Thursday, December 27, 2007

JW and Christmas

I have a co-worker who is a Jehovah's Witness. He does not celebrate Christmas, and it got me thinking. He is not extremely vocal about his view, but when asked, he will tell people that he doesn't celebrate Christmas. I have never heard him explain why he does not to someone, but I'm sure he would be ready to if necessary.

The real catch here is that he still buys his kids gifts during winter break from school. The logic is that of a caring parent, in that he doesn't want his kids to feel bad when they go back to school and everyone else is talking about what they got for Christmas.

But really, if you are not celebrating Christmas, and then still getting your kids presents, aren't you just celebrating secular Christmas? Really, if you look around, there is a LOT of secular Christmas. Santa, Christmas Trees, Miniature lights...where was any of that in The Bible? Sure, some of the theme could be interpreted in a Biblical light. God gave a gift to the world. Everlasting light. I can see those themes. But really, the Holidays just bring stress and consumerism to a whole lot of people. I'd love for there to be a revival of the reason for the season. I pray for that.

But back to my friend. The second thought I had was that maybe he uses this as a tool to share his faith with others. Yes, it is in a very subtle way, but just maybe. And if someone asks him why he doesn't celebrate maybe it gives him an open door to share his beliefs. The lesson Christians can take away is that maybe WE should do a better job at making opportunities to share our faith. And then when the door is opened, we need to walk through it, and explain why we do the things we do and act the way we do. We need to pray to God to open the doors, and to help us see the doors that are open. Then we need to walk through them.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Interesting Array

Well, I have a couple of unrelated items to blog about today. The only way I see them as related, is that I came across them today.

So the first thing was my excitement over email. Now, I know what you may be thinking..."Excitement over email?" "Who gets excited over email?" and "Has this guy been cryogenically frozen for the past decade or something?" Well, despite any evidence to the contrary, no I have not been frozen physically or mentally for the last decade.

No my excitement come in the form of a presentation about email I watched today. I actually came across this presentation back in July on Lifehacker. At the time - I looked at it and saw it was an hour-long video...and decided to watch it later. Well today, I came across another Lifehacker post and the page it linked to referenced Merlin Mann's video. So it came to pass that I decided to devote the time, bite the bullet, and watch it.

It really isn't as bad as giving up an entire hour. In fact, the actual talk is only about 30 minutes and the rest is Q & A. But the content is fabulous. I am one of those corporate workers, who at work used to pride himself in having two years of email archives, and at least 1,000 messages in my inbox at all time. As of this afternoon, I had zero. I can't say much more without rambling on forever, but watch it. It's good stuff! I may have to devote more time to it on another date.

The second thing I found really interesting was a cnet blog entry about Piracy as a leading indicator of sales. The long and short of it, is that some companies look at whether or not a show or movie or song is being pirated, as an indication consumer interest in Buying those products. So instead of being angry that people are ripping them off, they see it as market research. The theory is that if no one is willing to steal it, no one would be willing to pay for it. Wow, what a brave new world we live in.

Of course this brought to mind a story of a grandparent being
sued for $600,000 because his grandson downloaded 4 movies at his house. I found with a quick search on Google a blog post about it with almost 200 comments about the issue. Interesting eh?

Friday, December 14, 2007

God is Good

Just a quick note to brag on God.

My wife and I have had very bad sore throats for over a week now. My wife is at about two weeks, and I'm just shy of it. She has gone to the doctor several times, and they tested her for Strep throat (came back negative), then tested again for Strep (came back negative) and most recently for Mono (should hear back today). I admit, that I prayed about it in the beginning, but had kind of fallen off for most of the time. Well, last night we prayed about it again, as a couple.

This morning, instead of horrendously sore throats, like we have had every morning, they were a little bit better. Mine is feeling good enough that I didn't take any medicine today, and hers is feeling better on one side, and a little worse on the other. These are odd little sore throats we have.

Yeah, I know some of you will say it is silly to attribute getting better to God and to prayer, but I don't care. I truly believe in God the father, and that Jesus died so that we wouldn't be cut off from God, and that we would be saved. I'm not saying that God is a magical wish-granting machine either, and that if you send $29.99 to me I will pray for you and he will heal you. But if you believe in Him, and and follow his teachings, there is nothing wrong with asking Him to heal you, if it is His will. He may just answer your prayer, when all of the earthly methods and doctors and medicines have failed. But I think he wants us to really see that it is Him doing the work, not anything on this earth.

God is awesome and caring, and He hears our prayers, because he is a living God. I can't help but to brag on Him.

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Monday, December 10, 2007


So I decided to look up Facebook tonight. I've always been a guy who is pretty much "in-the-know" when it comes to things related to computers, but I admit I have been slacking on this one. I've heard of Facebook and other sites like it, and heard that they are this new wave of "social media", but have neglected them until now.

I signed up pretty quickly and easily. Since I'm not currently in college, I signed up as "an employee" with my work email address. Facebook automatically linked me to two groups, one for my employer, and one for my geographic area. The employer thing is kinda cool, and I like how it automatically found it based on my work email address. It could have helped that I work for a fortune 500 company. There were quite a few people in my employer's network, though one I did the math, it turns out to be less than 2% of the employees.

It was pretty easy to search around the site, and I actually found quite a few people I know through my High School's network. You can set it up for your class year to narrow things down a bit. I found a bunch of people I think I'd like to connect with again... and a few I didn't.

What really got me thinking and blogging though, was realizing the nature of the site, and the position it put me in. It lets you do a lot of things, and helps you let people know a lot about you. The thing is, I'm still living in an online world where there is but ONE reference relating my real identity with my online identity. Facebook is based on your name, where you live, who you know, and how to get in touch with you. Very much not anonymous.

So it's all in or not in at all. I honestly backed out for now. I found the privacy settings and basically hid my existence for now. Maybe in looking around a little more, I'll decide to go all-in, or at least let people start to find me, but it is kinda scary out there right now. Maybe because this puts me back into high school, where I was not the most outgoing, confident, or popular kid. There are actually a lot of different scenarios playing through my head now. I'll definitely be writing on this issue again later, to work through this brave new world (or, as it may be, old one).

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Value of a Study Bible

I like to listen to biblical teaching as much as I can. Since I drive often for my day job, I get the chance to do that. So I was listening to some teachings yesterday and one of them mentioned Chapter 12 in the book of Romans. I wanted to investigate it further, so the next time I stopped at a gas station, I looked it up and read it.

The Bible I currently have is just a basic one, without commentary or mega-learning tools embedded in it. It does have Jesus's words in red, and it is a small size, which I find convenient. But I gotta tell you, I read this verse and really understood about 15% of it. I could read it just fine, but when it came to comprehension, I was a little lost.

So that night, I looked it up in our Nelson's Study Bible at home. Wow, what a difference. The Nelson's Study Bible has commentary on most of the verses of the Bible, and really helps in understanding. Sometimes it points to other verses in the Bible, which help explain, or put something into context. Sometimes it gives historical information about the time period, or the language, or the author. Sometimes it even gives Greek and Hebrew origins and their meanings. All this adds to comprehension and understanding.

The study Bible we have is the most expensive Bible we have ever bought, but I think we still only paid $40 for it. However, it has been the most helpful, and understandable bible we have ever owned.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

I do not live with my mother

Just to clarify, because I know it can be a common conception these days that bloggers live with their mothers. I do not live with my parents.

I'm married with your traditional 2.3 kids and a couple of pets running around the house. And some fish. I live in the city, but not a big city like New York or Chicago. I live in a modest house in a decent part of town.

I am employed full time by a corporation, but I also have aspirations of either moving up the corporate chain, or starting my own business. Here's the thing: I've read that people who own their own business work longer hours and make less money than their equivilants in the corporate world. They are also happier. Interesting.

Many people I've talked to who want their own business want to do it so they are their own boss, and they can more or less do what they want to do. Unfortunately, I think that neither of those statements are completely accurate. You are only your own boss so long as you are able to stay open, and have someone pay you for what you do. So in essence, your customer becomes your boss. If you lose your customers, you are fired. And you can do what you want for the most part, but if you are a one-man show, you'll have to do things you don't want to do. I don't care much for doing books and working with numbers all day. However, unless I'm willing to hire someone to do that, I'll have to do them.

So as with most things in life, there are two sides to the story. Well, we'll see where the Lord wants to take me, and the most important thing is that I'm willing to do His will, not my own.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

CHRISTmas Lights

Woo-Hoo! The Christmas lights are up :). Every year I have this debate - Christmas lights shouldn't be put up before Thanksgiving, but after Thanksgiving the weather usually turns FRIGID in a hurry. Well, this year was no different. I waited until after Thanksgiving, and there was one good weekend. I didn't put them up then, so I got to put them up today. In the drizzling rain. Not very cool, but not too cold either, and at least they are up now. Most of them anyway.

Do you put up lights? I think of it as a nice thing to do for the neighborhood. They spread cheer. And this time of year, when I get home it's already dark, so I do it for me too. It's really cool to have them on a timer so they are on when I get home :).

We've actually reduced the amount a little this year due in part to energy costs, but I still think our little house cleans up nicely. I'll post a picture as soon as I get one and figure out how to post them.

P.S. - Dave Ramsey is coming to Grand Rapids on January 24th! Be there!