Monthly Archives: January 2011

Legendary customer service

Not all businesses practice customer service. Some have it in their DNA while others merely have it on their website. I discovered both within a span of three hours.

I took my car to Car Toys to get a problem fixed. Fourteen months ago, I had the folks at the Bellevue Car Toys install an adaptor so I could plug my iPod into the car stereo. It was designed to charge the iPod while it was playing. It worked fine until recently when the charging portion became intermittent. Some days it worked and other days not. After explaining my problem, the service tech explained a module on the adaptor failed and needed to be replaced. He did it free of charge. He said it was a new part and he should charge me, but he told me to save my money for a new stereo.

Thanks, Car Toys! That’s what I call legendary customer service!

In contrast, my wife and I are traveling next month to the Black Sea in Russia. The final leg of the journey from Moscow to Anapa is on S7 Airlines. I received word from a friend that they tried to book tickets for April on S7 leaving from Anapa and found out there were no seats available. As they continued to check, they learned the Anapa airport is closed until June for remodeling. When they inquired what S7 was going to do for passengers like ourselves, they replied they were contacting people about changing their destination to Krasnodar, three hours away. We would have to exchange the ticket and pay any additional fee. When our friends inquired whether S7 would provide a bus from Krasnodar to Anapa, they received a clear reply, “No, that is not our problem.”

Wow, S7, That’s what I call legendary(?) customer service(?)!

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Posted by on January 19, 2011 in Customer Service, Russia


Do I look that old?

I received my first “senior discount” yesterday. Do I look that old, or is it the company I keep?

I took my car in to get a part replaced. While I was waiting, I went across the street to McDonald’s to get a cup of coffee. The person at the counter (a manager, I think, by his attire) asked, “Senior discount?” I replied, “No.” He came back, “Do you want one?” I responded, “Ok, I’ll take one.”

After sitting down and starting to drink the coffee, I thought to myself, “Do I look that old? Or is the fact that the only people in McDonald’s at 9:00am on a Monday are senior citizens?”

Granted, I have been on AARP’s invitation list for five years, and I do qualify to order off the senior’s menu at Denny’s. But still, me, a senior?

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Posted by on January 18, 2011 in Fun


Worshipping God through service

In his book, Desiring God, author John Piper makes the case for changing one word in the old tradition. Instead of saying, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever,” Piper states, “The chief end of man is to glorify God BY enjoying Him forever.” Piper believes that “God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him.”


In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), the faithful servant is invited to share his master’s joy (25:21, 23). Thus, one of the ways we can worship God and share in his joy is to serve him faithfully. That is the point I tried to make in a sermon on Matthew 25:14-30 entitled, “Worship God with your talents.”

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Posted by on January 17, 2011 in Preaching, Scripture, Worship


Having eyes that see

I am intrigued by Sherlock Holmes. Watching the 2009 movie twice in the past month probably did it. Listening to the audio version of The Complete Stories of Sherlock Holmes certainly contributed to my interest. What strikes me as the secret to his success is not his intellect or his ability to tie loose ends together. What stands out is his ability to observe and see things that others miss.

In the opening scene of the 2009 movie, Holmes prevents Dr. Watson from charging Lord Blackwood and impaling himself on a glass blade. Watson asks, “How did you see that?” To which Sherlock Holmes replies matter-of-factly, “Because I was looking for it.”

When Holmes meets Mary Morstan for the first time, she comments that seeing little details are not that important. Holmes replies that the little details make all the difference in the world.

What is true for crime fighters is also true for Bible study. During Dr. Howard Hendricks’ course on Bible Study Methods and his book, Living by the Book: The art and science of reading the Bible, Prof Hendricks emphasized the importance of observing the Bible passage to see what it says. “The more time you spend in observation, the less you will need in interpretation, and the more accurate your interpretation will be,” he said over and over again.

Instead of merely reading a chapter a day to keep the devil away, spending seven minutes with God, or rushing through our devotions to check it off our list, we need to slow down, open our eyes, and really read the Scriptures. It takes time, effort, and diligent study to really learn. We need to ask questions–Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How? in order to discover the meaning of the text.

The same thing is true for getting to know God better. In his book and study, Experiencing God, author Henry Blackaby makes the point that we need to look for where God is already at work. His point is that God is active in our world. If we want to know him better, then we only need to open our eyes and look for him.

Like Sherlock Holmes, the only way we will see the meaning of the Scriptures, the only way we will see where God is at work, is if we are looking for it.

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Posted by on January 16, 2011 in Bible Study, Books, Movies, Theology



“If we have not what we desire, we have more than we deserve.” Thomas Watson in The Art of Divine Contentment

In one brief sentence, this Puritan writer sketches the kind of perspective I desperately need as I live in a materialistic, consumer oriented culture where your value is measured by your “stuff.” Convicting, thought-provoking sentiment, indeed. May this perspective be true in my life!

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Posted by on January 15, 2011 in Books, Character, Quotes


30 Days to Russia

Carol and I leave for Russia in less than one month. Here is a copy of our most recent letter to our supporters. Please join us in prayer for this ministry.


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Posted by on January 14, 2011 in House of Grace, Ministry, Russia


Redefining success

I used to play trumpet in our high school marching band. Half-time shows were fun. Parades were good, too. But the least favorite part of both was marking time. You expend a great deal of energy and go nowhere.

That same attitude creeps into my philosophy of life. I want to go somewhere and accomplish something. I don’t want to settle for mediocrity. I don’t want to be content with “good enough.” I don’t want to mark time.

Perhaps that is why God gives me periodic timeouts in his waiting room. According to author Dave Harvey, God uses waiting to help redefine our definition of productivity.

We live in a world where time is money, so speed is essential. We define our success by how “productive” we are, and productivity is wrapped up in activity. We develop daily lists that would take months to accomplish and strive to achieve what no man or woman ever could. We lay our heads on our pillows at night, discouraged about our failure and driven to try harder tomorrow.

God defines productivity differently. For God, productivity is wrapped up in transformation, in who we’re becoming, not in what we’re accomplishing.

Waiting is often God’s reorientation program aimed at our definition of success. He lovingly empties our misguided preoccupation with accomplishment and fills it with ambitions to know him and be like him. God isn’t beyond slowing our walk to remind us that only he is omnipotent, and we’re not; only he is omnicompetent, and we’re not; only he exists without need for rest, and we don’t.

From Rescuing Ambition, by Dave Harvey.

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Posted by on January 12, 2011 in Books, Quotes