Sunday, October 31, 2004

It's Rob Van Winkle's 36th Birthday Today,

So let's all celebrate by giving ourselves a stage name that involves an ice-cream flavor and a molecular reaction, rolling in our 5.0 with our rag tops down and our hair can blow, and sending "word" to our muthas.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

So, Today I'm Thinking...

...that I'm a romantic sucker for weddings, even when I'm performing the ceremony (just watching Wes and Lizzie at their rehearsal last night was cool).
...that I'm moreso in love with my wife today than ever before (and it's cool when she's taking photos at weddings I'm doing because I can sneak glances at her).
...that I really need USC or Oklahoma to lose their football games today (sorry Laura & all my other OU readers. I generally like OU, but I gotta look out for Auburn's best interests here) and Auburn to win theirs.
...that I'm looking forward to mowing the yard today (I need a mental job escape as I've been working too much lately, and I've got three hours worth of sermons to listen to while doing it, too).
...that I'm excited for my higher-order-life-liver sister Jilly that she found a house in the Bay area because it's her favorite place in the world and now she doesn't have to leave it.
...that I can't believe how old I felt last night sitting with the entire wedding party of people I've known since they were in middle school and now they're adults themselves.
...that it's highly likely my friend Nathan's bachelor party last night contained something resembling a mushroom cloud of pyrotechnics and/or a visit from the local police.
...that having coffee out of my favorite mug (a NY subway map is around the outside of it) just gives a better start to the day.
...that my readership, for some reason, expects more from me than stupid quiz results (sorry, won't happen again).
...that the lunch appointment/discussion I had yesterday might have been one of the starting points for great things for the Kingdom.
...that the lunch appointment/discussion I had yesterday might NOT have been one of the starting points for great things for the Kingdom.
...that I need to do something more constructive right now than blogging.

Friday, October 29, 2004

I apologize...but it really is one great show!

You're Tom! You ruin everything, including the
series. You were probably one of the biggest
mistakes inherent in Daria. You're sarcastic
and seem to be a half-decent guy, but your
tendancy to break up friendships makes me hate
you, Yoko.

What character from Daria are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Sometimes, you really just gotta take an on-line quiz...even when you don't like the results.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Dear Sports Fairy Godmother, As Long As You Seem To Be Granting Long-Awaited Wishes...

So, Sports Fairy Godmother, I watched the Boston Red Sox fans celebrate their team's World Series victory. They are probably still dancing in the street in a party that started at around 10:30PM last night.

I'm asking, on behalf of many others, for a similar experience.

See, Sports Fairy Godmother, there's a university in a small town in eastern Alabama that hasn't won it all since 1957. I'm not ho-humming those magical moments you've thrown our way about every 10 years. Most notably in "Amazins" in 1972 and their memorable victory over the Crimson Tide, and for that I'm grateful.

And, Sports Fairy Godmother, I'm not sneezing at the 11-1 1983 Tigers when they beat 9 bowl teams, really were the best team in the nation but lost out due to the prejudices of the voting system.

And, Sports Fairy Godmother, I appreciate the "AttitUde" team of 1993, when they were the only unbeaten, untied team in the nation and didn't win it, either, due to our self-inflicted sins of, ahem, cheating.

I'll take those and be generally happy with my once-per-decade magical moment. But, since you seem to be giving the long-suffering fans in New England a break, how about one for the Deep South?

Just once, I'd like to see the Auburn University Tigers run the table. To vanquish all gridiron foes, go 13-0, and have a crystal football standing in the Athletic Center offices next to the two Heisman Trophies.

I can honestly say that I'd go to the championship game and pay whatever I had to in order to see it in person. And, after the win, I'd do whatever it took to get to the intersection of College and Magnolia in Auburn, Alabama, ASAP, and throw toilet paper in the trees with the four generations of AU grads and current students that would be there. And I'd celebrate in front of Samford Hall until I could see the sunlight hit the clock tower and listen to the band play the fight song. Then I'd eat Breakfast at The Grille and walk around campus and buy a ton of t-shirts and memorabilia. And I'd go home happy...after pre-ordering the DVD for Christmas.

Just once, Sport Fairy Godmother...since you seem to be helping the underdogs lately. Just once.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Another failed attempt at relevancy:

Church signs. Local neighborhood. Again.

“God answers knee mail.”
“If God is your co-pilot…SWITCH SEATS!”
“Meet me at My house before the game—God”


Today, I’m feeling like the song from the grunge/metal band Stavesacre entitled “Shiv”: it starts with the words, “I’m crawling out of my skin…I hope I get under yours…the last shot nearly killed me…eternity lifted me again…nothing left to hinder me…oh, how i want to be
an offense…an unsettling presence in this life…why'd you try to take me out
why try to keep me down?”

Why does milquetoast followership of get under my skin so much? Where's grace?

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

From Prince Caspian

I've been reading The Chronicles of Narnia with my daughter Shelby. If you've never read these, you're really missing out. C.S. Lewis has moments that fit every believer's place at times, and he caught my current place with these words from book 4 of the series

"'Now child,' said Aslan, when they had left the trees behind them, 'I will wait here. Go and wake the others and tell them to follow. If they will not, then you at least must follow me alone.'

It is a terrible thing to have to wake four people, all older than yourself and all very tired for the purpose of telling them something they probably won't believe adn making them do something they certainly won't like.

'I musn't think about it, I must just do it,' thought Lucy."

Monday, October 25, 2004

An Oh So Very Valid Day

I rebounded quite nicely from my day of nothingness, if I do say so myself. I had a blast watching greeting the middle schoolers and taking care of ministry business (even if Nathanis getting a bit loopy with his impending nuptials)…watching them raise a bunch of money for needy families in our area for Thanksgiving and having joy doing it. Eternal things were taking place in the foyer of our church among our church membership.

Even though I didn’t get to attend church, I got to serve a caring mom with a special situation regarding her daughter…and the session was well worth it. Eternal things were discussed...and I truly believe her daughter will do great things for the Kingdom even if it looks very fuzzy at the moment.

Our church renewed our churchwide picnic tradition. It was fun watching so many people of all ages fellowshipping together. Horseshoes, bluegrass bands, sand volleyball, train rides for the kids…creative and fun hanging out. I like to think of things like that as eternity practice. And we practiced well yesterday.

Then I got to teach (as a substitute for the regular teacher) on the subject of the cross for an advanced class for teenagers. I came away with the idea that a lot of the kids in that class “got it.” Eternal truths with current, practical applications, and they were getting it.

On the heels of that I got to teach on the subject of joy to my Sunday School class. Again, for some reason, I got the impression the teens “got it.” More eternal truths with current, practical applications.

I came home and Tracy was meeting with the bride who is getting married Saturday. I’m excited for them and have the honor of performing the worship service they’ll be getting married in. More joy, watching God’s eternal plan for them unfold.

If Douglas Coupland is right when he says that “The only valid viewpoint for any decision is eternity,” then I had a very valid day yesterday.

Of course, in the same book, Coupland also says, "Life is a bowl of chainsaws."

I still had a valid day...with no chainsaws.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

A Day Wasted

I can't remember when a day when I accomplished absolutely nothing. I didn't read a page yesterday. I didn't get to mix with my kids as they had friends over and their own things happnening. Tracy worked some and had other things poppin'. Nothing. Sports intensive, but nothing.

I wanted to do stuff, but did nothing. I just didn't have juice to mow, or read, or walk or think. I just vegged in front of the opiate of the new century: TV.

I really think I need some vacation time.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Ending the Work-week/Starting The Weekend

Just so all of you know, there's very few ways to put a long work-week behind you and start a weekend than with a night out with your daughters. Grabbed a quick dinner, went to see a movie, followed by ice cream. Everybody sleeps late today (ahhh, the joys of having teens, pre-teens and a hard-working wife).

And remember, I'm saying it was a great start to the weekend even if the movie they picked starred Hillary Duff.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Best Friends?

There's an "viewpoint" article in today's Dallas Morning News, which for some reason isn't on-line yet, that highlights a new marketing research study that says that 43% of parents want to be "best friends" with their children. 73% admit that the last thing they purchased for their teen was something they guessed their teen wanted as opposed to something they asked for.

A quote from author Ruben Navarrette, "It's no wonder that the parents of today want to be their kids' best pals. Trouble is, that's a prescription for disaster. Many kids have plenty of friends. Some may even have more than their share of friends. What they need are parents--dedicated, firm and hands-on parents who don't mind being resented a little for laying down the law."

One 22 year old said: "There's no way I'm going to be like my mom. My mom does everything for me. She's made me lazy. There's no way the kids are going to rule my house. I'm going to be a bad-ass parent."

Maybe we should put the last line of his quote on a t-shirt and give it away when new parents take each newborn home from the hospital. And then make them follow through with it.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

The A-Rod Virus and Other Ramblings

It was grand and glorious and worth staying up (note the time stamp) to watch: The Red Sox throttled the Yankees in the MLB playoffs. Now, keep in mind that I don't particularly care about the Red Sox, but I loathe the Yankees. Alex Rodriguez comes to the Rangers and we have 4-last place finishes. He leaves, we were in the pennant race until the last week with the same players. When he was with Seattle, they made the playoffs once (more on the shoulders of Ken Griffey, Jr.). He left and they did better without him. He goes to the Yankees...I think A-Rod is a virus.

A lady called me at the office yesterday and wanted me to help her explain to her children "why Christians don't celebrate Halloween." Since I put a "tax" on my children's Halloween candy from their trick-or-treating (I confiscate any Snickers, Kit-Kats, Blow Pops and an occasional roll of Smarties), I'm not sure I'm the pastor you want to help answer that question. Confession time: I also put up a Christmas tree, read Harry Potter, played Dungeon and Dragons when I was in middle school, watch Disney movies, held a season's pass to Six Flags even though they host a "gay pride" day, and among my favorite CD's are AC/DC, Ozzy and The Crystal Method.

I'm guest-teaching a session of a class on parenting tomorrow night...I think it's a class of all moms from what I've gathered from the class' teacher. I was reminded of the line I heard from some comedian when a doctor asked him if he wanted to cut his newborn's umbilical cord: "Ummm...aren't there a number of people in this room more qualified?"

I'm co-teaching a session of our church's flagship training class on's heavy on theology and application of said theology. The topic is "atonement." Note to self: Pull out the old notes from seminary tomorrow.

My junior/senior guys Bible study is one of the high points of my week.

On Conan tonight it's one of the guys from "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" is on there. Just so you know, I don't regret not being on that show when I had the chance over the summer. I'm still comfy with my ponytail, Doc Martens and poor fashion sense. I do, however, maintain that I would've been one of the best people they've ever had on that show.

I'm not the least bit interested in the South Park creator's new movie Team America, but yet I'm kinda intrigued by Pixar's new release called The Incredibles (about out-of-shape retired superheroes having to go back to work)...even though my kids are close to being past that age. Should this concern me in any number of ways?

I really wish I had gone to see the Pixies when they were here in Dallas last night.

Well, the mini-rush from the Red Sox win is over...time killed...sleep awaits.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

It's Strange What You Find On Your ThinkPad

Going through some old files on my computer (a place called "Works In Progress" which is a folder full of stuff I wrote that my insecurities won't let me look at anymore) I found something from a day when I was just thinking out loud. I promise not to make this a habit, but it's a page of "rants" I got after watching Dennis Miller one night in 2002.

I don’t mean to go off on a rant, but…

Could someone please tell me why any parent for any reason would give a teenager a cell phone with more than 20 minutes per month paid for?

Remind me again why a teenager needs a computer or a television in his or her own room.

Can someone please explain to me why there’s something called The One-Minute Study Bible?

Why would any major league baseball player, other than the catcher, wear their hat backwards? Why would anyone imitate this behavior?

Is it possible that the homogeneous suburban subculture in America actually hinders creativity in our young people?

Does anyone else wonder why sports don’t have “seasons” anymore? Since when did any sport become a year-round pursuit in middle school?

Why is there a day-planner system available at Toys R Us for children?

What would be wrong with a youth group going to art museums, jazz festivals, art shows, professional theaters or lectures instead of playing video games or laser tag or bowling or what not?

How much money is thrown away each year on Christian T-shirts that only preach to the choir or alienate the unbelievers?

Can someone please explain how an obscure prayer in the Old Testament has become the basis for some people’s spiritual life?

Since when did people begin judging the effectiveness of a worship service by how “good they feel” when they come out?

On the MTV show “Cribs,” how come we never see the libraries of the rich and famous? There really are only so many fancy cars and home theatres and swimming pools out there.

Why are some Christians more upset about earrings and tattoos than about the stress caused by unrealistic parental expectations?

While I’m at it, why are some Christians more upset about the potential loss of future income than by the societal devaluation of creativity and imagination?

Can someone please explain to me the popularity of Oprah? Or, for that matter, her cohort Dr. Phil?

Since when did “first-class” and “American” and “winner” have anything to do with Jesus Christ?

When will parents realize that there are only so many scholarships out there and not every child can get one?

Does anyone else think that Christians having religious emblems on their car is horribly ineffective at spreading the Gospel message, especially watching the way we drive?

Can someone tell me why any extracurricular activity would take precedence over any opportunity for spiritual growth?

Since when did serving in the military become a “fall back” position for teens? When did defending our freedom lose its’ nobility?

When did the Christian community begin rewarding safety and convention instead of admiring those that legitimately push the envelope?

Why do so many in youth ministry view their job as a stepping-stone to “something better?”

Why is “bigger” usually perceived as “better” when it comes to ministries?

Shouldn’t it haunt us that the words of Christ tell us that what we spend our money on is an indication of what is going on in our hearts and minds?

Why should youth ministers and parents get all the joy out of watching teenagers excel in the areas of drama, art, athletics, band or any other activity? Why don’t more people of the general community take a night out and enjoy the attempt for excellence by our teenagers?

What kind of sick mind would target advertising for nicotine products, alcohol, or “R”-rated movies for those who are younger than the intended age?

Isn’t it cool how teenagers remember and value relationships much more than they will remember specific Bible studies or youth programming?

Remind me again why God would choose a person like me to feed His sheep.

Remind me again to be thankful that Christ has gifted me specifically to do this for the long haul, and to be thankful that He’s big enough to ignore my ranting!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Baseball Related

In the baseball playoffs, since the Rangers fell short of making the playoffs and my Braves fell out early for the 12th time in 13 years...I've decided to pull against the Yankees. Tonight's game in extra innings sure must've been exciting...

...I wouldn't know because my softball team was scheduled to play a game at 9:45PM. We all showed up and were ready to play, only to have the other team not have one single player there. Sure, that team is in last place and all, but I missed the final inning of the Red Sox dramatic win because I was sitting in a dugout making sure we had 9 players so we could officially claim our forfeit.

I did get home in time to see Houston's 3-run homer in the bottom of the 9th to win, which was cool, but I don't really like them, either...and I can't think of what would be sweeter than the Yanks having a 3 game lead only to lose it to Boston.
Flu Shots

I can't recall ever having had a flu shot in my entire life. I'm not sure I understand why there's a shortage...and if there is, why doesn't everybody under say 45 just decide to suck it up so those who are elderly (or otherwise specifically needing of one) can get what they need?

Monday, October 18, 2004

My New Monday Routine

I've told you before that the Saturday morning breakfasts I used to have with my daughters have evolved into Monday morning coffee's for a myriad of reasons: There's no such thing as my daughters ordering anything off the kid breakfast menu, their schedules on the weekend, my off day being Monday and I'm usually around, etc.

Well, that's changed my whole day-off routine. So, I've decided to start off this new routine by doing more substantial reading earlier (because my peak times for creativity are definitely before lunch; after lunch is a walking nap until about 3PM) and possibly writing more than this ridiculous blog on Mondays.

Here's a few quotes I've come across in my reading today that I thought would get your motors revving:

"It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it. The motive is everything."--A.W. Tozer

"Following the teachings of Christ almost always requires us to buck the status quo or prevailing ideas and trends in some form."--Ted Dekker (Nathan, I think this should be on our newest t-shirt)

"Frankly, the closest thing our culture has to a trinitarian God is crazy ideas, naked people and cheap beer."--Mark Driscoll

"What's the good in me getting up to lead worship at church wearing a pair of sneakers that were manufactured through the exploitation of workers."--Matt Redmon

And, just FYI, all these quotes came from this month's Relevant Magazine. Next time you're waiting in an airport, instead of Time or People, plunk down the $4 ($6 in Canada). You won't regret it.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Friday Night Lights: The Axe Game.

Those in my readership who are not in or from North Texas might not really believe the passion for high school football in Texas, and even if they saw the movie Friday Night Lights they would assume that it's pretty much hyperbole.

Just wanted to let you know that the hype is real. There are three high schools in our community with enrollment over 2,000 students...the cut off for 5A, the largest classification in Texas (why Alabama has 6A I can't imagine).

Anyway, the first rivalry game in our area is one in which Flower Mound High School is the newest high school and their natural rivalry would be with Marcus. They played The Mound Showdown last weekend, with the Jaguars winning the 2nd year in a row 27-26. Only 9,900 (capacity at FMHS) were there.

On Friday night, some 18,000 people attended The Battle for the Axe against rival Lewisville (the high school that's been here 100 or so years). Marcus won 16-13 in a thriller, allowing them to keep The Axe (really) for the 2nd year in a row. Normally, in years when both of these teams have more at stake, the crowd will get around 30,000.

Pretty amazing stuff...and belated congratulations to my Jaguar readership and congatulations to the Marauders for defending their Axe.

Maybe the Fighting Farmers could get some sort of trophy for the Jaguar game, beat them, and then everybody wins a rivalry game this year.
Victories All Around, Part 3

If you've been reading my blog, there's something crazy that's been happening on Saturdays lately. My college football team has been winning and my daughters have been having cool things happening to them, like getting parts in stuff or winning games. It's been that way 3 of the last 4 weekends (and last Saturday didn't count as Kelsey and I were out of town, and it rained out her game anyway).

So, today, Auburn wins again, 38-20 over Arkansas (and it really wasn't that close) to go 7-0 and they have a stranglehold on winning the SEC West and getting a shot at the SEC championship.

Then, Shelby turned in some money for her fundraiser for her ballet conservatory's production of the Nutcracker (they sold Chick Fil A calendars that have tons of coupons). It looks like she'll win the autographs of lead dancers from the American Ballet Theatre, which is kind of a big deal.

Lastly, Kelsey's softball team overcame a 6-0 deficit in the last two innings to win 7-6. It was very exciting and the team had fun...the winning run scoring on a wild pitch after the batter in front of Kelsey walked which would've loaded the bases. Kelsey was kind of ticked that she was on deck and only one was out. I told her I knew she would've knocked in the run to win. She said, "Yeah. I would have." Gotta love it.

I lead a charmed life.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

My Free Saturday

Tracy has a photography gig that's going to take 10 hours today.
Shelby has no dance practice, although I have to run her by the ballet conservatory to make a payment.
Kelsey has an art lesson and a ball game at 4:30.

Me? I've got nothing. Want to see what's on my agenda? Mowing the lawn. Watching the first half of the Auburn game, then taking Kelsey to the ball game, finding out how the Auburn game ended by hustling out to the car to get scores between innings. Finishing the student ministry budget that has to be submitted Tuesday, but I need to get it done today or other stuff will squeeze out the time.

I might be the most boring person in the world.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Douglas Coupland

I have officially completed every work in the current Douglas Coupland fiction library. Finished "Hey Nostradamus!" last night, and here is my official ranking of all his works

#9: Shampoo Planet
#8: Life After God
#7: Poloroids From The Dead (included here for the novella of the same name, not the essays that follow)
#6: All Families Are Psychotic
#5: Microserfs
#4: Miss Wyoming
#3: Girlfriend in a Coma
#2: Generation X
#1: Hey Nostradamus!

Douglas Coupland is a highly underrated writer, and only getting better.

Note: Missing are both "City of Glass" and "Souvenir of Canada"--his non-fiction)*ahem, cough cough CHRISTMAS LIST cough cough ahem*

Ever have one of those days where all of your instincts and perceptions were wrong? Yeah. I had one of those yesterday.

Thursday, October 14, 2004


Okay, so yesterday I had an enjoyable day at work as much of it was spent thinking about eternal things. I mean, I had a meeting with my supervisor in which we talked about our spiritual life. I had our monthly lunch meeting with area youth pastors where we just get together and pray for each other's lives and ministry (no schedules, no planning, etc.). I had staff Bible study and prayer meeting. I spent time in the Word in preparation for my junior/senior guys Bible study.

It was all very "eternity" focused. Very nice.

And, then I was asked to step into my senior pastor's office where he asked me to preach the Sunday he will be on a short-term mission trip in three weeks.

All that eternity focus went right out the window, dear readers.

I mean, it's one thing to give a sort of senior tribute in the spring, it's another to pop up there randomly in November for a one-shot-and-out deal. So, here's what I need from you:

First, what am I going to preach on (he's doing a series on James, and didn't want me to continue that series...he'll pick it up where he left off when he gets back). Really. I'm looking for suggestions on topic and/or text.

Secondly, should I get Amy and Steve-O to lead worship for me that week and if so, what songs?

You could really help me out here, folks. I'm a little numb from getting smacked on the side of the head by this...

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Harmonic Convergenece

Most of the stuff I'm reading in my life is very Gen-X. Literally, in that I'm reading a Douglas Coupland novel on the "fun" side of my reading ledger (Ha, seminary student readers! One of the joys of seminary graduation is that you can choose what you want to read and give yourself your own deadlines.)

Figuratively so in that much of my reading that is "work-related" (Reality check, seminary student readers: The habits you develop in seminary stay with you without you even thinking about them.) has to do with the nature of the church in this current culture...for the most part written by fellow Gen Xers.

So yesterday, a pastor from Maryland (and an integral part in the founding of Crossroads Bible) was in town for a conference on the nature of the church in this current culture. He's good friends with our current pastor, who invited him to give a staff devotional.

After that, we all exchanged pleasantries, and our current pastor asked him to tell us why he was in town and what he learned.

Yes there were buzzwords (which, thankfully, he was hesitant to use...he "gets" the movement) like "emergent" and "relevant" and "PoMo" but by and large he was saying the same thing: Suburban mega-churches have to re-think what it means to be a church.

Then, my pastor invites me into the fray and the next thing I know our staff meeting goes an hour longer than normal, and our 50-something staffers were caught by surprise about this stuff...even though I've been saying these same things for two years.

Validation is always pleasant.

And God is stirring up things in the heartbeats of our church members.

It's cool working at a place where the majority of members are spiritually mature, and even though their comfort is their reality, once exposed, they're willing and enthusiastic about the spiritual needs of all their generations.

And open to change.

One subset of our church down. A few more to go.

I'm enthused that ears are opening.

And hearts are stirring.

Exciting times in my life and work.

Feeling: Alive. Synapses flashing. Neurons firing. All systems "Go!"

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Fair Warning

I'm in one whale of a discontented mood today. Not crabby. Not bitter. Not angry. Not upset. Not indignant.

Just ready to throttle the status quo. Upset some apple carts. Stop settling for successful mediocrity in any fact of my own life or in the lives of the humanity I serve.

Emotional pacing might be the best way I could describe it.

If this mood were a movie scene, it's definitely slow motion to build the anticipation. It'd be me wearing a cowboy duster and hat, wind blowing in my face making the duster fly out behind me revealing the gun belt around my waist, stern look on my face, with the whistling strains of "Durango" playing in the background.

I'm ready to attack today for some reason.
Is This Really What They Wanted To Say?

The local Christian radio station, with one of the largest listener base in the country, has this as their slogan on billboards and television and web ads:

"Safe for the whole family." The television ad even throws the word "fun" in there at one point, too.

I can't fathom a Christian lifestyle that "safe" and "fun" are the primary selling points.

I know. I know. They're a business. They're a radio staion.

But I can't fathom that those are the words a business that wants to glorify the very Son of God, if they were remotely serious about that, would choose the words "safe" and "fun."

The Christ I know is wonderfully the antonym of those words.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Wrapping Up The Week-End At Pine Cove

Some observations from my weekend with 135 middle schoolers, adults and 13 high schoolers at Pine Cove Christian Camp this weekend:

Drizzle does not even come close to stopping a weekend designed for fun.

Pine Cove is so much fun that people will drive 5 hours to serve for nothing on the weekend.

Any live skit is funnier when the improvisation is forced and happening.

Sometimes a change of scenery is just what the doctor ordered, for the kids and for me.

Teenagers are fully capable of functioning, and even thriving without television or video games.

Teenagers are not capable of functioning without their own idea good music (which varies along with other strata of society) or, apparently, cell phones. They all have those.

The two biggest events for the middle schoolers were "crud wars" in which they threw shaving cream, flour, oats and maple syrup on each other (after being given advice to bring goggles and given instruction on how to prepare not to get this stuff permanently in their hair or in their ears) and "commando" (a game played in the dark in the woods with teens trying to avoid adults trying to stop them from getting points at a base in the middle of the woods). Kids really don't need modern forms of entertainment to have a good time. Smiles and laughs abounded after both.

Bus drivers can really make good time. Van drivers not so much.

There is still something mystical and magical about why a 13-year-old kid would value anything I say...much less seek me out to tell me things. I'm literally three times their age.

The pop-culture savvy of high schoolers in my area is staggering.

Christ works in the strangest ways in my life.

Christ works in the strangest ways in our ministry at CBC.

I should arrange for other teachers in all our classes on this Sunday next year. It's tough to teach after a long weekend like this. I imagine Nathan would agree.

Middle schoolers have an incredible energy level that drops hard once they sit down and after they unload all the fun description of the weekend to their parents. On the other hand, I tend to get tired in the moment, and now I have incredible amounts of energy at this time of night. Circadian rythyms are peculiar.

Some of the teens I discipled are incredibly gifted ministers to middle schoolers now that they're in college.

I'm glad Pine Cove exists and that so many middle schoolers now have some great life-long memories. I'm glad I was a very small part of it, too.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Classic Conditioning

So, Auburn University beat Louisiana Tech University in an American college football contest yesterday 52-7.

The #3 Georgia Bulldogs lost their game.

The #5 Texas Longhorns lost their game, too.

Auburn is now #4 in the country.

I should be thrilled.

Why is my predominant emotion one of waiting for the other shoe to drop?

Only Auburn fans will know and understand the answer.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Living In A Van Down By The River

Yesterday stunk.

I have this spyware thing that I've gotten moderately under control...but it took about 5 hours on Friday just to get it to that point. My reality is that I'm going to have to go back to the original configuration, therefore erasing my entire hard drive and going back to square one. And I needed that time today that I wasted just getting my laptop to function to get ahead in some areas.

Then I was short with my wife because of my frustration with my computer and I was preoccupied with my kids because I was short with my wife and didn't get ahead in some areas and was trying to make sure I got out of town with all the right stuff. I did, but the price of leaving with all the right stuff was getting out of town with my wife a bit miffed but mildly understanding (as a youth ministry wife of 16 years she doesn't take too much of that personally since she knows this drill, but it still rightly miffs her) and my kids I'm sure wondering why dad heard about a third of that sentence they just said. I'm writing run-on sentences just thinking about it.

Then I climbed into a van with 13 teenagers heading off to serve at Pine Cove Christian Camp where our middle schoolers are going to be this weekend. 13 teenagers giving up a chance to attend the big rivalry football game in our community to work in a kitchen to make sure camp costs stay low in order to allow more campers to attend.

Two hours in a van, listening to their young stories and their young music and their young enthusiasm, despite the persistent drizzle, well...

In youth ministry, that elixer cures whatever ails you.

It does for me, anyway.

Friday, October 08, 2004

The cost of being cool

Today in the Dallas Morning News there's an article that talks about how some parents in my community allegedly threw a party that provided alchohol for minors. Apparently, some sexual assault charges will be filed as well, as a 14-year-old girl's parents are making that claim.

According to the report, there were 8 oz. styrofoam cups for the younger teens and big red party cups for the older ones, and a $5 admission charge for the keg.

Some quotes from the lawyer of the defendants:

"These are good parents," said Mr. Pappas, who said a keg at the party was for several adults who were visiting the parents. "These are not parents who throw a party with alcohol for kids. The (family name) were not charging for beer."


The (family name) told (Flower Mound Police Detective) that they knew the minors at the party were drinking and that (the mom) "admitted to allowing the juveniles to drink alcohol beverages at her house," according to an arrest warrant affidavit. In her statement to police, (the mom) also said she was being a good parent because she "did not allow any juveniles to leave that were drunk."

So, let's throw a little birthday soiree for junior for 40 of his closest friends and, if the reports are true, you got them a keg, lots of laughs and fun ensues. Your kid is cool for a night. You're cool, maybe even cool for a lifetime in the eyes of your kid.

And a 14-year-old girl has had a rape kit used for her. She's had to change schools due to ridicule (and in the article she admits her responsibility for her own choices to drink) because of her parents charges. I wonder if she'd like a big "do-over."

Maybe it's because I have a daughter one year younger that could possibly make a series of unwise choices that have very real consequences, but my sincere hope is that if the parents who threw the party are found guilty, that the judge levies the heaviest possible punishment allowed by law: 1 year in prison and $4,000 for each this case, 30 to 40 counts if they file them all.

That's 30 years and $120,000 grand...and maybe more. I can assure you if it were my daughter that got assaulted on YOUR property with alchohol YOU provided while YOU were there, the penalty wouldn't be stern enough.

Hey cool mom and dad...was it worth it?

Thursday, October 07, 2004

You can use your powers for Good And Not Evil if you want

The man who delivers the daily miracle that is a newspaper (whatever happened to paper boys?), in light of recent drizzly Dallas weather, has taken to putting not one, but two, plastic wraps over my newspaper. Mental note: The Christmas tip should be a bit larger this year.

The idiots who create spyware and adware have caused a severe loss of enjoyment of my on-line experience these days. Yes, I have the removal software and screening software and all that, but somehow these things got on my hard drive and installed themselves as a program. Now, every time I use Internet Explorer I have to close at least 10 windows with pop-ups for sites I'd NEVER go to: gambling, weight loss products, unsolicited ad-ware, etc. etc. Pop-up blockers don't work. Yes, they have an "uninstall" feature on these programs, but they happen to lock-up your computer when you use them. I finally found them in the program files and deleted them, and you can delete everything manually but some of the ".exe" files won't let me send them to the recycle bin. My software can't delete them, either. And they aren't a virus so that software doesn't work to solve this problem. Mental note: A pox on these punks' houses.

My higher-order life-liver sister Jilly is stopping by today to spread her gospel of higher-order life-living en route to Birmingham. She didn't have to have a 24-hour layover in Big D (where there's nothing to do but go to malls or the JFK exhibit) but she chose to anyway. Mental note: Plan on having a good fatigue all day tomorrow...crabby, but had a good time anyway.

My children, like their parents, like to have a soundtrack to their early morning preparation. They've been dragging a portable CD player in and out of the bathroom each morning, leaving it in there afterward more often than they take it out. This results in toothpaste splatters or water splashes on their sister's CD that they put on the counter instead of in the case when exchanging music...which results in barking at each other. My thinker wife purchased a mini-CD/Radio/Clock that sits neatly in the corner which won't solve all the problems of CD exchanges, but will do wonders for neatness. Mental note: Keep letting her be a great wife and mother.

The new hosts of our junior/senior guys Bible study (we rotate homes each month) loaded us down with sodas, bite sized pizza pockets, great candy choices, and chocolate-chip cookies right out of the oven last night. For some reason, we had one of the best possible Bible studies last night.

After seeing the mental difference in my attitude upon seeing how our actions affect others recently, lets all use our powers for good and not evil today, alright?

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Two Tales of Transparency

Yesterday morning I had coffee with the Endearingly Neurotic Katherine. She was on fall break from college, and filled me in on things that can only come out in an hour or so when you have a 7 year friendship. We didn't solve anything at all, but we were transparent.

Last night I held a meeting with my middle school parents. We meet weekly, and the discussion centers on a topic I choose each week. Last night was about talking to your teens about spirituality. One of the points I made was that it requires parents to be transparent with their teen...not only having all the answers but also letting your teen know of times when you "blew it" in life. Things like that.

I used an illustration that highlighted the differences between an AA meeting and a Christian prayer group. The people at AA are broken, transparent and admit they need help in living life. I suggested that Christian small groups were not so transparent, but rather guarded, diversionary and exercises in showing each other how well we're doing.

No one argued. In fact, there seemed to be universal agreement.

So, I'm wondering today how come I can have two distinctly different approaches to the Christian life in one single day. Is it the relationship developed? The one-on-one approach? Or is there something about group dynamics? Is it pride?

I mean, living life together isn't supposed to be harsh and judgmental...more encouraging and affirming.

And, today, I have more questions than answers.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Thinking About What I'd Do If My Kids Were Grown And I Had Unlimited Financial Resources (or, Selfish & Materialistic Musings Rearing Their Ugly Heads On A Rainy Day)

Mercedez-Benz convertible. The only car I've ever seen that "did it for me."

A one-year sabbatical, live in Manhattan, and write the book (or books) that I have bouncing around in my brain.

Visit churches all over the U.S. and Canada (with extensive stays in the Pacific Northwest), checking out whatever they are doing and writing a perscriptive and preventative book about how the American church is, in Larry Mercer's words, "in big trouble."

Work on a doctorate.

Own a beach condo on Orange Beach(complete with hurricane insurance) so my wife could get away from it all there.

Ski every winter, and take lots of friends.

Season tickets to Auburn (while I'm dreaming, my kids are at Auburn on softball and fine arts scholarships so I can afford my doctoral work) football in a luxury suite and season tickets to the Dallas Stars hockey games. I'd like a weekend package of tickets to the Rangers baseball games.

Purchase all those CD's and books I'd been meaning to get after...I'd imagine I'd spend about $3,000 on all that.

Start all the big time projects at my house: Deck/patio/jacuzzi/shed/horseshoe pit in the backyard; finish landscaping in the front yard; office for Tracy; writer's area/library for me; movie watching/sports room.

Get the Fender Jazzmaster guitar I've had my eye on, complete with footpedals and monster amp.

I have no idea what this reveals about me, but I guess the negative ions in the rainy Dallas air today has me in an especially shallow mood.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Ow...My Liver Hurts. As does my conscience.

So, I watched the Sundance award-winning documentary called "Super Size Me." If you haven't heard about it, the premise is that a guy who normally doesn't eat fast food decides that he's going to eat nothing but McDonald's for 30 days. Every meal. Every snack. Every drink. Everything.

But it isn't really about that. It's about Americans and our habits.

The guy gains weight. Gets mood swings. Gets sick. His cholesterol shoots through the roof. He ponders liver damage. Heart palpitations. It really wrecked his system and the doctors and nutritionists keeping an eye on him begged him to quit about two weeks into it.

And, you don't want to know about the McDonald "fry experiment" he conducted on the DVD.

Suffice to say, if you want a well done movie with a few laughs but will make you want to re-evaluate what you put in your body (they discuss more than McDonald's), watch Super Size Me. Very good flick.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

You say it's your birthday...

It's my wife Tracy's birthday today! Let's all celebrate by getting more attractive each and every day, being wonderfully creative and artistic, and by being a better person than the one you're married to.

And, she shares a birthday with the young rebel Ashlee Simpson, Neve Campbell, Gwen Stefani, Gore Vidal and Stevie Ray Vaughn. Note the common threads of being very physically attractive and being a creatively gifted fits her.

Happy Birthday, Tracy! I love you!
Another Saturday of Victories!

Kelsey's softball team won their game yesterday 4-2. I wasn't there because I was at the wedding, but Kelsey got a hit and the coach said that it was one of the best games he's seen both teams play. Good hitting, good plays in the field and all that jazz. Very cool.

And my beloved Auburn Tigers, ranked #8, beat the Tennessee Volunteers, ranked #9, in Knoxville. They were ahead 31-3 at the half and coasted to a 34-10 win. It was actually nice to be bored with the second half. Very cool.

Hence, today, in a long-standing McKinney tradition, it will be celebratory banana splits across the board!
It didn't rain on her wedding day

Tasha was absolutely beautiful on her wedding day yesterday. Congratulations to Tasha and Chris Hayton...and Godspeed to you both in your new life together!

This is the 600th post of the Diner. On behalf of all those here at the McKinney Diner, we thank you for you patronage.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

It's Like Rain On Your Wedding Day

They are too young.
They don't have much of a plan.
They haven't known each other long enough.
They don't make enough money.
They don't have understanding of what they're doing.
They have parents with raised eyebrows.

But she's got the dress. He's rented a tuxedo.
She's got bridesmaids. He's got groomsmen.
They've rented a wedding and reception hall.
They've got the minister to perform the ceremony.

They're getting married today.

My hope is that 50 years from now at their golden anniversary party, and they'll raise a toast that begins something like, "Everybody said it would never work, but here we are."

That is my truest, deepest hope for them both.

Friday, October 01, 2004

And People Wonder Why My Generation Is So Cynical

So, before last night's "debate" news anchor Peter Jennings told America that the event we were going to see was "a great opportunity for all of us in this country to take measure" of these two candidates.


Because it's awfully hard to take measure of two candidates when we're saddled with talk of ties and podiums and who stayed on message...ugh. Two blowhards, being listened to and commented on by 100 other blowhards, trying to come up with a sound byte for the 10PM newscast is not a debate.

It's a political rally without flag-waving supporters but with a moderator and a time limit.

Out of disgust, I'm seriously looking at Michael Badnarik as the recipient of my meaningless vote (thank you, electoral college) in November.

Politics. Ugh.