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most anyone who would take the time to read this will know that i’m politically conservative. sometimes mainstream conservative ideas don’t jive with what i believe as a Christian, and sometimes they do. i lean towards the conservative side because i believe God called us to work hard and do the best we can for our family. i know things get in the way, and i would never forsake someone in that position.

ideas inspire me when they are born of necessity or when they reflect a person’s desire to do what’s right.

Tom’s shoes inspires me. this guy, Tom, makes some simple shoes and sells them. they are a cult classic and all the cool folks (like Derek) wear them with pride. Tom has quite a racket and could make a ton of money. i think Tom probably does make a ton of money, but it’s what he chooses to do with that money that inspires me – he gives back. if you buy a pair of Tom’s shoes then he gives a pair to a needy kid somewhere in the world. simple, honest, genuine, functional. i love it.

i’m trying to find more companies like Tom’s to whom I can give my business. i’d rather spend my money somewhere that’s focused on the greater good.

another inspiring idea is microfinance/microbanking/microlending.

plenty of us give money to charities. plenty of people a whole lot more rabidly conservative than me give money to charities. don’t get me wrong – i believe in charity – but sometimes i wonder if it’s really pulling someone out of the mire that is poverty.

microfinance is just what it sounds like – micro-amounts of money lent to someone in a developing nation who wants to start or build a business. sometimes these folks want to borrow as little as $100. sometimes it’s more.

the logistics seem to be staggering but apparently it’s not too bad. one microfinance institution, http://www.kiva.org, has lent $34 million in microloans around the world and they have experienced a mere 1.7% default rate. that’s $578,000 of dollars list out of $34m. your money is in a more dangerous spot when it’s on wall street.

now these microfinance organizations don’t pay interest, but you’re only loaning a small amount – sometimes $25 or $50.

this is the kind of change the world needs to see. this inspires people to work hard, start/build a business, and take control of their situation.

will it work every time? no.

will it work most of the time? i think so.

will it change lives for the long term rather than the short term? yes

should we do this and forsake peoples’ immediate needs? NO!!

i’m going to research this further, learn more about it and maybe get involved. this spans all political ideologies. giving someone a resource they have never had access to in order to assist them in their success is what we all need to be doing in one form or another.

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mexico

wow, this brings back some memories. i’m the bass player with the georgia tech hoodie on. it popped up on facebook today.

this would have been spring break 2002 in mexico city.

some of you don’t know me very well, so i’ll give a little background. i went to georgia tech and so did my wife. we met at the christian campus fellowship, a vibrant campus ministry.

while i was a student there the leaders at CCF had the dream of taking the ministry model from georgia tech and planting college campus ministries around the world. i was hooked and so was kristy. we signed on. during the summer of 2000 i did a mission internship in mexico city and loved it. that summer the campus ministry in mexico city launched. that ministry was called el oasis. i’ll blog later about our missions adventures.. we have a fun story for sure.

fast forward. i graduated and began a year as an intern at CCF. it was a tough year of work with lots of highs and lows. one of the highs was my spring break trip to visit my friends working at the campus ministry in mexico. my buddy kemp, the guy sitting playing acoustic guitar, told me to bring my bass. i said “sure!”

that week wasn’t spring break for the college students, so they had a regular thursday night bible study at the ministry. i remember it like it was yesterday – semi-outdoors, perfect weather, tons of kids. we had rehearsed a song called “el duelo” by a chilean band called la ley and played it that night. afterward we went to coyoacan and ate churros, drank coffee and probably ate a couple of tortas if the truth is told 🙂

that trip, and especially that night, make a memory for me that is near the top of my list. it was an incredible break from an incredible year that culminated with my marriage to kristy. work was tough and fulfilling, and this trip was a great way to see how it all came together. it was the legacy that CCF was leaving. later on that trip i attempted to climb ixtaccihuatl for the second time and didn’t make it. but kemp and i were chased by some angry bulls, i puked my guts out from altitude sickness, and we were caught in a storm on the mountain that had us pretty scared. good times.

there’s one comment on this photo on facebook. a comment by a girl named kika. it says (after my translation):

“that was my first day at el oasis! the day i fell in love with God! HOW INCREDIBLE! i’m crying!”

and now the memories are even more incredible.

great song. but not the point of this post.

yesterday afternoon kristy and i are on the way home from augusta and the phone rings. it’s my mom telling me their neighbor’s home is engulfed in flames.

my dad ran over to the house and passed the homeowner who was spraying down the outside of their chimney with a garden hose. dad runs to the front door, which is locked, and bangs on it until someone answers. he says “your house is on fire!” they said “i know, we called 911.” dad yells “YOUR HOUSE IS ON FIRE! GET OUT NOW!” and it finally clicks in the lady’s head that she should get out.

dad instructed her to get everyone out, go to the end of the driveway and count to make sure everyone is accounted for. thankfully they were all out and everyone is ok.

i was in shock. smoke in the house, they know it’s on fire, and they’re still there behind a locked door. why? don’t they remember the lessons in school? don’t they think far enough ahead to understand what could and probably will happen if they stay inside?

then it all hit me.

nobody pays attention to consequences. their way was best. we’ll just chill out while our house burns around us because it’s not a big deal. we’ll be ok because we’re invincible. we can get out in time when it really gets bad.

i’d be out of my house in an instant if it was on fire, and i’d have my wife and kids with me. but why do i stay in other, not so obvious situations that are burning down around me?

i’m praying i can give it up and submit to the voice of God and step out of my burning mess and into his safety.

sucks that their house burned right before Christmas. please pray for them.

and on an unrelated note, they probably started a fire in the fireplace without making sure the chimney was clean/unblocked. please please PLEASE get your chimneys swept before you use the fireplace!!!

Ephesians 5:22-33 is one of my most favorite passages of scripture.

it challenges me daily to honor my wive. i love kristy and i honor her, but i always want to do a better job.

life is stressful right now. i’m not home a lot. between my job and my masters degree i’m a busy guy. when i come home it’s all about the kids. when we go to bed we pretty much fall asleep before we get a chance to catch up. i’m ready for this hectic schedule to be over, and the light is at the end of the tunnel – i’ll finish my schooling very soon.

i’ll be honest. much of the time i want to honor myself before anyone else. and much of the time i choose to do just that. but God is working on me, and i am in constant prayer. my wife deserves better – not that i feel like i’m no good, but she deserves better. if there ever comes a day when i don’t feel that way then there’s something wrong. i will always strive to be a better husband.

so how do you guys reading honor your wives? do you? do you need to reevaluate? has the newness of marriage worn off? do you need a reality check? go check out Ephesians 5:22-33 and think about the relationship God calls us to have through Christ with our wives. make yourself ready to lay down your life for her – both literally and figuratively. be her servant. in this way you not only honor her, but you honor and love yourself and, most importantly, God.

50000shoes.com

50,000 pairs of shoes in 50 days

$5 buys TWO pairs of shoes for a needy person somewhere in the world.

what else will $5 get you?
-combo meal at McDonalds
-24 back of Big K Cola
-a pack of cigarettes and some change
-a couple of gallons of gas

NONE of that is more important than someone getting their very first pair of shoes.

please take 30 seconds and a few bucks and make a difference in someone’s life.

this is being done through a nonprofit in Nashville, TN called soles4souls.

Nashville-based Soles4Souls(TM) facilitates the donations of both new and used shoes, which are used to aid the hurting worldwide. Since its inception, Soles4Souls has distributed more than 3.5 million pairs (or one pair every 23 seconds) to people in 61 countries, including Honduras, Romania, Thailand, and the Sudan. The charity has been featured on CNN Headline News, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, ABC News, FOX, CBS, and hundreds of regional outlets around North America. Soles4Souls is a 501(c)(3) recognized by the IRS; donating parties are eligible for tax advantages. Visit http://www.giveshoes.org for more information.

for the last 3 or 4 sundays i’ve had at least one of our elderly ladies at Christian Church Buckhead tell me that I look just like Jesus.

yes, I have long hair. yes, I have a beard (that I desperately need to trim). but do I look like Jesus?

maybe the suburban white Jesus. but not the real Jesus. not that I’m an expert on what Jews looked like 2000 years ago, but my guess is that Jesus was probably skinny and, well, Jewish looking…

here’s a quick rendering of an old eastern orthodox painting of me as Jesus. i’m pretty proud of the halo/orb/glowy thing. note the contemplative, sincere, compassionate (but authoritative) look. i practiced by watching Zoolander. blue steel FTW!

ricky says his prayers at night as he’s going to bed. it’s the cutest thing in the world.

ever since he was a very little guy kristy and i have prayed with him. he started to “get it” a couple of months ago, evidenced by the fact that he’d close his eyes tight and hold his hands together. it’s the most pure, innocent love you’ve ever seen and it melts our hearts.

a few weeks ago we laid down in bed and started to pray. out of the blue ricky says “pray honey?” asking me to pray for my mom, who the kids call honey. i was pretty shocked, but i was even more shocked when ricky asked me to pray for other people. “pray poppy”, “pray poppy’s knee” (my dad had a knee replacement recently…), “pray grandma”,  “pray grandpa”, “pray bee” (he calls rachel bee), “pray momma”, “pray diana”, “pray carlos”, “pray zach”.

ricky has even prayed his own prayers a couple of times. he mimics me and starts by saying “thank jesus” and then mumbles in his ricky-specific language, finishing strong with an amen. he opens his eyes and looks at me for approval. i am mush on the inside.

lately he’s tossed “pray people” into his requests. we pray for the people of the world and anyone group that might need some specific prayer like the starving, hurricane victims, and sick people.

the other day he said “pray ricky”. we prayed for ricky.

i’ve never understood that phrase “child-like faith” like i do now. it’s so beautiful. so honest. so sweet.

i don’t like tennis, and i’d never heard of ashley harkleroad until today. she is from georgia, so maybe i should know about her? who knows..

listening to the radio i heard that she posed for playboy recently. ok, no big deal, lots of bimbos pose for playboy.

the discussion caught my ear as the DJ was talking about her Jesus fish tattoo that slows plainly in her nudie pictures. some of the radio personalities said it was out of place and wrong while others said it was “super hot” and made her extra sexy.

i think lots of Christians out there would be offended that Jesus is being represented in this manner on the pages of playboy magazine. i don’t like it, because it reinforces people’s misgivings about Christ, but let’s get real.

is posing naked in playboy with a Jesus fish tattoo any more hypocritical than people calling themselves Christians while lying, cheating, stealing and being angry?

go read my wife’s latest post for her take on last night’s service at buckhead church. we taught sunday school at CCB yesterday morning, and when we do that we always head to buckhead church for some worship and a message.

a couple of things i wanted to note.

i’d never seen andy stanley on the video feed before. it was strange but it seemed to work well. the audio track was a bit off from the video, however, and it was incredibly distracting for a technology nerd like me.. tell me, buckhead church people, is it always like that or was it a fluke?

worship, wow. steve fee led yesterday at buckhead church and he’s pretty great. i’d never seen him live before. i went to 7:22 a few years ago when i was in college and was blown away by todd fields and the worship. it was a 100% rock show.

i was very torn as to whether or not i liked it. i’m a musician, and it’s easy for me to pick things apart. when I’m not playing at CCB i always watch with a critical eye, and i prevent myself from really getting into worship. it’s something i think most musicians deal with to some degree.

at first i thought i wouldn’t like the “rock show” at buckhead church, but i’ve decided that i really do, and it’s for a silly reason. these guys don’t make mistakes. well, they do, but you really have to be watching to notice, and even then they are pretty dang good. the sound is perfect and the presentation is perfect. it helps me get past my own issues. i’m sure los could pick it apart for me, but i’m a fairly well experience and informed guy when it comes to tech/sound/music and i can’t think of anything to pick at.

don’t get me wrong, i worship God at CCB. it’s my home, and i love worshipping with the people there. but sometimes something different can help refocus. worship doesn’t have to be perfect, nor does it have to be “bad” or “organic” (whatever that means) in order to be true. it’s the change of pace that i like. maybe next time i’ll go to a high school worship service…

oh, and los, if you’re reading, i saw lots of hands up last night. the master plan is working!

monday was an odd day for me.

as you saw from my last post, i spent all last week with a band of friends from Christian Church Buckhead driving to Juarez, Mexico, building a house, and driving back to Atlanta. we had some great times, the greatest of which was handing over a set of keys to a nice, safe house to a deserving family.

monday i went back to work.

i work in the commercial construction industry. my entire professional career has been in this field, and it’s everything the stereotypes say it is. rough, angry, racist, sexist foul-mouthed men permeate the business and i deal with them every day. it gets old and after a while i need to reset my soul.

i sat at a table yesterday afternoon with a bunch of grown men acting like the world is coming to an end because of some engineering issues we’re experiencing on my current project. i felt like an outsider. i felt like they would find me out. i felt like i was about to break out in uncontrollable laughter at any second.

do they not know what’s truly important? do they really discount and forsake healthy relationships in the name of business and progress? really? tell that to the poor kid playing soccer in Juarez with a ball older than i am. go tell that kid that some silly construction project in Atlanta, GA, thousands of miles away, is more important than putting a smile on someone’s face and caring about how they are doing. tell him it’s more important than saving a life.

my friend and pastor Derek, who was present on our trip, told me that this feeling is what he calls “living above the system” and that it’s the best place to be. Jesus lived above the system. he understood what deserves priority. i want to understand as well.

my biggest problem with all this is that i feel like i have one foot in and one foot out. i am part of the system. i need to have a job, to make money to support my family. i need to care about my job and have passion for success and excellence. how am i to balance the two sides?

i think of Paul and his tentmaking. i’m not a missionary trying to support myself with secular work, but i think there is wisdom in Paul’s mindset. Christ is first. all belongs to him, and all i do should be to glorify him. i need to look at my job this way – it gives me opportunity to serve Christ in many ways. sometimes it’s just so hard to remember that.