Are the Occupiers Tough Enough?

This Occupation has the makings of a real revolution. A lot of courage has already gone into this movement thus far in dozens of cities. But for some real “we shall overcome-type” of reforms, many millions of brave souls are going to have to be willing to die for this. Yes die. If the effort is sustained, they’ll have to occupy Wall Street through the Holidays. New York City gets several inches of snow at a time in the winter. I’m sure Zuccati Park is lovely in December, but I wouldn’t want to live there in a tent.

What can you do except root for the 99% to win?

What do we win when we win, anyway? I say for starters, everyone’s loans and credit card debt get wiped clean up to $100,000. That would be swell. In 15 years, plenty of people would work their way back into desperate conditions, but many of us would use a mulligan like that to get over the hump and supercharge our quest for the American Dream.

It’s a nice brainstorm, but in order for those types of revolutionary concessions to be granted, many people are going to have to freeze, get beat up by cops, be separated from family, and then they can get ready to endure the real hardships.

Distance from Earth to Sun

It varies, and it’s probably very difficult to measure exactly, but the moon and the earth are about 250,000 miles apart. Here’s a picture of what it really looks like. The relative size of the 2 objects and the distance between them should be accurate.

 
Shout out to Drew Olbrich for the picture. You’d have to be 350,000 miles away from earth to gain this vantage point. Mars, the next closest planet, is about 600 times further away than the moon.

A Prophetic Message on the Debt Crisis

Will it ever be possible for the United States and her citizens to get out of the economic hole we have dug ourselves into?

Say I have a friend who is up to his eyeballs in debt and really hemorrhaging cash. He tells me that he’s found the answer to his financial woes. There’s a new company that will allow him to increase his credit limit so he can afford to maintain his lifestyle! I just might slap him.

Congress is currently voting to raise our debt limit, and we the people are telling Washington to quit bickering and just and raise it already. But aren’t they just finding a way to raise the nation’s credit limit so that we can continue to live the way we think we ought to?

On a monthly basis, the U.S. Treasury spends well over twice what it collects from tax revunue. By the time they write all those Social Security checks, pay the medicare and medicaid bills that come in, fund defense, and give out tax refund checks, there’s barely and cash to make it to the end of the month even though there are hundreds of billions more dollars of bills to pay every month.

They (we) borrow the rest of the money we need to run the government by selling treasury securities–paper that says “we’re the U.S. of A and we guarantee we’ll pay you back.” But when it’s time for us to pay those loans back, the only way we can meet the obligation is to borrow more money.

Soon enough, the creditors catch on and cut you off because of your crackhead tendencies.

We’re calling this current recession an economic crisis–I guess we’ve been in a recession for the last 3 years. But I think the real crisis hasn’t hit yet. The real cisis will be when we can’t borrow our way out any more, and we have no choice but to live precisely within our means. The real crisis will be when we owe China and Saudi Arabia a trillion dollars with interest and when we can’t pay, they gang up and invade us or set up military bases on our soil. Why wouldn’t they try it? They already know they have way more money than us.

There’s no easy way out. Living within our means would be less like Sex in the City and more like Book of Eli if we’re really honest. If we dare scale back social security, unemployment insurance, garbage pickup, defense spending, libraries, road repair, Pell Grants, and 20 other things, life would be a lot different.

We will have no choice but to make those kinds of drastic cuts soon.

Five Years

There will be an agreement in whatever variety of actions, so they be each honest and natural in their hour. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Answer these questions for yourself–here are my answers:

What would you say to the person you were five years ago?

“No matter how audacious the 5 year plan you come up with, you’ll pretty much achieve it. And if you have little or no plan, you’ll achieve little or nothing. Either way, there’s no telling how hard it will be.”

What will you say to the person you’ll be in five years?

“You are the man in your own little world and all of that, but PLEASE be extra-vigilant about the traps of money, power and sex.”

#trust30

Top Ten Things I Love About Alaska

1.You get to fly in one of those planes with the float skis instead of wheels.

BALLIN'!!!

 2. With the extended daylight in the spring, cabbages the size of basketballs are common.

3. The distances from Alaska to Tokyo and Alaska and New York are about the same.

4. The flag is elegant.

 

 

5. The shoreline of Alaska, stretched out, could wrap all the way around the earth’s equator.

6. Alaska has vast reserves of gold, oil, and jade. There’s even an entire mountain made of jade.

7. When the U.S. bought it from Russian for 7.2 million dollars in 1868, they paid with a check.

8. The longest River in the U.S. is the Yukon, not the Mississippi.

9. The aurora borealis.

I’ve always wanted to go to Alaska. Just one of those things. Need to put that in a 5-year plan for real.

You Know Where God Is

God is everywhere if God is anywhere.

God is in the bed room while you’re having sex.

God is present with every person on every airplane all day and all night.

God is watching the NBA Finals very closely.

God hears the prayers of  your worst political enemies and your closest family.

God is as big as all the supernovas and constellations and shooting stars that stretch out for billions of light years and beyond; and bigger still.

God is active and alive in Hinduism (and Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Voodoo, and 10,000 other places). 

The power and knowledge of God are alive and active and available to all who follow Christ.

God is everywhere. If you don’t believe in God and you don’t like what I’m saying, no problem.

The Gay Question

#Trust30 asked me:

What’s one strong belief you possess that isn’t shared by your closest friends or family? What inspires this belief, and what have you done to actively live it?

I believe loving, committed same-sex couples should be allowed to marry and receive full rights before church and state.

The Institution of Marriage, in its truest essence, does not need to be defended nor can it be, really, so why try?

It is possible to be Christian and gay at the same time. This fact has been well-documented. So if you’re allowed to be a member of the church while being gay, shouldn’t the church affirm mature gay Christians who want to have a church wedding?

Some choose to biblically prove homosexuality is a sin. Fine if you see it that way. Jesus said it’s the sick who need a doctor, not the healthy. Truth is, we’ll all sinners, anyway. As a pastor, my business model does not allow for me to exclude people just because they live in a particular sin.

My parents, my brother, the clergy in my cell phone contacts, influential people in my congregation, local civic leaders–these are the people who essentially all disagree with me on this point.

The debate around “gay question” is religious, political, and personal–wait, aren’t those the 3 things you’re never supposed to talk about?

So far, all I’ve done about this conviction of mine is write a handful of blog posts, you can search them on the blog. But lately, I’ve been feeling led to really take a stand–that would start with joining the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists. Whole lotta people close to me won’t like that….

 

Top Ten Components of Shaq’s Legacy

1. In terms of his basketball stat sheet, he earns a chair among the upper echelon of all time elite players. Let’s see: beast in college, #1 draft pick, multiple Finals and league MVP. Retires with more points than Olajuwon, Iverson, Bird, Doctor J, more rebounds than Motumbo, and more championships than Bill Walton.

2. He was just so generous. Remember the eighteen wheelers full of Christmas toys for kids? I’m saying.

 

 

3. Shaq is the cheif cornerstone of the link between hip-hop and basketball. I was probably a freshman in high school when he was jumping around as Shaq-fu on Arsenio. He had a platinum selling, critically-acclaimed rap album.  He was one of the first with the big, visible tattoos, driving custom Mercedes and big vans with booming speakers.

4. Is he an endorsement whore or what? Just off the top of my head, there was Radio Shack, Pepsi, Nestle Crunch, Powerade (or was it All Sport?), Reebok, the whole dunkman clothing empire, the action movies with hastily though out plots. He’s not a businessman. He’s a business, man….

5. Definitely 9th grade when he pulled the rim down on the NBA on NBC one Sunday afternoon.

6. Played for six different NBA teams by my count–the Magic, the Lakers, the Heat, the Suns, the Cavs, the Celtics. Any team he’s on, they are a guaranteed playoff contender.

7. He’s a 14 time All-Star. A FOURTEEN TIME ALL STAR!

8. He played this prolific career carrying around 300 pounds of person. That gets tiring–still lasted 19 seasons.

9. Took the most physical beating of any player. He was so big and strong, you could foul him hard and even though it didn’t stop him from scoring, he still just absorbed a hard foul. One can only absorb so many.

10. He’s still around. He was only 39 when he retired–still has plenty of good years left in him. I’m interested to see what he does next.

If I Had 15 Minutes to Live….

If I had 15 minutes to live, I would probably get as close to my wife and kids as possible. But besides that, I think it would be good to try and write something down for the world. It would go a little something like this:

There are absolutely no limits in life. Wherever you aim is pretty much where you end up. I managed to accomplish some good things in a relatively short life. At the top of that list is leading and inspiring other people to have a closer relationship with Christ/deeper sense of spirituality, or whatever you want to call it. I’ve achieved more than the average person I guess, but so much less than so many of the greats. I always knew I was capable of more, but it was like I was waiting for the next level to come to me–waiting until I got tired enough of my current situation that I had no choice but to change. That works; anger, pain, and dissatisfaction are probably our strongest motivators. But if I could leave people with something, I’d tell them there’s no reason to wait until you’re diagnosed with diabetes or about to get divorced or running from creditors for years before you decide to make a change. In fact, the sooner you start, the easier it will be. For example, I’ve told myself  for the last 3 years that by the time I was 50 or 60, I wanted to be considered in the conversation as one of the best preachers of my generation. I assumed I had 20 years to get there, but if I had known that today was the end, I admit, I would have worked a lot harder to get more exposure and to sharpen my skills.

On another note….

Since I’m about to die and don’t have to put up with so-called Christians anymore, I want all the truly spiritual people (and that’s everyone, by the way) to know that the religions of the world are teaching us essentially the same lessons–love, unity, self-control, peace, joy, faith…. A religion is something that people create in order to get closer to God. If someone wants to get closer to God in a way that you’re not culturally or doctrinally used to, that doesn’t make it wrong. I have learned a lot from Buddhist and Hindu writers in particular–things that are right in line with the Gospel. Don’t ever let anyone limit your definition of or understanding of God, because they will limit your understanding of yourself at the same time.

Time’s up…