Saturday, May 30, 2009

Pentecost as dimensions coming together...

"Though many hymns and prayers (mostly from the nineteenth and early twentieth century) speak of heaven as our home, that isn't how the Bible normally puts it. In the Bible, heaven and earth are the two halves of God's created world. They aren't so much like the two halves of an orange, more or less identical but occupying different space. They are more like the weight of an object and the stuff it's made of, or perhaps the meaning of a flag and the cloth or paper it's made of: two (related) ways of looking at the same thing, two different and interlocking dimensions, the one perhaps explaining the other. Talking about "heaven and earth" is a way, in the Bible, of talking about the fact, as many people and many cultures have perceived it to be, that everything in our world (call it "earth" for the sake of argument, though that can be confusing because that is also the name we give to our particular planet within our particular solar system, whereas "earth" in the Bible really means the entire cosmos of space, time, and matter) has another dimension, another sort of reality, that goes with it as well...

...They believed that "heaven" and "earth" are the two interlocking spheres of God's reality, and that the risen body of Jesus is the first (and so far the only) object which is fully at home in both and hence in either, anticipating the time when everything will be renewed and joined together....

...The risen (and ascended) Jesus in heaven is the presence, in God's sphere, of the first part of "earth" to be transformed into "new creation" in which heaven and earth are joined; the pouring out of the spirit on earth is the presence, in our sphere, of the sheer energy of heaven itself. The gift of the spirit is thus the direct result of the ascension of Jesus. Because he is the Lord of all, his energy, the power to be and do something quite new, is available through the spirit to all who call on him, all who follow him, all who trust him."

- NT Wright - Acts for Everyone, Part One

Thursday, May 28, 2009

vulnerability requires being self - ish

..and it's not even happening to me.

I just watch. Assist. Pay attention. Worry. Pray. Etc.

It's unfortunate that babies do not declare their due date ahead of time. It's also crazy how much it impacts/will impact my wife. So much I can't control or do. Which is not to say I'm all that diligent at doing the things I'm able to do....so I suppose it's alright. Just ask my wife, who has about 100 things she wants to have prepared before Ruby comes. But eventually, and perhaps without much warning....Ruby will come. Soon. :)

Every step towards family has been an exercise towards vulnerability. Reducing the amount of control I have, and threatening to be broken by an infinite number of fallen avenues this damaged world has to offer. It's best not to think about it, really....the different ways the ones you love could hurt you....or be hurt by others, in turn hurting you. But it's healthy to recognize the imperfect world we're in, I think...especially as those called to announce it's healing/renewing process which has already begun.

Even as far back as the beginning of a dating relationship. Through love. Through marriage, and two becoming one....knowing the world differently than you've known it previously. Continuing into parenthood, allowing your very existence to become transformed once again. In all of it, the practice of letting go of "self". At the same time, it can't be a complete denial of there being a "self". I suppose self is required to hang around still, in order for it to be vulnerable in love to another. But that self continues to be transformed/turned outward towards others. It's been painful at times. I still, especially during playoff season, have fluctuations of the old levels of self I lived by.

I know Paul was not a family man. But I'm curious what new takes/pictures on the good news of the Kingdom Jesus is bringing we would have added to the Bible....if he would have been married/been a parent.

Ah well. I think we got enough to go on...:)

This was probably just a tad too "rant-ish". Ah well. It's late. I'm out of town, reflecting on my brothers wedding, and our newest baby arriving any day now. That's what ya' get. :)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Headin' to the CUP...

And that...is how it's done. Hope you were paying attention Chicago. :)

Here's the schedule against Pittsburgh...or at least...for the 3 players they got worth a dime. (Crosby/Malkin/Fleury)

Too bad they don't have a team to play along side them.

GO WINGS!!!


2009 STANLEY CUP FINAL

SERIES O
#2 vs. #4
Network
Saturday, May 30 at Detroit, 8:00 pm NBC, CBC, RDS
Sunday, May 31 at Detroit, TBD-Night NBC, CBC, RDS
Tuesday, June 2 at Pittsburgh, 8:00 pm VERSUS, CBC, RDS
Thursday, June 4 at Pittsburgh, 8:00 pm VERSUS, CBC, RDS
* Saturday, June 6 at Detroit, 8:00 pm NBC, CBC, RDS
* Tuesday, June 9 at Pittsburgh, 8:00 pm NBC, CBC, RDS
* Friday, June 12 at Detroit, 8:00 pm NBC, CBC, RDS

Superstition?

When I'm able to watch a Redwings playoff game at home, I have a few patterns I follow. IBC, my hockey stick, wearing a jersey, and oh yes....the playoff beard. Mine is coming in nicely.

Do I actually believe these small rituals are contributing to the win of my team? Probably not. But it's called being a fan. A fanatic. It's a connection to my team. It's part of following and experiencing it all. There is a respect and long built reverence for ritual that is not akin to worship, but more along the lines of having something "worth" value in today's anything goes mentality. To some, it may be silly. But to a hockey fan...you nod, understanding exactly what I'm talking about.

Last night, that respect and reverence was thrown aside as if it were simply an old snake skin, no longer necessary or valuable. Sidney Crosby led the charge against such reverence and superstition, as his team won the Eastern Conference Finals. When awarded the Prince of Wales trophy, every hockey player knows....

You smile. You take pictures near it. You shake hands with the man presenting it. You do NOT touch it. Lord Stanley's Cup is the only trophy you're anticipating, and desiring to celebrate. All other awards and trophies on the way to the Cup will be celebrated in it's wake.

But no. Sidney Crosby did that last year. He respected tradition, only to realize that by not winning the cup, he missed out on his only opportunity to hoist this trophy when the cameras were watching, and get some press.

This year, he knew the same would happen. He knows that as they face the Wings in the finals, he will not get anymore opportunities to bask in the glory of any trophy hoisting. So, stomping on years of tradition and the reverence built up for generations....he grabbed the Prince of Wales Trophy, desperate for any press and media attention he could get. Many of his team followed suit, after all...he is the captain.

Watch a real hockey team tonight. As the Detroit Redwings finish their round against Chicago. As they are presented the Clarence Campbell Bowl for the Western Conference. As they smile, and shake hands, and look forward to the REAL celebration that is to come.

Make me proud, Wings.

ps. It's been pointed out that Yzerman always touched the Clarence Campbell Bowl, and I'm fine with that. Yzerman was in a league of his own...both transcending and creating tradition with his very life. :) Crosby is the new kid....and until he learns how to contribute more to the team than his own stats....he ought to show more respect to those who came before him.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

NHL Update...

It's been a while since I posted an NHL update. So here it goes:

Chicago began pretty decent. In the first period of the first game. Since then, even with Detroit having major players out with injuries, Chicago has lost composure. The most recent game reveals that for sure. The Blackhawks were nesting in the penalty box much more than usual that night, throwin' 'bows and takin' cheap shots to make up for their inability to score OR stop the puck.

Not to mention their Coach, who took a $10,000 fine for publicly criticizing league officials for properly officiating the game. :)

Over all, it shows the amazing depth of talent that runs deep in the Detroit Redwings team. Which will come in handy as we move forward. After we win Wednesday night in Detroit, finishing the round against Chicago, we move on to face the Pittsburgh Penguins most likely. They're 3-0, and look to finish their round tonight.

So it's a rematch it seems. We faced the Penguins in the Stanley Cup finals last year...with both teams very much the same. Last year, the Pens depended on Crosby, Malkin, and Hossa to do most of their scoring. After losing to Detroit last year, Hossa signed up with us, and has continued to provide goals. He took less money with Detroit than he could have made on other teams. Why? BECAUSE HE WANTED TO WIN THE CUP, AND KNEW DETROIT WOULD DO IT. :)

So this year, Pittsburgh comes to the table with two great players, and a decent goalie. To play against the Redwings who have Crosby's and Malkin's in every line.

Not gonna be easy. It should still be great hockey...it's the FINALS after all. But it'll go to Detroit in 5, maybe 6, games. :) HERE COMES THE CUP!!!!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Language of Life...

Recently I listened to a previously recorded message by NT Wright on Christian Virtue. Here's a link to the audio, if you're interested. It'll take an hour for the main message...but totally worth it. If not, here are a few thoughts...

He presents a new metaphor, that I don't think can replace the "Jesus in my heart" talks...but can definitely expand it and describe it well. He talks about virtue in regards to the man who landed the plane on water back in January in New York. The man practiced many of the skills required for that landing over 1,000 times so that on THIS time, when it mattered most, they would come as a sort of second nature.

He then spoke of learning a second language. When we do this, it doesn't come naturally. We learn the basics first. Then things begin to make a bit more sense. We can put sentences together, although we probably make mistakes often, etc. You practice for days, weeks, months, often years. He noted that one of the greatest compliments you can give someone who has learned a second language is to mistake them for an actual native citizen.

He was quick to remind his audience that he is not advocating grace by works, or that we can earn any bit of this. But that Christian Virtue is much like learning a language. The language/lifestyle Jesus Christ spoke of in the Beatitudes and throughout his lifetime. The language of life....the language of new creation.

In moments that reminded me how over my head all of this can be, he reminded us of Plato's Cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, temperance, courage), which had "happiness" as their main goal. It's a mistake often made by humanity, and ends up in a variety of efforts, all pursuing "happiness" for the greatest amount of people as some sort of worthy and attainable moral goal.

But when we replace "happiness" with the "new heaven and new earth - new creation", we see that as Christians, virtues like Faith, Hope, and Love serve an incredible purpose, and become the mission of the Church in many ways.

May we be learning the language/customs of the Kingdom of God, and live as the citizens we are being re-created as. His Kingdom come...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Stockholm Syndrome

So recently, if you or any friends are even remote fans of Derek Webb, you've heard about his either legitimate or gimmick-rich or somewhere-in-between-those-two news of how scandalous his newest album is/will be. His album entitled "Stockholm Syndrome".

Is it thematic? Is it a cuss word? Is it much larger than that? Is it really just a bunch of hype around some sort of hidden treasure hunt to give his fans an experience of subversion that goes beyond simply buying something? No clue.

In all actuality, I hadn't thought much about it. Until a cheesy Christian fiction book I was reading (yup....I still read Dekker...every book...I'm an addict) mentioned "Stockholm Syndrome".

There was a girl who was kidnapped by a psychopathic killer, and he had her locked up in a world where he was in charge. In order to gain any hope for survival, she knew she had to play by his rules. She had to think according to the "order of things" in this world he had created for her. As she began to think in this way, she began to gain an appreciation for how he responded to things. She began to empathize with him. Given enough time, being broken mentally and emotionally, she even began to side with him in some ways. This is what is commonly referred to as "Stockholm Syndrome". When someone taken captive or being oppressed begins to bond with, side with, and even show loyalty in many ways to those who have taken them.

So where might Webb be going with this? Not sure. But it does bring up some interesting thoughts. How often do we experience enough empathy towards someone (or group of someones), whether the Church or very much against the Church.....simply because we try to exist in the world they've created for us?

On the other hand....God is/has created a new order of everything for us also. It is our goal as Christians and as His Church to learn/practice the language and lifestyle of that new existence, and to proclaim it....but not in a way that takes captive and manipulates. Rather, in a way that truly sets captives free. May we be proclaiming and living THAT kind of good news....

Thursday, May 21, 2009

five.

I remember back in November of 2005. We had just moved into our first home, after moving into an apartment when we first came to Decatur, IL. I was working part-time in ministry, while doing sales full time. We didn't know where we would be down the road, but we still believed God had called us to set up a home right here.

Then we found out we were expecting.

The combination of excitement/nervousness/anxiety/thankfulness/confusion/mourning (just being honest, saying goodbye to a life with no kids)/openness/love/hope/adventure/stress/etc.....was a whirlwind. We prepared for her arrival meticulously and daily. We learned, studied, decorated, and arranged. Addison Elizabeth came (August 2006). We loved. We grew. Etc.

About 10 months later, we found out we were expecting a second time.

Again, the flurry of every emotion possible. A few extra preparations for having more than one baby around, and a lot of speculating/dreaming about what would be same/different between them. Our family was growing. Sophie Grace came (February 2008). We loved. We grew. Etc.

About 9 months later, we discovered we were expecting a third time.
(and we're not even quiver-full parents, just in case you were wondering)

So here we are. We've made a few more preparations. A little less worry/anxiety this time, although some new bits as well. We've moved Sophie and Addie into a room together, and continue to think of projects we want to get done before we lose the ability to do things other than parent for a while. We are officially 3 weeks away (or less) from welcoming Ruby Anne into the world. (June 2009) We will love. We will grow. We will "etc." like crazy.

I love it. Not in a "man I wanna have tons more kids so I can love this even more" kinda way. Not even in a "man, everyone needs to do this cause it's how it should be done" kinda way. But more of a "man, I'm really thankful for how things have come together, and thank God for what I've been brought through to be where things are today. I love my family."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

civic duty...

Back in November of 2007, I signed up to be an active citizen by serving my city on any committee they felt needed someone with my limited qualifications. They ended up assigning me to the "Decatur Parking and Traffic Commission". It's been a wild ride, let me assure you.

Actually, no. Not too much excitement, but I suppose that's okay. I still feel like I'm doing something good here. People apply for handicap parking spaces near their homes, and we're able to oblige. Neighborhoods apply for no parking zones in places of high or dangerous traffic, and we're able to help out. Overall, we're looking at the public parking situation in the downtown area, trying to figure out how to stop losing the city so much money. Etc.

And finally, something near my own home has come before the commission. Here's a sample of the information we go through before making a decision:You'll notice, it lists the number of cars going a certain direction on each road. It also lists the average speed per car. In this picture, the bottom stop sign currently exists, and the top stop sign is being proposed. I voted to approve of the stop sign, for the safety of those turning left onto Grand, and those turning left off of Grand. Most of us pretty much stop there anyway, just to be safe. Unfortunately, I just received note yesterday that instead - they've decided to put a "oncoming traffic does not stop" sign somewhere out there. Although I'm not sure what that will do. We'll watch and see, I suppose.

Wow. What a rush. :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Yes.

Seriously...some cute stuff goin' on here.

Monday, May 18, 2009

moderation vs. abstentionism

I don't like the taste of alcohol. Any kind, that I know of. I haven't tried 'em all, and don't intend to. But throughout my college and young adult life, especially my days in sales, I had close encounters with many who who enjoy the stuff, and have sampled a few myself. All of 'em tasted gross to me, even times where I really really tried to tell myself something tasted kinda good. I'd much rather grab a 20 oz. of Vault, or even a ice cold green tea.

That is to say, this is not a topic I struggle with much personally.

I do not believe the Scriptures point us towards an understanding of alcohol as "sinful" or "evil", although it definitely can lead to sin, and be involved in it. There are warnings about how to approach it/respect it/not to abuse it, etc. For some interesting fodder on the history of Christianity and alcohol, click here.

Many young Christians today, both within and outside of Holiness denominations, are taking the stance of moderation. I think it's a legitimate view, and even shared it for a long time...although it's easy to share any stance when you don't even like the stuff.

As a member of a denomination, and again currently as I move towards ordination, I've made certain commitments that I believe can be helpful (albeit not required) to a lifestyle of following Christ. One of those more recent commitments, is to advocate abstaining from all alcoholic beverages and tobacco products.

This is a personal decision and commitment, that to me came down to several obvious things. Do I enjoy it? Nope. Why do it then? To celebrate? Why does that method automatically = celebration, when you'd much rather do/eat/experience something you enjoy?

The only answer I could get was...well....other people/the world says this is how you enjoy/celebrate something. Not a good enough answer really.

The other side was a question asked by Donald Bastian, in his (looks really cheesy/tract-ish, but actually good material) book "Beer, Wine & Spirits: What's the Big Deal?". The question was, "What support do we owe believers (current and upcoming) who have (or will) battled alcohol and are seeking (or will seek) the life of sobriety?"

Abstaining, in that case, seems like a relatively simple denial of self, for the other.

Did Jesus and many other ancient believers enjoy beer and wine once in a while, in celebration of God's creation? Probably. Will we have beer and wine in the new creation? Most likely. Hopefully it'll taste better.

Until then, I'm choosing to abstain out of love for others, commitment to lead in a denomination that sets this choice as a goal to it's members, and also in large part because I think it's just gross.

And if you drink, you're probably thinking, "well shoot, that's cause he's just never tried _______" Truth is, I probably have. If not...guess I can wait until we've gotten past our fallen-ness to give it a go. :)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

gub-ment

A couple websites I found from others this past week, where you can keep track of, and read through, different bills and legislation being considered:

First, in the State of Illinois. (kinda boring, but like a Easter Egg hunt in a giant forest)

Second, in the US Congress. (separated by topic even, so it's like an Easter Egg hunt on a parking lot)

Seriously, click those links and look around. You may be surprised what we collectively are paying and asking our elected officials to sit around deliberating on....

Saturday, May 16, 2009

busy - ness

I didn't have an excuse. But here's how it happened...

It was a bright, sunny day just after a nasty storm had come through. The grass in our yard was taking advantage of every inch it could gain in such fertile conditions. I had to tame it back. So I changed out of my daily attire and into my lawn mowin' garb. It didn't take long. I came inside, washed my feet (I mow in flops, very stupid - I know.), and helped my wife get the kids down for nap time. It didn't go too hot, as it was their first day sharing a room during nap time, in preparation for our 3rd daughter's arrival.

But it went well enough for us to enjoy the Season Finale of LOST (holy cow. fo' real.). We knew they hadn't slept much, if any, and so decided to take them out for a drive to put them to sleep. It all happened so fast. I was still in my lawn mowin' shorts, and my pants were laying in the back bedroom. We each grabbed a child, loaded them into the van, and I drove away with a van full of sleepy girls.

It took about ten minutes before I realized I didn't have my license with me. I became nervous. I was on the highway, casually driving our daughters to sleep. Going 5 under the speed limit, if anything. What were the odds that I would need my license? I drive everyday, and it's been forever since I've been pulled over.

I watched for police cars. I was nervous every time another car came closer, for fear of a random fender bender. I felt like I had a giant neon light above my car that read, "DRIVING WITHOUT A LICENSE!".

We drove. We went to the park, where they napped for an hour. We drove home. I was never pulled over. No one knew. I'd gotten away with it. Whew.

How often do we get ourselves into something, and only then realize how ill-prepared we are, or how little we've spent in prayer for it....only to feel a sense of nervousness during it, hoping no one will figure out....and then somehow make it through the other side to a sigh of relief?

I think it'd be easier to spend more time appreciating having a license, so that it was natural to not be able to drive without it.

Friday, May 15, 2009

bring it.

Have you heard? The Detroit Redwings are facing the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference FINALS of the quest for Lord Stanley's Cup this year!! Last time the Hawks were here was 1995, against the Wings, and Detroit won in 5 games.

My first inclination would be cynicism to the mass of Chicago Blackhawks fan that are beginning to come out of the woodwork. Where have you been? I know there are a select group of you that have quietly cheered your team on, but with low expectations.

But then something else kicks in.

I finally have a chance to be surrounded by people who (at least feign) appreciation for HOCKEY. :) So I don't care if you think hockey is played in 4 quarters, if you call it a touchdown when someone scores, and if you think the Bulin wall is someone mispronouncing "Berlin".....wanna be a fan? BE A FAN.

And you know what? Chicago has a slight chance. These teams have met through the regular season this past year, and the evolution of games goes: Detroit winning in Overtime, Detroit kicking butt in regulation time, a long stint of not playing each other, and then Chicago winning the last 2 games of the regular season against Detroit. (although lets not kid ourselves, Detroit wasn't even tryin' - they had their spot clinched and couldn't gain or lose ground by their performance in those games, so they played it safe and easy to avoid injury/fatigue.)

So here's your chance, Chicago fans. ALL the games should be viewable on Fox Sports Midwest (channel 64 if you're Decatur Comcast). I'm sure we'll get a group together for one or two of the games towards the end. But don't miss a SECOND of the Conference Finals this year...(all times Central)
2009 WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
SERIES N
#2 vs. #4
Network
Sunday, May 17 at Detroit, 2:00 p.m. NBC, TSN, RDS
Tuesday, May 19 at Detroit, 6:30 p.m. VERSUS, TSN, RDS
Friday, May 22 at Chicago, 7:00 p.m. VERSUS, CBC, RDS
Sunday, May 24 at Chicago, 2:00 p.m. NBC, CBC, RDS
* Wednesday, May 27 at Detroit, 6:30 p.m. VERSUS, CBC, RDS
* Saturday, May 30 at Chicago, 7:00 p.m. VERSUS, CBC, RDS
* Monday, June 1 at Detroit, 6:30 p.m. VERSUS, CBC, RDS

ah, british comedy...

Just plain funny, I don't care who ya' are...





Thanks to the Friendly Atheist for the heads up on this sitcom, "Outnumbered".

Thursday, May 14, 2009

taboo.

I'm going to tread on some thin ice here. I know I have a few readers, and some will appreciate and some may be offended. I'm not an expert on this topic. But I do think that too many are completely silent on the issue on both sides. So I'll give my two cents, for what it's worth.

I believe God created man and woman for each other. I believe a man choosing a man, or woman choosing a woman to share a romantic relationship, goes against the order God has created things in, and is very similar to Eve eating the fruit in the garden. It is, in essence, telling God "I know a better way". I believe it is a sin. Others can debate about whether it's choice or nature...I'm not sure. Probably a bit of both, knowing we are born as imperfect humans in need of God's restoration.

I also believe there is no “greatest” sin. (besides the “unpardonable” sin found in Matthew 12:31-32 – which basically means saying the Holy Spirit is not a source of life – which is obvious why you wouldn’t be able to be made new by that life…you’ve rejected it.) There is no measure of offense against God. To go against His will is simply and unfortunately that, though some have larger consequences in this world. With that in mind, and knowing we are all sinners, I move forward.

We can't deny that there are many of our human brothers and sisters who have chosen this specific road of homosexuality. I believe too often, the groups that are vocal either for or against it...are the extremes. We cannot remain silent on a topic, simply because it's socially taboo.

In Illinois, there is a bill being delayed currently, that addresses the rights of homosexuals. It seems black and white, to someone who opposes homosexuality and believes God will judge a collective people by how they make legislation. But to look at some of the issues being addressed by the bill: (taken from the Daily Herald)

"They should be able to make emergency medical decisions just as married couples do. There are horrific examples of partners being denied access in an emergency. They should have access to state spousal benefits, including survivor benefits. They should be able to file civil actions based on spousal status. They should have the right to control the disposition of remains when a partner dies. They should have the right to share a nursing-home room. The list goes on. "

With those issues in mind, I'm not sure it's as easily a "black and white" issue.

In any case, if you're an Illinois Resident, feel free to contact your local representative and tell them your opinion on: HB2234: the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act

If you're near Decatur, it's either:
Robert Flider
132 S. Water
Decatur, IL 62523
217-428-2708

or

Aaron Schock
235 S. Sixth St.
Springfield, IL 62701
217-670-1653

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Soul Mother...

As if you needed more reasons to attend or support Olivet Nazarene University. Kudos to these guys. Check out this article for more info. (Obviously spoof-tacular, but still gotta give props to those shots) I don't know if these guys are BURPO, but I would definitely give them all thumbs up.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

sounds good to me...


So my friends have great ideas, and I usually catch on to them much later.

One recent good idea they've had forever, and I just got hip to is: NOISETRADE

There are artists out there who - now get this - care about MORE than just making money from their stuff!! *gasp. I know. Crazy, right?

So here's the thing. You go to NOISETRADE, and find music you like by sampling the artists right then and there, with no downloads needed and no crazy pop-ups to help them exist. It's extremely easy to use.

If you find an artist you like, you can download all of their cd one of two ways: 1. Tell 5 of your friends about what you're doing (they send them a link ONCE, and never anything ever again). 2. Pay them whatever you think the album is worth when combined with how much you have available to pay them. (to say it simpler: pay them ANY amount)

Then you download the music onto your computer, and burn it to a cd...and you're solid.

My only beef? Most of the music selection is uniformly "different", with a lot of hippy-sounding indie folk. You won't have heard of most of the bands, because they haven't spent much time/money telling the world about themselves. Also, a ridiculous amount of them claim to sound like Derek Webb. (he's one of the founders, so either they're sucking up to him, or his fans....or maybe one of them actually does sound a bit like him....but I've not found any)

But if you go through the selection a bit...you may find a few worth checking out. And it can't hurt to listen to a different genre of music once in a while....right? And if you're one of those people who love to go into a social situation knowing something about a good artist none of them have heard of thereby staking your place the the one "in the know" (you all know who you are), this is a pretty good source. :)

And by doing so you're participating in the sharing of art done in a very "right" way I think.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Who we are / called to love.

City Livin'
by G. Love
(with a few edits)

City livin' is so tuff.
Scrubbing floors on your hands and knees.
City livin' can get so hot when
It's a hundred and three degrees.
City livin' can make you mean.
Please don't stand so close to me.
Franky's got a dream that's gonna get him paid.
Jenny said, "Don't forget me babe"

Tony's making calls
Swinging 50 bags and E's in the parking lot.
Parking cars, working for tips
He said, "These rich suckers don't give me zip"
Christina's in the limousine,
Working all day for the agency.
About to go party 'til the sun comes up
And that same old song is keeping her up.

What you gonna do when the sun don't shine on you?
What you gonna do when the sun don't shine on you?
You just keep on shining through.

Now Ty is washing dishes at some fancy restaurant.
And his check sure ain't stretching too far.
'Cause he got too much month for the end of the money
And not enough money for the end of the month.
MJ and Red are running the clubs
Making the scene every night.
Bottles and tables for the fellas and the honey's
And dang these girls are fine.
But Luis don't know much about that delivering groceries
From the corner store.
Sending some money back to Mexico so that his kids ain't
Sleeping on the floor.

What you gonna do when the sun don't shine on you?
What you gonna do when the sun don't shine on you?
You just keep on shining through.
Keep on shining through
Keep on shining through.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

mommy's day

After putting careful thought and planning into an awesomely creative Mother's Day gift that ended up being way too small for any adult female.....I decided it'd be better to involve the girls anyways.

So yesterday morning, Sophie, Addie, and I went to Kroger to pick out some flowers and a card for Mother's Day. Addie objected. "I no have a mother?" Shaking her head. I said, "yes you do, Addie, and tomorrow is her day."

"No, I no have a mother...I have a MOMMY." She said back. "Oh, okay, yes. And tomorrow is Mommy's Day." I told her. "We have to get something special for Mommy for her day."

I didn't even have to prompt her, as we pulled up and she saw the hanging baskets of flowers she yelled, "Flowers!!" (okay, I may have slowed down to emphasize them) "We get flowers for mommy for her day? That make her happy, daddy!"

The girls were both smiling and excited by this point. We picked out the perfect flowers, and went inside for the card. I took the girls to the card aisle, parked in front of the Mother's Day section, and told Addie to pick ANY card. I was prepared to buy whichever card she truly wanted to give mommy, even if it was actually a birthday card on accident.

She walked away.

She found the giant, $10, song-playing Cinderella birthday card. I found out I actually do have limits. I narrowed the choice for a slightly-teary eyed daughter, asking her to pick one of three cards I was holding...and that's the one we got. (after going around the store to find Sophie's missing shoe that had fallen somewhere)

The whole ride home we talked about how tomorrow was "Mommy's Day", and how much we loved mommy, and how much she makes us happy. :) We love her.

For my wife: This story is a part of your gift. Wish I could have had a video camera. Our daughters are truly growing up, and we have you to thank for so much of it. We love you, and hope you know how much you are loved and special to us.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

reading...

So lately as I've been finishing up classwork for ordination, preparing the home for our 3rd daughter, writing a fiction book for fun, and getting ready to do two weddings for friends and family that I love in the month of May...I've been reading.

The book I'm reading is called "Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction" by David Kuo. To be honest, I wasn't expecting much. It was on sale for like 3 bucks at the local Waldenbooks. But I think especially at a time where the Democrat party has taken a large majority of the powers that be, it can be a very important read.

Kuo entered into politics and became active in the world of Washington, D.C. in order to change the world for Jesus Christ. He learned some very important lessons along the way, lessons that it seems many people could use right now. About what Government can, and can't provide. About what Jesus actually desires out of our political system. Here's a brief excerpt:

"Ironically, opposing sin became a sort of substitute for pursuing God. Opposing political policies is very easy when compared to some of Jesus' daunting challenges - loving my neighbor as myself, denying myself and following him, loving those who hated me, serving those who were sick. Jesus required my life. Politics required only my attention. And I really, really loved politics." pg.32

Not the most exciting read, in fact I can't say I've read more than a chapter at a time. But it's interesting to hear the way a lot of things that seem to "have it all figured out" in Washington actually work behind closed doors. But then again, maybe you wouldn't be too surprised by it all...

Friday, May 08, 2009

green room friendships

It was the morning of a lifetime. We were to be dressed and ready, and at the studio by 7:30am. They gave us each name tags, confirmed our identities, and led us through the lot past other buildings each housing their own shows; and finally we arrived. Wheel of Fortune was no longer a show my grandparents watched, and I saw once in a while if I happened to flip past it. I was going to be on it.

We entered the building, with no sense of splendor or romance. Plain doors, plain rooms, and old chairs lined up against a table filled with granola bars and fresh fruit. There was about 20 of us, filling what looked like a classroom from a "portable" back in high school. Then there was the extremely energetic guy giving us instructions for our day. They would be filming 6 shows today, and any of us could be in any of those shows against anyone else, depending on how the name drawing went.

We began looking around, sizing each other up, but with smiles on our faces. We would strike up conversations with the person next to us, even feign that we hoped they did well. We would pretend to either be more nervous, or less nervous than the person next to us; whichever fit the position we were going for.

Truth was, everyone there knew this was a big deal. Everyone knew they could walk out into the unknown world of Los Angeles a giant winner, a giant loser, or just having done okay. We had all watched the show. We each knew for weeks we were going to be on, and no matter how much we attempted to be casual, everyone knew that everyone there had studied the show more than life itself lately.

When names were drawn, you see friendships quickly fade and some smiles got larger/more intensely fake. There were some sighs, as people who had been "hanging out" realized thankfully they wouldn't have to compete against that one woman who seemed ridiculously smart and funny. There were other sighs, as people realized they were able to compete against the guy who was a youth pastor, and therefore knew more about Bible verses than competing in a fancy hangman tournament. hehe

The taping happened. No time to exchange pleasantries after the game, and no one wanted to stay friends. The socializing was out of necessity. Like a junior high relationship - we were together because there was no one else really. And it had ended...

Thursday, May 07, 2009

eyes opened...

Recently with our youth Sunday School class, I asked the teens to respond to two questions:

1. What is different about you and your life so far, because of Jesus?

2. What would change about the rest of your life, if beginning this morning, you said no to Jesus?

Realizing the theological implications of both questions, and setting those aside, I simply wanted to hear what a 12-18 year old would respond to both of these. Most of the students present were church-raised.

The responses?

1. "I'm happy, even when bad stuff happens." "I have more friends." "I don't get into trouble." And a few similar responses, minus a very mature "I'm not sure if anything is."

2. "It would be horrible." "I would have as many friends." "I'd get into more trouble/more often." "I would stop coming to church." And a few similar responses, minus "I'm not sure much would change, I'm a good person."

These answers led to some great discussion. They began to realize they could be "good people", and might even be able to have "happy lives" without Jesus. So why believe/live it?

This issue is at the root of a LOT of issues teens and young adults have with church, I think. We have lost our "otherness" in many ways. Not an emotionally manipulated adrenaline rush of contemporary blurship. (a skewed version of worship - copyright Chadwick Anderson 2009) But an actual supernatural experience of God. Recognizing and experience a God who is completely "other". Slowing down, spending time in His presence, allowing God to reveal Himself in ways completely new and different than the world offers.

Loving the unloved. Giving without reserve. Offering forgiveness/relationship to the offender. Proclaiming the healing and redemption found in the Kingdom, and being agents of these in our world.

May we experience the "other" in our lives. May our ministries, our classes, our church services, and our daily living be influenced and resourced by something "other".

Let's go beyond happiness, friends, and being good people. :)

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

so far...


I was hoping that the 3rd round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs would be a match up between Detroit and Chicago. It's still a very real possibility.

But perhaps less of one.

Last night, both Detroit and Chicago fell behind in their Round 2 quest for the Cup. Both best-of-7 series are 2 games to 1 now, with Vancouver and Anaheim up. Vancouver played an intense away game in Chicago. They deserved the win.

Anaheim, however, was dominated by the Redwings: puck possession, momentum, scoring chances, twice as many shots on goal, etc. They have only two reasons for last night's win:

1. Jonas Hiller - seriously, this guy is a ridiculously good goalie. Kudos to him.

2. The 2nd Goal. The GAME TYING GOAL from the Redwings near the end of the game. It was in, before any whistle. But because an official lost sight of the puck, he thought the play was dead, and blew his whistle, announcing that he began to blow the whistle before any goal was made. Even the announcers declared it a horrible call. But it was made. The goal was not counted, and the Ducks won - 2-1.

So let's try this again tomorrow night. I'll be watching the game at Lock Stock & Barrel here in Decatur....who's coming with me? I don't care who ya' cheer for....it'll be a good time either way. Starts at 9:30pm. SEE YOU THERE!!!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

answer that matters...

(an excerpt from my ordination interview -
responding to the topic of ordination itself)

Ever since the early church, some people have been set apart for leadership roles. These people “bear witness to an inward call of the Holy Spirit.” Upon meeting certain requirements, and bearing fruit that witnesses outwardly of such a call, they are set apart publicly, now referred to as “ordination”. This was especially important in the beginning stages of the ancient church, as they struggled to remain true with so many pressures and false doctrines becoming confused with their own. It remains true to this day, with more and more ease of access, there are more modes of information/proclaiming both truth and confusion than ever before.

For much of my life, I was under the impression that ordination was nothing more than a public statement of something already going on. After all, the Church had already entrusted that person to accomplish ministry, and ministry had been happening. I saw it as simply “sealing the deal” in a partnership that already existed. I still can’t say for sure I understand exactly how it all works, and I know it’s not some sort of “super-power that gets activated” that was previously dormant.

But there is something to say about a world-wide denomination of believers collectively laying hands on, and blessing you as someone called to accomplish God’s redemptive Kingdom work in this world. At the same time as the blessing, there is a commitment to support, build up, encourage, follow, guide, develop, work together, care for, and be cared for by. This is an important aspect of developing a leader, and a milestone in becoming someone who is serving and leading towards Christ; whether as a head pastor, an associate pastor, or a lay leader providing support within a church body.

I am looking forward to it.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

questions that matter...

By the end of this week, I'm due to respond to each of these questions, in view of my upcoming interview for ordination. I thought it would be valuable at very least, to share with you the questions asked of potential Free Methodist Ordinands...(Nazarene ministry friends - any response? How does this match up to questions asked of ya'll? I know it's probably weird not seeing a huge emphasis on entire sanctification as a stand alone issue. ;) )

  1. Explain your understanding of God. What Adjectives do you use to describe Him? How would you describe yourself in relation to God?

2. Speak to us about the sufficiency and authority of Scripture.

  1. Give an overview of your understanding of the salvation process—what John Wesley called the “order of salvation” from before faith to heaven.

  1. What are the key differences between a Wesleyan and Reformed view of salvation? In your answer, help us to understand and “own” a Wesleyan-Arminian perspective.

  1. In your own words, describe a Wesleyan understanding of sin and salvation, the work of the Holy Spirit, and the meaning of entire sanctification. How do you evaluate or relate to these understandings?

  1. How do the scriptures understand the church (its nature, composition, and mission)?

  1. What is your theology of worship? What are the essentials of the proper worship of God? How do matters of style and preference relate to the practice of worship?

  1. Describe your devotional life (methods, resources, etc.). What have you done recently done recently to keep your relationship with God alive and growing?

  1. What is your understanding of the NT teaching on the gifts of the Spirit? What is your specific position on “speaking in tongues”?

  1. How do you understand the role of the pastor? What are the pastoral essentials in caring for a congregation?

  1. Of what significance is ordination? Reflect on its meaning for the church, its mission and its pastoral and lay leadership.

  1. Our ordination ritual gives the scriptures and their witness to Christ a central place in our church. Comment on your intentions relative to the Scriptures and their place or role in your future ministry.

  1. What is your view of women in ordained ministry? How do you interpret the most significant Pauline directives regarding women in the church? How do you respond to the passages that describe women fully engaged in ministry with Paul and others? Please comment on Galatians 3:28 regarding there being neither “male nor female” as it applies to ministry.
  2. What is the responsibility of a 21st century pastor and a congregation to the Great Commandment and Great Commission? How do you envision leading a congregation in fulfilling the Great Commandment and Great Commission?

  1. What is your view of pastoral “authority”? What is your understanding of how a pastor works with and relates to the lay leaders and the Board of Administration of the congregation to which you are assigned in bringing change in mission, vision, or styles of worship? How do you relate to those in authority over you?