Monthly Archives: January 2009

Good Thinking Questions

Here are some interesting questions that I have thought about over the last few months.

  • Did Jesus ever create a mission statement? If so, what was it? Does creating a mission statement mean that our actions are the most important aspects of our lives? Maybe Jesus didn’t create a mission statement because the most important thing was His identity not what He did.
  • Why do some people work themselves up in pray as if they are in a panic? I have seen prayer rooms where the focus seems more on Satan than Jesus.
  • How would people describe me if they were trying to explain who I am to a stranger?
  • How can you live like Jesus if you don’t know Him?
  • Can you really every please every one?
  • Jesus was never panicked. No matter the situation. Why is it so easy to panic instead of praying?
  • Where would Jesus go if He had time to spend one day in my city?

What Is the Future of Reporting?

B2B Magazine recently carried articles on the the future of newspapers and newsweeklies. These two articles identified issues that have haunted me for a while. The news industry has sure changed from my college days at Mizzou. You can read the article by clicking on the links below.

 http://www.btobonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090119/FREE/301199990

http://www.btobonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090119/FREE/301199995/1149/ISSUEMB

With rising distribution costs and dropping circulations, it is only a matter of time. The news industry is suffering from Internet fatigue. People want news quickly, and the value of professional journalists as gatekeepers seems to appear less important. It is funny. Google doesn’t produce any original content. But the Internet (especially sites like Google) is helping to kill news content producers.

Some news brands still have a lot of public value. But the actual results for advertisers appears to be dwindling as ad dollars decrease at the same time. Some news companies will take advantage of the changes and will rise from the ashes to be stronger players in the market. This is not the final gasp for breath from a former institution. But it certainly is a clear shock to the system.

I believe the future of reporting will be…

-More collaborative. Newspapers need to work to involve readers more as extensions of their newsroom. This means that there will be greater need for fact checkers and editors.

-Print will be a luxury that people will have to pay a high price to receive. Most people will get publications via the Internet.

-Community publications will be the most profitable, sough-after publications. I believe there will remain a strong demand for very local reporting because people like to know what is going on with their neighbors, school sports teams, etc.

-Newsweeklies will have to offer premium content. That means something you can’t really find elsewhere.

-Electronic readers and e-paper will decrease the need for print publications. Customers will adapt and learn to embrace electronic readers as they become more like print and less clunky.

-More content will have to be put back behind the firewall so that only subscribers can read it. Too much free content makes it appear as if good information should be free. 

-Many newspapers will go out of business. Journalists will look for work in related fields, such as truck driving. 🙂

Asking Tough Questions

For the last month, I have been very unsettled. It is as if I need to make some changes, but I am not sure what should go, what should stay and what should be done differently and in what order. Is this an early mid-life crisis?

Literally, everything has been up for grabs. And I mean everything… but Jesus. This includes where I live, my current profession, going back to school, relationships, what I eat, daily routines, etc. I feel a bit like a caged animal. Honestly, I am not sure why.

Some might say this is just because you want to be married. While this is true, I think my “issue” goes way beyond that.

I don’t have a bad life. But I do feel quite unsettled, and I don’t like feeling this way.

I generally don’t ascribe much weight to fortune cookies. But the other day I got a fortune cookie that said, “You will make a number of changes before you become settled.”

After reading the fortune, I looked around and wondered if this was a sign. It felt like somebody was reading my mail.

Here is a list of the tough questions that I have been asking myself. Do any of these resound with anyone else out there?

  • Why do I struggle so much to love others and tell them about Jesus?
  • Am I a good neighbor?
  • How long can I keep on writing about the bad economy at work before I become very depressed?
  • Why do I frequently dream about living some where else? Should I move out West?
  • Why do I worry so much about money when I always have everything that I need?
  • Why do I frequently feel like a C-grade Christian?
  • How many times this week will I put off my workout?
  • Should I institute a weekly meal plan and stick to it?
  • Why is my house a love/hate thing? One minute I can’t wait to get there and do nothing. The next minute I hate it and wish that I lived in a shack that didn’t need to be maintained.
  • Am I doing a good job at work? I frequently feel like I am trying to bail water out of the Titanic. Is this a normal feeling when the work never seems to end?
  • Is my life really making much of a difference to others and the Kingdom of God?
  • What does God really want me to do with all this stuff that I have written? Is simply putting it on the Internet enough?
  • Should I do something different to find my wife? How long Lord?
  • Why is my house still a mess when this was supposed to be the year of eliminating the clutter and keeping everything tidy?
  • Is there something I should do to be a better friend?
  • Should I take only one class this semester given that I may have to work more do to problems at the office?
  • Why do I struggle to finish my book projects? This has been a problem ever since Organic Faith.
  • Should I go to Israel this summer? If so, what is the purpose of the trip?
  • Why do I have to ask so many questions?

The New Paper – Electronic Paper

While reading through Technology Review tonight, I came across a truly amazing product. And I am wondering how this will change the publishing industry forever. I first saw this concept as a kid at an exhibit at Disney’s Epcot Center in Orlando, F la. Back twenty plus years it was heralded as the future. I knew it would come around some day. And it looks like the day may be here for true electronic paper.

Plastic Logic has developed a technology that provides an e-reader that resembles a pad of notebook paper. Using plastic electronics, the device is supposedly lighter, thinner, stronger and more durable than any other e-reader. It is supposed to be open source and will support multiple document formats.

The screen is much larger than an Amazon Kindle and is being marketed to the business audience.

Just imagine if you could carry around one piece of paper that stored all your important documents. Wow! I wonder if this thing will be as great as the developers claim.

Technology should make the next 20 years very interesting.

http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid980795693/bctid1778578839

Random Thoughts from the Last 48 Hours

Here’s an assortment of ideas that I have pondered over the last two days.

  • Some pundits and Eagles fans are calling for the team to move on from the Donovan McNabb era. While I am no McNabb apologist, who exactly would take his place? A rookie? The free agent talent pool is pretty thin. Choices include Kurt Warner, Matt Cassell, Jeff Garcia, Kyle Orton, Kerry Collins, etc. None of those look like much of an upgrade. Was the recent loss really McNabb’s fault? Was he the one who let Fitzgerald score three touchdowns in yesterday’s game? No, McNabb almost led back the team to victory. The Eagles need to resign McNabb unless he wants outrageous money. Also, they should get him some more offensive help. Desean Jackson is not enough to scare opposing defenses.
  • The Blackberry Storm should have come with Wi-Fi. I see no reason not to include it except of course planned obsolescence.
  • Paying $15 to check a bag on a plane. That is ridiculous. I paid yesterday for the first time in my life to check a bag. And I don’t intend to do it again. Northwest Airlines – you just lost my business. Now, it looks like I will have to fly on AirTran, Jet Blue, and Southwest when possible.
  • The Rockies are absolutely gorgeous. Whenever I see a large mountain range, I am reminded of the Scripture that says the mountains melt like wax before the Lord.
  • Many people in this country are hurting financially, and the federal government is spending more than $100 million on the Obama inauguration. I don’t care how much or how little was spent in the past. My concern has nothing to do with who won or lost the election. In a time when we are all being asked to make some sacrifices, when does the federal government lead by example? I think this was an opportunity for Obama to show that he truly is a different type of leader. It looks like the new president may just be more of the same.
  • On a slightly different note, I am praying for Obama that he will guide with wisdom, fear God and not man, and will work to shore up our struggling economy. I hope that his change is something that I can come to believe in…We’ll just have to see.
  • Skiing is a relaxing activity until you hear the sound of snowboarders closing in from behind.
  • Praise the Lord that hostilities in Gaza have come to an end. I pray that Hamas will truly seek a lasting peace and will refrain from firing rockets into Israel.
  • I’m still looking for a new favorite football team. No real winners yet. Every one of my contenders has let me down to this point. Maybe I’ll have to go back to my first love (the Cowboys). At least, I am not a Lions or Bengals fan.
  • A parent on the plane next to me yesterday mentioned the high cost of a college education today. When are colleges going to get it? $30,00-40,000 per year for a bachelor’s degree is nuts.

Great New Apple Ideas

 Wow, The Onion sure gave Apple Computer a good spoofing with its fake news report about the new laptop that doesn’t have a keyboard.  Take that Steve Jobs! 

I watched the video over and over. You can see it at http://www.theonion.com/content/video/apple_introduces_revolutionary

I came up with a few new outrageous Apple product ideas of my own. What do ya think?

1.) IPOD/stun gun combo

2.) MacBook Pro built entirely of recycled materials. Will retail for only $4,500. Comes in a convenient box made out of bamboo.

3.) Apple cologne (Knicknamed-  iSmell Good) will make everyone think you are the smartest and most creative person in the room.

4.) iTunes meets Priceline where you can name your price for what you want to pay for songs, movies and ebooks.  I’m sure the recording industry would love that little innovation.

5.) iPoster – video screen poster that continuously loops those crazy “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” commercials.

6.) iPhone with built in beverage dispenser. Why pretend to drink a cold one on your iPhone when it should be able to dispense the real thing? Refillable cartridges can be bought at the closest ABC Store or beer retailer.

7.) Apple Easy Artist – Voice directed art rendering system allows any MAC user to paint a masterpeace using voice commands. You don’t even have to be an artist; the computer does it all for you.

8.) Steve Jobs Office Shrine – That’s right. You too can have your own personal moment of zen and inspiration at the office. Comes with miniature Steve Jobs Buddha figure and ornamental shrine. Figure speaks one of ten sayings when you rub its belly.

9.) iGlasses wearable computer. Special glasses allow you to surf the Web, call home or dictate a memo while providing excellent protection from UV rays. Comes in art deco, sporty and yuppie styles.

10.) Flat panel TV with Apple’s exclusive smart touch screen technology. This is perfect for those who need more exercise and should drop the remote. Warning people with oily fingers may want to invest in a case of screen cleaner.

Incoming…

Imagine living in a place where you have to scurry to hide from rocket fire several times per day. You’re in the middle of school, cooking dinner or working outside when warning sirens go off. You have 30 seconds or less to find shelter. That is what many Israelis (both Jews and Arabs) face every day as they deal with Hamas rocket fire.

Since 2003, about 10,000 rockets and mortars have been fired from the Gaza Strip against Israel, most of them after Israel pulled out its 9,000 residents (settlers) of the Gaza Strip in 2005. Over 1,000 Israelis have been wounded or killed.

Palestinian casualties tend to grab most of the foreign headlines. But the current situation in Israel is bad for all sides. Both Palestinians and Jews are sending their children off to fight a needless war. While I believe the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) is far from perfect in how it has handled some of its operations, at least the IDF tries to avoid civilian casualties. The IDF targets Hamas rocket sites while  Hamas targets Israeli cities and hides behind civilians for protection. The IDF drops leaflets warning people to avoid hot spots. Hamas gives no warning before it launches attacks.

The real enemy here are the men who think shooting missles into Israel will solve the plight of the Palestinian people. That is no way to get the world to see you as anything other than terrorists who are making the situation worse.

The IDF has been too zealous at times by taking out power stations and other facilities that were not high priority targets. Blockades have made the conditions very tough for the Palestinians who are caught between Israeli and Hamas fighting.

I truly believe that Israel just wants peace and the rocket attacks to stop. Hamas still seems to support the destruction of Israel. Unfortunately, the Fatah Party is seen as the rich, elites who have not taken care of the people, which explains how Hamas won an election in the first place. As long as radicals run the show in Gaza, I don’t see how there can be a lasting peace.

Christians around the world should pray for peace and that a new government would rise up in Gaza that would seek to help the people and live at peace with Israel. We need to pray that aid would get to those in need and that civilians on all sides would be safe.

If you want to find out more about what is going on in Israel, I suggest you sign up to receive e-news alerts from http://www.jnnnews.com/

This is a problem that the world can no longer afford to ignore.

Living a Life of Legacy

Over the last few days, I have thought about what I want people to say about me. I want everyone who comes in contact with me to see Jesus. I want them to be blessed for having known me. I don’t care if people say I am a bit odd or a little too intense. That’s okay.

But I would be mortified to think that someone could hang around me long enough and not know how special they are and how much they are loved by God.  I truly believe that my central message in life revolves around helping people see themselves as God sees them. Why do we tend to look at ourselves and only see the worst? Don’t we know that God looks at us and sees His Son?

Don’t we know that our identity is much more than what we look like on the outside? Don’t we know that God cares about us because of who we are not what we can do for Him? Don’t we get that grace means we can stop pretending? God knows us better than we know ourselves.

A life of legacy is what Jesus lived. It is what we are called to experience if we know God and His life lives through us.

What are you living for? Is your life leaving a legacy that will bless others?

Remember it is never too late to start living a life of legacy.

2009 Is…

While I generally avoid New Year’s Resolutions, I have decided to make a few  this year. Maybe these aren’t resolutions because that sounds kind of final. Life is too difficult to make such firm commitments. 

People generally make resolutions every January to fix things they don’t like about themselves. I have found that I am not very good at changing myself. I believe that is something that relies mostly on grace and divine intervention. I do have a small role to play. But the real power to change comes from God.

Here are declarations that I want to make for 2009 knowing that the only way I will keep them is with God’s help. If you are a friend, feel free to ask me in a month or so how something on this list is going.

  • 2009 is a year of worship in all things. That means I will try to view all things as an opportunity to glorify God. There are no longer ordinary moments because all things have the potential of being sacred space.
  • 2009 is a year of living, praying, blogging, crying, singing, questioning and journeying through the Psalms. I want to dig into the Psalms to such a degree that I touch the heart of God and unearth deep longings that only Jesus can fill.
  • 2009 is a year of organization. Yes, I am going to get organized and reduce the clutter in my life. Things are starting off better than 2008. But I still have lots of work to do.
  • 2009 is a year of praying first and doing everything else second. I want to start each day with a moment of prayer and have regular times just to listen to what God is saying to me.
  • 2009 is a year of giving to others when they least expect it.
  • 2009 is a year of working on my house.
  • 2009 is a year of making new friends and strengthening existing relationships.
  • 2009 is a year of setting achievable work goals and accomplishing them.
  • 2009 is a year of better health, less fast food, limited soft drinks and more salads.
  • 2009 is a year of at least one spirit quest in the mountains.
  • 2009 is a year of supporting new missionaries.
  • 2009 is a year of obedience to Christ not fear of man. 
  • 2009 is a year of grace where I learn who I am in Christ.
  • 2009 is a year of grace where I walk by the power of the Holy Spirit.

It’s Over…

I am officially available. Yes, any NFL sports team (with some exceptions noted below) can now try to win my allegiance and support as a fan. It’s not that I am a quitter. I have stayed with the Dallas Cowboys for years. But there are just some things that will never be okay. As long as Jerry Jones is the guy calling the shots, I just don’t think I can trust the Cowboys. They have broken my heart for the last time. It’s kind of like a marriage where the mother-in-law is too involved and won’t butt out. I am truly grieved.

I knew the relationship was beyond repair earlier in the season when Jerry Jones (aka the mother-in-law) signed Roy Williams for a gaggle of draft picks. Another locker room malcontent, yes, that is exactly what the Cowboys need. It is as if Jerry Jones likes to hire guys who will make headlines. Hey, here’s a little tip Jerry. Chemistry is not made with Benjamins. It is made by getting quality people who have more than talent. They must have character and a coach who knows how to lead the way.

Dallas is in trouble because it has paid too much and locked up too many spoiled players for long term contracts. The head coach is a great defensive coordinator, but he has never won the big games as a head coach. Come on? Do you really expect Wade Philips to change after being in the league for 30 years. I don’t buy what he said in the recent press conference.

The Cowboys offense needs to get creative and figure out ways to handle the press better so it doesn’t turnover the ball as much. I don’t know that the problem is any one player as much as the play calling. Some key guys were hurt this year. But the receiving corp needs to decide if they will be selfless and do what is truly best for the team. If not, the guys who cry about not getting the ball enough should go.

There is more that I could say about what needs to be fixed. But it is just too painful. I really think it all start with Jerry Jones. He should do everybody in sports a big favor and sell the team to a person who will not meddle in player decisions.

Okay, now on to the future. I have certain criteria for my new team. Here is my list:

1.) No teams in the NFC East. That would be like dating a cousin. You just don’t do that because I will always have a place in my heart for Dallas.

2.) No team in the Northeast. That would offend my Southern roots too much. Thus, no Jets, Giants, Patriots, Bills, etc.

3.) No Steelers or Green Bay Packers because my brother and Jeff McBee would gloat too much. They would always make comments about how it is nice that I have “seen the light” or “come over from the dark side.”

4.) No Patriots because I hate cheaters. Plus, I am tired of hearing how Belichick is the smartest being on the planet next to God.

5.) No team with maniac owners. You know if you have a maniac owner because he thinks he knows more about player selection than NFL scouts and experts. Another sign is anyone who acts like Al Davis. Thus, no Raiders, Redskins, Cowboys, etc.

6.) No teams with losing traditions. Some teams seem to never win. It is as if they are cursed. Sports karma keeps them from ever doing well. This would exclude the Lions, the Cardinals, the Bengals, etc.

7.) No arch rivals of the Cowboys. See reason #1. This would exclude the 49ers.

8.) The desired candidate should be a good sports town with civil fans who root for their teams without booing Santa Claus.

9.) The desired candidate should have a decent winning tradition although they don’t have to necessarily be a top team this year.

10.) The desired candidate should have strong coaching and a tradition of owners who know how to stay out of player decisions.

11.) I would prefer a team that is located within a day’s drive of my hometown. This would allow me to go to a game every once and a while.

12.) The ideal candidate would seek players with strong character who are good role models. These players will work hard on every play and seek to achieve team goals over personal notoriety.

13.) The ideal candidate should be competitive with player compensation although a somewhat frugal shopper that is smart about how much it pays players.

14.) A cool mascot and logo wouldn’t hurt.

15.) Having a few high profile Christians on the team would also be another positive.

Based on my criteria. I have come up with a number of teams that are in the running. Here’s my current list.

Titans,  Panthers, Falcons, Colts, and Bears. I might also accept the Rams or Chiefs although these are long shots. With the playoffs under way and free agency to follow, I will look to see what the various contenders show me.