Monday, November 30, 2009

Teachers, asses, and tour guides.

Just heard Chuck Swindol on the Catalyst Podcast say, "The word of God is alive, active, and sharp, not what I have to say."

For some reason God has given me the gift of teaching. I sometimes wonder what God was thinking for giving this passion and skill to me. But the more I read the Bible the less sense I can make of God. So I guess its just par for the course.

I am a teacher of the word of God. Anything anyone ever gets out of what I teach has nothing to do with me. I just get to be a guide to the most amazing amusement park, most interesting museum, or attraction you have ever been to. I just get to highlight the things that maybe you miss when you just walk through it alone not knowing what you’re looking at. I don’t always do what I teach. I sin. I fall short. I don’t teach what I have mastered. I teach what is there. Some would say I’m a hypocrite. I might be. I might not be. What I do know is that I’m forgiven. I know that its only by the grace of God that is given to me through his blood that stained the dirt around the cross that I can do any good with my life. I am in awe of the grace of God.

Rich Mullins once said, “God chose to speak through Balaam’s ass and he has been speaking through asses ever since. So if God so chooses to speak through you, you shouldn’t think too highly of yourself. And, if upon meeting someone, right away you recognize what they are, listen to them anyway, because God chose to speak through Balaam’s ass and he has speaking through asses ever since.”

I am just an ass God has chosen to speak through. If you ever think you are changed by anything that you hear me say. You weren’t changed by what I had to say you were changed by Jesus. I’m just a dumb ass Jesus chose to give a voice to.

Weddings, Marriages, and Roses

I have caught Vicky watching some show on We network where this guy helps brides plan their wedding. I either change the channel to football or sit there and watch it with her cause she wants to watch it.

This guy takes what they have already done, which most of the time is hideous, and creates this lavish experience out of it. They have party favors, decorations, the dress and maybe a location. Most of the time this guy takes what they have done and takes the essence of it and then trashes the rest. He helps them pick out a dress that is perfect for the particular bride. He helps them pick bridesmaid dresses, plan the ceremony, and plan the reception. It turns into these lavishly incredible weddings.

We were watching one last night where the bride originally had a couple roses on each table. The planner plastered the reception room with roses. They were everywhere. I think they had over 30 varieties and dozens upon dozens upon dozens of roses flown in from Columbia to New York. They spent more on flowers for the reception than we did on our entire wedding.

It is not uncommon these days to have a wedding that costs in the tens of thousands of dollars. There are months of planning, massive amounts of debt that is accumulated, dozens of people working toward one goal of making a one day event to celebrate a wedding.

I think its interesting that we are willing to put months into planning, thousands of dollars of investment, and coordination of dozens of people to make one day happen. What would happen if when the marriage gets rocky we put that kind of energy, effort, and money into saving a marriage. I know someone who I know spent a significant amount of money, time and planning into a beautiful wedding day. Less than a year later they are getting divorced. I know for myself when in my own marriage we have faced hard times the level of effort I was willing to put in looked nothing like the effort put into making those wedding days happen on that show.

Maybe by some standards I can seem like a good husband. Most of the time though I am selfish, show love the way I want to receive it instead of the way I know will speak to Vicky, I watch too much sports, I am on the computer too much and countless other things that I do that don’t move our marriage forward.

I am trying to turn over that leaf. I am trying to do better. I am trying to love, honor, and cherish more. Am I even doing a good job at that? I don’t know. It would be better to ask Vicky. At this point if she said yes it would probably to just protect me in your eyes. I want to be able to have her bring it up without people even asking. I want her to brag on me with random people. I want to give her a husband that she is proud to be with. I want a marriage where we both make each other better.

I think if people put a quarter of the energy, effort, work and resources into their marriage as that guy puts into those weddings on TV the divorce rate in this country would be negligible.

Let us be a people that care more about the marriage than the wedding.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Off The Menu

So I frequent Stone Creek Coffee in Bay View. To say I frequent it might be an understatement. One of the baristas the other day was telling another customer that I am more like a plant at Stone Creek than a customer. I am a fixture.

Now Stone Creek like many other coffee establishments offer the punch card. I can carry a card around with me and when I buy a coffee they will use their special punch on my card. One coffee one punch. Well sometimes its more than one punch but we won’t go into that.

So after you purchase ten coffee drinks you have earned the free one. I used to get lattes so this would require me to spend about $40 to get a free one. Now I drink straight coffee. So now it only requires approximately $20 to get my free drink. Much better stewardship of resources.

In my opinion when you have earned the mystical free drink you can’t just waste that on a regular coffee. Sometimes I save it for a special occasion. Sometimes I will just use it instead of buying my normal drink. But the important thing is to wait. You have to wait till the right barista is behind the counter (you can’t have some newbie make your free drink) and you have to wait till there isn’t a line. You see when I have the free drink I always order off the menu.

There is a pastor down in Dallas that I heard talk about going to a restaurant and ordering the “Feed me.” The feed me you see is when you let the waiter know of any food allergies you have and then you put the meal into the hands of the chef. You let him create whatever he wants to serve you. I shared this concept one night in a bar with one of the owners and cooks at Comet Cafe and Honeypie restaurant. He was like “Oh ya I would totally do that.” He said “if you come in during the rush on a Friday night you will get a fish fry and just pay more than everybody else. But if you come in at an off time I would cook you up something incredible.”

This is the concept I use with my free drink. These baristas have to sit there all day making the stuff on the menu. Then someone comes along and says create. I don’t want anything on the menu. My only personal stipulation is no chocolate. I don’t like mochas. I have had the cream city liam which was made by Liam and was a blended creamy ice drink with espresso grounds and some combination of chocolate and vanilla syrups. I know I said I don’t like mochas but this was cold it worked. I have also had a vanilla honey latte. I am told of a latte creation that tastes like a cinnamon roll that I haven’t tried yet. The most recent off the menu creation was a cherry hazelnut latte. As my son would say, “so good so licious.”

Its is almost worth it to buy the ten drinks so that its free and there are no constraints on how to figure out how to charge you for this kind of drink. They don’t have to figure out how much each shot or squirt of syrup should cost. They just make a drink they think would be awesome. To remove these constraints is a delightful experience and usually results in a fabulous sensory overload for my tongue and brain to enjoy.

So I dare you. If you earn your elusive freebie or you go to one of your favorite small restaurants order off the menu and see what ensues.