Times Up


Oh snikies! Its press time and I haven’t finished my column yet.

What happened?

I remember at least trying to write a column this week, I think.

What could have happened? I’m not even sure why I write this column anyways. I feel like an old preacher who has three sermons he gives year round. Over and over again, hoping someone catches on.

But what happened this week? Why did I procrastinate so much?

According to Wikipedi, procrastination is the deferment or putting-off of an action or task, usually by focusing on some other distraction.

I’m not easily distracted am I?

Maybe I could find an old blog entry and run it here. Or better yet, find someone who’s a better writer, run their blog entry and then once you think I’m a super writer, I can tag the end with one of those silly MLA style citations.

No. Stay focused. Try and remember why you don’t have your column written.

I know I sat down with my laptop Sunday afternoon. I vaguely remember typing something about how big my God is. Because the bigger your God is, the smaller your problems are. And the bigger your problems are, the smaller your God is.

Wait, I remember what happened now.

I kept deleting it because all I was doing was re-hashing that morning’s sermon.

Ok, so that column idea was a wash.

Sunday night I remember – I planned on trying again, but I ended up playing 10-9-8 at my neighbor’s house.

And for the record – I did maintain the highest score throughout the majority of the evening. Yet for some reason, they said I came in dead last. I guess I’ll have to look into that.

After 10-9-8 I remember coming home and sitting in my living room and “getting my praise on” with Chris Tomlin.

Yet before I knew it, morning had arrived and I headed back to the office.

Now I’m pretty sure I tried typing something that morning.

I do remember staring at a blank screen for a long time.

Oh yes. I almost finished two columns Monday morning. But both times I hit a writers block and decided no one would be interested in my weekend trip, tubing on the Guadalupe River.

Somewhere along the way I remember being caught up in the blogosphere.

Everyone was blogging about Apple Computer’s announcement to start fitting their computers with Intel processors, replacing the IBM chips that have run the machines forever.

I think I may have enjoyed a #2 from Crow’s about that time as well.

That should have inspired a column in-and-of-itself, because it doesn’t get much better than that. But I guess food on the brain and a full tummy just made me put writing off even more.

Monday evening I spent my time trying out a new Thai Shrimp recipe from H-E-B and then enjoyed a quiet evening on my porch with my two dogs.

Maybe if I had more time during the day, I would have written a column by now.

Isn’t that ultimately the problem? Its not a matter of time management is it?

Around 10:30 p.m., my “sister” Kathryn Shindoll called and we talked about her trip to St. Petersburg, Russia.

I was so fired up about her going and the opportunity she’ll have, as she leads 11 interns to work in orphanages there, that I completely forgot about writing my column for whatever little time I had left before I fell asleep.

All I could think about was how badly I wanted to take a trip on my own and how I needed to start talking to Rebecca O’Banion about a trip to Haiti.

I was fired up. It felt like the end of a CWF show. One of those shows when we know God inhabits the praises of his people and works in ways we’ll never know or understand. Awesome.

Well, that brings me to Tuesday — one day before press time.

Surely I wrote something — somewhere.

I woke up at 5:30 a.m.


Showered, changed and read Isaiah 40-44. I think reading those chapters may have changed my life – I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

In fact, I was so inspired that I did write something that morning. I had to re-write one of the verses in my Bible.

I marked through “Jacob” and “Israel” in Isaiah 40:27-28 and replaced it with my name and America.

Why do you say, O Jacob (Jonathan), and complain, O Israel (America), “My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.

I was fired up after reading these chapters. I mean seriously. Do you realize how big God is?

Isaiah says, “Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

Isaiah also writes, “God measures the heavens with the span of His hand.”

Any idea how big the heavens are?

Our sun is roughly 150 million kilometers from the earth. If we traveled at the speed of light, 300,000 kilometers per second, it would take us eight minutes and 20 seconds to get to the surface of the sun.

On average, Pluto, is 6 billion kilometers from the sun, depending on where it is in its orbit. That puts Pluto 5.85 billion kilometers away from Earth. At the speed of light, it would take us roughly 325 minutes, or 5.4 hours to reach the furthest planet in our solar system.

Yet our solar system is only one in our galaxy, which scientists say is 130,000 light years in diameter. It would take us 130,000 years, traveling at the speed of light to travel from one side of our galaxy to the other.

Is anyone else getting this? Oh wait. I’ve started re-hashing Sunday morning’s message haven’t I.

Sorry about that.

On to the business at hand.

Oh no! Times up. Looks like I put off writing my column for too long.

We have to send the paper to press.

So, I guess this is it for me. No time to type anything else.

Maybe next week I’ll plan ahead better. But then where’s the fun in that.

See you next week.

Flowers make all the difference

Originally published as Church Flowers in The Belton Journal

A pastor in St. Paul, Minn. blogged this week about a flower garden planted in front of his church.

First of all, I love pastors that blog regularly. It gives a lot of insight into the ministry and what they go through and see throughout the week.

Some even give insight into how their weekly sermon progresses.

Fellowship Church in Dallas has a blog set up for their entire church staff to post notes and journals on. (UPDATE: While Pastor Ed Young still blogs, I can’t find the blogs for the entire staff anymore.)

It gives you a connection with the staff that you might not otherwise have.

But I digress…

Pastor Pat Kahnke of St. Paul Fellowship Church writes that he noticed a bunch of kids bustling around in the church parking lot earlier this week.

As he walked closer he realized that a number of his church members had taken the initiative to plow up a weedy section of their church lot and plant a flower bed in its place.

While planting the flower bed, one of the church members knocked on a neighboring house door to ask to borrow a water hose.

The church neighbor said they could borrow the hose that day and year-round to keep the flower bed looking healthy.

And as a result, another member volunteered to plow the man’s backyard for him.

What a great sign of ministry on so many levels.

They took the care of the church upon themselves

No one sat around and waited for a church beautification committee to tell them what needed to be done. No building committee hired out work that church members could easily do.

People took responsibility for their church and went the extra mile to be sure their place of worship was taken care of.

What if each of us looked for areas in our own churches or work places where we could go the extra mile without being asked?

What if we quit shrugging responsibility for things in our offices or church and stepped up and said, “This needs to be done — and I’m going to do it. Even if it’s not in my job description and even if I may not be an expert on the subject.–

They involved outsiders

One of the things I love about this story is that it involved people in the neighborhood.

Now granted, with a little planning they could have brought their own water hose, but think of the ministry opportunity they would have missed. In the process, they made sure that a neighbor of the church knew what was going on at the church and then found a way to meet him at his need.

Wasn’t that Jesus’ entire ministry was about? He met people at their need.

If we are passionate about what we do, or wherever we do it, it can be contagious – people will want to be a part of it.

A business cannot grow without new customers and a church cannot grow without new members. We must rid ourselves of being exclusive or selective in who we reach out to. We must bring outsiders in.

A few months ago I wrote about George Masters who was so passionate about Apple’s iPod, that he spent several hours designing a complete television commercial based on his favorite toy.

“Why would a school teacher spend a good chunk of his free time, for five months, crafting a really slick ad for no money? For no real recognition other than a, ‘Hey, that’s cool,’ from a few friends? Because he really, really likes his iPod,– wrote blogger Andy Havens. “Masters frankly admits that he partly worked on the project as a way of teaching himself some computer animation basics, and to be part of a portfolio. That being said, why pick the iPod mini as his subject? Because he’s a huge fan. And let’s remember that ‘fan’ is short for ‘fanatic.’–

If we can get people passionate about our product or message, people will become a part of the message and share it with them where ever they go.

Little efforts can go a long way

Third, as Pastor Kahnke wrote in his blog that he was blessed and ministered to by seeing their effort and the beautiful flowers left by their effort.

A pastor who was worn down was encouraged and blessed by a small effort by members of his congregation.

I can’t imagine that this group of church goers would have realized the impact their thoughtfulness had on their pastor, or the impact it would have on a newspaper editor some 1,113 miles away.

You never know what impact your willingness to serve will have on others.

And Thus I Resolve – 2004 resolutions

Wow it’s 2004!

I understand why people say the year’s fly by faster, the older you get.

It seems like just yesterday we were worried that the world would end amidst the Y2K crisis.

Geesh, what were we scared of?

As I sat and pondered this week’s column, I thought about following the example set by the Texas Monthly year end edition and give my own Bum Steer Awards for Belton.

After a few moments, I figured I better gain a little more credibility before I jump on anyone else’s case.

So like most columnists you’ll read this month, I’ll fit the typical mold and share my New Year’s Resolutions.

Now I’m not sharing this really for your benefit, but more for mine.

I’m a guy who can always use accountability.

Like scripture says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)

So, I’m sharing my resolutions for you to hold me accountable to them.

Of course in doing so I realize I’m opening myself up to judgement and critique, so you better uphold your end of the bargain.

My good friend Aaron told me today, that since most resolutions go overlooked or ignored, the wisest thing to do is resolve to eat more junk food and stop exercising. He might have a very good point there.

But, my goal is to fulfill these resolutions — and to get you, the wonderful reader, to help me. So here we go.

In 2004 I resolve:

To loose 20 pounds by June 1.
Now I must admit, this one is probably the first resolution to go, maybe that’s why it’s first on the list.

To exercise more, including running at least three times a week.
This running shall not include running to the kitchen during commercial breaks, but quality running for an extended period of time. (This is also probably one of the first to go, but it feels good to say it.)

To write my stories and columns earlier in the week so I and others have a chance to proof and edit them several times before they go to the press. (Just a note, most of this column was written two days before press time – I’m doing good so far.)

To cover my body with at least three more tattoos. (Just kidding mom).

To become more active in the things of God.

This is a big one.
I’m always regretting that I spend too much time worrying about me and staying busy with things I need to get done, rather than focusing on things of eternal value. I’ve said it before, but I believe my favorite quote of all times is by C.S. Lewis, “All that is not eternal is eternally insignificant.” If I’m not focusing on the things God is focusing on, then I’m wasting my time and my life is truly nothing more than a vapor of smoke.

To become more active in loving and helping my fellow man.
Ben’s example a couple weeks ago reminded me of the needs that are around us every day, in Belton and around the world.
Thousands of people go hungry and thousands more die every day and we turn our eyes away because we’re too busy to notice or care. Personally I’ve become a part of DATA and hope to step up my evolvement this year. I won’t spend much time giving you the details — this week — but visit their website if you’re interested: www.data.org. As a part of this resolution, I also resolve that I don’t get sidetracked by an international issue and forget about loving my neighbors around me every day.

To tell my friends and family, “I love you,” more often.
This might get be a little awkward sometimes in a group of guys, but it’s still needed to be said. Sometimes this phrase is tossed about carelessly by people, but it’s also too often overlooked and not said sincerely enough. May my friends and family never wonder how much I truly care for them.

To find and highlight more of the good in people. (Good thing I live in Belton.)
Sometimes I feel like we, the media, only print and show the negative side of stories. I really wish we had more room in the newspaper to highlight all the good things people do, every day. We do print as many as we can. But for each story you read, there are hundreds of examples of goodness that go on in our midst.

Finally, I’ll take some advice from Joe Baisden:

To be more reliable.
May my yes be yes and my no be no. May you always be able to count on me to show up and do the things I say I will.
May my word be my bond.

Be enthusiastic.
No matter what the story is, no matter where I am, may I be enthusiastic and do all things without groaning or complaining. “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.” (Philippians 2:13-15) May I rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS. May my gentleness be evident to all. (Phil. 4:4)

Do more than is required.
May I always fulfill my duties and always be willing to go the extra mile. Whether it’s stopping to sweep the floor, clean a toilet or spending time talking to a stranger. “If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” – Matthew 5:41. I know I can find a number of other areas I need personal improvement in, but I think these few may take the next 50 years at least to even come close to perfecting.

But above all, I hope and pray that at the end of 2004, we can each look back at our year and say “I know I am closer to God today, than I was Jan. 1, 2004.”

Happy New Year and may your year be blessed.

Now you better hold me accountable!