rick & 1j13
Sunday, November 30, 2003
I hate it when sappy prime time TV does this to me. I won't bore anyone with the details, but tonight's COLD CASE... hurt. The episode is titled "Fly Away" - catch it on reruns if you need. I don't want to see it again.

Very well made, well acted, well put together. A little girl died - because her mother had nowhere else to turn. No father to take care of her, and only pain from the social service worker. In her own spiral, trying to protect her little girl.

No one on this planet will love my wife like I love her. No one will ever love my daughter with fatherly love like I will. Right now, I'm watching what I type, so that some pervert with a search engine won't look for something dispicable and find out how much... It hurts to know that there are people who are really hurting, really in need, really dying without someone to care for them. It hurts to know that there are people acting out things and taking advantage of real people. I don't want my family to be there. I don't want my kids to know what abuse feels like, what violation feels like, what rejection and betrayal looks like.

After the show, I told my wife a little about it - she'd been at the store, missed the end, needed to find out what was happening. "I don't need to hear anymore," she said. Then I left to check in on my daughter. She was asleep, curled up under her pink & blue blanket. "I love you," I whispered. "I love you, too, daddy," she whispered back as she rolled over, back to sleep.

Someday, a young man will sweep her off her feet. She'll be ready - I won't make any promises about myself. But know this - she'll know what to look for, and she will not be putting up with any junk. "I'm loved by two men - Jesus and my dad. I don't need you." With everything inside, I'll protect my kids; I'll care for them, nurture them, show them how they should go. My wife and I will be an unstoppable force in their lives, modeling for them how to love and how to be loved. They'll get attention from us, self-image from us, self-acceptance and understanding from us. And they'll learn of the love of Jesus from us.

When I went to Cleansing Streams last spring, I of course told everyone to go forward every time for ministry, healing, deliverance. But when it came to the issues of abuse and rejection, I walked outside instead of lining up for a counselor. In the sunlight of that morning, I thanked God that my daughter and son will be spared from that. I thanked Him for grace and His mercy on me, and for the empowerment to do it right. And I told Him I wanted to raise them as His children, that I'd be obedient as He led, and obedient as they feel His love flowing through my wife and I.

I meant it then, and I mean it now.
Saturday, November 29, 2003
Good thought from Tubbs over at Jazzdaddy: "I love music. To me, buying the occasional CD is not a matter of frivolous self-indulgence, but something of survival. It is good to get some new music in your life every once in a while, or you get old and cranky about the music of yesteryear. Music brings me great happiness and calms me down, lets my mind cool down. I don't listen to it selfishly, but I am a very critical listener who finds great enjoyment in listening to music. I get as connected with the music I listen to as I can, learning about the artist so that I can understand a little more about where they're coming from. Hearing high-quality music brings me joy, whereas listening to fluff depresses me."

A man after my own heart.
CNN.com - Woman knocked unconscious by trampling shoppers - Nov. 29, 2003

Excerpt: "Wal-Mart officials called later Friday to ask about her sister, and the store apologized and offered to put a DVD player on hold for her."

Um... hello?!? "On hold"?!? Whatever happened to "Here's a free DVD player, ma'am"?
Friday, November 28, 2003
Friday Five:

1. Do you like to shop? Why or why not?
When I have to have something, I don't like it. When I'm just looking and wasting time, it's not bad. Of course, I got up at 4:30am this morning, the day after Thanksgiving. What do I know?

2. What was the last thing you purchased?
Starbucks Christmas Blend.

3. Do you prefer shopping online or at an actual store? Why?
If I have to get something and I can find it online, I'd rather do that. But nothing beats browsing at BestBuy, or at Barnes & Noble with a latte' in hand. If I've got to go to WalMart - I'll be making up excuses not to go.

4. Did you get an allowance as a child? How much was it?
Yes, but I don't remember exact amounts. I do remember elementary school - getting a quarter or something for shining my dad's shoes, and splurging on comics or ice cream at the convenience store by our bus stop.

5. What was the last thing you regret purchasing?
hmmmmmmmm... can't think of anything.
Don't tell anyone. I'm going shopping.


UPDATE: I went with my mom, driving through the shopping day traffic, holding doors, etc. I didn't spend much at all: only bought this and a white chocolate mocha. Mom spent a little more.
Thursday, November 27, 2003
What am I thankful for? This week, I'm more thankful than I've been in a long time for a long weekend. No kidding - it's been a long few months at work, at church and at home, and having a five-day break from work and church, spending that time at home for the most part - aaaaahh. It's wonderful.

When we think of being thankful, we of course think of family - my wife and children, my 'rents and in-laws, my brother and his wife, extended family and friends. We think of our church - Pastor and his extended family, good friends who've been ministering together for years, new faces getting excited about life in Christ. We think of our nation, where we hope to stand for truth, for peace and for Jesus in the midst of cultural intrusions. And we think of Jesus - thankful for salvation, for grace, for healing and comfort.

But what else are we thankful for? Real thanksgiving, I'm coming to find, is all-inclusive. I'm not really thankful unless I also appreciate troubles in my life. Storms and trials have popped up, tools of testing in my life; and I'm thankful that God sees fit to test me, sees fit to show me where I'm at in this journey. It's not about passing or failing. It's about moving forward, growing in Christ-likeness. I'm thankful that there's more to salvation than just being saved from hell. I'm grateful for having something to live for now, not just something to die for later.

Thanks for reading.
Tuesday, November 25, 2003
Five minutes to a long weekend. I think I've already blogged on how excited I am to just get away from the office and stuff for the next few days. I look forward to family time, sleeping late, even missing the "sleeping late" part to hook up with Scott tomorrow chilly morning @ Starbucks.

Two day work weeks rock.

To answer my question: am I in a stagnant mindset like the people I notice around me? Probably. And I'm going to spend time praying and reading on that one this weekend, too.

Don't worry. Be happy. Give thanks.
I'm wondering this morning: am I stuck in a rut as big as the strongholds and mindsets I see other people floundering in....? If I'm seeing it so much in others, am I dealing with it, too? Is my log of self-pride and self-delusion gone enough to allow me to help others with their specks? Or am I just whacking them with my eye-log everytime I swing my head around?
Monday, November 24, 2003
Columbia is turning into quite the little coffeeshop mecca. Not only has Starbucks finally opened two count 'em two shops, but there are also a couple of drive-up chains popping up all over the place to compete with the local establishments. I'm not here to quibble over the big-corporate vs. local homegrown stuff - I just know what's convenient, what's cheap enough, and what tastes good.

I'll do my best to rank hree new coffee neighbors:
  • Beans! - I stopped at the kiosk in Landmark Square on the way home. Disappointing. The caramel latte' wasn't all that, and it was a little more expensive than Starbucks. Nice logo, but that's about it.
  • Mountain Mudd - another kiosk right down Garners Ferry Blvd from Beans!. It's biggest attraction for me: open Sunday mornings for drive-thru. I like it ok on taste, and their caramel version is comparable in price to the macchiato. Only a block or two apart, I'll choose MM of B!.
  • Starbucks - Hands down best coffee and best coffee experience of the three. There might be better stuff in Columbia at the local shops - but for convenience in location and even price, this is it for me.
    We were watching the Winnie the Pooh Thanksgiving special on TV last night. Rabbit's idea of Thanksgiving was the meal - trimmings, turkey, decorations, pies, cranberries. Of course, everything blows up when the turkey in the sack turns out to be Tigger and Eeyore. But Rabbit loses it - with the meal destroyed, there's nothing to be thankful for. Of course, the others work together to make a meal and share the message that friendship is really worth being thankful for. And that is so true. But I wonder this morning - what's blowing up in our worlds, taking our eyes of the Provider? Why aren't we more thankful?

    Another story from yesterday, this time: our bible study yesterday morning. We're going through a study on Kingdom Authority, and I felt like it would be a good time to catch up a few people who'd missed the first few sessions of the study (we're in the middle of a six-week course with book, daily work, etc). And we talked about submission to God, submission to each other, how we relate to people around us and why we're so lacking when it comes to "authority" as a christian. My big question was, "Is Jesus Lord?" Our mouths can say yes, but our hearts are often completely against that notion.

    Maybe that's where my connection is coming from. For me, the lingering question "is Jesus Lord?" is tagging along with notions of gratitude this Thanksgiving. If Jesus is truly Lord, we should be that much more thankful, that much more honoring of Him as such. We can say the right things and even set the proper dinner table - but are we truly thankful? Pointing fingers back at me - am *I* thankful? and as much as it's up to me, is He Lord?

    I was dead, and now I'm alive. And it's not just to be alive, but to be useful for Him - if He's really Lord. I'm saved, avoiding hell and all its punishments - but if He's really Lord, then I'm more saved to live out a life of gratitude, submission and authority in His calling right now, while I'm still here, while there's still stuff to be done. If He's really Lord - then my life is hidden in Him, and set on things slightly out of reach above us. In Hid Lordship, I'd be more about pursuing righteousness than thinking the former disobedient thoughts; more into holiness than how the china looks on the table.

    I'm thankful. For my family, the blessing of people sharing my life and relying on each other. For my job, the gift of provision. For my church, a body & family of people pursuing Christ-likeness together. For this list and other 'net stuff, giving me a place to rant and chew up what God's really trying to say to His church. And since all of this stuff amounts to nothing, I'm grateful for Christ, the Lord. In Him, all things are held together and gain their worth.

    And whether I say it or not, or live it or not - He is Lord. Life, more often than we're willing to admit or to surrender to, is constantly figuring out what that means.
    Sunday, November 23, 2003
    Opus is back.

    Calvin & Hobbes. Farside. And Bloom County. That's where I moved after Peanuts, Garfield and Family Cirucs stopped being "all that." And now Opus is back. Sweet.
    Saturday, November 22, 2003
    Incredible. I was hoping we'd win. I thought we might lose. I never thought we'd lose 63-17. Inconceivable.
    Yahoo! Search Results for why rick

    Someone searched on "why rick" - and I'm #17 on the Yahoo! search. No big deal - except that I'm three spots ahead of #20 Rick James. Smooth.
    CNN.com - Shark attack victim says she won't give up surfing - Nov. 22, 2003I don't know whether she's a christian or not, but I wish more christians had that mindset.
    Friday, November 21, 2003
    SI.com - SI 50th - South Carolina - SI Flashback: Carolina 33 - Clemson 7, 1994

    I wast there. For a string of years after college, I made the trip to Clemson every other year, never missing a rivalry game. I think my last trip was 1996, maybe '98. I haven't been in awhile...

    But I remember that kickoff return and lateral from Bennett. Sweet.
    Weekends are usually not very big deals for me - other than not having to go to work Saturday, they're just like most other days of the week. Not this time - I'm glad it's Friday, and genuinely thanking God for a weekend. Then I'm working only Monday and Tuesday of next week before enjoying a long 5-day weekend with the family for Thanksgiving.

    It's going to be busy. This is not the usual lazy Saturday. With the play done tonight (my wife's the drama teacher, so the semester play is major in our house), we'll finally have to deal with laundry and the vacuum and such. But we're going to have fun, too - I'm planning on playing basketball with Trace tomorrow morning before it gets too warm. It's the first real sport he's shown an interest in - "I think I like it better than video games" - so we've signed him up to play on a team at the rec center and everything. He needs to work on dribbling, bounce passes, and shooting overhand rather than granny shots. Other than that, he's super! But we'll have fun with that tomorrow morning.

    In the evening, it's the yearly hate-your-brother-rivalry game in the state - the hopefully victorious South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Clemsux.... oops, I mean, Clemson. That'll be fun - as long as we win and the Tigers don't PUSH OFF AGAIN.

    Sunday, we're chilling at my dad's house, eating something scrumptious from the smoker grill he got for his birthday while watching NFL football and figuring out how bad my wife is beating me in Fantasy Football. So like I said, it's just good to get a weekend right now, to spend with family and friends doing stuff that's a release rather than a burden. Other than that laundry thing, I suppose.
    FridayFive, y'all - I'm more glad for this Friday than many others in recent months. Long week. Good questions:

    1. List five things you'd like to accomplish by the end of the year.
  • Finish two of the four books I'm reading
  • Remodel children's bedrooms
  • Get christmas tree down BEFORE January 1
  • Burn a Winter Soundtrack CD
  • Current Sunday morning bible study @ church

    2. List five people you've lost contact with that you'd like to hear from again.
  • Stephen
  • Rick & Melanie
  • Dean
  • Wickerhead
  • Davida & Jimmy

    3. List five things you'd like to learn how to do.
  • Teach
  • My
  • Kids
  • To
  • Obey

    4. List five things you'd do if you won the lottery (no limit).
  • Quit job
  • Take vacation to Hawaii
  • Pay off house - not a new one, 'cause I ain't moving
  • Upgrade PCs - shift to wireless laptops
  • Pay off CWO building debt

    5. List five things you do that help you relax.
  • Blogging - no, really
  • Movies
  • Reading scripture - gets my mind in a certain focus away from what might be stressful
  • Football - all day Saturdays
  • Staring at the landscape, feeling the breeze
  • Thursday, November 20, 2003
    ESPN.com - MLB - Sosa's MVP goes to Pujols, not Bonds
    I don't have anything bad to say about Pujols or Sammy (cork!), but I'd agree with that statement only with the qualifier "... who stayed home because their team didn't make the post-season." If anything, that's why Bonds won. I'm nota big fan of Bonds either, but the fact that he put his numbers up *and* that the Giants made the postseason again says to me that he was more valuable to them than Pujols was to the Cardinals.
    In the typical household, the family workload is something like this:
  • KIDS - go to school, do homework, play, bedtime
  • DAD - go to work, pick up groceries, play, bedtime
  • MOM - go to work, check homework, go back to store for what Dad missed, watch as everyone plays while doing laundry & dishes & fixing lunches for tomorrow, bathing kids, catching up on bills & correspondence, making plans for weekend, etc etc etc and then some

    It's not much different in our house (I do dishes!). Everyone would probably agree that mothers get a heaping portion of the workload, making it easier on the rest of us. That's why I wanted to write and tell how the kids and I are trying to keep Vicki sane this week. It's Play Week, with opening night of the AHS Drama Presentation of DAYS OF OUR SCHOOL LIVES tonite in the auditorium. For the past months, she's had rehearsals through the week and things to do through the day. But last week and this week is all culminating right now, and she's at her usual frazzled state. That's not a bad thing, and everything turns out well in the end. But I'm trying to use this time to teach our kids how to help others get through life.

    If there's anything she doesn't need, it's whiney and clingy kids. Our daughter's been especially rough with "I miss Mommy" every night. Of course it's cute and endearing, but it's also rough on Mommy's way-too-stretched-out psyche. I'm trying to teach her that I love Mommy, too, and that we all miss her, but that I love her so much that I want to do everything to help her have a great week including giving her the time she needs to do it right. That goes for play week, but also for the mornings when we're all trying to get ready for school - don't start arguments over what pants you want to wear, and instead, smile alot and be helpful so that you can help others start their day off right, too. Stuff like that makes morning something special instead of a chore to endure each. day. of. the. week.

    Okay, this one's not going so well. But I'm planning right now to get alot of the backed up stuff done tomorrow evening. While it's been busy for Vicki, it's been busy for the rest of us, too, and Friday evening's the first night we'll have to just watch TV and get some housecleaning done. But that is so important to our wives. Men, take the garbage out, after cleaning the kitchen and vacuuming the den. Major bonus points, and the house will just feel better. Especially when your wife is stressed out - coming home to a clean house makes a huge difference. At least I hope it does tomorrow night.

    You've heard it before men - women need to be touched. Don't let her stress and standoffishness be a barrier to a knowing and understanding and empathetic hug. It'll mean more than you know, as the woman of your life feels your love and melts in your arms. Let the kids see Mom and Dad loving each other - and let it be a big time for a group hug. Find something to laugh about together. Affirm her as often as you can, letting her know how much you appreciate what she's going through, how much she does, how much you miss her, how much you look forward to the time when the stress is gone and you can just be together. With us, after Friday the play is OVER for another semester or so. That's releasing to me, and I want her to know I look forward with her to this pressure being over, being done well, being memorable as a memory that's behind us instead of as a stress still looming large ahead.

    Just a few things... affirming my wife today while she teaches her classes and gets things ready for tonite's opening. We'll leave a light on, dear.

  • Wednesday, November 19, 2003
    Singing photo - way too funny.
    [Thanks Rich & Luke]
    Yahoo! Search Results for refuting cleansing streams ministries

    I look through the tracking to see who's coming to this site, what they're searching on, how do they find me, etc. I saw this one just now - a search on "refuting cleansing streams ministries". I'm the top selection for that search, and no one else in the first page or two says anything that actually *refutes* the ministry. And I'm glad.

    I've got my own detractions about Cleansing Streams - the big ones being that it's difficult to get too far into the training, timewise, and then if you do you're kinda tied to it for a long time. The other is that there's an emphasis on "the devil made me do it" that goes farther than I'd like. Repentance on our part for the stupid choices we've made is necessary, and that's covered, but it's also balanced a little too far for me with the demonic being responsible, too. Repent *and* renounce is the main thrust, and I'm really on board with that aspect of it.

    All that to say - I think Cleansing Streams is wonderful, and that everyone, especially anyone trusted with leadership, should participate and get cleaned up. So I'm equally pleased that there aren't any horror stories out there - not like there is whenever you mention "deliverance" (the movie or the ministry).

    Sweet. But they're making us fat, along with everything else in our capitalistic culture. This is a good article - I just wish he hadn't picked on Krispy Kreme - isn't anything sacred?

    I've got no room to talk. I'm overweight, bodily as well as other areas I'm sure. There's a good comment below the article on how most of us can't remember the nine fruits of the Spirit, and that when we do SELF CONTROL comes last in most translations. Ouch - once again, the flesh rises up, doesn't it?
    Michael writes about "greeters" at This Classical Life:That's exactly right. That's why it feels funny to me, too.......
    Tuesday, November 18, 2003
    Two day's late on my first participation - sue me :)

    Sunday Brunch: I'M RIDING IN MY CAR

    1. The first car I ever drove was a...
    Ford LTD II

    2. My dream car is...
    A real Hummer. Not a wimpy boxy yuppy H2, but a Hummer, preferably with A/C, audio/video stereo system, and battle scars

    3. Can you drive a vehicle with a stick shift? If yes, how long did it take you to learn?
    Yes - I drive a 5-speed Honda CRV now. I learned at the same time I was learning to drive, so it was no big.

    4. What is the fastest you have ever driven?
    105 or so - nice straightaway with long downhill drag just north of here... but you didn't hear that from me.

    5. How many people you have crammed into a vehicle at one time?
    15 passenger van count? If not, then seven in a Mazda GLC Hatchback ... back in the day.
    I feel alot like the weather outside: overcast but pleasant for now, expecting showers any moment, grey and uninviting, good day for a hammock and a nap or a round of golf - anything done alone, in solitude. That's today, and that's me right now.

    I mentioned that Pastor spoke on PASSION this past Sunday morning. Today, I read an article that quoted Revelation 3:14-22, the main text for his message, too.

    I'm at work, so it's busy hectic, while I really want to be alone and have time to think. So I take a minute here and there to be quiet and focus on something other than my laptop and its tools, files and deadlines. And I wonder... do I have passion? for anything? or am I simply going through the motions, doing enough to get by, with low expectations and less-than-stellar results?

    Sometimes, I feel like I spend a whole lot more time avoiding the flesh than I do pursuing real righteousness. I live like I'm "ok" - doing the right things outwardly, but inwardly my motivation ain't all that. It's not passionate. It doesn't seek love, seek suffering for joy, seek to serve, seek to pursue Christ. My motivation, more often than I care to admit, is just kinda there - it's what I do. "Why are you doing that?" - "It's what I do."
    Monday, November 17, 2003

    At least sixteen years too early...
    CNN.com - Jared the Subway Guy, superstar - Nov. 17, 2003

    Does Starbucks need a "Rick the Macchiato Guy"? I'm available - just call my agent.
    There's a good article on "instilling values in your kids" by Tara Ringham at RelevantMagazine.com. I was especially challenged at the end:I've worked with young people over the years, so 1 Tim 4:12 has been meaningful in the past. But that's a whole new take for me, considering my own 8-yr-old and 6-yr-old in the challenge of that verse.

    There will always be things that fight against us and against our kids. We teach capitalism and greed at such an early age, not to mention the problems just around the bend with peer pressure and such. "Instilling values" for me means to help them process life, giving them the tools to make wise decisions and exert their own pressure back on their peers. We've got to model love for each other and love for Christ and all things godly, holy and righteous.

    Two stories from our weekend go along with these thoughts (ever wonder why things like this come with force and with corroborating messages?):
  • I took my son to the USC/Florida football game Saturday afternoon (don't ask). At halftime, the band/university paid tribute to soldiers, and their families, who'd given their lives in service in Afganistan and Iraq. It was very moving, but my son was tired of playing his Gameboy, tired of watching the game, tired of the noise. "Can we go now?" he asked. I felt very moved to bend down and say in his ear, "We're honoring people who died fighting for their country, for our freedom." I bent over, and mumbled all that - because there was such a knot in my throat at the thought of passing that kind of real honor on from me and my generation to him and the next gen.
  • At church yesterday, my wife and daughter were up front with all the other preschoolers, dancing and singing during worship. Vicki had a similar experience - my daughter was doing everything my wife was doing. When Vicki raised her hands, when she swayed, when she clapped, she had a follower. "She's going to worship like we worship" - what a challenge. Our little girl looked up and asked, "Mommy, why are you crying?"
  • Sunday, November 16, 2003
    I had so many thoughts going through my head this morning at church. We've been doing a conversation-style bible study with the adults, and it's good to see/hear other people thinking and processing what God's saying to us. One good question I got after the group time had to do with "love the sinner, hate the sin."

    My take is that we have a very difficult time doing that, separating the person's sin from the person. We'll demonize a profession and all it's members - like abortionists, or liberals, or democrats, or opposing football coaches - and then we find it tough to show real love to real people in real situations. While I was a sinner, Christ died for me - so how can I take that to the people around me who might be homosexual, or abortion activists, or name-your-sinner? Somehow, I can't let their sin, or my perception of it, to determine how I'm going to feel about them. I can't let someone's sin keep me from loving them, because Jesus loved me first.

    There's another take on that statement: "hate the sin, love the sinner." Ray Comfort says that we can't separate the sin from the person, that doing so does a disservice to the gospel, or something to that effect. I do have some reconciliation between his take and "mine" (in quotes, because this is something I've picked up over lots of time, lots of authors, lots of my own seeking on this stuff). Where he says you can't separate the sin from the sinner, I say this: love the sinner so that the sin becomes apparent. My "love" can't detract from sinfulness - or that's not real love. Real love would bring a convicting agent with it, wouldn't it? If love is from God, then the Holy Spirit will also flow in conviction, mercy, forgiveness and salvation. Real evangelism comes when the sinner receives real love, repents of real sin, and is reborn in real salvation.

    I can point to someone as a lawbreaker by pointing out that he has broken God's law or the ten commandments - but if I don't have love, I'm just being noisy.

    After that, Pastor preached on passion this morning. Webster's first definition of "passion" is Christ's suffering from the Last Supper through to death on the cross. Whatever I might have to say about passion, realizing that the very word is a picture of Jesus floored me. I might write more on that later in the week. Still processing.
    Friday, November 14, 2003
    FoxNews.com - New Drinks, Card Sales Boost Starbucks Profit by 21 Percent

    The caramel macchiato, and the grace of God - making the world go 'round.

    Hmmm... a pot of Christmas Blend sounds good about now. Anyone?
    A descriptive FridayFive (I liked this one):

    1. Using one adjective, describe your current living space.
    quiet - working from home today, so "quiet" isn't typical, but it is welcome

    2. Using two adjectives, describe your current employer.
    competitive, busy - the economy is changing, ramping up as people get off their money and buy services

    3. Using three adjectives, describe your favorite hobby/pasttime.
    thoughtful, meditative, deep - the way I like to watch my movies

    4. Using four adjectives, describe your typical day.
    rushed, hectic, playful, full

    5. Using five adjectives, describe your ideal life.
    hmmm... seeking, fun, adventurous, transformed, meaningful
    CNN.com - Wheaton College lifts 143-year dance ban - Nov. 14, 2003

    Isn't this the third trumpet of the apocalypse?
    This interesting note on Gamecock Football 2003 from The State newspaper:And we're 5-5 on the season. Nuts.
    Thursday, November 13, 2003
    I often wonder what it does to God when we argue or disobey or generally disrespect Him.

    It happens to me - my kids will ask something and I'll say no and it'll turn into a whine-fest, first them and then me. Last night I lost it - they knew Daddy had lost his cool, and they behaved pretty much after that. I got really quiet - I was hurt, my feelings were hurt, my heart ached. So I clammed up, and when they were actually listening, we talked about how Mommy and Daddy try to help each other have good days, not always looking for something to argue about or to hurt someone else. Mornings are hectic, too - can't we all try to help the other three people living in our house to have a great morning? That's our daily plea...

    And yet, God's mercy is new every morning. His kind of love doesn't keep a record of wrongs. the newness of His mercy is probably as refreshing for Him as it is for me. But I don't do that for the kids - I don't let it go enough to be merciful, and it escalates in a way that I can probably stop, but won't let got of it soon enough. Or something like that.

    Aah. Parenting is fun, huh?
    Wednesday, November 12, 2003
    Funny Jokes Pictures of Finding Nemo

    Don't tell my kids..... but I'll take one order of that, and an order of california rolls and kappmaki.
    Cutting back. I think about how much stuff I really do in a day... in a week. What do I accomplish? Why do I feel rushed and stressed? Usually, I feel like it's because I'm so busy - and then I stop to think about how much free time I'd probably have if I would cut one or two things from the stack of stuff-to-do.

    Starting with the frivolous - I could do away completely with the television during the week. I mean it, there is nothing on. While a few shows might make me laugh or think, I can do that without TV's help. I hear pastor talking about spending more time in prayer or reading the bible - and it's true. I can shrug those kinds of statements off and say I don't waste time, but the truth is that we all waste time watching too much TV. Except college football - absolutely no waste there. Amen?

    Also frivolous - PC time. I'm getting better about this, but it drains so much time surfing the 'net. I mean, I work in front of my laptop all day, then go home to check email and surf, and somewhere in there I post to this blog - time-sucking thing that it is. My eyes should probably be pixelated by now. And again, I'm not alone. If we could turn off the TVs and PCs around America, I'd venture to say we could save marriages, get out of debt, and make our families healthier. Broad generalized stroke - but when these tools and toys become objects of affection over real people relationships, something's screwed up. Can I get a witness?

    What else eats my time? The bathroom - but please don't take that away. It's the closest thing I have to an office, a room to think, a place to hide and ponder the weightiness of life, the universe and everything.

    So here's my "plan" - stay out of the living room (where the TV and PC are) and spend more time in the bathroom... Um, no, that won't work. Kids will find me eventually. But I do need to sit at the kitchen table more to read and drink coffee - or go upstairs and stretch across the bed to play gamecube with my son (and then get him off of it, since it's something that definitely eats *his* time away!) - or go out to the playroom/sunroom and take a nap, feel the breeze - or tickle-wrestle with my kids - or read the bible in the backyard on the deck - or date my wife, make her feel special, wanted, romanced.

    All that would be better, more meaningful and more fulfilling uses for my time. Amen?

    Wny is this a big deal? Because the time is short. Because now is the day of salvation. Because I don't want to waste what I can never get back. Because while God's mercies are new every morning, and I am so very thankful for that, I've still got to deal with the same issues day after day, and I don't want to waste time on things the ultimately don't matter. I'm not being a prude - I love to kick back and be lazy, and maybe there's a time for that in a non-sinful and non-selfish way. But on the same note, I waste too much time, meaninglessly and temporal. Bottom line: I want to be involved in things that have duration, staying power, that are also meaningful and worth doing, and worth doing well and intentionally.

    Preach it....
    Tuesday, November 11, 2003
    I'm back at work today, after a 24-hr (and still dwelling) stomach flu bug or something. I slept alot yesterday, and finally watched IDENTITY so I could send it back to Netflix. Wow - what a concept. Reality in a madman's mind. Kinda like the MATRIX, huh?

    I want to comment without giving anything away about either movie. But if you think you'll see them and anything here might spoil it, stop reading - like you normally do when you come across my drivel :).

    Multiple personality disorder figures prominently in the plotline of IDENTITY. At the same time, I felt like MATRIX suffered from wanting to be many things. Or rather, we as religious thinkers wanted it to live up to many different levels of spirituality. We wanted it to be a christian-ized movie, and the things that don't fit gospel definitions are written off as pluralistic. But the more I think about it, MATRIX is a joke - an inside joke, and the church is the punchline. It's nowhere to be found inside the Matrix - I might be wrong, but I don't remember one church, one cathedral, one fish on a car bumper. Nothing. There were allusions to christian things, but their counterfiets, aren't they? Zion was a doomed city, not the ultimate new city of God - destroyed in a peace the the "evil" allows, not in the majesty and glory. Ultimate good beats ultimate evil, but only within the confines of the Matrix - outside the computers, the machines are now stronger and "in charge". The real "god" and "heaven" here are ultimately human constructs gone horribly wrong............. that's not very christian.

    In IDENTITY, an insane convict is heading to a late-night hearing in an attempt to stay his execution. Meanwhile, a horrible storm forces different people to be stranded at a motel in the desert. Someone's killing them one by one, as they discover each has the same birthday and other things in common. Does the killer die at the motel, or is he still on trial at the hearing. At least at the end of this, "reality" is defined, even if the doctors and justince can't figure out what it is.

    These two flicks aren't even romotely similar - except that major pieces of each happen inside the mind and not in "reality". The problem is that in MATRIX, we're left thinking we've won something when there's no victory available. At the end of IDENTITY, we find that no one has really won. In both movies, if there is a victory, it's on the wrong side.
    Monday, November 10, 2003
    Church Sign Generator. Play nice.

    Sunday, November 09, 2003
    Someone asked me a couple of weeks ago, "How do you observe the Sabbath?" Here it is, Sunday afternoon, where I'm watching a little football and I'm about to crank up my laptop to get some work done. Sunday - the western Sabbath - isn't much of a day of rest. I'm not the senior pastor at church, but I do have my jobs and responsibilities. That, coupled with often needing to take care of this or that, makes it hard to have what I'd think of as "a day of rest."

    So my Sabbath tends to be Saturday. Or, more jewish-ly, Friday sundown to Saturday sundown. I'm serious - I get to actually "rest" from the time I leave work Friday to about the time the afternoon is over Saturdays. This weekend, we had a men's conference at church. Good stuff - meaningful and challenging. I'm not big on targetted stuff like that, but I wouldn't have missed it for anything. So, since I had a "sabbath" of sorts yesterday, I get to "work" today.

    I don't mind really. I like to get a jump on the upcoming week, check weekend email, make sure I've got things lined up, etc. I want to be productive this week; I actually want my work habits and throughput to be a witness/testimony of Christ at work in me. I want people to see something different, in a way that draws them to Christ.

    So, I'm getting off the PC - just wanted to post something besides a news report or movie review. And I wanted to have the accountability out there to anyone who reads: Yes, keep the sabbath, and yes, do your work as for the Lord.
    Saturday, November 08, 2003

    Too funny. Found link at RelevantMag.
    Finally got to see MATRIX:REVOLUTIONS tonight. What did I think?

    It sucked.

    Ok, now that it's out of my system :)... really, it wasn't that bad. But the action sequences were too long and too all over the place. Maybe it's because I was at the 10:30p showing after dealing with a stuffed sinus thingie all day. But what little dialogue there was didn't amount to anything memorable. So while I think it did a decent job wrapping up the story, I think they stretched it one movie too far. As I went back earlier and tried to catch the dialogue in the second movie, I found that that one's action sequences were also too long. Now I find out that the dialogue I was hoping to follow wasn't worth following all that much.

    Neo as Messiah? Maybe - but don't sell the farm to get this thing packaged neatly for this week's Sunday School lesson. In the world onscreen, peace is a "choice", which might actually preach well out of Joshua 24:15. But methinks we sunk too much in the symbolic nature of things - this was just a movie, just a good story that ran out of plot somewhere in the middle of the second flick.

    Will I go see it again? Maybe at IMAX in Charleston - that would be cool. Otherwise, I don't think my wife will be interested much.

    Will I own the DVD? Oh yeah.

    It didn't suck. Just sorta sucked. If I can get some sleep and get rid of this headache, it might be even better.
    Friday, November 07, 2003
    Well, I started writing a novel this week. It's National Novel Writing Month and I signed up to write 50,000 words in 30 days, from Nov 1 through Nov 30...

    Well, I stopped writing my novel :). There is absolutely no time right now for anything "extra" that takes up that much time. At just under 2K words per day, I'd almost have to quit my job, or at least say goodbye to the family. I might pick it up again next summer, like when Vicki and the kids go to the beach for a week or something, but not right now. I enjoy being with people too much to continue a plotline that might not be worth continuing.

    Anyone want to see it? The "novel" idea of the novel was that it would be blogged/journaled from a first person point of view. I like the way it flows, but writer's block smacked me early in the journey. So it'll sit, hoping to be completed sometime before Jesus comes, at http://tgan1103.blogspot.com. I think I last posted there Monday - but don't expect "Jake" to post anything new any time soon :). And feel free to let me know what you think ("Gee, Rick, good call on dropping that one - lol!!!).
    Tim Bednar is conducting a survey of Christian bloggers. I've responded - woo hoo - and vented :) a little below.

    Preface: Are you a minister/clergy by training? (y/n) If yes, give your credentials?
    *** I'm an associate pastor at my church, only On-The-Job-Training - media/discipleship focus.

    1.) How has your use of the Internet (specifically blogging) provided you a platform to present your ideas?
    *** I don't like the question, but it's more my aversion to anyone having an agenda when they communicate. While I might use my blog to mouth off, I don't consider it a "platform". Maybe I do and I just don't like that word. But for me, it's an online journal - I'd be writing this stuff in a wire-bound notebook like I had been since high school. That other people read is a wonderful extra bonus for me, but it's not why I write. I ask for feedback sometimes, or I'll preach a little - but I hope anyone reading feels that I'm conversating, not just laying out my platform.

    2.) Each of you have developed a sort of online 'status' and gained an audience, how did you gain credibility view of others?
    *** Well... while I don 't like the idea of a platform, I do appreciate others reading my stuff and giving feedback, sharing their thoughts, posting on their blogs something that I sparked, etc. I see it as more of an online kitchen table, where we all sit around and have the courtesy to listen to each other, to really interact. I joined blogs4God as a blogger, than later as a moderator, and that spiked my blog hits a bit. I post from memes like the FridayFive, and I list my site on other blog portals. How did I gain credibility? Don't know that I have yet - maybe if I say something that agrees with someone else, that person will look at me as credible. Others think I'm a dork - but I blog on.

    3.) What criteria do you use to select your blog roll (specifically Christian bloggers--we all have 'non-Christians' on our blog rolls)?
    *** I don't split christian from non-christian - wheat and tares and all that :). My blog roll is *MY* blog roll. It's a place to put links to other blogs *I* want to read. I've been asked about exchanging links - I'm not into that. If I read it, and think I'll read it again, I'll list it. If I don't get anything from that site anymore, no hard feelings but I'll remove it. From the length of my list, though, I don't remove many. Do I care if they're "christian" or not? Yes and no - I'm more weighted on whether they can write, get their ideas across, stretch my imagination, etc.

    4.) Why do you blog? If you want, please describe your process. Do you consider it 'spiritual'? Why or why not? (Please read my update at the bottom of this post.)
    *** Because I want to. Because I journal. Is it "spiritual"? Sure - just like anything else a christian might be involved in becomes "spiritual" because you're empowered by the Spirit and seeking to live this kindom-life on earth. My process? "Hmmm... think I'll jot that in my blog." That's about it.

    5.) In your opinion, how is spiritual blogging similar to or different from preaching?
    *** I don't like the question, but I've already typed about my aversion to having an agenda. "Spiritual blogging" and "preaching" have their differences. Both have their levels of intimacy, interaction. In my blog, I can type and not worry about how people will react because I won't see them. On the other hand, I invite more interaction blogging then preaching, don't I? So it's a both/and kind of thing - I hope I preach in a way that allows the people to ask questions, and I hope I write in a way that stretches the conversation.

    UPDATE (10/30/03) I am right now wrestling with the Christian part of 'Christian' blogging and tried to sneak in the back door regarding the issue my blog roll question. But I need more help--so I will be more straightforward...

    I am trying to articulate how we (as Christian bloggers) sort out the Christian bloggers from the 'religious' or 'spiritual' bloggers. This has nothing to do with whether I have a link to Fark on my blog roll or not. Rather, I want to know how do we authenticate Christians? I wonder if it is even necessary.

    As I look at Christian blog rolls there seems to be some 'filter' at work--but I am having trouble figuring it out. Why am I concerned about this? For the same reasons business' worry about 'About' pages--there is a basic need on the Internet to be able to determine identity and credentials. Right?

    One of the great obstacles for the 'church' using the Internet or blogging is that of maintaining orthodoxy. I feel blogging is very susceptible to syncretism and I'm trying to address the issue in my paper.

    **** Tim, I don't agree with this at all. For me personally, I don't like to filter anything. My filter is me - do I like it? Did it stretch me? I don't care if someone misses the mark on some doctrinal issue - can I still find truth articulated well at that site? I don't see why we've got further separate ourselves from the rest of the world. "*IN* it and *NOT OF* it" still has "*IN* it" in it, right? People will show their colors; you'll just know. But I don't like setting up some criteria that will probably always leave someone out. God judges the heart, I can only read their stuff - and if it's worth sharing, it's worth sharing regardless of the label or tag we want to attach to it.

    Thanks - I'll be copying this to my blog, too - not in an agenda :), but just 'cause I think it's an issue I've been thinking about alot lately, too.
    Thursday, November 06, 2003
    Ever experience that mild depression/despair that overtakes your joy from time to time... well, here's what to do - Rick's Top Ten Ways To Get Over "Da Funk":
    (10) Slap a mime - can't hurt, might be fun
    (9) Ben & Jerry's - thousands of single women can't be wrong
    (8) Stab a pen in your leg - everything else uphill from there
    (7) Read a book to a child - War & Peace works for me
    (6) Stand on your head and cluck like a chicken - can't hurt, might be fun
    (5) Watch Jerry Springer with the sound muted, with "Don't Worry, Be Happy" blasting from the stereo
    (4) Call telemarketing firms, asking if they've got time to help with a survey
    (3) Slap a mime again - felt good at #10, didn't it?
    (2) Stop your car in the main intersection of town and get out, sit on the hood, and wave at all of your new friends
    ... and the number one way to get over "da funk"":
    (1) pray, asking God for extra fruitiness - joy is a fruit!

    Despair Catalog

    Anything in this catalog, anything at all, would make great Christmas gifts. Just thought I'd let you know.

    "CLUELESSNESS: There are no stupid questions, but there are a LOT of inquisitive idiots." - exactly my point.
    Wednesday, November 05, 2003
    MATRIX:REVOLUTIONS. Tonight. Hopefully:
  • I'll see it tonite
  • it won't suck
  • it'll have a plot

    I've been re-watching MATRIX:RELOADED this week, and all I've really discovered is that it's really nice to have the DVD so I can skip over the completely unnecessary rave/"love" scene, and that the action sequences - while spectacular in scope - are incredibly too long. I wanted to watch the movie to catch up on the dialogue. I'm still trying to skip through stuff, make sure I don't miss anything, and be ready for the third movie tonite.

    With all the christians who jumped on the religious aspects in the first one, I think they've all fallen off the bandwagon - except for us hardcore cynics who actually enjoyed the story. Tonight, with a couple of lattes and a big bottle of Aquafina, it'll be over - for better or worse. I'm going in with low expectations, hoping to blown away.

    p.s. - anyone who enjoyed the story, THE ANIMATRIX fills in alot of gaps... good story drives people, not special effects... we can go to church is we don't want a good story, only filler action, right?

    UPDATE: Well, not tonight. Sold out before I could get tix online. Wait for weekend review - woo hoo.
    I just burned a "fall soundtrack" for the car, something to jazz up the morning commute once I find out where the traffic's backing up and what areas I need to avoid. I started it with a couple of soundtrack tunes for the kids on the way to school. Then the rest is for me and my thirty minute drive from there to work.

    What's on my "Fall Soundtrack":Some time before Thanksgiving, I'm going to go through all of my Mannheim Steamroller stuff and pick out my faves for a Winter Soundtrack and a Christmas Soundtrack. Gotta be two separate discs - do not want to get burned out on Christmas music again this year.
    Tuesday, November 04, 2003
    I am so ready for winter. I'm a fairly hot-natured fellow, and I sweat for much of the year. But in the wintertime, I get to wear sweaters and mock turtles and sweatshirts. Rarely do I need a jacket - I just get to enjoy the layered clothes and the chilly breezes. I like a fire in the fireplace, coffee in the big mug beside me, soup in a bowl, and barefeet. Woo hoo.

    But it's taking its own sweet time getting into autumn around here. We've still got temperatures in the 80s during the day, not even hitting 60 at night this week. I think one of the reasons we've had so much trouble with sinuses and sore throats in our house is the 50 degree mornings and 85 degree afternoons. And even with a little cloudcover and the threat of rain later today, it's already 73 outside, 92% humidity. Not a dry heat here. Last year about this time I traveled to Miami to install the system at the customer site. I'm thankful for our weather in comparison. When I flew out of Columbia that day, it was 50. When I changed planes at ATL, it was 50. But when I got off the plane in Miami - woosh - humidity and 80 degrees. Not a dry heat there, either.

    I'm dreamin' of a white christmas...
    Boston Herald: Driver on cell crashes, dies

    She crashed into a Cingular store.
    Monday, November 03, 2003
    CNN.com - TV special asks: Was Jesus married?

    Umm... pardon me, but wouldn't that hinder the whole Church as the Bride and Jesus as the Bridegroom thing if He's already been sleepin' around? Just a thought.
    In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction.
    -2 Timothy 4:1-2 NIV

    Most of us probably went to church yesterday. A few of us preached. A few of us taught or led bible studies. Some may have led worship, or counted the offering. And some sat and took in what God as saying through all of it, expecting to be challenged, affirmed, changed, motivated. And some - well, some of us were anxious for lunch cooking in the crockpot at home.

    From all of those perspectives, what do you think "preach the word" means? The problem tends to be that those listening don't expect to change, and those preaching don't expect change to happen. There's a fairly decent transfer of information, but no life, no passion, no real transformation. I read that in Jesus' time, "Trivial Pursuit" would've been a ludicrous thought. Yet today, it's not just a board game - it's a way of life. We work hard for the wrong things, and we slack off and live undisciplined in the areas that really matter. That's the way it is Sunday mornings in this western world. Church has become a trivial pursuit.

    I heard Os Guinness yesterday in an interview on our local christian radio station. Paraphrasing: "There are many christians in our churches today who are atheists unaware." Because we don't preach the word at all - or because we don't take in the preached word - or because we don't know the word and can't stand to be rebuked, corrected, or even encouraged towards real discipleship - he's absolutely correct.

    UPDATE: I just did a google search on "atheists unaware" to see if he'd used that remark anywhere else in an essay or something. I found this article on a protest by local atheists in Dallas/Fort Worth. Interesting read.
    CNN.com - Who exactly is a grown-up?

    I'm still waiting....
    Sunday, November 02, 2003
    Saw BROTHER BEAR tonite. Not bad - I mean, it's not NEMO and not PIRATES, but a decent Disney film, put out once again just in time for holiday merchandising. Hmmm... wonder if they planned that, eh?

    Best part: the moose, voiced by Bob & Doug McKenzie, a.k.a. Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas. Flooded with SCTV memories of The Great White North. Beauty, eh? Take off, you hoser...
    Saturday, November 01, 2003
    Well, it's November. National Novel Writing Month. Let the writer's block begin.
    CNN.com - Kelly Simone: 'They think we're heroes' - Oct. 31, 2003

    Empowering girls. I'm saving this one to let my daughter read in her teens.

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