Thursday, September 30, 2004

Some Provocative Thoughts About The Next Generation of Churchgoers

So, I finished "Emergent Worship" by Dan Kimball. If you have any interest at all in the future of the church, it's a must read.

A few quotes:

"They wonder if coming together to worship really only consists of a few songs and a central focus on preaching. They feel more and more uncomfortable with the way many worship services profile one or two male-only leaders up front. They are wondering why there is hardly (if any at all) participation from the people in the congregation...In terms of music, they feel more embarrassed by many of the lyrics in popular worship songs. Many feel unsettled by the way the song leader leads or the way the band plays. (When explored, you will find that these comments about music usually go way beyond generational music styles or personal preferences. It entirely has to do with values of what and how musical worship is done in a worship gathering."

"We now see art being brought into worship, the use of visuals, the practice of ancient disciplines, the design of the gathering being more participatory than passive-spectator."

In my estimation, the most provocative question to ask after church:
"What comments do you hear about your worship service? Do people say, 'I enjoyed that' or 'That was fun' or 'Good job today'? Or do they say, 'I encountered God here today' or 'I appreciated that people prayed for me here' or 'I felt the presence of Jesus here'? There is a big--no, huge--difference between the two."

If you're church has a Baby-Boomer designed functional box that is light and airy:
"Emerging generations are very visual. They crave a sense of mystery and wonder of God as they worship. They desire a spiritual environment for worship."

And, one more for good measure:
"Prayer is threaded throughout the gathering, not simply tagged on at the beginning or the end of the sermon."

And, once again, I'm amazed that people don't understand why I'd rather work with the upcoming generation than the older folks...
At 10:58 PM, September 29...

The Texas Rangers dream ended. There will be no worst-to-first pennant drive. It's over. On one hand, if you'd told me on opening day we'd be playing meaningful baseball games with four games left in the season, I'd have laughed. On the other, to come so close and not make the playoffs kinda stinks.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

A Modern Day Manhattan Project

Oil hits $50 bucks a barrel today. I'm not an economist, but according to the media, this means that you and I will start paying $2 per gallon for gasoline. We'll wail and moan and fill up our cars and drive.

Well, late in WWII, the alleged "Greatest Generation" formed something called the Manhattan Project in which huge allotments of time, money and manpower were focused on building an atomic bomb. Mission accomplished. WWII ended.

Kennedy did the same thing with the "space race" in the late '60's. The Soviets get an early jump, we get serious about the time/money/manpower thing, the next thing you know, Neil Armstrong is planting a flag and we get to drink Tang and use Velcro.

Open suggestion to anyone who has the power to make things happen: Why not do the same thing with solar power, wind power, nuclear power, public transportation and every other thing that would eliminate our dependence on oil.

I can't tell you how fast I'd sell my cars and change my lifestyle.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Rat Race

It's possible for ministers to get caught up in working too much. I'm there right now. I'm tired, even after my day off in which all I did was recover from the last week. Ugh.
Whiff! Total Silence

Those sounds you heard were the Rangers playoff hopes coming to a stark reality: We now must win the remaining six games on our schedule and get help from other teams. Yuck.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Sunday Stuff

Man was it a sublime, but action-packed day yesterday.

It started off in a very exciting way. It was a lot of fun hearing from people who attended our college/young adult ministry's worship service. It got rave reviews and people very much enjoyed the tone and approach set forth during worship...and in a surprise of surprises, one of the sound guys recorded the whole deal! That was one of those details you often overlook in planning, and because someone thought of it, we now have a tape of the worship songs! The evening was great and it was nice hearing people compliment former teens I've discipled who are using their gifts and talents to serve our church.

Then I had a lunch with Mike and Katie. Those two are such an encouragement to me as they were some of the first teens I had the chance to serve when I got to Crossroads and now they're stepping out into all sorts of faith in God and it's inspirational just being around them. I wish they could stay, but they'll do more for the Kingdom in Portland...even if they're not even sure what they'll be doing for the Kingdom. It's simply cool to see.

Then I watched the Rangers goof up a chance to gain ground in the standings. Best of times to be in a pennant race, worst of times when they're blowing chances with time running out. We've only got a week to go.

Then a friend came over. I'm having sprinkler system issues (we think/hope as I've spent enough on plumbing this year to last a decade) and he helped diagnose the problem and offered a temporary and cashless solution. We'll see.

Then a very brief nap...just enough to disorient me for the rest of the evening.

Then, our pastor, for the first time I can remember, had to step out of the pulpit about 5 minutes into his 3rd sermon of the day, and then had one of my colleagues try to finish the same sermon off HIS notes. If you know anything about pastors, we can usually fill in on a moment's notice, but NOT off someone else's notes/text/preparation. Our pastor's been fighting off a chest cold and some medicine rocked him a bit...and I'm sure Bill will have great stories of his adventure during staff meeting on Tuesday.

And then I taught a Bible study that I couldn't have been more excited about to my high schoolers. You can get an overview from my student ministry blog Peripatetics if you're interested, but what was really cool about it was that we're in a great situation. See, God is prodding my teenagers' hearts and minds and at the same time prodding me and it's cool to be on the same page. Anyway, the end of the class was reverential silence. I'm terribly excited about the state of things in the student ministry to which I've been entrusted.

So, review of my action-packed Sunday: Good reviews, inspiring lunch, losing team, potential flood stopped, pastor fill-in, God working. Great ending to a terribly long week.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

So, Today I'm Thinking...

...that my daughter's team executing a triple play in yesterday's game was pretty darn exciting.
...that my church's worship night (hosted by our college ministry) was the beginning of something significant.
...that I don't know where the goof-up occurred, but either Capernwray Bible School or the British government should've informed my friend Meredith (and 8 other US students) about the new visa requirements before she flew all the way to England only to get turned around at the border.
...that in the 10 days my friend Meredith will be here waiting on her special visa, both Capernwray and the British government don't want to tangle with her mom, Ma Deb (who has a track record of squashing bureaucrats like bugs).
...that my fast-food foray Friday night took me about 24 hours to recover from.
...that living in Florida for the last couple of months would make it difficult to get much done in the normal warps and woofs of life.
...that if Auburn can get by Tennessee this upcoming weekend they just might run the table and have a special season, so my fingers are crossed but expectations are low.
...I've been spending entirely too much time working lately.
...I'm exhausted, and Sunday hasn't really started yet.
...I don't think political debates mean what they used to or accomplish much in the age of spin and polish.
...I'll never get the book written. Or even "a" book written.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

How Did It Go So South So Fast?

It was the end of a long day. 10 hours and a steady stream of people.
It's been the end of a long week. 58 hours of office time in 4 days.
There are more meetings and a warp speed Saturday full of a soup of family and pastoral commitments staring me in the face.

Kelsey had a baby-sitting gig. Tracy needed some alone time. So, I arranged a "date" with my youngest daughter, Shelby.

I got a delightful recounting of her day on the ride to the theatre.

She was in rare form (and she's funny pretty much all the time anyway) during the fast-food dinner at Burger King.

She wanted to see the movie "First Daughter" which turned out to be much better than I was prepared for...of course, my critique might be rendered invalid because I watched a movie involving a father-daughter storyline right after my own daughter lifted the armrest between us in our stadium-seating theatre and watched the entire movie with me as her headrest.

She listened to The Crystal Method with me on the way home. For those of you who are unenlightened, the music category in your local CD store you'd search for their fine work would be "electronica" or "techno dance." She deemed it "funky" but "likeable." I'll take it...her musical tastes span from Shania to Bach.

She was happy to listen to chapter 2 of book 4 of The Chronicles of Narnia. Yes, we're still reading it out loud together before bed a chapter at a time.

Then it all went south.

The Rangers, who apparently are striving to tease us with this pennant chase/race, lost to the last place team after winning three in a row to the first place team. We lost a game in the standings. Excruciating, these pennant races when you're not the leading team.

And then Burger King betrayed me. I won't go into detail, but if you'll notice the time stamp below, despite my early-riser tendencies, I don't usually get to blog strength this early. I'm sick as a dog.

I needed more than 3 hours of sleep. And I'm wide-awake. Suffice to say my heart rate was higher than it usually is at details.

Anyway, it's been a long day.

I've got a long day ahead.

A long week ahead.

I need more rest than I'm getting. My Burger King boycott begins now.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Crack! Thunderous Applause.

Those sounds you heard were the local major league baseball team climbing back into the pennant race with a 3-game sweep of the division leaders. After yesterday's 3-run ninth-inning comeback, they're 2 games out with 10 to play. It was front page news.

There are very few things more enjoyable than your team playing very meaningful baseball games in mid-September. A pennant race in your town is excurciating and wonderful at the same time.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Maybe I AM With It, After All!

Well, at least I hang out with people that are with it. My friend Adam, a fellow youth pastor in my area who really is "with it" (some of the coolest people I know are Lutherans...when did they corner the market on cool?) blogged yesterday about "old buzz words" in Christian circles and apparently came up with a few of his own. Here's a sample of some of his fine work...

Old Buzz Word= Emerging, Emergent: coming into existence, new
as in...Emerging Church or Emerging Worship...a buzzword used to describe ministries that are in touch with the current trends of world culture and are adjusting to it...mostly using ancient future styles
New buzz word= Converging, Convergent: coming together from different directions
as in...Converging Church of Converging Worship...a new and improved buzz word that even emerging people won't know...used to describe ministry that combines intergenerational preferences and breaks down specialized ministries into simplistic converging strategies

Old Buzz Word= Generation X or Generation Next or Generation Y: the young generation emerging in our culture. Church's use this term to say that they are reaching young people in a hip, extreme, and usually in your face, no boundaries kind of way
New Buzz Word= Generation Echt: (exht) which means real, genuine, not fake or counterfeit. We will use this term to describe this new generation because it seeks truth and we will offer it without all the fancy pyrotechnics, rock bands, and fancy t-shirts...just plain echt truth...

(my favorite one)
Old Buzz Word= Purpose Driven: motivated by purpose. Church's use this highly copyrighted buzz word to say that their church is not motivated by WHAT they do but rather WHY they do it
New Buzz Word= Spirit Goaded: motivated/compelled by an unseen force or spirit
as churches we will be able to use this uncomfotable term to let people know that we are led by the spirit and that everything we do comes straight from God so people will be unable to criticize us and we will have license to do whatever we want.

For my readers, there are others, too. Nice work, Adam.
(*riding Adam's 'with it' coattails using a surfing-type body motion*)

Wednesday, September 22, 2004


I think that an entire blog could be done if you only used quotes from Homer Simpson so I generally try to stay away from doing that. However, I had a moment today that Homer's grandfather, Abraham, expressed perfectly.

See, we were trying to come up with ideas for video clips to use in our introductory video for our Sunday School class. You know, a series of funny snippets from movies or TV shows strung together in rapid fasion just to set the tone and the mood and let everybody know they need to get moving to their seats. We had one, but never changed it, and now it's time for a new one.

I was suggesting scenes with one-liners from Animal House, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Beavis and Butt-head ("Ummm, uh huh huh uh...we're ready for love."), and Say Anything. I'm not contemporary enough...because my pop culture references were a bit too dated.

My younger, hipper staff was looking more for scenes from Ashton Kutcher's work in Punk'd, or from Johnny Knoxville, or the OC, or Garden State or Napoleon Dynamite or Teen Girl Squad. They're right. At least I know about most of those things, and could even quote the Napoleon Dynamite stuff, but they had specific scenes and quotes they wanted to use from those realms of pop culture.

I realized pretty quickly that my refrences were dating me so I let them talk about clips some more. I'm not really "with it."

So, I felt like Abraham Simpson when Homer accused him of "not being with it."

Abraham responded, "Yeah, well, I used to be with it. And now what I'm with isn't it. And what is it seem strange and scary to me."
Knowing Where Your Bread Is Buttered

If the celebrity grist is true, the "Newlyweds" marriage is in trouble.

A word to the wise: If you're better known for being "Mr. Jessica Simpson" than for your own solo career/music, it might be wise to stay put unless you'd like to stop living in the manner to which you've become accustomed.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer

My higher-order life-liver sister Jilly sends me a book in the mail. It's about football in the Deep South. I consider it a must-read for anyone who is trying to decipher the reality of football as a way of life.

I've tried in several blog entries to explain snippets of that reality, but usually it only ends up with me mentally throwing up my arms and saying, "Well, unless you were born there, you won't really 'get it.'"

The author hops on an RV (recreation vehicle) tour with the faithful fans of the University of Alabama, going to every game in an RV (about 1,000 go to every game this way). The full experience. And it sheds light on each university's traditions like The Grove at Ole Miss, or the lack of traditions at Vanderbilt, a day at Florida's Swamp, and even Toomer's Corner at Auburn.

It also sheds light on how some dads who've missed their daughter's wedding (but hey, he made the reception) can in their heart of hearts justify making such a decision ("We told her we might not be able to make it if she scheduled it during the 3rd Saturday in October.") or how a heart transplant patient willingly goes off the heart transplant list every time he goes two hours outside of the Nashville hospital during games. Not to mention stories of beautiful co-eds with southern drawls who are charming before kick-off and full-blown foul-mouths once the ball is in play.

A t-shirt available at the University of Alabama (in Tuscaloosa): "Tuscaloosa: A drinking town with a football problem." Really.

And, those are really on the tip of the iceberg. The book is an introduction for the uninitiated...and a fun read.

Monday, September 20, 2004

I'm Beginning To Think I Don't Love... wife enough.
...that "thorn-in-my-side" parent enough.
...those two co-workers enough. mom enough. Lord God and Savior enough.

And I'm definitely sure that loving, in each of those situations, doesn't look like most people think it does.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Saturday Victories All Around

Slept later than usual. Got up at 7:30AM! Definitely a win.

Got Shelby a much anticipated breakfast before her ballet auditions. The smile she gave me for getting her a Big Breakfast from McDonald's: Definitely a win.

She had fun at this incredibly difficult audition which she attended more for the experience of going through a tough audition, and has now decided on going to high school at the local fine arts high school in Dallas. A win for going through the audition and having fun, a tie for the idea of my kid having to go to downtown Dallas for high school. I'm agreeble, just adjusting to the idea.

Mowed the yard. It's actually hotter in Texas now than it has been all summer. Defintely a win for completing the chore before Kelsey's softball game.

Kelsey's team dominated for two innings and then the heat got to them. They fell behind but won the game on their last at-bat. Kelsey walked and got a hit and made a nice play at shortstop. Despite the blazing heat over 95 degrees it was definitely a win.

Got home and watched the Auburn Tigers beat the defending national champions on a touchdown in the last minute. Very exciting finish and definitely a win.

Hung out at home with Tracy and various teenagers. Danny even came by on a homecoming date to let us see he and his date Courtney dressed up before they went to the dance! Definitely a win for us to see them looking their best, and definitely a win for Danny.

Went to bed early and fell asleep during Saturday Night Live. Apparently a win, becasue if it was funnier I would've stayed up.

All in all, a very nice day.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

A Pastor's Friday

Some people have this twisted view of we only do work on one day per week or something goofy like that. So, I thought some of you might like a window into a typical day for, here goes:

Before "work": Took care of my morning stuff. I have a pretty stable routine. Devotional reading of the Word (usually in The Message)...yesterday I was in Mark 1. Spent a little time in prayer. Showered. Read the paper (checked up on the Rangers decline--it's like watching a car wreck in slow motion--and to see if Barry Bonds hit #700). Had a cup of coffee...well, okay, two. Did the Peripatetics blog for my students. Did this blog. Took Kelsey to school as she had to be there at 7:45AM to run the mile.

At work, spent the first hour doing what Covey calls "Sharpening the Saw": Getting ready to make my day most efficient. Also, that's the time I respond to e-mails and voice mails.

Our church has a ministry to people in job "transition" that is really one of the better ministries we have. It involves resume help, headhunters come in, job search tips, etc. They asked me to lead a devotional, which was nice and I enjoyed it.

Then I had a pre-marital counseling session. We planned the ceremony, too, as they're getting married in a couple of weeks. It's nice to have that wide-eyed enthusiasm that only young couples have.

Then my staffers popped in...a small, but enjoyable crisis. Too many kids signed up for our fall retreat and not enough busses. That's right. Not enough busses. So, they wanted to get a problem-solving plan together...and give me some feedback on this student-led worship night coming up in which they're doing some "consulting" type stuff. We also cleared up some financial responsibilities with the fall retreat camp. Just routine check-writing, but we've got to be a few weeks ahead because of the way our accounting is set up.

Then I studied for my Sunday School lesson coming up...I'm a little fuzzy on all the yearly festivals of the Israelites and it's going to be a key part of my lesson on Sunday. I worked through lunch, since the job transition workshop gives a free luncheon, I grabbed some on the go and scarfed some for my staff, too.

I also ironed out the details of my parent's meeting on Sunday morning, too.

There was a memorial service for a church member who passed recently. That doesn't happen all too often in our church. We're more of a 35-54 age congregation, so funerals are relatively rare. I stayed in the office as the "pastor on call" but there weren't any calls, so I went for the last few minutes of the service as I know the grandkids and children of the deceased.

At two every Friday I have my "business" meeting with my staff to make sure we're all covering short and long-term business ends. We are. I have a good staff, so we have time to brainstorm t-shirt ideas since it's been about two years since we've had a student ministry t-shirt. Some bad, but funny, ideas: One that says simply, "Emergent Shirt." And the "i" would be a candle. Suffice to say that unless you're plugged into the huge youth ministry buzzwords, you won't get that one. Another two for the staff: "Vote for Crossroads Bible Church and all your wildest dreams will come true" and "Crossroads Bible Church offers you its' protection." Unless you're plugged into Napoleon Dynamite you won't get those two. We worried if our laughter was affecting the transition seminar or the memorial service. Safe on both counts.

I finished up the Sunday School lesson handouts and got my discussion starter for the class. This is at 4:30 PM.

My senior pastor asks if I have 20 minutes. I do. He comes in and closes the door. Oh, no. Ugh. This can't be good. But it was good. He just didn't want others to hear it.

I have a five o'clock dinner with four of the most amazingly gifted and talented students I have in my ministry. The hour I spent with them reminded me of two things: First, why I love what I do and want to do forever. I mean, they encourage me with their ministry ideas and insights and growth, and then they thank me for helping them. Are you kidding me? Second, that some teenagers are the most spiritual people I know. We sell them short. Even me. I can't believe I wind up people like this in orbit around me.

Frankly, at 6:30PM, I was done...emotionally and spiritually. It's been a long week. I came home and hung out with my family and did nothing...which was absolutely the most beautiful nothing we could've done. It's embarrassing that a night with nothing is so refreshing for all of us. We had ice cream together, watched a movie together and went to bed early. It was glorius.

And today...yardwork. Ugh.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Cool Stuff?

I watched a commercial yesterday that had Lenny Kravitz playing guitar while Sara Jessica Parker danced around in clothing from the GAP. I don't think Lenny Kravitz is as great as the media wants us to believe he is and I don't believe that Sara Jessica Parker wears anything from the GAP.
Hurricane Ivan, Part 2

My family's okay. Without power and the city's rain-soaked. But people and property are fine as far as my relatives go.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Hurricane Charlotte

Apparently, I forgot to update all you on the health of my mother. She'd been through some difficult days with her chemotherapy and radiation treatments. She was in the hospital for it for a few days.

Well, it seems that with all the cooks in the soup, she was taking two medicines that counteracted each other, which was causing her liver not to work properly. That's the long and short of it. In addition, she fell in the hospital and broke her wrist.

Anyway, the problem was corrected, she's getting better and I'm guessing doing fine since she's already up to the "you're sister called four times this week and you only called three" mode.

Kidding. She's slowly and surely getting better.
Hurricane Ivan

I appreciate all the e-mails and phone calls asking about my family since many of you know that they reside in God's Little Acre: Alabama. The Hurricane came ashore early this morning near the city of Mobile.

All of my family lives in Birmingham which is about 250 miles north of there, so at present nothing at all has happened. This afternoon they expect 60 MPH sustained winds and some serious rainfall amounts, but no life-threatening hurricane type things.

Apparently, the greater concern, if you read the Alabama papers on line, is whether or not there will be enough police and firemen to work the football games of the Tigers and Crimson Tide this weekend because they'll be working their jobs in Ivan's aftermath. That alone should let you know how serious the situation seems to be though.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

It's Still Pretty Cool After All These Years

It was 15 years ago today that a few students in Burleson, Texas gathered around their flagpole and prayed for their tecahers, their administration and their lives.

This morning, some 250,000 teenagers on six continents will continue that same tradition. The third Wednesday in September. Every year.

It doesn't make the news much anymore. It doesn't gather the headlines. I mean, after all this time, there aren't many new angles to tell the story. There are only so many photographs and images of kids praying with the sun coming up that can get in a paper.

Yes, there's a web-site ( with all sorts of gizmos and gadgets and things to buy and ways to report and full of legal mumbo jumbo. Yes, it's gone commercial.

But it's still cool to think that they care enough to do it. At least it is to me.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Pushing 40 Isn't All It's Cracked Up To Be

Day off yesterday:

Coffee with my daughters: check. And very enjoyable, too.
Yardwork: check.
Nap: check.
Frisbee Golf: cancelled due to nap & reading.
Softball game: check. We won 20-8. I got three hits in four at-bats (all singles), scored four runs and drove in three from the leadoff spot.

But here's the bummer: I'm scoring the 20th run for our team from third base. It's easy as I'm on third and it's a base hit. As I'm trotting to step on home plate, well, apparently there's some dew on the plate, making it slippery. My foot slips with all my weight on it and then the rubber cleats get full traction in the dirt. A pain went from my knee right into my brain.

Since I was, I was a liberal arts major. But I knew some pre-med majors, and I've discipled a bunch of them, so that makes me pretty much an expert. Anyway, I've decided it's a sprain, and that a little ice for 48 hours and after that, heat, should be the perfect remedy.

I'm not going to the doctor. Doctors are for suckers.

I should be good to go next week for the game.
Morning Guy vs. Night Guy

Jerry Seinfeld does this comedy routine in which he talks about "night guy" and "morning guy." "Night Guy" is always saying things like, "Stay out! We're having a blast! This is really fun! Go home later!" "Morning Guy" always tries to argue with him: "We have work tomorrow! You'll be tired all day! Get home now! You're already out too late!"

Night Guy won last night, and "Morning Guy" always pays the price for "Night Guy's" enthusiasm.

Night Guy: It's the biggest baseball game of the season for the Rangers! So, what, if it's on the west coast and started at 9PM local time? It won't go much past midnight! Look at that! There's a fight between the bullpen and the fans! Extra innings! Well, you've watched it this far, you gotta see it out! A home run in the top of the 10th for our team! Yes!

Let's just say that when the hated Oakland A's drove in the winning run in the bottom of the 10th, Morning Guy was already working on my brain. "You shouldn't have done this. You knew they were going to lose. What were you thinking? You have a meeting early."

I think I should listen more to Morning Guy.

Monday, September 13, 2004

I don't mean to go off on a rant, here...but...

I'm crabby today, and Non Sequitur expresses exactly how I feel at the moment (if you're not hitting this site today, you may have to click on the Sept. 13 edition instead of the most recent one).

Here's the stuff that's been annoying me lately that I just gotta get off my chest:

People who cut through parking lots to avoid certain types of traffic patterns. In our community, several churches are located on corner properties. In order to avoid long lines at stop signs or stop lights, they just cut through the church lots to save about 11 seconds of life.

Once again, cell phone users in public. Last night, after church/high school class, our cafe area was littered with people on cell phones. From a committed non-cell phone user, I have to ask what was so freakin' important that couldn't wait until after the baptism service? And, yes, a cell phone went off during that service. And at the restaurant. You could do worse than setting your cell phone under a back tire and rolling over it.

Teenagers who lie to me by intent in order to keep their parents at bay. For some reason, most of my appointments these days have involved teens lying to me, with no desire to really get help, but rather to keep doing what they want and have their parents think they're at least trying spiritually. Listen, I don't mind helping, but if you can't be honest and don't really want help, just go live and deal with the consequences. Don't waste our time together by trying to position yourself in the best light. If you want help, we can do business. Just don't tell lies, okay?

Moms who over-mother their children. They have no idea the long-term harm they are doing by trying to ensure short-term happiness/smooth sailing for their children.

Every time I get close to selling my guitar, the rug gets pulled out from underneath me. Not to mention that the local mega-guitar place doesn't even carry new Fender Jazzmasters anyway so I don't guess it matters.

And that was just from yesterday...

So, today...lawn mowing, frisbee golf, nap, softball game. All of that should erase my crabbiness.
Party Girl

I really love it when my daughters set goals, work hard and then either get what they wanted or learn a life lesson that sometimes you don't always get what you wanted/worked hard to get. It's more fun when they get what they wanted.

And, yesterday, Shelby got what she wanted. After her audition two weeks ago, she was awarded a part in our area's award-winning holiday presentation of The Nutcracker. It was the one she wanted most: Party girl.

Congratulations, Shelby. I can't wait to see you in that role!

Sunday, September 12, 2004

I Keep Trying To Explain This, But You Don't Believe Me

The Cowboys kick-off today at 3:15PM...and in this town, they think they're football crazy. They get all the coverage in the media and all that jazz.

But football really is a religion in the Deep South, and
this article (about a book by a former professor of mine at Auburn) describes some realities about the state of Alabama's passion for Auburn and Alabama football.

A quote to entice you to read the article:

"This conservative population would begrudge every cent levied on their property for education but would spend lavishly to finish in the top 10. This Bible-believing citizenry would mobilize politically to pulverize advocates of a state lottery for education but would blithely ignore coaches and alumni who broke NCAA rules."

I keep trying to explain it, but the passion for the Cowboys doesn't even get in the ballpark...and even I'm kinda into the Cowboys after having lived here for a decade.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

A Moment Of Silence

8:46 AM
9:03 AM
2,749 names read by grandparents & parents
3 ominous bell tolls

I have not forgotten.

Friday, September 10, 2004

So, Today I'm Thinking...

...that sometimes I go through long funks of haziness with God and come out on the other side with an almost creepy clarity of what He wants for me in my life.
...these last three days have been full of creepy clarity moments.
...that Auburn's football game this weekend is a "trap" (SEC road game against a team that believes in themselves) against a team they should beat and they ought to be wary.
...that polls on the news regarding the presidential race should focus on how those votes affect the electoral college, not the popular vote.
...that I shouldn't expect television news to actually be informative since they're a for-profit business.
...that the lunch I had with my wife yesterday only reinforced my already strong beliefs of how talented she is and how beautiful she is and how much I really do like her as well as love her.
...some teens, no matter what you do, are going to make wrong choices.
...the goal of our instruction is love (which applies to the teacher as well as the student), so you have to tie that in when teens make wrong choices.
...that the show "Joey" is going to real old, real fast.'s cool to be working with Nathan and Steve, even though we only started our first day together on Wednesday.
...that I'm glad the NFL and college football seasons have started now that the Rangers have faded from contention for the playoffs.
...some temptations never go away.
...that the best things in life really are free.
...that Rave music is highly underrated by the masses, much like punk was in my day, but man, there's some really good music that grownups will never "get." that my garage is clean, I need to start marathon training again. softall team has a legitimate shot at a championship t-shirt and trophy this fall season.
...that middle school girls over for Kelsey's birthday celebratory sleepover means little sleep tonight. other blog (a devotional Bible study paralelling my high school Bible study, Peripatetics, has an equal number of teens and adults hitting it, and I don't know what that means.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

When In Doubt, Look Bored

Paris Hilton has a book out entitled "Confessions of an Heiress." Is it me, or is there anything in her life we don't already know about? What's left to confess?
Every Silver Lining's Got A Touch of Gray

I woke up today with the Grateful Dead song "Touch of Gray" in my brain. Really. Alarm goes off, eyes open, and then the little bass line/xylophone intro. Then the lyrics..."must be getting early, clocks are running late..."

In typical jam-band fashion, the chorus, repeated over and over keeps saying "I will get by, I will survive." I hope this isn't a harbinger of my day.

Of course, as harbingers go, it could've been worse. The song could've been something like "Stuck in Folsom Prision" by Johnny Cash.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Another Attempt At Relevancy

Church sign. Neighborhood church. Promoting this week's sermon:

"Extreme Makeover: Spiritual Edition."

If This Is True...

I'm reading this book titled "Emergent Worship" by Dan Kimball. He's got some thoughts I'd like to share with you and get some input. A quote, from early in the book:

"More and more emerging generations who were raised in the church are saying that there must be something more to 'church' than what they have experienced. The system we use to teach them how to be disciples of Jesus are not connecting with them like they did for generations past. Emerging generations say it just doesn't 'feel right' or 'fit right' anymore. They want to be disicples of Jesus, but how we approach disciple-making needs to shift right alongside their shifting values.

Emerging generations wonder if what they have been taught about 'community'--and what they've seen promoted in their churches--is really biblical community at all...They wonder why preaching has turned the beautiful and mysterious story of God and man into self-help guru like Tony Robbins-like teaching with some Bible verses added. They wonder why their hunger to discover and wrestle with the deeper truths of Scripture is fed with neatly packaged versions of how-to messages and pat Bible answers.

They are getting restless."

Seems to me that if the author's premise is true, then church leadership is in for a rude awakening. So, I'm asking you for some response on this. Send me an e-mail if you have to ( Comment anonymously, or as a known quantity, if you want. Link me to your blog thoughts on this quote. Whatever. I'm looking for feedback, even if it's a rude awakening.

(*closes eyes, clenches fists, and slowly walks away*)

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Have Fun Searching The Infinite Abyss

Sorry, Kristen, I went to the movie yesterday...and not that it justifies my actions, but Grapevine Mills mall was completely packed. So I wasn't alone in my entertainment requiring others to work on Labor Day. Apparently, all the cool kids were doing it. I know. I know. If all your friends jumped off a bridge...

Anyway, Garden State was a very good movie. Generally, I'm given to idiotic comedies and while this one had funny moments, it really had a lot of different angles that could be discussed.

The main character was a bit actor from LA returning home for his mother's funeral. He hadn't been home to New Jersey in 9 years.

Let's see. We could talk about how going home is hard (and what, exactly, defines "home"); We could talk about difficult relationships with parents; we could talk about the nature of friendships from high school; we could talk about the bigger questions of life and exploring the abyss; we could even talk about getting rich by having The Man buy your patent for silent velcro.

Very provocative movie. What do you want me to blog about regarding it? I've got too many different angles to approach it from. Help me narrow it down, would ya?

Monday, September 06, 2004

Labor Day

With all due respect to my neo-hippie pierced and tatooed friend Kristen, who, in her blog mentioned that everyone should take a true "labor day" holiday. The idea is that those hourly-wage employee folks wouldn't have to work, either. You know, the guy at the cleaners, your barista at the coffee shop, the guitar shop tech...whoever. That we all take a day off.

It's a nice idea, I suppose. One of the reasons I dig her is her passion and grass-roots mindset. I mean, it's hard not to like the idea of helping the "little guy" get a break from The Man. In fact, I was drawn to the idea and want to partake in her call to arms.

Now, I'm in a quandry. Some friends have recommended the movie Garden State. It's raining. I've got some free time. It isn't really a "Labor Day" for me, normal day off is Monday. But if I go to the movie theatre, I'm supporting the hourly wage teenagers and various managers who all have to be there to pop the popcorn and get the sodas.

If anybody could help me justify this to Kristen, I'd appreciate it. I really don't want to disappoint her. But I really want to see this movie.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Saturday Night Field Trip

When you work for a church, visiting other churches is actually a treat. I mean, when you're on vacation, the "travel day" is usually Sunday, so you don't get to visit a church then. And if you do get to visit a church, it's when they're hosting a conference so you really don't get a chance to see their normal Sunday only get to see a "special" conference hosting side of them, akin to when you have visitors over to your house: They see you after you've spent all day getting ready for them to come over, not when you're simply hanging out.

So, I got to see another local church simply hanging out tonight. They have a Saturday Night service that I'd heard good things about, and I had a free night with an hour and a half to kill. I don't know if what I saw tonight is repeated three times on Sunday or not, but I tend to think it's the same service.

I'd heard that this church had an excellent "worship atmosphere." It was true. After some brief announcements, the lights were dimmed which highlighted the candles and the atmosphere was certainly worshipful. I like this generational trend towards trying to recreate the cathedral-like atmospheres of early Christianity. It's difficult given that most of the church facilities in our area were built for more "seeker friendly" designs, but this church did it as well as they could in their surroundings.

One thing that I really liked ws when a young lady read the historical background of a classic hymn, followed by singing the classic hymn. Sometimes I think it would be best to sing the hymn the classic way, but the modern arrangement the worship leaders had was enjoyable as well. It was certainly cool to sing it having just learned the circumstances of the writing.

The pastor who gave the sermon had a lot of charisma, was young (as was his audience...I'm talking a ton of mid-20's folks. Lots of gotees and shaved heads and backwards caps and hemp necklaces.) and was passionate about his topic. My personal preference leans more toward "teaching" and less towards "preaching" and he was a better-than-average preacher. Easy to like, with lots of stories that related well to his audience, and a desire to motivate his congregation. He had a sharp reference about how Christians have built our own "Christian Hollywood" with celebrities and music stars who we look to to teach us instead of developing a personal walk with God. His main point was effective, too.

I also liked the (to me) new style of "altar call." You know, at the end of the sermon they used to sing a hymn over and over while people walked down an aisle to pray with someone should they have been moved by the sermon and wanted to respond. This pastor told us he was going to pray, and after he said "amen" that those who wanted to could slip out quietly and if you wanted to stay and pray and deal with whatever you could do that, and there would be people down front if you wanted to talk or pray with someone about something that was said. But you certainly didn't have to. It seemed to me to be an excellent compromise for those of previous generations who are comfortable with an altar call with those who are younger who have a different mindset. Young and old stayed. Me? Since I'm not given to the altar call having experienced the majority of my spiritual growth in Bible churches, I left the did about 80% of the crowd. Like I said, it was a nice compromise that seemed to be effective.

I'm glad I went. And I'm glad The Village Church is in our community, too. So, to pastor Matt Chandler and his congregation, it's cool having you as brothers and sisters in Christ. From my visitor's perspective, I think you're being effective for The Kingdom. Like that matters coming from me, but I thought I'd say it, anyways.

Saturday, September 04, 2004


Auburn kicks off their season today! There won't be much drama, but if you need me, I'll be listening to the broadcast on the internet while cleaning my room. Just don't expect me to respond to any IM's, okay?

Friday, September 03, 2004

Cliche That Is Unbearably True:

Time flies when you're having fun.

13 years ago today. A hospital in Homewood, Alabama. A little after 8PM. A lot after a 4AM dash to the hospital. I really remember it like it was yesterday. I guess you always remember the details of pure life moments...and that kid has given me over a decade of pure life moments littered with details.

Happy Birthday, Kelsey! My life is better with you in it.

My business happens to be teenagers. But there's no business as enjoyable as my very own teenager.


Time flies when you're having fun. It is fun. And time is flying.
Having So Much Fun I'll Need Plastic Surgery To Remove The Smile From My Face

I had coffee last night with a student of mine. She's going to do great things for the Kingdom one of these days. I just feel it in my bones. Existential, I know. Subjective, I know. (I could translate those evil terms into Christianese if it would make some of you feel better. Just let me know and I'll use terms like "God leading me") But it was real enough to make it worth spending 8 bucks in the local corporate coffee house.

Her friends will do some great things, too.

I won't embarrass her by putting her name out there. She doesn't need that kind of pressure. She's still young. But gifted. And talented. And in a great position to be salt and light in an arena that is always short of salt and light. It will be interesting to see what God does in and through her in the next year and a half.

Her friends are in the same boat, too. It will be interesting to see what God does in and through them in the next year and a half.

So, let me retrace this a bit: I spend time with gifted and talented and creative people. They tell me what God is doing in their lives. I listen. I encourage. I get to serve them so they can develop those gifts and talents. And here's the kicker: I get paid for this.

Explain to me again why people don't understand why I absolutely love my place in God's economy. Explain to me again how me being a senior pastor and listening to grown ups drone on would actually be seen as a promotion in the eyes of others.

I have a dream job.

And don't even think of trying to offer me a job in corporate USA, either. Trust me, you don't have enough money to get me out of this gig.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

It's New Technology, Therefore I Fear It, So Help Me Out, Okay?

Those of you who know me know that I loathe new technologies. I gripe and complain about cell phones and palm pilots and computers and electric windows in would've been fine by me if we were all doing the Abe Lincoln thing with candles, books, journals and walking to school every day. Then, somebody shows me how to use Excel and I grudgingly hop on trends about 3 years after they come out.

Anyway, since I work with teenagers and they go swimming in all types of gadgetry and live in an area that can afford the latest things I've had to keep up with it all if for no other reason than to be able to understand what they're talking about.

One conversation was all about how much time they spend on-line, pretty much out of boredom. My generation wasted time by watching MTV. They waste it by instant messaging each other and surfing The Net. No judgment there, just reality. Teenagers "waste" time.

Well, I wish I had one of those pithy sayings ready like "If you got time to lean, you got time to clean." Except something along the lines of "If you've got time to surf, you've got time to..." Insert something to do with having a devotional Bible study there.

Anyway, I thought it might be cool for them to enhance our Sunday School Bible study with a daily devotional. Complete with prompts for those that write journals and all that. So, I made them a blog. It's called "Peripatetics", which loosely translates to "a study of walking."

What I'd like from those readers who are former students of mine (or if you're a parent of my students or if you think the teens in your youth group would do this stuff, etc.) to look this over and give me some feedback...not necessarily on content or blogskin stuff (that will get better)...but on the idea itself and ways to improve it.

So, comment on this blog with input on that blog...does that make sense? I guess I need more techno-savvy eyes to look at this and tell me if I'm actually on the front end of some sort of creative use of technology.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Excuse Me, Sir. Your "Generation X" is Showing.

Last night, David Letterman, in describing the current political convention taking place in New York City this week, described my thoughts on the political landscape perfectly (and, even used a timely Olympic reference, too).

His description of political conventions in which the candidates are already nominated:

"Syncronized Platform Lying."

In the words of Homer Simpson (so you have to say it in your best Homer voice, with raised inflections on the last syllables of each sentence): "It's funny because it's true. It works on so many levels."