From May 2011

How to Pray for Our Team in Haiti

On Sunday morning, I will join 8 other folks from our church and head down to Port au Prince, Haiti. We will be working with Baptist Global Response to build cinder block homes.

We would all appreciate your prayers. Often when we pray for people doing international mission trips, we don’t know how to specifically pray for them. So I thought I would give you a few ways you could pray for us:

Travel Our flight leaves at 8 AM Sunday morning (if you know me, you know I didn’t book that flight). We have a connection in Miami, then fly down to Haiti. If you’ve ever flown, you know all of the different ways air travel can go wrong. Pray for our safety, the wisdom to adapt to unseen changes, and the discipline to not say something dumb to TSA. Read more

Choose People over Policy

In 2 Chronicles 10, King Rehoboam (son of Solomon) is asked by the people to ease the burden of work given to them. In return, they commit to faithfully serve the king.

Rehoboam decides to wait 3 days before giving an answer. He consults two groups of counselors: old men who served under his father Solomon, and young guys his own age. The old guys recommended that he ease the work of the people, serve the people, and speak good things to the people. The young guys recommended that he make the work and the punishments more harsh (maybe because they didn’t have video games back then to inflate their ego).

So Rehoboam decides to go with the counsel of the young guys, which meant becoming a tyrant over his people. The people ended up stoning to death the taskmaster placed over them, and Rehoboam had to flee.

All to often we get caught up in the black or white nature of policy. We like firm boundaries. More often than not we would rather bend people to fit around our “brilliant” policies and strategies.

But did you see the counsel of the old guys? They advised him to serve the people; ease their load, and speak good words to them. The trade off? They would serve him forever.

As we lead people in churches, let us take the counsel of the old guys. While policies and guidelines are important, they do not take precedence over serving people. Life often happens in the gray area between the black and white. It’s our job to love and serve people through it, and point them to Jesus.

So next time you’re faced with a people vs. policy crisis, trying molding your policy to serve your people. That seems like a better alternative than getting stoned to death.

Age isn’t Stupid Repellant

As a young guy, I understand that I will at times succumb to youthful ignorance. I haven’t lived a great number of years, so I haven’t had the education of personal experience for a lot of things.

But in our culture we view all the young folks as idiots and all older folks as eternally wise.

The former IMF president currently charged under investigation? 62. Arnold Schwarzenegger when he fathered a child out of marriage? 54. The guys behind Enron? Not college frat boys. Bernie Madoff? Gray haired.

This isn’t to say that young folks are immune to stupidity. But there are plenty of folks in their teens and 20’s who are working to make a difference in this world. Yet they encounter road blocks because of their age.”They’re young. They just don’t know any better.”

This mentality has two seemingly opposite consequences:

It enablesĀ  young people to keep living under the guise that they don’t have to know any better. So now more than ever kids are graduating college and living with mom and dad indefinitely. And the guys who do this often own Star Wars bed sheets and play far too many video games (you guessed it: these guys are single).

Young people trying to make a difference are shunned because of their age. I personally know a wide number of people in their teens and 20’s trying to do good in this world. They are intelligent and well-prepared. Yet people look the other way simply because of their age.

What would happen if we didn’t see age as inversely related to our potential for stupidity? That is, what if we looked at each individual to determine their level of wisdom, regardless of age. Just because one person has more birthdays doesn’t mean they have a higher stupid immunity.

So start looking at people individually. Discern if they are teachable, proactive, intelligent, discerning, wise, etc. Discard their age (isn’t this what Paul told Timothy to fight against in 1 Timothy 4?).

And have a little sympathy. Because let’s face it: we are all just a half step away from stupid.

Sing Your Own Song

This is the first season where I’ve actually paid attention to American Idol. Normally I watch just the auditions and the finale. But this year I’ve kept up with the final 12. (Soapbox moment: Casey Abrams was far and away the most talented musician in the group. Unfortunately this isn’t a competition for musicality. That kid is incredible.)

As I was watching the 2 hour special this past Wednesday night, I went on YouTube to watch a few past performances I had missed. It seems like years ago that some of the former contestants were still around. I had forgotten how talented they were. In fact, a couple of them were better singers than the ones who are left.

So why are they gone? If they are better singers, shouldn’t they still be around? There’s one word that separates them from the finalists:


In today’s media and news saturated culture, we are constantly bombarded with video of performers, actors, politicians, businessmen, you name it. We’ve seen ten seasons of American Idol, along with numerous other talent-driven shows like it. All of the video clips and written articles come at us like water out of a firehose.

But this season of American Idol proves once again the power of being who you are. Some of the former contestants of this season were talented, but it was clear that they were trying too hard. They were too polished. In contrast you have Lauren Alaina who all but bombed a key change Wednesday night. Instead of whining or crying, she fixed it quickly and nailed the rest of the song. She even admitted it after was finished. For some reason, it almost made you like her more.

Again, authenticity.

These finalists know who they are. They stick to who they are. Maybe it’s because they are all under 20 and don’t “know any better,” or maybe it’s because they know something we have forgotten.

I say we need to find our own voice, and stick to singing our songs.

A Little eBay Advice

eBay is great. I’ve bought designer ties, electronics, gifts, and a wide variety of other things from there. I’ve also sold a few things through the years.

If you listen to Dave Ramsey, you know he talks about “gazelle intensity” as you start working his baby steps. So I decided to sell a few things in order to get his baby step 1 out of the way.

While I’ve used eBay before, it’s been a while since I’ve sold anything. All of my items ending their bidding last week, and I learned a few things I wish I had already known. So let my experience be your teacher for a minute:

No International Bidders Be sure to state this in the description of your item. I did for only 1 of the 3 items I sold, and that was the only one that didn’t have an international winner. One was in Indonesia, the other in Puerto Rico. Since I didn’t account for international shipping, I got burned on the Indonesia purchase. I paid more in shipping than the entire amount the buyer paid. Also, the auctions ended last week, and the Puerto Rican buyer has yet to pay or respond to any messages. This is what we call “frustrating.”

Good Description eBay has some item templates already for electronics. One of my items (the one purchased by the Indonesian) was the Verizon MiFi mobile internet hotspot. I used the description template in the item listing, which had a terrible title. People probably didn’t see my item because the default title was incomplete and not search-friendly. That’s why the auction winner paid $5.54 without shipping. Again, frustrating.

Pack and Ship On Your Own I live near a UPS store, so I decided to ship it from there. After every auction I seem to forget that the UPS store overcharges for shipping and packing your items. Do yourself a favor: buy packing supplies at Wal-Mart and print the UPS label yourself. You’ll save a little money, which is always good.

Double Insurance If you’re sending something through UPS or FedEx, the default damage insurance is $100. You can add more if you like. One of the items I shipped this week was my old MacBook Pro. Nothing has happened to it in shipping (to my knowledge), but I wish I had doubled the insurance on it. Why? In case something did happen, I could give the buyer his money back, and I’d still get something out of it. Because if the computer is damaged in shipping, I’d be out a computer and the money. Again, that would be frustrating.

PayPal Only This didn’t happen to me, but I wanted to add it. Make sure you state “PayPal Only” in your item description. It’s the easiest way to get paid.

So there you have it. Learn from my mistakes, and be a smart eBayer than me.