hello, long, lost blog

So I decided to come back to my old blog. This is a little like pulling the old, dusty, baseball glove out of the garage (which I don't have but I can imagine - the garage that is - the glove is in a plastic tub in the room we dub nursery/music room/ library/miscellaneous storage) and putting it on for a nice game of catch. It's fun for about half an hour, but then I've overthrown my arm which will be sore for a week and the glove goes back in the garage for another extended hibernation. Perhaps this will be different because I really would like to start writing again, but I make no promises that you will find anything consistent here. Honestly, I doubt the two people who used to read this blog even come here anymore so it doesn't matter.

So on to today's topic. Scripture Memory. This is something I have talked about doing for a long time, have attempted in various formats several times, have had minor success in the short run, no discipline to persevere, but I see so much value in it that I must pursue it. I believe it is something God desires for his children to do and therefore, I also believe that if I ask him that he will grant me the grace to push forward with it. So that is my prayer, knowing that in my attempts to succeed on my own I have failed, and that this must be his work and for his glory but my good.

In doing a little bit of looking on Desiring God I found a link to a very practical guide to scripture memory written by Andrew Davis who is the pastor of FBC Durham in North Carolina (never heard of it either, but I figure I need to cite my sources). He gives very detailed suggestions for memorizing entire books of the Bible and retaining it long term. In a sense it seems kind of daunting yet also doable at the same time. The thing that really intrigued me was the learning of chapter and verse numbers because this always troubled me when I used to do the college finals week style cram of chunks of scripture in the past. I would learn a whole group of verses and have all the context together, but later on if you asked me specific verse numbers I wouldn't know them which is not as good if you are wanting to quote them for some edification purpose. So this seems like a great approach and I plan on trying to start with 1 Peter at a rate of 6 verses per week ( 1 a day, 6 days a week). This should allow me to have the whole book in 18 weeks. So depending on the grace of God to do this for me I commit myself to this task.


To be satisfied in Christ

So today marks 7 weeks that Rhoda and I have been parents, and I thought I would share a few thoughts. First, I am the most selfish person I know. I thought getting married pointed that out and that it changed somewhat but I learned it still runs very deep. To love a child requires some selfless things that war with selfish flesh, and yet neither the selfish flesh nor the love for a child and joy of being a parent are ultimately satisfying.

This is what I mean to elaborate on. Nothing can truly satisfy but Christ alone. He is the One who make communion with God (who is Christ - I'm still baffled by this whole Trinity thing) possible and that connection with the One who is everything that is good and holy and right is the only thing truly satisfying. God must be our treasure even above wife and children because they are imperfect, and he is the definition of everything good. This is such good news because it is the way to be the best husband and father. To be satisfied in God who will never change and never fail and never run out of his abundant grace means to rest in a sure satisfaction. And that satisfaction does not come without reforming my own heart to overflow those same qualities to those around me, namely my wife and child. To pour out the qualities of the One who satisfies to them is to pour out His grace to them, and it is the only thing that can satisfy them. Therefore, it is the best way to love them. I must take more joy in God than in my wife. I must smile bigger at what God has done than at what things my little girl does. He must be my treasure.


the hour is near

So today is the official day that our baby is due. As such we are sitting around twiddling our thumbs and waiting because obviously labor will begin any minute.... like now?..... or maybe now? So I am reminded of the stories I've heard of ages past in other cultures where women supposedly would be working in the fields, stop for a few minutes to push the baby out (apparently going through the hours of labor leading up to that while still working), cut the cord, wrap him up on her back, and get back to work.

Now, I don't know how realistic those stories are but I do believe that our culture today is completely different when it comes to children. Some would say we are so much more civilized and understanding and loving to children and the mother than something like what I just described. But are we really?

Those people did what they had to do based on their circumstances. Maybe the only way that family could survive is for the woman to work in the field and the need to feed their children far outweighed the desire to go lay down in a bed somewhere to have a baby. Does that make her husband a terrible person for allowing (or even making) his wife to continue to work? I get the picture that in these cultures surviving was of paramount importance, but that survival meant the survival of their children and their training to survive for themselves.

Yes, parents would have their kids working at young ages. But if they didn't, the kid would not learn how to survive. We place all this importance on "kids having fun" because we live in complete luxury compared to these cultures. But I really do not think we are more loving. We send our kids to others to educate them whereas these people took them and trained them on their own. I'm not saying school is bad and survival in our culture requires it, but if we think that all education happens in school we are blind.

Nonetheless so many parents in our culture don't spend time training their children because they want them to "have fun". And it is this lust for leisure and comfort and things to go my way that leads to so many broken families where kids are raised by one parent or by two who are letting them learn life lessons from television and the internet. Our culture has a whole host of problems of its own, many created by our wealth and luxury. Maybe life is "easier" but I don't know about better; only Jesus makes life truly good. I don't know much about raising children, and I know that it will be a lesson in faith and trusting the guidance of God; however, I do know that is the one area that I must be fervent in pursuing. I must love my children by teaching them and showing them about Christ because He is the only hope that they will have in life and the only way that they truly survive.


the Kingdom of God

Probably too bold of a title for this post if you assume I am going wrap it all up with a nice little bow on this blog, but clearly that is not going to happen. Basically that is the theme for this year's Disciple Now at my church here in Florida.

We're talking about how when Jesus talked about the Kingdom (lots of places in the gospels but we're focusing on Matthew - sermon on the mount, etc.) that he showed a Kingdom that was completely backwards from the way the world wanted it. Instead of getting revenge you give more to your enemies; instead of taking joy in your strength you are blessed when you are weak; instead of seeking wealth, get rid of everything that hinders you from finding the real treasure of Heaven.

We have a tendency to think that the Kingdom is only when Christ returns, but the way he describes it - we start living it now. The way of life in heaven is the way we seek to live here. Jesus prayed for it (Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven), and to really live it will not be accomplished on our own but will be the Holy Spirit living through us. How amazing would it be to start to see this happening.

Needless to say I'm pretty excited about discussing this with students. Hopefully Jesus will start royally screwing their life up the way he is starting to mine.

How Beautiful....


verdict: umm... girl?

So we went to have the ultrasound today. pretty cool stuff. everything looked good from all measurements, etc so we have much for which to be thankful to God. And as for gender... well doctors apparently have the highly sophisticated technique of determining gender that goes a little like this: "Well I can't really find a little weenie so I'd probably say a girl. But she's not really in a very good position to know for sure". All I can say to that is I hope she will learn to maintain that good position for many years of her life.


the new big mac

So I don't know what dementia I suffered from to make me look this up, but I did it and now I realize that this is next killer of America. I had one of these tonight - didn't think much of it; post dinner, hanging out with a friend - it's just a coffee right? oh, no my friend - you have officially given yourself another meal; one that offers you nothing of any nutritional value, an addiction to caffeine, and a complex of thinking that you're cool, trendy, and enlightened because you were sipping on a 21st century beverage in a quaint, little room with comfortable furniture and decorations that are anything but unique (how many starbuck's are there?) but took who knows how many hundreds of thousands of dollars or corporate america research to decide on with wireless internet where you can in a matter of seconds allow your mind to digest the gluttony that your body is having to deal with (and cursing you for) at that very minute. take a look at this and compare. i think they will a have a sequel to "Supersize me" and call it "Grande your Gut". you want fries with that?

ps - sorry about the massively long sentence that is probably a run-on, but I got too tired reading it to finish and determine whether it had proper punctuation - my caffeine rush must be wearing off.

we will justify anything

I came across this today - really just a humorous post for the most part, but it made me think a little bit. Apparently some tanker ship was damaged and ran aground on the beach in England spilling cargo - if you care about the details you can read the article. However, my interest was in some of these remarks:

Scavengers help themselves
Police patrolled Branscombe beach Monday trying -- with limited success -- to keep scavengers away from about 40 containers which had washed ashore.
"A couple of hundred people have been on the beach today, taking things away, and there were around the same number last night," said Constable Steve Spearitt.
"Around 15 BMW motorbikes were carried off the beach last night," he said.
Authorities warned that the scavengers were breaking the law.
"People should be able to be allowed to take what they like. It is clearing up the beach, and it is part of the beach culture," said one woman who carried away some carpet. She refused to give her name to reporters, but said she would report the find as the law requires.

Well at least the lady decided to comply, but seriously. Hey man some ship just had a bad day - let's make it worse for the owners by taking all their stuff. And we can even justify it by saying we're "clearing up the beach, and it is part of beach culture". What the heck is "beach culture"?!? Surf some waves and steal anything we can, I suppose. I mean if some guy walking down the street tripped and fell and dropped his wallet and money fell out, do I really think I could justify my grabbing whatever I could by saying "man you littered with your money - I cleaned it up for you but I'm keeping it as my service fee".

There is a slightly deeper point to all this though: our quest to constantly justify ourselves because we have to be considered "right" and "just" and "acceptable" in what we do by other people. The truth is, however, that we are not right ("There is none who is righteous, not even one") and nothing we do is acceptable before God who is the only one that matters. That brings us face to face with a desperate need for righteousness before God that is only accomplished in Jesus Christ and is only ours as a gift from him and by faith. Maybe you've heard this many times, but is sure helps to be reminded of it.


it's been a while

So here's an update since I haven't blogged on here in a while:

1 - I'm still in South Florida
2 - In early July Rhoda will be in extreme pain and squeezing out a little bundle of joy given to us by our heavenly Father
3 - I've been meeting with a neat group of people from our church here and trying to learn to live a little more like what Jesus has called us to and trying to "be the Church" - you can find a link to a blog for this group on the side - Back Porch Confessions
4 - I still work for FPL - I think this year is not going to be as interesting (or as busy) as the previous three have been
5 - I still am a roller coaster of spiritual, physical, and emotional conundrums that somehow that grace of God makes work so that I can keep getting up in the morning

That being said - if people are actually reading this I hope some of you will make some little comments every now and again so I know you're there. If so i will try to post somewhat more regularly, if not this will slip off into the giant oblivion that is the Google takover of the internet.



hi ho! hi ho! off to work i go

so i just finished another week of work; slightly longer than usual. ok maybe more than slightly. and some would ask the question "how do you work those long hours?" or the implied derivatives of that question "why are you working such long hours?" and "wouldn't your life be better spent doing something else?".

ok so no one has actually asked those questions but in my little world i make up conversations with people in my head because i don't really do a good job of conducting them with my mouth. so i will answer previously mentioned questions with a long tirade which more than likely will go into much more than answering questions and of which i have no set plan for as of this very moment i am typing

answer to question 1: well i sleep at night and get up and drive to work and do my job and eat food that provides chemical energy which my body turns into various useful forms of mechanical energy so that my limbs move and electrical energy so that my brain can oversee everything. i drive home and eat again and sleep so that the process can be repeated. my labor is not physically strenous and therefore i function about the same as anyone else - i'm awake for 18 (give or take 1) hours a day and i supply my body with enough chemical energy to sustain that. there's no surprising answer to "how" i do it anymore than there is to "how do you watch tv all day?" it's really not that hard.

the more important question there is the "why?". and the answer to that question is thus: basically somewhere deep inside of me it is important to do my job well and we are all driven by what is deep inside of us so clearly that is what is going to win out when it comes to the allocation of our time. why is my job important to me? i don't really know. maybe its because i really enjoy what i do, maybe i feel like i need to "provide", maybe its the only thing i feel like i'm good at, maybe i am just a people pleaser and don't want my coworkers/bosses to think less of me if i don't work as much as they do, maybe i don't have any idea what to do with my time if i don't work.

and for answer number three - yes i'm sure it would be and i could give you a list of spiritual "goals of life" that float around in my head from various sources. but truth be told they don't sink into the depth of me and therefore they don't change what is in the heart. some would try to gloss over a person's actions by saying something to the effect of "but that's not what's really in their heart" - well yes it is. if there is one thing that is true of humans is we always act on what is in our hearts. there may be a struggle within the heart for control but always we act upon the direction of what is controlling our heart at that moment. would my life be better spent doing something else?: not at the moment i was working those hours because my heart was being controlled by whatever it is that said i needed to work those hours.


the glory of God

God created us in his image. The image of God; when was the last time we thought about that? What does that look like. The image of God is the reflection of his glory. His glory is the display of all that is good and pure and right and is focused on that which is the most valuable of all things, namely himself. We were made to be part of that; to be part of God radiating forth everything that is good and pure and beautiful and valuable beyond measure.

And that is what we fell short of. we traded that for an apple and a lie. we traded that for creating a little golden calf. we traded that for a curvy body that belonged to a woman who was not our wife. we traded that for the pursuit of a big house and fancy car. we traded that for a religion where we could put God in a set of rituals. we traded that for a life controlled by a thirst for amusement. we traded that for filling our bellies just for the heck of it. we traded that for liquid that makes us lose control and powder that makes us see things that aren't there.

but what else did we get for our trade? when the taste of the apple is gone and we realized what we lost did we also see what else we got? death. so we hide in fear and shame. and we hide behind more liquid and more apples, and more sex, and more money, and more entertainment.

we can make another trade though. Jesus' righteousness and the freedom to have fellowship with Almighty God for our apples and death piled on himself hanging on a tree. we call that trade grace. and i will drink of that beautiful cup and fall at the feet of the Giver with no words to say but "thank you!"




revision 1: at first I was going to let the story in the link speak for itself, but how can I not comment on this. I mean seriously, how skilled was she at wielding this weapon? Can you imagine being that victim and telling this story? Can we duct tape it up and call it Petey? I welcome any and all comments.


the best mediation tactic ever

I make a return to the blogging world with a simple post. All major issues in life should be settled like this. I wonder how well this would go over in Iran or Iraq?



in the words of Ben Gibbard:

"Sorrow drips into your heart through a pinhole
Just like a faucet that leaks, and there is comfort in the sound
And while you debate half-empty or half-full
It slowly rises, your love is going to drown"


The two debtors

Recently in small group we discussed the passage in Luke that deals with Jesus telling the parable of two debtors to Simon the Pharisee (7:36-50). I believe God showed me some interesting things about this passage that I had not previously thought of. First, a quick description of the scene. Jesus has been invited to eat with Simon, so He goes in to eat and a woman (labeled as a "sinner" which meant prostitute) came and was washing his feet with tears and perfume. The Pharisee knows what kind of woman she is and thinks to himself that if Jesus were a prophet He would know as well.

Jesus responds to this thought (keep in mind the Pharisee never actually spoke it) with a parable about two people owing money to a lender and one owing 10 times as much as the other. The lender erases both debts since neither can repay him. Jesus asks the Pharisee which would love the lender more. The Pharisee responds correctly that the one who had the bigger debt forgiven would. Then, Jesus goes on to explain that the Pharisee did nothing for Him when He came in (no water to wash feet and no kiss which were customary) but the woman has not stopped doing these. He then says that she has many sins which have been forgiven "for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little".

I used to struggle with this passage because I took it to mean that you had to have had an immensely sinful life forgiven by Christ in order to love the way He wants you love - the way the woman loved. So how does that fit for someone that came to believe at a young age and maybe never experienced some of the "major sins"? Certainly Paul indicates that we are not supposed to "sin more that grace may increase", so does that mean we are just stuck without hope of loving more?

Then came these thoughts. Based on the fact that the Pharisee did not even exercise common courtesy of the day, he clearly did not love Jesus, and he did not believe he was a sinner in need of forgiveness. In fact he thought we has well above the woman who he would never have associated with and assumed Jesus would not either had He known who she was. Jesus proves He not only knows who the woman is, but also who the Pharisee is and what he is thinking and then proceeds to flip the table upside down. This is so amazing to me. My paraphrase: "Simon you knew the right answer to my parable, but clearly you do not know where you fit in it. This woman has great debt that has been forgiven and in return she loves much. You do not know you have debt so you have not been forgiven it and that is why you have loved me little (or not at all).

Jesus is not saying that woman has more debt than the Pharisee; He is saying that she has been forgiven more debt than the Pharisee and there is a difference. With God things are all or not; we cannot be partially forgiven. The Pharisee did not believe and therefore remained in his sins, but the woman had been forgiven. Also, it only takes one sin to fully seperate us from God because of his perfection and Holiness. So in the grand scheme of the scale of sins against God you have this score: Woman= 0; Pharisee = infinity. Not looking too good for Simon. This is so good for us because no matter who we are or what we've done, we've all sinned and put ourselves infinitely far away from God.

The grace of God that offers forgiveness through Christ is the only thing that removes those sins from us and allows us to be back with God, and when we recognize the magnitude of this infinite gap jumped by our Lord on a tree 2000 years ago, we will discover how to love. We are all equal in damnation before Christ and our recognition of the extent of grace will lead us to love. Do we really comprehend how much we have been forgiven? Do we really understand that every day we do not love God above all other things on Earth and put other people before ourselves in everything we are sinning? We all sin VIRTUALLY CONSTANTLY!! Therefore we are desperately in need of the grace Jesus gives. He who has been forgiven much, loves much.


Spear the Queer (and other childish thoughts)

So... where do I begin...?

First of all, if you have not seen the movie "End of the Spear" you need to stop reading this immediately and go to your local picture show house and watch it. Fantastic story (all true) of the way God works in all things and the glory it brings Him to see people changed because of the obedience of those He calls. Vague enough description? Well go watch the movie and be amazed.

Second, yesterday I read an article saying that apparently many Christians are upset and protesting this movie because of the producers' choice of a main actor who happens to be openly homosexual and active in promoting gay rights. What the heck is this obsession with picking a few sins that we personally dislike (probably because it's easier to dislike the ones we don't struggle with than say maybe one of our favorites... gluttony or greed or idolatry) and going ape turd crazy over anything where people who commit these sins are in the public eye. You have a beautiful story of the grace of God freeing a man from pure violence, freeing another from fear, and basically proving that love wins (nod to Brad), and that story is very effectively told with Hollywood cinema quality. And Christians want to freakin complain!!!!!!!!!! Does everyone in the movie have to be a Christian? Are we that isolationist or is it just because of his particular sin? Man, I'm sure glad that Mel Gibson was able to find somebody who was perfect to play Jesus in the "Passion of the Christ" - what an outrage it would have been if he had botched that one up.

Get this you brood of vipers... guess what happens when good actors play their role? They try to really find out who the character they are playing is, so for a lost man to play the part of a devout and passionate believer whose faith truly moved mountains means he truly learned about this faith and passion. How glorious would it be if God's work through Nick Saint didn't stop with just the Waodani people but carries through into the life of the lost actor who plays him in a great movie? Not to mention that the son (Steve Saint - also played by the same guy as an adult) who helped produce the film was whole heartedly behind the choice even amidst the criticism. So keep protesting and signing your letters and watch the work of our glorious God pass by without you.


Here we are now, entertain us

Indulge in another morsel plucked from this valley of fatness.
Sway and stagger under the influence of strong drink.
Spew forth your vomit with exclamations of joy and success.

Bask in the hypnotizing glow of your control box.
Let it entice into the next affair with the newest model guillatine.
Find ecstacy in these distractions while in the grave you rot.

How long will you boast and rejoice in the decaying of your soul.
And plunge it headlong into the burning of the night.
May the scales be peeled from your eyes before the door is closed.

Search the silence and hear the whispers of the gentle Breeze.
For in it can be found the Word that breathes Life.
Listen, believe, and be free.


politicians eat poo for breakfast

Could there be any more corruption in our government? Well yes there could be because many other countries are worse. But nonetheless I am quickly losing any trust in our government to actually seek to serve the interests of the people they respresent unless it serves the greater interest of lining their own pockets heavily. And for those people who seem to think that the Republican Party is God's gift to America, you need to take a closer look. We'll see how many go down this time with this greedy lobbyist. Further proof that America is not changed for the better through the government but rather is changed by God working through individual believers obeying him.


Christmas fun

So for those of you who love to have a good time around Christmas you need to try to top these people. I would just like you to note the explanation, "Alex Dyer, a spokesman for the group, said Santarchy was a worldwide movement designed to protest the commercialization of Christmas." I can't think of any better way to bring back the spirit of Christmas.


the fam

So here I am, back in the great state of Texas hanging out with the family and really enjoying having the elephant foot of FPL and corporate greed lifted for a little while. That perhaps is a little harsh because through this corporate greed I get to pay the bills, give to that which God calls me to give, save what I feel like he wants me to save, have medical insurance and other good benefits. So basically sometimes when I make comments like this I feel like an ungrateful brat.

However, here's the catch - I'm not allowed to choose the middle ground. I would take the job and the basic medical benefits and forsake the extra overtime money, the 401k, the performance based bonus, etc if I could just have that extra time to do those things that I feel are important. To work my 8 hours and go home where I can love my wife, pour my life into youth and hang out with the body of believers that God has made me part of... that would be the richest bonus I could get.

In absence of this option I feel the weight of my heart yearning for release from the weight of spending so much time working for someone else's greed and being rewarded extremely handsomely for it but in the form of something I at times find myself despising ... money. I suppose what God is working on me is to be content where I am and use whatever resources he has given me to do the work that he has. In this case time is not the resource I have as much of, but if I have extra money then there are things that can be used for as well for the glory of the Kingdom of God. And that is what matters - may my heart be tansformed to be passionate about the glory of God in all things and this to be my contentment - what a great thing that will be.

And for now, for this week, I am here with family that I love, and people that I don't see often, and that is possible by the grace of God. And the grace of God has brought all good and perfect gifts. Merry Christmas to all who have been created by the greatest Gift-Giver of eternity.


the brown note

So this topic came up in small group somehow. And being the nerd I am I had to do some research. Looks like a myth but man how sweet would this be. Check out this article if you're curious.



hey everyone - my apologies for not having written on here in a long time. And truthfully I don't really have much to say now either. basically I've spent the past few weeks doing nothing of any eternal value nor displaying any ounce of fruit, but doing everything that corporate greed and politics tells me is important and accepting my 30 pieces of silver. may God have mercy on my rotten heart.


Of ropes and boulders

So it's been a little while since I've posted, and truthfully I'm not sure exactly even what will come out of this post. My heart feels a little torn right now because of several things. In no particular order here are some drastically different thoughts that somehow relate together into the big question of "what am I doing?"

First, I find extremely disheartening our response to a catastrophic earthquake that has killed many, which in itself is bad enough because it created significant emotional suffering on those who have survived, but more pressing on my mind is the lack of response to the fact that there are now a couple million (if I'm not mistaken) people without homes and winter is fast approaching the mountains. I cannot begin to comprehend the idea of enduring freezing temperatures and snow with nothing to shelter you. It's like something in me just wants to buy my wife and I plane tickets over there and take all the money we have over there and purchase some tents to take to these people, which obviously is not practical and even discouraged by the relief organizations I have read info from, but I am tired of just being desensitized to the world beyond my little sphere (which by the way is a cush palace compared to the vast majority of this place we call earth). However, I understand there is a place of support for everyone and for many donating some money and dropping to our knees in prayer for God's work to be done through this is exactly the place we need to be. But what if, just maybe, that place is riding through the rain on the back of a flatbed trailer loaded with tents and food to give to those in need and a heart to let them know about a far greater need that can be met only by Jesus. What if my passion for doing something off the wall and extreme and labor intensive is put there by God and meant to be acted upon?

Which leads into the second thing on my mind; why do I spend so much time searching inwardly, dreaming far fetched outward dreams and not enough time loving the partner God provided me in my beautiful wife. Why is it that I can be distracted by many things (many of which are good) and forget my bride. My earthly wife is meant to be a picture of the Church as the bride of Christ who he gave himself up for and yet I'll ignore mine to dream about other things. So how does having a bride to give myself up for fit into the idea of doing something extreme that very probably is not an enviornment conduscive to being a good husband? Rhoda, I love you madly, and I will give myself up for you and God will show me what that means.

Thirdly, along the same lines; in all my dreaming why do I forget about the fact that I have a family that God has made me part of that I often don't have a clue what's going on with them? What about the idea of packing up and heading back to Texas where I can find myself back a part of the lives that I started out part of and Rhoda can find herself reconnected to many of the ones that she started out a part of. What exactly is it that God has me doing here in South Florida? Yeah, I love working with the youth at our church here and yeah there is a need for the good news of Jesus here, but is there not the same need almost anywhere else you go? Am I really just here because I found a job here and how tied am I to this corporate machine that so plagues America with this lie that we have to get and consume above all other things?

May the wisdom and grace of God make clear what is the next step.


A Collection

This is a part of something I wrote the other day. I post in the hope that perhaps it provokes some thought. If you sit and think about it and find you like it and want to "see how it ends" then make a comment and I can send you the rest.

The heap has grown steadily,
seemingly in futility
such that this soot is suffocating.

The sweat does little to clean
powder stains on the hands that build,
though piling for the promise of this purpose.

The legs grow weary in climbing,
ascending once again with another load,
descending in despair and defeat.

Yet all the time the gatherer labored
knowing not the final end he sought
existed in the energy inside.

The capacity of its potential abounds
far beyond the height of a mound,
caught in the chemistry of carbon.

It longs to fulfill the reason for its design;
to open forth utility available in discovery
of opportunities overlooked in the ore.

How long will the hoarder add to his collection
more handfuls of cherished rock,
idolized in ignorance of its idleness.


The Consumer Church

Most of you have heard me rant and rave about the whole idea of American churches being nothing more than corporations trying to sell Jesus (and many not even that - they just want to sell their church) to people and as soon as the "sale" is done they want to keep them happy enough to keep coming back and shopping again and again. And I still rant about that though I recognize more that I'm still part of the problem.

I grew up in a Mega_Church and even the church I attend now is "large" by most standards and functions with a lot of Americanized corporate consumer-oriented crap, but my talking about it doesn't really do anything. Because in a lot of ways that enviornment is still "comfortable" to me. It's easy to go to church for a few hours on Sunday, casually say hi to some people I know, then go home grateful that I didn't have to struggle to help and pray with someone and their problems, that I wasn't brought to tears in burden over the lost, that I didn't find myself moved in worship to the point of spending the next 3 days in fasting and prayer just because I want to be with my Maker and not have distractions.

All this boils down to the fact that God is most definitely still working on my stubborn heart to teach me to love and live in community, and that ranting about corporate churches doesn't accomplish much if I'm not willing to love people in my church and be in community with them no matter what the size of the church.

This post was inspired by Alps (see link to side) who has found a church in Oregon that focuses on community and their pastor wrote this article about this issue. I recommend the read. Grace and peace from our Lord Jesus Christ.


Softball and Babies

are two things that can easily be confused with one another and with such dire consequences as to land the possessor of said confusion in a little place we like to call "the slammer" (and no we're not referring in any manner to a grand slam).

Anyway, Rhoda and I have joined a coed softball team of people from the church and I have rekindled such fond memories of when I used to play baseball (and sucked royally mind you) that I can hardly wait for practice next friday. This past Friday I discovered that though my accuracy in throwing has deteriorated, I have not yet bottomed at the point of looking like C3PO trying to hurl a bowling ball and having it land on his foot. I also found that my eye hand coordination has improved and I was able to connect on almost every pitch during batting practice; however, any hope of having a powerful shot over the fence was quickly dashed by noticing that the best shot I had, though it felt good zinging off the end of my bat, would have been a nice little two hop single dropping in front of the left fielder. That's ok though because I'm sure if I start now getting on the juice that by playoffs I might be able to get it back in the corners for a double or triple. I don't think they check too well in recreational softball so I think I'll get away with it - I'm not so sure about my job though.

In other news, come to find out a few days ago that Steve-o (college roommate, great friend, and perhaps the most unique sense of humor I've ever known) is going to be having a baby(well maybe it's more his wife who will have it but he participated in there somewhere). There was an unofficial bet going on amongst the old college buds on who would be the next to supply the world with a new chinese super buffet eater and my vote was on Steve (though i think most of the others were on me). As I told him on our "guys only" message board, I'll say again in case he actually comes on here - Congrats Steve - you'll make a great dad. I told him other things too but he turned me down for being an honorary eccentric uncle so we'll leave those things for "the guys".

It's weird when all your friends (including you) are getting married and some start having kids and you find yourself thinking about bills, mortgages, careers, 401k's and you completely lose sight of the days where if you had 6 hours worth of class in one day you thought you were going to die of being overworked. Of course these things also tend to make you lose sight of the fact that we exist for a purpose far greater than any of those and that in fact all of those things have a tendency to become idols. And there are times that it makes me just want to run hard in the opposite direction but the truth is that direction would find something else to substitute and still be wrong. The only way to run is to run to the Creator and Author of all things whose goodness is infinite and who is so valuable that all of life exists to bring glory to his name - Glory to God in the highest.


a response

So I have found myself asking the past couple of days "How am I supposed to respond?" "How is the church supposed to respond?" The truth is I really don't know. The obvious answer is donate money, but somehow in this case that just doesn't seem to be enough. I've considered rash actions like quitting my job and spending the next months, year, whatever somehow trying to help people rebuild houses and perhaps this is appropriate but at other times it feels like I'm just being dramatic.

A couple of things that I do feel somewhat certain about, however, have come to mind. First, I wholeheartedly believe that it is the church's job to provide for the needs and recovery of those whose lives have been turned upside down and that this is to be done as unto the Lord and for His glory that those whose needs are physically met by us might see the dependency on God ultimately for their spiritual needs which are far greater. I also believe that it is the government's job to provide for the security, safety and overall coordination of restoring the community but it is not their job to provide individual relief. Now I'm not saying necessarily that it is bad that this happens but, I think a couple of consequences occur because of it: the church tends to remove itself from the issue because "the government is handling it", the government's budget becomes astronomical and it is forced to cut in areas where it needs to be focusing because it can't afford to wear so many hats, and the government is easily accused of being "unfair" in the way it distributes relief.

People talk about this being "One nation under God" and that things need to "get back to what this country was founded on", and I can tell you most assuredly that this should never involve the government doing the job of the church. This country and government were founded upon the principle of a republic which means a government that is run by the citizens who elect it and whom it represents. Therefore, since a majority of Americans in the late 1700's were of a Christian upbringing and many actual Christians you find these references in our early documents, but now most Americans are not. The government should represent the interests of the group as a whole and not this Christian minority. That being said, if you want to see "America turn back to God", then get off your anus (I'm speaking to myself as well), open your wallet, and drop your political agenda in favor of loving people. Through this and by the grace of our God, people will turn to him - not because you get it legislated in. And a good place to start would be New Orleans. Of course going back to my earlier question, I still don't even know what I am supposed to do, but I do believe in faith that God will show me and I pray for the grace and boldness to do whatever it is that he tells me to do.

Finally, as a bit of info regarding the response to the question that will most assuredly be on the minds and possibly the lips of those you come in contact with who know you are a believer: "How could God, if He loves us, let this happen?" I can do nothing better than point you to someone who said it perfectly.



So I was reading today in Philipians (1:12-20) and I was both convicted and encouraged by something. I have found myself quite cynical lately about people using God and anything related to the gospel, God's story, for financial (or any other sort of) gain. But Paul here talks about those who preach the name of Christ for selfish motives versus those with good motives and says he rejoices in BOTH because the name of Christ is going out. Paul is focused on the glory of God and therefore is not concerned with the motives of those preaching it. Granted God sees motives and deals accordingly (in this life or in eternity) but it is not to be our primary concern. So basically I need to stop being cynical and pray that God gives me such a passion to see his name exalted that my life overflows with joy in him and is not distracted by the corruptness of others. Keep in ming this was also coming from a guy who was in prison and who many of these false motive people were trying to "distress".


the obesity epidemic?

I just watched an extremely intriguing and humorous documentary called "Supersize Me". You've probably heard of it. This guy does a documentary on the fast food industry and the obesity problem in America in general and to drive home his point and add shock value to the whole thing this guy goes on a "McDonald's only" diet where he eats three meals a day from your favorite neighborhood fat store and if they ask if he wants to supersize it he must answer yes. He endures thirty days of this torturous ordeal, gains 25lbs, almost destroys his liver and shows America that we are fat and rediculous.

My point however is that there is something beyond just this. Yeah we're fat and need to eat better and exercise more but this isn't our main problem. America has this issue of pride where everything we have has to be more than the next guy. "I want a bigger coke and fries than you" or "I want the biggest house, tv, and gas-guzzling SUV to drive to my gigantic high-rise office building in downtown and back to the suburbs"(I don't see sport or utility in that picture). We have an insatiable need to feel better about ourselves by the things we have and can get. Food is not just about sustaining us or even about taste but its about "more" including more food for your money (i.e. cheap fast food in mass quantities). This is a product of Satan telling us we need these things to satisfy us. All told though we will never be satisfied by food, drink, sex, cars, houses, businesses, investments, hobbies or anything else. We can only be satisfied by God who is the maker of all things including food and designed it to be used for a purpose and with thanksgiving and we have warped it to no end. This is also a product of "the fall" and the reason why God sent Jesus to save us from this sin. That is beautiful truth - we can be saved from this need to fill our lives with everything this world says will do the trick and find satisfaction in the one who made it all in the first place. Obesity is not the main epidemic (which I looked in the dictionary and epidemic can be used of things that are widespread that don't necessarily have to be contagious disease); it is a symptom of the main epidemic which is the sin in this world due to us trying to find satisfaction in things that are not God.


the meaning of temporary

So I was conversing with a good friend from my high school days (Anthony) the other night about the whole issue of what does God have for us next and what should we be doing related to that. I have wavered back and forth between "planning for the future" and wanting to just get in the car and drive with my eyes closed and see where I end up (probably the hospital). In any case it is a struggle because I feel like all of my plans have to be self-created since I don't feel God telling me "go here". But then if I just sit and wait I feel lazy and useless and anxious because I feel like life is passing me by. But I think the key thing is this. If we find ourselves at the point of being totally consumed with knowing and enjoying God and that creates in us the contentment we were meant to feel in him, then we will be walking by the Spirit in which case we will just know when and where we are supposed to go next. Now of course this is hard to do. And I think most of us suffer from the problem of being too consumed with what's going on with us and "how can God answer me with what I am supposed to do?" instead of just finding our satisfaction in Him. It's kind of like the better I know my wife the more I just know what she would want in certain situations - I don't have to ask her but often I do ask her as part of the relationship. Just be with God - seek Him and the answers will come.


the callout week

So this is the week where FPL gets to own my life (or at least try). Starting Monday I became the "duty supervisor" which is a fancy term that really means "the guy we grab by the ... and make shove his face in 3 day old garbage" (mmm here's a nice dirty diaper). Basically the collective "they" who no one can positively identify have decided that almost everything is a matter of utmost importance and must be addressed immediately. So therefore I get to spend my nights and weekend tied to my cell phone and pager to answer every beck and call of the dispatcher (and it's not his fault - he just calls because he's told to by "they").
Sometimes it is something legitimate - for example last night I had to drive down to a station at 10:30 pm to find out what had caused a transformer to trip out (luckily the station auto-restored the way it was supposed to). It turned out to be a cat that got its guts blown out by 13,000 volts (you probably didn't know that FPL's side business is getting reimbursed from the government for animal control). Other times it is something really dumb like little nuisance alarms that could possibly be something important but usually aren't but we still have to drive to find out.
Anyway, the point of all of this is mainly to say that we live in a world that has become obsessed with money because all of this "paranoia" hinges on the fact that these "problems" have the chance of affecting "they"s bonus if people's electricity is out for a little bit. Do we ever take step back and think "it's only electricity - life goes on"? No, but that's ok and that's why "they" pay me. Of course all of this goes back to the "fall" and humanity's sinful condition that is only remedied by the blood of Jesus. And for that blood I am very thankful.
As a clarifying statement - I really do like my job and I like investigating problems and don't really mind going in the middle of the night but I don't like having to pretty much discontinue or modify all evening and weekend activities for the week. Luckily it's only once every 3 months or so.


let the madness begin

So here I am - finally starting my own although I don't really expect too many people to read it. If anything it'll be a chance for various things from my head to make their way into cyberspace where perhaps someone will read and scratch their head. Perhaps maybe even begin to see something in a new way. This would be good thing. And good things usually make me wet myself. That sounded like a line that Depends could use in a commercial. I think I'll trademark it.