Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
"...Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." Mark 10:14,15
Jesus loved children and God gives them to us as a blessing. I am saddened by many of the depictions of Christ as a sullen, introspective, morose person. How much the opposite!
When Jesus was on this earth thousands followed him for many reasons, but I am assured that one of those was his charisma...you KNOW he was a joy to be near. He loved to laugh, he has a great sense of humor. It's hard for us in this time to read the Bible and see it because of the great differences in culture and time but it's there.
For example, sometimes Jesus called Peter by his old name Simon. It's interesting to think about, but if you look close it was Jesus' way of slapping his loved friend on the side of the head and saying "Duh!"..."remember where you came from..." Not much different than your big brother calling you a "dork" again as an adult when you do something stupid and you both have a quick laugh about it.
Anyway, it's no wonder that children were drawn to Jesus, the fact that they were is proof enough that he was fun to be around. Believe me, kids don't go looking for the old "skulky" guy in the corner, they make a bee-line to the person that makes them laugh, is full of life and spends time with them.
My youngest son is a precious gift that God gave us (so is my oldest) and one of the little things that makes me smile during this time of year is that he wears a droopy little Santa cap around...even in public! At 11 years old, it shows me how confident he is with himself, but it also reminds me of how much fun he is and that one little gesture gets me more in the "Christmas spirit" than just about anything else.
Monday, December 04, 2006
"Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint;
O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony.
My soul is in anguish. How long, O LORD, how long?
Turn, O LORD, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love. "
It's comforting to know that someone as mighty as King David felt like I do now. Sometimes I just want to know what God has planned for me..."my soul is in anguish. how long, O Lord, how long?". I lose patience and I yell at the sky "what do you want from me?!, stop dropping barriers in front of me!!" Later, when I step back and think about it, I wonder if God is more concerned with teaching me patience than I want him to be. Maybe I'm really going to need to have patience down the road. Maybe I really need it now.
Maybe he is teaching me humility. He knows my deepest thoughts, even before I think them, he understands how I am going to react to what is happening around me. I find myself literally battling my own thoughts, I give them up to the Lord, I ask him to take the selfish thoughts away because I can't do it alone. It just wears me out.
Is there some way to work through my thoughts in a positive and uplifting way? Can I turn what is happening around me into something good? Only if I let go and give God the reigns of my heart. The process of handing those riegns over saps me of my energy, the battle within me is big. I don't want my emotions to control my life anymore! Yet my emotions are part of who I am...
Its' all very confusing.
Here are the words from another "David" (Grohl).
A little bit of resolve is what I need now
Pin me down, show me how
"Resolve", Foo Fighters
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Rocky: "Don't want one."
"Don't want one"...that's what the BCS pollsters said today...
Let's review the highlights of the last few weeks...
- Ohio State is ranked 1st, Michigan is ranked 2nd.
- Ohio State beats Michigan in Columbus by a mere three points allowing 29 points.
- Michigan remains in 2nd place. Most analysts are soundly convinced that OSU and UM are the two best teams in the country.
- Lots of discussion about Michigan, USC, Notre Dame and Arkansas playing OSU
- USC takes over the 2nd spot in the BCS after they beat Notre Dame at home (which UM beat at ND), Florida is a distant 4th place in the BCS. Everyone assumes USC will win out and play OSU for the national championship.
- USC and Arkansas both get beat.
- Michigan and Florida move up one spot each taking over #2 and #3 respectively...
Oh wait, this is the BCS...things are not supposed to make sense. In the magical, fantasy world of the Bowl Championship Series Florida, jumps over UM to take over the 2nd place spot and play for the national championship.
No one expected USC to get beat by UCLA, so they put Michigan in the 3rd spot because in their hearts they knew that OSU and UM were still the best two teams in the nation, but it made sense for USC to play OSU for the national championship. When USC lost, they said "Uh..oh, even though UM is really the 2nd best team in the nation it wouldn't be good for the BCS to have two teams from the same conference play a rematch for the national championship game. So...
They looked around and said, who's closest...Florida! So, a bunch (just enough) of those pollsters that had put UM just behind USC the week before VOTED AGAINST A REMATCH and moved Florida up to 2nd. It wasn't a mandate FOR FLORIDA, but AGAINST A UM / OSU REMATCH.
What a joke.
Well, there's still one more game left for each team and when UM beats up USC and OSU beats up Florida, then we'll end up with...drumroll...OSU #1 and UM #2...back where we started!
We really need a playoff system.P.S. Let me make one thing clear, I think Michigan had their chance to play in the national championship game, they just had to beat their bitter rival on the road and by the way that rival is the best team in the country. They almost did it. My beef is that nothing on the field happened on Saturday should have resulted in Florida moving up over Michigan.
By the way, standing shoulder to shoulder with those that do not want a rematch are those in Ohio (check the ESPN polls)...and can you blame them? If I were an OSU fan I would rather beat up on Florida than give UM another chance to beat them on neutral ground.
"People can debate forever whether the Wolverines deserved to play in the BCS title game instead of Florida, which landed the spot opposite Ohio State. But there's no debating U-M lost out for the dumbest reason imaginable, in the dumbest way. U-M fell in the rankings two straight weeks without playing a game, so let's cut through the garbage and admit what this was about. This was about too many people -- especially voting coaches -- getting squeamish about a rematch"..."This was the strangest, wildest season, so naturally, there had to be a controversial twist at the end. It was a turn you could see coming, as CBS commentators campaigned shamelessly while Florida was beating Arkansas 38-28 in the SEC title game Saturday night."..."U-M's only loss was by three points on the road against the undefeated No. 1 team. Florida's loss was by 10 points at Auburn, which finished with two losses. So yes, if the point of the BCS title game is to match the two best teams, regardless of conference affiliation or previous meetings, there's a decent chance the voters got it wrong. But if the unspoken point of the BCS title game is to match the two most deservingteams, it's hard to argue too vigorously against Florida. Bob Wojnowski's from "U-M Denied"
The voters have spoken. Between Gator chomps, here's what they said:
Never mind what we did the last couple of weeks, voting Michigan ahead of Florida. We've changed our minds because, hey, we can.
Because the rematch thing suddenly became too real. Because when Urban Meyer politicks, we listen. Because we thought it was time to throw the embittered SEC a bone after stonewalling Auburn's national title bid two years ago.
We thought the Wolverines were better than Florida back in November -- and even though Michigan hasn't played a down of football since Nov. 18, we've decided that we don't think so anymore. We were dazzled by the Gators' work since that date: a seven-point victory over Florida State and a 10-point win over Arkansas. And we decided that Ohio State-Michigan was not in need of a sequel.
That's our story and we're sticking to it. Now if you'll excuse us, we'd like to put our fake nose and glasses back on and return to anonymity. These publicized ballots make us more accountable than we'd prefer. Goodbye.
Read the rest at Pat Forde, "Whining, politics, voting reversals part of BCS system"
One more..."Does anyone see the irony of (Urban) Meyer successfully lobbying about the unfairness of an OSU-Michigan rematch, when the only national championship trophy in his program's history came courtesy of a rematch in 1996 after a regular-season loss to Florida State? " Ohio State, Michigan prove to be class of Big Ten
Let's end on a very astute quote from Lloyd Carr:
"I don't think they (Florida) would have moved ahead of us if USC would have won the game,"That just says it all. Florida's move in the polls had nothing to do with what they did, but what everyone else didn't want to happen.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
A year ago I was riding a roller coaster of emotion during this time and as I was participating in our Christmas program at Church. One moment feeling great, the next feeling a bit guilty and overwhelmed. This year things are different.
I purposefully decided to limit my participation this year to singing in the choir; there are a few cool solos and speaking parts, but (unlike me) I resisted the urge to wildly jump in. I have already committed myself to working with the teen choir and between that and "just" singing as part of the choir in the program that will be plenty. I do not want to over extend myself like I have in the past. At first, it was a bit difficult, but once I made the decision and stuck to it, I have never looked back.
Anyway, I digress... This year I'm not hyper-analyzing all the Christmas stuff going on around me and once I stopped doing that it's making more sense. There are lots of reasons that it does, but one stands out for me. If this is the ONE TIME that someone MIGHT be influenced by Christians during the course of the year then what is wrong with making that one time special so they see how great our God is. All my life I have resisted this mentality as being "wishy-washy" and conforming to the world, but God tells us through the words of Paul...
"Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings." I Corinthians 9:19-23
What powerful words! Paul reminds me that it's not only OK to reach out to others "while the reaching is good", but it's our responsibility!
On an even more personal note, the teen choir is singing "Love Came Down" Sunday. It's a Christmas song with a bit of a twist. If you listen to the words they remind us that God sent his son, that "...love came down at Christmas time...". I used to lose the message behind the quest for the facts (Jesus wasn't born on December 25th), if I'm honest with myself and remove the glasses, I can see that for what it is...legalism. There it is, plain and simple, I have never thought of myself as a legalist...
Now, when I hear those words, sung by some of our teens, I just get goosebumps.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
The list below represents what I consider the 20 overall best college football programs of all time up to today. The criteria? You want criteria? Well, basically they have to be great football programs and considered as such throughout the country. They play tough teams every year and are consistently in the top 25.
Alabama - "Bear Bryant", great program even if they are experiencing some rough water now.
Army - Who doesn't love Army and Navy?
Auburn - Always dangerous and their fans are crazy...
Florida - Gotta have a couple Florida teams in here, this is one.
Florida State - For my money, the best Florida team.
Georgia - the bull dog, a lot of history, steeped in tradition.
Michigan - the "Big House", Bo, the helmet...should I go on?
Michigan State - Often neglected, of late, but 7 national championships...
Navy - Who doesn't love Army and Navy?
Nebraska - In a state with no professional sports, Nebraska football is it...
Notre Dame - One of the best college teams of all time, best fight song, traditions...
Ohio State - Woody Hayes, "the Shoe", and who doesn't love a team named after a nut?
Oklahoma - Great traditions, national championships, heismans...what else do you want?
Penn State - Jo Pa, Happy Valley, great tradtions, great program.
Tennesee - "Big House-wanna-be", Orange, "Rocky Top", rabid fans...
Texas - "Hook 'em Horns", great program and one that's good almost all the time...
USC - the one in California (South Carolina fans think they are USC), great program
Virginia Tech - No one seems to want to play these guys...
Washington - Not been great of late, but overall a powerhouse...
West Virginia - Up and down, but a team that seems to get a lot of press, they are good...
I'm not going to pick a number one because (for me) it's obvious, but it would be completely and totally biased...
South Carolina (USC to those in SC) -once you get a look at this program, they love football in SC
Clemson - a good program, no one wants to play them at home.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
I am a die-hard, maize & blue-blooded, lifetime U of M fan. I think my mom piped in "Hail to the Victors" in her womb. (BTW, there is only ONE U of M and that is the University of Michigan, any other U of M you may see are mistaken)
My childhood is filled with fall Saturdays watching Michigan on TV. It was cool outside, me and the neighboorhood kids had played football until gametime and then the streets emptied. Mom had a pot of chili on the stove and we gathered around the TV and yelled and gasped and watched. Great fun.
There's not a lot about those days that I really, really miss, but that's one of them. Now, I live in basketball country and football is just not the same here. They try, but they just don't get it. In my hometown, on Friday night we walked to the High School game, then watched Michigan on Saturday and just kept going (let's not talk about the Lions).
Michigan is on the cusp of arguably the biggest game in the history of it's existence...and that is saying a lot. Every year there is always a game or two that are huge...this is gargantuan. The biggest rivalry in college sports, and arguably in American sports pro or college - Michigan / Ohio State and now they meet as two unbeaten teams #1 vs. #2 (only because it would be all but impossible to have a tie in the polls). The winner gets to go the the championship game, the loser gets to go to...The Rose Bowl?
Wow! For most of my life, the goal of any Big Ten team was to play in The Rose Bowl, that was the prize. Bo didn't care about anything else (of course it would have been nice if he had won a few more). Now the loser gets it. That's irony...
I have seen way too many of these games to bet on either team because anything can happen. When this game comes around you throw away stats, schedules, charts, polls, talking heads, sports casters, records...everything. A 1-9 team could beat the other in this game and consider their season good...in fact the 1-9 team usually has nothing to lose and does just that. You can listen to all the analysts talk all week (I have) and it means squat. Anyone that makes a pick is just throwing dice.
There is something almost magical about this game each year, it defies logic and makes people crazy. It's a blast and I will hold my breath until the last second ticks away on the clock.
Monday, November 13, 2006
"I'm not alone cause the TV's on yeah. I'm not crazy cause I take the right pills everyday." "Bleed American", Jimmy Eat World.
"The more that things change, the more they stay the same." "Circumstances", Rush
"This time is gonna be the last time. The last time again." "The Last Time Again", Lit
"The very worst part of you...is me" "Lying From You", Linkin Park
"Baking potatoes, baking in the sun!" "Rock Lobster", The B-52's
"There goes my hero, watch him as he goes. There goes my hero, he's ordinary"
"My Hero", Foo Fighters
"All puffed up with vanity. We see what we want to see. To the powerful and the wise. The mirror always lies" "War Paint", Rush
"To go back to where I was would just be wrong...I'm pressing on." "Pressing On", Relient K
"The ones we wish could hear us have heard it all before." "Peacable Kingdom", Rush
"Life is a day that doesn't last for long..." "Gone", Switchfoot
"Many miles away, something crawls from the slime...from the bottom of the dark scottish lake..." "Synchronicity II", The Police
"Atomic lazers falling from the sky...where's my umbrella?!?!" "Channel Z", The B-52's
"They cut you in half with a gun, and they give you a band-aid..." "Killer in the Home", Adam and the Ants
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Different ME, same God.
I have come a long way and thank God for that. I have held on to his hand as he has guided me through landmines and fields full of sunflowers. Over the course of just a couple of years time (actually less) I have taken some gigantic steps in how I view a lot of things, I just want to talk about one of them today...actually just one part of one of them.
I love worshipping at our new Church, as I have mentioned before, I never look at my watch, I often get goosebumps, I usually walk out hoarse and I almost always feel better afterward than I did before. Some of the things I have had to "get used to" are (in no particular order):
- A full band...actually much easier to do than I thought.
- Crazy lights...still warming up to those, but no harm no foul.
- Being distracted by people near my jumping up and down from excitement...that's one of those things that sometimes bothers me and sometimes does not.
- Trying to figure out the fine line between "performance" and worship...it is a fine line and it's one of those things I'm still working on. It has a lot to do with the heart and since there is no "heart indicator light" on people it can be difficult to know where they are coming from (other times it's really easy - both ways).
However, there is one little thing...and let me make this clear, it is a little thing...that I don't think I'm going to get over for awhile...if ever.
The need people feel to "applaude" after every song. To me, it's almost like, "hey we did a great job with that song, let's give ourselves a hand!". The other thing I hear is "let's give God a hand!"
Let's deal with each of these one at a time, because, although I think they are closely related, they are not entirely the same. The thing where we interrupt a great worshipful moment by automatically applauding is just not doing it for me. I guess I just don't get it, if we go to great lengths to make sure everyone understands that our worship time is not "entertainment time" (although it CAN be fun!) why do we resort to clapping between each song as though it was performed beautifully? I mean we just got through telling God that he is an awesome God, that we love him, that he is everything to us and we said it through a beautiful song (the way he asked us to) and now we have to clap? I just don't get it. Can't the song just stand on it's own? For me, the clapping cheapens it.
The other thing about "let's give God a hand...", well I honestly, can't say there's anything wrong with that. It's just another way to praise God...it still feels a bit weird. I seems to me that newer Christians and visitors may not see the difference between the two since we seem to clap between all the songs, the part where the worship leader says "let's give God a hand..." gets lost in the shuffle. However, out of the two, this one has some "teeth"...
Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.
How awesome is the LORD Most High, the great King over all the earth!
The thing that's hard for me is to stand there NOT clapping while everyone else does... That's MY problem...not theirs.
Monday, October 30, 2006
"I have the ablilty to change my own mood...even when I am really mad, or really depressed."
Most of my life, I have relied on others to help my mood. As a human, it's not only reasonable that this would happen but sometimes necessary and other times good...other times bad. However, even when someone is really frustrating me I CAN CHOOSE to cast it off and focus on important things...even when my raging emotions are screaming NO!!! We want to be mad, we want that person to understand the pressure they are exerting, we want to be heard, we want justice! (OK, that's a bit extreme) But, you get the point.
I am learning a way to combat these emotions, it's primitive...it feels like I'm throwing rocks and sticks at them, but it's effective. Not unlike an outnumbered army that has one superior weapon...determination. We are going to win or we are going to die trying! When the larger foe gets lulled into a sense that they can win at will (because the ALWAYS have) then they have given the person on the other side of the battlefield a deadly weapon.
For me, it just means that I have to continually tell myself that I WILL act and feel the way that I want to...not the way that my raging hormones and my mouth want to. It takes persistence and more than one "battle", but it's possible and with God's help I can do it.
When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. James 3:3-6
I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Phillippians 4:13
Sunday, October 29, 2006
You may or may not know that I am, by trade, a web developer. My "specialty" is web applications; web sites that do things (not just look pretty). I have been working in IT since the mid 80's and building websites since about '94 or '95 when I built my first website using straight HTML and no web design software (just good 'ol notepad) for a Church. Since then I have done some really cool stuff that's displayed on a web browser. I really enjoy it, it is a great release of creativity and also pays the bills.
Over the course of the last 10 years, a lot has changed in how I work, what I use and what I can do. However, I want to address an ugly trend in the web world that is driving me crazy.
Back in the late 90's Microsoft won the browser wars by crushing Netscape like a bug. You may not like that it happened, but happen it did. You may think that Microsoft used it's leverage as the provider of the most popular Operating System on the planet to get this done, but it still happened. That is history.
I believe this was (is) a good thing. It "standardized" the world of web development and site display for quite a while. I have worked for a number of companies in the last 10 years and ALL of them mandate that not only their Intranet "browsers" (the employees, not the software) use Internet Explorer, but that any clients that want to use their mission critical applications use it also. No support for other browsers...period. If you call our support desk and we find out you are using another browser we just tell you to open the browser that came with your computer. In fact, they have all mandated that our clients use a minimum VERSION of IE (usually 5.5 or above).
Why would we do this? The reason is pretty simple. It's obvious and correct.
It costs too much to do otherwise.
Lately, I have read some really unrealistic people spout off on message boards that are telling newbie developers that they need to be developing their websites and web apps against FireFox or some other newer browser and when they are done go back and "kludge" it to work with IE. This is really ridiculous...actually ignorant. It comes from a "purist" attitude. The feeling among a small group of developers is that Mozilla-type browsers like FireFox are HTML standard compliant.
The truth is they are not...and even if they were...so what! The last time I checked, about 80%-90% of all hits on the web come from some version of IE. What purists don't think about are numbers...specifically numbers with $ signs in front of them. What they want you as business people that need websites and web developers is to pay a lot more to make sure that you can get to the roughly %15 of people out there that have installed one of these newer browsers on their computers.
What a joke! If I went to the business units that I work for and told them I wanted to do that they would laugh at me and I would lose credibility. Yes, cross-browser compatibility may be neat, but IT IS NOT NECESSARY. Every Windows computer that hits your site STILL HAS Internet Explorer INSTALLED ON IT. If it doesn't work with "Joe-Bob's Browser", then all they have to do is click Start, Internet Explorer and they are good to go. As has been complained ad-infinitim, short of hosing your whole computer, you can't get rid of IE on a Windows computer.
Purists, don't think about businesses needing to make a profit, they just want to show the rest of the world that they can get it perfectly right (in their eyes). In my eyes, right is a very subjective state that is based mostly on whether or not my client is happy and feels that they got a good value for the money they paid.
Just as a parting shot, I asked a recent client (who at first was trying to check out a website I was working on for them with some really weird Mozilla-based browser that I had never heard of) WHY she was using this browser...what was so special about it that she needed (expecting her to tell me some feature that it had that IE did not) and her answer was "because it's different". When I asked her to use IE, she said.."OK..." No problem. Since she really didn't care either way it didn't matter...to her. Of course, she isn't a web-developer purist.
Purists...wake up, get a big bottle of Mountain Dew and loose the attitude...think about your clients...they deserve at least that.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
This morning our preacher spoke about worry. He asked everyone to raise their hands if they worried...almost all hands went up. No embarassment here...doesn't everyone worry about something?
I am over 40 years old, and today I found out that worry is a sin! I never looked at it that way, but it's very clear.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink;
or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food,
and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do
not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Matthew 6:25-27
Christ spells it out plainly...don't worry. It turns out that the opposite of worry is faith, if we believe that God will fulfill his promises then worrying is like saying "I don't believe that you are going to take care of me like you said you would". When I worry, I'm sinning! Wow, I never thought of it that way...
So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What
shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly
Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his
righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:31-33
Monday, October 16, 2006
When do you stop looking for the oasis? When do you stop longing for it and let the sun take the last of your strength from you?
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Often Jacob would send young (17) Joseph out to the fields to tell his brothers something or to check up on them. One day the brothers rose up against him and were going to kill him, but didn't (at the direction of Rueben, the oldest, who was probably just trying to gain pleasure before his father). Joseph ends up being sold as a slave and separated from his family for many years, thought dead.
I used to think that Joseph was the complete victim of circumstances beyond his control here, I mean I know that God had a plan for him and that all of the things that happened were part of that plan. However, I think about a typical young "squirt" that has realized that he has potential and that has been given some power over others around him that are older and wiser. Joseph probably that he was "all that", I mean why wouldn't he? Jacob was feeding it to him on a silver platter. It seemed as though Jacob had great things planned for his favorite son, but had not thought to tell anyone else about it. So, when Joseph takes his father-inspired gusto and tells his older, wiser, stronger brothers how it's going to be he was in for some trouble. Yes, in a way, he was setup (be it by accident or by Jacob's unwillingness to ease back on his favoritism) , but he should have seen it coming.
Why didn't Joseph feel funny about telling his brothers how things were going to be or checking up on them? I think...maybe he was a bit star-struck in his youth...weren't we all?
In the end, Joseph ended up becoming a great man and I feel certain that part of the reason is that he had to because of the situation he found himself in. The other reason is that God was with him.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
The he would run directly into a tree and it was really funny... So funny that they made a movie about it.
"George, George, George of the Jungle strong as he can be!
George, George, George of the Jungle WATCH OUT FOR THAT TREE!!!"
The REAL tarzan could swing easily from tree to tree. Each tree would give him the support he needed to continue his momentum long enough until...at the last moment...he would grab a vine from the next tree, which would be just enough to get him to the next, and the next and so on. Floating just under the canopy of the jungle and above any perils below. The next branch, or vine, or limb would not be enough on their own to get him to his destination and to support his weight indefinitely, but it was sufficient for his needs. It kept his momentum and sent him on his way. The vine had no way of knowing where Tarzan was heading or when it would be called upon to lend it's temporary support, but it just happened.
Life is like the trees in Tarzan's (and George's) jungle. Sometimes, the people that we have contact through our day can be the vines that we grab to get through the day. It's simple, really...
- A smile here
- A hug there.
- A pat on the back.
- A handshake and a look in the eye.
- Just a look across a crowded room that says...hey, I noticed you!
That's one of the best things about Sundays for me. It's difficult (but possible) to evade the vines that swing your way, but if you just reach out your hand they come right to you. First, just one, then the next...then you start to pick up speed and the next branch is in front of you before you know it, then they just keep coming one at a time. Each person has little (or no) knowledge of the support they are providing and that they are participating in your journey, but it happens all the same. All you have to do is keep you eyes open. Then you are moving at a high rate of speed...the momentum is hard to stop on Monday...
The vines and branches are there, all you have to do is open your eyes...just "watch of for that tree!".
Friday, September 15, 2006
There was a lady in front of me...maybe 45-50 years old...in a little beat up Ford Fiesta. That's a bit sad, but not that sad. What was really sad was her bumper sticker...it read...
"God is a Myth"
My first reaction to reading that bumper sticker was that I must have read it wrong. The words God and Myth were big and the rest were small so I inched up to I could re-read it. To my amazement I had read it correctly the first time.
The bumper sticker was faded and old and I wondered if it had just come with the car. However, it occurred to me that if you bought a used car with that bumper sticker on it, even if you didn't have any deep feelings about God you would most likely remove it unless that's how you felt.
Once I realized that the bumper sticker said exactly what I thought it said I had to get a look at who would make such a statement to the driving world. Probably some goofy kid that doesn't know any better...just as I was thinking that I realized it was a full-fledged adult.
What does it take to make someone turn their back on God? To deny their existence? To look around at this ordered universe and say...oh it just happened?
I can't imagine a life without God, it would be empty, void, cold, dark...hopeless. Sure, as humans we sometimes have doubt or questions in our minds and sometimes we even express these thoughts. But to proclaim to the world that God is a myth...
I can only imagine what sort of terrible thing happens to someone to make them turn their back on God. I pray that she turns around...because He will still be there waiting for her and if she takes just one step she'll be in his arms, his warm, loving arms.
"...But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was
filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him...the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate. Matthew 5:20,22,23
Thursday, September 07, 2006
One of the questions I get asked from time to time is "what's it like not having a father?". For a long time in my life I have answered that question the same way..."you don't miss what you never had". I can honestly say at 43 years old that statement is a bunch of baloney - one made up to make it sound like it's "no big deal".
Well, it IS a good thing that he was not a part of my life during my formative years so he did not influence me in any way (it would not have been good). However, I really could have used a REAL father to guide me through the minefields of life.
As a father myself, I want nothing more than to see my two boys grow up to love the Lord and be successful and happy. I look forward to helping to guide them around the landmines and point them toward the flowers as they grow up.
Yes I did miss having a father, but I often think that God had a plan for me and that it included getting me as far away from that man as possible.
So...my heavenly father just moved one big landmine out of the way... Wow...he is awesome.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Ups and downs, kind of like a rollercoaster.
- I don't think I will ever grow out of my clumsiness on stairs. At least I only fall UP the stairs. I just about broke my big toe...again.
- God sends people into your daily path on purpose to help you. That happened to me yesterday when I was really down, I ran in to some friends from Church at the lunch deli and it's really cool how much it helped the rest of my day. I'm sure they have no idea there was a problem (that's would be hard for my wife to believe - but it's true).
- Sometimes to hang on to something you love, you have to ease up on the grip.
- I'm still learning how to handle hearing "crazy stuff" in Church every once in a while. My dillema is trying to decide if I confront it head on or just let it go. I honestly think that the guy that is teaching our class right now believes that there are those on this earth today that have some of the gifts of the Spirit that were made available to the apostles and the leaders of the early Church. What bothers me even more is that when he makes statements that leave this impression no one in the class bats an eye at it. More study needed on this...
- I'm going to have to learn to rely on myself. My whole life I have leaned heavily on others, but those days are over.
- God answers prayer in his own time and in his own way.
Well, that's enough for now.
Friday, September 01, 2006
Funny thing, I occasionally look at my music library for my Dell DJ (I love it) and I sort by how much music (in hours) I have for each artist. Over the last year or so Paul Oakenfold has quietly slid into the second spot in front of Van Halen(!) and distantly behind Rush. I have 14 discs of Oakenfold and I still don't have any of the Global Underground discs yet!
Anyway I don't really think too much about individual tracks when I think about trance music, I think about whole albums (great discs you listen to all the way through without thinking about hitting the skip button). Anyway, I thought it would be fun to come up with a short list of my favorite trance tracks (I don't really think of them as "songs", even though they are). Here goes...in no particular order:
"Superbooster" (Voyage Into Trance - Paul Oakenfold)
Ibiza - Oakenfold:
"I Feel Loved"
"Open Your Eyes"
Creamfields - Paul Oakenfold: (best continuous section of trance I've heard)
"Living the Dream"
"Switch On" (A Lively Mind - Oakenfold)
Swordfish Soundtrack - Paul Oakenfold:
Transport - Paul Oakenfold:
"Ready Steady Go" (Bunkka - Paul Oakenfold)
"Burning For You" (Kreo)
"Hammonds Signal" (One:O:Four)
Out of these my 3 favorites are "12" (this is trance at it's very best), "Switch On" (Awesome) and "Planet Rock" (I've heard a dozen versions of this song and this and the "original 12 inch instrumental mix" are the best).
For all of you that have no idea what I am talking about, you can wake back up now, this break in reasonable thought is now concluded...
Chestsound (Out of Date)
Monday, August 28, 2006
However, I learned a great deal. Here are some random notes in no particular order:
- I'm not 26 anymore, or 36 for that matter. I gladly helped a friend move Saturday morning but just about threw my back out. However, it was worth it, it was one of the best things I did this weekend.
- I'm not going to be able to learn guitar as quickly as I had hoped. I got really far pretty quickly, but I've come to a impasse. I'm going to have to get some lessons if I want to be good enough for anything but playing for the dog...like that's going to go over well. That stinks because... (see next)
- Choir is boring this year...at least so far...OK, not boring but, not exciting either. I love to sing and it's not like I'm going to quit because I love the people and singing anything at this point is enough. I just have something in my heart that is dying to come out, I want to find some way to express it.
- If I don't fix some things in my personal life I am going to lose a great deal. I don't know how I am going to do it, but I have to. I have been praying a great deal about it and I hope The Lord has something planned for me because I don't have any answers...
- I need to get used to not always agreeing with things I hear at Church or in Worship. Yesterday, one of the elders baptized a woman. It was a beautiful event, I never get tired of witnessing a baptism. However, his wording bothers me. He said that what she was doing was a "public form of what she had already done in her heart". On a very simple level and with people of strong faith and understanding I can agree with that statement. But, it leads those who do not quite understand God's plan of salvation to a conclusion that baptism is just a way of showing the rest of the world that you are already saved. Once you go down that road you can also conclude that it's optional...it's not. "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." Mark 16:16 Yes, the believing comes first, but the baptism is part of the salvation.
- I'm scared...I'm really scared.
- My image of family and Church must change for me to survive. It's going to be hard.
- I might as well accept my station in life and stick with what I am good at.
- I'm going to have to learn how to be happy being alone.
- "All hat and no cattle" - that's what my friend said when he was talking about a client that may or may not come up with the funding for a project he wants. Now, that's funny...
- I have lost all of my mentors because of the choices I have made regarding my faith.
- "Joy is not when everything is wonderful, it's when you know God is in control"
There you have it. There are more, but they are too personal. I'm almost glad to see Monday.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Well, I found myself in just such a place this week, talking with a co-worker over lunch. I had been looking forward to this for a few days because some of our conversations around the office had hints of things to come. The old me would have steered clear of such discussions as quickly as possible, avoiding any awkward moments when I find out the person across from me believes much differently than I.
This time I was actually looking forward to listening to what he had to say. I knew going into it that he would most likely say some things that I would not agree with, but so what! It turned out to be a very interesting conversation...two guys looking towards the same goal. Yes, we are taking different routes, but I loved to hear about his journey. It was exciting to find that despite our differences we had much in common.
Just think of how many of these conversations I missed over the years...
Monday, August 21, 2006
It turns out I'm a geek. Now, that's not such a bad thing it's just who I am. Luckily, I'm not a nerd. (You know the difference between a "geek" and a "nerd"? A "geek" actually gets things done) This realization is starting to help me to feel OK with what I can't do.
For example, I know now that I will never be a wide receiver in the NFL (too bad, that would have really been cool). It is very unlikely that I will ever be the CEO of a fortune 500 company. I won't walk on the Moon, climb Mt. Everest or star in a major motion picture. These are all things that were long shots anyway...they don't bother me so much (although, it would have REALLY been cool to catch just one pass...).
However, the part that's starting to wear on me are the little things. I push and push to do something or to be a certain way and mostly what I get is resistance, disappointment..."maybe next time". I want very much to have a release for a side of me that I know is there, one that is...uplifting. I want to share a part of me that is screaming to get out, but there is little or no platform for it to manifest itself. Maybe I overestimate my abilities? Maybe I just need to stick with what I do best...stare at a computer screen and write code that makes it do things that others need so they can be productive.
Problem is...a computer doesn't have feelings or a soul. It doesn't talk back or lift up, it just takes what you give it and spits it back out.
Maybe I'm just a big fish from a little pond that got picked up, and moved to a really big pond...with really big fish...
Friday, August 04, 2006
You know me, a song comes to mind...
(It starts with)
One thing I don’t know why
It doesn’t even matter how hard you try
Keep that in mind I designed this rhyme
To explain in due time
All I know
time is a valuable thing
Watch it fly by as the pendulum swings
Watch it count down to the end of the day
The clock ticks life away
It’s so unreal
Didn’t look out below
Watch the time go right out the window
Trying to hold on but didn’t even know
Wasted it all just to
I kept everything inside and even though I tried it all fell apart
What it meant to me will eventually be a memory of a time when I tried
And got so far
But in the end It doesn't even matter
I had to fall To lose it all
One thing I don’t know why
It doesn’t even matter how hard you try
Keep that in mind I designed this rhyme
To remind myself how
I tried so hard
In spite of the way you were mocking me
Acting like I was part of your property
Remembering all the times you fought with me
I’m surprised it got so (far)
Things aren’t the way they were before
You wouldn’t even recognize me anymore
Not that you knew me back then
But it all comes back to me
In the end
You kept everything inside and even though I tried it all fell apart
What it meant to me will eventually be a memory of a time when I
I tried so hard
And got so far
I had to fall To lose it all
But in the end It doesn’t even matter
I’ve put my trust in you Pushed as far as I can go
And for all this There’s only one thing you should know
I’ve put my trust in you Pushed as far as I can go
And for all this There’s only one thing you should know
I tried so hard And got so far
But in the end It doesn’t even matter
I had to fall To lose it all
But in the end It doesn’t even matter
Monday, July 31, 2006
To find one you only needed to find the other.
Or were we?
Your needs were my needs.
Going through just a few days without you was not heard of.
Or was it?
We would always be friends.
Always share our lives.
Or would we?
Or do they?
Monday, July 24, 2006
Years ago, I had my first experience with this...
After my own personal study and discussions with people that had done much more Bible studying than I had, I came to a simple conclusion. There is no biblical requirement to have an invitation after every time we meet. I was filling in for an adult class at the Church I was attending and we were discussing worship. When I suggested that there was no command in scripture to have an invitation at the end of every worship I was quickly reprimanded in public, including an entire Sunday morning sermon on the topic and it was a while before I was able to teach again.
The explanation that the preacher gave was that because Peter gave an invitation at the end of his sermon on the day of Pentecost, then we needed to do it...all the time. Here we go...since we have always had an invitation at the end of every sermon or worship period, and since we are people that believe that the Bible is completely true and infallible then we must find support for this practice in the Bible. So, since Peter did it on the day of Pentecost, that's good enough for me.
Yes, it is good enough for me too. It means that we have an example to do such a thing, but not a command to do it all the time. It's putting the cart before the horse, counting your chickens before they are hatched, waking your spouse to ask them if they are sleeping...
We can't use the Bible to confirm our own expectations. When we do that, we diminish the true power of God's word...to transform us into what He wants...not what we think he wants.
"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect God's glory, are being
transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirt."
2 Corinthians 3:18
There's a (in)famous scene from Monty Python that gives a perfect example of my concept of circular reasoning. The setup is that an angry mob has come to a local official with someone they say is a witch and they want to burn her... The official shows them how to tell if she is a witch. Here it is:
- What do you do with witches? Burn them.
- What else to do you burn other than witches? Wood.
- Why do witches burn? Because they are made of wood.
- How do we tell if she is made of wood? Throw her in the pond is see if she floats like a duck or wood does.
So...if she weighs the same as a duck, she's made of wood and therefore
I realize that this is a silly example, but many theories sound similar to this.
My big problem with circular reasoning ( definition - "a use of reason in which the premises depends on or is equivalent to the conclusion") is that how do you have an intelligent discussion about a topic based on this reasoning? Basically, the person that has imposed this type of reasoning to come to a conclusion had already made the conclusion before they proved it. If you try to have an intelligent discussion, you will just be confusing them with the facts. For every piece of evidence you show that proves your position, they can find another and make it mean whatever they want.
Trust me, I have been as guilty as any of this in my life. For most of my life, when I studied the Bible on the topic of music and worship I was looking in the Bible to confirm what I already believed! Guess what?!?! I found it...every time! There are those that would defend the idea of Acapella music only in worship to their grave, yet there is not one place in the Bible that spells it out...not a one, zip, zilch, nada. They know this, but it doesn't matter...through their exhaustive studying of scripture they can (and do) say with all conviction that the most perfect way of praising God through music does not involve anything but your voice. It's a revelation to them, and those that do not understand it have not studyed enough to get it yet. It's a nugget of truth that is hidden in scripture, a treasure that God left for those that dig deep into His word. One in which rewards those that study more than the next guy.
This would suggest that Bible scholars are more in tune with God than those that allow God to show them the simple truths of His message.
It wasn't until I stripped away the my original feelings about it and opened the Bible and just listened to the message that I found a different answer. Same words. Same God. Different receptacle.
More to come on this one...
Friday, June 30, 2006
As a father, my prayer, my hope, my dream is that my sons grow up to love and serve Jesus, my Lord. I certainly had something to do with them getting into this world and all I want is for them to love the Lord and follow Him.
My oldest son became Christian about 6 years ago and I was honored and brought to my knees when he asked me to baptize him.
This week, my youngest son called us from summer camp and gave us some great news...he wants to become a Christian. I can't wait to see him, I am absolutely thrilled about it. That is awesome news, however something else happened that I just want to talk about for a bit.
When he called us he told us on the phone that he had "accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior". First of all, that is quite a mouthfull for my 11-year old...it just seemed surreal for that to be coming out of his mouth. Secondly...what did he just say?!?
Before we knew it (my wife and I were both on the phone) the youth minister was back on the line talking about "scheduling" his baptism.
I'm almost 43 and I know I have a good 3 decades or so of stigmatisms to get through, but after we hung up the phone I found myself wondering (for a few moments)...what have I done? My son just sounded like...like...one of those people that you meet on the street that say they are a Christian and that they just "accepted Jesus into my heart". This wasn't supposed to happen this way...
For 40 years I have heard, understood and believed in 5 steps of salvation (hear, believe, confess, repent, be baptized). In my history the last 3 always come together because they are all (all 5) equally important and necessary for salvation. For about a half a day, I was slightly freaked out. My hope was that when my son got home from camp we could sit down and talk about how his understanding and study together.
It turns out that I was just being parnoid.
True...if my son had been at a "Church of Christ" camp the phone call would have been markedly different. More like..."your son wants to be baptized, do you want to come up to camp or have him wait until Sunday?" Ok, what's the difference?
The big difference is that they would not have taken his confession. Now, I still have not talked to my son face-to-face so I can't say for sure that's what happened, but it sure sounded that way. However, even if they did, it's not a big deal. My wife, my son and I will all get together and talk about this and if my son is ready this Sunday or next Sunday he will confess his sins, repent and be baptized.
On the other hand, I don't think my son would have talked about a personal relationship with the Lord...that's cool...that's really cool.
The moral of this story for me? I still have a lot to learn about my faith and that overcoming 40 years of doing things a specific way will not be accomplished overnight.
Anyway...praise the Lord, my son wants to be a Christian!
Monday, June 19, 2006
I think I figured out another key difference between the Church that I now call home and the one that I grew up in.
Personal Relationship with God. In my past, that has always been one of those phrases that could spark a conversation in a flash (not unlike, "Praise Team", "Visitor Friendly" or "Home Bible Study"). People threw it around for different reasons... Some would throw it out there to show that they really understood what was important, others would cringe at it knowing that...others...would feast on such words chewing them up and spitting them out as some perversion.
It now occurs to me that in my past, I was encouraged to learn about God and develop my relationship with His Church and THAT would lead me to a closer relationship with God. As I studied scripture and discussed it with my Christian brothers and sisters I might mature as a Christian. My goal was to be considered a "mature Christian".
Only those that were busy with Church-work were growing...if you wanted to become more mature in the faith, mow the grass at the building, speak your mind at the business meeting, hang out at the office, be visible. I mean, how else does everyone else gauge your level of Christian maturity?
Now I think there's a better way. I know it may sound radical, but hear me out. I've seen it in action...
I am now seeing people walk into the Church building that already have a personal relationship with God. Their relationship with God does not depend on who they know, how much time they spend at the building, how many potlucks they attend, how well they sing...
They come to "Church" to enhance the relationship they already have! To combine their praise and adoration to God with others so that it might be more powerful and effective. They are not using "Church" as a sole means to get to God, they are participating in it to enrich a relationship they already have.
For me, that explains why I see people with very different backgrounds worshipping together, some are quiet and contemplative, others are active...raising their hands, clapping and even shouting, still others are in between. You see their "Church" has not defined who they are, but God has and how they (we) participate in worship to Him is expressed differently because the source of our faith is in Him, not brick and mortar, not the preacher, not peer pressure or our friends...HIM.
I'll keep looking up for the next set of bricks...
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Someday's it feels as if my mind and my heart are in a battle to determine where my energy is going to be spent. In the process, of course, they spend energy which is taken away from that which I finally decide to devote my time.
I know that part of it is the change in weather...it's officially spring here, but it feels much more like summer. I think there is something about each season that I really like and this one is no exception. There are so many things you can do in the summer...
But something else is going on inside of me. I mentioned this to a really good friend of mine a couple weeks ago and I basically said to him that more and more I am looking for a creative outlet. Now, I'm a pretty straight-forward kind of guy so this is a funny thing for me to say. I mean, in the past, I have left such things for others (you know, creative types - those that go to school and get..."Art" degrees) while I just got on with the real work - I mean, I AM the workhorse - the strong back.
In the past, I have always been the one everyone wanted around because I was "a strong back" and I just jumped in and started working and I worked and I worked and didn't make waves and just...well you know...worked. Lately, I find that I have a number of things to say from my heart and my heart is starting to sound like the little girl that keeps tugging at your shirt asking crazy questions.
"Why is the sky blue?", "Why did God give frogs green skin?" "What would happen if I ate 100 popsicles?", "Are you listening to me?", "Can we go to the park?", "I want to learn how to ride a bike, a really cool one with red handles and steamers.", "Are you listening to me?", "What would happen if flies blew up when you hit them?", "Hey, are you listening to me?", "Can I sing you a song?", "Hey, look at what I drew...it's an elephant with polka-dots", "ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME?!?"
My heart is making a lot of noise and the sound is deafening, I have to figure out how to work through each day, listen to my head, listen to my heart and keep both of them happy.
Friday, May 19, 2006
OK, I know that seems like a strange question, but consider this. In this country (and others) we hold rock stars in highest regard.
We follow their every movement, memorize every verse they utter, sing their praises when they do something we like, get mad when they do something we don't. They are often followed by an entourage that either loves and adores them or just wants to be around when something happens (good or bad). They are usually loners that are often misunderstood but studied profusely. Most came from humble beginnings and emerged to household names.
Rock stars, we either love 'em or hate 'em. Either way we know who they are.
All of that sounds like someone else I know...Jesus.
He came from the humblest of beginnings, born in a stable from a family out of a little wide part in the road called Galilee. He proceeded to vex those around him with his talent to understand people and His Father's business. He eventually was followed by thousands that just wanted to see him, touch the hem of his clothes, feel a drop of his sweat as he walked by, hear what he had to say, or be there when he messed up...
Still, those closest to him still didn't really understand him and often argued about what he might say about this or that. Everywhere he went he had little privacy and had to seek it out (remember the boat?) , in fact at least 4 books were written specifically about him, the larger context of those is the biggest selling book of all time! He was loved by the masses and hated by those that had the most to lose.
There is at least one difference...when Jesus spoke, what he said was really worth listening to...in fact it's his words that have the power to save our lives.
..just like at a concert from my favorite rock group...only a whole lot better.
he makes me want to get up and yell and jump up and down and
dance and scream his name until I have a headache and I lose my voice.
I must be crazy... (wink)
Monday, May 08, 2006
One thing that I have noticed while singing this song and watching our director mouth the words as he directs us is...it's impossible to say the word FRIEND without smiling. I don't know what the origin of the word is but it seems logical. Try it for yourself, see if you can say the word friend and frown. Trust me, it's going to take some work.
When you call someone your friend or talk about a friend it should invoke good thoughts and feelings...and...make you smile.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Just the other day, I took a break from working and walked around outside for a few minutes and I noticed it...again.
One leaf rubbing against another makes a sound so indiscernible that only a dog might hear it. But it has to make some sound because, when several thousand rub against each other at the same time when the wind is blowing through the trees it makes a very soothing sound...rustling.
Just think, you can't hear two, how about 10, 100, 200? It takes a lot of leaves to hear a tree rustle, but when it does...wow. However, if each leaf decided not to move and touch others then we wouldn't get to hear the rustling sound.
Isn't that true of life? My voice, my part in life might be small, but it's important to the rustling of the world.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
You can travel through numerous, nameless towns, visit 3 communities, meet people that you never knew before. You can spend hours with loving, passionate, fun, caring people. You can laugh and cry and be moved...rocked to your foundation.
God can change your life and you can take another step closer to Him.
216,000 seconds...God can do amazing things with that much time.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Some compare God to a "daddy". I didn't really have a "daddy", but I certainly understand the concept (hey I am a "daddy"). God is like no dad that I have ever heard of, certainly there are good traits in good daddies that resemble the awesome traits of God...but my God is unbelievable.
This weekend the choir that I am a part of is going on tour. During this tour we are singing a program called "Somebody's Praying Me Through". It is simply about the power of prayer. This is a program that the choir has done before I was even going to this Church and there are many songs, solos and speaking parts. Some of the people that had the speaking parts before are either not in the choir anymore or are not going on tour so I volunteered to fill in for one of those speaking parts.
It's a small one and that's a good thing, because speaking is not my forte...I like doing it, but as a stutterer it's often a challenge for me. The small part goes like this:
Simple line...simple concept. Then it becomes personal.
"When we pray, God can do awesome things that we didn't expect. In fact,
the Bible tells us He is able to do amazingly, exceedingly beyond all we can ask or imagine. People of prayer discover that."
This weekend it got hot here and my almost 20 year old heat pump stopped pumping out air conditioning. Today the technician got out to the house to see what he could do. All day (ha, since Saturday!) my wife and I have been praying hard that it would be something simple, that he could fix it and we could move on. This is really not a good time to have to think about a new HVAC system.
I got the call that he was heading to the house, so I stopped and prayed again that it would be something simple...feeling oddly OK that God would take care of us.
Later, the "verdict" came in. The compressor was shot. Now for those of you that don't know what that means...it basically means that the whole unit is in a word dead...
There it was...God's answer.
I wish I could say that I was a complete rock, but I can't. For a moment or two I questioned in the back of my mind. Why? I had faith, I felt confident...what went wrong?
Then it hit me. I had forgotten about a source of funds that we could use to pay for this. COMPLETELY forgot about it. It was readily available and fairly painless to get. We got through this...wait a minute! We didn't just get through this possible catastrophe we are going to end up better off (for a number of reasons).
What was that line again? "He is able to do amazingly, exceedingly beyond all we can ask or imagine."
Monday, April 17, 2006
I wasn't right about much, but I was right about a little. Foo Fighters is still our best chance at a "full-fledged" Rock band with staying power. In fact, I think that they have done some of their best work since that article in May ("One by One" is awesome).
However, the rest of my list seems to have failed us.
First of all, what happened to Hoobastank? They put together two great CDs and then...nothing. OK, so they are finally coming out with a new CD in next month, but 3 years after their sophmore release! They are still breathing, but barely.
Nickelback ends up being just overhyped... Listen to their music and it all sounds the same...it's OK, but I doubt they will be much more than a blip on the radar long term.
So who does that leave us with?
Well, Breaking Benjamin has the ability to take off where Hoobastank left things 3 years ago but they are still a "wait and see". I like their stuff, it's very edgy, but it can sometimes have too much "angst" in it (however, I have come to the conclusion that some of the best artistic work comes from raw emotion).
10 Years is a great new band with an awesome first album, but we'll have to see about their staying power. My concern about them is that they are touring with KORN...what a joke. I would have gone to see them when they came close by, but I didn't want to have to go to a KORN concert just to see them.
IMHO, real Rock is gasping for air and there are fewer and fewer new bands to breath life into it.
For almost all my life, I have been taught that the only celebration sanctioned by the first century Christians that we read about in God's inspired word was that of the Lord's Supper which they did weekly when they met together. So, once again ("...where the Bible is silent...") we drew the conclusion that any other celebration relating to Christ and his Church is man-contrived. This conclusion led to the next conclusion that it must be wrong, and that to the idea that to participate in such things would be to condone them and blur the lines between "right" and "wrong".
When I think back on that line of thought now it just seems...silly. Let's take that same idea, but interject a different object.
God didn't give me wings...now since he gave birds wings but not me, he must have meant for birds to fly and for me NOT to fly. Not only that but, since God didn't mean for me to fly it must be WRONG for me to fly. Also, if there are those that do fly I should not associate with them because to do so would be condoning what they do and make me look like a hypocrite.
Before you make a mockery of my illustration (it's full of holes), think about it. There is no teaching in the Bible about flying. However, in the first century and during the "Old Testament times" flight was real...for birds. So, if we go by the rule "...where the Bible is silent..." then the fact that God does not specifically state anything about human flight would automatically make it a sin. So, how is it that God-loving, God-serving people fly everyday and live with themselves?
Easter is simply another chance for us as Christians to celebrate our Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ. The fact that he defeated death is cruical to everything we believe and understand about Him...without it he was just a good prophet. So why not celebrate it?!? Why not allow ourselves to get emotional about what he did and remember it?
Actually, I feel a bit cheated that I am over 40 years old and I am just figuring this out.
Friday, April 07, 2006
For me, seeing and enjoying the ocean has always been a treat because I have never lived close to it. Where I live now is the closest I have ever lived to the ocean and it's still over 4 hours away! So my experiences with the ocean have always be short and spread out, a vacation here a business trip there. However, it is always there like it's been waiting for me all along.
We have been visiting the "ocean" for sometime now, getting used to it, jumping in and feeling it's warm embrace, but keeping an eye on the shore. Now it's time to move to the "ocean" and transition from "tourist" to "local". It's an exciting time and yet another time of transition. Change is almost always exciting, but can also be unsettling and disorienting until you get your "sea legs".
I pray that God will do what he has always done, watch out for me and my family and bless us more abundantly that we can ever imagine. I pray that we will draw from his ultimate power as we make these adjustments.
Thank you Lord, for guiding us to the "ocean" and help us to embrace it and glorify you in all we do.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing
power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but
not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the
death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our
2 Corinthians 4:7-10
Monday, March 27, 2006
Yesterday, as I we were waiting for services to start I was looking through the bulletin and I just happened to re-read the note that is in there every week that explains our Lord's Supper, and the line hit me. It invited "believers" to participate in the Lord's Supper..not..."BAPTIZED believers".
In the Sunday morning bulletin that we passed out at the Church I used to go to I am quite sure we made that distinction (I should know, I worded it).
My instantaneous, instinctual reaction was that of disbelief. "Is that what it really says?" I read it again...nope, same thing...no mention of being baptized first. See, in my time as a Church of Christ "lifer" it was just something you understood from a small age. Once you were baptized, you could eat the bread and drink the cup, until then you kept your hands out of the plates and you passed them to the next person.
IN FACT, one way you could tell if a "newcomer" was a Christian (a baptized believer) was to watch when the Lord's Supper came to them. If they partook without hesitation and in reverence, then you where 98% sure they were baptized believers. If they passed it without hesitation, you were 98% they were not, and if they hesitated at either (as if they didn't know what to do) you were 100% sure that they were not baptized believers. In any case, it was the sign on their foreheads that marked them.
In my mind, coming from years of training and observing, partaking of the Lord's Supper was one of the outward "rewards" for being baptized.
True, I have never seen anyone stopped from taking the Lord's Supper because they were not baptized. But, I have also never known of anyone that has made a practice of it without being baptized.
The statement in our bulletin was (is) the first I had ever seen that encouraged anyone that wanted to participate in the Lord's Supper to do so...irregardless of their station in life and the current state of their journey to the Lord. It suggests that participating in the Lord's Supper could have meaning for someone that is not baptized. Part of me says that is putting the cart before the horse, but another part of me says...why not? Who am I to judge someone else's heart?
I do believe that participating in the Lord's Supper has deeper meaning to those of us that have been saved by God's mercy through the sacrifice of his son and our obedience to that love and sacrifice. However, now, because I am reading without the shaded glasses and listening withouth the ear filters things look and sound differently.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
I was flipping channels the other day and I came across True Grit and I was suddenly mesmerized...the surfing stopped on a dime. That movie is like a warm blanket that takes me a back years to when I lived with my grandparents.
By today's standards it's a lightweight, even though John Wayne won an academy award for it. To me...it's pure gold. I look at Rooster Cogburn and think of my grandaddy. Hard and weathered on the outside and soft as down pillow on the inside. Funny, confident, smart, a friend to everyone he met...unforgettable.
I really miss him, but "Rooster" helps me to remember him.
Lately, when I am frustrated with people around me that give me grief about the decisions I have made in my spiritual life I think of grandaddy. I can only imagine him in heaven watching what is going on and knowing my heart and urging me to press on and smiling... He wants to come down here and kick those that are frustrating me in the teeth and at the same time he wants to just sit with me and comfort me and make me laugh. That's grandaddy.
Grandaddy, I really miss you and I can't wait to see you again.
Monday, March 20, 2006
In real, physical terms, momentum is not a source of energy, but it can sure seem that way. It can be an awesome force able to overcome great odds... or diminish hope. It is the "weight" behind a movement (actually, it is the combination of mass and velocity), it is the direction you are going right now. A lack of momentum is also known as stagnation.
Momentum can be a bad thing...tell that to the man that just lost his job and then the transmission goes in the car and the rent is due and...
I've never really given much though to momentum because it has seemed elusive to me... unorganized and unreliable.
It's amazing how a consistently growing personal relationship with God can cause momentum in your life. It's funny how it affects how you look at others, how you talk to them, how you treat them. Your positive energy is reflected from you to them and back to you magnifying it's effect on both of you.
In my life in the past, I have been able to feel good while I am at Church around people of like mind, however that feeling dissipated quickly after walking out the doors of the building.
Maybe it's because I didn't take God with me?...
It's a momentum that has the most powerful source of power available in the universe, able to overcome any hill, obstacle, mountain, broken car, bill, failing heart, inability or distraction. It's a huge moving object that cannot be stopped by the things of the world because it's source is not of this world.
Thank you God for giving me momentum in the form of my wife, my kids and my Church.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
So many people think that all this talk about God and Angels and the Holy Spirit and Demons and Satan and Heaven and Hell are just metaphors. We toss around funny images and jokes about Heaven and Hell and about a guy in a red suit with a pointy tail and a pitch fork that lives where it's hot all the time.
We compare earthly things to Heaven and Hell all the time. "She looks like an Angel", or "He is 'Hell on wheels'". We make jokes about how someone we don't like may end up buring in Hell or about talking to "the Devil", hey the Devil even "went down to Georgia". Of course, we don't say that "Satan went down to Georgia", that just wouldn't be funny.
I have to remind myself of something very important as often as possible...
Satan is a real person, he is NOT a funny little guy in a red suit. He is not a "devil", he is NOT funny, he is not someone to joke about and...
he is very, very, very smart.
Satan is tenacious, patient, stubborn, cunning, wily, crafty, determined...enduring. He will wait and wait and wait, and he will pounce when the pouncing is good, he will sneak when the sneaking is good and he will do whatever it takes to win. He is the ultimate foe, he is the snake in the grass, he is the fly in the ointment, he is the monkey-wrench, he is the 2000 pound elephant and the microscopic virus, he is your worst enemy...and...your best friend. He eats Arnold, The Hulk, Rambo, Predator and Gandalf for breakfast and keeps going.
For me, he attacks when I am weakest...when I am distracted, when I am comfortable, when I think I have it figured out. Then he nails me in the teeth and knocks me back and what do I do?
"God, why did you LET this happen to me?", "God, why is this happening again?"
When the ugly truth of the matter is that I took my gaze off of Him and that's when it happened...that's WHY it happened. When I look away from God, just for a moment, I am vulnerable to Satan's attack, and he takes advantage of every opportunity.
Put away perversity from your mouth;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead,
fix your gaze directly before you.
Make level paths for your feet
and take only ways that are firm.
However, the thing that keeps me going, that defeats despair, comes from the words of Paul in Romans 16:20, "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet". Jesus has already fought and beaten Satan and all I have to do is...keep my gaze on Him.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Thursday, March 02, 2006
I REALLY want to be at Church.
I can remember going many times because it was what I was supposed to do. I can easily remember just not going because I just didn't want to be there. When that happened, it scared me a bit...what if I don't snap out of this? What if I turn into someone that just fills a pew every once in a while?
Well, thanks to God... I really want to be with other Christians again. It feels good.
The tingling is gone and now the strength is being renewed.
Monday, February 27, 2006
I asked it 15 years ago when I found myself (along with my wife and my 3-year old) in North Carolina. Starting a new life...
I find myself asking that same question again. I can tell you that if 3 years ago, if I had scripted the next 3 years they would have been NOTHING like what really happened. I would never have imagined being where we are now.
That is the power of God's guidance and of his hand our lives.
It seems to me that there was another guy that probably felt something similar to what I am (on a much larger scale). He was busy trying to wipe out these "Christ followers" and doing a good job of it. He was VERY GOOD at his job. He had no intentions of changing the direction of his journey, but God had other plans for him. God met him on the road and explained things to him and his life was NEVER THE SAME. I think his name was Saul, or was it Paul? Acts 9
The journey is certainly not over, but at any one point in a journey you are somewhere. Sometimes it's where you want to be, other times you are trying to get somewhere else, other times you are just trying to keep your head above the water or trying to avoid the quicksand. Other times the journey itself prevents you from reflecting because of its demands, and then you get a breather...you get to take a quick stop and take in the scenery.
I can't believe I ended up here, but I praise God for guiding me here.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
It seems I have always struggled with it and I still do today. As an adult, my problems with coordination just means that I am clumsy. I have broken almost all of my toes over the course of my life and I am plain dangerous with a knife.
My issue with balance seems to also manifest itself in non-physical parts of my life. I have always been the kind of person that is easily distracted. I focus really hard on one thing and then I have to catch up on the rest. I've known this about myself for a long time, however I've had little success in dealing with it.
Lately, I have had a bit more success with this, but it's been hard. It's like when you finally realize that you are an adult and that you have to do things that you don't want to, but you do them anyway. I sometimes get just plain mad about having to change gears...let's just say my transmission is like one of those old trucks that you have to muscle the gearshifter to get the car into the right gear. You can get the job done, but doing it is tough (sometimes it takes two hands) and wears you out over time. Also, once you get it into the next gear you are more inclined to keep it there longer than you might normally because of the effort it takes to change it.
Guess I better stock up on transmission fluid.