Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Junior Novelization

I've been TAGGED by MaryAnn to play along and answer some questions about books. Since I don't read (yeah right!!!), I'll just have to make these answers up.

1. Total number of books I own:
Don't go there. I could do a count on one bookcase, multiply it by three for the number of bookcases, and then add about half of that to match the ones that are boxed up somewhere in the house. Offhand, I'd say just under six hundred - of which I've read three. If we're adding the books on shelves in the kids' rooms - closer to eight hundred maybe, adding all the Dr. Seuss, Spongebob and Veggie Tales books. But I can't count that high.

2. Last book I bought: Lost In Rooville, Ray Blackston - for my sweetie to start "summer reading for fun"

3. Last book I read: Just Married, Margaret Feinberg - recommended to anyone who's married, at any point in their marriage

4. Five books that mean a lot to me:
Divine Conspiracy, Dallas WillardNew Kind Of Christian series, Brian McLaren
Soul Tsunami, Len SweetTo Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee
Uprising, Edwin McManusLife After God, Douglas Coupland
Blue Like Jazz, Donald MillerBird By Bird, Anne Lamott
Chronicles of Narnia series, C.S. Lewis...only five?

5. Two major books when I was a kid:
  • We Were There... series - various authors, historical fiction
  • A Wrinkle In Time, Madeleine L'Engle
  • Hardy Boys series, F. W. Dixon
  • The Great Brain series, John Fitzgerald
  • DC Comics (didn't get into many Marvel characters until much later)
    ... just two?

    6. People I want to tag: (copy/paste the questions and answer them on your blog...)
  • Vicki, my lovely and literate bride
  • Jeff, my not-as-lovely and semi-literate brother
  • Russ, pastor and book/music nut in Texas
  • Jen, pastor's wife and kitty nut in Minnesota
  • Donna, wife & mom to a (pre?)teen in Virginia

  • It's Called Rasslin'

    • Go to this site: Wrestling For Jesus
    • Click on "Roster" on the left sidebar, and take a long look at the gentleman pictured second from the left, top row. That's my friend, Todd - Superstar.
    After a few years of ups and downs, it's good to hear from Todd, knowing that he's doing his best to minister and to have fun (I'm not a fan by any means - but I've thrown a figure-four-leg-lock or two in my time). Todd's emcee'ing the weekend events, and he's able to share with others the life that Christ is building within. Rasslin' is a part of the culture down here - consider it "engaged".

    Deep Throat

    One of my favorite movies of all time is All The President's Men - and I'll tell you and anyone else, "Deep Throat" is none other than Hal Holbrook. But CNN.com is reporting that Vanity Fair is breaking the confession of W. Mark Felt, former FBI official, that he is in fact "Deep Throat", whose insider information led to the downfall of the Nixon administration during the Watergate happenings.

    I like Hal Holbrook better.

    Quiet Home

    How do I know it's summer? This morning it's after seven a.m., and I'm not waking anyone up. I'll head out to Starbucks for a macchiato on the way to the office, while Vicki finds time to study for her national certification tests and the kids enjoy the week in summer day camp at the church down the street. But for now, it's peaceful in the house - going to rain today, a light fog hanging, and everyone still snoring under comfy blankets.

    Monday, May 30, 2005

    Coffee Deficiency

    I haven't had a single cup of coffee yet. Not one. Amazing or not, I'm brewing a fresh pot right now to liven up the evening a little bit. I think there's a scientific study to be done somewhere that would prove once and for all that coffee is either another major food group in its own right, or is of such great worth to the human experience that it rises to the same level of necessity as shelter and clothing.

    Why do people not get involved in "small groups"? In our particular church culture, things are centered around Sunday School and the Sunday Service, and folks feel like they're giving way beyond themselves if they also get involved in church things one evening a week. But other than those few hours per week, we typically stay away from each other. It's not intentional - but this family has its plans and this other family has its priorities and that other family over there lives a little further away. It's difficult to build "community" when we think of "church community" falling within the time and geographic constraints of weekly church stuff - and we miss out, I think, on what it means to be the Church, the Body of Christ in a locality.

    The biggest reason for not being involved with each other is that we just don't have time. School, careers, and extracurricular opportunities take up most of our weekly daytimer pages. That's a matter of planning on the surface, a matter of determining what's really important at the root level. I think alot of what we're involved in is very good, so I'm not saying anyone needs to drop all the baseball practices in order to get involved with small groups at church. In fact, making the mental leap to look at being with other parents at those youth practices as a "small group" because you're together for a common goal - I think that's at least one solution, too.

    After the issue of time, there are a few other reasons given for not being involved that need to be addressed more directly. The personal problems of not wanting to get involved with people I don't know, or being afraid on some level of rejection, or wanting some kind of golden ticket invitation from God before joining with a new small group - these reasons are usually "excuses", meaning that we have a tendency to latch onto a justification for just not wanting to connect with others. Why do we as Christians not want to gather with other Christians? Fear of intimacy, fear of honesty, fear of being exposed, fear of reading the Bible or praying out loud - whatever it is, I find that "just do it" usually knocks those justifications over.

    The last reason I've found for not getting involved is the one that breaks my heart: the idea that it's just not that important, that it's not really necessary as a Christian to experience community and to grow together. In this frame of mind, I only join a group that would (1) help me in an area with which I think I need help, or that would (2) need my particular area of expertise or learning. This mindset not only keeps a person away from other Christians, but if this person does happen to get involved he or she is closed off from growing in the spirit of togetherness and mutual submission. It's a commitment to a covenant based on condition: if I feel like I'm needed, or I feel like I need you, I'll be there. Otherwise, I'm okay without it. And if I get involved at all, once I feel that the usefulness of this gathering has gone past, I can separate without feeling guilty, right? It's a consumer mentality that weighs everything on pragmatic and cost-effective terms. And that's sad.

    Coffee's ready.


    Thank You

    To all those who have fought and died, fought and lived, to bring freedom, to preserve freedom, to expand freedom. And to all those who have shared family members in service, sending sons and daughters into the battle for that freedom.

    A blessed Memorial Day to you all. Where I might disagree with the particulars of war and peace, I feel that it is necessary and appropriate to fight for that in which you believe. The most supreme act of love for humankind is laying down your life - in dying, or in living it in service to others. Thank you for laying it down for something bigger than self.

    Sunday, May 29, 2005


    Saturday, May 28, 2005


    Russ sent me the link to a quiz. The first time I took it, I rated higher on the "Fundamentalist" scale than shows below:

    You scored as Cultural Creative. Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. You are a modern thinker who tends to shy away from organized religion but still feels as if there is something greater than ourselves. You are very spiritual, even if you are not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational.

    Cultural Creative
















    What is Your World View? (updated)
    created with QuizFarm.com

    I didn't change any answers on purpose, honest. I actually thought it was spot on about my fundamentalist leanings, but it's probably not far off this second time around (69% vs. 50% above). When I think of "fundamentalist" in this context, I want it to mean that I take scripture seriously, allowing it to be literal as far as it can and then figurative as far as it can. I can live with the ambiguity that comes from not being able to mesh the traditional views with new interpretations. I want to let the Bible speak for itself - fundamentally speaking.

    Review: JUST MARRIED

    The question you might ask is, "why is he reading a marriage book for young couples when he's not that young and they've just celebrated their fourteenth anniversary?" My answer would be that it's because I can: that this book came in the mail as our anniversary was approaching, and who can resist the ironic twist of reading a newlywed book after fourteen years of wedded bliss?

    In Just Married (copyright 2005, by Margaret Feinberg; Harvest House Publishers), I found that fourteen years of marriage isn't that much unlike the first couple of years together. We are still learning, still coping, still enjoying, still going through many of the same ups and downs as newlyweds. Maybe that's what makes marriage something wonderful to watch being "done well" - each person still falling in love, still discovering new things about the other. As I read of Margaret's journey with her husband Leif, I remembered fondly our early years without kids: finding out which brand of peanut butter we'd buy (Peter Pan or some lesser brand?), where we'd store the ketchup (fridge or pantry?), our first house/mortgage, buying cars, toothpaste tubes. Life takes a few twists and turns those first years of marriage.
    Maybe home ownership and a fruit salad [wonderful example of "differences" she and her husband discovered after getting married] aren't that far apart after all. If we can learn to work through our little differences, then who says we can't use those same skills to work through the big ones? The fact is that it's in the little things that we learn how to resolve conflict, compromise, and gain a deeper understanding into each other's values and beliefs. Events like the Fruit Bowl Incident give us the opportunity to grow, so that when the Suddenly Laid Off Incident or the Won the Lottery Incident happen, we can handle ourselves a little better. (p. 29)
    Dealing with where we're different, where we're attracted to each other, where conflict will come, how to deal with being apart and being together - I think Margaret's written a book that is fun to read and enlightening for more than just newlyweds.

    There are chapters on finances, in-laws, sex, bumps in the road for him and for her, and all of these "work" because of her writing style first (it's just a very poetic prose, something I've enjoyed reading in various works the past few years), but it's also because of her use of personal stories intermixed with interviews from other newlyweds and folks like us who've been married over a decade. The sidebar extras and the "surprises" that are interspresed through the text ("Surprise No. 23 - My husband will never be able to read my mind" - p. 128) add a layer of fun and interaction, too. And the reader finds a camaraderie with Margaret and Leif in the practical things of life together, and then also find spiritual matters that matter in marriage - and this is what stood out to me, that this book didn't feel hokey on matters of faith. She deals with them in the same straight forward manner as the other issues, recognizing early on that her growth and transformation from dating single to married spouse is as much about the spiritual as it is about who's leaving the toilet seat down or not. Her approach to the "secular" has a much more "sacred" bent, so that all of life is about becoming who we are in Christ, and I think that's why I like reading her stuff.

    One caveat: I'm looking forward to the tenth anniversary of this book, when hopefully Margaret will write Just Married After Ten Years - because I think she'll be surprised what's changed and what's stayed the same. Either way, I've appreciated this glimpse into their journey as it's just starting out.

    Riding The Rails

  • CNN.com - Tweetsie Railroad faces uncertain future
    One of the fondest childhood memories I can still recall is from the steps of the General Store at Tweetsie Railroad, an amusement park in the sky outside Boone, NC. We met Fred Kirby, road some rides and then Tweetsie took us around the bend to a frontier adventure. We've done the same thing with our kids, and I'm hoping things will get worked out here so that we can go back with grandkids later on.

    What bugs me is that "progress" means tearing down some of these older places and making room for new condos or a golf course. Those places might be nice and the view might be incredible, but is the trade-off worth it? Usually not, but in the short-term it'll look like a lucrative deal, I'm sure. I'd like to see something happen to enhance the park - new investors, new rides, new artists for the craftsy crowd. There's plenty of space for concerts and such, and maybe an artist's retreat - something to feed off the mountainside location without too much further domestication.

  • Friday, May 27, 2005

    Review: MADAGASCAR

    We went to see Madagascar this afternoon, the official first day of summer vacation for my wife and the kids. We mostly enjoyed it - I think my wife and I were just way too tired and could've taken a nap, but the kids hooted and giggled through the whole film. It'll need a load of special features on the DVD - hopefully at least something extra from the penguins! But the bar is set so high by the Disney/Pixar animations the past decade or so, and this one just doesn't have the stamina to rise to those levels.

    The problem is that Marty the Zebra (voiced by Chris Rock) wants to experience The Wild. Spending all day in his enclosure primping for the public coming through the gates at the Central Park Zoo, he also has a wonderul view of the mural of The Wild that adds to his dream. When he hears that Connecticut has wide open spaces (comparatively, I guess), he escapes the zoo to take an express from Grand Central Station. The other animals - Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller), Gloria the Hippo (Jada Pinkett-Smith), and Melman the Giraffe (David Schwimmer) - leave the zoo to rescue their friend. A slight misunderstanding with Animal Control (when Alex talks in english, it of course sounds like RRROOOOOAAAARRRR to the lion-phobic humans) means that these animals must be returned to The Wild.

    They're crated and packed aboard a ship bound for Kenya, until that ship is hijacked by the Penguins (best sidebar characters since Scrat in ICE AGE), and the foursome find themselves on in Madagascar. Their encounter with the locals - lemurs, lemurs everywhere! - and Alex's discovery of his carnivorous tendencies drive the rest of the story. It's fun and has just enough going on to keep our elementary-age kids engaged.

    I recommend it to anyone who had to pass on Star Wars III because of the PG-13 rating - this one's fun, and while it's not as good as some others, it's worth the matinee price to see the Penguins!

    Last Questions O' The Week

    Thanks for all the consideration and time and questions - kept me on my toes this week, and I'm eternally grateful. Or at least really appreciative this morning.

    Ashley asked: Okay, here's a potentially deep one for you: What about theology in Bob Dylan's songs? (He wrote Saved that Third Day sings on one of their praise CDs.)
  • I should know more about this, but I don't - I've never been a big fan, and other than running across some of his "salvation" LPs when I was DJ'ing in the mid-80s, I don't have alot of first-hand knowledge. But I'll ask this in return, not necessarily of Ashley but of anyone: If we find truth in a body of work that's not "sacred", is it still truth? I think that's where Dylan and so many others come in - not necessarily orthodox, but honest and truthful and able to be used of God to share truth.

    My Brazillian buddy Luis asked a couple: When you are reading four books, what makes you choose the one to read for the moment?
  • I'm a lazy reader - the reason I'm in four books at once is that I want to read but I don't want to get up to find that one particular book. Right now, I'm looking for something fiction-based - too much "this is how to be a good Christian" non-fic, but a good story or two will do the trick.

    Now a question from a brazilian: I think baseball, football, basketball and hockey have all very strong leagues in US, how did you decide what league to follow and to choose a team to support?
  • Location, location, location. I grew up in South Carolina, where there are no real professional teams - so for me, college sports are alot more fun. The pro baseball Atlanta Braves was the closest team for a long time, so we're fans; and the Carolina Panthers of the NFL started in the 90s and we've been following them. But it's mostly where-do-you-live and maybe what-teams-do-your-parents-pull-for (that can have alot of influence, too).

    Russell asked this thought-zinger, and I meant to hit on it yesterday: Does this verse (2 Sam 6:6-7) scare the sin out of you too? Don't you think Uzzah's heart was in the right place?
  • Location, location, location. I don't necessarily think Uzzah's "heart was in the right place" - but that he possibly had an unhealthy view of himself as the protector of the things of God. It looks like a pride issue - "this has been in our house, we've been blessed by having it, I've seen it everyday for months, and now it's my job to make sure it's protected from harm". This thinking ignores the holiness, negates the reverance - doesn't it? I'm not making excuses for God, because I think it was way harsh. But I think it lies within the bounds of His sovereignty, and that pride-issue is deadly in the first place... besides, at least his face didn't melt off like in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

  • Symbol

    1 Corinthians 1:18 - "I know very well how foolish the message of the cross sounds to those who are on the road to destruction. But we who are being saved recognize this message as the very power of God."

    Photo Friday: Symbol

    Thursday, May 26, 2005

    More Thursday ?'s

    Got a few new questions, deep and otherwise, that I'll throw out tomorrow. For now, I wanted to wrap up these earlier inquiries. Craig asked some deeper questions for our consideration:

    1. Say you've been meeting with a couple guys for about 8 years with the object of accountability and bible study and prayer. You all went to the same church. But then life happens and time goes on and now, after 8 years, you all go to different churches with different focus and vision. You're thinking that you need to move on--you don't always see eye to eye with these guys. It's been 8 years and you need a change. But when you've approached the subject the guys still think this meeting together is great and don't want to stop. How do you handle this situation? Do you still just keep meeting? If not, how do you stop getting together without hurting their feelings?
  • In this "hypothetical situation", if you're looking at it as "just keep meeting", you've already left. There are probably already hurt feelings - if "accountability" was one of the first tenets and you've all split so far in so many directions. Eight years is a long time for guys on the same track at the same church - what you've accomplished is amazing. But if you don't feel like it's worth your time, the other guys would probably be better off without you. Or whoever might be going through that, not "you" per se. They're hurting you by wanting you to stay, and you're hurting back by hanging around. Things change, things hurt - we move on and forgive and love anyway, don't we?

    2. What do you know about Christian Science and what are the major doctrinal issues with it?
  • Not much. Would have to google it and that would mean giving someone else's answers, not mine.

    3. Say you have a friend/co-worker who grew up in Christian Science. How do you share the love and power of Jesus with him, now that he's moving to SC for a job change?
  • Is this co-worker moving to Columbia? I would start with something other than, "you know CS is completely wrong and heretical". I'd like to meet this hypothetical friend if he's moving to the area, get to know what's up with all this, see where the dialogue takes us so I can learn through the relationship, too. The "love and power of Jesus" will be there - part of the deal, don't have to force or manipulate, just be real and honest and buy the first round of latte's.

    Thanks, Craig - great questions, real or "hypothetical"!

  • End-of-School Luau

    Preguntas del Jueves

    It's Thursday, and we've been getting some good questions here in the offices of Rambling Adventures. We'll start with the "not-so-serious" ones first, and post later on the more, shall we say, "thought-provoking" ones.

    Suzanne asked a techie question: how would i place a picture inside a paragraph with text wrapping around it like you just did with mr. incredible and the chock full o' nuts logo?
  • Inside the img tag, put align="right", including the quote marks and using "right" or "left" or "center" - and the text will wrap around the graphic by magic.

    Craig made a few inquiries this morning:

    1. So why did you change from a super-hero to a parking sign?
  • My PhotoWe saw that sign coming out of Chili's one night, and I loved the juxtaposition of "park here for carry out" and "we'll crush & melt your car". I feel the same about this blog, in a less violent way most of the time. Besides, the earlier self-portrait was ruining my secret identity.

    2. If your blog was a type of coffee, what kind would it be?
  • It's a caramel macchiato with whip cream - which is what I'm sipping right now at the new Atlanta Bread Co. on #378 across from the hospital.

    3. In light of question 2, what kinds of coffee would you invite to be guest bloggers? What kinds of coffee would you want on your blog roll?
  • Latte', dark roast, any of the african blends or chilled versions - only stipulation would be NO DECAF.

    4. What's the deal with "Starbucks" coffee. It seems that you talk a lot about that. Isn't JFG coffee just as good?
  • Here's the deal: the coffee just tastes better. Getting something in Starbucks, you buy into the ambience and all that, so the price is a bit jacked. But even at home - we buy the beans and grind them fresh for each pot. You can't beat that with normal grocery store coffee (the closest in texture for me has been Chock Full O' Nuts). The whole deal - grinding, brewing, the smell, the fixings - is what makes it worth it for me. We're not addicts, and I don't have to have my two cups every morning in order to not bite someone's head off. But I do like it done well and smelling right. That's huge.

  • Wednesday, May 25, 2005

    Anymore Questions?

    It's been a week full of blog questions - some deep and some not so deep - and some answers - some deep some not so deep and some shovelling it deep, I'm sure. Any questions for Thursday and Friday? I've got no real umph for writing anything original right now (except for the rest of this post, I guess), but I do appreciate the writing triggers that have come from the promptings and questions of others.

    Sometimes I think I spend too much time thinking deeply about things that either don't need that much extra thought, or that no one else is really thinking about. So this week's exercise has been good, at least feeding what free mental energy I might have with questions that do matter to others (some of them, at least - other questions have just been fun and goofy!). Honestly, I just think people don't think enough - or worse, that we get locked into a pattern of thinking that stunts our growth mentally. Ultimately, we stop growing spiritually because we don't see the value of a good question, the importance to think and re-think and to have those thoughts challenged and re-worked over time.

    As Christians, we tend to think we have all the answers. I like to think we should have the best questions.

    Wednesday A.M. "Ponderances"

    Continuing my little contrivance of "questions" (started with Monday's post)...

    Margaret asked several questions: Will Dr. Phil ever lose his popularity? Did Oprah really have stomach surgery to lose all that weight or is it just a rumor? And was anyone surprised that the booksmarts beat the streetsmarts on the Apprentice?
  • I predict that Dr. Phil will lose his popularity while serving 10-to-life for taking out Jerry Springer. Then he'll get out and develop a new line of floral print linens at Target. Just a theory.
  • Oprah lost weight the old fashioned way: plastic wrap, Wesson oil and Leave It To Beaver reruns.
  • I wasn't surprised that booksmarts beat streetsmarts. I was more surprised that streetstupid and bookstupid made it as far as they did in the contest.

  • Tuesday, May 24, 2005

    Darth Blogger

    Anakin's Blog - very imaginative, and it looks like it's "done" and available in PDF for download.

    Tuesday: "Balance?"

    I started by asking for "questions" to help with my writer's block during this busy hectic week. The first post is here, and Monday's answers and new questions are here - please feel free to leave new questions in this post's comments.

    I don't know if I'll get as many questions for today or not. But this first one is a doozy - and it's not easy to avoid, is it?

    Bob asked: "Do you think there are areas of you life that are 'out of balance'? If so, what are they?"
  • My brother's first response was, "Nothing a little fiber won't fix." Ahem. My first response is, "of course - well duh" - and then to leave it at that. But being vague is a non-answer, and that's not the exercise I wanted from all of these questions. Instead, I want my answer to be honest, forthright, and still leave something hanging out there.
    So let me offset a couple of paragraphs. Yes, there is imbalance in my life. Right now, I'm having a tough time finding a midpoint between encouragement and being down, between wanting to be a leader and wanting to hide. There's a point somewhere between grace and works, Law and Freedom, that I'm probably swimming around as well. But honestly, I think "balance" is over-rated, and I find a certain thrill and freedom in the tension that exists between extremes. Finding a balance would imply, for however short a period of time as necessary, that I had it all together - when we all know that's not true.

    Instead, what about finding a "center of gravity"? How's that for a "better question" maybe? A "center of gravity" would be a place of sufficient mass and weightiness as to not allow the entire structure to stand tall, but that would still allow for a little sway back and forth as necessary to keep things interesting, necessary to both meet challenges and to grow from encouragement.
    I think I like my brother's answer best.

  • Monday, May 23, 2005

    Monday's Answers

    It's neat to have folks who stop by and read my ramblings and junk. I've asked readers to leave comments with good questions (Monday's first post - feel free to post more questions for Tuesday in the comments here), helping me out of my writer's block during this long end-of-school work week. I'll take each day's questions and post something towards the end of that day. Thanks so much for asking such humdingers.

    My brother Jeff asked: "what is the magic ingredient in GoldBond that sooths oh so well after a long day of chafing? Hmmmmm"
  • Soylent Green

    JP asked: "Why do we use the brand name 'Band-Aid' for a bandage?"
  • The same reason that almost all colored-sugar-water concoctions are called "Kool-aid", that all blow-your-nose tissues are called "Kleenex", and that all bland no-talent variety-show-hosts are called "Ryan Seacrest".

    JP asked a "serious" question, too: "I just read Tony Campolo's Speaking My Mind. Read it Rick, good stuff. Question: How do we find a middle ground between relational theology and systematic theology? Is it possible with us mere humans?"
  • I think a key, for me at least, is to not make the split. Things are usually more Both/And rather than Either/Or, and making a case one way or another usually leaves something out. I see the emphasis needing to be relational, and the conversation needs to be relationally grounded in Jesus. After that, we can talk about systematic theology - but we can never leave the foundation of being in fellowship with the Father. I think that's where we get in trouble - the collective "we" being the church all over - when we try to reduce Christianity to a set of beliefs and propositions. We end up leaving ourselves with something outside of the relationship, cutting ourselves off from needing God or needing each other. I wouldn't trust any set of theological standards that don't take into account our nature to be together.

    Russell asked about church names: "We are looking for a name for a church we are planting. Something that reaches to the unchurched. Got any outside the box suggestions? Here is one suggestion to get the ball rolling... Four Winds Community Church from Matthew 24:31"
  • Want to reach people who don't go to church already? What about FREE MONEY COMMUNITY CHURCH? or LOTTERY WINNERS FELLOWSHIP? or ELVIS LIVES HERE? Only half in jest, but way outside the box, huh? Seriously, find some location marker, some geographic point to draw attention, and be the church of that point. That's where I would start (of course, I attend Seacoast/Irmo, about a two hour drive from the beach - what do I know?). I'm not sure "outsiders" would get "Four Winds", but it works prophetically and could open up for various logo ideas, if that's where you're going with things.

    Renee asked a few not-so-deep-but-awfully-fun preguntas: "When is your birthday? Have you lived in S.C your whole life? What is the age difference of your kids? What kind of cars do you own? What is your fav meal? Sorry these question's aren't too deep? Just stuff..."
  • July '68
  • Nope, born in NC; lived in Kansas for a bit until they ran us off when my brother was born; moved back to NC; then moved to the Columbia area in the middle of 2nd grade, and my family moved to the current homestead in the middle of fifth grade
  • Son/9 and Daughter/7 - 25 months and about one foot difference in age/height
  • Honda CRV 4WD, and my sweetie drives a Tank
  • Favorite meal? Not a picky eater (very evident!), but either pizza or chili with a ballgame, or going out for Prime Rib

    Suzanne inquired: "1. where and why of the best cup of coffee you've ever had? 2. how did you meet myles? what was your first impression of him? has it changed? 3. delivery or digiorno?"
  • can't give you the date, but it was a lunchtime (on a pretty rotten day, if I remember - that's that "why") run to Starbucks, and the caramel macchiato was ambrosia - best I've ever had; I've come close since, but that one stands as the Grail
  • I've never met Myles - linked to him through someone else's blog, and have enjoyed his take and his writing since
  • Delivery - we can do DiGiorno, but you've gotta plan ahead for that

    Jason Dollar asked: "Here is a good thought jogger - how do you know the Bible is true? PS. I believe it is, but the question is really, how do you go about saying the Bible is true?"
  • I'm going to fall back on my "relational" answer from above. At some point in time, I probably had to make a decision by grace to trust God, to let the Bible be true to me - as relative as that might sound. Since then, trusting it and letting it speak into my life, it's never let me down. It's jacked me up - it's scared the bejeebers out of me, and it's challenged me and convicted me in all sorts of areas. But it's proven to be "true" as much as Jesus has shown Himself to be faithful and true. My ideas on the Bible being inerrant (what's in there was meant to be in there) and infallible (what's in there says what God means it to say) might be different, but overall, it's truth is based on Christ.

  • Sunday, May 22, 2005

    got Questions?

    This week is going to be "one of those weeks" as school wraps up and summer begins. It's going to be busy at work and school and home, and I'll need a little help creatively with posting. This is where my blogo-friends come in - got any questions? Anything deep, theological, philosophical, movies, books, music, TV, whatever? Need an opinion? I'm full of 'em - and I'll get to anything you ask this week.

    Thanks ahead of time for your battle against my impending writer's block.

    Deja Moo

    "The feeling that you've heard this bull before."

    Sleepy Time

    I've slept more the past 24 hrs than I'm used to, dealing with a stomach bug of some kind since Friday evening. I crashed hard in a wingback chair last evening, fell asleep hard before midnight last night, and then pretty much stay in bed or dozing on that same wingback until noon today. We stayed home from church this morning - Vicki's not feeling good either, so we've been taking it fairly easy and lazy so far today. I hate when I feel like this, not able to do much besides take up spaces. But we're taking advantage of the extra "rest time" the last weekend before the last week of school.

    I'm watching the Braves @ Boston, switching back and forth to Golf, and getting ready for Extreme Home Makeover later this evening. And catching up on my reading, just enjoying the break while getting over the cruds.

    Saturday, May 21, 2005

    Unity, Epilogue

    Well, tomorrow's Sunday and I think I've run through my UNITY ideas pretty fully at this point. The concept of "acceptance is more important than agreement" has weighed heavily on my mind, and I think it's worked its way out as honest and truthful to the scriptures and to the way relationships tend to work. Knowing that God "accepts" me - without me having to be 100% perfect in all of my opinions and beliefs - brings a sense of freedom. And on top of that, knowing that redemption and reconciliation are huge pieces of the puzzle, too, means that while I'm accepted I'm also being encouraged and transformed as He sees fit. A heart that's following hard after God, not a mind that's got the "right" doctrinal bent, is what fuels faith and pleases the Father.


    I'm sitting at Atlanta Bread Company, enjoying a vanilla latte and the mild weather. I think I'm going to blog a bit, then read and wait for my family to call with evening plans. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

    Good Man, Bad Decisions

    One reviewer said that Anakin Skywalker comes across as a really good man, a really passionate man, who makes some really dumb and misguided decisions. After seeing the "last" of the films last night, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, I think that's spot on, and I'm amazed at how well George Lucas has told a story with a few huge sweeping twists.

    Someone at work was saying that it's a really weird to "end" the story with this episode: why leave it on this last horrific note? I've come to think of it as brilliant. Where the first three movies (IV, V and VI) appear to be about Luke's quest to overthrow Darth Vader, we also saw Vader move from very bad to redeemed in those movies. Now in the second trilogy (I, II and III), we watch Vader go from good-hearted and precocious to hateful and dark. And in the midst of this second set of movies, played as they are after the first set, we find that this story from I to VI is centered around Anakin/Vader, and not as much about Luke & Leia.

    That's a major sweeping development in a work of storytelling. It's a parable, telling one story and smacking the unsuspecting hearer with an unexpected punchline. And where we all identify with Luke or Han or Leia in those first movies - wanting to save the galaxy and defeat evil - we find in these last chapters that we are probably more like Anakin, more like Padme, more like ObiWan - just living life, making choices, living with the consequences the best we can.

    Except Yoda. Nobody's like Yoda. He's definitely the man.

    SEMI-SPOILER ALERT: Don't read further if you haven't seen the movie - you've been warned.

    I'm not going to give much away, but there was one more technique that I caught: Lucas copied Disney Channel plotlines to tell his story! Every week on That's So Raven, the same things happens. Raven has a vision of the future, does something to change that vision, and ends up making it come about. It took two hours in SW3, but it only takes thirty minutes and a laugh track in Raven. Just thought I'd share - I saw that, George!

    Friday, May 20, 2005

    Unity, Part V

    So here I am at the end of the week, ready for a little lunch actually, after pondering the concept of "unity" and what it might look like to elevate "acceptance" over "agreement" in our "mindset" towards each other. And why do I use quotation marks way too much... but that's another week's set of posts, I guess. I want to end these ramblings on a negative note - not really, but looking at the negative side of the position, at what keeps us apart. What tends to separate us? What tends to bring disunity and division? Why can't we all just get along?
  • pride - I could start with other words and make a grand sweeping comment about this last, but honestly I think we know it comes first. We are prideful people who like to be right, like to be justified, like to be vindicated. Our pride keeps us from fully engaging those around us who are different or who hold different beliefs/ideals. Pride will probably at least be a factor in each of the bullets that follow, too.
  • socio-economic issues - We are not so much divided by these issues as we are typically too lazy to cross these lines unprovoked. There's really no line here, is there? And yet, we just don't hang out with those richer than us, poorer than us.
  • philosophy - We tend to congregate around like-minded people who have similar tastes in books, movies, TV and music. We tend to shy away from those who would present different mindsets, different opinions politically and socially.
  • theology - We also tend to coalesce around certain doctrinal beliefs and concerns in the church. We attend the church we attend because they have the same attitudes as we do towards God, more often than not. When churches split, it's often a philosophical issue hiding out as a theology issue - both sides think they're right, and both sides think they win.
  • sports affiliation - I know you've seen this get way out of hand, as rival school fans gang up on each other the week before the big game, and for weeks after over who's the better team.

    There are other things - but as I think of these issues, I keep coming to one conclusion: I've got all this working against me if I'm trying to connect with Christ. I'm not worth much to Him economically since I don't own the cattle on one hill, much less a thousand. His philosophy is more well-rounded than mine, I'm sure. Any pride He has is well-founded. His theology is lightyears ahead of what my tiny brain can fathom. And His sports affiliation - well, it's obvious God's a Gamecock fan, but He can't show it or that would be wrong and partial - so they have to be tediously mediocre not to give it away.

    Why then, am I given the opportunity of unity and reconcilation with God? We wouldn't agree on anything, much less my own sin and unworthiness. But He loves me and accepts me just as I am - not going to stay like this, because the relationship has healing and enabling power to make me live more like Jesus. His acceptance, though, isn't hinged on my agreement nor on my repentance. While I was still goofing off in my pride and sin and bad philosophy, Jesus died for me. The unity and reconciliation in Christ was offered before I knew what it was, much less before I was cognizant of what it meant or knew to agree. Unity isn't manufactured, it's maintained in peace - because it originates from the Father, not from our mutual "good idea".

    And we can now be reconciled to each other, across all that divides us - even if you're not a Gamecock fan. Not only can we come together, but as Christians our entry into the mix should bring that same reconciliation in peace to others, and even those who disagree the most vehemently can feel some sense of unity because of Jesus being lived out through us.

  • Life.

    Photo Friday: Green

    Thursday, May 19, 2005

    Not So Much

    CBS is cancelling Joan of Arcadia? They just introduced Satan as a character - whaddya wanna bet he's in on this somehow?!?


    Way cool. Can't wait.

    Unity, Part IV

    I'm trying to figure out what has made this week feel so long. More than once, I've had to stop and remind myself what day it was, thinking it was a day or two ahead of where we actually were. I think it's because of some extra work-at-home stuff that's made the evenings busier than normal, but I'm not sure. An awards banquet Monday, small group Tuesday, anniversary Wednesday - are we staying in tonight to catch our breath?

    I'm listening to some old audio posts (how's that for narcissism?), and there's one in particular when I shared a thought from Len Sweet's book Out Of The Question, Into The Mystery. Someone had stated on an email list that relationships can't have supremacy over truth, that truth must reign over all - something to that effect. Meanwhile, Sweet was writing that you can have no meaningful truth without proper relationships, that truth is lived out together. Could it be that "unity" - maybe loosely defined as living life together - is the only real pallette for truth? Jesus is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life", and we can't know Him or pursue Him outside of relationship in some way with Him and probably with His church.

    Happy Men

    Got this email from a friend this morning. I've put in bold the ones that are especially vital to being me.
    Men Are Just Happier People -- What do you expect from such simple creatures? Your last name stays put. The garage is all yours. Wedding plans take care of themselves. Chocolate is just another snack.

    You can be President. You can never be pregnant. You can wear a white T-shirt to a water park. You can wear NO shirt to a water park. Car Mechanics tell you the truth. The world is your urinal. You never have to drive to another gas station restroom because this one is just too icky. You don't have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt. Same work, more pay.

    Grey hair adds character. Wedding dress $5000. Tux rental-$100. People never stare at your chest when you are talking to them. The occasional well-rendered belch is practically expected. New shoes don't cut, blister, or mangle your feet. One mood all the time. Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat. You know stuff about tanks. A 5 day vacation requires only one suitcase. You can open all of your own jars. You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness. If someone forgets to invite you, he or she can still be your friend.

    Your underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack. Three pairs of shoes are more than enough. You almost never have strap problems in public. You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes. Everything on your face stays its original color. The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe even decades. You only have to shave your face and neck.

    You can play with toys all your life. Your belly usually hides your big hips. One wallet and one pair of shoes one color for all seasons. You can wear shorts no matter what how your legs look. You can "do" your nails with a pocket knife. You have freedom of choice concerning growing a mustache. You can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December 24 in 25 minutes.

    No wonder men are happier.
    First of all, as a guy, I've never had strap problems anywhere - "almost never have strap problems in public"? - what's up with that? And some guys, while shaving their face and neck, should consider doing something with their backs - you know who you are.

    Wednesday, May 18, 2005

    Unity, Part III

    What a wonderful anniversary - fourteen years is a long time, and yet just a drop in the bucket when it comes to history. We met for dinner tonight at Damon's in the Vista, having steak and playing trivia with the kids - it's really all good, isn't it?

    I still look at the monologue at the end of the movie The Story Of Us as a testament to what marriage is supposed to be: even when it's rough, it's still about us, sharing life together in all its glory.

    Being together, being united - it's part of how we're made, how relational we are as human beings. God created us in a way that's compatible with each other, and together, we're compatible with others. I'm no longer "just Rick", but I'm a part of "Rick & Vicki", and you can't get through to one without bumping into the other. Our differences make us unique - wow, that's a profound thought - and being together like this has never happened before and will never happen again. The fourteen years of memories we share belong to no one else. Our inside jokes are ginormously hilarious, but you'll have to trust me on that 'cause I ain't tellin'.

    I guess my "point" in the midst of my ponderings on "unity" is that she loves me no matter what, and I've given her a good bit of "no matter what" over these years. In finding that God really does love us, and re-discovering that in new and more meaningful ways all the time, we find that we can love each other. We find that we still like to be together, still enjoy hanging out, still grow fonder of each other when we're apart and long for reconnecting when we get back together.


    It's been a very wonderful, very full fourteen years. Seems like only yesterday, and yet we both feel old, feeling that we've been together forever. Memories that don't include my sweetie fade faster than those made since we met in 1988, juniors in college with no sense, no money and nowhere else to hang out besides the BSU with assorted comics, word puzzles, sports pages and good friends. It's a good ride, a steady ride, a work-in-progress ride - and I'm richer for the company along the way. I married up.

    Happy Anniversary, Vick-eye.

    [... And thanks for all the suggestions. The idea for the coffee photo came from JL, and as for the "shower gel" line - once I found out that the 14th is the "ivory anniversary", you know I had to buy SOAP for the bathroom! - along with assorted shower gels, candles, and body spray...]

    Tuesday, May 17, 2005

    Unity, Part II

  • Psalm 133
  • Ephesians 4:1-10

    From these passages, it looks like harmony in diversity is a big part of being united in Christ. Being different, or at least bringing a different perspective and set of life-experiences to the conversation together, might be a part of the way we are put together as the Body in the first place. When "iron sharpens iron", it's important to note that either "iron" can sharpen the "other iron", because each person has a piece of the mystery that others need to hear, to have, to process.

    I need to research a bit more on being like-minded, "having this same mind in you", being of the same mind. Are we looking for an agreement on certain truths, or a shared mindset towards Truth? Is there a difference, or is it just me?

  • Morning Drive

    NOTE: Tomorrow's our 14th Anniversary - any ideas (besides shower gel)?

    I woke up the first time this morning at 5:30a, immediately making the decision to roll over and doze a bit before getting up. Wrong - I hate it when I sleep so hard for such a short time, waking up again at 6:30a and knowing it was time but feeling the kinks and cracking-of-the-bones. I should've gotten up earlier, but didn't. Good morning with the kids though, getting out ahead of time and dropping them off at school. Traffic was a bear, waiting on a train at one intersection and dealing with slow right hand traffic on the interstate. Grrr. But I'm in the office with plenty to keep me busy today, with a cup of home-brew java to caffeinate me, and with a desperate need for a good nap. Hopefully one and two will negate three - we'll see.

    On a plus side, our fourteenth anniversary is tomorrow. My sweetie surprised me last night with our plans for the weekend - end-of-year staff party with other teachers (more fun than it sounds, honest!), followed by a 9:40p showing of SW3: Revenge Of The Sith. Sweet! I'll have to get her more than shower gel, won't I?

    Music Meme

    I've been charged (thanks, Mike!) with the following meme, questions on my musical interests. Hmmmm...

    01. Total volume of music files on my computer?
    1.104 GB - not a huge amount, plenty of free space

    02. The last CD I bought was?
    IL DIVO, Il Divo - I know, opera/pop - who'da thunk?

    03. Song playing right now:
    "Beautiful Redemption", Joy Williams, GENESIS

    04. Five songs I listen to a lot or that mean a lot to me(in no particular order):
    "She Must and Shall Go Free", Derek Webb
    "Clocks", Coldplay
    "Daughters", John Mayer
    "No One Like You", David Crowder Band
    "I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever", Deliriou5?

    05. Which 5 people are you passing this baton to, and why?

    Monday, May 16, 2005

    Unity, Part I

    I might need to apologize, or at least explain a little, for interrupting what might've been an otherwise engaging blog with these theology/doctine essays. I don't think of this site as a theology page, but instead as the story of me processing life as it comes. This weekend, the concept of acceptance over agreement in relationship to unity is really intriguing to me, and that's going to be my overarching "story" for the week, for better or for worse. I know that most folks don't listen to a sermon to have their lives changed, and that it's more important for some to just cross off the Sunday morning routine on their Religious-Things-To-Do-To-Make-God-Happy list. If that's you, please forgive me for getting sidetracked like this. And if you hang around, we can talk about that list later.

    I started in my study bible last night, looking at the dictionary entry for "unity", and it was specific on unity among Christians. Under "unity of the mind", the reference was 1 Peter 3:8 - "Finally, all of you should be of one mind, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds" (nlt). I think agreement is important, especially if we're to have "one mind" in this life together (not prooftexting, since this is just one of many that hit on the same idea). But words like "sympathy", "love" and "humble minds", in the context of this search and the context of this verse, give me hope that acceptance of each other in Christ is more important than just having the same beliefs. If I accept someone, it's a done deal; but if our connection is based on mutual agreement, and we then start to differ or find something we don't agree on whole-mindedly, what do we then do with our relationship?

    That's the kind of question I find myself with this week. Here's the negative test, I guess - as a Gamecock fan, can I still be a friend of a Clemson fan? Something so heart-driven as team loyalty and fan rivalry, shouldn't we be able to look over that "short-coming" in each other and have a relationship of acceptance beyond out favorite sports teams?

    Sunday, May 15, 2005

    Can You Say UNITY, Boys & Girls?

    After posting my earlier "Questions" entry, I had a wonderful time discussing how we see people with Richard. His question was something like, "Is there a specific verse that says God is already drawing people to Himself when we're talking together?" - and I told him I'd had lots of thoughts along those lines when it comes to evangelism and discipleship. Good stuff, leading to even better questions for our lives, I'm sure.

    Then the morning's sermon was on Conflict, specifically family conflict and the importance of building peace through reconciliation. I don't remember much right now, except that I kept nodding and agreeing with what the Spirit was saying. Then - WHAM! - ever have one of those moments in a message where all the mental and emotional and social and spiritual faculties are tuned in and you get it in a really nasty, you-know-this-changes-things kind of way?

    "Unity doesn't come from agreement, but from acceptance."

    That's the gist of it anyway, loosely paraphrased from the sermon and the scripture. More important then agreement - because sooner or later we will disagree somewhere, won't we? - is the ability to accept each other, to forgive each other, to love each other. So this week, I'm going to dig into UNITY in the Bible, see how this played out in conflict across the biblical narrative. I'll check back in through the week, and invite anyone to play along. Can you say UNITY, boys and girls?

    Coffee & Questions

    [follow-up to post from last night...]

    What kinds of questions do you have right now? Big hairy life questions? Stuff that makes it hard to sleep at night, or difficult to wake up in the morning? What answers are you looking for, those things that are keeping you from enjoying life, or from making a big decision, or from becoming who you are?

    I'm sitting in the lobby this morning, blogging and checking email. I was reading, but there's just enough activity going on around me that I've read the same page three times, so here I am on the laptop. The small group experiment we've been trying needs a little push somewhere. The four folks who have been most consistent have other things going on in life, too, and they're not here this morning. It's the third week in a row that we haven't had the discussion, and it's pretty clear that this is going to be a place to tweak the system somehow. I love the preparation for discussion - last night's time in Colossians was good - but I want to be effective, too. If nothing changes, typically it'll stay the same (that'll be so profound to you in a few minutes).

    When we started, we titled this Sunday morning pre-service time "Q & A" because of the way I tend to teach. I like to ask more questions than to give answers, and we were going to dig a little deeper into scripture, a little more expository in nature than the morning sermons. And this would be a time for folks to get a little deeper, big group or small, and grow together in asking questions, seeking answers, moving to better questions, etc. Looking back, I think the starting point might have been off - folks already have enough questions, and adding to the glut might not be the best thing. So I'm sitting here with my coffee, looking over the lobby where folks could congregate and conversate over their existing questions. Taking our questions to scripture together, looking at the Bible expositorily to let it read us more than us proof-texting it - maybe that's the tack to take.

    "Coffee & Questions" - maybe that's a new title. Or maybe it needs to be title-less, or vague like "Q & A". We all have such deep, life-defining questions. Good questions lead to good answers, which inevitably lead to better questions. Maybe this Sunday morning time needs to be someplace to ask thos questions - a safe/dangerous environment to feel out what it means to be a Christian, what it means to be saved, what it means to share the Gospel, what it means to live as a member of the kingdom of God.

    Saturday, May 14, 2005

    Good Day

    It's almost 10pm, the end of what's been a fairly good Saturday. I've done a smidge of housework, while my wife has been playing buy-a-new-stove roullette around town. Cameron had cheerleader camp this morning, and Trace and I mostly hung out watching DVDs and playing gamecube. Tonight, we watched National Treasure - enjoyed it, fun movie, we were just a step ahead of most of the little twists - and now we're about to round up the younguns for bed. I'll be doing my latenight Bible study/preparation for tomorrow morning's discussion group, moving on to Colossians 3, I think. I'll post on how it goes, what comes of our morning. Goodnight.


    This is how our cat handles weekends. Or any other day, for that matter. Vicki shot this last night - end of a long week, everyone tired, me falling asleep on the couch while watching NUMB3RS with my sweetie, and the cat snoring. We're a wild and wacky bunch, huh?

    And then there's this photo of the new "car of my dreams" - I want one, or two if there's room in the driveway:

    Friday, May 13, 2005

    Too Deep For Friday

    One of the discussion topics last evening was this: "The Law was never intended as a change agent, but simply to make us aware of the need for change" (something like that; I'm horribly paraphrasing from a book I haven't read). Meanwhile, I'm reading another book that revolves around the need to let go of Linearity: the idea that if I do A B C in the right order and proper intentionality, then D will necessarily follow every time.
    "I've done all the right things, said the right things. I've been praying, studying my Bible, going to church every time the doors open. I'm involved in children's ministry, in small groups, in the hospitality committee. I've been doing more than most people, and I still can't get this to work. Why do I keep falling flat on my face, Lord? What do You want me to do? What do I need to do now to get out of this jumbled mess?"
    There is so much pressure to do the right thing, to believe the right thing, to see the right outcomes. If someone has problems, we''ll ask how his prayer life is, is he praying like he knows he should; we'll ask her what she expected, tell her what she needs to do since it was preached in last week's sermon. Whatever is wrong can be made right by doing this or that or the other thing, or by doing them more effectively, more patiently, more holy-ly. We justify ourselves and our actions based on outcomes, or we discipline ourselves to "do better from now on" because what we've done hasn't led to the desired result. We pressure ourselves unwittingly, and we become part of the problem instead of finding a better solution.

    But the scriptures can't be reduced to a set of rules, or even a set of paradigms that will work to make your world a better place. We want to be legalistic - we want to judge others based on what they've done, and we want to look back on our own lives to see what we've done, how it's turned out, what's coming next, all happy and neat and tidy. This happens in the church, from the pulpits, in the small groups, in the children's ministry - anywhere we can point to "do this and good things will happen", there's a spot where this linearity of legalism is thriving.

    What do we "do" with that?

    Staring Off

    Photo Friday: Space

    On top of Stone Mountain, outside of Atlanta, GA - last summer's vacation, just staring into space, enjoying the breeze (Mom's taking the photo from a higher, safer position).

    Thursday, May 12, 2005

    Movie Night

    I've always liked Support Your Local Sheriff. James Garner hams it up, even-keeled and sharpshooting. It's on tonight, Turner South, and I'm wondering if my wife has enjoyed it over the years, too. I remember first seeing it at an elementary school movie night, way way back in the day.

    Anyone Else?

    Anyone else have a Thursday this week?

    I woke up this morning and immediately felt my ankle, still attached to my right leg and still throbbing just a bit. But I needed to be in the office today, so it was a normal a.m. routine for us. I brushed my teeth, showered, dressed, and headed down to throw the dog out. I started the coffee, did the dishes and fixed breakfast while my sweetie got the kids up and dressed and coherent, and we actually ended up leaving on time. Traffic was nutty on the way to school, and the interstate backed up on eastbound I-20 for some reason. Nothing on the XM this morning really did it for me, so I just turned it off, zoned out for a bit, and enjoyed the drive.

    After work - good day, busy day - I'm heading to Atlanta Bread Company in Irmo, reconnecting with Jeff K for our bi-weekly Thursday coffee. Vicki & the kids will probably meet me there for dinner, and then we're looking at stoves. Ours died last night, and I've got to take a look online for a schematic, find what might be wrong before having to replace it. But we like looking, so Best Buy and Sears, here we come. I look forward to those conversations, mainly because we click pretty well, and there's so few other opportunities to ask questions and play with ideas without being offensive.

    My goal tonight, after being out and after getting back in, after doing a bit to help with the laundry and checking email (how long has "checking email" been a part of our goodnight routine?!?) - is to read. No TV until 11pm for the news (maybe), and read read read. I get so involved in a good book, and yet I don't make time to do it. So tonight and this weekend, I want to make sure there's plenty of reading time, for myself and for the kids.

    Hmm, maybe add a Barnes&Noble run to the festivities this evening?

    Two-Sided Story

    Maybe you've heard about the issue in a Waynesville, NC Baptist church where a pastor has resigned after a fallout over political views in the congregation. I've withheld comment up to now, mainly, because I know there are at least two sides to every story, and it's taken awhile for some of the particulars to come out. It's sad to see something like this spill out into the media, sad to see that relationships take a backseat to "being right". And in this case, as I find often in my own life, neither side is as right as it thinks - both sides are at fault, probably first with taking sides in the first place.

    The pastor has a forum to discuss his political leanings - there's nothing wrong in a free society with giving your opinions and beliefs and best arguments. But giving them the weight of scripture, which is what happens from the pulpit, goes too far, doesn't it? On the other hand, while the congregation has every right to disagree, to then get offended and seek some sort of retribution for the wrong - that's equally wrong in a "love your enemies" and "turn the other cheek" and "don't sue a brother" kingdom-life. Being a Christian is such a relational perspective on the world, and it hurts our collective witness to have folks be so against each other that the possiblity of reconciliation and forgiveness is gone.

    It's terribly sad when "being right" is more important than "relating rightly".

    UPDATE 10:35am: Albert Mohler weighs in on the aspect of church discipline in extreme circumstances - "We must hasten to make clear that our political context is not that of Germany in the 1930s. The Democratic Party cannot fairly be compared with National Socialism, Maoism, or analogous evils. Furthermore, there is room for hope that the Democratic Party can be reformed. A decision in extremis assumes that the situation is beyond all hope of remedy. Still, the issues of abortion and marriage lie at the heart of what it means to respect and defend human life, and Christians are certain to face even more excruciating political decisions in days ahead." Once again, the "moral stance" is on the only two issues that matter, marriage and abortion. All other moral issues are ignored - what about poverty and divorce and AIDS and the environment? Aren't those moral issues, too? Again, it's just really sad.

    Wednesday, May 11, 2005

    Extra Shelf Space Needed

    I received some new books in the mail today. Good timing, since I was looking for something new this week anyway. Two books from Margaret Feinberg (took a week for her to ship them from Alaska - that's so cool!) - twentysomething and Just Married. I've read other projects from her - in Relevant's Deeper Walk devotionals, co-authoring enjoying God with S. J. Hill - and I'm really looking forward to reading these.

    Even though I'm not "just married", looking forward to celebrating our fourteen anniversary in one week. Even though I'm nowhere near "20something", nearing the end of my 37th circuit around the sun this coming July. I'll have to wait awhile, I'm sure, for her to write "30something" and "Long Time Married" - but they'll be wonderful books, too, I'm sure.


    Way cool - one of the things I wanted to do with my "book/movie reviews" is find an outlet outside of this site. And it's happened - just published my first review with Infuze, one I did last week on this site for Eleanor Rigby (free registration - cool site).


    This is what happens when my right leg goes one way and my right foot goes another. Used to twist my ankle alot in high school, but this is the first in awhile.

    Tuesday, May 10, 2005


    Trace's good side - the other side's good, too.

    Small Group

    I'm looking forward to small group tonight. My wife has been absent for a couple of months with play rehearsals, and I missed last week with sick kiddies at home. But it's all good today - the play is over, the kids will be with Grandma and Grampa, and we'll be hanging out with folks to discuss "unanswered prayer" (I think that's the right chapter). We meet in an office building downtown across from the Governor's Mansion, with a large conference table with light supper fixin's and what really turns out to be good conversation. We all come from such different backgrounds, a really eclectic bunch. But I think you really grow when you're subjected to someone else's very different views and backgrounds. It's easy to be "right" in my own mind doing my own thing, but gather all of us in a room and it's all over the map. I appreciate the encouragement and the challenge of just growing together, finding common ground somewhere and seeking God together from that point.

    Feel free to join us if you're in town tonight. I won't embarass you too bad... this time.

    From Thirsty to Flowing

    On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood up and exclaimed, "Let anyone who thirsts come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as scriptures says: 'Rivers of living water will flow from within him.'" He said this in reference to the Spirit that those who came to believe in Him were to receive.
    - John 7:37-39
    Wanting to work, to be productive on the job today. And to be silent, to be still, to hear from the Lord, to just be filled to overflowing as Jesus promised, in relationship with Him.

    Monday, May 09, 2005

    Prayer for a Friend

    From a friend's email this afternoon:
    I know this is going to sound like one of those "I can top that" kind of stories, but it is real life. My stepbrother was in court for his sentencing last Friday. He was sentenced to 5 years, the minimum sentence for his charges. He had already served 48 days since he as taken into custoday awaiting sentencing at some "local" jail. He was transported to some prison... to serve his sentence. I don't know what type of prison it is, but my stepmother says it is one of the worst ones he could go to. He will have a year reduced from his sentence when he completes a sex offenders program.

    The clincher is that since he's been in custody, he has turned jaundiced. When that was looked into, he was diagnosed with advanced serosis (sp?) of the liver. Not good for someone incarcerated, because the state won't pay for a liver transplant for convicts, the only treatment for this condition. Right now he is taking a diuretic to drain fluid that is backing up into his stomach because his liver's not functioning properly. They will biopsy it eventually (medical treatment takes long time in prisons) which should give the docs some idea of how long he can last without a new liver. Even if he gets out in time, he has no medical insurance. It does not look good.

    Please pray.....
    Wow. Please pray for healing, for restoration & reconciliation, for hope to be alive... wow.

    Review: THE GUTTER

    Anyone familiar with Relevant Magazine, in print or on the web, will know that these guys do things a bit differently from the rest of the Body of Christ. Saying something powerful in a way that's just tweaked enough to make it stick, I think they're definitely onto something. And that's something that makes The Gutter, by Craig Gross (copyright 2005, Relevant Books), stand out.

    My brother nearly devoured his copy, finding it to be one of those books he just couldn't put down (and that's saying something). I'll borrow a perspective from a conversation we had when he finished the book: the opening chapters read much like every other youth ministry book on the market, but then there's a change - because this is not a book on youth ministry. Rather, as a youth minister, Gross found his calling, a charge from the Lord to live life in the Gutter, and it is that change from "normal acceptable ministry" to "ohmygoodness what is this?!?" that changes the tone of this book. One of the founders of XXXChurch.com, Gross found out that when God calls you to the Gutter that is ministry in the porn industry, it's not always seen as a positive. The overwhelming coverage from "the world" of two pastors reaching out to people who just need Jesus was countered by the overwhelming silence of, or judgmentalism of, the traditional church. They were welcome on CNN, but not on TBN.

    What is "the Gutter"?
    "The gutter is the place where we discover that we need God most. Some would believe the gutter is attached to a lack of money. Wrong. I have seen peopl with millions lying facedown in the gutter. Some believe the gutter is the place with a lack of success. I have seen many gutter-dwellers who would be considered 'successful' by the world's definition. Ask them and they would tell you that their success only masked the misery of the gutter. The gutter is the place believers aren't willing to go because they remember what life was like when they escaped from it." (p. 4)
    Gross goes on to write of the exploits of XXXChurch, living honestly with people who respect thier integrity and learn of their faith in loving relationship together. But this doesn't sit well with most Christians, who want more "return" for their evangelistic capital:
    "If we got some people saved at the porn shows we attend, we'd have more fans. If Jimmy D. became a Christian, more people would like us. But I look at the gutter differently. Gutter residents aren't notches on a Bible or marks on a Christian scorecard - they are real, hurting people, people who are so lost they'll break your heart. Most of the time it takes more than a Gospel browbeating to help them realize their plight.

    "A friend of mine, Jeff, once summed it up perfectly for me: 'Don't clame the dark for being dark. Blame the light for not shining on the dark.' "
    (pp. 33-34)
    This project isn't a promo packet for their online ministry, though. Gross is keen enough to consider the practicality of his "findings" in the callings of other Christians, other "roaring lambs" in the music industry, film industy, in the workplace, the home, the streets and the boardrooms. He draws from the lineage of Christ (Rahab in Joshua 2, rising from the redlight district of Jericho to the ancestral line of David!), conveying the idea that God raises people from the gutters of life (1 Cor 1:28) as part of His purposes and plans. That Christians don't go back to the gutters to minister and reach those in need is a huge weakness in our understanding of the Gospel.

    This book has challenged me to be real, to be open, to hear God's call and to rely on Him to provide the grace to move forward on it. Whether it is writing or ministry to the streets or conversations with co-workers living life with all its pain and joy - we are all called to be ministers of reconciliation, meeting needs and being Jesus. "The Gutter" is wherever people find themselves, find ourselves, in need of the Savior.

    Sunday, May 08, 2005

    Mother's Day


    We've had a very nice day. The sun is shining, a breeze is lightly blowing, the sky is bright blue, and everyone's taking time to show mothers that they're appreciated. Why is this "celebration" only one day long? Father's Day is only one day, but Mother's Day should probably encompass the other 364 days of the year. Just an observation from a son and a husband - Moms, even with "their own day", are under-appreciated, underpaid and overwhelmed with life's demands too much of the time. I know I owe the women in my life more than a card and a phone call.

    I owe them more than a remodelled bathroom, that's for sure.

    Saturday, May 07, 2005


    I posted about "my soundtrack" yesterday - thanks for the feedback and for your own stories. I think what we listen to, what we watch on TV, the movies we choose, and the books we read speak volumes about who we are, about where we are in life, about what's important to us at a given point in time.

    I'll hit on TV and movies later - right now, I want to spend some time today catching up on my reading (after finishing the bathroom of course!). Here's the library on my nightstand right now, stuff that's feeding my imagination:

  • Gilead, Marilynne Robinson - Just starting this one; I've seen alot of buzz, many awards, and it looks like a good read for me heading into the summer
  • The Gutter, Craig Gross - my brother never reads a book that fast, and he finished this one in two days
  • Colossians Remixed, Brian J. Walsh, Sylvia C. Keesmaat - wow, challenging the status quo of how we receive and respond to Paul's epistle
  • The Pressure's Off, Larry Crabb - who needs pressure anyway?
  • The Last Word, and the Word After That, Brian McLaren - end of the NKOC trilogy, and the beginning of some real controversy as the characters contemplate the "doctrine" of hell and possiblities of afterlife - woo hoo!

    Many of the books I read, like the music I listen to, won't be found at my local Christian bookstore. I'm still in a mode of enjoying truth wherever it's found, wherever it's written well. Engaging stories are engaging on so many different levels, and it's hard to find an author who not only makes you think but also challenges you towards lifechange.

    Well, I'm off to the paint and finishing our lovely master bath. And get in some evening reading time - gotta get ready for tomorrow's small group, for church, for a review, for life and living it out.

  • Unfiltered

    Looks like it's going to be a gorgeous day today. We went to the school play last night - Cam was the littlest fairy, and the students did a really good job. I've seen A Midsummer Night's Dream a few times, and this production was as engaging as any of them. I don't think Trace got the "inside joke" of Puck turning Bottom into an ass, but he thought it was funny anyway - neat sitting with him in the audience, chuckling every now and then, looking up from his not-so-discreetly hidden Gameboy.

    The worst thing we've got this morning appears to be headaches. Mine is dissipating as I've gotten up and started moving around a little, but Vicki's is lingering on. I really need to throw on some clothes and run to the store. No coffee filters - how did I let that happen? I don't know if we can manage. Anyway, we'll be working on the bathroom again today. I've got to play another coat of primer, and then I think I'll feel okay about that first coat of real paint. It's a really nice color, and Vicki's looking forward to shopping for new accessories with Cammi later today.

    Post-production weekends are normally spent detoxing, and I don't see that changing. We'll paint and shop and go to church tomorrow - but otherwise we're napping and going to bed on time because we can. I've got a book I need to finish & review here; I'd like to get that posted some time this weekend. Other than that, just keeping the calendar free.

    Friday, May 06, 2005


    I've found over the years that my taste in music often follows closely on what's going on in my life. Growing up and grabbing onto contemporary Christian music, I always had the latest Michael W. Smith, 4Him, Steven Curtis Chapman projects - huge collection of Christian cassettes still shelved in the den closet. Somewhere along the lines after college I started listening to "outside influences", non-Christian music that still struck a chord with me lyrically. As the 90s rumbled on, I listened to more movie soundtrack projects than anything else, and a few independent Christian band releases that seemed a little more real and a little less polished than the CCM industry machine. The beginning of the praise & worship phase of Christian music was really rich, until the marketing folks took it and overplayed their hand - everyone has a p&w CD these days, and it's still the independent lesser known artists and bands that seem to be doing it right, having the most fun with it, meaning it more as worship from their souls. And into the 00's, I'm buying more "secular music" (ohmigoodnessno!!) than anything else - sometimes there's more depth and spirituality in circles outside the mainstream church than inside.

    All that to say: here's a peek at my soundtrack, the tunes/CDs that drive life right now.
    • How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, U2
    • Devils & Dust, Bruce Springsteen
    • Genesis, Joy Williams
    • Abbey Road Sessions, Steven Curtis Chapman
    • Sunsets & Sushi, David Crowder Band
    • The House Show, Derek Webb
    • The Battle for Everything, Five For Fighting
    • The Other Side of Something, Sarah Groves
    • Redemption Songs, Jars of Clay
    • Songs About Jane, Maroon 5
    • The Incredibles, Michael Giacchino
    • The Beautiful Letdown, Switchfoot
    • The Purest Place, Watermark
    • Finally Woken, Jem
    • A Rush of Blood to the Head, Coldplay
    I'll catch a snippet of a song while watching Smallville or Grey's Anatomy, recognize it as something I've already downloaded from iTunes or as something I'll want to check out further. These songs and arrangements make me think, help me think, help me pray, help me enjoy life and the living, you know?

    UPDATE 05/09/2005: I've now editted myself, and censored something on my "playlist". For all of it's artistry, I saw the lyrics of the new Springsteen CD for the first time today - and I felt that it would be the right thing to do to delete the song "Reno", dwelling on a rendezvous with a prostitute in a way that, for me, went beyond what was necessary. I cleared it from my recycle bin, too - just not something I need on my harddrive. Censorship is a harsh concept, but I felt it was personally necessary on this project.


    Photo Friday: Action

    Thursday, May 05, 2005

    Broken Road

    Two people, same song:
  • C1H2A3P4
  • Queen

    Honest - not knocking either one. I think it's cool to see that something is striking a chord differently in different circumstances, different people. I also think it's too simple to give one "meaning" sometimes, or to define how something should impact us when we don't know what that something will do to us. For me, I'm tired of the "broken road", and I'm glad to be spending time right now on a better road - better paving job, fewer potholes, all that.

  • "Forebber and ebber"

    I sprung the "surprise" on my sweetie last night - after talking the past few weeks about remodelling the master bath, I actually made plans to DO IT this week. I took off yesterday and today as vacation days, stripped the wallpaper yesterday afternoon, and let her pick out the color to be painted from the Lowe's paint swatches. She was surprised and amused, and we look forward to finishing the project with an accessories trip this weekend.

    The only "wrench" has been our little girl's illness. I took Tuesday as a sick day, and we spent most of that day back and forth to the doctors' office. Yesterday was a good, fever-less day - and we thought for sure she'd be going to school this morning. No go, after she woke up with a 103F temperature. So I'm rearranging the day, finding the pediatrician again to see what we're going to do next, and we'll go out later to buy primer and paint for the bathroom walls.

    And we're starting the day watching Rugrats Go To Paris - where Chuckie is looking for a new mom to love him "forebber and ebber". Cammi has enjoyed sending email to her mommy, and of course, she just loved being "in" on the surprise yesterday. It's going to be a good day - maybe not as productive as I'd hoped, but we'll have fun either way.

    So my plans for today: Cammi comfy and resting, bathroom walls primed (at least, maybe some paint before bedtime), laundry, and kid movie DVD all day. What fun! We'll post "in-progress" photos on the sidebar later. Right now - there's a message to leave at the pediatrician's, and coffee to be enjoyed.

    Wednesday, May 04, 2005

    Heh Heh Heh

    Gotta love it when someone just does what should've been done a long time ago. I've occasionally laughed at Bill Maher, but he's never been especially funny. Finding a "niche" in political humor was not a good move. Here's a transcript of Craig Ferguson of The Late Late Show on CBS... doing what should've been done a long time ago.

    [linked via HughHewitt.com]

    What If...?

  • ESPN.com - OU's Cochell: Resigning was "right thing to do"
    Let me say first that I have no problem with this: what happened probably needed to happen, what he said didn't need to be said, that it came out probably does show something underlying in him that needs to be dealt with, and the university needed to do this for the good of the program. I do have some problem with the felt "need to report", but they are reporters and that's where the story was going. Here's the question I have: would this have been an issue if the coach in question had been African-american? I don't know if there are any NCAA Divsion 1 minority baseball head coaches or not, but would it have had the same impact and result? I don't think it would - I think it would've been a non-story, not given a second thought. Racism, maybe unlike many other -isms we still face in our culture, has a level of hypcrisy attached that makes it hard to root out.

  • More Cowbell?

  • CNN.com - Ferrell to return to 'SNL' -- as host
    Will Ferrell has been one of my favorites from SNL for a long time, and it'll hopefully be worth staying up for. The cowbell sketch is still one of the best of all-time, and watching him and Cheri O'Teri do the Spartans Cheerleaders would put me in stitches. If I had TiVo, this upcoming episode would be recorded for posterity.

    Cam's staying home with me again today, but I've got further "Super-Daddy" plans, as well. More photos and info later tonight. Right now, shower, "project planning", and something for all this burping.

  • Tuesday, May 03, 2005


    Yes, it is I, Super-Daddy - waging war against laundry and dirty dishes, feeding kids and making sure they're clean. Well, I'm losing the battles, but I'm in the fight, ok? Right now the dishwasher is washing and the dryer is drying, followed shortly by the dishwasher getting empited, dry clothes being folded, and washed clothes being transferred to the newly-empty-but-ready-for-action dryer.

    No, not working. I tried to make it sound like a big deal, tried to make it read like an adventure. But unless I find a $50 bill in someone's pants pocket, this is about as good as it's going to get. One thing going for us - Vicki's consumed with the play, and I'm hopefully keeping us above water at home with all this stuff. My laziness is my fatal flaw, Shakespeare - but I'm laying it aside for the good of Denmark.

    ... that wasn't as funny as it sounded in my head.