an economic perspective

The economy has been on everyone’s mind. Housing reports, taxes, jobs, unemployment, stocks, bonds, credit, and so on. Our state and city governments are running budget deficits and having to make cuts. On the personal level, many of us are tightening our belts and trying to make wise choices in difficult times.

I’m not going to profess to be an economist, though some of it is common sense: spend less than you make and avoid going into debt. Other than that, my next best tip would be to buy low and sell high.

No, I’m not an economist -- I am a pastor. As such, I’m intrigued by one of economic’s most basic principles: the law of supply and demand. Simply put, the law of supply and demand states that when demand exceeds supply, prices go up. When supply exceeds demand, prices go down.

In the Christian “economy”, the law of supply and demand takes on a different meaning. Jesus once said that the harvest was plentiful but the workers were few (Matthew 9:37). The harvest Jesus spoke of is not corn or even coffee beans. The harvest represents people -- brothers, sisters, neighbors, co-workers, fellow students -- who have yet to have a meaningful, life-changing encounter with Jesus.

The demand is great but often unrecognized. We see the people in our lives -- brothers, sisters, neighbors, co-workers, fellow students -- but fail to see the harvest. Perhaps this is why Jesus said to his earliest followers, “Open your eyes and look at the fields. They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:35). Even then, it was possible to be one of Jesus’ travelling companions and not see the same things he saw.

While demand is greater than ever (the “fields are ripe for harvest”), the supply of workers remains low. Yet I believe we may be entering a time when people will be searching for something more stable than an interest rate or savings account. Times of uncertainty have a way of encouraging people to look for certainties.

The demand for real hope, real assurance, and real stability will only increase. The question is: will Christ-followers step up to the plate and offer the One real answer and solution?

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:37-38).


justin's web address

It's always best when you actually tell people where the website is found!  Here it is: www.justingramm.com.

justin gramm dot com

I just finished building a new website for Justin Gramm, our worship leader at LifePoint.  He's recorded a new CD and the site is designed to promote it.


billy mays here ...

“Hi! I’m Billy Mays here for ...”

If you watch any television at all, you’ve surely seen an infomercial featuring Billy Mays, the dark-bearded, loud-talking pitchman for products like Orange Glo, OxiClean, Mighty Putty, Weed Auger, and now health insurance. Every commercial begins with Billy Mays bursting on the screen, introducing himself, and then delivering a high-octane pitch for the next 60 seconds or 60 minutes.

Billy Mays got his start selling the Washmatik on the Atlantic Boardwalk in New Jersey. He travelled the county and state fair circuits selling food choppers (maybe the Salsa Master!) and other items. His big break came when he met the founder of Orange Glo and became their principle sales man. From there the Billy Mays infomercial franchise was born.

I found it more than a bit ironic that an infomercial pitchman can become a household name. Maybe it’s a sign of the times. Maybe it’s a sign we watch way too much television.

What makes Billy Mays so effective is his approach: he appears genuinely enthusiastic about everything he is selling. Does he actually use Mighty Putty around his house? I doubt it (according to Wikipedia he lives in a million dollar house in Florida -- I wouldn’t put Mighty Putty on digs like that). But that doesn’t matter. For those 30 or 60 seconds he makes you feel like he’s discovered the most incredible, unbelievable product ever ... and he’ll double your order if you order RIGHT NOW!

When we talk to non-Christians about our faith and hope in Jesus, we obviously can’t offer to double their salvation if they respond right away. But do we speak with the same energy and enthusiasm of a person who has discovered the most incredible, unbelievable opportunity ever ... the opportunity to get right with God and tap into his unlimited power?

I’m not suggesting we shout at someone for 60 straight minutes the way Billy Mays does. And we can’t throw in a bonus offer.

What we can offer another person is a first-hand experience with the living God. Be enthusiastic about what God is doing in your life. Don’t be afraid to get excited. I’ll let you in on a secret: It’s OK.


downsizing, reorganizing

I’ve never been a big talk-on-the-phone kind of guy. But that is changing. As with many other companies, we have laid-off a number of people on the Internet side of Blue Haven Pools and Spas. This means that those who are left are wearing many hats, myself included. One of those hats includes answering the phones.

Just Friday I talked with a nice lady from Bronx, NY, who ordered a couple of our inflatable snow tubes. And I had to tell a customer she wouldn’t be getting the cover she ordered for her pool. You never know what you’re going to get when you pick up the phone.

In between phone calls, I try to write a little code, design a few pages, manage our pay-per-click campaigns, and listen to Marvin the homeless guy carry on a conversation three floors below on the side of 7th Avenue. One of the unfortunate perks of downsizing has been getting a new office with a real window, unlike the fake window in my last office. Marvin sits below my real window.

Downsizing is difficult because it’s people, not numbers, that get downsized. It’s one thing to let people go for incompetence. Incompetent people tend to fire themselves. But when a good person is let go for economic reasons, that’s a tough thing to do.

Many of you may find yourselve in similar situations. Economic news, housing trends, employment reports -- it seems like the bad news just keeps coming. Maybe you’ve delayed going on vacation or buying a house, or perhaps you’re just scaling back in general. You might even be a bit nervous about what the future holds.

I once heard (and probably said this myself) that character is formed during difficult times. Then I heard John Maxwell put a different spin on it. He said that character isn’t so much formed during difficult times as it is revealed during difficult times.

We certainly grow as a result of facing challenges. But our true character, the real you, is brought to the surface when the going gets rough. As Christ-followers, we can face difficult times with an assurance that God is bigger than our troubles. We can march into the headwind with the attitude of Paul: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

Rather than worry, try praying. And let God take care of the rest.


bobby shoots a video

My buddy Bob Brindley from Opportunity Camp has shot a video for the Doritos Super Bowl contest. It's pretty funny. Click here to watch it. He's the guy sitting at the table next the lady.


39 isn't much different than 38

A personal note for those of you keeping score: I turned 39 this past Thursday (November 6). Truth be told, it doesn't feel much different than 38.

three new christ-followers

At the close of last Sunday's message, three people made the personal decision to become followers of Jesus. That brings our year-to-date total at LifePoint to eleven people!

the point of life

I am starting a new teaching series at LifePoint Church entitled, "The Point of Life." Every life has meaning and purpose, including your life! This series will focus on how to discern God's purpose for your life ... and how to live it to the fullest. Every Sunday at 10:30 right here in San Diego!


pre-election musings

Nearly four out of every five messages on my voice mail at home have been political calls. The same percentage holds true for television commercials and postcards in the mail. During some commercial breaks, every commercial has been a political one. In case you weren’t paying attention, this is an election year.

Many people around the world live in countries where decisions are made for them and would love to have our freedoms. They do not have a say in the laws that are passed. Nor do they get a vote about who will lead them. Freedom is one of the greatest reasons why immigrants have risked their lives to come to this country since the very beginning.

Those who enjoy freedom must also accept the obligations that come with it. To remain free, people must keep themselves informed about the issues that affect not just themselves but all of us. This is a tough challenge when our list of propositions seem to multiply like rabbits each election cycle.

On this year’s ballot is a wide-range of issues, from who will be the next presiden to community college trustees, from bond issues to the definition of marriage. People ask me all the time, “How should I vote?” My response is simple: study up on the issues that matter (not just to you but to God as well) and cast an informed vote. If you don’t understand an issue, read up on it, ask friends, and if you still don’t understand it -- take a pass. There’s no requirement that you vote for everything that’s on the ballot.

On the other hand, don’t shy away from making a difficult choice because it may be unpopular. If you have certain convictions about an issue, vote in line with your conscience. Vote for what you believe in, not what you think is likely to pass.

The right to vote is what people in other countries have died to obtain. It’s what our own fathers and grandfathers died to preserve.

Honest people will come to different conclusions. You know what? That’s OK.

As God’s people, our first call is not to the ballot box but to the prayer closet. From my perspective, the best hope for bringing about lasting, redemptive change is not in the statehouse, courthouse, or even the White House. It’s what happens in your house.