Category Archives: Life


As I’ve written on my blog before, I’m an introvert. It’s something I’ve come to terms with and something I’ve struggled to understand my entire life. For a majority of my life I didn’t realize there was such a thing as an “introvert” or an “extrovert” personality type and that they were actually the way God created us. Growing up I saw all of the people who were the “life of the party” type of people and thought there was something wrong with me. I’ve always enjoyed solitude and easily get stressed out in the noise and crowds.

I know people have often thought of me as aloof and somewhat arrogant. I don’t enjoy making “small talk” and in fact find it really boring. I have a hard time chatting about the weather and similar things. However, I’ve always enjoyed deeper conversation and when I’m paired off with someone of similar interests as mine I tend to dominate the conversation because I enjoy talking about certain subjects so much.

In other words, because I’ve never been a “life of the party” type of person; I’ve been told much of my life that I’m anti-social. To some extent this is true because social situations give me anxiety, but when in smaller more intimate conversational settings I enjoy myself, which is far from “anti-social”. I just never will be the guy dancing on a table at an office party.

I recently finished reading a book by the name of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. The book is an in-depth look at the differences between introverts and extroverts and focuses on the traits of extroverts. The writer, Susan Cain, describes in-depth what she calles the “Secret Power of Introverts”. The quietness of an introvert allows for creativity, thoughtfulness, and introspection. Most, but not all, of the worlds greatest minds were introverts. People who literally changed the world. People like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, Martin Luther, and the like were all introverts.

Quite interestingly, the book has a section dedicated entirely to extrovertism in the American church and it’s effect on mainstream Evangelicalism. Susan Cain, in my understanding, is from a Jewish background and isn’t a professing Christian. Of all places she chose to use as an example of an American church that idolizes extrovertism, she chose Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in Southern California.

In the section of the book mentioned above, Susan Cain met with a man who was a Presbyterian minister for an interview at Saddleback. They attended a service there in order to get the look and feel of what a service was like at Saddleback church. The basic gist of the interview centered around how “extrovertism” has gripped the popular American Evangelical church culture and how church services of quiet contemplation, prayer, and scripture reading are no longer a part of most of the American church.

 In order to draw the multitudes into the American Evangelical church of today there has to be plenty of excitement and programs to keep people interested in attending church. Saddleback church and Rick Warren with his Purpose Driven Life method of doing church has arguably had the largest impact on the latest church culture of “extrovert” idealism.

 As I said earlier, I’m an introvert. I enjoy reading and quiet. Although I’ve struggled with thinking there was something wrong with me all of my life, I now no longer do. I’ve come to understand there’s a place for solitude, prayer, and Bible study in God’s church.

However, for many years I attended an Assemblies of God church that had fully implemented Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life “seeker sensitive” church growth model. As time went on, I was considered “odd” and was cast aside. I enjoyed Sunday School. It was cancelled. I enjoyed Sunday night services. They were cancelled. I enjoyed Wednesday night Bible study service. It was cancelled. Once a month prayer rallies were cancelled in lieu of bi-yearly “praise rallies”.

In other words, all of the things than an “introvert” would enjoy about church, things like learning, Bible study, close relationships with a tight-knit group, suddenly vanished. In their place came large social events and activities designed to “pump” the congregation and build excitement with the church. Things to cause “seekers” to want to come to church. Programs to make it fun for the kids but little in the way of teaching them the Word.

I now know that God created me with the gifts he gave me. I know that I am a member of the Body of Christ. I may not be a hand or a mouth in His body, but I am a member nevertheless. I also know there are many others like me (my oldest daughter, for instance) who have become weary of the “rah rah rah” of the American church. We worship God with all of our minds, bodies, and strengths. We love to serve behind the scenes without much fanfare. We long to share insights into God’s word with others. We want to give without others knowing.

Today’s American churches make very little room for this. Much of the American Evangelical churches are geared more like high school pep rallies where the “cheerleaders” and the “band” are worshiped. The quiet and the contemplative and the faithful are increasingly moved aside for the new, the excited, and the vocal. The quiet ones are now looked at with suspicion as having some sort of spiritual issue because they aren’t “on fire for the Lord”.

I know this is the way it is, because I lived it for 2 years while looking for a home church. My family and I visited many churches across many denominations and to find one that actually was centrally on the Word, prayer, and music with sound doctrine was virtually impossible to find. And there are over 60 churches within a few miles of my home…….Hey, I live in Texas, you know.

Next Sunday, look around. Has your church become a social club? Is there room within the congregation for the quiet among you to serve and worship? Is there a balance between “excitement” and “reverence, awe, and solitude” before the Lord as a congregation or is it all “celebration. all the time”. Is your fellowship actually a true “body” of Christ that makes way for all parts or are only the “mouths” esteemed?


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Filed under Books, Church, Church Search, Churchianity, Life

Shifted Blame

Nearly 12 years ago my wife and I lived next to a couple that had built a custom home that was twice as nice and twice as large as ours. Additionally, they had bought two new cars as well as had a pool installed a couple of years later. The man was an audio-visual teacher and the wife was a public health nurse for the city. Neither occupation rakes in the cash, at least not the kind it appeared they had.

Although it certainly wasn’t any of our business we just couldn’t help but wonder. We just chalked it up to an inheritance or a windfall from their last house. Over time, however, as my wife and I began to get to know them better, the wife had confided to my wife a little more about their finances. She confessed to my wife they were over $38,000 in debt on their credit cards alone! Gag and choke!

Along about that time is when the last housing boom was in full swing and new homes were popping up everywhere here in North Texas, and I guess all over the U.S. Additionally, as circumstance would have it, my wife had two other friends who told her they were also $30,000 in credit card debt….credit card debt, not total debt.

It was then, 12 years ago, that I realized just what fueling our economy. It was nothing more than consumer spending. Electronic stores, home improvement stores, shopping centers, and high price restaurants were appearing seemingly overnight. The reason there was a housing boom, and what appeared to be an economy that was on fire, was because people were spending more and saving less than any time in America’s history.

We could get into homes with no money down. We could buy cars with no money down. We had several credit cards with $10,000 dollar limits……..and we were taking advantage of every one of them.

Over and over again I saw young couples getting into homes they couldn’t afford. Mortgage lenders were pre-qualifying people for homes that the payment alone was 50% of their montlhy income as well as various schemes like low payments for the first three years while tacking the difference on to the end of the loan. These young couples never thought about higher electric bills versus that of an apartment. Nor did they think about the expense of landscaping, watering, and fertilizing a lawn much less the expense of a lawnmower to begin with. Additionally, because the new home was much larger than the apartment, new furniture was needed. Out comes the Visa with the $10,000 limit. Sadly, two years later, these homes were on the market and as time went on more and more people defaulted on their loans.

I remember telling my wife nearly 12 years ago that what we needed in this country to get this kind of recklessness in check was a good recession. People were never going to learn to discipline themselves unless they were forced to……and then the “Mortgage Bubble” burst and drove this country along with the rest of the world into a recession.

Much has been made in the news lately about the “big bad mortgage companies” taking away the poor little people’s homes. Laws have been passed and programs established in order to keep people in their homes. It has done little more than prolong the inevitable, the loss of the house anyway. The housing market continues to fall and people are still defaulting at astonishing rates.

Much of the blame has been passed on to the mortgage lenders, which some is deserving. Additionally, some of the blame has been laid at the feet of our current president, although the bubble popped under the leadership of our last president. The one thing I have yet to see much of in the news is that the blame might possibly lie with the American people and our reckless financial habits.

As I read this article here on about the latest effort to help keep people in their homes, I couldn’t help but get a little aggrevated. The title and the opening paragraph are as follows:

Mortgage settlement leaves most homeowners to fend for themselves

The landmark $25 billion settlement reached by the federal government, 49 states and the nation’s five biggest banks will provide long-overdue relief for hundreds of thousands of homeowners who have been struggling to navigate the mortgage mess created by lenders.

The title along with the opening statement clearly imply that the mortgage mess we’re in is solely the fault of the lenders and the responsibility of correcting it rests on the federal government. Might I suggest that had the American people not been in such a rush to jump into houses they couldn’t afford, and not been so quick to fill them with furniture on credit, and maybe not been so quick to agree to “zero-down no proof of employment” mortgages, maybe they wouldn’t be in a position of financial ruin to begin with? After all, if I go out and purchase a car on credit and can’t make the payments, whose fault is it really? The big bad salesman for convincing me I needed the car?

Now I fully realize that there are many people caught in the middle of this mortgage mess because of a job loss due to this current recession. People who weren’t originally in over their heads. I myself lost my job in December 2010 and didn’t get full time employment until October 2011. But I’ve purchased a house that is far less than what I can “afford” and I’ve been diligant not to spend every dime I’ve made on vacations and furniture. It was tough, but we made it. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what it would have been like had we purchased a house that was equal to the amount the morgtage company said we quailfied for, which was nearly twice the cost of the house we purchased.

What we all need to come to understand is that mortgage companies sell mortgages. Car salesmen sell cars. Furniture salesmen sell furniture. It’s in all of their best interests if they convince you to buy their stuff. It’s our responsibility to be sure we aren’t buying more than we can afford. Of course these guys are going to sell you something you don’t need….It’s their job.

We need to stop blaming others for the mess we created ourselves because of our wasteful and lavish spending. We need to understand that having a new home full of new furniture , although it may be the American dream, isn’t a guaranteed right. And lastly, we all need to be good stewards of the resources God gave us and spend them wisely.

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Filed under Economy, Life

Spared Rods

I was reading an article here in the Seattle times yesterday that made me ill to my stomach.

It’s a story about a young girl in the Seattle area that was locked outside by her parents and allowed to die of exposure. She was locked outside as a form of discipline. These parents homeschooled this girl and followed the parenting methods laid out in a book called To Train Up a Child.

To Train Up a Child is authored by a man and his wife out of Tennessee named Michael and Debi Pearl. Michael Pearl is an evangelist and pastors a marriage and family counseling ministry called No Greater Joy Ministries here on this website. Essentially, Michael Pearl and his wife Debi adhere to a literal interpretation of the “spare the rod spoil the child” part of the Old Testament in the Bible.

The article in the Seattle Times goes on to describe 3 other child deaths by the hands of parents that were followers of Michael Pearl’s child rearing advice. They had several other things in common also, most notably they each were homeschooled.

My wife and I homeschool our children. In most instances I am an advocate of homeschooling, but not in every circumstance. As I’ve stated here before, we got a lot of flack from people when we first decided to homeshcool. Even now, when people ask where our kids go to school, we get quite a few raised eyebrows. However, I understand homeschooling is not for everybody.

Homeschooling is hard work. It’s a long-term commitment. But contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a degreed teacher to get your kids a good education. Mostly its dedication. For both of my kids, because of their personalities, it works out well. I understand, though, that certain personalities might not work well and I also understand that if both parents have to work outside the home it doesn’t work out well either. Nevertheless, I still believe educating your kids at home is still the best option if it’s available.

One thing we’ve run in to over the years is our fair share of “nuts” that homeschool. These are the ones that seem to always make it into the news, much like the ones mentioned in the Seattle Times article above. The ones who live in the woods and refuse to pay their taxes, the ones who read a passage in the Old Testament like “spare the rod and spoil the child” and interpret it to mean it’s okay to lock your child out of the house and allow them to die of exposure while at the same time ignoring New Testament passages the instruct us not to exasperate our children and discipline harshly to the point of discouragement. The ones who ignore the instructions by Paul telling men to be servant leaders and examples for their children, not discouragers.

These seem to be the types of homeschoolers the world hears about. The sad thing is, there are certainly plenty of them out there.

I’m a firm believer in discipline. The thing is, discipline isn’t only defined as physical punishment. When God wrote “Spare the rod and spoil the child”  that passage when interpreted in light of the New Testament means that if we love our children we will bring correction rather than ignoring destructive and sinful behavior. Discipline is sometimes physical, though I firmly believe far less than many Christians believe. Discipline is always consistent, it’s always loving, and it always builds up rather than tears down.

Many times in my life I’ve heard from well-meaning parents that discipline was intended to “break their spirit” and bring the child into line. That by “breaking their spirit” the child was less likely to stray  and was more likely to obey. Over the years, however, I’ve seen the result of this sort of discipline. In every case that I’m aware of it has led to nothing more than destruction and chaos. It’s lead to a hole in the child’s life that takes nearly a lifetime to dig out of.

I’ve made my share of parenting mistakes. There’s no doubt I’ll continue to make more. I also understand that a child is an individual with their own will; God deals with each of us as individuals. As time goes on, though, and I see the results of not only my own mistakes but the mistakes of others. One thing I’m convinced of is the results of harsh discipline.

Overly harsh discipline results in a child not seeing God as both a loving God, but a God who disciplines us because He loves us and wants to correct us. It results in an adult that has a hard time relating to others in a patient and loving way. In far too many instances it results in psychopathic behavior. But worst of all, harsh discipline results in a person that has a hard time not only trusting God as their Lord, but believing that He loves them and gave His life for them.

So next time we might have the idea that “spanking the devil” out of a child is the way to draw them closer to God, think again…..Is God patient with us? Yes. Does he give us many many chances before he “spanks”? Absolutely. Does he “smack” us every single time we do something wrong? No. God deals with each of us in the most patient and kind way. So where would a Christian possibly get the idea it’s okay for us to discipline our children that way?


Filed under Family, Homeschooling, Life

Muchas Gracias

It’s been a long year, a hard year.

Since the beginning of the year we’ve attended more churches than I care to count. I spent the first eight months of the the year working a part time job from home, which certainly helped out, but after several months it became hard to pay the bills……then I was laid off from that job for around six weeks.

A few weeks ago I was hired back at my old company where I was laid off from at the end of last year. My new position at my old company is to help assist the Chinese with technical questions by helping them do my…….job.

And to top it all off, I’ve had about a 15lb weight gain due to some medication I was taking earlier this year making it difficult to do what I like best….running.

I’ve written here many times about faith and trust in God. This year has certainly put that to the test….I’ve failed miserably. My faith has been sucked right out of me to the point I have a difficult time even praying regularly. Through all of it I have such a hard time believing God is even paying any attention to little ol’ me.

Oh I know He’s there. I know He loves me and never will forsake me….but I seem to no longer find it easy to see it deep inside.

Yet somehow I still look to Him. Not knowing if I’ll ever get an answer or if He’ll ever cast a look in my direction again. But Lord, to whom else shall I turn?

The Bible says if we have faith as small as a mustard seed that we can move mountains. God has to be providing me with the faith I need to survive right now. Otherwise I’d have given up long ago. I guess my faith is as small as a mustard seed right now….I sure seem to be moving mountains. They seem to be falling all over me.

That’s where my thanksgiving comes in at. My God loves me enough to have disciplined me this year (Hebrews 12). He loves me enough not to break this bruised reed nor snuff out this dim candle that’s still somehow burning inside of me.

So tomorrow I wake up. I thank God I have a job for the day. I thank Him my children have more food than 90% of the children in the world and I thank him for a faithful wife…faithful to me and faithful to God. After that I’ll have to let tomorrow take care of tomorrow.

And most of all, I’ll give thanks for God for not snuffing me out, which is what I deserve due to my sinfulness and rebellion and whining and grumbling……

By the way…. I don’t care for quail anyway.

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Filed under Church, Church Search, Faith, Life

What Never Was, But Should’ve Never Been

13But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. (1 Thess 4:13-14, ESV)

Of all the things of the Christian faith that I have a hard time wrapping my finite understanding around, our hope in eternal life is the most difficult thing for me to understand. The Bible says that those of us that have been called by the Spirit of God and who have put their faith and trust in the righteousness of Christ for their salvation have eternal life.

This hope in eternal life isn’t something that starts only when we leave this life. Eternal life is here and now. Oh, sure, we are still in bodies that are wearing and one day we will leave these bodies, but those of that call on the name of Christ have eternal life now. Starting the minute Christ saves us, we have eternal life and we can trust one day we will be freed from this body of death.

I can say these things with confidence because God’s word, the Bible, tells us it’s true. Additionally, I know it’s true because of the call Christ has on me. I also know it’s true because of the Spirit of God working daily in my life.

The thing is, though, it’s so hard to keep this eternal life promise in front of me as hope. It’s so hard for me not to get wrapped up in the troubles of this life. I spend far too much energy looking at things that in light of eternity are only a vapor. We are born and are alive only a moment in light of eternity.

Today I heard a friend of the past had passed on. I wrote a post about him sometime back. I encourage everyone to read it here. Not that I’m especially proud of it, but because how he made an impact on my life such as I memorialized him in words and now he’s gone.

My friend’s name was Charlie. I have worked with him on and off over the years. We’re both contract engineers and we mostly do consulting and temporary engineering work. As I said in my previous post about him, Charlie was a biker and a hard-core anti-Christian. He was vehemently opposed to the things of God.

I liked Charlie a lot. He taught me so many of the engineering design techniques I use in my work to this day. Charlie was a hard man and a hard drinker, but deep inside there was nevertheless a human being that at times demonstrated a generous heart. I can’t say for sure what caused Charlie to be the way he was toward God. He spoke so little of his past. I can say with confidence that Charlie is a man who those of us in my line of work will tell stories about for the rest of our lives.

I ‘m saddened that Charlie never turned his life toward God. I’m saddened that Charlie would never even give a moment to hear anything a Christian would have to say to him. Most of all I’m saddened that all of Charlie’s life he was a tormented soul yet he was so gifted by God that people will memorialize him the rest of our lives. The thing is, most of what we will say about him we will have a few laughs over, yet in a way it’s all very sad.

You see, Charlie took his life this weekend along with the life of one of his former wives. Charlie went out the way he lived his life….hard.

I’ve often wondered if I said enough to Charlie; he was so bitter to anything remotely Christian.

I know I didn’t.

I didn’t say enough because after a while I gave up trying.

I can only pray that God will send another Charlie my way and next time, I won’t give up…..the thing is, it’s too late for Charlie.

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Filed under Christianity, Life, personal

To Make a Long Story Short

It’s been a while since I posted on Justa Sorethumb.

Things have been a little difficult around here for a while. As I’ve posted here before, I lost my job of 4-1/2 years in Dec 2010. I quickly found another job working at home here in the Fort Worth, Texas area for a Seattle engineering firm in January of this year only to be laid off again in August.

After searching locally for about 6 weeks I was ready to have to leave town and head toward Seattle to go back to work temporarily for the Seattle engineering firm I had been let go from. Out of the blue, I get a call from my old company that I was let go from in December 2010 and they wanted me to start right away. It’s not exactly the type of job I want (it’s basically a job helping the Chinese learn to do my job), but it’s a job for now.

This was my fourth week back at my old company and it’s been a little difficult getting back into 11-hour days, but I am. I’m glad to have a job locally and I didn’t have to leave my family.

I’m not really a political sort of guy anymore. I gave most of that up when I was saved. No man is our savior and whether we know it or not, far too many “evangelical Christians” have too much faith in their elected officials. However, my political soapbox comment of the day has to do with the astonishing amount of work we’re sending overseas.

I know many Americans are aware we’re sending huge amounts of our manufacturing base to China and India, I’m just not sure if most Americans really understand how much. Take for instance the Boeing 747 jumbo jet with it’s millions of parts. While most of the large components are still assembled here in the USA, almost all of the parts are now built in China or South Korea. Literally thousands of high paying jobs along with the skills and technology were siphoned from our industrial base and used to boost the economy of one of the worst human rights violators in the world.

Contrary to popular belief, this wasn’t done because Boeing couldn’t make a profit by making it completely here in the USA, It was done simply because they wanted to make a bigger profit. It’s no longer good enough in America for a corporate executive to be worth 20 million dollars, they want to be worth 200 million and the quickest way there is on the backs of cheap labor.

There is a great shifting of power from the Western world to the Eastern world going on now. This is just as the book of Revelation in the Bible has said it would be in the end times. As much as it disappoints and disheartens me, I know God is in control. He brings rulers up and he brings them low. America doesn’t get a free pass in this.

I don’t know if I’ll see the return of Jesus Christ in my lifetime. I do know, just as my mother said, it’s closer now than ever. Any Christian paying attention can sense it’s coming soon. There is certainly a hardening of hearts like never before. There’s a greed in society like never before. and most of all, even the Church is beginning to tolerate falsehood like never before.

So look up, Christian, because your redemption “draweth nigh”.

With the kind of hours I’ve been working and trying to keep up with my running, I don’t know how often I will be able to post. I miss it, because it’s kind a of a therapeutic thing for me, much like my running. It’s been a hard struggle to go through a change of churches and a change of jobs in the same year.

I know God is still there. He’s never left or forsaken me. It’s just a little tough to see him now, though. I’ve had to force myself at times to continue believing this past year. I’ve had to choose with my mind to believe because my heart certainly hasn’t been in it.

Nevertheless, I continue to hope. Praise be to God the Father through Jesus Christ.

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Filed under Faith, Life

Watch the 180 Movie

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Filed under Life