rick & 1j13
Monday, September 30, 2002
How do you explain marketing to a seven-yr-old?

That's my task with Trace, trying to free his mind a little from the commercialization of his young life. Everything is Nicktoons or Disney or G-cube or ChalkZone. I'm okay with most of that, but then there's the product tie-ins, "collecting" cards at CartoonNetwork.com, gaining points by playing the games from Nick, getting codes on the back of cereal to play some otehr game at Postopia, etc. He's having fun "using them," and in the meantime he's being used for his demographic appeal. Help!

The only thing I have going for me as a parent is the 'net's provision for logging in. Children can't give pertinent information to anyone online, and even signing up for a screenname and password means he has to go through me. That's cool, but also a burden on him that he thinks is unfair and unnecessary. It's tough explaining that we are trying to protect him from real people who do really bad things to little kids, and that we want to protect him from money-grubbing toy company who make neato toys while taking money from the parents of little kids. Same difference sometimes...

They're gr-r-r-r-r-r-r-reat!
Sunday, September 29, 2002
Life meanders along...

So much on my mind, so little mind left to make sense of it all. Stream of consciousness blogging. What a novel concept.

I'm sick of politics. I'm probably going to vote for Mark Sanford in the SC gubernatorial race, but only because of the two combatants he seems more sure of where he stands, less likely to build his case on how bad the other guy is. That's what bunches my drawers: the tendency to demonize our opponents in order to make ourselves look good. I know there's a religious/relational application, but those types of things don't normally run back-to-back-to-back in thirty-second blocks on the local evening news. Encumbent Gov. Hodges has been in office for four years, and the biggest plank in his campaign is how bad Sanford is. Gimme a break.

As for other offices, I don't think I can pull myself together enough to vote for the lesser of two evils. The draw back with democracy is that you don't have to be a leader in order to lead, because anyone will follow the one with the best spin.

I've got a midterm tomorrow evening - Theology of Leadership 101. I'm discovering something: that to be an effective leader is to first recognize that I must be an effective servant. Still got some studying to do, but if I forget everything else I think that this nugget of truth will still take hold somewhere inside. I'm not really being the "effective leader" right now; not really leading anyone. And that's bothersome, because I'm *not leading* on the most obvious fronts: at home, at work, at church. It's more than leading a bible study (I'm not currently) or saying goodnight prayers with the kids (Vicki did that tonight). I just feel like I'm not going anywhere, and that it's a good thing because no one's following. Or rather, I hope no one's following, and secretly dread that some may be right there behind. I'm the lead lemming, too low to the ground to see the cliff, too small to turn and tell everyone else to STOP before getting inertia'd over the edge.

Dang. That's not a pleasant thought.

... coming to a fork, choosing the path less-travelled, I think. I hope. Don't follow too closely, and be prepared for sudden stops.
Wednesday, September 25, 2002

The Matrix Symbolism: Reluctant Messiah

what movie symbolism are you? find out!

In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.
- Titus 2:7-8

I am wondering alot lately about "humility": about its place in the life of a believer, of its apparent lack of use among most of us, of its surprising absence in so much of what I've seen in myself lately. Bishop Boone was a very humble speaker a couple of weekends ago, and it was real, even as he was laying down the fire in the midst of refreshing mercy and grace. I've known a few truly humble people, and I've tasted the foul stuff of false humility, too - we all have. But so often, it's me who's in need of humility; it's my own pride that points to the lack of a humble spirit in others. If it's not pride, it's at least a contempt for those around me, which is really no different. Sigh... anyway...

Integrity. Seriousness. Soundness. My "teaching" - in this forum, in conversations with others, at church, at home - is to "show" these things. How? I'm considering these questions today:
1) INTEGRITY - Do people around me think that I read my Bible and pray more than I actually do? Then I've been dishonest somewhere, haven't I? If people think more highly of me than they ought (my own twist on Rom 12:3), I've been less than genuine. Most people, though, can probably see through the ruse - I'm not as spiritual as I'd like to be, and not as "holier-than-thou" as I might let on.
2) SERIOUSNESS - I'm the first one to throw out a one-liner at the most inopportune time, but I don't think that's what Paul is writing about here. I get the feeling that it's more about appreciating the weight of what's going on, being mindful of the seriousness of sharing the gospel in a way that's true to Christ and meaningful to the audience.
3) SOUNDNESS - Don't mess this up. As much as it's up to us, we've got to know what we're talking about, know the Jesus we're proclaiming. "Experiencing God" needs to be more than a Blackaby Bible study - it needs to be a way of life, describing how we spent our day in this life in the kingdom, you know? There's an openness to being taught in "soundness," being able to be open-minded enough to change and focused enough to stay on track.

just thinking out loud... outside the box... out of body experience... thingy.
Sunday, September 22, 2002
And the Emmy goes to...

Conan's doing a bang-up job hosting this year's Emmy Awards. His dry wit and understated deliver is working well with the audience. Tough for me to decide between the broadcast and Sunday Night Football - Falcons vs. Bengals, and Michael Vick is on my fantasy team - woo hoo.

Wait a minute... what is FUD? This is worth exploring a little more... later this week.

Touchdown, Falcons!
Pastor preached a sermon today.

And then he got up to do the sermon, amen? Pastor Mike's been going through some painful and cleansing stuff this past month or so - abdominal pain, irregular movements, lots of gas, painful bloating. Some days he's good - sometimes he's okay for just a few hours, or sitting the right way as opposed to some other position that's putting pressure... somewhere. His doctor doesn't know exactly what's going on. But this weekend, even though the pain's been really bad, he came to preach.

I'm not looking down on anyone who misses church. Trust me, if I point fingers I know that there are fingers pointing back at me. No, this is about determination to BE who you are called to BE. I know the man - he didn't come to church today to show what a fine upstanding pastor he is. He came because he was compelled to preach the word. That's the challenge - being true to yourself and to the calling of Christ in you, even in the midst of life's pain and pressure.

Saturday, September 21, 2002
Long week...

For all of the boredom I endured, this was a really busy week. Finally a weekend to recharge a little. Just a little. The kids were very good and didn't kill each other or inflict bodily harm, so I did get to stay in bed until almost 9am. But since then... ever notice that seven-yr-olds have selective hearing and comprehension? If I can get the kids out of the house, we'll hit Blockbuster for a couple of Gamecube games. Then a quick trip to Barnes&Noble to let Tracer spend his birthday gift card, and if they live through all that we'll find a playplace with a place to play for lunch. Whew.

Then, college football afternoon. I hope.

Looking for a nap.
Wednesday, September 18, 2002
It's all about the clothes...?

Check this out - no more "casual dress" for work attire. Part of me wants to say, "what's up with that?" - and the other part wants to say, "glad I don't work there." It hasn't effected me yet, but it's probably just a matter of time.

I just don't know if it's fair to place judgments on a person's work capabilities based on their style of dress. Is it superficial, or a good barometer? I lean towards the former. I know that if I'm comfortable, I'm more productive, I feel better about myself, and I want to get more done while I'm here. Bottom line. The "end of the dot-com boom" doesn't necessarily have to mean that we go back to *everything* the way it was, does it?

Gotta be the shoes.
Monday, September 16, 2002
Are we really at war?

I listened to alot of stuff last week on the differences/similarities between the 9/11 attacks and the bombing of Pearl Harbor, trying to get a handle on why I might be so uncomfortable about all the sentimentalizing of this thing (other than my general angst against "chicken soup" sentimentalism in the first place). Here's what I see: in the 1940's, we were going to war, and everyone was caught up in the war effort. There was rationing of supplies, women getting jobs in the work force so men could fight (nothing sexist from me, just that lives changed in real ways in support of the cause), everyone was urged to buy war bonds to build the $$$ of the military, people held off on buying cars so that the machinery for war could be cranked out by the industry, etc etc etc.

But what do we have? A sentimental war, with sentimental stories of people fighting in a place far away, removed from our homes except for the sound bytes and streaming CNN.com video footage. We watch American Idol, Big Brother 3, the War on Terrorism, and soon Survivor Thailand. It's just reality TV, and we're pulling for the good guys like we pulled for Kelly and Justin (I'm not so heartless as to put Nikki on the "other side"). Yes, we all know someone who's been called up in the past year - but most of us haven't given up anything for them. We're not a part of the "war effort." We pray (I hope) that they'll be kept safe, but we're so far removed from the front and from the experience that we have no clue what's going on over there. So the media feeds us stories, and we're able to live vicariously through these young women and men who are giving themselves for freedom, and we think we have joined in the fight because we feel deeply for them. We give them commendations in lieu of participation, and we pat ourselves on the back.

And to top it all off, we celebrate the lives of the fallen by wanting a "patriot's day" declared nationally, and having "free jeans day" at work.

"Sold to an American..."
Sunday, September 15, 2002
We have treasure in earthen vessels.

Bishop Wellington Boone was with us this weekend. He's done Promise Keepers and various other high profile things, I'm sure. But the times I've seen him "live" have been wonderful - more like a professor talking to his students on the grassy knoll. The topic for our "conference" was KINGDOM NOW - we're called to be living the kingdom now, called to allow heaven to get into us more than just get our lazy carcasses into heaven. There's so much rich stuff pouring from this man's life - I took 17 slides of powerpoint notes Saturday night, another 12 slides this morning. No writer's cramp - thank the Lord for decent ergonomic keyboards.

What stood out to me from the whole weekend? Good question. I think it's probably what was going through my mind as I was driving home last night (got home about 12:15am - lo-o-o-ong night). I don't know if he actually said it, but it was something like: "If living Jesus is important to you, it would show in what you are first, then in what you do." Today's line to keep was along the lines of: "Life it too important to be wasting time on stuff that doesn't matter." Someone might take offense, saying that it's perfectly okay to waste a lazy Saturday doing nothing but listening to rain fall and watching goofy uneventful and unproductive TV. I'd only say that as I get older, I find it true for me - if the time left is being redeemed in Christ, then I want to be involved in redemptive things, stuff that will build up Christ-likeness in me, stretch me, challenge me to deeper levels of faith and awareness, etc.

One of the challenges from Bishop - read eight chapter from the Bible each day for thirty days. One from the Pentateuch, one from the Histories, etc. I don't feel legalistic about it - I just want to try it, see if I've got the gumption and discipline to spend better (not more) time in the Word.

I'll probably write more on this over the course of the week, going back and listening to tapes (listening again, for the first time - without having to take notes for the congregation).

What's on the inside will come out; don't judge the outside yet.
Thursday, September 12, 2002
Obedience is better than sacrifice...

I know this. I've preached this. And yet I find myself disobeying and running smack into rebellion. And Pastor Mike shared this in our meeting this evening - that rebellion on my part results in a burden on his part, and really does damage to the joy of this ministry. Dang.

How many of us would continue to sin if we understood deeply how our actions and lack of godliness really effects the people we love? Dang again.

The advantage of joy comes in my obedience, to God and to the man of God I've place myself under... dang.
And life goes on, doesn't it?

I stayed away from most of the media "somber hype" over the first anniversary of 09/11/01 yesterday. Some of it had its place, I'm sure: the quiet reflections, the moments when President Bush and Mrs. Laura spent consoling victims and family members without the intrusiveness of microphones and camera lights. But it looked like the networks were all vying for their share of the ratings pie, and that just plain feels wrong. How many millions were spent on graphics, editting, commercial spots, etc, to promote each one's production of reflection? At the same time, totally ignoring it - as Rush Limbaugh seemed to be pushing, or at least being more middle of the road about it - probably wasn't an option in our immediate access & immediate information time.

At work, we had a "patriotic remembrance" day, including a "free jeans day." Thousands of people died, and I got to wear jeans.

Moving on... Staying home today to take Cammi to the doctor. She's been complaining about her throat hurting for a couple of days, and even though she's not running a fever, Vicki thinks that she's got a high threshhold for pain and needs to be checked out. We'll stay home and watch Playhouse Disney all day, with a little Nickelodeon, Nick Jr, and PBS Kids thrown in for good measure, I'm sure 8^). When I stay home sick, my usual is SportsCenter in the morning, and TLC or the History Channel in the afternoon.

So, I'll probably pop in at work, get some stuff downloaded to the laptop, and head back home after Cam's doctor visit. Maybe we'll do lunch out - a "date" with my four-yr-old. And some reading time this afternoon.

And the blog goes on, doesn't it?
Wednesday, September 11, 2002

We remember those who died in these terrible events

...not posting or doing much in the way of email, no TV, little radio, etc... in honor, and just to escape the madness a bit.

peace - rick

Tuesday, September 10, 2002
Don't forsake the assembling of yourselves...

Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks that rocked USAmerica - and the world that both thought we were nuts and culturally backwards, and looked to us (continues to look to us) for security. There's a general somber hype being built up on the networks. Various shows, fictional and not, are addressing the passage of time and the healing or re-opening of wounds. Here at work, a moment to pause and reflect some time tomorrow morning - and a "free jeans day" in honor of patriotism (only half tongue-in-cheek).

How do I feel? I don't know. I'm not sure how I'm supposed to feel, and can't muster up enough muster to really feel anything, I guess. Maybe I see it as still and surreal. It feels like this: your team is ahead by two points, and the other team is about to kick an amazingly long and difficult field goal. The kick is up, the clock tick's 00:00, and it goes through. Your team is defeated - the three-point kick ends the celebration. There's that moment, a mere split second between the kick being determined "good," and the acknowledgement from the fans that "aaaaaawwwww" we lost. There's a heartbreak there - it feels like this past year is that one moment drawn out, between getting beat and realizing we've been beaten, and somewhere in there is always the notion that we've at least survived to play another game. But it's all one drawn out moment of held breaths, clenched fists and something between ecstasy and agony - and we've been doing it for 364 days now.

That's my best metaphor, if I have to "feel" something going into the remembrance of this day's history.

"The place where the eternal touches time is right now" (Author forgotten), and "right now" has been stretched out from that point until now...
Saturday, September 07, 2002
With more technology, we're gonna need more psychology...

I'm a programmer/analyst. Have a bachelor's degree in computer science from the University of South Carolina. Been working for the "same" company for twelve years. I've changed many a hard drive, disk drive, cd-burner, RAM chips, modems. And each time - I think I lose my mind. I'm here at the church office, removing a cd-burner I installed because I "accidentally" ripped the face off of it and now the tray is off the track. Gotta run it back to BestBuy and see if I can get it fixed. Can you say "warranty, please"?

It's good being here at church. Work day, everyone chipping in on the grounds, cleaning inside, getting cobwebs and gunk and bugs out of the nooks and crannies. I think every church should have its crannies cleaned at least twice a year. Un fortunately, some churches have crannies who haven't been touched in... oops - THAT haven't been touched in years.

Not pulling my hair out with this cd-burner. Yet.
Wednesday, September 04, 2002
And the winner is... Kelly...

America's newest idol, beyond capitalism and Tommy Hilfiger, is Kelly Clarkson, Texas belle and vocal queen. Just continuing in my train of thought, though - she's got nothing to be ashamed of.

Her personality both complemented and encouraged her vocal skills, and she wowed the audience, the viewers, and Simon "the talent's better over here" Crowley. From what little we know of her (that's the problem with the canned "reality" of these reality shows), I think she'll handle the stress and workload well and go as far and as deep into the music industry as she wants. And when it's over, she'll walk back to Texas and keep having fun.

But we're a pathetic lot, aren't we? Might be too hard on *us*, but we need to find a hobby or something. With no American Idol, and with BB3 ending soon, what will we do while we wait for Real World Las Vegas to premiere?!?!?

Are you ready for some football? 8^) - peace...
Kelly or Justin?

Tonight, America finds out who it's next "Idol" will be. We've voted; we've mouthed off; we've fretted and speed-dialed. It's all democratic, all-American, all-terrain fun and frivolity... and yet another way to lift people up onto a pedestal they'll never be able to live up to, up to a height they won't be able to escape. Why do we do this? I mean, I like the show alright (I'm even into Big Brother 3, but don't tell anyone). But the reality is that these "reality" shows are all about making celebrities out of "ordinary" people "like us," but we want them to fail, don't we? It feels like all of this is feeding the same appetites that keep us watching NASCAR and Puck on the Real World San Francisco.

Don't start with me. You know it's true. We get our kicks from vicariously living through the lives of others we like, and in watching "real people" we don't like get theirs in the end. While creating a new American Idol, the show is opening with the thousands of auditions, basically laying out a whole line of American Failures and Laughingstocks. We can't have one without the hundreds of others, can we?

Will Kelly win? Does Justin stand a chance? Both of them are very talented, and they will both go far, win or lose (I read that in Britain, all three top finalists had #1 albums within a year). But with a little incentive and hard work, they could've gotten discovered anyway. There's still alot to prove, and the public is fickle. What they've done is provide ratings success - nothing more, nothing less - and given themselves a fighting chance, to the dismay of alot of people who just tried out, too.

Maybe I'm too crass, or trying to hard to paint this in a bad light.

I hope it's Kelly 8^).
Monday, September 02, 2002
What if we reach up to touch the sky...

I just spent the last fifteen minutes spouting off about our lack of love for God in the face of His passionate pursuit of us, and it all got whacked when I tried to post. Not gonna write it all again, but here are the highpoints, I suppose: God treasures us (Luke 15); He promises that we'll obey (John 14:23-24 - and that's not manipulative); and something about us trying to measure up and finding ourselves still falling short, bringing on depression and concemnation, or self-infatuation and pride.

We chase after vanity, thinking we're pursuing God. We compare ourselves to others, ignorant of Christ. And we "know" He loves us, but we forget to love Him back with the same passion.

... to find we're living life upside down?
Thank goodness I'm mature in Christ, huh?

I get the feeling that most of us don't know how far we have to go in order to "be like Jesus." Either we spend too much time comparing ourselves to ourselves, or we spend too little time actually pursuing the thing, disciplining ourselves to not only ask WWJD? but to also *do* what Jesus would do. We don't practice His presence. We don't spend time falling in love with God. Instead, we try to go through the motions of being faithful, and end up legalistic with it. Or we feel guilty for not following through, and get burdened down with condemnation.

If I really understood how much God loves me... and how much that love should be reflected from me as true, uninhibited love for Him, then my obedience will flow from that. Instead, I find myself and others giving seeing obedience as a sacrifice, and for all of our actions fall short of impressing god or ourselves...

Not me, though. No way.
Sunday, September 01, 2002
Labor Day.

Good morning at church today. During the intercession time before service, someone prayed that God would bless "whatever decisions people needed to make today." Is it me, or do we seem to think that other people need to make decisions, but we don't personally expect to be challenged in at least some regard when we "come into His presence"? Gathering together with the saints should be a time when we expect to be driven through by the sword of truth, shouldn't it?

But I'm spending time getting over my own judgmentalism and vanity, so I can't point any fingers... Everytime I find myself pointing out someone else's faults, I am hit with the stench of my own haughtiness and contempt. I mean, I love these people. Why am I always finding fault with folks, always looking down on them from my own "lowly" position? It's like I'm being repulsed by ignorance, only to be condemned in my own false humility.

But enough about me. Pastor spoke on THE KINGDOM. With Bishop Wellington Boone coming in a couple of weeks, this Sunday and next are "warm-ups" for The Man. I'm listening, mainly caught up in how some of this will fit into what I read in Dallas Willard's DIVINE CONSPIRACY, how the Discourse on the Hill is Jesus' description of Life in the Kingdom. I'll post more tomorrow... holiday... day off... still employed and all that.

Right now? Labor Day - and Gamecube and Little Mermaid II on dvd. Peace.

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