Thursday, March 29, 2007

minor miracles

This happened last week, but I ran out of time to finish the post. I thought I'd go ahead and share it with you anyway....

Today for me started out as a real Monday. The shower in my bathroom has tile coming off the wall so I had to take a shower in my kids' bathroom. I got in my car to drive to work and the dell dj was locked up and wouldn't play any tunes. Anne called me and told me that a tiny bolt came off a screw on her nice sunglasses and they were now rendered useless. It definitely felt like the week wasn't starting the way I would like. I was calculating how much these little annoyances were going to cost mp3 sunglasses...shower...ugh. After I recovered from the calculations in my head, I had to come to the conclusion that it's just stuff, and it's just money. Of course, that's easier said than done, but the truth is it's easy to get caught up in the frustration of the moment, and lose sight of the bigger picture. The bigger picture is that life will go on, even if we only have one shower. Actually, the bigger picture is that I am blessed to have a shower at all. Well, after almost a full day of stressing about what to do about the shower, unable to listen to any tunes, God showed me once again that he even sweats the small stuff. After some wrestling with the dj, it actually came back to life and started working again. I was shocked because the screen had totally gone dark, and I didn't think I would ever hear from it again. Then, I got a call from Anne. She had been frustrated about her sunglasses and decided to take one more look in her van to see if she could find the bolt. She knew there was basically no chance, since the bolt was smaller than some of the specks of dirt that were laying on the floorboard. Yet, as she was looking, something in the crevice of the seat caught her eye. As she stooped down, she could hardly believe it. There it was, the bolt that was about the size of a head of a pin. She picked it up, took it to the optical store, and her glasses were fixed like new! I had to smile at that one. Once again, God cares enough to show me that he is in control of it all. Now, if there were just some miraculous way that those tiles could go back up in the shower....


In the car today I heard an interview with Bruce Snyder who used to be the head football coach at Arizona State University. He made a statement that struck a chord with me. He said, "Life is complicated, Politics are complicated, religion is complicated, but accountability is simple." He went on to explain that in all of the complications that come our way, it's simple to be accountable and take responsibility for our actions. I have grown tired of listening to leaders who whine, complain and make excuses for everything that happens. I think people appreciate leaders who are willing to make the tough calls, and then accept responsibility for their decisions. Every one is going to make mistakes, go make them honestly and stop blaming everybody else.


Baseball season starts next week and I have to admit that I'm a homer. Yes, I root for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The great thing about being a Rays fan though, is that it's an exclusive club. Right now there are about 315 of us, but I think the number is growing daily. :) Anyway, I wanted to share with you something I read from one of my favorite Rays, Carl Crawford. Carl is an incredible player, but he doesn't get much national exposure since he's stuck here in Tampa Bay. In an article in Men's Health magazine, he talked about expanding your definition of "opportunity." Crawford believes most athletes don't understand how many opportunities they really have to break out. Example: A quarterback thinks he has three downs to get 10 yards, but within each play he has at least two wide receivers, a tight end, a running back, and perhaps even more targets, depending on the play. Over three downs, that's a dozen-plus opportunities. Crawford approaches his game the same way. "Every pitch in the zone is your chance to make something happen," he says. "Every fly ball is your opportunity to make the play." His thought process on this really got me to thinking about all of the opportunities we are faced with. When completing goals, we typically look at the straight line and say "I need to accomplish a, then b, then c." Yet, we often fail to look at other possibilities for success. How many times have you watched a football game and been frustrated because the quarterback didn't even look at a receiver on the other side of the field who was wide open? I'm sure it's the same thing in our lives. Are we missing opportunities that are all around us, but we're too focused on point b?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Don't Give Up. Don't ever give up.

Every year during the NCAA tournament, there are retrospectives of previous winners and you can't help but seeing the video of Jim Valvano making his passionate speech as he was dealing with cancer and saying, "Don't give up. Don't ever give up!" I am moved every time I see that and it is a reminder to me that I should take nothing for granted in my life, but live every minute with God's purpose for my life in full view. Of course, it's easy to get distracted and sometimes it seems like it's just easier to give up. But I am thankful that God has never given up on me. God knows the struggles that we face daily. And, just as He told Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9, "My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." How humbling it is to know that God, whose love never fails (1 Cor. 13:8), is able to see all of our inadequacies and failings, yet gives us grace so that we may walk worthy of the life that He has for us. What does God have in store for you to do in your lifetime? Whatever it is, "Don't give up. Don't ever give up!"

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Tech stuff: Subscription music, XM, and slacker

As I mentioned in my first post, I'm a technology nut and usually an early adopter. Right now, one of my favorite technologies is the subscription music service to go. Two years ago I started by subscribing to Napster, but I have been on Yahoo unlimited to go for the last year and a half. As both a mac and pc user, I will admit that the ipod/itunes combo is tough to beat, but as a music lover I can't think of a better opportunity to find new artists and download albums that have a lot of buzz around them. With the subscription service, once you download songs to your computer you can transfer all of your music to a compatible mp3 player. (I use a dell dj 30gb and Anne has a creative zen vision m). I am hoping that this type of service becomes more and more popular and that eventually Apple will offer the option as well. (Although I'm not holding my breath since Steve Jobs has said he is not a big fan of the model.) Anyway, another one of the cool features of Yahoo unlimited is the Launchcast radio service. Since you are able to rate artists, songs, and albums, launchcast will create a radio station that streams music to your computer while you're connected to the Internet based on your own preferences. It's like having your own personalized radio station. It's really a great feature, but I don't use streaming music that often because I usually don't listen to music while I'm sitting at the computer. (Pandora is another good FREE personalized streaming service to check out as well.) Sometimes I have thought that I would love to be able to take that personalized radio station on the go with me. I do have XM radio in the car, but I'm just not all that impressed. There are still too many songs that I don't care for on the stations that I listen to, and now they are starting to have commercials on their music stations too. So, the other day I heard about this new service that's going to be coming out this year. It's called Slacker and it promises to allow you to create customized radio stations and then take them with you on the go. I haven't investigated all of the details yet, but it sounds promising. If they can make all of the pieces work, it could be a disruptive technology. I'll let you know as I learn more about it.

Friday, March 23, 2007

20 years

This afternoon I had an appointment with a new doctor, and when I walked in the woman at the front desk looked kind of puzzled. It appears that someone put the wrong birth year into the computer when they were setting up my profile. Instead of the 17 year old that she was expecting, I walked in. We quickly got that straightened out, but that brought up the question, "Do you wish you were 17 again?" As I thought about it, I realized that I wouldn't trade the last 20 years in for anything. 20 years ago I was a senior in high school, and I thought that I knew what life was about. But, 20 years later I'm learning that life is still unfolding, and I'm happy to be on the journey. It's like Jason Mraz says in his song "Life is Wonderful", "It takes no time to fall in love, but it takes years to know what love is." I'm still learning about life, love, and other things and I hope that doesn't stop anytime soon.

Kind of Blue

While I'm talking about music, I have to mention that Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" is, imho, the greatest recording of all time. In the last two days, my mp3 player (the dell dj), has chosen to play "Freddie Freeloader", "Blue in Green", and "So What." The fact that these recordings still sound relevant, and that the performances of each player are still breathtaking almost 50 years later, makes it a "must listen to" every few months. It puts perspective into how to approach playing traditional jazz tunes. It's so easy to "lounge-ify" these songs and this style of music if it's not played with respect.

African Exchange Student

This morning I set my mp3 player to play "random roulette." It decided to play "African Exchange Student" by Kenny Garrett. I couldn't help but have flashbacks to college when that recording came out and what a profound effect it had on me as a sax player. You see, up until that point, I had thought that David Sanborn's sound was the only sound to strive for on alto sax. His sound was the definition of contemporary jazz. Then, I heard Miles Davis' "Amandla" and it featured a player that I had never heard of. Of course, that was Kenny Garrett. When I had a chance in 1990 to go to the Tampa Bay Performing Arts center to see and hear Miles and that band, it was something of a revelation. I had never seen such an incredible group of musicians playing an incredible range of dynamics, melody, and just plain funkiness. Well, that's when I started to understand what was going on in the music. Shortly thereafter, "African Exchange Student" was released, and really got me interested in playing more "outside" the chord structure, and even led me to listening to Ornette Coleman and others. If you've never heard Kenny Garrett before, give him a shot.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Blend

Every week I send an email to the people in my church who attend a service that I'm in charge of called The Blend. I started sending this email out every Thursday originally because it would remind them to plan to be in church on Sunday, but I've really enjoyed using the forum to share little snippets of how God is working in my life. I'll probably be including those emails in my blog. (That way I'm almost certain to have at least one entry a week) Here's what I wrote today:

This week I was reminded of Jesus' words in Matthew 6:25-27:

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father fees them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"

Since my kids are on spring break, Anne took the girls up to North Carolina to visit my sister and her family. I stayed home so that I could work. (Somebody has to write this email, right?) Now, it's been quite a long time since I was a bachelor (our 15th anniversary was yesterday), and since Anne usually takes care of feeding me, I don't have to think about fixing food for myself very often. Of course, I wasn't all that concerned. I mean, I can live for a pretty long time on cereal, instant oatmeal, granola bars, and ramen noodles. That diet helped me get through four years of college. But, on my first night of bachelorhood, something happened that made me smile. As I pulled into the driveway after work, my stomach was growling and I realized that I hadn't thought about what I was going to eat that night. I stopped by the mailbox and went into the house. As I was sorting through the mail, I saw it. It was a flyer for Crisper's restaurant. I'd received something that looked like this before and I remembered that there had been a coupon inside it the last time. Now, I have to admit to you that I'm a coupon user. I know that most people are too cool to pull out the ol' coupon, in fear that the person in line behind them might think they're a cheapskate, but I've never been hung up on that stuff. I figure, if I can save money on something I was going to buy anyway, it's like free money. Why would I pass that up? Anyway, back to the story...As I opened up the brochure, the words leaped off of the page at me. In big, bold letters there was a coupon that said, "Buy NONE, get one free!!" Well, I have to tell you, that's the coupon MOTHER LODE! I mean, you can always find a coupon that says, "Buy one, get one free." But if I was only going to buy one anyway, that does me no good. But, to find a coupon that gives you something for FREE! Now, you're speaking my language. Well, I'm sure you can guess that I turned right back around, fired up the Honda and enjoyed my West Coast Chicken sandwich and bag of chips. Now, to most people none of these events would have been significant. In fact, to me it was just sort of fun. But, as I was enjoying my sandwich, I had to smile, because I knew that God was smiling with me. I knew that God was looking out for me, and that it was His way of letting me know that He even cared about the little things. It's so easy to get caught up in worry and wonder if God is watching over us. But, if you pay attention, you can see His hand in a lot of the little "coincidences" that come our way. Oh, by the way, tonight I'm having dinner at Jersey Mike's. You guessed it, "FREE regular sub. Your choice. No purchase required." Yeah, God loves me. :)


Well, I've gone and set this thing up. This is something I've thought about, put off, thought about again, and at least set up for now. As I was driving home from work today, this title popped into my mind. One of the reasons I've never actually set up a blog is because I couldn't figure out what to call it. I'm probably going to end up writing about all kinds of things, but I think they're all encompassed in the title. My number one passion is pursuing God. I have dedicated my life to that pursuit, and I guess that's why I'm a pastor in my "day job." His impact on my life affects everything I do. How I am as a husband, father, boss, co-worker. I'll also probably write about things happening in my life. Yesterday was my 15th wedding anniversary. I've got a loving wife who is my best friend, and three beautiful daughters. Then, there's just stuff. I'm a technology nut, music lover, and sports fan. I'll probably touch on all of those subjects now and then. I guess now I've stuck my toe in the water, and I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next!