My wife and I sometimes listen to a podcast by a guy named Dave Ramsey. He teaches sound financial advice – things like not going into debt, living on a budget, and working hard for a living. Recently, his radio show has been bombarded with e-mails about the trouble in the economy. Since Sarah and I do not have a TV, we were made aware through this podcast (and news found on the internet) that there is trouble on Wall Street. Apparently, the television news media does a Hollywood job at dramatizing the problems (and real problems they are) as apocalyptic nightmares. Sarah and I keep working, saving, and spending money on things we can afford (things we have never really done well until this year – after listening to Dave Ramsey’s shows and reading his books). As a result, the volatility of Wall Street and the economy at large does not affect us very much. What bliss! Furthermore, we are considering starting our Roth IRA’s and pumping money into a Mutual Fund for saving for a house. What better time to start investing than when the Stock Market is DOWN! As Ramsey says, the stock market is ON SALE. It has nowhere to go but up over the long-haul, as every ten-year period since like the 20’s has shown a profit.
So please calm down. The economic world is not collapsing over our heads, despite what ratings-hungry talking heads say. Go out and enjoy the wonderful autumn air.
Announcing the release of the very first DVD from Jesse the Juggler! It is sensibly called “Live Show” and I just did my first run of 50 copies to see how this flies. If it goes over well, I’ll get more duplicated. For now, I’ll take it around with me to my juggling programs and offer them to people afterwards. It has a full-length stage presentation of my show, two of my promo videos, a picture slideshow, and three smaller (more goofy) videos. My friend Ben Keeling did a smackdown job on the artwork and my new friend Zack at Revolve-CD in Richmond, VA did the DVD duplication work for me. They are shrink-wrapped and ready to go. Let me know if you would like a copy – they’re going for $20 right now.
Hurricanes are typical for the coasts, but rare is the one that reaches far inland with strength to really damage much. I was traveling from Sweetser, Indiana to Richmond, Virginia yesterday (about an 11-hour drive). Instead, the whole trip lasted about 15 hours due to Hurricane Ike’s trek through the upper midwest. I was low on gas around Dayton, Ohio, which is when I saw the strong winds begin. So I looked for a place to get gas – but all the power was out. My cell phone was almost dead on the battery – and there was nowhere to pull over and recharge it (I did not have a car charger). After trying unsuccessfully to navigate through some back roads near Dayton to get through the storm (many roads were blocked with downed tress and/or powerlines), I pulled over into a gas station (which was out of power) and waited. I had no cash (only my debit card, which requires electricity to run through a machine). I had not eaten lunch or dinner (it was about 4pm). I was out of water (I was thirsty). I called Sarah to tell her that I had no idea when I would make it home and that I might not be able to communicate with her due to the dead cell phone. So I just sat in the car and read a book while the storm passed over. It was interesting, because it showed me just how much we rely on power for EVERYTHING in this country/culture. All of a sudden, my life was diminished to a sort of primitive survival mode. I was concerned about where I was going to find water, food, and shelter for the evening. Thankfully, I took the risk of driving further to look for a gas station with power – and my tank’s last bit of gas got me to one. There was a long line, of course, and each filling took a long time because the whole gas station must have been running on a generator. I drove again to a restaurant for dinner and ate while I charged the phone. I hit the road again and finally got to sleep in the same bed as my wife by 4am. Now I’m running on under two hours of sleep – but with all the electricity I could ask for.
If we really read the stories of the New Testament and look around today…does anybody else see a completely different world, even a vastly different form of Christianity? Jesus and his followers administered physical healings, demon exorcisms, prophetic utterances, prayers in unknown languages, etc, etc. They lived communally – sharing their resources among themselves (at least the community described in Acts 2 did so). I wonder how much of the New Testament we should expect to live out as Christians today and how much of it is “cultural” and “only pertinent to that time.” This is a discussion that has already split churches into denominations, but it is still a relevant topic on which I wish to ponder (and seek the Lord’s guidance on). There’s gotta be more to Christianity than what appears to be “Christianity” today. On the journey, humbly…Jesse.
“If money is the motive, your joy comes not from the ministry but from the stuff you can buy with your salary.” – John Piper, Desiring God.
Last Saturday night, I had the pleasure of attending my 10-Year High School Reunion (Godwin High, Richmond, VA, Class of ’98). Not only did I attend, but I also got to be on the planning team for the event, which gave me a unique perspective on how High School Reunions are fabricated (or at least ours). The humor of a night like this one is the fact that everyone there is in such a great mood and you end up cheerfully talking to people that you never spoke to throughout all of high school. I remember talking to one guy and introducing my wife to him. After our 5-minute conversation, which was cordial, I looked at my wife and said, “That’s the longest I’ve ever talked to him in my life.” Now, there are those people that I really did know in high school and I got to reconnect with them and see how they’re doing after all these years. It’s seeing those people that made the reunion definitely worth going to. I’m glad I got to be a part of planning it, also. I was the treasurer – and though I thought we were going to fall under budget, we ended up being around three hundred dollars in the positive. We’re going to send any excess money to the people who run the location where we had the reunion since they did such a great job and even gave us a break on our bill with them. All in all, we had 136 people, one of which was a teacher. We had many spouses and guests – no kids, though a few pregnant ladies. Great 90’s music from the DJ, great food from the catering, lots of old faces (most of whom looked just the same), and the satisfaction that we successfully pulled off our 10-Year High School reunion.
You probably know someone who is going through orientation for their first year of college right now. These fresh 18 year-olds are in for quite a ride, including the pressures of parties involving alcohol. In an effort to curb college binge drinking, there is a movement of around 100 college presidents (from institutions such as Duke and Ohio State) called the Amethyst Initiative. This group has united in order to challenge current legislation over the legal drinking age. They claim that banning alcohol from 18 to 20 year-olds treats them like children when in every other sense these individuals are given adult privileges (such as voting, serving on juries, etc.). Technically, individual states have the freedom to lower the drinking age to 18, but any state that does so is slapped with a 10% penalty on highway money coming from the feds. You can read all about the Amethyst Initiative at www.amethystinitiative.org.
Now, I attended a college (and a seminary for that matter) where alcohol was completely banned. That means that I was under some sort of no-alcohol covenant for the better part of my years until I was 26 years-old. I did not live in an environment where the pressures to drink while underage were present. In all honesty, I moaned a little about having to abstain from alcohol all those years, but looking back on it, I’m glad there was such a standard in place. It was a small “price” to pay (abstaining from alcohol) for the better good of having a dry campus that rarely ran into the potentially devastating (or even fatal) consequences of alcohol. But I’m sure many of you went to state schools or some other institution where drinking was fine at age 21 (or even under that age, culturally speaking). Perhaps you have some insight on what the pressures and consequences are really like for 18 to 20 year-olds in regard to drinking alcohol.
Furthermore, I wonder what will happen at some of these schools where the presidents have signed the Amethyst Initiative? Imagine being an underage drinker at one of those schools. You get caught by the campus police. But then you contest that the president of your college supports lowering the drinking age to 18. I suppose the college presidents are willing to go through an awkward period of having that double-standard in order to seek out what they see as a better policy that may come in future years.
If you look at wine from a Biblical perspective, we know that Jesus partook of wine (John 2) and we know that drunkenness is prohibited (Ephesians 5:18; Romans 13:13). We know that Paul taught against consuming certain foods or wine if such activity causes another person to “stumble” or “fall” (Romans 14:21).
I’m curious to see what you all think about this issue. Let me know your thoughts.
DISCLAIMER: DO NOT ATTEMPT!
I juggled a live, running, sharp chainsaw for the very first time last week in North Carolina. I guess I was tired of being a juggler for 15 years and having people ask me, “Soooo, can you juggle a chainsaw?” I would always have to say, “No, but I’d like to try someday.” Now I can say, “Yeah” and then casually move on to some other subject in the conversation.
I was at the International Jugglers’ Festival in Lexington, KY chilling with my friend and mentor David Cain. Somehow chainsaws came up in our conversation (juggler’s talk about the weirdest things) and Dave told me that there was a new battery-powered chainsaw on the market. That caught my interest because that means no gas sloshing around while you juggle the beastly thing. When I got home, I looked up “battery powered chainsaw” on the internet and sure enough, Home Depot has a special right now at $59.
Then, while on a juggling trip in High Point, NC, I visited the local Home Depot. There it was – the 18-Volt Ryobi 10-inch Chainsaw – for $59. I scoped it out for weight, rotation, shape, ability to be fitted with a juggler’s handle, and so forth. I picked it up in the aisle at Home Depot and swung it back and forth in my hand a bit (not flipping it). I tried to lessen my swing when other people were in the aisle. How would you like to see a juggler testing a chainsaw for juggling in your Home Depot? I didn’t think so.
I went to Lowe’s to compare my options. Lowe’s had a similar chainsaw made by Black and Decker. It was $99. But it came with a battery and charger. The Ryobi did not. When you price up the Ryobi with the charger and battery, it came out to $130. The Black and Decker was a shorter blade (8 inches) and it had a better shape for flipping. So I went with the B & D. Then I bought some accessories to fix it up for juggling – mainly the oak dowel.
I told my host pastor what I was up to and he got really excited. “Will you practice it and be able to perform it this week at our church?” he asked. I said, “Sure, I could.” He then offered to raise the money to pay for the cost of the chainsaw – so that his church could participate in this ministry I do. I said he didn’t have to but he insisted. I had already bought the chainsaw. So that night, he showed the congregation the chainsaw and told them that he wanted to raise money to cover the cost of it. They all pitched in and within a short while, all the money for the chainsaw came in. Thank you Community Bible Church of High Point, North Carolina!
I spent an entire work day fixing up the chainsaw for juggling. That means I attached the oak dowel to the chainsaw without drilling anything into the chainsaw. Without boring you with the details, I finished the day with a solid handle on the chainsaw and then I started to practice.
Practicing juggling a chainsaw for the first time is not for the faint of heart. I gathered some staff at the church and had them watch. I stood in the grass out back and (with the chainsaw off) tried my first flip. It worked. I did not kill myself. I flipped it again, and again. No drops.
So I then figured I would try with the chain running. I might be a good juggler, but I hate running chainsaws. Maybe the chainsaw and I have a love-hate relationship. It’s the audience that loves the chainsaw – not the juggler. I zip-tied the trigger so it was always on. Then I popped in the battery to start it up. With blade running, I flipped it – and caught it. I tried again and again. Then, I dropped it.
Not on myself, but on the grass. I stepped out of the way, knowing to respect the chainsaw. I picked it up and tried again. I dropped a few more times, once or twice watching as the saw blade chopped it’s way through the dirt and grass. It is a somber feeling to imagine my hand being the recipient of such a chopping. On that note, don’t go shopping for chainsaws to juggle while wearing sandals. It makes your feet feel very naked and vulnerable.
I practiced enough to get a good clean run of a juggle (with one chainsaw and two juggling clubs – nine total catches). That was it for the day. I went to the hotel, showered up, and came back for the evening program.
I was a little nervous throughout the evening before my chainsaw bit. I had families tell me they were praying for my safety ever since they heard I was going to juggle a chainsaw for the first time. Then, a little 3-year old looked at me before my program and said, “Yu gonna juggle chinsaw, and yu gonna die.” And he said it with a large grin on his face.
I finally got to the end of my 45-minute program and it was time for the chainsaw. We all went outside on the grass (in case I, you know…) After a few attempts at chainsaw jokes, I went ahead and did the real thing – juggling a live, running, sharp chainsaw. I did my nine catches and stopped. Everybody cheered. I became a chainsaw juggler. What a life.
I surprised Sarah in two ways this past week. First of all, I won 2 golds and two silvers in the world joggling championships in Lexington, KY (I got in the local paper too). Joggling is the sport of running and juggling at the same time. I won a silver in the 5k (overall), a gold in my age group for the 5-ball 100 meters and two more medals in some relays. My wife is a great runner and I usually give her excuses why I don’t want to run in the mornings. So news of me actually winning something came as a surprise to her. You don’t have to be fast to win at joggling, just consistent (including being somewhat proficient at juggling). To read about the guy that beat me in the 5k (and has joggled 24 marathons), go to www.justyouraveragejoggler.com).
The other way in which I surprised Sarah this past week was by driving 8 hours from Lexington, KY to Richmond, VA just to see her for 36 hours before heading out to my next juggling ministry location. I was going to spend the weekend in Lexington at the International Juggler’s Festival. But I had already been there all week. I did not want to miss out on spending time with my lovely wife for just a few more days of juggling. In fact, half the fun is being with her and the other half is knowing the joy it brings her to surprise her in such a fashion. Call that egotistic, but I think its a mix of egoism and altruism. When my wife is happy, I am happy. So when I see her full of joy, it brings me joy. It’s amazing how God made us that way.
I got home late Friday night, so most of our time was spent together on Saturday. She made a huge green-leafy salad with angel hair pasta and sauce for lunch. Then she took a nap in the afternoon while I caught up on e-mails. In the evening, we made a picnic dinner and went to an outdoor jazz concert at the Wilton House, an historic home overlooking the James River in Richmond. We sat on the lawn, ate kale with olives (with dates and almonds for dessert) and listened to the wonderful jazz by the river. I even indulged myself with a cold Coke (Sarah, jazz, and Coke – ahh). We loved watching the family in front of us. The newly walking child kept running from Dad while he chased her around the lawn. She was hard to keep up with!
My summer tour comes to an end in a few weeks. I’ll see Sarah on the weekends until then. After that, I’ll have a long stay at home with my wife. I’m looking forward to that.