Monday, December 08, 2008

"Come Alive"

"Come Alive"
Foo Fighters
Seems like only yesterday
Life belonged to runaways
Nothing here to see
No looking back
Every sound monotone
Every color monochrome
Light began to fade
Into the black

Such a simple animal
Sterilized with alcohol
I could hardly
Feel me anymore

Desperate and meaningless
All filled up with emptiness
Felt like everything
Was said and done

I lay there in the dark
And I close my eyes
You saved me the day
You came alive

Still I tried to find my way
Spinning now was end of days
Burning like a flame
Behind my eyes

Drowning it out
Drinking it in
Crown the king of suffering
Prisoner, slave to the disguise

Disappear the only thing
Bittersweet surrendering
Knew that it was time
To say goodbye

I lay there in the dark
And I close my eyes
You saved me the day
You came alive
No reason left
Me to survive
You saved me
The day you came alive

Come alive
Come alive
Come alive
Come alive
Come alive
Come alive
Come alive
Come alive

Come alive
Come alive
Come alive
Come alive
(Come alive)
(Come alive)
(Come alive)
(Come alive)

I lay there in the dark
And I close my eyes
You saved me the day
You came alive

Come alive
Come alive
Come alive
Come alive
Come alive
Come alive
Come alive
Come alive
Come alive
Come alive
Come alive
Come alive
Come alive
Come alive
Come alive

Nothing wrong to give
I can finally live
Come alive
You're laughing at me
I can finally breathe
Come alive

Lay me down in the dark
Open my eyes
You saved me
The day you came alive

Come alive
Come alive
Come alive
Come alive
Come alive
Come alive
Come alive
Come alive
Come alive
Come alive
Come alive

"That Which Matters Most"

"This is Zion and we are not afraid!"

If you are familiar with "The Matrix" trilogy this quote should be (at least) familiar... It's the last phrase of a speech from Morpheus to the residents of "Zion", and underground city - the last free "sanctuary" for humans in a world ruled by machines. At the time of the speech 250,000 machine assassins ("Sentinels") are digging their way to kill them all and exterminate the remaining free human race.

The people of Zion are afraid - the commander of their army has all but conceded the fight (even before it has started...) and this is not lost on the people of Zion...they are afraid...

Morpheus speaks to the people of Zion and tells them the "cold, hard facts" about their situation. The commander wants to hide the facts so as not to scare the people of Zion. Morpheus wants his loved ones to shed their fear based not on the "smoke and mirrors" of sweet ignorance, but because of their faith.

"I stand here without fear because I remember...that after a century of war I remember that which matters most - WE ARE STILL HERE!!!"

During his speech he urged the people of Zion to face their fear so that they can shed it.


Fear is a powerful emotion, a terrible reaction that has the power to help us and hurt us, free us and control us. When we are afraid our body and mind react - instinctively. I often say that I have a "healthy fear" of power tools - my reaction to that fear is to be extremely careful with them, respect them and never forget that the POWER in the power tool can hurt me as quickly as it can help me.

But, what if I am so afraid of the chain saw that I never use it? My fear has now taken over and controls me. If I need to use a chain saw I can't (or more precisely, WON'T) and fear has won. If I need to cut down a tree I can't do it myself, I may have to pay someone else to do it or just leave the tree to rot and fall down on it's own.

This may sound redundant, but "keeping fear from ruling our life takes courage".

Wow, that's smart - if I have courage then I can keep fear at bay, but if I don't have courage then I am afraid then I can't keep fear at bay. Sounds like a Catch-22... If so, how do we break the cycle?

We have to recognize what fear is and WHO controls it... Sometimes we think of "the devil" as someone that wants us to have fun - to enjoy all of the "naughty" things in life. That may be true, but let's not forget this - Satan is desperate to get to you and he uses any and every way possible. FEAR is his realm - he wants you to be afraid because fear causes a reaction in you that allows him to get in and start whispering in your ear - and you start listening...

Fear is a contagious virus that spreads like the worst cancer imaginable and it eats at your soul and leaves it for dead. It takes the best out of us and leaves nothing - nothing but a rotting, stinking carcass with flies buzzing around it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Things I learned at CCYC

I went to CCYC for the first time weekend before last as a chaperone. It was a blast! Here's what I learned:

  • Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express are not the same thing.
  • 6th grade boys play hard and crash quickly.
  • Singing worship songs at CCYC all weekend can be hazardous to your vocal cords.
  • Chucks don't last forever.
  • Chucks smell when they have holes in the soles and they get wet.
  • Black lo-top Chucks rarely ever go on sale.
  • There's nothing like a new pair of Chucks.
  • CONFIRMED: kids in a bus or van on a long trip get louder the closer they get to the end.
  • Driving a 15-passenger van is somewhat different than driving a VW Beetle.
  • Give a middle-school kid 5 bucks at a gas station and tell them to get something for breakfast and you'll be amazed at the combinations you will see.
  • Keep middle-schoolers away from magic markers.
  • Technology is cool - wait, I already knew that.
  • It's amazing what kind of "notes" you can hit on a high solo at the end of a choir program after being at CCYC the rest of the weekend. Can you say "yodel"?

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Balcony

The Church I am a part of has a balcony in the auditorium (most people there call it the "Sanctuary"...that's for another discussion). The Church that I attended for about 12 years and left a few years ago added a balcony a few years after I started going there (with the INTENTION of using it for growth). Other than that, most of the Churches I have attended haven't had them.

I don't like them...

I used to be afraid of heights - that fear is pretty much gone (although I'm still not crazy about falling - especially the sudden stop part at the end), so the reason I don't like balconies has nothing to do with height...

They CAN be overflow. To me, overflow (noun) is simply the stuff that won't fit into the container with the rest of the stuff. For example, if I am filling my Big Gulp with Mountain Dew at the 7-11 and I get distracted (hey look! a the 7-11?!) the Mountain Dew will overflow (verb). The stuff that did not make it into the 64oz. tub is the overflow (noun). In this case it flows into the drain and it's "healthy goodness" is gone forever... Consider the Mountain Dew - made for one purpose - to be consumed by us and at the last moment their life is rendered in vain...i digress...

Have you ever sat in the balcony? I have to when I work in the A/V booth (or whatever we call it), otherwise I don't. I don't understand why you would unless there was nowhere to sit on the main floor... The only reason I can think of is...

That you really don't want to be there anyway...

Sitting in the balcony is like WATCHING the game from the nose-bleed section. You are THERE, but you have to watch the jumbo-tron to see what really happened. I still remember my first trip to "The Big House" to see Michigan play, my son and I were on the goal line and the band was on our side of the field on the other goal line. I remember that I could hear the band on the radio I had plugged to one of my ears but I couldn't hear them "live". It was surreal...

At best the balcony is the "box seats" of worship. You get box seats so that you don't have to deal with others impeding your view of the action or (in the case of a baseball game) spilling beer on you. You get to go to worship, but you don't have to get "dirty" doing it, you can be there in can say "I was at worship".

At worst the balcony is like a "sky box". If you every have the chance to watch an NFL game from a sky box it's a treat. You get to be AT the game - you feel GREAT, you are comfortable... You are "out there" but not IN IT. When the temperature dips into the cold you don't care because the sky box is comfy and warm and dry.
  • You get to watch the replay on the T.V. mounted right above...
  • The BUFFET and
  • There is always a beverage nearby - no yelling for a vendor or fighting your way through the crowd spilling it all the way.
  • If the game gets too loud, you just close the windows and listen to the play-by-play on the T.V.

If I sit in the sky box I can say I was there, but no ringing ears, no cold limbs, no beer soaked back, no rain soaked clothes and no aching back from the stadium seats. In fact, my nice clothes are as clean as when I left home... It' didn'

It's just sad to me to watch someone come to worship and walk directly to the balcony and sit way up in our "nose-bleed section" and "watch the game". You can't convince me that you can participate from the balcony (unless MAYBE you are on the front two rows). I'm not complaining too loudly because they are THERE - and I have been just there myself before.

I wish we would close the balcony until the floor is loaded... Problem with that is that everyone that wanted to sit in the balcony would...just...come...late...

"Oh bother"...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Things I Learned on Choir Retreat 2008

Choir Retreat / Tour 2008 is over and history. It was fun, emotional, and down right exhausting, but worth every bit of effort.

Here's what I learned:

  • Take cold medicine with you if you are still recovering from the flu.
  • "It's just like riding a bike..." only works if you have actually ridden a bike and only if you really want it to.
  • People love to complain.
  • NyQuil and Klonopin should only be taken together when you are REALLY ready to go to bed.
  • There are times when your EMOTION supercedes your MOOD.
  • There IS a way to endure extreme heat and exhaustion for short periods of time.
  • NEVER take the ability to participate in the Lord's Supper for granted.

OK, it's not much, but I did learn a few things.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Music Memories

Yesterday, a friend of mine and I were talking about how important music is to our memory. Music can pack a great deal of emotion, but not always just because of the music itself - sometimes it's about the memories that flood our of my brain when I hear it.

I associate specific songs or albums (CDs for those of you 20 years or younger) with events or people or places... Here's a few that really get me:

  • "Out of the Blue" / Electric Light Orchestra / Denver, Colorado: Why? I had it on cassette tape and listened to it over and over again on the 1980 MDYC Tour (11th Grade). Whenever I hear any part of that album - any song - the memories of that tour flood into my head. To this day, the "city" in "Night in the City" refers to Denver. Released in November of 1977 / 9th Grade.
  • "Rumours" / Fleetwood Mac / Ray and Marsha Bone's basement & Melinda Bone: My brother, my mom and I spent hours and hours at the Bone's house. My mom and Marsha were great friends back in that day. So, Mark, the Bone kids and I would hang out in the basement and listen to music and goof around. If I remember it right, Ray and Marsha took the kids to see Fleetwood Mac and after that we played the grooves off of it. By the way, the Bone basement was also were I was introduced to Davie Bowie! Released in February 1977 (8th Grade).
  • Early Van Halen / Cedar Point: Every year our youth group went to Cedar Point during the summer - it was about a 2 hour bus ride. Inevitably, someone would bring a boom box and it seemed like through most of my high school years we were listening to Van Halen. Especially stuff like , "Panama", "Dance, the Night Away", "Light Up the Sky"...
  • "Exodus" / Bob Marley and the Wailers / Mike's Pinto and way too many other memories: Mike had a red Pinto hatchback throughout our driving years in high school (1979 - 1981). It wasn't much, but it ran and it got us around - the bottom of the doors were rusted away so that when it rained your feet got wet and at the drive-in they got cold - but, the stereo was probably worth more than the car... I believe that for at least a year the "Exodus" tape didn't even come out of the tape player. It was a big deal back then to have a player that flipped the tape side without removing the tape - we just left it in there and it played over and over and over again. Great songs like "Jamming", "Three Little Birds" and "The Heathen" still fill my head. Released June, 1977.
  • "Upstairs at Eric's" / Yaz / Scott Lanning and 1st year chorus tour at MCC: It turns out that Yaz isn't even their real name, it's Yazoo, but they released their music in the states under the name Yaz. Scott introduced me to them and I loved them immediately! I still remember being mesmerized by "I Before E Except After C"... Released 1982
  • "Make It Big" / Wham / Kiawah Island: The first time I went to Kiawah was with the Mills. Scott was already there for some kind of convention (I want to go to that convention!), so SueAnn and her kids and Stacy and I and Shawn drove down there in the Mills' van. I didn't bring any CDs and Scott had a changer that had about 6 CDs in it. I drove the second half of the way there so I chose the music and I listened to that CD because it was in there. I've loved it ever since - I couldn't get it out of my head the whole time we were there and I still think about it when we go. Released 1984.

More to come...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Disenchanted Lullabyes

Disenchanted Lullabyes
Sing me yours, I'll sing you mine
Sing with me now what's a boy to do?
What's a boy to do?

Sing along for yesterday
Sing along my soul to take
Sing along another song for you
What's a boy to do?

I may be scattered
A little shattered
What does it matter
No one has a fit like I do

I may be scattered
A little shattered
What does it matter?
No one has a fit like I do

I'm the only one that's fits you
Whisper with me pass the time
Whisper for the days gone by
Whisper with the voice inside of you

Foo Fighters, "Disenchanted Lullabyes"

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Out Dirty Houses

When a friend calls and says they are going to drop by what is the first thing you do after you hang up the phone? If you are anything like me, you straighten up the house. You make sure that all the main areas are picked up, that the carpet is vacuumed – if I've been working on laundry it get put away. Stuff like that…

The older we get, the better we get at this – we understand what REALLY needs attention before our guests show up. If there isn't too much to do I might make some fresh tea or put some music on. I want the house to be inviting, friendly and as clean as possible. More importantly, I want it to look its best. Get rid of all the stuff that I don’t want my friends to trip over or deal with.

This makes sense with our friends, sometimes we may have friends that we feel close enough to that we don’t ALWAYS have to do all this, but it does make sense.

It DOESN'T make sense when “God drops by”…

I believe that one of the things that keep most of the people away from a healthy relationship with God is that they feel like they have to STRAIGHTEN-UP before He comes over.

Anyone that has come to a point where they even think that they might need God to be with them knows that God is an honored guest.

If the president of the United States were coming to my house for dinner I would use my very best china, have the carpets professionally cleaned, spend hours making the yard perfectly manicured (wow, that would take a while), dust every square inch of the house, fix all the little things that I live with but know need fixing, scrub the bathrooms from floor to ceiling… The list would go on and on – it would take a couple weeks at least… That’s a lot of work!

If someone is at a point where they see that they need God in their life and that they have to invite Him IN – sometimes they freak out! They realize that:

Their life is in disarray
There is a half and inch of dust on their Bible
They haven’t been good to their friends
They haven’t been praying,
Their language is slipped and needs some cleaning up…

SO – they start cleaning up BEFORE they call on Him. They want God in their life, but they want God to come into a clean house – one worthy of his presence…

Feeling that way is admirable – but not what God our Father or Jesus our Savior wants. Jesus came to this earth to seek and save the LOST. He came for the sick, He came for you and He wants to come in NOW – they way you are NOW! He doesn't want you to straighten up first, he doesn't NEED your best china – He just wants you to open the door and let Him in NOW. Jesus ALREADY KNOWS that your spiritual “house” is in disarray and straightening up before you let Him in serves no purpose. In fact, it may tend to put distance between you and Him – He wants you to drop what you are doing and go to Him – just like Peter.

Peter left his fishing equipment – dropped it and walked away from it to follow Jesus. In fact, NONE of Jesus’ disciples took anything with them but the clothes on their backs. They took all of their inadequacies, problems, faults and issues with them and Jesus used them the way they were – that’s the way He wants you…

Jesus wants you to open your heart to Him NOW – don’t hurry around and clean up first. He is knocking at the door (He didn't even call first) just go and let Him in.

HE will clean up the mess.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Things I Learned in Michigan...

I just returned from an amazing trip to the "land of my youth" - which is not entirely true since I don't think I have grown up yet. This was the first time I had ever taken a vacation by myself. I feel like this weekend was one of those "watershed" moments in my life. I re-connected with old friends and made new ones, did new things and experienced life. Here's the list:

  • Drink water while driving a convertible down the highway for half the morning.
  • I can get sun through my clothes.
  • RDU is the worst airport I have ever been in.
  • DTW is the second worst airport I have ever been in.
  • I have a new appreciation for CLT airport.
  • One of the best times of day to solve the world's problems (or at least your own) is from about 2am - 4am.
  • Always travel with a fan.
  • Everyone has a story to tell - listen! Shut your trap and listen!
  • The roads in Michigan are like war zones.
  • True friends take you the way you are and don't' judge you for what you have done.
  • The Jonas Brothers are Christians.
  • I have completely conquered my fear of flying! WOW! Thank you Lord...ALL YOU.
  • I would rather sit and talk all day with interesting kids than a lot of things...if you treat kids like they have something important to say then your life will be happier - they will fill it with joy.
  • EVERYTHING changes, some changes are not so good, but most are great, unexpected...
  • My worth does not revolve around how well I can sing or how good I am at working on computers.
  • Never pass up an opportunity to tell someone how much they mean to you.
  • I love XM Satellite Radio.
  • The traffic in Winston-Salem EXISTENT!
  • Never forget to mingle...even when you don't want to...

NEW ONES I thought of later...

  • "O Brother Where Art Thou" is an awesome movie...I love ""A Man of Constant Sorrow".
  • Some of the best times may come when you are doing practically nothing...

That's enough for now.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

I should never play poker for money

I have never played poker for money - and for good reasons. One thing, I don't like to gamble - it just seems like a waste of money - a crazy waste of money. In fact, if someone wants to gamble I'll be happy to take the money from them and put it to good use!

The other reason is that I would be the perfect example in "poker school" of what a "poker face" is NOT.

One thing for certain - I don't have a good way of hiding my emotions - short of physically hiding until they subside. Even then, the residuals are pretty easy to see as long as you are looking my way. I don't have any REAL skills at masking my emotion, especially if (this is not a complete list):
  • I'm talking
  • I'm passionate about something
  • I'm excited about something
  • I'm mad
  • I'm sad
  • I'm disappointed

My face, my voice, my body language all give me away - even a blind person would ask "what's up with you?". It's pathetic...and it's me.

The flip-side of all that is you pretty much know how I feel about most things. If you are a close friend, then even more so. If I like you - you know it. If I don't like you - you know it. If I like spending time with you and have things in common with you - you know it. There isn't much guess-work involved in knowing me.


When i get excited about something, when I have great news or world changing news (my world), then I feel a real burning need to share it. I'm terrible at surprises - I love to give them, but the suspense kills me! I've only been able to pull a few off in my life.

There is just something in me that can't hold in good news, no matter how inappropriate it would be to share. For me, good news, good times, good friends, good life are all blessings that are multiplied when shared. Even more, I feel like I have let my friends down if I withhold information from them - isn't that what friends are for?...sharing our joys and sorrows?

So, if I had a Royal Flush in a poker game it would be of no use to me, because everyone would know about it before I could convince them to give me their money.

It's a good thing I'm not playing poker.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Can You Go Back?

Driving in the car makes my brain search for things to occupy it's time. Yes, I think that cars are simply a way to get from one place to another and that "driving" is overrated and simple if you just use common sense. Anyway, I digress...

When I drive home from work I almost always pass the Church building that I spent about 12 years of my life in and out of. Most days I just pass it without even noticing, other days, my brain is still searching for something to think about and that building can open up doors that my brain walks through before I can stop it.

The other day I wondered if I would ever go back for a visit and I imagined how it might go - what I might feel. This is not the first time my brain pondered this and the result was not much different than usual - it might be fun to see a few friends, but it would be more trouble than it's worth. It would simply be a social visit and not about worshipping God.

Nothing new there, that's just about where my brain stops with that subject - but the other day it kept going...

Can you go back?

For most of my life, I was surrounded by a "sub-culture" that I called my "Church family" or just "Church". The "Church of Christ" was IT and that's all I knew. My grandparents, my mom, my friends, most of my extended family in some way, shape or form associated with this group. I went to a Christian college - that is to say a college associated with the "Church of Christ". At least MY understanding of what the "Church of Christ" was. My "world" was a certain size and shape and everything beyond that enclosure was just not important - not relevant.

God has lead me somewhere I didn't expect, but I am convinced that He led me and I'm just glad that I stumbled my way behind Him enough to get to where He wants me to be. For many years - maybe 10 or more - I have come more and more to the conclusion that A cappella worship is a preference, a style, not a mandate. Even when I wandered to where I call "Church Home" now, at first I still believed that my preference was A cappella worship, but that based on my options and what God had put before me that worshipping in a "non-A cappella" style was OK. In fact, I felt that it would be good to be able to go "back and forth" if needed and not be hindered ONLY by the "make music in your heart" clause.

Now my brain poses the question (as I'm driving home)... Could I go back?

The answer is generally "No". Not because I want to make a statement about the correctness of my position, not because of some resentment. Just simply this. I have grown and my view of God and His kingdom has also grown - it's a great deal bigger now. My world is bigger now and frankly I don't believe it would fit in the door of that building.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Things I've Learned on Tour 2008

OK, so Heartbeat Choir tour 2008 is now "history" - oh wait, that was last year. Let's try that again.

The "noise" has subsided on this year's tour... "Beyond the Noise" - HBC Tour 2008 is over. As always, it's bittersweet. On one hand, it's almost always good to be home and this time is no exception. By the time we rolled into the building last night I was tired and I didn't feel 100% well. Also, as is usually the case with teens on trips like this, the closer we got to home, the louder and more crazy the bus got. No sense in fighting it - the kids are going through the same thing the adults are going through - they just express it differently.

On the other hand, it's the "end" of a labor of love. This tour and this program was one of the best things God has allowed me to be a part of. The tour went as smooth as any of us could have imagined - God is good and His hands were all over this. The kids gave us no unexpected or out-of-the-ordinary problems. In fact, they were routinely WHERE we needed them to be WHEN we needed them to be there. Every stop we had comments about how great our kids were and how they blessed those around them.

As the tour progressed, they also did something amazing...

Every youth worker, student minister, choir director and chaperon on just about any trip like this asks their students to expand their world and try to get to know people outside of their close friends. We ask them to do this, but we know it's hard to do. They did it. It was heartwarming to look back and see almost every student sitting with someone else so often that we had hardly any way to tell which seat they had "laid claim to" at the beginning of the tour. It was nothing short of amazing - God was there and He was smiling.

Here's some of the things I learned on tour this year:
  • Never let kids go to the pet store while on tour.
  • Restrict the use of large fountain drinks on the bus.
  • When God sends you somewhere that feels uncomfortable at first, just relax and get ready to be changed.
  • Girls are afraid of bugs - even ones that don't bite and are completely harmless.
  • Surround yourself with great, Godly people and God multiplies the results.
  • Drink wristbands at an amusement park are GENIUS.
  • "The Beast" is the best wooden roller coaster I have ever ridden ("Son of Beast" was a bit disappointing).
  • Too much of a good thing is bad - case in point - cologne.
  • Not all DVD players are made the same.
  • Never, ever question what God can do with those that are ready to be molded.

Monday, March 31, 2008

H2O - "The Equalizer"

Water, H2O...two Hydrogen atoms bonded to one Oxygen atom. It's all around us. It's in us - about 60% of our body weight is made up of water. We drink it, consume it as part of the food we eat, we play in it, we use it to get around, we breathe it as water vapor.

It's life - without it there is death - with it there can be life.

The properties of water are somewhat unusual, the solid state of water (what we refer to as ice) is not as dense at the liquid state. That is somewhat unusual, but without that little natural oddity ponds, lakes, oceans and all bodies of water would be devoid of life once the temperature dipped below it's freezing point.

We call water a "universal solvent" - it holds many things that we need to live.

71% of the surface of Earth is covered in water - we live on a small portion of the remaning 29%.

Water is important - water is life.

I thought about some of this last week as I watched two men step into a pool of water we call a "baptistry". I watched as a man about 5 foot 8 inches dunked another man about 1 foot taller and much heavier than he. If the smaller man had to pick up the larger one off the floor outside of the baptistry using just his right hand (like he did in the baptistry) there is no way it would have happened. He would have thrown his back out, and the larger man would have fallen back and cracked his head on the floor.

But water is special.

If you're not convinced then just think about how God has used water.
- He used it once to destroy all but a handful of people and a bunch of animals in the world.
- He used it to bury the Egyptian soldiers chasing his chosen people in the Red Sea.
- He used it to make a point for Jesus' first miracle, turning ordinary water to wine.

He used it to allow us to share in Christ's death, burial and resurrection. He could have asked us to do some other sort of series of tasks that would have "looked" more like what had actually happened...He used water. Cleansing, healing water.

And...he made us bouyant so that a 5'8" man could baptize a man more than a foot taller than him and a lot heavier. God made water special and He wants all of us to pass through it before we're done on this earth. Every person...people we will never see or meet, bankers, lawyers, salesmen, mothers, fathers, basket makers, messengers, CEOs, rich, poor, young, old, free, slave, murderers, tax evaders, democrats, republicans, men, women...everyone.

Water is "The Equalizer"...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Ultimate Lord of the Rings Trivia Question

We found another, so now here is the full question and it's answer:
3/31/08 - I found another!

There are 9 actors/actresses in the LOTR Trilogy that have ties in 12 other "blockbusting" trilogies - who are they, what are the other trilogies (or more) and their roles?

Hugo Weaving (Elrond) LOTR & The Matrix (Mr. Smith)

Orlando Bloom (Legolas) LOTR & Pirates of the Carribean (Will Turner)

Ian McKellan (Gandalf) LOTR & X-Men (Eric Lehnsherr / Magneto)

John Rhys-Davies (Gimli and Treebeard) LOTR & Indiana Jones (Sallah)
** He didn't appear in "The Temple of Doom"

Christopher Lee (Saruman) LOTR & Star Wars (Count Duki / Darth Tyranus)
*** Star Wars II & III (I consider them 2 separate trilogies) - check LOTR:Return of the King EXTENDED version (to consider him in all 3)

Ian Holm (Bilbo) LOTR & the Alien Quadrilogy (Ash)
*** LOTR 1 & 3; Bilbo did not appear in "Two Towers" - He was only in "Alien", the first of the "Quadrilogy". Also interesting, is that Ian played in "Alien" with John Hurt who had just played Aragorn in the first "Lord of the Rings" movie in 1978.

Karl Urban (Eomer) LOTR & The Riddick Trilogy (Vaako) & The Bourne Trilogy (Kirill)
**** If we include Bilbo, we have to include Eomer. LOTR 2 & 3 (Eomer did not appear in "Fellowship of the Ring") - He was in "The Chronicles of Riddick" which is just barely a "trilogy" because there are 2 live action movies (including "Pitch Black") and a third amime movie that sits (chronologically) between the two.

***** He was also in "The Bourne Supremacy" which (at this point) is a trilogy. (thanks for the help on this one).

Cate Blanchett (Galadriel) LOTR & Indiana Jones (Agent Irina Spalko)
****** OK, this is gettin crazy - Cate is in all three LOTR movies and she is in the new Indiana Jones movie "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull"

Brad Dourif (Grima Wormtounge) LOTR & Alien Quadrilogy (Dr. Jonathan Gediman) & Child's Play (Charles Lee Ray/Chucky) & The Exorcist (James Veranum)
******* OK, stay with me...
Brad is a busy guy... He is in the last two LOTR movies (extended versions), Alien Resurrection, All three "Child's Play" moves and The Exorcist

“Much ado about Nothing” (Circular Reasoning III)

I just finished (well sort of) a book called "The Book of Nothing" - I say that I finished it, but I gave up on the last chapter.

It was interesting at first, then it just became a solid noise of blah, blah, blah... I love science and I have a passing interest in mathematics - this book is an exploration, of sorts, into the concept of nothing - zero.

It turns out that in the big picture of human existence on earth the concept of zero is very new. In fact, a few hundred years ago it was considered heretical to propose the idea of nothing of a vacuum. Another thing I learned from this book is that as little as 100 years or so ago, we thought that space was filled with something called "ether". It's amazing how far we've come in our understanding of God's universe in the last 100 years or so.

Barrow, the guy that wrote the book acts like a guy that knows way too much for his own good. The fact of the matter is, for all of the words in his book, he just doesn't get it. I feel bad for scientists that continually look for answers to existence in the "laws of nature". They conjecture what cannot be seen from what they can see.

I'm used to this, I've heard it all of my life, but one good thing about this book is that it allowed me to see inside the mind of just such a scientist. It gives a good look at how someone tries to take God out of the world. It goes back to something I've discussed before that we all do - "Circular Reasoning".

However, this guy takes it to the Nth degree... The reason I finally had to put the book down was because he was 5 or 6 circles into his reasoning and it was just nonsense. The last few chapters of the book are filled with conjectures based on the statements he made in the first half of the book. I believe that you can convince yourself of anything if you spin yourself in enough circles.

As far as I can tell, it comes down to this. There is a force in the universe they are calling the Lambda factor. The Lambda factor was something that Einstein postulated but later refuted. Cutting through pages and pages of droning about vacuums, cosmology and quantum physics, the bottom line is that any time these scientists can't make the numbers match up they pour the difference into the Lambda factor. The Lambda factor, in a nutshell, is a force that cannot be calculated, seen or measured but affects matter, gravity and energy in some fashion. They believe that it's there, but they can't say what it is (exactly), how much there is or how much it affects the other things they can see.

I appreciate a good, healthy curiosity about our surroundings - many, many great things have been discovered because of that curiosity. However, when you look at the facts -over and over and over again over the course of decades and centuries - and still take what you don't know and turn it into something that you are sure you just missed or cannot find yet or cannot be explained then it's not science anymore - it's agenda.

I expected an objective discussion on the facts instead heard a long lesson on circular reasoning. It reminds me of…

Bedevere: Quiet, quiet, quiet, QUIET! There are ways of "telling" whether she is a witch!
Villagers: Are there? What? Tell us, then! Tell us!
Bedevere: Tell me. What do you do with witches?
Bedevere: And what do you burn apart from witches?
Villager: More Witches!
Other Villager: Wood.
Bedevere: So. Why do witches burn?

Villager: Because they're made of.....wood?
Bedevere: Goooood!
Other Villagers: oh yeah... oh....
Bedevere: So. How do we tell whether she is made of wood?
One Villager: Build a bridge out of 'er!
Bedevere: Aah. But can you not also make bridges out of stone?
Villagers: oh yeah. oh. umm...
Bedevere: Does wood sink in water?
One Villager: No! No, no, it floats!
Other Villager: Throw her into the pond!
Villagers: yaaaaaa!

Bedevere: What also floats in water?
Villager: Bread!
Another Villager: Apples!
Another Villager: Uh...very small rocks!
Another Villager: Cider!
Another Villager: Uh...great gravy!
Another Villager: Cherries!
Another Villager: Mud!
Another Villager: Churches! Churches!
Another Villager: Lead! Lead!
King Arthur: A Duck!
Villagers: (in amazement) ooooooh!
Bedevere: EXACTLY!
Bedevere: So, "logically"...
Villager: If...she...weighs the same as a duck......she's made of wood.
Bedevere: and therefore...

Villager: A Witch!
All Villagers: A WITCH!

Monday, March 10, 2008

“Love ‘Em Anyway…”

Sometimes you just have to love people anyway – regardless of what they are doing or what they are saying.

What do you do when confronted with a terrible, completely fallible statement from someone that you believe "knows better"? From a mature, knowledgeable, stable "elder" – the kind of person you typically look to in times of confusion. I'm a firm believer in giving those around me the benefit of a doubt as we go about our lives around each other. Not a one of us is perfect, especially me, so why would I expect it from anyone else?

One of my favorite shows is "Dharma and Greg". That might seem strange to you, but I love Dharma's character – yeah, if I met "Dharma" in real life, I would probably think she was really weird. There are so many things about her character that people are drawn toward. In one episode, a greedy real estate lawyer is trying to squeeze her parents into selling their home so he can build a golf course on it. Greg knows the guy and describes him as a "snake" - Dharma disagrees even once she has met him and his wife. They ARE pathetic – a clich√© about money, greed and all the trappings of the world. After she meets them for the first time, the first thing she says is "I feel so sorry for them…" – Greg can't believe it and she points out that there is good in them, even if they don't see it.

As I have said before, one of my most favorite accounts in the Bible is when Christ meets the woman at the well. She is low – an unwanted person in her community. Christ sees through all of the muck and garbage tied to her and sees her heart and speaks to her heart and she responds. Here is an ultimate example of how to look at others from our God, a man that walked this earth and felt our pain and looked deep into those around Him.

When I read the account of Jesus' encounter with the woman at the well, it's sensational, it's wonderful and once you know the whole story about who she is and who He is, it all makes sense. I think that it can be easy (…er) to reference that account when I encounter people similar to the woman at the well. We normally have compassion for those of low or (seemingly) no fortune. Our hearts easily break when we see someone that has fallen on hard times and they are not dealing with it well. We want to help them; we may be less inclined to "judge" them harshly because of the extreme nature of the situation.

But what do we do when someone that "knows better" says something really, really irrational?

It's harder to feel compassion, to look past that statement or action and remember all of the good in them. When another Christian says something that just knocks you off your feet or tendency is to attack, to smother the person with reprimand and correction. In some situations, that may be necessary…however, sometimes I think it's just better to move on. Remember all of the great things that person has done in the name of The Lord, how tirelessly that person has worked, how much given – sacrificed.

Sometimes we just have to let it go and just love them anyway…

Monday, February 18, 2008

Random thoughts...Redux

On our trip back from Michigan during Thanksgiving me and the boys came up with the "Ulitmate Lord of the Rings Trivia Question". I thought it was complete, but it's not..

Here's the original question:
There are 5 actors in the LOTR Trilogy that have ties in other blockbusting trilogies - who are they, what are the other trilogies and their roles?

Here's NEW the answer. I found ANOTHER one, so now its SIX actors.
  1. Hugo Weaving (Elrond) LOTR & The Matrix (Mr. Smith)
  2. Orlando Bloom (Legolas) LOTR & Pirates of the Carribean (Will Turner)
  3. Ian McKellan (Gandalf) LOTR & X-Men (Eric Lehnsherr / Magneto)
  4. John Rhys-Davies (Gimli and Treebeard) LOTR & Indiana Jones (Sallah)
    ** He didn't appear in "The Temple of Doom"
  5. Christopher Lee (Saruman) LOTR & Star Wars (Count Duki / Darth Tyranus)
    *** Star Wars II & III (I consider them 2 separate trilogies) - check LOTR:Return of the King EXTENDED version (to consider him in all 3)
  6. Ian Holm (Bilbo) LOTR & the Alien Quadrilogy (Ash)
    *** LOTR 1 & 3; Bilbo did not appear in "Two Towers" - He was only in "Alien", the first of the "Quadrilogy". Also interesting, is that Ian played in "Aliens" with John Hurt who had just played Aragorn in the first "Lord of the Rings" movie in 1978.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Jeremiah "Stormcrow"

In "The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien Gandalf, a wizard, has many names. One of the reasons that he does is that he has been around for centuries. Many of those are endearing (like "Olorin", which is loosely translated as "Dreams"), but some are not.

One of those not-so-endearing names was "Stormcrow". If you watch "The Two Towers", Saruman, (while posessing Theoden, the king of Gondor) calls him "Gandalf Stormcrow" when he comes to free Theoden from the spell of Saruman. He was called that by those that associated his arrival with bad times or bad news. In Middle Earth, he was highly regarded by some and despised by others and often mis-understood.

No so unlike Jeremiah, the prophet.

They said, "Come, let's make plans against Jeremiah; for the teaching of the law by the priest will not be lost, nor will counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophets. So come, let's attack him with our tongues and pay no attention to anything he says." Jeremiah 18:18

Jeremiah was not liked in his time - even his "friends" didn't really like him. He life was in "jeopardy" many times, he spent time in jail and even in a cistern (a big pit that collects stormwater). Finally, when a man who really didn't like him either, Ebed-Melech, saved him he had to send 30 men to go get him (because he assumed that they would run into a bit of resistance).

So, maybe we can call him "Jeremiah Storecrow".

Monday, January 28, 2008

"The Beetle is Back" V - Day Two - The Voyage Home

I get back in the van and I realize that everyone in the van is a bit restless...

I call my travel agent and a few minutes later she has me booked at Hertz, downtown in the lobby of a hotel. I ask the driver if he knows where it is and he does. I just multiplied the amount of money that I was spending to get home and I wasn't going to "relax" until I was in a car.

We arrived downtown at the hotel and circled around looking for a Hertz sign and didn't see one. I just asked the driver to stop at the main hotel entrance and I thought I would just check inside. I felt like I was pushing my luck keeping the driver out this long, but I didn't have much choice.

Sure enough, just inside was a Hertz desk and a lady was sitting there. Still not ready to accept that this was going to be easy I slowly approached the desk. She asked..."are you Bryan?". My heart skipped a beat - our travel agent had called personally and set things up. I was all set. When I confirmed with her that I had a car, I stepped outside and told the boys to unload the van.

10 minutes later we were loaded up in the car, the van was gone and the first thing we did before pulling out on to the street was to pray...

15 minutes later we stopped to have lunch and we all took a deep breath - we were still 3 hours from home, but we were on our way. Oddly enough, we stopped at the same place we stopped on the way up to eat (Hardees). It seems that if you want to eat north of Beckley and south of Parkersburg you only have a few choices. The car has XM Satellite, so Shawn and I listened to "The System" (a techno station) the whole way home and talked the whole way.

We were home by 4PM, the beetle was still in WV, but at least WE were home. The beetle, unfortunately, still had a long road home...

Monday, January 14, 2008

"The Beetle is Back" IV - Day Two - Enterprise Surprise

Sunday night was actually OK, if not just a bit surreal. We had spent the last 5 hours getting from the side of the highway in the middle of nowhere and now we are in a comfortable room - relaxing. It turned out to be a decent evening.

I realized that I couldn't get anymore done on the Sunday evening after Thanksgiving, so I relented and waited until Monday morning...

I got up fairly early and got started. My plan was to arrange for a way to get us home so that my youngest could be back at school the next day and that my oldest could be back to work. It occurred to me that I might get some good advice from the travel agent that works out of our office. I have talked to her a lot over the last few years traveling for my company and she is awesome - she'll have some ideas.

I was right - within about 15 minutes she had a car reserved for me just a few blocks away from the dealership at Enterprise - for a good price too. We had breakfast, showered and dressed and relaxed some more. I wanted to see what the dealership could tell me by noon. If they could fix it before say 3PM, then we'd just stay and drive the car back home. If not, they we're outta there.

By about 11AM it was obvious we would not be driving the car back home that day since they had not even looked at it! So, the boys and I pack up and have the hotel van drive us to the Enterprise car place to get the car so we can go home. Sounds simple, huh?

It's cold and rainy and we get to Enterprise and I have the boys wait in the hotel van with our stuff while I go get the car. There's a line... I wait about 20 minutes and I finally get to talk to someone. I give him my reservation number and everything looks good, I go to pay and he asks me the question that still haunts me.

"Is the a debit card?"

I say, "no, it's a Visa card". He wants to know if I have another card, I tell him that I don't and I ask what the problem is. You see, he hasn't even swiped the card yet! Well, "we don't take debit cards" - I say, "this is not a debit card, it's a Visa card". "Yes, but it's tied to your checking account right?", I say that it's none of his business how my bank and I have arranged to fund this card, you will process it through Visa just like any other Visa card. "But it says 'Check Card' on the front." - yes, it does but what does that have to do with anything. When you authorize the amount you need to rent me this car it will be accepted - and if not then you can tell me that it's not.

He went on to tell me that he couldn't take the card and that if he did he could lose his job. He also tells me that he can't take a card over the phone either or cash. Wow - what a place. I now understand why my company uses Hertz (by the way, THEY use my card all the time).

So, now I have a reservation that I can't pay for even though I have plenty of money for it. I hotel van waiting outside in the rain with my two boys and all of our stuff and I have to get home today. My wife is furious, I'm rattled...

The story continues...

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

"Hero Advice"

I found this on MSN and it's awesome. It came from Esquire magazine.

Dave Grohl's six rules to a good life. I don't think this is the best advice on earth, but it's unusual to hear stull like this from a guy like him. Some have called him the nicest guy in rock - I've yet to hear anything to make me think different...

1. Dress for the life you want.
It shouldn't be about career and ambitions. It's not rocket science. I manage this organization with no shoes on and a Mr. Bubble T-shirt with chili all over it. There's more to life than work. Your heart has to work to do what we do — to write songs and to jump onstage after you've been on the road for two years. It'll kill you if you don't.

2. Love your family like you love your guitar.
I had a revelation after meeting Neil Young and his family that you can make music forever so long as you have something outside of it to keep you inspired. The time I spend with the band is amazing and so much fun that it makes me want to puke. But the love I get from my family keeps me energized and alive enough to keep up with the music. I'd be [messed up] without one or the other.

3. Moderation in all things.
I'm nearly 40. The last thing I want to do is wake up with a raging hangover and have to listen to Elmo songs with my daughter. I might be able to drink longer now; I just don't drink as often. If I get a night out with some friends and Jägermeister, it's going to be a long night, and somebody's going home with cracked ribs.

4. An audience is an audience.
To me, music was an escape from working in a furniture warehouse. It still feels like that. And at the end of the day, does it matter how many people are standing in front of you when you play a song? You're still going to play music. I'd be just as happy as I am now if I was at the [shack] down the street playing Creedence covers for six people.

5. Try to be in two incredibly successful bands. If not, that's okay.
When I think of Nirvana, I think of Krist, Kurt, and me. I think about us driving through Canadian snowstorms in a van leaking fuel. We reek like guys working in a gas station. I think about us selling equipment for food. I don't think about number-one records. I think of it like any other band I've been in, although that was the one that touched the most people. But I don't wear it like a badge. For starters, you're setting yourself up for disappointment. And beyond that, it starts sitting like a chip on your shoulder. I was in a huge band at one point of my life and I can't believe that happened to me, but I'm not looking back.

6. Man up.
Anybody who has to focus on being real has a problem. It's like having a panic attack over how you're prone to panic attacks. Be a guy. Play music.

I think that last line could be my new motto -

"Be a guy. Play music."

Nice work Dave...thanks for the advice.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Beginnings and Endings...

"Everything that has a beginning has an end."

That's a quote from a line in "The Matrix Revolutions", and it's true - but not about God.

Revelation 22:13 tells us "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." I don't think its interesting or coincidental that this verse is in the last chapter of God's word. In this same chapter he tells us he is "coming soon" - he uses this time (through John) to reassure us that he has been wherever we are going and not to worry about His return because whenever it is he's already been there.

God has no ending because He had no beginning He has always been and He will always be. Any beginnings He refers to in His word is in relation to our beginning - not His.

There is no ending for God, because there was no beginning.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Little white sin...

We've all done it. How many times have you said something that wasn't quite true, but not so false as to be a REAL lie? I mean, is it really necessary to tell that lady that you think her new dress makes her look like a walking optical illusion? Maybe not...maybe so - either way we still know down in our heart that an "un-truth" is a lie. However, I'm not convinced that telling the nice lady that her dress looks nice to make her feel good is bad - it's not going to hurt anyone...

But is there something that we Christians do that we twist around in our minds and hearts until we believe that it's OK that has the power to hurt ourselves and others? I'm sure that there are plenty of things, but let's talk about one that gets very little "press".

No "self respecting", "Church going" Christian honestly believes that stealing is OK, or that it's good thing to just stop going to Church or that swearing a lot is no big deal.

However, what about...gossip?

"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

James tells us that our words have the ability to corrupt. What gets me is how often we as Christians use our words as a weapon. Not in a frontal assault - no street corner preaching or face to face rebuking - but a sneak attack. A little white sin...

We claim to love each other, we do great deeds and give and give and give of ourselves in the name of THE LORD, but in the same breath we talk about others behind their backs. It almost makes sense - we are "lovers, not fighters" so why should we confront our brother (or sister) with something worth saying to someone else? No, it's just easier to talk about it with others - maybe they'll get the message through osmosis... It's just so much easier to talk about them to others than to get involved.

I think I'll go brush my teeth now...
"...Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:7-18