rick & 1j13
Monday, March 31, 2003
I know. I know. I'm a christian. Christians don't gamble. Christians are against the lottery. But, well, I was buying gas, and uh, paying inside, and... well, I had already picked up USA Today and a vanilla coke, and... it just seemed right, you know?

We won $45,000 dollars. I'm sorry. Can I still get forgiveness, after I spend the loot? I'll tithe - honest. That'll look good for the budget, I'm sure. Then we can pay to have the yard sodded, the dog cleaned, and my kids to get new bikes so they'll leave my Gamecube alone. Honestly, though - don't know what I want to do with the $$$. Maybe just a trip to Disney with kids, to Hawaii without.

what would you do with $45K you knew would be wonderful to have but felt a little guilty in having? Hmmmmm?

april fools. early. whew.
Sunday, March 30, 2003
While I was posting about myself before service - dealing with judgmentalism and my own dang critical heart - I would not have expected what came after service. My wife and kids were in an accident. Everyone's fine, thought Cammi felt like she'd "swallowed smoke" into her already sore thoat (we figure it might've been scarey reaction and sucking in some airbag dust or something - nothing chocolate milk couldn't fix). Vicki might've been going to fast around the bend. The teenager might've pulled out of her driveway too fast. Whatever - the only fault was in the timing. Both cars couldn't be right there at the same time.

I drove up on them after the fact. Saw that Vicki was out of the car - okay. She was trying to get to Cammi behind her, so I pulled over behind the car and got out to check on Trace (right side, behind passenger seat). He was fine - still playing Spongebob on his GBA (such a thing as a little shock?). The other girl was shaken up, really concerned that everyone was okay. She was sweet, and her parents were supportive and concerned, too.

I brought the kids home, knowing the grandparents would be here soon with lunch, driving by Vicki at the front of the neighborhood, wanting to help and "do whatever we can." The latest is this: we've got a little Nissan Sentra (big change in altitude from the Expedition) as a rental, and we've made the call to the insurance people. Still got to get the beast towed to the body shop, but everyone's healthy - like I said, nothing chocolate milk couldn't fix.

All this time, I haven't pointed a finger at anyone. Our parents wanted us to blame the girl somehow, or they wanted to find out that Vicki was driving too fast and got a ticket. No citation, just an accident report (the officer did "chew her out" - her words - and said she must've been going over 30+). I don't care who's at fault. I care that life continues, matures, grows old together. I care that kids still smile, that Trace still plays his GBA, that Cammi's riding her scooter through the kitchen. I care that Vicki's replaying the whole thing in her head, trying to change history or at least make sense of it. Doesn't make sense - except that wer'e all sleeping in our own beds tonight, not in a hospital lounge, not somewhere more morbid.

Now, can I "learn" something here. No finger pointing in my time of climactic near-tragedy. Now to say "no" to the critical spirit in the midst of "regular life." Because none of it's regular. It's all "climacitc near-tragedy" - every minute of every day, walking through the valley of the shadow of death, walking the halls at church, crossing the atrium at work, coming around the bend at the front of the neighborhood. Don't sweat the petty stuff, and don't pet the sweaty stuff. And in the meantime, chill and pray and ask God for guidance and grace. And probably a little more chocolate milk, please.

**UPDATE: I went back through and added a few URLs/links to the text. I don't know, just helping me deal, I guess.
Don't be judgmental.

That's for me, not for you. I find myself being so critical and cynical for some reason on Sunday mornings. By the time worship starts, I'm in need of a refreshing and a repenting, if you know what I mean. And it's true, just like Jesus said: "Stop judging others... Whatever measure you use in judging others, it will be used to measure how you are judged" (Matthew 7:1-2 nlt). I find so many fingers pointing back when I judge - God is good, but I've got to remember that He's also the Good Judge.

Fill me with Your non-critical, impartial and forgiving Spirit this morning, Lord. Let me see You in everyone I serve, everyone I see. For the sake of Christ - amen.
Saturday, March 29, 2003

Just got back from Disney On Ice at the Carolina Center. Lots of fun, the kids enjoyed it - and my biggest thrill: while it's 80+ degrees outside, it was nice and chilled on the fifth row above the ice!

By my count, I am two book behind in my continuing quest to *finish* one book per week. I'm not worried - I'm sure I'll catch up with some Dr. Seuss stuff in October or something. But the past two weeks, I've been trying to make time for lengthy readings of the newest NKOC novel from Brian McLaren - THE STORY WE FIND OURSELVES IN - and I finally finished it last night.

In the first book, McLaren introduces us to Dan Poole, a pastor ready to call it quits because he can't stick with the "traditional christianity" that is sucking him dry intellectually, and possibly taking a toll on his personal integrity and walk with God. We also meet Neo, a kindly mentor figure who helps Dan come to grips with some of the new thoughts, new paradigms, new contigencies of the Christian "story."

In this second book, Neo has been around the world, and is coming home. A new friend is very ill with cancer, and everyone is sent to Washington, DC - back to Maryland where our two conversationalists first hooked up. Lots of tears, and a continuation of the dialogue. I liked this book, probably better than the first, because the dialogue drives the story instead of the story driving the dialogue. In the first novel, it's all about laying a groundwork for postmodern christianity, teaching Dan new ways of thinking, etc. In this one, we get to see how the conversations play out. People are "saved" in a way that seems natural and real, not contrived and lacking like we see so much today. I've got a few questions for Neo myself, and Dan never really gets a handle on things from his friend, feeling that there needs to be something a little more solid under this new telling of God's story. But I'm left feeling better about the whole thing - and my own possibilities for being real in a "fictiotious" world (to borrow from Michael Moore).

Friday, March 28, 2003
the friday five (good questions!)

1. What was your most memorable moment from the last week?
All kinds of colds - viral infection in my little girl, and I caught it. Not to mention the pollen that's fogging up everything in town - you could see clouds of it at the golf course last weekend. Yuck.

2. What one person touched your life this week?
Pediatric Cardiologist - Dr. Williams. We took Cammi in for a consultation, and he didn't say much. But he did calm any fears we might have had, and gave me a great line to describe her MVP: "There's a turbulence in her heart where the valve isn't working properly." Tell me, who doesn't have some turbulence in their heart?

3. How have you helped someone this week?
A specific? I had the kids in bed last night before my wife even came upstairs, and then got a whirlpool bath ready and warming for her - she was pleasantly surprised.Helping out at home as much as possible - my wife and I share dutied pretty well, but I want to make sure I don't shirk responsibility by feeling bad when she's got hte same sinus/headcold thing going on, too.

4. What one thing do you need to get done by this time next week?
Finish THE STORY WE FIND OURSELVES IN so I can concentrate on the online book discussion.

5. What one thing will you do over the next seven days to make your world a better place?
Pray, and keep myself on an even keel. Leaves more more open and honest in helping others if I deal with my crap first, you know?
Wednesday, March 26, 2003

CNN.com - Soldier 'bloggers' report from war - Mar. 26, 2003

I haven't had time to peruse through these sites, but I'd like to try over the weekend. What would I journal about in the midst of war?
Tuesday, March 25, 2003
Just an update/FYI on Cammi's MVP: we went to the cardiologist this morning, and the only thing we really need to focus on for now is making sure that Cam's got antibiotics before visiting the dentist. Other than that, we'll go back in 6 months to do another scan and see how it's progressing. Thank you so much for praying. It's "not the big of a thing" and "fairly common" - but there's still no real tolerance for something that's injured in a child of God. We're trusting the Healer, to take care of her now and to bring about real healing, knowing that we'll move through this together.

Thank you so much for praying.
I'm watching the reports on the war in Iraq on CNN, MSNBC, and FOXNews. While I drink my morning java and write a quick post to the blog, US personnel are pushing into Baghdad to engage the enemy. Just making me go "hmmm?" this morning... I don't want to shrink the level of very real sacrifice that these men and women are going through in order to make some trite and sappy metaphor of life. But isn't it a metaphor for how many of us live - drinking coffee, watching from a distance while others engage in combat?

I don't want to lose the serenity of a moment where it's quiet, the sun is rising, the breeze is barely blowing off the mornign fog, and the aroma and taste of a good cup of coffee ensures that all the senses are engaged in living in the moment. But at the same time, I think we all realize that we're missing out on true purpose if we're not engaged in something deeper, harder, harsher, more violent in some way. Michaela sees it - I'm a wee bit jealous of her weather and view in Edinburgh, but she realizes that there's something to be said about enjoying the scenery while such devastating war and death and pain is going on elsewhere in the world: "It seems horribly ironic that this amazing day occurs here while such hell goes on a world away... Keep praying... I feel so undeserving, so blessed. I've been missing home a lot lately, and today reminds me of how awesome this place is. As if I should have to be reminded... And I am quite sure that I have never loved Edinburgh, Scotland as much as I do today..."

I think she captured something that I need, too. Enjoy the scenery. Bask in the sunshine. Smell the coffee. And somehow, understand that the richness of the beauty is not hindered by the violence of war. And the hell of conflict cannot remove the effect of true beauty on our lives. The key might be in finding a balance somehow. Engage the enemy. Enjoy the scenery.

Sunday, March 23, 2003
WilliamShatner.com - The Official William Shatner Website

This weekend is Capt. Kirk's real life birthday. Woo hoo.
I'm taking a class in our bible college - "Moving In The Apostolic," CWOBC - and I've got to finish my homework. Last week, I grabbed the wrong folder and had to email my stuff to Pastor Steve. This time, I'm blogging it. That way, I can print it from the web - looking like a geek rather than a complete idiot.

1) Where does the answer lie in completing the Great Commission?
a) Why? (Your own words)
The "answer" in completing the Great Commission lies in Jesus' authority. Since He has been given all authority in heaven and on the earth, He is both able to give the command and then to fulfill it through the willing & submissive disciple.

2) State three of the four premises we discussed for completing the Great Commission.
1. The church has been given a commission.
2. It is an apostolic commission.
3. This commission must/will be fulfilled - will we be a part of it?
4. Will require an apostolic anointing to fulfill it.

3) Word Study: AUTHORITY (Greek: "excousia").
a) From the information obtained, write a brief but detailed definition of the word.
From our discussions, #3 and #4 from the Strongs Lexicon seem to fit better in context:
* the power of authority (influence) and of right (privilege)
* the power of rule or government (the power of him whose will and commands must be submitted to by others and obeyed)
b) List at least 3 scripture references in the NT
* Romans 13:2
* Luke 4:32
* Acts 26:12
The State | 03/23/2003 | Wheeeeeeeeeeeee

While Vicki and I get more and more engrossed in coverage of the war, this is the kind of "news" my kids want to hear: Carowinds has opened a new coaster in the Nickelodeon section. Woo hoo! A new Reptar coaster and Rocket Power Airtime (used to be the Gauntlet). Looks like we'll have fun hitting the park this summer.

Read more about Reptar and the CWO Golf Tourney.
Friday, March 21, 2003
Nuttiest thing. I can watch downtown Baghdad, listening to shells going off, watching things blow up. I don't know if this is a good thing or bad. Takes me close enough to not want to be there, that's for sure. I pray this is over quickly.

For free Baghdad cam, go to MSNBC and click on "LIVE" Video in the middle of the page, then Live Baghdad cam. Or it looks like you can pay for it through CNN.
Pious Nonsense - The unholy "Christian" case against war. By Christopher Hitchens
Thursday, March 20, 2003
:BibleGateway.com keyword search: "war"
What do you tell your kids about war? Reading this blog made me think of where I was in 1991 - getting ready to get married, working already in Blythewood, out of college and looking forward to whatever lay ahead. I honestly don't remember feeling anything, probably more because I was so busy than anything else. Also, I was probably more gung-ho that time around, at that point in my life.

Now, I'm a little more hesitant - not in resolve to pray and stand with our leadership, but rather in my own understanding of the need for conflict at this point in time. My prayer is that our strikes will indeed bring peace to the country and the region, and that people in the US will be so disgusted with war that we will finally begin to act selflessly in aiding others around the globe. I think we should use our military and technology in order to make the world a "better" place. But that means that we have to understand what "better" really is - standing up for those who can't stand for themselves, and helping them stand with us.

If we are blessed, it is in order for us to be a blessing. I hope this doesn't change that, but rather strengtens that notion in us and in the ideas of "America" among the rest of the world.
Outside, the storms overnight have dumped a ton of rain on us. The lightning and hail matches some of the video/audio of the just-beginning war in Iraq. I'm struck by how difficult it's going to be to get to school this morning to drop the kids off, how wet it's going to be driving the rest of my thirty-minute commute to work, how difficult it's going to be to stay focused while I'm in my cubicle today. The distractions of war and bad weather.

I can say calmly that God is sovereign, that He is "in control" in a way that guides the hearts and actions of men and countries. I can believe that He is concerned, but not surprised - that He knows the beginning and the end of all of this and more. While I'm not scared, and not even really anxious either, I do sense that this might go on longer than we had hoped. And for me, it raises the question: on a global scale, how does one country love/serve another? In making war, are we "being good neigbors" to the Iraqi people? Perhaps. I hope so.
Wednesday, March 19, 2003
Slate on Rick Warren: I've got problems with the cookie cutter approach to a "purpose driven ministry." I think the take that Saddleback's methods appear to take some of the bite out of "the rigors of the faith" is right on.
President Bush is about to address the nation and the world, and presumably the leadership in Baghdad. May this conflict be quick, precise and successful in bringing peace to the region, and broadening the scope of peace in the world. May the men and women on both sides be protected. And may peacemakers rise to the occasion and do what they're called to do.

MSNBC: deadline passes; US raids Baghdad

CNN: war has begun

FOXNews: US launches war against Iraq

Rachel @ cre8ed: waiting for 1pm nzt

Rhythms: waiting

Food For Fish: final answer

What Is Church: thinking about Bonhoeffer during this time

Spera in Deo: just pray
Poor Christians are deluded by 'grab it' gospel

"We" look so bad when we preach only prosperity. "We" miss God when we look only for prosperity. God looks so bad - when calamity and trials come as purifying agents, when we suffer like He did, in order to make us more like Jesus. The balance is that we need God, and in life's junk we discover how much. Don't throw away the junk, because it's the very thing that will make "true prosperity" real in life. Amen?
Tuesday, March 18, 2003
/ keaggy.com :: The Grocery List Collection /

Where do I find these things? Must be a gift.
Transcript & video from last night's address to the nation.

"Yet, some permanent members of the Security Council have publicly announced they will veto any resolution that compels the disarmament of Iraq. These governments share our assessment of the danger, but not our resolve to meet it. Many nations, however, do have the resolve and fortitude to act against this threat to peace, and a broad coalition is now gathering to enforce the just demands of the world." - President George Bush
:: How A Visit To Iraq Can Change Your Mind - Victor Eremita

Article at RelevantMagazine from one who's been there, seen that.
CNN.com - World braces as deadline looms - Mar. 18, 2003

This is where I'm torn - I want peace, and I think I understand the need for war. A "war of words" is the only thing anyone sees as an option, and that's no real option at all. What would happen if Saddam did leave Iraq? What would happen if President Bush did leave office? The real thing here isn't so much which man is in power calling who names - it's who's going to be big enough to let peace into the midst of it all.

There's a funny bit in the Naked Gun/Police Files series. Frank finds a piece of evidence in a file cabinet: "My God, Jackson *was* innocent." - "Uh, Frank, Jackson was executed last week." - "Oh" (throwing the evidence back into the drawer).

When war starts, what will we find out about the Iraqis, or about ourselves, that could've changed our minds? In the meantime, it's probably past time to move and do something, stop sitting around cutting bait and rattling our sabres. I pray that our men and women in the armed forces are better-trained, better-equipped, and have more heart to get this over with then their foes. Godspeed...
Are you good?

The premise is that as we share the gospel with people, we (as a modern Christian evangelism machine) to focus on "how good life will be with Jesus in your heart." The problem, as Kirk and Ray point out, is that there is no real emphasis placed on a person's sinfulness, no reference to the Law and our need for repentance. I've got my own problems with "guilting" someone into making a decision, but as a way to flesh out what the true gospel message might be, this is a great place to start: we're sinners with no hope, in need of a Savior offering mercy and hope. At the same time, we need to focus on how infinitely good Jesus is, too. In that way, we recognize that salvation is based on His plan, not our need.

Does that make sense? Anything that focuses on man more than on God has an imbalance, since "it's all about You, Jesus" - right? In the meantime, consider this: a "true convert" is one who will be hungry for the word, dedicated to a life of repentance, and passionate about following Christ. Is that you?

Again, what makes you so sure that you're good?
Monday, March 17, 2003
Check out Tracer's work-in-progress: jonahmoviefansite.htm.
Hope everyone had a wonderful, restful and thoughtful weekend. For me, it was a long one - even though my golf plans got scratched, I had lots of free time to rest and recharge. And in the midst of it, I've got two conflicting and complementing thought-lines on God: seeing His wonderful goodness, against the need for and embracing of suffering.


No one is like you, O LORD; you are great, and your name is mighty in power. Who should not revere you, O King of the nations? This is your due. Among all the wise men of the nations and in all their kingdoms, there is no one like you.
- Jeremiah 10:6-7 NIV


I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross. The only God I believe in is the one Nietzsche ridiculed as "God on the Cross." In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it? I have entered many Buddhist temples and stood respectfully before the statue of Buddha, his legs crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, the ghost of a smile playing round his mouth, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world. But each time after a while I have had to turn away. And in imagination I have turned instead to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding from thorn-pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in God-forsaken darkness. That is the God for me! He laid aside his immunity to pain. He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us.
- John Stott, GOD ON THE CROSS


... and even as He suffered, we are called to suffer, to bear up under trials in order to be purified and to grow into Christ-likeness (James 1:12, for one). This God who is so much more has stooped infinitely low to suffer, and allows us to do the same in order to reach such soaring heights... Causes me to stop and think and say, "whoa."
CNN.com - Bush to address nation on Iraq - Mar. 17, 2003

My prayer is that this is the ultimatum that breaks the back of the war-posturing between nations. It's not about killing innocents or establishing oil trade, but about one man who needs to be removed from power in order for a country's livelihood to be enhanced and no longer enslaved. Is war necessary? I hope not. Is peace possible? I pray that real peace-makers will rise to the challenge.
CNN.com - Is there a 'Superman' curse? - Mar. 17, 2003

The only "curse" Superman has to deal with is that he's never really as cool as Batman.
Sunday, March 16, 2003
Why in the world am I still awake at 12:30am? Too much coffee?

I'm burning a CD from MP3s I downloaded at GrassRootsMusic. I've got a fairly eccentric taste in music right now. Basically, as long as it's not twangy country or rap, I'm just looking for something that sounds "different." And for me, "different" is best defined as "not sounding like everything else."

Most "Christian music" sounds like everything else. If something hits the mainstream, there's a Christian musician/band there to copy the style and make the attempt to sacred-ize it to a Christian audience. If something goes big in the Christian circles, even worse - everything for the next three months will sound the same. It's marketing, and I understand that. But we serve a creative God - can't we delight in stuff that's different and not as easy to tag?

I've got nothing against our local FM Christian radio station. Well, next to nothing. Okay, I really can't stand it most of the time. When they are playing something "good" (I know, it's my tastes, and they're not in it to cater to me alone), they usually interrupt a good flow with some non-commercial commercial about how they're the only station worth listening to because the other stations have things you wouldn't want to listen to - this station has "clean air." But it's not very creative air, since I can hear the same songs repeated every two hours, and all the tunes in between sound the same. What's up with that? It's like a political campaign - the only way to make myself look good is to demonize the competition. I hate that about us as Christians...

Anyway, they've got some good songs @ grassroots, lots of indie-influenced, guitar-driven pieces. I've downloaded quite a few of the free MP3s, and I'll use the CD in the morning on my drive to church. A song that can (a) get me into the mood to worship while (b) challenging me with its lyrics and (c) stretching me with its melodies and harmonies - that's what I listen for when I'm out to buy music these days. Yesterday, I bought FALLEN by Evanescence, and tonight I'm burning a worship CD, and I see no dichotomy here. The secular becomes sacred, and the sacred should become more sacred, in the hands of a living/loving/sculpting/relationship-desiring God.
Saturday, March 15, 2003
The State | 03/15/2003 | Starbucks to open shop in Forest Acres

Hoo ha. Now that Columbia's getting a Starbucks, all is well with the world. Make mine a venti caramel macchiato, please. And oh yeah, by the way - I'm already a regular.
CNN.com - Dixie Chicks singer apologizes for Bush comment - Mar. 14, 2003

I don't mind dissent. I've got my own reservations on the necessity for attacking Iraq right now. But this is too common - making a statement that's half-cocked but probably more indicative of the heart's true motivations, and then making some excuse and apology that attempts to water down the original controversy in order to placate public sentiment. If you believe something, stand on it. If you say it and need to take it back, just apologize. And try to avoid the appearance of buckling under fan/consumer pressure.
Dr. Pepper & Seven-Up are getting busted for "faking out" bloggers. Isn't that what makes good advertising - fantasy hype and unreal testimonials? At least they're not pushing Raging Cow flavored milk on 2am infomercials. I like the take in this weekend's slice at RelevantMagazine.com: "We can't tell what's more disturbing - using shady advertising tactics to influence our buying decisions, or that Dr. Pepper is making flavored milk ..." - amen.
Well, comments are now being provided by Enetation - easy enough to hook them in, and cheap enough to get some cool features Haloscan didn't offer on their freebie side. Need to decide if I'm going to migrate Javabeans and QuestCamp, too. Right now, I don't want to spend anymore money on those two sites since no one's really bought into the idea yet. Hmmm.... what next?
I'm going to play with the template a little today. Not much else to do between yelling at the kids to stop yelling at each other, huh? First to hit the fan - Haloscan. Too any times they're just not there - server down, or whatever. So I'll try another comments system and see how this thing pans out. Later. TTFN.
Friday, March 14, 2003
Still working to "finish a book per week" per my 2003 resolution. I think I'm still a book behind, but I'll pick it up somewhere along the way. Last night I finished Chris Seay's THE TAO OF ENRON. Good book. It's not a tell-all book, it doesn't point any unwarranted fingers at the debacle that was Enron. What I think it does best is point fingers back at us, the readers, and force us to question what kinds of lives we're living when integrity can take a backseat to individualism and greed, where lip-service is good enough and our inner beliefs and outer actions are dualistically paradox. Whew. The biggest challenge I felt was towards "the church" and the culture it's being brought up in the west - we need to be about simplicity, generosity, and true community that embraces each other, not just giving to receive and making ourselves feel good. What good is it if we give lots of money to charity and yet never really love and serve someone? Living within our means, with the rest of the planet and even future generations in mind as we make decisions that matter - workable ideas like this will go far in helping us become a "we" generation, rather than the existing "me" generation.

While it's often easy to pander, patronize and point fingers, I think Seay does a more than adequate job of sharing the reports, filling in the blanks, and still pulling relevant sermons from the circumstances of one of America's biggest financial collapses. That these men and women were "people of faith" is more condemning on the state of the American church than anything else.
Thursday, March 13, 2003
Eileen has some really good writing/sharing at Rhythms Of The Seeker on God as the Artist, working in relationship to us, the clay. I've got some smart mass from thinkgeek.com, and as I read her post, I was struck by how right she is about the back and forth, give and take of working with clay. I sit there and knead that stuff while I wait on something to compile at work, for something to run, for something to download. I wonder if God kneads us while He's waiting, too... what is God waiting for?
Dang. Gamecocks go down: USC 56, Ole Miss 62.... When is spring football again?
Wednesday, March 12, 2003
Well, most of my end-of-the-week plans have been shot to crap. I've got tomorrow and Friday off, but tomorrow's golf is turning into "sorry, but I've got to be in Charlotte by 2pm", and Friday's golf has become, "I've got to work but can we play Saturday?" That might work, but what am I going to do Thur/Fri? Trace has an eye doctor appt in the morning, and I need to find some good flea/ant/bug powder to spread around the carpet. Other than that and the Gamecocks taking on Ol' Miss in the SEC Basketball Tourney... anyone wanna play golf?
MSNBC: Missing teen Smart found alive

At least this is good news keeping the focus off of the impending war all the time. I pray they find that everything's been okay, that she hasn't been mistreated, and that ... well, that she'll be able to be in her own room soon.
This was my "daily dig" from Bruderhof:
Followers and Admirers
Søren Kierkegaard

The difference between an admirer and a follower still remains, no matter where you are. The admirer never makes any true sacrifices. He always plays it safe. Though in words, phrases, songs, he is inexhaustible about how highly he prizes Christ, he renounces nothing, gives up nothing, will not reconstruct his life, will not be what he admires, and will not let his life express what it is he supposedly admires. Not so for the follower. No, no. The follower aspires with all his strength, with all his will to be what he admires. And then, remarkably enough, even though he is living amongst a "Christian people," the same danger results for him as was once the case when it was dangerous to openly confess Christ. And because of the follower's life, it will become evident who the admirers are, for the admirers will become agitated with him. Even that these words are presented as they are here will disturb many - but then they must likewise belong to the admirers.

Ouch. As I reflect on what this might say of me, I find that I've been much more of an admirer of many things than a follower of anything. Where am I now? Following hard after Christ, seeking to be like Him, to think like Him, to spend time with Him and learn His ways in the midst of all this. But I get distracted, too - drawn in admiration to this website or that author or this movie or that soundtrack.

Perhaps a key is to find the "one thing" worth pursuing, and then to pursue that thing, just like Curly said. But if that one that "one thing" is Christ - then while the pursuit is passionate, the stops along the way are also done in passionate pursuit of Him. Even the "distractions" need to serve to point us to the narrow gate along the narrow path.

I don't want to be an admirer, but a follower. I want to follow, and admire those who follow - inasmuch as it spurs me on my own journey.
Monday, March 10, 2003
CNN.com - Surviving crash and cold, toddler placed with relatives - Mar. 10, 2003

Whenever you might think God's not paying attention, remember that He's faithful, He's there, and He's involved. May this little girl grow in the knowledge that there are no accidents, no coincidences, no surprises big enough to remove her from His hand.
Sunday, March 09, 2003
CNN.com - Chelsea Clinton lands six-figure job - Mar. 9, 2003

Well, I'm glad to see someone make something of themselves. No riding Daddy's coattails, nosiree. Just like every other 23-yr-old master's grad, getting a six-figure-salary with hard work and integrity.

Only half tongue-in-cheek, honest. I hope she succeeds, surpassing her parents and establishing herself outside of their limitations. While her name alone is probably worth at least five of those six figures, she'll have to prove her worth like everyone else. I wish her well.
Saturday, March 08, 2003
My mind has been all over the place today. I went to be way early last night - wrestling with this dang cold and trying not to get too sick and incapacitated. In the midst of that, Vicki was a real sweetie, putting the kids to "bed" and letting me crash. That is, until Trace decided he wanted to stay up after everyone else went to bed. At 4am, Vicki discovered him still awake - a definite no-no. We're nipping that in the bud. Yessirree-bob.

I read a good thought from Merton this evening - reading in Tracer's room so I'd know he was at least asleep at some point in time. He said something to the effect that journals take for granted that things change over time, that if every day had the same routine monotony, then there'd be no need for journals (or blogs, I extrapolate). Maybe that's why so many people don't journal/blog. Perhaps those with stories to tell are the only ones noticing the changes.

Cammi's fine. We shared a little bit about the MVP with the family, and we're all thankful that it's not worse and hopeful that it'll be a minimal impact in her young life. For me, I stand in prayer - knowing that I love and serve a God who is the Healer, that His ways are true, and that He's more trustworthy than the medical community in this city. I trust our doctors - I just trust God more. In Jesus' name, she's healed. The Bible tells me so. But more than that, I have faith that His will for her is both healing and wholeness. Most of the time my "will" for her is just that she'd listen and obey. His plans are infinitely more eternal, and He's not done with her or with me quite yet. If nothing else, perhaps I need to learn to appreciate her more - her sensitive heart, her spontaneous love, her infectious giggle. Come on - we all need our hearts fixed, right?

Well, Vicki said I can't stay up 'til 4am. It's only 11:02pmEST - and I'm tired. But I stand for my healing, too. The only way I can explain it is this: I'm already healed, Lord - so if I've still got this hacking cough, then You must have a reason. I lay it in Your hands, asking for rest and trusting for healing. I want to be used for You, by You, to Your honor and fame on the earth. Thank You for healing me. Keep me close, as my promise comes ever closer to the surface of what we perceive.

In Jesus' name, amen.
Friday, March 07, 2003
MVP - Mitral Valve Prolapse FAQs

Cammi's been diagnosed with this in her heart. Her pediatrician noticed a couple of years ago a slight murmur in her heart, and a checkup this past month for a virus/cold turned up a little more pronounced murmur. In my first foray to the 'net on what this might be, I found the above page full of FAQs. We're being referred to a pediatric cardiologist (only one group in Columbia doing that), but it's nice to have something like the internet to check some of this stuff out while waiting. I covet your prayers for our little girl, and I'll be sure to post more once we have some direction.

Haven't played along in a while, but this week's questions are fun. My FridayFive:

1. What was the last song you heard?
Sara Groves, "Every Minute"

2. What were the last two movies you saw?
DAREDEVIL at theater, SIGNS on DVD

3. What were the last three things you purchased?
* Air - tire this morning
* Hardee's Slammers - supper last night
* Wendy's Double (just the sandwich, not the combo) - lunch yesterday

4. What four things do you need to do this weekend?
* Sleep late tomorrow
* Finish project for work
* Cleansing Streams #3 Sunday evening
* honorable mention: CWO Worship Sunday morning

5. Who are the last five people you talked to?
Tim, Annette, Debra, Jennifer K, Michelle
Had a wonderful sight on the way into work this morning. There I was on I-20, midway through my 30-minute commute, when I notice a BMW X5 SUV passing a Mercedes SUV - one over-priced European power mode auto being passed by another over-priced European power mode auto. It was a wonderful sight - from the rearview mirror of my cheap '99 Honda CRV. Woo hoo.
Thursday, March 06, 2003
I feel like crap. Chest congestion. Spent all afternoon in the bathroom at work (too bad I don't have a LAN connection in there for my laptop). Felt awful at church but needed to stay through to the end to give announcements - busy week/month ahead at CWO (dang - I need to update the website). I'm going to work tomorrow - and I'm going to do it well whether I like it or not. Gotta work on my attitude - can you tell?

I've found myself feeling very contradictory this week - enamoured with God, deeply seeking after the things of God, and weirdly cynical and judgmental towards people. That's not right. My love towards God should grow and manifest as love towards people, too, right?

Well, I'll sleep on that, praying that God rights my heart and heals my congestion.

CNN.com - Giant Chee-to spurs online frenzy - Mar. 6, 2003

And I thought Christians were the only ones who could market the cheese outta something.
Wednesday, March 05, 2003
I'm catching up, and with one more book this week I'll be on track to complete/finish a book-per-week. Whew.

A TALE OF THREE KINGS: A Study In Brokenness - Gene Edwards

This one was quick - but it bogged down in the middle and I didn't pick it up again until just this weekend. Gene Edwards is a very poetic storyteller, and here he tells the story of Saul, David and Absalom, all the while tackling the question of why bad things happen, why brokenness is so hard, why humility must be tested. In comparing/contrasting the main characters, he tells of David's contrite heart, and Saul & Absalom's inner faults and darkness.

I'm challenged to choose suffering in the way David does: not arguing with his accusers, not bringing division upon the nation, not standing up to fight against injustice, but instead humbly removing himself from being used to disrupt God's will. How many times have I done what I think is best, only to find that I've gone against God instead of partnering with Him. I think David walked with God well - he didn't seek the throne, didn't take it by force, and in the end didn't consider it something to fight for if God was now willing to remove him from power. Our relationships and our unity are much more important than my petty pride or offense or hurts. God is good, but only from His perspective - and we must be broken and tried in order to see from His vantage point... just as He was broken and tried for us.
Tuesday, March 04, 2003
One of those days today - not bad, not especially "good" either, just a day. I'm about to leave work, hooking up with the wife and tater-tots at my mom & dad's house. Looking forward to relaxing a bit - before getting them to bed and pulling this laptop back out to get some work done that I didn't get to this afternoon.

It's a cycle - work, eat, sleep, work, eat, sleep... until the weekend when it's work, eat, sleep, work, play, nap, eat, sleep, etc. Solomon was right - vanity, all vanity, if this is all there is. I can't imagine right now how some people do it - without hope, why bother? Without something to strive for, who cares about rolling through mediocrity? Without "something more" then this is all there is, right?

There is Something More. Always is, always will be I suppose. The cycle is part of the journey, but it's not the journey. I've got more invested in this life than to let it flounder into the same-ol'-same-ol' day after day after day. My hope: that what I aim for is worth it, is life-changing and life-enriching. And that I'm a gift to others in the process, that my relationships are true and full.

Until tomorrow... shut down.
CNN.com - Three young boys survive plane crash - Mar. 3, 2003

There's something about being a Dad that rises up in me as I read of what must've been a heroic gift from this father to his boys. I can only guess the circumstances - but in giving them the benefit of the doubt, I see a father laying down his own life so that his sons might live on.

As my own kids sleep upstairs in relative safety, I pray that I am a father who will protect, provide, guide and mentor them into the life ahead.
Sunday, March 02, 2003
Good morning, Lord. I'm up earlier than normal, and I wanted to spend some time with You instead of just heading back to bed. If there's been anything missing on my end, it's been that I don't spend enough facetime with You. It's Sunday, and today is a good day to begin again to seek hard after You.

Thank You for being with Vicki, keeping her safe. Thank You for her and the kids, what they mean to me, how we're growing and changing together. Grant us grace overflowing to live together in peace, Lord. Let me bear the burdens, being patient and forebearing in love. Be with Cammi & Trace this morning as we go to church - may they learn about Jesus, and may the longings of their hearts be centered on knowing You more. Be with Vicki, that she and I might grow and learn and continue to be filled - seekingto only be filled by and submitted to You, Holy Spirit.

We will give You praise today, O Lord. Bless us with fruitfulness - reveal Yourself in our lives. And bless CWO this morning with a harvest for Your kingdom. May the fields be white and the workers many, Father, this morning as we "cast the net" over people who are ready and willing to stay in the net.

in Jesus' name - amen.
Saturday, March 01, 2003
Well, Tiger held on to win on the first extra hole, so he'll play David Toms tomorrow for the Match Play Championship. The Gamecocks beat the Commodores 76-62, so all's not bad in USC-land. But the most in-depth and hard-cutting thing I've seen this evening? The 2nd Annual CNN-SI PGA Poll (I woulda thought boxers would've been higher than that - less chafing on the backswing).
Stream of consciouness post... what else is there to do with it raining all day?

Well, it's been pretty moist out there today. The original forecast didn't really call for much rain, maybe a little going through in the afternoon. But 0.40 inches of precip later, it's still coming down. Luckily, as Vicki drives back from the NC Mountains, the rain is moving out of the picture and she shouldn't have to deal with it too much. Unless a meteorologist said that it's going to be clear for the next two hours - then it'll pour, I'm sure.

Check out "What's Cool" at blogs4God.com. I read it - but I don't think I learned anything.

One of the things I haven't spent much blogtime on is golf. I enjoy watching it, following it, and playing at it. I don't play it well, but I plat at it - meaning that I try to play well when I've got the time, but I really haven't played more than four times a year since I "picked up the game" a few years ago. But this year I hope to actually play a little more. I've even ordered DVDs from ajgolf.com to try to improve my swing and the timing on hitting the ball. They claim to be able to add clubhead speed and ten yards to your drive. I just need to add "straight" to my bag. Anyway, I just noticed that Tiger is still winning at the Match Play Championships (but he's down 2 after 7 holes right now in the next match). Poor Phil Mickelson and his superior equipment.

Well, Gamecock basketball is coming up at 5pmEST. After the baseball team losing 8-0 to Clemson, I hope the b-ball team can pull it out this afternoon against Vandy. I'll update more on scores, stats, Tiger's comeback/choke, and what's still cool later.

Thanks for playing.
Today, I'm finishing up THREE BATTLEGROUNDS by Francis Frangipane. I've read two books this week, and if I can read two more next week, I'll be caught back up in my quest to finish a book per week (new year's resoltuion).

It's a good book, and tough to read very fast. He says alot about how we allow thought patterns to take hold in our lives. The "strongholds" of 2 Cor 10:3-5 are those ways of thinking that are selfish, prideful, ungodly, etc. His "three battlegrounds" are the mind, the church, and heavenly places. As we face wrong ideas in ourselves, empty and often hurtful tradition or legalism in the church, and real spiritual ideas that have missed God's holiness and power, we're able to pull these strongholds down and replace them with the right thoughts and ideas (Rom 12:1-2).
"MISSING YOU ALREADY" - note to girlfriend, left in hanging letters, wet rope, and a flag off the back of the car

I miss Vicki this morning. She's travelling up to Asheville, NC to visit with her grandmother and dad. Nan was hospitalized last week with heart complications - a flutter in her heart, if I remember right - and she's home now, but very weak. And stubborn. Vicki needed to go up, assess the situation as the "only" grand-daughter, and deal with stuff with her dad and the others over what's happening next. Whew. Anyway, I "made" her go up last night - spent the night in a whirlpool suite, getting a good night's sleep and a little relaxation before dealing with the stresses of family.

So I'm here, Mr. Mom, with two rugrats who've increased the tension in my headache about tenfold over the last couple of hours. It's not their fault, I'm sure. Part of it is the weather - turning to rain when it was supposed to be rather dry. Can't go to the park when it's raining like this. So we went out to run some DVDs back to Blockbuster, to make copies of tomorrow's bulletin at church, stopped at Sonic for Kids' Meals and a Coney, and then to Krispy Kreme for some afternoon glazed. Meanwhile, my headache's been growing, and Cameron's arguing with everything I say, and then Tracer's getting annoyed with Cam, and then I'm getting annoyed with both of them, and then... it's a cruel cycle, isn't it?

Vicki will be home this evening, and all will be well with the world. You really don't realize how much you rely on someone until you have the do the job alone. It's not that it's that difficult - but when you're used to working together, it's a definite change in dynamic. While I usually have a tougher time with Cameron (everything I say is wrong, and she's only five - nipping this now so we don't have it magnified at fifteen!), but it's a little more stressful when Mommy's gone. I usually have a huff-n-puff session with Trace when I ask him ot get off the PC, but it's a little more pronounced when the other authority figure is unavailable. Stuff like that is wearing on me right now, I guess. Tylenol, take me away.

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