ministry with nachos

28 10 2013

If you’re a Christian, you’re called to do ministry.  Maybe not full-time ministry as in it being your occupation, but to help people around you.  But for many of us, even if we want to, ministry can seem scary or difficult.  Maybe it seems overwhelming and you don’t know where to begin.  Perhaps you wish you had training (which is available in many forms).

mixed fajita nachos with bacon on International Bacon DayI was discussing this recently with a friend, telling him how I recently went to lunch with a guy because he was feeling down on life and needed encouraging.  So I met that guy for lunch.  We discussed life, shared a few laughs, and I happened to get nachos for my meal.  My friend replied with, “I bet ministry with an order of nachos is the best kind of ministry.”  🙂  I’ll admit it was a good time.  I wasn’t preaching at him or telling him what he needs to do.  I prayed about it beforehand, and my goal was to encourage him and potentially offer advice if the right opportunity developed.  His countenance seemed improved afterward, so I think the discussion helped him.

Ministry doesn’t have to be hard or scary — start with caring about people and trying to help them, whether with encouragement, advice, testimony, etc.  You could also buy someone’s lunch, which could be a blessing to them from a financial standpoint, but also showing them that someone cares.


Should you boycott Chick-fil-A?

31 07 2012

You’ve probably heard about the controversy surrounding Chick-fil-A’s CEO Dan Cathy and his views on gay marriage.  It’s sparked a lot of discussion, which is a good thing (if people will actually listen and consider what other people are saying).  I came across an article about it that is well-written and makes some good points.  However, you must keep in mind that this is satire.  Don’t bother reading the comments, because apparently many people don’t know what satire is, and thus miss the whole point of the article.  (Are the commenters really college students?  What are schools teaching kids these days?)

Chick-fil-A deserves to be punished.

I could say a lot about this topic, but the article does it so well (if you properly parse the satire, that is).  The point about full-time shopping with food stamps was one of my favorite parts.

On a related note, why do you suppose so many people struggle to identify satire or humor when discussing important issues?  Could it be because they are so defensive about their beliefs that they (subconsciously) jump at any opportunity to become offended and/or angry?  And if so, why would they be so defensive?  Or is aggressive attacking simply part of their defensive strategy?  Something to think about…

MPAA president threatening Congress

25 01 2012

Do you suppose it’s bad form to publicly try to blackmail members of Congress on national TV?  The president of the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) — himself a former U.S. senator — did so this week.  He’s upset that SOPA and PIPA were rejected after the public backlash.  Here’s the story:

In an interview last week, MPAA President Chris Dodd, a former U.S. senator, threatened to cut off campaign donations to members of Congress who vote against legislation the MPAA supports.

After Congress shelved two controversial Web-censorship bills, Dodd told Fox News: “Those who count on quote ‘Hollywood’ for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who’s going to stand up for them when their job is at stake. Don’t ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don’t pay any attention to me when my job is at stake.”

Free Press Action Fund President and CEO Craig Aaron made the following statement:

“The MPAA is so brazen in its efforts to buy legislation with campaign cash that its leader, himself a former senator, sees nothing wrong with threatening legislators on national TV. We think it’s time that Congress showed that its votes are no longer for sale. The first thing Congress must do is give back the MPAA’s tainted campaign cash or give it to charity. Congress must make it clear to the world that it won’t be bullied into supporting censorship.

Being a former senator, Dodd should know about attempts of bribery and corruption.  Ideally there would be a huge public outcry over his statements, because isn’t it obvious he’s trying to buy votes?

A quick word on SOPA and PIPA, in case you haven’t followed them closely.  They were proposed legislation to stop online piracy, which sounds like a good thing.  We do need to cut back piracy.  Everyone is against piracy, against for the criminals who are stealing software, music, and movies.  But the proposed laws went way too far, making almost any service provider on the Internet liable to be prosecuted if someone puts anything illegal on their website.  The problem with that (besides the bankrupting litigation) is that all these sites would have to moderate every single thing posted on their site.  Imagine someone having to watch every single YouTube video before it could be listed, then checking if it could be copyrighted by someone else… it would be near-impossible.  Maybe someday software will be sophisticated enough to do that, but that’s many years away.

pushing for fair treatment of some people

18 01 2012

I heard that President Barack Obama is wanting countries to be fair in their treatment of homosexuals before they receive financial aid.  Now, I’m all for people being treated fairly regardless of their preferences, but why is he choosing this issue?  Why doesn’t he stand up for the fair treatment of women?  Some countries are really oppressive toward women.  And what about the countries that persecute Christians to the point of killing them for speaking openly about Jesus?  Don’t they deserve fair treatment, too?  Yet you rarely hear about these things in the mainstream news.

It sounds like politics as usual…  It’s just really sad, because he is in the position to make a difference in this world, but many of the big issues (like basic human rights) are ignored if they’re not currently being discussed in the mainstream news.

Nancy Pelosi threatening illegal actions

15 12 2011

As I’ve said before, I can take only so much politics.  I follow enough to be educated, but the sheer amount of corruption and lies / misleading / deception typically involved in promoting yourself while smearing dirt on your opponents is disheartening.  While glancing at the political headlines the other day, I saw another example of this.

Nancy Pelosi has said she has dirt on Newt Gingrich but isn’t going to release it yet. She said:

“When the time is right. … I know a lot about him. I served on the investigative committee that investigated him, four of us locked in a room in an undisclosed location for a year. A thousand pages of his stuff.”

It would be illegal for her to release this information, yet she’s apparently planning to.  The irony is that the investigative committee she’s referring to was an ethics committee that investigated Gingrich in the late ’90s.  So she will inspect the ethics of other people, but is willing to bypass those standards herself?  Actually, that’s not surprising at all with her.

Of course, I don’t expect her to put her name on it if it’s illegal.  But if some unflattering info was anonymously given to a major newspaper, they would certainly run with the story and not name their sources.  (I see the reasoning for that rule of not having to name sources, but it sure does get abused when it comes to presidential candidates.)

God’s will in Albert Pujols’ baseball contract

14 12 2011

I don’t have any problem with Albert Pujols leaving the Cardinals.  It’s his choice — he was a free agent, and he was allowed to choose where he wanted to play.  Obviously there are numerous variables to consider, such as who you want to play for, what each city is like, the financial offer, your potential teammates, etc.  Each player gets to determine what variables have priority (which seems to usually be the amount of money when talking about professional athletes).

But what bothers me about Pujols’ signing with the Angels is this story from his wife.  Read for yourself:

Albert Pujols’ wife Deidre, in an interview with a radio station with ties to the former St. Louis Cardinals slugger, said the couple was prepared to take less money to stay in St. Louis, but were greatly disappointed when the team initially offered him a five-year deal.

Thursday, Albert Pujols signed a 10-year, $254 million offer with the Los Angeles Angels that contained no deferred money, as well as a 10-year personal services contract following that deal. The Cardinals’ last offer to Pujols was for 10 years and $210 million, with $30 million deferred. …

Deidre Pujols, speaking with interviewer Sandi Brown, who is her friend, said the couple initially had no plans to ever leave St. Louis or the Cardinals, the only team the first baseman had ever played for.

“When it all came down, I was mad. I was mad at God because I felt like all the signs that had been played out through the baseball field, our foundation, our restaurant, the Down Syndrome Center, my relationships, my home, my family close,” Deidre Pujols told the station. “I mean, we had no reason, not one reason, to want to leave. People were deceived by the numbers.”

She indicated the key moment was the Cardinals’ initial offer of five years and $130 million.

“When you have somebody say ‘We want you to be a Cardinal for life’ and only offer you a five-year deal, it kind of confused us,” Deidre Pujols said. “Well, we got over that insult and felt like Albert had given so much of himself to baseball and into the community … we didn’t want to go through this again.”

Deidre Pujols told the station the negative reaction in St. Louis over her husband’s decision to sign with the Angels has been striking.

“Albert has never lied. People are like ‘Oh, we thought we knew who he was.’ Well, we thought we knew who they were,” she told the station.

“The city of St. Louis has absolutely been deceived and I have never seen hatred spread so fast and I understand why,” she added. “Let me say that Albert and I never, not one time, ever made plans to leave this city.”

Deidre Pujols also said she had no ill will toward the Cardinals or owner Bill DeWitt and that she understands the fans’ frustration with her husband’s decision.

I understand that Albert Pujols wanted a 10-year contract, which would take him to retirement age in baseball.  But to be insulted by a five-year offer of $130 million is crazy.  That’s $26 million a year!  And reportedly the Cardinals made several later offers, including a 10-year offer mentioned above, for “only” $210 million.

I’d heard a while back from “inside sources” that Pujols wanted to be the highest paid player in Major League Baseball.  Most teams are unable to offer such a contract, and it’s dubious whether doing so is a good strategy for building a balanced team (unless you’re the Yankees and can afford a $200+ million payroll).  The Rangers can tell you about how their record-breaking $250 million signing of Alex Rodriguez worked out — they finished last each year with the highest-paid player, then started contending after he left.

It just seems to be poor taste for Pujols’ wife to bad-mouth the Cardinals organization for “insulting” them with an offer of $26 million a year.  That would’ve made him the 3rd-highest paid player — which he still will be with his new contract.  Apparently the Cardinals didn’t want to pay that much when Albert will be over 40, and I don’t blame them for that.

She said it “confused” them to get a 5-year offer when they wanted to remain with the Cardinals for life, and that Albert virtually pleaded with the Cardinals to make it possible for him to commit the rest of his career and beyond to the Cardinals.  The thing is, the Cardinals claim to have made the offer, both for 9 and 10 years.  The issue really isn’t confusing at all, and these people know it.  It all comes down to the money.  The Cardinals didn’t want to pay that much, and Pujols wanted all he could get.

I’m surprised she basically admitted that they wanted to stay with the Cardinals for all reasons except that they wanted more money — well, and more long-term security, although even with “only” $130 million (the 5-year deal), there is a LOT of long-term security.  If you can’t live the rest of your life on that, then something is wrong…

After the signing, Albert Pujols said, “To tell you the truth, it wasn’t about the money. … It was about the commitment.”  The Angels didn’t defer any salary, and they offered a 10-year post-playing employment with the club.  So there was an extended commitment.  But the Cardinals have already paid Albert over $117 million for the first half of his career, which is considerable commitment to him so far, and there’s clearly a commitment to winning.  And Pujols shouldn’t have trouble finding stuff to do after he retires from baseball.  With all the money he will have, what can he not do?  Albert also had said the Cardinals management made it sound like business (which is it), while the Angels owner was warm and personable.  So he’s going to alienate most of his fans because he didn’t like his boss?  One thing Pujols may not realize is that St. Louis is probably the only team he could still be heavily supported even when he’s “washed-up” and overpaid in his last years.  We’ll see how it works out for him…

Lastly, I’m kinda bothered that she was mad at God, saying “all the signs” were there to stay except the money.  I’m not sure what they were praying for…  I mean, if you feel you should stay, but a 5-year deal at $26 million a year is a sign that you shouldn’t stay?  Or a 10-year $210 million deal?  I just don’t understand…

Courageous movie review

30 10 2011

Yesterday I saw the movie “Courageous” in the theater.  I have to say I was really impressed.  I enjoyed their previous movies (like “Facing the Giants” and “Fireproof”), but I think this one is even better.  To me, it was all well done — the depth of the story, the range of emotions, the acting, and the production values.  I’m no movie critic (nor do I try to have that mentality while watching movies), but I didn’t have any problems with it.

The story is incredible.  There are numerous main characters, and it’s not obvious what they will all go through.  This movie had the full range of emotions, too — sometimes you laugh outloud, sometimes you want to cry, and overall it challenges you to live a better life.  Someone asked me if it was a great story or just a great devotional, and I think it was a great story.  When the end credits started in the theater, quite a few people clapped.  You don’t see that very often.

“Courageous” is rated PG-13, which might concern some people, but the only reason I can think of is gunfire between the police and criminals.  There’s nothing graphic about it, but you still might not want young children to see that.

I recommend seeing it.  If possible, go to a theater to watch it, because that’s the only vote we have in what types of movies are produced.  So many movies these days are full of filth and obscenity, so it’s refreshing to see a clean, wholesome movie (with a great story) do well.  I hope they keep making more.  And if other companies see the success of this type of movie, they will be more likely to make similar movies.