Monthly Archives: November 2013

“Christmas” is for People Not Ashamed of Jesus


Fellow Christ-followers, we have entered that time of year when we ramp up our evangelistic efforts, shining our light for nonChristians to see. Here are some basic evangelistic techniques to apply during the next six weeks.

  • Insist that December belongs exclusively to Christianity, and that no other faiths have holidays during December.
  • Denounce the use of “Happy holidays” wherever it occurs.
  • Even references to “the holidays” should be denounced. There is only one holiday during December (unless you’re a True Patriot who counts Pearl Harbor Day).
  • Criticize any pronouncements from business or government entities that do not specifically mention Christmas. We can’t tolerate such anti-Christian behavior.
  • Repost lots of Facebook graphics, designed by people you don’t know, which sanctimoniously proclaim your courageous devotion to the term “Christmas.”
  • Even though American society has pretty much extended the Christmas season to the beginning of November, insist that there is a societal War on Christmas.

In this way, a watching world will see our zeal and say, “That is so cool! I want to be a Christian too!”

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Punctuation as Pause

Today, class, let’s consider a way to view punctuation.

Early in my career, I was taught to think of some punctuation in terms of pauses. Punctuation is a tool with many uses. But the pause thing imparts rhythm, helping the reader know how you want the piece to be read.

  • A comma is a short pause.
  • A semi-colon is a moderate pause.
  • A period is a longer pause.
  • A new paragraph signals a potty break.

Formal, technical, or in-depth publications tend to use more punctuation, especially commas. The New Yorker, academic journals–you spend some time chewing on those articles. Commas, semi-colons, and periods not only help separate key thoughts, but let you pause to catch your breath.

On the other hand, a high-end business newsletter targeted to busy executives will use short, emphatic sentences with minimal punctuation. Likewise with ads. That way, readers can skim the content without being slowed down by a bunch of pauses.

There are many nuances and exceptions, but it’s generally applicable (as I’ve experienced during the past 30 years).

Class dismissed. Which requires a period.

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NFL as a Non-Profit

football-moneyDid you know the NFL is a nonprofit business? That’s right. Each year, the 32 teams collectively pay $250 million in “membership dues.” That’s tax-exempt money. The NFL office, as a nonprofit trade association, supposedly exists only to organize and promote football. Roger Goodell, as commissioner, gets a salary of just under $30 million. Not bad for the nonprofit world.

The NFL earns $9 billion a year from TV contracts, jersey sales, and other revenue sources. That money gets funneled back to the teams, where it CAN be taxed by the IRS.

Major League Baseball had a similar tax exemption for its league office, but gave it up in 2007. The NBA has never been tax exempt.

The National Hockey League has a tax exemption like the NFL. But let’s face it–hockey probably needs it.

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Do We All Feel Safer Now?


A few minutes ago, I went through the carry-on bag I used for our trip to Miami this week. I use the bag frequently for various needs. As I looked in the bottom of one zipped pocket, I about had a coronary.

There was this 4.5-inch (closed), all metal box cutter. The weapon of choice on 9/11. I had no idea it was there, or when I stuck it in the bag.

The box cutter went through security TWICE. With me standing right there, beltless and shoeless.

By all appearances, I am not in jail wearing an orange jumpsuit.

Do we all feel safer now?

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Tallest Building? Or Not?

The new World Trade Center claims to be the tallest US building, at 1776 feet. That makes it 300 feet taller than the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) in Chicago. But the last 400 feet is a metal spire. Should that count?

No, say people who insist Chicago should retain the Tallest Building title. The glass observation deck on the Willis Tower is higher than the top floor of One World Trade Center.

I agree. A spire, even if it’s an integral part of the design (as opposed to an antenna) is cheating. Chicago remains Number 1. What say ye?

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Jack Nicholson in the Locker Room

Sports and film crossed wires in my brain, random synapses fired, and out came the following.

Richie Incognito responds:

Son, we play in a game that has lines, and those lines have to be guarded by men–big, mean, rough men. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Mike Greenberg?

I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Jonathan Martin and you curse the Dolphins. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know, that bullying Jonathan Martin, though unseemly, probably saved quarterbacks.

And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, is good for football. You don’t want the truth, because deep down in places you don’t talk about at Super Bowl parties, you want me on that line. You need me on that line.

We use words like “teamwork,” “concussion,” “trash-talk.” We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending quarterbacks. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a person who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very entertainment that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it! I would rather you just said “thank you” and changed the channel. Otherwise, I suggest you put on shoulder pads and crouch across from a mean, hulking defensive end. Either way, I don’t give a rip how you think I should act!

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Writing Class: Commas in a Series

Today, class, let’s talk about commas in a series. Should you use a comma after the second-to-last element, or not?

Correct: The flag was red, white, and blue.
Correct: The flag was red, white and blue.
Incorrect: Telling people that one way or the other is the only correct way.

I, personally, always use the comma. But it’s purely personal preference. Nothing right or wrong about it (unless your job or college teacher requires adherence to a particular stylebook).

However, exceptions can be made to more clearly communicate information:

Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you die.

On that cheerful, biblical, and hedonistic note–class dismissed.

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When Politicians Combine God and Guns


A few days ago, I was in a secular small-group setting in which the leader made a gun-rights argument. He mentioned our “unalienable rights,” and kind of combined the Second Amendment and the Declaration of Independence. He said our unalienable rights, including our right to own guns, are “endowed by our Creator.”

I let him go a bit more. I’d heard all of this before. But I eventually felt compelled to speak.

“I understand what you’re saying, but there’s a lot of questionable theology in that,” I said. “In my view, those rights were endowed by political leaders who wrote them into our founding documents, and they became law. I can’t make a theological argument for gun rights coming from God. I won’t even argue that the Bible says God gave us the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

“But it’s in the Declaration of Independence,” he said.

“Then,” I responded, “it’s a matter of whether or not I agree with Thomas Jefferson’s theological interpretation. He wrote those words, not God. Besides, the Declaration of Independence has no legal standing. Not like the Constitution.”

He responded (and I’m recreating a discussion), “If those rights came from the government, then the government can take them away. But if they came from God, they can’t be taken away.”

That is central to Second Amendment arguments. But it misuses God. Go ahead, build your argument for the Second Amendment. But don’t pull God into it.

The Declaration of Independence and Constitution are incredible documents. But at their most basic, they were written by committees of politicians with an agenda. The Declaration should more accurately have said, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by the concept of Natural Law with certain unalienable Rights….”

I’ll always be uncomfortable with a committee of politicians making pronouncements about my faith.

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Burning Bridges to NonChristians

Wow, this is a tremendous article by Ed Stetzer. Much for me to take to heart. A few excerpts:

“Statistically, the unchurched lean heavily Democrat. So—and I know it’s just me talking crazy now—if you want to reach the unchurched, maybe constant Facebook/Twitter posts about how stupid Democrats are might be a bad idea….Christians are often unnecessarily burning bridges on the altar of political partisanship.”

“It may be an appropriate missional decision to voluntarily restrict your own freedom to constantly blurt about politics, in order to reach your neighbor who holds a different view.”

“An endless stream of calling people fools or liars–people who your neighbor voted for–just does not make sense for the Christian….The end result is another stumbling block for those we are trying to reach.”

“I want my unchurched neighbors (who are statistically more likely to be Democrat) to know they are welcome in my home and my church, and that I do not hate them or the president for whom they voted.”

“I suggest we tweet thinking more about Jesus and less about politics. That’s just basic Christian prioritization.

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Reforming Daylight Savings Time


I read an idea to do away with Daylight Savings Time in the US. Instead of four time zones, we would have just two time zones–east and west. The writers says people now organize their days more around TV schedules than around sunlight. He said we should make a one-time switch, and then never change time again. He points out the benefits for commerce and other areas. Interesting idea.

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