When Telemarketers Call

I have been know to mess with a telemarketer or two.. and often I get a bit ornery with a person calling to give me investment advice.. and sometimes I simply hangup when they call. What it is it about these kinds of calls that get us so riled up? This site offers funny ways to respond when they call. Here are a few:
  • Talk really fast.
  • Make up your own language. Speak it.
  • Say, "This phone line is for emergency use only. Do you have an emergency?"
  • Order a large pepperoni pizza, some garlic bread, and a meatball sub.
  • Say nothing until he/she hangs up.
  • Ask the telemarketer for his/her home phone number. Claim that you need some time to think, and that you'll get back to them.
  • Ask him/her if he/she can smell bacon. Insist that there is a strong scent of bacon over the phone.
I particularly like the last one. - anyone who know me understands why. And I do understand that telemarketers are underpaid folks just trying to do a job. And I am not advocating this behavior all of the time. But perhaps occasionally?

How do you handle these kinds of calls? Any good stories?

What I like about American Idol

I watched the finale of American Idol this week - it was sixth one I have seen. On the show a young seventeen year old Country singer named Scotty McCreery took the top honors. Lauren Alaina, a sixteen year old Country singer, took second place. As streamers fell Scotty was embraced by those he beat out for the top spot. As he sang his last song he headed for his family. Starting with his dad he embraced each member of his family. It was such a touching moment. I ask you - what is not to love about that? It was such heartwarming family entertainment.

The American Idol season mirrored the finale. Each week we saw young people rooting for each other and crying tears of sadness when one of their friends were voted off. Each week talented singers sang all sorts of songs - I particularly liked Motown week. But mainly I liked the respect that was shown for contestants by other contestants and judges. Early in the season there was one particularly tender and inspiring moment when one of the judges gently kissed a gal in the wheelchair on the head.

I think that it is so easy for older folks like me to reject American Idol. Music was so important to me when I was young and all I can remember about adult reactions to "my music" was the way that they criticized it. It reminds me a bit of how easy it is to reject my responsibility to encourage and cheer on the younger generations. Even in church older folks are known for the lambasting of newer styles of music. I think that it is time we older ones stopped acting like children. We geezers should accept and encourage those younger than we are.

Why Your Gut Is More Ethical Than Your Brain

I came across an interesting article today that has the same title as this post. Here are a few clips from the article by Dan and Chip Heath:
It's believed that to live ethically, we must engage our reason, which reins in the whims and follies of emotion. Ethics, then, is heavy on Spock and light on Sally Struthers. But what if unethical behavior is actually spurred, rather than prevented, by reason?
Before making the decision to cheat or be fair, the test subjects were given some guidance. Some were encouraged to think rationally about the situation and to ignore their emotions. Equipped with this advice, the great majority (69%) analyzed the situation and con-cluded that they should screw their partners. Others were primed to "make decisions based on gut feelings." Their guts were pretty trustworthy: Only 27% lied.

There's a twist: Even though the study shows that we would be treated better by people who trust their feelings, we're leery of them. When people were given a choice to interact with a rational decision-making partner or a gut-trusting one, 75% chose the rational partner.

Zhong concluded that "deliberative processes can license morally questionable behaviors by focusing on tangible monetary outcomes and reducing emotional influence." If only such behavior were limited to the lab.
I so agree with these sentiments. In my many years of living I have found that the mind is a great tool for math and science but a poor substitute for leading our lives. I think that the brain so often utilizes rationalization to make difficult decisions. When it comes to denying ourselves the brain often rejects the heroic and courageous impulses of the gut.

In contrast our gut, or inner being, will make different kinds of decisions. When confronted with a tough decision our gut will focus on what is right rather than what is expedient. When our ethics are tested our gut will hold firm when our brain wavers. This is why we should try to always feed and strengthen our gut and not our brain. I am not saying that we should not feed our brain. Just saying that should spend at least as much time effort in feeding our gut.

Do you spend more time feeding and strengthening your brain or your gut?

Quotes that Speak to Me

I am a bit of a quote collector. I have been collecting them for almost twenty years. In the past week I have received, via email, three quotes that speak deeply to me. I would like to share them with you along with a few transparent thoughts.
"First keep the peace within yourself, then you can also bring peace to others." -Thomas A Kempis
This one came last week and I had no clue concerning where I would be a week later. My week has been one of the most stressful I have had in a long time. Event after event has tried my inner peace. This quote speaks to me instructing me of the importance of being healthy on the inside. It challenges me on a deep level.
"We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have."
-Frederick Keonig
In the middle of trying times we so need to appreciate the small things in life. When obstacles overwhelm us it is good to remember those times when larger ones were overcome. This quote speaks to me and helps me to find joy by appreciating the gifts, talents and the abilities I have been given and the life that I have.
"The greatest test of courage on the earth is to bear defeat without losing heart."
-R. G. Ingersoll
This one came Wednesday and it broke me to tears. I had begun to lose heart these past days as I focused on the difficulties. Stress levels seem to have accelerated with each new trial. Reading this quote reminded me that life is not for the faint of heart. Enduring difficult times will strengthen our hearts if we persevere and do not give in to despair.
Everything will be okay in the end. If it is not okay, then it is not the end. -Unknown
I stumbled upon this one as I composed this post. It made me smile. Adam Hamilton (my pastor) puts it this way - "The worst thing is never the last thing". A great quote to end with.

Humility, Dogmatism and the Prophetic

I was disgusted when I learned $100m was spent by Family Radio on the Doomsday/Rapture ad campaign that announced that the rapture of the church would occur last Saturday. Apparently Harold Camping, the 80 year old false prognosticator, dogmatically believed a deception and spent a lot of money trying to convince others to embrace his dogmatism. It made me think about how dogmatism can so lack humility.

I have been around prophets in Charismatic Churches for a long time - for many years I spoke in a prophetic fashion in front of thousands at church. Mostly I spoke words of encouragement but on one occasion I predicted that a new church building would be a blessing to our grandchildren's grandchildren. I am embarrassed about saying that. I was so arrogant back then.

I guess that is what I see a lot in prophetic circles - a lack of humility. The people who speak prophetically often speak in very dogmatic language. Many times there does not seem to be an ounce of humility in their voices. They see the world in black and white ways. Their prophetic language reflects those narrow perceptions. On the flip-side I do believe in that spiritual gifts are for today when they are exercised with love and humility.

I also see this lack of humility displayed by dogmatic pundits, teachers and preachers. These folks often display narrow dogmatic beliefs about political candidates, 'scientific' theories and pet religious doctrines. Their lack of humility is often demonstrated by the way that they describe alternate views. Sometimes they demonize people and views that they do not agree with. When I hear the I think of people like Harold Camping.

Have you ever been put off by dogmatic pundits, teachers or preachers?

Love, Enemies and Evil

Love your enemies and you won't have any
Aren't you strangely amazed by the simplicity in this image? It seems to embody the idea that peace will come if we just love people who abuse, persecute and hate us. We all have probably heard of people that naively tell such things to abused wives - it is like they do not understand the nature of an enemy relationship. Some people simply get an evil pleasure from hating others. Here are a few quotes from peaceful men about this idea:
Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good. -Gandhi

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
Now I am not saying that we should not love our enemies or those who do bad things. I am simply saying that we should not expect them to change simply because we love them. On the flip-side, I do think that we will change when we learn to forgive and love our enemies.

Zebra Think

Sometimes I read something (like the title of this post) and just break out with a huge inner smile. Consider this excerpt from a post by Therese Borchard titled Authenticity and Integrity: Two Spiritual Pillars..
I try to be subtle, nuanced, and horribly honest – so honest that my prose comes off sounding at times confusing and neurotic … much like my brain. I try to stay away from black and white as much as I can, because I know that the majority of my recovery exists n the gray.

I remember being interviewed for the “Hannity & Colmes Show,” back when it aired on the Fox News Channel. The producer was grilling me on the topic of women’s ordination. I think I must have said, “I don’t know … I guess I see it both ways ….” a few too many times because, with an annoyed huff, he said, “You are way too wishy washy for our show … sorry,” and hung up.

I took it as the highest compliment. Yes! My therapy has paid off! I no longer suffer from zebra think! I have been cured!
Sometimes people in our lives, even the ones not on the television, compel us to process life and issues with black and white "Zebra Think". And when we capitulate to them we often lose a bit of ourselves in our desire to be decisive and focused on issues that are important to them and not us. Did you catch that last part? Them and not us. So often our lives can be captivated by issues that are important to political punsters, narrow religious thinkers and people who care more about their opinions than yours.

I invite you to shed your mental zebra stripes today and enter elephant gray thinking.
And no, not the political elephant type of thinking.

The Red Letters

Many of you know that I have been journaling each day through the words of Christ on my other blog. Thought I would take a minute and invite you to following my bloggings there. Here are a few excerpts from the things I have been writing about as I wander through the gospels:

Which of the two did the will of his father?
He chides them implying that their hearts should have been softened at the sight of 'sinners' repenting in baptism. He speaks to them, and to us, about going past lip service.

From heaven or from man?
That phrase, "From heaven or from man?", hits at the heart of this issue of authority. ... Jesus magnificently showed them, and us, what heavenly authority looks like.

You will receive - if you have faith.
Interesting how he connects faith and prayer. One might think that prayer itself is an evidence of prayer - why would some one pray if they did not have faith?

Out of the mouth of Infants
Sometimes the darkness resembles bitterness. ... When I was around twenty I rejected the hypocrisy that I saw in the church I was raised in. And in much pain I stopped praying.

Smart Toilets

You have probably heard about Smart Phones but have you heard about the $6,400 Kohler Numi smart toilet? The toilet's functions are controlled with a full-color touch-screen device that magnetically docks with a wall-mounted panel and the lid opens automatically. For more information on this crazy device check out the story and the photos at this ZDNet article.


A few days ago I wrote about quitting. Today I want to talk about enduring. Sometimes in life we are placed in positions where we simply cannot quit. Our consciences call us to stay. Despite difficulties our convictions compel us endure. And often hope can arise in the most difficult situations if we persevere. And sometimes quitting is just not an option.

I had a short visit yesterday with my friend John who has been hospitalized for months with heart and kidney problems. My short encounter with him was difficult - seeing John on a respirator was heartbreaking. Yet I was encouraged by the hope in his eyes. I was honored to be with a man who reflected such perseverance. I dedicate these quotes to John.

Endurance is patience concentrated. -Thomas Carlyle

Endurance is nobler than strength and patience than beauty. -John Ruskin

Come what may, all bad fortune is to be conquered by endurance. -Virgil

If God sends us on strong paths, we are provided strong shoes. -Corrie TenBoom

Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory. -William Barclay

God places the heaviest burden on those who can carry its weight. -Reggie White

Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. Love still stands when all else has fallen. -Anonymous

Quitting is not Failing

So often quitting is put in such a negative context. We hear things like "Quitters never win!" and somehow think that quitting and failure are synonymous. So this note, titled "I Believe in Quitting", from a reader of the Beyond Blue blog got my attention. Here are a few excerpts:
The perfectionism in my personality eats away my strength from the inside out. It insists on showing me all the rules I’ve broken, and all the people I’ve failed to help. It focuses on the distance between who I am and who I “should” be. I’ve been given every advantage – a stable childhood, natural intellect and talents, a college education, a wonderful husband and son. And yet I’m still not good enough.

But I have learned how to battle this enemy.
I have learned how to quit.
My life had been built on assumptions gleaned from the world around me. My goal had always been to do everything “right”. Unfortunately, there are many definitions of “right”. I chose the ones that fit into my upbringing. I allowed the world around me to tell me the “right” way to live.
Quitting has brought me peace. I make commitments very carefully, and I fulfill them to the best of my ability. But I am no longer bound to the universal guilt of needing to do every good thing.

I do what I do. And it is good. And the world is left to fill the rest of its need for good through others. When I’m done, I quit. And I stay whole.
I so resonate with knowing when it is time to quit. In the past I have been too loyal and hung on too long in places I no longer belonged. I have also hung on too long to ideologies that hindered my spiritual growth. Quitting is not as easy as the clichés make it to be - especially for folks who highly esteem commitment and loyalty. Even so, I think that the heart of life is knowing when to quit. It is also knowing that quitting does not necessarily mean failing.

What Patients Want

I love this cartoon - sometimes the absurd is so funny. Seems like healthcare is in the news all of the time these days. Someone is either discussing Obamacare or Paul Ryan's plan to change Medicare. Yet you don't usually hear much about the doctor-patient relationship. Rest Ministries recently asked their readers what they wanted from their doctors. Here are a few excerpts from the answers to that question:
  • More time to spend with me to thoroughly answer my questions.
  • For him to trade places with me for one week.
  • For him to listen to me, not just hear me.
  • Empathy and understanding is most important to me with my chronic pain.
  • For her to desire to learn about what I have and treat it as a whole.
  • Send him back to medical school to learn more about chronic pain and how to treat it.
  • Some times he doesn’t write anything down and it’s frustrating.
  • That she would see her patients on time and not make them wait.
I can so relate to these needs. Another improvement that I would like to see is to the way that the doctors communicate amongst themselves about a patient's care. That said I have to say that most of the doctors I have met are excellent professionals doing the best they can under the circumstances. How about you? Anything that you would add to the list?

Don't Say 'The Bible Says So'

Christian leader Chuck Colson, in a Christian Post article titled, Don't Say 'The Bible Says So', quotes Oswald Chambers, noted author of My Utmost for His Highest, saying:
“My strong advice to you is to soak, soak, soak in philosophy and psychology, until you know more of these subjects than ever you need consciously to think. It is ignorance of these subjects on the part of ministers and workers that has brought our evangelical theology to such a sorry plight...The man who reads only the Bible does not, as a rule, know it or human life.”
Mr Colson ends the column with these thoughts:
The sad fact is that today, starting a conversation with “the Bible says” will often cause the listener to stop listening. So what you do is make arguments based on what the Reformers called common grace, or what historically has been called natural law.

This is what Paul did when he gave his famous sermon at Mars Hill, his first foray into the Greek culture. He quoted Greek poets; he referred to Greek artifacts. He thoroughly engaged their culture. And then he used their beliefs to lead directly into the gospel.

This is why we must study biblical worldview, to compare how the Bible works out in life versus how other systems of thought do. I assure you: You will see that the biblical way is the only way to make sense of the world, to live rationally in the world, and eventually, your friends will see this as well.
I like what Mr Colson is saying here. Yet communicating biblical thoughts to others can be very difficult at times. Sometimes in my life I have so cloistered myself and found it so difficult to find any common ground to build a conversation with others on. In times like those I did not feel a need to understand why people thought the way that they did and did not see a need to know any other view than my own. Yes, I was pretty arrogant.

These days I am a bit more secure in my beliefs and enjoy discussing topics with others. On spiritual matters I enjoy a good natured debate with folks who do not think like me. In the political spectrum I feel that I have learned much from people that I once closed my ears to. What has resulted in my life is the ability to see past the dull blacks and whites as I gaze at the many beautiful colors of our world. And it is beautiful you know.

Running to be Heard

Yesterday Ron Paul announced his third presidential run. It reminded me of his interview with George Stephanopoulos a few years ago when George told him he didn't have a chance of getting the GOP nomination. Now I like Ron Paul and many of his views but, lets face it, George is right. And I do not think that the third time will be a charm for Paul or others like him.

It makes me wonder. Ron Paul is certainly a very smart person and not unaware of his chances. So why does he run? I think that he and other candidates run, or tease us about whether they will run or not, simply to have a platform for their message or for their celebrity.

Some like Ron Paul definitely have a strong message and want to influence the way that the GOP platform is crafted. Others, I think, simply want exposure and the celebrity that comes with it - many books are sold by folks like these. Now I do think that folks like this definitely have a place in the primary races. They sometimes help shape the issues, highlight problems and ask questions that need to be asked. Yet I wonder if having these folks in the race simply muddies the water and somewhat makes a mockery of our election cycle?

What do you think? Do these candidates do more good than harm to the electoral process?

Blogger Thank You Notes

Blogger, the Kansas Bob publishing platform of choice, was down yesterday and this morning (maybe longer?). Instead of getting mad about it I thought I would share a few Thank You notes ala Late Night with Jimmy Fallon:
  • Thank you Blogger for many years of uninterrupted service. One day without you reminds me of how much I take you for granted every day you are quietly at work.
  • Thank you Blogger for being just the right price for my budget. We retired folks like free things that are easy to use.
  • Thank you Blogger for the scheduling feature. Sometimes I just have too many inspirational intuitions to share in one day.
  • Thank you Blogger for the cool new template designer. I haven't used it yet but I have experimented with it.
  • Thank you Blogger for adapting to personal domain names. I like being kansasbob.com - and the other kansasbob blog too.
  • Thank you Blogger for group blogs. I love being a part of the Daily Prayer blog.
  • Thank you Blogger for giving me a day off yesterday. Blogaholics like me need help in taking a break - even when we have such important things to day.
What blogging platform do you use? What do you like most about it?

Goodnight Mr Tom | ★★★★★★★★

This beautifully told Masterpiece Theatre episode from 1998 showed up in our mail box this week.
I loved the story and thought that it was both compelling and inspirational. It centers around an embittered man who finds new life as he takes in a young war refugee who's evacuated to his village during the London blitz. The beautiful transformation of this older man as he loves this young boy is so heartwarming. And the metamorphosis of the young boy from an abused child to a healthy young boy is simply spectacular. If you enjoy positive movies that speaks to and moves your heart then I suggest that you give this ninety minute masterpiece a try.
On a scale of ten I give this movie ★★★★★★★★.

Optimism in Face of Trials

There is probably no other person in contemporary America that I respect more when it comes to speaking on the topic of trials and suffering than Joni Eareckson Tada. Consider these excerpts from this Christian Post article:
"Forty-four years of quadriplegia, I deal daily with chronic pain. And [when combined with] the recent battle with breast cancer, I know something about uncertain times," she told the audience.
She shared with the audience that some mornings when she wakes up, she often realizes anew the challenges being paralyzed and unable to use her hands or her legs, the pain in her body and the constant wait for friends to come in and give her a bed bath, help her through exercises and get her dressed. Tada testified that although she often feels that she cannot bear this experience, she constantly relies on God's strength and prays for His smile to greet her helpers.
"Trials are not just assaults to be withstood. No, trials are opportunities to be seized," she said. And with that perspective, Tada said, "Life becomes inspiring, not in spite of the problems and the hard hits, but because of them."

She reminded them that God is in control, and He has the victory. Tada instructed listeners to, instead of succumbing to challenges, think "Game on!" "Let's go!" "Victory is within Reach!" and to keep challenging themselves to work harder and deepen their relationship with God.
So often I whine when trials come my way. I love the idea of seeing them as opportunities to be seized and I resonate with the idea of life becoming inspirational because of those trials. It is possible to be optimistic when trials come. To that end I pray - for you and for me.

Who is my Enemy?

The killing of Osama Bin Laden earlier this week raised a few questions about enemies. In response to my assertion that we should love our enemies a friend of mine asked me this question:

Is there a difference between a personal enemy and a national enemy?

I responded saying that it depends on our definition of enemy. It is hard to relate to an enemy without a face.. maybe Bin Laden is simply the face of an enemy organization the way that Hitler was the face of Nazi Germany?

I think that the image to the left is a bit simplistic and one sided because it sees 'enemies' from one's own view - it is possible for me to love an enemy and still have an enemy.. some will always hate us no matter what we do.

How would you answer my friend's question?

If My People

The passage from II Chronicles, depicted below, was very popular amongst Christians back in the 70s when we were celebrating the country's bicentennial. To commemorate the US National Day of Prayer I thought that I would offer a few comments concerning this passage.
  • My People: Many believers point to atheists and others for the secularization of America. This passage seems to indicate otherwise.
  • My Name: It is to God we are called and to Him we must answer for the state of our nation.
  • Humble Themselves: The image that many see in believers is often anything but humility. I am so opinionated and so in need of humility.
  • Pray and Seek: I sometimes forget how these two things go together. I think that we can determine the depth of our humility by the amount of time we spend praying and seeking.
  • Turn: It is so easy to point a finger of repentance at other people. The heart of this verse is that we would turn.. that we would repent.. that we would change.
I love how God responds to humility, prayer and repentance. He says that He will hear, He will forgive, and He will heal. Please join me in prayer for America and other countries.

Epitaphs of the Rich and Famous

The question of our own personal epitaph is sometimes asked. I do wonder what my children would put on my gravestone if they had that option. Maybe these epitaphs will help them?

My Jesus Mercy
Alphonse Capone

She did it the hard way.
Bette Davis

A master of comedy
His genius in the art of humor
Brought gladness
To the world he loved.

Stan Laurel
A genius of comedy
His talent brought joy and
Laughter to all the world.

Oliver Hardy

He Leadeth Me
Victor Fleming

A Gentle Man and a Gentleman
Jack Dempsey

Nothing in Moderation
We all loved him

Ernie Kovacs

A star on earth - a star in heaven
Karen Carpenter

I had A Lover's Quarrel With The World
Robert Lee Frost

Yesterday's Companionship
and Tomorrow's Reunion

Rita Hayworth

Man must endure his going hence.
C. S. Lewis

Check out other epitaphs here and let me know if you see a favorite one in the list.

X'ed Enemies

Yesterday The Atlantic Wire did a piece titled A Brief History of Time Magazine's 'X' Covers. Here is a summary of the covers:
When Time's special issue on the death of Osama bin Laden hits newsstands Thursday, it will be the fourth cover in the magazine's history to feature a red 'X' scrawled across the face of an American enemy.
The other American enemies pictured above, and the Time Magazine publication date, are Adolf Hitler (May 7, 1945), Saddam Hussein (April 21, 2003), and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (June 13, 2006). Interesting to note that a country was also shown in this fashion when Japan was X'ed out on the August 20, 1945 cover.

Christian Responses to the Death of an Enemy

The Christian Post has a piece titled Osama bin Laden Dead; Christians Debate Response. Here are a few diverse twitterish responses from Christian leaders quoted in the piece:
  • "I DO mourn death=The widespread death that Bin Laden's life created. Today we MUST celebrate the sacrifice & victory of our troops."
  • "Joyfully celebrating the killing of a killer who joyfully celebrated killing carries an irony that I hope will not be lost on us."
  • "Lord, may we see peace. May the world be more free so the gospel may be preached w/o restriction. Use this for your agenda."
I echo that last prayer and add my prayers for world peace to it. Perhaps prayer is the best response a Christian can have concerning this news? What do you think?


Don't you just love this funny Shoebox cartoon? It reminds me of how I so often see things in black and white literal terms. The problem I have with literalism (apart from spilled salad dressing) is how I miss the point of what a person is trying to communicate to me. It is like reading a really great novel and getting bogged down with spelling errors and punctuation. The journey out of literalism has been a long one for me because of the way that I love thinking in black and white terms. I have to admit that I sometimes have a fixation on right and wrong. But I think that so much of life is more like art or music. These are neither right or wrong. Their beauty and worth are in the eyes and ears of those seeing and hearing. And we miss so much when we do not acknowledge that.