Sunday, November 30, 2003

Nutcracker Review?

My youngest daughter was in an impressive local ballet conservatory's presentation of The Nutcracker. She auditioned in October and danced as a baker last night. And, not just any baker, but the one that gets to hand the cape to the principal dancer (who flew in from New York for the gig). There were about 700 or so people that paid to see the show.

Now, you need to know that I have absolutely no idea what makes for quality ballet. To me, it's like figure skating in the Olympics...It is pretty impressive but I have no idea why judges take off points. Same with ballet. I wouldn't know the right way to do the moves anyway, so I don't know if they're doing them correctly or not.

But there was plenty of movement and color and I had a nice, the local company employs a live symphony which was pretty darn impressive, so my review of the ballet is that it was a good show.

However, there was a ballerina dressed as a baker, holding a cake at one point and a cape at another, and sitting next to Clara during the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, that kept me spellbound. She was brilliant and beautiful and happy and she carried the rest of the cast's performance on her shoulders. And I don't need to know anything at all about ballet to KNOW that.

All you have to do is be her dad...
Why didn't I think of this?

HGTV has come up with the perfect mindless fluff for their viewers: They've combined a BLIND DATE with DESIGNING A ROOM! It's like two shows in one! It's called "A Date With Design." I can't imagine that needs any commentary.

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Proof #34,090 that there's too much money in the world, ...

People in my neighborhood pay guys to do their Christmas decorating.
Blogger Get-Together!

There were no communications issues last night at the blogger party! Riskey Business came emblazoned with a Blogger logo on her shirt and bearing brownies. The Fall of Whom came with husband John and a failed attempt at the actual "cry/laugh/snort." Rearview Window showed up with the stylish J-Ru in tow, and there was a surprise appearance by Your Mom. There was a brief appearance by Shelbydance and The Kelsey Chronicles stayed the entire time.

It was fun for me to see the different directions the conversation trekked: Worship experiences, Lord of the Rings/Matrix stuff, churches in Utah, seminary, post-modernism--complete with eye-rolls, "liberal Christians," and labyrinths ("The Shining" was a maze, labyrinths are different). Very cool.

Now that I think about it, my living room has been the location of events ranging from salvation to full-contact Uno. Last night illustrated that very reality!

Friday, November 28, 2003

Expanding the Blogger's Unite Party!

So far, it looks like everyone on my "links" section will be able to attend the blog party...Ma Deb will be representing "...On the Run..." and I only haven't heard back from "Nateshaus."

The Fall of Whom had an excellent idea: Expanding the blog circle to anyone who has links on the sites I have links to. I mean, I read a lot of links from you guys so feel free to invite them! Just let me know who is coming so I can order enough pizza!

I'm not really sure what happens at a Blogger's Unite party, and I'm a bit worried that communication will be an issue since the name of a party suggests that we'll spend time on the internet, make links to stuff that provokes us and then "post and publish" our thoughts. Maybe I'll get out Uno Attack just in case...

See you all around 6-ish!
Hey! I think my award should be...

So, P. Diddy shows up at the VH-1 "Big in '03" awards show (soon every single day will have the music/movie industries awarding themselves for something, but for now, we only have one every six weeks or so) and once he gets there with his entourage, he realizes that he's been asked there as a PRESENTER. He pitches a fit and says he's going home unless he's GIVEN an award.

They ask him what award he wants and he says, "Big Maverick '03." They rewrite everything, find a new presenter, and he gets the award.

Since I didn't know we could do that (or that they wouldn't shove the award into one of his orafices before showing him the door), unless I get the "Big Maverick Blogger '03" award I'm outta here...
Yesterday's run...

Still in training for the marathon and there are no nagging injuries yet so thus far, it's still on go. Which requires a small run on Thursdays...

I generally run on the plentiful sidewalks in my community and since I'm closer to houses than if I were in the road...well...there's no question that a run through my neighborhood on Thanksgiving Day morning reveals what every family is cooking for lunch.

I must've looked like a puppy sniffing the breeze for the entire duration of the run. It beats the crap out of running on Tuesday, which is my neighborhood's trash day.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Predictably & Sterotypically...
Things I'm Thankful For (in no particular order):

A gracious and loving God who chose me, adopted me and sealed me for reasons I'm still trying to figure out.

A wife who truly gets more beautiful the more I get to know her...and for 15 years of marriage to try to do just that.

Two daughters who make my life more abundant by just being in it.

A church family that loves me (warts and all), and shows me that they do on a regular basis.

Working on a church staff of authentic followers of Christ, who give "professional" Christians a better reputation.

Not ever having missed a meal. In fact, the opportunity to over eat is closer to my reality.

The relationship I have with my higher-order life-liver sister.

Coach Gino, Mrs. Swindle and Dr. Constable: Teachers who inspired me to rise above.

13 years with my dad, and 8 with my maternal grandfather. For some reason I was more influenced by them than you might imagine since they were only alive when I was so young.

A mom who taught me right from wrong and did the best she knew how in very trying circumstances.

The in-laws who have always been there and been very supportive.

The teenagers I work with on a daily basis who are some of the most creative and inspiring people I know. The world cheats itself by their stereotypical view of teens.

The staff of people I work with in the student ministry department, in large part because they see ministering to teenagers in relevant ways is more important than job security or any heat we might take.

This could go on forever, but when you seriously start thinking about writing "The National Football League" (best described by Lisa Simpson as "the savage ballet that is professional football") maybe you'd better stop...

Happy Thanksgiving, Everybody! I lead a charmed life...

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Bloggers Unite!

Just wanted to remind everybody in my blog circle who has a blog themselves that we're still planning on getting together on Friday night from 6PM to whenever at my pad. If that's tough to make, let me know and maybe we can reschedule for Sunday night or something...

For all the Auburn University faithful that read my blog, this article has the best concise verbal whipping of a group of people (Auburn trustees and athletic department leaders) that deserve a verbal whipping 10 times worse. It is disgraceful what is taking place there right now.
Best Bumper Sticker From Yesterday:

After being cut off in traffic yesterday, the guy's bumper sticker said, "Drive it like you stole it." Instead of being mad I praised him for living out his beliefs.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

The Power Of a T-shirt

The softball team I play on won the regular season league title. We were supposed to have the playoffs the last two Monday nights, but they were postponed due to rain. So, we played them last night in 40 degree weather.

In the semi-final game I hit in the lead-off spot and went 4-4 and scored four runs. Unfortunately, the lead our team had going into the last inning evaporated and we wound up losing 17-15.

One thing I learned: Don't expect suburban guys playing in a consolation game for third place (10 minutes after losing the first one) in 40 degree weather in a recreational league softball game to give much effort. Especially after the deflating realization that we weren't going to win a t-shirt. Our team lost 17-13, three teams away from the shirts.

Man, I didn't realize the carrot at the end of the stick that t-shirt was. We played 11 games in a fall league (which each team member paid $30 to be on the team) for a chance at winning a $5 shirt. Suburban rec league softball guys are a strange breed.

Maybe we learned this behavior from getting invited to college sorority parties for which the girls would give you a t-shirt. To us guys, they're more than just shirts...they're victory banners!

Is it possible that it's just that guys are a strange breed?

Monday, November 24, 2003

Still Smiling!

For some reason, I'm ready for winter.

Maybe because here in Dallas today it started out around 30 degrees. I built a fire, mostly because it was the first time we've had a chance to and partly because I purchased half a cord of firewood that all wouldn't fit on my wood stack and I need to get some of it off the terra firma.

Or maybe it's because Oprah's Favorite Things show is coming on can you enjoy those little elves giving out toys to suburban women screaming their heads off if it's 70 degrees outside?

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Great Paper!

Ever been bored stupid in the grocery store line and checked out the headlines on The Weekly World News? Now you can check them out at home when you're bored stupid.

What is news?

If 12 people show up in Rome to light candles and sing out of love and concern for Michael Jackson, is that newsworthy?

If 15 people have a "flash mob" at Dealey Plaza in Dallas and all open umbrellas at 12:30 PM (the time of the JFK assassination) on the 40th anniversary of that event (yes, I get the Zapruder film tie in) why is that on the news?

Iron Bowl Update!

A picture is worth 1,000 words.

War Eagle!!!!

Saturday, November 22, 2003

I love hockey...and last night some free tickets landed in my lap and I got to see the local Dallas Stars play (and win). A few observations:

It's hard explaining to your 12-year-old daughter that the face value of the third-level seats is $70 per after she asks, "That'd be a $140 bucks, Dad. Who can afford THAT?"

They designed the arena so people can enjoy the EXPERIENCE of going to the game as the primary attraction. Examples: Four restaurants and bars, plenty of shopping, not to mention an entire level of luxury suites, movie clips to punctuate key moments in the game and all sorts of other "game presentation" features, etc. For some reason, the experience seems to override the game rather than enhance it.

There is a light-rail train that services the arena. No one takes it northbound to the suburbs. Everyone who rides it goes south to the restaurants.

How much longer will the lesbian kiss be hip? Last night, two college-coeds were waving to the camera that pans the audience during stoppages of play and then kissed each other. The crowd went crazy. Both the kiss and the crowd reaction are harder to explain to your 12-year-old daughter than the ticket prices.

There's really not a bad seat in the arena. We were in the third level and could see everything. Two of our team's three goals happened right in front of us, which was cool. You don't have to explain much to your 12-year-old daughter about hockey because she understands the game from playing the computer game "Backyard Hockey" enough to get the gist of it. Of course, you have to explain offsides and icing once or twice but if you get those concepts watching the game is a snap.

Most of the women at hockey games look like they're on cocaine and have had breast augmentation. Most of the guys have official hockey jerseys and mullets. They even have a "mullet meter" on the screen in between periods and flash the guys with the 80's hairstyle for everyone to cheer and make the meter run higher. The mullet is hard to explain to your 12-year-old daughter who asked, "Why would anyone have short hair on top and long hair in the back?" Mental note: Hide the college photo album.

If you park in the blue lot and live in the north suburbs of Dallas, you get one-way access to the necessary interstate ramp. We got home in 35 minutes parking lot to driveway. It's very important to guys to make good time.

Your 12-year-old daughter chooses Brendan Morrow as her favorite player. I like this because he's scrappy and plays hard and not a superstar. Yet, anyway. Every other girl likes Mike Modano, the superstar. I wonder what implications this has on her future dating choices.

It's amazing the sounds you hear even three levels up. A hockey puck smacking the post makes a "ting" you can hear throughout the building. The "thud" of guys crashing into the boards. The tapping of sticks on the ice. The grinding of skates on the ice when they stop. You can hear more than you'd imagine.

The profit margin on snacks and sodas makes me wish I'd gone into concessions as a career.

You wonder how the huge escalators that take you to your level can hold that many people on them at one time. That and the really long line forced us to risk vertigo going down the stairwell at the end of the game.

There is risk in going to a major league game of any time. I mean, you shell out big bucks (well, the corporations do, anyway) for tickets and you don't know if the game will be a snoozer or thrilling or whatever. I will say that it makes the entire evening better when the home team wins and the crowd gets into it.

Final observation: There are few better ways to spend a Friday night than with your 12-year-old daughter.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Revisionist history haiku's:

One Oliver Stone
in JFK movie lies

The DaVinci Code
said Jesus married Mary
Is the Bible wrong?

I've been thinking about how filmmakers and authors have been given status as historians. Frankly, I believe in a conspiracy in the Kennedy assasination but Oliver Stone went WAY too far and I think it's scary how many people accept Dan Brown's DaVinci Code playing fast and loose with both Biblical record and church history.

They're both works of art, folks. With plusses and minuses. But Jim Garrision is no hero and Jesus didn't marry Mary nor was Christian belief defined by the Council of Nicea in 325.

It's unfortunate the majority of people are allowing art to define what they believe about history.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Once upon a time, my father caught a fish...

It was a trophy-sized marlin. We repeatedly heard the story about the all-day fight and catch, a theft from the cooler, the feds chasing it down after the stolen fish was entered in another tournament, and the subsequent return to my dad. My sister still has this family heirloom which is meaningful in large part because of the tale.

Anyway, my dad would make semi-jokes (with earshot of my mother) about how that day was "the greatest day of his life." My mom would make some crack about his wedding day to which his response would be a delayed, "Yeah, maybe the marlin was second." That pause lead me to believe that he really did think that his Marlin Day was better than his Wedding Day.

So, I was thinking about my favorite days...leaving out, in the spirit of my father, the obvious wedding day and birthdays of the children. In no particular order:

My university had an eagle aviary that houses the mascot. I remember one day my senior year in college in which the coolest girl I knew (and eventually married) talked me into skipping class on a beautiful spring day, laying down on the grass by the eagle's cage and discussing hopes and dreams while staring at the sky. We missed more than one class and lunch and were there most of the afternoon.

One morning, I had breakfast in Cinderella's Castle at Disneyworld's Magic Kingdom with my wife and daughters. It was a tough ticket to get (involving early morning phone calls with my wife having two phones trying to get through like six months in advance), but well worth it. We got into the park early. Princesses and princes came to our table to check on us, the view was cool, and the Fairy Godmother waited at the bottom of the stairs granting wishes like nobody's business. My sister showed up and we all went to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween party in which the Disney characters all dressed up in costumes and gave out candy. That day ended with fireworks and a parade. It might have been one of the best days from sunrise to sundown I've ever had.

Auburn 38, Florida 35. 1993. I was there in the drizzle. I still watch the video highlights and smile, trying to figure out how my beloved 21 point underdog Tigers pulled that one out on a last minute field goal.

There was a day at seminary when it was so obvious that my professor, Tom Constable, was so Spirit-led teaching God's Word that when the buzzer went off signifying the end of the hour, it "woke" him. No one moved out of their seat for 15 minutes. I could hardly breathe all day.

On a trip to visit my sister when she lived in New York City, we went to see the Statue of Liberty, ate lunch at the 2nd Avenue Deli and finished up with The Lion King on Broadway (after the fates smiled on us with last minute tickets). Of course, every day in New York City is a great day to me.

There were other days that had stand-out moments in them, like the day we got Buford, or moved into our home, or the last day of class at seminary, or going to a Stanley Cup final, but those were great days from beginning to end...
Can't sleep, so I took a quiz...

On VH1, they have this show about The Top 200 Pop Icons or something like that. They have a quiz you can take to figure out which of these icons you're most like.

In somewhat of a surprise, I was most like Dr. Spock of Star Trek. Something about being unemotional. I was hoping to be like any one of the icons that had dated Julia Roberts. Dangit.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Only in Texas...

There's a local car dealership that is running a television advertisement that has a special offer for anyone who purchases a new Ford truck before the end of the year:

A Winchester shotgun.

I can't imagine that needs any comment or explanation.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003


In the early afternoon I have a hard time focusing. When I was in seminary, I had a "Ferris Bueller"-type teacher right after lunch, and in Texas everything is pretty much warm year-round. Suffice to say I gave up on being alert and simply tried to stay awake. But around 3:30 or so I'm back in the groove.

It's still hard for me to focus after lunch. No matter how much sleep I get the night before, or how much I exercise or how much/little caffeine I get, I wind up yawning at all that jazz. I've blocked out that time of day for tasks like returning e-mails or phone calls or going through the mail. No counseling. And DEFINITELY no studying for lessons or reading prep.

Why is it so awful in our culture to go for the 20-minute nap? I mean, the whole country of Mexico pretty much takes a siesta. Maybe there's something to early afternoon napping if it was good enough for DaVinci, Einstein and Churchill.

When did viewing sleep as a weakness come into fashion? One of the best times in kindergarten was right after lunch when you got the mats out and the teacher turned the light off. The elderly take naps, too. It seems that it's the years in between that lost the value of a good nap.

Maybe it's because Thomas Jefferson said that "Anyone who sleeps during daylight hours is a fool." Whatever the reason, when I become Grand Poobah of the World, we're all taking a siesta.
Refrigerator Update:

It was a $20 part. The repairman made jokes about not having seen a refrigerator manufactured in the late 70's in quite some time, but it's fixed, cleaned and defrosted.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Our 9 year old refrigerator is on the fritz. Has been all week. Thankfully, that "home warranty" insurance deal we got to cover our 16 year old air conditioner covers it...but we're hoping that it's irreparable since the caveat in the rider says that the refrigerator fix-it guy has to fix-it if he can. If not, we get a new one.'s hoping it isn't a $5 part but rather a $300 fridge!

It's Iron Bowl Week. I'm getting my game face on.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

How much fun is this? You can actually make a church sign with whatever you want on it!

Mine says,
our student ministry
can beat up
yer student ministry

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Went and saw the movie "Elf" last night with the was a better than average Christmas movie, and Will Farrell cracks me up. But it put me in the "Christmas mood" which usually doesn't happen until the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade on TV (at best) or until the weather reports that show Santa coming into DFW airspace (at worst).

I think the reason it put me in the Christmas mood was that all the scenes were shot in New York City at Christmas time.

A few years ago, I was in NYC visiting my sister about a week before Christmas... skating with my daughter in the snow at Rockefeller Center while the Today show was filming.
...watched the Teamsters putting the 2001 sign up in Times Square in preparation for New Year's Eve.
...seeing Macy's all decked out and watching tourists stand in line to take photos on a city-made stand so you could get the Rockefeller Christmas tree perfectly situated in your background.
...taking a carriage ride around Central Park fully decked out in Christmas mode, followed by a trip to FAO Schwartz at that time of year.
...seeing every storefront prepared in some creative way.
...the hustle of LaGuardia airport two days before Christmas (complete with an airline employee standing outside the queue answering questions for travellers, who responded to a guy's question about what to do about missing his connecting flight to Des Moines with, "Welcome to New York and I hope you enjoy your Christmas here, sir.")

It was one of my best Christmases ever.

No one does pre-Christmas better than New York. Go see Elf for that if for nothing else.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Proud Dad Alert.
Please "x-out" or scroll down if this annoys you

I have a problem with putting that "My kid made the honor roll" bumper sticker on my car. It looks to me that parents are so proud of the wrong thing. I mean, the fact that you'd display one seemed that you were highlighting academic excellence as the primary achievement of their children (now that suburban house fraus put their kids teams/numbers/sports on their SUV windows has detracted from the academic highlight somewhat). So, much to my children's chagrin, we have a drawer full of "honor student" bumper stickers.

Well, now I have quite the dilemma...

See, Tracy and I got this phone call telling us to keep a secret: That Kelsey was getting an award at school. A "Lamar Leader." The counselor gave us the time and date and secret pre-meeting location for the assembly.

So, she gets this award. But here's the kicker. The award goes only to two kids and it's based on "good academic standing, demonstration of outstanding leadership, classroom cooperation and participation, being a positive role model and willingness to help others."

The kids get to go to lunch with the principal at the restaurant of their choice. They got a special card that gets them into sports and dances free as well as free ice cream on Friday, a watch (with Lamar Longhorns proudly embossed on the faceplate) and some school spirit pencils and such.

And a bumper sticker...

An award based on character and such, and exclusive, and now my dilemma. Do I place said bumper sticker on my car?

I lead a charmed life...

Thursday, November 13, 2003

An interesting article on Relevant Magazine's website today regarding the American Church says this:

“The average Christian thinks of eternal life in either spatial or chronological terms,” he continued. “It’s either out in the heavens somewhere (spatial) or it’s somewhere out there after we die (chronological); they have no imagination for living in the kingdom and living in eternal life now, where you’re actually, self-consciously an ambassador of the kingdom, seeking to live a life of constant creative goodness under the rule and reign of the Spirit. I mean, nobody has that imagination, and I just think that’s a far bigger issue than people being able to run programs better and cast vision and all that."

And this:

"Perhaps the greatest crisis in the Church today isn’t a lack of strong ministries; it’s the lack of strong Christians. “The way my friend Dallas Willard puts it, ‘What would happen if we shifted our focus from building bigger churches to building bigger Christians?’ and he means that seriously. What would be the evangelistic and cultural implications of that?”

I don't agree with some of the theological insights from author Todd Hunter, but it's a good read nonetheless.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

For some reason, I'm having a mental pity party. And I'm enjoying it. I feel like sitting around the house all day in flannel pants and big sweatshirt (the official clothing choice when I become grand potentate of the earth), large coffee, and the CD changer loaded with the following: Robert Johnson's Complete Recordings, Nirvana's In Utero, and Son Volt's Trace. That should do it.

To make myself feel better I made my Christmas list. It's in ink.

It didn't help all that much.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

More questions today than answers...

"I'm ready for a Christianity that 'ruins' my life, that captures my heart and makes me uncomfortable. I want to be filled with an astonishment which is so captivating tht I am considered wild and unpredictable and well...dangerous! Yes, I want to be dangerous to a dull and boring religion. I want a faith that is considered dangerous by our predictable and monotonous culture."--Mike Yaconelli

So today I'm thinking about suburban homogeneity. What is it about moving away from an urban center that causes everyone to strive for sameness?

Is it that the majority of us have the same level of education? Is it that, in order to live here most of us are in the same ballpark regarding level of income? Do these two things cause us to agree on political views? What about the "keeping up with the Joneses" factor regarding cars and homes and children's involvements? Did we move to those we're like-minded with or did we become like-minded once we got here? You get the drift of the mosaic of questions running in my brain by now.

The way I see it, this mindset seeps into our walk with God. What worries me is that we all nod at the idealistic words in the quote above and then fall into what the author later calls a "self-induced retirement of the mind."

Don't get me wrong. I lead a charmed with a minivan, dog groomers, health club membership, orthodontia, etc. But the predictability is scary.

The question before us today, class, is how do we live the true Christian (dangerous?) life in a 21st century suburban setting?

Like I said...more questions than answers today...

Monday, November 10, 2003

I'm reading a book that has "journal prompts" and since I've pretty much abandoned my Wal-Mart composition notebooks for blogging, I guess you're all coming along for the ride today.

Think about your childhood. What superheroes did you follow--and maybe even act out--when you were a kid?

I didn't really have specific superheros that I followed. Sure, I threw parachute G.I. Joe off the roof with the rest of my friends, but I never "played" Batman or Superman or astonauts or even firemen or soldiers.

My heros were all sports figures...and not only that...obscure sports figures. My earliest hero was a quarterback at Auburn who eventually won the Heisman Trophy, Pat Sullivan. Every kid who followed that team had a poster of him and his favorite reciever sitting on the bench, smiling, after a big win. I remember doing radio calls (I listened to hours of sports which were always on the radio in my childhood, unlike now when they're all on TV, which is why I could rattle off radio play-by-play like nobody's business...still can) in my front yard of me, being Pat Sullivan, winning the big game for Auburn (of which, miraculously, I could both throw and catch the touchdown pass, becoming Terry Beasley in mid-play--if that's not superheroic I have no idea what is). My mom actually caught me acting out a game winning moment on Super 8mm movies once.

There was also a basketball player named Odell Mosteller who played for Auburn. He was known for shooting the ball 20 feet high and having it drop straight down into the basket, which would make the net swish around the rim and get stuck when the ball went through it. I would re-enact the final seconds of imaginary games, counting down the clock like Auburn's radio announcer with a "3...2...1...Mosteller from the top of the key..............

(if it went in)'s GOOD! It's GOOD! Mosteller does it AGAIN!!! Auburn has beaten Alabama for the millionth time in a ROW!!!"

(if it didn't go in)

...the shot draws iron...BUT MOSTELLER was FOULED and will go to the line to shoot two and if he makes one (I was reasonably competent from the free-throw line at that age that hitting the first was likely, and missing two was an oddity...thus locking up another victory), Auburn will beat Alabama for the millionth time in a ROW!!!!"

Other heros included a steady stream of minor-league hockey players (for some reason, Birmingham, Alabama, was a hockey hotbed in the late 70's) and minor-league baseball players as well as Dale Murphy, Atlanta Braves catcher...who made the all-star team.

I have no idea what a psychologist would say about these choices. Do you?

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Still at Pine Cove: Here's something to keep the thought's provoked...

"From one religious camp, we're told that what God wants is obedience, or sacrifice, or adherence to the right doctrines, or morality. Those are the answers offered by conservative churches. The more theraputic churces suggest that no, God is after our contentment, or happiness, or self-actualization, or something else along those lines. He is concerned about all these things, of course, but they are not His primary concern. What He is after is us--our laughter, our dreams, our fears, our heart of hearts."

--Brent Curtis and John Eldredge in "Sacred Romance."

All too often, people are turned off by misconceptions of God. I wish more people would seek God instead of reject God based on what they've seen others do or leave undone.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Alrighty then...I'm off to Pine Cove this weekend. Here's something to provoke your thinking while I'm away...

"There's no room for pretending in the spiritual life. Unfortunately, in many religious circles, there exists and unwritten rule. Pretend. Act like God is in control when you don't believe He is...

Practically, pretending is efficient and quick...

But the truth is, we are a mess. None of us is who we appear to be. We all have secrets. We all have issues. We all struggle from time to time. No one is perfect. Not one. The essence of messy spirituality is the refusal to pretend, to lie, or allow others to believe we are something we are not...

When you and I stop pretending, we expose the pretending of everybody else."

--Mike Yaconelli

Let's all expose the pretending of everybody else today, shall we?

Friday, November 07, 2003

I really like how "blogging" gives people a sense of community. I mean, I'm keeping up with people I care about who live in my own house as well as across the country and across the world through their blogs on the web.

And, now, blogging apparently has taken this sense of community to new levels! Check this out...

There are a couple of college co-eds at OU who have a blog site called Mad Pony (which, by the way has one of the funniest blogs about a girls' perspective on baseball that you should check out). One of the girls blogged about how she had a negative senior prom experience due to an untimely break-up. Then, a blogger on the east coast go the idea to invite her to his senior prom and got some other bloggers to go with some of his other friends. They've even got people contributing money for plane fares and such. How cool is that?

Naturally, they will all be blogging about their experiences. It could end with her being prom queen or having a Stephen King "Carrie-like" experience, but either way, I'm IN on hearing about it all...

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Last night my Bible study went really well. It wasn't anything I did or said, it was just that my junior/senior guys started looking at Paul's prayer in Colossians 1: 9--14 and personalizing it:

"For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God, strengthened with all power according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share with the inheritance of the saints in light. For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the Kingdom of His beloved Son in whom we have redemption for the forgiveness of sins."

What would a life look like if we were filled with the "super knowledge" (the Greek word epignosis) of God's will for us, both behaviorally and in our beliefs? What if we understood it and applied it acurately?

What would a life look like if we walked worthy of this super knowledge?

What would a life look like if we pleased Christ in all areas of our life, from thoughts to dealing with that homeless guy or our marriages or the shows we watch?

What would a life look like if we bore fruit and if our insides were so transformed that it affected every iota of our outward behavior?

What would a life look like if we were strengthened with God's power every waking millisecond?

I imagine we'd look a lot like Christ.

Life lesson of Colossians 1 from my Bible study guys last night: Wrong beliefs lead to wrong behavior.

And, for the life of me, I can't imagine why people wouldn't want to have the right beliefs about Christ. Because, frankly, I'd like for Paul's prayer to be answered in my own life on a continual basis. What would my own life look like if it were?

I imagine I'd look more Christ-like.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

My friend, Kendra played "name the author" of a quote on her site. So, I stole her idea. I'll post the author on the "comments."

"Trying to eliminate Saddam...would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible.... We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq.... there was no viable "exit strategy" we could see, violating another of our principles.

Furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-Cold War world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations' mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land."

Any guesses?

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

"What makes authentic disciples is not visions, ecstasies, biblical mastery of chapter and verse, or spectacular success in ministry, but a capacity for faithfulness. Buffeted by the fickle winds of failure, battered by their own unruly emotions, and bruised by rejection and ridicule, authentic disciples may have stumbled and frequently fallen, endured lapses and relapses, gotten handcuffed to the fleshpots and wandered to a far country. Yet, they kept coming back to Jesus.

After life has lined their faces a little, many followers of Jesus come into a coherent sense of themselves for the first time. When they modestly claim, 'I am still a ragamuffin, but I'm different' they are right. Where sin abounded, grace has more abounded."

--Brennan Manning

Monday, November 03, 2003

Monday is my day off. Plans include...

Finishing one book (the Brennan Manning one, so expect a few quotes at some point) and starting another.
Running (the marathon training is on schedule, and surprisingly no shin splints thus far, although the heavy mileage hasn't started accumulating yet).
Softball game (our team is 7-0, and tonight's game has no bearing on our regular season 1st place finish. The playoffs start next week).
A nap of epic proportion...

Sunday, November 02, 2003

My neighbor Sam is retired. He stopped by my house yesterday bearing candy and asking this question: "How come your girls didn't come trick-or-treating to my house last night?" He also mentioned that no one did.

My wife lovingly told him that his porch light wasn't on. Must've slipped his mind.

But he was sad no one came trick-or-treating. At least that was Tracy's take on it. She's right in that he probably looked forward to it all day long, too. The chance to see all the neighborhood kids in their costumes and maybe say hello to their watching parents on the sidewalk is probably one of those little things that gives Sam and his wife a sense of community since our neighborhood is now, in real estate agent terms, a "starter" neighborhood.

Even if his porch light had been on Sam would've been disappointed in the turnout. Probably one out of every three houses had their light on, and there were comparatively few kids out, too.

I started thinking about why this might be. Okay, the community's big rivalry football game was last night but that wouldn't explain that many houses not participating. Maybe because it was Friday night and people were out doing their Friday night things. Maybe they just wanted a night at home without being bothered. Maybe it was a combination of all those things.

But I have another significant contribution to it. Most area churches had something called "Fall Carnival" or "Octoberfest" of "Harvest Celebration." Basically, it's some Christian reaction to the "dark" holiday, providing a "safer" place for kids to come in their "not-so-scary" costumes and spend have "fellowship" with their friends and we can "invite the entire community."

And, I guess all those things are true. At least on the surface.

But what about Sam?

Why have local churches felt the need for a "Halloween alternative?" I mean, parents stand at sidewalks anyway, so they're never out of sight. I don't think if a kid pays $12 for a witch costume at Toys R Us they will make make a spiritual bond with the dark side any more than being Buzz Lightyear leads them closer to God. We have plenty of fellowship anyway. The very fact that we're out and about in our neighborhood would mean that Halloween is inherently a community-wide invitation.

So, our Christian community is comfy cozy in our shiny new buildings and Sam sits at home alone (assuming, of course, he turns his light on), just wanting to connect.

I wonder what it would look like if all the local Christians decided next year to go full-throttle on Halloween. Carve the pumpkins. Play the creepy music. Dress up in whatever you want without worrying about political correctness. Maybe even make a mini-haunted house in the garage and let neighborhood kids go through it. Actually get to know our Sam.

I imagine it would look light Matthew 5's recording of Jesus telling the listeners to be a light to the world. I know it would look less like fear-based and separatist cacooning.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Militant Muslims are pouring into Iraq. Militant Christians blow up abortion clinics. Militant Jews roll tanks over Palestinian homes. Militant Catholics bomb stuff in Ireland. Is it me, or is it truly ironic that the word "militant" would precede any world religion?