rick & 1j13
Saturday, July 31, 2004
Photo Friday

The topic this week was "sunset", and it looked like everyone was posting pictures of... sunsets. All very pretty, but we don't have any real scenic views that are easy to get to for this one. But there's a Sunset Drive and a Sunset Blvd in town, and my sweetie had time to drive around and snap this one.
This Day in History 07/31/1556
  • This Day in History: "IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA DIES"
    Ignatius' The Spiritual Exercises is rich for meditation on Christ and our role as Christians. I've only read second-hand accounts from people who've studied them, and I might need to take up the cause myself.
  • Friday, July 30, 2004
    More Than A Tool
    Real Live Preacher posted "There's Something About The Way You Use The Bible" - and he's right on. We reduce the scriptures to a guidebook, or a rulebook used to correct ourselves and others - when we might be better off living in relationship with Christ and letting that interaction then speak Life into us through the pages of the book on my nightstand....
    Peace & Quiet
  • my morning commute
  • watching the sunrise
  • listening to waves
  • watching a baby sleep
  • listening to rain on a metal roof
  • sleep
  • an empty room
  • reading a good book
  • checking email
  • fishing
  • prayer in the woods
  • evening walk
  • classical music
  • the lull after a tickle fight with the kids
  • hum of the air conditioner
  • blogging, more or less
  • smiling
  • time right after turning the mower off
  • waiting patiently
  • writing a letter with real paper & pencil
  • hot shower
  • crickets & frogs
  • laughter in the distance
  • fog
  • snowy afternoon
  • sitting on the couch with my wife
  • turning off the election coverage on television
  • Thursday, July 29, 2004
    Writings Of The Founders
  • John Locke: Second Treatise of Civil Government
  • BenjaminRush.com
  • Declaration Of Independence - a brief history
  • Samuel Adams
  • The Declaration of Independence - ushistory.org
    The Village
  • CNN.com - Review: 'The Village' Shyamalan's best film yet - Jul 29, 2004

    I. cannot. wait. for. the. opening. Friday. 07/30. Woo. hoo.
    Thursday Tidbits
  • Blogs4GOD Birthday - woo hoo!
    I appreciate all the things Dean and Co. do to keep the blogs listed and cached each week. I'm not much of a participant anymore, but it's cool to see that people still peruse through the Journals listing and visit this site from time to time. Stop over there and wish them a HBD, and tell Dean I sent ya!

  • Bruderhof Saving Childhood Forum - When is advertising to children unethical?
    As a parent, I'm finding that one of the hardest things to do in "training a child in the way he should go" (Prov. 22:6) is teaching our kids to make wise choices when it comes to advertising. How do you teach them that Nickelodeon is simply trying to manipulate their desires towards the advertisers onscreen. How do I teach that to myself?

  • RELEVANT magazine :: The Church - The 3rd Party - "Last election, I voted straight Green Party. It’s an impossible dream, true, but when I vote, I want to at least reflect my ideals rather than the practicality of them" (Myles Werntz).
    Hmmm... The Christian Party. Would that be a viable alternative? Or do we already have so much emotionally invested in the Republican Party that a new more-Christian organization would be the same thing? Here's another good quote:
      Hauerwas writes in his Resident Aliens that the choice between candidates is often a false one, because we as the church make the false assumption that we must get openly Christian candidates into office, or legislate Christian morality in order for things to be good. Rather, Hauerwas says that the Church must be determined to offer a distinctly Christian alternative to the culture, regardless of the political state of the union. With that in mind, does it matter who I vote for?
    I knew there had to be someone as whacked out as me on all this.
  • Wednesday, July 28, 2004
    Back to Work
    Today's going to be a good day, but only if I get busy and get things done. One of the problems with being out a few days is that the work doesn't stop around you. I've got some catching up to do, starting with a way-too-early conference call this morning. Then tonight I'm supposed to be doing movie night with Scott - maybe Anchorman, maybe Dodgeball - but not until I catch up on some things here. The Family's home, unpacking & playing & helping Nanny get re-settled at home (finally returning home after hip-replacement surgery 07/08). I guess we're all busy, all trying to catch up, and all hoping to have a little R&R time this evening.

    We need a vacation from that vacation :) - really enjoyed it, really relaxed, and really need to get to work.
    Tuesday, July 27, 2004
    Tough to Vote
  • Why Christians Should Not Vote for George W. Bush
    This is a very political week in USAmerica, and I'm enjoying the Democratic Convention from Boston. I enjoy listening to rhetoric, trying to hear what they're saying and what they're *really* saying. I can't morally vote for John Kerry & John Edwards, since they and the political platform they represent are in so many ways opposed to what I hold as right: being pro-abortion, pro-homosexual agenda (where the "civil rights" appear to be "extra rights", undermining the democratic appeal of equal rights for all by giving special rights to a few). But those are not the only issues I am looking at, as I've stated here before. I think the Democrats do bring social issues to the table, like poverty, the environment and education reform.

    Then there's this article linked above, outlining some of the moral questions in voting as Christians to re-elect President Bush. I can't vote for him either, having a problem with the "theology of empire" (from Jim Wallis, this month's Sojourners) that has taken our moral legs out from under us in our dealings with Iraq and around the world.

    I'm left looking for a candidate, perhaps for a party, with three months to go before the election.
    Home Again
    We're home again - hooray - and I'm really really tired. The past two days I've fallen asleep in the afternoon. I enjoy a good nap, but I rarely get one, and when I do it's usually planned. Not these - I fell asleep yesterday afternoon in the hotel room, waking to find a note that the family had gone to one of the attractions and that I could meet them in a hour. Today, after the long trek home, I spread on the couch thinking about what kind of welcome-home-pizza we were going to order, and fell asleep again. I don't mind getting old, getting tired, needing a little extra rest. But tomorrow I go back to work - and they tend to frown on snoring in the cubicle forest!

    We had a great time. I'm looking forward to the kids getting a little bit older & having a little more history and science in school so that we can enjoy some of that aspect in the places we visit. They got along really well, and Vicki and I had no major problems with attitude or whininess - well, maybe from me a little. We also enjoyed some really good rates and saved a few dollars, and in buying a season membership we can go back a few times this next year and explore together again.

    Pictures from the trip posted here - woo hoo.
    Sunday, July 25, 2004
    It was really hot yesterday, but there's a breeze to move the humidity around a bit today. We've been to the Purina Dog Show, to the top of Stone Mountain, and to the Great Barn. Still looking for that Starbucks trip though.

    Stone Mountain
    We arrived yesterday afternoon - very long drive with two getting-bored-and-more-bored children in the back. But it was a good drive, and we were all glad to finally get to Stone Mountain Park. We went to the Barn first - basically, a three-story sponge ball attack game. You're supposed to be gathering the balls and doing things that would build points on the computer system, but instead of picking up the "fruit", people are throwing them at each other and shooting them through air tubes from all three levels. More fun than it sounds, but hotter than it needs to be in July. We went swimming for about an hour after that, and then it was back down to one of the over-priced/long-wait restaurants in the park. It was good, not that over-priced, and the sweet potato fries were really really good. After that, back to the hotel room to watch a DVD and wait for the firworks at the end of the laser show.

    Today, we've got all day in the park - no need to drive anywhere, except maybe a jaunt around the mountain to the resort on the other side and its Starbucks Cafe. We're going to go down to the Treehouse, where boys are pitted against girls in games and computer stuff. Later on, we'll come back and swim a bit, find a frappachino & sandwiches for lunch, and then maybe take a train ride or go to the top of the mountain this afternoon. It's cupposed to be cooler today, and if it's even just a little less humid it'll be much more bearable.
    Saturday, July 24, 2004
    Photo Friday

    My wife does so much around here, and still finds time to smile. Our daughter would do well to learn from her mom how to live and serve, and how to enjoy the moment when you can.
    Friday, July 23, 2004
    Netflix for Accessories
  • Bag Borrow or Steal
    Please, please - do not tell my wife and/or daughter about this.
    [link via kathryn]
    Real Power
  • MSNBC - Enough of NASCAR dads, soccer moms: "Howard Stern, blogs and voter virgins hold the key"
    That's what I'm talking about.
    It's been a long week:
  • My wife has been in class
  • Our kids have had to get up early for day camp
  • I had that sick day Wednesday
  • Mother-in-law continuing treatment post-hip replacement
  • Getting ready/packed for upcoming vacation

    I don't think I appreciate that it's Friday quite yet, because almost all-of-the-above is still in progress. From this early point in our day, it still looks extremely busy. But things will slowly fall off the list throughout the day, like weights being taken off the scales that have stacked up against us.
  • Thursday, July 22, 2004
    Going to Church?
    I don't know why it bothers me that we're not meeting tonight for CWO's Midweek POWERhouse services. We had scheduled a discussion/forum in conjunction with our month-long journey to "Reclaim America". I don't know why the forum was/is important for me tonight, since I felt like I was one against the crowd the last time we did this - but I was looking forward to it, if only to listen and not cause a rift again. I think any time we can come together for open discussion is a good thing, both affirming and challenging each other towards godliness in community.

    I understand why we're cancelling this evenings activities. It'll be a busy weekend, with our church heading to Daughter of Zion Church in Eastover to worship with them, lead in some conferences and such. My family is leaving on vacation and we won't be attending the other church or our own this weekend, so I don't feel like I've got a say in that - and it was a decision made among the pastors and leaders who will be there and will be busy all weekend. It will be a good thing, joining with another local body to lift each other up.

    But since we were going to be away for the weekend, I was looking forward to tonight. I like going to church, and I love the people. They're family, and you don't look for excuses to not gather when you love your family. Like I said, I understand and I don't disagree - it's just that there's a hole in my schedule that's bigger than just the missed time together.
    "Failure of Imagination"
  • CNN.com - 911 panel report: 'We must act' - Jul 22, 2004
    My statement is bold and highly generalized, but no less true in my opinion: Every sermon from every pulpit this weekend should have this ploclamation as its title, "Failure of Imagination". On so many levels, the weaknesses within the administration that allowed the tragedies of 9/11 to take place are also a major part of the problem confronting the church in USAmerica right now.

    [9/11 Commission Executive Summary pdf]
    Emerging Church Travelogue
  • The Portico: Rodger Sellers' Travel Logs
    I wanted to make sure I saved this link off for further reading as he gets closer to home. Rodger is taking a trip through the country, visiting and studying emerging churches and conversations and reporting to those in his home community so they can move forward. That's so cool - wonder if he needs someone to travel next summer on the follow-up tour?
    [link via Doug Pagitt's blog]
  • Wednesday, July 21, 2004
    Church Signs
    I just couldn't pass this up. I was surfing around and came across a site I'd enjoyed before - the Church Sign Generator. This time, I actually came through a link to the page of real church sign photos from around the country. Too funny.

    Of course, I had to generate my own sign:

    Homeless Website?
  • U.S. Newswire - Labor Department Launches Web Site to Help the Homeless
    This is wonderful. I expect to see homeless people all over the country booting up their laptops to get to this website, filmed for broadcast on FoxNews tonight after Hannity & Colmes.

    I spent today at home getting over a stomach flu bug (eeww, and let's leave it at that). I've slept most of the day, and have successfully avoided much of the typical daytime TV fodder. That story just jumped out at me - kinda like setting up a Dasani Water Bottling plant in Death Valley.
  • Tuesday, July 20, 2004
    There's alot going on right now, and it's only going to get busier before it calms back into a school/work/church rhythm in a few weeks:

  • My mother-in-law's having problems with her hip replacement. There's an infection in the incision - thankfully not in the replacement area itself - and the nurses and techs are having a tough time putting in a port for the antibiotics. She's in a rehab center and being very well cared for, but it's hard for her personality-wise to wait and follow orders and not be in charge. And that weighs on my wife, who can't be there and can't do anything beyond the medical professionals to make things better.
  • My wife can't be with her mom as much because of a class she's taking this week at USC. So far, she's not impressed. I hope it turns out to be something that is beneficial, since it's taking so much time from her mom and from the kids.
  • We're going on vacation soon, so that just adds a little more hectic-ness to the schedule as we pack, get the automobile ready for the long drive, set-up who's going to feed and water the pets, etc.
  • And I've got a headache, all over - blah feeling and achy is not a good thing when I need to wrestle kids to bed at night.
  • But on a positive note, the kids are loving it at their Day Camp this week. Since my wife's got class, they're attending an all-day camp at our old church up the street. They keep them busy - today was Messy Day - and so far they're having a blast. With school starting in a few weeks, it's been good to go ahead and get them into the routine of earlier bedtimes and earlier wake-up calls.

    All that to say: it's busy around here, and there's need for much prayer, for healing, for rest, for peace in the journey. And each night as we pray with the kids before bed, I ask that God will fill us with love for each other, and that we'll just enjoy being together and lifting up the Lord.
    Tuesday3 07/20/04
    Over on the 1J13 Email List, we congregate every week for the TUESDAY3, and today it's spilling over into blogdom. Feel free to answer - in the comments, or leave a comment that you've got answers at your site. Thanks for playing!

    1) What's the last thing you listened to on the radio?

    2) What's the last program you watched on TV?

    3) What's the last thing you prayed?

    My responses:
    1. Morning Sedition
    2. Today Show
    3. "Lord, help me be thankful today..."
    Monday, July 19, 2004
    Dateline: Metropolis
  • CNN.com - 'X-Men' director to take on 'Superman' - Jul 19, 2004
    Sweet. Bryan Singer's going to take over here, and if he does as good a job with the DC character as he has with the Marvel X-Men, this is going to be good. If he ends up dropping out, at least get Sam Raimi to stand next in line (director of Spider-Man flicks).
    One of the things I notice in my life right now is a lack of gratitude. I'm not a very thankful person, at least from my perspective. I don't know why - there's so much to be thankful for, and so many people who are such integral parts of my life. I'm just not generally one to give voice or real action to my "thank you".

    I'm challenged by At The Feet Of Jesus, by Brian Shipman, where in Chapter 7 he shares the story of the ten lepers healed by Jesus (Luke 17:11-19). He weaves a very good anointed-imagination version of the story that stretches more than the nine verses, but the gist is at the center of everything Jesus taught. There were ten lepers in need of healing, and they believed Jesus as the Son of God could heal their disease and uncleanness. Jesus told all ten to go present themselves to the priest, the liturgical thing to do so that their healing could be confirmed by the man of God. As they turned to go to the priest, they were not healed, but as they went and followed Christ's command, they were healed. Their obedience seems to have opened the door for healing, with all ten men cleansed before God and man.

    But only nine continued to the priest, while one turned back to worship Jesus. Nine of them were obedient, and one of them actually disobeyed in coming back to fall at the feet of the One who had healed him completely. Nine went ahead to the priest so that official confirmation from the religious establishment could bless them as clean. They were obeying Christ to the letter of His "command" to go to the priest. But this one "disobedient" man ran back to worship Jesus in deep gratitude and joy.

    The relationship can never take the backseat to obedience. True whole-hearted obedience will only flow out of true whole-hearted relationship with the Father. Obedience cannot be an excuse for not growing in relationship, and the relationship cannot be an excuse for disobedience. Somewhere in here, I need to obey, and I need to be thankful, and I need to be so thankful that I find myself even more obedient. The other nine were obedient, but only to the establishment, only to themselves, only to make themselves proper and justified. But the grateful one wanted to worship; the thankful one needed to go back and thank Jesus. The relationship, and realizing Who had done this more than What had been done, was the most important thing to him.

    That's what I'm trying to get my mind & spirit around today, that following Him for the relationship is more important than following Him for the obedience and for what He can do for me. If Jesus did not bless, if He did not heal, if He did not save - He would still be God and still be worthy of our praise and our gratitude (Daniel 3).
    Maybe I'm a Constituionalist? A little to heavy-leaning towards states' rights for me, but otherwise Peroutka says some sound things, superficially at least. More research needed.

    Sunday, July 18, 2004
    About Sam
    Surfing around the 'net, I came across the news of Sam C's impending cancer treatment. Sam is 4-yrs-old, and his mom & dad are going through it right now. Lift them up.
    Sunday Morning Morality & Politics
    Here's an audio page for Tavis Smiley, where Jim Wallis of Sojo.net was interviewed with Jerry Falwell on the values that are important to them in this year's election. Nothing like a little debate to get the juices flowing, huh?

    Also, I received this link from a friend - makes me think twice about my upcoming flights to Puerto Rico in the fall. It's scary when whatever form of government or security we have in place can be used against us to just bring fear into our lives, to just terrorize us. Love casts out fear - and I'm still looking for how that would fit into a national security plan.
    Saturday, July 17, 2004
    Saturday Thinkin'
    Watching the weather this morning, waiting to see if it's going to rain or not. Rain is good, keeping the normally mid-90s July heat subside to the mid-80s. But not raining would be good this morning, too: my Dad wants to take T-boy and I to play mini-golf up the street. Hard to putt while it's pouring down though.

    Vicki is at the church already, getting ready for FashionShare. Ladies from the community will be treated to a fashion show and free clothing - not the cheapy stuff you're looking to empty from your closet, but nice things for business, job interviews, some casual wear, etc. They're going to have a wonderful and exhausting day.

    “We believe God is calling us to find our place of meeting in Christ rather than with those who agree with us in order to stand against those who disagree with us.” - Hugo's blog, via Knowtown

    Hmmm... that's good. Don't know what to do with it, but it rings true to me in a variety of ways. In context, it's a snippet from a Mennonite Conference's bylaws, recognizing that we're not always going to agree on substantive matters and that we still need to lovingly live as the Body of Christ. With all I've been whining about lately, I needed the challenge to find and live in the common ground of our mutual need for Christ and mutual calling to kingdom-life with Him.

    "New York had 400 Jews in 1825 and 40,000 by 1860. In other words, it was a serious chore to get a decent bagel on the Lower East Side during the Jackson presidency." - Salim @ Instant Replay

    Thought that was a great line, too.

    I'm in the middle of a couple of books right now:
  • Founding Brothers, Joseph J. Ellis - Really readable style, very readable, won a Pulitzer while sharing some of the conversations and compromises made by men who knew each other, who loved and died for/with each other, and who knew they were doing something of lasting significance in establishing USAmerica.
  • Perpetua: a Bride, a Passion, a Martyr, Amy Rachel Peterson - Not as readable, but fairly interesting fictionalized account of a real girl coming to know Jesus and being killed for it.
  • Ironic Christian's Companion, Patrick Henry - Easy to read, and challenging to me personally, seeing grace in some weird and off-the-beaten-path ways.

    All that... and I need to watch Big Fish today so I can send it back to Netflix. Whew - so how's your Saturday?
  • Friday, July 16, 2004
    Friday Night w/ Daddy
    I am the best dad in the whole world. Vicki's got women's outreach stuff at church, so I am Daddy-man tonight. Just ordered our evening meal - pizza & a DVD from Papa John's. We'll be playing SceneIt Jr. before the pizza even has time to get cold.

    I am the man.
    Photo Friday

    This is from T's class trip to Kiawah Island this past May.

    Agreeable Disagreement
  • Holding It Together, Sojourners Magazine/May-June 1999
  • Sojo.net - Election Issues

    It seems that the only two issues being fought today by Christians are related to homosexuality and same-sex marriage and the continuing fight against abortion (there also might be a third cause - defending the Bush Administration against liberals - but I don't think it's reached the level of the first two yet). If you stand against same-sex unions and against abortion, you can have our votes - that appears to be the evangelical agenda in this country as we get closer to election time.

    The site/links above are from a "progressive" Christian site/magazine, and they tend to ask the other tough questions that the Christian Right doesn't. Liberal or conservative, at least they're taking a different stance than most. I want to ask more questions of our candidates, not stopping with abortion and gay rights, but also asking about the problems with the war in Iraq, injustices in the prison abuse scandals, sweeping poverty that still effects too many people, environmental concerns that seem to be pushed aside too often, etc.

    VOTE, and be informed and well-rounded as you head to the polls this November 2.
    [Let me say first that I *know* I'm not alone - it's just that in the midst of it all, the sweeping generalization makes more sense emotionally...]

  • I did not want to get bogged down in politics this year, but was chastised on not wanting to vote. So I became one of the most politically-minded people I know - and find myself alone because I still don't want to vote and now I'm better prepared to explain why.
  • I try to ask more questions than give answers, and I hope I'm a good listener. That's my native tendency and worldview, I guess. But when confronted with the thought that no one knows where I stand on "the issues" and on the important things of life - and if you're not standing for something you'll fall for anything, right? - I worked hard to write out my beliefs and "my stand". Again, I find myself alone, with no one wanting to discuss what are apparently paradoxical and possibly wrong(?)views.
  • I occasionally post thoughts to the 1J13 email list, and I've noticed that if I post things of substance, like on forgiveness, stem cell research or the failed marriage amendment, I might get one or two responses from the others on the list. But if I ask "what color are you?" in the Tuesday3, fifteen or so responses fly back and forth. What's up with that?

    I was talking to my wife the other night, and she gave me some wise thoughts to think in my contemplative mood. Am I driven to please men? Or rather, am I driven by a fear of man or what others think of me? I don't think so, but in looking at the evidence above, maybe that's at least part of it. Where I thought I was trying to do a better job of communicating, maybe I was asking folks to like me, to agree with me, to just accept me as I am... I don't know. And if I'm reacting out of a fear, is there a subsequent lack of love somewhere on my part - since love should be casting out fear in my life in Christ (1 John 4:18; 1 Peter 2:17)?
  • Thursday, July 15, 2004
    Passing Judgment
    Life is never as bad as you think it is, and it's never going as well as you think it is, either. I was talking to someone yesterday, and she was commenting on how there are so many people who are so much worse off than she is. In her own pain and circumstances, she's still comparing herself to others and seeing that her own situation isn't so bad.

    But I wanted to tell her that we still can't compare things like that from our limited perspectives. While I might look down on a man having problems with his children in the store, I can't stand in judgment - I don't know that his son might be dealing with a painful inner earache and that's shy he's throwing a fit. Or that maybe his wife left him and he's just doing the best he can. Or that he might actually be looking at me and looking down on me since I'm overweight and while I'm saying "poor man", he's saying "poor man" right back.

    Just thinking out loud. Jesus said not to judge, lest you be judged, and that whatever measure we use to judge others, that same measure will be used back on us. In the context of forgiveness (Matt 7:1-5; Luke 6:35-38), maybe the "measure we should use" in judging others is mercy. We are so quick to demand justice for those who are wrong, and so quick to look for mercy for our own mistakes. But if we were to judge with forgiveness in mind, perhaps we'd also be quicker to receive the forgiveness of others.

    I'm just rambling, but I think I go on the defensive when confronted with my own life - because I am being offensive in my own judgments of others when I think they are wrong, and I expect them to be offensive in their own judgments of me. I am being judged as I judge, or at least that's my perception. Would I be better able to take criticism if I stopped being so critical? Would I be better equipped to repent if I'm also doing a better job of being forgiving towards those around me? Hmmmm...
    Wednesday, July 14, 2004
    Marriage Amendment & Stem Cells
  • CNN.com - Marriage amendment expected to die in Senate - Jul 14, 2004
  • CNN.com - McCain: Same-sex marriage ban is un-Republican - Jul 14, 2004

    I'm conflicted. I know that something probably needs to be done, but either this is too much, as McCain is saying, or it's not nearly enough. The "sanctity of marriage" is an ideal that's not an actuality at a national and cultural level, as observed in the divorce rates, the number of out-of-wedlock pregnancies, the statistics on abuse, etc. This is a case where the legislation would probably not make the population any more moral. How can we as a nation promote the desired idyllic values in a way that real people make real life changes?

  • Yahoo! News - Government to Open 'Stem Cell Bank'

    From the general research I've done into all of this, I like the way this is going right now. I'm curious to see how or if this plays out in the coming days leading up to the major party conventions.
  • Tuesday, July 13, 2004
    Family Politics
  • CNN.com - Bush twins break silence - Jul 13, 2004

    What should scare me is that I'd probably vote for Barbara & Jenna before their father.
    1 Thessalonians 5:17
    Praying for Sam, and for Rudy & Kafi.
    A Parable of Questions
    Once upon a time, there was a village in the highlands where everyone spoke in questions. Whether it was the particular lilt of their accents or not, no one is sure - but every sentence ended distinctly higher pitched, the perfect place for a question mark. A typical conversation would be as follows:There was much conversation, and also much frustration - it is difficult to speak in questions all the time. But they managed.

    One day, a stranger entered the town. This man had a different way of talking - no questions, just statements. Statements all over the place. He sounded so sure of himself, with all of his sentences seeming to end in the proper flatness of a solitary period, his accent and dialect being so very different from their own. Everyone was amazed - still talking in questions, here was a man who seemed to have all of the answers.

    For days they asked questions of the AnswerMan, until his voice just gave out on him. Having so many answers and opinions and advice had ruined his vocal cords. It seems he ran out of answers before the townspeople ran out of questions.

    So they beat the crap out of him.
    Right & Wrong & Why
    Here's a story that is really, really sad:Apparently, the wife and her husband's best friend are charged with conspiracy to murder. The victim was a deacon, serving at the church where the best friend was an associate pastor and youth minister.

    I pray for a swift and just resolution to the story above, and for redemption and restoration and forgiveness to be the first things on the minds of the community of believers there.

    Forgive me. I'm about to make a broad, sweeping generalization based on one story that I only just read a few moments ago. The participants here are innocent until proven guilty. I don't know them or the particulars, and I hurt for that church, that youth group, that senior pastor who will have to at least attempt to make sense of what has been unleashed on them unsuspectedly. But no one is truly "good", and the state of the church in America is probably at fault, too.

    We know that we are called to "train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it" (Proverbs 22:6). But we're mistaken if we think that means teaching right from wrong without explaining WHY. We have done a poor job of giving people the tools to choose between right and wrong, starting in the homes, from the classrooms and in the pews in front of the preachers' pulpits. It's easy to just say one thing is right and another way is wrong, but it takes time to explain beyond "because I told you so".

    The "way you should go" has as much to do with choice and direction as it does with black and white good versus evil. There's a good deal of grey area out there, and the real choices are usually between good, better and best - not just right and wrong. People are not challenged to reach for the best, and we settle for good, or worse yet, for "good enough". But at least it's not wrong... right? The problem is that choosing less than the best, rationalizing things away and making excuses - that's always going to be wrong, and no one knows it.
    Monday, July 12, 2004
    Changing Election Day
  • MSNBC - Exclusive: Election Day Worries
  • CNN.com - Officials discuss how to delay Election Day - Jul 11, 2004

    This really bothers me. I don't think that anything could be done on such a level as to disrupt entirely the election process in this country. At local precincts, perhaps, things could go whacky - but on a national scale, the Constitution's date/timing would still be pretty much in force. One of the things I heard this morning is that another Amendment would have to be proposed and ratified nationally, as well as Amendments for state constitutions and probably in local bylaws and such. Nothing like that could happen quickly if something horrendous were to happen the weekend before the current November date, so any changes would have to come now - and I just don't see how that would do anything but muddy the water and further divide the constituency. On top of that, we would disrupt our own elections, and leave the door open for future legal wrangling over the results *again*, and the terrorists would not have had to do a dang thing...
    New Week
    Looking back on this past weekend, it was good - relaxing, encouraging, restful, maybe transformational. Sometimes, the weekend can sneak up on us and fill our daytimers with all those pesky chores that have gone undone through the rest of the week. We got some of those things done while having time to still just enjoy living, enjoy friends and family, enjoy God's presence among His people.

    As I head into a new week, I just want to leave the past behind, you know? I had a birthday last week, and it's not so much that I'm feeling old (although there are many more creaking sounds every morning in my knees and ankles than there used to be). It's more about just needing to move on, move ahead, take some advance instead of wallowing in any doubt or uncertainty. I need to be encouraged that I'm moving forward somehow, not just shaking my head or feeling the self-pity I've been nagged with the past little while. I feel like the future holds some new conversations, some restored relationships, and a few possibilities and surprises. But to get there, I've got to start moving forward again. And once started on this particular journey, wherever it may lead, I get the feeling that there will be no turning back. Woo hoo.
    Sunday, July 11, 2004
    Where's the Conversation?
    I blogged a few weeks ago on "my stand" - writing down a little about what I stand for, how I see Jesus and the Bible and Life and such (links @ top right sidebar). I had some interaction here on the blog, a little more on our email list where I cross-posted to folks there, but no other real conversations outside of those electronic mediums. I know that "flesh-n-blood" friends read my stuff either here or in emails, but no one's come to talk. Those posts were the fruit of a conversation where I was told that no one really knows where I stand, and now that I've posted them - the conversation's over? Am I standing alone?

    What I'm seeing today is that no one has conversation much anymore. People have agendas before speaking, whether it's the telemarketer trying to sell long-distance, or the salesperson trying to boost her commission, or the preacher trying to share the good news. Agendas kill conversation - so if we all have an agenda going into a discussion, we kill it before it gets started. I do it, too - I love tweaking the point so that other people are forced to think, and while I think I'm just naturally doing it, I usually do it to get a desired response. My agenda kills my conversations before the words are uttered.

    We are a people who tell it like it is, who speak the truth in love, who share what the Bible says no matter what people think because we're not afraid of men and not afraid to be labelled as fanatics. I listened this morning as the congregation was fired up (by video) against the tide of anti-Christianity that's rising in this country - it's a good thing to be made aware of the plans & schemes of the enemy. But the message isn't "how bad the world is". The kingdom message to be proclaimed is "how good Jesus is" and "how good His people can be" in the midst of all this junk. The world doesn't like talking with us, can't stand listening, because our agenda of opposition obliterates the real conversation of repentance and redemption.

    My mind works on a different frequency than most, and I'm okay with that. I try hard to be a good listener, to be challenged in new and meaningful ways by the people in my life, and to follow through as I see the Lord leading. But it bothers me when those same people don't try as hard in relation to me, and I'm left asking, "where's the conversation?" I've become more cynical, more distrusting, more skeptical of motives and perceptions - my own included. But at least I've come outside to play - it just looks like the others have gone home, and it's not even dark yet.
    Saturday, July 10, 2004
    It's my weekend to mow the church yard, and it was way too easy for me. With the "official" mower down until it can be repaired, Brother Joel brought his landscaping equipment for me, and we did it "together". He did all the work while I rode the riding mower and proceeded to have the church weed-eater crap out on me (tangled twine) and the church blower run out of gas, too. Honest. He had all the right tools, and we were done in just over an hour - and if it hadn't gone like that I would've taken at least 2.5hrs using the push mower. I'm really really grateful, sir - you are da man!

    And I was still sweaty. Came home, took a shower, and I'm now relaxed and smell much better. Tomorrow we'll continue the "Reclaim America" emphasis, watching a video from John Hagee, "Remembering D-Day":
      Husbands, sons, brothers and fathers were bleeding and dying for the preservation of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Did they die in vain? Today our society, government and courts ridicule God. This country was not built for or by atheists. We are and will always be “One Nation Under God.”

      Pastor Hagee gives you biblical insight into how godless our society is becoming. Jesus said, “He that is not for me is against me.” “Against me” equals the enemy of God! We are becoming a nation full of enemies of God! Believers, this is our D-Day! We need to fight and be committed to nothing less than total victory!
    I hope it goes well, I really do. I hope people are encouraged positively and not just driven negatively against "the enemy". I've got the feeling that if we would each serve each other as fully as I feel Brother Joel did with me today, we wouldn't be that far off what God wants of each of us anyway.

    And Joel, the next time it's my turn, I'm breaking the mower again, sir. Thank you.
    TV Movie?
  • CNN.com - Glen Campbell entertains fellow inmates - Jul 10, 2004
    You just know that there's going to be some bad 70s-style TV movie made from this whole thing... And that if he sang "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" one more time, someone was going to take him out.
  • Friday, July 09, 2004
    Photo Friday

    Ladybug's the only one in the family who doesn't wear glasses for physical reasons, but she likes to go stylin' with her sunglasses. We liked the "coloring page" aspect, adding to the coolness factor from a six-yr-old's perspective.
    Dueling "Founding Fathers"
  • CNN.com - Famous Burr, Hamilton duel to be reenacted - Jul 8, 2004

    I'm reading about this right now in Founding Brothers, by Joseph J. Ellis, a book built around the premise that all of these men knew each other, and that USAmerica and its Constitution were born out of their relationships and conversations. The duel between Hamilton and Burr seems to be the exception to the rule that they admired each other as individuals, even though disagreeing so vehemently politically.
    Identity - Thomas Merton
    If you want to identify me,
    ask me not where I live,
    or what I like to eat, or
    how I comb my hair;
    but ask me what I am living for,
    in detail, and ask me
    what I think is keeping me
    from living fully for
    the thing I want to live for.

    [from Bruderhof.com - Source: "My Argument with the Gestapo" by Thomas Merton.]
    Thursday, July 08, 2004
    "Of The Week: Blog"
    Wow, what an honor. Thanks, Ginkworld.
    Getting Old(er)
    Time just keeps moving forward, and I just keep getting older. I blow off the notion that my kids will be leaving the house soon (promise?), and forget to spend time with them now so that the future separation will be something they're prepared for, or spending time with them now so they'll miss us, too. I love watching them grow up, seeing them change and blossom into individuals with personalities and gifts. The same in my wife, watching as she matures into an even more beautiful woman year after year, hoping that I don't blow it by holding her back, hoping that I am the encouragement I want to be more and more as time goes by.

    I feel old, and I feel like I'm losing my mind. I know I'm not alone, and that many folks around me are doing the exact same thing, but that doesn't ease the growing pains of "maturity", does it? I've changed so much over the last ten years. I never would've guessed I'd be in a non-denom church, struggling with issues of evangelism and church and leadership. I feel so isolated sometimes, not finding anyone real and tangible to talk about these things I'm learning that seem to be important. Other times, I'm just overwhelmed that God is still revealing Himself in ways worth learning and pursuing - and in those times, I find someone I can talk to, someone who's also going through it, and being "isolated" isn't such a bad thing...Ever stop to wonder why some of the best lyrics came out of the 80s? Like these two songs: I liked them both then and appreciate them both now. Wonder if that's a part of growing up, realizing that you had pieces of the puzzle all along - like song lyrics or movie scenes or passages from high school literature assignments - and that it's just taking this long to put some of those pieces together into something meaningful...?
    Thirty-six years ago, on a warm day in Hickory, NC, the world got a little more sarcastic, a little more sardonic, a little more ironic, a little more cynical, and a bit funnier... I think.
    Wednesday, July 07, 2004
  • sacbee.com -- California -- Riordan calls kid a 'stupid, dirty girl' at book event: "Riordan apparently thought the girl was asking whether he knew what her name meant and, with a camera rolling from a local news station, made an inexplicable quip he would immediately regret. 'It means stupid, dirty girl,' he said."

    Without generalizing too much - is it okay to say that we have collectively lost our minds?
    Beam Us Up, Scotty
  • CNN.com - James Doohan, 'Trek's' Scotty, has Alzheimer's - Jul 7, 2004: "'His longterm memory seems to be intact,' said Chris Doohan, 45. 'If you ask him how he got his role on 'Star Trek' or (about) D-Day, he can talk for an hour about that. But if you ask him what he had for breakfast,' he can't say."

    I grew up with Star Trek, from the reruns that used to run every weekday afternoon on channel 19, to the movies coming out and the whole search for Spock storyline. When TNG came out, I wasn't impressed at first, but it grew on me. I was never a huge Trek fan, and haven't been to a convention (yet), but I did enjoy the characters and the future optimism and hope. All that to say, Scotty was the workhorse, just doing his best for the Cap'n and getting the Enterprise to perform as best she could. It's good he can still recall the good times.
    From the Inbox
    One of the things that bothers me about divorce is that there's usually very little consideration given for the other people in the couple's life. They will worry about the children, seeking to make it as easy and transitional as possible, but everyone knows it's incredibly hard and undeniably harsh on a child. But what about the mutual friends, other family members, co-workers and church friends? Those people are pulled in, too, needing to adjust to new life-connections as the divorcing couple moves on in separate directions.
    Tuesday, July 06, 2004
    We've got new snapshots up on our fotopage. My daughter's becoming quite the photographer...

    Bush/Cheney vs. Kerry/Edwards
  • CNN.com - Kerry announces Edwards as his running mate - Jul 6, 2004

    "John Edwards is ready for this job," Kerry told a cheering crowd (CNN.com). The implication is, of course, that Edwards is ready for the VP job, just not the P job for which they were both campaigning against each other earlier this year. Of all the Democratic candidates, I think I liked Edwards best, maybe Leiberman. I find myself not being able to vote for them (I've got problems with the Democratic platform - like abortion and a tendency to fall in step to willingly with environmental and homosexual political activists), but I'm looking forward to the debates in the coming months.

    Also, it wouldn't surprise me to see someone else on the Bush ticket in November. I'd heard some talk earlier about Cheney leaving for "personal medical reasons", and that would allow the President to select someone less caustic. That's a good thing - as long as the next selection is a little less contractually attached to the business sector.

    Here's an excerpt from the Kerry email sent just before the announcement:
      "I want you to know why I'm excited about running for president with John Edwards by my side. John understands and defends the values of America. He has shown courage and conviction as a champion for middle class Americans and those struggling to reach the middle class. In the Senate, he worked to reform our intelligence, to combat bioterrorism, and keep our military strong. John reaches across party lines and speaks to the heart of America -- hope and optimism."
    I'd almost be tempted to vote for these two, but then I remember that Edwards is a Tarheel, graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill. Can't have that, can we?!?
    American Revolution & Slavery
    I was up late last night, couldn't sleep - so I googled a few things in research for church this Thursday. Pastor preached on "Keeping America Great", taking his text from 1 Timothy 2:1-4, challenging the congregation to pray for our leaders (regardless of party affiliation), to live in holiness as Christians, and to share Christ with those around us. One of the leaders spoke to him afterwards about some of the "founding fathers". She's an African-American, and said that while she appreciated references to Thomas Jefferson and others, her teaching and upbringing had made all of these guys look like racist bigots, that they all owned slaves and that they were responsible so many of their continuing problems as slaves in this country. She wants to learn more from another perspective, and I frankly want to learn more from hers. So our Thursday nights this month are set up as forums to discuss things like this - and that's what I was researching.

    I found some personal writings from Washington, various collected quotes from Franklin, excerpts of the exchange between John Quincy Adams and John C. Calhoun over the Missouri Compromise, and a few other pages I printed out to read through this morning. From a very superficial reading, it looks like most of the leaders at that time were actually against slavery, but they also condradicted those developing beliefs by owning slaves. "It was the thing to do", but many of these men were uncomfortable fighting for freedom while keeping some people in bondage, and each person & estate was at different places along the line between total slavery and total emancipation. It was a transitional period that would blow to a head in the 1860s, and again in the 1960s through to today.
    Monday, July 05, 2004
    Right now, I'm on a history kick. Part of it has to do with the "Reclaim America" stuff we're doing at church, I'm sure. As I've been doing some of my own internet research into the founding fathers (I'm also really intrigued to get a new book I saw the other day called "The Founding Brothers"), I've also been flipping through the History Channel, documentaries on PBS, some extra stuff on DiscoveryHD, and even some old books I still had at my folks' house. I go through periods of reading-genre, and I guess right now it's history. I'm wanting to find more on RevolutionaryWar-era stuff, but I'm drawn in to just about anything right now.

    Hopefully, my search into the past will clear up some of my own ambiguities about the future. I'm especially interested in learning about the politics, religion and philosophies of the people who gave their lives for the birth of USAmerica. I want to see what they said, what they did, and how it might give real oomph to what's going on right now. Politically, I find myself too conservative and too liberal for the tastes of those around me. How would I have played out these same thoughts and aspirations in 1770 New England, or even in 1860 Virginia? Those are the kinds of things going through my historical head right now.
    Sunday, July 04, 2004
    Birth & Death
    Today is Independence Day, when we as Americans celebrate the Declaration of Independence as our charter for countryhood. But I'm looking at "This Day In History" online this morning, and finding other remarkable things:

  • On this day in 1826, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died. It was the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence: "Jefferson had authored it, and Adams, who was known as the 'colossus of the debate,' served on the drafting committee and had argued eloquently for the declaration's passage."

  • Also, on this day in 1863, the city of Vicksburg was surrendered to Union troops after a long seige. Soldiers and civilians had to deal with constant shelling, and many attempts at rescue were turned away by the larger Union force. "The town of Vicksburg would not celebrate the Fourth of July for 81 years."

    Here is an excerpt of the Declaration of Independence:
      "When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

      We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed."
    Government and authority are not things to be trifled with, but are things that should be held in high esteem, with noble causes bringing us to the point of acting intentionally and forcefully. Marcus Aurelius' quote about Rome from Gladiator should be true today: There was a dream that was Rome. You could only whisper it. Anything more than a whisper and it would vanish, it was so fragile.
  • Saturday, July 03, 2004
    Mean Dean @ Blogs4God is asking for fireworks stories - here's mine:Don't tell my mom.
    Photo Friday

    Which one is not like the others? [hint: it's green and yellow]

    Also, updated the family photopage with swim party pictures and one very talented stuffed puppy.
    Sarcasm Saturday
  • The State | 07/03/2004 | S.C. plan to help poor quit smoking
    Is this just a political move, letting all the rich conservative good ol' boys and girls smoke themselves silly?

  • CNN.com - Dogs kill 13 cats in animal shelter - Jul 3, 2004
    Maybe Gov. Schwarzenegger can just let natural selection take care of the stray pet population in California?

  • USAToday.com - Gadhafi's daughter to help defend Saddam - Jul 2, 2004
    Is it just me, or does this sound like a bad novel idea for a Clancy/Grisham collaboration?

  • CNN.com - Powell dumps diplomacy for disco - Jul 3, 2004
    He could've picked just about any other song... but YMCA?

  • USATODAY.com - Microsoft releases security update to block new virus transmitters: "The update does not entirely fix the flaw that makes the spread possible, but it changes settings in Windows operating systems to disable hackers' ability to deliver malicious code with it."
    The really sad thing is that I don't have to add anything to this story...
  • Friday, July 02, 2004
    Finally Friday - Four Days For The Fourth
    It's been a long week, but a long four-day weekend is coming up strong at the end of it. I've started reading a couple of new books, and maybe I can finish one I've been working through while I enjoy the holiday.

    We're diving into something interesting at church in July, looking to join the movement to "Reclaim America" by educating ourselves on America's Christian heritage, the faith of so many of the founding fathers, looking at ways to effect change and impact lives in real ways in our country. I hope I can be the reasoning voice in the bunch, able to throw into the discussion that we're in the mess we're in because Christians haven't been living as kingdom people - we've dropped the ball over the past few generations, and that's allowed other opposing views to rise to the top and take control of so much public discussion and politics today. I don't like all the generalization and finger-pointing that feels unbalanced because it really looks like we're the ones who might be the most to blame, you know?

    Tomorrow, we might head to the Gilbert Peach Festival - one goal: peach ice cream. Sunday we're celebrating my birthday with the family, and I'm hoping my sweetie and I can catch and afternoon showing of Spider-Man 2. Monday, I'm sleeping late - woo hoo - and then the kids and I will join my wife at a friend's home to swim swim swim. Tuesday, I've got the extra day off to again sleep late - woo hoo - and just relax before coming back to the office next Wednesday.
    Cell Phone Combustion
  • CNN.com - Girl burned when cell phone catches fire - Jul 1, 2004
    What?!? That looks like our old phones - and they could get very hot if you used them for long conversations. But I can't imagine catching FIRE - you'd think that would be a problem worth testing for.
  • Thursday, July 01, 2004
    Singles Chat
    AIM chat this afternoon, good friend feeling all "single":I slay me.

    The Stand: Epilogue

    Thanks again for letting me share a little of "my stand" in what's going on in the world, what's going on in the church, what's going on in Christendom and the ideas that are behind the changes that sometimes seem to be taking place way too fast. If you've read all the "The Stand" posts, I especially want to thank you for processing with me, and I might need to recommend some medication to... oh never mind :).

    While I've finished the writings at this particular time in these particular spaces, they're always growing still, aren't they? We continue together in the journey, helping each other process, challenging and being challenged in fellowship with one another. I appreciate the way it reflects from us the call in 1 John 1:3 - just proclaiming what we've seen & heard so that others around us might have fellowship with us, and since our fellowship is with the Father and His Son, Jesus, it makes it all that much more special, completing our joy and propelling us forward, together.

    Normally, I'm not as dogmatic as I may have been in these posts (and many might disagree that I've done that here, still not "taking a stand" strongly enough). Normally, I'm much better asking questions, especially opposing or complementing questions that help someone process through the information for themselves rather than being the one who disagrees vehemently and trying to "share the truth in love that you're wrong". This has been a practice, however, in communicating what I do stand for, what I do hold dear. But like I said when I started, it's all up in the air and open for debate - all except for Jesus. I can't deconstruct Him, only my perceptions of Him. He is consistently bigger and more everything than I can imagine, and I won't take that away from Him. I won't take that away from me.

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