rick & 1j13
Saturday, May 31, 2003
Me, Part 3 (Part 1 - Part 2):

Vicki and I got to be good friends, and then we started hanging out and "became an item" when we went to two movies two nights in a row one weekend, and everyone from BSU saw us together - you know how people talk. We grew to appreciate each other and to love each other. I think we also kept an open enough relationship to where we didn't leave others out. We were good about hanging with our still-single friends and not making them feel bad, and that's something that's played over into our "grown-up" lives today. Anyway, in the fall of our senior, Vicki went to Japan for four months as a semester missionary, teaching conversational English at the mission in Nagasaki. And I stayed here. And absence doesn't only make the heart fonder, it definitely makes the relationship more meaningful and more sure. We both graduated in '90, and we got engaged in May '90, putting the down payment on the ring with my first paycheck from my first "real world" job. I'm still working there, and I'm still happily married. That comes into play in a way that's different from some other stories I've read on change and growth as Christians...

From here in the story to now, my big change has been within the church, not outside of it. Where I noticed early on that there is not a duality between the sacred and the secular, I also found that while I've been fairly stable in my job and family life, my church life and Christian growth has been through the wringer over the past 10+ years. We just celebrated out 12th anniversary last week, and I've been driving the same half-hour commute every morning to CSC for the past thirteen years. But during that time, we've followed a call to ministry that turned our ideas of Life/Universe/Everything upside down, and revealed a little more of ourselves and who our real friends were.

Situations at church got out of hand - one power struggle after another, one youth leader after another, one faction leaving, etc. And in the midst of this, I was elected as a deacon - something that still boggles my mind to an extent. I'd been involved in leadership with the youth ministry in teaching Sunday School (started that when Vicki went to Japan to keep myself busy), but other than that, why should I be "voted" on over men that I felt were much more qualified. Anyway, I was in, and what I found in the monthly meetings was that the men I had looked up to for guidance and as examples were just men - with struggles, with hang-ups, with bad ideas and wrong opinions. In other words, they were just like me, not some lofty unattainable ideal, but real people living out real lives. They weren't "bad examples" - just not as "good" as I'd held them to be in the past. This is where I got my first taste of "church politics" (should be an oxymoron, huh?), and I saw where faith really met the road. I was turned off by the lack of faith I saw, especially in financial matters in the church. It still bothers me when I see so much $$$ going to upkeep and maintenance, and so little going to meet ministry needs and vision.

Three things happened at the same time. One, I began to think for myself. I learned in college, under the leadership of Woody Hammett, that the best "answers" to life's questions might involve more and better questions. I began to look down on anyone who seemed to think they had it all figured out, and I also began to shoot holes in everything that I thought could make more sense another way. I entered my cynical stage, and don't know that I've totally gotten out of it. Second, I was called into ministry. In one of those instances where God's voice is almost audible, my wife and I had been feeling a pull towards more in depth ministry to the seniors in the youth group (still trying to stem the tide of kids leaving the church, this time by helping them develop their own faith and surpassing the faith of their parents). And as we told Pastor Mike (then youth minister at Trinity and now our senior pastor at CWO) our plans, he told us that he was accepting a pastorate at a church downtown. There in the lunchtime parking lot of Lizard's Thicket, my wife spoke as the Oracle of God: "How do you know that God's not calling us to ministry at that church?" It was like the heavens opened up and there was such a resolute peace to that notion. For the next month or so, we went back and forth about really going or not, really leaving this church I'd grown up in and had a "ministry" in or not, but we both knew - our path had been chosen. We went to Rosewood Baptist, and started to re-develop a youth ministry there.

Third, I went on a spiritual journey in what seemed like two paths, but it has turned out to be two sides of the same path. First, I found books by Len Sweet and others that talked about having a real and thoughtful walk with God, about asking questions, not holding onto the traditions handed down as much as paying close attention to how God was revealing Himself right now. This was called "postmodernism" - an -ism that started in architectural deconstruction, but also something reching into just about every discipline in our culture today. It's a move away from the "prove it to me" and debate of the modern era, into a realm of mystery, experience and realness that's more alive and more fulfilling today. So that's the more mental/"truth" oriented side of things. At the same time, we discovered the Holy Spirit, or re-discovered Him - and learned that some of the things that had been left our of the Southern Baptist curriculum were in fact very real, very meaningful and very powerful. From Pastor Mike on down, we were baptized in the Spirit. Many of us were praying in tongues; we were watching people get saved, get delivered, get healed. It was like everything had a new fire, a new empowrment for ministry. This was the other side, the "spirit" side of the path for me. And with both of these "sides" growing, I've come to find what it means to me to worhip God in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:23-23).

After our experiences in the Spirit, the hard-core Baptists in the church were no longer fond of Pastor Mike. Folks who'd never really darkened the doorway showed up to vote us out in July of '97 - but that's his faithstory more than mine. We went with Pastor and a few others to start a new church, and today CWO is still going strong. We've only got a handful of people left from that original group (hang-ups show up anywhere along the journey, don't they?), but we've gotten an influx of new faces, new personalities and new leaders every time we've needed someone. God's moving through the people, and it's exciting to watch and be a part of. As our family has grown, and as we've grown as people and as christians together, I've come to see that there's so much to still learn, to still experience, to still seek God on.

The past few years have been very stretching for me, but it's been in these two modes - in spirit and in truth - and instead of fighting the path, I've embraced the questions and doubts and turned them into strengths where I can. I want to be real with all of this, and God keeps tweaking the system just enough to keep me guessing, to keep me on my toes, to keep me reliant on Him and not my own inadequate understanding. Where most people have tended to tell of having outside problems effecting their inner longings for Christ, it's been more of my inner struggles leading to outer change and effecting my style in relationships and such.

Whew. If you've read this far, you deserve a medal. Thanks for playing.
Me, Part 2 (Part 1 - Part 3):

In our church, when you left the youth group (graduated from high school), you were then "promoted" to the college/career class. This was a group of folks in college, or who didn't go the college route and were working, who were also unmarried. There really wasn't a "singles" class much, so there was no real age limit here. It felt like a gathering of folks too old for youth group and too unmarried for the couples' classes. On top of that, many of the folks I'd grown up with in this super-dooper youth group went their own ways once they got out of school and their parents' homes. It was amazing - very few of us were still there once we were "free" to go. I know that many went out of town to college, but whatever ties I thought we had were gone with the arrival of diplomas. So where I'd learned the value of friendship in the youth group, I now learned that the tightest bonds might still be pretty loosely tied.

I stayed in town for college, living at home to save money and going on a scholarship. I worked at WQXL, a local christian radio station - still the best job I've ever had. I also worked at the SC State Tax Commission. I guess those were my two biggest/longest jobs in college. And it's funny there, too - I worked a "sacred" and a "secular" job then, just like I am now, and I was given opportunity to be with real people in real situations, not kept in a churchy background with only christians or in a "heathen" atmosphere with mostly un-churched folks. Still doing that today, too - associate pastor at a local church, and full-time weekly job as a programmer/consultant. This is big for me, not having to be dualistic and keeping both sides in play as we grow as christians.

As I mentioned earlier, I broke up with my girlfriend since high school after my sophomore year of college. I really hadn't dated anyone else, and I'd basically been jealous of her time in school: she was a music major, always having to hang out with chorus friends and rehearsals and stuff, while I spent most of my time as a loner computer science geek in the labs. That following summer, I was still at the radio station, so that kept me busy with weekends and afternoon drive time, and I dated a few times - but nothing clicked. When school started back for the fall semester, I got involved at the Baptist Student Union. At the same time, we had begun a weekly college/career bible study time at church. Between school and church, I was too busy to get involved with anyone and didn't really worry about getting into the dating mode again. But that's also when I met Vicki, my future wife - working on the JUMBLE and the Crosswords in The State newspaper in the student center every afternoon. I found myself spending alot more time on campus than I had previously, and this was probably the first time I felt that I could pull away from "home bonds" and develop my own circle/community of friends & faith.

Back after lunch.
Friday, May 30, 2003
Well, it's my turn (this is Part 1 - click for Part 2 - Part 3)

One of the yahoogroups I'm a part of is "faithstory" - where each person shares his/her story of life as we've come to experience it. It's a private group, allowing for closed participation, so I won't give the link. But I did want to post "my story" here as well as there. While I've shared some stuff here, it's been mostly the day-to-day journaling style of most bloggers. But, hey - my story is meaningful, too, and I'm looking forward to the exercise. Feel free to interact in the comments, ask questions, etc. Over on the email list, we'll be doing the same thing.

Where do I begin? In a surface kind of way, my life was pretty typical southern-baptist-youth-groupie until college. We moved alot as a family before finally settling down in the home my folks still live in. That was fifth grade, and I finally had a place to meet people I could grow up with. We got involved at Trinity Baptist Church, and when I finally got to go into the youth group (my brother is the youth pastor there now), I found friends and a good group/relationship mentality for me. I got saved in Jan '82 - at the Smoky Shadows Lodge in Pigeon Forge, TN, during the winter retreat. We were watching Corri Ten Boom's THE HIDING PLACE, and it struck me that while I was "good," I didn't have the kind of faith in anything that would stand up to such persecution.

I started high school in the fall of '82. Our district then split kids up funny from the middle schools, and because of zoning only about 5% of my middle school went to Airport High. But that was okay - I met new friends, and of course there were the folks from our youth group. It was great - where else would freshmen like me be welcome eating with seniors? They looked out for us, helped us grow, etc. First time I was able to see an aspect of mentoring and friendship played out. They'll never know how much that meant - Heidi, Mike and others. We started a lunchtime Bible study on campus that year, which was nuts. Most of the legislation allowing such things wasn't really out there yet. But we went ahead anyway, with fifteen kids the first week, then twenty-five, then thirty, then maybe forty. But when we were finally called to the principal's office, and he sat in on one of our meetings, the numbers dwindled back to ten or so kids and never wavered much. But that was okay in our minds: persecution has a way of weeding out pretenders, right?

We kept it going a while longer, but I don't have any memories of that meeting getting off the ground past maybe our sophomore year. Most of high school is a blur - I was in a good crowd, having fun, writing in a journal for the first time, learning to drive, etc. I tell folks that I was probably more moral than my folks - I got into very little trouble, and while they were fairly strict compared to other parents, they also gave me alot of leeway to hang with friends. I think it was because it was so centered around church, they trusted them and their parents, and they trusted me to an extent. I don't regret that at all, and I hope I was trustworthy and not just pulling the poll over their eyes.

Looking back, I got into a fairly solid path of religion. No drugs, no drinking, no sex, very little dating (started dating J my senior year of high school, until my soph. year at USC, and then met my future-wife my junior year of college). I wasn't as goody-two-shoes as all that - usual lust problems of teen masculinity and hormones gave me fits - but I was able to avoid most of the typical peer-related pitfalls I saw going on around me. I don't think I was naive, either, though I'm probably able to hold folks today in a higher regard since I don't know the specifics of what was going on. But the path I was on definitely led towards leadership (one girl I dated called me "bossy" - some nerv, huh?), and that played out in college and beyond.

More tomorrow morning.
Haven't been posting alot the past couple of days. But as Dean says, "life trumps blogging every time." I've been getting over a nagging flu-like thing, probably come in on the heels of the upper respiratory junk I got over last week on my stressed out business trip. Basically, just waiting for the day when my body catches up to everything else and I'm feeling better.

Meanwhile, it's summer vacation for my wife and kids - they saw FINDING NEMO, giving it very high marks. I didn't go - stayed home from work, and can't imagine sitting in a theater for two hours right now. But the kids said it was a good Father's Day movie - maybe we'll go back then. I've also seen that THE ITALIAN JOB has gotten good reviews - wanna see that one, along with BRUCE ALMIGHTY. But I'll probably have to wait until Vicki & the kids go to the beach for a week, getting to see movies that she's not interested in.

Meanwhile, I've got alot of work to get done - mainly, the requirement study I went to Puerto Rico to collect data for. And I've got a Final Exam in our bible college class on The Apostolic Monday night, so there's got to be some study time this weekend, too. All that, and I'm trying to finish a book (gave up on my new year's resolution to *finish* a book per week, but still trying to find time to read) and trying to do some writing, too.

Fun, huh? And Starbuck's supposedly opened its first store in Columbia today - woo hoo. Now I just have to find a reason to drive to that side of town.
Thursday, May 29, 2003
waste vital minutes with the PERPETUAL BUBBLEWRAP

This will keep my kids busy for hours (thanks, Dawn).........
Crosswalk.com - 'Gay Jesus' Claim Draws Fire

Don't we have enough to worry about? This line from the article sums it up for me: "He uses Jesus' 'astrological chart' - the planet Uranus figures prominently, as in the case with many homosexuals, he says - and argues that there are clues in the Bible to back up his views." I love irony, but this is too much. And it was funded with Aussie tax dollars ($33K usd). All this so that his own "bias" could bring to bear certain new assumptions about Jesus, like calling the disciple John "the one whom Jesus loved."

Give. me. a. break. I want to get riled up over this, but I can't - somehow, giving it this much space has probably over-inflated it's real significance. And actually, for me, it's not an argument/debate that worth our time. I'd rather discuss His call on my life, what it means to take up my cross and follow Him, what it looks like to become Christ-like, not just arguing from our own cultural or even denominational presuppositions.

Like I said, too much space already.
CNN.com - 'Reading Rainbow' fights for survival - May. 29, 2003

I'd take all of the money going into Spongebob and pump it into Reading Rainbow. Nothing against the Nicktoon, but it can't hold a candle to good PBS kids programming.
Wednesday, May 28, 2003
:: RELEVANT magazine :: Being A Relevant Parent - Josh Hatcher

Well, that topic got my attention. It's tough enough raising kids like our parents did, where the adults knew all the answers and the kids had to take "'cause I said so" as reason enough to obey. These days, we as parents know less than the kids sometimes, and there has to be a better "reason" for understanding obedience... right?

Hatcher's topics are:
* Prioritize
* Teach Truth
* Defend Your Child's Innocence
* Discipline
* Show Affection

Most of these are "well, duh" kinds of things. But the call to defend innocence, to discipline properly, and to show affection are so lacking in the kids I see coming through our youth groups and schools today. He is right on about watching what your kids see on TV. There are alot of shows on Nickelodeon, Disney, and PBS that are wonderful, funny and educational. But we have some shows on Nick and Cartoon Network that are offlimits - not because we're forbidding them, but because we've told our kids that they're not funny, that they're not as good as the other shows, that the overly-gross and repugnant or dangerous humor just isn't worth watching. I want them to make those choices, to see what's worth spending time on, etc - not just feel Daddy's strict overbearing authority.

For us & discipline, our kids are fairly different. Trace has an imbalance that does require medication, and I know that it's a crutch for a lot of families. But at the same time, we've got to teach him behaviorly how to control himself, how to make wise decisions, etc. I won't rely on meds to keep him in check. And he's making great strides in keeping check of his emotions, staying calm in the face of things he doesn't like, etc. Cammi is different - one quick pop usually does the trick, and we're instilling the same sense of self-control in her to make the right choices and to think of others. "Self-control" is a fruit of the Spirit - watching Trace and Cammi grow up is a barometer of how much the Spirit is really moving and grooving in/through our family.

One last note on "showing affection." Going to the Cleansing Streams retreat a few weeks ago, I was struck by the confession/repentance/deliverance over abuse in so many families. One of the leaders "repented" for the person who might've harmed you, said "I'm sorry for doing all that, for hurting you, for ignoring you...." - things the person would probably never say, but stuff that needs to be forgiven and let go. Anyway, I was struck by my own kids, and my daughter in particular (I don't know why). They'll never have to hear that from me, I pray. I want them to hear stuff like that and say, "My mom & dad never let us down like that, never abandoned us emotionally, never left us hanging for affection." And I was so overwhelmed with love for both of my kids. I prayed for them in the hallway, and when I got home later that night, after they went to bed, and I continued to pray over them as they slept. And the next morning, I tickled the tarnation out of them - and told them that I love them. They'll know Daddy's affection - for them and for their Mom.
Tuesday, May 27, 2003
MSN Entertainment - News - Woman Gets Phone Calls for God

God's got a cellphone? Wonder if He'd rather receive text-messages? hmmmmmmm?
Yao sues Coke for 12 cents - May. 27, 2003

Yo. Yao. Yo.
Sunday, May 25, 2003
:: RELEVANT magazine :: Why Do We Go Back? Part 1 - Michael Reitz

:: RELEVANT magazine :: Why Do We Go Back? Part 2 - Michael Reitz

I'm sitting at the dining room table at my mother-in-law's condo in the NC mountains. I miss being with my church this morning. And as I surf a bit, I found these articles on "going back to church" for less than noble purposes. At the same time, I am listening to Mark Driscoll preach on PEACE > LOVE > FAITH > GRACE from Ephesians 6:21-24 (I love MP3s, don't you?). Someone who is lifted up as one of the most pomo preachers in the country it preaching hellfire and brimstone, and he's "just getting warmed up," in his own words. I love it, being challenged to check my manhood in Christ like this. I wish more could stand under criticism and rebuke; and I wish I could stand better under the flame of the Spirit's pointy finger, so that I could flourish more in His warm embrace... amen.
One more passage on "repentance and obedience" for this Sunday morning:

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
- Hebrews 10:23-25

I would like to think that most of us are spending time at church this morning, being church this morning, worshiping together as the church this morning with other Christians, doing exactly what this passage in Hebrews 10 is calling us to do. But are we "going to church" any more than we're "holding unswervingly to the hope we profess"? It's almost like we go to church, and we hold onto this hope as much as we can, but again, God understands if I fail, or if I'm not growing, or if I'm not faithful even though He's faithful. Our coming together holds huge promise for us, but if that's the only thing we "hold unswervingly" onto... if I come to church no matter what, but I'm so lagging in daily commitment to Christ in me, or I'm so unteachabel that Sunday morning's encouragements and chastisements are long forgotten by bedtime........

Don't we see "the Day approaching"? I pray that in our own confession of Christ, in our own profession of His faithfulness, that we are being drawn closer to Him and to His people, the church. I pray that we are encouraging towards each other this morning, that we are "spurring one another towards love and good deeds" in Christ, rather than judging others' specks and not dealing with our own logs (Matt 7). Or perhaps, as we "hold unswervingly" to Christ, we are dealing with our logs, and we are able as we do not "give up meeting *together*" to help each other with the specks....

God is good this morning. I hold tightly and unswervingly to Him today. This means alot to me right now - as our services get cranked up at CWO, and my family and I are on vacation, I miss the people who've become family in our church body right now. I can't imagine "skipping church" - vacation is one thing, but habitually finding something else "better" to do on a Sunday morning is beyond me. Derek Webb sings a line from Jesus: "If you love Me you will love the Church." Being in it; caring for it; longing to be with it; seeking to encourage it; helping to grow it as the Kingdom on earth.

Bring it back around: true repentance will leave "my rights" behind, and true obedience will follow the Father's calling. We are to hold unswervingly to this hope, and we are to encourage others onward in the same thing. Love God with others - love others with God.
Saturday, May 24, 2003
Just pondering these passages today:

Who may climb the mountain of the LORD?
Who may stand in his holy place?
Only those whose hands and hearts are pure,
who do not worship idols
and never tell lies.
They will receive the LORD's blessing
and have right standing with God their savior.
They alone may enter God's presence
and worship the God of Israel.

- Psalm 24:3-6

But for those who are righteous,
the path is not steep and rough.
You are a God of justice,
and you smooth out the road ahead of them.
LORD, we love to obey your laws;
our heart's desire is to glorify your name.
All night long I search for you;
earnestly I seek for God.
For only when you come to judge the earth
will people turn from wickedness and do what is right.

- Isaiah 26:7-9

From the first passage in Psalm 24, it strikes me that the only ones able to "climb the mountain of God" are those whose outward actions and inner motivations are pure before Him. Whatever I might want to say about sin - whether it's the outer disobedience or the inner musings of stuff off-limits - the standard is very high. Why then do we sell real obedience so short? Why do we excuse ourselves with, "Well, God knows I'm trying," or, "I'm forgiven, so my disobedience doesn't really hurt God, does it?"

And in Isaiah 26, I see that only in the light of God's judgment will people like us, people around us begin to "turn from wickedness and do what is right." We can't escape repentance, and we can't deny the need for obedience. Anything short of those two things must also fall short of God, of salvation, and of life.

The question then is this: am I pure in my actions and in my motivations? and am I repentant, acknowledging my shortcomings before God and intentionally turning from them towards His righteousness and towards my obedience to that call? And then perhaps to tie that together with our discussions of evangelism - am I sharing *THAT* gospel with those around me?

As you can imagine, I've had a great deal of time to ponder stuff this week - being away from family and friends in a semi-foreign land, tired out of my mind most evenings but not sleepy enough to go to bed early (wait, that's like being at home, sometimes, too!). And the recurring thought has been, even before my trip to PR, on repentance, obedience, the need to share law and grace with those around me. I don't want to "guilt" people into heaven - and at the same time, the conviction of sin is the only real thing that gets our attention most of the time, isn't it? The "conclusion" I've come to is this: if a person feels guilty because of something I've said, and that guilt leads to some form of shame and humiliation and emotional retreat - then I probably acted/spoke from the flesh in "sharing the good news." But if that same guilt brings conviction that draws a person towards Christ and real Life - then the Holy Spirit is at work in us, and we are blessed for being conduits of His real mercy and real grace to others.

I don't change anyone; I only allow myself to be changed as God works, molds, probes, deconstructs and reconstructs in me. Jesus does the rest, judging and convicting deep into the heart so that real life can be born fresh and new.

How's that? - paz.
SECsports: USC vs. VANDY in SEC Tournament

Hope USC has a great weekend and gets some mo' heading into the College World Series. I'd love to beat Clemson twice and play in the championship game again - woo hoo.

UPDATE: USC lost to Auburn today - 1-2 in the tourney and waiting for the NCAA seedings later.
TheAntiTrust - For those of you who've seen MATRIX RELOADED: Dialogue, Neo & the Architect

I'm going way out on a limb here: most of the people who've disliked MR are under the false impression that this thing is supposed to make sense on some spiritually aesthetic plane. It won't - it's a comic book, a story, maybe with some interesting parallels with the authors'/artists' own inclinations, but still just a graphic novel "read aloud" by the author in a cineplex. In essence, this one doesn't preach well, does it?

I liked it. And as time passes, I appreciate it more for its storytelling, 'cause this looks like it's going to be a good story. Perhaps that was a strength in the first one: everyone liked a good story, and oh yeah there were allusions to deeper meanings. Everyone now has hyped this as the next pseudo-pomo-christian tool to use in all of our attempts to be culturally relevant and preaching to show we're up wit dat - and instead of enjoying a good story, we've been left with psychobabble and pop-theology/philospophy. We can't understand it, what to make of it, how to make it fit our presupposed notions of what we wanted it to say (should I blog on PROOFTEXTING IN THE MATRIX?).

But it's just a story. "Neo" is a bug in the system, if the system is to be believed at all. He is a "workaround" - a last resort to change the workflow since the actual problem can't be fixed. That makes sense to me, a programmer, on a deeper level than simply saying He's messianic. Jesus isn't an error - He's the system. If anything, our fallen nature is the bug allowed into the system. ......But I'm not going to force that in there either. I'm just saying that we should let the story play out.

I want to see the movie again, and I want the DVD (of course). It'll be at IMAX in June - woo hoo. In the meantime, I dwell on CHOICE and LOVE - as pointed out in the dialogue linked above, this time around is different. Or is it?
Friday, May 23, 2003
FridayFive - brand me:

1. What brand of toothpaste do you use?
Crest Liquid Gel

2. What brand of toilet paper do you prefer?
Don't care, as long as it's two-ply and soft

3. What brand(s) of shoes do you wear?
Nike sneakers - Skechers loafers - cheap sandals

4. What brand of soda do you drink?
Coke brand - diet, vanilla, etc - most of the time; not very particular on any of these

5. What brand of gum do you chew?

Hmmmmm... I'm not very particular on any of the above, except maybe tennis shoes (don't mind paying more if they look nice and last a few years). "Better" questions would've been brand of peanut butter, brand of ketchup, stuff like that. Actually had disagreements of the PB when we got married - my Peter Pan (great link at PeanutButterLovers.com won out over my lovely wife's misguided choice of JiF). And we only do Hunt's ketchup now, and don't try to change my mind, ok?

... can't believe I linked to ketchup. But stuff like this is important, right?
Thursday, May 22, 2003
Good to be home - finally. I did get to wade into the ocean, but only for about five minutes before I had to head back up to my room this morning and finish packing and checking out. The flight/s home were long, and the layover in Atlanta was a hassle with the flight being delayed and then changing gates. But that's too be expected. Wouldn't have minded as much if there'd been a Ben & Jerry's at that end of the concourse. Someone else blogged (think it was Jen): Oatmeal Cookie Chunk rocks.
Wednesday, May 21, 2003
Flying home tomorrow - woo hoo. It's been a good trip to Sunny San Juan - though it's been hot and humid, and fairly rainy the past couple of afternoons. We've worked lo-o-o-o-o-ng days, and I've been dog-tired when finally getting back to the hotel room. But I feel like it's been productive - positive feedback, meeting good people who are fun to work with, and I've got plenty of information to keep me busy for the next few months. Can't wait to come back some time in the future for the implementation. Right now, can't wait 'til tomorrow to get my feet sandy and wet on the beach I can see from me room but haven't been able to enjoy yet. And after that - home. Flying from here to Atlanta, and from there to Columbia. To my house, to my wife and kids, to my bed, to a long holiday weekend.

Sunday, May 18, 2003
Well, I'm flying out in a few hours. Spending tonight in Atlanta and taking a 7am flight to sunny Puerto Rico in the morning. Except that I'll probably be in a boardroom somewhere for most of the trip. When we get there, I'm hoping we'llhave time to check in and freshen up a bit. But I'm prepared to hit the ground running. I am taking the bathingsuit - don't know if I'll have an opp to use it, but if I don't take it, I won't use it. Anyway, pray for the family - last week of school will be hectic enough. But this isn't a long trip, and we'll be together to go the other direction - mountains of NC - for the Memorial Day weekend.

Blogging might be tight. If I can get connected I'll post. If not - not.

Thank you for flying WannaGetBack Airlines. Please keep all arms and legs in the cabin as we take off.
Saturday, May 17, 2003
Spending Saturday in the office - doesn't that sound like fun?

I'm flying out of town next week, and with the sick leave I took earlier this week, I needed to come into the office today to make sure all my copies were made and collated properly. Trace is in here with me, working as my Executive Assistant, running back and forth to the printer. When we leave here, we might stop at Wal-Mart or to get a bite to eat, and then Vicki and I are going out tonight. Sushi and shopping for our twelfth anniversary - woo hoo.

** Trace wants to blog something:
What's wrong in Kirby? A NIGHTMARE THAT'S HARD TO BEAT?!?

I remember when the toughest thing I had to do was to make a quarter last as long as possible at the arcade. Now my son's got more processing power in his handheld GBA than most of those big boxy games had in the 80s. Glad we didn't have to tote one of those up here to the office to get some work done.
The State | 05/17/2003 | Gamecock beat 'Dogs, clinch SEC East

Last year, USC came in second, losing to Texas in the final game of the College World Series. Their record isn't as good this year, but they're still on track for going back.
Hughes, Findings Online, Spring 2003 - WilberforceForum

Jordon Cooper linked to this article on "holy moments" in film. As I get prepped to go see MATRIX:RELOADED tomorrow night, I want to digest this piece little by little.
Friday, May 16, 2003
While it's still Friday...

1. What drinking water do you prefer -- tap, bottle, purifier, etc.?
bottled first, out of the fridge/freezer door second

2. What are your favorite flavor of chips?
sour cream & onion

3. Of all the things you can cook, what dish do you like the most?
chili - but only during football season, and it helps if there's snow on the ground and a little salsa inthe mix

4. How do you have your eggs?

5. Who was the last person who cooked you a meal? How did it turn out?
cooks at hardee's - slow and cold
Yippee. What a fun day. Pardon my enthusiasm. Yawn.

Nah, really. I just got back from a school field trip with my daughter and her class of 5-yr-olds - woo hoo. And I'm beat. Woke up this morning with the same dang lingering cough, but I pressed through it (didn't want to - trust me) to go to the zoo in the rain and tough it out. Stopped raining, and Cammi & her friend Hayleigh had a great time. Follow up the zoo, which was packed, with lunch at the McD's PlayPlace, and you can imagine that this is the first quiet time I've had all morning.

I've got a doctor's appointment in about an hour. I really don't like to go to doctors. Something about being sick, and then going and having them say little more than, "you're sick." That's sick. But I want to make sure that, even though I'm feeling better right now, my sinus thing doesn't turn into or hasn't already become an upper respiratory infection. I'm heading to Puerto Rico next - would not be prudent to be hacking up a lung right now.

I need to thank my wife, and to apologize to her for snapping at her this morning. Like I said, I hate to go to the doctor. She suggested that I go, and when I blew it off (I know she knew I'd blown it off), she brought it up again. Now she's not the kind to be manipulative, or to be a nag, so I know that she only wants me to feel well. That's why God gives men a helpmeet - to make sure we take care of ourselves. Otherwise, we'd have a country full of guys who's only aspirations would be high scores on Golden Tee at the local sports bar. Besides the allergies and cough/hacking/sniffling thing, I need to get my blood pressure checked and make sure I'm kosher there, too. She wants me to feel well, and to be alive.

I'll probably post a few more times over the weekend, but I don't know how connected I'm going to be for the next work week. Taking my laptop, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to hook up. Hopefully it won't be a problem.

UPDATE: Upper respiratory infection. Zithromax and something for the cough. Meanwhile, it's raining again. Woo hoo.
Thursday, May 15, 2003
The Matrix Reloaded

Just got back from opening night sneak peek. No plot revelations (you can get that anywhere). Just two words.



And wait through the tediously long and detailed credits to see scenes from the next one.
Tuesday, May 13, 2003
Not a bad day - long and busy, but that's a good thing when you're normally sitting on your fanny at a desk all day. I've been thinking alot about what happened over the weekend at the retreat in GA and after coming home. Two people who could've really gotten me wadded up and offended... didn't.

On the way to Gainesville, GA, and back, my riding companions were great. One drawback: the young lady riding shotgun would look over from time to time and let me know how much over the speed limit I was going. I usually brush that off - my take is that if I'm not the fastest and not the slowest, as long as traffic's moving I'd rather be in the flow than be too slow and hazardous to others. Anyway, it was annoying on the way there; it was really bad on the way back, however, when she started talking about how when we get out from under God's hand of protection - stuff I've heard many times before - when we break the rules. And you know what? She was right. Did I slow down to the speed limit? No, but I did stay within three mph over, instead of my usual and possibly misguided 10-12 mph over. The other two cars left us in the dust, but only ended up beating us in a four hour drive by fifteen minutes. I can live with that.

In the other instance, I've already blogged about the neighbor coming to tell me that my dog had harassed his wife again. I don't want to be the bad neighbor who goes to his house this summer and says, "Hi, my dog almost killed your wife when she was jogging or riding her bike - want to join us for a weekly bible study?" My rights end where they feel unsafe, and my dog - well, she's pretty stupid, so I don't mind keeping her in the confines of the backyard if she'll stay safe (not good for her to bolt in front of our house - that's how our last dog was killed) and still be able to harass birds and squirrels. In case she understands all of this (highly unlikely), I've made a deal that after I get back from Puerto Rico, I'll start walking her in the neighborhood more, letting her hit her old haunts and sniff her old friends' butts. How's that?

Why does this mean so much right now? I think I would've felt offended earlier in life, but now I want to do the right thing. And I hope I'm open to correction without being put off by truth, no matter the source. We've got to live together in this world, and it does no good to go around hacking everyone off all the time. I don't want to be a "man-pleaser" but a God-pleaser; and yet, at the same time, I think God is pleases when we sacrifice self in order to move forward in relationship. Compromising your faith or your revelation or your relationship with God in order to pursue sin is never ever good. But giving a little in personal areas in order to allow restoration and blessing... that's got to be a good thing.
:: RELEVANT magazine :: Mochaholic Coffee Skeptic - Ash White

Coffee. Life. Friends. Meditation. Aroma. Coffee. All goes together....
Monday, May 12, 2003
The State | 05/11/2003 | Sci-fi offerings prey on our fears but offer a sort of religious hope, too

Got my Wednesday night 10pm tix to MATRIX RELOADED. Hoo ha.
Sunday, May 11, 2003
Afternoon plan: start training the dog. Grace has this annoying hounddog habit of getting out of the fenced in backyard and harassing the neighbors. Or joggers. Or cyclists. She goes into the street occasionally, which is dangerous enough. But she's also scaring at least one woman, and I can't blame her husband for getting angry with us. He just came by for the second time, letting me know that our dog was out. I could be offended, but I'm not: I understand, and I really don't want to be so crotchety as to not care what happens to his wife or to our dog. So, we'll head outside to train Grace to the RadioFence - woo hoo, zzap zzap. Hopefully she'll take to it and we'll all be able to get along.

UPDATE: Well, the wire is laying along the perimeter of the yard, and it shocked me as I had my finger between the zzap polls and got too close to it - woo hoo. The dog didn't like it - Gracie got close enough to hear the beeping, but never yelped - so I don't think she's gotten shocked yet. But we'll see. Got to train her for the next two weeks, make her understand where her boundaries are. I can't have my dog terrorizing the neighborhood. I want to be a better neighbor than that, a better neighbor than I've been in the past.
Well, the Cleansing Streams retreat was good. I'm not one to come back from something and just gush, "OOOOOOOHHH, that was so-o-o-o-o good! You've got to go - you really missed it!" So my typical response this morning was more like, "It was good. We had a really deep time." And I'm telling those who went to just settle into what they've learned, walk out the changes and challenges ahead. I'll post more as the week goes on and I do the same thing: walk it out now.

Basically, this ministry combines a deliverance mindset with the understanding that it's a lifestyle. Discipleship needs to be involved, as we learn how to walk "in cleansing" and understand how to "cleanse ourselves" as God has called and provided for. It's balanced and deep, and leaves a lasting impression on those who go through it with the intention of following through. If it's just another class or teaching or whatever, it won't stick or make a real difference. It's is a fairly well-balanced series of teachings/discipleship on healing, deliverance and restoration. Where "deliverance ministries" often get a stereotypical bad rap, this one is different. I've been through a number of times, and each time there's something new revealed, some new layer of stuff that needs to be dealt with.

Dealing with rejection? Time to let it go. Struggles with sexual purity on any level? Repent with the intention to leave that thing, and renounce it's spiritual presence in your life. Got baggage of abuse, death, destruction? Forgive, and open your own life to restoration and healing. Control issues? Realize you're not God, but that He is there for you.

That's the gist of some of it, but as you go through the seminar (previous four months of study and meditation) and then arrive at the retreat, it's the most natural and flowing thing you can imagine. The weight falls off, and the freedom is almost tangible. Faces are different - tired, but different - after the long and fairly intense weekend. And then in the fall, I get to go through it all again, with a new batch of folks and hopefully some from the past who've not gone completely through before.

God is so real, and so really loving and in pursuit of us. But too often, our baggage of the past hinders us in its weight and holds us back for its hooks in our souls. Getting rid of some of that, and learning to live life in a way that won't invite junk into our lives.... I'd buy that for a dollar.

Any questions? I'd love to chat about this if you're interested. And if you live in Columbia, I want to invite you to participate this Fall 2003. It won't change your life if you don't want it to, and it might not make that much of a radical/instant correction in anything meaningful right off the bat. I know that's what this letter/shameless-plug looks like 8^). But it will open your eyes to some stuff, and I recommend the process whole-heartedly.
Friday, May 09, 2003
Grassroots Music - gonna try to burn me a retreat travelling CD. Ain't technology grand?
Pre-retreat FridayFive:

1. Would you consider yourself an organized person? Why or why not?
Two hours before I'm supposed to leave my house for a weekend retreat, and I've still got to take a shower and PACK, and I'm sitting here doing the F5 - um, no, I'd say I'm NOT overly organized :)

2. Do you keep some type of planner, organizer, calendar, etc. with you, and do you use it regularly?
I have a Visor, a Dilbert desk calendar, and the calendar in my email system at work. Nope - rarely "use" them.

3. Would you say that your desk is organized right now?
"Organized" is a relative statement. I know where anything is if and when I need it. And if I can't find it - don't need it.

4. Do you alphabetize CDs, books, and DVDs, or does it not matter?
Doesn't matter. I used to do that, but ran out of storage space for CDs, so what do you do now? List A-K in the cabinet and L-Z in the drawer? The drawer of older CDs is pretty alphabetic, but nothing else is. As long as the current "good stuff" stays in my CD wallet for the car, I'm cool.

5. What's the hardest thing you've ever had to organize?
My first trip as a youth minister. Twelve teens and five adults to Daytona for a week - woo hoo.
We're driving to Gainesville, GA, today for the spring Cleansing Streams regional retreat. I've been a few times before, and we're taking 18 people this time - biggest group we've had make it to the retreat. We've been meeting once a month or so since January, watching a video together and then "doing the homework" - a woorkbook and tapes/book. and it builds to this: a weekend away to deal with personal baggage and with God.

I'm not much into "deliverance ministry" - there are often too many things that are screwy and over-sensationalized, without alot of discipleship and real change. This set is different. By studying for four months, you get steeped in real freedom. Starting with Alignment - where you're challenged to walk by the Spirit, not by the soul (mind/will/emotions) or the body - and culminating this weekend as we deal finally with the particulars of pride, rejection, abuse, etc, there's a sense that this is real and transforming in our lives if we'll take the time to walk it out, and if we'll allow Christ to set us free.

I'll write more later - not sure if my laptop's going or not, but we'll see.
Thursday, May 08, 2003
LarkNews.com: Wal-Mart rejects 'racy' worship CD

Do you think worship can get too intimate, that lyrics can get too suggestive? What's one of the big problems you see with "worship music" today?

... the biggest problem is that the article above could be entirely true. We've gone too far in making some of our worship times/songs too focused on ME & God, rather than on God, or at the very least on God & me (lowercase). In doing that, there are often songs that extol the virtuous love of Christ, and at the same time they'd be entirely appropriate at the prom or in the closing credits of some teen-coming-of-age-losing-virginity flick. Where's the real depth? Where's the real passion for God? It's more than how this all makes me feel, more than reflecting on emotion and ecstacy. I'm all for pursuing intimacy, but in remembering the friendship *and* the fear, we lose something if the focus is on anything other than Christ lifted up... ok, stepping down from soapbox.
Wednesday, May 07, 2003
Charlotte Observer | 05/07/2003 | Gunshots hit 2 vehicles on I-77; officer hurt

My brother (a friend of the off-duty cop from South Congaree) was driving when they were shot at. He wasn't hurt, but they shot through his driver side window, shattering the glass, and hit his friend in the hand. Jeff and his buddy had been to a KingsX concert in Charlotte, driving home late Monday night. "Funny thing": Jeff had preached Sunday night about how God is calling us out of our comfort zones, how we need to get into the line of fire.
To Parents - Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt:

You can never hold on to your children - but the Savior can hold on to them. You cannot force anything through your own understanding. You can only do something when you, the parents, are repentant and broken. Then Jesus can grow in you. Everything in us of human greatness, every human characteristic, must be cleared out of the way, for these are the obstacles that prevent the Savior from dwelling in us. All children, big and small, want to come to the Savior; but if you try to drag them into the kingdom of heaven through piety, they will run out of your pious house faster than children of other houses that are often more enlightened.

In your hearts, then, you must use the Spirit's sword against yourselves. Do not blame your children when they go wrong - blame yourselves! Discipline yourselves by taking the sword against your own hearts. For as parents it is our fault if our children do not behave well.

It's important to me to raise godly children - a young man and young woman who will both make the right choices, be a servant to others, lead by example, live with Christ in their lives. While I cannot choose for my kids, I can "die to self" - living repentant and broken before Christ in front of them.

I had a run in with Trace this morning. I hate answering NO all the time, but they keep asking the same questions. This morning, I felt merciful and let them watch TV during breakfast - bad move. Every little thing was wrong after that, and it got us all off on the wrong foot. In light of this passage from Blumhardt above, the only thing missing might've been my own brokenness. I only "blame myself" so much as I was the one who allowed it to start instead of standing firm in what we've stated as The Rule in our home. In wanting to be nice and give them something, I caved to allowing greed and pride come in, allowing rebellion in by rebelling against my own rules... hmmm?

I think what I'm sensing is the need for us to be real. "Setting the pace" by living it out should be more meaningful in our homes than "who will govern," should set the pace for the governing, perhaps. We need to raise kids who make the right choices, who want to please their parents and their Father, because they WANT TO, right? That means taking the tough stand through the HAVE TO stage of obedience, but real brokenness before God has to translate to openness and brokenness before our families, too - showing the reward of making those choices by displaying the fruit of the spirit. We need to put "disciple" back into "discipline" if it's going to work and this stronghold might be demolished in our generation.

Anyway, it's not easy being a dad, and harder still to be a spiritual father. But God is good and faithful (and my wife is patient beyond words). We'll press on and press through - 'til summer vacation anyway.
Tuesday, May 06, 2003
I'm coming to some personal decisions, personal challenges, personal conundrums, and finding that I don't have all the answers. I know: that might be hard to swallow, but it's true. Rick doesn't know everything. He's still discovering God, life, his wife and kids, his workplace skills and necessary skillsets, his church and christian dynamics, etc etc etc.

I'm going to back off of some things for the next few weeks or so. A "mini-fast" from so many electronic outlets. About the only thing I'm not going to bail on is this blog - mainly because I'm using it to journal the journey anyway. There just won't be as much CNN.com reports and such; instead, look for more of an earthy and personal and heart-felt feel (I hope).

I need to spend more time in prayer than answering email on who knows how many lists. I need to read my Bible/s more than the books for various discussion lists/groups. I need to spend time talking with people face-to-face, not only keyboard-to-keyboard. I need to get to bed on time, get up earlier to enjoy the morning and God's word and a good cup of Starbucks at the kitchen table before the rugrats get up.

I'm challenged to live out the faith I'm learning about. I feel like I'm on the periphery of something profound and transforming, but I'm stretched in too many directions for any of it to be effective. So if anything, I'm looking to narrow my focus a little in order to see the Big Picture better. I don't want to be left behind, and at the same time I want to take my time moving through the newness of each morning's mercies, the sameness of Christ yesterday, today and forever. Knowhutimean?

So I'll be on hiatus from the NKOC group as they press on through SWFOI (great book - but it's bogging me down). And I'll be handing over the reins on the 1J13 group list a little, too, seeing who can keep the chatter going, filling in with posts this time, too, I'm sure. I probably won't fall off much from blogs4God (only post there once or twice a week as it is).

And I'm cutting back on my reading - I've already fallen off the wagon on my resolution to finish one book per week, and now I want to devote energy to one book at a time. Above all in my reading, I've got to give priority to scripture (don't we all?), laying a foundation for the other things I take in to grow, to make sense, to get lived out in my life.

All that and a bag of chips. I'm looking forward to it, praying that God will reveal Himself more than anything else... I'm not looking for a blessing or some mystical "now I got it!" - rather, I'm hoping to deepen the relationships, Godward and other-ward, in a way that's meaningful, lively and solid.
CNN.com - GOP moralist Bennett gives up gambling - May. 5, 2003

Bennett is quoted: "A number of stories in the media have reported that I have engaged in high stakes gambling over the past decade. It is true that I have gambled large sums of money. I have also complied with all laws on reporting wins and losses," he said. "Nevertheless, I have done too much gambling, and this is not an example I wish to set. Therefore, my gambling days are over."

Another one bites the dust. There is none good, and those claiming to be good, or claiming to know what "good" should really mean, are being scrutinized like never before. Honesty, ethics, morality - all of these real words have real meanings and real consequences. And we're just now beginning to figure that out.

CNN.com Specials: As war raged, nun delivered babies, helped heal the sick

Wonderful story of faithfulness to what you've been called. As we go through seasons of trying to figure out what we're to do, trying to listen for God's still small whisper of a direction, it's encouraging to see someone who's just faithful, staying watch, keeping her post and serving others.
Monday, May 05, 2003
CNN.com - 1970s-set 'Grease 3' in works - May. 5, 2003

Say it ain't so.......
Sunday, May 04, 2003
Twentieth century church events

I'm finding lots of cool/inspiring information, mainly looking up APOSTLES for my homework tomorrow night. I'm selecting these three as folks withan apostolic spirit, pressing forward foundationally for the Kingdom, representing appropriately the One who sent them out:
1) Jeanne Guyon
2) Frank Laubach
3) Jonathan Edwards
I feel like crud.

I'll make it; not that bad, just a soreness in the back of my throat, lower sinuses, hurts-when-I-swallow regions. Lots of coffee and it'll at least be bareable, I hope. For now, I'm getting ready for church. Is it just me, or is this bot the best place and the worst place to go if you're feeling sick? I hate putting on fronts and looking like everything's okay when I feel bad; and at the same time, if I'm feeling bad, I enjoy the fellowship of worshipping with my eyes closed, knowing that the room's full, but it's just me - corporate and individual, and you forget that you feel that bad for just a few minutes at least. Anyway, I look forward to gathering this morning. And at the same time, I'm not faking a happy face to "fit in", ok?

Mark Riddle posted this on 05/01:
    Broken: In my office I have a bookshelf with three large bowls... My first week I used these bowls in an object lesson.
    I broke dropped one bowl on purpose. stepped on it. about 50 pieces.
    I broke the second bowl into about 3 big pieces.
    I left the third alone.

    The bowls for us as a ministry stand for transformation, that we are "in process". God is working on us. We don't have it together. We are broken. Some shattered some a bit more together. Noone whole... But here's my point. It reminded me that people don't generally come to church expecting to see anything or anyone broken. Not that things aren't broken. But we aren't used to seeing broken things in church. We have lot of buildings called church that are filled with broken people who don't seem to be broken. The church is most alive and God is most active when the we see each others brokenness. It's in our collective brokenness that we are transformed.

I'm still messed up over this, 'cause it's so true. As I commented over there, I've got half a mind to mess up the pristine lectern in the sanctuary this morning just to see what everyone's reaction would be.... Ok, maybe not, but I'm definitely not going to fake feeling good. I'll be one of the "broken things" this morning, and people will jsut have too deal.
Saturday, May 03, 2003
CNN.com - Man dies from gunshot amid church arsenic probe - May. 2, 2003

This story is the stuff of good beach-reading fiction - not real life. I hope this ends well, and not as some "christian against christian because of the color of the carpet on the pulpit" thing.
Friday, May 02, 2003
CNN.com - The power of 'X' - May. 1, 2003

... And so it begins. X2 this weekend, MATRIX: RELOADED in two weeks, followed closely by HULK and a slew of summer movies.

Bring it on. I'm looking forward to seeing X2 this weekend, and planning accordingly for all of the opening dates to come. I'll post reviews - whether a film sucks, rocks, or in between - and I welcome anyone else's comments/reviews when I do.

Let the games begin - woo hoo.

UPDATE: X2 - The Afternath. I enjoyed it, but it moved too slow for what I was expecting. Most reviews key in on how much is going on, and I get caught up in how little's actually happening. I'm an enigma. Anyway, the spirituality aspects of Nightcrawler aren't stereotyped, and "faith" is something to be cherished in this story, so there are a few very good storytelling qualities here. All in all, I liked the first one better, but I'm hard to please. Probably like Spider-Man, it'll gorw on me after the fact.
... new fridayfive.... hmmmmm.... thinking, thinking....

1. Name one song you hate to admit you like.
* Theme from GREATEST AMERICAN HERO: "Believe it or not/I'm walking on air/I never thought I could feel so free..."

2. Name two songs that always make you cry.
* "Butterfly Kisses", Bob Carlisle
* "The Church", Derek Webb

3. Name three songs that turn you on.
"Turn me on"? Well, this is a family blog, so...
* "Disney Mambo No. 5", LA VIDA MICKEY, Disney Version (fun song)
* "Battle", Track #3 from GLADIATOR Soundtrack (adrenaline song)
* "Your Body Is A Wonderland", John Mayer (feel good song)

4. Name four songs that always make you feel good.
* "Butterfly Kisses", Bob Carlisle
* "Beloved", Derek Webb
* "Less Like Scars", Sara Groves
* "The Wonderful Cross", Chris Tomlin, OneDay Live

5. Name five songs you couldn't ever do without.
* "I Will Be Here", Stephen Curtis Chapman
* "Wonderful Cross", Chris Tomlin
* "Beloved", Derek Webb
* "No Such Thing", John Mayer
* anything by Jason Upton
Thursday, May 01, 2003
:: RELEVANT magazine :: God Is My Homeboy - Brett Anderson

Good tone, good voice - we've got to stop treating God like our buddy who lives down the street. We've to to have a friendship and a fear, pursuing holiness in our own lives and in our relationship with Christ.
:: RELEVANT magazine :: Q&A With Zachary Levi

There's an article in the print edition of RelevantMagazine, and then this interview available online. I appreciate his sincerity, and when we flipped across LESS THAN PERFECT the other night, I stopped to watch a little longer than normal (Andy Dick gets on my nerves) to catch Kipp. Gotta love when life is backfiring on the sarcastic ones (since that's usually me!).

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