Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dinner last night

Last night, Mrs. Underdog and I went on a date. To the Cheesecake Factory no less. And before I get to my point , let me say that although we did not get any cheesecake, we did try the corn fritters. It was a good trade, because I didn't sugar crash like a human Hindenburg this morning.

Mrs. Underdog and I did something last night that we have never done before. We used the routine prayer before our meal for something more than just thanking God for the food. Let me explain.

Our waiter introduced himself as Jason. Jason was a twenty something, goateed, waiter guy. He talked fast and asked us if we wanted apple martinis when he took our drink order. We asked for water (we're on a budget, sigh) and Jason sounded disappointed. Jason seemed pretty melancholy.

We order our food (salad + pizza + fritters = yeah for tummies) and waited for the first dish to arrive. Now our family always prays before meals. Always. And I make the kids avoid the cliches that can make the prayer nearly meaningless. Last night was different. As Jason set our salads on the table, I said, "Jason, we are Christians and we are about to thank God for this food. Is there anything we could pray for you?"

The transformation in Jason with the introduction of this simple question was amazing. We were no longer impersonal, the question changed the nature of our relationship.

Jason lit up like the 4th of July. "You know, " he said, "I just moved to town a few months ago and everything is so much more expensive here. Business here at the restaurant has been down as mall traffic slows and I am having trouble making ends meet. People are competing for fewer shifts. My rent is more expensive, so is gas. Could you pray that I would make enough money to get by?"


So Mrs. Underdog and I did just that. We prayed that God would provide for Jason and that God would show Himself to Jason. We left a great tip and a tract that contained the gospel in simple terms.

I am not writing about this event to brag about me. To the contrary, this exercise was something that I heard from someone else. I am just imitating. I am writing this to encourage you to try it. It is harmless and simply adds an evangelism opportunity to the mealtime prayers you probably do anyway.

Oh yeah, and just before I asked Jason, I was completely terrified. So have courage.

Soli Deo Gloria.

On a lighter note....

A duck walks into a bar and says, "I'll have a beer".

The bartender says "Hey! where did you come from?"

The duck says, "I'm working the construction site across the street".

And the bartender says, "Well why are you working construction when you could be making millions in the circus?"

And the duck says, "What would the circus want with a brick laying duck?"

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

All things ultimately

All things ultimately come down to Jesus. I have a tendency to get wrapped up in so many different ideas and discussions. Some of them are good, constructive pursuits of truth and sanctification. But all to often they fail to orbit around the person and work of Christ and are diminished despite the best of intentions. Nothing of true value can be without His glorification as its core purpose. The world came into being through Him. My existence was at His command. My every heartbeat is only by His mercy. My days have been ordained by Him. He is doing ten thousand things in me and with me and for me at this moment. His blood has saved me and will continue to save me until He calls me home. He has prepared a place for me. He desires better things for me than I desire for myself. He fights for me. He intercedes for me. I am His and He is mine. He has a nickname for me. He will return for me and we will be together for all of time. He is good.

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

It all started when we eliminated dodgeball, I tell ya.

I found this on another blog. As a small business owner, this article summarized my thoughts on recent events perfectly. A nation that rewards the foolish and penalizes the shrewd is headed towards disaster.

A Letter From The Boss

To All My Valued Employees,

There have been some rumblings around the office about the future of this company, and more specifically, your job. As you know, the economy has changed for the worse and presents many challenges. However, the good news is this: The economy doesn’t pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job however, is the changing political landscape in this country.

However, let me tell you some little tidbits of fact which might help you decide what is in your best interests.

First, while it is easy to spew rhetoric that casts employers against employees, you have to understand that for every business owner there is a back story. This back story is often neglected and overshadowed by what you see and hear. Sure, you see me park my Cadillac outside. You’ve seen my big home at last years Christmas party. I’m sure; all these flashy icons of luxury conjure up some idealized thoughts about my life.

However, what you don’t see is the back story.

I started this company 28 years ago. At that time, I lived in a 300 square foot studio apartment for 3 years. My entire living apartment wasconverted into an office so I could put forth 100% effort into building a company, which by the way, would eventually employ you.

My diet consisted of Ramen Pride noodles because every dollar I spent went back into this company. I drove a rusty Toyota Corolla with a defective transmission. I didn’t have time to date. Often times, I stayed home on weekends, while my friends went out drinking and partying. In fact, I was married to my business — hard work, discipline, and sacrifice.

Meanwhile, my friends got jobs. They worked 40 hours a week and made a modest $50K a year and spent every dime they earned. They drove flashy cars and lived in expensive homes and wore fancy designer clothes. Instead of hitting the Nordstrom’s for the latest hot fashion item, I was trolling through the discount store extracting any clothing item that didn’t look like it was birthed in the 70’s. My friends refinanced their mortgages and lived a life of luxury. I, however, did not. I put my time, my money, and my life into a business with a vision that eventually, some day, I too, will be able to afford these luxuries my friends supposedly had.

So, while you physically arrive at the office at 9am, mentally check in at about noon, and then leave at 5pm, I don’t. There is no “off” button for me.

When you leave the office, you are done and you have a weekend all to yourself. I unfortunately do not have the freedom. I eat, and breathethis company every minute of the day. There is no rest. There is no weekend. There is no happy hour. Every day this business is attached to my hip like a 1 year old special-needs child. You, of course, only see the fruits of that garden — the nice house, the Cadillac, the vacations… you never realize the back story and the sacrifices I’ve made.

Now, the economy is falling apart and I, the guy that made all the right decisions and saved his money, have to bail-out all the people whodidn’t. The people that overspent their paychecks suddenly feel entitled to the same luxuries that I earned and sacrificed a decade of my life for.

Yes, business ownership has is benefits but the price I’ve paid is steep and not without wounds.
Unfortunately, the cost of running this business, and employing you, is starting to eclipse the threshold of marginal benefit and let me tell you why:

I am being taxed to death and the government thinks I don’t pay enough. I have state taxes. Federal taxes. Property taxes. Sales and use taxes. Payroll taxes. Workers compensation taxes. Unemployment taxes. Taxes on taxes. I have to hire a tax man to manage all these taxes and then guess what? I have to pay taxes for employing him. Government mandates and regulations and all the accounting that goes with it, now occupy most of my time. On Oct 15th, I wrote a check to the US Treasury for $288,000 for quarterly taxes. You know what my “stimulus” check was? Zero. Nada. Zilch.

The question I have is this: Who is stimulating the economy? Me, the guy who has provided 14 people good paying jobs and serves over 2,200,000 people per year with a flourishing business? Or, the single mother sitting at home pregnant with her fourth child waiting for her next welfare check?

Obviously, government feels the latter is the economic stimulus of this country.

The fact is, if I deducted (Read: Stole) 50% of your paycheck you’d quit and you wouldn’t work here. I mean, why should you? That’s nuts. Who wants to get rewarded only 50% of their hard work? Well, I agree which is why your job is in jeopardy.

Here is what many of you don’t understand … to stimulate the economy you need to stimulate what runs the economy. Had suddenly government mandated to me that I didn’t need to pay taxes, guess what? Instead of depositing that $288,000 into the Washington black-hole, I would have spent it, hired more employees, and generated substantial economic growth. My employees would have enjoyed the wealth of that tax cut in the form of promotions and better salaries. But you can forget it now.

When you have a comatose man on the verge of death, you don’t defibrillate and shock his thumb thinking that will bring him back to life, do you?

Or, do you defibrillate his heart? Business is at the heart of America and always has been. To restart it, you must stimulate it, not kill it.Suddenly, the power brokers in Washington believe the poor of America are the essential drivers of the American economic engine. Nothing could be further from the truth and this is the type of change you can keep.

So where am I going with all this?

It’s quite simple.

If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, my reaction will be swift and simple. I fire you. I fire your co-workers. You can then plead with the government to pay for your mortgage, your SUV, and your child’s future.Frankly, it isn’t my problem any more.

Then, I will close this company down, move to another country, and retire. You see, I’m done. I’m done with a country that penalizes the productive and gives to the unproductive. My motivation to work and to provide jobs will bedestroyed, and with it, will be my citizenship.

So, if you lose your job, it won’t be at the hands of the economy; it will be at the hands of a political hurricane that swept through thiscountry, steamrolled the constitution, and will have changed its landscape forever. If that happens, you can find me sitting on a beach, retired, and with no employees to worry about….


Your boss

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Dumb tattoo

Begin rant:

I made a pass through one of the sports websites this morning to check the headlines. There was a picture of a rather tall basketball guy sporting a tattoo. The tattoo was the phrase "Only The Strong Survive" super-imposed on a cross made of two bloodied nails. The paradox of the phrase and the symbol raised a few questions for me:

-The strong survive until what? Death?
-If the cross is representative of Jesus, He didn't survive, did He? He laid down His life.
-This guy clearly does not understand what a crucifixion was really like.
-Human strength is overrated, the type of strength that comes from total dependence on Christ Jesus is the only way.

What a dumb tattoo.

End rant.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Made me laugh

Either they are chasing something really good.....or something is chasing them....

Hit the nail on the head....

This quote is frightening to me. Partly because I have been wondering how the stimulus thingy will benefit my family.

As long as Americans believe it is the job of the state to provide nourishment and it is their job to suck at the teat of government we will continue to spiral into tyranny and oppression. I fear that the one two punch of government schools and mass media over the course of several generations have effectively rendered the citizenry (at least the sampling from Michigan I listened to tonight) brain dead. There is no desire for freedom, but instead a long plaintive cry to be fed, taken care of, and to have their diapers changed. People really have come to believe that in the state we love and move and have our being. People really have come to the point where they are looking to the state for salvation. People really would prefer security to liberty.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mountain of quotes

I am doing some research for a young lady in the church that is preparing for a apologetics debate. My role is simple: find good quotes for each of the possible questions she may encounter. I will have more in the coming weeks, but thought I would share the quotes for Week 1. We truly do stand on the shoulders of giants. Immerse yourself in these for a few minutes:

Tell me how it is that in this room there are three candles and but one light, and I will explain to you the mode of divine existence - John Wesley

I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist, but I cannot concieve how he could look up into the heavens and say there is no God. - Abraham Lincoln

Defend the Bible? I would just as soon defend a lion. Just turn the Bible loose. It will defend itself. - Spurgeon

We are to believe and follow Christ in all things, including His words about Scripture. And this means that Scripture is to be for us what it was to Him: the unique, authoritative, and inerrant Word of God, and not merely a human testimony to Christ, however carefully guided and preserved by God. If the Bible is less than this to us, we are not fully Christ's disciples. - James Montgomery Boice

It is beyond doubt that Jesus highly esteemed the Old Testament and constantly submitted to it as to an authoritative revelation. He taught that the Scriptures bore a witness to him, just as he bore a witness to them. Because they are the words of God, Jesus assumed their complete reliability, in whole and to the smallest part. - James Montgomery Boice

God made everything else but man ‘after its kind’ – that is, according to the purpose and destiny he envisaged for it. But he made man in His own image. Man is patterned on God! He was made to represent God – in created, human form. - Sinclair Ferguson

The truth that humanity was made in the likeness of God is the starting point for a biblical understanding of the nature of man. It explains our spiritual urges. It helps us make sense of the human conscience. It establishes our moral accountability. It reveals the very essence of the meaning and purpose of human life. It is full of practical and doctrinal significance. - John MacArthur

There is a God-shaped vacuum in every heart. - Blaise Pascal

You have made us for Yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.- Augustine

When you come to knowing God, the initiative lies on His side. If He does not show Himself, nothing you can do will enable you to find Him. - C.S. Lewis

The truth is that, though we were justified by faith alone, the faith that justifies is never alone (it always produces fruit, "good works,"…a transformed life) - J.I. Packer

To be justified means more than to be declared “not guilty.” It actually means to be declared righteous before God. It means God has imputed or charged the guilt of our sin to His Son, Jesus Christ, and has imputed or credited Christ’s righteousness to us. - Jerry Bridges

Precisely because we are justified in Him – that is, in His justification – our justification is also final and irreversible. Indeed we can be so bold as to say that we are as fully justified before God as our Lord Jesus is. We are as finally justified as our Lord Jesus is. We are as irreversibly justified as our Lord Jesus is. The only justification we have – our only righteousness – is that of the Lord Jesus. We are justified with His justification. - Sinclair B. Ferguson

When God accepts a sinner, He is, in fact, only accepting Christ. He looks into the sinner’s eyes, and He sees His own dear Son’s image there, and He takes him in. - C.H. Spurgeon


Every time I deliberately disobey a command of God, it is because I am in that moment dobtful as to God's true intentions in giving me that command.

---Milton Vincent, A Gospel Primer

Monday, February 16, 2009

Calvin & Hobbes animated

Really? Imagine the possiblities....

Sunday, February 15, 2009

One of the joys of fatherhood

One of the joys of fatherhood is the opportunity to capitalize on the naivete of your children. Sometimes there is a perfect storm that combines a prime question from a child, an onery dad, and the right circumstances. Take this morning for instance.....

We are on our thirty minute commute to church and very often we get deeply profound questions from our kids. As we approached a light, the Linebacker Starter Kit (4 years old) stated with confidence, "When we see a red light we have to stop."

"That's true," I said.

After a few moments pause, he asked, "What do you do when there is a yellow light?" All the eyes in the car turned towards Dad.

Now at this moment, I have a few options. I can give the facts, pure and simple. Or I can seize the moment and build in a little comedy.

I chose option two.

"Why son, if it just turned yellow you show caution, possibly cruise right through the intersection....maybe even speed up a little......and you are supposed to gobble like a turkey as loud as you possibly can....." Mom muffled a snicker.

"Really? Mom never does that," said one of the children.

"Ah, yes, but Mom doesn't drive as much as Dad does."

This explanation was received with broad acceptance in the back of the car.

At this point, I am praying for a yellow light before we get to church. Everyone went back to staring out the window, reading, etc.

A few minutes later, as we approached an intersection, BINGO!, a yellow light. So as we moved through the intersection I saw Mom brace herself, and I let out the most blood curling turkey imitation ever uttered.

All six bodies in the back jumped about two feet in the air and I am sure that chickens all across the county turned towards this fowl war cry.

There were a few seconds of quiet as the gobble echoed throughout the car and one of the children whispered, "Driving is really different with Dad, isn't it?"


It reminded me of this Father-Son exchange from the greatest comic strip ever, Calvin & Hobbes:

Q. How do bank machines work?

A. Well, let's say you want 25 dollars. You punch in the amount and behind the machine there's a guy with a printing press who makes the money and sticks it out this slot.

Q. Sort of like the guy who lives up in our garage and opens the door?

A. Exactly.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Three things (Valentine's Day Edition)

  1. Mrs. Underdog, I dislike Valentine's Day because a single day is a poor container for the volume of my love for you. You are my harmony. Job would envy your patience with my slow, steady sancitification. My affection for you grows by the day.
  2. Be careful if you ask God for humility. The only logical answer to that prayer is personal humliation. Just trust me on this. It really hurts.
  3. I slept way past my alarm this morning until about 7am. Although this was a great thing, my first sip coffee seemed less rewarding and I missed the sunrise. I have felt like I was an hour behind the entire day.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I'm guilty

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday commute

On the way to church on Sunday mornings, I like to get into the car, plug in the iPod and crank it. The kids have gotten used to the fact that dad needs two things on the thirty minute drive to church - - - a tall cup of coffee from Starbucks and some great praise music. So, with that background, the following exchange between me and my 2 year old son took place this morning:

Me: AH-CHOO!.....(singing with the music blaring) Bless the Lord....

Son: (from the far back seat) DAD!

Me: (singing)....oh my soul....

Son: DAD!

Me: (singing)....and all that is within me....


Me: (singing)...Bless His holy Name......

Son: (with increasing urgency) Oh, come on dad!

Me: (turning down the radio with worship distrubed frustration): Yes, son, what is it?

Son: Um, I forgot...oh, yeah: bless you.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Economic Stimulus Payments Made Simple

"This year, taxpayers will receive an Economic Stimulus Payment.
This is a very exciting new program that I will explain using the Q and A format:

Q. "What is an Economic Stimulus Payment?"
A. It is money that the federal government will send to taxpayers.

Q. "Where will the government get this money?"
A. From taxpayers.

Q. "So the government is giving me back my own money?"
A. Only a smidgen.

Q. "What is the purpose of this payment?"
A. The plan is that you will use the money to purchase a high-definition TV set, thus stimulating the economy.

Q. "But isn't that stimulating the economy of China? "
A. Oh, shut up.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Worst Valentine Ever

In today's Dallas Morning News, there was an ad that read:

In Honor of Valentine's Day

FREE Prostate Cancer Screening for Men 40 Years or older.....

Sounds like just the thing to celebrate love and romance doesn't it?

Makes a great gift, ladies!

Three things

  1. Maybe its just me, but doesn't it seem that churches are preaching on sex more than ever before. It seems to me that the problem is not that people (even Christians) have too little information on the subject, its that they lack the self-control to do what is right. And if a pastor does decide that they must preach on sex, they should do it right and preach through the Song of Songs and not just pick verses out of context to drive home semi-biblical outlines. If someone does not understand the gospel and have a relationship with the Living God, then they shouldn't be as worried about Christian sex as they should be about a Christ-less eternity.
  2. We are about a month into the no-TV thing. The end of football season help with the temptation thing, but on the really tired nights, there is the desire to just sit and watch sitcom reruns from the 80's.
  3. Throwing $800 billion at the economy is not the answer to our country's problems. Let me (and thousands like me) refinance my mortgage at 4% and we will revive the economy.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Homework gone bad....

(Here's the reply a teacher received the day after making note of the drawing above.)

Dear Mrs. Jones,

I wish to clarify that I am not now, nor have I ever been, an exotic dancer.

I work at Home Depot and I told my daughter how hectic it was last week before the blizzard hit. I told her we sold out every single shovel we had, and then I found one more in the back room, and that several people were fighting over who would get it.

Her picture doesn't show me dancing around a pole. It's supposed to depict me selling the last snow shovel we had at Home Depot.

From now on I will remember to check her homework more thoroughly before she turns it in.

Sincerely,Mrs. Smith


I know that I have not been posting much. So sorry. Enjoy this comic as an apology: