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Draft Roster

Here's my roster for the start of the 2005 Fantasy Football season on . I think I did okay coming out of the draft, but there's room for improvement. I need some of these guys to step it up, took some risks on some rookies. We'll see:

Starting Wk 1:
QB M. Vick ATL
RB T. Barber NYG
RB C. Portis WAS
WR T. Williamson MIN
WR R. Brown PHI
TE A. Crumpler ATL
PK S. Janikowski OAK
Def Jets NYJ

QB B. Roethlisberger PIT
RB D. Staley PIT
RB T. Henry TEN
WR L. Evans BUF
WR C. Rogers DET
WR E. Parker SD
TE H. Miller PIT
Def Broncos DEN

Might do some shifting at the wide receiver position, might try to pick someone up on as a free agent or even a trade. But I hate to trade before the first game. We'll see - got on more draft on this weekend, and that'll take care of me for the entire season, I think.

In The Thick Of It

is right smack dab in the thick of what's going on. Looks like they're mobilizing, even as their own lives have been disrupted by what's happened to the region. So much of the network coverage has been on the devastation and the personal drama. I'm hoping the care and real concern of Christians will bring real healing to the people there.

[thanks for the info, Geoff]

got Gas?

this is an audio post - click to play

The gas was on the sign as $2.45 for regular unleaded - but that pump was bagged up and not available, meaning I got the unleaded plus @ $2.55 - which was still $.14 cheaper than the $2.69 I saw the regular unleaded for on the other side of town. Go figure. Filled up, and praying they come down before putting $30+ in again next time.


No Comparison

Me and my little sore throat, versus all the devastation and heartache visible from the cable news channels. fueled some major destruction from the mouth of the Mississippi River and continuing today into the Ohio Valley. I've got body aches - but I've also got air-conditioning, electricity, safe running water, cell phone connectivity, hi-speed internet. I'm taking a second sick day, but my office will be there tomorrow and not be under water or torn apart from storm surge.

I think I'm doing okay. But it begs the question though: why?

There will be those who find themselves homeless who will claim to be blessed because they're still alive. There will be those west of the storm who'll say they're blessed for not being in the devastating forward right quadrant. I heard one resident of the Florida Panhandle say that the storm wouldn't go there because God wouldn't do that to them. But what if He did? What if He didn't? Do we blame God? Do we thank Him?

I've just got a cold, a sore throat. But these are the questions we're all going to be wrestling with to some degree.


We've started the daily readings for the new small group study. This week: love intentionally. Should be a good conversation.


Tom Nook, Guest Blogger

Since I'm ailing with this nasty phlegmy disease, I've asked my son to take a turn as guestblogger - here's his list for anyone hooked on what's really a pretty fun Nintendo game:
You Know You're Bad at when…

  • Someone's saying is "target".
  • When you ask K.K. for a song, he smacks you upside the head with his guitar.
  • When Louie the Gorilla comes to your town, he confesses to you that he's related to Donkey Kong.
  • Nook decides to sell stationary for 1 zillion bells.
  • The roaches evict you from your house.
  • Someone says on the town's bulletin board, "You stink."
  • Mr. Resetti pops out, even when you don't reset.
  • The roaches try to attempt world domination.
  • You go to the edge of a cliff, all the villagers in that acre crowd you and chant and dare you to jump off.
  • Nook decides to ONLY sell stationary.
  • You go to your island, Kapp'n leaves you there.
  • Instead of you doing Blanca's face, she does it vice-versa.
  • Ugh Cont'd

    Strep throat. I'm going back to bed now. Have a nice day.



    I'm sick. Headache. Runny nose. Sore throat. Cough bringing up hefty phlegm. Body aches. Damp sweat. Sleeping all day, getting up every hour to blow something. Ugh.


    Google Talk

    I've got installed, and so far I'm not impressed, but also no unimpressed. It's pretty plain compared to other IM programs out there, but that might be a plus. It keeps converstations clean-looking, and it's easy to add folks from my gmail account. I'll use it for IM, but it's also got voice capabilities. We'll see. In the meantime, feel free to add me to your friends list when you download this thing, and shout out anytime - "rick1j13@gmail.com". It's all in beta, so I'm not holding my breath, but anything that helps communicate better is usually a good thing.

    Back In The Day

    Here's something for your lazy weekend blogging exercise. Found this while surfing through BlogExplosion, but don't remember where (sorry). Anyway, here's a list of the Top 100 Songs of 1986 - the year I graduated high school. Find your year, copy the list, and cross out those you didn't like, leaving your own top list from that year. Simple enough, huh?

    1. That's What Friends Are For, Dionne Warwick, Elton John, and Gladys Knight
    2. Say You, Say Me, Lionel Richie
    3. I Miss You, Klymaxx
    4. On My Own , Patti Labelle and Michael McDonald

    5. Broken Wings, Mr. Mister
    6. How Will I Know, Whitney Houston
    7. Party All The Time, Eddie Murphy

    8. Burning Heart, Survivor
    9. Kyrie, Mr. Mister

    10. Addicted To Love, Robert Palmer
    11. Greatest Love Of All, Whitney Houston
    12. Secret Lovers, Atlantic Starr
    13. Friends And Lovers, Carl Anderson and Gloria Loring

    14. Glory Of Love, Peter Cetera
    15. West End Girls, Pet Shop Boys
    16. There'll Be Sad Songs, Billy Ocean

    17. Alive And Kicking, Simple Minds
    18. Never, Heart

    19. Kiss, Prince and The Revolution
    20. Higher Love, Steve Winwood
    21. Stuck With You, Huey Lewis and The News
    22. Holding Back The Years, Simply Red
    23. Sledgehammer, Peter Gabriel
    24. Sara, Starship

    25. Human, Human League
    26. I Can't Wait, Nu Shooz

    27. Take My Breath Away, Berlin
    28. Rock Me Amadeus, Falco
    29. Papa Don't Preach, Madonna
    30. You Give Love A Bad Name, Bon Jovi
    31. When The Going Gets Tough, Billy Ocean

    32. When I Think Of You, Janet Jackson
    33. These Dreams, Heart
    34. Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone), Glass Tiger

    35. Live To Tell, Madonna
    36. Mad About You, Belinda Carlisle
    37. Something About You, Level 42

    38. Venus, Bananarama
    39. Dancing On The Ceiling, Lionel Richie

    40. Conga, Miami Sound Machine
    41. True Colors, Cyndi Lauper
    42. Danger Zone, Kenny Loggins

    43. What Have You Done For Me Lately, Janet Jackson
    44. No One Is To Blame, Howard Jones
    45. Let's Go All The Way, Sly Fox
    46. I Didn't Mean To Turn You On, Robert Palmer

    47. Words Get In The Way, Miami Sound Machine
    48. Manic Monday, Bangles
    49. Walk Of Life, Dire Straits
    50. Amanda, Boston

    51. Two Of Hearts, Stacey Q
    52. Crush On You, Jets
    53. If You Leave, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark

    54. Invisible Touch, Genesis
    55. The Sweetest Taboo, Sade
    56. What You Need, INXS
    57. Talk To Me, Stevie Nicks

    58. Nasty, Janet Jackson
    59. Take Me Home Tonight, Eddie Money
    60. We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off, Jermaine Stewart
    61. All Cried Out, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam With Full Force
    62. Your Love, Outfield
    63. I'm Your Man, Wham!
    64. Perfect Way, Scritti Politti

    65. Living In America, James Brown
    66. R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A., John Cougar Mellencamp

    67. Who's Johnny, El Debarge
    68. Word Up, Cameo

    69. Why Can't This Be Love, Van Halen
    70. Silent Running, Mike and The Mechanics

    71. Typical Male, Tina Turner
    72. Small Town, John Cougar Mellencamp
    73. Tarzan Boy, Baltimora
    74. All I Need Is A Miracle, Mike and The Mechanics
    75. Sweet Freedom, Michael McDonald
    76. True Blue, Madonna

    77. Rumors, Timex Social Club
    78. Life In A Northern Town, Dream Academy
    79. Bad Boy, Miami Sound Machine

    80. Sleeping Bag, ZZ Top
    81. Tonight She Comes, Cars
    82. Love Touch, Rod Stewart
    83. A Love Bizarre, Sheila E.

    84. Throwing It All Away, Genesis
    85. Baby Love, Regina
    86. Election Day, Arcadia
    87. Nikita, Elton John

    88. Take Me Home, Phil Collins
    89. Walk This Way, Run-D.M.C.

    90. Sweet Love, Anita Baker
    91. Your Wildest Dreams, Moody Blues
    92. Spies Like Us, Paul McCartney

    93. Object Of My Desire, Starpoint
    94. Dreamtime, Daryl Hall
    95. Tender Love, Force M.D.'s
    96. King For A Day, Thompson Twins
    97. Love Will Conquer All, Lionel Richie
    98. A Different Corner, George Michael

    99. I'll Be Over You, Toto
    100. Go Home, Stevie Wonder

    Wow - lots of bad memories with some of those songs, but some of them are classics that I need to find on iTunes or something, huh?

    Reality Together

    In reality, we just don't understand God.

    Either we think He's a holy law-giver, handing out regulations and smiting those who mess up. Or, we see Him as the loving grandfather, looking down on us with a smile and an "it's ok, you're not perfect" wave of His hand. Either we can't live up to it so we trust He'll love us anyway when we don't try; or we do live up to it and stand humble in our pride over the shortcomings of others. Both ideas are right, and both ideas are wrong. And that's why we need each other.

    We can't do this alone. There are no Lone Ranger Christians because we were made to love God and to love each other. We thrive when we have people around us, like-mindedly following hard after Christ. We live out the kingdom here on planet Earth when we share and pray and eat and play together. Times of solitude are important and precious, but they're not meant to be the norm. And where we might occasionally be alone, we are not to see ourselves as lonely if we love Jesus and His people.

    Why post something like this? Because I'm tired of having to be right, of having to defend my positions and opinions. The Bible says to be able to give a defense for my faith, and to answer questions that might come from others watching participating in my life. I'm cool with that, and when we're living together and growing together it's natural to question and to answer in the conversations that arise. Know why I believe what I believe - I've got that, or at least like to wrestle with it and gain better faith in it.

    More than being tired of the arguments, I'm saddened by others who see Jesus as a judge first, or who see rules and regulations above grace and mercy. There's such freedom in Christ - better than living any way I want, and better than feeling guilty every time I screw up. I guess I'm just at a place right now where I'm burdened for others, wanting them to see what I see and feel what I feel, and at the same time, knowing that I have no idea what I'm talking about because His ways are still so much higher than mine.

    In reality, we just don't understand God. Together though, I'd like to think we come close.

    Thanks Anyway

    Conversation with a friend, ten years ago or so:

    Ron: Hey, Rick, my cousin is coming into town this weekend. You should meet her.
    Me: Yeah?
    Ron: Yeah, she's cute and funny, very intelligent.
    Me: I'm married, duh.
    Ron: I know, I know, I just mean that you should meet her. She'd be your type.
    Me: Does she look like this [pointing at a picture on my desk], and is she going to be at my place when I get home after work?
    Ron: No.
    Me: "My type" is very narrowly defined, with only one person fitting the title.
    Ron [sheepish grin]: Yeah, okay.
    Me: Thanks anyway.


    Burning Bush

    What if, out of the clear blue, in a moment of serene clarity and quietness, you all of a sudden heard God speak to you?

    Not thinking of any particulars, like what He might say, or how you'd know it was God or not - let's just ask the question this way: if God would really speak to you, how would that change things? How would that impact you right now?


    Photo Friday: Chaos

    Snapped on my cellphone, straight up one afternoon through my sunroof. Thought it was beautiful, in a chaotic, natural and artistic way.

    War on Terror?

    Impractical, Immoral - Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Violence as a way of achieving justice is both impractical and immoral. It is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding; it seeks to annihilate rather than to convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends by defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.

    source: Nobel address, Oslo, December 11, 1964 - Bruderhof, Daily Dig 08/26/05 (emphasis mine)


    Feeling Goofy

    Snapped this outside the Disney shop at MCO during that long long wait yesterday. At least I didn't have to balance all those Mickeys. And no one called me "goofy", though a few folks did look at me a little funny.


    "But as soon as we do totally surrender, abandoning ourselves to Jesus, the Holy Spirit gives us a taste of His joy. The ultimate goal of self-sacrifice is to lay down our lives for our Friend (see John 15:13-14). When the Holy Spirit comes into our lives, our greatest desire is to lay down our lives for Jesus. Yet the thought of self-sacrifice never even crosses our minds, because sacrifice is the Holy Spirit’s ultimate expression of love."
    - Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest, 08/25
    It's not a "sacrifice" to lay aside your needs or wants in really serving others. That's where I fall short, seeing obedience as sacrifice rather than as real joy. How many of us as christians would be better disciples if we looked more at what God is doing than at what we think we're having to "give up"? The things that fall away aren't usually as desireable as they once were, and the things coming our way in Jesus are that much better. Not easier, most times more difficult - but better, more meaningful.

    Perspective is an amazing thing.



    Did I ever post here about how I hate to wait? I'm one of the most free-flowing and even-tempered people I know, but I hate to wait. I pretend to be patient, but I'm not, and it comes out in times like this when I'm sitting around an airport for hours on end waiting for a flight. I could've almost driven home by now, and knowing that maked it that much worse. It's times like this that make me wish I could fly - not having to wait for anyone, getting there before the afternoon traffic rush, zooming through the sky and skirting airline flightpaths. That would be so cool - and my back wouldn't be sore from sitting on the floor next to the only available power outlet so my laptop battery could recharge to write this post.

    Yeah, really cool.

    Innocence & Prejudice

    One of the greatest movies of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird, touched me deeply when I first saw it. To find out that Brock Peters, who played the defendant Tom Robinson standing trial on trumped up and prejudicial charges with Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck, with both men doing wonderful jobs in their roles) as his attorney, has passed away is very sad.

    So Wrong

    Okay, I don't want to post this, but it's burning up in my bones. Or I need a Tums. Probably both.

    I've held back in so many ways in talking about something, and it's time for me to at least vent, exhaling some of the gunk that's been backing up in me over this one area of Christianity that's just so wrong: . There are a number of blogs and websites that exist to point out the flaws in others within the Church. Some are directed towards the postmodern or emergent church. Others focus more exclusively on aspects of spirituality, seeing something "new age" under every rock & in every corner. Others look to tear down anyone remotely associated with Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, anyone with a goatee or tattoos, etc.

    Tell me where in the Bible God calls anyone to spend their lives or make a living by pointing out the folly and foolishness of others. I know there are prophets in the OT who did amazing things as the mouthpiece of God to tell the entire nation of its depravity, and to point out to individual leaders what might come their way as a result of their sin. I know that there are numerous admonitions for protect the faith, to discern truth, to avoid the appearance of evil, to beware false doctrine. I know all that is there - but there is even that much more in the Bible having to do with extending grace, forgiveness in the face of sin, our inability to judge because of our tendency to look only at the outside. Hello, people - when you judge the shortcomings of others, your own faults come to the top as a "log in the eye" that needs to be dealt with in the same way you should be dealing with others. Passing judgment is a very big deal, something reserved for Jesus, and then mostly at the end of it all.

    I think I understand their heart, feeling that they are defending the faith by pointing out where the message of Christ might be sold short. They want to protect others from falling into what they see as traps. We do need to be vigilant and watchful, so I'm not faulting them there. It's the way it's being done, with no mercy and without allowing for conversation and questions. Most of what I see is misunderstanding and just selling people short on their motives. One side wants the other to understand its position, basically willing to have freedom with the nonessentials of the faith; the discernment ministry side wants the other side to cease and desist as demonically wrong.

    But "heresy" is a huge charge, having the assumption that the one calling out the wrong is the holder and arbiter of absolute truth. There's no unity in this, no love for brothers and sisters in Christ. Instead of conversation to understand, or at least a reproof that points toward growth and giving each other the benefit of the doubt, there's this feeling of superiority and righteousness that totally disregards what God might actually be orchestrating.

    "His ways are higher than our ways" works both ways, and we'll miss out if we dismiss each other, if we can't fellowship around our commonalities for the impasse of undiscerning judgment.


    Bueno, Bono

    Here's a quote from Bono and the karma and grace:
    What you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It's clear to me that karma is at the very heart of the universe. I'm absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called grace to upend all that "as you reap, so you will sow" stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I've done a lot of stupid stuff….

    It doesn't excuse my mistakes, but I'm holding out for grace. I'm holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don't have to depend on my own religiosity.

    [Citation: Michka Assayas, Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas (Riverhead Books, 2005); submitted by Van Morris, Mt. Washington, Kentucky - @ PreachingToday.com]

    Update: "Prayer"

    Here's an update on Taylor. Thanks so much for continued prayers:
    Thank you for you prayers for Taylor yesterday. Her grandmother called me last night and the doctors can find nothing wrong and all the tests came back fine. They have no idea what is causing the seizures. She is seeing a neurologist later this week. Taylor is doing fine right now but there is definitely something causing the seizures. Her grandmother is very appreciative of your prayers.

    Thou Shalt Not...

    ... say stupid things on the air.

    has spoken something on the air that probably ought not be thought, much less uttered before the masses.
    "If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it," Robertson told viewers on his "The 700 Club" show Monday. "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war."
    The whole commandment thing about not killing and Jesus' words in about not even thinking hatred in your heart against another - throw that stuff out. I know we can have the argument about murder versus war and assassinations being politically facilitated and therefore outside the grasp of these biblical charges. But now, having Christian leaders call for someone else to be killed for the betterment of society or to save $Xbillion - that's nuts.

    The whole love-your-neighbor-as-yourself, they'll-know-us-by-our-love, love-your-enemies thing gets tossed out the door on an international scale, and Christians are the first to throw the possibility away. That's the really shameful part. To have nations think on such is one thing - but this is wrong on too many levels, and dishonors God on too many levels, too. Luckily, being a Christian news show, no one was watching besides other media outlets needing a story.

    [photo & quote from CNN.com]


    Land Far, Far Away

    It's getting late, almost bedtime - that time when my mind is working faster than anything else, going over the good, the bad and the ugly of my own life. I'm away from my family, away from home and the comforts thereof. Alone with my thoughts, thinking about life and what makes it go 'round. And yeah, I miss them deeply. Two more nights, and I'll be on a flight home. For now, just thinking about how lucky I am, how responsible I need to be, how I don't want to mess this up with so much riding on it.

    My role as a dad is huge to me. Of all the hats I wear, "father" is the one that gives me the most reward and the most trepidation. As I read through blogs, I find that there are lots of folks who can look back at a father that either abandoned them, or who made a really neat impression on their lives. There seems to be no in between - either you're a wonderful father or a deadbeat dad.

    I want to be a good dad, and I'm hoping the tears and the giggles of my little girl while being so far removed from her daddy show that I am at least trying. Only my kids and I will know, with my wife watching and keeping me straight & encouraged, too. Being a good dad, for me, means training them to make wise choices, more than "here's black-and-white, right-and-wrong". I want them to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humble with God. and I want them to have fun doing it.

    It's the most difficult and most satisfying calling of my life.


    Just got this from a friend at church. Please take a moment to lift up this child and her family in prayer:
    I need you guys to please stop whatever you are doing and offer a prayer for one of my former students. Her name is Taylor and 2 years ago during my last year of teaching, she had a seizure in my classroom. It was the most traumatic event I experienced in my 20 years of teaching. Her grandmother takes care of them in the afternoons while their parents work and she was the first one to get to the school when this happened. As I waited with the grandmother in the nurses room for the ambulance, we prayed together. After many tests, they could find no reason for the seizure and Taylor didn't have any other problems since then.

    Well, just a few minutes ago, her grandmother called me from her cell phone on the way to the school. Taylor has had another seizure just like the one she had 2 years ago. I can't believe her grandmother still had my number because I haven't seen or heard from them since I retired, but she did and she asked me to please pray and to gather up all my prayer warriors to join us. So please pray that they find out what is causing the seizures and pray that it is something treatable and that Taylor will have full recovery. All of God's children are precious, but this little girl has a special place in my heart. Her grandmother is going to update me as soon as she knows something and I may go up to the hospital later. I will let you know as soon as I hear anything else.


    Bad advertising. Two thumbs down, sort of.


    Nice trip, long day yesterday, and an okay night's sleep. Now it's Monday and time to get busy. After getting some dinner and finally checking in around 10pm, I answered email and tried to cool off from the day's frivolity. It's warm here now, but it looks like it'll be cooler with afternoon storms, so that'll be nice.

    We're starting the 40 Days of Community as a staff at Seacoast-Irmo this morning. And we're going to try it as an online experiment. The daily devotions look okay, and they're shorter than the Purpose daily readings. As for doing it online, I'm hoping it'll open another facet of communication. Looking forward to it.

    It's Monday, so I better get crankin'. Hope yours is decent, a good start to your week. I'm going to find that Starbucks that I know is around here somewhere.


    Coffee Travel

    The problem with summer is that there are fewer opportunities in the too hot too humid day to really enjoy a good cup of coffee. I'm hoping the heat index won't keep me from stopping at Starbucks on my way through ATL later this afternoon. And I hope that there's a coffeeshop somewhere near our hotel in Orlando. I'll be down there leading training the first half of the week, and I'm pretty sure I'll need something more than the thermal pot from the lobby.

    I'm packing my laptop bag as a carry-on, taking a few books for the week. My mp3 player won't load; there's a problem with the usb port and the latest software patches. The flight to ATL and then the next to MCO (Orlando Int'l) aren't long enough for much more than a chapter or so, the way I read - and definitely no time for a decent inflight nap. But I'll have plenty to keep me busy there with work and with small group planning for church. I'm actually feeling the pressure on a few fronts to get stuff done and get it right. Definitely need more than the thermal pot in the lobby.

    This morning: shower, church, lunch, catch a flight. I'm already looking forward to getting back home Wednesday. It'll be a good trip, and I'm looking forward to getting alot accomplished. But it'll be nice to get home, too.


    HBD, Sweetie

    Guess who's having a birthday? Not getting any older. Instead, just like the County Fair: better every year!


    256K Memory

    You never know what you'll find when you pull out the camera's memory card.


    I'm going to be in Orlando, FL for the first part of next week. Right now, here's the "Tropical Outlook":
    ABNT20 KNHC 190912
    530 AM EDT FRI AUG 19 2005



    Baby Zerberts

    I wrote this to an email list almost seven years ago. My daughter's a big girl now, almost eight years old, but I still like this part of being Daddy-man.
    Those of you who know me know that I love my kids. I enjoy the wrestling in the floor and on the beds, the hugs and kisses and impromptu thank yous (you don't know how pleasing it is to hear Trace, our three year old son, say "thank you" to someone with out us prompting him!)...

    Tonight, I got another moment to treasure. From my daughter, Cameron, all 13 1/2 months of her.

    For the first time, after I have showered her day after day with kisses and hugs and zerberts (look up old Cosby Show reruns for good visual display), my daughter kissed back.

    She can now have anything her little heart desires. My heart warmed, my smile got bigger, and buddy, I wanted more of that. She did, too, giggling all over the place.

    How much love does God show *you* before you finally start showing something real back? How much does our Father hug on us and wrestle with us? How His heart must yearn for us to love Him back, and how He must be utterly moved in the deepest recesses when we turn and tell Him, finally, and without provocation... "I love You, Lord."

    His smile gets bigger, too.


    Photo Friday: One


    Just. Two. Weeks.

  • CNN.com - 2005 SEC Preview
    We're two weeks from Football. If we go 2-0, I think we'll have a pretty solid year. Split the first two, and I'm not holding my breath for much beyond a 5-6 record. Go 0-2, and a lot of people will be looking for something else to do Saturday afternoons.

    This site's background color will now be garnet for the upcoming sports season. Thanks for your participation, and have a nice day.

  • Literally

    What are you reading right now?

    I've always been a reader, turning it into a minor hobby with the reviews lately but really just always enjoying a good book. What makes a good book? One that holds my attention, gives me things I didn't know before or challenges my thinking in unexpected ways. Right now, I'm in the middle of at least three books - all of them are "good", some of them get more of my time for various reasons. While I'm an avid reader, I'm also a slow & easily distracted reader, so I tend to start a new one before finishing current stuff. There are still a few more waiting on the nightstand to be picked up, so I'm not hurting for stuff to read.

  • Preaching Re-imagined - Doug Pagitt
  • Crisis on Infinite Earths - Marv Wolfman
  • Jesus in the Margins - Rick McKinley

    One thing though: I don't understand people who say, "Well, I just don't read." I tend to stereotype people when they tell me that, and I know it's wrong. But if you don't read, do you think? Do you take the time to think about the complexities of life, to learn new things beyond the TV, to find new stories that might move you as a human being? I know lots of readers who used to not read anything except homework assignments, and then it was mostly paraphrases and plot summaries. And now, they love it and wonder what they've missed out on before. "Reading for fun" is something we need much more of as a society, and within the church body.

    All that to say: get a book - and if you don't have one, get one! Have a nice day.

  • Worms?

    "The early bird catches the worm - but the second mouse gets the cheese" - Jon Hammond

    I don't really know why I'm up this early. Lately I've started waking up around 5am, lollygagging in bed 'til at least 5:30, maybe getting up to let the dog out by 6am. But I woke up the first time to go to the bathroom at 4:30, and then dozed off and on until the dog poked me just before five - what's up with that?

    So, I'm up - not a bad thing, and actually probably a plus since there's so much to do today and tomorrow before my trip next week. I'm reading in Ephesians 1, where Paul writes that it's God's plan to bring everything together under Christ:
    Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we're a free people--free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth. (Eph. 1:7-10, msg)
    So much of our world seems to be falling apart, and so much time & effort is put into separating the right side from the wrong side. What will we do when we find out that God's plan has been to bring us all together? How would we as Christians impact the world around us if we stopped pointing fingers of condemnation and started living out this plan that God's already got on the table? The Law has its place, but it's not our job to judge as much as it's our opportunity to show others that we've messed up, too; that we've broken His commands and have still been forgiven in Christ. We're to show the world around us what it's like to love each other, to enjoy each other, to forgive and encourage each other. Whether we're up for the worm, or laying around and waiting for the cheese - I just hope we're big enough to enjoy being together.


    Too Tech'd

    The Cushioned Life - Friedrich Wilhelm Foerster

    Our technological civilization has cushioned life on all sides, yet more than ever before, people helplessly succumb to the blows of life. This is very simply because a merely technological culture cannot give any help in the face of life’s eternal tragedy; here only an inward foundation can help. Externalized as they are, too many people today have no ideas, no strength, nothing that might enable them to master their restlessness and dividedness. They do not know what to make of trials, obstacles, or suffering--how to make something constructive of them--and perceive them only as things that oppress and irritate them and interfere with life.

    [Source: F.W. Foerster, "Hauptaufgaben der Erziehung" - DailyDig from Bruderhoff 08/17/05]


    Review: VELVET ELVIS

    has written a book that I was unprepared for, has given information and insight that I was not looking for, and has inspired me and encouraged me in a way that I didn't know I needed. And now I'm thankful that he's done all this, however unintentionally on his part. And I'm anxious to see how "all this" plays out in real life.

    (copyright 2005; Zondervan) gets its title from the framed velvet painting that hides behind other knick-knacks and memories in Bell's basement. A picture of a changing - not the young one, not the enlarged older version, but the middle maturing King. In the corner is the artist's signature, a single "R." That's all the artist felt was needed to identify this particular work of art. Had the artist then held a press conference and announced that this lone portrait was the definitive work of its kind, and that there was no need for anyone else to ever paint Elvis on canvas again, he would've been laughed at and mocked. But there's almost always room for a different perspective, for "repainting" your subject.
    The tradition then is painting, not making copies of the same painting over and over. The challenge of the art is to take what was great about the previous paintings and incorporate that into new paintings. And in the process, create something beautiful and meaningful - for today. (p. 13)
    Acceptance of doctrinal and propositional truth doesn't change a person's life; only God can do that, and the mental assent to truth can be meaningless. But the Bible's narrative tells of a new way of living, a new way of relating, that goes beyond simple mental assent.
    Over time when you purposefully try to live the way of Jesus, you start noticing something deeper going on. You begin realizing the reason this is the best way to live is that it is rooted in profound truths about how the world is. You find yourself living more in sync with how the universe is at its deepest levels. (p. 21)

    I affirm the historic Christian faith, which includes the virgin birth and the Trinity and the inspiration of the Bible and much more. I'm a part of it, and I want to pass it on to the next generation. I believe that God created everything and that Jesus is Lord and that God has plans to restore everything. But if the whole faith falls apart when we reexamine and rethink one spring [from his metaphor of a trampoline having supportive springs to hold the whole together for bouncing], then it wasn't that strong in the first place, was it? (p. 27)
    Bell goes on the extol the value of questions as a sign of humility in the first movement (here, "movements" are used instead of chapters), mulling over truth in conversation rather than simply basing life on dogmatic statements. We've lost some of the fun of questions and stories, which was Jesus' favorite way to interact with folks around Him.

    Bell takes the reader through thoughts on Truth, rabbinical tradition in discovering and applying truth, "binding and loosing" and a fresh perspective on "yokes", and how disciples viewed themselves and the Rabbi they followed. Rather than dismissing the Bible or explaining it all away for justifying a "new way", Bell seems to me to be taking greater care with, and giving greater honor to, the scriptures in their contemporary context and in their present relevance.
    Another truth about the church we're embracing is that the gospel is good news, especially for those who don't believe it. (p. 166)
    Sentences like this should challenge us to be better people, better Christians, better neighbors in our world. What a radical concept, blessing others even if they're not Christians, serving people even if they disagree or don't hold to the same doctrine. What the church has lost in hypocrisy and dogmatism might be found in blessing the multitudes as God first promised Abraham.

    As a Christian looking to grow and make a difference today, finding out that it's not just about having "eternal life in heaven" and that it's easy to make mistakes along the way, too, I appreciate Bell's attempt to engage the world around him in a way that will bless others even if they disagree, and in a way that will still show integrity and love within the community. And the mark of a good book, in this case, is that when it's been finished, the reader wants more. I'm going to be spending some time going back through the stories and history shared for even more perspectives on Christianity's updated velvet painting.


    I've gotten a couple of hits thru Technorati for . Lots of controversy surrounding . I've got my review coming soon, but just wanted to toss this out - either the metaphors work for you, or they don't. That they're controversial shows that a few of us are wound just a little too tight.


    Tune Tagged

    I got tagged, I think... Renee passed this along, and I'll do my best to not waste it.

    List ten songs that you are currently digging. It does not matter what genre they are from, whether they have words, or even if they are no good, but they must be songs you are really enjoying right now. Post these instructions, the artists, and the ten songs in your blog. Then tag five other people to see what they are listening to.

    First of all, is anyone really "digging" anything anymore? Just checkin' - I'm not as up on the lingo as I'd like sometimes. But these are ten songs that float through my iTunes party shuffle the most - fitting the don't-care-about-the-genre-or-having-words challenge to a tee:

    1. Landed -
    2. I'll Fly Away -
    3. Everything Burns -
    4. Whatever Happened to the Heroes -
    5. Everything -
    6. Hide -
    7. Don't Stand So Close To Me (remix) -
    8. Sunset Blvd -
    9. What If -
    10. Antissa -

    OK, loaded these ten up for play while I work today - who's next? Tagging Jeff, Jen, Donna, Iggy, Shawn - and anyone else wanting to play along. Just leave me a link back to your stuff so I can see what else might be worth checking out.


    Grateful Elvis

    As I finish reading Rob Bell's Velvet Jesus this weekend, I'm grateful that someone has taken the time to be real with the Bible, with his calling, with his ministry. I know people who'd be turned off by the title, and people who'd look past that and still not "get it". But I also know people for whom this book would open some doors of understanding and grace, and that's a cool thing as it's working out that way in me. I'll have a review coming later on this week.

    I'm looking forward to a solid week. School's in full swing and I think there's the semblance of a routine in our house for mornings and evenings now that summer is gone. I've got some things to do at work before a business trip to Orlando next week, so that'll keep me busy and more or less out of trouble. And we're gearing up at church for the 40 Days of Community that's coming in the fall. Plate's full, thanks - not only mine, but my wife's, too, and I'll find something to keep the kids occupied if I need to.

    And please - in the name of peanut butter and Starbucks and all that's good in the world - do not let me forget my wife's birthday next weekend. I don't usually have a problem with things like this, which means that there's a first time for everything and I need to stay ahead of the game. It'll be nice to have a birthday party and maybe a date night in there, since I'm flying out for Orlando next Sunday afternoon. For now, I just need her to know that she's still the same sweet but-now-much-more-beautiful college coed I fell in love with seventeen years ago. If you see her, tell her that for me.

    Heading to bed - finish my diet coke, finish my book, watch the evening news for whatever catastophe should scare the bejeebers out of us this week, and going to sleep before Monday comes in the morning. My wife, reading over the scriptbook for this semester's school play, needs her rest, too. It's going to be a long, velvet-ized kind of week, I'm thinking, and I've got to explain to her what that means.

    Three Years

    Three years. Third blogsite. 2000+ entries. Lots of words, but any coherent thoughts? Debateable.

    Here's where it all started - here, here and here in August 2002.


    On the Bible

    A few days ago, I asked for thoughts on The Bible. Thanks for all the buzz, and for the honesty in your replies.

    Renee said, 'For me the bible is my guideline for life." Kelly also added, "i read it at LEAST weekly... it's actually something i'm hoping to get more on top of...." Melissa typed, "It's a love story. It's a road map through this journey of life. It is a tool. It's an instructonal manual for my salvation. And bjk posted, "it has been the most amazing thing for me to read the bible...I had no idea when I began as a prerequisite for small group leadership...how my life, my family's life would change...." I know that the Bible means so much to so many people, and that it has inspired many of us for life in ways that go beyond "this is a good book".

    Bob commented, "I find it a source of energy. I read some times more than others but it has become kind of the background: I'm not always conscious of it being there but so many times I'll find my thoughts phrased in Bible verses. I guess I've 'hidden them in my heart' though I've never really focused on memorizing it. It is a part of me--integrated into my thinking as much as the memories of my childhood. I'll never be the same again and I'll never be without it." And I think PrayzHim chimed in on the same wavelength: "The intent of my heart is to have the Word as a filter for every thought and deed." I can appreciate this feeling of having this book become a part of you, being "in your heart" and having impact beyond the pages into real life.

    Tana shared, "The Bible is sometimes overwhelming to me. I have to approach it like I would the question, "How do you eat an elephant?". One small bite at a time." There's an unworthy feeling that comes from the Bible, or from our idea of "bible reading," and some posters mentioned "not reading it enough" as a shortcoming. Maybe what's wrong here is that our view of the Bible is sometimes less than we say, like the episode where a houseguest "swears on the Bible" and then breaks that promise. It's like there's a disconnect from how culture views the Bible as something honorable but ultimately irrelevant to real life, and how the Spirit speaks within us to the Bible's truth, relevance and pertinance to us right now. We know it's important, but if it were as important as we think it would have a place of higher prominence in our schedules, maybe?

    Then Julie wrapped up the comments with her take: "We have thirty bibles, at least. I don't read them much any more devotionally (though I did daily for twenty years). I study them for grad school and I'm learning NT Greek in the fall. Should be fun to look at the original language. I find the history of the Bible's development fascinating - the murky ways that is has been edited and compiled, interpreted and applied... All the mess of councils and politics and choices about what represents God and what doesn't. I find it hard to believe that I ever treated the Bible as a seamless whole that revealed the complete and singular will of God to all of mankind. My current relationship to the Bible is one of curiosity--that a book of so many scattered fragments can be considered an absolute guideline for life in the 21st century, in any century. Yet because I honored it as God's inerrant word to me for over 20 years, I still return to the Bible as a source of potent images, some of my values and a counterpoint for how I navigate my life today and what I believe about the cosmos in general."

    That's a mouthful, and it's a lot for most of us to swallow. While I haven't deconstructed to quite the same point, I do think the process of learning what the Bible is and what it isn't is important. It has characteristics of being that guideline or rulebook, but leaving it there has problems for people looking to live beyond simple mental assent of right doctrine. It also has the traits of metaphor and storytelling that can further open us to realms of truth, but that can also lead us away from possibility and real hope if we go to far towards non-literal interpretation. There's a balance somewhere here, with factuality and truthfulness colliding, showing that God's reality is the only one around, and that that's a good thing that brings freedom and abundant life.

    Something like that.

    Review: GOD'S BLOGS

    Right at the beginning, I will join in with the reader to say that as a premise for a book, God having a blog is pretty cheesy. Having said that, though, I'd like to think that if God did delve into the culture and start posting to the internet, it would look something like this book. Probably a plain white site, not really flashy, with some italics and font changes for emphasis, definitely no WAV files of electronic hymns - maybe an MP3 of a chorale in the background, if anything.

    Lanny Donoho has attempted to envision such a site with God's Blogs (copyright 2005; Multnomah Publishers, Inc.). There's a clue to how Donoho thinks from the copyright page, where the typical jargon is sprinkled with one-liners and wordplay: "No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system,.... But you can read it." Some will judge this book on its lack of seriousness, perhaps going so far as saying its sacrilegious to "add to the scriptures" - but they would miss the point. This is a fun book, it's a deep book, it's a practical and philosophical book, going more for impact and meaningfulness in choosing the metaphor of a blog to explore the complexities of God.

    Like playing with ants.
    The "older gentleman" obviously still had some "child" in him.
    He knew how to play and how to take the monotony out of life for a kid temporarily stuck in his dad's business world. He also happened to be the president of the New Orleans chamber of commerce. He had made it to adulthood without forgetting.
    Too many of you grew up too fast. And you got your definition of adulthood all messed up...
    Don't let your kids grow up
    and forget that ants talk and children like to play...
    and no matter how old you get,
    you can still get down on your knees
    and introduce them to one another.
    (p. 73)
    Punctuation and paragraph structures take a backseat to meaning and emphasis, giving God's Blogs a very poetic feel. Bloggers see themselves as authors and poets, as people with insight into the human experience - why should God be any different?

    Donoho conveys "God's posts" on eternity, on forgiveness, on salvation, on laughter and psychoneuroimmunology (p. 77), on the Olympics, on poverty - honestly, it looks like most blogs, as readers surf for the content that's all over the map and still relevant and pertinent because it's the story of our lives. If God were to start a site sometime in 2007, it wouldn't surprise me to see it looking a bit like this book. The site, and this book, would appeal to those of us who already spend too much time blog-surfing, but who also empathize with each other and share in life's experiences vicariously through the screen or the page.

    The title might be cheesy, but not any moreso than anyone else's blog, is it? There's nothing unbiblical or extra-scriptural here, just using the blog stylesheet to reflect God's care and heart for His people. And it's a fun, easy, captivating read that ends up not being as "easy" and not as "fluff" - it dives deep into what God might say to a generation paying attention and looking for Him in the midst of it all.


    The new site is up and it looks great. With something that's taken this long to roll out to the masses, I'm hoping the Relevant folks are finally pleased with it, too.



    Modelling Church

    You scored as Servant Model. Your model of the church is Servant. The mission of the church is to serve others, to challenge unjust structures, and to live the preferential option for the poor. This model could be complemented by other models that focus more on the unique person of Jesus Christ.

    Servant Model


    Mystical Communion Model


    Sacrament model


    Herald Model


    Institutional Model


    What is your model of the church? [Dulles]
    created with QuizFarm.com


    Photo Friday: Violet

    This is the only "violet" thing I have at my desk, and really the only purple-ish thing I could think of owning without dumping a bunch of crayons out to find the "violet" one. I know, it's a stretch - but you do what you have to do, right?


    "blown acl"

    My brother is spending the afternoon at the doctor's office, having an MRI and/or x-rays and/or whatever else the doctor wants. He just texted me: "blown acl". Ouch. Well, happy birthday tomorrow anyway, big boy. And stay off the leg for awhile, alright?

    New Toy

    Got my new desk toy as a mini snap-together model, and now I want a real one, which would really only be about twice this size.


    Irmo Edition

    Want to know what's going on, what's keeping us busy at the Irmo Campus of Seacoast? Check out the Irmo Edition Blog:


  • CNN.com: Mother missed signs of 'choking game' - California teen died seeking high with rope around neck
  • CNN.com: Four U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq attack
  • USAToday: Dana Reeve: 'I feel Chris with me'

    Today, I wonder "why". I'm not looking for easy answers - because there are none. But I do wonder if we'll ever understand... why.

  • 8.09.2005


    Sitting at my private table in my private universe, drinking a macchiato, pecking at the keyboard. Looking over the top of my glasses at the people sitting at their tables, in their universes, wondering what they're thinking, how their lives are going, what's on their minds and on their hearts right now. A woman waiting in line to be served, answering with a steady "no... no... not right now... no..." to her eager four-year-old who really thinks she deserves a piece of vanilla candy and an over-priced juice box. An elderly gentleman, hat in hand, waiting patiently behind the child and smiling. A college student sitting at a small table in the corner, powercord dripping into the socket behind him, typing madly for the class he's missing right now. The barista trying to remember everyone's name, everyone's order, everyone's face so the right name and order and face align perfectly with every beverage.

    Outside, the traffic moves past in its own whoosh, people driving too fast to get to places they would rather avoid to do things they'd rather not. The fountain in the square flings water into the air, allowing gravity to bring it crashing back into the cycle over and over. A gentleman sitting by himself on one side of the structure, looking at his feet, at the passing cars, at me through the glass watching him, at the joggers speeding up to pass him at a distance. On the other side of the fountain, a preacher preaching the love and the nasty wrath of an angry condemnation-filled but loving if you believe in Him Jesus who wants us in heaven or seals us away in burning hellfire forever and ever - by himself, yelling at those walking by, avoiding him from a distance. Flinging his own "living water" and hoping gravity or vehemence or volume or something might bring his "seeds" back down for some good thing in the lives of the people, and looking at me watching him through the plate glass-window beside my little table.

    Coffee cold, laptop power draining from the screen. Looking around at the people before I take my leave of this place again. I'll be back sometime next week, perching over their lives, drinking my macch, wondering what's going on behind the eyes, from the safety of my own private universe.

    For the Peanut Gallery

    I'm tossing this out to see what kinds of responses might come back: What is the Bible to you? Do you have one, and if not, why not? If you have one, how often do you read it? How much a part of your life is this book?

    I might use some responses or pieces of comments in future posts, so replying needs to be with that "permission" in mind. No "wrong" answers. Just go easy on me, alright? Thanks ahead of time.


    has landed (CNN.com news story, photo from NASA/CNN.com). I listened over to the news channel as they came screaming in over the Pacific Ocean. I wondered what it would feel like on the inside, then how the people on the ground felt as the Shuttle was making its descent. Whew.


    Broken Heart

    We're trying to teach our kids that "being right" isn't always the most important thing. This morning, I forgot that lesson. I was in the kitchen fixing breakfast for the Boy, and Princess was eating her cereal. We were trying to be funny, all of us saying things that sounded funny and made us laugh (I can't help myself sometimes). My kids have a tendency to drive a joke into the ground, and what started funny was now getting annoying or hurtful. In trying to get them to drop it, I kept getting ignored, and louder and ignored, and ahem louder and ignored. Finally, I slammed the cabinet door - it got their attention, and scared my little girl.

    I was right, but I didn't need to scare her like that. The look on her face was fear, then really really sorry that she'd disappointed me, then really really heartbroken that Daddy had slammed the door and scared her. I was "right", and the slammed cabinet door might be justified in getting their attention. But as I explained myself, with tears welling up in her eyes, I had to apologize in the same moment of time. I was hugging her and holding her in thirty seconds, and she still needed to know that dropping the funny thing - see, I don't even remember what it was - was the right thing to do on her part, and their ignoring Daddy was wrong. But I told her I was sorry for scaring her, too - sorry for making her jump and over-reacting on the whole thing.

    We smiled, with puffy red still around her eyes she finished eating and brushed her teeth. We drove to school, chatting about how this was going to be a good week and a good day. Her Daddy had broken her heart, and had mended it, too, I hope. She's strong and sensitive, and I've got to remember that she's precious and gracious in all kinds of ways. My son was barely phased, and probably didn't remember anything of the situation. But I want my daughter to know that Dad loves her, and Dad makes mistakes, and still loves her and tries to make things right - while still getting their attention. It's a fine line, isn't it?

    Monday Drive

    this is an audio post - click to play


    Posters & Tunes

    Snapped this wall of posters and music covers when we were on vacation last month, and just really liked the way it turned out. With summer over, and with school and work back on fullspeed tomorrow, it was neat to flip back through some of these photos to see what turned out.


    I'm sitting in Theater #2 as Pastor Jeff has started sharing the vision and methods of Seacoast here in Irmo. There are about sixteen people here as newcomers, another handful of folks who've setup the gathering, who've handed out the lunches and Diet Pepsis. This is the time, first Sunday of each month, when the opportunity is taken to share what this particular local body is all about.

    This morning's sermon - on "No Stealing" from Shawn, who did a great job, btw - was good, and the worship time and the greeting time was good. That's it - not blow you away wonderful, or mountain-top spectacular, just good and real and full of impact. I think it's because of connection, being connected with the people around you, seeking after a common lifestyle of following God and serving Him above all. It's not about being right or using the right doctrine or not making a mistake in word choice, but instead about following hard after the heart of God together, and allowing Jesus to grow within us in the world we inhabit together.

    Anyway, connection rocks - getting to know people and see them and know they're seeing you and that together we're more about acceptance than about agreement. It means that I can make my mistakes and be wrong from time to time and not worry about everyone ditching the blogging guy. It's nice, it's good and real, to be accepted like that.

    Ok - promise to get off these various soapboxes later on today. Lots of preaching & not enough just good stories makes me itchy and fidgety, you know? But at least I'm still connected.

    Worship Together

    I'm about to take my shower, get dressed, fix my coffee, drive to the theater, and sit in the lobby with a few people to talk about Christ, before going into the theater for the second service at 10:30am. After that, "Newcomers" will meet, giving information on the church to those interested in finding out more. I'm finding that we belong to a really wonderful church community that's based more on "acceptance" than on "agreement". So in all of that, I'm going to worship God in a room full of people with different personalities and opinions, and that's a good thing. I have much to learn from people who see life in Christ a bit differently, that's all. I don't have all the answers, and as I've postulated here often, I'd rather have better questions any day. Truth is where you find it, not necessarily what you make it - and learning with and growing with and getting to know people who have a different view stretches our faith much than it might inhibit it.


    Good Cause (Reminder)

    Pledge me!
    [click here for blogathon blog - this post
    will stay at the top of Saturday's posts, so click
    and give Jen a holler!]

    HBD Bro'

    My little brother's birthday is this week. Older, uglier, wiser... well, two out of three anyway.

    Truth = Truth

    Wherever you find truth, it's truth. If it's in the Bible, it's truth. If it's in the yellow pages, it's truth. If it's on TV, it's truth. Wait, no, not right - if it's truth and it's on TV, it's still truth. I can get truth from my pastor and from the guy across the street who doesn't know what a concordance is. I don't have to differentiate God's truth from the world's truth - if it's truth, it's already God's. [my takeaway right now from movement three]

    How's that?


    Today's verseoftheday in my sidebar is from 1 Cor. 13:6 - "Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth." I've got some running conversations and internet interactions with folks, and it seems that "being right" is sometimes more important than "being together." This verse makes me ask myself: "are there times when I rejoice in being right about evil, more than just rejoicing in truth? is there a difference there?" On the one hand, we wouldn't "rejoice in evil" as Christians, but we will definitely claim victory when we're able to point out evil and "win the battle". Meanwhile, can we more simply embrace truth, even in the midst of evil? - so that we discern what's wrong, but the fact that something's good and right is more important than our ability to point out flaws and error?

    Don't know if that makes sense, but I'm good with just chewing on it for now. What a way to spend a football-less Saturday, huh?


    Good Cause

    Pledge me!
    [click here for blogathon blog]

    Jen @ Meditatio is joining in the Blogathon - lots of 24-hr bloggers out there writing and raising $$ for good causes. I've thrown my pledge in, and look forward to what might find its way to the blogosphere once everyone starts running out of things to say.

    Back to School 3

    Back to School 2

    Back to School


    Photo Friday: Complexity


    Love Your Enemies

    What would "war" look like if we followed the words of Jesus? Here's the text of a speech given by , a chaplain at the time of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings:
    So the world is watching today. Ethical hairsplitting over the morality of various types of instruments and structures of mass slaughter is not what the world needs from the church, although it is what the world has come to expect from the followers of Christ. What the world needs is a grouping of Christians that will stand up and pay up with Jesus Christ. What the world needs is Christians who, in language that the simplest soul could understand, will proclaim: the follower of Christ cannot participate in mass slaughter. He or she must love as Christ loved, live as Christ lived and, if necessary, die as Christ died, loving ones enemies.
    I've often wondered what it would mean to "love your enemies" in situations of war (), to remember that love casts out fear (), to see how terror might be better confronted with the grace and mercy of Jesus in some creative and redemptive way. I know countries fight wars, and soldiers live and die for the cause - but is there another way, perhaps no less dangerous, but ultimately right in really changing hearts and lives?



    Summertime is when the weather gets hot and humid in the deep south, when the beach beckons thousands of tourists and a few dozen locals to enjoy the cool ocean waters, when the mountains and streams call out for adventurers to come and be extreme. And then there's summer music, for better or for worse. While it's being released late in the season, Todd Agnew's Reflection of Something still works as summer music, and joins in with the beach and the mountains to invite the listener to something deeper, something maybe more fun and less serious, and something more adventurous or at least more risk-taking than life in the day-to-day.

    The first thing about good summer music is that there are tunes made for driving. The growth heard on this new project is a decidedly bluesy side for the artist. "New Name" is a pumping riff on how life happens, and how God redeems and re-names us beyond the labels and descriptions other folks hang on us. And in "Wonder Of It All", the addition of a country feel brings out the awesomeness of divine impact on our lives. These are songs that feel like they've come more from the heart, more from his own life than necessarily covering another writer's work, and the fun side of the business comes through the project on some of these faster-paced tunes.

    The second thing I enjoy about summer music is that there's a depth there if you want it. Not pushy or preachy, but if you're driving the interstates to whatever next destination, there are times of calm and clarity that need a ballad, something deeper than the trivial. Reflection of Something reflects something, and that's the growth of the artist. The bluesy feel is still there, maybe even more pronounced, in the slower tempos and the deeper lyrics (it's probably just me, but I think he's channeling Darius Rucker on many of these songs, and as a Hootie fan, that's not a bad deal). In putting "Isaiah 6" to music, Agnew takes a giant leap of faith, and pulls it off with a depth that conveys his own redemption and reflection on the holiness of God. And with "Mercy In Me", the blues-voice works to tell the story of people just doing the best they can, wrestling with what it means to be merciful in this world.

    The third thing that might work for summer music is a cutesy pop-filled dipsy love song, and thankfully there's nothing like that here. Todd Agnew has been allowed to stretch as an artist and a storyteller, and registers on a different level than much of the radio-ready CCM on the shelves today. Whether driving to the beach, to the mountains, or just in the daily commute across town to work and make a living, this project works to remind us of higher things, deeper convictions, and adventurous risks worth taking this summer.

    Bigger Than The Boogeyman

    Some of the blockage in my blogging/writing psyche has no doubt been my own thoughts and processing of God, life, the universe and everything. One of the central issues around whether we're growing as Christians or not, whether we're following Jesus or not, might be "how big is your God?" - do you think you've got it all figured out, or is there room for "even more" when it comes to God's character, love, mercy, justice?

    One of the first Veggie Tales videos dealt with Junior's fear at bedtime, specifically of the monsters that might be under his bed or in his closet after watching a scary movie. The catchy little tune is "God is Bigger Than the Boogeyman" - "He's bigger than Godzilla or the Monster on TV... and He's watching out for you and me". Why is Junior scared? Because he's been filling his mind with scary thoughts, attacks from monsters with a suspenseful soundtrack. Along those lines, how many Christians are being filled with the language of "culture war" and "attack on the Truth"? How often are the differences between liberals and conservatives, both religiously and politically, cast in a violent vocabulary and metaphor? So my question becomes something like: "is God big enough to not only handle those questions and fears, but to also rise above the war and conflict rhetoric to reveal Himself in meaningful ways?" - something like that maybe.

    God's bigger than our difference, the offenses we choose to hold onto, the bitterness we choose to feed. God's bigger than my lack of understanding, and He's bigger than where I've got it all figured out. God's bigger than my conclusions, and He's bigger than my uneasiness, my monsters, my fears and doubts. He's bigger than my relationships, more than big enough to handle where we don't see eye-to-eye. We can disagree and know that He is still bigger even still. You don't have to worry about me getting offended - God's bigger. I don't have to worry about messing up - God's bigger. At the same time, I do need to grow, do need to trust, do need to pursue Him and love Him and follow Him and learn from Him while living my not-so-big life.


    You'd never know it from two looooong posts this past week, but I'm still feeling pretty blog-blocked. Lots to write, no words coming. Reading lots, and that's got me thinking and internalizing a lot of things, for better or worse. It's late, stayed up to get through some laundry for Vicki - and now it's just bedtime. But that blockage will break soon enough, and I'll be back to more regularly scheduled attempts at putting my foot in my mouth. Thanks for payin' attention!


    30 Days

    The football team is reporting for fall practice today, thirty days before the opening kickoff on ESPN's 09/01 Thursday Night telecast. New head coach has a tough job - turn "mediocre" into "something special". That opening game against Central Florida will be a test that I hope this team can pass - because the second game is at Athens to play UGA, a team we all know Spurrier would love to beat.

    Thirty days. Just less than a full month to tailgating and screaming our fool heads off with 80,000+ of our closest friends. Woo hoo.



    My lovely wife goes back to school tomorrow. Students report Friday 08/04, while teachers in the district get re-acclimated to the daily grind of filling young minds full of mush. Show her some love at her site.

    Bind & Loose This

    The topic up for grabs right now is "binding and loosing" (a la Rob Bell's , Movement Two) - specifically, Jesus giving the keys of the Kingdom to Peter and the Church-at-large, along with the authority that goes with it: "whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16:13-20). Running a quick google on "binding loosing scripture", I found some pages that followed in the same vein I've learned in the past about this passage's bent towards spiritual warfare. It's been generally about binding and loosing the demons and angels, the spiritual agents of good and evil, or prayer cover and keeping a hedge of protection around our families and our churches.

    But there's a different idea out there that I'd either never heard or never given credence to, and that's the thought that this phrase is more rabbinical in nature and had to do with interpreting the Word. "Binding" meant you're obligated to a certain thing, and "loosing" meant you're not obligated to that thing. In determining what a passage of scripture might mean, if we bind to this then it's a legally and morally defining action, and if we loose it there's more of an optional flavor to the reading. In context, Jesus is including a community-wide action, basing this binding and loosing on knowing God and living Jesus together. I don't have the right to make the Bible say what I want to say; rather, together, what's it saying to us and calling us to in life right now?

    Why have I never heard it this way before? How does that effect the way we're reading the Bible right now, how we're interpreting it for our own lives together, and how we might be using it as a standard of judgment against others?

    More personally, since I'm seeing and reading stuff like this a lot right now, is this another period for my life to undergo radical dissection and re-construction of my faith and understanding of who God is and who I am in Christ? Because I'm seeing things and hearing things and understanding things in new & meaningful ways that I've never really had come through me before. If this is such a period - why? Why now? Why me? Why again? I'm having a hard time signing up for it this time around... but I'm excited about what might lie just ahead...

    "Second Touch"

    I was driving into work this morning, running later than I'd wanted but making good time. Flipping channels on my XM, I settled on Chuck Swindoll's Insight For Living (XM FamilyTalk channel). I've been a fan in the past, not so much over the last few years, but occasionally I'm challenged by what he's preaching or writing - especially in the way he conveys the narrative of scripture. Anyway, this morning he was talking about the blind man in Mark 8:22-26 - Jesus touches him once to restore his sight, and then touches him again to give him clarity and understanding of what he sees.

    Me next, me next.