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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Site Going Dark...

If you subscribe to this blog, it will be going dark soon. Please subscribe to my new blog here.

Thanks for the memories!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

It's Been a Great Ride...

...but it's time to head in a different direction.

When I started this blog 6 years ago, it blog was a collection of my thoughts and experiences with life. At first, I was diligent to blog regularly. Then less so.

For a while now I have thought of re-imagining this blog, as well as moving it to its own domain.

If you are a faithful reader, thanks for hanging there. Please continue the journey with me on my new site.

If this is your first stop here - continue the ride here.

See you at TwoBlondeBoys.com!

Monday, May 09, 2011

Leadership Lessons from Al Davis

When Al Davis fired Tom Cable as the head coach of the Oakland Raiders at the end of the last season, I thought, "This guy has finally lost it."

The Raiders had looked incredible during the second half of the season. They were playing like a team again. Things were looking great for this upcoming season.

Then Davis fired Cable.

Al Davis had a list of reasons. First, Cable allegedly assaulted former assistant coach Randy Hanson. Davis was also troubled by the allegations of Marie Lutz, a former girlfriend of Cable's. Davis also talked about how he wasn't happy with Oakland's offensive output under Cable, and philosophical differences he had with Cable on run-blocking schemes.

But still... they were winning. Multiple games in a row, even!

Then then other day on the drive in to the office it hit me. There were some key leadership lessons to be learned from Al Davis' decision everyone in leadership can benefit from:

1. You're not going to agree with every decision a leader makes.

That's good to remember, whether you're a leader or a follower. The fact is that a follower, I won't agree with every decision my leaders makes - even when they are a close friend. And as a leader, you can be sure that not every decision you make will be celebrated. In fact, it is likely that someone will disagree with every decision you make. That's the burden of leadership (and it's not for everyone).

2. A leader often makes decisions based on information you don't have.

A leader is often privy to information that they cannot share with others, either legally, morally or because of good manners. I need to remember that I don't have all the facts that went into the leaders decisions. Even if I did, I might disagree with the decision (see point #1). But that's why they get to lead - to make the tough calls. If you are a leader, you will face times when you make a decision based in confidential information. Your decision will be right, but unpopular. In those times, remember that leaders are called to lead - to make decisions that can be unpopular (even when right). That's the burden of leadership (and it's not for everyone).

3. At the end of the day, it's the leader's duty to lead (and live with the results of their leadership).

I may not agree with Al Davis firing Tom Cable. I wish he hadn't done it. But you know what? It's not my decision to make. At the end of the day, the Oakland Raiders are Al Davis' team, not mine. He paid or the privilege to make decision about his team (and he has to live with the results of whatever decision he makes). It is good for followers to remember that they get to go home at night and sleep easy. Leaders will spend many sleepless nights thinking about a decision that is before them or second-guessing a decision that they just made. Leaders are the heroes when they're right and the goats when they're wrong. In some arenas, making the right decision ensures you have a job and making the wrong one gets you sent packing. That's the burden of leadership (and it's not for everyone).

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The Osama bin Laden Verses (A Long Post)

In the wake of the death of Osama bin Laden, there have been a lot of verses flying around the Internet lately. It's been a virtual sword drill... the Proverbs People vs. the Ezekiel Army.

Here are the basic verses and views of each side:

The Proverbs People
"When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.' (Proverbs 21:15)

"When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy." (Proverbs 11:10)

The key argument that the Proverbs People make is that it is good and right and natural to rejoice when justice is done.

The Ezekiel Army
Say to them, 'As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?" (Ezekiel 33:11)

"Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?" (Ezekiel 18:23)

The key argument that the Ezekiel Army makes is that we should not rejoice in bin Laden's death because God doesn't. Rather, we should mourn a life that was unrepentant and wasted.

So who's right? It seems like the Bible is contradicting itself. How are we to reconcile these two passages?

First, we need to understand how to interpret the Proverbs. The Proverbs, unlike other books in the BIble, are less about "God's promises" and more about "this-is-the-way-life-is-so-you'd-better-understand-it-so-you-can-live-successfully." Wow. That was a lot of hyphens.

In other words, when the writer of Proverbs says...
"Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell." (Prov. 23:13-14)

...it doesn't mean that if you beat the living daylights out of your kids with a stick they will be saved. It also doesn't mean that you should "beat the hell out of them". When Proverbs says...
"The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.' (Prov. 22:7)
...it doesn't mean that you are literally the slave to the bank.

Proverbs tells us "the way that life is" or "the way that life works." God has woven a natural order of things into the fabric of nature. There are causes and effects. The are actions and reactions. Proverbs helps us understand what those are and how they work.

In the case of children, if we leave them undisciplined, they will literally become "hellish" little people (and hellish big people, if left unchecked). And to the parents who are squeamish about spanking, we are assured that, though they may cry, our children will not die if we spank them. Having raised two boys through the Spanking-Years, I can assure you this is the case. I was even thanked by my oldest recently for being a tough disciplinarian - he said he was glad he was disciplined because he sees the negative impact a lack of discipline has had on some of his friends.

In the case of the bank, Proverbs isn't teaching about or condoning slavery, it is merely revealing a condition that exists whether we realize it or not: if you say you own your home, yet you have a mortgage, you don't own diddly. Your house is owned by the bank. Don't believe me? Stop paying those mortgage payments and see how long you'll be living in "your" house that you "own." Proverbs is just telling us the way that it it. If you have debt, the bank owns you. You don't have to like it. You just have to understand that it's true (and, by way of inference, not put yourself in that position).

So how does all this relate to the death of Osama bin Laden? The verses from Proverbs indicate a reality. When bad people are brought to justice, when guilty people are punished, when evil people and oppressors are wiped from the face of the earth, people celebrate. They rejoice. They are joyful. That's just the way it is. Have you ever worked at an organization with a person who didn't pull their weight or where you had a boss who was cruel. Were you there when they were fired? Did you do a happy dance? Of course you did!

We are wired to celebrate justice. We are wired to rejoice when evil is punished. We sing along with the Munchkins: "Ding, dong, the Witch is dead! Which old witch? The Wicked Witch! Ding, dong, the Wicked Witch is Dead!"

So how, then do we reconcile the verses in Proverbs with the verses in Ezekiel?


While Proverbs tells us the way that it is, Ezekiel helps us understand the heart of God. On the one hand, God is the God of justice. He judges the wicked and repays the evildoer. But at the same time, God is a God of mercy. Perhaps this passage from 2 Peter will help shed some more light on this...
"But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare." (2 Peter 3:8-10)

Peter tell us that the Day of the Lord is coming - that great and terrible Day when God will come and judge the wicked and pour out His wrath. Why hadn't he come yet (why hasn't he come yet - 2,000 years later)? Because God doesn't want "anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."

God desires that people turn to Him. Now, the reality is that many won't. But that doesn't change the fact that some will. So it is very true that God takes "no pleasure in the death of the wicked," but rather hopes that "that they turn from their ways and live." This doesn't mean that God is squeamish about having to mete out punishment for the wicked and the guilty. Rather, God wants them to repent so that they can save themselves from His awful wrath.

If you are a parent, you understand this. We have always punished our boys for defiance. My youngest was being especially defiant one day. I gave him a final warning. Did he repent? Nope. He waded in to defiance again. Did I want to punish this beautiful child? Nope. Did he beg for mercy? Absolutely. In fact, as I was about to spank him, he pointed out the window and shouted, "Look, Dad! A rainbow!!! PLEASE LET ME LOOK AT THE RAINBOW!!!" I had to work really hard at not laughing out loud as his attempt to avoid the consequences for his actions.

We enjoyed the rainbow for a minute or tow, then it was back to the bedroom to do the deed. I too no pleasure in spanking my son that day, just as God took no pleasure in the death of Osama bin Laden. However, I did not shirk my responsibilities as a father because I understand that the Proverb is true that says, "Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away" (Prov. 22:15). And God did not shirk his responsibilities as judge in allowing justice to be done on an evil-doer.

So let us rejoice in the justice. And let us be sober-minded in remembering that while we serve a God of mercy who desires all to come to repentance, but that He is a holy God who will not be mocked - "It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb. 10:31).

For further reading: This article by Gary Molander and this article by John Piper.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Good Medicine

Proverbs says that laughter is "like medicine for the soul."

Get ready to take your medicine...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

An Open Letter to Worship Leaders

Dear Worship Leader,

Here’s something to remember this week: It’s not about you.

That’s what I thought as I walked onto the stage last week at my church.

I was thinking that because of what happened two weeks prior: After I had finished performing a certain song in the first service there was thunderous applause. The band was great. I was in full voice. The music and the visuals we used came together to create and amazing moment in the service.

We performed the same song in our second service. The band was even better. I was as strong or stronger vocally. It was another amazing moment.

And when the music was done… crickets. Nothing.

When I walked off stage I was reminded of a conference I attended a few years ago. A young band was invited to lead worship. The conference was comprised primarily of worship leaders and artist. The worship times at this conference were amazing. Everyone could sing – and they did: loud, strong, and in multiple parts. It’s pretty cool.

This band-that-shall-remain-nameless had it made.

The worship time was cooking right along until the young front man for the band made the mistake that I was in danger of making last Sunday. As we started to sing a song, he stopped the music and said something to the effect of:

“Wait a minute. The song says, ‘Raise your hands.’ If we’re going to be authentic this morning then we need to do what the song says. Let’s start again and this time let’s really raise our hands.”

I remember thinking a couple of things. The first was, “If this is all about being authentic, how are you going to raise your hands while you’re playing the guitar – or does that not apply to you?” But that was just me being a grumpy old man.

The second thing I remember thinking was, “What right do you have to judge what is going on in our hearts by what we do with our hands?”

And that, my friends is the rub.

As a worship leader, the thing I want most of all if for people to respond to God. I want their hearts to experience the heart of God.

And I can’t see that. I can’t judge in a few minutes on stage whether that’s happening or not.

I love it when people clap and raise their hands. I love it when they sing loud and proud. But that doesn’t mean they are connecting with God.

In some of your churches this Sunday people may raise their hands. In others they may not. In some they may sing really loudly. In others… not so much. In some churches they may clap like crazy after a great song. In others they may hear the same song performed in the same way by the same people and sit quietly. And all of these things might even happen in the same church in different services.

The point is this: you can’t use any of that to measure if a person is connecting with God.

So stop getting worked up about it.

Be faithful.

Be prepared.

Do what God has called you to do with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Leave the rest to God.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

When God Orchestrates a Moment...

I recently attended my 11th Re:Create Conference in Franklin, TN. This year, my friend, fellow Fresnan and worship leader, Jon Shebaglian, was there. Jon is a wonderful Christian man who has a passion for Christ that literally oozes out of him.

During one afternoon at the conference the 1211 Band from Austin, TX led worship. It was truly an amazing time of worship. As they started, I observed Jon helping the band's violist, Orhan, communicate his monitor mix issue to the FOH guys. Later, I watched as Jon and Orhan connected as Christian brothers and musicians. It turns out Orhan is a world-class viola player, having played with some of the finest symphonies in the world.

At dinner that night, I happened to hook up with Jon and Orhan has they were talking. They are both close-talkers - plus it was loud - so our heads were really close together. After a few minutes of talking, Jon asked Orhan, "So Orhan, I noticed you accent. Where are you from, originally?"

"I'm Turkish," he replied.

And then time stopped. I remember looking from Orhan to Jon to see how Jon would respond. I remember looking into Jon's eyes. I could see his brain working. An hour passed in the 2 seconds of time it took for Jon to speak.

"Wow," Jon said. "I don't know if I've ever met a Turkish Christian before. I'm Armenian."

You see, Jon's grandfather fled the Armenian genocide in Turkey. He great-grandfather was taken on a death march and shot. Jon is Armenian. Orhan is Turkish.

Then Jon brought his citizenship into the game. "You know, bro," he said, "We can put that all behind us because we are brothers in Jesus."

See, Jon and Orhan had connected on a spiritual level before they had ever connected ethnically. They had realized their brotherhood in Christ before they recognized that they were supposed to not like each other.

It was a beautiful thing to watch, 8 inches away from these two close-talkers. It was a God orchestrated moment.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Great Tool for Your iPhone

Today I thought I'd tell you about a great tool called Dragon Dictation. Dragon Dictation allows you to speak into your iPhone and it turns your speech into text.

Yep... and it does it REALLY well.

You can then take that text and e-mail it, SMS it, tweet it or post it to Facebook. I would encourage you to check it out. If you have an iPhone, you can download it for free from the AppStore.

I love it. I use it all the time. In fact I used it to create this blog post.

And here's something fun: If you speak jibberish to the app, it comes up with some really hilarious translations like this:

Yes and whatever. Not on the games. One of them you can keep Norman is in the dunk. I were teaching in doing so good. To price kitchen... whatever. But for soon to get you I need sometime today to gain whatsoever.

Talk crazy, do a little editing and text it to your friends. They will then think you have lost your mind. Or better yet, they will actually try to make sense of it. Either way, it's great for a laugh!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Why I Back Up My DVD Collection to a Hard Drive

I back up all of my DVDs to a 2 GB hard drive using HandBrake. In future posts, I'll give you the basics of HandBrake usage as well as how I used a MacMini and an AppleTV to create a great media server for my upstairs and downstairs TVs.

Note: It is important to remember that the MPAA and most media companies argue that you can’t legally copy or convert commercial DVDs for any reason. I (and others) think that, if you own a DVD, you should be able to override its copy protection to make a backup copy or to convert its content for viewing on other devices. Currently, the law isn’t entirely clear one way or the other. So our advice is: If you don’t own it, don’t do it. If you do own it, think before you rip.

Why would you "need" to create a backup of your DVD? Consider this:
In early 2000, a group of Stanford researchers leased one of Intel's clean rooms and, with the approval of their parents, scrubbed down several 5 year olds, placed them in clean suits, handed each a DVD copy of Toy Story, and placed each one inside the clean room for 20 minutes. When the researchers opened the door, each and every child was covered in jam, as were the DVDs.

Oddly enough, there was no jam within 20 miles of the facility. This demonstrated that children, when in possession of a favorite DVD, are capable of conjuring jam from the ether.

That is why I backup my DVDs or rely on digital copies supplied with those discs.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The New Bike

I headed down to Ventura, CA to Ray's Bike Shop today to pick up my new road bike. I've got nothing but great things to say about owner, Ray. He really went above and beyond to help me get exactly what I wanted.

The bike I got was the Felt F95 Team Edition. Thanks to Dan Perkins (@danp) for his advice (check out Dan's blog here). Here are the specs:

Sizes: 700c x 63cm
Weight: 19.78 pounds
Frame: Felt custom butted F-Lite 7005 aluminum with butted seat tube, CNC hdead tube & BB shell; forged dropouts
Fork: Felt Carbon design, carbon fiber blades with 1-1/8" aluminum steerer & aluminum crown
Headset: FSA Threadless 1 1/8 w/ 20mm Cone & 2 X 7.5mm Spacer Stack
Stem: Felt 1.3 6061 Aluminum Forged Ø31.8mm w/ +/-10° Rise, 110mm
Handlebar: Felt 1.5 6061 Aluminum w/ Ergonomic Drop, Ø31.8mm, 440mm
Grips: Felt Gel Ribbon Cork Tape w/ Felt 3D Logo
Bar Ends: Bubble-Tech FE LT Logo End Plugs
Shifters: Micro.Shift Integrated Shifter/Brake Lever 18 speed
Front Derailleur: Shimano Sora 31.8mm clamp-on, double
Rear Derailleur: Shimano Tiagra SS Short Cage
Crankset: FSA TEMPO Compact, 3-PC, Aluminum, 50/34T; 175mm
Chainwheel 50/34T
Bottom Bracket: FSA 68mm w/ Forged Chromoly Square Taper 110.5mm Spindle
Chain: KMC X9 9-speed
Freewheel: Sunrace R90-series 9-Speed Cassette, 11-25T
Brake Levers: Micro.Shift Integrated
Brakes: Dual Pivot w/ Cartridge Brake Shoes, Stainless Hardware & Teflon Bushings
Cables: Felt Slick Brake & Derailleur
Saddle: Felt 1.3 Road Saddle w/ Carbon Injected Base, Embossed Cover & Steel Rails
Seat Post: Felt 1.4 6061 Aluminum Ø27.2mm, 300mm
Seat Post Clamp: Ø31.8 6061-AL Forged Aluminum, Cr-Mo 5mm x 0.8mm Bolt, Stainless Steel Nut-Bar. 16 Grams
Rims: Alex R500 Aluminum Rim, Machined CSW Braking Surface & Wear Indicator laced 3-Cross Rear, Radial 0-Cross Front
Front Hub: Felt Sealed Forged Aluminum w/ Quick Release, 28H
Rear Hub: Felt Forged Aluminum Sealed Shimano 10, 9, or 8 speed Compatible Cassette w/ Quick Release, 32H
Spokes: Stainless 2.0mm
Tires: Vittoria Zaffiro 700c x 23c

For the pedals I went with Speedplay X/5 Chome-Moly clip-in pedals.

Now that I have chosen clip-in pedals, I am reminded of this story from Ken Davis.

I'll let you know how my maiden voyage went tomorrow.