Sunday, October 31, 2004

Why Christians Should Vote Their Conscience

I'm impressed by the amount of rhetoric, good and bad, being posited in the blogosphere concerning tomorrow's USAmerica Elections (MeanDean @ b4G on "why all Christians should vote for Bush", among others). Since turning 18 in 1986, I've always voted - not alot of people can say that. I've tended to be conservative, and that's meant tending to vote Republican. I don't know if I've ever voted for a Democrat - but at the same time, I've never just checked "straight party" either. Now here we stand at the eighteenth anniversary of that first election after my eighteenth birthday, and I'm going to vote again.

I am going to vote my conscience. I am going to vote my idealism. I am going to vote for the person most closely aligned to what I believe should be the ideals and beliefs of a strong leader for our country.

I am going to vote for: NULL.

My ballot will contain an undervote. Do not look for a hanging or pregnant chad on my electronic ballot. I mean to do that.

I will be leaving the slot for "PRESIDENT" blank. I have done it in other races in that past, not knowing anything about candidates for County Coroner or leaving a slot blank if there are more openings for School Board than I know. It is my right as a citizen to conscientiously tell the parties and the candidates that there is still much more to do, still too much division, still too much inactivity and partisan bickering and passing the buck on all sides.

I am tired of being statistically sorted into the group of white Christian southern professionals who will vote with the evangelical block and stand for gun rights and less government. I have a hard time voting for "the lesser of two evils", knowing it's still "evil" and that it's lesser but not positive yet. I think it will take a stronger leader, a better reformer, a more congenial and unifying force in the Oval Office to truly bring this country together. That's probably the only thing that will bring us to a real leadership in the world, too - someone who will avoid all appearances of evil, who will not bow down to folks even within his own party, and who will not only reach across the aisle, but who might straddle that aisle for the good of the country if it's the right thing to do.

Don't tell me that if I don't vote I can't complain. Bull hockey - when does complaing do any good anyway? And don't tell me that not voting is a vote for the winner - that's bad math, bad statistics and just not true. I want someone to take a stat on the people who do not vote at all, and find out WHY people would go to the trouble of visiting their precinct's polling place and casting an empty ballot to say, "None of you guys inspired me to be an American today!"

Should "all Christians vote like Rick"? No - not unless you're tired of this rigamorole like I am. Don't just settle for a candidate. Let each person, beyond the two major parties to the other party candidates, too, inspire you to not only vote for them but to run for them, to argue for them, to fight for them. If you can't do that for "your man" - I encourage you to not vote in that race. Go to the polls, vote where you can, leave the non-inspiring races blank, and then let someone else know what you've done. Write a letter to the editor, or post a message on your own site about how something needs to change. Vote with your whole heart, just like every other area of your life devoted to Christ. That's what I'll be doing, for better or for worse.

You've got about 40 hours to change my mind.

Halloween Scary List

What's SCARY?

Scary Movies:
  • Halloween II - saw this in the theater, still quiver thinking of Jason showing up from behind the open closet door
  • Poseidon Adventure - ok, probably in the "thriller category", but this is the only disaster movie to make it difficult to go to sleep
  • Psycho - scariest Hitchcock movie; don't even try to argue for The Birds
  • Misery - only Stephen King novel-to-movie that really scared me... maybe it was Kathy Bates?
  • Jaws - don't go to the beach after seeing this one
  • Silence of the Lambs
  • Poltergeist

    Scary Books:
  • The Shining - Stephen King went downhill from this one, imho; and the book was much more heart-ripping than the movie(s)
  • The Dark Half - another King novel that actually made me get off of his work; too gripping, too much og an emotional hold

    Scary TV:
  • Twilight Zone - original series with Rod Steiger
  • Tales from the Crypt
  • In Search Of... - Bigfoot was real, dadgumit

  • NW2BH Ch8 - Love Supreme

    [continuing to read together]

    It appears that some of us are waiting for Charlie to pick up the pace a bit, and to do that, for me, I'll have to pick up the pace, too. In chapter eight, he tells "his story" - his testimony of how God intercepted his life and connected with him in a real and meaningful, transformational and outreaching kind of way. For many of us, we might have a story to tell - but has "being Christian" effected who we are, what we do, how we love and how we live? That's where it hits the road: did Jesus change our lives when we were "saved", or are we now the same with different weekly calendar events that include more church time than before?
    "Where are you, Chuck?" My prayers announce my location and my status - "Here I am, God!" - dissolving any pretense that I am anything other than a small and needy man. This is the kind of effect Jesus has on people. It's all a part of His plan. He moves us from being the kind of people who use His creation to hide from Him to being the kind of people who seek an authentic God-human conversation. This is exactly what Jesus came to earth to achieve.

    "So when we pray, our prayers are like sirens warning us of the presence and power of God. Here He comes, look out! The world is not the same as it was a nanosecond before. When God's will is done on earth as it is in heaven, the blind do see, the lame walk, and the captives are set free. .... And on somedays, when it's really necessary, God will send a saxophonist with a long memory, carrying the words of like while riffing on 'A Love Supreme'."
    - New Way To Be Human, Charlie Peacock-Ashworth, pp 88-89
    Take some time, whether you're reading along or not, participating or not, and share "your story". None of us are Charlie, and we all have different stories, different storytelling techniques. Over the next few days, let's just tell what's going on, how God is or isn't intersecting us right now... how's that?

    Blue Skies

    We have had the most foggy & humid weather in the mornings this week, but we're pleasantly surprised to see the blue sky and sunshine on this post-turn-your-clocks-back-an-hour morning. It's still going to be warmer than necessary as the day progresses, but who can argue with sunshine?

    487 years ago, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door. Maybe that's reason enough for Christians to "celebrate" Halloween with a little more positive spin?

    Saturday, October 30, 2004

    All Hallow's Eve Eve

    We took the kids to the zoo tonight - Boo At The Zoo - with a few thousand of our closest friends. I so love when Columbia turns the humidity back on in the autumn months to reminds us of the summer again right before winter comes - 73F with 77% humidity. Lovely evening, feels like stepping out into a warm bath. But it was nice, with the zoo lit up and decorated for the occasion. The kids liked the Trick or Treat stations, and there were a few other activities and things to see or do. My favorite photo of the evening? Sea lions sleeping on the rocks. Or is it? This is halloween - my bet is that it's really the ELEPHANTS DRESSED UP as sea lions. Just a hunch on my part.

    Friday, October 29, 2004


    Well, it's Halloween weekend. I might post something "for the season" through this weekend. Like how good our kids look in their costumes (here and here). Or how unbelievably strange it is that USC is a one point favorite(?) over #11 Tennessee. Or how I'm going to talk my wife into watching a chick flick tonite.


    Update 10/30 4:30pm: knew it was too weird, Tennessee 43 - USC 29... and didn't do the "chick flick" either.

    Beautiful Day

    What a lovely day: nasty overcast, slight breeze, feeling of rain-any-minute in the air. And I'm not at work - lovely. I took the day off to get stuff done around the house, and I might've found a way to find some redemption for daytime TV: The Andy Griffth Show.

    In the midst of all the trash junk reality interview shows this morning, I stopped at Mayberry to see the story about Malcolm Tucker, where he learns that Sundays are for slowing down, even unexpectedly; and where Opie finally gets to sleep on the ironing board between two chairs. I flowed right into the next episode, where Barney's keen insight into the criminal mind foiled a plot to rob the bank next to the beauty shop. After that, the channel went downhill - Tony Danza in a spandex Spider-Man costume?!? - so it's SportsCenter on ESPNHD for me 'til time to get the kids. But for about an hour, I was in a simpler, crime-free, non-weird time and place. I was never a huge fan, but I've enjoyed the show in the past - glad me and my trusty remote could find it on again this morning.

    "Still Life"

    Photo Friday: "Still Life"

    Thursday, October 28, 2004

    What You Did Not Know - But Were Afraid To Ask

    Currently in Netflix queue:
  • 13 Going On 30
  • Mystic River
  • Garfield
  • Walking Tall

    Currently reading:
  • New Way To Be Human, Charlie Peacock-Ashworth
  • Searching For God Knows What, Donald Miller
  • Out Of The Question..., Len Sweet
  • The Assignment, Mark Andrew Olsen

    Currently listening in the car to:
  • XM75 - Hear Music

    Currently watching on TV every week:
  • Football (How is Virginia Tech coming back on Georgia Tech tonite?!?
  • Smallville
  • NYPD Blue
  • Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

    Currently waiting to see in theaters:
  • The Incredibles
  • Spongebob Squarepants the Movie
  • Ray
  • The Polar Express

  • Lunar Looney

    Just a short post to jot down what happened last night during the lunar eclipse. Cammibeth's class is doing a series on the moon, and the timing could not have been better. She took a nap after school so she could stay up a little longer and watch the eclipse, not forecast to start until 9:14pET. The kids took baths, and I went in the front yard to setup the telescope and a couple of stadium chairs. It was a nice evening, as soon as the clouds parted, for looking at the sky and playing with the 'scope - something we'll definitely have to do more often. I tried taking some stills through the eyepiece with the digital camera, but they were blurry - note to self: need tripod. But one cool piece of technology was the video we were able to shoot - much clearer, still a little shaky, with the noises of our kids and the neighbors (coming over for the p.m. festivities). I'll try to upload it later, get it tagged here so folks can stream/download the :32 trailer. We did not get to see the whole thing - clouds rolled back in before the total eclipse reached peak, but it was cool to see up to that point. And like I said, we can do this again sometime as the winter months approach and the stars come out at night.

    Tuesday, October 26, 2004


    Do you think I'm supposed to be learning something here?

    I'm not usually this hard-headed (stop giggling - stop it!), but I get the feeling that I'm being taught something that will be beneficial to me in living out this kingdom-life. Two instances, separated by time and geography, have come to mind today that show me how important it might be to be proactive rather than reactive in the day-to-day.

    First, at church this past weekend, as we were filing out of the theater, I looked down and saw an empty sugar packet and empty creamer packet - and proceeded to step right over both pieces, minding my own business. I don't usually do that; I'm the guy who will bend down and pick that up, no big deal. I do it at work all the time around the coffee station, picking up stray pieces of pink and blue packets trying to escape. Why did I step over it this time? And then, looking back to see that the guy behind me did bend down and pick it up - what was he thinking of me? - I realized I'd missed an opportunity to just do what was right because it was right, an opp to be the person following through instead of being the person perpetuating the garbage problem.

    Then the second instance, happening this morning at the printer in our office. When I left early yesterday, it was out of toner. I know where the toner is and how to change it. But I left the building without changing the toner, thinking that someone else would do it when they felt the urgency. There was a queue of documents lined up for the toner-less printer, and no one else had changed the cartridge. I did it right then - when I could've done it yesterday, when I could've helped others be a little more productive or saved them some of the headache of finding another printer to churn out their hardcopies. What was I thinking?

    Maybe the lesson can be summed up in a bumper sticker slogan: "It's always the RIGHT TIME to do the RIGHT THING." Naah, too trite - but I know that if I'll pay more attention to doing the right thing when it's the right time, I won't have to make excuses for doing the wrong thing quite as often.

    Tuesday's To-Do

    • Kitchen - wash dishes
    • Laundry - load of towels, whites [I only get to strike out part of this one, since my sweetie's doing alot of it!]
    • Kitchen - dishes
    • Bedroom - general pick-up
    • Book Study - chapter 8 notes; reply to previous chapters' comments
    • Kids - early bathtime, early wrestling time, early bedtime
    • Office - headphones as productivity tool
    • Coffee - get some!
    • Yard - blow off driveway, frontyard and back porch
    • Anything else - this is a rough draft
    Not just for Tuesday, but if I can cross these things off one-by-one through the week, that'll be cool.

    Monday, October 25, 2004

    Long Week Today

    I'm watching MNF, hoping the Broncos just keep handing the ball to Droughns so my fantasy team can pull away for the win this weekend. Vicki's not home from play rehearsal yet - a "quick" trip to WalMart for supplies is keeping her out later than normal. Both children are asleep, one in his bed and the other asleep in her leotard after falling asleep on my bed. The dishes need to be run through the wash, and I'll be doing some laundry to help out this evening, maybe read a little while the wash/dryer is running and the ballgame's on.

    There's so much drama, so much soap opera in life [borrowing thought picture from Jae]. My wife's family is going through it right now, so on top of all the local/school stuff here we have to deal long distance to Asheville with the drama there. I'm just trying to me "Rick, Super Dad - the Wonder Husband". I'm not very good at pulling off (*lazy* doesn't quite cut it as a superpower, does it?). I need to settle in somewhere between disconnected emotionally and completly hacked off, helping by being a calming influence and still letting her vent, encourage her to press on. I need to run interference with her folks, clear the way to just do what needs to be done, and pray that we'll move through this as quickly and painlessly as possible. "Painless" probably won't happen - but growth and maturity and confidence come from going through the fire, burned or not.

    All that, and I need to get coffee. We're out of coffee. Drat.

    Have & Have Not

    I have hurt others and been hurt, too
    I have faced troubles, winning and losing
    I have let my face fall
    I have let my smile fade
    But I have not worshipped You, O Lord

    I have friends who've stood close
    and I have friends who've turned away
    I have new life and old regrets
    I have much for which to be grateful
    But still I haven't praised You, O Lord

    I have hope and the promise
    of Your unfailing love, unflagging care
    I have Your mercy and Your grace
    Leading me through the straight and the crags

    And today, I worship You
    I praise You, O Lord

    [psalm 73]

    Sunday, October 24, 2004


    We're going to Seacoast Irmo this morning. I don't know that I've put many church names and URLs into this site on church posts yet, but we've been attending a few weeks and I feel like it's time to toss it out for all to see. The church meets at the Columbiana Grande, wonderful theater just off the Harbison corridor - and being in a movie complex, these are by far the most comfortable seats we've ever experienced.

    The church is a satellite from the main campus in Mt. Pleasant, SC - that one has a wonderful building right on the island. From what I've gathered in listening and reading, they decided early on the build satellite groups rather than become the mega-church-on-the-island. There are several gatherings in Charleston, one in Savannah, a couple in Columbia, and one further up the interstate in Greenville. I like that, wanting to branch out and let other communities grow under a flag of commonality while still letting them have their own identity and mission in their communities.

    Set-up and take-down must be a bear. At least three, maybe four, theaters are used for each weekend's service time. The Adults are in one theater, the Youth appear to have their own service/theater, the Children have another (our kids have really enjoyed Kidscoast so far!), and there's a new service that's just started for 20-somethings. In the main auditorium, the worship band leads a really good set - mostly Vineyard and Hillsongs in style. The worship leader is also the campus pastor - very personable from the stage, and nice the couple of times we've shook hands. Then the I-wasn't-sure-I'd-like-it part: the sermon is delivered via video from the main campus. Pastor Greg is in a series on worship, and I didn't think I'd like it - but it works. That's the only way I can describe it, that it works for what's going on and with the vibe that's created.

    I don't know if we're ready yet to get into the small group scene, where most of the livelihood comes from, I'm sure. Life is busy with the play and everything else, but when we closer to the holidays and the new year, I think we'll make that plunge, too. Do we have a "church home"? No, and I don't know that we're looking for that. It's one of those things we might look at one day and say wow, we've got a church home - like an unconscious discovery more than a conscious decision, finding out that we've assimilated with this, or maybe another, body of believers in town.

    NW2BH Ch7 - Word & Work of Jesus

    I appreciate the way Charlie has chosen to be a storyteller, not just propose his arguments of what life should be like in the "new way" Jesus has modelled for us. In chapter 7, he jumps into the gospels as Jesus invites His first disciples to "Follow Me" - I can only imagine how huge that was for them. The left everything to accept that invitation - career, social standing, family, friends. Or at least that's an assumption on our parts. I'd be curious to know how conversations went later on between disciples and their wives, disciples and their parents, disciples and their bosses.

    On p. 217, the book poses this discussion topic: "Jesus didn't ask Peter and Andrew if they wanted to become Christians. Discuss what He did say and the invitation He offered them." Considering this, I also appreciate the balance given to Jesus' invitation: the calling to follow, and the exchange: following and receiving the grace & tools to do what they were being called to do, live as they were being called to live (p. 70). Where the call to be saved and have a "personal Savior" needs to be stretched is the area where that invitation needs to be filled more with the promise to be equipped for God's purposes & God's ways. Any thoughts?

    Two more questions from the back of the book go together in my head:
      "#3 - Discuss the Jesus model of Word and work, storytelling and storied living."
      "#4 - Is the Jesus way of evangelism efficient?"
    Answering #4, YES, but only in that it tends to build real dicsiples and real followers who are more real than the alternative pew-sitters who think "we're saved" - because more than a method or a list of qustions with expected answers, Jesus was real and inviting and relational with people. I don't see where Jesus dipped to letting the Message become the Marketing Strategy - and while I see some things in the marketing world that could definitely shine some light on our efforts in the kingdom, I think we sell out too quickly to the "easy evangelism" of guilting people into making a decision. Jesus called, and then promised to fulfill the calling - what if that was out message, too. "The kingdom of God is at hand - join us and live like it". Sounds arrogant, but not if we're actually doing it. The Message - what we're proclaiming in the world - and the Method - the way we're living life and proclaiming that message - need to sync up in the promises and grace of Christ. And more than just a lofty ideal, it needs to be a new way of living.

    Saturday, October 23, 2004

    Saturdays & Morning Coffee

    It's rare that we get a weekend relatively free of to-do-lists and travel - especially in the fall, when every weekend centers around Gamecock Football in some way, shape or tailgating form. We had considered going to the beach, but the only "get away" we need is to rest and get over various colds and sniffles and tummy aches. If I felt better, I'd be outside working in the yard: lots of pinestraw hiding the backyard, and a fair share in the fron yard that needs to be raked/blown into piles, too. But I woke up this morning with a continuation of the stuffy-sinus-runny-nose-scratchy-throat thing from earlier in the week, so I'm going to enjoy the peacefulness for now and just rest.

    I just made a pot of coffee, Starbucks' Breakfast Blend, I think. In the past year, I've developed a taste for coffee that no longer needs sweetner, that likes the nutty and fruity flavor of some of the more exotic blends, and that just needs a little creamer, like the Toasted Almond or Vanilla Caramel found in your grocer's dairy section. The coffee makes the kitchen and all of downstairs smell really good. And the hot stuff usually feels really good on my itchy scratchy throat. We'll probably need to stop by Starbucks to get some new beans to grind - it's almost time for Christmas Blend, isn't it?

    On a weather day like this, I wish I could play better golf - it's a great day for that - or felt well enough to join the family at Maize Quest. As it is, I don't mind being able to relax, rest, watch football, and be a complete vegetable for the afternoon. And I think I'll have another cup of coffee, thanks.

    Friday, October 22, 2004


    Photo Friday - "Statement"

    A buddy gave me the plaque when we (finally!) graduated from high school in 1986. Every year, this statement gets more and more true, more and more funny.

    Casual Sundays & School Violence

  • The State | 10/22/2004 | Casual Sundays make their way to church
    My question of the day: why is this "news"? For most of the churches we've been visiting the past few months, "casual dress" has been the norm - not something you do as a gimmick to "reach this group of people". Probably just me, but I don't see where there needs to be a split between the sacred and the secular, between "Sunday clothes" and the work week attire. If the first thing I notice about you is the way you're dressed, and if I then pile all kinds of judgments on you because of it, and if I then tell you that I won't judge you this one Sunday a month when I'll be dressed casual, too (so it must be okay and "holy" when we all do it as a tool for "evangelism")..... I'm probably reading too much into this, right?

  • WLTX News 19 | Student says Teacher Threatened Classmate
    I remember one teacher in high school who would've made this parent get bunched up, too. If you fell asleep in his class, you were beaned with an eraser, flying from across the room. Chalk was known to perform as projectiles, too. And then there was the one time when one of the young ladies in class wore make-up for the first time, which earned her the quip: "tramp and a painted hussy." Ahhh, those were the days. Honestly, I write (for better or worse) this way because of the two years spent as a student in this man's class. There was no question of his love for teaching young minds full of mush, and of his love ultimately for us as his students. Having said that, threatening a student with scissors is a different matter. If it were my child, my first questions - giving the teacher every benefit of the doubt - would be "what had you done to provoke this?" and "what had been done by anyone else to provoke this?" and "was the teacher just having a really bad day?". None of those excuse the reaction, but we're all human, we all make mistakes, and heaven forbid all of our mistakes should be broadcast on the local news tonight.

  • Thursday, October 21, 2004

    Moon Gazing

    Our daughter has been working on a project on moon-watching this week: each night, go outside, look for the moon, and draw what you see in a journal. The first night was great, with the crescent moon peeking in and out from the high clouds. Tonight - not so good, as the lowlying cloud deck is blocking all the light from the sky, reflecting the red flourescent stuff from the city around us.

    But it's cool to do with her. One of the things I remember fondly from sixth grade was the winter time unit on astronomy. The stars and constellations change over the course of a year, so when the autumn and winter night sky starts to look familiar, I remember way back to those classes. Cameron's not the old yet, and I'm not going to quiz her on the stars and planets, but it's neat to stare at the sky together as fathers and daughters and sons have done for centuries - it was all the reality TV they had.

    What do we look for up there? What are we hoping to find together? Maybe it's the light of the moon, reflecting the sun into the darkness so we don't trip over ourselves.

    "My Bible is a BLAST"

  • Yahoo! News - Pastor Charged After Calling Bible a Bomb
    So funny, it's sad. It's not a slam against a pastor, because any of us could've done this. Never underestimate the ability of a very sincere person to put his foot and his Bible into his mouth for the gospel.

  • Sick

    I hate staying home sick. Nothing on daytime TV, sleeping on the couch 'cause I'm achy and too lazy to go upstairs, looking for something to eat and knowing everything will taste the same sick-mouth taste. Bleeh.

    Wednesday, October 20, 2004


    We're going to stay in town this weekend - no ballgame, no beach trip, no family-visiting mountain odyssey. The love of my life is going through a major clean-up phase, and it's up to me to (a) keep the kids occupied and (b) avoid getting pulled into her overly strenuous web of housework. Actually, laziness is one of those things I need to overcome in my own life ("strenuous" is not a bad thing when it can make the house more liveable and the wife happier, is it?), and there are a few things I'd like to do in joining her. The beef is that we've got too much STUFF, and there needs to be three piles of the things that can be discarded from the homestead:
  • Stuff that we can give away
  • Stuff that could go on eBay
  • Stuff that can be thrown away
    ... and the third pile is the biggest, trust me. I'd like to do some of this cleaning in the attic - get it spruced up a bit to be used for more than an extra closet and the dawg's room. Maybe that'll be my project for the weekend.

    It's not like life isn't full of a too much extra stuff, a accumulated extra baggage that should be discarded so we can move forward, not be unfortunately weighted down by past regrets or current transgressions (Hebrews 12:1-3).

  • Tuesday, October 19, 2004

    Don't Assume

      Don't Just Assume - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

      Always say what you feel, and do what you think is good and right. If I knew that today would be the last time I’d see you, I would hug you tight and pray the Lord be the keeper of your soul. If I knew that this would be the last time you pass through this door, I’d embrace you, kiss you, and call you back for one more. If I knew that this would be the last time I would hear your voice, I’d take hold of each word to be able to hear it over and over again. If I knew this is the last time I see you, I’d tell you I love you, and would not just assume foolishly you know it already.
    Just some thoughts as I read this from my DailyDig this morning... I have a warped sense of identity, of who I am and of what the people around me are here for. In my selfishness, I see others as means to my ends, not really sensing their own special uniqueness and identity in this world that is not mine. I want to see others as individuals, loved of God, called according to His purposes and ways to settle with Him and bring Him glory in fellowship together.

    I don't want to agreeably disagree anymore because I don't want to hold onto a philosophical principle so tightly that I actually start seeing my friends as enemies. We can work these things out together, but without the time and effort of maintaining the peace that should be inherent in Christ, I don't think it will happen. Disagreements should be challenges to strengthen our bonds, not wedges that push us apart. My attitudes towards others reveal more than I care to share in this world of televised reality, and I need to give people the benefit of the doubt that they're not trying to run me through with their words when we debate things of ultimate importance.

    I need to be a person who's open to other people, while finding a place of community among people who are open to other people. It's not about me and my feelings, but about us and finding a place for our collective mission to do what God graces us to do together. Ultimately, the focus is on Him - more than on others, definitely more than on myself. Am I pleasing God by loving others, serving others, reaching out in fellowship to others? Am I giving the people around me the room to see Him for themselves, the room to grow and search and work out their own salvation in community with me and the other folks around us?

    Just a few thoughts... if I knew this was the last time we met, I'd hope that we would part as friends.

    Monday, October 18, 2004

    Monday Investigation

    Trying my hand at the Meme Thing: if you'd like, take the time to answer the questions below on your own site and leave the URL as a comment, or answer in the comments and save a couple extra keystrokes!

    1) Who was the first person you talked to this morning?

    2) What was the first thing you saw this morning?

    3) Where was the first place you went in a car today?

    4) When was your first phone call this morning?

    5) How did you decide what to wear?

    That's it - that's the list.

    Sunday, October 17, 2004

    NW2BH Ch5 - Life East Of Eden

    [Continuing our discussion of Charlie Peacock-Ashworth's New Way To Be Human]

    After a long road-trip weekend to the North Carolina mountains, I'm ready to sit a post a little from Ch5 of our book. I think Charlie's grasp on the aftermath of the Fall is right on - much like the way we missed the colors in the fall leaves, everything this past weekend was a little darker and a little more windy than expected, but at least we had a great time together as a family.

    "The story of Noah and his family challenge the common misconception that the redemption Story is about God's saving individuals out of the world. That idea reduces salvation to personal escape from the physical world to a blissful spiritual heaven. In reality, redemption history is about and ongoing story and process where people are saved *in* theworld. The way they are saved *out* of the world is by God's choosing them for Himself, removing them out of the world's ways, giving them His ways, and then leaving them in the world to continue the work He has assigned them." (pp. 48-49)

    Let me say this up front: the idea of a "personal Savior" in the person of Jesus is not a bad thing. The problem is that the personal side of being a Christian has become individualistic to the point that we "agreeably disagree" in our denominational and doctrinal stances instead of "making every effort to maintain unity in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3). "Personal" has supplanted "community" - instead of balancing the two in a way that leads to personal and communal responsiblity, encouragement and growth. Does anyone else see this? Or is this less more a problem of not training and discipling individuals to be productive members of a local congregation? Where is the ball being dropped?

    Here are a couple of questions I like from the back of the book (p. 216):
    5) Discuss the promises God made to Abraham. Is this the Story you have stepped into?
    6) Discuss the similarities between Noah's story and Abraham's, particularly the idea of God's using one man to save a family.
    8) Why does God begin the prologue to the Ten Commandments with personal storytelling?

    Saturday, October 16, 2004

    Weekend In The Mountains

    We left around 10am this morning for a swing through the mountains of North Carolina. Vicki's family is in Asheville, NC - the drive was nice and relatively quick in spite of the heavier than anticipated traffic. I think we missed the "peak" of the fall colors; everything was a little darker instead of the brighter colors we were looking for in the trees. But the chilly breezy weather, in my humble-and-always-wamr opinion, has been great all day. We spent a few hours with V's grandmother and dad and then hit the road - east on I-40 to Hickory to see my aunt and uncle's new house, spend the night, play some putt-putt and listen to the USC @ UK football game.

    It's really just nice to get away, to travel and see family, to drive and not be in a hurry, to enjoy the scenery and being together. One of the things I tell people the I like about living in Columbia, SC is that we're a couple of hours from the beach, a couple of hours from the mountains, a couple of hours from Charlotte, three hours from Atlanta. Basically, if you like to drive and like to chitchat with friends and family, you can go anywhere with anyone in just a little bit of time.

    Friday, October 15, 2004

    State Fair

    We had a great time at the State Fair this evening. Our daughter got to spend some of the evening with one of her friends from school. We took the boy with us, doing some rides and way too much greasy food. And we ran into quite a few old friends as we meandered through the concessions and rip-off games. Good time, and now it's time for bed.


    Photo Friday

    "Unexpected" - Playing around with my little girl's Delancey head. I'm a fun daddy.

    Thursday, October 14, 2004

    NW2BH Ch4 - Reality Of the Fall

    Continuing to read New Way To Be Human with the discussion group:

    I was first introduced to the idea of "the knowledge of good and evil" being a bad thing a few years ago in a book by Rick Joyner, There Were Two Trees In The Garden. It makes sense: as a parent you don't give arbitrary rules, and neither does God. When I've taught in small groups on this topic, I ask "Why did God tell Adam & Eve to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil". Almost always, the consensus is that it was a test, and arbitrary rule that allowed the man and woman to choose to obey or disobey. My reply is "why didn't God say to not eat blue paint? or to not play the blues on Sunday? If it's an arbitrary rule to gain obedience, it could've been anything - so why this particular rule?"

    Charlie follows in Joyner's footsteps here, I think. The only thing we need to know is God - the only thing to be preached is Christ, and Him crucified (1 Cor 1:23). Sin, then, would be anything that falls outside of the relationship we have with God, or I think the book is saying that it's anything we seek to know on our own apart from the Father. How does that sound? In this light, sin is more than just rebellion and disobedience. It's more like a deliberate attempt to live without God, purposefully leaving Him out of the equation of our lives.

    Chocoholics Rejoice!

    CNN Money: Starbucks to launch new hot chocolate drink
    Do not tell my wife... unless she's going to bring me a venti macchiato with whipcream when she stops for her chocolate fix.

    Beyond Geography

    I've learned a few lessons this past summer, and I'm sure I'm still in process on a few lessons more. One of the things I've learned about relationships is that they take work. The old math class SAT definition of "work" is appropriate here: time and effort in function together. It's not just living a long time with no effort, and it' not just a little effort but then giving up too quickly. They multiply each other and enhance each other: duration alongside endeavor. I've come to the conclusion, no matter how you want to cut it, that it takes time and effort to build a relationship, or to build on relationships, or to enhance relationships past the point of being acquaintances to the place of being real & better friends. I'm not that smart, and I should've figured this out a long time ago.

    There are people in your life that you'd call friends. Maybe they're at work, or at church, or at school. But of those friends, how many of them are friends because of geography, the incidental daily or weekly path-crossing that happens as if by chance? There are people in your class who'd be rivals if they lived in another school district. There are people in your shop who'd just be customers if they didn't punch the time clock with you. There are people at your church who'd never be on your speed-dial if there wasn't the weekly geographic intersection of your lives. And then there are family ties, which might even be a little tighter knit than geography. But you have family members you'd never want to be seen with in public; just remove the family DNA and you'd be with someone else for Thanksgiving dinner. We can take family for granted, and we can take the casual week-to-week geography for granted; I've taken these things for granted.

    Think about your best friend at work, your best friend at school, your best friend at church, your family. Think about how many times you do something together outside of those various incidental connections. Think about how often you get together for coffee outside of work, or how often you hook up for movies on the weekend, or how often you might go on vacation together outside of the normal retreat or family reunion. I'm finding that "how often" often is not much and that when those things are removed from the equation, the connection was based on something less than real relationship. For me, that's turning my world upside down. Take away work, or church, or family, or school - and you reveal the depth of the relationship, the maturity and intimacy of the community. On the other hand, add extra time away from the office, away from math class, away from Sunday service. Add extra effort helping someone remodel their homes; studying together at the library; vacationing together at the beach.

    Maybe this is why crisis is such a defining moment for us, for our relationships. In trial and in trouble and in stress, those things are removed to a certain extent. We can disconnect on these levels, or we can take an opportunity to connect on a new level, past the geography and the DNA. The relationship as revealed in these times is either not strong enough to take the stress, or it's ready, willing and able to move forward to a new level of intimacy and direction.

    Wednesday, October 13, 2004

    Wednesday Meme

    I haven't done one of these in a while, but this is one question I think I can write a little bit on: From What's On... Right Now?, "What's on your TV right now?" - NBC Nightly News. The last debate is tonight, and I want to see how much the parties are going to spin, and how much the networks are going to spin back. Somewhere in there, truth exists - but it's hard to find. Makes for good TV though - and if not, I'll be turning it to baseball on Fox.

    Another Wednesday meme I found is Weird Ones - here's today's questions:
    1. What household appliance are you most like and why?
    Coffeepot. Self-explanatory.
    2. What are the pros and cons of having a white tiger as a pet?
    Pro - matches the pink elephants in the bathroom | Con - often hungry
    3. Why do you torment me so?
    Love is often like that
    4. Whatcha gonna do when your little bird flies away?
    Aim true
    5. What are the functions of hair? How would it affect one to be without it?
    Keeps one warm, which is why I often run up to bald people on the street and rub their heads, the friction replacing the escaping body heat (they don't usually appreciate that, but I'm persistent)

    Being Daddy

    One of the things I've learned as a parent is that God is a wonderful Father, and that I fall way way short of His ideal. Our daughter had a field trip today and acted out, losing a whole week of recess. In our imaginations, it might've been very bad, or it might not be any bigger than that. We're doing due dilligence - Vicki's calling her teacher to see what happened - before the possibility of not letting her go to the fair with her friend (who also got in trouble) this weekend.

    But those eyes, and that pout - she can break your heart, get you to give her anything she wants. She's got me wrapped more than I can let on. I brought the kids home, and she has only been told to go to her room. That's a big deal for someone used to playing and bouncing and watching PBS Kids every day. But if she'd just realize that her room is full of fun, or be able to lay still awhile and think about what she's done, or cry and cry and hug on her myriad plushies - she'd at least "enjoy" her time being stuck in her room.

    She's learning that when she gets in trouble, to make it right and do whatever is asked. Don't make things worse by arguing, by getting angry, by making a scene, by running away. Those things don't work - they don't help the situation close, and they don't work to prevent it from happening again.

    And that's where I often think of God the Father when I'm in Daddy-mode and having to discipline my kids. He's not only punishing, but He's also trying to open our eyes to why it was wrong, how it hurt Him and others, how we need to avoid that thing in the future, and how we need to move on from here. While there's a problem with parents who never discipline their kids, there's also a problem with harsh parents who might be giving the kids what they deserve but who don't go that extra step of preparing them to do right the next time. That's grace, at least for me right now: teaching and empowering me to not only *not* sin, but to also *do* right.

    Can I grace my kids in discipline, in discipling?

    Tuesday, October 12, 2004

    NW2BH Ch3 - God, People and Place

    Charlie wraps up Ch2 of New Way To Be Human with his headings for the Story: Creation, Fall, Redemption, New Creation - and then starts in Ch3 to tell the Story with those "chapters" in mind. In specific, he dives into Genesis 1-2, a "story" we are probably all "experts" on: the Creation Story. [On topic, check out Mars Hill Church, where Pastor Mark Driscoll is starting a series on Genesis (drill through current stuff, download the sermon MP3 for 10-03-2004 and hear his same-but-different take on the same passages).]

    One of the things folks have thought of me is that I've lost a proper honor and respect for scripture, for inerrancy and infallibility. On the contrary, I feel like I've got a greater appreciation for the Bible today than I've ever had, and part of it is the same artistry and poetry that Charlie seems to employ in describing Genesis 1-2. It just comes through his word choice: he loves this story. God is so much bigger than we give credit, so much wiser, so much more loving and provisional and caring and purposeful and intentional about His creation and our place in it. It's a "good story", starting here the way it was supposed to be throughout all time. What are some thoughts or word-pictures that stick out to you about God's enjoyment in creation?

    There is also an emphasis on "covenant" - what has covenant meant to you in the past, and has the concept changed in your understanding over time? For me, the metaphor of marriage works to define covenant: loving intentionally, for better of for worse, keeping up my end unconditionally the best I can. That's what I think God called Adam & Eve to, and what He's calling out for us today.

    Just some thoughts - any other insights, questions, ponderables out there?

    Monday, October 11, 2004

    Monday Mutterings

    Is it just me, or does this look like the beginning of another long week? Any time a Monday starts with the death of Superman, it's looking like a long week.

    Things started off so slow for me. We normally get to bed pretty good Sunday evenings, but for some reason I couldn't sleep - and then I dreamt alot. Woke up at 1:15am, 3:20am, slept through the alarm at 5:55am and woke up from somewhere deep at 6:40am - running late already and not feeling like I'd gotten any sleep at all. I don't normally dream alot, but the past month or so has been very pensive, I guess. I sleep hard normally, it's just that last night and lots of times in the past month, I've slept really really hard. I'm not as rested as I should be, not as up and going in the mornings.

    Mondays, then, are that much rougher for me physically. Just feeling tired, run down, under-rested, and I'm sure that plays on my disposition and motivation, too. I've got to get into a habit of walking/exercising, of getting to bed "on time", of turning media off and stretching out with a book or something to shut my mind and spirit down in the evenings. Something like that, prepping for the day and week ahead. As it stands, I'm too testy in the mornings, and that edge might not go away through the day and often lingers into the evening, meaning that my kids get too much angst from Daddy - and that's not good. I need to be looser, freer, less wound up and bound up about things. They need to be free to be kids, free to play with Daddy, free to think and jump and wrestle on the bed.

    One thing I do enjoy about Mondays: football talk. Most of us are Carolina or Clemson fans. This morning's not a good time to talk about either of those teams, but a couple of folks sitting next to me in the cubicle farm also have fantasy teams. It's fun to talk about how well or how bad our teams did, and to learn a little about who I might want to pick up for next week. Right now, I'm 0-5 in my Yahoo! league - would've beaten almost anyone else except the team I played this week - and 3-2 in the Fanball league - unless Ahman Green torches me tonight for more than 33 points. Maybe that's why I'm not sleeping enough, having to stay up to watch Sunday Night and Monday Night Football every week...?

    Did you know that in Genesis, the Book of Beginnings, God knew Mondays would be trouble? Look at the six days of creation - on all the days, God notices how "good" it is. Except Monday, Genesis 1:6-8 (thanks, Pastor Mark). Hmmmm.... figures.

    Sunday, October 10, 2004

    Review: UNDER GOD

    I have really enjoyed this book: Under God, by Toby Mac and Michael Tait of dcTalk (copyright 2004, Bethany House Publishers). For me, at a time when I could get too deep into the deconstruction of theology and the way-out-there thoughts of the emerging church, there's an appreciation for the history, the real-life stories of Christians throughout the timeline.

    I enjoyed Jesus Freaks, taking the stories of church martyrs and updating them with today's prose and adding current stories of persecution and sacrifice. With Under God, the stories told are of Christians just trying to do the right thing in the name of Freedom. I have gone through a history-reading Revolutionary-War-period this summer, and I've done a fair share of research into what happened when the Founding Fathers did what they did and a country was born. I was excited to continue on in that Revolutionary Era vein, thinking I was going to read a book about Christians in the 18th century standing up against colonial Britain. But this book drives through those perilous times and straight into the slavery issues of the Civil War and Reconstruction Era in the mid-19th century, right through to Rosa Parks and the stories of the Civil Rights movement in the 20th century - again, all in the name of freedom. It's amazing to me that when it's all stripped down, we're people who can work together and do the right things for the right reasons when we want to serve Christ and bring about positive change - and freedom.

    The individual pieces are well-written, giving a "we were there" kind of feel to the stories, connecting the reader with the time, the place, the struggle, the decision and the victory in doing the right thing. The emphasis on Jesus is tangible, as people know what to do and do it. And it's challenging and encouraging to me in our time now: to do what needs to be done with joy in the kingdom.

    Sunday Morning

    We're up and ready for church this morning - almost. Sundays are really rather stress-free right now, and it's pleasant to be able to get up, eat breakfast, play a bit and get ready for church at a more leisurely pace (my wife would probably beg to differ, and I'll let her - I don't like begging).

    We're revisiting a church this morning, wanting to get a feel for the place, the people, the ministry styles and emphases. Honestly, I'm looking for a group of people who are intentional about what they do and who they serve, and serious about taking God more seriously than they take themselves. I'm not looking for a church with a building program - nothing against that, but I've got the mindset right now that a new church plant might be a better use of $$$ then a new educational wing.

    I'm also not looking for a place where "you'll be able to plug in" is one of their top draws. I'll be honest, I don't want to plug in right now. Eventually, I pray God will prepare me for a place being prepared for me, if that makes sense. But right now, I don't want extra responsibility and overhead to take away from just trying to heal, re-group and move forward in a positive light. I don't want to be the person barging into a church leadership team and proclaiming, "boy howdy, I've got just what you need." When God shows us the place to take root, He'll prepare the place to be fruitful, and He'll prepare us to minister and serve as needed. I'm not going to conform the square peg for the wrong round hole.

    This church has had a little bit of everything so far: a decent mix of cultural color, good mix of music styles, good teaching at the corporate level, and fun ways to intentionally teach the kids and play with them in Christ (plus, they convene in a movie theater - most comfortable "pews" I've ever had!). It's the first one we've really had a consensus on for gong back. It'll take time to get to know them, probably longer to let them get to know us. I might follow my daughter's lead, meeting everyone and just playing the whole time. I'm really looking forward to the experience.

    Saturday, October 09, 2004

    Ups & Downs Of Sports Fans

    I have been a Gamecock fan for as long as I care to remember. Growing up here in Columbia, too far from the Atlante Falcons of Washington Redskins to be a big pro football fan, and smack in the middle of college football every fall. Twenty years ago, th '84 Gamecocks were the biggest thing going - ranked as high as #2 before losing to Navy (Navy?!?) and finishing the year 10-2, still the best year ever at the school. This year - well, we lost to Ole Miss today, rescuing defeat from the jaws of victory with 1:02 left in the game and in spite of a 16.5 point line at kickoff. We've got a good shot at still getting bowl eligible, but my call is that a 6-5 record won't cut it to come out the SEC this year.

    I could write something profound here about how all the people in the stands screaming and yelling today will probably be silent and nodding their heads in church tomorrow - if they go at all, not having the kind of whole-hearted energy that was expended in the stadium where their hearts' true worship might've been shown. But I won't. Instead, I'll go to church tomorrow - and pray that every praise song and every sermon's metaphor and every hand lifted in praise will get the grace and attention of heaven, and that we will give our all on every play and expect to be victorious and change the world with every call from the sideline. (I know - that might be a cheesier metaphor than the other, but what do you expect? We lost, dang it).

    Debating Bush & Kerry

    I watched the debate last night from St. Louis, hoping that the major candidates would begin to share something substantive, something meaningful, something worth voting for. I wanted to hear them answer the questions they were asked. I wanted Charlie Gibson to ask the tough follow-up questions, and for each candidate to respond to the people gathered, to each other. Of all that - I liked Charlie Gibson. None of the rest occurred, in my humble opinion.

    President Bush, I'd just like you to answer the question being asked. One lady asked a fairly simple question last night: Share three times over the course of your presidency where you felt like you'd made a mistake, and what did you feel like you needed to do to correct it? You almost answered it by saying there were some appointments you wouldn't have made, but you didn't want to name names and embarass people. Thank you for that. But then, you lollipopped it. "When people ask that, they mean the big things. I don't think we were wrong on Iraq, and I don't think we were wrong on Afganistan." Mr. President, that doesn't answer this particular question; rather, it trivializes it by generalizing it (Job 31:34-36) in the category of an attack. It was just a question - three times you made a mistake, and what did you do to fix it? It's haughty to say you haven't made any mistakes worth mentioning. At least you moved off of what I've seen as a short-sightedness on your part: "If historians find that we've been wrong, I'll own up to any mistakes." What you appear to be saying is, "I don't think I've done anything wrong, and if I have I wouldn't admit it to you, but years from now when I'm gone, they can knock themselves out."

    Senator Kerry, I'd like to see what you really stand on, because while your opponents are accusing you of flip-flopping, changing your mind on issues according to the political expediency of the moment, I've got a different observation: double-mindedness (Psalm 119:113). You have the ability to not only change your stance, but to take two opposing stances at the same time - a talent, no doubt, inside the bletway, but I'm having a hard time finding a reason to vote for someone who's both for and against almost every issue. In particular, your answer to the question on federal funding for abortion was a non-answer. You said that you're against abortion, that you'd been raised catholic, that "religion has played an important role in my life", but that you did not think you could impose that morality on the rights of others. I'm sorry, but that didn't answer the question."I'm against abortion, but I don't want to make other people think like I do" is different from what you added: "but I will give you federal $$ to do this thing that I don't like but won't impose." On the Iraq/South Korea issues, it seems like your solution would be just opposite from the President's: build a coalition of nations to deal with Iraq, but then tear apart the coalition of nations that seem to be together against N. Korea, and go it alone in that circimstance with bilateral talks. It's the same with 9/11 critisms - you and opponents wish the President had done something pre-emptive, and now that he's done something pre-emptive (at least part of his reasoning for Iraq) he's blasted for not waiting and getting better intelligence.

    If I had to vote for one of the two parties, for the lesser of two evils, I'd vote to re-elect President Bush. But I don't *have* to vote in that race - and "NONE OF THE ABOVE" is the only candidate who hasn't ticked me off yet.

    Friday, October 08, 2004

    Sugar, Spice, Everything Nice

    It's hard to imagine that it's been seven years since we brought this little bundle of giggles into the world. She's growing so big, so smart, so pretty, and so girly-girl.

    Happy birthday, young lady!

    Thursday, October 07, 2004

    My USAmerica

    [create your own personalized map of the USA or write about it on the open travel guide]

    This is every state I've visited (with Puerto Rico not fitting into the parameters given). One thing: I need to get out more.

    [copied from jen-meditatio]

    Family Ties

    Here's a photo of my little brother:

    Bless his little ol' heart... He's had a site at Xanga for awhile now, but it's got limitations and he's going to post a new blog @ Blogger. Probably. If he can figure out the photo-display software... hard to describe that stuff to Humanities majors, huh?

    NW2BH Ch2 - The Jazz of God

    Charlie writes in Ch2 of New Way To Be Human that it's important to start with the "right story" as we look at what's the gospel, how do we share our faith, etc. The thesis is that if we start with the "wrong story", we might be developing followers of the wrong thing, people who aren't doing what they're supposed to because their starting point is out of whack. Do you think this is that big of a problem today? And if so, is it something that needs to be "fixed", or something we can grow through? I see it as something more organic that needs to almost evolve or devolve into the "right story" - coming right out and saying "you've got it wrong" rubs people the wrong way, for better or for worse. Often, "starting right" might be easier than "fixing" on some of these points.
    "The goal is to tell a community story before you tell a personal story.... People who step into their role in the ongoing faith story of God's people become the kind of followers Jesus desires. People who hear and believe the Story that following Jesus is about developing your own personal faith and receiving your own personal salvation miss out on what following Jesus actually means [wow, you can be "saved" and still miss out?!? - that's what people hear when this is taught, from what I've found]. Jesus calls people to follow Him in the making of a multinational tribe of Spirit-empowered people who will love God's creativity and take His Word seriously. He's looking for people who will exchange their agendas for God's. He's looking for kingdom representatives who through unceasing word and work will make God's rule known everywhere and in everything." (p. 16)

    That line of thought brings me to two good questions from the back of the book (pp. 214-215):
    2. How and why do you think this question developed: "Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior?" [anyone have research or dates/articles on when this really started?]
    4. What's the difference between a Jesus story that focuses on saving people from hell and one that focuses on saving them to unceasing life in Christ?

    Ree, Lay, Shun, Ship

    I'm going to be posting some questions & thoughts from chapter two of New Way To Be Human later today with the reading group. One of the things Charlie begins to build on is that the story is based more on community than anything else. We tend to think of the Gospel as my sin, Jesus dying for me, making me right with the Father, my personal salvation - and there is definitely the personal responsibility aspect of a growing & transformational & sanctifying relationship. But the Bible tends to be about people together - a community falling from grace, a people being chosen to bring redemption to the world, a group of apostles being sent out. The story Jesus stepped into would've been about community, a word that's beginning to be used mostly on church signs that don't want to appear to be denominational anymore - but it's also the way we were made, relating together to the Father as He pursues us, calls us back to Himself.

    Just some thoughts. I'll post to the discussion list later, crosspost here most likely.

    Wednesday, October 06, 2004

    Long Week Today

    It's been a long week so far, and it's just Wednesday. Feels like a long week. Listening to the "Kindness"-cover by Todd Agnew, a little jazzy toe-tapping rendition - "it's Your beauty, Lord, that makes us stand in silence / and Your love, Your love is better than life". One of those days where a song like this feels right, riding counter-current to some of the thoughts and ideas that are swimming around inside my mind. Looking for a church, facilitating a book discussion, getting ready for the birthday party at the end of the week and tailgating Saturday afternoon, busy at work and feeling busy at home, busy everywhere else. But hey, at least I've got these cool tunes to keep me optimistic and bouncy and in the flow, you know?
    Why am i fighting to live
    If im just living to fight
    Why am i trying to see
    When there aint nothing in sight
    Why am i trying to give
    When noone gives me a try
    Why am i dying to live
    If im just living to die
    - "Dying To Live", Jonny Lang

    Tuesday, October 05, 2004

    Just Noticed

    Ever notice that Mello-Yello smells almost exactly like Froot Loops?

    Probably not. But did you ever notice anything like this?

    Rick's Problem

    Here we go again. I'm in the middle of too many books. It's laziness, pure and simple. If I want to read, and the book I am into is somewhere else, I'll grab something closer. Or if I go to a bookstore, just because I'm reading something good doesn't mean that I won't buy that book I see on the shelf. Right now, I can honestly say I'm actively reading THREE books (with probably two others in low rotation). I'm such a schmo:
  • New Way To Be Human, Charlie Peacock-Ashworth (w/ book discussion!)
  • Searching For God Knows What, Donald Miller
  • Under God, Toby Mac & Michael Tait

    Got a review copy of Under God in the mail yesterday, which is really cool. I'm going to use this site for doing some book reviews, and this will be the first - along with the discussion list and whatever other outlet I can find. Generally, people don't read - and if they do read, they often don't read things that challenge them, either fiction or non-fic. I want to encourage folks to read stuff they disagree with, that show them new sides of God, the Kingdom, themselves. Read a book to a child, and then read to yourself. For the fun of it. What a novel idea.

  • Sunday, October 03, 2004

    NW2BH - Tomorrow

    I'm looking forward to "officially" starting our discussion tomorrow. My wife read chapter one this evening in preparation: "I think it's a pretty accurate representation of where you are right now," was her first comment. For me, it's affirming and challenging - showing that there is at least one other person who's putting words to the journey we're on, and showing that there's so far to go, so much to learn, so much pride and condescension of which to let go.

    The word that's standing out so far in chapter one is "epiphany". One of the definitions given is this:
    A comprehension or perception of reality by means of a sudden intuitive realization: “I experienced an epiphany, a spiritual flash that would change the way I viewed myself” (Frank Maier).

    I've had a few of those kinds of experiences over the years, and honestly had one this morning. We visited a church with a friend, a nice huge church in a nearby town. I've been to similar churches before, but not in awhile, and frankly I felt that I'd been "epiphanied" out of them. But as we sat with her, I was struck by how much she loves her church. She's really on board, and I've known so many people who are just members of a place, or who are just there because it's the big church in town. She's way into her church - as we all should be when we're a part of a local body that's growing us and shaping us together in Christ. That was my "epiphany" as we left for dinner at my folks' house: wherever God places us as a family, I want to be a "church member" like her.

    Blogging & Natural Disasters

    There's a new site from the US Pacific Northwest - Pacific Grits. James has been a friend for a long time, and got me started with journaling in our freshman year of high school - yikes, '82, twenty-two years ago. Hopefully I've returned the favor in a positive way.

    Mount St. Helens could go anytime. I asked James how far away he was - sounds like Seattle is close enough to get some good news coverage, far enough away to avoid the magma. Whew.

    Saturday, October 02, 2004


    "What I had seen before was like the beginning of a play where the host stands in front of the curtain and introduces the characters and the plot. You may think you know the motivations of the characters. You may think you know what the storyline will be like. Then the curtain go up, and the whole story gradually materializes with its many interwoven relationships, goals and passions. By the end, you realize that your initial understanding was totally inadequate." - Kevin Clark,

    NW2BH - Prologue

    I've posted some opening thoughts on the Prologue of New Way To Be Human by Charlie Peacock, the work we're using for our first online book discussion.

  • "The new way to be human is about the reality of God and His ways. It's about stepping into the Story of God-people-and-place with intentionality. It is the final and best opportunity to become an active participant in the community of God's people" (p. xiii) - For me, to quote Carman from the 80s, "I want som-o-dat". Do you think it's important as a Christian to grow in a way that's always gaining more relational knowledge of God and God's people? Not that I'm endorsing "always looking for the new thing", but balancing that with an honest understanding that we will never ever know all there is to know about God.

  • On pp. xiii-xiv, while describing Jesus and the glorious place He should have in our lives, there are two sentences that catch something I want to apply deeply in my life: "Jesus saves us from missing out on the new way. He saves us into the new opportunity to be priestly human representatives in the re-creation of everything God loves." We can think about Jesus being an atoning sacrifice, paying the price so we don't have to go to hell for all eternity - but again, I think we've lost sight of the idea that we're save TO kingdom-living.

    I'm really looking forward to the discussion.

  • Friday, October 01, 2004

    Don't Miss The Punchline

    Q: What's black and white and red all over?
    A: A newspaper ("read" all over)

    Q: What's black and white and red all over?
    A: Penguin with a rash

    Q: What's black and white and red all over?
    A: Zebra with sunburn

    Q: What's black and white and red all over?
    A: Hot fudge sundae with ketchup

    Q: What's black and white and red all over?
    A: Blushing dalmatian

    One question. Several punchlines. Problem is that we get stuck on one answer, and stop asking the question. Sometimes, I think we miss the punchlines because we stop asking questions... but that's just me.

    Friday Quips

    First day of October, and I'm ready for Christmas. No kidding - skip Halloween, save me a drumstick from Thanksgiving, and let's move right to the end of the year. It feel like it's been such a long year already, and to think that there's still three months left boggles what's left of my mind. Not only will the leaves start to change color and the pine needles begin to let go of the spindly trees in my yard, but life is still changing all around us, challenging all around us. If we could skip the humidity of the inevitable indian summer and go straight to sweater weather, I'd be cool with that.

    I'm looking forward to the book discussion that's starting full swing this next week. We're going to be reading New Way To Be Human, by Charlie Peacock - and if anyone needs a new way to do this thing, it's me. If you or anyone you know would like to join in, point them to the group website - and feel free to just peruse the archives if you'd like. I was also looking forward to seeing SHARK TALE - not bad, not NEMO, but it was fun to watch with the kids, and with Vicki & I giggling at the 80s references.

    I watched the Presidential Debate last night. I want President Bush to wow me - there are issues that are not being addressed on which I'd like to see some decisiveness. But I'll give him the benefit of the doubt on trying to "fight the war on terror". His opponents usually end up speaking out of both sides of their mouths, and last night was no exception. During the 9/11 Commission Hearings, everyone wondered why there wasn't more done preemptively to prevent the attacks. Now that we're in Iraq, people are wondering why we jumped the gun preemptively to avoid any future attacks. Last night, Sen. Kerry said that the way to win in Iraq was to build an international coalition, and that the way to succeed in the situation in North Korea is to get out of a multinational discussion and try to discuss diplomatically in a bilateral way. Huh?

    We've got friends coming over tomorrow evening to "tailgate" in the living room - USC vs 'Bama on ESPN2, 6pm 10/02. I'm looking forward to it. We haven't seen them proper since leaving the church a month/half ago, and it'll be good to crash and eat chili and do coffee together once again. We're also going to be visiting with another friend at her church Sunday morning. Pray for me - I can be way too cynical, skeptical and sarcastic at times, and I want to be open to God's voice, to worship together in spirit and in truth, and to honor God in all my relationships this weekend.