a window into my world.

Review: “Permission to Speak Freely” by Anne Jackson

by Benjamin Anderson 3. October 2010 10:08

Permission to Speak Freely is a very short and easy read, but this does not mean that it is any less impacting.  The production quality is some of the best printing you’ll ever see in a paperback. The book is not a standard Christian self-help book, but a collection of stories and art.

I enjoyed reading this book, but the book intends to be one of art without a conclusion.  The result is a stirring of emotion without direction.  Very similar to the results of a teenager after a week at youth camp.  While some will be able find direction and an outlet.  I love the message and intent, but I feel that for the purpose of art the book is missing out on an opportunity to open up real discussion.  Without direction many of the hurt can easily misdirect their release.

I highly recommend leaders read the book, and use the book to open up discussion with groups, disciples and people within their care for counseling.  But I wouldn’t recommend the book for someone that is suffering as an alternative to meeting.  Since it has no conclusion or direction, it should only be used as a conversation starter, which is it’s intent.


Categories: review

Review: “Plan B” by Pete Wilson

by Benjamin Anderson 27. September 2010 20:21

Everyone has experienced hard changes, plans not going as expected, and dreams falling apart.  But not everyone knows how to deal with those disappointments, and some of them are just too big for us to pickup from on our own if we haven’t been there before.

“Plan B” provides some stepping stones for dealing with the baggage and issues that come with missing our Plan A.  Pastors around the world know how complicated it can be for someone to move on, to move along and get along after tragedy or failure, but they can’t be there all the time to hold the hand of those in need.  This book is an awesome resource for both the helper and the helped.  I don’t believe that this book is any kind of replacement or a one solution stop-gap for the wounds caused by life, but it can be the hand railing that provides some support and direction while climbing through the emotional and physical turmoil.

More than once I’ve caught myself tearing up while reading and re-evaluating the circumstances the individuals discussed in the book have experienced, and the situations I’ve been through myself.  This book can be the little something, that makes things click when we’re alone.



Review: The Vertical Self by Mark Sayers

by Benjamin Anderson 27. September 2010 20:09

Reading this book can be compared to walking into the presence of Christ.  The purpose of the book is to get the reader to evaluate our time and energy spent trying to evolve ourselves into what we believe the world wants and needs while we search in the wrong places to discover ourselves.  If we focused more on our vertical and eternal self image, we’d both feel better about who we really are and accomplish our purpose and roles God has intended for us.  The book allows the reader to consider their walk’s consistency in terms of who God made us to be.  Many subtle sections of the book will hit the reader as they progress through the chapters.  Don’t be surprised when a part catches you, and your left considering your new found conviction.  This should discourage anyone, because the book won’t discourage or condemn.

I recommend this book for anyone, regardless of where they are in their walk with God.  Newly saved may not have an “experience” with this book, but it might prevent them from having to deal with the baggage of our post-salvation worldliness.  I can easily see myself reviewing the material in the book yearly.



Spiritual Prostitution: When We Whore Out Our Relationship with God

by Benjamin Anderson 21. May 2010 18:51

This evening I was catching up on some reading for books that I’ve been working on for review.  I am way behind on them…  But I came across an illustration about how some people tend to view and wish our relationship with God were little more than a vending machine.  We’d put our coin in, press the buttons to communicate our desires and start the transaction, and then expect what we want to be delivered.  All of this in a matter of seconds.  Well, being the visual person I am, I began thinking about illustrating this illustration.  That in turn got me actually thinking about our relationships with God, and I realized that the vending machine metaphor isn’t too far off from reality, but it isn’t as dirty as reality actually is.

Our walk with God, in many people’s minds isn’t any different than any other consumer driven, commercial transaction.  It comes in many different forms, financial giving, volunteer work, spiritual guidance, and intercessor prayer, all in the hope than our spiritual currency can help sway the bargaining process with God to purchase what we want.  There are some people that seek out relationships with others based on what they can gain from the other person, but most of us don’t do this when it comes to our day-to-day relationships.  Many of us despise the opportunistic networking relationships.

So, why do we model our relationship with God like that?

I’m not friends with John because he gives me beer.  If that were the reason I have a relationship with John, then I’m effectively saying my time and energy is worth beer.  I’m whoring out my emotional energy and limited time to someone for nothing more than beer.  Outside of those times that he does have beer, which I’m hoping isn’t all of the time, my relationship with John would be very unstable.  Many of us treat our relationship with God along the same lines.  We’re best friends and talk on a daily basis while things are really spiritually energetic after God gave us a glimpse of what he has.  We talk for hours through dramatic prayers whenever we are in trouble, or we are having bad times and need help, expecting something from God.  But our everyday deal is void of God.

What God has to offer us is amazing, and we should desire what he has to offer us, but it isn’t always going to be what we expected, or even wanted.  Because of those moments that we didn’t get what we wanted, or thought we needed, when we asked for it, our relationship with God become a bartering based system.  When we do things for, and spend time with, God only while we need things, we’re no longer allowing God to work in our lives through our faith.  What we’re allowing ourselves to conclude is that God’s work in our lives is a result of our dedication and relationship with God.  The miracles in our lives at that point come as a result of our own work.  Because of that often times the solution and result of our outcry is nothing like what we expected, simply because God’s work in our lives isn’t the result of our own actions.

Our relationship is often too distant the majority of the time, and as a result it is difficult to come back into alignment with God during our desperate times.  Resulting is blind and selfish desires while bargaining with God.  I want to constantly strive to continue in my relationship with God on a daily basis, as I would with any other valuable personal relationship.  I want to know the ins and outs and the details of my life from the perspective of a close friend, God, so that when the hard times hit, I’m asking something I already know a friend is willing to provide.  God will provide, not as a result of anything I will do or have done, but as the result of my heart already know what He wants and wishes to do.

At no point should we whore our relationship with God away to cope with the hardships and stresses of this temporary life. That relationship should mean so much more to us. I don’t want to ever give myself the opportunity to believe that God’s work and miracles in my life are the result of anything I’ve done, but they are simply an expression of God’s love.



Book Review: “The Search for God and Guinness” by Stephen Mansfield

by Benjamin Anderson 7. February 2010 09:11

_240_360_Book.96.cover The Search for God and Guinness is a biography of the Guinness brewery and family, from the brewery management to the clerical side of the family, and even discusses the down fall of the individuals within the family.  To fully understand the struggle and importance of what the Guinness family and brewery did, the book first covers the history of brewing within European and American heritage, primarily the role and purpose of beer within the Catholic and Protestant churches for their own survival.  This history is a very enlightening one for anyone that has been sheltered in the prohibitionist American church.  With the understanding of the importance of beer within struggling societies before science understood illness and water purification, the importance and struggle of a brewmaster to deliver a healthy alternative to the toxic water source within a community without the damaging effects of hard liquor.

The Guinness family and the impact of the Brewery within Dublin and the rest of Irish culture is inspiring.  The Guinness, with it’s internal struggles and black sheep, is an example of a loving Christian family that can change the environment around them to the benefit of the community.  The results of the management decisions of the Guinness family and the good natured hearts of the leaders they attracted and employed turned Dublin and the Irish culture around when the struggle for life was a constant battle during the industrial revolution and the aftermath of the environment resulting from the press forward for a newly struggling industrial country.

The Guinness family history provided a great case study for business men and leaders, as well as the chance to look at the struggle of several good Christian men as they work to support and love their family while balancing they impact and contribution to society.



Review: Everyday Greatness

by Benjamin Anderson 24. September 2009 08:44

Everyday Greatness is a compilation of inspirational short stories, quotes and proverbs that will challenge and spur the reader on to achieving their potential, regardless of where they are in life.  The book is full of illustrations and short stories that any speaker, secular teacher or biblical preacher, will love to have at hand.  The book’s purpose is to help the reader realize that they have a chose to act in life to help others, regardless of what has happened to them and where life has placed them.  Everyone has a purpose and great potential to fill and succeed in that purpose, and as a result of doing so they will influence and inspire other’s throughout their life.

The book acts as a cheerleader for any one that picks it up, helping to kick into gear the desire and yearning to impact the world and people around them in a positive way.  The short stories will bring tears and joy to any living person, even if they only read one story from the entire book.

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Categories: book review

Little updates

by Benjamin Anderson 22. September 2009 19:22

I've blocked a few IP addresses that have been spamming the blog very heavily. The IPs came from China and co-location centers in the US, so it should impact any individuals. But, if you do find that you can't access the site from a system, please contact me. One IP address had spammed the site with 560 comment posts over a 2 month period. My filter caught the majority of them, but it's a pain to filter through them all just time make sure important ones aren't deleted.

From the beginning the site has had nofollow links for the comment section, because I don't want spammers to benefit from the spidering of this site. I may eventually turn off commenting all together since 90% of the comments are spammers, but I don't want to silent any potential dialog for the topics I do post on. If things continue to get worse, I'll just disable comments and ask for people to contact me directly for further discussion and questions


Categories: blogging

The Razor’s Edge

by Benjamin Anderson 25. August 2009 20:28

The last three weeks I’ve been thinking about what a godly man’s walk with God really looks like.  What characteristics does a Godly man have?  Is there a suitable illustration for such a walk, and how can we remember the keys to continuously growing in and through God?

While thinking all this through I realized that a man’s walk with God is hindered most often by pride.  Man’s pride has many different appearances and can many times hide behind other faults.  But when it comes down to it, men are far more susceptible to failing due to pride than women are.  We thrive on our accomplishments, our hunts, the chase and the race, our dreams and our offspring.  Man’s ability to continue on through life depends on our confidence and respect from others.  It’s too easy for us to slip over the edge of being confident and bold to being proud and individually too loud.  We’re expected to use our giftings and reach our God given goals in order to let his light shine, but our nature is to grasp on to that glory and being proud of our role.

The end result of pride is hurtful sin.  Pride causes collateral damage.  Because of our pride men are more susceptible to falling for sexually sin.  The pride makes us better than our convictions, our family’s reputation and our laws.  Why do so many influential men of God fall for money and sex?  It is because they grasp the glory too much and built up their pride to the point that they were too proud to face the consequences.

Man’s walk with God isn’t a razor edge because of the balance between successfully doing God’s works and fighting our pride.  Man’s walk with God is the razor.  The best illustration of a man’s walk with God is one of the “manliest" things, a straight razor.

Our walk with God has so many commonalities with a good straight razor. 

  • We have to be soft to reach our maximum effectiveness.
    A good straight razor is made of softer iron or steel rather than hard and unforgiving stainless steel.  While the stainless steel blades can become sharp enough to shave with, they are not soft enough to get and keep proper edges through stropping.  The metal is just too hard for the leather to help clean the edge to an ultra-fine point.  Stainless steel also eats though the finer honing stones and requires more work on the stone to get to the place that it is sharp enough to cut hair.  The stainless steel is just too stubborn.
    As men of God, we have to be soft enough to work with God’s changes in our lives.  Being honed to the point that God wants us isn’t easy, and we lose parts of who we were, but when we’re malleable enough to be honed quickly, then we aren’t up against the grinding stone as long or as often as we would need to be if we’re as stubborn as stainless steel.
  • Even a new and faultless blade isn’t ready to use right away.
    We all still depend on God from the beginning.  A Christian is never finished growing, learning or changing for God.  A brand new blade still requires stropping before use, otherwise the precise and clean honing done on a good blade will be lost against the stubborn grain of the beard.  Regardless of our past, or our anointing, we are still dependent on our relationship with God to continue to maintain and perfect the edge in our life.
  • A good edge requires a polished finish.
    A good, sharp razor edge isn’t just ground against any stone, they are honed against several increasingly fine grit flat stones.  The further along in the process the less metal is being removed from the edge and the more the blade is being polished.  In order to obtain that razor edge the blade has to be honed on polishing stones, otherwise the edge is to broad and coarse to shave.  Without the polishing of the ultra-fine grit stones the razor is as useful as a pair of scissors when shaving.
  • The blade is supposed to be straight.
    A properly honed and prepared straight razor is just that, straight.  The razor’s edge is formed to the flat stone used during honing.  Regardless of the curve or nicks in the blade, when it goes through the honing process the blade begins to lose the defects and faults in the edge.  The key to removing those nicks and chips is using a very coarse and strong stone on the blade until is wears the fault out of the blade.  This can result in significant changes to the blade and all of the old edge of the blade being lost.  Just as the blade is shaped to the stone, a Godly man is shaped to God during our honing process.
    The straight edge is important for a proper shaving since every step in the process requires an even pressure on a surface, even the shaving process.  Without the flat and straight edge it would be much easier to carve up the face while shaving instead of removing the hair.  The flat blade also increases the performance while stropping and reduces the wear on the leather strop.  A chipped blade will begin eating the leather strop during the stropping process.  Because of our defects we can hinder God’s work in our lives and the lives of others, which is way we have to be willing to allow God to work our defects out of us.
  • The edge is delicate.  The blade will rust.
    Since a good razor is made of softer steel or iron it is susceptible to rust.  The blade has to be cared for before and after the shave, including oiling the blade and proper storage when not in use.  The very environment the razor is made to be used it is harmful to the overall integrity of the blade.  Just like a good razor, the working environment we were created for will eat away at us without the proper maintenance and attitude. We depend on God’s constant work in us in order for us to properly allow His work through us.  Without it we begin to decay as a result of the environment we’re in.  The world will cause us to begin to rust and decay, and the more we attach ourselves to the world and its ways the faster and more severe the damage will be.  Just like the water left on the steel razor due to poor drying and maintenance, the world will eat away at us and rust the blade shut.  We become ineffective and even unusable when we separate ourselves from God’s cleaning and maintenance because we refuse to work on our relationship daily.
  • Our walk with God should allow us to cleanly cut through the crud of the world. 
    As anyone that has used a knife knows, a sharp edge is most effective for clean cutting.  There are many surfaces that can cut, for example, you can cut your finger tip open with a piece of paper or you can slice your knee open with a edged rock while hiking.  But unless the edge has been prepared and sharpened with the intention of cutting, the edge does more ripping than cutting.  That paper cut hurts so much because the serrated edge of the paper chewed through you skin instead of really slicing through your skin. A surgeon's scalpel is dependent on the sharpness of the blade just as much as it is dependent on the cleanliness to prevent infection and to allow for proper healing post-operation.  If the surgeon used a butter knife to saw open a patient the wound would take longer to heal after being closed back up because the knife would have torn up the flesh rather than slicing through the layers of flesh with little resistance.
    One of the biggest causes of defects in our edge is pride.  Men are in a constant battle between being bold and confident in Christ and falling to our pride.  Our pride warps and chips our edge, as a result our cuts to clean up the world and people around use have impression and defects in them due to our pride and defects in our edge.  An apple sliced with a serrated steak knife might have proper slices, but the flesh of the apple will show the serration of the blade along the cut.  In the same way we leave grooves, grids and marks in the surfaces after we’ve done God’s work, those defects interfere with the clean cut God had planned.
  • The chips and nicks need to be completely worked out.
    Chips and nicks result in problems during shaving and when the blade is used to for clean cuts.  When shaving those nicks will increase the chance of cuts, reduce the effectiveness of the blade and require more passes for a proper shave, and will leave marks in and irritate the skin.
    The nicks, chips and other defects have to be worked out of the blade.  The process for removing those defaults requires the blade to be honed with a very coarse stone and then worked back all the way through the honing process again.  Similarly, our pride results in us having to be broken down again and often times taken back to day one of our relationship with God.  The process isn’t fun or easy, just as the coarse stone isn’t soft on the blade.  The deeper and bigger the nick, the more of the blade that will need to be lost to properly edge the razor again.  The deeper and bigger the pride, the hard our process and the more of ourselves we have to lose to recover who we are in Christ.
  • The relationship has to be a constant and proactive preparation on a daily basis for us to be most effective.
    To properly maintain the razor edge the blade has to be stropped before and after shaving.  Without stropping the blade has to return to be honed more frequently and the less effective the edge is during the shave.  Stropping is the perfect metaphor for our on going, day-to-day relationship with God.  We have to constantly be praying and communicating with God in order to maintain our edge.  Without it God has to put us through harder times to break us down again and work us till our edge returns again.  Daily devotion, a constant prayer talk with God and frequent praise sessions are essential to being prepared and keeping your edge in life.


A sharp edge razor isn’t always used for shaving and here are some important points with that in mind:

  • The sharper the edge, the less the edge is misdirected and distracted by the ruts and grooves in the surface being cut.
  • Dull edges require speed and force to perform their cutting operations.  Speed and force reduce the precision and increase the damage caused by the cutting while increase the effort and energy required.
  • You don’t use force and speed to perform the slicing in a delicate surgery.  For that reason you don’t use an axe for open heart surgery.
  • Almost sharp enough blades get stuck half way through, over come by the force and friction around it.
  • Axes have their place is bringing down and tearing down things.  Sharp blades are used for creating, building up, and correcting things.
  • A good meat clever is still sharp enough to properly slice through a tomato and onion.  Even with huge gifts and weight behind us, to properly do the job we need God with us to keep the fine edge.

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Categories: ministry | mental dump | devotion

The Shift to Generalized Workers

by Benjamin Anderson 29. July 2009 21:16

Companies have begun a shift towards hiring and training more generalized workers instead of the more expensive specialized workers so highly sought after in the past.  This is especially true in the IT market.  Companies are hiring individuals with a breadth of knowledge instead of depth.  This means that the worker is capable of doing more and handling a wider range of tasks, but it also means that the individual might progress through a task slower than the specialist would.  But the advantage over the specialist is that the generalized knowledge makes them capable of doing the task in an area that the specialist for another area would no be able to find a starting ground.

The biggest tool in aiding this sift has been the vast knowledge base that is the Internet.  You don’t have to know all the answers, so long as you know where and how to find the answer.  Companies are increasingly using wikis, knowledge bases and document repositories to record the wealth of knowledge that they have access to through their employees.  The biggest drawback to this situation is that there isn’t an easy solution to the problem solving road blocks that are produces by having individuals with a shallow understanding on the issue at hand.

This was the entire reason I went with a general Computer Science degree instead of specializing in Software Engineering.  Small businesses can’t afford to have specialists in every area that they work in or deal in, and larger corporations are dealing with similar circumstances during hard economic times.

If you were having pains in your sides, but had not idea what the cause or alternate symptoms are then you wouldn’t know which specialist to go to for the answers.  The same situation applies to both large and small businesses now.  The more we depend on the Internet for knowledge and other resources, the more our knowledge has the be generalized.  The cultural interactions with other companies in other countries, the systematic interactions with a breadth of devices, and the legal and political issues related to doing business with other states and countries, make every business large and small require an almost infinitely broad knowledge of the world and everything in it.

The big problem isn’t the breadth of knowledge though, it’s being able to access and manage the depth of knowledge available at our fingertips.  We have unlimited amounts of information instantly available to us, but there isn’t a good way of find the information we’re looking for without already having the depth of knowledge of the situation at hand.

With generalization, we know where to take the first step, but the following steps are the journey and blind adventure.

That is the entire reason why I founded Simplified Solutions.  There are already tons of tools out there that are great at storing and securing your information and knowledge, but forgotten and inaccessible information is lost information.  How do you search for the answer you’re looking for when you don’t know exactly what the problem is or the terms used within the realm of your problem?  Right now you have to do a lot of research.  Right now you lose critical time and resources spinning your tires while you race around the world’s boundless information resources.

For many businesses their information resources and repositories have already reach the point that it is difficult to find the information that is already stored there.  The issue is made worse by the recursive destruction of the system’s on handicaps when managing and maintaining the information.

Current information stores are broken.  Search terms, tags and indexing will not help solve problems for a more generalized workforce.  It is time to start making the data and systems work for our workforce instead of increasing the work load as a result of these systems.  Because of this handicap Simplified Solutions is going to begin developing what I call Intelligent Knowledge Repositories (IKRs).  Simplified Solutions’ Assisted Knowledge and Troubleshooting Repository will be the first IKR developed for the IT market.  While the system will work for other markets and industries with little-to-no adapting, it fits best in the IT market where finding information and solutions in the fastest possible means available means saving thousands of dollars and hours of lost productivity.  The system could easily be adapted to the medical industry to help doctors find and research health conditions and ailments.

Simplified Solutions


Categories: software | startups | theory

Review: “Managing Humans” by Michael Lopp

by Benjamin Anderson 18. July 2009 20:08

“Managing Humans” is about Rand’s experience as a manager of developers.  It covers how to manage the different types of developers, interact with other managers from other departments, manage the hiring process and creating the proper environment for creative development and planning.

The book is meant for both the manager and the programmer and attempts to open the eyes of people in both positions.  I greatly recommend it for anyone that is managing development teams or for the programmers that have been forced into the management position.




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About the author

Benjamin is a software developer in the DFW area.  He spends his free time playing video games, programming, doing graphics design and photography, and reading.

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