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A Major Problem

Posted by jon on January 29, 2011 in not so deep thoughts |

As a disclaimer, you will find no spiritual insight or really any redeeming qualities in the following ramblings, but I felt it was extremely important for me to address a growing problem in our super markets. That’s right, things have gotten out of control at our once peaceful grocery store…or as I like to call it the food distribution experience…and I’m not even talking about the misuse of the self checkout (I would talk about the self checkout but blood pressure has been a little high lately and I think that discussion might just finish me off).

Anyway, in the beginning there was the shopping basket. This was a revolutionary step forward in shopping. Finally we were free of the burden of carrying each and every item we longed to purchase. With the advent of the basket we could easily carry 5-8 items and all was well. But if the basket was a step forward, then the shopping cart was our onramp to the shopping super highway. With the shopping cart it was possible to collect a week’s, nay a month’s worth groceries or at least a couple of heavy things when you’re parked far away and you know what a pain it is to try and get those out to the car, anyway.

The shopping cart made the grocery store not a regular stop but an event, or at least a way to spend the better part of a Saturday. Shopping was now something to be planned. Coupons had to be cut, lists had to be made, and cart placement for each item became essential (cold stuff together, bread and eggs in the top section, etc).

And all was well. The basket/cart system served us for over two decades. Then it all went sideways. It started innocently enough (these things always do). We were introduced to those kid friendly monstrosities, the cart/car combo. These 6 wheel-behemoths have the ability to block an entire aisle and take roughly 30 feet of clearance to safely turn in the store. And somehow they seem to always be driven by 90lbs moms with multiple kids and enough food to scale Mount Everest. Unless these women are secretly training for the strongman competition the weight of these cart/cars is obscene.

What happened to the idea of kid sit in the cart and if you are good you might get something at the cash register. Which that never worked either cause the kid always wanted two things and then they throw a temper tantrum and things get messy. Basically there’s no good way to take kids to the store and these monster carts are doing nothing but proving that point.

And now there is what I like to call the bascart. This strange contraption is a mini cart. For when you don’t need a full size cart but you’re still too lazy to carry a basket. I will admit that at least the bascart is an improvement on the short lived basket stroller, but that’s about the best I can say of it. This ill-conceived shopping accessory was made of a small cart frame and you set your basket on it. Basically it was the equivalent of taking a radio flyer to the super market except you would have looked much less dorky with a radio flyer. Alas, goodbye basket stroller, we hardly knew ye.

And with the introduction of the bascart on the small end came the oversized cart for when you just need more stuff. It has room for two kinds in the top and while it is not as clumsy as its car-welding cousin its bulky design makes it useful only if your attempting to burn some of the empty calories from your last trip to the store.

With so many grocery carrying options presented it is easy for a shopper to feel overwhelmed. I mean we are being asked to make major decisions about our shopping trip before we even enter the store. The pressure mounts as no one wants to face the embarrassment of selecting the wrong cart size. Then you face the walk of shame to get a different size or you try and make what you have work and hope no one notices…but let me let you know…they notice, they always notice…and they mock you. It’s too much to expect of an already over taxed population and I for one am here to say nay nay!!! Just say no to over-carting. If it doesn’t fit in a basket get a cart. If it doesn’t fit in a cart you don’t need it. And if you’re thinking of using a bascart…why!?!

God is Everywhere. (I’m not sure where in here, but I just take my word for it)

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Its a Boy

Posted by jon on January 28, 2011 in family and friends |

That’s right our family will be complete come June 13th. Tiff and I are expecting our second child this summer and we just found out that he is a boy! Cee, his older sister, was at first violently opposed to having a little boy, to the point of temper tantrums, but she finally agreed the “Jesus could decide”.

I also had strong hopes for our baby’s gender. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t desperately praying for a boy, but I also had to grudging concede that, in the words of a wiser family member, “Jesus could decide”. I am now overwhelmed with joy that not only is our little guy a little guy but after the last ultrasound everything is right on schedule and mom and baby are both doing great. God has been so good to our family that we are very nearly crushed by the weight of God’s blessings.

And while we are extremely happy for our addition, Tiff and I both know that the Coder baby factory is closing down in June. This was going to be the case whether we had a boy or a girl. Two little people is plenty to be going on with. Cause with the first kid you get double team coverage, and there’s always a second set of eyes. Now we have to go to a man-to-man look. As I prepare for the coming months looking back on Cee’s infancy seems almost too easy. The idea of it being 3 no 2 is zone coverage and its never good to be outnumbered. I am happy for my friends who are on kids 4 and 5 now. That a way to go forth and be fruitful, but as for me and my house we good right here.

At AMP this week we announced to the student that we would be having a little boy and in perhaps an ill-conceived idea I showed an ultrasound picture which might just rank up there as one of the more creepy things we have done. Oh well at least it was funny right! Until next time, thanks to everyone who has been praying for us and your kind words.

God is Everywhere.

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A Time to Blog

Posted by jon on January 27, 2011 in but seriously... |

I confess I have not done a very good job keeping up with my writing. My blog has been sitting neglected for too long. But starting today I am committing that I will write here for the next 21 days. That’s right! For the next 3 weeks you can count on a nonstop fountain of knowledge and snarky observation. 

But I know you’re all wondering…why has there been such a long gap in blog posts? It would be easy to say things just got busy. It is amazing how busy we can be and still feel as though nothing is getting done. I have felt that way a lot recently. It is easy to fill the day. It is much harder to get the most out of a full day. We are busy. But business is never an excuse for anything. We can always make time for what is important.

It is our most important responsibility to protect the most important things. I set myself this goal of writing everyday not because my blog is the most important thing, nor do I consider it a “can’t live without” for others, but I want to be disciplined enough to do it.

So I hope you will come with me over the next few weeks and see what we find.

God is Everywhere

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A New Chair…A New Life

Posted by jon on December 2, 2010 in family and friends, not so deep thoughts |

One of the greatest inventions of our time is the recliner. Let’s be honest electricity and the phone are nice but what are they without a comfortable place to enjoy them from? In college I had an old recliner I had bought at a church yard sale. I know it was old because the base was a stone slab and I don’t think they used those for a while. Yes, my recliner could withstand gale force winds. I still miss that chair and I’ve wanted another one ever since. That’s why I am excited to announce the “The Deal”.

Tiff and I just bought a new recliner! Hooray! It currently lives in our living room where it will reside for the next year before taking its rightful place in my “Man Room.” Now some of you are wondering what Tiff gets out of this deal. Well last time she was pregnant she had a hard time sleeping while lying flat and sitting in a reclined position was the only way she could rest. So this time the recliner will help her when she can’t sleep. But after this new kid thing is past my man room will at last have its crown jewel. What a glorious thing to behold.

It is at this point I feel I should perhaps back track a little. I feel that some of you may have been distracted from the glory of a recliner by this baby talk so let us review. Tiff is pregnant with our second child and is due in mid-June. We are obviously very happy and even more so after getting good early reports from our doctor saying everything is going well. We’ll find out what our little person is in a few months and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping for a boy but I’ve long ago excepted that my thoughts on what is best pale in comparison to the all knowing gracious hand of God. And besides I’m already getting a recliner out of this deal…what more could I ask for.

God is everywhere.

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The Wrong Kind of Right

Posted by jon on November 30, 2010 in but seriously... |

Several weeks ago I preached on around this point and I wanted to share just one except from my message. Of course if I learned anything from my Mercer education it is to give credit to my sources. I heard Pastor Judah Smith, from the City Church in Seattle, on his podcast touch on this and it really struck me to unpack it a little more.

In Matthew 5 Jesus is giving his famous “Sermon on the Mount”. If you grew up in church, like I did, you’ve heard it many times. And perhaps, like me, you missed verse 20 as well. After a litany of whom shall be blessed in the Kingdom and an example of how to pray Jesus warns that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees’ you have no chance of entering the Kingdom of God. Jesus then goes into the very familiar revision to the law. Jesus tells the people the law says don’t kill but anger is the same as murder. The law says don’t commit adultery but to think it is the same thing. And then if the bar had not been set high enough he rounds out chapter 5 by saying it after all this just be perfect and you should be set to.  

Now I know I may be breaking news to some of you but I struggle with a lack of perfection. I know, its hard to believe. But what is Jesus playing at setting the standard so high as to equate a thought with adultery. He sounds like a parent who is tired of disciplining a child, “No, don’t touch your sister…don’t even look at her!!!” or “Don’t even think about taking one of those cookies!”

Jesus set the standard, the starting point, at perfection. And in addition to expanding the expectations of the law he also said that our righteousness had to exceed that of the Pharisees’. Now the Pharisees often get a bad rep, and perhaps deservedly so, but they were if nothing righteous in the eyes of the law. That was their whole deal. Their life was all about following the rules. They literally made a career out of following the rules and Jesus said their righteousness was insufficient. If they weren’t righteous enough I see little hope for the rest of us.

I read one commentator who said Jesus was condemning the Pharisees’ false righteousness and we had to be genuine in our faith. Maybe that’s it but I think its something more. I don’t believe Jesus was giving us more rules to follow. It wasn’t a matter of how well we could behave. Jesus was trying to totally shift our perspective.

You see, when we focus on our righteousness coming from the law it makes our righteousness about what we can do. The Pharisees considered themselves righteous because they followed all the rules. From that perspective we should be praised when we succeed (which I believe if we were keeping score would be rare).

When Jesus said our righteousness should exceed that of the Pharisees he wasn’t referring to our behavior, but rather the actual righteousness we relay should be different. The righteousness Jesus referred to was not a word used to describe us; instead the righteousness was itself the subject of the lesson.

The Pharisees’ righteousness was insufficient because it was law focused and thus self focused. Where the law brings us back to the self, a righteousness based on grace points all the glory to the one who provided the grace. Jesus was showing us that our efforts were insufficient but that Jesus as God made flesh would provide an all sufficient righteousness based on a grace that all the glory to the Lord.

It is after all the difference between insisting on repairing your own car when you know nothing about cars and someone offering you a new car. Focusing on a law based righteousness makes us judgmental and worried about messing up. But when our righteousness is found on grace it makes us relive that we are no more worthy of grace than anyone else and we welcome in other to share in the grace we have found.

Where have you found your righteousness?

God is Everywhere.

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Bees, Water, and NyQuil

Posted by jon on November 18, 2010 in not so deep thoughts |

I know everyone thinks they have the smartest kid in the world. I don’t know about that but I do know that I have a kid much smarter than me. Let me tell you what happened a few nights ago.

Everyone had gone to bed and I’m up just relaxing when I hear my wife get up and go to Cee’s room. Not that it is that unusual to have to check on a 3 year old in the night, but after a few minutes Tiff comes out to get me. Apparently our poor little girl is laying in bed covering her ears because “the bees are getting in her ears”. So like a good parent I go in there to try and calm her down and assure her there are no bees. I failed. The best results I got were she let me cover her ears.

So since compassion came up short I decided to go with the next best thing…bold face lies. I asked Cee if she’d like some medicine to help get rid of the bees. She was very pleased with my suggestion and seemed to wonder why it took me so long to come to what should have been an obvious solution. So I went out to get the “medicine”. What I got her was some water in a medicine spoon, that just between us.

*On a side note I told this story to my mom and her response was that she would have just given me real Tylenol assuming it would help if something was hurting and help me go back to sleep. I thought it was good to know how liberally the meds were whipped around when I was growing up. Just kidding mom…I love you!*

When I got back Cee was happy to see her “medicine”. She took it and shot me a skeptical look asking, “Is that water?” So I was faced with a dilemma…I’ve just been called out by a half asleep 3 year old…what do I do? I assured her it would keep the bees away and she could go back to sleep. Then I got out of there as quick as I could before she started asking any other questions. Next time she wakes up in the middle of the night I’m going straight to the NyQuil (for both of us) to avoid any of these awkward moments. Just kidding.

 

God is Everywhere.

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Never Enough Guitars

Posted by jon on September 27, 2010 in not so deep thoughts |

One of my passions, as many of you know, is playing guitar. I’ve been playing now for about 15 years. For most of that time I’ve been leading worship. First in my youth group during high school, then at Mercer, then on the road throughout much of the southeast, and now at Lawrence Drive. I would never consider myself a great guitar player. I don’t intend to be falsely modest but I am simply a good enough rhythm player, but I really love to play.

I have several guitars that I have collected over the years, and most of them are fairly modest pieces that are primarily just functional, but I do have one crown jewel. I have a Taylor 310 that is my baby. I’m not saying I love it more…I’m just saying I had it before I had a wife or child so take what you will. My Taylor is a beautiful guitar that sounds better today than when I bought it (interesting fact, acoustic guitars develop a fuller richer tone as they age due to the way the wood ages).

Right now I am saving for another Taylor guitar. I’ve been saving for about 10 months. Every gift giving event I’ve simply asked for a few bucks for the guitar fund. I’ve stuck away my spare change and almost all my spending money.  And now I’m starting to get excited because I’m very close to being able to afford my new guitar. At last count I am a little less than $500 shy of my goal. I have spoken to the owner of my favorite guitar shop and once I decide which guitar I want he will put the guitar away for me till I have the final funds (an unofficial layaway if you will).There are two guitars I am looking at, a Taylor 614 and a 714. Both guitar are stunning and sound amazing.

If you haven’t noticed I am very excited about this guitar. I understand this will likely be the last time I will spend this kind of money on a guitar until…well ever. So I am very appreciative to my wife who has supported my desire to save for this guitar. She may not understand why we have to spend this much on a guitar but she wants it for me and that just one of the reasons she’s awesome!

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Six Days Later

Posted by jon on September 20, 2010 in but seriously... |

I read in Matthew 17 a beautiful picture of Jesus’ patience with us. Chapter 17 begins “Six days later…”, which of course begs the question, “What happened six days ago?” Turn the page back and we’ll find out.

Six days earlier Jesus is walking with his disciples and he asks them who they think he is. Before anyone else can get a word in Peter answers that Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus tells him he’s right but warns them not to tell other’s yet. Jesus informs them that not only does his road lead him to death, but if anyone wants to follow Jesus they must be willing to lose everything for his sake.

Then we get to the phrase “six days later”. What do you suppose went on with the disciples over that six day period? What kind of questions must they have had? It is out of this place of confusion that three of the disciples witness a miraculous sight. On a high mountain they see Jesus in all his glory, and not only Jesus but Moose and Elijah (the Law and the Prophets) are there as well. And again Peter says, in true church leader fashion, if God’s at work we better build a building.

I think it was at this point the God ran out of patience with the disciples. After all this time with Jesus they’re still not getting it. God overwhelms them and for the second time (never good to have God repeat himself) tells them Jesus is the Beloved Son and they should listen to him. Not hear is words and apply them to their ministry, not think he’s a swell guy, but really listen to Jesus.

After that the disciples are scared and confused. They fall down to before God’s glory in fear. But Jesus didn’t leave them there. Jesus didn’t walk away from them. He went to them where they were, touched them, and picked them up.

It is hard to see where it is that God is leading us sometimes. It is hard when life doesn’t make sense.  To trust Jesus as your Lord doesn’t make life suddenly easier, in fact Jesus said that to follow Him would be the same as giving up your life. But when we are wore out, tired and confused…and we’ve done all we know to do and still come up short, that’s when we see the miraculous God is still at work. We are not left to our questions or uncertainties, but Jesus meets us where we are, and picks us up to walk with Him.

I am glad my Jesus loves a stumbling, bumbling fool like me even when I still don’t get it. Jesus is always there to say, “Get up and do not be afraid”

God is Everywhere

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NFL Picks Pt. 2

Posted by jon on September 20, 2010 in sports talk |

Ok, I know it’s a couple weeks late. It’s a little hard to put the rest of my picks up after the season has started but oh well. I think the thing I love the most about the NFL is that everything is so different every year. Every year a lot of fools say what will happen in the season and then favorites lose and underdogs win their first two games. At the end of the day none of know and it’s a great ride all the way through.

With that being said, here are my playoff predictions.

 

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2010 NFL Predictions Part 1

Posted by jon on September 3, 2010 in sports talk |

Its been a very long time but I’m so excited to finally say its time for some football!! It’s a wonderful time of year, but before every season can start I have to watch a bunch “experts” talk about which teams will do will. So in the spirit of the “experts” I decided to make my own predictions. I went through week by week and picked every game, and then figured out what everyone’s record would be. I admit that I was surprised by the outcome. There are some teams that I expected to do well but due to schedule and what not its not looking so good and I have some teams picked to do really well that I might find hard to believe. But that’s the NFL. I like my picks and I think I could be as right as anyone else. So, without further foolishness, here are my NFL predictions good for only making me look silly by the end of the season.

 

So there you have it. No playoffs for the Jets or Cowboys, and it will be a long season for the Browns’ fans. Next time we’ll talk about the playoffs. Happy Football!!!

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