Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Happy UnBirthday

Today's Dove advice:

"Answer the phone everyday like it's your birthday."

I used to answer the phone with,

"Story department. How may I help you?"

Now I answer with,

"Where's my present?!!"

Much better.

Just my thoughts,


Friday, February 18, 2011

Money and Goofy Religion Part 8

Part 1   Part 2   Part 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6 Part 7

Last Jesus generated general money principle:

Be as generous as reasonable.

Just kidding! Of course that is not a Jesus principle.

It is how I wish Jesus thought about resources. I really, really wish that.

No, Jesus does not want us to be as generous as reasonable.

He wants us to be generous beyond reason.

There was nothing reasonable in the Samaritan’s actions (Luke 10:25-37). Reasonable would be calling 911 and leaving things to the authorities.

There was nothing reasonable in touching and healing the leper (Matthew 8:1-4). Reasonable would be tossing him some bread and maybe a few coins.

There was nothing reasonable in feeding the 5,000 (Matthew 14:13-21). I’m with the disciples on this one; reasonable would be to send them home so they could get their own food.

There was nothing reasonable in the widow’s giving (Mark 12:41-44).

There was nothing reasonable about the dad throwing the prodigal a party (Luke 15:11-32).

There was nothing reasonable about Jesus risking his neck for an adulterous woman (John 8:2-11).

There was nothing reasonable about the cross.


Nothing in his teaching or his example suggests that Jesus thought we should be reasonable with our generosity - with our time, talent or resources.

Maybe this is our litmus test.

When I’m finally (finally!) generous without resorting to reason, that’s when I can say I’ve mastered the general principles of finances - don’t let it rule, don’t let it come between, don’t sweat it.

When I get past the “don’ts,” and move on to the “do.”

Just my thoughts,


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lose Yourself

Today's Dove advice:

Lose yourself in a moment.

Tried it. Only took me half that time.

Just my thoughts,


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Money and Goofy Religion Part 7

Part 1   Part 2   Part 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6

General fiscal rule #3:  Don’t sweat it.

Y’all know that whole “lilies of the field” thing (Matthew 6:25-34), right? A set of verses so cool that Sydney Poitier lent his talent to a film exploiting the idea.

And you can’t get cooler than Sydney Poitier.

It comes to this: why worry? (Which is different than, “What, me worry?” Smart alecs.)

Worrying about stuff can’t help you.

Doesn’t make you live longer (verse 27) and certainly doesn’t improve your quality of life (verse 26).  

What it can do is distract you from the important stuff.  

As I’m pretty sure that everyone reading this is above the poverty line, so I can safely repeat: what you need, you’ll get.*

As David put in the comments to part six,

“In The Lord's Prayer, Jesus taught us to ask God to "give us our daily bread" -- not bread for the next year, or bread for our lifetime -- just enough bread for today. Tomorrow we can ask for the same.”

For those ready to respond with, “But Sean, wake up! There are people starving every day!”

Yeah, I’m aware of that. But I’m not talking to them. (And I don’t think Jesus was either.)

I’m talking to you.

And I’m talking to me.

(I’m especially talking to me.)

We’ve got enough that if we are worrying, it is not a sign of a physical lack.

Chance are, it's a sign of not-putting-first-things-first lack.

Wow, that was an awkward sentence. Let's get away from that sentence as fast as we can.
How about a little perspective?

I just heard a comedian last week tell this story (if anyone out there remembers his name, let me know so I can give him proper credit.).

He was at Universal, watching a man in African robes watching a water fountain.

And the comedian wondered, “How do we explain water fountains to people from Africa?”

It would sound like this:

“You see, we have so much clean, drinkable water here that we just use the excess as decoration.

“And then we take our spare change, the money we have left over after we have bought everything we could possibly want or need, and we throw that extra money into the fountain.

“And then we make a wish for a better life.”

In that light, it seems kinda silly.

So don’t sweat the small stuff - and by small stuff, I mean money.

Instead, put first things first, and the rest will follow.

Final cash principle next time.

Just my thoughts,


*Put another way, you can’t always get what you want (no!), you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Stupid Letters

A much needed laugh awaited me over at Letters of Note; I only wish my legal department let us respond to some of our mail this way.

Be warned, salty language ahead.

Just my thoughts,


Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Full Heart

Today's Dove chocolate advice: 

"Discover how much your heart can hold."

Ever obedient, I've been eating bacon non-stop since reading the chocolate wrapper.

Think I'm nearing my heart's limit; almost got the thing clogged up. Man, I'm happy.

Just my thoughts,


Friday, February 04, 2011

Money and Goofy Religion Part 6

Part 1   Part 2   Part 3  Part 4  Part 5

General fiscal rule #2:  Never let money come between you and G-d.

This really is just a corollary of rule #1.

For the rich young ruler (Luke 18:18-25), it’s pretty easy to see where the dinero comes between the deity and the... okay, I was going for that alliteration thing and ran out of steam.

Jesus said, “Give it up,” and he couldn’t.

Could I?  If you are reading counting spiritual points, the answer is, “Yes, absolutely, without hesitation.”

If you are reading expecting a little bit of honesty, then I really don’t know if I would.

Give up it all?  

10%, heck yeah.  (Or is that “heaven yeah?”)

More, sure, sure, no problem.

Half?  Well, maybe, I’m not so sure...

More than half?  “Look, Lord, I got me some expenses and...”

The big question is, do I trust G-d more than I trust money?

Okay, I’m rather uncomfortable with where this conversation is going.  And since it is my conversation, let me talk about someone else.

(Deeply paraphrased from Danny Thomas’ biography.)

When Danny Thomas was struggling to get his career as an entertainer off the ground, he was walking back home after striking out on yet another attempt to get a gig.  It had been weeks without work, and things were looking dire - he had a wife and kid at home, another kid about ready to pop out, and seven bucks in his pocket -- all the money that they had to survive on.

As Danny was plotting how to come up with the cash to allow his wife to have the baby at a hospital (asking her to hold the baby in until things turned around didn’t seem practical), he passed a church.  

He felt a prompting to go inside.  Why not? He didn’t have a reason to rush home.

So Danny went in and joined the mass already in progress.

Then the offering plate came around.  Danny felt prompted to put money in.

He argued with this prompting - after all, he didn’t have much to begin with. But the prompting was insistent.

So Danny pulled out his seven bucks, and started to peel one away, wondering what his neighbors might think if he reached into the plate to make change.  That’s when the prompting got ugly.

“Put it all in,” was what he heard.

To which Danny argued, silently but vigorously, “You’ve got to be kidding me!”  

He was quick to point out to that still small voice that he, Danny, would be the one having to face his wife.  How do you explain this one?

No food for us.  No hospital visit to deliver the baby.  No rent.  No way!

But the Spirit persisted, and Danny dropped all seven precious dollars into the plate.

After the mass, Danny took his time getting home.  He added up the hospital bill from the last happy bundle the stork brought -- it was about $70.  (Yep, $70 to deliver a child.  Times have indeed changed.)

By the time he got home, he had let got of it.  G-d told him to give up the money; it was no longer Danny’s burden to carry.  

G-d would have to take care of it, and Danny was okay with that.

I think you know where this story is going - you should for one of two reasons:  you are familiar with the wacky ways of the Lord, or you know that this story wouldn’t bear repeating if it ended with Danny getting a divorce and slowly starving to death on skid row.

Danny got home to a wife wondering where in tarnation he’s been; his agent had been calling frantically with a last minute stand up booking.  

That weekend Danny went to work, and made people laugh.

He also made seventy-seven dollars.

Exactly what he needed plus his initial deposit back.

Not a bad investment.

General rule #3 next time.

Just my thoughts,


Thursday, February 03, 2011

Heads I Win!

This day in history: 

Richie Valens, really really wanting to get out of Iowa as fast as possible, wins a coin toss and gets a seat on the charter plane heading to Minnesota. 

Giving us all pause to contemplate how we define, "win."



Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Darth Child

Thanks to Jeff for the head's up on this.  I only hope the kid grows up to use his powers for good...

I Wanna Be an Engineer

For the family and friends that are indeed engineers -- this is what the rest of us pine for.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Money and Goofy Religion Part 5

 Part 1   Part 2   Part 3  Part 4

Want to experience true financial freedom?  

Forget chasing after the get rich quick schemes, and instead focus on these four general principles from that dude from Nazareth:

1) Don’t let money rule you.  

Jesus says you’ll go schizo trying to serve money and G-d (Matthew 6:19-24).  

Anytime you find that money is your primary motive in a decision (or the amount of money, or the prospect of money), you may want to re-evaluate.

Try this:  next time a pushy salesman says that line that always hooks ‘em, “How would you like to save money?” answer with:

“Eh. That’s not a top priority in my life.”  

The look on his face as he sputters and attempts to regain his powers of speech will be worth every penny you didn’t save by switching insurance carriers.  

You can do this on an organizational level as well.  

I was once told of a church where the pastor instructed the youth group to stop pushing for free pizzas from the local pizzeria.  The pastor’s argument was that the church could afford to pay for the pizzas, and it was more important to support the local community than to stockpile some cash.

Here’s where a bunch of y’all have already misunderstood me -- thinking that I am negating the notion of being good stewards.  Nope.  

I believe it is important to handle our money wisely - just not at the cost of messing up our priorities.  

Just like in that blog that started this whole ramble -- Tim Smith suggesting that if a song writer getting a fee prevents a church from worshipping, maybe the writer should consider forgoing the fee.  (He said “maybe” - he’s just saying to think about it. Priorities.)

The obverse is true as well -- if a church has the resources, it may want to support its local artists and shell out the money to pay a writer, or a singer, or a painter.  

One church I attended had a full time position available for an artist.  A composer filled the position while I was there.  She was obligated to give half her time in service to the church, and the other half to create however she felt led.

It was the church’s way of making a statement about its priorities.

Now one might say, “Hey, wait a minute Sean.  Couldn’t that money have been spent on more Christiany things - like funding missions, or helping out the soup kitchen, or somesuch?”

Sure.  Absolutely.  Can’t argue with you there.

But I would advise you to be careful.  That argument is only used once in the Gospels, and it didn’t go down well for the argument maker.

General principle number 2 - next time.

Just my thoughts,