Monday, October 31, 2011

How Evil Are You?

My wife and I tuned into a show on Discovery last night by the name of this blog post.  I had seen enough of the previews to know it wasn't just Halloween-themed propaganda.  In fact, the shows entire intent is to take a scientific look at the the word "evil" and try to classify whether or not, we as humans, qualify.

As a Christian, this intrigues me greatly.  To watch a secular study on what I consider to be man's spiritual depravity has all kinds of implications of interest to me.  Primarily...how will they determine the standards of "good" or "evil" without an absolute example (I.E. God)?  Beyond that curiosity, I am also already quite pleased with the first episodes conclusion, which is...that we are quite the evil bunch.

Don't get me wrong.  Knowing that we are evil people is depressing. But its no surprise to me either.  It is just the reality of living under the curse of our fall and rebellion against God. It also serves to prove what Scripture tells us in many places.  Take a look at Romans chapter 7 and read verses 7 through 25 for an example.  Embedded in those verses is this one:

18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.

Last nights episode challenged people to go against instructions and a perceived authority figure in order to prevent a random stranger on the other side of the wall from getting an ever increasing delivery of electrical shock.  This test was first administered in the 1960's and was called the Milgram Experiment.  After finding over 65% of his candidates failing this test, Dr. Milgram was quoted as saying, "If a system of death camps were set up in the United States of the sort we had seen in Nazi Germany, one would be able to find sufficient personnel for those camps in any medium-sized American town."

The Discovery channel's recreation of his test only rendered worse results as the percentage of those willing to do the right thing has continued to decrease.  Here's the good news or the flip side to these horrific conclusions:

  • Realization of our depravity is a necessary step in understanding the NEED for a Savior
  • Shattering this notion that "you are a good person" and surely God will allow "good people" into heaven will force those concerned about the fallacy to seek out the ACTUAL Gospel.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Photo Friday Frenzy - 40

Category: One of these things is NOT like the others...

Instructions: Vote on your favorite photos of these eight in the right margin of this page. You have from Friday (today) until Monday morning to make your selection.

Vote closed. Winner: Aww...triplets!

"I think there's a spy amongst us!"

Aww...triplets!

Someone doesn't give a hoot!

"Hope Vader doesn't notice!"

Gravity...Pfft!

Wonder who plays Center?

Some people just don't try!

Wear slippers with caution



Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Glass

The glass is half empty.

Yeah...but look at the part that is half full.

That's true but I am so tired of the half empty part and am ready to finally see more filling going on.  Look at Susie's glass!  It's 75% full.

Well Susie's glass is not only smaller but it has lots of smudges.  Would you want to trade our situation for hers?

You don't seem to understand.

Don't get me wrong, I do understand what you're are saying. I am just trying to make a counter point.

I wasn't asking for a counter point!  Besides, I am more worried about the water level than I am about what size glass we have or how clean it looks.

Well we are experiencing a drought in Texas.  And sometimes we get thirsty.  So even when we do get ahead, we use some of what we have to quench our thirst.

You're not listening to me.

Sure I am.

No.  You are too busy offering your counter points that you don't even understand my actual point.

I am just trying to offer the silver lining or even help suggest solutions.

I don't need  you to fix everything.  I just need you to listen.

Ever have this conversation with your spouse? For us the glass in question might represent relationships, finances, school options, family dynamics, work, or a whole host of life's issues.  But at some point the analysis of these things leads to a conversation where my wife and I have very different objectives in mind. 

Normally I am the fixer who constantly takes his turn offering the upside or a possible "fix".  But I do have my times where I am the one that needs to vent.  And I must admit, it can be annoying in those situations to have someone just constantly give me solutions.  Venting, by nature, is an exercise that begs for empathy.  When all is offered in return is counter-point after counter-point...well, the point is missed.  I get that yet I still always seem to realize too late that I've committed the crime.

I am 10 years into this...so maybe after 20 years of marriage I will finally figure it out!

Nah!  Probably not...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Door To Door Rant

I REALLY need to get a peephole for my front door. I mean, who doesn't have a peephole? But apparently the builders didn't think it, or a coat closet, were necessary items when constructing our abode and because of this, I have had my fair share of unwanted solicitors get me to answer the door unsuspectingly.

Why answer in the first place you ask?  Well my children have friends next door and across the street that ring out doorbell on an almost daily basis...so we usually assume it to be them inviting our kids outside to play.

I could rant about a whole host of uninvited guests that peddle cleaners, lawn services, vacuums, cults and religious beliefs but for the purposes of this post, I will settle in on my most recent visitor...the magazine salesmen.

The Pitch


"Hi I am Trent and I am trying to turn my life around.  You can help me by evaluating my sales presentation regardless if you buy anything.  I am a former crack head and gang banger that wants to enjoy success and possibly be your next door neighbor one day.  And...if I get enough points, the company I work for might even send me on a trip."

The Problems


  • First of all, this pitch DID work on me the first time I heard it about eight years ago.  But when the tenth guy tells it verbatim, you start to question its authenticity just a little bit.
  • Secondly, they need to choose a strategy and stick with it.  You are either a hard luck case trying to turn your life around in need of a donation, advice, or perhaps prefer to do some odd jobs if I have any available.  Or you are the guy interrupting my family time with a very long spiel designed to motivate me to order a magazine subscription.  Pick one!
  • Be honest.  From the word go on this last visit, I asked what he was selling.  He lied and said "Nothing" only to dive right into his pitch and hard luck story. 
  • Perhaps what is most puzzling is why any door to door solicitations are still in operation.  In this case, if I really wanted a magazine subscription I could just get online and order it directly from the publishers website.  And if I have gone this long with out a particular publication, something tells me I can go a little longer.
  • "Oh but by buying this from me, you can help me earn that trip to Hawaii!"  The first problem with that objection is my sincere disbelief that such trips are ever awarded.  The second problem is this line is being given to a man (me) who hasn't had anything other than a stay-cation or the occasional road trip to San Antonio for the past ten years.  Unless this subscription can get us both to the sandy shores, I'll pass.
Don't get me wrong.  I am a BIG SOFTY for the truly needy, hard-luck types.  I am the kid that brings home the strays and begs mom and dad to let me keep them.  But I am not one that enjoys having these attributes exploited and taken advantage of.

Bring on the Girl Scouts!  I need some thin mints!

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Bit Over Zealous

Click on image to enlarge

The image above made me laugh.  As you can see it is a screen capture of a short conversation that took place on Facebook.  Last names removed, it serves now as a testimony to a caring individual who was a bit over zealous in his preaching.

Instead of taking the time to ask his friend what the specifics of her problem was...he made an assumption and prescribed prayer as the remedy.  And though prayer is always something that can help...even with broken appliances...we normally don't do a hands on healing.  Perhaps asking for help and guidance for a good priced replacement is more prudent.

The lesson here is a strong one...especially for me: A guy that is very vocal about his Faith and the need for others to come to Christ.  A relationship and an understanding of where people are is a very necessary component to your ability and effectiveness in sharing Jesus.  No one is going to listen to you if you are a noisy gong with no skin in the game. 

In this case it appears to be a Christian correcting a fellow Christian.  But how many times do we shotgun spray the unbelieving with the same kind of non-personal rhetoric?  Something to think & pray about, perhaps.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Photo Friday Frenzy - 39

Category: Military

Instructions: Vote on your favorite photos of these eight in the right margin of this page. You have from Friday (today) until Monday morning to make your selection.

Vote closed.  Winner: Sgt. Pipsqueek.


Sgt. Pipsqueak

Striking fear into our enemies via Segway!

Basebomb anyone?

New Recruit

Brushing Up

Shell Shock

YeeeeeeeeHaaaaaaw

Budget Cuts



Thursday, October 20, 2011

Going Green

Slowly but surely I am getting the bug for "The Green" movement.  Smaller homes, alternative energy sources, home grown produce, off-grid contingency plans, and energy efficient methods/appliances are becoming very attractive to me...which admittedly is SURPRISING.

Why you ask?  Because I am not one that you would ever confuse with the tree-hugging, hippie variety that is really worried about his carbon footprint.  I don't believe much of the media hype over these issues and ultimately I put complete trust in God to take care of our needs.  If God wants the planet to be a healthy or sick, I don't think there is much we can do to to change the outcome.

I do realize, of course, that we bare some responsibility.  Scripture teaches us to be good stewards of our blessings and I do see the world we live in as one of those.  But my PRIMARY interest in this "Sustainable Living Lifestyle" is a bit more selfish.  Suddenly retirement seems much more feasible when you own a home that literally sustains itself without much help from the grid.

Most of the pioneers of this movement have some very nice all-be-they small homes that have self contained solar and wind power, rain catch systems with cistern containment and filtration systems, complete use of property for growing produce, and in some cases livestock like chickens or goats for eggs and milk.  At a minimum, these folks manage homes that have very minimal cost to maintain and therefore the annual income necessary to support it is also minimal.  But I have seen several set-ups where the home is completely sustainable with zero financial impact other than the initial investment and occasional need to repair equipment.

Much of what I would love to implement in my life though is not practical for a family of five or a spouse that would rather NOT play Little House On The Prairie with me.  So for now I may make a few small changes around my current home and see where things lead.  My small vegetable garden is a start.

For discussion purposes, here is a video that was sent to me yesterday via email.  In it we get to see the ugly side of this movement as it's slowly gone from personal choice to being legislated requirement.  I look forward to your thoughts...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Civil Unrest

I really don't plan on covering "Occupy Wall Street" exclusively and I know this is the second post in two days that touches on the subject. But I do believe this angle is worth discussing and is a much broader topic than the protest itself.

First let me confess as to why this is of particular interest and worry for me.  As a very vocal Christian both in my personal life and my Internet dealings, I have seen and continue to see more and more harsh reactions to my professions of faith.  Christian history is littered with examples of martyrdom, torture, and persecution coming from the very government systems these individuals live under.

Biblical prophesy clearly points to a coming time when this will be par for the course yet again.  So as I watch videos of police in riot gear, arresting, and roughing up United States citizens for what appears to be the exercising of their Civil Rights...it REALLY concerns me.  When the very people that are supposed to protect us become our enemies...HOUSTON...we have a problem.

Please watch this Marine who has served several tours in the Middle East confront such police and leave me your thoughts!  Warning...contains some foul language.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Occupy Wall Street - You Decide

My personal jury is out on this one.  Part of me likes the grass roots feel of a good protest, especially one dominated by my generation.  And let's face it, there are plenty of issues to be fed up with.

The other part of me is trying to figure out if this is the right way to go about affecting change?  I suppose there isn't a right or wrong way to voice displeasure but that hasn't kept the critics quiet.

To illustrate my point you have the picture above with a college grad who clearly does not support the Occupy Wall Street campaign or at least what she believes these folks are protesting against.

Then, at the bottom of this post you have a video...where Alan Grayson makes some EXCELLENT points as to what people are upset about.  Obamacare aside...I couldn't help but want to cheer him on.

One thing is certain.  The people of this country are waking up to the very real problems we are currently facing and likely to continue to endure.  People are realizing our two party government is broken and it does not seem to matter who we put into leadership. 

Share your thoughts!  What do you think about this movement and our current situation?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Photo Friday Frenzy - 38

Category: Bacon

Instructions: Vote on your favorite photos of these eight in the right margin of this page. You have from Friday (today) until Monday morning to make your selection.

Vote closed.  Winnders: Bacon Sushi & Bacon PSA.

Bacon Mouse

Bacon Refreshments

Bacon Sushi

Bacon Dispenser

Bacon Band-Aids

Bacon PSA

Bacon Plans

Bacon Spread

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Today's Mailbag 9.0

The Painter

An ambitious young blonde woman, in need of money, decided to hire herself out as a handyman-type.  She began, door to door, canvassing a wealthy neighborhood for work.  She went to the front door of the first house and asked the owner if he had any jobs for her to do.

"Well, you can paint my porch.  How much will you charge?"

The blonde said, "How about 50 dollars?"

The man agreed and told her that the paint and ladders that she might need were in the garage.  A short time later, the blonde came to the door to collect her money.

"You're finished already?' he asked.

"Yes," the blonde answered, "and I had paint left over, so I gave it two coats."

Impressed the man reached in his pocket for the $50.

"And by the way," the blonde added, "that's not a Porch, it's a Ferrari."


To submit your own Email contribution to Today's Mailbag send entries to capturedimage@hotmail.com.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Political Correctness Fail


Even the most devout secularist who embraces all and wants to be embraced by all will usually admit that there are elements to what we call Political Correctness, that just fail.  Social conventions and societal expectations always sound nice and flowery.  Ideal and pristine.  But its been my experience that within those constructs you will easily detect flaws at a minimum and in some cases direct conflict with truth.

One of the many reasons Jesus was Crucified was because he failed to fit within the Politically Correct expectations of the time.  He was not the Messiah they were expecting or longing for.  He didn't strictly enforce hand washing, Sabbath rest, or fasting.  He turned over the merchant tables and kicked the retailers out of the Temple. He didn't come like a ruling King to conquer the land militarily.  He didn't recognize man's authority structures and He commanded those in power to become servants if they truly wanted to be First in His Kingdom.  Jesus is about as NON Politically Correct as they come.

So when it comes to my personal choice over whether to behave as expected by modern society or as expected by my Lord and Savior, the choice is often unpopular but a rather easy one to make all the same.  The picture above is a perfect illustration of just how flawed the PC mind is anyway.  It sure looks neat on a bumper sticker but it fails to recognize the very distinct differences in each group that make such a PC proposition impossible.  If these groups abandoned the ideals that give them their specific identities, then sure...each could get along fine.  But then they can no longer be called by their former religious label, can they?

Leave your thoughts in the comment section below...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Christian Consumer

We are all guilty of this to some degree or another.  We tend to analyze our church experience and ultimately rank in our minds how well we are being "taken care of".  If we get to a place where we are not being fed, it becomes a matter of time before we jump ship and go church shopping.  Don't get me wrong...there are good reasons to leave bad churches.  But hopefully those are doctrinal issues.  If the Gospel isn't being preached, and the Bible is rarely taught...you have grounds to commune with another body of believers.

But yesterday as I sat in a meeting with some of the fellow brethren of my local church, I listened to non-doctrinal problems being discussed.  "What programs can we implement?  What if we change this part of the service?  What if we took time out to pray corporately during the worship service? Can we have a more Spirit-led emphasis?  When will we have the Children's Minister position filled?"

Several of these comments were once thoughts in my own head, so I am not judging anyone for their questions or point of view. However, hearing my thoughts out loud helped me to see how much focus we are putting on ourselves.  "I am not being fed.  I want more.  I wish we could..."  A few Sunday's back I decided to try something.  I decided to go and actually worship God.  Worship is an action-laced word.  It requires ME to do something, rather than sitting idly waiting on something to be done for me. I wanted to see how much of me I could leave behind for once instead of how much I could get out of it. 

Consumer mind-sets are always focused on the self.  Christianity calls us to selflessly give to one another.  To approach each other and ask..."How is it going?  What can I be praying about in your life?  When is the next time we can grab lunch?"  And ironically if we are all serving each other in these kinds of ways...we do end up being served and fed as well.  People want to have an authentic experience with one another and with God.  Buried under every complaint or every suggestion of how to improve your worship experience is a human being that just needs authentic connection to brothers, sisters, and God above.

I pray we figure that out...sooner, rather than later.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Photo Friday Frenzy - 37

Category: Steve Jobs Tribute

Instructions: Vote on your favorite photos of these eight in the right margin of this page. You have from Friday (today) until Monday morning to make your selection.

Vote Closed. Winner: Logo Tribute

Super Jobs

And they were hard to carry around...

App Assistance

Making SciFi a Reality

Carbonite Steve Casing

History of the Apple

Candlelight Vigil

Logo Tribute

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Baby Lisa

My thoughts and feelings are quite scattered this morning.  Bloggers aren't supposed to be speechless especially on weeks like this one where an innocent American is set free and a Technology Guru has lost his life to cancer.  There are no less than ten topics, ideas, videos, and entertaining tidbits that are on my list of things to cover, to ask you about, or to challenge you with.

But I CANNOT seem to get past Baby Lisa.  And honestly even the death of Steve Jobs fades into the background for me as I sit in silent grief imagining the horror that this family is going through.  I know we live in a fallen world.  I know evil is a very real fact that goes with it.  But you never want to deal with it.  You never want it to smack you in the face and force your acknowledgement.  Even as a Bible-believing Christian with narratives from Genesis to Revelations detailing the story of Good VS Evil...I still would rather (like most people) put my head in the sand.

And of ALL the evil, I can think of none worse than when tragedy strikes our young ones.  They are the innocent, helpless, naive, unconditionally loving & trusting amongst us.  They haven't yet experienced the hard knocks of life or the cruel realities it can bear...nor should they at such a tender age.  So my outrage, my horror, my grief, and my thoughts and prayers are solely focused on this newest of sad stories to hit our headlines.  Please join me in praying for Baby Lisa and for those that love her!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Job Market Woes

Yesterday on Twitter, The Onion was on a roll with employment based quotes that were quite hilarious.  Being in the field of Human Resources and dealing with both personnel issues and this crazy economy, one quote in particular stood out:



The Onion
by JRLivingOutLoud - New College Graduates To Be Cryogenically Frozen Until Job Market Improves
 
It would be even more hilarious if not so sadly true right now.  After my laughter subsided a question came to mind.  If we did freeze new grads and thawed them out when market conditions were better, what year or decade will we be living in?  All we seem to hear from media outlets is dooms day reports with no horizon of hope in the near or distant future.
 
Ironically though...even in this economy I still get people that set up interviews for a job opening with me that no call, no show for the appointed time.  I guess certain people need it to get much worse before they shape up.
 
Your thoughts?

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Knox VS Anthony

Yesterday as I posted a celebratory blurb about my glee over Amanda Knox's newfound freedom, I got an interesting reply.  A friend of mine said the following:

 Yes, I don't think that she will be traveling internationally for quite some time! I wish we could have had Casey Anthony sent over there for her trial!

Packed into that short response is a ton of information that could take us in several directions. But let me unpack it this way. 

1. We have a HUGE contrast of characters with one very obvious innocent person wrongfully punished and another seemingly guilty person that got away with it.

2. Despite our negative opinions of Italian Justice, the Casey Anthony trial proves that our system isn't perfect either.

3. Public perception is very POWERFUL.  The entire reason Knox was ever found guilty was due to her actions with then boyfriend right after their friend was found dead.  The photos of the couple kissing portrayed to the Italian public that they were unaffected and perhaps even celebrating.  In the case of Anthony, though courts found her NOT GUILTY, she will proabably not ever enjoy an anonymous life without any public confrontation or interference.

4. Justice is very important to us.  These two cases alone have generated so much emotional outcry that I need not site other famous trials to prove my point.  People want accountability where mistakes and/or blatant crimes were commmited.  And no one wants the innocent wrongfully paying the price.  This fact speaks to our God-given & shared morality but that is a subject for another post.

What are your thoughts about these two women and the outcomes of their court cases?

Monday, October 03, 2011

Sequence of Events

I don't believe in good or bad luck and even if I did, I would tell you I am a lucky guy.  But luck is just a superstitious idea and interpretation of the events of life.  We live in a fallen world, which for me explains the reason why stuff that ought to turn out good, sometimes doesn't.  And of course all that is good flows from the Ultimate Good which is our God in Heaven...and I call these blessings.

But on Friday of last week as I went with my family to the Elementary School to enjoy their Fall Festival, I had a sequence of events happen to me back-to-back that I fail to have a classification for.  If I didn't actually know better, it was a string of "bad luck".  The festival was great.  The kids had a blast and I enjoyed seeing them erupt with laughter and smiles as they played with friends, jumped in bounce houses, and got their hair sprayed various wild colors.

It was upon leaving that it started.  My wife handed me Joshua after having held him in her arms for over thirty minutes.  He decided now that he was in Daddy's hands that he would erupt with a massive quantity of spit up. So much so, that Rachael and I had to debate whether or not he just threw up.  We concluded that he did not because he was so happy and good natured afterwards.  But my shirt didn't know the difference.  It was still covered with a smelly gush of disgusting discharge. 

Thankfully we were on our way back to the car anyway.  But as I was putting the stroller away I closed the contraption too fast and smashed my finger something fierce.  It was the kind of shooting pain that makes you want to yell every explicative you ever knew.  Somehow, however, I managed to contain myself and close the trunk.  We had just vacuumed the van so all of us were now taking off our grass covered shoes before getting in.  Upon doing so I look and see that a large chunk of dead grass is sticking to my shoe.  Further investigation reveals the reason.  I had somehow managed to step into a rather large, discarded piece or perhaps pieces of chewed up bubble gum.  My frustration is primarily due to what I know will be a messy clean up process but that was coupled with the annoyance over this being a very new pair of shoes.

Upon getting home and offloading my family I go into the garage to get a flat head screw driver.  I stand over part of the flower bed dislodging the sticky Hubba Bubba goop, scraping each morsel into an area that is never stepped in.  That's when I feel a burning & stinging sensation all too familiar from my childhood.  Yes folks my foot is now covered with angry fire ants that have decided I must be trying to attack their nest.  So in the name of their queen they took a six foot one inch, one hundred ninety five pound, man down the ground in final defeat.

If I had only gotten all this on video...it would be viral by now.

Feel free and please share your similar experiences.