Saturday, April 30, 2005


When I turned on The Today Show this morning, the top story at 7am was that Jennifer Wilbanks had been found. After disappearing from Duluth, GA the week before her wedding, she phoned her fiance' collect to say that she'd been kidnapped. My son came downstairs and we changed the channel to watch Tom & Jerry - and I've now turned it back to The Today Show to catch the weather forecast. The top story at 8am: she was making it up, leaving town "because she was nervous about her upcoming wedding."

I'm jaded, and I don't believe anything I hear on TV in these abduction/missing person cases. When they reported earlier that she said she'd been abducted, it crossed my mind that that she might be making it up. Earlier this week, it seemed strange that we might be watching another circumstance where the man was the last person to see someone alive so he was suspect numero uno, a sure sign that we'd find bad news in the coming weeks. Right now, I'm just glad she's ok, and that the worst thing that's happened will be that they need counseling, and the wedding might not happen. It looks like charges probably won't be pressed for "cold feet" - and that life might go on.

Marriage is such a big deal, and it should be. I hope she's not totally whacked out after her "adventure", dealing with whatever she's dealt with, doing whatever she's done. If they stay together, I pray they'll find some sense of peace in each other, be there for each other, take care of each other - a mutual friendship and understanding that goes beyond the headlines and the movie-of-the-week plot. If they part because of "all this", I pray for a mutual understanding and peace, too, able to let it go and move on.

Friday, April 29, 2005


this is an audio post - click to play

The voice post above was before the movie, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which was very enjoyable - but from the reviews and from the look on my wife's face, I think it's because I've read the book/s. We sat in the theater behind a completely different local morning news personality and his wife - much better dressed and shod, by the way.

On "Justice Sunday"

"We can get some historical perspective by looking at how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did it - and he was the church leader who did it best. Once after he was arrested, he wrote a very famous "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," addressed to the white clergy who were opposing him on the issues of racial segregation and violence against black people. Never once did he say that they were not people of faith. He appealed to their faith, challenged their faith, asked them to go deeper with their faith, but he never said they were not real Christians. If Dr. King refused to attack the integrity and faith of his opponents over such a clear gospel issue, how can the Religious Right do it over presidential nominees and a Senate procedural issue known as the filibuster?"
- Jim Wallis, SojoMail 04.28.05


Photo Friday: Fancy

Our "flower girl", sleeping with her teddy.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

"If I Could... I Would..."

Jae tagged me - so I'll play along like a good blogger. The idea behind this one is that, when tagged, you choose 5 occupations (or more) from the list below and complete the sentence with it describing what you would do as a member of that profession. If you have more occupations to add, you add them at the bottom following the If I could be a format. My own additions are at the end in this color.

After you're done, you get to go and tag 3 other people. Add a trackback to the one that tagged you as well as a trackback to Ogre's original post.

If I could be a scientist
If I could be a farmer
If I could be a musician
If I could be a doctor
If I could be a painter
If I could be a gardener
If I could be a missionary
If I could be a chef
If I could be an architect
If I could be a linguist
If I could be a psychologist
If I could be a librarian
If I could be an athlete
If I could be a lawyer
If I could be an innkeeper
If I could be a professor
If I could be a writer
If I could be a llama-rider
If I could be a bonnie pirate
If I could be a service member
If I could be a photographer
If I could be a philanthropist
If I could be a rap artist
If I could be a child actor
If I could be a secret agent
If I could be a comedian/comedienne
If I could be a priest
If I could be a radio announcer
If I could be a phlebotomist
If I could be a pet store owner
If I could be a computer programmer
If I could be a police officer
If I could be a politician
If I could be a mom
If I could be an underwater basket weaver
If I could be a reality tv host
If I could be a forensic pathologist
If I could be a key grip on the next Star Wars film
If I could be a fairy god parent
If I could be a cast member on "Smallville"
If I could be an Airbus pilot
If I could be U2's equipment manager

Well, my choices are:
  • If I could be a rap artist, I would name myself P. Diddly and make a killing on the innocent selling knockoff CDs with steel guitar solos
  • If I could be a llama-rider, I'd have to find a very stout beast to be my llama-steed, and we'd ride into adventure, saving damsels in distress and hitting the Krispy Kreme drive-thru in style
  • If I could be a pet store owner, I would stock up on turtles and rabbits and let them race every day for fun and prizes
  • If I could be a phlebotomist, I would spend most of the day trying to figure out what the heck I'm supposed to be doing
  • If I could be an underwater basket weaver, I would finally be able to make some $$ from my college degree - woo hoo!

    Ok - TAG to Jen @ Meditatio, to Donna @ Pausing to Ponder, and to Jayuff @ "Fine, Thank You"

  • Heh Heh Heh

    Everyone could use some funny, so here's some recent posts from Rick-frequented blogs that made me LOL:

  • Mud Puppy - Barn door Issues: "You've got Windows in your laptop" is a keeper!
  • Princess - ten things...: "3. If I had a superpower, I would want it to be the ability to always appear appropriately dressed for the occasion."
  • Renee - Still feverish...: Ok, not funny when your child is running fever, but the photo is right up there
  • Porkchop - Compliment: Sarah has a way of making me feel good about my life
  • Suzanne - Blue Slide: just thinking of my own Grandmother made me laugh out loud on this one
  • Tish - "Your Honor...": writing what we all want to say about white chocolate peanut butter cups

    Love to read folks who live life without taking themselves too seriously. Thanks, folks!

  • Wednesday, April 27, 2005


    Found this on Jae's site - and I'm appalled: 40% on Vocabulary?!? What the heck happened?

    Your English Skills:

    Grammar: 100%

    Punctuation: 100%

    Spelling: 100%

    Vocabulary: 40%

    Perfect "Lunch"

    I drove into town a bit to get some coffee and read for my "lunch" hour. Other than having to stop for gas, it was a very pleasant excursion. Starbucks wasn't crowded at all - a few folks sitting together shooting the breeze on one side; three baristas behind the counter; one girl studying her Bible and something obviously class-oriented on one of the outside tables; another couple laughing about something or other at the other table outside by the door. I ordered my venti caramel macch with whipcream, purchased a bag of something new for the house, and when all was served up I found my own spot by the door to sit and inhale and exhale and read Coupland. Driving back to work was nice, too - sunshine, slight breeze, tunes on my XM.


    Geeks Rule The World

    Are YOU a computer geek?

    "Postmodern" Is Not A Bad Word

    "The shape of the evangelical challenge in postmodern America comes down to this--we must be continually on the alert to defend the faith, for the Christian faith now faces unprecedented attacks. The rise of a postmodern culture has produced an intellectual context in which the very concept of truth is held under suspicion, and claims to revealed truth are simply ruled out of order."

    - Albert Mohler, President, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
    I cringe every time I hear the word "postmodern" used in a negative way like this, or in a mushy marketing positive kind of communication like "come to our postmodern church". Where folks are looking for wolves, most of the time it's just sheep trying to ask questions, trying to make sense of it all in a way that's meaningful and transformational. At the same time, when there is too much deconstruction and no foundation left (pitfall of the postmodern culture we find ourselves in), folks leave the flock and branch out somewhere else on their own. I've seen people take away the Gospels and the writings of Paul as pieces of literature that are too harsh if taken literally and too flimsy if taken rhetorically - and they abandon Christ altogether to make their own way. That's not good, and that's why it's so important to keep the conversation alive - to bring the Bible to bear, to bring Jesus back into the discussion, without the name-calling and categorical generalizations.

    The change that's very much a part of our culture opens us to STORY - where there might be a resistance to absolute truth, there's an openness to story, to meaningful and impacting things happening in each of our lives. There's not much room for arguments or for logical debate, but there's a receptivity to telling your story, to spinning new parables through conversation, through film, through music. It's all over the place, and I think it's that much more rich because this is the way Jesus tended to teach others: not so much through lecture and bullet points, but through questions and story and just hanging out together and living amongst ourselves.

    My fear is that I'll be lumped under a stereotyped label as an apologist for "the emergent church". My fear is that I'll be blown off because I like what some folks say & write, and because I don't like what some other folks say & write. My fear is that my disagreement will pigeonhole me into one or the other camp, closing me off from conversation and real relationship. My fear is that "postmodern" and "emergent" will be adjectives that become walls rather than bridges. My fear is that when people are looking for stories, the church will offer formulas, and we'll finally be left alone.

    Tuesday, April 26, 2005

    Hearing Jesus

    [first posted 04/07/2003 - re-posted here, inspired by Amie's story]

  • :: RELEVANT magazine :: Encounter With A Prophet

    I had this kind of thing happen to me once. I had been having a particularly tough time in "ministry." We'd left one church, being called to serve alongside Pastor Mike at another church downtown. Then we'd been voted out of position there and were establishing a new non-denom church. But it was all so new, so fast, and I wasn't seeing any results, only feeling pulled and stretched in new and painful ways. I'd basically left behind alot of friends, mentors and people I'd "done church" with for fifteen years. I was vulnerable, open to letting God lead me - but it hurt, and I was so unsure of any calling, any direction, anyone else needing me to do whatever it was I was being led to do.

    Anyway, I went to a christian bookstore. That was my deal - look at books, look at CDs, spend some $$ and internalize it to deal with it. I'd had a pretty bad morning at work, too - people getting laid off, losing friends, not knowing if I should even be at work since I was "called" to ministry now, etc. I went to look for something new, music or a book to drown the voices, I guess.

    As I walked past the guy at the cash register, while he was helping another customer, he said, "Hey, you're a pastor, aren't you?" I said, "yeah, just looking around," and I headed for the back corner with the CDs. I looked, but didn't see much - too busy thinking about how this guys would know? Did I know him? Did I *look* like a pastor? Not particularly, in buisness casual on my lunchbreak.

    I picked something out - probably Jars of Clay or something at that point of my life, and I walked to the register. "How did you know?" I asked.

    "Well, I just see it sometimes. God shows me things. You need to know that He has called you. You're right where you're supposed to be."

    I thanked him, and he probably noticed I was tweaked by that exchange. I got in my car, put in that new whatever-it-was CD, and wept in real joy on the drive back to work. It's like God chose that moment, in that store, through that man to say, I've got you right here, close to me. I know what I've called you to do, and you're in the middle of it. I'm closer than you think, seeking you as you're seeking after Me...

    Sometimes I feel like I need more of that now. Other times I remember that story, like I did tonight - and remember that he's already told me what's going on.

  • Feelin' Like This?

    Today, I'm that bottom dog... not a bad life, but feeling like taking a nap until someone else sits on me.

  • Yahoo! News Photo - Dale Conard, of Davenport, Iowa, sits with his bulldogs Lady Bea, left, and Brutus while waiting for the start of the 26th annual Drake Most Beautiful Bulldog Contest, Monday, April 25, 2005, in Des Moines, Iowa. The pageant kicks off the Drake Relays festivities at Drake University where a bulldog is the mascot. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

  • Unreachable

    I left my cellphone on the kitchen counter. Right there, by the sink, where I picked it up and laid it back down to get my wallet and keys and coffee. Grabbed my bag, headed out the door, drove the kids to school - with no cellphone. I feel so... vulnerable. And today, I leave work for small group, not even stopping by the house. I'll be un-cellphoned until around 9pm tonight. Gives me the willies thinking about it.

    No coffee yesterday, no cellphone today. Someone remind me to put on pants tomorrow or I'm done.

    Monday, April 25, 2005

    How to Receive Criticism

  • Next-Wave > church & culture: The Emerging Storm - Stephen Shields

    Really good article on how to continue the "emerging" conversation. For me personally, it's difficult reading the critiques without getting defensive and wanting to crack back. But so much about what's changing in me and the church culture in which I find myself is about conversation and relationships, and "having to be right" isn't always conducive to keeping your friends.

  • No Coffee?!?

    Well, it's Monday - and it has been a fabulous morning all around, except for one thing: no coffee. A myriad of happenstances converged to make it nearly impossible to make a pot this morning, so here I am without my morning Starbucks. I'm going to find some soon, so don't worry - but first I thought I'd detail the normal routine (that will be picked up tomorrow morning, thankyouverymuch) that brings us our morning java.

    Waking up at 3:30am, Juan Valdez hurries to the coffee fields to find the ripest, richest, darkest beans for my coffee. When I finally roll myself downstairs after a shower and getting dresses, these beans are waiting for me in the grinder (he's better than Santa Claus!). Right now we're finishing our last bag of Christmas Blend, our favorite by far and unavailable again until after Thanksgiving. The beans are ground every morning, finer than normal drip for a darker coffee, and our kitchen smells so good from that point on. Next, three to five minutes 'til the coffeepot is ready for consumption. I've gotten away from sweetening my coffee; Vicki takes two sweet-n-lows. We both add creamer, the favorites being any southern pecan/toasted almond (they're really the same taste, aren't they?) and the vanilla caramel. Most mornings, that's it - coffee and creamer, two travel mugs for me and one for my wife (I've got the longer commute).

    When I have extra time, we add other fixin's - namely caramel and whip cream. No espresso, but the coffee's strong and it's my own mini-macchiato. I think that's what I'm missing this morning, and nothing from the little breakfast nook downstairs will make that right. I sense a stpo by Starbucks some time today, or at least starting a new pot when I walk in the door tonight. It's a coffee thing - not that I have to have a certain quota every day, but that I really enjoy a good smelling, good tasting cup of the real stuff made right, you know?

    Told you there needed to be more posts on coffee around here.

    Sunday, April 24, 2005

    "What Is Truth?"

    When Pilate asked Jesus, "what is truth?" in John 18:38, there is no response. Today, we're asking the same thing, aren't we? The shift in culture looks like the world is leaving "absolute truth" in its dust, but people are really looking for it, not ignoring or abandoning it. I've written before that truth by definition would be absolute, so perhaps the object of the search is better understood as meaningful truth, something that would make a difference and bring us closer to Christ.

    Are we leaving behind truth, always going after the new thing? In so many ways, the answer is yes - there doesn't have to be a new thing to chase after. In most circumstances, the faddishness of today's church is a marketing ploy to get us into the stores buying books we don't need to lead us places we don't want to go. One book extols the virtues of a thing, and another critiques those same virtues as heretical - the publishers get paid either way.

    But we're not leaving truth by reading the Bible of seeking Christ in new ways. Different is not bad; change isn't offhanded irresponsible. It seems like a matter of semantics more than anything. We all come to the table with our own baggage, our own presuppositions, our own stuff - good and bad, perfect and imperfect. that's all - realizing that there are different slants for different people at different times is almost doctrine. How many times has someone said, "I used to hear sermons on that passage alot, but it really came alive to me when i went through..." - in your perspective, meaning and emphasis changes over time and within contexts and experiences. we are all the same - Romans 12:1-2 has a meaning that will impact you one way today and will effect you another way a year from now, and then WHAM we discover 12:3 and get blown away again.

    It's a growth process, we're all going through it, and some of us have different words to explain the same thing. Maybe it's the way arguments tend to divide, or how criticism tends to put down instead of building up. Whatever the case, I always get the feeling that over a cup of coffee and a slice of cheesecake, we could work out any of our issues.

    Saturday, April 23, 2005

    Colossians 2

    It's been a windy day, but also a very sunny and sky-blue kind of day. We spent the afternoon at Frankie's Fun Park playing mini-golf, go-carts and the bungee, and then a nice dinner out before coming back home to catch up on the NFL Draft (way to go, Troy! 8th pick from South Carolina to the Vikings) and to work on tomorrow morning's discussion of Colossians 2.

    The past couple of weeks, we've worked through Colossians 1 while looking at Paul's opening statements that this local body of Christians was looking forward to the future hope in Christ and needed encouragement on living it out in real ways "now" - something that'll preach to today's church and culture as well. In writing about the supremacy of Christ, Paul also brings in the trait of reconciliation for those who are in Christ - His place in creation works towards reconciling all things back to the Father. That's the short version of two hour-long discussions.

    So now we get to chapter two, and Paul begins to address false teaching. The traditional view is that the threat of gnosticism or latent judaism was finding its way into the young church, and Paul wanted to encourage the people by saying Christ really is "all that", and grabbing onto Jesus superceded any other false, divisive and overburdening teaching. I want to allow for that in our discussion tomorrow, that Jesus is more than these false teachings and bad doctrines. But I'm really being drawn to Paul's admonishment to not let false teaching: "I am telling you this so that no one will be able to deceive you with persuasive arguments... Don't let anyone lead you astray with empty philosophy..." (2:4, 8). The current state of the church in USAmerica is one where there are probably too many competing voices, too many persuasive arguments and too many empty philosophies.

    In my own growth process, I've read a good bit from the postmodern/emergent church conversation, and I've read some of the anti-movement rhetoric, too - and the anti- stance often includes this passage, exhorting the church to pay attention to this seemingly unbiblical and almost heretical movement and to not fall for its deceptions. Honest critique is one thing; cries of heresy are another - where do we draw the line? How do we stand firm in our own faith, make room for differences of opinion and style, and still grow in understanding and maybe change our theology without falling victim to deception on any level?

    I'll post more tomorrow; still getting my mind around what Paul is saying, making sure I don't put words or ideas onto his writing, but instead that we stay true to Paul's letter and the Holy Spirit's call for us then and now.

    Review: MONSTER

    I have always been a reader - as a kid, reading kept me busy, kept me company, kept me out of trouble (mostly), kept me occupied and non-bored. Growing up, I read mostly fiction, some mythologies, some historical fiction and sci-fi, not much in the mystery genre past the Hardy Boys. And in the eighties I read This Present Darkess and Piercing the Darkness, falling completely for the storylines and the adventure of a supernatural reality with demons and angels and Christians praying through it all. The author, Frank Peretti, has been away from Christian fiction for while now (I'm guessing they're not counting the Veritas Project series?), and he's back with a new page-turning edge-of-your-seat stay-up-all-night-with-the-lights-on thriller: Monster (2005, WestBow Press).

    My wife read it first - couldn't help herself, and I felt sorry for her, needing a weekend's release in the midst of play rehearsals and national teacher certification projects. It took her two days - faster reader and really got into the story, escaping into the woods of the Pacific Northwest in the midst of a "bear attack" gone bad. I must say that she liked it more than I have, and I'm tempted to let her write this review... Naah.

    I don't think it's a spoiler to share something that happens in the first one hundred pages of a four hundred page book: the "bears" that attack appear to be vicious, angry, very large, and NOT bears. Instead, Bigfoot is on the prowl again, finally coming out of hiding after the butt-whooping sustained at the hands of Steve Austin in the late 70s. The action is fast, the writing very descriptive and flows very well with the plot points taking place. It felt like it reads faster in the action parts, slower in the detailed investigation parts, and that's a high mark of a good writer. Reed and Beck are getting ready for a survival weekend with their friends Cap and Sing, until they come upon a cabin that's been trashed. That night they discover its owner dismembered in a tree, and the thing that did the dismembering coming back for more. Beck is attacked and taken away, Reed is left in the utter dark not knowing what to do and weak from the adrenaline rush, and then he has to explain what he saw while trying to hold out hope that his wife is still alive. The investigation is two-pronged - find the "bear" that did this so it can be killed, and find Beck or what's left of her. In the midst of it all, the "bear" isn't a bear, another couple is attacked and tells a similar frightening nearly-dismembered story, and there's a company making a ton of money in experimentation and..... HEY, no more spoilers here, ok?

    I liked the story, the plot, the characters and the characterizations. I got to know them fairly well, though there might have been too many characters to get into the head of any one of them. I would've liked to have gotten into Reed's head a little more: his fear, his hope, his analysis as a police officer from his point of view. It was there, but the cast was too large to hold it for very long. And that's what struck me most - I would've loved this even more as a movie-of-the-week, something on the SciFi Channel on a Friday night with popcorn, movie score and cool CGI effects. Reading a book like this is a sign of a good writer with an eye for video - and it was distracting for me the second half of the book. Knowing that on TV this would be over in an hour, but with me reading it'll still be a long long time (slower reader than my wife) made it seem to drag in spots - but really, just felt like I needed a commercial break in there somewhere. As a Peretti book, it delivers on all the right thriller levels. As a Peretti book that will definitely find its way to DVD sometime soon (I hope!), it'll be that much better.

    Friday, April 22, 2005

    Earth Day

    Against Poverty - Wangari Maathai

    Poverty is both a cause and a symptom of environmental degradation. You can't say you'll deal with just one. It’s a trap. When you're in poverty, you're trapped because the poorer you become, the more you degrade the environment, and the more you degrade the environment, the poorer you become. So it's a matter of breaking the cycle.

    We cannot solve all the problems that we face: we don't have water, we don't have energy, we don't have food, we don't have incomes, we're not able to send our children to school. But we can do something – something that is cheap, that is within our power, our capacity, our resources. And planting a tree was the best idea I had. For me, it became a wonderful way of breaking the cycle.

    [For Earth Day, thoughts from an African woman on overcoming environmental degradation - and poverty. Source: From an interview with Amitabh Pal, The Progressive Magazine - Daily Dig]
    One of the things that has struck me over the years is that there are so many "liberal" causes, like the environment, that get belittled by "conservatives". But most of the time, both sides tend towards being wrong, don't they? In putting together environmental issues with poverty, maybe it gets filled out a little more, maybe it needs more attention. I received the Daily Dig in my email this morning, and really had no idea today was "Earth Day", what's always been a "liberal agenda" thing for me. But, what if the church began to stand up for things like clean water, safe economic practices, and even just planting trees - taking care of the creation that cries out as a witness for the Lord? What would that look like in our culture/world today?


    Photo Friday: Soft

    Thursday, April 21, 2005

    Returned Calls

    I was getting a bit frustrated earlier, thinking of leaving messages over the past few days, not getting any return emails or phone calls or voice mails. Nothing, and it was beginning to weigh heavy on me - not angry, but definitely self-pitiful. But when I got back to my desk from a trip downstairs for some lunch, there was a reply.

    Someone wrote back. Wow.

    Wrecking relationships is bad & hurtful enough, and feeling like I'm being forgotten and ignored in the aftermath is hard. But just one reply - and it's honestly made my day. I really appreciate it - not in a sappy sentimental, "you love me! you really love me!" kind of way, but honestly appreciating that there's enough still there to take the time. On top of that, it was from the heart and meaningful/thoughtful, not just a terse yes or no, and again, I really appreciate that.

    Now, how to reply...?

    Starbucks Commute

    this is an audio post - click to play

    [referenced article: 'Starbucks effect' blamed for worsening rush hours]

    [definitely in need of more coffee posts around here...]

    Wednesday, April 20, 2005

    Answers to Questions

    Part of my surfing the past few weeks has been through "anti-emergent" websites that cry out against the changes they see in the church that are heretical, gnostic and faulty. One of the commenters posted the following question concerning entertainment choices, and I felt like I could at least share how I feel:
    "Here's a question you could ask a ec leader but will rarely get an answer, 'What are your limits when it comes to how much of the world you will allow in to your life with respect to your entertainment choices? What do you tell the youth and kids in your church when it comes to engaging the world and making those kinds of choices'? If you even suggest there is compromise with them in that area, you watch, again you will be labelled legalistic."

    i draw the line at anything that's pointless and exploitive. very little of the "hollywood machine" is worth my time, but occasionally a movie with otherwise questionable content will also nail it on a very deep and spiritual theme. "garden state" comes to mind - and "the big kahuna" with kevin spacey and danny devito is *the best ever movie on evangelism as marketing* even though it's laced with f-bombs and foul language. do i deny the truth in something because i don't like its presentation? that's what the pharisees accused Jesus of, eating with sinners and spending time with tax collectors. in places that were probably also replete with filthy language, Jesus was still holy.

    thanks for asking - that's a really good question, because i don't think we've got a license to watch every movie just because we can (permissible vs. beneficial). at the same time, i don't think we have to turn the dial and miss out on a strong message when there's something disagreeable.

    Shedding Tears

    Wow. I can't imagine. Click the header to bring up the main blog, see the journey. Life sucks so bad sometimes, and that tension... means it's ok to shed tears in the midst of loss and joy.

    [link via Renee - thanks]

    Tuesday, April 19, 2005

    This Is Our State, Y'all

    Go to this story at - "Judiciary Committee passes bill dealing with cock fighting,domestic abuse". If you have broadband, click the icon to watch the video of Kara Gormley's interview with two state representatives. Don't drink anything - warning that you'll spit-take all over your monitor.
    Rep. Altman responds to the comparison, "People who compare the two are not very smart, and if you don't understand the difference between trying to ban the savage practice of watching chickens trying to kill each other and protecting people rights in CDV statutes, I'll never be able to explain it to you in a 100 years ma'am."
    He honestly doesn't know now chauvinistic and irresponsible he sounds, does he? Problem is that re-election probably still won't be that difficult.

    New Pope

  • White smoke, bells signal selection of new pope
    I sincerely wish him well, and I hope he brings a grace and kindness to the office that will continue to grow from his predecessor. I look forward to the challenge and adventures ahead - no telling what'll happen when "emergent Catholics" get into the ranks of authority.

    Best IM chat - my brother and I, watching streaming video
    me: Is he going to come out? Why isn't he coming out? [on the balcony to be announced]
    Jeff: Saw his shadow - six more weeks of heresy.
    me: heh heh - that's not right.
  • Looking for What?!?

    How do some people find my site?

  • Google Search: "mars hill church" babes

    Somebody better warn Mark Driscoll and/or Rob Bell that someone's looking to hook up after service. That's just nuts... along with someone still poking around for "umberto underpants"... hmmm? That's who I'm writing for: people looking for dates at cool churches, or folks looking for Italian guys with special underwear.

  • Double Digits

    Today is Adrian's birthday, ten years old. Our friends were pregnant before us, and they had their first child in April while we waited through the summer for our son the next September. His birthday is the same day as the Oklahoma City Bombing, also ten years ago today - something to which he'll be attached for as long as there's network evening news and "this day in history".

    HBD, Adrian - keep it real, buddy.

    Monday, April 18, 2005

    Pointing Fingers

    Driving to work. Cutting through town instead of around the beltway. A little more congested, same time, more redlights. Taking the ramp off one main thoroughfare to merge onto another. Car coming up on the left way too fast, blinker to change lanes right into the lane I'm occupying. Hit the brakes so he doesn't swerve into me and my CRV go over the bridge railing. Idiot! How do you think you'll get the blessings of God driving like that?!?

    I speed up to merge back left. Have to go over two lanes, looking back to make sure it's clear. Move over one lane. Move over to the far right lane. HONK!!!! Uh-oh, didn't look over my shoulder again. Almost ran a Toyota into the median wall. He's furious, driving past and pointing. Lucky I can't hear him. I'm the Idiot this time. Whew.

    How many times do we think we know best, only to find that we're idiots just like everyone else?

    Quite a few blogs out here "pointing fingers" at those they deem "wrong". Political and religious finger-pointing do little to find the high road, and it just gets more and more bitter, more and more anal. Time to realize that no one has a real handle on what's going on any better than anyone else, and before we cut each other off on the freeway, we'd better all settle down, listen to each other's strongpoints and weaknesses, and just drive safe - and don't forget your seatbelt.

    The Crowd

    Hebrews 12:1-3 (nlt) - Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward. Now he is seated in the place of highest honor beside God's throne in heaven. Think about all he endured when sinful people did such terrible things to him, so that you don't become weary and give up."
    I went out at lunch, heading to the mall to find the bible study guide I need for tomorrow evening's small group. Traffic wasn't too bad for a Monday, and it's really gorgeous outside for anything other than going back to an office to work inside. Pleasant drive, nice walk into the mall - and no book.

    Oh well - I thought about this passage and the dozens of people I just passed in my lunchtime adventure. What if every one of them was a saint from the previous chapter? What if every person I passed was a kingdom-living & kingdom-loving brother or sister in Christ? What would they see in me that's slowing me down or holding me back? How would they encourage me? How would they rebuke me in love, bring correction, take some of the hindrances off and share any burdens they noticed?

    Student Email

    This is the message my wife received in her inbox this morning from our son's teacher's email:
    Hey, mom, it's me, Trace. I just forgot: today's the day when we have to turn in our projects for science! It's got to be a poster about trees, soil and stuff like that. So, I'm not getting a full-fledged A for this. My teacher said I could go and do it today and turn it in on Tuesday. Is that fine with you? Please respond to this e-mail.

    Gotta love it. Same study habits as his dear old dad. I like how he wrote, "I just forgot" - "No, son, you forgot a long time ago, not 'just' now." Very good kids, both of our children; just need help prioritizing. But then again, don't we all?

    So this afternoon, there will be an art center on the kitchen table - where a young man will be working diligently on his science project poster, and he'll be whining just a little, "can I go play Gamecube now?!?"

    Sunday, April 17, 2005

    Upcoming Week

    Got a little time at the end of what's been a gorgeous day to MAKE A LIST for the coming week so I don't forget anything. It's getting busy around here with play rehearsals and church stuff - I do not want to make a long week longer by forgetting something important. I'll be adding and striking out as necessary through the week - and if you follow along, you've got way too much free time.
  • small group - huddle, email, plans (at least started on it)
  • get coffee from Starbucks
  • read ELEANOR RIGBY for review
  • read MONSTER for review
  • small group Tuesday night - Get book: PRAYER
  • family coming to Mom's Tues/Wed
  • yardwork - clean front yard
  • yardwork - clean/mow backyard
  • Beautiful Day

    It is really nice outside, with a temperature around 68F, light breeze, sunshine galore. Church this morning was nice - if you've got time and want to catch up on the current HALF-TIME series, all the video and audio so far is at the Seacoast/Irmo website (or at least today's message will be added to the previous two this next week). The small group time went well, too, I think - hitting on the supremacy of Christ and the hope & reconciliation that brings to bear. And then lunch out with my sweetie, while the kids did lunch with their Nanny, was the perfect topper on the morning.
    The heart is a bloom
    Shoots up through the stony ground
    There's no room
    No space to rent in this town

    You're out of luck
    And the reason that you had to care
    The traffic is stuck
    And you're not moving anywhere

    You thought you'd found a friend
    To take you out of this place
    Someone you could lend a hand
    In return for grace

    It's a beautiful day
    Sky falls, you feel like
    It's a beautiful day
    Don't let it get away

    from "Beautiful Day", U2

    Sunday Pondering

    Cammi's up this morning after a not-so-good night's sleep. Her stomach hurts and we're not sure why - probably from not eating since lunch yesterday. At least she's awake, eating some dry HoneyComb cereal and drinking a little Mt. Dew. My wife still didn't get a good night's sleep, waking up too early to deal with all of this and trying right now to get a little extra zzz's. We're watching cartoons as I'm sitting here blogging away - I need a shower and some Tylenol before church, that's for sure.

    We're going to talk about the second half of Colossians 1 this morning at Q & A. As I was reading over things and thinking about questions to ask, I was struck by how differently I read the Bible. The study notes and delineations in the text have to do with "the supremacy of Christ" - Paul writes of Jesus' place and authority in creation, His preeminence above everything. But the word that jumps off the page to me is "reconciliation", not "supremacy". It's like Paul is writing that Jesus is all these things, and it's for the glory of God in reconciling us back to Himself. The emphasis isn't so much on Christ's preemimance, but on why it's important: allowing a reconnect with the Father through His blood on the cross.

    We don't seek to follow Jesus because He's the biggest deal on the block. Instead, it's because He draws us to Himself, reconciling us to God and to each other. Community grows out of that, and care for others grows out of that. Unselfish servant hearts grow out of the new possiblities Jesus opens up through us. The world needs what Paul was talking about: Christians who seek to put themselves aside, to not stand up for their own rights, who seek to honor God in the world and not chase after honor for self. It's almost like the first commandment: "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:2-3). God is saying more than "you shall not follow other gods", which is the gist of the second commandment. Instead, He's pointing out that He is the one who has brought them to safety, bought them out of slavery, and rescued them from an evil regime - and on top of that, "there's nobody else up here". God is the one who has brought freedom and promise (Jesus is the firstborn of all creation and first to be resurrected among the dead), and now they need to know that following Him is their highest response (they are reconciled to Christ through the blood).

    I don't think I'm stretching that too far, and focusing on His reconciliation alongside His ultimate suprecmacy looks like the best way for us to be challenged this morning: to live out that reconcilisation with others, and to walk in fellowship with the Father. Maybe it's just me.

    Saturday, April 16, 2005

    Football In April

    Big things happening in Gamecock Nation today:
  • Garnet & Black - Spring Game '05 and the first bigtime look at Spurrier's "Pitch & Catch"
  • Introduction of the new AD
  • USC needs a big win against Vandy in baseball

    I'm just hoping the "game" will be fun and we won't look like complete yahoos on national television. I'm also looking forward to see the changes at the stadium; seeing some color and the names of the few highpoints of USC Football around the building will be cool.

    My little girl is feeling puny again. She's at the pediatrician with Mommy, and we're hoping we'll get more of a clue what's going on this time (last time there wasn't a real diagnosis past, "um, probably a sinus infection", for her upset & nauseous tummy).

    UPDATE 9pm: Well, it's strep throat this time, and we're all antibiotic'd up. Hopefully she'll rest tonight and tomorrow and be good for school Monday. Thanks for your prayers - she's wallerin' on the couch, restin' and relaxin'.

  • Friday, April 15, 2005


    Photo Friday: Rest

    Thursday, April 14, 2005


    It was chilly in the house this morning, 69F on the thermostat. I love cold sheets, and I fumbled around under the covers finding the cold spots, not wanting to get out of bed yet, enjoying the warmth of the blanket and the chill of the morning. But it was after 6:30am already, and we needed to get up. My little girl was cuddled up next to me, chasing me around the bed, rooting towards the warm spots I'd just heated up for her, snoring and rolling and rolling and snoring. My wife had gone downstairs, letting the dog out or something else intolerably early, leaving the bedside alarm clock on her side of the bed to beep beep beep with no one to smack the snooze button properly.

    We got up, everyone got showered and dressed and fed appropriately. We went to school and to work, did our classes and our team meetings, and came back to this house where we live life together. It's almost 9:30pm now, fifteen hours after the alarm clock and a full day's activities away from the morning agenda. It has been a full day, a full week, and I'm so glad tomorrow's Friday. But even more, I'm thankful for the home we have, the family living life together, the time to spend laughing separately and in unison. It's neat getting to know my kids, getting to know my wife, as life moves forward and we try to keep up.

    No point, no deep spiritual truth. Just livin' the life.

    Caption Contest

    [too funny to pass up - click on the photo to get the story behind it, and post your "caption" in the comments below if you'd like]

    Coffee Together

    Okay, I'm moving past the "defend the faith" portion of the program. In surfing and finding so many sites against what I see God doing to bring the remnant/emergent church back to Himself in real relationship that goes beyond head knowledge and judgmentalism, I've found myself doing the same thing back: defending "my side" instead of being open to learning from the critique and moving forward in something that's even more refined and spot on.

    I'm also finding that there are a number of people across the blogosphere who are going through similar-but-different experiences. Basically, they're finding something new and different and meaningful in Christ - they are seeing reality through new lenses, something that makes better sense than what they'd latched onto previously. And in that newness, they find themselves relatively alone, waving in the wind without anyone with whom to talk about these things. The response most people get when these things are brought up in "polite conversation" is very much like showing up to give a speech and then realizing you're without pants - you're glad you remembered underwear to cover the important stuff, but this isn't what you had in mind.

    I invite you all over for coffee. We'll loan you pants.

    Wednesday, April 13, 2005

    Tax Time

    If we could do our taxes on the Gamecube or the PC, my son would be so enthralled - and "rendering unto Caesar" would have a cheat code listed somewhere, I'm sure.

    You're Looking For What?!?

  • Google: "umberto"underpants

    Do I want to know what this search was really looking for? Probably not. Almost as good as my favorite below.

  • Google: tony danza spiderman halloween junk

  • Reconcile

    Colossians 1:15-20 -
    He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
    It's moist outside - been raining since yesterday, a little chillier than "normal", and overall kinda messy as we get ready for midweek school and work. Overcast outside usually leads to contemplation inside for me. And this morning, Paul's words speak volumes to me about Jesus' high place and high intentions in creation. As Creator and Sustainer, all things exist because of Him. And in the midst of that, He seeks to reconcile by making peace through His shed blood. While it's inspiring to think of Christ's majesty and supremacy above all things, it's so incredibly encouraging to be drawn to Him in reconciliation, His blood preparing the way in peace.

    Tuesday, April 12, 2005

    Marketing Jesus

  • - Jesus, the talking doll version - Company also plans dolls of Mary and Moses at start, with dolls able to recite Bible verses
    Um. No. Please. No.

  • got Word?

    Warning: Ramblingly long boring lunchtime post ahead. Apologies.
    - the Mgmt

    Thanks for everyone with remedies and well-wishes for my headache yesterday. Mostly pollen-related, I think, and I just slept wrong the night before. When I told my brother I "slept funny" the other night, he replied,"How do you sleep funny? I mean, did I sleep serious one night, then sleep funny the next?" - Idiot. Today there's still a tinge of funny-sleepin' headache, but mostly a nausea, too. Not a good trade-off, but even more on the pollen-induced side. Ugh.

    In posting some reviews and discussion on Brian McLaren, Dave Fleming and other "emergent" topics/books, I've been getting some new google hits. Both guys have written controversial works that challenge the status quo, something that doesn't like to be challenged and isn't usually threatened with change. It bugs me that so many times, people are misunderstood and labelled as heretics - and that me saying this will cause some to respond defensively, "no we don't". Instead of asking each other questions, we put forth propositional truth statements that you either agree with and are okay, or you don't fully agree and you're dangerous to the cause of Christ. Happens on "both sides", but I'm seeing it more and more from several anti-emergent biased sites. The same search that can lead you here can lead you to sites that rip McLaren and Fleming and their respective inputs on the culture. So many of these webpages miss the points that I've gleaned from these guys, and my own defensive reflexes get the best of me, too. I don't fault them for speaking out, just that there's little room for conversation when there's so much bashing going on.

    So, conversationally speaking, I want to lift up the mantle in one area: THE BIBLE. Most folks who are opposed to the new growth of "emergent" thought are hung up on the idea that people are throwing the Bible out of the church. I think they're wrong, and it disturbs me that there's not much middle ground for the discourse to take shape. All my life I've had a Bible, and I've been reading it for a long time. I've heard sermons on some great passages - some of my study Bibles have multiple entries with multiple sermons on the same passages through the years. What I see happening - as limited as my perspective might be - is a re-assessment of what the Bible means to us as Christians. Up to now, it's been something almost deified, given a place of authority it doesn't aspire to, or placed in authority because we don't truly understand "authority". I've come to see, or am still discovering along with others, that Jesus is the Authority of the Word, and that only in relationship with Him does the Bible have anything meaningful to say.

    If I don't pay much attention to arguments of inerrancy and infallibility, it's because I don't hold much weight on those things - Jesus is definitely inerrant and infallible, and out of the life we're living the Bible will speak from His heart into ours. Having a higher view of Jesus means that there is a higher, more honest treatment of scripture. Some folks are straying from the Word, and some are deconstructing way too far - I understand that, and deal with it in a few forums, too. But some are accused of leaving the Bible behind when they're not - when they're actually grabbing onto a more solid view of the whole of scripture, getting away from prooftexts and moving toward holistic and significant interpretation and application.

    "But they disagree, so they must be wrong. We respectfully disagree - meaning that I allow you to be as wrong as you want as long as the threat I perceive you representing can be dealt with before leading others astray." - that's the call I see coming up across the landscape, and the conversation is nixed because one side or the other doesn't respect the other. That's sad, because we all still have so much to learn.

    Example: In a conversation about how a particular worship leader with a new CD should separate himself from the lures of the worldly side of pop music, a friend used 1 Corinthians 10:14-24 to show me what Paul said about staying away from evil, staying pure, choosing Christ - all good, and I appreciated that passage. I commented that if one reads further in 1 Cor 10:25-33, you get a broader view of how interacting with the world is possible with a pure heart and pure motives in living the Christ-life. Instead of cold-turkey avoiding interaction with the world, which might be an idea from the first part of this chapter, Paul seems in context to be checking our hearts, challenging us to live in good conscience with others "for the glory of God" (10:31). We disagreed, his point being on the first half and mine trying to go with that while still making room for the second half - and that's what I see in this "debate", too.

    Why is this happening? People hate questions they don't already know the answers to. Lawyers in a courtroom will not ask a witness a question they don't already know the answer to. People want affirmation more than they want information. We already know it all, especially as Christians with the testimony of Jesus, the Answer for all our wrongs. Questions are opposition, making us think and re-think for ourselves. And that's perceived as a bad thing too much of the time. But where "Jesus is the Answer" for all that's wrong in the world, He's also the Redeemer of all that's right, the Creator of all that is, and the Enabler for kingdom-living. There's so much more Truth out there to be learned, beyond our suppositions and propositional statements - and it's dangerous to the status quo. At least, it should be.

    Monday, April 11, 2005

    Monday Ouchy

    I have a headache - anyone got a hammer?

    Sunday, April 10, 2005

    Review: THE SEEKER'S WAY

    Reading The Seeker's Way by Dave Fleming has been an experience in itself. Forget about trying to write a review; I just need to soak a bit in the thoughts that there's not only a proverbial MORE out there, but it's there for those who look for it.

    I almost put the book down over this excerpt:
    Our common need to seek is an intentional part of our design. It is the centerpiece of our existence, placed in us by the Divine Mystery. (p. 3)
    and this footnote below:
    Divine Mystery is the name I will use often for God. (p. 3, footnote)
    Substituting "Divine Mystery" for "God"? That was looking too new-agey, too out there for even me. But I kept reading, mainly to see if Fleming brought the prose back around from a feel-good-mysterious sentimentality to something I'd be able to stomach. I wasn't disappointed, turning the page and finding this:
    Even your particular religion is not my concern. Like you, I have intellectual beliefs about the world and life. I have a strong affinity toward certain spiritual ideas and systems. My faith tradition is Christianity. I embrace it as the path home. Yet I have grown uncomfortable with the view that God cannot or will not work in a person's life until that person has embraced my tradition. My aim is not to impose a religion on you but to invite you to a wonder-filled journey towards home. (p. 4)
    Where some readers might see, "oh my goodness, is he going after pluralism?", I think I see Fleming simply saying that God is big enough and loves us enough to draw us to Himself no matter where we might be missing the mark. And the premise of this book might just be "we're all seekers - so let's seek together and figure it out with the help of One who wants us to find Him more than we want to find Him" - or something like that (he's the author, not me).

    The first thought process that messed with me in reading this book was in chapter two, From Answers to Experience.
    Perhaps the first step away from an answer-driven spiritual life is to view answers in a new way. What if answers became more like doorways into another space where the search can continue? Instead of ending the search with finite and rigid answers, these new insights can move us deeper into life's realities... [A] belief in God was never meant to create a smug sufficiency but rather to deepen my pursuit of the Divine. A belief in God is not an answer that ends the search but one that makes it possible to broaden and deepen the search. (p. 20)
    I am on that journey, with my whole call to ministry pretty much being wrapped up in asking questions, leading others by getting them/us to look at life through different and better questions. I've come to accept my "skepticism/cynicism" as a "gift" that forces me to look at issues differently, to bring reality to bear in new and meaningful ways. That means looking for answers that will almost always lead to better, more significant questions.

    Another freedom-giving thought came from the chapter titled "From Performance to Expression". Maybe it's the artistic authoring bug that drives me to write that looks for new ways to enlighten folks about old concepts that have dried up or been left out of our mainline Christian traditions. But I grab onto the thought that I don't need to "perform" in order to feel accepted or necessary in the kingdom:
    [We] feel an unhealthy pressure to perform in any given moment. Whether because of internal pressure or because of others' expectations, the desire to get life perfect can be intense. the stress of it all can seize our emotions and wreak havoc with our bodies. (p. 106)
    Being encouraged to live out an expression of Christ's love in my life, rather than perform to a set of fairly arbitrary and often fluctuating standards, is something that's still working through me.

    I don't think I can recommend this book to everyone I meet, to everyone I know. I can't even articulate what these passages and others have done to me internally and how they're being worked out in real life. There are certain books you would tell a stranger about, certain books you'd tell your pastor about - and I don't know if this is that book or not. I'm just recognizing that this book will stretch and pull in fairly specific areas of our lives, and if you're already moving or deconstructing in those areas, this book might bring some new thought, some new growth, some new encouragement. That's what has happened to me, but I realize that not everyone's on that path. Yet.

    "Flowers For My Wife"

    Crossposting this here and on my wife's site - sshhh, don't tell!

    This snapshot was taken this morning in the sunshine in our front yard. Wonderful to see that God still makes flowers bloom, and it was a nice thing to see before getting in the car to head to church.

    Saturday, April 09, 2005


    "I am twenty years old and by the grace and sovereignty of God have been redeemed by the bloody work of Christ on the cross. The reason I write is with concern for your theology and paradigm of who the church was made for ..."

    "I think I saw things more as you do back when I was twenty, and when you’re pushing fifty, you may see things a bit more as I do. Thanks for telling me how you see things and for trying to help me out. I appreciate your desire to correct me and help me."

    - "Dialogue" Statement & Response, Brian McLaren's website
    There is alot of criticism out there of the "emergent church movement", some of it on target, but most of it unwarranted and mean-spirited. In the exchange above, the criticism is more accusatory and judgmental than it probably needs to be, and McLaren's response, at least the first sentence, might be more condescending than necessary. But really, I appreciate his recognition that the critique is coming from a heart that wants to help but might not know how to do that best, that wants to pursue truth but doesn't have the tools or language to pull it off yet. We all come to these conversations with baggage, plus and minus, and realizing that about the people on "the other side" is what allows us to respectfully and affirmingly disagree.

    Andrew Jones links to this article by Frank Viola - "Will the Emerging Church Fully Emerge?" - complimenting the author on his fairness and well-thought out criticisms. But then there's criticism from D.A. Carson, this weblog entry from Albert Mohler, and a critique of McLaren posted by Steve Camp, and the general tone is generally arrogant and superior in tone. Why is that? What is it about this conversation that causes so many people to get all wadded up?

    The reason, if there is one, is that MOST PEOPLE DO NOT LIKE HAVING THEIR FAITH CHALLENGED. What we hold dear is sacred, and when something challenges that, it hurts. What we do with that hurt is usually strike back, or shrug the critique off as "you have your opinions", or we internalize it and take the hurt inside. But that's just what this "emerging movement" is doing: challenging why we do what we do, deconstructing why we believe what we believe. Where that deconstruction is leaving holes, there is hurt - and there should be, if we're really people of faith. But where there's new growth and new reconstruction on better more grounded foundations, I wish the church and its leaders could be more gracious and open to what's possible.

    I'd rather be proved wrong and helped to be made right, than to stand firm on what I think is "right" and miss out. I think that's happening alot lately.

    Friday, April 08, 2005

    The Masters

    Wow. If I could play golf worth anything - the only thing good about my game is that the scenery is usually nice regardless!- I'd love to play Augusta. Coverage of The Masters in HD is really nice, and even the rain delays are gorgeous. I'd like to play more, like to be able to afford to play more - but my hobbies of eating and buying gas keep me from making the financial commitment.

    Why aren't seminary golf teams and medical university golf teams the best in the country? Just one of those questions, I guess. For me, my handicap is pulling a club out of the bag on the first tee.

    Living In The Moment

    Let Go, and Respond - Thich Nhat Hanh

    Let go, and respond to the immediate needs around you. Don't get caught in some false perception of yourself. There will always be another person more gifted than you. And don't perceive your position as important, but be ready to serve at any moment. If you can let go of who you think you are, you will become free - ready to love others. If you learn to see your impermanence, you will be able to live for the moment and not miss opportunities to love by pushing things into the future.
    How much freedom would there be in living life moment by moment, being completely in NOW rather than reliving the past or being anxious for what's to come? Same thoughts in a book I'm reading/reviewing this weekend - it's for freedom that we've been set free, so why don't we live like it?


    Photo Friday: Plastic

    Thursday, April 07, 2005

    What Are You Reading?

    Any good books lately?

    Coaching Search

    It's been rumored all week that Dave Odom is in line for the head coaching position at UVa, and I really don't care much either way - the Gamecocks will be better next year regardless. But the whole thing is funny, especially in this article from CBS Sportsline:
    .... While the Cavaliers have an actual athletic director, their search is being dictated in part by president John Casteen, who helped muck up ACC expansion beyond recognition. Casteen, a former English professor who brings a wide knowledge of Macbeth to the search, is pushing Littlepage to hire DePaul coach Dave Leitao.
    That cracks me up - my drama-teacher-english-grad wife, not so much.

    Morning Rush

    Every one blogs at least once, if not over and over, about having "one of THOSE days" - so this is mine for today. This morning was one of THOSE mornings, and posting it has been on my mind since just after it started probably.

    We slept later than we normally like, not getting into the shower until 6:35 - that gives us about one hour before I like to be on the road, taking the kids to school. Vicki took her shower first and started getting dressed, and I followed, drying off quicker and getting downstairs to let the dog out and start the kitchen assembly line to breakfast, etc. It was the "breakfast, etc" that through me off kilter - shouldn't have, but I think we're still catching up on sleep from last week and the weekend's time change, so cut us some slack. I started coffee, pulled pop-tarts out for the kids, and was having a pleasant time as everyone kind've made their way towards the day. No big, until "breakfast, etc" ...

    At 7:25, I realized the "etc" part would include fixing lunches - that's normally something I just do, and it snuck up on me when I forgot. So I'm throwing in pizza and fruit snacks when my son asks to get on the PC. The problem isn't that he wanted to do something fun and "important", but that in ten minutes I wanted to be gone and sometimes, "It's time to go, get off the PC" is met with resistance. No problem, get on the computer, but when it's time to go, no arguing. "Ok, Dad" - until I told him to get off the PC. We handled it well, a little disagreement about why getting on the road was more important than setting the PC's screensaver.

    When Trace finally came outside, he'd left his backpack and jacket inside. No big, made him go back in. I'd remembered lunches, everyone was shod, and we were getting out on time. Whew. Driving in to school, both kids are laughing to the Spongebob CD (it's only 15 minutes to their school, praise Jesus), when we hit a pothole and the CD skipped. "Dad, is it going to skip every time we hit a bump?" - "Yes, son, it just does that" - "Aww, man (whine whine whine)" - "It's ok, it happens all the time - only on these bumps on this road every morning."

    A little further down the road, and this question/answer came up: "Dad, is it going to skip like that when I put it in the PC later?" - "No, son, only when we're driving on bumpy roads, and it's not making a skip permanent on the CD. The only way it would skip on the PC is if the computer was driving down this road taking you guys to school" - and that was the funniest thing he'd heard all morning. Both kids laughed and laughed, and I remembered the "etc" of "breakfast, etc" - our son didn't get his morning meds before school. Let me just say that this is not a good thing and makes for much stress and consternation in the land.

    My wife's very good idea was to get to school, visit the school nurse, and get the morning's dosage from her. Very good choice, everyone was happy, on their way to class and to work. All was god with the world, and both kids had really been good and conversational all the way in - that whole whiney-to-laughing thing had been a little too extreme, fortunately, and had made me remember what we'd forgotten earlier. I changed the radio to XM - no more Spongebob, praise Jesus - had a pleasant conversation with my wife detailing the morning, sipped coffee and made my way the rest of my 25 mile commute.

    I parked in the lot, thinking as I was walking in that I was going to post on my blog about what turned out to be laughable instead of traumatic. Got in the building, headed to my cubicle on the third floor, sat down, turned on my desk fan and pulled off the page on my Movie-Per-Day desk calendar. I put my coffee mug on the desk, reached down into my bag to get my laptop to boot-up, check email, blog this whole morning, and get busy with the day - and found that there was no laptop in my bag. The other "etc" in "breakfast, etc" was that I needed to unplug my laptop at home, take it off the dining room chair and place it in my bag to go to work with me. When all of your work is on the machine, this is important - and it was at home, in the kitchen, waiting to be used. I've forgotten it before, usually just after dropping off the kids, realizing I'd left my whole bag at home. But this was the first time I'd had my bag, had everything else - notebook, papers, forms and such - and left the laptop at home.

    So now, I've driven home, feeling like an idiot, laughing about it, and am now working today from the kitchen table again. One one-hour commute per day is enough. And it's already been one of THOSE mornings.

    Wednesday, April 06, 2005

    Homage, the Vatican

    Ode to Air-Conditioning

    There is one thing that allows me to live in the south: A/C. Sweet tea helps, don't get me wrong. But without A/C, I'd be a bubbly melted pile of goo before June. It was warmer here in Columbia yesterday (85F) than it was in San Juan, PR (82F) - at least the humidity hasn't kicked in yet. I'm at home this morning as the 2nd Wind guy comes to service the A/C units - this is as close as I get to Christmas in Spring, having someone make sure the house is properly chilled.

    When I was growing up, my dad was tight with the thermostat. Two teenage boys, and we couldn't touch the wallbox: "When you grow up and pay your energy bills on your own in your own house, you can set the temperature at whatever you want." Years later, after Vicki & I married and moved into the condo, my dad came over to watch a ballgame. The downstairs half-bath was enclosed and had one vent - with the door closed it always got pretty frigid in there. When he had to go to the restroom, he came out and said something like, "Brrrr - hanging meat in there?" To which I calmly replied, "Look, in your own house where you pay your own bills, you can set the temp wherever you like."

    Feel that? It's good and cold - getting chilly? Better get a jacket, 'cause I'm not budging the box just yet.

    Tuesday, April 05, 2005

    From My Inbox

    If I can get 50% off The Purpose-Driven Life, does that mean the other 50% of my life can be chaotic and schizophrenic and still be okay? I could handle a 50-50 split like that, I think.

    Just checkin'.

    Mornings & Blessings

    this is an audio post - click to play

    'Heels Win

  • - 2005 NCAA Basketball Tournament
    I've never ever liked the Tarheels. My dad went to NC State, and you can imagine the rest. But I told a buddy at work (nothing worse than obnoxious UNC fans, is there?) that I would give them props if they actually won the game - no pass to the wrong team or a technical called by calling a non-existant time-out. They won, and while it shouldn't have been close given the fifteen point halftime lead, at least it was a good game.

    And UNC has a one game lead on USC heading into next season for winning streak.

  • Monday, April 04, 2005

    Just Curious

    What's on your clipboard right now? Comment & leave it if you can.
    [thanks, Jeremy]

    Better Off

    It was a rough morning, mostly because I was wound way too tight. Got up feeling rotten (stomach issues), but showered and dressed and went downstairs to let the dog out and get coffee & breakfast started (in that order). Got too angry with my son, and really need to watch how I react & respond to the little things that shouldn't set me off. Finally got on the road - behind a school bus, behind a tractor trailer, behind people who still don't understand how to drive through the school driveway to drop of children. After talking to Vicki on the cell and feeling a little better, I was cut off trying to get on the interstate, and I decided to take the longer, less peaceful and more congested route through downtown. As I left Bluff Rd. and it turned into I-277, I happened to catch a glimpse of the guy in the SUV to my right. Our eyes met, and his finger was in his nose.

    I felt better. At least I'm not that guy, driving to work and living through the rest of Monday knowing someone saw me picking my nose.

    Sunday, April 03, 2005

    More Intentional

    It's been a really windy couple of days - gorgeous, but chilly yesterday and still overly gale-like this afternoon. It's been a good day, and I hope the kids will look back and see that it's been a decent "spring break week" for them as they go back to work tomorrow. From having small group leaders over here Friday night, to the Q & A this morning and our first dip into Colossians, through the coverage of the passing of Pope John Paul II and opening night of Baseball 2005 and the Final Four - it's been a long, full weekend.

    Pastor Jeff asked me Thursday night, "Where do you see all this going? What do you see for your time here? What do you think this is driving you toward right now? 'Cause it looks like something more than what is happening here" - something like that. I don't know, but I think that kind of question/processing has been ricocheting around in my subconscious ever since, and might be why I'm kind've pensive and contemplative heading into Monday. Tomorrow morning we'll all get up, all get ready for school and work, all go our separate ways and all come back together tomorrow evening - that's our weekly life. I don't do much what-do-you-see-yourself-doing-in-five-years thinking, but I do want to take the day-to-day and make sure there's a goal, some future vision out there for which we're working and preparing now.

    What do I see in the future then? Towards what are we working? Writing - lots of writing, maybe a book or at least some publishable stuff that can begin to bring some income into the household. Teaching - really appreciate the new opportunities for leading small groups, leading small group leaders, starting meaningful and deep conversations about things that matter. Shepherding - I'm not sure, because on this front there's no real confidence. But I'm open to anything the Lord might open, and I could envision and begin to work towards leading a new plant/group/gathering sometime in the not-too-distant future if that's what the Lord has in mind - might check for ID on that, but I'm open.

    Saturday, April 02, 2005

    "It Is Good..."

    "It is good to be young. It is good to be a student. It is good to be young and a student at the University of South Carolina."
    - Pope John Paul II, USC Horseshoe, Sept. 11, 1987

    I was a sophomore at USC when the Pope came to visit, and as a commuting student there was no way I was going to try to find a parking space downtown. But I remember watching alot of the event on TV, and those opening words have stood out to me since.

    We are starting a book discussion of McLaren's new book at the NKOC Website, and I posted this as my thought from the opening paragraph of the Introduction:

    "I believe that God is good. No thought that I have ever had of God is better than God actually is. True, my thoughts - including my assumptions about what good means - are always more or less inaccurate, limited, and unworthy, but I am still confident of this: I have never overestimated how good God is because God's goodness overflows far beyond the limits of human understanding. That conviction gave birth to this book." - Introduction, p. xiii

    That's the opening paragraph of McLaren's THE LAST WORD, AND THE WORD AFTER THAT - and I want to stop right there with an opening question: what does God's goodness make you think about the topic of hell?

    For me this morning, I'm embarrassed by the radio show I listened to on the way home from work yesterday afternoon. I listen like I might linger over NASCAR on TV, waiting for a spectacular crash of some sort. The speaker, presidient of an SBC seminary and really conservstive and more fundamentalist than he thinks he is, was extolling the virtues of the ailing Pope, how he respected the person, how he admired his stand for life and morality - but because his theology is ultimately flawed and denies certain aspects of justification by faith alone, there's no hope he'll be in heaven. I yelled at my XM - "WHAT?!?" - he's a great man, very kind, very astute and moral, very loving and open, and going to burn for eternity because his doctrine's wrong?

    From this opening to the Intro, "God is good" - and I have to think His idea of who's in and who's tossed into eternal brimstone would be different from ours.

    As word goes out that the Pontiff has indeed passed away, I just want to remember that this was a good man who knew Jesus in ways we'll probably never understand. And I want to give him every benefit of the doubt, because God is good and is so much better than we would be.

    Friday, April 01, 2005

    Sharing Plans II

    Here we are, blogging from the living room. Not from the airport. Not from a plane. Not from the Bay Area. Without reservations or plans or a "new church home". We're at home, relaxing after a long day.

    With no plans to move. Not this weekend. Not to California.

    But wouldn't it be a hoot?

    April Fools. Please don't forget to tip your server.

    Sharing Plans

    Well, for some of you this might come as a shock - but for most of you who've been following this blog, its ups and downs and way-too-deep moments, you'll know right where I'm tracking. This evening, my family and I are flying to San Francisco for a good weekend trip and a Sunday morning introduction as the new pastor of Seven Hills Community Church, a non-denom/emergent church in San Mateo. I've been in email and phone conversations with people I met while on a business trip a few years back, and we've just hit it off splendidly. Waiting until now to "break the news" on my blog has meant being able to be real and honest with this body of believers, and not having to hurt anyone's feelings or step on anyone's toes here in virtual space or here in the real world. We'll fly back next week and tell our new friends here, and then begin the long arduous task of moving from a 3-story house into what'll probably be a 3-bdrm inner city apartment. But it's cool, branching out like this, taking the bull by the horns, no turning back.

    Just don't tell my folks - we need to break it to them gently that we're moving across the country and down a few timezones. Frequent flyer miles will be building for our extended family, methinks. Keep us in prayer as we embark on this new journey. Pray especially for Delta Airlines - this is the first time either of our kids has been on a flight, much less cross country, and it's just the beginning for them, I'm sure.

    I'll share more as the weekend progresses. Peace!


    Photo Friday: Hot

    This photo was snapped last summer at Stone Mountain. I always associate humidity with heat in the south, and it was warm and moist that day. Probably alot like today is shaping up - the fog hanging in the place of rain that may or may not come just looks sticky this morning.