You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2012.

It’s business, right?  The pursuit of a profit, money, is the objective of business, correct?  So, is there any room for God in business?

Or do these principles miss the picture completely?  Those who use these sound bites to be dismissive of spiritual accountability, are trying to do just that.  They do not want to acknowledge that God is in everything.

We humans cannot be selective of where we want God to be present or absent in areas of our life.  Some say that they will talk about anything except politics or religion.  That is bogus.

Others say that religion is personal.  They will not divulge nor be inclusive about their spiritual pursuits.  That is a falsehood as well.

God is everywhere.  He is all-powerful.  Furthermore, He is all-knowing.

These are logical observations as well as Biblical ones.  If He is God then, He is all of these things.  How can a mere mortal set the limits on a limitless God?

That is fantasy at best.  At worst it is the height of arrogance.  Man cannot escape or limit God.

Wisely, those who make their living in business realize that God can and will bless their efforts to be successful in business.  When people who trust God in all that they do, they experience and realize the involvement of the Divine in all that they do.  They don’t test the waters but burn any bridge to self-dependence.

Then, there is the quiet method compared to the open style.  Some trust God for His blessings in business but keep it on the down low.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  God blesses both behind-the-scenes as well as openly spectacular.

God is sovereign and chooses His method of expression.  Rarely does He give out His blessings following the same demonstration of personal trust.  That prevents people from trusting a formula rather than a personal relationship with Him.

One company here in Texas makes it a statement of their massive retail presence.  It’s on the wall in big letters.  Once you exit their monstrous store, the large font displays their faith.

I had to pause and marvel.  That is not a common declaration.  There are no flashing lights.

If you walk with your head down you will miss it.  It’s high on the wall.  Faith does that.  It always makes you look up.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

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When we moved to Texas, we were concerned about very hot and very humid days.  The weather was the big story that everyone kept speaking about with such enthusiasm.  Mentally, we were preparing ourselves for blistering heat and sweaty days.

Since we have been here in the state of Black Gold, the temperatures have been up there.  The humidity made a shower a welcome experience several times during the day.  But, lately the weather has turned to a different kind of attention-gathering.

This unexpected weather is loud.  It is very loud.  You could say without exaggerating, it is so loud that it is explosive!

Massive claps of thunder announce the arrival of cloud bursts.  This is not a land where drizzle is the way of precipitation.  Nope, here in Texas where everything is BIG, the thunderstorms are enormous.

Off in the distance you get a visual warning.  The billowing clouds block out the sun, move across the sky like an amoeba.  Big clumps of water pepper your car like it’s a huge drum being played in a parade.

Lightening flashes and sizzles in the sky.  We run into our home and almost huddle as the windows shake under the rumbling in the sky.  Our backyard patio fills with water and the plants dance under the constant rat-a-tat-tat of the falling rain.

Capturing it in a picture is tough.  Everything seems so mild in a photo.  Yet, as I gazed out our back door the rains drenched the world and let every human know that there is a God far bigger than anything that man can do.

Knowing that our Almighty is a benevolent deity with grace and love in His heart for us is a boon.  That safety while sensing His awesome power is a keen balance to preserve.  Worship and adore Him but with reverence and respect.

Watching the rain pelt the puddles with violent attack reminds me of the Disney cartoons when music was set to the storms and antics of nature.  I can see the wizard’s apprentice in my memory’s eye.  There is the orchestra in the background rhythmically sounding out the symphony.

From movement to movement as the storm marches past and the earth absorbs the pounding, I gaze skyward and acknowledge that He is great and awesome.  Birds have disappeared from the skies.  Dragonflies have paused in their feast while gorging on mosquitos.  Rain in Texas is big and all creatures of the earth pause.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

Shopping for a house was a big deal.  We had a real estate team of three doing the advance search for us.  They were busy, highly productive, professional and produced swift results.

We didn’t need to shop for a bank.  Our California money-guys were big enough that it was well represented in branches throughout Houston and our new home town of Katy.  Once the tellers realized that we were new to town they were very welcoming and accommodating to our needs.

Nor did we have to shop for a new Pharmacy.  Again we have an account with a company large enough to be in many places around town.  The closest shop to our new home is even a 24 hour branch.  Now, that’s convenient.

But, the hardest necessity in life for us to decide upon is a new home church.  This has never been an easy choice.  It is already proving to be difficult for us.

Our “must haves” isn’t long.  It must uphold the Scriptures doctrinal soundness and expository preaching.  We love to have vibrant worship.  Finally, we want to find that the Spirit is actively present in the fellowship of diverse believers.

So far we have visited five churches.  It is amazing how much you can tell about a church when you visit just one time.  No, it’s much more than judging a book by its cover.

Churches are full of people.  After a time the people take on the ambiance of the church.  You can tell if the service is vibrant, if the people are friendly, whether or not a spirit of joy or negativity is prominent, shake the hand of the leaders will tell you a lot, watch if the leader is interested or just perfunctory, sometimes people are too aggressive, worship is a telling sign and of course so is the preaching.

We aren’t into anything too formal.  Relaxed makes sense to us.  Here it is hot in Houston, so expectations of dress are very noticeable to all guests.

Attitude is everything, isn’t it?  People who are warm and loving are wonderful.  Friendly people are a delight. 

So many churches have been wonderful.  We have enjoyed our search.  Almost every place we have thought that a return visit would be worth the effort.

God must be smiling down on the local gatherings of His people in this city.  They are doing a fabulous job of representing Him.  We haven’t found where He is leading us yet, but it will happen soon.

Houston is our new home.  But, how do you go about making some place “home”?  Everything is new not familiar.

Home is where comfort is huge.  There are places to go where welcome is all over the place.  Favorites occupy a list that is so long that you find yourself repeating yourself just so that a special place is not forgotten.

When I feel at home, there are always people who are a part of my routine.  My face reacts with a smile or laughter erupts when I see their name on my I-phone ID.  Teasing is the first thing we exchange.

Getting into my rig at home is unique.  I only think about what I am going to do when I get to where I am going.  Now, the first thing I do is plug-in my GPS and program my destination.

Before I enter my destination, I open up my I-phone and look up the address of where I am going.  In fact I have allowed my travel time to flex with missed turns, unexpected traffic and time to program the GPS.

Even before I climb into my rig I have booted up my computer in the hotel to check Google maps, plot the route and consider options along the way.  The people who I am meeting are strangers to me.  I have their names in my I-phone and rehearse them before I depart.

No, I’m still a guest here in Houston.  But, each day is slipping by and I am getting more and more familiar with my surroundings.  Acquaintances are becoming commonplace now.

There is as much laughter with new friends as there is business.  I like that.  Smiles replace curious stares.

Conversations are becoming as much about life and our faith adventures as they are introductions and pleasantries.  My GPS is sometimes left OFF as we negotiate our trips around town.  Names are becomes easier to recall without prompts from my techy hand-held units.

The compass in my head is starting to kick in much more quickly.  We have even taking alternative routes to avoid traffic patterns.  That’s a good “at home” feeling.

Time is passing.  People will be become friends, places will become familiar favorites and special stops for those individual moments will be a part of our lives.  He is our anchor and with Him we are always comfortable.  Where He has sent us will now become old familiar favorites. 

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

We now live in the South.  There is no changing that.  In this region of the country, the cuisine is very different from what we are used to eating.

That’s not bad, not in the least.  Make no mistake about it.  The adventure of life, faith and travel, I love the newness of anything. 

Once in a while, however, there is comfort in what is familiar.  While we are surrounded by BBQ, which I love, and the presence of Cajun, which I find spicy and sizzlin’, I get a hankerin’ for something that I can identify with my youth.  Growing up with a certain kind of food gives comfort for the soul and stimulates nostalgia of years gone by.

We of course headed for Chinese food.  But, even that is different.  The Chinese food here in Houston is heavily influenced by Taiwanese tastes.  My bride and I are used to Cantonese flavors, spices and nuances.

Dim Sum, for example was always a treat for us when we were growing up as children.  In San Francisco this unique dumpling fare is seemingly on every corner in the restaurant districts.  Choosing which one to patronize was the challenge not whether you could find that food choice.

Here in the Southwest, that option isn’t so common.  We scanned Yelp.com, listened to advice from others and did Google searches to remind us of good times with family and friends from long ago.  The options were not many.

Then, while exploring a grocery store that specialized in Chinese staples and produce, we saw a fast food eatery off to the side.  The telltale signs of steam bamboo round baskets stacked up with the matching aromas was easy to pull us away from our original task.  The words Dim Sum were emblazoned on the sign above the food market.

We found ourselves in a long line.  The labels were familiar to us: pork buns, shrimp sui mai, chicken feet, turnip cakes, chicken rolls and other delectable choices.  Our tray was filled with options to share and reminisce.

Our grace over the food was sincere.  To God we were very grateful for food that reminded us of our past.  Food that was very comforting to our soul as well as our tummy wooed us to taste and enjoy.

My “Amen” came quickly and we wasted little time putting the first bit-sized dumpling into our salivating mouths.  It was delectable.  Something so familiar was comforting.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

Family time is fun time.  Three of my kids and I got a chance to squeeze in a San Francisco adventure.  Treasured moments don’t have to elaborate or lengthy, just fun.

It’s not about what you do but with whom you share the moment.  Simplicity and spontaneity with those you love are all of the ingredients needed to make a memory.  Love, yup, that’s the ticket!

There was a shop that we visited, then we stumbled across this historic intersection in the streets on the East side of town.  It is a vague memory from my past.  I was too busy studying to figure out why so many were protesting this or that.

We laughed at the moment as a family.  None of us were tie-dye types.  Laws are part of what we do not what we seek to bend, break or bash.

The Fong’s are into diligence, joy and faith.  That sums us up nicely.  But, we can take in some history, marvel at the quaint shops and tease each other with the styles of the day and yesteryear.

A hat shop was our objective.  Can you imagine the four of us trying on the wildest lids ever created?  Once we got serious one of us even gave the business real business.

Next, we strolled down the Haight and did a lot of window shopping.  Early on we dodged pigeons looking for targets to bomb.  The hat salesman warned us that his best hat suffered a direct hit.

I took a picture of the actual intersection street sign of the famed Haight Ashbury.  But, the traffic didn’t give me a chance to get the right angle.  However, someone figured out that problem.

At a more reasonable height, just right for photo ops is a replica of the intersection street markers.  Don’t our kids to fabulous next to it?  The smiles are real, the fun we shared was memorable and even though this place is in our town it is the first time for me to visit the landmark.

The best excuses to explore our own village is when family comes to visit.  A simple stroll, lots of laughter, easy teasing and goofy behavior make for the spice in life that gives memories longevity in our souls.  Family is the soul of life.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

At first blush a simple task to buy a flower-pot doesn’t seem challenging.  If the emphasis is on “buy a flower-pot” then it is a piece of cake.  I can do that without any problem.

I am wired to hear a direction, understand it and make it so.  Simple.  My mind hears two important words: “buy” and “flower-pot”.

When I go to the local home improvement store, I check out the pots.  They are arranged from the simple to the sublime.  The simple are the clay pots that are reddish clay in color and have no shiny finish.

To be fair I do scan down the shelf and look at the increasing scale of decorated and glazed pots.  But, my eyes also scan the price tags below each display.  I can’t figure out why these pots with decorations cost two or three times more.

So, I buy a flower-pot as requested.  I am pleased that I stopped in this store for a mere 12.57 minutes to identify the target and take it to the check out counter.  With satisfaction I even pull out of the parking lot with plenty of change.

Yvonne was so kind when she saw my purchases.  I was very proud of fulfilling her request.  But, she looked at the pot, looked at me, looked at the pot and carefully chose her words, “Hmm, these kind of pots are better suited for outside use, Honey.  Didn’t they have anything with color or shape?”

Back at the store I stared at the selection of pots.  I picked each different style up and wondered, “How do I know which one works inside?”  Even though the selection of these size pots were limited I must have picked up each possibility a half of a dozen times. 

Yeah, I’m aesthetically challenged.  My usual reaction when people tell that one color or combination is better than another is, “Really?”  My wardrobe is predominantly black, my pickup truck is white, my motorcycle is black and my bicycle is black.  Hmm, there seems to be a pattern here, eh?

I wasn’t getting any where with reason.  So, I went with my immediate instinctive subjective wild guess.  Then, I held four different colors and also took a wild guess.

At home I waited with deep curiosity.  Yvonne arrived home from work.  She walked into the kitchen and I pointed nervously to my flower-pot choice that took me 37.84 minutes to make.  She loves it!

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

This was not an action movie. There were no explosions, mad chases or gunfire.  I knew that going into the theater. 

But, there is something that always catches our attention when looking for a movie to enjoy.  This movie like so many that we have enjoyed in the past was based on a true story.  Truth is amazing.

An estranged son is in the middle of a high stressed career.  He is juggling marginal ethics, an angry boss, narcissistic temptations and then earth shattering news slams into his delicate balance, toppling his slim hopes for life’s big score.

News that his father has died reaches him.

We viewers feel the sense of sorrow.  Silently, we urge him on as he makes apparent arrangements to fly to his father’s funeral service.  Our heads shake at the complications of making the journey.

Everyone seems to be helping speed him along but something odd is filtering its way into the schedule.  Then, it appears that he is trying to sabotage his own efforts.  That suspicion grows into shocking peculiarities.

Once he makes the trip but misses the funeral service the story becomes clearer.  His mother, amazing Michelle Pfeiffer, slaps her son hard across his face.  He does not protest.

The bitterness of a son against his distant father emerges.  There is hardness between the mom and son as well.  Efforts to revive something longed-for but frustrated misses connecting.

Nothing is going well for all those who are hurting. 

Then, there is the discovery that the late father had another child.  A family attorney passes on the father’s wishes that his son deliver a nice sum of money for the benefit of his grandson, his daughter’s only child.  The financial troubles of the son’s own life tempt him to keep the money for himself.

This tension of selfishness, shocking news of an unknown sibling by a different mother and a large amount of money take the movie to relational levels worth experiencing at the movies.  The mom finally confesses what she knows about a painful affair years ago.  Her hurt finally finds some solace.

The brother and sister struggle through the new discovery of family.  There is more pain, more hurt but eventual resolution.  How does one cope with such news? 

Can a tender side of the father who was so self-absorbed really bring something happy into this story after he is dead?  Watch the movie to see it happen.  Thoughtful end to such a sad beginning.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

Our friendship began years ago.  Over a decade has passed under the bridge of life for us, but time doesn’t mean much to us.  Friendship does.

We locked arms through ministry.  But, our lives clicked much deeper.  Friendships are like that; deeply connecting with camaraderie.

Over the years we shared many laughs.  We took in a movie and joked about it throughout the entire flick.  Meals were a big part of our adventures together.  Buddies eat and make it a manly experience.

Our adventures grew and became moments worth reliving over and over again.  His expertise became great lessons for me.  Over time, I don’t know when it occurred but it happened.

A bond formed between us.  Loyalty was born.  We have stood side by side through tough times. 

When life became more than what any one man could bear on his own, we were there for each other.  As David had Jonathan we added each other to our small collection of devoted comrades that would go through thick and thin, shoulder to shoulder.

Life has put miles between us.  Careers have taken us to different parts of the nation.  The test of the kind of friendship that we share is how distance and time make little impact on our devotion to each other.

We had some time to travel.  The bright idea and a plane flight was all that was needed to make a reunion of friendship a reality.  After hours on the plane we connected at a place with delicious BBQ.

The food was fabulous.  But, the friendship was even more amazing.  We picked up where we left off, as if we had never followed different roads that led to different states of the lower 48.

Almost every moment of our lives we laughed through them one more time.  Those who shared those events were part of our reminiscing.  It felt so good to hang out together again.

There were at least four but more likely five times when we tried to say good-bye but just kept on talking.  There were many more memories to relive again.  Each attempt at a farewell fell victim to memories relived.

The last conversation that gave us a reason to say a real “till we meet again” was our hopes to repeat what we enjoyed this vacation time.  Strong handshake and manly hug and one final laugh was all we needed to look forward to the next time around.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

My fellow flyers are busy trying to distract themselves from the onerous onslaught of travel hours.  Some are able to be very productive.  I admire them.

Those who are hyper-into-work are usually high-tech equipped.  Their laptops are ultra thin, never need to be plugged in and the speed on their processing is blinding.

There are just as many using tablets.  They whip those babies out and their fingers are sweeping across the screens like an Olympic figure skater on ice.  A young suit flips the cover back over the unit like those old WW2 executives snapping their satchels shut.

Parents who are great planners have their children entertained with electronics.  Their offspring are watching movies, cartoons and playing games way beyond what I can even imagine.    The airport has a kiosk for modern air travel electronic gizmos to support the vast majority of gadget-minded sojourners.

I’m in the mix.  When I can get online I’ll call up my blog and pound out a new reflection.  It’s a great way to keep connected with so many.

When my computer can’t connect like it is struggling in Charlotte, I pull out my smart phone and catch up on email, text messages and notifications.  Some people probably don’t even know that I’m on the other side of the country when our emails or texts exchange at the speed of light.

Angry birds have helped me while away a few dull moments.  Westerns have kept me entertained with cowboys racing across the Old West, rescuing the weak and pummeling the wicked.  Prayers have always been a part of long travels; there’s a lot of need for praying!

My i-pod is a great companion.  Loaded on to this gem of a device are my favorite tunes.  My ear buds are high quality and give me a rich sound.

Whether it is Country, Worship, Pop or classical, my music makes the hard hours of travels manageable.  There is a soulful rest that comes from the world of music.  Sometimes thoughtful, other times challenging, once in a while a whirlwind of life but always powerful enough to direct my attention away from the empty world of simply waiting.

A traveler’s routine is all about being productive with hours that will line up and tick away.  If we grasp the opportunity and turn it into something productive, then our journey is well spent.  It’s not hard just relentless.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

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