rick & 1j13
Wednesday, March 31, 2004
Now that's a mug. I love eBay.
Yahoo! News - Note to Eric: U Need 2B More Careful

Oh boy.
DailyGamecock.com: USC Republicans leave convention

One of my problems with politics in general is the way people lose sight of themselves when involved too deeply in the process. If the facts are correct in this story, the USC College Republicans shot themselves in the foot. Or rather, an outgoing member sought to harm the chances for election of another member, all within this same group. That's just nuts. Otherwise, I'm sure these people are fine, upstanding individuals - but here in college, they're learning how to lose integrity, votes and friends in an academically competetitive and politically charged environment.

Woo hoo. And they say today's generation is full of slackers. I say nay nay - they work hard to plow their enemies under, to hurt others with intelligence and with the same back-stabbing knife that's been handed down from one generation to the next. People have always been quick to take offense, quick to seek revenge - whatever. Back to my opening statement, though: while I might see change happening in all kinds of places and cultural fronts, politics appears to be continuing the trend of being stuck in the mud when it comes to issues of integrity, honesty and the common good.
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
Crosswalk.com: A.I.D.S. - America In Deep Sin
Dr. James O. Davis, Global Pastors Network

If there's anything I find unappealing in the church as it seeks to remain relevant and follow the culture post-modernly into the future, it's the prevalent attitude of indifference that's sweeping through the crowd. I'm not "anti-postmodern" - there's alot of baggage that's been heaped on the church over the legalistic centuries that needs to be tossed, and deconstructing in order to get back to basics is a good thing for us as we move forward as the Bride of Christ. But there's usually too much deconstructing and not enough reconstructing. At times, what passes for "deconstruction" is actually just people getting rid of things they don't like, scriptural and godly or not. Deconstruct all you want, but don't forsake the foundation of Christ, the law and the prophets.

... which is what seems to be happening today. This country claims, in a majority-poll kind of way, to be "christian", and yet follows its own common sense and reasoning rather than the ways of God. I like Dr. Davis' word choice: we are indifferent to God, irreverent to the Creator. We BELIEVE IN HIM, but we don't BELIEVE HIM. What we've done is make God out to be just like us - wishy-washy and excuse-driven in what we do and do not tolerate in ourselves and in others. We forget that He became one of us to redeem us, not to leave us in the condition we've chosen for ourselves.

I wonder what this country would look like if we did "do it right"...? What if we believed God at His word, as much as we say we believe in Him?
CNN.com - Official: Rice to testify in public - Mar 30, 2004

Now the hard part: will everyone who's been calling for her to testify believe what she now says under oath?
While yesterday was a slow slide into get-me-out-of-here tedium, Tuesdays are usually pretty decent. I don't know if it's because Monday's under your belt and getting up another day isn't so bad; or if it's because you're another day closer to Saturday. Whatever the reason, I usually look forward to Tuesdays because it's the only day of the work week where I don't really have anything other to do than my job at my desk. When I get home tonight, I'm home - no class, no church activities. My daughter's got tumbling class, but they just meet me at home after that's over. There's just not alot of extraneous pressure to do anything other than work on days like today.

I guess I've got this kind of thing on my mind because I really want to do a good job, to be productive at work and at home, and for that to translate to an effectiveness and meaningfulness that reflects well on Christ. As I've found myself in a rut of self-centeredness and what-not, I'm determined to do what I do for Christ, in a Col. 3:23 kinda way. Others need to see that I want to work well and serve well for the Lord and the kingdom, and that they're the intended beneficiaries of just doing a good job.

Most people want a raise, a promotion, recognition. Those things are great (read: "A raise would be nice!") - but I want to please the Father. Today's Tuesday, not Monday - so I'm already ahead of the game in that respect.
Monday, March 29, 2004
Ok. The novelty of Monday has worn off, and I need a nap. Big time.
Does anyone else around here normally dread Monday mornings?

I'm not a Monday person. There are three kinds of people who deal with Monday morning (at least, three is all I could make up this morning):

1) For the person who hates his home life and hasn't been able to escape the kids/wife/chores all weekend - Monday comes as a vacation from all the hassle of the Saturday/Sunday stuff.

2) For the single person who had nothing to do over the weekend, Monday means returning to a social circle where at least your co-workers have to interact with you someway somehow.

3) For me, I'd just like a morning to sleep late. Monday's come instead :)

But I'm feeling pretty good this morning. Good enough to write about it, so that's something in itself, I guess. We had a nice active Saturday followed by a reasonably restful Sunday - and today, I don't mind being back at work. I was telling someone here that I've got enough to keep me busy and hopefully allow the day to go by fast. That way I won't think about it being a lo-o-ong, drawn out Monday, you know? I know that a few pastors take Mondays off, recuperating from the Sunday before. Many times, stay-at-home moms will shuttle the kids to play group, catching up on personal time before diving headlong into another week. For me, I just enjoyed the commute (listening to ESPNRadio this morning - anyone else watch DreamJob last night?), and I've got a good attitude/outlook for the rest of the day.

Of course, it's not even nine o'clock yet - all that could go to crap by 10am, you know?

Of course, I'm also dealing with the folding of the Tony Kornheiser Show. Mr. Tony is sleeping in this morning, I'm sure. But I'll be trying to catch the replacement show - The Herd with Colin Cowherd - at 11a ET. Hopefully it'll be funny and continue to make my XMRadio worth the $9.95/month investment.

UPDATE: Well, I listened to The Herd, 11am-1pm ET. Colin's ok... but he's no Mr. Tony. Not yet anyway. Might grow on me - might not. The possiblity of hearing Wayne Newton do sports talk is intriguing.
Sunday, March 28, 2004
You know what really makes me smile?

Listening to my six-yr-old daughter snore.

Listening to my son laugh.

Watching a bird build a nest on our kitchen bay windowsill.

A cup of coffee after a good afternoon nap.

Watching a person "get it" - seeing his eyes light up as some new understanding enters his life.

Seeing a father and his daughter walking at the mall, holding hands.

"Getting it" myself.

My wife's smile, perhaps accompanied by her significant giggle.

[thanks, Sarah]
Saturday, March 27, 2004
Getting some discussion/feedback on this post, concerning the case before SCOTUS that involves the Pledge of Allegiance.

Perhaps I come from a particular bias, that the Pledge itself is harmless - especially as a tool for "promoting religion". The phrase in question, "under God", has been rendered generally meaningless by its repetition. There are no altar calls given at the end of its recitation. Indeed, it states that the speaker is pledging allegiance to a flag, to a nation, not necessarily to God, which it claims to be under while at the same time forsaking His ways.

To remove the phrase, however, would be another instance of the courts mandating something that's outside of their bounds as a judicial body. These two words were added by Congress, a voice for the people by the people of the people - there is a mandate to the work of Congress, while the courts are to judge impartially and relatively true to the difficult-to-define original intent.

And in this case in particular, at this time with these circumstances - this is more about a power play than a principled discourse on the separation clause. He wants some control over the life and faith choices of his daughter, and he has no authority, right or power to do so. Only by going to the Supreme Court does he feel that he can now control what she says and how she says it. I've got two children, and I love my wife. I still can't make them do what I want, but I seek to train them in the way they should go so they'll make wise and fruitful choices. I'm not trying to pass legislation to stop them from watching Spongebob or to go to Sunday School. He doesn't have an impact, and he wants one bad enough...

I realize I'm standing in judgment of someone's motives, a place I don't think I have the right to posit from there. So anything I say/write is already invalidated perhaps. One thing I know: this atheist needs someone real and meaningful in his life, someone to show him the love of Christ in a way that bring real change in himself - instead of false, superficial and ultimately fruitless change in the POA.
Wow - great games last night in the NCAAs, bringing the team total to eight and setting up the rest ofthe weekend to break it down to the final four. My brackets are still pretty much shot from last weekend, but I'm tied for the lead in one of my groups - woo hoo.
Friday, March 26, 2004
I just had the best caramel macchiato I've ever had in my life. I've had good mach's at Starbucks before, and the coffee kiosks around town tend to do a semi-decent job, most of the time. I've made some at home, complete with espresso shots and redy-whip and caramel, that others have swore are "better than Starbucks". But when I went in at lunch to pick up a bag of decaf beans for tonight, I also ordered a venti mach with whipped cream.

Oh. my. goodness.

It was the best I've ever had. I don't know if I can even make coffee tonight - it won't add up, I'm sure.
Ode To Mr. Tony

I've always been a radio guy. TV's fun, and I love movies and sports. But when I'm in my car, I want to listen to the radio. Growing up and moving around, I remember radio being something that rarely changed. One memory stands out: when my folks moved us to the house they're in still today, back in 1978 or so, I remember sitting in an empty bedroom, radio boombox in my lap, flipping the channels to look for Casey Casem's Top40 Countdown. I worked as a DJ at a local Christian station in college, mid-90s - still the best job I ever had (WQXL, 1470AM Columbia).

In college and beyond I discovered talk radio, most specifically, Rush Limbaugh talk radio. Not a "fan" as much anymore, just can't take his takes and the way his takes take place, you know? Then sports radio really blew up in this area, and I listened to alot of the local call-in shows. A few years ago, I found Tony Kornheiser when the ESPNRadio lineup was added locally.

Mr. Tony.

His show is funny, intelligent, quick-witted, and over. He's dropping the show for more golf time and less strain on his TV and newspaper schedule. I'll miss him and the gang for sure. He's one of the two or three reasons I got XM Radio, since the signal out here in the Blythewood boonies isn't all that. I enjoyed his book reviews and interviews, talk about movies and TV shows, and even Old Guy Radio. We drive everywhere on vacation, and we'll inevitably find Mr. Tony on the air and enjoy the ride that much more.

That's it. That's the list.

By the way, how do you think the Packers are going to do this year.

This post stinks. Stinks.

And as always, if you're out on your bike tonight, please wear white.
Since it appears that there's on Official Friday5 today (Heather deserves a break, too!), I'll jump in with Cindy's Friday5 - woo hoo!

1) What's your favorite thing to do when it's raining out?
Watching sports or reading, probably

2) How often do you go to the library?
My wife & kids go about once a month on a rainy Saturday, but I haven't been since last summer

3) When was the last time you sent an actual letter or card via snail mail, and what was the occasion?
Christmas cards this past season

4) What is your favorite radio station?
New favorite - XM Cafe, XMRadio 45

5) What is your favorite kind of hot tea?
Chai Tea Latte from Starbucks
Thursday, March 25, 2004
I needed to make a change to the layout - minor changes, keepin' it fresh, keepin' it real. My kids will love the photo - taken at a Longhorn's (I think) in Charlotte last summer. The stuffed Teddy and Patrick were the spoils of victory at Carowinds, and the Heinz ketchup was for my fries.

We're looking at possibilities for this summer's trip. We really enjoy just going somewhere and relaxing, and having time to play, too. In the past, we've done Charlotte/Carowinds, Atlanta with Six Flags and Downtown, and Gatlinburg. Going to the beach is old hat for us - Vicki and the kids will go to the condo (where we were this past weekend) for a week with her mom, and another week they'll go to the mountains together (I'll go a few days to each). So we try to pick something different for *our* vacation.

This year's leading candidate is Charleston, SC. Enough to do to keep their interest, enough to not do so we can just hit the beach and water and such. We're probably looking at Washington, DC or back to Orlando next year, but for now, we'll stay a little closer to home. Maybe Savannah, something different like that - or even up to Wilmington, NC. We'll see...
CNN.com - Exercise guru Richard Simmons cited for assault - Mar 25, 2004

I don't think I'd press charges: "Yes, your honor, he slapped me. Yes sir, Richard Simmons. Stop laughing, your honor - I'm being serious. Stop laughing, c'mon now."
Wednesday, March 24, 2004
CNN.com - Atheist argues against 'Under God' before high court - Mar 24, 2004

"Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist noted that Congress unanimously added the words 'under God' in the pledge in 1954. 'That doesn't sound divisive,' he said. 'That's only because no atheists can be elected to office,' Newdow responded. Some in the audience erupted in applause in the courtroom, and were threatened with expulsion by the chief justice."

Here's where I think I stand on this issue: if you don't want to say it, don't say it. If it means nothing to you, I'd rather you not use it as part of your oath. If integrity is at stake, shut up while everyone else says those two little meaningful words. But the right to not have to say them doesn't supercede the right to say them in the first place. Freedom of speech issues tend to overweigh freedom of/from religion issues, and this is a case where the majority of people, rightly or ignorantly, want the phrase to stay. It looks like a power-trip, taken up by a father who has none. Sad.

"The AP poll, conducted by Ipsos-Public Affairs, found college graduates were more likely than those who did not have a college degree to say the phrase 'under God' should be removed. Democrats and independents were more likely than Republicans to think the phrase should be taken out."
Yahoo! News - Pastor Dies Watching 'Passion of Christ'

I'd probably choose a re-release of Christmas Vacation.
Snapped these funny faces this morning - matching my daughter's goofiness earlier this month. Too much time on our hands sometimes, huh?

We're still learning that mornings are for getting ready for the day. We all need to get out of the house, and the smoother that goes, the better we all feel about life, the universe and everything. But most mornings, something comes up that sets one of the kids off - stomping, whining, yelling, all working against our "have a good day" morning routine. This morning, however, was relatively calm and sedate. Breakfast was eaten, shoes were put on, and teeth were even brushed. Whew.

Today's Daily Dig had this to say in my inbox as I booted up, after dropping off the kids and enjoying my 30-minute commute:Just felt appropriate to include that here as I'm raggin' on my own kids. We do seek to treat them as real people, hoping that translates into the way they treat others as they grow and mature and move out on their own.

Can I take a minute and vent over the state of what passes for "children's entertainment" in today's society? Thanks.

Before Christmas, a live-action version of Dr. Seuss' CAT IN THE HAT was released. From the commercials/previews, I just wasn't impressed - but it made millions and everyone took their kids. This month, it was released on DVD, and I bought it for my kids to watch while Vicki & I were at the beach this past weekend. BIG MISTAKE. We didn't preview it first, and there are two scenes in particular that went "too far". First, the Cat tells the children that his car's acronym is S.L.O.W., and that it's better than it's previous name, S.H.%.T. The second, when the Cat is informed that he's cut off his own tail, is one long bleep of expletives.

I guess bleeping is funny. Or implying a dirty word is funny. In SHREK, Donkey says a few choice words in the beginning, and another character mutters something curse-y later on. I'm no prude - but if you're only able to be funny by being dirty - YOU'RE NOT FUNNY. We mistake shock value for humor. We mistake weirdness and fetish immorality for drama (catch any of the plotlines on CSI lately?). We mistake opinions for news, commentary for fact.

But I digress - my thing here is that there was no need to cuss, or imply cussing, in what's ostensibly a children's film. The LOONEY TUNES movie that came out last year didn't have any of that, and it was really funny for me as an adult. Same goes for most Disney movies - keeping the adults laughing and the kids laughing takes skill, not bleeeeeeep-bleeeeepity-bleeeepin' foul language.

So in our house, the CAT IN THE HAT dvd is now "lost". If they never see it again, they know it's gone. I've told them as much, and tried to explain why we're tossing it. My hope is that my kids grow up with a sense of humor that's funny, not crass, and that they're able to make wise choices of what they'll listen to and watch.
CNN.com - Oregon county bans all marriage - Mar 23, 2004


They are denying the rights of hetero couples to get married, as a stand of support for same-sex couples. Can you say "assinine"? The rights being trampled are for regular marriages, while the extra-special "right" being sought out is put on yet another pedestal.

Remind me to never spend money in Oregon. It's filled with stupid people.
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
Stephen B - Media Information

Of all the Baldwin brothers, it looks like the nutty one's got it going on. Check it out.
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
    Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
    Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
    but made himself nothing,
    taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
    And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    and became obedient to death--
    even death on a cross!
    Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
    that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
    and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life--in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

- Philippians 2:1-18, niv

I read this passage yesterday, and it's clinging to me this morning - ever had that happen? I've read it before, heard sermons on it, preached sermons on it, led Bible studies through it - and not it's not letting go, again. I tried to pare off some of it so this post wouldn't be so long, but I couldn't. I want to look at the call to obedience that involves not whining and being an encouragement, but I couldn't remove the exaltation of Jesus from the charge to live as He intended. I can dig deeper into what it means to obey, what it means to be holy and set apart and fruitful for the kingdom. But I don't think I can do it without also trembling at the thoughts expressed concerning His holiness, His obedience, His suffering, His being lifted up.

If you've been reading along this year, you'll know that I've already been dealing with humility and pride. This passage wraps both of those up in who Christ is, how my identity with Him should now play out. Amazing how natural this "journey" is falling together, at least as much as I'm following the "course syllabus".
Monday, March 22, 2004
I'm finding out that life is for the living. But you probably already knew that.

I've been having a thought-process lately that's been overwhelming, challenging and intriguing: that I need to be more intentional in the way I live life. Many times, I find myself reacting to what's going on. When I'm "proactive", it's really just to get things out of the way so they won't bother me later - like fixing the kids' lunches the night before, or doing the dishes because I can't fit another glass in the sink. But I find that I'm just existing, not really living. The normal cycle - stop me if I'm wrong - goes something like this:In the middle of that, there's interaction with my wife in the mornings and evening, but really, that's my life. Weekends usually take the "work" out of that loop, but church and other activities quickly fill the void from the outside.

I could do a people study, looking at how this plays out in just about everyone I know. But I've got to focus on me for this to be real. I want to be more intentional, more playful, more risky in taking life seriously and living it effectively. That's what resonates within my heart right now - as I sit on my fanny in front of this laptop, hyping up my day that'll be spent right here getting work done. There's not much to my life - but instead of that being an excuse to just exist, I need to allow it to be a wake-up call for attempting more, for engaging better, for living right. Right?

I added the unkymoods icon to my blog as a reminder: Let it be honest, and let it be a challenge, living up to the "mood" and attitude that I want really defining my life. So as I sit here and work for "da man", I really want to be "spunky" (mood for today) and be a person who's getting stuff done and enjoying it while it's being done. I want to learn, what Oswald Chamber's calls in today's devotional, "the secret of the burning heart".

Later, a nap.
CNN.com - 'Dawn of the Dead' debuts with $27.3 million, dethroning 'Passion' - Mar 21, 2004

"Dawn of the Dead" overtakes "The Passion"? Sounds like the title for a deacons' meeting (bad, Rick, bad Rick).
Sunday, March 21, 2004
Raise your hand if your NCAA brackets have been reduced to utter crap. Anyone?
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
- 1 Peter 5:6-9 NIV

It's a little chilly outside right now. It's high tide. Saw a propoise just beyond the breakers, swimming north a little earlier, same direction as most of the seagulls. Must be going to church or something.

We're driving back later this morning. It's been a good weekend - no responsibility past taking showers and paying for merchandise and dinners out. A little shopping, a lot of seafood - sometimes, it don't get any better than this. But it's time to head back home, and that's where I get to find out if it was a "good vacation" or not. Tomorrow I'll be back at work, Vicki will be teaching, kids will be back at school. Tomorrow I've got class, bills to pay, deadlines. Tomorrow I'll have to commute to work, interact with people who didn't get a weekend at the beach, and remember to not gloat about that. Tomorrow, there will be responsibility, a call to do what we've been called to do.

It's so easy to fall into the rut of just existing. I'm reading UPRISING (McManus), and he says as much in the opening paragraphs of chapter one. Whether it's people at church, getting on your nerves because you feel they're just not getting it, or it's people at work who you feel are just not getting it, or it's *you* crying out to God, "I just don't get it" - we settle for "just enough" and do "just enough" to get by. And we find ourselves merely existing rather than really living.

Really living isn't necessarily a lazy weekend at the beach. There's got to be more than this, too. But this was a start to something that I hope will knock me out of the rut and allow me to play and live a little more intentionally.
Saturday, March 20, 2004
Ever been through anything like this (thanks, Scott)?

My neighbor told me a similar story a few years ago. He and his wife had their two boys at the mall. The youngest was still in a stroller, but the oldest was old enough to be curious, use the bathroom properly, etc. They went to the restroom, and the boy went first, using one of the tall urinals. When he was finished, Dad asked the son to stand right beside the sink while he went, too. A man walked in, went to the stall, and proceeded to pass gas and everything else one does "on the potty". The son asked, really loud of course, "DAD, WHAT'S THE MAN DOING IN THERE? WHAT'S THAT NOISE?" Dad was turning redder and redder as he finished up. "That's not nice, son - be quiet and we'll be done in a minute." Whil Dad washed his hands, he looked down and saw his son, squatting to get a look under the stall walls: "MISTER, WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN THERE?"

Amy's Confession

Amy commented on one of my posts, and I found their band site through her linkage. Looks cool - I'll have to wait 'til we get home tomorrow to download MP3s available over there (always a plus when the band includes full length clips - woo hoo).

Just got back from a morning of shopping and walking, walking and shopping. That's one of the draws here at Myrtle Beach: all of the outlets, the new mall (wasn't all that), and the food. We're eating good, but I'm sooooooo tired right now. Time for some basketball and a nap before heading out again this evening for a little more seafood and some light shopping/coffee.
Friday, March 19, 2004
Friday5'ing - woo hoo.

If you...

1. ...owned a restaurant, what kind of food would you serve?

Sushi & BBQ

2. ...owned a small store, what kind of merchandise would you sell?
Books and music - but only stuff I'd read or listen to, meaning that it wouldn't stay open very long

3. ...wrote a book, what genre would it be?
Autobiographical fiction

4. ...ran a school, what would you teach?
Philosophy & golf team

5. ...recorded an album, what kind of music would be on it?
Someone else's :)
Well, the Gamecocks are out of the Big Dance. Dang. they played well, but Memphis just had too many shooters on the floor. Hopefully we've built some momentum though. This should be an annual experience, taking a team to the tournament after a good season. And hopefully, they can get out of the habit of folding in the first round each time (haven't won a first round game since '73).

We had a nice drive down to the coast this morning. The weather is gorgeous - 75 degrees, sunny, and way too humid for March, but the breeze off the ocean is nice right now. Passed too many golf courses to have left my clubs at home though. Maybe next time... A new mall has opened up here, so we'll check out the Coastal Grand tomorrow, as well as some of the outlet shops up the road.

Almost nap time, especially after a long drive and a loss on TV. Dang. But we're feeling good, and really looking forward to some downtime without the kids. I know folks who have never been away from their children - they don't understand us, and we don't understand them. Being able to get away, even for a little bit of time, is essential to keep the relationship going forward. We loved each other first, before there were children in the house, and we'll be together after they're gone. They'll enjoy doing things with their grandparents, and we'll enjoy sleeping late and having a whine-free zone (except when I'm beating her at Scrabble!) around the condo here at the beach. All in all, it's good to get away, and it'll be good to get back on Sunday.

People say when they move out, I'll miss my kids. That's probably true. But in some aspects, I look forward to missing them. That's what this weekend feels like - missing them, looking forward to getting back, but not just yet, ok?
CNN.com - Martin, Kline in new 'Pink Panther'? - Mar 19, 2004

Oh, please - oh, please - oh, please.

With the original series being released soon on DVD, I'd like to think that Kline and Martin would do wonderful jobs in their respective roles. Hopefully.
CNN.com - Couple arrested after 'Passion' fight - Mar 18, 2004

"The two left the movie theater debating whether God the Father in the Holy Trinity was human or symbolic, and the argument heated up when they got home, Melissa Davidson said. 'It was the dumbest thing we've ever done,' she said."

You think?
Thursday, March 18, 2004
Shhh. Not now. Basketball's on.
Wednesday, March 17, 2004
Green background - Happy St. Patrick's Day.
Blog Evangelism.

I've told various people about blogging, but by and large it's just not that big of a deal to alot of folks around here. Most of the people at my church are 'net literate, but they're also not that interested in surfing around and reading stuff. So our Javabeans blog doesn't get the traffic I'd like, doesn't have the participation from our panel of writers that I'd like, etc.

I know of only two other people who've actually started blogs "because of me", and of those two, only one blog really gets any attention. That's my brother's blog, and he seems to be into enough right now. He broke his ankle a few weeks ago, so he's got alot of recliner time where he can sit with his laptop and type for posterity. I'm hoping that when he gets mobile again, that blogging will be enough a part of his day that he won't drop it entirely from the schedule. He's writing for himself, for his youth group, asking for comments and looking for a conversation - things like that make blogging worthwhile.

For blogs to be as big as they seem to be in the internet culture that's still emerging, I'm just finding that it's only really a big deal for people who are already into it. That's why such a tiny percentage of folks have one - as many as there are, the number of blogs and bloggers is still incredibly small. Not that that's a bad thing, since most people can't write. And who wants to read stuff from people with nothing to say?

... much like this post, for example.
Wednesday morning, my wife is going to ask me when I went to bed. I'm going to say 12:30, and she'll shake her head. She won't know that I took a picture of this, after it had taken the lid off one of our garbage cans and found something to eat:

Don't you love digital cameras? All I saw were the two bright spots until I enhanced the photo, and then you see our friendly neighborhood racoon, bane of every dog that's blamed for ripping up garbage bags around these here parts. And the reason I was up at 12:30, checking to see "who" was making such a fuss going through our garbage. How many sounds in the night have I blamed on the cat? This thing is three times the size of our cat, and he's buck-toothed - I got a fairly close look as he took his booty before climbing the tree.
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
"Jesus told Peter to 'Feed my sheep', not 'Test my lab rats' or "Teach my performing dogs new tricks'". Letters to Malcolm, C.S. Lewis
Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, 'Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it.
(1 Peter 3:8-11 NIV)

I'm only going to work two days this week, after yesterday's sick day and the mini-vacation coming at the end. So I want to be as productive and fruitful as I can while I'm here, you know? Many times, I get caught up in other things that seem pressing, but this week I really need to get a couple of things at work done so they won't be hanging over my head anymore. I want to do a good job, being a blessing and not an insult to the people I work with and the customers we serve.

And I'm looking forward to the weekend. Most mornings, I'm flipping channels on my XM Radio, going from one news talk station to another, flipping past the comedy channel or ESPNRadio, trying to find something that keeps my attention the whole thirty-minute drive from my kids' school to my cubicle. This morning, I left it on something - I think it was The Fish - and just chilled out to Caedmon's Call and whoever else was playing. I'm in la-la-land, just relaxed and feeling good today. When I got in and booted my laptop, I got some coffee and walked around the floor to my supervisor's cube, shot the breeze a bit, and came back to sit down and get to work. It's a good feeling.

Of course, I'm blogging right now and not getting anything done :) - but had to write that when I am doing something productive, that it's feeling good today to be contributing around here. I'm "pursuing peace" in a way, as Peter admonishes above, just trying to do what needs to be done while serving those around me for the kingdom. How wonderful can that be?
Monday, March 15, 2004
Yuck. If I'm going to stay home sick, please don't let it be for a stomach virus. I probably could've gone to work today - I just sit too far from the bathroom - eeww. As it is, I slept most of the day, and now I'm just kinda getting over a wave of body aches and such. I need to feel better tomorrow - have too much to do this week, including taking off Thursday and Friday. And I'm already planning on working some of today's missed hours on Thursday from home.

I know the "the kingdom of God" is at hand right now, and that we're called to live that way right now, not only waiting for what's still to come. But won't it be really cool to not ever get sick again?
Sunday, March 14, 2004
Just got finished entering my first bracket at ESPN.com's Men's Tournament Challenge. They've got nifty graphics, and so far it's pretty easy to use. Also invited a few friends and family, both in real space and the blogdom. If you're interested, comment below and let me know - I'll send you an invite. The more the merrier, watching me display my total lack of talent in picking these things.
THIS POST: Work In Progress, updated as the selection show unfolds.

Basketball fans everywhere are dropping everything to see who's going where in the big dance. Let me be the first to say: I hate CBS's graphics this year -- too much red and yellow, looks like a bad powerpoint theme. Ok, got that out of my system.

The four 1-seeds: Kentucky, Duke, Stanford and St. Joseph's. Of those, I think St. Joe's will probably bow out first, and I wouldn't be surprised if they're the first #1 to lose to a #16. Not dissing them necessarily; just not impressed with going unbeaten in the Atlantic 10. If Kentucky plays like they did in the SEC tournament, they're already in the Final Four - but that's a tough level to sustain. Duke can make it if their bracket's relatively easy, but I think their confidence was rattled today as Maryland came from way behind (again) to take the ACC Championship.

USC is a 10-seed, matching up Friday against 7-seed Memphis - a rematch of the old Metro Conference, woo hoo. I don't like the prospect of beating Oklahoma State in the second round if we get through the first game, but hopefully we can make the weekend fun. I think Blake's MSU Bulldogs as a 2-seed should have no problem in the first game, but they'd probably play Louisville in the next game, and that one could be tough.

Duke and UNC could meet up in the regional finals of the Atlanta Bracket - but I don't think so. Too cocky and not enough talent to back it all up, I don't think the 6-seed Tarheels will survive the weekend. But that's just me. Alabama's an 8-seed matched up against the Salukis of SIU at the 9-seed, and I don't know that the Crimson Tide will make it out of that first game or not. NC State is a 3-seed, playing U-La-La, and if they win that one I think they'll also handle Vandy as a 6-seed in the second round.

First thoughts on the Final Four - 1-Duke, 1-Kentucky, 4-Maryland, 3-Pitt. Don't hold me to it.
Rocky Mountain News: Local - Swastikas on sign at Lovingway church

A few weeks ago, the pastor at the church in the article above put this on the church sign: "The Jews killed Jesus". Today, he's resigned, and the community has to deal with the fallout. This situation started with the charges of anti-semitism levelled at Mel Gibson and THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST. All I could add would be that if you want to see it, it's there. But I couldn't overlook the scene where Christ tells Pilate that He lays Hisown life down, that no one could take it from Him but that He gives it freely. If there's any statement to be made it's this: "God killed Jesus". It was because we as humans are doomed and unholy as we act on our own, and it was because God is forgiving and merciful and yearns to forgive (Romans 3:23-26). So God gave His only Begotten to clear the way, to be the Way, for us.

We are so quick to judge another person's heart and motives, and we know so little about anything that really matters. As I read the article, I felt bad and wanted to help, both at the defaced synagogue and at the church, to get the graffiti removed and help bring some reconciliation and restoration. If I were a member of the church, would we leave our mess and go help at the synagogue?

That's not a call for pluralism. It's an idea that we can help others, and in serving we model Christ, and in modelling Christ we preach Him, and in doing all that people might actually listen to what we have to say. Someone must speak - but our actions usually shout down any hope of moving folks with our sermons and church signs.
Saturday, March 13, 2004
That's it in the SEC Tourney for the USC Gamecocks. We looked okay against Kentucky, but they looked great against us. At least we got a couple of wins. I just hope it'll help move us up a little on the bracket sheets for next week. I won't feel comfortable until we win one in the NCAAs. We were a 2-seed twice in the '90s, and both times we lost to the 15-seed. Hopefully this team will play better and get a better draw.

Also, just found out that the NCAA Tournament will be telecast in High Definition - woo hoo. Got our new TV just in time. With us leaving for the weekend, I'm hoping USC will get to play Thursday on the widescreen.
Friday, March 12, 2004
USC is playing LSU in a few minutes, as they continue to play on into the post-season. I'm hoping that they don't "need" this win in order to get a decent seed next week in the NCAAs, and that a win today would be more of a confidence boost for them than another oh-my-goodness-that-was-close nail-biter. They need to win big, but don't need any pressure on themselves right now. If we win today, it's on again tomorrow against Kentucky, who barely squeaked by UGA earlier (two point lead with 2 minutes to go, but won by nine).
Friday5 Time:

1. What was the last song you heard?
"Just The Same" - Big Dismal

2. What were the last two movies you saw?
Loonie Tunes: Back In Action (DVD)
The Passion (Theater)

3. What were the last three things you purchased?
diet coke, #9 at McD's, gas

4. What four things do you need to do this weekend?
(1) let my wife sleep in tomorrow morning
(2) watch lots of basketbal!!!
(3) 10a-12noon - pass out fliers to invite folks to movie at CWO
(4) feed my mom's cats while they're in NC

5. Who are the last five people you talked to?
Al @ work, Vicki, Cammi, Trace, Andrea
Thursday, March 11, 2004
In one week, we're going to be taking a mini-vacation to the beach. I need some suggestions: I'd like to get one new book, one new DVD and one new CD for this trip. I'm just looking forward to the trip, to getting away, to having some time with my sweetie and away from the children - woo hoo - and being able to sleep late and be lazy. Got any ideas? Leave a comment or email me at rstilwell[at]sc[dot]rr[dot]com.
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The SEC Tournament begins today, and March Madness is officially underway in the major conferences. The Gamecocks play Arkansas about 3:00est - and I've got a good feeling that they'll take care of business this time around (lost to them a few weeks ago). I think they'll have a decent time tomorrow, too (winner plays LSU, and we've beaten them already - they've got a big guy out, I think). Then it'll probably be Kentucky on Saturday - and hopefully by then we'll be a little more sure of our chances in the NCAAs.

Yahoo! Sports - NCAA Men's Basketball - WIS TV Chooses Not To Broadcast Early Games

This is the most professional and viewer-friendly station in town, and they've got absolutely no clue as to what viewers might want to see. Only diehard fans will watch reruns of Friends and ER tonight, and I think there's reruns on Oprah and Dr. Phil this afternoon, too. But if you put on the games like this (tomorrow, WOLO is running the ACC tournament, and we don't have any truly local teams in that conferenace), then people will watch. They'll watch at work, take the afternoon off to watch, tape the broadcast to watch later - it'll pay off. But someone made a decision. Probably a Clemson fan.
Wednesday, March 10, 2004
I'm finding it difficult to wade through all the different emotions, opinions and ideas that are being evoked by THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST. Maybe that's not right. Maybe it's more that I'm having a difficult time with all the dogmatism that's coming out around the same time as the film. Same-sex marriage. Pledge of Allegiance. THE PASSION. Removing the Ten Commandments in Alabama. FCC obscenity regulations. There's alot going on out there that's forcing our hand as Christians. We're being urged to take this or that stand, to let our voices be heard, to rise against the offensiveness of the culture and the left-wing liberals and... There's more diatribe than dialogue these days, more vitriol and debate than conversation and questions. Why is that?

It seems that we're in the last days, and that people want their ears tickled. We like the rallying cry - whether it's screaming for our favorite teams in the stadiums on autumn Saturday afternoons, or standing for our rights in front of the state house, we like to gather around a vocal cause.

But Jesus was different. He was decidedly quiet the day He was being persecuted, tortured and killed. When He did speak that day, He spoke forcefully and thoughtfully. When confronted by those trying to trap Him, He asked more questions than giving answers. And it seems that when He did "fly off the handle", such as the throwing out of the moneychangers, He seemed to be in confident control of Himself, knowing the obedience would lead to the Father's purpose.

Our debates don't often have that force: the realization that the one speaking is still calm, is still purposed, is right because it's right and not because his voice is the loudest or whiniest. Jesus just seemed to have a different tack about Him. If you're right, you don't have to manipulate. If you're right, you don't have to be flowery. If you're right, you're right regardless of the backlash and consequences. It's like this: truth is absolute whether we call it "absolute truth" or not. Likewise, our debates ring more of feeling like we've got to win at all costs, instead of already
understanding that we've won.
Does anyone have an aggregator that'll fit on a blog page, feeding it RSS stuff? I'm not sure how it all works together, but I'd like to put something of a news reader down the right hand column with the latest entries from folks. I can set something up with 25 entries at My Yahoo!, but I don't use it like I do this site. I don't want to use blogrolling, and I don't usually "swap links" - I just add the links to the side that I think I'll want to read again. Having the RSS feeds might be cool. Meanwhile, I'll keep looking (thanks for prompting this, Blake - now I'll never get any sleep this week!).
CNN.com - An edgy show about God - Mar 10, 2004

"Most Christians stop their religious education in elementary school, so they approach adult problems with a childlike view that religion is all about rules, Robinson said. Joan of Arcadia' moves beyond that without being preachy, he said. 'It doesn't make God look silly or mundane. It makes God look more complicated, and that's a good thing.'"

There are three dramas we tend to watch each week: NYPD Blue, Law & Order variations, and Joan of Arcadia. The latter has made our rotation because it's good without being sappy, intelligent without talking down, and mysterious without being off its rocker.
Tuesday, March 09, 2004
CNN.com - Teacher suspended for showing 'Passion' clips - Mar 8, 2004

Read the article first. Then ask the questions.

While it might look like a man was unjustly condemned for showing portions of a "religious film" to students - at first, like cutting out parts of the Pledge of Allegiance, or removing the 10 Commandments in Alabama, something that might be protected under a freedom of speech kind of defense - there are still a couple of things wrong.Those are just the questions I come up with, mostly in response as a parent. Yes, it could be a part of a broader social studies discussion - but this was the wrong film to preview, even if there were no violent scenes shown (which means that only "teaching" and flashback scenes were shown, which is a whole 'nother religious bugaboo).

I can defend his right to show even the teaching scenes to students. But not this particular film to minors, and not this possibly illegal copy of a currently released blockbuster. Ethically, you're teaching truth while lying, teaching them to honor mom and dad while you dishonor their parents. Doesn't work for me.
I don't know if it's the internet or my laptop at this point, but everything's feeling mighty slow this morning. Might be that they're calling for SNOW again. We don't ever get snow, and really we've only had an ice storm and a little flurry or two this year. But it's March already, and it was 80F a few days ago, and here we go with snow overnight. Nuts. Someone said, "it's armageddon weather" - which is about right. If we get snowed in tomorrow morning, I'm looking for Jesus to return or for satan to start shoveling the sidewalks in hell.
Urban Legends Reference Pages: Inboxer Rebellion (Petition to Ban Religious Broadcasting)

I got this in my email inbox today, asking me to e-sign a petition to make sure the FCC wouldn't take religious broadcasting off the air. It's a hoax. There is no such legislation. If anything, the popularity of God as a cultural and financial commodity at this point in our country would probably be enough to thwart any attempts to remove the gospel from broadcasting.

I see a twofold point here. One, we as Christians are so gullible sometimes, open to "persecution", real or perceived, and we're so quick to take up arms and fight with our fellow Christians to withstand the onslaught of injustice. Even though it's not real, this letter will make its way around the globe, and we'll end up fighting a non-existent enemy while the real threats go unnoticed and un-threatened by us.

Second, we tend to fight persecution, when Jesus spoke more about loving our enemies, walking an extra mile, turning our cheek, "forgive them because they don't know what they're doing". Why are we so quick to protect our rights, to take offense when we perceive (it's not real here) that we're being put upon?

[crossposting from javabeans]
Monday, March 08, 2004
"Being and making disciples in authentic community for the good of the world" - purpose statement of Cedar Ridge Community Church

I'm listening to a recent sermon from CRCC's Senior Pastor, Brian McLaren. He's talking about how encouragement plays such a strong role in the community of faith. I'm not usually much of an encourager. Most of the time I'm pretty harsh, especially on my kids. But you'd be amazed how much benefit comes from just smiling and encouraging them to do the right thing, rather than yelling and demanding obedience.

McLaren uses the passages from the OT where Moses is told that he's not going to enter the Promised Land, but instead he's supposed to be an encourager to Joshua as he leads the people instead. Not only would Moses not finish the job he'd started, but he was also responsible to make sure the next generation of leaders was encouraged and ready for the task at hand.

Just rambling.

We are to be "an alternative social construct" where all kinds of people are welcomed and accepted and loved. Taking a look at the postscripts at the end of most of Paul's letters, McLaren points out that there are so many different people greeted and noticed there. Perhaps as Christians we get too judgmental, leaving behind mercy and grace - perhaps not. But I know that when I'm loved and accepted, I'm probably more inclined to jump in with both feet - isn't that the same for everyone more or less? People have questions. People feel distant from God. Can I live out answers, helping people find better questions? And can I be someone that makes people feel closer to God, not so removed and aloof? Can that be done while still being used to bring conviction and repentance to a world that's lost and in need of a Savior?

I've been fairly discouraged the past few days and weeks (not fishing for pity here, honest). I unsubscribed from a few email lists this morning - the discussions weren't doing anything for me, and I felt like I wasn't able to add anything helpful to what was going on. A couple of the moderators wrote to me this morning, making sure everything was okay. I can honestly say that the personal emails from real people really caring has meant more than all the theological conversations going on back on their lists.

My wife is an encouragement to me, even as she takes on so much of the burden of the household stuff. I want to be more of an encouragement to her and to the kids. We live day after day, wondering whether what we're doing is worthwhile, and hopefully encouraging each other to press on, to work hard, to obey and live righteously. Those are things that are more and more necessary in our marriages and homes. When I see her smile, or hear my kids laugh - I'm uplifted, and joy floods my soul in a way that needs to be experienced, not just talked about.

Just rambling.
I heard something over the weekend that struck me: "God is responsible for the consequences of your obedience." I think it was a John Piper sermon, but I'm not sure. But it made me stop and think about that without really listening to alot of what followed, you know?

I'm in a mode of thought, probably beginning back in January with my obsession with the word "humility", that's got me thinking about what's worthwhile in my life. Not beating myself up over anything, just taking a hard look at what I do, what I say and write, how I conduct my stuff, and asking "what's all this worth in the end?" And as the Father calls us to obedience, He's responsible for the consequences of my whole-hearted following. The flipside is probably true, too - I am the one responsible for the consequences of my own disobedience. But being led by the Spirit, He's got my back. That's so cool - and challenges & encourages me to make sure I'm doing something worthwhile with my life.
Sunday, March 07, 2004

It's really windy here this evening. On the Weather Channel, the scroll along the bottom says that we're having gusts over 50 mph, that the winds are non-tornadic, that they're being caused by rapidly changing wind patterns and air masses. Right now, it's 55F at 9:48pm - tomorrow's high temp is only supposed to be 60F. So we get wind. My wife called to ask if we were having tornadoes - I got to use the word "non-tornadic". Woo hoo.

I'm beginning to read John Piper's DON'T WASTE YOUR LIFE. Generally written to someone far younger, still looking to make life-decisions like college/career/etc - I'm finding that I'm challenged by the thought of making sure my life counts, making sure it's not wasted. Life is such a rut sometimes, and even when it's moving at a good clip, is it meaningful? Life is often "non-tornadic", and when it does get a little stormy we don't know what to do. I want to stir up some currents, float on some gale force winds, in a way that matters and has an impact beyond me crashing into something solid. Ouch.

What else happened today? Pastor and I taught the LifeVISION class at CWO. Three ladies and assorted teenagers came to find out what we're all about. It was a good class. People come from such varying backgrounds, various experiences, various hurts and triumphs. When God brings people together into "one body", that's cool. And to continue the "theme", I hope that they find a "non-tornadic" place to rest awhile, to serve a little, and then to re-launch into new storms and adventures.

[photo note: that's my daughter, being non-tornadic]
Saturday, March 06, 2004
BILLBOARD: Manilow Marches Onto 'American Idol'

Don't tell my mom.
Best quote/thought I've read concerning the Martha Stewart verdicts:I was thinking about something along the lines of all the cells at the federal prison getting new doilies. His line was better.
Friday, March 05, 2004
CNN.com is reporting that Martha Stewart has been found guilty on all four counts against her. The same reports are coming from NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, Fox, Bloomberg, Vanity Fair, TV Guide, Nickelodeon and TBN.

The sentencing trial will be covered on E!, Inside Edition, 60 Minutes and SNL.

With so much going on in the world, it's always amazing to me how celebrity can steal the spotlight. Martha Stewart acted on insider information was found guilty of conspiracy, obstrustion and dishonesty, something that's right up there with the problems at Enron, WorldComm and the Yankees. But at the same time, nothing of this situation touches the "regular people" of this planet, except those who are looking forward to her show tomorrow on preparing the perfectly timeless Easter dinner. So is this a big deal because of her celebrity, because she's a known name with a known brand? Or is it a big deal because we're all shallow, and watching other similarly shallow people get theirs is our favorite national pastime?

News at 6pm, 7pm and 11pm. Jokes on the late night shows.
UPDATE ON WIFE'S EYES: She's doing fine, thanks very much. We went to the ophthamologist this morning, and he said it's already healing very well. She's not patched anymore, meaning a return of depth perception - but still no driving. She is teaching today, being a professional on a Friday when there were really no more subs to cover her classes. I'll pick up her and the kids after school, and we'll be full swing into the weekend - woo hoo. Thanks for the kind words and prayers.

And no, she didn't share.
The Friday5 is back - here's today's inquisition:

What was...

1. ...your first grade teacher's name?
I had at least two, maybe three first grade classes - we moved to Charlotte, NC from Hickory, NC and while I was in Charlotte, a new teacher was hired and I went to her class. I think she was Ms. Myers, but wouldn't put money on it.

2. ...your favorite Saturday morning cartoon?
** Superfriends

3. ...the name of your very first best friend?
From back then? Don't remember - we were moving with Dad getting transferred. I'd probably have to say my brother, or Kyle, who I met when we moved to Columbia in second grade.

4. ...your favorite breakfast cereal?
** Alpha Bits and Frosted Flakes

5. ...your favorite thing to do after school?
** We got off the bus in front of a convenience store. If I saved a quarter from lunch, I could get an ice cream to eat on the way home.
Thursday, March 04, 2004
Batman Hype! - The latest Batman news and rumors

Spoiler info on the upcoming Batman Begins film. Hmmm...
Eye Conditions > Corneal Abrasion -- EyeMDLink.com

We've spent the morning trying to find out what's wrong with my wife's eye. She's okay now, sleeping and medicated. Why don't they give the other spouse some of that stuff?

Anyway, we went to the ER first, where they took a look before referring her to the ophthamologist. There, he said she seemed to have an abrasion on her eye - but she can't remember anything more than the eye just getting kind of cloudy yesterday, and then having sharp pain and being unable to open it this morning.

Right now, it's patched, ointment-ed, and she's resting. You never really know how much you need your eyes until you don't have them to use, huh?
Wednesday, March 03, 2004
"Most churches rarely attract unbelievers to their services because members are uncomfortable bringing them to church. It doesn’t matter how much the pastor encourages members to bring friends or how many visitation programs are launched, the results are the same: Most members never bring any lost friends to church.

"Why is this? There are three important reasons. First, the target of the messages is unpredictable. Members don’t know from week to week if the pastor will be preaching an evangelistic message or an edification message. Second, the services are not designed for unbelievers; so much of what goes on in them would not be understandable to an unchurched friend. Third, members may be embarrassed by the quality of the service."
- Rick Warren, Saddleback Sayings
Ministry Toolbox Newsletter 03/03/2004

Can I say that the three reasons given here are good ones, but they're a little off for what I needed answers for. Pastor and I were talking this morning about how infrequently we see or hear someone be totally excited about coming to CWO. Most of us are on board for the long haul, but there's a skiddishness about inviting others - and from what I can see it's not in one of the three reasons given above.

Taking care of Warren's first two statements, the messages are firstly fairly predictable - strong, Bible-centric, challenging. Most Sundays the emphasis will be on teaching the flock, but one Sunday a month, like this coming 03/07, is expressly evangelistic. We usually know what's coming (the second reason above), and that's the reason many of us are attending as it is.

Thirdly, I don't know that anyone's embarassed by the quality of the service, though there might be an embarassment as to just how strong and challenging the service times generally unfold. That's a different thing, almost a fear of inviting anyone for seeing how they'll react to the long worship times, the louder music, the longer preaching and the pointed message and call for repentance. While much of it "might not be understandable to an unchrched friend," I think it might be that it is understandable, and we feel that others will be turned off.

Now, my question would be: are we going somewhere that we think might scare other people away? And if that's the case, are we nuts?

Stole this from LJ - good stuff.
NO ONE ASKED :: editorial by Burke Wallace, RELEVANT magazine

"No one asked for my thoughts. Maybe I need to be louder, or maybe my opinion doesn’t fit in. It’s not the typical conservative Christian answer, nor is it acceptable to the gay agenda, who would have people like me silenced if they could. I don’t support gay marriage. I’m still trying to figure out what role the state plays in marriage in the first place. Is it a matter of semantics? I do support civil unions. Even a homosexual deserves equal treatment. The logical conclusion of homosexuality being wrong does not mean that we should withhold benefits from those wishing to pursue it. While I may not agree with their lifestyle, if they do not know the faith we profess (Heb 4:14), how can they be held to the same standard?"
Do you really get excited about your church? Do I?

God has me serving in this place, Columbia World Outreach, for a reason and a purpose. But do I have real joy, real passion about going to church, serving at church, worshiping together? Being real honest - no.

Confession time: I usually dread Sunday mornings. I really really love Saturday's because we try really hard to keep the calender clear, to sleep in a little and relax a lot, to spend time together as a family. But Sunday mornings are like Mondays, because we've got to get up at about the same time as we do during the work week, and there's more to do because I've got to get to the copier early, get the laptop ready for music, get prepared for the adult bible study. My wife feels rushed and put upon because I blitz through the house and run out the door, leaving her with the kids and breakfast and still getting there on time, too. It's a hassle that's worth it, but a hassle nonetheless. It's no longer an adventure - it's a job.

Three options come to mind: (1) keep doing it this way and hope it gets better; (2) stop going to CWO - either find another church or stop altogether; or (3) re-focus on God in such a way that His joy is our strength. We've been doing (1) long enough, and (2) is just not an option if we're going to be obedient at this point in time. Besides, option (2) doesn't solve the problem, which is probably closer to what (3) is about - and moving on without being more joyful in Christ alone means that we drag this same problem to another congregation.

This thought, of course, runs headlong into the post from yesterday, that I'm to boast only in the cross, seek my joy only in following Christ. At church, I do what I have to do, and by the time I leave I feel good for having attended and participated - but where's the joy?
Tuesday, March 02, 2004
I'm working from home today, listening to John Piper at the kitchen table. It's the DVD of the first OneDay, from Memphis, TN in May 2000. I attended that with Scott, flying out of Columbia and doing it in style instead of the tents and raincoats of all the college students looking for adventure.

I bought the DVD as soon as it came out, because that one day had really spoken to me. There's something about sitting on a hillside with a few thousand of your "closest friends" - worshipping God and listening to Him proclaimed. And as I re-listen to this message, "Boast Only In The Cross", I am once again challenged to pursue Christ and Christ alone. I am almost twice as old now as the students he was really preaching to that day, and I'm struck by how I'm still living more for myself, more for my dreams, more for my stuff than for Jesus and the manifestation of His Kingdom in our midst.

I don't want to live a life that ends with me saying to the Creator: "Well, I prayed and lived for you, and I collected all these DVDs. I kept my blog up-to-date, and I wrote alot of email. I bought a nice house and got out of debt, sort of. All for Your glory, Lord."

Piper preaches, "Don't buy it! Don't buy that dream! The American Dream... collecting [stuff]."

Maybe this speaks into me today because of THE PASSION last week. Maybe it's because Piper is calling us to boast in the cross, and that imagery is still so vivid for me - watching Christ not only die, but also interact with real people in their real moments. We are usually so caught up in our own stuff that we don't have real time to pay attention to the needs of folks around us. And here's Christ, in the fullness of time, accomplishing the most incredible thing in history and eternity - and He still reaches out to the people around Him.

I pray I can be like that. I pray that I can be open to the Spirit's prompting, obedient to His course. And I pray that I not only boast in the cross, but that I live out its selflessness as the Kingdom is ushered in.
CNN.com - Dick Clark sued for age discrimination - Mar. 2, 2004

This is nuts. I'm not a big fan of Dick Clark, but he pretty much looks like he did 20 years ago on American Bandstand. The plaintiff is two years older, and probably looks a whole lot older than Clark - like most people over seventy. But to take offense at what was written (bottom of the article) ... why are we so quick to be offended? Why are we so fast to assume we're being dissed and it's a bad thing. I read the reply and come away thinking that he's might be right, he's the boss and can do what he wants, or at least that Clark doesn't know what he's missing in not hiring "me". But to file suit - who whizzed in his cereal that morning to get that ball rolling?
Monday, March 01, 2004

One year anniversary for the magazine, two years to the website. Way to go, Cameron & Co.!
CNN.com - A perfect, golden 'Rings'

LOTR:ROTK swept last night's Oscar Awards - well-deserved, and probably an acknowledgement of all three movies in the series. Overall, I thought it was a decent show this year. Billy Crystal was funny, and the glamour was more class than crass. Now if we can just do something to get Joan Rivers off the street for that one night....

What made the LOTR trilogy a masterwork? I think it's because they stayed true to the story, letting the tale-to-be-told drive the special effects and action, not vice versa. A good story can take alot of the burden off the movie, and this one has had the added feature of being well-read and well-understood for a couple of generations. When action and effects take over the plotline, you're left with a documentary on action and effects. When that happens, maybe there wasn't enough story to continue on in the first place (e.g., the 2nd and 3rd MATRIX films).

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