Home Shopping Network = Good
Weider Fitness = Bad

About 4 months ago I purchased a home gym. With my wife and me in our late 30 (she’s hit 40 since), we were loosing the battle of the bulge and it was time for corrective measures. So we settled on a Bowflex type machine and we found that Weider has been making similar machines for some time and, in general, they had good reviews. We decided to purchase a mid level machine (now called the Crossbar Max) for $599 plus $99 shipping. Well, before I purchased it I found a nicer machine, the Platinum 800, on sale at Home Shopping Network for $599 (it’s $799 direct from Weider) with free shipping. I was a little concerned about the motorized weight system in the 800, but I was reassured by the 10 year warranty on the mechanism (now lifetime). So I bought it.
It arrived at our home on August 2nd in a huge sofa sized box left on our front walk. I had to unload it right there because the box was too heavy to move into the garage. I immediately had to call Weider because the plastic front leg was broken. It took about 1.5 – 2 weeks to get the part. In the process of assembling it another part buckled and after using it for about a week, we had to wait another 1.5 – 2 weeks for that part to come in. So we’ve had it for 5 weeks, down for nearly 4.
We got it together and after using it for a couple of weeks, the weight system failed and stuck at 340 pounds. I called Weider; they ordered some parts and arranged for a technician to fix it. After 3 weeks of waiting on parts and then the technician, it was working again. 10 weeks of ownership, down for about 7.
Almost immediately it began to fail. The weight system would not adjust for small increments; say between 10 and 15 pounds. I had to recalibrate it after every use and sometimes it would be out of calibration before I was done with my 20 minute workout. Finally, it stuck again, this time at the other end of the range – 10 pounds. I called, they ordered more parts and arranged for another technician. They said they would send the parts second day, but they did not and they arrived a week later – broken. I called again, they said they’d send new parts, but they were back ordered until December 15th. Oh-kay, well that was enough. At this writing we’ve had it for 17 weeks and it’s only worked for about 8 of them. By the time the parts arrive and get put on it’ll be 21 weeks of ownership with 8 weeks of use. How do I send this thing back?
I spoke to Weider service about returning it. They don’t handle that, only fixing them and will be glad to help me get it repaired. I emailed Weider customer service who forwarded it to Weider sales who emailed back to me saying I needed to talk to Weider returns. Returns told me that I needed to call Home Shopping Network since I bought it from them. I asked why it was their problem, but all I got was something like ‘this is our procedure’. They did give me the number of Icon corporate (parent company of Weider) if Home Shopping Network wouldn’t help me.
Just to say that I did it, I called Home Shopping Network. That way, when I called Icon corporate to get them to come get the thing I could honestly say that I followed their procedure. I spoke to a nice woman, Millie, who informed me that because it was over 30 days she couldn’t do anything, I’d have to call Weider. Big surprise. When I told her that Weider said to take it up with Home Shopping Network , she put me on hold to talk to her supervisor.
Millie came back and said that her supervisor, Becky, had ordered a call tag sent and that they would completely refund my money once the unit was received. Huh? I’m sorry, did I hear that right? Yep, 120 days out and with very little fuss they’re going to take it back for a full refund, including return shipping. And I don’t even need the original box, which is a battle I was prepared to fight. Wow. Now, we’ll see how well this goes (15 – 21 days to process the call tag), but I must say right now I’m impressed. Home Shopping Network had absolutely zero responsibility in this yet they’re stepping up to the plate and taking care of the customer. Thank you. Now everyone go buy something at the Home Shopping Network. 🙂

Communion Lesson to the teachers

Mark 14:66-72, 15:1-41
You’ll have to bear with me, I have a lot on my heart. Many have left our church in recent months, some as recently as this month. Many of these men and women were my friends, some of my dearest friends. It has hurt to watch them go. In some cases, I even knew that that they believed that they were going to a place that was better for them, but it still hurts. It hurts because I know I’ll miss them. It hurts because I know my church will be less for them not being here. It hurts because I had a dream for this church to be God’s church, a beacon of light for Columbus. With every person that leaves, that dream gets harder and harder to believe in.
I feel so in adequate to change things, to make our church better so no one else will leave. It seems like an overwhelming task, far over my head. Who am I to make a change? Who am I to make a difference? I am not a Biblical scholar, by a long shot. I don’t know how to run a church, to make it the best. Why do I think that I could?
There are times that the urge to run away is great. I simply can’t imagine stemming the tide, making a difference. I can’t accomplish it, so I don’t want the responsibility. I just want to give up.
Sometimes to give up means I want to run and hide. I’ll leave too, go somewhere else. Where? I don’t know, somewhere where I’m not reminded of my inadequacies, my inability to make a change, my lack of influence. Somewhere where it doesn’t hurt to be there.
Sometimes to give up means to really give up. I’m just not cut out for Christianity, or maybe it was all a pipe dream anyway, a foolish fantasy.
Sometimes to give up means to just play church. I’ll be there, I’ll sing the songs, I’ll write my check, I’ll show up, but I won’t give myself. It hurts to give my heart. What am I giving to? Why bother? I want to resign from all responsibility and just fade to the shadows where I can be safe. This is the way that wins at times. I do enough to get by, but no more. This way is so, so easy take.
As I tried to think of a lesson to give, these are the things that are on my heart. I thought I’d just go to Mark 15, the next chapter in the church’s study in Mark and see if I could just do a lesson on that, since what was on my heart did not seem fit to share. As I read about Jesus before Pilate, the soldiers, the chief priests, the crowd it all seemed so foreign to me, so distant from what I was feeling.
Then it hit me. One by one, these folks left Jesus. First the 12 who had stood by him, marveled at him and lived by his side for 3 years fled, nearly denying they even knew his name. The government, never on his side but not totally against him either, turned a blind eye and let the evil intent of the religious leaders have its way. Then the crowd, just a few days earlier welcoming him into the city like the savior and hero he was, now shouted for his death and asked for a murderer instead. The soldiers laughed at him and even one of the criminals with him ridiculed him. Ultimately, even God his father turned his back on Jesus, leaving him all alone to die on a cross.
In all of this Jesus did not flinch from his desire to honor God with his life. He would do God’s will, even if no one cared. He would not be denied His chance to honor God, nothing would stand in his way.
Now, I’m not Jesus nor is our church perfect. And certainly those who left are not Judases, Pilates or criminals. But as I thought about Jesus and what he went through and I thought about my discouragement I found hope. I found I could feel just a little bit of Jesus’ pain as he approached the cross. I could relate to some amount of his sufferings. Certainly his pain was greater. More was at stake and more could be lost. And at least I could count on the fact that God would not be turning his back on me. It was here that I found hope. I also found a little bit of conviction. If our Lord was faced with this kind of hurt on a level far above what I am experiencing and found the determination to do God’s will anyway, so could I. Somehow I can rise above the hurt and live as a Christian should.
Brothers and sisters, that’s what we must do or Satan has won. Frankly, I feel that this is just what we have not done overall as a church. It feels as though we have just been playing church, I know that at times I have. We’ve allowed our hurt, our pain, our disillusionment to distract us from that which we committed ourselves to. We’ve gone about our lives, ignoring the good we could do and our church, God’s church, suffers for it. We’ve all been hurt over this past year and I will not dismiss that or make light of it. We need to be able to grieve and to heal. But if we allow our hurts to make us numb, if our pain keeps us from doing the good we ought to do – as, if we were honest with ourselves, it has – shame on us. Let’s think about Jesus and what he endured on his way to the cross this week as we go through our lives and think about what’s stopping us from doing what good we can.


A response to Justin’s challenge to describe the Gospel in your context.
First assignment; describe your context. Hmm. That’s an interesting one, because in my context we don’t think about context. 🙂 I am one that finds himself caught between the modern and the post modern, leaning toward the safety of the modern way of thinking. Frankly, I don’t know that I understand post-modernism at all, I only know that modernism’s biggest failing is it’s assumption that it can figure it all out and that context doesn’t really matter. So here I sit, having been brought up in a modern, well defined world, looking around and seeing that things don’t always fit in a nice neat package, but not feeling quite equipped to deal with that.
I think that modernism’s way of looking at things, defining problems and seeking concrete solutions has much to say for itself, just not as much as it claims. But neither does post-modernism either.
But this is supposed to be about the gospel, not a comparison of world views. The gospel to me is good news that is defined as much by the bad news. The bad news is that I have no idea what I’m doing here, how to live, how to treat people, how to be Right. Not just act or seem right or do right but be right. I fall short, way, way short. I don’t want to but I can’t help it. I fail my wife, my kids, my family, my job, my neighbor, my God. I try, and try hard but I fail. I’ve learned many lessons on how not to fail, but they do not produce less failures. No, they reveal deeper chasms in my character, deeper failings, more things to work on.
I am not what God wants me to be, by any Biblical measure, likely any measure. Bad news indeed.
The good news is that God, in his infinite and amazing love has come to my rescue. He’s sent me a scapegoat, someone to take my burdens, my problems, my failings as His own. Jesus takes my sin, takes the punishment, takes the blame. “Put it on me.”, He says, “Don’t worry about it.” My failings are no longer fatal, they no longer need to drag me to me knees in disgust. Jesus takes them away and I am free. Free of the burden of guilt and free to go at it again. What a relief to be able to shake off this guilt and focus only on becoming my best, something I could never so before because my failures stayed with me, distracting me and preventing me from moving on. I was ever chasing the unattainable dream of perfection, and suddenly it’s been handed to me, undeservingly. Now I am seen as perfect, though I’m not. What can possibly keep me down? What can keep me from greatness?
Now that’s good news.

Driving and the Real Me

I haven’t posted much in the ‘Cars and Driving’ category. Certainly not as much as I thought I would when I started this blog. I think about cars and driving a lot. I’m what might be called a driving geek, that is I love to drive and have spent a lot of time thinking about how to be the best driver I can. Not in the racing sense as most car enthusiasts would, but simply in the everyday sense. I’ve come to a simple conclusion in recent years. I am as good a driver as I am a person.
A good friend of mine in college described himself before becoming a Christian that he had the attitude that “People were stupid, and I ought to tell them.” I laughed at his arrogance, and could relate to his attitude pre-disciple, but what I failed to see was that was my attitude in driving. It wasn’t until years later when traveling with my wife and seeing her fear at my driving habits that I began to see my sin. I asked her about it and she said that she felt that I saw my self as a right and good driver and that everyone else was wrong and furthermore it was my responsibility to show them. Wow, that hurt but it was true. While I was knowledgable about good driving practices, I was also uncaring, unforgiving and arrogant.
The irony was that because I was blinded by my pride, I wasn’t really as good a driver as I thought. I would do the very things the made me angry in others. If someone would tailgate me, I would let them around a tailgate them to ‘show them how it felt’. I let the behavior of others stir up my emotions and lead me into bad driving practices. It’s actually pretty comical thinking back on it how foolish I was.
What I’ve come to realize is that good driving, like good discipleship, is not a matter of following all the rules but of what kind of man I am. As I drive, am I looking out only for my interests or other’s too? All of the things that irritate me about driving I find are selfish acts. I’m not going to get over after I pass this car and before I pass the next because I might not get back in. I know it might mean that one or two of you who want to go faster could get by, but I don’t want to take the risk of getting stuck over there. I’m not going to let you in because I technically don’t have too and besides I might miss that light. I’m not in any hurry so I don’t need to keep close to the car in front going through this short left turn arrow, even though my hesitation might mean a couple of you back there will have to wait through another light cycle. All of these things are not so much violations of the law or good manners but a lack of character. It speaks to who I am.
Expounding on this I came to the realization that driving, particularly driving alone, is a profoundly spiritually revealing experience. Why is it that I turn into this whole other person behind the wheel? Who is this angry man who desires to do these mean things (I’ve got to close the gap or someone might take advantage of me!)? Why do I have an aversion to acts of kindness (speeding up so that guy doesn’t beat me!) when there’s no one to criticize me for being mean? Who is that guy yelling at total strangers, looking down on them for their driving skills? I really think that driving alone gives a glimpse into our unchecked, unrestrained sinful selves – at least it does for me. (Perhaps there’s an activity for you that does the same thing.) There’s been so many times that I just want to get out of the car and go apologize to that other driver. Oh how I wish I could tell them that I am a fool, please forgive me. But in a car you can’t do that. Your sin just hangs out there, damage done and no way to undo it, to make it right. I wonder how many times this happens in other parts of my life that I don’t see so clearly.
I’ve com a long way since my early marriage in my driving. My wife is not scared to ride with me anymore and I’ve learned to let things slide. There’s nothing I can do, I cannot teach anyone anything and besides, the probably aren’t interested in learning anyway. But that desire and arrogance is still there and every now and then it slips out and I’ll say or do something scary. It’s then that I am grateful for Jesus and fearful of what I would be without Him. I guess this wasn’t much about Cars and Driving either.

Spammers, Argh!

Well, after several months of peace, the spammers have figured out a way aroung the little secret code thing and started placing spam comments on my site. Only two so far, but it’s annoying. I do not maintain a site for the purpose of advertising your product!
Anyway, I made some changes to the site in a hopefully not futile attempt to ward them off. Most of them are behind the scenes (renaming the comment script file), but one you’ll notice is that I changed the comment link on the index pages (main page, monthly and category archives) to go to the permalink rather than a pop up comment window. I think this is a change for the better as well as making it hard for spammers to find my comment script.

On an interesting, but completely unrelated note, the other salguod on the net (see this post, my 4th!) has his own blog now too called You Must Be Present to Win. I gather from his posts that he’s a lawyer. I think I’ll go leave a comment just to make him wonder.

Miracles, Challenges and Parables

Matthew 14:14-36, 15:1-20, Mark 6:34-56, 7:1-23, Luke 9:11-17, John 6:2-71, 7:1
Mark 6:34, Luke 9:11 – Here we see Jesus’ teaching and healing was motivated by his compassion.
Matthew 14:23-33, Mark 6:47-52, John 6:17-21 – This is one of my favorite miracles of Jesus. He seems to be having fun with the 12 and His powers, as He does in the previous story about feeding the 5,000 (In John 6:5 Jesus seems to be teasing Philip about buying food for the people.) He sends them on ahead, the wind is against them, they get three to three and a half miles out and here comes Jesus walking on the water. In fact, they’re rowing but he’s caught them and was about to pass them when they noticed. I can almost hear Jesus saying as they cry out, “Oh, I didn’t see you there. Can I get a lift?”
Mark 6:51-52 – For a long time I didn’t understand this statement. What did the loaves have to do with this walking on the water? Ironically, I guess my heart was hardened. Perhaps the point of the loaves was not to feed the people, wow them or to toy with His disciples. I was to point out that Jesus was no ordinary man, he was God in the flesh. Some of the disciples got it and were not shocked at this action by Jesus (Matthew 14:33) but the others were amazed because the loaves had gone over their heads.
John 6:25 – I get the impression that they were more annoyed at being left behind rather than being interested in following Jesus.
John 6:30-31 – Can they be serious? Didn’t he just feed them from nothing? I guess they didn’t understand about the loaves either.
John 6:44 – Did Jesus mean here that God chooses who will be able to come to Him and who will not? On the face of it that is what it would seem, but the rest of this passage (John 6:41-66) seem to indicate man’s coming to God. vs. 45 – “every one how “listens … comes to me”, vs. 47 “he who believes has everlasting life.”, vs. 51 – “If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.”, vs. 56 – “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.” In John 6:64-65 He says “Yet there are some of you who do not believe. … This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.” I can’t tell if it’s just my preconceived notion getting in the way of my understanding here or if it’s really this challenging. I have a feeling there’s some truth here between my traditional view of man seeking and finding God and the opposite extreme of God picking and choosing the saved based on His own discernment.
Matthew 10:13-14 – Again Jesus seems to indicate that some men are sent from God and others are not. Yet He follows that up with a call for discernment on the part of the follower. So men ‘from God’ are not necessarily sent from God but simply those who do God’s will.
Matthew 15:17-20 – This is a simple yet profound truth, and one that people continually miss. We want rules and regulations to know how we stand before God. We want assurance that we’re doing the right things, but God here points out to us that it is not the things we do that matter but who we are.

New linkage

I’ve added a couple of new links to the right side menu. I’ve come to treat this as my ‘favorites’ in my daily walk through the web. These are the sites I visit every day or nearly so. So when I start to check a site frequently, it’s time to add them to the list.
Pinakidion is a member of the Omaha Church of Christ, an ICoC church and a sister congregation of my own Columbus Church of Christ. He has been a part of that church’s advisory group as they, like so many ICoC churches, try to find a way forward from the challenging times of the past year or two. He, like me, has struggled greatly with what we should be and where we should be going, longing for more & deeper change than it seems others desire. I’m especially gratefull to have found his site because I can relate to his feelings and thoughts in the same way that I did with many of the men who have left my church. As they’ve one by one left, I’ve found myself wondering occasionally if that was my destiny as well, though I don’t desire to leave. It’s good to find another longing or deep and lasting change and still fighting it out in the ICoC.
Requiest is a site I recently discovered that links to my site. Since then I’ve found myself drawn back to visit fairly regularly.

Sending them out, Death of John the Baptist

Matthew 9:35-38, 10:1-42, 11:1, 14:1-13, Mark 6:6-33, Luke 9:1-11, John 6:1
Matthew 10:16-18 – After all the good things they would be doing (Matthew 10:7); Jesus still needed to warn them. You would think that by spreading all this love they would be loved and would be safe. Not so, we humans can look love and compassion right in the eye and not recognize it and even despise it.
Jesus knows that these things may happen, so he informs them, cautions them, but then he encourages them to get some perspective in Matthew 10:26-31.
Matthew 10:34-39 – If Jesus’ message was so controversial, causing division among family members, why shouldn’t my message be controversial at times? I hate to have people upset with me, but for the gospel I should not be ashamed of such a thing. But I have seen in my own life how easy it is to use this as an excuse when people don’t like me. “Well, they hated Jesus too.” They hated Jesus because of his righteousness, is that why folks are angry with me? Os is it because of my sin against them?
Mark 6:17-19 – Is this the kind of man that I am, willing to confront sin? Or am I too afraid of men? It cost john his life (and Jesus too, ultimately) and it will likely will cost me too, but am afraid of men, especially men who have some power over me. It takes wisdom and discernment to tell when to challenge an when not too. I too often, however, err on the side of caution.
Mark 6:24-28 – What kind of woman’s heart is so hard that she would send her own daughter to request someone’s death? Not only that, but literally ask for his head! And what kind of man would indulge such a request? What kind of guests could they be if the peer pressure to not go back on his word forced him into such an act?


Matthew 8:18-34, 9:18-34, 13:53-58, Mark 4:35-41, 5:1-43, 6:1-6, Luke 8:22-56, 9:57-62
Matthew 8:18-20, Luke 9:57-62 – These passages always troubled me. I know the traditional explanations of what Jesus likely meant and the explanations of what these men likely meant but it seems a little presumptuous. There’s just not much to go on here as to why Jesus would deny someone saying goodbye or burying a relative. There obviously must be more to the story and I long to know what it really is, not speculation of what it is.
Mark 4:36 – ‘just as he was’ What does this mean?
Matthew 9:30-31 – Why did Jesus tell some not to talk about their healing while others (Mark 5:19) he tells to go and tell what God has done for you?

Gimmicks, give me gimmicks!

I’m watching NBC and boy to they have the gimmicks going. Rockefeller Plaza is ‘Democracy Plaza’. The ice on the rink in the plaza has a map on it and as they call a state they collor it in on the ice. And there’s these two ribbons climbing Rockefeller Center, a red one for Bush and a Blue one for Kerry, that climb the building as each candidate gathers electoral vores. Sheesh.
Every so often Brokaw will turn to Tim Russert for an update on what sates who needs to win. Russert has turned in his white board for tablet PC to do his little break downs on. You can tell that Russert is absolutely loving this. He’s grinning from ear to ear.

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