Category Archives: Uncategorized

Seize the moment: In Dog Years, I’m Dead!

October 28 is my birthday!  Now, I’ve reached that point where that really doesn’t excite me anymore.  I guess the good thing is that I’m having another birthday.  If my years of life were expressed in dog years, I’d be dead!

In years past, a birthday meant cake and ice cream!  I absolutely love a birthday cake covered in that wonderful lard and sugar icing!  Now, just the thought of that drives my glucose level to dangerous levels and requires an extra dose of insulin!  My childhood birthday always meant blowing out the candles to start the celebration.  Today, the first row of candles has completely melted by the time the final row is lit.  Presents then were always exciting and fun to play with.  Presents today go right into the sock or underwear drawer. 

Like an old dog, I’m reaching that point where a nice meal, a full tummy and a warm place to nap really makes the day!  And, when my wife scratches my back its just that much better. Unlike my dog whose leg bounces as you scratch his back, I’ve not quite gotten to that stage.  Thats most likely coming in future years!

Birthdays for me have become more about insuring that the world is a better place when your life comes to an end some day.  To that point, I’ve taken on the CharityWater cause.  Several months ago when I learned that 4,500 kids die daily from water related illnesses, I decided to try and make a difference.  My family and I established a fund at www.mycharitywater.org/potterfamily.  Our hope is to raise funds to help this organization put freshwater drinking wells in Africa.  My birthday is not about me, it’s about helping people who do not have clean drinking water.  This is something I absolutely take for granted.  I’m asking you to consider making a contribution to this fund.  100% of all gifts go directly to projects in Africa providing for clean drinking water!

Thank you for reading my blog!

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Seize the moment: Social Media and the burning of Rome.

Did you know that the Romans of Nero’s time actually developed the concept of social media and the internet?

In 72 A.D. the Flavian Amphitheatre, most commonly known as the Roman Colosseum was built.  55,000 Romans would fill this magnificent facility to view and participate in grand dramatic plays and bloody examples of mankind’s desire to see others hurt.  Cheering as Gladiator slaves fought to the death and Christians were slaughtered in countless ways.  This was all great entertainment.  At the conclusion of many Gladiator fights, the Emperor would seek the approval of the crowds in showing either mercy or death to those on the stage.  Interactive entertainment where you can watch and participate.   I imagine that little mercy was ever shown.  Why?  Well, you take the wife and kids down to the Colosseum for a night of entertainment and its just not complete unless you can finish on a high note of watching and participating in the destruction of another person.

Run the clock forward to today.  The internet and social media sites have become the new Roman Colosseum and we are the Romans.  Rarely does a month pass that we don’t hear of and see examples of  the online destruction of someone’s character and even their lives.  We have a bloodlust desire to expose and destroy others for our entertainment.  It doesn’t matter whether they are famous, wealthy, poor, defenseless or just another person at work or school.  Its just in good fun! Right?  Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers student, was the last victim of this bloodlust.  This is not a story about Tyler’s lifestyle.  Its about taking anyone’s private life and exposing it to the world.  Unfortunately, the new colosseum holds many more than 55,000 viewers and participants who crave these opportunities.

Now, the Roman Colosseum and Social Media Sites did and do provide a great platform for education, enrichment and communication.  Roman culture thrived on the great re-enactments of historical battles, music, theatre and debate; all of which occurred in the great Colosseum.  The internet and its related social media sites provide even more of the same.  However, instruments of good have an equal, if not, greater capability of perpetuating the bloodlust desire which resides within mankind.

Is our culture today on the same decline as that of the great Roman empire?  Are we driven to an insatiable desire to see, experience and maybe even cause harm to someone else as viewers and participants on the internet?  Is it time for us to wake up as a culture and see where we are heading?  Oh, what is that?  Do I hear Nero on the steps of the Colosseum playing his harp as Rome burns around him?

Seize the moment: “Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future”

My teenage son and I love to listen to 70’s and 80’s rock as we drive to his school in the morning.  My greatest enjoyment is singing along while we drive.  Like many, the interior of my car is the stage and my captive passengers are the audience.  While I slaughter the lyrics and bob my head like any good rocker, the smiles, laughter and “stop you look crazy” comments are priceless.

Of recent, work demands have elevated to new highs with no end in sight.  Time away from family has increased.  As I performed with the Steve Miller Band this morning, the lyrics, “Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future” hit me pretty hard.  Music is like a time machine for me.   As this song played on XM Radio, I immediately remembered the first time I heard it while sitting in my North Halls dorm room at Penn State.  Waiting on friends to walk over to Beaver Stadium for a great day of football, the lyrics were permanently burned into my memory. There I was for a moment,  a 19 year-old loving life and college and, then that priceless smile on my 14 year-old son’s face as his 53 year-old father, who works too much,  butchered a song.  Yes, time does keep on slippin’ into the future.  Its slips into the future fast! 

Is it more important to squeeze every moment out of a day for another meeting or stand on your Chevy Malibu stage with the XM Radio Band butchering a song while bobbing your head like a fool to your captive audience?  The answer to that question is pretty obvious!  I hope when my son is 53 driving his son to school and the Steve Miller Band plays this song on the really old oldies channel, he will relive that day when he was 14 locked in a car with his rocker dad.  A moment captured because his dad opted out of work this morning and drove him to school.

Seize the moment: Do we really understand leadership?

Our forefathers accomplished incredible societal transformation against the real possibility of failure, with limited resources, a lack of  personal safety and rights, but protected by the sure belief and passion to stand for what is right.  Do we have the same passion and willingness to accept risk and desire to champion change without regard for our personal self-interest?  I think not!

Seize the moment: This Sucks!

While in Chicago today, I had time to enjoy the beautiful weather, Millenium Park and the overall flavor of this place.  Chicago is a glorious city with incredible history, sights, sounds, smells and great people!  I took the opportunity to walk down Michigan Avenue today washed in sun and cooled with a delightful breeze from the lake just two blocks east.   A caffeine supplement  was in order at the local Caribou Coffee.  Everyone inside exhibited that wonderful midwestern friendliness not found in many of the large cities around this country.  For a moment it felt like Winston-Salem.   As I started my leisurely walk down Michigan Avenue with that coffee, I noticed the sign.  It said, “This Sucks.”  The sign was held by a 18 or 19 year-old homeless kid sitting on the sidewalk at the corner of Michigan and Madison. 

 Across the street sits Millenium Park, a beautiful example of urban art and development promoting community and fellowship.  My moment of calm bliss was broken as I looked at this kid and his sign.  He was clearly no older than my eldest son James.  Something told me to stop, watch, evaluate and try to understand this kid. So, I perched myself on a tree planter bordering Michigan Avenue about 50 feet away and proceeded to watch him.  This act embarrassed me.  Was I enjoying the plight of this kid?  Why did I have the curosity to watch as he begged for money using a sign with the handwritten message, “This Sucks?”  It was clear to me that he was homeless.  His clothes were tattered.  A bath is something which he most likely had not seen of recent.  He had tattoos on both arms, piercings in his ears and unkempt hair which was in need of both a cut and shampoo.  He had a backpack next to him which contained whatever his worldly possessions might be and a hat flipped upside down on the sidewalk in front of him.  He appeared well fed, but who knows for sure.  I smiled a few times as his strategy of positioning the sign was more prominent for any female approaching.  When he saw women walking either north or south on Michigan Avenue, he would angle the sign so that it was directly visible to them.  He was less aggressive when men approached his position.  I was ashamed of my many thoughts about this kid.  Why are you begging when you could easily clean yourself up and get a job at McDonalds or any other place needing someone to do basic work?  Are you just trying to look pitiful and play on the emotions of those passing you?  He was quite successful in that area!  Then, it hit me.  If he had  parents or extended family, why would they not intervene in his life?  Maybe they cared, but he rejected their efforts or they might have rejected him for whatever reason.  At one point, an older man stopped and asked him where he lived.  His youthful smile as he responded reminded me of my son’s smile as he might respond to any casual or funny situation.  I overheard him say, “I sleep wherever I can find a place in Millenium Park.”  My son goes to bed every night in his own room, in his bed surrounded by a loving family.  This boy, for whatever reason, does not.  This just sucks! 

My curiosity consumed the next two hours.  I watched any number of people respond to his plight.  Two guys dressed in costumes advertising Hershey chocolates stopped and filled his hat with pieces of candy.  He quickly pocketed this and anything placed in it so that no one else might take what was given to him.  I watched as various people stopped and provided a few dollars. The disdaining stares of many bothered me.  But, a city the size of Chicago is full of those seeking help.  He just happened to be one of the youngest I have seen so far.  Some purposefully walked very close to this boy and gave him a hateful stare.  A few even taunted him and his situation.  He just smiled everytime.  I could see that he noticed me.  He occassionally looked my way with a question in his eye.  I could tell he wondered why I was sitting on that planter facing his direction.  I felt a great sense of not knowing what I could do to help him.  Should I hand him money, offer my hotel room for a shower and a hot meal?  These and many other thoughts went through my head.  As the afternoon progressed, the chill in the air increased.  He was getting cold and pulled on a hoody to shield himself from the breeze while continuing to hold his sign.  At one point, I looked away to watch a comotion in Millenium Park.  When I turned around, he was gone.  I had done nothing to help him. 

At this moment, I am writing this blog from the comfort of my 4 star hotel one block away from Millenium Park.  I’ve had a great meal and enjoying the comforts of the historic Palmer House Hotel.  I can only imagine this kid is trying to find a place in the park to sleep where he might not be bothered by police or other homeless people.  Somewhere away from the cool lake breeze.  Definitely not on one of the many park benches which have been fitted with petitions making them impossible to use as beds. 

Why am I writing about this?  Maybe its the guilt I feel for not taking more action to help those who cannot help themselves?  Maybe its a guilt of worrying more about what I have and how to keep it?  Maybe its the guilt, I have as a Christian,  for not understanding the meaning of sacrifice?  At dinner tonight I reflected on the concept of sacrifice.  What is real sacrifice as a Believer in Christ?  Is it fasting and giving up a few meals, is it a mediocre contribution to my church or is it taking one day out of the month to work on behalf of others?  Or is it, taking personal  risk to champion issues for those who cannot standup for themselves, giving my personal financial resources at a level which require me to lower my many “wants” to meet other’s needs or just sitting down next to this kid, praying for and with him, showing him the love of Christ.  At the very least, I should have done this and to heck with those walking by who would have thought I might be crazy. Many reading this might explain away the issue of homelessness.  Its there, its real and many issues contribute to the problem.  But, should Christians explain away the problem as one that those impacted should bear the burden?  I think not!

Not long ago, I was talking about health equity issues with a church friend.  He smiled at me and said, “you sound like one of those radicals.”  That comment shocked me since I have always been somewhat of a right winger politically.  But, when you think about Christ and His time on the earth confronting the issues of this world,  He most likely would be classified as a radical.  Maybe each one of us needs to think about how we can “radicalize” our faith to make a difference.  Our hope is not in this world today, but in the eternal life which Christ offers each of us.  Thanks for reading my ramblings!

Seize the moment…Does forgiveness mean to excuse?

Has our culture today blurred the distinction between the definitions of forgiveness and to excuse?   As a Christian, I worry that many within the church no longer understand the difference; perpetuating sin patterns within Believer’s lives.    I call this the “Tiger Woods Syndrome”.  In no way is my intention to make light of the horrific circumstances around Tiger’s life, but it is the most visible example within our media driven culture today.  A sin is committed and caught.  Public admission of the sin is made, forgiveness is requested and steps are taken to resolve the sin issues within one’s life.  And, then the media culture debates the issue.  In this case, the question was not on the impact to the lives closest to this situation, but on what it would take to restore the “Tiger Woods” brand.  I heard many talk about the fact that Tiger’s brand would rebound because of our culture’s habit of forgiving and forgetting. Within a reasonable time a  public relations campaign would restore and excuse a person for a grievous sin committed.  Sponsors and fans would return and everything would be forgotten.  One sports celebrity even made the comment that these things happen all of the time and the public would move beyond it.  I contend that our culture defines forgiveness in a way that not only is the sin forgiven, but the lifelong hurt to others is swept under the rug and excused.  I worry about this message and how our culture translates that into all situations big and small.    My greatest concern is the impact on Christian values.  Many within the church are defining these values within the context of a secular worldview.  For those within the church who challenge this modified view, the attack can be brutal. 

Case in point, Fox News commentator Brit Hume ran amuck of the secular worldview when he commented on the Tiger Woods situation. Hume encouraged Woods to turn to Christianity for the forgiveness he really needs citing that it is the only religion where redemption and forgiveness can be found.  “I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith,” Hume said. “So my message to Tiger would be, ‘Tiger turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.”

The secular world responded, Tom Shales of the Washington Post reacted and advanced one of the core principles of the secular worldview. “If Hume wants to do the satellite-age equivalent of going door-to-door and spreading what he considers the gospel, he should do it on his own time, not try to cross-pollinate religion and journalism and use Fox facilities to do it.”   (taken from Devotions.com..blog entry by Mike Ruffin)

The Bible defines forgiveness as only coming when you or I turn to Christ with a repentant heart and seek His forgiveness for what we have done.  Does that excuse us from the hurt we might have caused?  NO.  Can that be swept under the rug? NO.  We must own the outcomes of our sin and accept the repercussions it has caused.  Godly men and women seek forgiveness with a repentant heart, but they do not excuse themselves from the outcomes of their sin nor should they expect that to happen. I worry that we are becoming a culture where the word accountability has no meaning.  Are we living lives without the accountability our Christian faith requires?  Where there is no accountability, the meaning of Christian forgiveness has no value.  C. S. Lewis said, “forgiveness does not mean excusing.”

 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” (Ephesians 1:7)

Thank you for reading my blog.  I would love to hear your comments or thoughts on this issue!

Seizing the moment…..must they continue to die?

Mother Teresa once said, “It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.” 

 I hope we would never intentionally do something to cause the death of a child by the way we live our lives.  However, our inaction to understand the challenges children face globally leads to the poverty Mother Teresa speaks of.  Until recently, I did not fully comprehend the challenges children face globally because of the lack of clean drinking water.  According to CharityWater.org, 4,500 children die every day as a result of illnesses from poor drinking water.  This is a significant problem facing children throughout Africa.  As I read the statistics and saw the images of children drinking and playing in filthy water, I made the decision it was time to make a stand. 

Problems like this can seem overwhelming to us as individuals.  How can I possibly make a difference?  But, I found a solution where, with the help of others, a new well can be drilled in a village somewhere in Africa.  This well will provide safe, clean drinking water for 250 people.  And, the cost to do this is only $5,000!  CharityWater.org has made it possible for me to begin a campaign over the next 90 days to raise those funds.  I’ve made the first contribution which has been added to by several friends.  Please take a look at: www.mycharitywater.org/potterfamily

I hope by the end of October we will celebrate reaching this goal…seizing the moment and saving the lives of children!

Thanks for reading my blog!

How do “severe trial,” “overflowing joy,

How do “severe trial,” “overflowing joy,” “extreme poverty,” and “rich generosity’ all fit together in one verse? Giving isn’t a luxury of the rich. It’s a privilege of the poor. I’ve discovered that impoverished Christians find no greater joy than in giving. Randy Alcorn

How do “severe trial,” “overflowing joy,

How do “severe trial,” “overflowing joy,” “extreme poverty,” and “rich generosity’ all fit together in one verse? Giving isn’t a luxury of the rich. It’s a privilege of the poor. I’ve discovered that impoverished Christians find no greater joy than in giving. Randy Alcorn

Thanks for another donation to our campa

Thanks for another donation to our campaign to raise funds for a new fresh water well in Africa! http://www.mycharitywater.org/potterfamily