rick & 1j13
Friday, October 31, 2003
Scariest thing I could come up with, picture of me in header - bbbrrrrrr, gives me chills....
So much anymore, holidays are about peer pressure. I was going to write about how difficult it is to do anything else on Halloween other than Halloween stuff. But one thought led to another - that's how my mind works sometimes - and I realized it's the same for Christmas, Thanksgiving, all the biggies.

The only thing I know for certain is that I don't want to be anywhere near my house tonite. We live in a very nice neighborhood, with one main 1.5 mile street and lots of little cul de sac offshoots - and everyone within fifteen miles brings their children to our neighborhood. There will be officers up front checking ID for addresses. There will be congested parking on the shoulders and in front yards for the first half-mile into the subdivision. And the kids will keep coming. No kidding, we see parents lugging little bitty kids down the street, still ringing doorbells at 10pm. That's nuts. Not my house - please, if you're going to TP the yard, do it on the low trees and not the high pine branches. Other than that, knock yourself out. We'll be back later.

Here's the Friday Five - get my mind off this irritating little holiday:
1. What was your first Halloween costume?
I don't remember. Sure it was something with a one piece face mask and flame-retardant plastic. My kids both shared a costume, years apart of course, as their first - a fluffy little pumpkin. Both of them were perfect for the part.
2. What was your best costume and why?
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm... I went as one of the members of KISS one time. Peter, I think. That was cool.
3. Did you ever play a trick on someone who didn't give you a treat?
No - not my style.
4. Do you have any Halloween traditions? (ie: Family pumpkin carving, special dinner before trick or treating, etc.)
Get out of my neighborhood!!!!!!
5. Share your favorite scary story...real or legend!
One day, a long time ago... the Brady Bunch debuted on national television. BBrrrbbrrrbbrrr - scary!

But I'm serious about this peer-pressure thing. It's like we can't do something different because we've always done this. If anything, "this" has to get bigger and better each year, but heaven forbid we do something different. I've got one idea that I didn't feel like doing this year, but it might make it out of hte bag next year. I want to have a KID-FREE zone in my yard. While parents walk their little ankle-biters to the other houses, I'll set up a Coke/Tea/Coffee table in my yard just for them. Chat a little. Share Jesus. Be cordial and smile alot. That's about the only thing I can think of to redeem this nasty little holiday.

Can you tell I don't like Halloween? Anyone up for asking me about my take on the pomp & circumstance surrounding Christmas?
Thursday, October 30, 2003
Mike Yaconelli : Youth Specialties

I just read that Mike was killed in a car accident last night. I think I'm going to re-read DANGEROUS WONDER - wonderful kick-butt kind of book - and pick up MESSY SPIRITUALITY in his memory.
"This is not the life Jesus died for you to live. There is always more." - source unknown

I found a piece of paper in my car the other day that had that quote written on it. Either I read it and wrote it down, or I heard it in a sermon and wanted to save it. Of course, I then proceeded to lose the piece of paper until the moment it reappeared between the front seats and hand brake.

Life has a tendency to drag, doesn't it? I mean, we go on and on... and on and on. We get bogged down in the ruts of weekday schedules, extracurricular activities, church programs. And that before the "storms" of life that are always just around the bend, if not on top of us right now. Maybe that's why I saved that quote - the promise of "more", and the challenge of "this is not it - yet"...

Reading Isaiah 65:17-25, you can get a sense of the future coming of Christ's kingdom, and of its possibility even now among us. Tony Campolo suggests in ADVENTURES IN MISSING THE POINT that kingdom-living would have this kind of effect on society, a real substance filled with long life, better childcare, laughter and God's listening ear. What if the promises of Revelation 21 could begin to take shape now - not perfectly, but still in-line with God's call for us to love Him and to love each other?

There's more to this life, more than just living and dying, more than just trying to make the best of things (isn't that a Stephen Curtis Chapman song?). Striving to live at that level, from where the grace of God both embraces us to feel His presence and empowers us to do His bidding - that's where I want to live.

Got to do better about waking up early and making coffee in the morning first. Coffee's got to work into that equation somewhere.
Bro', you're harshin' my mellow...

My new favorite hip phrase from Russ @ FeelMyPain... sweet.
Wednesday, October 29, 2003
CNN.com - Sun delivers yet another shot at Earth - Oct. 29, 2003

ABCNEWS.com : Is 'Hillbilly' Humor Offensive?

Them's kin.
Fun & Games: Songs That Get Stuck In Your Head

Be careful reading this article - if you're prone to earworm (meaning a song that gets stuck in your head), you'll be like me. They mentioned it - and now I've got DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY going through my head... aarrgghh.
"Faith begins when we realize that our faith has a very weak hold on God, but we trust that God has a very strong hold on us, that God holds us more tightly than we hold God...." - Brian McLaren, quoting a mentor

Have you ever lost your faith?

I had a good conversation with Andre', my riding buddy to Atlanta this past weekend for a Cleansing Streams retreat. We talked about how difficult it is to move out of a culturally-formed religious mindset, into a groove that's based on a growing and deepening relationship with Christ and others. When you move from one level of faith to another, you lose something that previously was unmoveable. In tearing down your foundations, the pain and unrest either keeps us from moving fully in this new direction, or it rips us so bad that we lose faith entirely. Or, hopefully, it produces a brokenness that relies on God in a newer and stronger way.

Anyway, what I try to remember is this: God has me, and wants to be in relationship with me - more than I want Him. And if I'll follow Him, He'll do a better job of keeping me in His hands than I'll do of holding onto what I thought was important.
Tuesday, October 28, 2003
Well, I think I did okay on last night's midterm. I haven't double-checked the study notes I posted below, but they weren't exhaustive anyway. I left a few other lists off, but I had them enough for recall during the exam. Whew.

It's a funny thing to be talking about evangelism more than doing it. I want to apply the principles we're learning, but at the same time I have misgivings about using methods and techniques that seem to come up short. Having an agenda - that bothers me, seems like we're shutting ourselves off from God be grabbing onto a get-'em-saved-close-the-deal mentality. That's not part of this class' presentation, but it is - did that make sense? There's no talk yet on making disciples, no talk on the after effects of being convicted of breaking the Law and intentionally repenting of our sin. Of the 10 videos we've watched, I've been genuinely challenged by maybe two of them - the rest have been re-hash of his original ideas, and lame jokes. There, I said it :) - I can't stand the joking that goes on in these videos. For me, if I've got to resort to humor to drive the point home every time, then I've got to re-evalute my message or my audience. Humor has its place, but I'm working on getting the sarcasm down to the bare minimum, and this speaker is using it whenever and wherever it suits him.

Enough of that. I don't dislike the guy, just the arrogance of this approach. And that's just me. I still need to share Jesus with people, still need to "use the Law properly" (1 Tim 1:8), still need to grow true converts and get false ones saved. I understand that, and I'm challenged to do it - however it happens - in a way that's still got integrity and is still open to the move of the Spirit.
Monday, October 27, 2003
Mind if I type my notes from memory for the midterm I'm taking later this evening? Thanks. The class is EXCELLENCE IN EVANGELISM. Anything wrong down there will be corrected later after I take the test and find the correct answers (left my study sheet in the car so I could attempt this from recall).

Purpose of the Law
  • Rom 3:19 - shut the world's mouth, show them guilt before God
  • Rom 3:20 - make us conscious of sin (Rom 7:7 - meaning of sin)
  • Gal 3:24 - schoolmaster leading us to Christ
  • also - 1 Tim 1:8 - the Law is good if used properly
  • also - Rom 15:13 - the Law is a lamp

    Characteristics of True Convert
  • Repentance
  • Thankfulness
  • Good works
  • Fruit of the Spirit
  • Fruit of righteousness - doing the right things with the right motivations in the right way

    Characteristics of a False Convert (Matt 13, Mk 6, Lk ??)
  • Immediate Results
  • Lack of moisture
  • No roots
  • Receives word with joy
  • Received word with gladness
  • Believes for a season

    How To Get Fired Up to Witness
  • Faith - passage? - we grow in enthusiasm and joy as we take God at His word, believe His promises
  • Love for God - Acts 20:19-24 - Paul's love for God was greater than troubles
  • Motivation of Compassion - Rev 20:11 - not wanting people to end up in a certain judgment/doom (Heb 2:15 - realizing that everyone is enslaved to fear of death)

    Keys to Army's Success
  • Know objective - "seek & save the lost"
  • Know weapons - faith, daily word, prayer
  • Know enemy - kill the flesh

    Extra Credit: 10 Commandments
  • Have no other gods but me
  • Don't build any graven images of Me
  • Don't use my name in vain
  • Keep the Sabbath
  • Honor your mother and father
  • Don't lie
  • Don't steal
  • Don't murder
  • Don't commit adultery
  • Don't covet the stuff of others

    Hmmmmmmm.... I'm missing something from the sheet. I'll have to fill in those blanks later. And like I said, I'll do my best to correct any wrong references or anything above later.
    My tummy hurts. After a long week without my family in town, and a wonderful weekend retreat to Atlanta before finally being reuinted - I think I ate poorly and then ate too much. I don't know - something like that. No stress in my life, right? None at all - well, other than getting everyone back to school and work, having a midterm tonight, being challenged to lead in new ways and in new areas. Naah - no stress here.

    I'm still pondering the thought of my motivation - someone else's perceived need, or God's command to meet the needs of someone else. In trying my best to meet someone else's need, I run the risk of sentimentality, of losing my focus on God and placing it on myself as I meet their needs from within my own resources. I also risk perpetuating the situation that's fueled the need. In taking matters into my own hands, I've taken them out of God's hand and I've become an obstacle to Him trying to do His work.

    On the other hand, if my motivation is Him, I'll be partnering with Him instead of hindering His plans, right?
    Sunday, October 26, 2003
    I just received a fairly disturbing email message to our 1J13 email list (click here for message). It's "disturbing" because it seems like a hoax, but from everything I looked at on the 'net, it might be for real. This person joined the email list today to post that message. But she didn't set herself up to *not* receive messages, so I hope her post generates some feedback and we can help out prayerfully.

    Another "disturbing" twist is what's involved. She's pouring her troubles and victimization out to strangers. There's a cycle of downward junk in all of this, and she's at a point where this makes sense. If the message is on the up-and-up, then the "answer" is not to pay her bills. The needed thing is to stop the spiral, to stop the madness, to stop not only th abuse but the environment/atmosphere where abuse can still rise up into her family's life over these years.

    It's not that "Jesus is the answer" - but neither is just meeting her immediate financial or physical needs. That's where today's devo from MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST comes in (Oct 26th entry here). Am I to be motivated by her needs, or am I to be motivated by Christ? And if I'm motivated by Christ, how differently would I then begin to partner with Him in meeting her real needs - not just the surface ones, but the inner healing and peace that's underneath it all?
    I think it's best that we try to get back into the swing of things on a Sunday. If the kids were getting back from Disney World today and having to jump straight back into school tomorrow, I think somebody would go nutty - namely, my wife.

    We're getting ready for church this morning. Cammi's "missed you all week, Daddy" - so she's riding into church early with me. I don't mind. I'm looking forward to talk with folks about out Cleansing Streams retreat and what is coming up in that arena next year. And then I've got to study for a midterm this afternoon. Might let Trace blog about their trip to Orlando. Woo hoo.

    More later....
    Saturday, October 25, 2003
    Saturday night. Fall back. And everyone's home.

    Rick's happy, and life is good.
    Friday, October 24, 2003
    CNN.com - Solar burst could scramble phones, power lines
    That is so cool. Wish I could've made something like this an excuse for homework or something back in high school: "Sorry, I didn't get it done - too much magnetic interference..."

    CNN.com - Ash Wednesday open for Gibson's 'Passion'
    Anyone want to join me in picketing the picketers?

    WorldNetDaily - America's 'war on Christians' New York Times best seller says daily news hints at much bigger story
    Isn't this the way it's supposed to be, at least to the extent that people are offended by the gospel? I don't think anyone's really offended by Christians as much as the message. We're usually not that on board with it ourselves....
    Thursday, October 23, 2003
    As the weekend gets closer, I'm more and more enamored with the thought that my family will be back home. I'm looking forward to hearing them yell DADDY!! when they see me. And while I pray that the whininess stays in Florida, I'll probably let 'em do whatever they want when they get home. It's been too quiet in my house - time for a little noise, laughter and even crying - something to shake the dawg up at least.

    For me, this week has been full of work, a head/tummy-ache, and way too much time to think. Not that I've used all that time to actually think, but I have had some free peaceful time to think about God, life, the universe and everything. Conviction carrying over from last week on what needs to be corrected in my life is strangely comforted by the thoughts I posted earlier on God's testing us for approval, not for failure. He wants me to succeed in His kingdom, not to fall flat on my hiney in mistake after mistake. He gains no pleasure in that. Rather, in love and salvation and mercy, He runs us through the fire so that He can enjoy our jewels, our crowns, the stuff of life that lasts because it's from Him and flowing out of us. That's why I'm tested, why I'm convicted: not to be condemned or ashamed, but to stand holy before Him.

    So as the family returns to the homestead this weekend, I'm looking forward to living that out. Not only between God and myself, but also between us as human living in the same house. We're family, and we want the best for everyone else in there. That's part of the legacy I want to leave my kids, something I want them to remember: that Daddy gets no pleasure from their mistakes, and that I want them to pick themselves up to intentionally do the right thing next time.

    What a statement: "Sin is crouching at our doorstep, seeking to devour us. Let’s not continue to laugh at it on primetime television after we’ve declared war on it in our morning devotions." I don't have many connections with anything else in the article, but that one line jumps off the screen as second to the last paragraph.
    Wednesday, October 22, 2003
    Denise commented on an earlier entry today:Thanks - I really appreciate the kind words, and I'm always eager to find out how and when other people "find" my drivel on the 'net.

    Anyway, that opens up a neat segue to make a plug for Cleansing Streams. The retreat this weekend is the culmination of four months of videos and personal study & reflection & conviction. We're meeting at Mt Paran North Church of God in Marietta, GA - the site for the regional retreat. Basically, the cleansing aspect comes from the ministry of Jack Hayford, seeking to provide a balance in "deliverance ministry" (which often has a bad name from abusiveness and ineffectiveness) with the Bible's call to walk in wholeness and holiness. We all bring our baggage to the table, and this is an outlet to deal and chuck.

    About six of us are going - not as big a group as the 19 who went with me in the spring, but it's been a good season of cleansing for the ones who are pressing through in this.

    This is a review linked from the RelevantMag site, where Easterbrook reviews KILL BILL (distributed by a Disney subsidiary). Shortly after this, he published an explanation/apology, and was then fired from his job at ESPN (owned by Disney). Go figure.
    Wednesday. Middle of the week. Two days of work left. today and tomorrow. Leaving Friday for Marietta/ATL, Georgia for the Fall 2003 Cleansing Streams retreat. Coming back Saturday evening - and my family will already be here waiting. Life's getting good.

    I stayed home yesterday - nasty headache, congestion, sinus trouble made it hard to sleep the night before - not to mention the dawg wanting to go out and chase bunnies or something all night. I worked from home - intending to take lots of naps and drink lots of fluids and pop lots of tylenol, but instead I stayed hooked up in front of my laptop in the kitchen all day. I did get alot done so that today won't be a hassle, but it was last night before I got a decent amount of sleep.

    And now I'm posting before heading out the door to meet Scott @ Starbucks. We're beginning another book study - this time, it's a book of the OT, Ezekiel. Chapter one starts off with visions of creatures that look like men, with heads that have four faces, and wings, and wheels within wheels... I would've been the smart aleck prophet: "They look like men... no wait, my bad - I don't know anyone who looks like that!"
    Monday, October 20, 2003
    I always try to start the week with a Monday full of panic and stress. That way, it's usually downhill from there, right? NOT. I spent a few hours this afternoon looking for files that should've been in the directory, but weren't in the directory, and needed to be in the directory - only to find that they were there, just with different file names per the customer's needs. Whew... "I'm alright / I'm alright / It only hurts when I breathe" - great line in "Breathe" by Greenwheel.

    I'm honestly not looking forward to class tonight, but only because I've got so much to get done once I get home on the documentation I'm working on for the office. But I can hold out - get home, fix a sandwich, turn on MNF and type my evening away with a cup of coffee. I could use a nap, but it would be a waste - I'd still have all that to do, I'd still be tired, and I'd still stay up too late tonight. I just have to remember that this is just Monday, that tomorrow will be one day closer to the weekend and the family returning home. Hoo ha.

    One more thing - thanks, if you're reading, for letting me rant and ramble and ruminate. This week, blogging might be the only "deep" conversation I have. I normally chew this stuff up with my wife - just the day-to-day stuff that no one else likes to hear, but that two people share in a way that's meaningful. If you've read this far, you're either (a)oppressively bored, or (b)interested in watching car wrecks, or (c)you're my wife, finding an internet cafe in Orlando. Either way, I appreciate you reading so that I don't appear to be talking to myself... again.
    The trials of a writer. I wrote this post last night, and ended up sending it to the 1J13 email list instead of blogging it. It's more of a journalized-this-is-my-day kind of post, something suited more for this page, I suppose. But when I cut/pasted it to the blog, it just didn't look right, and I was too lazy to hyperlink some of the stuff in there. Anyway, long story short - I sent it to the list. Why? I feel that the email list has lost something, or it's never had something, that the blog has replaced in my life: a place for more intimate and meaningful reflection on life and how it's moving along. I opened it as an "invitation" for others to also just share how their day went, how their weekend was spent.

    Someone might write back, or maybe not - and I'm cool with that. But if we were all around a kitchen table at my house, the conversation wouldn't end with one story. That's what I want more of, and what I think will motivate us to new levels as Christians together. The stories of our collective lives will tie us together even more securely, and will speak volumes of Jesus' life in us to those outside the loop.

    So do I write to get a response? Do I write with an agenda? I hope not - but at the same time, if there's no response, was it worth writing in the first place. This kind of thing challenges me, encourages me and weighs me down at the same time...
    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
    - Galatians 5:22-25 NIV

    You might've read these verses many times before, or even memorized the fruit of the Spirit in a discipleship class at church. What's always jumped out at me is how many times these attitudes are missing in our lives, and how many times we feel the need to manufacture the missing attitude in order to maintain some status quo level of spirituality. If I'm having a particularly hectic day, I might grit my teeth and ask for patience. Or if I'm finding myself burdened with deadlines and stress, I might will-power my self-control into gear so I don't throttle somebody.

    But these things should flow naturally out of us; they can't be forced through the will or the ego. We aren't saved by our good works, and neither are we rescued by our right attitudes. A key to bearing the fruit of the Spirit is to "keep in step with the Spirit." As we live by Him, we also die to self in Him - and the fruit isn't manufactured by our own selfish personality, but rather by the presence of Christ in us and with u

    Mondays were made for fruity people. So be ye fruity.
    Saturday, October 18, 2003
    Not pretty for the Gamecocks - LSU 33, USC 7. Darn.
    My family left earlier this morning for a week-long trip to Disney World. And in about an hour I'll leave to tailgate before the USC/LSU ballgame. Whew. I thought about blogging, but nothing really hits me, you know? Pretty much brain-dead. I mean, even the FridayFive was fairly uninteresting this week. Maybe I need a more imaginative refrigerator? But I'm awake, so I write - and I'm disciplining myself to write even if I don't want to. Promise to stop when I don't have anything to say - don't you hate that? But for today, I'm just making myself continue the conversation. I'll probably post again after football, 'specially if the Gamecocks win.
    Friday+OneDay Five:

    1. Name five things in your refrigerator.
    milk, mayonnaise, juice boxes, chicken salad, tea

    2. Name five things in your freezer.
    Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (know it's there; just got back from store), corn dogs, waffle sticks, ice, peas

    3. Name five things under your kitchen sink.
    cat food, dog food, roach spray, dishwashing liquid, disposal

    4. Name five things around your computer.
    cd-roms, books, gameboy color, batteries, flashlight

    5. Name five things in your medicine cabinet.
    no cabinet, basket: excedrin, tylenol, hair brush, cologne, deodorant

    Sometimes I can add stuff, write from these. This week: nothing. Not a bad set of questions, just not very "inspirational"...
    Friday, October 17, 2003
    When I start writing my novel-in-a-month in November, I'm going to have to remember that I'm leaving myself the leeway to suck. I don't mind writing or being pressured under a deadline to write - but I usually want to make sure everything is pretty good before moving on to the next thought or "chapter" of whatever bunny trail I'm chasing at the time. I'll have to discipline myself not to go back and read or spend too much time on corrections. And I think I'll have to condition myself to be comfortable at Starbucks, hammering away at the laptop keyboard, making text come to life as prose over a chai latte.

    I'm actually excited about the whole ordeal. It's more than I've bitten off before, and I'm looking forward to the challenge as much as the end of the month, when I'll get my wife and at least one or two other close friends read through my "manuscript" and give me helpful non-violent criticism. Being serious - I'd love to publish. I'd love to write something worth someone else's money and investment. So whatever I actually get down on paper/CRT-screen, I want to make sure there's something salvageable to maybe progress it even further.

    So why am I writing this right now? I wanted to sit for a few minutes and see how many words I could type off the cuff. The goal of NANOWRIMO is to write 50,000 words in the month of November. So I'm typing here to see how many words I tend to hit in a five-minute span.

    How many? 270. Not bad, but not 50K either.
    God is merciful.

    The Cubs lost.
    The Red Sox lost.

    We are in the last days. The Apocalypse is coming. But God is merciful.
    Thursday, October 16, 2003
    I'm on a butt-kicking chapter in ENJOYING GOD, the book I've been trying to finish this week. Reading at lunch this afternoon, SJ Hill puts something to words that we "know" but don't do very well. We'll never overcome sin by hating sin - the starting point is to be exceedingly satisfied with God. Everything else is counterfeit. I think he quoted John Piper: "Sin is what we do when we're no longer satisfied with God." Wow.

    I haven't been like that, and I haven't helped anyone else in that area either. As "head of household" in my family, I'm constantly voting God out (sorry for the BB4 reference!). Or at least I'm putting Him up against something else and then we vote together. Whatever it is, my belief that "I love God" needs to be lived out in reality. Finances. Family. Time management. Work. Ministry.... Wow.

    I'm encouraged by that, more than being guilted down in my conscience. I want to finish the book so my wife can take it with her on vacation next week. She's been reading Rick Warren's THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE; some of the practicalities in there are good, but this book has the basis for all that: love God more than anything else.

    One more thing. He's wrapping up my current chapter with this thought: God wants us to succeed. He tests us for APPROVAL, not for FAILURE. He doesn't dwell on my defeats, only on my victories in Him as I seek to be like Him and satisfied in Him... Wow.

    Enough pontificatin'. Time to go and do... and be.
    Wednesday, October 15, 2003
    I'm not real big on email devotionals - most of them leave me thirsty for more. But I discovered this one, and today's really says something meaningful:It's not about NOT BEING bad and always AVOIDING temptation. Rather, it's about BEING good and PURSUING righteousness.
    I'm thinking this morning about CHANGE - how it effects us, how we try to avoid it, how it hurts and gets us out of comfort zones, how it might help to get us out of ruts, etc. I was listening to another CD sermon this morning, this time from Cedar Ridge, where Brian McLaren is Senior Pastor and where they're going through some changes because of the calling on his life. I've got a nominal relationship with Brian: we've only "met" once, talking with him a few years ago at a conference @ his church; and I moderate an email list that discusses his NEW KIND OF CHRISTIAN novel series.

    Anyway, this "sermon" was from his church a couple of Sundays ago, when the congregation heard that he was going to stay with them in a limited but "full-time" capacity and still be given leeway to pursue opportunities to speak and teach among the leaders of what's being called "the emerging church".

    [I hate to grab onto titles like that, labelling everything and somehow taking away the mystery and some of the power from what might actually be happening. But I digress....]

    As the leaders outlined what changes were being made, the congregation was asked to partner with Brian in his ministry and calling. That's such a wonderful mindset, that they are going with him in the frontiers of changing theology, bunking with him at conferences, supporting Him in writing and speaking and dreaming. I pray that they will grab onto the vision that he's chasing, making it their own.
    American Diabetes Association: WALK FOR DIABETES
    Tuesday, October 14, 2003
    Apocalypse Without the Beasts - Christianity Today MagazineLooks like this might be a good book... adding it to my wishlist for Christmas.
    I wonder if the world would be simpler without computers, without the internet, without email, without blogging. I can stay in contact with just about everyone I know - and not have to speak to them directly. I don't have to touch anyone. I can even do my job from home, not needing to connect to anyone or anything in the office that I can't also do from my kitchen table.

    I love to write, but at what cost? I can jot some things down into a program that loads my words onto the world wide web for anyone who's curious to read and ponder on their own. But I've got no accountability beyond my own conscience. I don't have to check my facts, and I don't have to watch out for anyone's feelings or opinions. I can put a link to a place for comments, but even those are unecessary and often go unheeded. I think I'm entering into a conversation. In reality, I'm mouthing off most of the time, and not letting anyone else get any airtime. Think about it: you only get to say something if *I* click on your link - even your reply is up to me, right?

    It's dangerous to be the center of my universe. I know how much I know, and it's not much. I don't know exactly how much I don't know, but I estimate that it's a huge portion of all that's know-able. And instead of relying on God, or even on others, I rely on self to sustain me, and then block everyone else out by "talking" to them over the internet. We have fake conversations about meaningless things - and our relationships show the stress and strain, don't they?

    Rambling, huh? What's my point? Well, you can reach me 24/7 by cellphone, email or land-line. but you won't reach *me*, the real me, the me that God knows and loves most. You'll reach a hurried me, or a working me, or the masquerading me - these electronic tools of communication allow me to hide behind them, putting forth the best artificial face to interact with you on my terms.

    But if you call first, and then come over for coffee... without email (why do we think emotion can be adequately conveyed with smileys?) and without cellphones (can you hear *me* now?), we might get to know one another. With a kitchen table between us instead or cell towers, and with placemats instead of keyboards, and stirring coffee instead of going point-and-click......

    At least call first, ok?
    RELEVANT magazine :: Slices

    Got this from this morning's slices:That's pretty cool, especially on the day the DVD is released.
    Monday, October 13, 2003
    I can't think of much that's more discouraging than preaching truth and falling short. Whether I see it blatantly in the life of some other pastor, or I feel the convicting sting of it in me - it's disheartening to know truth and then to be found lacking. We have not arrived; none of us are perfect. And yet that is the goal, being like Christ in all things - "be perfect as I am perfect" and all that.

    So I'm striving once again to live that out. I want to be found approved, tested as trustworthy, faithful to the calling on my life in Christ. There's so many things on my plate. Besides being Husband and Daddy, I'm Co-Worker, Associate Pastor, Blogger (don't want to let anyone down here), Moderator (a b4G and email lists), friend to "millions", and dreamer... sort of. And I can get so easily distracted from the task at hand: just living the kingdom life now, growing in Christ-likeness, getting to know Him more and more. I want my evangelism to be an outflow of that. I want my work to reflect quality from that. I want my ministry to reveal Christ in all things.

    On the morning commute, I was listening to a CD I'd burned, an MP3 sermon - great for my typical drive to work. On this particular morning, the leadership team at this church was outlining the changes coming up for those assembled. The chairman mentioned that the team had gone into a time of prayer and fasting, knowing intrinsically that God needed to be their focus and energy. I was challenged, and actually thought about my own need to just enter a time of fasting. At the same time, I was chewing on a porkchop biscuit from Hardee's. The irony struck me as I made the exit ramp off of I-20: I need to fast, but let me chew this biscuit first.

    I don't want to be disqualified in the end, and I definitely don't want to be found chompin' on a biscuit.
    CNN.com - New Inspector Clouseau: Steve Martin? - Oct. 13, 2003

    ...well, excu-u-u-u-u-use me.
    Sunday, October 12, 2003
    It's been a pretty good day. Waiting so late to blog because I wanted to finish thrashing the LSU Tigers on Gamecube (USC 42, LSU 28) - woo hoo. We have to play them next Saturday evening, and I don't think it'll be that high on the scoreboard.

    Anyway, good day. Busy, but decent. Really challenged this morning in the area of personal surrender, on a couple of fronts actually. How many times do I think I've got it together, only to find that my motives have been self-inflated, or that I've totally missed the mark on being Christ-like?

    Just rambling. It's late, buit I wanted to type before heading upstairs to finish my book. I've got class tomorrow night - just praying for ears to hear what the Spirit is saying, eyes to see what He's trying to reveal.

    Peace & goodnight.
    Saturday, October 11, 2003
    Life is black-&-white... sometimes. Here's today's Saturday Scruples:

    1) At the local grocer, you see an elderly woman shoplift bacon. Do you tell the grocer?
    Only if after telling the elderly lady, she refuses to cooperate.

    2) Your century old church is an architectural treasure but the congregation is declining. Developers offer $20 million and a sanctuary in the office tower they want to build. Do you accept?
    Hmmmm... I don't think this is a moral issue. It's not "selling out" if the church is falling in numbers and already "selling out" to the world around it. Keeping it because it's pretty would only continue the charade. Taking the money wouldn't be a bad thing - but having the "sactuary" inside the office building probably wouldn't be that great either.So I'd say YES, thanks for the money and NO, we'll move somewhere else.

    3) A co-worker needs to leave early and asks you to punch her time card when you leave. Do you do it?
    No, and I'd encourage her to not look for anyone else to help there.
    Comics.com - GET FUZZY:

    (c)2003 Darby Conley, United Features Syndicate, Inc.
    I really needed a weekend like this one, with yesterday off with the kids and lots of football today and tomorrow. Went to see GOOD BOY yesterday - well, it wasn't that good. I felt like Kevin Nealon, who played the boy's father in the movie: unfunny and unnecessary. But my kids liked it alright. Looks like I've still got some work to do in the developing-good-taste category of child-rearing. Seriously, it wasn't that bad - just wasn't that good, either.

    We're starting a new Bbile study tomorrow morning. It's a 7-part study by Adrian Rogers on Kingdom Authority. I've never been a big fan of his, but I hope the book/discussion will bring out some good stuff the next few weeks.

    Tonight, a few folks are coming over for the last installment of Cleansing Streams before the retreat. Small group attending - and out of the seven folks going through the seminar, TWO OF THEM have bailed. One can't get off work and the other doesn't have a job and doesn't feel like she can go. Aaaarrrggghhh. Doesn't anyone listen when I tell them that the enemy will do everything he can to keep us from going? We've been doing this for a few years now, and every time there's someone who falls through the cracks: "I'll go to the retreat next time." I'm proud of one guy going through this time, because in all of the years we've done it, he's going to be the first to actually bail and then follow-through completely.

    Meanwhile, I hope to accomplish a few things today:
  • help my wife with the laundry
  • clean up the dining room (our house catch-all)
  • prepare for company tonight (why else clean the dining room?)
  • watch lots of football
  • finish enjoying God by S.J. Hill so I can loan it out tomorrow
  • Friday, October 10, 2003
    The Sporting Friday Five:

    1. Do you watch sports? If so, which ones?
  • Football - college for fun and pro for my fantasy team
  • Basketball - college
  • Baseball - 'til the Braves take their end-of-season swandive
  • Golf

    2. What/who are your favorite sports teams and/or favorite athletes?
  • USC Gamecocks and the whole conference - SEC Athletics
  • Braves
  • Colorado State Rams (my son's fave - don't ask why)
  • Carolina Panthers

    3. Are there any sports you hate?
  • Rasslin'
  • Outdoor sports on TV

    4. Have you ever been to a sports event?

    5. Do/did you play any sports (in school or other)? How long did you play?
    Played church league basketball, but really just a professional spectator these days.
  • Thursday, October 09, 2003
    Got this in my inbox this evening:Pretty cool. Impressed my wife.
    Long day, but at least it's at the end of a short week. Leaving work in about fifteen minutes or so, I'm running by Subway to pick up supper for Pastor and I. Then our weekly Thursday midweek service, followed by a mad dash home to put on a pot of coffee and take in the rest of the USC-Kentucky game on ESPN.

    The game starts at 7:30pm, and church won't dismiss 'til around 8:30pm. What would I do if we had a cable modem hooked up to the laptop in the back of the sanctuary? Hmmm............... Dreamin'.

    Anyway, short week: the kids are out for teacher conferences tomorrow, so I'll be Mr. Mom and stay home to get some work done in the morning and probably take in a movie tomorrow afternoon. GOOD BOY is opening, but I'm not impressed yet - looks like CATS & DOGS probably did it right and then this one's trying to do the same thing. I didn't think Hollywood did things like that, ripping off a story for profit?

    UPDATE: USC 27, UK 21
    Wednesday, October 08, 2003
    The rain was refreshing for the most part, a slight breeze in the early fall, early morning shower. I parked the car right next to the coffeeshop - not too many folks have time to stop at Starbucks on wet mornings like this, so it already wasn't a typical-getting-overcrowded kind of Wednesday morning. Walked into the atmosphere of caffeine and steamed milk, ordered a hot chai tea - dare to be different, I say - and waited. And watched people. One man was reading the morning paper, nestled into one of the big fluffy chairs in the corner. Another older gentleman was looking at the display of mugs and holiday household coffee stuff on the shelves on the wall. A young mother and her daughter were ordering coffee and talking about Elmo. One lady was sitting at one of the small round tables, sipping her latte, looking over her notes and to-do-list for the day.

    I sat outside, something I don't enjoy in the humidity and heat of August around here. But this morning it was really rather pleasant on this damp, moist day in October. I pulled out my book and began to read, looking up every now and again to see if my friend was pulling up or not. I read about how we all long to wake up from the dream, how we aren't safe anymore, how we dream about things and never move on those dreams until something stirs us up, or stirs up the things around us. Dorothy and Toto had dreams they couldn't imagine actually living out, and then a tornado threw the house over the rainbow and everything went Technicolor. Tornados wake us up from the dream, from the self-opposing nap we've allowed ourselves to be lulled into. Bright colors wake us up from the drab black/white/grey day-to-day. But which is the dream - the color, or the colorless?

    I still had to drive into work, getting to the parking lot a couple of minutes late. Checking email this morning, there's a message from a cross-country friend, an old quote of mine from high school that's ringing through his head and making him laugh: "Some people are nuts, and some people are bolts. No matter who you are, one day we all get screwed." For some reason, it comforts me to think that we really did know everything in high school.
    It's Cammi's b-day - the big SIX years old. Humungoid birthday party last night at Chuck E. Cheese's (we WERE the crowd!), and fast in the middle of birthday week in the family homestead. I remember that morning like it was, well, six years ago. We'd stayed up late to finish painting the rainbow mural and hanging the wallpaper trim. We left early for the scheduled c-section. Trace was 2 at the time, staying with grandparents, meeting us at the hospital later. And our little girl was borm almost before the family got there. All that before breakfast.

    FYI: Our daughter is the one with curly hair and no long tail.
    Tuesday, October 07, 2003
    CNN.com - Angry Moroccan teacher throws pupils out of window
  • ... that's what I'm talkin' about.

    Sportsline.com - Bryant reports to camp a changed man
  • I hope this isn't a front for the jury. "I'm sorry" is only meaningful if it's not just for getting caught. Jesus is our Mediator, but not always a good witness for the defendant.
  • Monday, October 06, 2003
  • Interview: Deepening Our Conversation with God (part 1) - LeadershipJournal.net
  • Interview: Deepening Our Conversation with God (part 2) - LeadershipJournal.net

    Saw these links on an email list today and I wanted to make sure I'd remember to access them when I had time to really read. They point to an interview with Henri Nouwen and Richard Foster, two gentlemen in the faith that have earned my respect and my listening ear. Their thoughts on finding God for those in leadership are so needed in me. I spend too much time chasing after wind... and keep discovering that it's Him I want, Him I need, Him I long to pursue and to catch. And to find that He's chasing me down, too only makes it that much more magical.

    Daydreaming on a wet Monday afternoon... sigh.
    We screened TIMECHANGER last night at CWO. I have to admit, cynic that I am, that I wasn't expecting much. Once I got past the uncanny resemblance of the main character to Will Ferrell :), I liked it. I'm not much on agenda movies, and some of the fringe additions on the rapture and the last days weren't necessary for me. But the premise really rocked me last night: We cannot teach the morality & teachings of Christ without the name of Christ. Morality apart from Christ is a farce. If there is no standard, no "thus saith the Lord" in there somewhere, then morality becomes situational, ambiguious and opinion/culture-driven. And I think that fact is driven home in the thought that many of those around us "know God", but very few have an understanding of Jesus and who He is. We've said don't steal, don't gossip, don't murder, etc - but we haven't stepped up and said why, that Jesus is the center of our understanding and our interaction with each other.
    CNN.com - Woman opens fire at church, killing her mother, pastor and herself - Oct. 6, 2003

    The thought that struck me as I read this article? "I wonder what was in his sermon notes?" The pastor had just finished teaching Sunday School - what had he taught? - and was preparing to worship and preach. And I wonder to myself: what would I want to teach in the moments before I die? What would I want my final sermon to be, my final discussion, my last email, my last blog post?

    And how can I know if this is it?
    Sunday, October 05, 2003
    Thanks for all of the book suggestions. I'm going to add them to the list, but I'm first going to dive again into a book I've been looking for around the house. S.J. Hills' enjoying God is good, and I thought I'd loaned it out to someone - which meant that I'd probably never see it again and need to re-order it. But my little girl found it in her bedroom shelf - and when we came home the other night, it was laid on my pillow on the bed. She's so sweet - and I was really appreciative, as demonstrated by the hugs and kisses and zerberts.

    There's a quote that kicks the book off that really gets after it for me. I don't have it in front of me, but it goes something like this: "God is the initiator of this relationship. Before you were ever seeking Him, He was pursuing you." For me, that statement is so rich, especially as it challenges me to pursue Him, too; to seek after Him, to make His kingdom & righteousness a priority.
    Saturday, October 04, 2003
    CNN.com - Oxygen not booze draw students to local bar - Oct. 4, 2003

    Um... yeah.
    Good evening last night. We went out with the Pastor and his wife - and no kids. Five children stayed home with baby-sitters while their parents felt absolutely no guilt :). We went to eat and then to see LUTHER. Very good biographical movie. It moved a little slow, making it feel longer than it was - but in the end you wish they could've given more, you know? If it's playing near you, I'd recommend it. Great dialogue, enough action, but like I said, a little slow.

    Then we went to Barnes&Noble, of course, and I finished my date night with my first chai tea latte. I'm hooked. Don't think it'll make me go totally coffee-free, but I'll pick it from time to time over the caramel macchiato.
    Thursday, October 02, 2003
    Official NaNoWriMo 2003 Participant
    Hmm. I don't know if I've got the time or the self-discipline for doing this in November, but I'm a sucker for giving it a shot.
    Here I go again, looking for a new book to read. This time, though, I'm on a mission for one that will speak to me about me and my walk with Christ. I'm tired of books that spend time tearing down other folks in order to make a point. For the most part, pomo-christian books spend too much time talking about how the current religious culture is wrong, misguided, missing the point, etc - and they're right. But why do they have to spend all their time talking about what's wrong and so little pagespace to what needs to be right in me? So that's what I'm looking for - something deeper than your daily bread devotional, that'll challenge me and not waste my time talking about the faults of the unenlightened.
    SI.com - NFL - Limbaugh resigns from ESPN show - Thursday October 2, 2003 2:06AM

    Rush is in-your-face dogmatic, saying what he thinks. He didn't make a racist comment towards a black man, but towards the media (Peter King gets this right, and has the only decent opposing viewpoint I've seen). Anyone who's first thought is to charge that someone is racist is usually as much a racist as they think the offender is. It's too easy to point fingers and not have to respond.

    No further comment - except in my comments - on how this makes me feel...
    Wednesday, October 01, 2003
    This passage was the Daily Manna in my inbox this morning, and I'm just trying to get my mind around what's being said here:With all of the emphasis on "evangelism" in my world right now, I can feel something like compassion for "those who formerly heard the gospel [and] did not go in" to this sabbath rest.

    TODAY. That's the "special day" set aside in the "future" for anyone needing to make things right to do so, for anyone to 'fess up and repent and seek after Christ. Are our churches giving people a false sense of "rest" that doesn't require repentance & obedience? Then TODAY would be the day to get that right... right? How deceived are we when we think we're saved - only to find out that this place of rest isn't open to us, isn't available to us, isn't being prepared for us because we've chosen to continue in lives of disobedience and rebellion?

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