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9.30.2005

Blitz Reading

It's been a long week, and a long string of weeks leading up to this week. I find myself with a stack of books to read and review and no time to do either. So, I'm taking a break - sort of. I won't be blogging as much this next week, and will be funneling some of the downtime to reading and writing a few reviews. Then, next week after this sorta-kinda-hiatus, I'll start REVIEW WEEK - posting a review per day of the books that will hopefully be worth dropping everything else for. I get giddy just thinking about it.

Here's the thing: we've had some good comments here the past few weeks, too, and I don't want the conversation to necessarily end. Want to "guest blog"? Email me something that's been sparked in you from something you've seen posted or commented on here, and I'll try to post it. Anything goes (within the boundaries of decency as determined by Bill Bennett, of course - sorry, too easy), just keep it clean and don't get personal or hurt anyone. I think there's enough thinking thinkers who stop by from time to time to keep things running. And if I feel the need, the need for speed/blogging, I'll pop back in. That's my perogative, too.

For now, heading home for a quiet evening of dinner, maybe a movie, maybe a book, maybe snoring in my chair in the living room. Thanks for playing - hope you have a great weekend.

Words. Mean. Things.

I was watching the news this morning and caught this story: Secretary saying that, "you could abort every black baby in this country and your crime rate would go down." My first thought, not being able to stay for the whole story and the anger against him, was oh-no-what-an-idiot-what-was-he-thinking-that's-completely-out-of-bounds. I wanted to post on how he was an idiot, that I was going to have to deal with the non-Book of Virtues fallout.

But then I heard a little more on the radio on the way into work, and I discovered something utterly devastating: I had fallen for it. I pride myself in being able to ask questions, converse with folks, go the "other way" to make a point and fill in all the various blanks. I like hyperbole and exaggeration and absurdity that brings us to some good point. And that's what happened here - the quote above is pulled from the context of a discussion on the ends justifying the means. Here's the context, the saving grace for Bennett in this case: "If you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose -- you could in this country and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossibly ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down."

Yes, he said it - and in context brought up that it would be "morally reprehensible", a phrase with very little leeway on how wrong he thinks something like that would be. If the only thing you're thinking about is A, then do B - which would be utterly reprehensible, and teaching us that the ends (B) do not justify the means (A). That's the context. Poor choice? Perhaps, but also so absurd and out there that it probably made his point better than anything else he could've used.

Cut back to me in the car on the radio, hearing the people harangue against him for that one phrase. I fell for it, getting angry and calling him an idiot, too - when he was really close to doing what I do all the time. But the soundbite is better as one phrase taken out of context, and the heated sermons being blasted back at him are better in their own ignorance of what he actually said.

All that to say: I'll defend him on this one. And I'll keep entering into conversations where we try to learn from each other instead of preaching from soapboxes and holier-than-thou positions, especially when those places are clueless on what's really going on around us in the context of this life.

UPDATE: Here's the uneditted audio that sparked the controversy. Poor choice of words? Maybe. But not racist, and not worthy of all that's been thrown back his way.

Darkness

Photo Friday: Darkness... well, "shadow" anyway. It was a really bright day, but I liked how the b&w came out, contrasting the shadow and my son's shoes.

9.29.2005

Homework

Overheard last night in the living room, right before bedtime, in a land far, far away:
C: Daddy, can you take a look at this?
D: What it is, babydoll?
C: Mommy says this answer is "15", but I think it's "16".
PROBLEM: What number is between 10 and 20, that rounds to 20, and one of the digits is 5 more than the other digit?
D: Tell Mommy it's "16", sweetie. But it's okay - she was an English major.
C: Ok, Daddy - love you! Good night!
[Editor's note: Any resemblances to anyone real or actually living in my house is purely coincidental. Honest.]

9.28.2005

Blended


Heh heh heh - from Andrew Jones @ TallSkinnyKiwi. Just click here or the photo to get to his post and questions on this. Also, a follow-up post by . Good stuff.

Forward Thinking

No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not as I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the and of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.
- Philippians 3:13-14, nlt
More than dwelling on past failures and triumphs, I want to look forward to "what's next", and ultimately to what really matters at the end of it all. Paul, in his letter to the Philippian church, reminds them of his imperfection, and of his constant desire to press forward towards the goal, the prize. I want to be like that - the past pushing me forward, instead of the past holding us back.

The problem is that I don't know what lies ahead, what's just around the bend. I know God's there, already preparing the premises in some sovereign way / shape / form. If I knew what was coming, would I act differently? Would I make better choices, different choices? What is time, that moves so slowly yet so resolutely forward without asking us our opinions, our suggestions, our dreams or our plans? Eternity intersects right now - and is gone right now - and is potential right now. And we press on in spite of ourselves, hoping tomorrow will be better. Optimism, pessimism, realism - all going forward one minute at a time, day by glorious day.

What does it mean to me to really press on? It means not letting today's mistakes hold me back tomorrow. It means not letting tomorrow's troubles keep me from living life today. It means don't worry, be happy - life's too short to spend it anxiously awaiting trouble, so let's make the best of it and... press on. Wow, this post showed such potential at the beginning. Somewhere in the middle, it twisted into something less than Pollyanna, something a bit more than Chicken Little. That's what "pressing on" feels like to me.

9.27.2005

Sinning Sinners

I've posted before on this thought process somewhere over the past three or four years, but it's something on my mind today. That's amazing in itself, since there's really not any room for any "extra" thoughts in my head this week with all that's going on. It's an idea that it's so much easier to say "hate the sin, love the sinner", than it is to live that out, since we tend to "hate the sinner", too, and mess up the whole system by our lack of grace.

I've actually got writer's block, and am trying to tackle this subject to work through it. Basically, we're good at judging others, but bad at discerning in our own lives what's right and what's wrong. I know what I believe, and I know I'm doing the best I can. And even when I make a mistake, I know my heart was in the right place, right? But looking at someone else who's sinning and making their own mistakes - I can be so quick to point the finger and shame them with the guilt of my judgment. We want to "share the truth in love" and tell them about how that sin will condemn them to eternal hellfire - and sometimes, maybe it's just me, but sometimes we actually like it, that we can be so right and that sinning sinner can be so wrong.

Jonah had this problem, and I hate that I can identify with him so easily. He knew he was a wonderful preacher and prophet, and he knew he could go into Ninevah and preach up a storm. But knowing his obvious talents, he knew the city's people would be convicted and repent, and then God would do something silly like FORGIVE THEM and WITHHOLD HIS WRATH. He was actually getting angry at God, knowing his own abilities and the way God would respond to their conviction. So he said no, left on a ship, and eventually found himself praying in a loud voice - HHHEEEELLLPPPP - from inside seafood.

We want to tell others they are wrong, and while we want to "see them saved", we also want to watch them get what they deserve. Where's the mercy? Where's the love? Where's the acceptance in spite of our shortcomings? We want mercy for self and judgment for others, and never the twain shall meet.

Busy?

Where did Monday go?

We've kicked off small groups in a big way at church, and I got so caught up in the festivities and frivolities (okay, actually I've been stressing on all that still needs to be done and coordinated!) that I didn't post a post for Monday. Oh the shame of it all. Agony, oh agony...

Honestly, I was writing email all day, working against some deadlines in the office, and trying to find time to sit and inhale/exhale. It's all good, and going well all over town. Please pray for the groups meeting, for people connecting - many for the first time - and for this to continue to prompt us forward in loving God & living Christ daily with each other.

9.25.2005

Punchline?

What's the joke that finishes with this punchline:
"footprints in the peanut butter"?

From J.: How can you tell if an elephant has been in your refrigerator? ... footprints in the peanut butter!

I remember when peanut butter was kept in the fridge. That was before it was loaded with all the nasty hydrogenized oil. :)
or this punchline:
"to stomp out flaming ducks"?

From Cheater Jeremy:
Why do ducks have webbed feet?
To stomp out fire.
Why do elephants have flat feet?
To stomp out flaming ducks

Here We Go


We're starting 40 Days of Community today - "Better Together", going through the daily devotional and weekly videos and sermons together. It's the only way to go through something like this - there will be folks who think a little differently, see a little differently, and that's ok. Being together and having the conversation helps us "get" what God has for us to "get".

UPDATE: This morning went pretty well. The small group books weren't ready, so some folks had a little more difficult time finding someone to connect with in joining a group. Book sales were swift; I haven't heard a tally yet, but they were flying. I'm not a huge fan of the Purpose-Driven ideas, but I like this book, and I can see room for good conversation around things that matter. As a guide for connecting in a meaningful way, in a way that impacts around us, I think it actually works. I'm looking forward to the time together, to meeting new folks, and to hearing from all these new small groups about what's going on.

9.24.2005

Party

Birthday party, again. I think we have been doing birthday the whole month. Good times.

Language Problem

We're going to need a new word. The word "devastated" will need to be erased from our collective vocabularies, because it's overused, and is now also obsolete. After the devastation of Hurrican Katrina, we've heard all week about the coming devastation of Hurrican Rita and looking for this devastated region to be just devastated with this devastating storm battering the devastated low-lying areas.

I did hear something that I'd been thinking this morning on one of the reports from New Orleans about the new flooding in the Ninth Ward: "Psychologically, of course, this is devastating; but practically, the damage had already been done". I've been thinking about how that would be the best scenario, not the worst. New Orleans already has alot of damage, already will have alot of money coming in for reconstruction. The best thing would be for this storm to blow through here rather than having to spread resources further around the Gulf Coast for a different area, further taking the focus off of damage in devastated Mississippi and Alabama.

On CNN they just asked the question of an official about whether Houston did the right thing, if all that hassle was worth it since it appears that Houston will not be majorly in the path. He answered it responsibly - "We will go back, see what was wrong and what worked, but we got the people out and those who obeyed the evacaution did the right thing" - but you know there will be hearings and finger pointing and soundbites of people yelling at the camera for making them miss their soap operas.

I'd be tired by now of people continually telling me that I'm devastated, or that my property and town have been devastated. I want some new word. And if I'm not devastated, I just want to be thankful - and then move on to be able to help out, because there are still a lot of devastated people still out there.

9.23.2005

3Ws

I really hope NBC's does well. It's going to be , and if it can live up to that without being a rip-off, then it'll be really good. Besides, I really want Amy Grant to succeed with this project. It has the potential to be schmaltzy, but it can be really neat.

Tag Friday

I have just been tagged by CubRev. Slow day, nothing much post-worthy, so I'm grateful for the thought-challenge.

1. Total number of books you own?
I think I guesstimated 500-600 last time I thought about it. At least 100 per bookcase, and who knows how many boxed up from just growing up and reading. A pretty average number compared to most bibliophiles, but more than folks who don't generally read.

2. What is the last book(s) you bought?
Bought for myself? Hmm - probably THE RULE OF FOUR, purchased in an airport gift shop before flying home from Orlando. I haven't touched it since.

3. What was the last book you read?
JESUS IN THE MARGINS by Rick McKinley - wonderful book, with an eye towards pastoral care within the confines of real integrity in ministry.

4. List 5 books that are particularly meaningful to you (in no particular order):
* LIFE AFTER GOD, Douglas Coupland
* FINDING FAITH and NEW KIND OF CHRISTIAN, Brian McLaren
* RIVER OF GOD, Dutch Sheets
* TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, Harper Lee
* MERE CHRISTIANITY, CS Lewis

5. Tag five people
If you're reading here and have bought/read a book since high school, consider yourself tagged!

Burn

Poto Friday: Burn

Photo Friday: Burn

9.22.2005

Providence

"We know that God wouldn't do that to us again." - overheard on the news, some channel, some LA parish, this week during reports of the oncoming Hurricane Rita

I think what storms and devastation prove most is that we are not God, and that we don't understand Him or His ways. It's a fine line between "God caused this" and "God allowed this". Whichever way it works out, ultimately we are driven to Him. There's sin and evil in the world, and it plays out in our hearts and in our weather patterns. When it's all said and done, Jesus grieves and mourns with us, and He celebrates and rejoices with us. To assume that "oh, He wouldn't let that happen again" is to presume too much. Instead, it might actually happen as the even-worst-case scenario - are we still going to worship and follow hard after Him?

Show of Hands

Okay, you've been reading for free and lurking in the shadows. Time to come out of the closet. Who's out there?
  • First name?
  • Location?
  • What time is it?
  • How'd you get here?

    Thank you for your continued support. We now return to our regularly scheduled drivel.

  • Morning, Checkered

    9.21.2005

    Pray

    this is an audio post - click to play

    9.20.2005

    Ballerina

    Hmmmmm?

    "What you focus on determines what you miss." - Brian McLaren, quoting a friend while preaching 09/18/05 on
    Wow. That's one of those phrases that is really hitting target with me today. What am I missing because of what I'm focusing on? Where am I missing out because I'm not looking there? What am I focusing on, and does that mean that I'm missing something else?

    9.19.2005

    Neighborly

    "If we have a steadily narrowing vision of people to whom we're willing to accord respect or if the company we keep is slowly diminishing to include only the folks who've learned to pretend to agree with us, we can be assured that we're in danger of developing around ourselves a kind of death cult, a frightened, trigger-happy defensiveness that is neither godly nor, in the best sense, American." - David Dark, The Gospel According to America, p. xiii

    Bummed

    I'm tired today - not a bad thing, just a thing.
    But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. - 1 Cor. 9:27

    Matthew 4:17

    What is the Gospel? What is the "good news"? In a nutshell, this phrase sums up the message of Jesus to those around Him who wanted and need to hear: "Turn from your sins and turn to God, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near" (Matthew 4:17). That's it - stop living for your selfishness, start living towards God, because the Kingdom is here ahead of you.

    The way we live life must change. We're forgiven, and He loves us - but He also enables us to turn from the old attitudes and towards Himself. That's a change; that's repentance. Every day, choosing His ways over our own - that's how we grow in the Kingdom, and it's right here ahead of us.

    Life choices change for the better. Our language becomes one of more blessing than insult. We choose to help others instead of ignoring needs, and we watch for opportunities to love the people around us. That's what happens in the life of one who's growing in Christ. It's not easier, not a "better way to live out your purpose" - as much as it's the best way to live, regardless of how hard it might be. You realize one day that something happens and you respond differently than you would've a year ago, five years ago. The driver on the freeway cuts you off and you wonder if everything's okay in his life instead of getting hacked off - evidence of a changing and growing life.

    You find yourself praying, talking with God. You make time in your schedule to read the Bible - for the first time in years, it doesn't have dustbunnies living off it's cover, and instead it's "used" and you've got notes and are jotting things down from the morning sermon. You hear from the pastor or a friend or the radio, and you meditate on what God might be saying through these avenues of communication. You grow and mature and change, and people wonder about it and ask questions ans seek you advice... because you're living for Christ in the kingdom right now, just ahead of you.

    Book Fair

    I remember book fairs from when I was in elementary school. We would have display tables setup in the cafeteria (the library at that time was too small for much extra traffic). I would be tempted, and would fall to the temptation, to spend my lunch money on books instead of lunch. But I didn't mind. I loved reading, getting into good stories, characters, plots, danger and intrigue and historical fiction. Sometimes the book fairs had brand new glossy books, and other times the district was trying to get rid of older books to make room on their shelves. Those were the worst times, because the older books were sold yard-sale-style, 4/$1, and my lunch money might get me ten books to bag and carry home.

    There's a book fair at the kids' school this week, and we're passing along that love of reading. Five dollars from us, to add to whatever they want to spend of their own money. Steering both of them towards stories rather tham jokebooks, to novellas before comics. Both kids love to read, and one goal is to get reading time right up there with brand new Spongebob episodes and the next level of whatever video game is hot right now.

    I'm trying to not go to the book fair, though. I don't trust myself. The temptation is too great... then again, lunch is overrated.

    9.18.2005

    Birhday Lunch

    Birthday's are an event for us. They last forever, you get all kinds of stuff, and you still are just getting old.
    Cookie cakes rock, don't they? The menu was nice for the family lunch - Trace picked "hotdogs" for his meal, meaning dogs and bratwursts.

    Now I just need to figure out how to play his new without him knowing...

    9.17.2005

    Pre-game


    This was the calm before the storm - or at least I wished it had stormed, cooled things off. As it is, the Gamecocks lost 37-14 to the Crimson Tide, and the heat coupled with uncomfortable seating arrangements (don't ask - I don't blame the girl sitting next to us, but there's a point my politeness might run out) led to us leaving by halftime and watching the shockingly bad second half at home in the A/C.

    Friday Fun Fest

    The horrors of Sno-Cone Tongue!

    Chillin' out, sweaty and drinkin' a cold one. That's a Diet Coke. DIET COKE.

    Last train to Clarksville, by way of the playground.

    9.16.2005

    Geekdom

    Watching this on the History Channel, my son walked out of the room saying this: "I can't believe it - a documentary only my dad would watch." I took notes for him, for later.

    What Matters

    One of the things that I feel is most important for parents to pass along to their children is a sense of what matters - what's meaningful, what makes sense, what is valued for time and resources and priority. With so many ways to waste ourselves each day, how do we make sure that what needs to get done gets done, that what's important takes a place of importance in our schedules? In order to "pass it along", what do I need to change in my own life to get this one "right"?

    Our son has a problem with prioritizing. Very bright, great reader, loves to play video games - and is getting poor grades on tests and homework because right now, everything for him is something that gets in the way of what he really wants. Get through the math test so he can draw and doodle. Get through the vocabulary test so he can read his book. Get through homework as fast as he can so he can play games. Everything else is a speed bump to getting what he wants.

    The goal as I see it is to help him change he wants, change what he values and help him see how things need to work. I think he's smarter than I was at his age, able to grasp what's being thrown his way. So it's going to be easier to blow things off and give second-best. I'm hoping his attitude changes: wanting to learn, wanting to do well, wanting to please us and his teachers and learn all he can. My study habits were terrible, and I didn't find out how bad until college. Time to train him now, let him see the fruit of doing his best now so that later on it'll be that much better for him, that much easier. It's like this: take ten minutes to rush through your math homework, and spend the next twenty going back through each problem he gets wrong to figure it out again. Thirty minutes before getting to play - or rather, if he would take his time, take fifteen minutes to slow down and double-check, then we get to the games and books and drawing faster. If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right, and worth doing your best.

    And yeah, I need that lesson, too.

    Checklist For Weekend

  • Pick up kids from school Friday afternoon
  • Get books for small groups @ church
  • Family Fun Night @ School tonight
  • Finalize the small group map and the individual maps through the weekend
  • SLEEP LATE IN THE MORNING - maybe maybe not (stupid dog, probably instigated by Jeremy)
  • Take kids to Grandma's for the day Saturday
  • Tailgating
  • Alabama @ USC, 3:30pm
  • Prepare for Sunday morning's Small Group Leader training session
  • Win with both teams in fantasy football

  • Divine


    Photo Friday: Divine

    Hanging at my desk, made by my kids.

    9.15.2005

    Discovery

    I find that my life isn't all that engrossing. I'm living it, and still find myself often longing for more. I blog life - the deep thoughts and the surface tensions, and I can't imagine that it would be that much more non-boring in the text version as it is in the day-to-day 3D version. Anyway, the daily routines tend to blend together from weekend to weekend, with interspersed highlights of calendar events and a few surprises. I submit that it's the fact the surprises still occur, that I find out there are things I haven't taken into consideration before, that keeps me from going mad. Maybe.

    One of those little "discoveries" happened to me this morning. It wasn't much, just a tweak in the fabric of space and time that I wasn't expecting. Our daughter was perturbed this morning - sad and angry over something at home. I was encouraging her to "get over it", knowing that as big as it seemed she would be okay and that there were reasons behind what had happened. My message of "trust us" implied a charge to "trust God" - it's okay to be sad and angry, but work through it to let the best come out on the other side. Something like that.

    Anyway, I thought about the photo she snapped of her brother on his birthday a couple of days ago ("Double Digits" below) and how interesting that had been. So I asked her to snap one of herself with my cellphone (the "Smile" post below). After taking it and showing me, she said, "I'm still angry, but I tried not to show it." As I see that photo, I am "discovering" something about parenting: either we're teaching her to hide her feelings, or we're helping her cope with her feelings in a way that won't hinder her interaction with others. The former would be wrong on so many levels, and yet the latter would be useful on those same levels. There's such a fine line - how do you teach "authentic"?

    What's the "discovery"? That parenting has so many variables, that raising your child in the way she should go might mean messing up, and might also likely mean doing it right. You don't know until they grow up, do you? What I might see as a positive might indeed be a negative, and it's important to reinforce the positive and to make sure the negative has no fertile soil - even if the negative motivations and positive motivations might come out as the self same thing. Something like that.

    SMILE

    Store Near You

    Got this as a comment on my review of Jesus in the Margins, re-posted at :
    A Daring review for a sinister cabal.
    Good for you. I'm not into "Christian"
    books, but maybe I'll look at this one.
    I don't know about the "sinister cabal" part, but I thought this was cool, finding someone who's thinking of actually getting a book because of something I've written. Boo yah.

    9.14.2005

    World On Fire

    I'm a Sarah McLachlan fan, enjoy her sound - mellow most of the time, wonderfully deep. Not to get into the politics and economics of the thing - but this is a pretty straight-forward video.

    [thanks for the link, jvpastor]

    Same Token

    Here's an interesting and very valid point following up yesterday's "Conversation" post: "But at the same token we can take it to another extreme where we allow the sins in someones lives to continue, never calling them to task out of love" (Cubicle Reverend).

    You are absolutely correct, and the flippancy and license that comes with allowing sin to go unchecked is very real, too. There's such a balance, isn't there? My first thoughts are that Jesus' model is still best.

    "Go, and sin no more." With love and authority - the same things that drew people earnestly seeking after God to Him in the first place - those words have a weightiness. To the woman caught in adultery, with everyone trying to trap Jesus into stoning her, He said, "go and sin no more." You know what you've done is wrong, and you know these guys have been no better in putting you on the spot. I'm not looking at you through your sin, but we can't deny its existence. I forgive you, and I treasure you - don't be like that anymore. You're better than that, better than them in their misunderstanding, and you can live from this point on as a child of the King. Go, and sin no more.

    Real repentance is really turning away from real sinful attitudes and actions by really being transformed, really having the renewed mind Paul writes about in Romans 12. We leave behind the junk to press on towards the goal of Christ-likeness. And yeah, that needs to come out in our conversation, too - in real relationship together, focusing on who the person can and is becoming together with ourselves, rather than on their (our) shortcomings.

    p.s. - this ain't easy, is it? Shouldn't be - if it was, everyone else, myself included, would be doing this already.

    9.13.2005

    Conversation

    I am all about conversation, finding out what someone else thinks and feels, sharing what I think and feel, growing from each other's perspectives and finding reality somewhere in the midst of it all. Jesus dialogued with people, speaking with them more often than preaching to them. He asked questions, told stories, shared insights. People who were genuinely trying to live rightly and get to know Him, He welcomed into the conversation. Those folks with harsh answers and solidified legalisms were chastised, even beating off with whips those who were trying to make a buck on the interaction between God and man. He had his limits - but when someone wanted Him, really went after Him, He stopped, and they talked.

    But today, so many times, we close ourselves off to anyone who disagrees. Get shut off and belittled enough, and you don't want to talk anymore. "Agree to disagree" means more than "I agree to let you be wrong" - it means that I can understand that I might not have the whole picture here, that we are better together than apart. And the conversation is necessary to the process and to the journey. It's what we're made for.

    Double Digits

    Our son is TEN today. I asked him this morning if he's ever done anything for ten years before. "Um, no, I don't know." - "Well, you've been breathing for ten years!" - "Day-aaaddd!"
    We need to get in and re-decorate his room this fall and winter. These are snaps of the 3-D letters on his wall...
    ... and of the mural we painted to match his first bedding set. Yep, ten year olds need something a little more sophisticated than barnyard scenes. But I'm going to do the overhaul, so no Spongebob, either!

    UPDATE 11:21am - He'll get a big kick out of this. That's really cool.

    9.12.2005

    Personal

    I listened with half an ear yesterday as Pastor Greg shared his "leftover sermon" (watch or listen from the Seacoast-Irmo website). There's so much going on, so many folks giving of themselves for the upcoming small group adventure, just things that need to get done to support them and enable them to do their best. So after the morning training session, I had a few more things on my heart and mind, and like I said, half-listened as pastor shared "Squeeze the Most Out of Life".
    No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be,[a] but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven. - Philippians 3:13-14, nlt
    One point smacked me: making sure that I'm spending my time "perfecting my talents and streghths". Pastor Greg brought up the story of the talents, with three co-workers getting a measure of $$ to take care of for the master. Two of the three doubled his investment, but the third was afraid and hid his $$ so that he would at least not lose what had been entrusted to him. Am I holding too tightly to what I've been entrusted with? Am I working my best in time & resources to give a return to the Master? I don't know, but it made me think, challenged me to assess my own life.

    Why is it that when some people hear sermons, when some folks hear the Word, they think of what's wrong in someone else's life? Why do some folks feel the need to convict others when God speaks? I do it, too, probably more than I'm willing to admit since I'm the one writing here. But really, I get cut back and forth with the two-edged sword of His truth, whether I'm paying attention or not, it seems. Now the task is to do something about it, make changes in me that reflect His life, and not worrying about whether so-and-so was here to hear that or not.

    9.11.2005

    Good Times, Good Times

    You can just hear them, each one laying there, "Freebird" playing in their headsets, chillin' to the vibe... I'd love to have a setup like this at work. A midafternoon siesta with headsets would be awesome. Meanwhile, we'll keep pumping the good stuff into their earpieces: "... as free as a bird now..."

    [feature story @ Yahoo!]

    Fantasy Football


    Starting with gusto today - behind right now, but some big players in later games, too. That's part of the fun - once the sites get their server issues ironed out. Hopefully I'll just be competitive this year. Not a bad draft, and picked up some players over the past week. No telling until they play, though.

    Meanwhile, I'm losing to Jeremy in the live scoring above - gotta live with that. Pray for me.

    Sunday Drive

    this is an audio post - click to play

    9.10.2005

    Better Answer

    I had this question on the 3?s post earlier this week: What is the most important thing you want your children to tell you they learned from you when they grow up? I think I found a "better" answer, something that might be true of my kids and I, and anyone else paying attention:
    ... And truthfulness, like the strange world of the Bible, was a subject of which my father understood himself to be a learner, not an authority, and certainly not a professional. He was notoriously impatient with people who thought or spoke otherwise of themselves. He didn't always know how to have a conversation with people who didn't seem too well acquainted with the criminals under their own hats. Like Columbo, he was a little embarassed for them and a little frustrated.

    This frustration had a lot to do with the hope and comfort he derived from what we might term Waffle House Conversationalism, the open and folksy dynamic of people sitting and talking over food and drink in a boisterous public place. What could be more exciting and egalitarian? No appeal to the court of fact has more resonance than another, everybody has to let everybody else finish speaking, and nobody's allowed to talk too terribly loud, because people are trying to eat in peace. You're welcome to bring the Bible or the president into it, but if you don't keep you ego at a reasonable volume, you can take your conversation elsewhere.

    (David Dark, The Gospel According To America, p. xi)

    9.09.2005

    Inland

    I'm just curious: how far inland will a storm surge come? I'm roughly, oh, 100 miles from the beach, and still got this email this afternoon:



    My friendly Home Depot store wants me to stock up on plywood. [sarcasm]I better watch the Weather Channel all weekend.[/sarcasm]

    Of course, if a storm does come up through to Columbia like Hugo did in '89, [ironic]that would be different[/ironic], wouldn't it?

    Reaping, Sowing, Etc.

    I tried five times this morning to get this thought process down as an audio post. It's difficult to get my mind around text on a screen to describe what I'm feeling now, because it's hard to type for emphasis and meaning and emotion. But I'll try since the audio thing kept bailing on me - maybe if I type this through the day, edit here and there to make it more succinct and less rabbit-trailing, maybe it'll work.
    "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."
    - Joshua 1:9, niv
    I'm in such an encouraging place right now - emotionally, spiritually, church-ily. Over the years God has provided places for us to worship and to grow with friends, and it's been good over that time to see things from different perspectives and grow through different circumstances. So this is no knock against anywhere we've ever been before - but I'm in the middle of something so full and eye-opening and overwhelming and challenging right now. I feel like I'm on overload, about to bust a gasket somewhere with all the stuff going on.

    There's a biblical and natural "law" at work that most folks recognize, Christian or not, called "reaping and sowing". When you sow, you'll reap. If you plant something, it'll grow. If you do something, there will be consequences, the good and the bad. We understand and agree and have seen this on so many levels, I'm sure. But there's something else in the scriptures that speaks of reaping thirty-, fifty-, a hundred-fold - basically, getting out more than you put in. There's something about the grace and sovereignty and power of God that when He works through something, too, you get a bigger return, more bang for your buck. I've never really been a part of anything like that - until now. I'm overwhelmed to a large extent because there is more going on than I'm directly responsible for. We started with basically nine consistent small groups, and in the next couple of weeks we will kick off over fourteen more - 25+ small groups, almost three times as many as when we started. And I haven't done much of anything besides send some email and teach one training class. There's more coming than what I'm putting in, and it's amazing to me.

    In the back of my mind is a still small voice that's saying, "don't screw this up". It's me saying that, my little voice in my head, and it's me just making sure that I still do my best, put forth that much more effort maybe for an even bigger return on investment. I'm overwhelmed, positively with the encouragement and probably on the negative side with stressing on what still needs to be accomplished. It's a tension, somewhere between the reaping and the sowing. I'm hoping it's a good place, you know?

    Massive

    Photo Friday: Massive


    Okay, it just looks massive. I couldn't take a snapshot of my ego, so my Mini Cooper model will have to do.

    9.08.2005

    3 ?s, 3 !s

    Thanks to everyone for posting questions. I've tried to be as accurate and honest as possible. Maybe.

    From Cubicle Reverend:
    (1)If you could have one dream job at all, what would it be?
    Hmmmmmmmmm... probably working as a DJ, with a little freelance writing on the side. Playing music and dealing with people on a daily basis was a blast - especially getting my voice out on the air, encouraging folks and being creative. That was really cool, working radio in college in the late 80s. Would do it again in a heartbeat - more than minimum wage this time, though, ok?
    (2)Is there a secret guilty pleasure you enjoy?
    Big Brother 6 - don't tell anyone, but I really hope Howie wins. He's the most innocent, even if he's the most warped. Everyone else plays that game so reflexively, reactionary.
    (3)If you could listen to only one CD which one would it be?
    Good question. If it's not some mix that I burn myself - probably Sting's Sacred Love.

    From Zubegirl:
    1. What is the most important thing you want your children to tell you they learned from you when they grow up?
    "You taught us what was meaningful - walking with God, sense of humor, helping people, all that."
    2. What was the single sweetest, most thoughtful, yet seemingly insignificant thing your wife has done for you?
    Hmm - evenings are busy, and we share most of the kid duties. But when she says, "Sit there and I'll bathe the kids & put them to bed" - that's awesome. Doesn't have to happen all the time, and I am cool with doing it most any night. But when she stops to give me that, it's really sweet.
    3. What was the most creative meal you ever prepared when the cupboards were looking bare?
    Bare cupboard meal? My kids are easy - if we've got bread and cheese we're good to go. I have worked with pasta and cans of alfredo sauce, added some canned chicken. My wife's the incredible one, making something really beyond decent, when at the same time all I see is cereal in the pantry. Breakfast is another choice - I'm killer on making grits to go with scrambled eggs and toast.

    From TheRealMiller:
    1) What's your biggest regret?
    Sending a personal email to "reply all".
    2) When was the last time you knew for sure God was speaking to you?
    Audible stuff usually comes in conversation with my wife, but don't let her know that. There was the time at the Lizard's Thicket parking lot (local home cookin') when she said, "How do you know God's not leading us to go into youth ministry at XYZ Church?" Clear as day, that was God. There was the time in a local Christian bookstore when God intervened through someone I didn't know to let me know He was still there and was pleased. Those aren't very recent. I think this past weekend, just sitting around after church, feeling the presence of the Lord in a deep inside kind of way - that was Him, saying same thing.
    3) What is your fondest family memory?
    Walking through the doors at the hospital to introduce our then-two-year-old son to his then-newborn sister.

    From Jeremy:
    1.) Can I borrow $500?
    No, but I'll spot you the $5 you owe me for football.
    2.) If i told you i was a pathelogical liar, would you believe me?
    Yes. No. Wait. Yes. What?
    3.) Will your answer to this question be no?
    Hmmmm... pie.

    From Craig:
    1) What is your favorite (or most challenging) worship song and why?
    Todd Agnew has Isaiah 6 to music on his new CD - gotta listen to it, "holy holy holy"
    2) What do you presently see as your biggest parenting challenge and how are you addressing it?
    Homework tonight. When my son had to write a poem for class, it included, "beat the heck out of this game". I don't mind vernacular sometimes, but let's clean that one up, bud.
    3) How do you read books so fast and why do you review them on your blog? Doesn't that take the joy out of reading them?
    I enjoy reading, and "reviewing" means that I can pass along what's good to those who stop by. It's a service to the reader, and I'm saving $$$ by getting review copies instead of buying them outright. It's more about the free books, to be honest. I'd like to hit a stride with three per month, but I'm right around one or so per right now.

    Fuel/Wallet Guage

    3 ?s

    I posed three questions to Zubegirl on her blog, and now it's my turn. Here's the rules:
  • Ask me 3 questions. Any 3, no matter how personal, private or random.
  • I have to answer them honestly. I have to answer them all. I reserve the right to edit as necessary, but not worried on that front.
  • In turn, you post this message in your own blog or journal and you have to answer the questions that are asked of you.

    How's that?

  • 9.07.2005

    Good Chili

    Won the cookoff. That's what I'm talking about.

    Chili Cookoff Tonite

    We're having a tailgating chili-fest tonight for First Wednesday - here's my entry. Bring a bowl and your own hot sauce (the missus makes me keep it toned down, but no one says we can't add a little kick to it, right?).

    Chili. It's what's cookin'.

    10 Things I've Done You Probably Haven't

    The idea here is to note things you've done that you think are pretty unique -- although, given what's happened in other blogs and journals where this game is being played, you'll be surprised at how many people end up saying "Hey, I've done that, too!" Put them up in your own blog and let the fun begin (you can also add your list in comments, or put a link back to any entry you write).

    To get you started, here are ten things I've done that you probably haven't:

    1. Been cut off by drivers on the freeway in San Juan, Puerto Rico
    2. Worked as a DJ on afternoon drive-time on a Christian radio station
    3. Clipped a tree with the rear bumper of a Mustang - my friend's dad's Mustang
    4. Received an email from an author after posting a book review: "You really got it, thanks"
    5. Made pottery from clay that had been dug up from the creekbottom
    6. Gotten lost in the Bay Area - heading north out of Berkeley, thinking it was south
    7. On that same trip, found the home of an online friend in Santa Cruz - met at her house for a midweek Bible study and went to her church that Sunday, 3000 miles from home
    8. Cut off other drivers on the freeway in San Juan, PR
    9. Watched as a friend tried to squirt me with kethcup from one of those little packets - only to have it backfire and blowup the sleeve of his buttondown oxford
    10. Front row center at a late-80s Amy Grant concert

    What are your ten things? Write them up on your own site and leave a comment here.

    [plucked from "By The Way..." - thanks!]

    Ninevah & New Orleans

    I've noticed some of this, too - pointing the I-told-you-so finger at the sity of New Orleans in the aftermath of last week's hurricane. But people need our service, our message, our love - and God uses us to give those things, no matter the sin or shortcomings. Our only hope is the grace of God.
    That Great City by John Fischer
    (PurposeDrivenLife.com devotional, 09/07)

    But the Lord said, "You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?" Jonah 4:10,11 (NIV)

    These are the last verses of the Book of Jonah in the Old Testament, and they are important when considering those who are suffering the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.

    We often think of Jonah as the story of a runaway prophet and how God used a big fish to get him back on track. But that's just the main story line. There is a subplot to this story that is just as important and it reveals to us a lot about the compassion of God.

    Jonah had nothing but contempt for what God calls “that great city” of Nineveh. The reason he didn't want to go preach there was that he was afraid the wicked people of Nineveh might actually listen to him, repent, and God would spare them. That's the last thing he wanted to have happen. He really wanted God to destroy them for their wickedness. He felt so righteous about this that he went off and pouted after preaching to them, sitting on a hill overlooking the city waiting for God's wrath that never came.

    While he sat there in the hot sun getting madder by the minute, God caused a vine to grow up and give shade to him, but no sooner had He done this than the plant withered and died leaving Jonah once again exposed. This angered Jonah no end, and that was when God brought to his attention the 120,000 people and many cattle in the city of Nineveh who were worth a lot more than Jonah's silly little plant, and his poor self exposed to the hot sun. “Should I not be concerned about that great city?”

    I have picked up a similar Jonah-like contempt for the Big Easy among some who feel that sinful party city is getting what it deserves. This is a dangerous attitude to have, in that wishing for anyone to get what they deserve means that you must get what you deserve, too, and believe me, no one wants to be in that position, because no one is righteous enough to not deserve the judgment of God.

    Jonah's only hope was the grace of God. That was Nineveh's hope, too, but Jonah had a hard time seeing it applied to someone he despised. Should God not be concerned about a great city like New Orleans? It has more people than Nineveh, and many animals, too .

    9.06.2005

    Gimme Tunes

    Curious of my own tastes after seeing the test results at Renee's blog.



    Your Taste in Music:


    80's Rock: Medium Influence
    Adult Alternative: Medium Influence
    80's Alternative: Low Influence
    80's Pop: Low Influence
    Classic Rock: Low Influence
    Progressive Rock: Low Influence

    Life Happens

    I woke up this morning feeling like I'd spent the night wrestling. I don't remember much of any dreams, but waking up was really like coming out of a deep fog - like coming up out of a pool, feeling like you'd been holding your breath too long, catching you breath and trying to focus without chlorine. My muscles were tight across my shoulders, and walking downstairs to let the dog out was a noisy experience, joints popping more than the stairs. But we got up, everyone got showered and dressed and fed and loaded with coffee - and we're at work or at school, looking for some sense of normalcy.

    My wife is working today, too, but she's hurting for a friend who passed away. Her plan right now is to head to Greenville tonight for the visitation, and I'll be home to take care of the kids, keep our Tuesday evening plans with friends. She needs to to this, wants to do this, and I completely understand. Major tragedies alongside personal trials and tribulations - it's all wrong, all bad, all needing to be dealt with.

    9.05.2005

    Review: JESUS IN THE MARGINS

    I am particularly interested in how pastors are really ministering, really leading, really discipling, and really fulfilling their calling before the Lord in seeking to be real and relevant and meaningful in today's world. It's one thing to read some books and interact with conversations at Starbucks. But it's another to actually do ministry among needy and seeking and Christ-serving people. (2005, Multnomah Publishers, Inc.) is a book that shares the thoughts of ministry that come from the pulpit and from the back alleys. Pastor Rick McKinley writes from the heart, not really trying to win an argument as much as looking to throw out his story for all to see, for better or for worse.

    McKinley is Donald Miller's pastor at Imago Dei in Portland, OR. The community was "established for people to discover the love of Christ in the reality of life" (from back jacket), and it's this "reality of life" that comes through in his narrative here. "The love of Jesus doesn't come to make us fit into American culture; it's here to makes us fit into heaven. His love is here to complete us" (p. 38). Stepping in line with Rob Bell's , this pastor is simply telling anyone listening that it's time to be who we really are, be who we're really saved to be in Christ.
    The truth is, all of us who have a relationship with God can do so only because:
    1) God has forgiven us.
    2) We're still desperately needy people.

    (p. 48)
    So much of Christendom thinks way too highly of itself, or the pendulum swings the other way and we debase ourselves in guilt and shame. But balancing the "forgiven" with the "still desperately needy" is what makes the Christian life something others want to be a part of. McKinley points out that Jesus ministered in the margins, going to people who were avoided by the religious elite, having dinner with them and not turning them away. And that's what we're to be about, living that balance with real people who are also fogiven, also desperately needy. Anything less is a lie and sells the gospel short.

    Where's the freedom in becoming child-like again (chapter eight)? What if home was more than a house, more a place of real relationships and love together (chapter 9)? What would it look like if we went to Jesus with our questions more than harping from the high ground of our doctrinal answers all the time (chapter 5)? Those are some of the ideas that get bounced here, and maybe it's summed in the way the community of believers grows together:
    The picture of the church in the Bible is a messy one. Why? Because community is messy. The lies our culture wants us to buy into are not new. The church has struggled against them since its birth. The mess happens when people who are not like each other begin to do life together. We soon realize that community requires us to fall at Jesus' feet and beg Him for the love it takes to obey the "one another" commands. We find we often have to ask people to forgive us because we have not served and loved them the way Jesus wanted us to. (p. 162)
    Finding a place of comfort, a place for reality to be real and love to be loving - that's important as the church finds its place in this post-9/11, post-Katrina world. Instead of pointing fingers and laying blame, I see McKinley calling Christians to ask for forgiveness, to serve others in risky ways, and to be real in our own devotion to the Lord. In a good way.

    Mini-Golf

    Our kids are both over eight feet tall - just standing a hundred yards away. Next to a mountain.

    9.04.2005

    Sabbath

  • Small Group Leader/Host Training 9am
  • Be at Newcomers @ Seacoast-Irmo
  • Wrap-up Email for 40 Days of Community, Irmo Staff
  • Buy book for discussion - Seizing Your Divine Moment
  • First post to online discussion
  • Two and a half hour nap
  • Catch up on review reading - Jesus In The Margins
  • Unload groceries with my sweetie
  • Chill out, breathe a little

  • Thank God for all He's done, for all He is, for all He continues to show of Himself

    It's been a good day, a busy day, a full day, and I am overwhelmed tonight with how good God is. Beyond the storms and beyond the blessings, He is just so rich in His mercies and grace towards us. People forget in the day-to-day that it's all about Him, that He's in control in a way that brings freedom and life. Even in the pain of horrible tragedy, He mourns with us, comforts us, understands on levels deeper than we know. People forget, because we don't live in the grace or with attitudes of gratitude often enough. But it takes a full and busy and overwhelming Sunday to bring things like that to mind, doesn't it?

    I wish everyone could see God the way I see Him right now. More than conviction for my shortcomings, more than simple thanks for meeting my myriad needs - I sense His presence, very real and very full, all around me, in and through this day. There are folks who read my blog and appreciate that I don't ram religion down anyone's throat - if you knew Jesus the way I feel Him near right now, no one would have to shove anything, you know? I'd wish this for anyone, especially those overburdened, hurting, feeling pressure from within and from without. I want you to know: He loves you, He cares, He understands and He can take your questions - just be ready for His answers to change your life and probably lead to even more questions, ok?

  • 9.03.2005

    Racism

  • RelevantMagazine.com - Indicted by Katrina, by Stephen W. Simpson

    When all this is over, every government official from the President down to the city councilperson needs to find a seat in the shell of the Superdome to watch a special screening of the movie CRASH together. Then get over it, realizing that we're all in need, and all have the ability to help. There's enough racism to go around, no matter the skin color. Dang it.

  • Really Surreal Life

    Now back to our irregularly scheduled chaos and mayhem...

  • TheState.com - 'I just wanted to get my family out'

    I didn't sleep well last night, as evidenced by a post-1am post on whether I'm a geek or not (thanks for the diversion, Kelly). This morning I'm more congested than anything else, but it's not painful and I'm pretty sure the week's ordeal with strep has run its course. Coffee's ready, and that should take most of the sting out of the back of my throat.

    There's all kinds of on the tube today, and I'll be flipping channels most of the afternoon I'm sure. I'll also be getting ready for the traiing sessions that start tomorrow, getting the small groups and host homes ready for the upcoming .

  • CNN.com - 'We need this season'; Tulane Green Waves will play

    For a holiday weekend, it seems like everything will be subdued, and with gas prices higher than milk there won't be many extraneous driving trips, not too many extraneous milkshakes either I guess. People are staying home, further rippling the post-hurricane effects through the economy. I don't know - there's a helpless feeling because there's really nothing beyond financial donations we can do. There's a hopeful feeling, because there finally appears to be some aid and relief getting into the city to people who need it. "Good people" have gone through a devastation I'll hopefully never know, and there does appear to be something to hold onto as they come out the other side and start the rebuilding process somewhere along the way.

  • A Small Twist, posting on the daily adventure that is life in Mississippi.

    Christians will respond in disbelief and wonder, both helping and hurting the cause I'm sure. Well, maybe that's not fair, pointing at , who's emotions got the best of him in the midst of all this. As one commentator said last night, it's probably good to point fingers back at the media, see where the discrepancies are from varied perspectives. I guess what I'm feeling is that the help is getting there, as overwhelming as this is turning out and as slow and painful as it's been so far. We'll pray, we'll watch, we'll hope for the best and we'll jump in where we can.

  • Balanced, Well-Rounded

    Results from the Nerd?Geek?Dork? Test are relatively inconclusive, in my opinion:



    Tri-Lamb Material
    60 % Nerd, 47% Geek, 52% Dork
    For The Record:

  • A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
  • A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
  • A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.

    You scored better than half in Nerd and Dork, earning you the coveted title of: Tri-Lamb Material.

    The classic, "80's" nerd, you are what most people think of when they think "nerd," largely due to 80's movies like Revenge of the Nerds and TV shows like Head of the Class. You're exceptionally bright and smart, and partly because of that have never quite fit in with your peers or social groups. Perhaps you're realized, or will someday, that it is possible to retain all of the things that you like about being brilliant and still make peace with the social cliques around you. Or maybe you won't--it's really not necessary. As the brothers of Lambda Lambda Lambda discovered, you're fine just the way you are and can take pride in that. I mean, who wants to be like Ogre, right!?

    Congratulations!
  • 9.02.2005

    Aid & Relief Blog

    Here's a link to the Katrina blog, detailing and gathering information on the response to the hurricane from the Seacoast church family.

    I watched tonight's concert on NBC with my son - blog of the program here. We were both moved, hurting for those who've lost so much, and me hurting for my son getting the oportunity to see that others go through such horror. He wants to give toys whenever that's feasible, to the kids who've lost everything. We donated $$ at the site, in honor of him and his sister, and the thousands of children surviving even now.

    Textual

    Wow - I want to write like this. Thanks, Stacey.

    And then there's this well-reasoned post on the good and bad of apologetics. Dan has hit it spot on, that there's a balance needed as the pendulum swings between extremes.

    Fight Anarchy

    I saw myself in the floodwaters of New Orleans. Not really, but it doesn't take much imagination to see "them" as "us" if "we" were going though the same hell. I can separate myself from them and say that I wouldn't do those things, that I've lived and learned and would be above the fray. But, really, except for the grace of God, I'm not so sure. As someone said this morning, I'd be a protector; I'd love people and encourage people and tell them to hang on, and I'd help people get what they needed as best I could because that's who I am and who I've become as a human being. But that's God at work, right? There's real discipline in the lives of people who've stopped looking out for self and started loving God, loving people above all. And the ones who survive and later thrive will get their because they live that way, not as reward or recompense, but as the natural overflow of living out the Kingdom of God right here.

    The Kingdom is still here, still in the Gulf Coast region, and God is still on the throne. He wasn't surprised, and He's not just wishing us the best even now. He's not wringing His hands wondering what we'll do; this isn't a cliffhanger at the end of the TV season for Him. His heart is grieved - every person suffering is in the line of sight of the Father, who mourns with them. Whether He "allowed" this or "caused" this is a fine line - but it's happened, and it's impact will show what we're made of, what we're about. When disaster strikes, the level of discipline is revealed - for better or for worse.

    My prayers are that those who are strong and patient and kind are overwhelming the lawlessness with love and peace. I'm hoping for forgiveness more than blame, for real help instead of political finger-pointing. It's all bad, none of it is deserved or all of it is deserved, take your pick. And there was not enough done to plan and prepare beforehand for what's happening now. So the mistake has been made, and people will be replaced in all levels of government and society in those regions. But right now there's still real hurt, real pain & death, real suffering, among real people who are made in the image of God and still have a connection to Him through grace and the love of Christ.

    Fight anarchy. Fight it in my life now by being disciplined in my spending, in my time management, in my worship of the Lord, in my reading time and internet time and time with my kids. Self-control comes as a fruit of the Spirit - may I live in a way that reveals growth when it gets rough out there.

    Order

    Photo Friday: Order

    9.01.2005

    Whew - One & Oh

    USC 24 - UCF 15 - Whew. We scored half as many points as we could have, and they probably scored twice as many points as tehy should have. But it was fun. Pastor Jeff from Seacoast-Irmo went with us. Get him to tell you about the "seating arrangements" with me and my two husky XXXL buddies on the other side.

    Half-Time

    Bring It On

    From the south endzone, pre-game.

    Sacred

    There's a tendency in human experience (wow - how's that for a blanket generalization?) to separate the sacred from the secular, to see the things of God and the things of this world in different lights, in different realms, having very little if any interaction back and forth across the great divide. Our spiritual lives are removed from our real lives. The bible on the nightstand is honored, but rarely touched. The sermon on Sunday is usually only a fleeting memory during Monday's morning commute. We pray for help when times are tough, but we don't say much to the Father when it's going pretty good. We know we should go to church, but it's more to appease an inner consciousness issue than to interact with the body of Christ.

    That's rough, but the opposite works, too. We lift up the holiness of God as some vengeful disposition towards the worldliness around us. We think that God has enough to do and can't be bothered by whatever smallish issues we might have, that we can handle on our own. We don't pray because we think are petitions are petty, and we don't tithe because we think God understands, knows we'll do better next time, has compassion on our rebellion and still just wants us to know we're loved. We know it's important for our kids to know God, but they don't see Him at work in our own lives beyond Sunday morning, and we think that's enough. We honor the Lord, but we don't fear Him. We buy Christian pop culture, but we fail to trust Him with our resources.

    We love Him, and we ignore Him at the same time. There's a place in our lives for the holy, and a place for the secular, and never shall they meet. Sigh.

    I woke up before 6am this morning, knowing the going back to sleep would be wrong and that the dog probably needed to go out anyway. The hound and I went downstairs, I opened the backdoor for her and made a pot of coffee for Vicki & I. I went back into the still dark living room, turned on the floor lamp by my chair, and opened my laptop - checking email, latest on CNN.com. And I opened my bible, looking at 2 Thessalonians 1. I was interacting with the PC, the daily news of such devastation in the aftermath of the hurricane and the deaths of so many in Iraq yesterday, and reading the Word - when my son got up. I heard him go to the bathroom, then come down: "Good morning, Dad".

    You're nine years old, getting up earlier than normal on a school day, and you see your own father with his bible open, the laptop up, and the dog coming in from out back. What does this say to your young, growing, learning self? My hope is that this memory will be reinforced in him over time, that daily living is both secular and sacred, and that godliness redeems the time. My hope is that the fact that my email being open at the same time as my Bible won't be a distraction to those of you reading who think the Bible should have such a higher place of prominence, that the presence of the internet means I'm bringing down the worth of the scriptures. My hope is that we'll learn together that it's all sacred, that it's all interconnected in ways we'll neve fully understand, that it's ultimately more meaningful as an intergrated part of life than as a compartmentalized faith.

    My hope is that our kids will be whole-hearted in their devotion, and that their faith will be alive in every aspect of their lives, even as I learn what that means myself.

    Memories

    Got this message emailed this morning:
    Gentlemen,

    We all lived lives that were far more glamorous and adventure-filled that we remember.

    James
    So true, so true.