2012 Vice Presidential Debate Recap

Standard

The dreaded morning after the debate. Today is the day that the media puts its own spin on how the current Vice President and potential Vice President fared. Words such as “feisty”, “fiery”, and “sparks fly” will be used. If you were a web editor, which headline do you think would generate more clicks?

  • Vice President Joe Biden Schools A Young And Dumb Congressman Ryan
  • Acting Like A Child: How Joe Biden Acted Like My 3 Year Old Last Night

As I sat on the couch watching last night, I heard a lot of numbers being thrown about. Numbers concerning social security, troop withdrawal, and the impending debt crisis. Had this been a church sermon, I would have had an easy-to-follow outline. Alas, I did not have that outline and that is what killed the debate for me. I wanted solid answers; I wanted to see two men act like men. All last night left me thinking was:

  • How/why has Joe Biden been in politics so long? He kept referring to his track record, to historical events he was actually present to vote for. All I could think was that he is a part of the cause and a major part of the problem our nation faces today. When the Vice President wasn’t acting like a child by making faces, interrupting, and generally being rude, he took on the tone that was demeaning. I didn’t appreciate his demeanor.
  • On the other hand, we had Congressman Paul Ryan. Ryan would often answer questions and then point blank dodge others. At times all he needed to do was answer a question with a simple one sentence answer. That was all I needed to hear. I did like how he would sit patiently and wait his turn. Ryan came across as civil. We need more civility in politics. I do wish though that he had kept his answers shorter and more concise.
  • The moderator, Martha Raddatz, was a breath of fresh air. She asked thoughtful questions that demanded thoughtful answers. Very rarely though did I feel that either candidate answered her questions well. Disappointing.

The countdown to the election draws nearer. Are you going to vote?

Where I Have Been/ Where I Am Going

Standard

There comes a point where words must become actions in ones life. Failure to turn those particular words into actions will lead to those very words holding you captive; Haunting your waking thoughts with regrets of “what if” and “if I had only”. Trust me, I know.

For over five years I have worked for a company that offers me zero chance of career advancement. Short of going back to school and obtaining a degree in something I have little interest in, I simply cannot go any further in my current place of employment. I am in a way stuck due to the current job market and salary. Compound that frustration with frequent poor treatment, and you often have an irritated and sometimes depressed individual. I feel like I lost myself somewhere when I was told in a mocking tone, “this is so easy a third grader could do this”. Whatever level of college graduate optimism died within me the day those words were uttered. In my mind, I had become another worthless cog in the system, one that could be replaced on a whim. Reality had drop kicked me at the door.

Sometime last year, shortly after my Grandma died, I came up with a plan to move forward. I excitedly told others about this plan and began to set it into motion. I was going to go into web/graphic design. In the midst of the frustrations of learning/ moving toward my goal (acquire skills, get hired), I abruptly quit. I learned that letting go of a new found dream is easy when you lack the will to really work towards it. In a way, I hadn’t quite hit rock bottom yet. I was still comfortable pressed up against the glass ceiling of my job. What I needed was some fresh perspective, some truth spoken into my life. Little did I know that an email, a link, and a purchase were about to radically shift my way of thinking.

One morning, I received an email from Dave Ramsey. Well not a personal email but an email from his site. A link and a click later, I found myself reading about a book entitled Quitter. Though I didn’t know it at the time, this book was about to change my perspective and my life.

Quitter, by Jon Acuff, is all about pursuing your dreams while remaining firmly planted in your day job. Your day job, no matter how terrible it may be, provides a firm financial foundation for you to move towards what you want to do with your life. Truthfully, I had never thought of my job in this way. I had always seen it as something that brought in a paycheck, that had to be endured.

Jon Acuff goes even further in talking about how your attitude in your current place of employment will carry over into your future job. In other words, practice today the attitude you want for yourself in the future. This was a revelation for me.

The Bible talks about how Christians need to be faithful in the small things:

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much,and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” – Luke 16:10 (NIV)

Which got me thinking about my attitude and how I needed to be thankful for all that God has given me. This has required me to shift my perspective, which I admit is not always easy. It is easier to give into the norm and not rise above it.

In the midst of God working on my perspective, He also reminded me of my web/graphic design dream. I was finally ready for it. Almost a year after I first set out to change my career, I was finally in the right frame of mind to pursue it.

Two weeks ago, I started on the first phase of “moving forward”. I began working once more on redoing my churches web site. I have set rewards in place to help me achieve my goals. I have also limited the distractions in my life (video games) that I felt were keeping me from working hard.

My goal right now is to finish the church web site, show the church what I’ve done, and give them a list of possible hosting options for the site. Then, I’m going to find a new project and continue working/refining my web/graphic design skills.

Changing our perspective is hard. Words must become actions; actions must become a lifestyle.

  • What dreams and ideas do you have that you keep putting on the back burner for later?
  • What do you need to change so that you can move forward?

I would love to hear from you in the comment section below. Thanks!

Biological Warfare

Standard

As I walked into the house this afternoon, I quickly noticed black ants crawling on the wall in the laundry room. Closer inspection revealed that they were streaming out from a crack underneath one of the cabinets. Odd, I thought, they shouldn’t be there. Last week, I had had an exterminator come out and hose the house down in glorious chemicals. The exterminator also strategically placed “ant bait” (clear goop that ants apparently love) around just in case any of the  tiny invaders decided to return. Today they launched their D-Day, their day of death.

Springing into action, I immediately grabbed some of the gooey ant bait and placed it directly in the ants path. They flocked to it! Soon, the small dab of clear goop was covered in ants. Little did they know that their demise, and the demise of their queen, was but a meal away. All it will take is one ant, carrying the goop back to the queen, to destroy the entire colony. Biological warfare on the insect scale.

For some reason, this scenario of unknowing death got me thinking about bigger life issues. What things am I consuming that could be unknowingly poisoning me? A question I am certainly going to have to spend some time thinking about. What about you?

GO: The Groundwork

Standard

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20

Jesus commanded his disciples to tell others about what they had seen, learned, and experienced during their time with him. They were to go and tell others about the Good News, that the Son of God had come and paid the price for all sin; that Jesus had lived, died, and had been resurrected on the third day.

In Acts 1, we find the disciples waiting in Jerusalem as they were instructed by Jesus:

On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with[a] water, but in a few days you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit.” – Acts 1:4-5

The Holy Spirit soon comes, Peter preaches/confirms that Jesus was the Son of God, and the body of believers grows in numbers. One will notice, however, that no one is “going”. Instead, the believers begin to form a tight knit community, sharing everything they had with one another. Little did they know that a storm was coming.

The storm begins with small clouds (Ananias and Sapphira holding back part of their money in Acts 5:1-11) and slowly darkens as the Apostles are persecuted (Acts 5:17-42). Some of the religious leaders of the day write off the growing number of believers as simply a craze:

34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. 35 Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. 36 Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 37 After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. 38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” – Acts 5:34-39

Note: The key verse here is verse 39 – “…But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” Who could argue with that?

Lightening appears on the horizon amongst the darkening clouds as one of the believers, Stephen, is killed for his faith. The storm has now hit. In Acts 8, the new believers who have failed so far to heed Christ’s words and “go”, are forced to move due to persecution:

On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. – Acts 8:1

Something odd began to happen as a result of this:

Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Acts 8:4

Christ’s command was finally being obeyed, His word was being preached. God was using a potentially evil situation for His good. But how does all of this apply to Christians today? Check-in tomorrow to find out.

President Kennedy Visits Ireland

Standard

Over lunch, I happened to watch a PBS documentary on President Kennedy’s visit to Ireland, in 1963. Crowds gathered everywhere to see the President who had led America through the Cuban Missile Crisis some 9 months earlier. Beyond the crowds, the very faces of the people themselves are what captivated me. One would think that President Kennedy’s visit was the second coming of Christ. Joy-filled faces, reaching out to touch or to simply catch a glimpse of the American President filled the screen. For some reason, this awestruck scene reminded me of wave that swept now President Obama into the White House.

I think that we, as Americans, get excited about ideas. Be it flying among the clouds or carrying a Swiss Army Knife-like cell phone, we are always pushing the boundaries forward, testing what is and is not possible. I think that that is what carried President Obama into office. The very idea that an African American could become President of the United States was too big of a thought to pass up. So a majority of Americans voted him into office.

After nearly 4 years of leading the United States, President Obama’s time is running out. Though he is running for a second term, he now has a track record to back up his lofty speeches. The word “hope” no longer has the optimistic tone it once did. We have seen Obama polarize our country in ways he swore would never happen; we have seen how his words lead to little action.

President Obama is certainly no John F. Kennedy. However, JFK was not all he was cracked up to be either. I can’t wait to see what the November elections bring.

Our Actions Impact Others

Standard

Our actions impact others. Period. 

Recently I was reading about a guy named Jonah. Jonah was told to go to a city that was known to support terrorism. Being that the city of Nineveh’s reputation that wasn’t all that positive, Jonah decided not to go. In the process of running from his mission, Jonah ends up putting the men on the boat he escapes on, and all their cargo, in jeopardy. Jonah’s selfish actions not only almost cost the sailor’s livelihoods but their very lives as well. All of this could had been avoided had Jonah been obedient to God telling him to go to Nineveh and speak His word to the people.

Our actions carry life and death consequences. Period.

When Achan heard the news that that the battle hadn’t gone well, he must have known deep within his soul that it was his fault. 36 people had died. The battle of Ai was supposed to have been easy. Something was wrong and Israel’s leader, Joshua, knew it. After some heavy sifting of thousands of people, Achan stood at the forefront. He confessed that he had been disobedient and had gone against what God had said about taking things from Jericho. Achan had disobeyed and had stolen from what was to be devoted to God. Because of his actions, Achan, his family and all of his possessions were destroyed by rock and flame.

Bible stories are easy to gloss over, especially after you have heard the same stories repeatedly. I personally find that it is easy to miss the bigger narrative that God is writing. In the above two examples of Jonah and Achan, both men did not take into consideration the consequences of their actions on others. In Jonah’s case, the men and their cargo could have perished in the storm; In Achan’s case, Achan and his family suffered due to his disobedience. Both stories have gotten me thinking about the ramifications of my own actions. How will my daily actions impact my:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Workplace, etc.

I want to encourage you today to look at the bigger picture.

How have your actions impacted those around you?

Intent

Standard

Last night I happened to hop onto the Twitter’s and discovered this tweet:

cwgabriel
cwgabriel cwgabriel

Sarah Pain lecturing us on civility is like Jenna Jameson lecturing us on chastity. (No offense to Jenna Jameson is intended.) (via @wilw)
Now I do note that this was not from one of the Penny Arcade guys but was originally tweeted by Mr. Wil Wheaton. That said, while I do not agree with everything Sarah Palin says, I also do not think that she is the dimwit that the media makes her out to be. To compare Sarah Palin to Jenna Jameson, a modern day whore, is just plain insulting.
I hate, HATE, it when gaming personalities try to inject their brand of politics into the gaming arena. I have never followed the Penny Arcade guys for their politics, no, I have for their interesting comics. In other words, the package I was sold long ago, about a few guys making a web comic, has suddenly transformed into something else. Something sinister. I don’t give a pigeon’s fart as to what Penny Arcade, 1up editors, and anyone else in the gaming industry thinks about a particular political topic.
Intent is everything. Clearing defining what one intends to do, from the beginning, lets the audience know what to expect. Johnny B Gamer is all about integrating faith and gaming. There it is. Nothing out of the ordinary. I have talked about this since 2003. However, you will not see me making political statements here because this has never been a political platform. JBG is about faith and games. Nothing else. Ever.