Tomorrow

Our eyes open and the morning is colder than before.

The sun rises and sets as it did yesterday, but every today it comes a little later, and leaves a little sooner. And where once the sun rose with our breakfast it now hides until we’ve started work. And we work the jobs we always have and do the thing we did yesterday. And all day we wonder, where is the sun? For it leaves before we do.

Our eyes open and we’re the same as we were before. And the morning is the same as it always was. And nothing ever changes. And the sun rises and the sun sets and we read new books and watch new movies and expe­ri­ence new things. But every day we wake up and we’re the same.

Our eyes open and it’s tomorrow. And tomorrow. And tomorrow. And every tomorrow is just another today. And when the busy world we’ve created breaks like the clouds revealing our lost sun, for the briefest moments we remember the sweet promises of youth.

The promise of a first kiss that never came. A dream we held tightly until one day it had passed. We’d practice for days, planning out the perfect moments and then tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

The promise of the many books we said we’d write. The stories we always told our friends but never the written page. The Tolkeins and Rowlings were mere preludes to the epic tales we would tell. And then we opened our eyes to another blank page. The cursor forever blinking, blinking, blinking atop a vast sea of white.

The promise to explore a world before unseen. To cross the oceans by plane or boat. To land in a place where the language is new and the people are weird. We would try something new and it would be delicious. We would celebrate the world created by these strangers and drink deep the sweet culture. But tomorrow always comes.

Our eyes open and we’re silent before that person. Our pages are blank. And our feet remain planted firmly at home.

Our eyes open and it is today. And it always will be.

Topics of conversation

Hello loyal readers (are there any of you still out there?)

I want to start writing again. I’ve got the itch down in my soul and it’s time to start scratching.

I’m inter­ested in finding out what you want to know. I’d like to broaden my appeal away from personal finance.

Here are some of the topics I’m inter­ested in:

  • Personal Finance (duh)
  • Chris­tianity (specif­i­cally, the Gospel, apolo­getics, history, and the day-in-day-out Christian life)
  • Science (Astronomy is my favorite, but I’m fairly inter­ested in the current growth and under­standing of the scien­tific community)
  • Moves & Books (I love movies and I love books. I consume them both with furvor and would be inter­ested in discussing my likes, dislikes, and observations).
  • Politics/Government (I think it’s vitally important to be aware of what’s going on in the political world).

These are broad, but important, topics. I’m inter­ested in finding out what you want. I can’t promise I’ll actually write on the topics you suggest, but I’d like to see what the people who still follow this blog are inter­ested in. Not just reading about but discussing.

I’d like to learn from you, discuss the world with you, and expand our horizons together. I’d like to dive deep into otherwise taboo topics, but do so in a civil and honest manner.

So what are you inter­ested in? And knowing my writing style and knowing me, what do you want to read about?

With Gratitude,Alex Humphrey

Please pray for Matt

This is a picture of Matt Rawlings

Matt Rawlings, is a Christian brother who has asked us to pray. You can read about every­thing that is going on with him at the link but the short version is he’s stuck on bed rest and is looking to go through his 4th surgery in a year.

While I’ve never had the oppor­tu­nity to meet Matt, the inter­ac­tions I’ve had with him on his blog, through Facebook, and by listening to his sermons have greatly impacted me. I’m more-or-less a nobody who randomly started writing to him and he’s taken the time to encourage and promote me as I work through life and faith.

He is a man of God, an insightful movie/TV critic, and a biblio­phile who’s recom­mended more amazing books than I’ll ever read (though that hasn’t stopped me from adding them to my Amazon Wishlist).

He’s a pastor who loves the least of these and who responds to hardship with humility and grace. He chal­lenges everyone he meets to serve and honor God in hardship.

He’s fiercely dedicated to the Word of God, the Love of God, and true apologetics.

He loves politics and reminds me that Chris­tians are suppose to be in the world.

Ulti­mately, he’s a man I’d like to see well and contin­uing the good work.

Will you pray with me?

Pray that as he suffers through this hardship that he would trust in God and be grateful for the impact he is able to have from his bed rest. Pray for his wife, that she would know both the love her husband and the love of the Father and that she would never be forgotten by the body of Christ. Pray for his son, who is still fairly young and probably struggles to under­stand what’s going on with his dad. Pray that Matt’s suffering would be used by God to teach his son about humility, love, and total obedience to the Father. Pray for the lead­er­ship in his church who have stepped up to the plate and have not abandoned him (something I have seen at far too many churches).

But most of all, Pray that Matt’s wounds are healed and that the pain he suffers will go away. I believe that God answers prayers and does miracles.

With Gratitude,
–Alex

The Video Dating Tape of Desmondo Ray

I started to write a blog so that you would read it, feel an emotion, and comment.

Not the best reason to write, honestly. Pretty selfish and mostly foolish.

Instead, I’ll make you feel without writing a single word. I think I’ll turn comments off on this one too.

Enjoy:

Blogging…

Blogging is one of those things. You’re either doing it or you’re not.

This space has been far to sparse for far too long.

Why Oz The Great And Powerful Sucks

Oz the Great and Powerful

(Note: This review has spoilers near the end. I will announce spoilers are coming before I get to them)

On March 8th, Oz the Great and Powerful hit movie theaters. If you’re like me, you’ve been excited for this one since you first heard about it last year. After seeing it last night, I walked away disap­pointed. This morning, after thinking it over, I want to let you all know why I didn’t like it and see if anyone else agrees.

Oz The Great And Powerful

Oz The Great and Powerful follows Oscar Diggs, aka Oz, a clever but selfish circus magician who swindles his crowds with claims of true, powerful magic but when asked to actually help someone, he runs and hides. Oh, and he’s a womanizer who tricks pretty girls into being a part of his act (and falling hard for him) before he tosses them to the curb.

Oz has to run for his life in a hot air balloon after a girl’s husband finds out that Oz wooed her. Thank to the magic of tornadoes, he ends up in The Land of Oz where he’s quickly proclaimed to be the great wizard who will defeat the wicked witch and lead the people into a future of peace and joy.

The Review

I had 3 major issues with this movie. The first two aren’t spoilers, so keep reading if you’re curious. Continue Reading…

Why did my paycheck shrink in 2013?

Second Friday has passed us and it’s likely you’ve been paid. If you keep track of how much money you’re making, you may realize that it’s suddenly shrunk. My wife noticed almost $40 dollars missing from her paycheck (a small amount until you consider that’s over $1000 a year).

Why is my paycheck smaller?

Turns out, the middle and lower class took a good hit under the new tax deal. A fairly substan­tial tax increase occured when Congress decided to let the payroll tax-cuts end.

In 2010, payroll taxes dropped from 6.2% to 4.2%. This gave my wife (and many others) over $1000 dollars in kept income over the course of a year (think of the things that kind of money could do in an IRA or going towards a nice vacation). Now that money is going back to the US Government.

If my taxes increased, why does everyone say there are only tax increases on the rich?

Congress and the President can tell you tax hasn’t increased for the middle and lower class because no new tax occured. Instead, they just didn’t continue a 2-year-old tax break. Basically, they can lie if they word it right

Why should I worry about $100 or so a month tax increase?

Because over the course of a year, $100 dollars turns into $1200. And $1200 dollars buys a lot. Think of what would happen if you put that money into an IRA, towards the purchase of a home, or saved it up all year to spend at Christmas time (saving yourself from the dreaded Christmas debt).

I’m not bothered by a tax increase, but when Congress goes around saying it has only raised taxes on the super rich while allowing everyone’s taxes to increase 2%, they’re lying and that bothers me.

Review of Who Do You Think You Are by Mark Driscoll

Who Do You Think You Are?

This review is based on a free book I received as part of the Book­Sneeze review program. For info on how I do these reviews, check out my disclo­sure policy.

Who Do You Think You Are? Finding Your True Identity in Christ is the latest book by Mark Driscoll. In it, he works through the book of Ephesians using the letter to reveal the true Christian identity. The audience is anyone who struggles with their identity in Christ.

The Good

The infor­ma­tion in this book is solid. He deals with the test well and doesn’t take bible verses out of context. Driscoll’s heart is evident in the many stories he places throughout the book, stories of indi­vid­uals and families destroyed by sin, who have found their identity in Christ.

Also, he doesn’t make the “I follow Christ and every­thing is okay” fallacy. Many of his stories are filled with indi­vid­uals who are satisfied in Christ while still living in pain and misery. It’s a beautiful picture of the suffi­ciency of Christ and an encour­age­ment to all who are strug­gling with identity. Ulti­mately, Driscoll says, even if life sucks it doesn’t change who you are in Christ.

The Bad

There’s not a lot wrong with this book. If I had to find one critique, I’d say the writing style is sloppy. The sentences are written the same way Driscoll likes to talk (something he didn’t do in his other books). This means sometimes stories feel a bit confusing or the wording is jarring. It was sloppy enough for me to be bothered by it, but not bad enough for me to forgo reading it.

Final Thoughts

Who Do You Think You Are? is a great book written by a pastor to a hurting world. It isn’t the deepest theo­log­ical book to come from Driscoll, but where is it written that every­thing he writes has to be Vintage Jesus or Doctrine? I enjoyed this book and I will certainly give it to friends as they grow in the under­standing of their identity in Christ.

4 out of 5.

3 Thoughts on Gun Control

1. Most people with guns are good. Probably the most over­looked part of the debate. There is no evidence to suggest that gun ownership makes someone violent or more prone to using a gun. This is why gun advocates say things like, “guns don’t kill people”. They are afraid that the good people will lose their guns. But that still leaves us with the bad people, which leads into my next point.

2. Very few people need high powered rifles. A true ban of high-powered weapons would probably be a good thing. However, the logistics of a ban make it almost impos­sible. I’m not going to get into every detail, but this article explains why an assault weapons ban is almost impos­sible. The short version: either govern­ment has to ban almost every gun on the market (which no one but the extreme left would support) or they have to create mean­ing­less bans that gun makers can easily get around (which no one should support but many will).

3. A hard look at the data suggests gun laws don’t reduce crime, but gun ownership does. Guns were created so that the 6 and a half foot, 300 pound men can’t walk into the house of the 4 foot nothing, 100 pound woman, rape her and take her stuff. They are the great equal­izers. A knife can’t do that. Neither can words. Except for one, all mass shootings in recent history have happened in gun-free zones where the assailant knows he can make the biggest splash. In situ­a­tions where an average citizen breaks the law and has a gun, these shootings are quickly cut short. Criminals aren’t stupid; they attack children because kids can’t defend themselves.

Conclu­sion

While there is some good to the idea of gun control, it’s a logis­tical nightmare for politi­cians, it doesn’t ulti­mately protect anyone, and the true data suggests that when more average, good citizens are armed, these tragedies don’t last as long and don’t harm nearly as many innocent.

These are my thoughts after listening to the two sides over the past few weeks and consid­ering the realistic outcomes of either a gun ban or a return to the status quo. I do like the idea of having smaller clips, though I doubt that would make a signif­i­cant differ­ence in the tragedy in Connecticut where no one but the murderer was armed. I also like the idea of the average citizen being trained in the art of gun use, specif­i­cally cleaning, handling, and respecting guns. Could this help take off the stigma of guns or would it train up a gener­a­tion of murderers I’m not sure, but I would like to continue to talk about the idea.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

3 Thoughts on the Music Industry

1. Studios are the past. There was a time when a musician’s best hope was to be noticed by one of the mythical studio executive fairies. These fairies would come from the heavens, flip open their magical cell phones, and make all your dreams come true.

Not anymore.

The studios are crippled and their tried-and-true methods have fallen apart like the house of cards they were. If you plan to make it as a musician, you can forget about a studio.

2. Enter­tain­ment first, music second. In the past, minstrels would travel from town to town, playing in bars and local estab­lish­ments, singing songs their audience could sing along too. If they were any good, a Minstrel might find she has a fuller purse and a full belly as reward at the end of her night.

Times have changed, but the ideas are the same. A musician’s audience no longer wants to buy CDs or wait in long lines, they want enter­tain­ment. Adele has one of the best shows in the business because she has mini-stand up sets between songs. Lady Gaga puts on one of the most outra­geous (and enter­taining) shows you’ll ever see, even if you don’t care for her music.

Your audience doesn’t come for your music anymore, they come for you. Musicians who don’t connect with their audience through comedy, show­man­ship, and espe­cially YouTube will find them­selves penniless and aban­doning their dreams.

3. More work than ever. There is more work for musicians to do than ever before. Business part­ner­ships are a must. Cold calling and marketing are new and necessary phenom­enon for artists. So is devel­oping a person­ality and learning the ins-and-outs of inter­esting video editing. When music is about connecting with your audience, the true musician accepts that their job starts at 9am, not as the curtains go up. Practice no longer stops at an instrument.

While it takes more effort, the oppor­tu­nity is greater than ever. A musician willing to put in the work, learn their market, and focus their entire lives on their craft will learn that oppor­tu­nity, money, and an audience are waiting.

To say there is more work is not a barrier but an encouragement.

There is more to be said, but this is a good place to stop. Give up your dreams of a studio magically giving you every­thing you want, work on enter­tain­ment with music as a piece of a greater whole, and do the hard work of marketing and part­ner­ships, and you can make it in the music business.

Otherwise, get out of the way. The walls have fallen and many others are doing what you won’t.

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