Monday, February 28, 2005


This is the only good thing to come out of the Gamecocks' loss to Florida this past Sunday.


As I survey the ground for ants
Looking for a place to sit and read
I'm reminded of the streets of my hometown
How they're much like this concrete that's warm beneath my feet

And how I'm all wrapped up in my mother's face
With a touch of my father just up around the eyes
And the sound of my brother's laugh
But more wrapped up in what binds our ever distant lives

But if I must go
Things I trust will be better off without me
But I don't want to know
Life is better off a mystery

So keep'em coming these lines on the road
And keep me responsible be it a light or heavy load
And keep me guessing with these blessings in disguise
And I'll walk with grace my feet and faith my eyes

Hometown weather is on TV
I imagine the lives of the people living there
And I'm curious if they imagine me
Cause they just wanna leave; I wish that I could stay

And to visit places from my past
But only for an hour or so
Which is long enough to smell the air
To tell the tale and find the door

But I get turned around
I mistake some happiness for blessing
But I'm blessed as the poor
Still I judge success by how I'm dressing

So I'll sing a song of my hometown
I'll breathe the air and walk the streets
Maybe find a place to sit and read
And the ants are welcome company

And how I'm all wrapped up in my mother's face
With a touch of my father just up around the eyes
And the sound of my brother's laugh
But more wrapped up in what binds our ever distant lives

So keep'em coming these lines on the road
And keep me responsible be it a light or heavy load
And keep me guessing with these blessings in disguise
And I'll walk with grace my feet and faith my eyes

And I'll walk with grace my feet and faith my eyes.
And I'll walk with grace my feet and faith my eyes.

- "Faith My Eyes", Caedmon's Call
I need these words this morning. It's going to be a long, arduous, exciting, stomach-turning week. And it's Monday. The coffee's good. My feet need grace, and my eyes need faith.

Sunday, February 27, 2005


Found this post through some blog surfing this morning, and I appreciate the contrast posted on "propositional truth" versus "relational truth". I think people are just more open to truth in community, truth lived out, truth that's meaningful - more than taking a stand on "objective" or "absolute" truth.

Borrowing and re-posting his table here:

Sin Breaking a rule Betraying a relationship
Repentance Admitting guilt Sorrowing over personal
Forgiveness Canceling a penalty Renewing fellowship
Faith Believing a set Committing one's self to
of propositions a person
Christian Obeying rules Pleasing the Lord,
life a person

[James W. Sire, The Universe Next Door, p.110. Modified]

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Where Was This During MY Undergrad?

  • - Coffee a popular topic on college campuses - Feb 25, 2005

    I could've aced this... wonder what the class schedule for the major would look like?


    I first began reading Brian McLaren a few years ago with Finding Faith, and just recently read and reviewed a Generous Orthodoxy - but what I've been waiting for this past year is the next and final book of the trilogy that started with A New Kind Of Christian, a book that changed the way I think about relationships and conversation first, and about my own Christianity second.

    In The Last Word, And The Word After That (copyright 2005, Jossey-Bass Publishers), McLaren continues the tale of Dan and Neo - almost, because the characters and the author try to pull completely away from the Matrix coincidences before digging into what becomes the main pursuit of the book: "what the hell is hell all about?" Our story opens with Dan still embroiled in controversy at church, only it's now escalated to having him on administrative leave while the council decides if he's gone off the theological deep-end and if he's still welcome as their pastor. The accusations and misunderstandings, and Dan's hurt and confusion over just trying to be true to himself and what he feels God is doing within his own life - all of that tended to hit close to home, mirroring some conversations and email threads I've participated in over the past few years since the publication of the first book.

    I'm not giving anyone a spoiler by saying this book is preoccupied with hell. The entire introduction gives that plot point away (something I think might've worked better as an afterward, but I'm not the powers-that-be), and it gets after this subject fairly early on. Opening dialogue of exclusivism, inclusivism and universalism leads into conversations with Dan's daughter, a hermaphroditic poet and Neil Oliver (Neo, without the nickname), and those conversations lead... all over the place really. My take on Dan and Neo is that they are more preoccupied with their own personal integrity and sincerity in their beliefs than in "getting it right". Ask the questions, deal with the ambiguity, and when it all breaks down and you can't make sense, then "I don't know" works pretty well (that's the title of chapter six, "I Don't Know"). In some ways, Dan's "descent into hell" probably parallels the poetry in Dante's Inferno, but really it's just a man and his friends asking questions to try to make sense out the who and what and when and how of God's mercy and justice played out in an eternal timeframe.

    What does Dan discover about hell and heaven and Mesopotamian afterlife myths? I'll leave that to the reader. What I appreciate most about the book is that Dan, in the midst of his internal searching, finds people who are also searching, who are also looking for conversations and asking questions that they are scared will get them excommunicated from their local church. That's just so real, isn't it? I mean, there are people who are solid and unwavering and unquestioning, and sometimes they get in the way of those who are just asking different questions and looking for something more meaningful than before. In finding "co-conspirators", he has found friends, and he is encouraged that the questions are at least valuable in giving meaning and hope to real relationships in real community - the kingdom-life being lived together, making sense in working it out together.

    Our view of salvation, of the gospel, of our own purposes here and beyond will hinge at least a little on our concept of hell and eternal punishment, and heaven and eternal bliss. I don't know that I have any more "answers" on those topics now than I did before reading the book, but I really sincerely appreciate the conversation and being able to join Dan on one more journey.

    One more note: read the other two books first. McLaren wrote the book in such a way that you don't need the backstory - but you do. Trust me on this. You need to know about the Amish Jellies and watching the mating patterns of turtles in the South Pacific. These chats and coffee breaks and questions and confusions and hopefulness have served to entertain and stretch me in ways non-fiction probably wouldn't be able to touch.

    A Short History

  • next-wave > church & culture: What I am and what I'm not - or a short history and explanation of the wider "emerging church" by Alan Creech

    Good conversational article on what the changing church looks like today, beyond "emergent" and "postmodern", looking at how these things were happening before the labels, how some are formed out of hurt and pain, how leadership structures are different. My downside for anyone wary of these changes is that it's going to happen, but you'll still find churches and local bodies that will not move in these new directions, and that's okay. My upside is that these churches will be the ones that reach your children and grandchildren - this is the church your son or daughter is looking for right now, possibly. It's more organic, more relational, less institutional.
    Relationships are very important here, almost paramount. They are the vehicle through which all things "church" flow. If it short-circuits or goes against the grain of relationship, they don't do it. I'll pause here and say I'm all about that. They've tapped into part of the way God designed us and are flowing with it. See, institutions aren't very relational. There may be relationships happening at the micro level of these churches but I would say that's in spite of it and not because of it. Titular, hierarchical leadership which separates the "clergy" from the "laity" (laos = people, aren't we all that?) is anti-relational and thus against real spiritual formation in the Body, thus anti-God. Do the math I guess. Share moment again: my original "vision" when I pulled out to start Vine & Branches included the word Relational in very high order. It was about being more relational, less hierarchical, and more grace-oriented/less legalistic or rule-based. So, I used those words and had concepts in my mind about what a church should look like and was deeply familiar with the Cell Church movement - then it evolved from there into what we are now. The lines criss-cross quite a bit. We emerged out of the ashes of the old way and grew into something new and perhaps very old.
    Some of the words and concepts seem to be so far out there that it looks like folks have left Christianity. To be honest, some have left too much behind. But other times however, it seems to me that what's been left behind needed to be dropped and what's been found in its place is more true to Christ, the Body living the life of the Kingdom together.
    There are churches started by people who've pulled out of denominations, or maybe to the very edge of them, who still value Truth as it has always been handed down in the ancient catholic tradition - the universally held truths of the church from the beginning. The term McLaren has thrown around lately - post-protestant - is a good term for this bunch. I honestly don't think it fits with everyone in the "emerging" arena. There is still a good bit of sola scriptura, old line protestantism in the mix. In this newer world, though, there is an embracing of all things Christian and not just one chapter. Oh, there was also this Bob Webber dude who wrote a book called Ancient-Future Faith a while back that struck some chords. Again, not everyone in the whole phenomenon has resonated with this ancient catholic thing, but many have and are. I personally see this as a further evolution on the whole simple/organic thing. It's that with a theological compass, as it were.

    There is a good deal of good deep theological thought going on in this stream of the whole business. How these churches are "constructed" are flowing from deeper waters, I think. The rethinking of pulpit-pew preaching is not just about people being bored by that, but more about this being a very limited view of how the church functions as she meets together. There is more of a holistic view. In other words, there's not just Martin Luther and Zwingli to take into consideration, but also, and perhaps more, there is St. Ignatius of Antioch, Origen, Tertullian and Basil. There are the many monastic renewal movements starting in the 6th century and on through the middle ages. There is the deep and ancient tradition of Christian Mysticism which has been handed down and which still exists today in many Catholic monasteries. Perhaps St. Patrick and many of the Celtic missional monastic tradition could be mentioned as highly influential of this stream.
    I want to be here, in some shape or form: seeking the lost, emphasizing evangelism in community with others, and adhering to the truth unwaveringly.

    [article linked via A Cup Of Rich]

  • Friday, February 25, 2005

    Just Not Right, Hootie Blog - Discussing Daytona 02/20: "They're not saying 'Hootie,' they're saying 'Phooey!' Darius Rucker (lead singer of Hootie and the Blowfish) may have just let everyone know that his career is officially over. He just appeared in a cowboy outfit singing in a Burger King commercial. Posted 5:32 p.m."
    I saw it and did a double-take. I even have "I Only Wanna Be With You" on my ringtone for when my wife calls my cell... Now, I'm not sure. There better be some humungoid burger coupons in this for Darius and the boys. I bet Soni is still shaking his head somewhere over in Shandon.


    Photo Friday: Ghostly

    Reflection of the camera in the gold sphere in the middle of the tablelamp on my desk - not really spooky, maybe a bit ghostly. Ehh.

    Thursday, February 24, 2005


    Sidenote: - Doctors perform tracheotomy on pope - Feb 24, 2005: since I'm posting something on "conversations", I just wanted to write that I really feel sad over his failing health. Whatever differences we may have theologically, he would be someone worth having with you on a deserted island for the rich conversations to be had. I pray he'll recover quickly.
    I am at a point in my life, in my Christian walk, where conversations play a huge & important role. That's why I'm hoping that the Sunday morning Q & A sessions at Seacoast/Irmo will be meaningful for those who come and join in the discussion.
    SHAMELESS PLUG: If you're in the Columbia/Irmo area, and you have nothing better to do Sunday mornings at 9am - join us at Seacoast/Irmo in the Columbia Grande Theaters on Bower Pkwy, off Harbison Blvd in Irmo. The Q & A sessions will be kicking off Sunday March 3rd @ 9am in Theater 14, and meet every Sunday from here to whenever. And let me know you're coming - I'll save coffee and donuts for you, and you'll get to relax in the best church seats you've ever experienced (cupholders, for crying out loud!).
    That first Sunday, the plan right now is to talk about Jesus, about God the Father and the Holy Spirit, and maybe Salvation and Why We're Here In The First Place. That's probably too much for one hour, but it'll lead into the next week's look at Truth and the Bible, and then the third week's conversation on Conversations and Relationships and Evangelism. I want to build a foundation for what we're learning, what we're experiencing, how to look at life through eyes of faith, how to ask better questions in response to the answers we find together.

    After that, it will be Easter Sunday and we'll take some time to look at the Resurrection and Kingdom-Living in light of Jesus' absence from the tomb. In April, I'm looking at probably starting a book study of Colossians - more expository, still discussion-based, full of good questions and looking for answers and solutions and better questions together.

    It's about the conversation, the give and take, the back and forth, the listening and listening again to each other as we speak and share from our hearts. Lofty goals, maybe - and I'm... really looking forward to relying on God's grace to move through us as it all unfolds. I've got my own anxieties and lack of confidence to overcome, and I hope it comes through as honesty and some semblance of humility in front of others. We'll see, won't we?

    Sleepy Day

    It's a rainy nasty day today - really a cruddy contrast to yesterday's sunny skies and 76F high temperature. It's 49F right now, might get to 56F, might not. Means that I'll be staying in for lunch today - catching up on some reading at my desk or something.

    Had an interesting time with our son last night. Normally, our 7-yr-old goes to bed by 8:30pm on a school night - we pray with her, tuck her in, turn on her lava lamp and her Pooh CD - and she's well asleep by 9pm. Our 9-yr-old goes to bed by 9pm, and we let him read for a few minutes before going in to pray with him, tuck him in and turn his lights off around 9:15pm. Last night, Vicki went upstairs just ready to crash about 10:15pm or so - and he was sitting in our room, watching cartoons, "waiting for you to come up... er... or something". Since we had just finished discussing his homework, and since he was wide awake, he came downstairs to finish up some things for his literacy class.

    Trace went back upstairs by about 10:30pm, supposedly to bed to go to sleep. This morning, we discovered that he had not gone to sleep, that he'd been reading a Calvin & Hobbes collection that he then hid under his pillow, and that we had no idea how long this little booger had stayed awake last night.

    It's coming around, isn't it? I'm a night owl, staying up way too late doing nothing most nights, and Vicki's a reader who'll forsake sleep to finish a good book any time she can swing it. He gets it honest - so there's no real "punishment", except that I might start him on the going-to-go-to-sleep-eventually journey around 8pm tonight. And I'm praying that he doesn't fall asleep during lunch or indoor recess or something.

    Keep this up, and he'll be a coffee-drinker before getting to high school.

    Wednesday, February 23, 2005

    Rock On

    Wow - two free downloads from iTunes and the caps on my Mountain Dews today. One this morning and one this afternoon. Downloaded "True" by Ryan Cabrera earlier, not sure what I'm going to get this time around. any suggestions?

    If you were going to have to choose one song to listen to for the rest of the day, what would it be? And would I like it?

    Tuesday, February 22, 2005


    This. headache. will. not. go. away. Ouch. my. eyes. are. throbbing. Not. fun.

    update 4:19pm - Whew - better. Nothing like a nap and a huge glass of water, after 2 cups of coffee and 2 Mtn Dews, to take over a caffeine/tension headache. My head's feeling much better, and my eyes have stopped rebelling against the rest of my head. Thanks for praying :)

    Monday, February 21, 2005


    Jeana posted a call for an "interview", and gave me five questions to answer. My turn to answer, and the rules to continue on are posted below:
    1. Could you be confused with Rick Dees of the Rick Dees top 40 music countown? Would you want to be.
    No, and no - but I do have a decent radio voice. I worked as a DJ at a local AM Christian station here in town during college, and most of my "southern drawl accent" went away. Still the best job I ever had. But I've got a feeling that Rick Dees is heading to the end of his illurtious career, or he's possessing the soul of Ryan Seacrest - either way, hopefully won't last much longer.

    2. I notice you have a picture of your kids(?) on your blog standing next to sponge-bob. Is spongebob gay? should we be launching political campaigns against fictional, imaginary characters?
    Yes, that's a photo of our kids, and yes, it's SpongeBob and Patrick, and no, they're completely straight & hetero, in a cartoony, bright yellow and pink kinda way. As for "political campaigns against fictional characters", by the time the elections actually roll around each cycle, I get the feeling it's all fictional anyway - don't you?

    3. What was the last adventure you went on... and was it rambling?
    Living the oh-so-adventurous life of dad and husband and employee, I'd have to say the "adventure" I'm currently on - where we're getting involved at a new church, doing leadership type things, getting ready to lead/facilitate a small group again - all that is a very rambling journey. The adventurous part was compounded as we were attacked by the characters from H.R. Puff'n'Stuff while... oh never mind. Not as funny as I thought.

    4. What are you currently reading? Would you recommend it?
    I'm always in the middle of at least four or five books, but I'll keep this to two that I'm really enjoying right now - THE COFFEEHOUSE GOSPEL, Matthew Paul Turner, and THE LAST WORD AND THE WORD AFTER THAT by Brian McLaren. Yes, I'd recommend them to anyone wanting to be challenged, stretched, embarassed, transformed, belittled, humbled, etc.

    5. Please give the definition of "blurfing".
    I found "blurfing" on someone else's site, so I'm not really sure who started it. It's "BLog sURFING" all squinched together, and it's what makes the world go 'round.
    The Official rules of the Interview-Game
    1. If you want to participate, leave a comment below saying "interview me."
    2. I will respond by asking you five questions - each person's will be different.
    3. You will update your journal/blog with the answers to the questions.
    4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview others in the same post.
    5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions
    6. I will answer reasonable follow up questions if you leave a comment.

    "Why Are You Here?"

    Wow, we've all slept "late" in this household. "Late" for a Monday morning, anyway - I rolled out of bed just before 8am, and T came downstairs about fifteen minutes later. It's Presidents' Day (Observed), and all of us have the day off.

    In my humble opinion, this is the best way to deal with Monday.

    So what does a 36-ish guy do on a Monday holiday morning with most of his family still asleep? You're right: surf through BlogExplosion. So if you're surfing through my site while I'm surfing through yours, leave a note and let us know where you're from, how you got here, and what your coffee order would be today.

    I'm going to brew some java now, get the house smelling just right.

    Sunday, February 20, 2005

    Q & A

    Concerning the S.A.T.:
    Roy: "People think these questions are hard."
    Desmond: "They're not?"
    Roy: "Naah. These questions all have answers."
    - The Perfect Score
    That's what I want the Q&A Study Sessions to be: full of questions, seeking answers, knowing that good answers will organicly lead to even better questions.

    Sunday Again

    Waking up this morning was difficult, and I can't imagine going through today without finding a nap in there somewhere. We're getting ready for church - important thing is that the coffee is ready; got to have good coffee when your church meets in a theater with great cupholders! - and I'm hoping to be a little earlier than normal. I want to check in with Pastor Jeff, see if there's anything I need to do/know for Monday evening's Small Group Leader HUDDLE, and see what's being promoted for our Sunday morning Q&A time that starts in a couple of weeks.

    I'm looking forward to tomorrow night, when all of the small group leaders will gather for the HUDDLE, seeing what the vision is for Seacoast, being challenged and empowered to do what we're called to do. I'll be meeting people, and then coaching people I'm just now meeting. No pressure there, right? And then in two weeks the Q&A Morning Study will start, giving some time on Sunday mornings before the service to dig a little deeper into the Word; probably a bit more expository in nature, hopefully a bit more discussion oriented than lecture. Again, no pressure, right? As I've blogged before, I am pumped by the challenge - and I'm nervous, anxious, unsure at certain levels. But that's a good thing. Keeps me honest.

    Here's the thing I've learned, and I'm believing will happen again: God is there when you move on what He's calling you to do, but He's hard to find when you're sitting still and scratching your own itch. That's basically what Oswald Chambers said in UTMOST/HIGHEST this morning:
    Daydreaming about something in order to do it properly is right, but daydreaming about it when we should be doing it is wrong. In this passage [John 14:31], after having said these wonderful things to His disciples, we might have expected our Lord to tell them to go away and meditate over them all. But Jesus never allowed idle daydreaming. When our purpose is to seek God and to discover His will for us, daydreaming is right and acceptable. But when our inclination is to spend time daydreaming over what we have already been told to do, it is unacceptable and God’s blessing is never on it. God will take the initiative against this kind of daydreaming by prodding us to action. His instructions to us will be along the lines of this: "Don’t sit or stand there, just go!" [02/20 devotional]
    It's not about the daydreaming; it's about the doing. And the planning, and the getting ready, and the preparations to do this thing right. But it's not about sitting and thinking and possibly worrying about it.

    This kind of thing really drives me. I'm passionate about leading discussions, studying God's word and seeing where we intersect with His Story, helping others and gaining from them insights into the kingdom being lived out here and now. In both challenges - coaching small group leaders and leading the new discussion time - I am humbled to be a part of something bigger than myself, and excited to be a part of something that will have life-changing possibilities for me and for everyone involved.

    Saturday, February 19, 2005

    Afternoon Surfing

    Back from the afternoon basketball tournament for the 8-10-yr-olds (Trace's team lost a close one by two at the buzzer - but he played really hard, and we're so proud!), we're settling in to watch basketball on TV and surf further in my bloglist.

  • WHOA - congratulations, Luis!

  • Linked from IdeaJoy (by way of Pernellog & DashHouse). Plenty to chew on right here, and it's driving me into Colossians for the rest of the weekend (and putting the book quoted below on my wishlist!).
    Every time we step into a Wal-Mart or Niketown or Gap or Winners and exclaim over the great deal we get on an article of clothing, or how trendy we now look, we've made sweatshop workers our slaves. Every time we buy coffee that isn't shade grown and fairly traded, we've made those coffee producers and their children into our slaves. Every time we have purchased a product - any product - that says Made in China, or Indonesia, or the Philippines, or Sri Lanka, it is pretty likely that we have made someone our slave...

    The truth is we have many choices...Our point is that when there are options available - whether various consumer choices or lobbying - to decide to do nothing is itself a choice. The Gospels call it the wide and easy path. But we can choose another path. There are ways to proclaim and enact Paul's word of release to slaves, women and children.

    [from Colossians Remixed]
  • Ah, just reminiscing over the days of linear algebra and kick-butt midterms. I so do not miss college.

  • Julie wonders what "mantra" to give to her straightxedge teenager - I suggested "don't be stupid", wishing someone had yelled that at me on my way out the door.

  • Justa Dad blogs about children selling things for fund-raisers. I, with my third-grader and first grader doing the exact same thing, feel your pain, sir.

  • Michelle is looking for new ways to connect to the community, mostly just getting out from in front of the TV - too true.

  • Myles takes the time to quote Thomas Merton - "The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them" - and to paint pictures of thoughts on relationship in Waco.

  • Rick has a good post on "Why the church wouldn't like Jesus".

  • David Z. wishes he could fly - don't we all?

  • Tish wished that wedding bands still meant something. Well they do in this house, sista!

    Well, enough blurfing (saw that word somewhere this week, "blog"+"surfing"="blurfing") - time to read and watch USC please please please beat 'Bama.

  • Quiet Saturday Morning

    Wow. I've been up since six o'clock, and no one else has gotten up yet. Sweet - normally, I'd have one or both children down here by now looking to watch Spongebob and totally scrooge my peace & quiet. But it's been pleasant. I've done the dishes, made coffee, and am now surfing my blogs list on the sidebar. Some good stuff, insights, life issues being shared.

  • Napoleon Dynamite spoof - found this through Greg @

  • Pray for Christine and her family going through the aftermath of a house fire.

  • Making meatloaf, with protective eyewear.

  • Really concise post on reading the Bible as one who's a part of the story at Abductive Columns.

  • WAY TOO MUCH free time at the FuelYM blog - except for this question: Whose idea was it to put an "S" in the word "lisp"?

  • Good story here: "So he walked the downtown sidewalks and pondered what good Art was without Faith."

    Well, I made it through the H's on the sidebar before I started hearing thuds and voices upstairs. Must be a normal Saturday morning. I need more coffee - definitely need to be fully caffeinated before being forced to watch Spongebob.

  • Friday, February 18, 2005

    Rural Enough?

    Photo Friday: Rural


    Feel that?


    My blog isn't a site for tearing down public figures or casting my opinions on church or political matters. OK, not most of the time anyway. So I apologize upfront for possibly doing what I'm charging by taking the time to write and post today.

    I must confess: I listen to the Albert Mohler program almost every afternoon during my drive home from work. It's quite like watching a train wreck: I'm pretty sure he's going to be talking about the failings of culture and of the Christian church to address those failings and we're all going to suffer from the catastrophic... whew. There is a build-up against things, but not a subsequent build-up for anything positive, in most cases anyway. I listen because I'm going to be offended, because I'm going to find myself self-righteously indignant over his name-calling and stereotyping, because I really feel sorry for someone who so readily has all the answers but who doesn't know there are other questions being asked besides, "who's against us as Christians now?".

    Case in point: last Tuesday's broadcast, "What Are the Great Issues Facing the Church Today?" (02/08/2005, mp3 available here). He and his guest Dr. Daniel Akin spoke on what is happening against the church, focusing mainly on "the emergent church" as a problem to be addressed and avoided. No names are mentioned; no books or authors or pastors or churches are spoken of specifically. The only thing really accomplished was the use of "the emergent church" in pejorative and generalized terms over and over and over again. What happens next? With all the labelling going on from Mohler and others, if someone actually hears a speaker or a book from a "the emergent church", there is an automatic repulsive reflex that shuts down the paths of communication, isn't there? By "being fair and not naming names" (I'm the last caller on the mp3, and I asked for some sources, politely wanting to know who he was basing this on), he's attacked the whole thing without leaving open any arena for dialogue.

    He has now named names, this week publishing a review of Brian McLaren's a Generous Orthodoxy. I've read the book, I've reviewed the book, and read Mohler's review, and I've got one big question: did we read the same book? Again, he has pieced together phrases from the text, added his own distaste more than real insight - it really makes me sad that someone takes more stock in "being proven right" than in living rightly in relationship to others. I do not need to defend McLaren, and there are parts of his book/s that are lacking and possibly offensive to me, but I hope I'm more open to the discussion without having to tear apart my opponents. I'm not going to couch my opinions in the midst of negative words and hurtful rhetoric.

    "Love your enemies" and "if you're not for Me, you're against Me" came from the same Savior. Looking for who's against us as Christians is not the way to live life. More often than not, we should be looking for ways to engage those who are against us so that we can live out the desire to be for them.

    [following links from Andrew Jones to Rick Bennett and beyond]

    Thursday, February 17, 2005

    Dang It

    I'm not in the best frame of mind right now. Sometime between leaving work yesterday and getting home last night, my disposition got all muddied up. I can point to one thing that probably did it, and looking back on it from this morning is completely nuts: during my son's basketball practice, before finally getting home around 7:30pm, I read a chapter in a book, and I got ticked off by what was happening to the main characters.

    I'm previewing The Last Word, and the Word After That by Brian McLaren, last book in the New Kind Of Christian trilogy. I guess I've gotten to know these characters over the course of the two previous books and several read-throughs and discussions, mainly online since so much of this type of thing tends to run people off in "real life".

    Anyway, right there in chapter one, Dan is on administrative leave - for "doctrinal issues" - from his pastoral position, and he's questioning some huge deep theological things. Then in the next chapter, the council seems to be taking the church, in Dan's absence and in reflexive response to what they think is happening, on a completely different path than before. Dan is furious, throwing a coffee mug against the wall and stomping out into the chilly winter air - and I think I entered into that anger with this fictional character. I've never been a senior pastor, and I don't fully know what the whole experience would be like to shepherd a flock and then to have the sheep turn on you to "save you from yourself" doctrinally and to protect their own self-interests. I know that when this happens, people are basically doing what they think is best - but is it their best? And is it necessary to tinker with a man's livelihood and career just because you disagree with him on various issues?
    "But what do they expect?" Ky asked. "Do they really expect that a pastor comes out of seminary at twenty-six or whatever and has all the answers? Do they really expect a pastor to never change or grow or rethink things? That's so unrealistic. It's worse than that - it's unhealthy. Gosh, when lawyers learn and change, they call it professional development, but when pastors change, they call it..." Ky couldn't find the right word, but Carol supplied it: "Heresy." (TLWATWAT, copyright 2005, Brian D. McLaren, p. 14)
    I've seen it, and experienced personally what's happened as I've changed, as I've reformed and been transformed into someone different than I started out. I've seen friends give up on me, protecting themselves from what they see pulling me away from Christ. I've been accused of heresy, and told that I need to repent for leaving the truth. But the worse thing in all of it is that the conversation ends - and that is so wrong. As long as we can talk, and learn from each other how our ideas and fears and experiences are being played out in real life together - as long as there's a conversation, fellowship can continue. But as soon as that door is closed, all others slam shut - often, harshly, hurting people on both sides.

    While I feel like I've forgiven those who've been a part of similar situations with me... Well, evidently I'm still nursing some backdoor grudge or something. I took it out on my kids last night - nothing they could do was right in my eyes, and it wasn't fair for them to be collared by that. I think I took it out on my wife, just being standoffish as we cleaned the house and took piles of stuff to the attic. I slept hard, snoring so loud it ran her out of the room, which usually only happens when I'm really tired and/or really frustrated. And I dreamt all night - stuff I remember, that woke me up at various times, about conversations I was having or decisions needing to be made.

    It's been a surreal few hours since my evening commute yesterday, and the only thing I can really point to is reading the book and getting a bit ticked off along with the protagonists as people do and say, with all the best and "right" intentions, the absolute wrong thing.

    Must be a good book to have that effect, huh? I can't wait for chapter three, but I'd probably better warn my family first.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2005

    Blank Stare

    Ever just sit and stare blankly? I just want to sit and stare. At the sky, at the trees, at the sunset, at nature. At the carpet, at the wall, at the PC screen - no, scratch that, not the screen, if that's alright. At the passers by passing by, and the butterflies fluttering who knows where. I want to stare at the dog, glare at the cats, and glance askance at the gerbils in their cage with their own wheel, their own tunnels, their own jobs and timeclocks and dependents and tax refunds. I want to sit and doze off thinking about nothing, contemplating nothing, dwelling on nothing.

    I want to forget punctuation and capitalixation and i want to stop trying to make sense and ignore spelling and grammar and what is a run-on sentence anyway and will any of this make sense after the mIchAel jaCksoN trial is over and the breakfast club is still the best teen ensemble-cast movie ever made in a library.

    I feel like I'm living a contradiction, a walking paradox waiting for some smack of reality to void me where I'm prohibited. I feel like I've been incredibly productive, and like I've gotten absolutely nothing done. I feel like I wake up and go to bed, and in between I have fun and laugh and work hard and play harder and brush my teeth to get rid of the coffee aftertaste. That's it. That's my day. It's not a bad thing, just my thing - and I just want to stare blankly at the world that seems to be staring blankly at me.

    But I don't want to drool like that. Not yet, anyhow. Eeew.

    Tuesday, February 15, 2005



    Sorry, Blake.


    this is an audio post - click to play

    [please forgive the road noise]

    Class of 1986

    Stole this from a number of other blogs while surfing through the pop culture ether. Let's see... that was a long long time ago.

    What year was it when you graduated from high school?

    What were your three favorite bands?
    Foreigner, Mister Mister, Phil Collins, Tears For Fears

    What was your favorite outfit?
    Jeans and a polo, or sweatshirt

    What was up with your hair?
    Feathered, parted just left of center

    Who were your best friends?
    Jay, Todd, Janet, Stephen

    What did you do after school?
    TV, reading, basketball in the driveway

    Did you take the bus?
    No - drove, finally having a paved parking space (very big deal)

    Did you fight with your parents?
    Probably, but not much

    Did you lug all of your books around in your backpack all day because you were too nervous to find your locker?
    No way - carried as little as possible to each class

    Did you have a 'clique'?
    Church youth group kids, but not very "clique"-ish, honest

    Did you have "The Max" like Zach, Kelly, and Slater?
    Ummm... Jay's garage, pool table?

    Admit it, were you popular?
    Not by the popular definition, but I was smart enough and close enough to be "known" I guess

    Who did you want to be just like?
    Ferris Beuller

    What did you want to be when you grew up?

    Where did you think you'd be at the age you are now?
    Not far from where I am, probably - working as a programmer, married with two children and a mortgage, having fun and growing in Christ - might be better off than I thought I would be

    Monday, February 14, 2005

    Song In My Head

    "Somewhere Only We Know" - Keane
    I walked across an empty land
    I knew the pathway like the back of my hand
    I felt the earth beneath my feet
    Sat by the river and it made me complete

    Oh simple thing where have you gone
    I'm getting old and I need something to rely on
    So tell me when you're gonna let me in
    I'm getting tired and I need somewhere to begin

    I came across a fallen tree
    I felt the branches of it looking at me
    Is this the place we used to love?
    Is this the place that I've been dreaming of?

    Oh simple thing where have you gone
    I'm getting old and I need something to rely on
    So tell me when you're gonna let me in
    I'm getting tired and I need somewhere to begin

    And if you have a minute why don't we go
    Talk about it somewhere only we know?
    This could be the end of everything
    So why don't we go
    Somewhere only we know?


    Oh simple thing where have you gone
    I'm getting old and I need something to rely on
    So tell me when you're gonna let me in
    I'm getting tired and I need somewhere to begin

    So if you have a minute why don't we go
    Talk about it somewhere only we know?
    This could be the end of everything
    So why don't we go
    So why don't we go

    This could be the end of everything
    So why don't we go
    Somewhere only we know?
    Whenever I think of love and being together, of the work that's needed to keep things fresh and moving forward and out of the rut of familiarity... I find myself being so thankful for my wife. We've been through our stuff, and we've been through it together. When we've needed to talk, when we've needed to get it all out - for the most part, we've done that. We've worked through things, we've put up with stuff, we've grown and gotten to know each other in new and deeper ways.

    This song, somehow, just reminded me of our weekend together. Finding a "place only we know", not because the end is near but because it's worth the work and the effort and the time to get away and just enjoy being together. There are things we know that we'll never ever share, things that make us laugh and cry and giggle and get furious - all that is "the story of us", something "only we know" and only we're able to walk out. The line above - "So tell me when you're gonna let me in \ I'm getting tired and I need somewhere to begin" - is the best conversation starter in the world sometimes. Working it out together, even when it takes awhile, even without words - whatever it takes, move forward and press through, because you're the only ones who can.

    It's valentine's day - and I'm very very thankful for my valentine... in ways "only we know".

    Expensive Funny

    I really appreciated the laid back and classy way the Grammy's came together last night. And any time you can use "classy" in describing something that included a really good performance of southern rock with Lynyrd Skynyrd, that's saying something. We caught some of the red carpet interviews and most of the actual shows. I was blown away by the mix of songs in the opening number, by the duet of Jamie Foxx & Alicia Keys, by U2 - even Green Day was cool. It was all just a really nice evening.

    But then there was this one thing that was so wrong, and yet so telling of where some people are in their lives. I'm not a huge Kathy Griffin fan, but I give her some props for sarcasm and generally quick wit. She's just not the best person to be handling the red carpet, and that was most apparent when Steven Curtis Chapman came up. Chapman has won his share of Grammy awards and other honors, but I'm not sure if Griffin knew who he was or not. The conversation started off amicably, but then she just blurts out, "And I'd appreciate it if you'd stop staring at my rack". Ever the gentleman, Chapman replied, "Excuse me? I wasn't aware that I was", a little sheepish but very much not taking the bait. Her hand-gestures - "eye to eye, ok?" were played for comic relief, and I'm sure she thought the whole thing was funny. Whatever moment might've been building was lost and SCC walked away smiling and probably a bit embarrassed - more for her than himself, maybe.

    There's "funny" and then there's "funny but not worth it". Funny is too expensive when someone else is hurt or embarrassed or trapped. While it might play in some venues, it just didn't seem appropriate during a night that was really above that kind of thing, at least for this one night. I thought Chapman handled it well, and that if Kathy knew who she was speaking to she'd probably still do what she did, but it might've played out a little differently. I hope she got her laughs, and somehow looks back and finds something else in that whole exchange - how Chapman treated her like a lady, how maybe she wasn't expecting it in the midst of all the glam and glitz.

    Anyway - nice evening. Time to work, chillin' out to U2, "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own".

    Sunday, February 13, 2005

    "Unconscious Mutterings"

    Found this Sunday meme, thought I'd give it a shot:

    1. Judge:: reinhold
    2. Detroit:: rock city
    3. Hyphen:: ated
    4. Get it right:: or get it left
    5. Pulsating:: throbbing headache
    6. Yoga:: stretching
    7. Memorable:: transforming
    8. Financial advisor:: we coulda used one!!
    9. Ten million:: ten million & one
    10. I:: do

    Nice Weekend

    Home again, unpacking our stuff and unloading the kids. We really enjoyed our weekend away, staying at my mother-in-law's beach house while the children stayed with Grandma and Grampa. We slept late, shopped a bit, ate some really good seafood at Sara J's, and all-in-all just enjoyed being away.

    I'm not a big "beach" person necessarily (Vicki did spend part of the morning on the sand with her bible), but I really just appreciate being able to get out of the house, away from the city and being somewhere else. It was a very nice mini-vacation. We missed the kids (no, really, we did - stop laughing!), and I'm planning on wrestling their little patookuses to the ground here in a bit at bathtime. But we enjoy each other, and a "date weekend" is a vital part of our lives together.

    All that to say, we're back home, we're going to work tomorrow, and we're happy to have gone and to returned. Hope your weekend was as pleasant, and that your seafood was at least as good.

    Saturday, February 12, 2005

    Questions, Unbelief

    The Most Natural Prayer - Flannery O'Connor
    The experience of losing your faith, or of having lost it, is an experience that in the long run belongs to faith; or at least it can belong to faith if faith is still valuable to you, and it must be or you would not have written me about this. I don’t know how the kind of faith required of a Christian living in the 20th century can be at all if it is not grounded on this experience that you are having right now of unbelief. “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief” is the most natural and most human and most agonizing prayer in the gospels, and I think it is the foundation prayer of faith.

    [Source: from a letter to Alfred Corn, 1962 - as posted in Daily Dig 02/11]
    I think if we're honest, most of us have struggled through unbelief. That struggle stops us cold, and what we do next usually determines whether we continue to grow spiritually or not. It's like we're afraid to ask questions because we're afraid the answers might be different than expected. And then when we lose our way, when we get outside of what's been comfortable, we shut down. Starting up again means either stopping right there and moving no further forward: "I don't have to change; it's worked for me up to this point, and it will be enough as long as I ignore this thing". Or starting up again means: "Forget this. What has God ever really done for me anyway?"

    Or starting up again means: "Wow. I didn't know anything before. What other things am I going to discover on this journey?"

    I want to be a part of the process that allows people to come to those questions head on, to find themselves in the middle of something unnerving while still holding onto the strong uplifting hands of Christ. I want to challenge the status quo, knowing that in the challenge there is a realization that we don't know all we thought we knew, that there's a mystery by which to be intrigued, that there's more to God than we can ever really grasp.

    As I think about what that means, I've tried to explain to my wife that it thrills me and scares me at the same time. My confidence level is not that high; I only go there as a calling, I think, to the place where I seem to do the best good for the group around me. And that's just it - I need people around me who are like-minded, who ask questions, who want to seek together, who want to worship God with mind and soul and strength. "Losing faith" is a wonderful thing if my faith before was lacking in what God wants - as long as "finding faith" again together, with people who are also following hard after God, is the result.

    I guess I just want to reassure myself and anyone paying attention that I do not go into a venture like that lightly, that I don't ask questions to just ask questions and I don't seek to mess up people's theology just for the sake of the headaches involved. I really honestly truly think that asking questions is good, that good answers are good, and that really good answers will almost always lead to better and more life-challenging questions. If anything, that's why I do what I do - because God is in the conversation, and He's trying to speak to anyone really listening.

    For me, "What Would Jesus Do?" is not as good a conversation starter as "Jesus Would Do WHAT?!?"


    No, I don't have a problem. Yes, I would've been okay if I didn't find an internet connection. No, just because I'm sipping a macchiato and typing in a coffeeshop doesn't mean I *had* to check my email today.

    Friday, February 11, 2005

    Best Show On TV

    ... Extreme Makeover and their sponsors not only built them a home equipped with all the latest and greatest, but included a beautiful section in the back of the house with its own entrance, two bedrooms and two bathrooms to be used as the bed and breakfast. But that’s not all, the contractor’s company donated money to the mom to pay off her existing mortgage on the burned-out home. And they worked with some other businesses and individuals in the community to raise more than $70,000. They presented the mom with the check to be used as the girls’ college fund. Just incredible—and this is from a secular station!

    During a break in the program, I surfed to see what else was on. In Tulsa, Okla., where I live, a Christian station is right next to the ABC affiliate. Well, it just happened to be “fund-raising” time on this Christian network. So I watched in disbelief while a couple of “hired guns” proceeded to try to convince me that I ought to give my money to them/the network. They went on and on about how I would be blessed beyond measure if I could just turn loose of some coin and send it their way.

    OK. What’s wrong with this picture?


    Photo Friday: Luscious

    Morning Apple
    Originally uploaded by rickramble.

    Thursday, February 10, 2005

    Some Days

    Some days you write. Other days, not so much.

    Wednesday, February 09, 2005

    Winter Rain

    Winter around here has been fickle, much like my mood. We really haven't had much in the way of cold temperatures. A couple of instances of ice, some sleet, mostly rain and freezing rain a couple of weekends, and that's about it. I really want to see some snow, but I'm resigned to seeing a few snapshots from friends in Minnesota. Right now, it's raining again. I think I'm more "cheery" than the weather, but not much - and I'm feeling a little soggy around the edges. Thanks for asking.

    I'm pondering "this week's thought": what floats my boat, why am I not doing it more, and what's keeping me from enjoying whatever that is? If I had to describe my "passion" to someone, I'd start with talking about conversations and relationships - that's the way I see small groups, or at least the small informal gatherings I've been a part of or have been leading the past couple of years. I watch as people really think through things together, try to articulate their questions and their fears and their opinions in community with each other. I listen for the heart at the center of debate, looking for a common ground or at least some base point where we find we've got more in common than just "agreeing to disagree". When people begin to "get it", somewhere beyond the typical traditional "sunday school answers" - that's what I'm passionate about. It floats my boat to make those discoveries in my own life, and being a part of someone else's journey like that is so much gravy.

    So I ask questions, hard questions that don't tend to go away with yes or no answers. I ask them of myself, not satisfied with where I am in my own quest for significance and usefulness in the kingdom. I ask them of my friends, hoping to challenge and encourage them along the way. I listen to them, too - not just looking to hook someone up with the next new thing, but looking to get hooked up myself, to learn from the people around me and their life/spirit experiences. For me, the basic building block of relationship is communication and interaction - this is the stuff off which I thrive.

    And it is the thing that most unnerves me right now. I lack my former confidence, and I don't have the optimism to make up for the abundance of cynicism and skepticism I've gained over the past little while. Even now, watching the rain hit the pavement outside, watching the cars rush through the puddles, seeing people walk with their heads down against the weather, I realize that I feel like that inside. It's not a bad thing, just a thing - I feel like it's raining inside, a little chilly, a bit of a breeze, and it's dampening the impulse to just explode and yell, THERE'S GOT TO BE MORE - DOES ANYONE WANNA TALK ABOUT IT?


    Went downstairs. Wanted lunch. Now drinking Pepsi products for the free iTunes download codes. Bought lunch. Stopped at drink machine. Everything I try is sold out. End up getting actual real Pepsi - not my favorite, but free is free, right?

    No code. Old bottle. No promotion. Drinking Pepsi, no code on the cap.

    Bummed out. Major.

    Paying Attention

    While sitting in Subway enjoying a Chipotle Southwest Steak sub for lunch yesterday afternoon, I finished chapter two of a leadership book, challenging me to pay attention to "what is" so that I can be properly focused for "what's to come". I thought about that, thought hard about whether I really pay attention to what's going on around me or not.

    So, I'm paying attention this morning:
  • There's a low buzz across the office floor, even when I turn off my fan. The PCs, the flourescent lights, a few radios, some fingers making the familiar click-click on keyboards (at least one set of nails making some sort of double click sound), at least two different conversations that I can pick out over the cubicles. It's quiet, but not that quiet, like there's always some life somewhere around here.
  • Someone just chunked a can into the recycle bin, a fairly singular sound as it missed.
  • My desk fan isn't whirring as fast as it once did.
  • I'm pondering how "I'll get that to you as soon as I can" can mean one thing to the hearer, and something completely different and usually much slower to the speaker.
  • The clouds looked very wintery, even as the temperature broke 70F yesterday afternoon. Today, it just looks nasty. Lots of clouds, dark and full of rain for some lunchtime thunderstorms. The wind is kicking up some of the fallen leaves, some of the pinestraw, someone's hair as she scoots to her car in the parking lot. Hope she's got an umbrella if she's coming back in later.
  • White Chocolate Reese's Cups are as close to perfect as humans can come with snack food.

  • Tuesday, February 08, 2005

    Milk-Out-The-Nose Funny

    Funniest thing I've seen this week.

    [thanks for passing the funny, Adam!]


    ... wide eyed wonder ... - "Don't Wake Me": I realized that life is way too short (and God's work too important) to be living 95% of my life outside of what I most value.

    That is just so darn true, isn't it? Thanks, Stacey - something to chew on for the rest of the week, I'm sure.

    Life Is Not Easy

    No one ever promised that life would be easy. If anyone has promised that, it was a lie, and that person should be smacked. Jesus even said that He came to give abundant life, a full life - not an "easy life".

    I don't know why started with that thought this morning. I just got off the phone with Trace's basketball coach, asking my wife to help out with getting trophies for the team banquet coming up in March. I'm thinking about tonight's small group, about the prospects of business travel next week, about having some time with my wife at the beach without kids this weekend. I'm thinking about speaking for a college/singles group in a couple of weeks, about meeting with the pastor and small groups coach tomorrow, about starting the Sunday morning thing in a few weeks at church. I find myself busy and productive and getting things done, and I see that some things are paying off in little ways.

    And none of it is easy. The easy parts are the self-absorbed lazy parts. The easy parts are the mindless and numb parts. I don't know if that makes sense or not - it's just that the things I think might be "easy" are things that don't actually bring a return, and that might set me backward. Easy thing would be to not get involved at church, to tell the leaders that I'm just not ready or that I don't feel God leading me there. Easy thing would be to say no to the speaking engagement, not having to worry about what to speak on, how to package something from God. Easy thing is to tell the kids to watch cartoons upstairs when we'd rather watch something other than Spongebob. Easy thing is to not pray and to not read the Bible, just listening to the voices in your head for guidance and direction. Easy thing is not trying to be polite and nice to people, not making the effort to make things right. Easy thing is ignoring someone in need, not turning out of my rut to offer assistance.

    Life is not easy... or at least when it is, we might be doing it all wrong.

    Monday, February 07, 2005



    I've joined the ranks of geeks who can go just about anywhere and chcek their email. I can sit here at the coffeeshop and enjoy the atmosphere, the relative quiet, the dull din of conversation, and the smell of the grinding of the beans - connecting the the 'net through the air, blogging without wires.

    What took me so long?

    The Finger

    "You rack your brain to solve the mystery of the Savior, but you would do better to examine the puzzle of your own heart. You should be wondering why you are so impenetrable: why your intentions, which are always so noble, are followed by so few good deeds; why, despite your pious impulses, your life is so lacking in genuine devotion; why, when it comes to really getting things done, you turn out to be so feeble, so lame. You are always sighing, it is true, but to what effect?"

    Source: C. F. Blumhardt, "Die, and Jesus Will Live" (1891)
    [from Daily Dig]
    Ultimately, the only person at whom I can point a finger is myself. Whether it's a morning argument with my kids, or getting offended by a sermon that hits to close to home, or taking criticism whether it's warranted or not, the finger points back at me. "What are YOU going to do with this?" - whether I like it or not, I'm the only person I control enough to change. I can't change anyone else, but in God's grace I can make great growing strides towards some kind of maturity.

    I'll stop whining now, if you don't mind.

    Sunday, February 06, 2005

    Eagles V - Fiddlesnart

    Well, fiddlesnart - the Eagles blow their opportunities and open wide the door the the Patriots to win another Super Bowl. Final Score: NE 24, Philly 21.

    No more bandwagons for me - next year, I'm pulling for the Panthers all the way. And if they don't make it to the playoffs again, I'm going to be the biggest NHL fan in the southeast... well, if they play next year, that is.

    Ready for March Madness - bring it on.

    Eagles IV - Halftime

    Defensive game for the most part, tied at 7 at halftime. I like the way the Eagles are playing, not being that conservative and taking some risks. On the other hand, the Pats don't look like they're the risk-takers they might need to be - but that might just be their first half gameplan. I'm looking forward to the second half.

    Bigger topic for tonight: COMMERCIALS. The funniest commercial so far has been the second McDonald's Lincoln Fry, where the pregnant wife shows what she thinks of the Chicken Select that looks like Ben Franklin.

    Where Are You From?

    You Know You're From South Carolina When...

    There ain't no such thing as "lunch." There's "dinner" and then there's "supper."

    Sweet tea is appropriate for all meals, and you start drinking it when you're two. "Backards and forwards" means, "I know everything about you."

    There is a Dairy Queen in every town with a population of 1000 of more, except for Orangeburg which has Dairy-O.

    You know that going "barefootin" is one of the great joys of life

    You think everyone from a bigger city has an accent.

    "Vacation" means going to Myrtle Beach.

    Out of state friends beg you to send them fireworks

    You know at least three places to get great fried chicken

    You've taken a road trip to South of the Border - and it wasn't Mexico

    You actually get these jokes and pass them on to other friends from South Carolina.

    Get Your Own "You Know You're From" Meme Here
    More cool things for your blog at Blogthings

    Eagles Bandwagon III

    Where is the HYPE?!? It's just over EIGHT HOURS 'TIL KICKOFF, and Fox is running THE SMURFS?!? What's up wit dat?

    I'm hoping for a good game, with "good game" meaning the Eagles win and everyone's just fine with the morality of the commercials. We'll be at my folks' house tonight to watch the first half, then bringing the kids home for school night bedtime and watching the second half in high definition (the only way to fly).

    Honestly, the game day hype is starting in five minutes, with a few hour long shows on Super Bowl stories and film clips and people talking about themselves in high and honorable language. All I want it KICKOFF, a "good game" as outlined above, and some wings and chips and dip. Is that so much to ask for?


    Sunday morning, time to get ready for church. This morning, my wife's taking my little girl to the doctor to re-check an infection that hasn't cleared up the way we would've liked. Hopefully they'll make it through the weekend waiting rooms in time to meet us for church. The thought passed through my mind that maybe I didn't want to go to church without Vicki, maybe just stay home with Trace and wait for the ladies to get home from the doctor to have "church" at home.

    But that thought passed, because I also thought about being at church, and not seeing people I've become acustomed to seeing, not being a part of something I've gotten used to being involved with. Maybe that's a part of "belonging": thinking of other people and how you'll miss them, and wondering if they might miss you, too. If I don't go this morning, and when I'm not there next week because of our Valentine's Weekend Surprise - I'd feel like I'm letting down on my side, giving up on my end of the relationship-building dynamic.
    Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
    - Hebrews 10:25
    I'll be more encouraged, more challenged, and more empowered to whatever God is calling us towards by attending church, by being with people, by sharing and worshiping together. It's not doing anything special, really - just realizing that it takes effort on my part to be in fellowship and relationship with other like-minded and like-hearted people. What should come naturally still has a side to it that takes effort and obedience.

    Saturday, February 05, 2005

    Gorgeous Outside

    Well, if winter is going to go away this quickly, at least let it be this nice outside. It's 63F, sunny as you please, with just enough of a breeze to let you know you're outside. Vicki and Cammi have spent the day in Asheville visiting family, and Trace & I stayed here in town for his basketball game. He's still learning the game, and I can see that his coordination is getting better week to week - he had a rebound, and he got on the floor after a ball. That's my boy.

    We got some drive-thru lunch, came home to watch some basketball, and now he's upstairs teaching the gamecube who's boss. We're going to get off the electronic media in a half hour or so, go outside and shoot some hoops after the sun goes down a bit further. He's getting really good with the ball - still a little skiddish, not knowing exactly where it's going when it bounces. But he's shooting well (needs a little more oomph), and he's dribbling and handling the ball better.

    And Cam's had a good time with her mommy in the mountains, getting to visit and be the center of attention, and seeing the twins celebrate their first birthday. She's getting so big, so sure of herself with others. I'm glad the whole afternoon has gone well for them, and glad that they're on the way back down the interstate to connect with us for supper and stuff, maybe a bookstore run for coffee before all of us return home.

    Not a bad day at all. Gorgeous outside.

    Friday, February 04, 2005

    Books, Books, Books

    Would someone tell me again why I am always in the middle of at least four or five books at one time? Sheesh, it's ridiculous - why are there so many good books, so little free time, and why do I r-e-a-d s-o s-l-o-w?
    • Leadership Wisdom from Unlikely Voices - Dave Fleming - really good stuff, slow going because I can't take much more than a page or two at a time; the "pause" and "ponder" pieces break it up and challenge the bejeebers out of me
    • Peter and the Starcatchers - Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson - dang, I need to finish this one! FINISHED THIS ONE, but man, I wish the ending wasn't quite so hokey and rushed. Really good book, but if this one's supposed to say where everything started with Peter Pan and Hook, then why is so much of it crammed into the last few pages?
    • Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams - reading again before the movie comes out
    • Revolutionary Communicator - Erik Lokkesmoe, Jedd Medefind - really want to finish this one before getting started with the Sunday morning study group
    This weekend: Super Bowl and READING TIME.


    Photo Friday: Distorted


    This is Spot, Cammi's new cat - highlighted in neon, and just plain there.


    Well, this is what happens when I make a whole pot of Starbucks Christmas Blend and don't share: wide awake at 1am after three cups. No, coffee doesn't effect me - no way.

    I wanted to work a bit, look at the issues I've got tonight before getting in the office in the morning. Stared at files - sometimes it gets so engrained in the subconscious that you actually think of "fixes" in the shower, waking up to a new idea and perspective that your subconsciousness has been toiling over all night. Geek enough? I should've turned everything off and gone to bed a half-hour ago - but I had to blog something since I was up so bloody late, right? Again, geek enough?

    Well, I'll need coffee again in the morning, I'm sure. After staying up this late, for whatever reason, I'll be dragging tomorrow - which I hate for a Friday that actually looks like it'll be a wonderful day. Nice weather, no pressure, nice evening and a Super Bowl just ahead - we'll see.


    Thursday, February 03, 2005 - Transcripts - Transcripts: CNN LARRY KING LIVE, America's Most Influential Evangelicals
    KING: Does the Christian church care about Social Security, tax, war in Iraq?

    T. LAHAYE: No. We care about moral values. And it involves that. And as much as he already said what he's going to do, we expect him to take care of Social Security.
    And that's the problem, because war is very much a moral issue, because taxation is very much a moral issue, because Social Security and preparing for the future are very much moral issues. And most of us just don't get it.

    In reading the transcript (thanks, Adam!), I'm struck by how gentlemanly TD Jakes comes across, and how challenging Brian McLaren's answers/questions play out in our culture today.
    MCLAREN: I agree very much with what Bishop Jakes said. I'm more interested in what we owe him. And one of the things I think we as people of faith owe him is to call him to moral values, that's certainly true. But moral values including issues like making peace, moral values like really caring for the poor and seeing what we can do to make sure they have a greater share in our nation. I also think we have to ask the president to care more about the environment as God's creation. I'm very pleased to see increasing numbers of evangelicals sharing that concern. I would hope that we want to be a conscience for the president and our country, but on a number of issues.
    KING: Why, Reverend LaHaye, haven't evangelicals been more outspoken about the environment?

    T. LAHAYE: Because we believe that the environment was made for us. And not us for the environment...
    Some people just don't get it...
    KING: We're going to do more shows on this. Franklin, before we leave, how's your dad doing? How's Billy?

    GRAHAM: He's doing very well and sends you his best and special regards. He loves you very much.

    KING: I got a lovely letter from him. He did a crusade recently, right?

    GRAHAM: He did. He was in California, and he was in Kansas City this year and he's going to be in New York next June. So, I hope you can come be with him.

    KING: He's amazing.
    ... and others might be getting it more than we give credit.


    Currently: 39F, light drizzle outside

    I'm not sure what the weather guys look at when making predictions, but I've got a feeling that it's going to get rather winter-y here this afternoon. When it looked like it was going to rain for most of the day, the radar shows that most of the precipitation is gone, having moved through the area already. Now, if the temperatues go up we're probably okay - but what if they start to drop while everything's wet? What if the winds don't allow the temperatures to rise enough? What if it gets colder than they thought it would, and then the precipitation kicks up again?

    I don't want anyone to get hurt in accidents, or for anyone's business to suffer in the wake of bad weather. But a good snow day would be nice before the end of the season, wouldn't it?

    "God Is In Control"

    Growing up, I think my mind was pretty secure in the idea that God was in control. I have always been fairly optimistic, fairly bright-side-seeking in my approach to life, the universe and everything. If something went wrong, well God was in control and it would work out. If something went right, well God was in control and "opening doors" for my decisions. I always thought of Him as guiding my steps by placing and replacing things and individuals and circumstances and challenges and obstacles in my path each day.

    Do I still think God does that? Do I still think "He's in control" means that He's coordinating something at the me-level of life? Back then, yes - now, not so much.

    I think the idea I have now of God's sovereignty is more about His "control" over me as an adopted son, over me as a disciple, over me as a friend. As we're training our kids, we are also setting them lose in the big wide world and the way they respond and react and interact is as much a function of "our control" as it is of their own free will and personalities. When my son considers what to do, his choice of "the right thing" is hopefully coming from "our control" of how he's learning and growing. When my daughter talks to someone, that speech is hopefully peppered with grace and kindness and the things we've tried to teach over her life so far.

    On the flipside, children who have no "controls" are left to their own whimsies and are usually not well-behaved - unless they're rebelling against rebellious parents and end up fairly self-disciplined. Either way, their parents aren't "in control". At the same time, parents who are too strict, too "contolling" can tend to send legalistic and fearful children into the world - they've hampered the free choices and forced their children to live under a heavy hand rather than a learning growing mistake-making path.

    "Freedom" comes in laying out "control", and then giving the power and ability and decision-making capabilities to work within those boundaries. God knows what's going to happen before we get there on the timeline, and He acts and plans and purposes accordingly, I think. But His "control" is birthed out of our obedience and discipleship as much as it comes from His will and plan for our lives. We have a freedom that's guided, trained and empowered by grace through faith.

    Or not. Just thinkin'...

    Wednesday, February 02, 2005

    Hey? What The Hey?

  • Evangelical Underground: Blog Awards
    Wow, who nominated me here? I'm usually shameless plugging myself. Wow - thanks, y'all.

    If I win, can I still wear my "Humble" button?

  • Napoleon Dynamite

    Have you seen Napoleon Dynamite? What did you think? Why did you rent it? Why not rent it?

    Staying home sick today: sore back, nasty headache and stuffed head that hasn't stopped for a week or so, and I've got to get over this mess. So I watched Napoleon, knowing my wife wouldn't get into it at all and that this was the perfect time, laying on my back on the hard floor and trying to focus with my eyes closed. And I don't know if it's the Tylenol or what - but it's ever the most ingeniosu movie ever, or I just wasted two hours. Not sure which.

    "Pedro for President"
    [thanks for the dance .gif, eric!]

    Napoleon Dyanamite
    (Please rate my quiz)

    Which Napoleon Dynamite character are you?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Tuesday, February 01, 2005

    Side Effects

    A whole closet industry of lawyers and legal assistants has risen up over "side effects" - checking for lawsuits aimed at pharmaceutical companies when a prescribed medication does something unexpected and harmful.

    A side effect of us attending a new church, getting involved, beginning again to work and worship and serve with a group of believers is that we're that much further removed from the old friends, the memories, the people we've loved. We take forward with us a great deal of history and growth from our past. A side effect is that we also leave a great deal behind.

    Driving to Work

    this is an audio post - click to play