Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Credit where credit is due

Have you ever seen the Tim Allen/Sigourney Weaver movie GalaxyQuest?  It's actually been out several years.  How many?  Enough that the DVD is in the $5 bin at Wal-Mart.  Ann and I recently watched it for the first time in several years after we got it through our Netflix membership.

As you watch the film, and if you like Star Trek or other space-type movies, you should, there's a scene where Alan Rickman has saved some of the good guys from certain destruction.  Rickman is one of the crew that works for Tim Allen's character, much like Spock to Kirk.  As Rickman enters the room, the crowd begins to cheer their rescuer…and they cheer Allen.  Rickman drops his head and mutters "That's just not fair." (I'd link the scene, but you need the rest of the film for it to make sense, and I can't link the whole film.)

Sometimes, we don't get credit for the things we do.  The truth is, though, sometimes we don't deserve credit.  Today, I want to look at another verse in 1 Peter: 

12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

1 Peter 2:12 (ESV)

Notice a few things here:

1.  Peter has commanded the believers about how they behave among the Gentiles.  The word was "honorable."  That means, for those of you keeping score, worthy of honor.  It's behavior that the Gentiles can't help but approve.  It means an adherence to a standard of behavior that is knowable and known inside and outside the church.

2.  Peter has notified the believers that the same ones who they behave honorably among will call them evildoers.  And "speak" here isn't just a "blast them in the Facebook comment stream" term.  It's a legal term.  "Speak" as in "file a legal charge against."  Your honorable behavior will cause you to stand out, and, as such, be a target for the Gentiles to go after.

3.  Peter has identified the divide in the world.  The Jews saw the world as Jews or Gentiles.  I think the New Testament, especially the Epistles, begin to use "Gentile" to refer to those not in the church, excluding Jews that weren't.  That's probably more of a paper for school to explain it than a blog post, but I think you can see in the New Testament 3 groups: Jews, Believers, and Gentiles.  Jews are an ethnic group and partakers in a belief system.  Gentiles are all non-Jews, so another ethnic group.  Believers are those who follow Christ, and come from either ethnic group.  I could be wrong, but I think that's right.

4.  Peter has pointed to the right place for glory.  Now we get back to our opening movie scene.  In the movie, Tim Allen gets credit, though it's due Alan Rickman.  In our lives, when we do good things, credit rightly belongs to God our King.  As such, while we may think it's not fair, it's actually very fair.  We are capable of doing good and right things because God has made us in His image, and we're free to do things that please God because He has redeemed us.  Rather than be exasperated, we should be happy that God is praised.

5.  Peter has, finally, warned us: a day of "visitation" is coming.  And I don't think he means happy church members with fresh-baked bread for those who came to church for the first time last week.  I see the two-fold meaning here: A.  When the Spirit of God "visits" and draws someone to Christ.  If they have seen us be honorable, they will more likely give glory to God and accept Him.  B.  When God returns to judge men according to their deeds. 


I hope to live my life today to give glory and credit where it is due: to the God who has made me, rather to live in such a way that I must take the blame for failing Him.



Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I'm eligible for what?

So, yesterday, I go the Post Office and gather the mail for the day.  In my box I find a letter from a consulting company.  Now, typically this type of thing makes me suspicious.  I've gotten chain letters and various other odd things from "consulting" companies.

So, naturally, I opened it.  Let's see what I'm being consulted over.  And what is it?

It's related to a class-action lawsuit.  Apparently, between 1999 and 2002, several companies "conspired" to "price-fix" the cost of DRAM for computers.  A lawsuit was filed in 2005 against some companies, and then others were sued in 2010.  Somehow, large groups of people were harmed by the price-fixing, and money is due us.  I can only tell you I'm deliriously happy over this.  Well, except:

1.  I haven't had my PO Box since 2002.  In fact, I've had it a little over a year.  That means these people somehow tracked me down based on prior purchase history and current address.  That's disturbing.

2.  I have no idea what I paid for a DRAM module between 1999 and 2002.  I vaguely remember that I bought one, one time, for a computer I had at the time.  I no longer have this computer.

3.  Even if I was financially harmed by over-paying for DRAM, it's been at least 8 years.  Not 8 weeks, not 8 months.  8 years! Are you going to pay me back with interest?  Can you provide the box of more expensive diapers I didn't buy because I bought your DRAM?  Never mind that the child that was in diapers then is now nearly 10!  If I bought one DRAM module, I bought it at a price I was willing to pay, so I didn't feel overly ripped off at the time.

4.  The total on this settlement is $27.85 million.  The lawyers will receive no more than one-fourth, plus their own actual costs for being the lawyers, for the effort of finding out that at least 8 years ago I was ripped off, then violating my privacy (I've lived in 3 different states in 8 years) to connect with me, to provide me with a remedy I don't need.  And I wonder how much "actual cost" the lawyers ran up on this.  Did they need a new jet to get around the country pricing DRAM modules?

5.  Another question is this: I have no receipts for any purchases this could be related to.  I could:

A.  File that I bought $10,000 worth of DRAM and hope nobody questions it, and get it a bigger slice of what's left after the lawyers.

B.  Estimate that I bought 1 module, find some way to estimate the price, and file it.

C.  Just not bother, and wonder what happens if not enough people claim money.  Does more go to the lawyers?

Where does the money come from for these settlements?  Simple: the cost of your next purchase from Hitachi, Toshiba, or Mitsubishi will go up to cover it.  And to cover the probable next lawsuit they'll see. 

Folks, this is insane.  Really, it is.  That $28 million, what could it do?  Here are some examples:

1.  Employ 112 people with good salaries and benefits for a year.

2.  Fund the startup costs for Ouachita Baptist University to have a graduate School of Theology.

3.  Relieve 280 ordinary Americans that are highly stressed on their mortgages.

4.  According to, $1 provides 7 meals to people in the US, especially children and the elderly, that are hungry.  Let's do the math: 7x28= 196.  Add the million: 196 million meals.

Let's be nice.  Just divide all of those by 4, and realize that the profit of the lawyers would do that.  49 million meals.  That's still allowing the law firm to recoup its actual costs, including the salaries and benefits of employees.

Instead, what will I get?  I'd probably get a $5 gift card to some store that doesn't exist in Arkansas or that I'd have to spend more money to use.

So, I'll not bother.  Instead, I'll imagine what would happen if we only used the courts and legal system to address real wrongs in our society.  Yeah, that'll be the day.



Monday, August 16, 2010


Well, the news is now official, so I'm free to put it out here in the blogworld.  I've been asked to join with First Baptist Church, Almyra, Arkansas, as their pastor.  Ann and I have prayerfully considered the request, and are going to be moving at the end of this month.  My last Sunday as pastor of Calvary is August 29th.

This is part of why I've been blog-silent these past few weeks.  The energy it takes to create something worth reading has been going into decision-making, and we've been very wary of letting something slip.  Then, once the decision was made, we wanted to allow people at Calvary to hear it by being in church, so we announced it last Wednesday (the first church meeting since the decision was made) and held it offline until after Sunday.  If you're a Calvary member and this is the first you've heard, I'm sorry if this bothers you, but I can't keep silent forever.

For Calvary Baptist, this means getting together and prayerfully addressing what you feel God has for the church He has entrusted to your stewardship.  Nominations will be taken this week for a pastor search committee, with actual voting in a couple of weeks, according to the procedure in listed in the church constitution.  Also, there are some things we're going to need to hand off:

1.  We have, though under-utilized, a page for our church on Facebook.  I need someone to let me know they want it, and I'll hand off the admin privileges to it.

2.  The church website has just recently been renewed, but we also need to have someone else take over the maintenance of that.

3.  Calvary is still scheduled to host the Bartholomew Baptist Association meeting October 17, so we'll need to connect whomever is planning services at that point, probably the deacons, to David Mitchell at the Association to plan that.

For Ann, the kids, and I, this means packing up all we own and moving it about 80 miles across Arkansas.  It means forming new relationships, and starting over on much of what's important to us, and asking our kids to do the same thing.  It means that I'll be back in September to do a couple of weddings, but that's about it.

We want to express our appreciation to those who have supported us through your prayers, words, and actions over these past couple of years in Monticello.  We're not going to find the words to share that with you, but know it's true.

More blogging should follow, now that I'm feeling a little freer to comment on life in general.

Thanks for reading,



Further note: I thought I'd take a minute on the process involved with this.  Ann and I didn't seek this position, but a friend recommended us to this church.  It's neither more prestigious nor larger, and it's not a salary increase.  We honestly feel this is what we need to do out of obedience to God.  In the long-term, no church needs a pastor that isn't striving to listen willingly to what the Lord is calling him to do.  Our prayers are with Calvary in Monticello, but we fully believe that fresh leadership is a part of God's design for this church and will help the church grow in faithfulness in the coming years.

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