Monday, September 29, 2008

Bailout Bailed On

“Everything rises and falls on leadership” is a quote anyone who has studies leadership has heard. Today, the House bailed on the bailout plan to save Wall Street. It is not something that surprises me, and to be honest I do not fully understand it and the full ramifications of the failure. However, what I do know is that failure to act on this plan is allegedly (according to President Bush and other top political leaders) going to send us into recession. What bothers me the most is the issue of leadership in our country: today and in the near future. Our current President could not get the deal done. Top democratic house and senate leaders could not get the deal done. McCain and Obama could not get the deal done either even though they both supported it.

Yesterday, both party leaders were claiming victory on this great bailout plan that would save us from recession. Obama claimed he had worked it out with Treasury Secretary Paulson and his party’s congressional leaders, while McCain’s mantra was, “let’s get the deal done.” Today it failed, and so did they. It is discouraging that this is the leadership our country has to offer. It is discouraging that neither McCain nor Obama could get this worked out together or separately. It is also discouraging that neither of them stepped up and rejected the plan either. No candidate or party won, Wall Street got bailed on, and it seems like our future economic stability is lost too.

And incase you have not heard: Breaking News >> Dow Suffers Worst Point Loss in History After House Rejects Bailout Plan

Coleman's First Word!

If you don't know about my boy Coleman, but he looks like, acts like, and clings to his Mommy. So this is somewhat funny to me, check out his first word:

Sunday, September 28, 2008

My Contentment Mêlée

It is around midnight on Saturday night and I am struggling with a lesson I’ve written/edited/read/re-read dozens of times on being content. When I go through it the first few thoughts that enter my mind concerns what I want. A new car – sure, how about a new Accord or Camry or 300Z! A new house – sure, how about a five-bedroom home closer to work and friends. A new TV – sure, how about a 60” plasma for the living room and a 32” LCD for the bedroom. Cable TV & home internet – why not, everyone else we know seems to have it and it sure would be nice to watch all the college football games & Monday Night Football too… and therein lies my problem, stuff sure does sound good.

There are many good things out there to be had. I have just listed a few, but there are so much more. Did I mention I also want a gym membership so I can get my hind parts back in shape?

But this land of desires is not what Christ has called me too! He has not called me to want more and more, and constantly focus on what I do not have in lieu of what I do have. The truth is I am blessed.

God has given me a wife who is kinder, sweeter, Godly, and more forgiving than you could possibly imagine. God has given me the cutest girl in the whole wide world, and a total stud athlete of a son (he is 5 ½ months old). God has given us a wonderful house, which meets our needs and then some… in fact, it is a nicer house than I ever thought I would have when I surrendered to the ministry. God has given my family two cars, and not just cars but Hondas, which are dependable and high quality vehicles. God has given me (literally on this one) a great TV that did not cost me a penny, it is not HD, but He provided a converter box for me for less than $10 out of pocket thanks to the government issued $40 coupon. These are just a few of my many blessings!

With all these blessing, why would I not be content? Why would I think about wanting more? And am I really content at all? By content, I mean truly content!

What God is teaching me is that it is impossible (at least for me) to be content without being fully content. If I am not content with what possessions I have, what is next? Will I not be content with my possessions, my wife, or my career? Will I spend my life looking over my shoulder at what could have been if I would have done something different, made different choices, or wasting it imagining scenarios that are at best disillusioned fantasy? What I know is that I do not to live a life of discontent. I do not want to play the “what-if” game, and I do not want to look towards something I don’t have when I can enjoy what I do have.

My hope is to be more like Paul when he wrote, "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:11-13). That is true contentment, and that is what I want to truly feel.

If you read this, please feel free to question your own contentment, but please pray for me as well. Pray that this would not be hollow statements or desires. Pray that I would be happy where I am and with what I have. Pray that God would guard my heart and keep me from wandering down a path that need not be visited. Pray that my friends and accountability partners would point me in the right direction and steer me from a wayward mind. In all that I have been through, I simply do not want to find myself in a point of discontent, because I am far better off than I deserve to be!

Dear Lord God,

You are so good to me! Thank you so much for the blessings you have given to me. Thank you for my wife, beautiful children, wonderful church-family, possessions you have entrusted to me, friends and family. I want to live a life that shows gratitude for your blessings on my life. May you give me the wisdom and strength to make contentment my state of being regardless my circumstance. Help me to live a life that reflects the glory of Christ in my heart and in my life. Overflow from me into those I come in contact with I humbly pray in Jesus name.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I'm Twittering...

I am twittering now (pchedgecock)… feel free to follow me and let me know if you twitter too. Thanks to Bevan for finally pushing me into this. My excuses for not to do this have been lack of desire and Facebook, which still seems like the same thing to me. Anyway, I am at least going to try this for a while and see if it’s can hold my interest.

For those of you who do not know, Twitter is basically a networking site that informs people as to what others are doing in-between blog post and conversations. It lets others know what is going on in your life… which is why I am skeptical about it, but I do like this status updates on Facebook. Here are two helpful twitter insights that pushed me into it:

Article all about Twitter.
Have a good day.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Simply Put: It's Time to Ask Why

Today I had the privilege of attending a Simple Church Conference with Eric Geiger. He is a gifted man of God that is real enough to be honest, smart enough to ask questions, bold enough to make tough changes, and intelligent enough to disciple through a clear process. To see notes from the conference, click here.

Process was the key word for the day. What is the process your church has for making disciples? What do you want them to look like? What kind of disciples do you want to produce? Great questions that all lead to a church being intentional in the disciple-making process, as opposed to accidental or nothing at all.

Within the framework of these questions there are many additional thoughts. If our desire as ministers is to build Christ-followers who live obediently, we must also ask the question, “how do our activities to programs move people in that direction?” Eric suggested that our mission statement needs to resemble or actually be our disciple-making process, which creates a simplistic formula for success.

While these questions and ideas are simple, they are not easy to make. For instance, the problem with programs is that some of them exist simply as an end unto themselves and not as means to a greater end. Some of the programs and functions within a church are good. But as Jim Collins states, “Good is the enemy of best.” Another thing to consider is that each program comes with the vested interest of those who participate or facilitate or run those programs. Most everyone will be in favor of simplifying a church schedule or program for intentional and focused disciple-making, that is until the simplification process means removing their program from the church!

But what is the best thing to do? Is it best to appease people and keep with the way we have always done it? Of course not! Is it best to keep with tradition? No chance! Is it best to not challenge people? Uh-uh, it is best to challenge the comfortable!

All of this is leading me to ask why. Why do we have the current programs we do at our church? Why does our schedule look the way it looks? Why! It is my hope that we can be great at knowing Christ and making Him known. It is my hope that we can help our church family know Christ and make Him known. It is my desire to do everything possible to make this as simple for each member of our church as possible. Please pray for me and our staff as we ask why!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Go Cubs Go!

Baseball has never been my favorite sport, but I am loving it more and more these days. I grew up going to the Texas Ranger games, and was even fan of the game once (the put me on the big screen, gave me a bunch of merchandise, and now I have a cool story to tell about pushing other kids out of the way to claim the life-long fame)! The problem with the Rangers is that they still do not know the key to winning is pitching. They trade quality pitchers for great hitters and lose, lose, and lose some more. Now before I go into my next pitch, understand that I am and will always be a Ranger fan, but...

Last year I had the great privilege of going to Wrigley Field and watching the Chicago Cubs (including my favorite player Alfonso Soriano). It was awesome to experience and neighborhood stadium and all the energy that goes on in that setting. People we selling all kinds of Cubs gear, street performers were playing makeshift drums, it was a great scene.

Ever since that game, I went from being a normal Cub’s fan to a passionate Cub’s fan. I hate the Cardinals, dislike the Brewers, and regularly check the standings (Cubs are up 7.5 games and leading today’s game as I write). To further drive home the new fondness one must simply note that my beloved Dallas Cowboys play tonight and the Cubs squeaked into my mind… Go Cubs… Go Cowboys… sports are so great!

For the record, I am done thinking about the Cubs and have moved on to the greatness that is the Dallas Cowboys. The beating they will give philly tonight is going to be outrageously enjoyable. My team, God's team, is the greatest of them all, Go Boys Go!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Christ + Tangible = Effective

If we are going to be effective as Christians we are going to have to get outside of our walls and into the community (missional). People outside of Christianity need to see that we really do care about what them, what they do, and that we care about the community in which we live… tangible acts of charity, compassion, and kindness.

The problem is that some of these things are so obvious I never think about them. What comes to my mind is our local food bank and habitat for humanity, but there are so many more opportunities to reach into our community and shine bright for Jesus. Here is a video that displays a creative thought process meeting a real need, this is the type of ministry I hope to be a part.

Benched from Brandon McCormick on Vimeo.

If you are unfamiliar with the term missional, it basically means going: going outside of the walls of our church facility into our community. It is a mentality that gets outside of the building and builds relationships with those who are not Christ-followers, and will never come into the church. It is the mentality we must have to be relevant to a generation that no longer cares about words, but instead want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Jesus Christ is that something bigger and through Him we must let His light shine through us. May we be bright!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Decision 08: All Bark No Bite

On Friday I had to drive to OKC and back, then proceeded to get out of my car to immediately mow my yard… which means I had a ton of time to think. Right before my time to think, John McCain announced his decision to have Sarah Palin join his ticket for President of the United States. Unbeknownst to me, this would trigger about 5 solid hours of thinking about “Decision 08.”

Barak Obama has been talking about change. Change for this, change that, change, change, change, and why wouldn’t he? Of all of his change speeches, the one that sticks out the most to me was “Unite for Change,” his ploy to get Hillary Clinton’s supporters to unite with him in his bid for President… then he picked Senator Joe Biden, a rich white guy who has spent 35 years inside Washington, a man who represent the very thing Obama keeps saying he wants to change. What was he thinking with Biden? I know he is a safe pick, but if he wanted to really bring unity to his party, why not pick Hillary? Was it too obvious of a choice? Was it too much change all at once for him? I honestly do not understand his decision.

John McCain has been talking about change too, but instead of one speech after another on change, he has been throwing out his ideas on how to bring about change. While he has been identified as a “twin” of George W. Bush, he is actual disliked among the core of the Republican base because of his disagreements with The President. To add to his reputation, rumors had been flying that he was going to pick Tom Ridge or Joe Lieberman as his Vice President, a thought that made his party’s base nauseous with discontent… then he picked Sarah Palin and shocked the world. Palin has the reputation of being a reformer/regulator. She is truly an outsider to Washington that will bring a fresh perspective and way of doing things to the Hill. She was not obvious, she is in fact the first woman ever to be nominated to a presidential ticket in the Republican Party, and she is clear challenge to the status quo.

For a man who talks about nothing but change, Obama’s most important decision thus far in his campaign looks like doing things the way things have always been done. McCain does not have the eloquence or rhetoric of his opponent, but he apparently does have the audacity to go against the way things have always been done. Where Obama was met with the opportunity to truly unite his party, he chose not to reach out to his former rival and spurned Hillary for the rich white guy. In contrast to Obama’s decision, McCain to reached out to women across America selecting a woman and to his own party by selecting a person who would truly unite his base.

I guess my point is that Obama seems to be all bark and no bite. My generation might have clung to his charisma and charm in the primaries, but we will not continue to follow along blindly as he continues to contradict his words by his actions. Honestly, McCain initially did nothing for me except make me wonder if the Republicans were this poor off with candidates, then on Friday he changed my mind. He made me believe that a 72 year old rich white guy could see more clearly than a young charismatic politician from Chicago. He made me view his experience as an opportunity to gain wisdom and see what the best decision for his country would be. In short, McCain won my respect and brought to light the difference between talk and action.