems on our own. Counseling isn’t for broken marriages it’s for marriages that don’t want to break.[/list_item]

[list_item icon=”fa-home(Check Font awesomes for Icon Class Names)” color=”#ffd600″]It only gets better. The couples that had been married 40-60+ years all said that marriage only gets better as time goes by.[/list_item]

Not another reboot!

Hollywood is doing all these gritty reboots these days, I thought I might as well do a not-so-gritty reboot of my blog. Check it out it’s all different looking and e’ry thing. I hope to have the contents of my old blog restored to this one shortly but for now I should be writing again soon – as in tomorrow.

The lie we were told: a letter to my generation

Millennials, we were all lied to. From the time we first set foot on the preschool campus to the moment we were handed that college or high school diploma. We were lied to. No matter who you are, if you grew up in the US over the last two decades you were told this lie and despite how innocent it may have seemed to its progenitors, it has recently come to a head in a frustrating, pointless and even violent way.

Somewhere long about the early 80s a decision was made in America. I don’t know where it came from, I’ve tried to find out, but ultimately it doesn’t matter. This decision would make us the guinea pigs of a soon to be horribly failed experiment in human behavior. Weather the decision was conscience or just an unhappy fluke, we all felt the effects of it our whole childhood. And the results of the experiment have recently come to light as we, the Mellinial generation, generation Y, the screenagers, the mosaic generation- as we have entered ‘adulthood.’

I don’t know whether those who first told this lie actually believed it or if they just thought it would be fun to see what happens to a generation when they are all told something that isn’t true. I don’t think it was malicious; I think those that lied to us thought they were helping. I think they thought that this lie would somehow drive us to do great things. As I said it was in one way the largest psychological study of our time and it’s outcome is now obvious.

What is this lie? You may still believe it to be true. You may think I’m exaggerating it’s effects, but regardless of what you feel about this phrase, you’ll recognize it. You will recognize it from teachers and coaches. You’ve heard it on TV and in film. You read it in comics, magazines and books. Some of us were even taught it by our parents.

The lie is this: You can do anything if you want it enough. Nothing is impossible if you set your mind to it. If you can dream it, you can do it. Astronaut? NFL player? President? All possible so long as you want it enough. You may still think this is true, but any Mellinial who wants to behave like an adult has to realize that this is a lie. I’m 5′ 7″ and no matter how much I want it, I’d never be able to beat Lebron at a one-on-one game of basketball. While I truly believe that positive thinking can take you very far, (studies show optimists live longer, healthier lives) there are some things that are simply out of reach.

Like the rest of you, I don’t like limits, I don’t like rules. I don’t like things to be hard and fast. I want to cling to the romantic notion that the unattainable can be attained, that I am capable of anything I want to do, so long as I really want to do it. But here is the truth they didn’t tell us: You can do almost anything, but only if you’re willing to work hard your whole life and make sacrifices in order to achieve it. It is amazing what you can accomplish by imagining something and then pouring every ounce of strength you have into the realization of it. You can do what many thought was impossible, but you have to do more than write a thesis and receive a degree (or two) to see it happen. You have to work for it. Wanting it, dreaming it, believing in it is simply not enough. You can reach for the stars all you want they’re not coming any closer you must go to them.

It takes time, which is perhaps the hardest part. Anyone can work hard for a day, but to do it for years or even decades in order to see a dream realized takes patience and strength of character. Don’t get discouraged. I often hear from my peers that they thought they’d be in a different place than they are now, they thought they’d have  a better job, or a better paycheck. Craig Groeschel addressed this at catalyst this year.

“This generation overestimates what God what’s to do with you in the short run and underestimates what God want’s to do with you in the long run.”

You will have a hard time accepting this if you are a true member of the Mellinial Generation, because the one thing we excel at is overconfidence. You may know that according to an international survey, despite scoring very low in math and science, our generation scored highest in confidence. For the past two decades we have believed that we were the best, that we are smarter, funnier, and more creative than any generation before- because the lie lead us to believe those things. The lie made us think we were special. The lie made us arrogant. In reality we are not any better than our parents- we’re just different. We have different strengths and we have different weaknesses. That may be news to you as well, but we do have weaknesses.

But, thats not what they told us. I warn you that if you continue to live like this is true that you will see the fulfillment of Malcolm Muggeridge’s prophecy written about the same time we were all being born.

Thus did western man decide to abolish himself, creating his own boredom out of his own affluence, his own vulnerability out of his own strength, his own impotence out of his own erotomania; himself blowing the trumpet that brought the walls of his own city tumbling down.

And having convinced himself that he was too numerous, labored with pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer, until at last, having educated himself into imbecility and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keeled over, a weary, battered old brontosaurus, and became extinct.

Or will our mantra be that of George Bernard Shaw’s great quote:

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.

I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no “brief candle” for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

So Millennials, what will future generations say of us? What will our children tell their grandchildren- will they say we sat around in public places shouting our anger at the world for it not bending to our will? Will they say we expected the government to spoon feed us? Will they say all of our talk of social justice was nothing but show? Will they call us lazy? Entitled? Or will they say we beat a bad economy with ingenuity and an entrepreneurial spirit? That we worked hard so that they could live in a better world- That we never blamed anyone for the hardships we faced- That we were selfless?

We are writing history and we can choose now to be a generation that couldn’t face the truth or we can be the generation that showed a maturity beyond its years. And when that history is written, what will it say? It could say that we didn’t rise to the occasion, that we lacked innovation, that we chose to play the victim when things got hard, that we left this world in even worse a state than we found it, that we were selfish, that our generation spent more time playing video games or rehearsing with our band than we did actually trying to better this world, that our knowledge of popular culture dwarfed our knowledge of anything useful, that we sat writing blogs complaining about each other, that we were a total waste of space and that the only way in which we were an example for our children was that we showed them exactly how not to live.

We could be that generation or we could be a generation that used our creativity in a way that created jobs for future generations, the generation that ended extreme global poverty, the generation that saw the end of slavery and human trafficking worldwide, the generation that stopped the AIDS crisis in Africa, the generation that spent more time fixing the problems of the world than complaining about them, the generation that fed the hungry and healed the sick, the generation that watched the divorce rate dwindle into nothingness, the generation who used their creativity to house the homeless and give hope to those who have none, the generation that solved the debt crisis and the energy crisis, the generation that saw the whole world get clean water, the generation who did more for the next generation than they did for their own, the generation who left this world a much better place than the way they found it. Because if we want to be that generation, it doesn’t happen on accident. The only way this happens is by sacrifice.

Does all this sound impossible? We’re the generation who doesn’t believe in the impossible, remember? See, there is one condition under which this ideal is, in fact true.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Phil 4:13 (KJV 2k)

Through Christ. not through wanting – not even through hard work can all things be achieved, but through Christ. Our confidence doesn’t come from our knowledge or our own strength. It comes from God:

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. 1 John 5:14

So mellinials, we need a generation that stops believing the impossible is possible, what we need is a generation who will do the impossible because Christ is their strength. Will you be that generation?

3 Things My Grandfather Taught Me


My Granddad Billy “Poppy” Key

I get my first name from my maternal granddad, Billy Key. He’s a retired Methodist pastor who is still very well known in south Georgia Methodism. At age 87 my grandfather is still a great blessing to my whole family. This morning I woke up thinking of what a great life he’s lead and all the things I’ve learned from him. There have been many, many great stories that I hope to tell and retell, and many more simple scripture lessons and poems that he’s shared over the years through his many sermons.

 

I think I can narrow it down to three things that summarize what I’ve learned from him.

1) Always be ready to share the gospel, anytime anywhere.

Long before I even knew it was scripture I would hear my granddad quote 2nd Timothy 4:2

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine”

For many of my growing up years, I actually thought that he was the first one to say that. I didn’t realize it was in the Bible – he says it like he owns it. (would that we may all take such ownership over the Word, that it comes out of such conviction)

My Grand Father has never met a stranger and is never afraid to speak the name of Jesus to anyone he meets throughout his day. In today’s world the word ‘preach’ isn’t very cool. We think it sounds dictatorial, dogmatic, long-winded or boring, but we’re told in scripture to preach – and Billy Key is never afraid to ‘preach’ even if its just a few words of truth to the clerk at the grocery store.

2) Always be grateful for what you have and what you are given.

He has always displayed an attitude of thankfulness. Still today, he’s very thankful for any small everyday blessing that friends and family offer him – the kind of things that many of us would take for granted. Many times at thanksgiving he reminds us of an story of a woman who would say before every meal ‘Much obliged for the vittles, Lord.’

When he was a young boy in Adrian, Georgia, he was walking out of Church with his family one day and it was particularly beautiful outside. He turned to his mother and he said “Isn’t this a great world we live in?” and that sense of wonder and joy at the simple blessings has never left him throughout his life.

To this day he begins prayers with “Thank ya, Thank ya, Thank ya, Lord” as a simple expression of how grateful he is for God’s hand on his life.

3) And finally, bless the socks off of everyone around you.

My granddad is a blesser. He blesses people. We throw the world ‘blessing’ around a lot in churchianity and I think it looses its meaning, but what I mean by this is literal and intentional spiritual blessing passed from one person to another.

I hope that every one of you is fortunate enough to receive a Billy Key-style blessing in your life, if not from him, then maybe from someone else. He often grabs hold of you – by the arm or the shoulder. Then he stares at you right in the face and he addresses you. “Will” he’ll say, “You have been blessed with a great many gifts and the Lord is with you. You’re a capable young man. We’re proud of you and what you’re doing and we’re excited to see where the Lord is leading you!” Then he’d give me a big slap on the back and smile. Other times he’ll just grab you and quote from Numbers Six

“The LORD bless you
and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”

Again, much of my growing up years I didn’t know this was scripture – he said it so sincerely I could’ve believed they were his words.

At the very least, he’ll walk up to you and grab your arm, pat you hard on the back and shout “Bless ya, Bless ya, Bless ya!” It makes me think of Genesis 32 when Jacob wrestles with God and says “I will not let you go unless you bless me!” If it had been Billy Key, he would’ve said “I will not let you go unless I bless you!” He does it so easily, its as if he doesn’t even have to try.

Furthermore…

Over the past several years, my Granddad, who I call “Poppy” has preached fewer and fewer sermons. And when we get together as a family he doesn’t speak the same homily that he used to, but he still says one thing. After the Thanksgiving, Christmas or Independence Day celebration has ended, and all the grandchildren and great grandchildren are sitting in wake of a big family meal, Poppy stops and says this simple poem. Written by the Georgia poet, Sidney Lanier (who lived in Montgomery, AL for a few years), this little poem has become a treasure of my family’s. I think it sums up the kind of faith that Billy Key Has.

I know not how such things may be
I only know He speaks to me.
Not through the grass nor through the sod
but in my heart the voice of God
Speaking spirit unto spirit,
and if I listen I can hear it.
Voice of God that speaks to me
out of His infinity.

I called my grandad and asked him to recite it to me so I could copy it down and he was over joyed – upon finishing it he paused and said “There it is, its yours for the rest of your life now.” I couln’t’ve have ask for a richer inheritance.

These things have been a blessing to me, may they be a blessing to you.