Sunday, August 31, 2008

Needs vs. wants and desires

Dan Pink recently blogs about Charlie Rose's interview with Bob Lutz, General Motor's head of product development. The subject of the interview was the design of the Chevy Volt. The Volt is GM's hope for the future. A car that requires no gasoline (at least up to 40 miles).

I thought the interview was interesting from a design sense, but one comment caught my ear. Lutz talked a lot about car design being important for sales since car are often status symbols for the drivers. He went on to say that often people ask him how GM is going to meet the needs of the customers. His response the needs of the customers can be met by picking up a two year old coup at the used car dealer. To sell cars, GM needs to meet the wants and desires of the customer.

From a Christian standpoint, can we be throwing $30 to $50K at wants and desires? Just a thought.

Anyway, I think my needs are being met just find with my 10 year old Camry.

Friday, August 22, 2008

How to save a life

I might be behind the times a couple year, but I just heard the song "How to Save a Life" this week after downloading it to my Tivo (Music Choice). I think it is great. I don't know anything about The Fray, but I did find their page for this song, HOWTOSAVEALIFE.COM.

Whose life are we saving in this song? It seems to me we are saving our children (broadly all children). Isaac Slade's steps to saving a life seem 3 fold: (1) Talk and list; (2) be the parent and lead; and (3) be forgiving and allow room for them to seek repentance.

Watch the video. It's even more telling.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

On Tony Dungy's book Quiet Strength

I just finished reading Quiet Strength with a group of men I meet with regularly. Here is my review as I posted it on my virtual bookshelf.

Nice story. Love his faith. I think he place a little too much of his on field success on the fact that he has faith and God wanted him to succeed. Not everyone with strong faith is going to see "success" at the same level. I'd hope no one would doubt their faith because they never get to that level.

Monday, August 11, 2008

One thing I've learned...

Over the last 20 years is begin creative is usually better than knowing the facts. OK, these things aren't mutually exclusive, and I know that fact-based people won't likely understand my point, but here's why it is important.

It took my about 17 or 18 years to learn one of the things I love most about Stef is that she is creative. It all came out in a couple photography classes she took, but I see it all over the place now.

On thing I've learned in the last couple years of my life is that too have a creative streak.

The problem--Both of us grew up in worlds where being factual, being accurate, and knowing how to do things right is what makes a good person. As people who want to be good we both focused on those things that were factual, accurate and done right.

When we focus on those things, I think we as a couple become boring and uptight.

I'm glad that we are both finding ways to exercise our creativity. I'm sure the next 20 years of marriage will be much more exciting as we loosen the grip of the cold hard facts of life.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Why I've lost interest in the MLS

A few years ago, if began watching soccer. It began with going to a couple of women's professional games back when the Philadelphia Charge were around. Then I began watching MLS games, mostly on the internet because they offered all the games for free. I liked the MLS back then and found it fun to watch the games. I liked some of the players on several teams: Jaime Moreno, Brian Chin, Taylor Twellman, etc. Since I used to live in Utah I began watching RSL when they joined the league.

Something has happened since then, and I'm loosing interest in the league.

First, Beckham happened. I don't dislike him, but it seems that they only show LA games since he moved to the US.

Next, the league began charging for me to watch games. I'm cheep. I'll admit it. I don't have money to spend so I can sit with my laptop trying to make sense of a game played on a 2.5" by 3" compressed video screen.

Finally, as many people told me back then, I found out that European soccer was better. I got Gol TV and the Fox Soccer Channel and found out that there is a huge quality of play difference. I wish those channels would show games that didn't involve Chelsea, ManU, Real Madrid and Barca, but if I watch long enough, I see all the teams I like.

I'm looking forward to seeing how Liverpool does this season. They've picked up some big names.

I used to watch the MLS, but I don't have much reason to do so anymore.

Exciting things to come

I'm starting today two count-downs.

The most important is that there are 10 days left until Stef and I celebrate our 20th anniversary. Stef has been posting some thoughts about our first 20 years together. When I feel clever, maybe I will too.

The second countdown is related...
In just 5 days my vacation starts. We're actually going away (sort of). We're going to level Moriah at home while Elie is in Maryland with a friend. We're going to Baltimore's Inner Harbor--something we've wanted to do for some time now. We actually only get one night there, but it is a night. :) I made reservations at the Inner Harbor Renaissance Hotel using We got a good deal.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Full review of Intuitive Leadership

I just finished reading Intuitive Leadership by Tim Keel. I've hit on some point about this book before. In final analysis, I'd say that this may not have been the best book for me to have read. It's not a bad book, but it left me wanting some things that it didn't deliver and with a few things that I didn't really need.

I liked the fact that Keel poses a different kind of leadership book from those analytical, linear books that are so often published. The problem is it left me wanting something that I'm not so sure I can have: freedom within an established organization to create in the way Keel prescribes. There are some good principles that can be applied to established churches, and I'll address those later, but it will really be difficult to get away with pushing those principles beyond a basic level.

While those principles are there and as exciting as they may be, I also found myself frustrated that the creative church movement has to tie itself so closely to certain things that to me are negatives. How many times does Keel refer to the great value of the monastics and escaping to monastic communities? Monastics, to me, are a sign of failure in Church. Some monastics were running from a very broken church; others were running from a very broken world. One could argue that we have in North America both a broken church and a broken world. Still, I don't think escaping to an experiential community is at all the answer that the Bible gives us. I would instead love to hear creative people discovering God in creative ways among the broken piece of both church and world.

I like Keel's points of creativity that should be kindled in the church: in leadership, in worship, in theology. I love the thought of creative people taking leadership of the church. We are still stuck in a world were safe leadership is considered godly. Wouldn't God rather leaders push the envelope? Isn't he in control in the end?

I love the thought of the church living in paradox and theology being more a matter of "I don't know (yet)" than a fix system to never deviate from. I think our practices and services should highlight this paradox.

I also love Keel's desire to get rid of the old idols of the church. I know that I am tempted by the idol of ministry that he talks about. Many people use the church and symbols of God as idols just as the Keel point out that the Ark was used before the Israelites.

Unfortunately, I'm not so sure that Keel doesn't create some new idols along the way. To me monasticism is often an idol of experience and community. Similarly, I think if creativity for the sake of creativity is not kept in check, the thrill of doing something new can also become an idol.

In the end, I wonder if this is a book that should not have been written. Keel pronounces great frustration over other church movements that are successful and then copied because of there success. He says that he doesn't want people to copy him instead consider their own context. That's good, but I think human nature and the nature of leaders is to copy that which is written up as a success. Heck, didn't Hybels say in his book Rediscovering Church that people should try to copy the Willow Creek model? Still, copying Willow Creek seemed to me to be Keel's biggest struggle with the Evangelical Church, or at least its leaders.

I'm not sure how to get this message out, but when a leader writes a book describing how he found success, people are going to try to copy. Then again, maybe leadership is about causing success, and, after all, are there really that many intuitive leaders out there? I guess time will tell.

Monday, August 04, 2008

How bad is our economy?

The other day I had a conversation with a leader from another church. In the course of the conversation I suggested that the US hasn't done enough to help poverty worldwide. (I was particularly speaking of evangelicals in the US.) His response was that the US couldn't help others because our economy is too bad right now.

That raised 2 questions in my mind. First, how good would the economy have to be before we could help others around the world. I wasn't speaking specifically about the last couple years when talking about our history of poverty relief. If anything, it seems we've picked up our rate of contribution with efforts like 1000 Wells Project and Blood:water mission, two movements started by popular musicians.

The second question that I have to ask about our economy is How bad is it really? Sure, I can tell you stories of people I know loosing their jobs. Yes, homes are selling slowly and for less money that a couple years ago (still much more than say 5 years ago). But, if one movie can bring in $400-million in just 17 days, is our economy really that bad?

It took $4 per gallon for Americans to begin to rethink driving habits, and still they're only down less than 5%. People are still eating out and kids are still playing in travel sports leagues that require packing the SUV a couple times per week to drive great distances to play a kid's game.

Our economy isn't as fat as it has been, but it is still fat enough. Most Americans still have more they could give. Most American church has room in their ministry to help those suffering with no food, no medicine around the world.

I'm afraid that I'm as much to blame for this, but I'm working on that. Join me?

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Why jargon is dangerous

We all get caught up in the jargon of our particular communities. The Christian world is flooded with words that make sense to those inside the community, but are confusing to outsiders.

This morning while watching Good Morning America Weekend, Kate (whose last name was never given 'cause I guess you're supposed to know that she's one of the co-anchors on the show) was traveling Africa with former president Clinton.

In the course of the report, Kate actually said, "they wouldn't allow us to shoot the former president on the airplane."

I'm confused. Were they more open to shooting Clinton on the ground? I'd hope not. Sounds like it would be a case of a reporter becoming the story.