34 Lessons I wish I’d learned earlier…

Someone asked, on Quora, “What are the most difficult things people have to learn in their twenties”? Normally, I wouldn’t answer a question like this: I’m not sure the lessons I learned in my twenties are of much use to anybody else, anywhere in the world. But I had spent time looking back, retracing my life’s steps and missteps, thinking about what I want my children to learn without doing the stupid things I’ve done. Maybe others could benefit, too? So In no particular order, here are some things I really, really wish I had known when I was twenty. Love hurts, but not as much as not loving. The friendships you nurture will have a greater effect on your life than where you work or what you earn. You are not your job. You are not your bankroll. You are not the sum of your possessions. The company does … Continue reading

Hello World? Well. Hello, again.

So, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here. I’m not dead, though you would be forgiven for believing that my blog is dead. It is, really, in a way. Or perhaps comatose. I had to upgrade WordPress to the latest version today and while doing so I realized, with great force, that it’s been two years since I’ve written here. Time, somehow, passed and when I “took a break” to focus on my new job, then my new kid, then my new (rented) home, each excuse just further cemented my inactivity from mere “time-out” into deadly inertia It’s not that I don’t still have things to say. I do — just ask my friends. I never shut up! And if you are interested a a return to writing here, please feel free to leave a shout-out in the comments. Though, I realize, I may be ruminating out loud … Continue reading

Traveling to Albuquerque to visit Mom

Wherein Facebook, family, friends, and providence pave the way… On October 2, 2010, after 87 years of a sometimes difficult and often blessed life my father passed away. During the months before his death, and after, I was in frequent contact with my mom and we were trying to figure out how I could raise the money to take a trip to New Mexico. Several times my mom encouraged me not to come yet (because I could only come once if I could raise the funds), and then my father passed. At the time of his passing, literally the weekend I learned about it, our minivan broke down on the highway. Back in 2007 and for part of both 2006 and 2008 I was unemployed and we had a zero-income family for a year and a half. It’s been two years now but our finances have been in significant deficit … Continue reading

BibleGateway.com and Gospel.com Acquired by Zondervan

Wherein I get to announce news that hasn’t officially been announced only because somebody else beat me to it and, well, it’s no longer news, now tell you what I’ve been itching to say for the past [undisclosed amount of time] because the news has been embargoed till now. Whew! Update 10/28/2008: This post has been updated with information from the October 28 Muskegon Chronicle news story. See below … Update 11/07/08: ChristianityToday.com interviewed Zondervan CEO, Moe Girkins, on the recent acquisition of the Bible Gateway and Gospel.com. See: “Why Zondervan Bought BibleGateway.com: CEO Moe Girkins wants to take the site beyond just verses. iTunes-style commentaries, anyone?” (Interview by Jeremy Weber) Ever since Gospel Communications announced the closure of their Internet division and Web-hosting ministry (as I noted here), there’s been a lot of speculation about the eventual fate of the Bible Gateway, one of the most highly-visited sites anywhere (Alexa.com … Continue reading

Tongues and Cartoons: Will they not say that you are out of your mind?

Wherein I lament the failure to practice what good theology and biblical interpretation ought to have taught us: tongues-for-show only shows one thing: lunacy. Surely, by now, everybody’s seen or at least heard of the WashingtonPost.com political cartoon by equal-opportunity skewer-artist Pat Oliphant that was automatically posted to the WP’s cartoon site on September 9 last. If you haven’t seen it, and if you are Pentecostal or charismatic, viewing it may make you angry. But if you feel so inclined, do check it out. (For coverage, check out the official A/G response, Christianity Today’s blog post, and the WorldNet Daily post quoting George O. Wood’s response.) In it, governor Sarah Palin is lampooned as a typical kooky Pentecostal, hot-line to God in hand, standing before an appreciative audience, gibbering: “Argle bargle glooka slobber blartogger gniff blerft gennikt klepwoop madurta wonka burble and like that …” The Washington Post has apologized, of … Continue reading

Bible Gateway up for grabs & GospelCom to close

Wherein I lament the passing of one of the Christian Web’s greatest and most popular Websites. One year ago I interviewed for a job at Gospel Communications. There was an opening for a training specialist and I happily made it through the various rounds of interviews and reference checks. In the end, I was invited to Muskegon to visit the offices of GospelCom in order to give a trial-run 15-minute presentation to Brian Atkinson and his team of intrepid Web wonks. There were two other applicants before me, also giving presentations, showing their mad training skills. I didn’t get the job. At first I was both disappointed and pleased. I did a fair enough job with my presentation that I was invited (and paid!) to give a followup, expanded presentation at last year’s Internet Ministry conference (“Relationship Blogging” and “Integrity on the Internet“). That was great fun. But, still, I … Continue reading

All You Need to Know About the Assemblies of God…

Wherein I break my silence to introduce my latest freelance writing project for ChristianityToday.com (a small article) and attempt to exlain in a thousand words or less what the entire media elite have yet to figure out despite the powers of Lexis-Nexis. So last monday Ted Olsen at Christianity Today invited me to respond to the latest inquiries into Palin’s faith with a sensible description of who the A/G are and how we fit into the rest of mainstream evangelicalism. This is my attempt. I’ll confess to being a little nervous when writing this. Not only would my denomination’s leadership see it, but probably a couple million people could find something to disagree over it. But, hey — have keyboard, will write. So, here it is, have fun with it, and feel free to comment. All You Need to Know About the Assemblies of God A primer for Palin watchers and … Continue reading

Gay marriage . . . and bubbly.

Wherein I reflect on gay marriage and just a wee little bit upon marriage itself. Please note, I really have no business writing this stuff. But I just don’t have the sense… Okay, so during my one-hour drive home from work a couple days ago, I was listening to public radio and heard a story about a woman who was undergoing a divorce from her spouse — another woman. (Turns out it’s as hard to get a legal gay divorce as it is to get a gay marriage in some states. That’s why the story…) Partway through her narrative, this lady described how, after the wedding, she and her lover stopped at a homey little restaurant for dinner, mentioning that they had just gotten married. A few minutes later the server delighted them when he arrived with compliments from the chef and owner, presenting them with flowers and champagne to celebrate … Continue reading

What Willow Creek’s ‘Reveal’ study really tells us…

Christianity Today released an article this month titled, Willow Creek’s ‘Huge Shift’. Since a friend asked what I thought about this, I thought I’d share it with you, my faithful readers and random visitors with hope that you will further sharpen my thinking. Or (gasp!) correct me. This is my big-picture view — and not necessarily the right one, at that — So, enjoy! (Then comment!) The study by Willow Creek was been years in the making but only splashed across the blogosphere with its sensational headlines late last year. (Read: “Mind-Blowing!” – “Painful!” – “Revolutionary!”) I’m not sure why CT is still doing stories on it at this late date except that their publishing schedule is generally 3-6 months out. (I first heard about the Reveal study in October.) [Update: I didn't read the intro to the article well enough! WC announced they are changing their Sunday service program. --R.] Whatever … Continue reading

The Happy Good Heathen

A few days ago, a friend from an Assemblies of God-oriented discussion group raised an interesting topic. Since I haven’t posted much here for a while, I thought I’d share my thoughts and joyfully invite your comments. The Good Pagan Carissa wrote: « I think, and this is a lay person’s humble opinion, that a person can live a good moral life without knowing Christ as Savior. » Amen, Carissa! It’s a sad myth among us Christians that people can only act “good” by knowing Jesus when, in fact, Christianity is proof of the fact that good behavior is possible while not helpful at gaining eternal salvation. When the rich young ruler came to Jesus, he was not condemned by Jesus for bad behavior. The young man, in fact, kept all the commands since childhood. He said as much and Jesus, knowing his heart, did not call him a liar. … Continue reading

Rich T at the Big Z!

Wherein I describe my first day on the job after a harrowing 14-month unemployment ordeal. So, there hasn’t been much news on this blog lately, mostly because I’ve been busy, I’ve been distracted, and I’ve been unemployed. Somehow, not having a job makes me less productive in my blogging alter-life. Go figure. Here’s the news: I’ve been hired! I didn’t want to spend a lot of time talking about interviews and possibilities and potentialities, getting hopes up, and boring you with my uneven work possibilities. But after leaving Tennessee just before Christmas, I contacted Zondervan for a new open position I’d found on their website: Senior Editorial Manager. I expressed my interest. Then I moved. Jennifer and the kids and I packed up and moved to Muskegon to live with my father-in-law while we sorted things out, worked on selling the house, and licked our wounds. By the end of … Continue reading

What is up … blogging brother?

So, it’s been a wee little while since I last posted. Some of you have contacted me via email to find out what’s happening and to be sure everything’s okay. I appreciate that — I really do. So I was sitting here tonight with pretty much nothing to do except wait for the Super Bowl to begin and I thought I’d take the time to post a brief update via my little four-year-old PDA. Here are the highlights: We are all nicely settled into my father-in-law’s home. I have a nice little private space in the basement where I can pay bills and work at a desk. (This is important because since I lost my job back in 2006 we’ve gotten behind in some bills. We haven’t totally caught up yet, but my recent two month’s of full-time employment really helped.) I’ve spent several thousand dollars in the past keeping … Continue reading

Happy New Year

I couldn’t let the day end without wishing all of you a happy new year! Welcome to 2008! I am safely tucked away in Michigan right now. My family secure and housing provided. Work has already begun to find work. It’s going to be a good year. I’ll keep you updated. [tags]2007, 2008, BlogRodent, happy-new-year, new-year, update, welcome[/tags]

Welcome to the new me… same as the old me.

Hi, all. First off, I apologize for not spending much time in this space over the past couple of months. If you’ve followed my blog activities (and inactivity!), you know that on October 22, I accepted a position as marketing and media director at one of the Assemblies of God’s 100 largest churches. I was thrilled not only to have a job but to be in a position that required top-notch creativity and performance from many areas of my skill site — and many areas I was eager to acquire new skills in. As marketing and media director I designed several promotional and in-house printed pieces, I wrote press releases, I worked with vendors, I approved and gave guidance for the video and broadcast editing (though not much of that because my staff was not only skilled but very professional and surpassed my knowledge in many ways). My team struggled with … Continue reading

AJ’s very wired and tired day

Wherein my wife and I describe a day without meds, without sleep, and concluding with a horse tranquilizer. For AJ, that is., Intro So my son has a pretty severe case of ADHD. And lest you nay-sayers pooh-pooh that notion, let me say that even when merely undermedicated both his pediatrician and psychiatrist remark that his is one of the more extreme cases of hyperactivity they’ve ever seen. Yet when properly medicated with methamphetamine salts he’s calm, collected, and controlled. (Mostly.) When completely off his meds? He’s a a wildcat on crank. But once in a while, even under meds, AJ will space out for a few seconds and lose time, lose his thread of thought, and just stare off into space. When he resumes he carries on with whatever catches his attention first. The docs thought, at first, that this would pass with time. But, really, it hasn’t. So … Continue reading

Church Rentals: Have Space Will Worship

This is my pre-published version of an article I wrote for Christianity Today International’s Resources department. It is part of a larger downloadable study exploring Church rental issues. Here, with the help of a few friends, I consider the advantages and disadvantages of renting worship space. The urban landscape is becoming increasingly crowded — and expensive. While churches have been moving out of the city to the suburbs, the cites have been growing. The North American Misssion Board reports that nearly 6 out of 10 Americans live in the 50 largest cities. And while establishing a new congregation in a populous city context poses many challenges, the lack of affordable space for church property is one of the most daunting. Purchasing facilities for worship in most large cities, especially for a church plant, is often impossible. Thus, renting space is often the only tenable option. But which option do you choose? … Continue reading

Moral Outrage: Folsom Street Sinnage … er … Signage

Wherein I opine on the culture war between Christianity and those of homosexual persuasion, and their supporters. So, breaking news, San Fransisco is a gay-friendly town. Oh, more breaking news: Chrisitanity is anathema to a sinful lifestyle. And it’s an easy target for sinners. So the 24th annual hedonistic fetish event, San Fransisco’s Folsom Street Fair (wiki definition), created a poster playing off da Vinci’s “Last Supper.” Instead of tableware, there are sex toys. Instead of Jesus and his disciples, there was “Sister Roma” and ” “half-naked homosexual sadomasochists” (WND). And, of course, there were sponsor logos. The fair is scheduled for September 30, three days from now. Predictably, the Christian community at-large has recoiled in disgust and lashed back with angry diatribes and calls for apologies. The poster, itself, has been labeled an “unprovoked attack against Christ and His followers” (WND, again). Ironically enough, the Miller Brewing Company has … Continue reading

Present, and half accounted for at TIMC…

As previously noted, this is my week for presenting at GospelCom’s meetup: “The Internet Ministry Conference.” I successfully captured audio for today’s presentation: “Relationship Blogging.” So as soon as I can get my audio editor software working, I’ll upload it as an mp3 file, and I will also upload a flash version of the powerpoint file for your enjoyment as well. I don’t think there was any video of this presentation, so I’ll spare you that! Stay tuned for details. Tomorrow I’ll be giving my “Integrity on the Internet” presentation. The presentation has been updated from my earlier 1998 version. Hopefully It’ll go well! More later. But, meanwhile, for all who were interested in the books I mentioned, see:

Cyber-Sexuality: Maintaining Real Purity in a Virtual World

The question … I recently received an email note from a friend. She wrote: "I am curious if anyone knows of some Christian articles dealing with internet flirting or cyber sex … I just can’t seem to find anything that I can relate to or identify with, and I know that there must be some other folks who have encountered the same thing." Not just a guy thing … Indeed, there are a number of articles online dealing with this issue. Reviewing them reveals something interesting, if not downright scary. Pornography usage and cybersex traditionally have been viewed as a "male problem," because men are thought to be more easily excited by what they see. But now women are at risk too.

George O. Wood: General Superintendent

George O. Wood has been elected to the office of the General Superintendent of the General Council of the Assemblies of God George Wood is a prince of a man who is not only well-educated, but sensible. In my experience in interacting with him not only in meetings but when I provided support on his computer (for some time he was the only executive to use one), he is considerate, a gentleman, and actually listens to the people around him, regardless of their status or stature. He understands missions, being the son of missionaries. He understands contemporary culture, and he is one of the smartest men I’ve ever met — next to Rich Hammar.

Pastoral Politics at General Council

Sometimes business meetings can be funny in their own little way. Especially when politicking gets heated. Oh, the hi-jinx of business meetings. I actually laughed out loud at one minor General Council tempest that could have had massive implications for the vote for the general superintendent on Thursday. During the nomination process, pastor Tommy Barnett from Phoenix, Arizona (pastor of one of our fellowship’s largest churches) announced he wasn’t interested in being nominated as he didn’t want to surrender his pastorate, there came a resolution to clarify language regarding the role of the General Superintendent. (The resolution stated that the GS would be responsible to “cast the primary vision” for the fellowship along with other executive officers, to “provide spiritual oversight and leadership” to headquarters personnel, to “strategically network with other fellowships”, to be consulted when hiring staff at departmental leadership or above at headquarters, and to provide leadership to … Continue reading

The General Council vote: issues and predictions

Tomorrow, the 52nd biennial business-meeting for the General Council of the Assemblies of God begins. On Thursday, our next General Superintendent will be selected. Here are my thoughts on matters over which I have no input or influence, and which are probably inappropriate for me to publicly opine over. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop me from writing! If you read this and think I’m an idiot for writing it, just remember: you read it! [Skip all the blather and just see my pick for the vote, if that's what you're after!] The Generational Exchange … Happens Now Stop now. Before you go any further, before you cast your nominating vote, before you accept your nomination (as if anybody reads this), go listen to (or read) this incredible sermon from the last General Council delivered by Bryan Jarrett. Resources: 52nd General Council News 2005/2007 Bienniel Reports Proposed Resolutions Live and Stored Broadcasts Future … Continue reading

Resignation Speculation and the Leadership Change

On the resignation of the Assemblies of God’s current superintendent, Rev. Thomas Trask, and the chaos that is in its wake. Wherein I opine on matters explicitly not my business. I’d like to make it perfectly clear at the outset: I am not a credentialed Assemblies of God minister. I’m not a credentialed anything really. I’m blogging on this matter because it’s of interest to me as an Assemblies of God churchgoing Pentecostal who loves his Fellowship and because it’s also of interest to you, my faithful readers. Oh, also because I tend blog on this sort of thing, and I promised you that I would. What you are about to read (if you read it) is opinion mixed with some facts. I will try to source the facts where appropriate, and they’re a matter of easily findable record via Google and such. My opinion and and layman’s speculation, however, … Continue reading

I want to hear from you. Call me!

photo: RichTatum Hey, I thought I’d give you, my faithful readers, a chance to let your voice be heard. Give me a call at my voicemail number: (630) 524-2255(You get three minutes, unless you call back for more.) Leave me a message on, say … anything! I’ll review the messages, delete any that are inappropriate, and the rest? Well, I’ll feature them right here on this blog. So, here are some suggested topics for you to opine on: What do you think about the recent resignation of Rev. Thomas Trask as the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God? This is the first time in our history a sitting Superintendent has resigned before his term was complete. What do you think? Who do you think would make a good candidate for the top slot? What do you think is the main cause for the Assemblies of God’s failure to properly … Continue reading

What’s Different? Church vs. Bar

photo: ukdenners Overheard recently: “I’m wondering what’s the difference between church and the bar?” In church you pray for the Spirit. In a bar you pay for the spirits? (Sorry, couldn’t resist!) Anyways… Everybody knows your name… When Jennifer and I lived in Springfield, MO, and worked at the Assemblies of God headquarters, our friendly pagan neighbors invited us to join them at a neighborhood bar for lunch. We were on our way back home from church where we had invited them, so we figured a little tit for tat was probably in order.