Monday, January 31, 2005

Classic Lit

The name of the rose
Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose. You are a mystery novel dealing with theology, especially with catholic vs liberal issues. You search wisdom and knowledge endlessly, feeling that learning is essential in life.

Which literature classic are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

[linked from Spark]

Funny In My House

We are at a point in our home where there are certain things that are funny, certain things that aren't funny, and certain things that just should not be funny. In training up our kids in the way they should go, I consider it of equal importance to pass down as sense of humor, as well as all the discipline and growing in maturity stuff. There are certain shows we don't watch on TV - they're just not funny, and the commercialism is too much to overcome by cheesiness. There are shows we do watch because sometimes they are very funny, though I still refuse to order my life around the upcoming new-never-before-seen episode of Spongebob Squarepants, knowing that I will see it for the rest of forever in marathon reruns.

But if you really want to be funny in my house, if you really wanna be the laugh-riot of the party, you've got to go to the bathroom to get your humor. With a nine-yr-old and a seven-yr-old, we are at the stage of family life where certain words are just, for whatever reason, inherently funny. Say "underwear" at the breakfast table, and you'll have two screaming kids just rolling. Or "underpants" - we don't even use "underpants", and that word is guaranteed to get a squeal. Other words that, to my chagrin, are turning our home into a hotspot for toilet humor, are "naked", "armpit", and "buttcrack". We don't say "butt", we correct the kids to say "bottom" - but "bottomcrack" probably gets a louder and funnier response because it's just awkward to say.

I know this will pass. I pray it will pass soon. Then we can get into the more intellectual humor of explaining why Monty Python is so much more enjoyable than the Fairly Oddparents.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Good, Right

Post-Restoration Hope #8: The Religions of Good and Right

I think I'd rather be Good...


Bob Walker: Throw me in the water and see if I can swim?
Larry Mann: I think you're missing the point here Bob, we're about to throw you off a cliff and see if you can fly.
[from The Big Kahuna]
The "Ice Storm Of 2005" has passed without much umph through the Midlands. It's Sunday morning, above freezing so all the ice that might've made it is now melting and streaming away. There are so many churches that have cancelled services this morning - I'm hoping some will use the opportunity to visit somewhere else, instead of taking it as a paid vacation day or something... well, I also hope some do stay home, do just enjoy the quiet and solitude, do have a Sunday morning to be intentional about their time with God and others. Maybe church at Starbucks this morning?

I met with the campus pastor last week over coffee, discussing my need to "get back in the game" and his hope to use my gifts in the vision planted here. I told him that my mind was empty - if I'd allowed myself to think of what I wanted to be doing, it would be to start a new small group somewhere, but that I didn't dwell on it much because I wanted to say "yes" to whatever I felt the Spirit calling me and my family towards. Whatever he wanted me to do was fine with me, just give me time to "count the cost" - not an excuse to say "no", mind you - and to get ready.

He laid three things on the conversational table. First, he feels like there's a need for a Sunday morning small group. "Sunday School" is a bad word for too many people, so we're not really talking about that, are we? Where some folks can't get together during the week because of geographical distances or time constraints, he'd been approached about having a bible study group that meets on Sunday since that block of time is set aside already, and folks are already at church. Would I be interested in leading this group in one of the empty theaters? No telling how big it would be, guaranteed to be eclectic in its make-up - but he felt like something in this vein would resonate with me, would float my proverbial boat.

Second, he would like to add me as a coach for small group leaders. The church system is all about small groups, and with a goal of 70%-80% of the people in small groups each week, you have to train leaders to lead and grow and love small groups. Would I be interested in helping other people learn about leadership like that, coach them, meet with their groups and give pointers? Wow. Sounds cool, too.

The third thing on the table was "web-based" - there's a need to have something, probably online, where people could connect, where vision could be cast a little more frequently. With the websites about to be re-vamped anyway, this third thing is down the road, but again, something I'd love to be able to work on with other folks.

Instead of "filling holes", he feels that the church needs to have a structure that fills its own holes - building a community that will draw people together, that will bring in people of different talents and ambitions. And he feels that our family is here to work alongside, filling these holes and whatever others open up with our particular gifts and passions.

It's really cool - and it's why I'm glad it looks like we didn't cancel service this morning. I look forward to going to church, to our church.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Answering Questions About "Ministry"

I asked for some "brainstorm questions" the other day to help my mental processes for an upcoming gig teaching/preaching with a college/singles group in the area. I think the gist of the two responses hinged on my thoughts about "ministry", a word that's feeling a little more full and maybe a little more heavy and unnecessary to me right now.

Another question had to do with my "favorite verse" - um, Psalms? Isaiah? First John? I don't like to think about a favorite verse, because the way reading the Bible has changed for me and changed me over the past few years does not lend itself nicely to prooftexting a passage that sums anything up neatly - if that makes sense without sounding too prideful. Sorry, I just don't think that way right now. Ok, maybe Romans 12:3, reminding me not to think more highly of myself than I ought, but that's another story.

Being "in ministry" and balancing a family and career, and following the senior pastor and leading the flock and your portion of the group is a constant thing, but it's also what makes your boat float. Anyone who enjoys what they're doing knows, no matter how difficult, you wouldn't stop. That's the way it's been with me in serving at church over the past fifteen or so years.

There was a question about "calling", and that's probably the million dollar question: do you think you've been called (paraphrased)? The answer is YES, and that I have no idea what that will mean or what that will entail as it plays out. There is a calling to minister in a more intentional way, that's for sure. I'm ordained, and I've been on staff for the past few years at a small non-denom church here in town. For now, I'm still getting my feet wet - getting back into ministry after stepping down last summer. After a few months "off", I see myself being "called" to get back in the game.

My biggest influences have been people who have made me think, who have made me uncomfortable in my thoughts and ideas about life, the universe and everything. I have learned that submission means to allow others to influence my life, and that being submitted means following hard and close to what God is saying even through conflicting and opposing voices. In all, I just want to be intentional about how and why we're following God and living the kingdom life, moreso now than in the past.

One more paragraph on "denominations" - I'm not currently a part of a denomination, and really don't think the discussion pros and cons on why they are or are not necessary is a fruitless conversation. If they empower people to find God, to love God, to respond to God, to love others and server people - it's a good thing, an organization that's focused on the kingdom and here's how we're gonna follow. If it can't do any of that, get out. It's not so much that denom's all hate the other groups, though some do think they'll be the only ones in the Promised Land when it's all done. It's more about finding like-minded and like-focused communities of people seeking to live Christ now. How's that?


David Zimmerman has written a book that, pardon my frankness, has a really cheesy cover and a fairly cheesy subtitle, Comic Book Character: Unleashing The HERO In All Of Us (copyright 2004, InterVarsity Press). But I was really surprised when, shazam, the book being promoted with all this cheese was actually as un-cheesy as anything I've read in a long time. I'm not an uber comic geek - I bought my share of comics in the 70s and 80s, stuck mostly with DC in my growing years and wish I'd paid more attention to Marvel as the better films are being made now. I figured this book would either be such geekspeak that I'd be turned off in the first chapter, or, being a work of "christian non-fiction", this book would be so much prooftexting about how Superman leads us to Jesus. Did I mention that this book, in my first impressions, had everything working against it - and I loved it anyway?!?

I appreciated Zimmerman's style. Perhaps he's been able to refine what he does from his own adventures in blogdom (Strangely Dim), because it read like a collection of good, well-thought out long blog entries that you'd want to share with like-minded friends and casual web surfers. The prooftexting was mercifully absent - when scripture is referenced, it just fits - and there are whole chapters where the author paints in broad general strokes around the Biblical story and the comics mythology in a way that uses one to point to the other without having to make some benignly pointless point. What do I mean? It takes guts to write "christian non-fiction" that (1) rarely quotes scripture, (2) dwells on costumed freaks in colorful panel pages, and (3) make meaningful sense out of the whole thing by relying on the readers' ability to connect the dots as intelligent readers.

I think that's what I liked: I wasn't looked down on as a fan of comics, or as someone who needed to see Jesus in the pages of X-Men. Rather, I was taken along as a buddy, engaged in a more conversational style that caused me to want to interact and think for myself. Quoting from Thomas Merton, Nietzsche, Stan Lee and the Apostle Paul makes for a really good conversation, and I finished the book wishing I could sit with all of them, and with Dave, at Starbucks over a caramel macch and this weeks new comic titles.

Did I say that I really enjoyed this book? Just checking.

Friday, January 28, 2005


They are distressed, because they had been confident;
they arrive there, only to be disappointed.
- Job 6:20
Why do I find myself lacking confidence? That's a fairly recent trait, isn't it? I used to be fairly sure of myself - at least, I thought I was. I knew I'd do the right thing, say the right thing, not offend people with confrontation, so I was rarely anxious over that kind of stuff. But now... I just feel overly cautious somehow, not wanting to make a mistake or hurt others in the process of doing what I know to do.

I'm still the same person, just not as sure who that is sometimes. I'm the guy who's always lived, "there are no easy answers because we don't ask easy questions", and I'm proving it, I guess. (That sounded better before typing it out - go figure. Something like that...)

A Parable of Questions

Once upon a time, there was a village in the highlands where everyone spoke in questions. Whether it was the particular lilt of their accents or not, no one is sure - but every sentence ended distinctly higher pitched, the perfect place for a question mark. A typical conversation would be as follows:
    Mother - "Son, have you been outside playing?"
    Son - "Do you think I have?"
    Mother - "Indeed, was I not asking you?"
    Son - "If I have been playing, have I then also missed something here at home?"
    Father [from inside the house] - "Is anyone going to fix dinner?"
There was much conversation, and also much frustration - it is difficult to speak in questions all the time. But they managed.

One day, a stranger entered the town. This man had a different way of talking - no questions, just statements. Statements all over the place. He sounded so sure of himself, with all of his sentences seeming to end in the proper flatness of a solitary period, his accent and dialect being so very different from their own. Everyone was amazed - still talking in questions, here was a man who seemed to have all of the answers.

For days they asked questions of the AnswerMan, until his voice just gave out on him. Having so many answers and opinions and advice had ruined his vocal cords. It seems he ran out of answers before the townspeople ran out of questions.

So they beat the crap out of him.

[originally posted 07-13-2004]


Photo Friday: Youth

Thursday, January 27, 2005

"This is crazy! This is crazy! This is crazy!"

[Clark Griswald, National Lampoon's Vacation]

I want to thank everyone who's been praying that my "yes" would be "yes" today. I wrote a few days ago that I needed to have the confidence and courage to do what was asked of me, to let the Spirit move to call and to empower. I guess that's what's going on. A morning meeting over coffee turned into a two and a half conversation about ministry, vision and what's next for me. Of course I said yes - and it's probably going to take the next couple of months to really find out what that's going to entail.

It's really neat to connect again with people who want you to succeed, and who somehow convey that you're a part of their continued success and plans. It's cool to be called out, challenged, told "you can say no", and know that there's no way you're saying no to the opportunity.

I know: vague. I'll fill in more holes as I find out more. For now, thanks for praying. It's a fun ride, ain't it?

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


  • SpongeBob's Family Video: What Would Bob the Tomato Do? - Christianity Today Magazine [linked via FTM]
    Good article, and very articulate of Phil Vischer to get at the matter of what divides us morally. It's not just the big-ticket issues of abortion and same-sex marriage - what about unswervingly preaching "Christianity's more radical calls to complete self-sacrifice, modesty, and humility".

  • Tuesday, January 25, 2005


    I need some help. I'll be speaking at a local College/Career/Singles gathering the first few weeks of March, and I'm at a loss right now on what to do, where to go with the study & discussion. So I'm throwing this out to you: GOT ANY QUESTIONS?

    Ask anything. Maybe something you want to know about me and my ministry, writing, this site. Maybe something deep & philosophical, or something shallow & trivial. Whatever - I just want something to jumpstart something new. I'm all about asking questions, and then finding answers that lead to better questions. That's where I want to start.

    Thanks for playing - have a great day.


  • - 77th Annual Academy Awards - Nominees: Nominee List
    I'll say it again: I thought it was a down year for movies in 2004. It's good to see some deserving nominees in the major categories, but there's really not a huge pot to pick from. We'll see how it plays out - I'd like to see Jamie Foxx win for Collateral or for Ray, for some kind of recognition for The Passion Of The Christ, and for The Incredibles to sweep what it's up for (including Original Screenplay - way cool).

  • Training Parents

    Every weekday morning. Since August. You've been driving your child to school. Every day. Probably taking the same route. Probably seeing the same cars going the other direction. You pull into the school lot. Every morning. The same way. The same direction. Your child needs to get out of the car. Passenger side. Out of the traffic. Against the sidewalk. Passenger side. Every day. Same thing. Since August. The goal is survival of the kids. A smooth flow of traffic. A quick exit for the rest of your commute. Nobody gets hurt. Nobody gets ticked off.

    So why this morning did you let your child out on the driver side, into traffic? Why did you pull ahead just far enough to not be out of the way, and then leave your car there? in traffic? to walk your more than capable child to the door? Why does this happen? Every morning? Same thing? Since August?

    Monday, January 24, 2005


    Conversation this weekend, watching a made-for-Disney movie.
    [onscreen, a boy goes in to talk to a father about taking out his daughter]
    Cam: Daddy, why does he want to talk to that boy before they go out?
    Dad: He just wants to make sure he takes care of his little girl.
    Cam: Will you talk to boys coming to take me on a date?
    Dad: No, you'll be thirty-five.
    Cam: Da-a-a-a-a-d. Will you really talk to boys who pick me up?
    Dad: Yes, I will, because I want to make sure my little girl is ok, too.
    Cam: What will you say?
    Dad: I'll tell him that if he makes my little girl cry, I'll tie his legs up over his head.
    Cam: Da-a-a-a-d. Really?
    Dad: Yes, really.
    Cam: You're kidding, right.
    Dad: [deadpan stare]
    Cam: Dad? You're kidding right?
    Dad: [deadpan stare]
    Cam: Daddy, you're so silly.

    "Let Me Pray About It"

    It's Monday - again. Looks like it'll be an okay week, but I wish the weather would stay cold, maybe send a little non-violent, non-fatal precip just a bit further south. It's one of those weeks when a snow day would be very welcome. The kids had a wonderful weekend, and Vicki made selections to the cast for this spring's production. Good restful get-over-this-flu-bug weekend for all of us, I think.

    I've been reading alot, thinking alot, pondering everything alot. Yesterday's sermon was spot on for me, nailing me between the eyes with Galatians 5:13-15: "you've been set free so that you might serve others". I've got an upcoming decision, upcoming opportunity to do that, to use my gifts, get back in the game of ministry and working with others. It's the reason I've been set free, not to sit on my behonkuss and let the world come to me. I don't have any idea what the opportunity will look like, what it'll demand of my time and my family - but I do know it'll probably aim straight at my selfish disposition.

    When I'm approached with an opportunity to do something, I want to say, "let me pray about it". I want that to mean "Yes, let me just take it to God for encouragement, for prioritizing, for counting the cost". It's not an excuse to say "No" or "Oh, wow - gee, you know, I don't know... let me pray about it, ok?". I want to pray with confidence, something that's been difficult to find for me lately, and know that God's calling me, that He's enabling this thing to take place in spite of and in full view of my shortcomings.

    And others need to pray, too - that I'll do it, that I'll do it well, and that I'll stop whining about it.

    Eagles Bandwagon II

    It'll be the Philadelphia Eagles against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX. Two weeks of hype and then we actually get a game and party foods out of the deal. Sweet. Now I've got to find a nice new bandwagon ballcap. - Writers - Banks' Snap Judgments: Eagles may be just happy to get to Jacksonville - Monday January 24, 2005 2:10AM

    Sunday, January 23, 2005

    Goodnight, Johnny - Johnny Carson, late-night TV legend, dies at 79 - Jan 23, 2005: 'And so it has come to this. I am one of the lucky people in the world. I found something that I always wanted to do and I have enjoyed every single minute of it,' Carson said to close his final show. 'I bid you a very heartfelt goodnight.'
    I'm old enough to remember that watching Johhny was a rite of passage. As a teenager, "getting to stay up late" meant being able to watch the Tonight Show. He opened the door for me to enjoy Letterman, Leno and O'Brien, and anyone else attempting to follow in his steps is grateful to achieve half the success.

    Eagles Bandwagon

    There are four teams left in the NFL Playoffs, and I need to pick a winner: the Philadelphia Eagles. They have been just. this. close. for the past few years, and I'm tired of seeing the Patriots up there. I'm also thinking that a Michael Vick-led Falcons team will choke against whomever they would play in the Super Bowl. Wouldn't it be fun to watch the Steelers play the Eagles in Jacksonville, giving all those Pennsylvania folks a really good excuse to escape the snow?

    So I'm here, pulling for Donovan McNabb and the Eagles (much easier to do right now without T.O. in the lineup, trust me). Go Eagles - if nothing else, the statistics are with you.

    Snot & A Book List

    I'm still recuperating from this nasty headcold thing that's gripped my body the past few days, and I don't have as many leaks (orifices draining body fluids - gotta love the imagery, y'all) as I did yesterday. A good cup of coffee this morning and I should be alright for church, a nap and playoff football.

    I've gotten myself into a few good books at once, again. And I've been meaning to post them to, but it's been down the last few days. I haven't read much this weekend - my eyes have been hurting from the achey feeling and stuffiness. Since we moved the alarm clock to my wife's side of the bed, my nightstand has become a library, and here's what I've been meaning to read (no, really - I'm in the middle of the first three already, with the others waiting patiently):
  • Leadership Wisdom From Unlikely Voices, Dave Fleming
  • Peter & The Starcatchers, Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson - actually, I loaned this one to my 9-yr-old son, who should've finished it by now so I can dive back in
  • Comic Book Character, David Zimmerman - cheesy cover and cheesy subtitle, but really well-written, not condescending, not alot of prooftexting to make this a forced-Christian book; I've been pleasantly surprised by this one (review coming soon)
  • Mr. Timothy, Louis Bayard - haven't started this one yet; bought it for Vicki but she wasn't impressed with the setting and storyline
  • Bad Ground, Dale Cramer
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clark - huge book, might take me all year to read this one

  • Saturday, January 22, 2005


    One of the things I've needed to resolve in this new year is to be more intentional and habitual about my daily devotional time. A good book, a good passage of scripture, a good kick in the pants to get me thinking and pondering and meditating. I'm moving that way, trying to daily use my time in the morning when I first get to work to boot up my laptop and to approach God - when I'm wide awake, ready to hit my day, with everything in the open.

    Rev. Jay Dennis has written The Jesus Habits (copyright 2005 - Broadman & Holman, publishers), looking at "what would Jesus do?" from a better beginning question: "how would Jesus live?". The thirty-one "habits" are things that Dennis noticed as patterns in the life of Jesus on the earth, things like Prayer and Obedience and Giving, but also Confrontation, Listening and Seclusion. The establishment of thirty-one habits makes this book a fairly easy choice as a month-long devotional, and it is very accessible to those who might be new Christians, or those looking to watch how someone as influential as Jesus was intentional about what He did and the way He lived.

    For the most part, the book is setup as a series of sermons - easily read that way, having the feel of a powerpoint presentation at times, and that's a problem for me. While there is a great deal of information and encouragement, it is usually presented in more of a cookie-cutter style that makes everything too homogenized. I would have enjoyed something more challenging and embracing, somehow drawing the reader into Jesus' life rather than simply displaying some of His daily routines. But that's probably the strength of this book, too - its simplicity. Where I might find fault, another would most likely find something worth emulating and striving for.

    For a more in-depth look at spiritual practices, however, I'd recommend Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, J.I. Packer, A.W. Tozer. But I would recommend Dennis' book to anyone who just doesn't know what Jesus did and wants to learn "The Jesus Habits", and who wants to discover more than what tradition and the status quo might be passing down through church circles today.

    Friday, January 21, 2005


    Photo Friday: Crowded

    Thursday, January 20, 2005

    Me? Uncultured?

    I have no idea why this bugged me. It just did. Trent Lott, right before the President was sworn in for a second term, introduced Denyce Graves, singing The American Anthem. All I knew was that this was not "O say can you see...", and it wasn't the pseudo-anthemic "America, The Beautiful". I'd never heard this song before, and I had really thought of myself as an american.

    Whew. Found a link - lots of links actually, once I found her name again and found out a little more about who she is (not many CDs with mezz-sopranos ripped on my harddrive).

    I felt so uncultured. Now I've got to pop in my score from PHANTOM when I get home, while watching Discovery Channel on mute or something.


    If I were too complain a bit about the way we have been created - and I'm not, honest, Lord - I'd have to say that there are too many orifices above our shoulders. I am so stuffy-headed right now, and everywhere liquid can ooze out, it's oozing out. How does all the gooey stuff in our bodies coalesce as a gravity-defying pool in our heads? What if there was one release valve in our heels or something, letting the excess yuck seep out down there instead of being sneezed out all over my monitor? I know we are fearfully and wonderfully made, and I know that very well. But my crusty, leaky, oozey head is feeling the shortcomings of the fallen nature of this bodyshell this morning.


    Wednesday, January 19, 2005

    Choose The Difficult

    One of the things I've learned (I sound like such a wise sage, don't I?) is that sometimes you've got to take the hard way, the difficult path, in order to do the right and good thing.

    I've got a friend who's having some issues with what she's being taught in Sunday School. Basically, the leader is saying that this is the new way to read this passage, and that everything you've ever heard on this subject is wrong. I tried to explain a little what he was talking about, and she followed - but I didn't use the "everything else is wrong" tactic, and it seems that she's more offended at the method rather than the message. Where he is trying to teach something completely new, and trying to give it some weight by saying "all theologians agree", he's coming across as one who's stubborn and arrogant and who dismisses the what-we've-already-learned entirely, even if that former way was as biblical or transforming as the new thing he's trying to promote.

    I've been there, I've done that. I've been the one who read the book first, and who tried to explain that everything I've learned to this point was throw up in the air because I've been messed up by the Holy Spirit playing Fruitbasket Turnover with my doctrine. I know where this leader is at, as much as I can empathize, and he's about to lose his mind, a good and painful process that will change who he is and how he ministers.

    I know - can't get more vague, can I? I want to tell her that the easy thing to do would be to get upset and offended. It's easy to pick holes at something based on tact or a lack thereof. It's tough enough being asked to grasp this new idea, much less to be told unswervingly that you've been living a lie to this point. It's easy to take that personally, or to want to defend your own faith in the face of this unwanted opposition. You didn't sign up for this.

    But that's the easy thing, getting offended. The hard way is to listen past the method to the truth that God might actually want to share. The difficult thing would be to champion his cause, to be his number one fan, to lead others to give him a break and let's discuss this new thing in the open. The painful way would be sucking up our pride, going with the idea that yeah, maybe we've been wrong to this point, and then checking to see if God is big enough to handle it. And I think that's the right thing to do - giving the leader every benefit of your doubt, and leaning hard on Jesus.

    It's easy to get offended - trust me, I've seen people get offended at me. I don't want it, and I don't pursue it. There's no good thing that can come from ticking people off all the time. But if you're taking offense at the message, that's a different story. Give me some slack in the presentation, and with great difficulty we can make sense of the message together.


    Finally, winter is happening in South Carolina. It's usually fairly mild here, not much snow, not very cold compared to some locations further north. The summers are usually hot and on the moist side of humid. So when it's winter time, I like for the temperatures to drop a little. But last week at this time it was in the 50s heading to highs in the 70s - that's ridiculous. Finally, it's cold this morning, and I like it. Nyahh.

    It's 16F right now according to WeatherBug, after a low of 15F and maybe reaching a high of 45F. Even that might be too warm - give us a little chill any day. Bring out the sweaters and sweatshirts and layers. Bring out the parkas and mittens and earmuffs. Something about being in the chill outside makes you feel alive, while the humidity and sweat of August often make you feel too sedated.

    People here are complaining a bit, but not me, no-sirree-bob. This is why I like SC: get cold once in a while, and don't dump two feet of snow on me to do it.

    Tuesday, January 18, 2005


    I've been falling asleep way before 11pm. I'm getting old. I'm becoming my parents. Pretty soon I'll be going to bed before the evening network news, and then getting up at 5am for no decent reason other than making coffee and checking the obituaries to make sure I'm still okay. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just not the same as staying up 'til 2am with a good book or playing games online, and then getting up in a rush at 6:30am to start your day with a bang.

    In college, I could go on 2-4 hrs of sleep per night with a couple of all-nighters thrown in, then crash and burn to catch up on the weekend. Can't do that anymore. Don't have to do that anymore, but knowing I can't makes me feel old.

    Morning Commute, or They Let You DRIVE?

    I'm not a punctual person by nature, but I'm not habitually late either. We have a normal morning routine, and if anything gets it a little off kilter I'm a wreck until we pull safely and timely into the kids' school parking lot. This morning, we just had LIFE happen, and we were all about ten minutes behind the clock. Fine, no big deal, walk in and get passes to go to class tardy, sign on the dotted line and check the "Other (Running Late)" box on the sheet. Since I'd still be on time at work, no big deal, no muss, no fuss.

    That's when I noticed that there were an unusual number of STUPID DRIVERS on my route to work this morning. I can give you some slack - we're all idiots from time to time (if you don't believe me, you might be one right now, so be careful, ok?!?). I can overlook some I'm-distracted-and-didn't-see-you driving from time to time. I don't lose my cool when I'm cut off, and feel more pity than anything else when someone drives like a four-yr-old. But honestly, it was lunacy out there this morning.

  • I was almost nudged twice - TWICE. That means that your car came into my lane in the same general vicinity that my car already occupied. I saw you, moved a little to avoid you, and luckily you saw me before pushing me off the road. I wasn't even merging from an on-ramp or something. You came up from behind on the left while I was in the center lane, and proceeded to drift your car into the same space that my car was using. That rarely works well.

  • I saw four - FOUR - cars pass on the left to gain one car length of distance. I'm sorry, the guy in front of you might be slow, but whipping into traffic in order to whip back in front of him isn't going to save you any time that you're not going to waste somewhere else in your day.
    [NOTE: as Sarah pointed out, passing on the LEFT is okay. I don't think I caught the terror though - these folks passed from the middle lane of three lanes on I-20 East, moving from the slower lane to the much much faster left lane, cutting someone off who was hurtling way too fast, and then getting back into the middle lane just one car ahead - like they were impatient enough to get in front of someone, just not impatient enough to maintain that speed... how's that?]
    [Second NOTE: I might have to remove this one, since I probably do this more than I should complain about, huh?]

  • I saw two - TWO - cars pass on the right - on the RIGHT - to do the same thing.

  • I saw two more - yeah, TWO MORE - cars pass on the left in the median/turn-lane of a major non-interstate highway. I just waited to see them explode.

  • Finally getting to work, I came off the ramp to head across the highway to the left, where the entrance is, where I always go. The person behind me decided to take it upon herself to go left-er, trying to get around me because she thought I was going to stay right with the rest of the slow traffic. Never mind that my turn signal was on, and never mind that there's a campus entrance right there. This was nudging incident #2 (#1 had ended with the guy pulling back and then speeding up past one car to gain that advantage going into an off-ramp), and she turned around as she passed to let me know that I was number one in her book.

    And people ask why I work from home sometimes... Of course, tomorrow I'll probably cut someone off and end up on their blog. Go figure.

    [Disclaimer: I apologize profusely for my use of the word "STUPID". It is a dirty word in our house, never to be used to describe anyone or anything. But honestly, it's the only word I could use this morning without resorting to $%&## characters. Please accept my apoligies - The Mgmt]

  • Monday, January 17, 2005


    Is it that so difficult? "No sauce" - "white pizza" - "extra cheese and NO SAUCE, please". Most of the time, we've got no problems ordering from Papa John's, but tonight it came with tomato sauce. That's bad, at least according to my kids. They don't even eat ketchup, and tomato sauce on a pizza is asking for trouble. NO SAUCE means no red, no wet, nothing but cheese - but tonight, there's sauce on the pizza.

    But we've got good kids. Pizza with sauce isn't high on the list, but evidently pizza is pizza. They ate without complaining (much) and they were satisfied for a time. Of course, still having a couple dozen Krispy Kreme donuts around for dessert doesn't hurt.


    Here's the next five tunes on my iTunes party shuffle:
  • Not Enough, Caedmon's Call, My Calm\\Your Storm
  • Must Get Out, Maroon 5, Songs About Jane
  • Ambrose, Mission:Impossible 2 Soundtrack
  • Lion and The Lamb, Crystal Lewis, Live @ The Meadowlands
  • If God Made You, Five For Fighting, The Battle For Everything
  • Love and Peace or Else, U2, How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb
  • Amazing, Matt Redman, Where Angels Fear To Tread
  • Peace, Third Day, Conspiracy No. 5
  • Injection, M:I2 Soundtrack
  • I Must Go, Late Tuesday
  • Honor Him, Gladiator Soundtrack

  • Martin Luther King, Jr.

    We are called to play the good Samaritan on life's roadside. But one day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.

    Source: address at Riverside Church, New York City, April 4, 1967 [quoted in today's daily dig]
    I was born in July '68, months after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. My only recollections are second-hand. I've read a few of the letters from jail, and I've read some biographical works since school, where we learned a little but probably not enough about what he stood for and why he died. Someone just taking a stand, just challenging the status quo, just wanting what's right to be what's happening instead of so much of what's wrong.

    His conviction that all people were created equal was even deeper than that same conviction handed down from this country's founders. In many ways, his message of a dream where we are all just people and not skin colors is needed as much as it was at the beginning of this country, and when he was preaching it from pulpits and from the steps of Washington, DC. There is still division, and there is still prideful arrogance that looks down at different opinions, different ideas, different worldviews.

    Reconciliation is one of those things near to the heart of the Father, bringing us back to Himself and transforming our lives to live with each other. Dr. King knew that, and had to stand up for himself and for his family. We need to stand up for it, too - and for our own families and friends, no matter what the skin tone, no matter the dialect, no matter the voting preference, no matter the religious leaning. We honor God when we stand up for righteousness above sentimentality, when we do the right thing because it's the right thing.

    Sunday, January 16, 2005

    Working From Home

    One of the things that happens as a programmer/consultant is that my mind sometimes works on problems and issues on the off-hours. That's why I'm all laptop'd up this evening and working on a couple of things from the kitchen table. I don't mind, really - as a matter of fact, I appreciate having the opportunity to work like this from time to time, making the most of it while not (a) forgetting what my subconscious mind was trying to figure out, and (b) waiting 'til tomorrow and instead getting an early jump on the week. Besides, I'm pretty sure that part of growing up and picking a career is that you're going to do whatcha gotta do to get the job done.

    In the end, it's relative whether it's really "work" or not. Some would say that for the next thirty minutes, while I'm helping the kids get into pajamas and bed, that I'm working there, too. But that's not work, and even a career isn't real work if you're focusing more on the desired results rather than the energy expended. Trust me, little energy being expended "working" this evening, and only fun giggly ticklish energy being expended as the kids go to sleep. But it's all good, and from God's perspective I suspect it's got something meaningful alongside.

    Reading Hangover

    I'm a fairly slow reader, at least in my house, especially when compared to my wife and possibly to my 7-yr-old son (the only comparison I have is that it took Trace about a day to read the first Lemony Snicket book, and it took Vicki about an hour and a half to read that same book the night it was freed up). I think it's because they both focus in so much tighter on the story/pages at hand. But I do read alot, knowing it'll just take me longer, knowing that if I get into a good book I'll be up even that much longer reading 'til I can't hold my eyes open anymore. Mostly, I'll catch thirty minutes to an hour sometime through the day, and I'll make time if it's a really good, challenging book - but it'll take me awhile because I rarely get those big chunks of time to read, and just read.

    That's what happened last night. I'm about two-thirds through Peter & the Starcatchers, and it took me 'til about 1:30am to get that far. Now I've got kind of a reading hangover - my eyes hurt, and my neck hurts with a tension kind of feeling from staying up too late and then sleeping too hard. But I'll finish that book today, dadgummit, and I'll move on to the other ten or so books on my nightstand that are crying out for attention. I like this book (probably won't post a full "review" of it), and hope that it'll grab my son's attention after I'm done. I know already that my wife will pick it up and put it down in a weekend when she finally gets some free time.

    Friday, January 14, 2005


    I admit: I was looking forward to this movie even without the product given out to bloggers. When I found out that there was a possibility of pre-screening the film for free because I had a site, I was really psyched (movie phrase). But since there were no pre-screenings in the Columbia, SC market, I was content to receive a cap and tshirt - sweet. We made plans to meet friends, and drove to see In Good Company after the evening's 8-to-10-yr-old basketball game. I wasn't disappointed - very nice film for a winter's evening out.

    I like Dennis Quaid, and most of the family roles he's taken lately have been good fathers (The Rookie, Frequency). And I think Topher Grace has a certain sarcastic confident thing about him that's cool to watch, too (very similar to Zach Braff in Garden State, another one I've liked recently). To that mix is added Scarlett Johansson, who will be the It Girl with a quiet confidence like Grace Kelly maybe mixed with some of the timing of Katherine Hepburn. Am I pouring it on a little thick?

    All that to say, I liked this movie. Lots of good meaningful dialogue, a plot that allowed for alot of character development and interplay, and a story that just drew me in with its camera shots and timing. Some people might think it was slow, and it was - but it was to an effect that worked for me. Dan Foreman (Quaid) is a father who's going through kids in college and a new baby and layoffs, all at the same time. Carter Duryea (Grace) is the 26-yr-old "boss" who's been brought in by the corporate takeover to do some new things. In the end, they probably both needed each other - but it's Duryea who grows up, or at least begins to enjoy growing up in a system he'd been "groomed" to work. The biggest lesson anyone can learn is probably to find what's worthwhile rather than just what fills the bottom line.

    We went to the movie tonight "in good company", connecting with Dave and Sarah (but it was sold out so Bruce & Debbie couldn't make it with us). I'd recommend seeing this movie with someone - definite conversation starter, and that's pretty much the point. Might be pretty crowded this opening weekend, and I hope it does well at the box office. This theater wasn't prepared for a sold-out crowd, and that's gotta mean good things down the road.


    Photo Friday: Signs


  • Youth Basketball at the rec center
  • In Good Company with folks from small group
  • post-movie coffee/books at Barnes & Noble
  • Saturday morning clean-up
  • 7-yr-old girl birthday party
  • Saturday NFL Playoffs
  • Gamecocks vs. UT 7pm on FoxSportsSouth
  • Sunday morning @ Seacoast - good morning, sermon on "overhaulin' the physical!"
  • Sunday NFL Playoffs
  • Reading: Peter and the Starcatchers; Leadership Wisdom From Unlikely Voices; Mr. Timothy

  • Thursday, January 13, 2005

    Waking The Dead

    I sleep heavy. That's a relatively recent change in my natural instinctual way of doing things. I remember being a very light sleeper growing up. Someway somehow, when the kids were born I became the heavy log sleeper and my wife changed to a much lighter sleeper than she'd been previuosly. It's been like this for a long time, and I don't see any end or reversal in sight.

    For the past few years, my wife has asked that the alarm clock/radio be moved to her side of the bed. For whatever reason, it hasn't been done, but this week with us still getting used to the routine of no winter break and needing to be up for work and school, my heavy sleeping has gotten the better of us. Last night, I moved the clock/radio - along with the power strip is was attached to, under the bed, behind the headboard, all that. The clock is on her side now.

    So of course, I woke up early.

    She might leave a comment here that she didn't sleep that well, waking up at various times last night for the dawg and for our daughter's entry to our room, but that kind of thing happens fairly frequently already, clock or no clock. It's rare that I wake up as well as I did relatively "on my own" - and it's the morning after the clock/radio gets moved to the other side of the bed. Coincidence? Of course, I also turned the TV off last night and fell asleep before 11pm, but naaaahh - that wouldn't have anything to do with it.

    Ultimately, there's some switch inside that says "I want to go back to bed rather than get up" or "Ok, let's get it started". It's curling up tighter under the covers versus swinging out into the abyss of the day. If my little girl stands at my bedside and just stares at me snoring, I'll wake up. If my alarm clock goes off enough to wake up the zipcode, I can sleep through that. Freaky.

    And oh yeah, we're gonna start reading Waking The Dead with our small group next week. Thought it might be appropriate to get my morning wake-up routine ironed out beforehand.

    Wednesday, January 12, 2005

    Books, Authors, Shelves

    I have way too much fun with these things...

    This is how this meme works. Copy the list from the last person in the chain, delete the names of the authors you don't have on your home library shelves and replace them with names of authors you do have. Bold the replacements.

    Then link to the person you got it from, which is me of course. Silly.

    J.D. Salinger
    Leonard Sweet
    Jane Austen
    Brian McLaren
    Donald Miller
    Dave Barry
    James Joyce
    Flannery O'Connor
    C.S. Lewis

    Also please let me know if you do this. I love books.

    "Get Fuzzy"

    Too funny.

    Tuesday, January 11, 2005


    What kind of music do you listen to, and if it's not mostly country and/or rap, what would you recommend?

    I concentrate better with music in the background. Or I concentrate on the music and everything else just magically gets done. Take your pick. But don't start talking if I'm listening to my music. I'll put on headphones faster than spit if I want to listen to something deep, something smooth and ignore the rest of the world. Sometimes I put on headphones at work to block everything else out and get my work done, and other times I leave them off so I don't zone out from the living world completely.

    I just got a SanDisk 256 MP3 player for Christmas, and I'm getting used to loading & downloading ripped tracks. With that and the newly downloaded iTunes, I'm set. My eclectic acoustic shuffle on iTunes right now: U2, Maroon5, Sara Groves, Five For Fighting, Caedmon's Call.

    Right Or Righteous?

    "The Sermon on the Mount is a dividing message. It makes you either want to climb the mount of faith or run from it. Christ's words outline just how difficult the journey can become. Guard your personal relationships. Give with abandon. Forgive. Forgive. And then, forgive some more...

    "It's backward thinking. Embrace those who hurt others. Love those who hate. Yet in the kingdom of God, it makes sense. Jesus goes on to explain why: 'In order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven'...

    "It's precisely in those points we're wronged, those moments we partake of the cross, when we have no obligation, when it's not comfortable, that Christ quietly gives us the opportunity to be more like Him.Maybe it's a bill you don't have any obligation to pay. Maybe it's a workplace problem you have no reason to overlook. Maybe it's a person who only knows how to wrong you in words or action. Maybe it's not what's been done, but what's been left undone. Whatever the reason, whatever the source, the invitation remains - to be right or to be righteous."

    - Margaret Feinberg, in Deeper Walk Vol. 2, pp. 58-59

    Monday, January 10, 2005

    Monday, Again

    Looking back on my morning (not that anyone would be bored enough to actually do that), I began to wonder why I actually looked forward to today being Monday?!?

    I woke up late this morning, 6:45am, after sleeping way too heavy last night. Getting in the shower helped, and I felt refreshed and awake (finally). My wife - bless her heart - had been up for awhile already and had started getting kids ready for school by the time I was out and headed downstairs. My duties in the morning are usually breakfast, make sure lunches are packed and shoes are on and teeth are brushed, make the coffee (first priority, of course), and get myself and the children ready to head to the car by 7:30am.

    We made good time getting out the door and on the road to school. Traffic isn't usually that bad, but if we're behind a bus it takes away a few minutes. Clear this morning, and the conversation was fairly quiet - the kids looked out to see the sunrise, watch a plane takeoff from the airport, and talked about the possibilities for their PE classes today. After I dropped them off, Vicki called as I was merging onto I-26 West from Hwy #1 - can you say "dangerous"? - trying to shift gears and put the coffee down while merging in at 70mph with a cellphone earbud going off. Woo hoo. Anyway, good commute this morning, especially putting in my new U2 CD and just letting "Yahweh" perk me up as I merged onto I-20 East.

    Getting into work and settling at my desk is usually relaxing, too - getting my laptop connected and getting the weekend's email downloaded, I can get some coffee (not as good as home brew, I assure you) and start to jot down my to-do's for the day. I read this morning's devotion - didn't get to it before leaving the house - and spent some time meditiating on God's love, thanking Him for being so generous with it when I/we take it so much for granted.

    All that to say/write - I'm glad it's Monday today, again. The first work day usually isn't all that for me - "I Hate Mondays" was a mantra for me before Garfield stole it. But right now, I'm just glad to be working, to have a family, to be able to commute around town to be productive and get things done. God loves us, and He wants us to enjoy life, Mondays included. I don't want to miss anything, and I want to be prepared to do "the next right thing" that will open up my life to others for God to flow and move and work. That's the way I'm looking at this week - hopefully the feeling will carry through to Friday.

    Choosing Sides?

    "If you're not with Me, you're against Me." That's Jesus speaking, and I've always read and heard that verse as "if you're not *for* Me...", but in the NIV it's translated as *with*, and that makes all the difference in the world, doesn't it? Being *for* something is more about belief and being onboard with a mission or vision. But being *with* means more than the mental assent - that you're living life together, placing yourself alongside another.

    We're never, because of our fallen natures and still-being-sanctified lives, really completely *for* Jesus... but in His grace and by His mercy we can be *with* Him, even when we mess up. At the same time, He's never really completely, because of His infinite and new-every-morning mercies, totally *against* us because He is *for* us to come to Him and live the abundant life He richly offers in relationship with Himself. And He is, according to His promises, always *with* us, too. That is so whacked out.

    Sunday, January 09, 2005


    I finished Donald Miller's quite engaging book this afternoon, and I just wanted to post that I'm better for having read it completely through. Many books challenge me - few keep my attention long enough to get to the last page. In Searching For God Knows What (coppyright 2004, Donald Miller; published by Thomas Nelson, Inc.), Miller confronts what he calls "lifeboat theology", where only a few certain people who do the right things or look the right way will be rescued in the end, and that all others will be voted out of the lifeboat for the survival of the fortunate few. If this is the typical cultural outlook on life, then it had deceptively infiltrated the church to create a place where people try harder to show that Christians are cool than to show the love and servant heart of Christ to the world around us.

    I first read BLUE LIKE JAZZ last summer, discovering Miller as a writer from someone else's blog, I'm sure. I was struck by his honesty, his storytelling and his life that seemed to mirror mine in its search for identity and worth. I think I liked this follow-up book better, though - more than being about "me" or being about Miller's story, it's about God and Christ's Story and how we interact and connect in there. That intersection of our little stories and His big Story is where real change and challenge are born, and I think Miller has picked it up convincingly.

    The biggest thing I'm taking away is that where we've reduced the gospel to five bullet points in a flashy and attractive pamphlet for public dispersion, we need to re-think our viewpoints and perspectives and ask ourselves if we even really know Christ, if we really love Him more than His stuff. We can't describe love or mystery without getting into metaphors and story and imagery - how can we talk about the gospel in such scientific and lifeless terms as we do? I've been one who's been overly mental about finding "hidden truths" in the Bible, thinking things that no one's thought of before - when I should probably be about finding out what others have thought first and trying those things on in my life instead of being a lone ranger and making it up as I go. I find myself right now wanting to make sure the relationship is right - the obedience will flow from relationship, not vice versa, and we cannot please God without loving Him first as He has first loved us.

    The last chapter nailed it for me (and will be a big selling point when I tell Vicki to read it, too) - how Shakespeare brought Christ/Church imagery to life in Romeo & Juliet. My hope is that my life, challenged as it's been by this book and others I've read lately, will be as poetic a story of Christ's love as this play is used here.

    Searching For God Knows What is worth the time, worth the questions, worth the late nights and double lattes to read. We discover that there is no lifeboat, that there is no hierarchy or favoritism, that there is nothing but love and acceptance and freedom and forgiveness being offered by God as we fellowship with Him. For me, it's time to get out of the boat, to let others wrangle over who they think should survive to the next round, and I'll just swim and surf with the Savior, thanks very much.

    "Do The Next Right Thing"

    We had a very nice and challenging time at church this morning. This month's series is titled OVERHAULIN', teaching the congregation/s how to change some things heading into 2005 - overhaulin' spiritually, physically, relationally. After Pastor Greg preached from Charleston, Pastor Jeff challenged the local Irmo body to get into some new habits by "just doing the next right thing". If I'm dealing with anger issues, then the next right thing is to not get angry at my kids as soon as we get in the car after worship. If it's a laziness issue, then the next right thing would be to help clear the table after dinner at Grandma's. If it's a self-centered sin hindering my growth, the next right thing might be to make sure other folks are okay before worrying about my own stuff this afternoon. That might not be how he put it exactly, but that's how I took it, and it's challenging the bejeebers out of me already.

    Really good series, and I'm looking forward to the rest of it throughout January. If you're interested, go to the Seacoast/Irmo site and listen to or watch the sermon from this morning (usually posted by Monday evening or Tuesday morning). For now, I'm just looking for the next right thing...

    Sunday Morning Coffee

    Good coffee, gooooooood coffee. I need this this morning, probably need this day this morning, if that makes any sense grammatically. After a week of being up-and-down mentally & spiritually, being contemplative and dwelling on so many things past & present & future, there is always a Sunday to decide to go to church, to decide to get washed up and presentable for public interaction, to decide to gather the family into the Family Truckster (couldn't help it, Vacation is on one of the cable networks this morning) and drive around town to Seacoast/Irmo.

    Pastor Jeff emailed me this week, really just a few moments after I posted on missing the old small group gathering leadership thing. He said that whenever I'm ready to get back into the game, there's a spot for me to use my gifts. Wow, how encouraging that was at the time. I want to get into the leadership small group, learn "the Seacoast way", and then let things do what they'll do. So this morning, I decide to go to church, to pay attention, to meet people and shake hands and smile and say "hi" and mean it. I decide to worship God this morning, to listen and to gracefully obey.

    I also decide to finish that Donald Miller book today, and to get started on Peter and the Starcatchers. I decide to watch football all afternoon, and to give our old coffeepot to a loving home. I decide to not yell at my kids, instead to tickle them into submission. I decide to have fun, dangit, and enjoy this morning no matter what. And I decide to finish this cup of coffee before taking my shower - and before pouring ths travel mugs for Vicki & I before church (ever tell you how cool it is to have church in a theater - great comfy seats with cupholders!).

    Saturday, January 08, 2005

    Christian Right

    "I assure you, once we leave the fight over our country's future and enter the spiritual battle for the hearts and souls of the lost, the church will flourish, and the kingdom of God will grow. God is not in the business of brokering for power over a nation; He is in the business of loving the unloved and pulling sheep put of the crags and bushes."
    - Donald Miller, Searching For God Knows What, p. 194

    Friday, January 07, 2005

    I Am The Walrus

    Koo koo ka choo.

    I find myself being really pensive, really contemplative these days. I've written it off to a loss of confidence over the past year, a loss of risk-taking that's probably not a good thing, but it's where I'm at right now. I'm more cautious with what I say and how I say it, because I really don't want to offend or hurt or be too thick when sharing what's on my mind. So I think my thinks and process the life inside more and more, and there's no real outlet for outflow of any of this in conversation. Well, except for this blog I guess, and for my wife who hears more of my off-the-wall thoughts than anyone else these days. And I've got AIM friends (you know who you are) who let me type my compulsives away while reserving judgment and letting me unleash the hounds, so to speak.

    We've just gotten our feet wet in the small group we joined last fall, and it'll be a couple more weeks before we meet again to start a new book discussion. It'll be good, and I'm looking forward to it. But I miss leading, teaching, facilitating. I miss asking the hard & stupid questions that get a whole room to think from a different perspective. I miss the conversations that start one week and simmer over time 'til we meet again next week. I miss the way it used to be, because in the midst of all I was dealing with the small group and study time together was still such a wonderful release for me. It'll come again - and it'll have a new flavor with new friends and new relationships and new ideas and new perspectives that already stretch me in new ways. But I miss it the way it was, too.

    I don't know if that's a bad thing or not. I want to be open, to be teachable and leadable for whatever comes next in this life. I don't want to go back, I really don't. But I look forward to the time when some of that re-enters the picture.

    Traffic On I-20

    this is an audio post - click to play


    Photo Friday: "Silhouette" - Travel mugs for morning commute

    Thursday, January 06, 2005

    Answer This, Epilogue

    I asked first what is "romantic love", and received a few responses (my wife asked last night, "should I be concerned that you're asking that question?" - "no, dearest [wink]"). My second question was what is "the gospel" - and again, I got a few responses. Thanks for the feedback; I really appreciate it. I don't have enough readers probably to make this a full-blown experiment, and I'm not going to read into the answers beyond what was written.

    Those two questions were prompted by something in Searching For God Knows What by Donald Miller. In Chapter Ten (p. 151ff), he wonders on paper why we think we've got God all figured out - we can talk about the gospel and salvation in four bullets inside a slick pamphlet - but if we were asked to describe something like romantic love, we'd start with metaphors and stories and "it's like this" and "like that" and we'd share what we know while still conveying that we know we're not completely doing the subject justice. Basically, we have figured out infinite God, but we can't fully comprehend something as comparatively basic as aspects of love.

    I think all of the answers were right on, as much as we can get our finite minds around infinite subjects. But it made me think: how often do I think I've got God figured out? And how often does He wreck those conceptions, and how often does that tick me off in life?

    Wednesday, January 05, 2005

    Answer This, Part Three

    Here's the "for real" follow-up question to this one I posted earlier: What is "the Gospel"?

    Please leave your responses in the comments. Thanks for taking the time - I really appreciate it.

    Answer This, Part Two

    Actually, not going to have anything to do with part one yesterday, but this is a wonderful post from Andrew Jones answering the question What Is Emergent?


    First of all, you've got to know that I was up way too late last night, but it was for a good cause (and I think USC just scored on Oklahoma again). But after helping with the laundry and making chili for tonight's church potluck, I went to bed after midnight with a nasty case of reflux or something. Let's just say that the aftertaste this morning is on the burning hurting painful blehch side of bad.

    This morning, while still working through my throat/reflux issues, is the first day of school for the children, so we needed to get back into the week-daily routine of shower-dress-kids-get-up-dress-make-coffee-eat-breakfast-get-out-the-door, and I'm pleased to say that we jumped back into the stream of consciousness pretty well. As much of a headache mornings can be sometimes, it's good for us to have deadlines and routine and pressure to be somewhere by a certain time. At school, at work, at the church gathering tonight - just good to have some boundaries instead of doing whatever whenever we want. At least for this family.

    Nothing really profound there ( but, dang, USC just scored again - that score's gotta be so ginormous!), just feeling safe and confident and rested... and got this dang aftertaste going.

    Tuesday, January 04, 2005

    Answer This, Part One

    What is "romantic love"?

    [not a rhetorical question - really wanted to see what kinds of answers you might have]

    "Life In Every Breath"

    My morning commute is, thankfully, uneventful. I spend the time thinking about yesterday, pumping myself up a bit for today, and flipping channels on my XMRoadie. This morning, I stopped on the Cinemagic channel (nothing getting my attention on the HearMusic/Starbucks channel), and there was a portion of the score and dialogue of The Last Samurai. The two leads are talking, one a Samurai Warrior and the other a Civil War-scarred American. They understand each other, the pain, the nightmares, the guilt. But the Samurai has a refuge, a place to retire where he can ponder that all men die, and that there is still life in every breath.

    Then my devotional this morning includes this sentence: "God's love is always infinitely deeper than our awareness or expression of it" (James Montgomery Boice). Paul writes in Ephesians 2:4 that "Because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive in Christ even when we were dead in transgressions..." - and the sentiment of the Samurai has found a place where the death and guilt and sinfulness with which we are burdened can be dealt with gracefully in the fulness of life that comes through the love of God.

    It's a freedom thing for me this morning - going back to work, getting back into a routine after the holidays. I hold too tightly, most of the time, to the triumphs and to the regrets of the past. It's difficult to find "life in every breath" if I'm living with these burdens and hindrances. God's love is above that, releases us from that - even while we're in the midst of life and all it's trappings, He's freeing us from it.

    If He's freeing us from the burdens of life, why do we hold onto them still? I think it's because sometimes it really hurts to breathe life that deeply...

    Monday, January 03, 2005


    It's been a few years since I flipped a car past the 100K mile mark. Took this photo on the way home - and had my wife ask, "why were you playing with your camera phone while driving 70 mph down the interstate?!?"

    Girls just don't understand.

    Heart Surgery

    A little girl, the baby daughter of a co-worker, is finally undergoing a heart transplant operation this morning. She's been in the hospital since October with a condition that's been life-threatening. Please pray for little Sarah today, that her Healer will work wonders, that the Comforter will undergird and strengthen and encourage her parents and the doctors. Thanks.

    UPDATE 12:25p - From her family's carepage: "We have been receiving hourly updates. The surgery is now complete and Sarah is doing well. She should be back in her room recovering within 1 1/2 hours. The surgery was completed within 2 hours." Amen.

    UPDATE 01/04, 08:36a - "Sarah had a good night while recovering from yesterday's surgery. She has been taken off the paralidic drug and is already twiching around. The respirator has also been turned down and she is breathing her own breaths in between the ones being administered mechanically. The first couple of days are critical and usually involve a lot of medical attention with adjustments to medications, etc. Hopefully Sarah will continue to make the anticipated progress steadily... We will continue to post updates on her condition..."... and I'll keep posting & updating here, too. Thanks for praying, y'all.

    Sunday, January 02, 2005

    Christmas To The Curb

    Walking around our neighborhood tonight (yes, I did walk and yes, I am a sweaty nasty mess), I saw that for the most part Christmas is dead in our part of the world. Along the route, every third or fourth house had its Christmas tree laying curbside, waiting for the tree fairies to carry the trees off to a beautiful tree retirement community in the foothills of Nirvana. I don't see it as a sad thing - I think it's good to let go of the holiday and get back into the "real world" of work and school and deadlines and bill payments. Kicking Christmas to the curb like that means it's okay to move on, time to move on, let's get a move on and move on.

    Other homes still have their lights up, and that's okay, too. Laziness is its own reward - naah, really not passing judgment. Their houses are still celebrating, still remembering the joy and laughter and giving and receiving of another holiday season. By this time next week, most of those houses will be de-decorated, too, and most of those trees will join their buddies in the curb. For now, they're just still a little too party-hardy to give it up completely.

    I had my first profound thought of the year while walking through the 'hood: forgiveness doesn't restore relationship, doesn't automatically bring reconciliation and renewed fellowship. That's deep for me - forgiveness for the Christian has been a redundant reality for me, something needed to restore relationship with the Father. Jesus forgives in totality, but if I falter and fail then I need to repent and confess so that the relationship can be restored, right? But there's more than that. Forgiveness removes the barrier my sin throws up between me and Christ, but the relationship won't automatically jump back to "normal" just because I said I'm sorry. Doesn't happen in real life, and it doesn't happen with God. So what is it? What restores relationship? Where does real reconciliation come from?

    My first thought, the slightly profound one, is that it comes from the continued and constant pursuit of God towards me, His child, and my renewed and resurrected pursuit of Him, my Father. That's where reconciliation comes from, I think. Not only does He forgive, but He's still in constant pursuit. My confession and repentance open the door for restoration, but I must also walk through and pursue fellowship with Him. In my life, I've screwed up with others. Others have forgiven me and I've forgiven others, but relationship is still often held off because there's not always a mutual "I want us to get back together" going on. When we sin against each other, when we hurt each other - there's a tendency to grow apart, to let that one go, to hold onto the hurt whenever that person comes to mind or enters a room. "I forgive you, but we have nothing left together".

    Christmas trees are on the curb all up and down the street. For me, it's time to live in pursuit of relationship, to re-discover some form of confidence in fellowship with new friends and old friends.

    So Far, So Good

    Well, here we are on the second of January and this year's not going so bad. I felt rotten earlier, waking up with a head ache and going thru some tummy flu symptoms this afternoon - but it was nothing a two hour nap couldn't cure. For my five resolutions, I've worked diligently on three of them so far: I read my devotion this morning (on the fiery love of God), I haven't bought any new books but instead picked up an unfinished one before the aforementioned nap, and I have not to my knowledge eaten blue paint yet. I will be walking later this evening after the kids go to bed, and I'll be thinking about the whole write-a-book-this-year challenge. So I'm right in there, working hard to stay focused and disciplined. So far.

    Saturday, January 01, 2005


    I'm not big on New Year's Resolutions, but I'm also not big on long-term goal-setting commitments in general - which is why I feel the need to actually write down a few more pointed & specific things to shoot for in the coming year.

  • I resolve to finish reading books I've started before buying any new books this year (but only the good ones - sometimes you don't finish a book because it sucks).

  • I resolve to have a non-PC-based devotional time every morning. I've got three decent devotionals that should be able to take me through the year, starting today in How Great Thou Art (Halliday & Travis). It's a book I received as a gift about four Christmases ago, and I think it'll be worth my morning to dig deep. This morning: "Infinite Love", how God calls us to know the unknowable in pondering how infinite and unending His love really is. Great way to start a year.

  • I resolve to walk/exercise three times per week.

  • I resolve to write a book, and to pursue publishing (knowing that the timetable of a year might not be sufficient to actually get published, but shooting for that in the process).

  • I resolve to not eat any blue paint in 2005. Of all my resolutions, this one is usually the easiest to keep. Do you keep all of your resolutions?

  • Two Thousand Five