Music Monday – Switchfoot

So tonight I’m going out with some swell dudes to see Switchfoot play at The Pageant here in St. Louis. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Switchfoot, much less taken a good listen to their music. So, in trying to catch myself up and find something to share today, I ran across their Switchfoot TV series on YouTube. Having been there & done that, it’s always fun to see what bands do behind the scenes before, after, during shows and on the road. Enjoy.

Thunk Thursday – Power to the People

We have little power over people’s desire to succeed.

The above quote is from an article I read recently on the topic of usability/interaction design. It rebuked us as designers for “dumbing down” interfaces to the lowest common denominator. And I think there are so many areas of life that need this same rebuke.

Recently, President Obama referred to the struggles over the Healthcare Reform Bill as a failure on his part and that he “didn’t explain it well enough.” Without taking sides, that’s a pretty condescending thing to say. Early in his campaign, he suggested we should “spread the wealth around a little” with the intent to provide more opportunities. We’ll come back to this statement in a moment.

Churches are guilty, too. We encourage surface-level programs and events to appeal to people hoping to draw them to Christ or to serve the Church. We wonder why our giving isn’t up to expand our facilities, when we don’t have the growth to warrant it. We schedule prayer time. We script our worship services. We just do things that way because that’s the way we’ve always done it.

In the business world, we implement process upon process to prevent failure. We trust no one. Management belittles the staff while the staff, well, we’ll just not talk about what the staff thinks of management.

We have dumbed everything down so much that personal responsibility just doesn’t exist. This is exactly from where entitlement comes. You need to explain it better, it’s not my problem that I don’t understand. You could single handedly wipe out my debt, or even the debt of a small country, so you should give. You need to help me understand Jesus. You need to train my children. If we just did things my way, this company would be thriving.

Every bit of this is done with success in mind. Is it working? Quite obviously, it is not.

Mr. Obama, I agree that healthcare needs to be reformed. I agree that the poor need assistance (it’s Biblical). Church, I agree that prayer and spiritual growth are key. Business owner, I agree that predictable results are extremely important. What I don’t agree with is controlling the paths via which these things are achieved. That’s whether it’s via taxing the rich, scheduling prayer time or firing people that don’t turn in their TPS reports on time.

In the book of Acts, no one had need because the people voluntarily sold their possessions and gave. They had a passion and heart (led by the Holy Spirit) to give. Prayer was a way of life, not a scheduled event (not counting Old Testament Jewish custom). Today, the most successful businesses are a result of a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation.

Teach them, train them, and let them succeed. And in the process, if you let them, they’ll teach you a thing or two as well.

The answer is not to obligate people to give, pray or work. That’s only a little arrogant and condescending. As quoted above from the same article, the answer is to teach and train others. Empower them to take responsibility for their own actions. Lead by example. You can’t change the heart via brute force. That can only come from within.

Wisdom Wednesday – Mark 12:28-31

This year, one of my resolutions was to try, once again, to read through the Bible in a year. I’ve chosen the M’Cheyne One Year Reading Plan and am tracking progress using YouVersion.com‘s awesome (albeit buggy) tools. I chose this plan for several reasons including the fact that it does include every word (some plans skip over genealogy texts, etc) and was developed by Good News Publishers and Crossway, who publish my new favorite Bible translation, the English Standard Version. This portion of my attempt at daily posts will likely spawn from this reading plan and, unless otherwise noted, all texts will be from the ESV translation. Let’s begin.

28And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, Which commandment is the most important of all? 29Jesus answered, The most important is, Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. 31The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.

A week or so ago, I posted the video below to Twitter and Facebook. DC Curry, from Granger Community Church, brings the heat with a goosebump-inducing analysis of the most well-known verse in the Bible, John 3:16. As he so eloquently states, it ALL boils down to love. For God LOVED!

And so, in the same way, the single greatest commandments also boil down to love. Love God. Love others. It’s as simple as that. Nothing else pleases God more, or is more important than, love. Of course, we all have different definitions of love (as does the Bible), but we’ll review those some other time.

For now, simply ask yourself. Are you putting anything else in front of loving God? After Him, loving others? I am. I love myself. I love money. I love gadgets and toys. It is my prayer that together, we can learn to love in the order we’ve been commanded.

Music Monday – The Model Congress

Continuing the theme of ridiculously talented musicians, my good friend Thomas Mueller and his wife Sarah front The Model Congress, a newish band from Kansas City getting ready to take over the world. Listen for yourself and see what you think.

You can find The Model Congress on Facebook, Myspace, Youtube, and Twitter. Their EP is available via Amazon or iTunes.

Want something even better? They even have their own iPhone app!

Complete the Meme

So I’ve got this idea to inspire more regular posting and synchronize some of my various feeds (Twitter, Facebook, etc). Here’s what I have so far. I need to fill in the obvious gap.

  • Music Monday – New/Old Music recommendations, reviews
  • Tantrum Tuesday – My opportunity to get out my aggression
  • Wisdom Wednesday – What I’m reading/learning from the Bible
  • ? Thursday – Needs work
  • Foto Friday – Not necessarily one I took

I need recommendations for Thursday. Maybe Theremin Thursday?

Tantrum Tuesday – Radio Spam

You probably recall those annoying commercials from a few years ago that went something like “HEAD ON!!! APPLY DIRECTLY TO YOUR FOREHEAD!!!” and repeated that statement until you had no choice by to drive immediately to the nearest drugstore, purchase said product and APPLY IT DIRECTLY TO YOUR FOREHEAD!

Yes, someone, somewhere, sometime said that you should repeat your product, company name and/or contact information three times in an advertisement on television or radio for it to stick. Can’t we be a little more creative with that “rule”?

On my way to grab a bite for lunch today, I was assaulted with cheery female voice excitedly telling me about “Menopause… Away… dot com. Menopause… Away… dot com. That’s Menopause… Away… dot com”. Now, I’m sure there was more to the commercial, but that’s all I remember, just like that, repeated 3 times in a row. (I know some of you are saying, ‘see? it worked! you remember it!”) Sure, I remember it, but even if I was a menopausal female, I’d be so annoyed by the commercial I’d do everything in my power to steer clear of it, even possibly blocking all internet traffic to the site from my home.

When will marketers learn that we’re not idiots nor sheep to be led to slaughter? Take internet advertising as a perfect companion to these annoying radio and television ads. Browsers now implement pop-up blockers to eradicate annoying ads, add-ons are available to block ads that flash, blink, play music automatically, etc. In the same vein, raise your hand if you know delay the start of watching a show on television by some amount of time so you can fast-forward the commercials on your DVR? <raises hand/>

I get it. Repetition is the key to memorization. I get it, you think you have a great product we should know about. Times, they have changed, my friend. Make a product worth talking about and let us evangelize it for you.

And, oh, don’t even get me started on this “trend” of “viral video” and commercializing social media. Social media is about being social, not as a medium for advertising. (I actually saw a ‘social media specialist’ say ‘If you know what’s good for you, you’ll follow [twitter account]’ – can’t I decide for myself Sir Arrogant of Arrogance-land?) If you can figure out how to make “social” media work, do so without annoying the every living daylights out of me. Please. And stop “producing” viral videos that are supposed to look “home-made”. There’s always a giveaway. Just tell us up front what message you’re sending and let us decide if we want to make it viral or not. That’s our job as consumers, ya know?

Music Monday – The Reign of Kindo

I linked these guys via Facebook last week, but I thought they’d be a great introduction to an attempt at some regular posts here on the ‘ol blog.

I was checking my Youtube subscription late last week to see if anything interesting had shown up and lo and behold, these guys were the first thing in the list. Now stuck on repeat, the intricacies and dynamics of Just Wait and October’s Storm (both available as in-studio videos on Youtube) drive me insane. Rarely does a band impress me as much as The Reign of Kindo has.

Filtering out the noise

I currently subscribe to 204 RSS feeds. I need to cut that down to about 25. Now, there may be some leeway involved for feeds that I view solely for inspiration purposes and do receive value from but aren’t huge timewasters, such as design galleries, etc.

However, all that said, I want some input from the community on this one. Regardless of topic (I have mine grouped by things like “photography”, “web”, “church”, “news”, etc), what are your top 5 blogs/feeds you read on a daily basis and provide real value. If you include Digg or some other massive feed, do you filter it by category prior to subscribing (such as only Tech, etc)?

Help me, please.

It really should be that simple

Inside every cynical person, there is a frustrated idealist. – George Carlin

I’m an idealist (read: naive). Well, I guess that makes me a cynic. A short time ago, I hit a period where I was up against a brick wall at work, fighting a force much stronger than I. My idealistic viewpoints were being met with cynicism. Refusing to succumb to the pressure only to become cynical myself, I moved on to another role. It was a very tough decision, but it was my only alternative to stay sane in such a cynical world.

Modern Christianity leans toward the cynical as well. Think about it. If you’re too lazy to think, pick up unChristian by David Kinnaman. In it, he tells us exactly why we’re cynical. Those who don’t share our beliefs look at us as hypocritical, antihomosexual, sheltered, too political, etc. How do I translate each and every single point he makes? We’re cynical.

We put forth so much effort protecting ourselves from the scary world around us by staying safely inside our Christian bubble, boycotting and avoiding terrifying things like alcohol and R-rated movies that we don’t have any energy left to do the things we’re called to do like love.

We display our cynicism in regard to not only distrust of the world around us, but ourselves. We add all sorts of extra-biblical ideals to further our protection level. Don’t dance. Don’t drink. Don’t set foot on the other side of town, even if that’s where God needs us most.

May I remind you (and me) about a very important aspect of Christianity known as the Holy Spirit. When we make a decision to become a Christ follower, so begins a journey led by the Holy Spirit. With His involvement in our lives, and our daily reliance on His power, everything else becomes secondary. We don’t have to make up rules for ourselves because he guides us, teaches us and protects us. He knows if we can drink without becoming drunk and will provide us with the proper self control to do so. Does that sound familiar? Isn’t one of the fruits of the Spirit self control?

Now for what I’m not saying. The Bible has some very clear, black-and-white, guidelines for us. We need to be extremely careful when exercising our freedom in Christ and reliance on the Holy Spirit that we are truly relying on the Spirit and the Word of God. My rant is on adding to the Bible, not taking away. If, at any point, we find ourselves doing anything that assumes the Bible is “not good enough” and apply our own rules on top of it, we’re treading shaky ground. Yes, there is much open to interpretation and the Bible was penned (not written) by men and translated by men. We’re prone to screw it up. But in those areas where the Bible is clear, we must trust the word and Spirit.

So why the title of this post? If we’re truly doing our job of relying on the Spirit, we shouldn’t worry. We shouldn’t shelter ourselves. We shouldn’t need to boycott. We just plain shouldn’t need to try so hard. The Spirit, frankly, makes our jobs pretty simple. Rely on Him daily and love others. In my ideal (albeit naive) world I live in, at least.

Why do we rely more on our own “wisdom” and not fully on He who is our greatest comforter and protector, the Holy Spirit? There is so much more to this conversation. Please comment and let me know your thoughts. I left a lot unsaid and you’ll probably call me on it. Let’s talk.

Scriptures pertaining to my rant

  • Galations 5:16-25
  • John 14:16-17
  • 1 Corinthians 2:6-16
  • Acts 16:6-10
  • Philippians 4:13

Pink For October

Since I’m heading out on a boat for a week, I thought I’d stick this up early. It isn’t exactly pink, but I’ve been too busy to do my own theme, so why would I think I could tweak this one to be a real pink?

Anyway, why is it pink? October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast Cancer has affected both my wife and my families. My sister is currently undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer (I should have gone teal for September, sorry).

To see who else is participating, see http://pinkforoctober.org/