Sunday, December 2, 2007

Dumpster Divers

We had a small group question last Wednesday night at Prime Time that stalled discussion, "Why is it that Christian students vow that they would never ever get a divorce, or commit adultery, or get addicted to alcohol or drugs, etc.; but, in 20 years many of these same people are etched with defeat. What do you think would keep you from being a statistic like so many?"
My short response to my own question relates to our neediness. What if I were to tell you that I could have you eating out of a dumpster in 5 days? I would simply starve you. If we are hungry enough, I think most of us would eat almost anything.
So, one answer to the above question is that we should keep Full. We should become acutely aware of the smallest of pangs in our own soul. We should be desperately earnest to seek the filling of God's Holy Spirit through the Word and Prayer. Likewise, we should be filled by filling others.
I'm reminded of the last half of the Prayer of St. Francis:
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

'Jott' it

I've enjoyed the the functionality and practicality of Jott. This FREE service allows me to call Jott on my cell phone and speak a message to myself or another designated recipient. Jott then transcribes my voice message and automatically sends the text to the designated email address; usually a reminder to myself. One of my possible recipients is my Blog. You may have seen my poorly worded post (through Jott) a few days ago. Actually, I'm even more amazed by their incredibly accurate voice recognition technology.
Speaking of Technology, I'm currently using Qwest DSL for my phone and ISP. I don't want to pay for cable TV so I haven't taken to plunge into a cable internet provider. I'd like a faster connection and I'm willing to give up my home phone land line. What works for you? Are there no competitors in this industry?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Still kind of amazed.

Thanksgiving week started as we picked up Shannon from the DSM airport. She had a great time during her brief stint with the state department in Belgium. On Wednesday, we successfully connected with our Russian friends Anton and Natalia at the DSM airport for an icy trip to KC. They had thoroughly enjoyed a sun-soaked trip to Disneyworld.
NON-traditional foods accented our traditional American Thanksgiving feast. Guests from India, Alston and Rosalyn, provided Palak Paneer (cooked spinach with chunks of tofu). Natalia cooked up some Russian Borsch (even though we couldn't find fresh beets!) and spread Ekra (orange salmon eggs or caviar) on buttered bread.
My brother's wife decided to call my nephew Brady using Skype. He was sitting shirtless and shortless beside Lake Malawi in Mozambique.
I love this smaller world. I'm still kind of amazed.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Ungrateful Monkey

I wrote and read the following "children's story" for our Middle School students. They were a bit shocked by the ending.

The Ungrateful Monkey

Once upon a time there was a little monkey who lived in the jungle. The little monkey was so sad; he had only a few tattered clothes and there was very little to eat. All the other little monkeys could play, but this poor little monkey had a hurt leg. He couldn’t run or climb like all of the other little monkeys. All of the other little monkeys went to school but this little monkey had to stay home to find enough food to keep from getting too hungry.

One day as the little monkey was hunting for food, a giraffe came along. The giraffe said, “Say, little monkey, why are you so sad?” The little monkey cried and told the giraffe that he was so, so hungry.

“Well, said the giraffe, haven’t you noticed that the best fruit is at the top of the trees?”

“I can’t reach the tops of the trees,” said the little monkey, “I’m too short and my leg is hurt so I cannot climb.”

“Here, said the giraffe, “I’ll lift you high so that you can reach the tops of the trees.” So every day the giraffe came along and lifted the little monkey to the tops of the trees so that he wouldn’t be so hungry.

Some time later the little monkey was crying because he couldn’t play with the other children. He tried, but his leg had never healed and it hurt so bad. Along came a parrot and the parrot said, “Say little monkey, why are you so sad?”

The little monkey tearfully replied, “I hurt my leg and I cannot play with the other little monkeys and I can’t reach food without the giraffe.”

“Well, said the Parrot, “Us parrots get hurt all of the time and I know what will heal your leg.” So the parrot joined with all of his parrot friends and they gathered from all of the healing plants of the jungle. They mixed them up and bound them onto his leg.

The parrot said to the little monkey, “You keep this on your leg and it will heal very quickly.”

So in just a few days the little monkey was running and playing with all the other little monkeys. The little monkey no longer needed the giraffe.

Some time later the little monkey was crying because the other little monkeys had made fun of his tattered clothes. A beautiful Peacock came along and said, “Say little monkey, why are you so sad?”

The little monkey cried and told him he only had tattered clothes.

“Well”, said the peacock, “I will clothe you with the best of peacock feathers.”

So the little monkey was transformed. All the other little monkeys admired him for his feathery clothes.

The little monkey proudly strutted about in his beautiful new clothes; he ate everything he wanted and the little monkey could run faster than all the other little monkeys because of his strong legs.

One day the little monkey walked proudly past another little monkey who was crying. The little monkey said to the other little monkey, “Why are you so sad?”

The other little monkey sobbed, “I can’t reach the best fruit at the top of the trees and I’m hungry!”

The little monkey said to the other little monkey,” I have plenty of food to eat and I’m the strongest climber and the fastest runner. If you worked hard like me and if you had stronger and faster legs and if you dressed as beautifully as me then you would have plenty to eat.”

Then the little monkey walked off and left the other little monkey.

Monday, November 5, 2007

aaah, Giordano's

We landed in Orlando and, while Sue was picking up the rental car, I was browsing the tourist rack. Somehow, while flipping through a coupon book, a subliminal thought was planted firmly in my cerebral cortex, “Must have Giordano’s pizza. Must have Giordano’s pizza.”

So while dining on the best of seafood all week long in Florida, I was privately lusting for Giordano’s pizza. I even double checked our hotel room’s Daytona Beach Yellow Pages listing under ‘PIZZA’. No listing for Giordano’s in Daytona. I re-checked online through but to no avail. I even quizzed the locals in hopes that some enterprising, pizza-savvy investor had somehow quickly constructed a Giordano’s restaurant in Daytona and it didn’t show up on the radar of the ubiquitous Yellow Pages and online directories. Conclusion: No Giordano’s in Daytona. The closest culinary heaven was in Orlando; 70 miles away.

So, as the week wore on, being the good Christian that I am, I graciously deferred to Jonathan, Jessica and others in their selection of sub-par, non-Giordano’s eateries. As you can imagine, the anticipation was quietly building for our return to my pizza Mecca, Orlando.

Finally, as with all addictive behaviors, I was leading my traveling companions to think that Giordano’s wasn’t really that important to me. And, at week’s end, on the ride back to Orlando’s airport I maneuvered myself to ride shotgun with the job of navigator. I now had FULL control over our itinerary back to the Orlando airport. No one would know that I was directing us to Southwest Orlando (the closest Giordano’s) while the airport was located in far East Orlando. Timing was going to be tight, however. We only had about 45 minutes to rush in, eat, and get on the way to meet our flight. “Okay,” I told myself, “if the Giordano’s management is on the ball, we should have enough time.” I reluctantly resigned myself to the fact that I may not have the necessary time to Savor the pizza.

We found the exit and moved through the 3rd stop light, which had just, for some reason, blacked out. We spotted the Glorious Giordano’s Pizza sign. I was calm on the outside, but giddy on the inside as Sue snagged a parking spot uber close to the restaurant’s front door. We passed a couple just finishing their meal on the front patio. They looked so happy. We walked inside looking for quick service. In a Sherlock Holmsian kind of way, I noticed very few patrons and a full grouping of staff. Quick service should be no problem. However, with my heightened sense of awareness, I also observed that no lights were on in the restaurant. Just at that moment, my world came crashing in as the hostess apologetically announced, “We’re sorry, but the power just went out in the area and we will not be able to serve you.”

With the agility of cloud in the night sky (my family loves to use meaningless metaphors) my mind snapped into action. Now, in problem-solving mode, I asked the hostess, “Surely the gas ovens still work?” My desperation was now exposed as the hostess reassured me that, as soon as the power came back on, we could be served. She gently asked if we would like to be seated. Realizing that waiting was out of the question, my mind shifted into high gear, ultra fast computing mode. My CPU was presenting me with multiple options in a simultaneous blur. I was rapid-fire-sequencing huge amounts of raw data, and alternately assessing the probabilities of each proposed solution. Running from the lowest probability solution to the highest my mind captured the stark reality of our plight. We could:

Option 1: Quickly call the airline and book a later flight.

Option 2: Take our chances and wait for the power to return (Sue nixed this option as too risky)

Option 3: Beg for leftover pizza from other patrons.

We resorted to Option 3. Begging for pizza was not below me. And actually we didn’t really beg. We just stood outside discussing our situation loudly enough for the couple on the patio to hear us. This wonderfully angelic couple offered us their still-in-the-pan lukewarm pizza. We responded with the obligatory, “I’m sorry, we couldn’t take your pizza. Certainly you would want to take it home with you?” They then replied with the culturally-sensitive insistent comeback, “No, really, we ordered too much and we won’t take it to our hotel.” I think that’s what I heard as I was darting back into the restaurant to get a carry out box.

After thanking the couple profusely for the 3 pieces of who-cares-what-was-in-it pizza, we forced 5 bucks into their hands to prove we weren’t beggars. Being the good Christian I am, I didn’t want to overtly disappoint the others by mentioning the fact there were only 3 pieces of pizza but there were 4 of us. As we returned to our car, I may have carefully reminded Sue that she should watch her calories. I thought this ploy might cause her to restrict herself to eating only one piece of the spoils.

Still in a time crunch, we anxiously looked for a quick food restaurant with its light on. You see, the pizza remains were Mine. But, being the good Christian I am, we wanted to find some food for the others. In a low-brow kind of way, we smuggled my prize into Chile’s restaurant under my coat, ordered drinks and some chow for the others. And, being the good Christian I am, I offered to pray quickly before the other food arrived so that some of us could go ahead and eat while some warmth was left in the leftover pizza.

So, with eager trembling hands, I gnawed my way to ecstasy. Engorged on one and a half pieces of that thick crusted delight, and being the good Christian I am, I offered a leftover bite for Jonathan and Jessica to share.

Now, in hindsight, and under the unhindered conviction of God’s Holy Spirit, I feel that I owe a Giordano’s pizza to Jonathan and Jessica. As I told Sue, we need to mail order a shipment of Giordano’s pizza and invite Jonathan and Jessica over for dinner. We will fellowship over pizza and assuage my conscience (and my appetite), being the good Christian I am.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

They Don't Get It

Well, I'm back, I think. I vowed that I wouldn't let my blog go dormant. But, frankly, blogging has been the last thing on my mind since May. My Summer mission trips to NYC and France, vacation, youth pastor search, personal angst, etc., really got me out of sync. And, even more frankly, I've been really dry. So, here goes...

In our search for my ministry “replacement” I’m reminded of something I’ve been aware of for some time. There are those youth pastors who just don’t “get it”. Or else they don’t want to get it. In other words, they don’t understand why they’re failing; whether in their pastor’s eyes or in their board’s or parent’s or student’s eyes. They’re oblivious. I probe and ask these befuddled youth workers who feel victimized by their churches, “What have you done, or not done, to contribute to your church’s lack of confidence in your leadership?”

This is when I hear the one-sided tales of authoritarian pastors, unreasonable parents, unspiritual kids, yada, yada, yada.

Don’t get me wrong. I know ugly church environments exist. And I do give a burdened youth leader the best listening ear that I can. But cluelessness means death in a shepherding ministry.

Though well-intentioned, a blind shepherd can hurt the flock.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

President Jimmy Carter Revisited

In a post some time back I had posted 2 questions that students had asked former President Jimmy Carter during his visit at the University of Iowa in April. Here are the answers:
  1. Guess what President Carter uses for toothpaste? Crest
  2. What one thing would Pres. Carter have done differently during his presidency? Send in one more helicopter to rescue the hostages in Iran. One helicopter experienced mechanical failure and, according to President Carter, another inexplicably turned back. Other accounts state that two helicopters were caught in a sandstorm during Operation Eagle Claw.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Suspended: The Role of Tension; part 2

Throughout our lives we live in the tension between what was, what is and what is to come. Circumstances present tension, but what about God producing tension? What is the role of tension in the walk of the believer? Does tension produce awareness? Or motivation? Or passion? Or does this tension make us want to walk away?

We need to make sure that the “pull” from the “will be” is greater than the drag from the “once was” and “still is”. How do we add greater weight (pull) to the “will be”?

Buried in the present is the foretaste, the pledge, for what is to come. Seeds of the future reality are imbeded in the believer’s soul.

The suspension between the 3 realities is uncomfortable at best. The sensitive heart cries out for resolution. But no amount of patience resolves the tension. To a greater or lesser degree, the tension is there, straining the soul. Stretching us. Reshaping our identities. Driving us to the realization that who we think we are is not certain or fixed. While struggling, our only certainty is the hope of what will be (1 Peter 1:13).

This is why I am not at home here and now. Indeed we are "aliens" in a foreign land (1Peter 2:10-12).

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Suspended: The Role of Tension; part 1

Eschatologically, we are suspended between what was, what is and what is to come.

Inherent in this suspension is tension. What is the nature of this tension? What are its effects on the believer?

This eschatological tension provides a compelling metaphor for the everyday suspense of our journey with Christ. As we walk with Christ we are keenly aware of the constant tug of what we used to be, what we are now, and what we are becoming (our anticipated future).
One way of examining and learning from the stories of the Bible is to observe how people lived while suspended between realities; ethically, morally, physically, politically, economically, etc.

How did the person/people of God handle this tension?

How did their choices provide a clearer foreshadowing of the future reality?

How did they connect/draw upon their past realities?

How did their perception of past and future realities alter their present decisions/attitudes?

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Survey Says...

I asked a group of about 20 high school upperclassmen recently, "What brings about spiritual growth in your life?" Here are some of the answers:
  • "I know that everything has a meaning and a purpose. God is taking me through life. Also I am encouraged when I hear others' testimonies of how God has been faithful to them.
  • "When I persevere through trials; and those trials brought lessons.
  • "Being around people and seeing their lifestyles.
  • "When I can't trust others and have tough times with them I know God is with me.
  • "When I'm going through dry times I know that God is always there. I measure my spiritual growth by my actions. Even though I'm dry, I'm growing spiritually.
  • "The reality of spiritual warfare and how to love others better.
  • "My small group; I rely on them.
  • "When I have failed trials.
What are the common themes here? What main things spur spiritual growth in students?
1. Trials.
2. Bonds with other believers.

Questions I ask myself: How can my youth ministry programming better reflect students' processes of spiritual growth in these 2 key areas (of trials and relationships)?

My trusty side-kick Jonathan reminded me that these two components were mentioned in Duffy Robbins classic book , The Ministry of Nurture (first published in 1990!). It just so happens I'll see Duffy today!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Recharge Your Ministry Passion

The number one way to recharge your passion for ministry is to shed the to do lists, chuck the adminis-trivia and hang out with your students/people. Everyone in ministry knows that contacting students is the youth worker's fuel.
Without contacting, our teaching becomes stale and irrelevant, we lose sight of the big picture, our impact diminishes, and we lose empathy and patience for those we disciple.
Here's a pretty good article from Youth Specialties on contacting.
And here's an awesome group of guys who went with Jonathan and me to the Drake Relays. We ended up in the VIP tent and chowed on walking tacos and hot wing chicken strips; and we played some kind of movie title game. My car had a great discussion about God's goodness and the holocaust.

"Really...what makes swear words wrong?" she asked.

For those of you who don't know me well, I have a knack for starting a discussion with the obvious and ending it at an unsuspecting place. You think this post is about Swearing; but it's not.
A few of us were talking after Prime Time recently and one girl challenged us with the Question/Statement, "Really...what makes swear words wrong?" After a lively discussion trying to use Scripture to sort this out, no Biblical arguments made sense to this Christian girl. Perhaps out of desperation, I asked her what her goal for herself is. "What does she envision herself becoming?"
I tried to ease her embarrassment as she finally admitted that she had no idea what her future looks like. It dawned on me that we can easily coach or prod kids into a Christian lifestyle but unless that is integrated into their own preferred future, they'll never adopt it.
Another girl, a bright Russian exchange student, chimed in. She had almost given up trying to live the Christian way because, "No one can be perfect, so what's the point? And don't tell me it's for the 'glory of God'. How is God glorified by the death of children or the holocaust?" Then the first girl chimed in again, "And isn't life just God's big test to see what we'll do?" This discussion made me ask some questions...
  1. How many other kids need a clearer future hope? The majority? Or is this a small minority?
  2. How can I give kids a clearer picture of God's vision for His relationship with us and with His world? And how are His purposes best communicated to postmoderns?
  3. If you have ideas or other questions that need to be asked about this, please comment.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

My Daughter One-Upped President Jimmy Carter

Shannon got us some face time with former President Jimmy Carter at a reception before she escorted him onto the University of Iowa Carver Hawkeye Arena stage. My daughter eloquently introduced the 39th president to about 10,000+ onlookers. Although she kind of whipped up her 2 minute presentation that afternoon, she delivered it with conviction and poise.
How does she do it? I remember I was wetting-my-pants nervous when I read a few Bible verses at my college graduation. Of course I'm mildly biased, but here she was, giving a more moving speech in 2 minutes than Jimmy did in 20 minutes! She talked about getting involved. I was about ready to become a democratic activist!'s a Presidential Peanut Quiz.
  1. Guess what President Carter uses for toothpaste?
  2. What one thing would Pres. Carter have done differently during his presidency?
  3. How can evangelicals wonder how other evangelicals can vote for a democrat?
  4. How can a 2 minute speech be more moving than a 20 minute talk by a former President?
I'll post the answers and a family pic with President Carter on later post.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Bible Abuse

One 80 year old veteran Baptist church-goer recently told me that “you can get the Bible to prove just about anything”. This statement was his justification to dismiss the Bible; because it is impossible to understand.

Judging by some of my recent 9th grade Bible Instruction Class students’ glazed expressions, I wonder if they think like this 80 year old. In fact, one of my steepest obstacles with each year’s Bible Instruction Class is to convince the students that studying the Bible is worth it.

But then, what does it mean that Bible study is "worth it”? Unfortunately, to some of us, the Bible is worth something because it is a Pepto-Bismol devotional crutch we use to salve our emotional upsets. Taken in this light, the Bible has value if it makes us feel better. Thus, we gut the Bible of its prescriptive content and moral directives.

I talked recently with a believer who kept searching his Bible and praying for peace before he made a wrong decision. He wanted encouragement from the Bible but not exhortation. His prayer could very well have been, “Lord, make me feel better about my disobedience toward you. Thank You, Jesus. Amen.”

So how do we get kids to want to move beyond Biblical illiteracy?

1. Pray for them.
2. Provide real life applications to increase the practical value of the Bible's message.
3. Your Ideas Welcome Here:

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I Attended a Core Training Event

I've been to well over 100 youth worker training events. I've heard many more good trainers than bad, and The Core 2007, Helping Hurting Kids, ranked pretty darn high. Great content, great presenter (Dave Ambrose of Bridgeway Community Church). The Core omitted most of the nonsensical games and mixers, but included relevant video clips and edgy examples.
The subject matter shifted seamlessly through Understanding Hidden Hurts (session 1), Critical Skills for Tackling the Tough Stuff (session 2) and Successful Response Strategies (session 3).
I lifted some of this stuff as a teaser:

Monday, April 16, 2007

Middle Schoolers' Questions About Heaven

I spoke about Heaven at Main Event club recently at church. I overheard what the 8th grade girls were discussing afterwards:

1. “There are still things that I want to do before I go to heaven.”

2. “I hope we play soccer in heaven.”

Even though I think my talk was pretty good (they paid attention), these girls' unanswered questions made me ask some questions of myself:

  1. How could I have better addressed these girls' questions that I obviously left unanswered?
  2. How can I better anticipate what questions my audience is asking?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

I Must Be a Geriatric Rocker

Last night's Rod Stewart Rockin' in the Round Concert (aka, The RodFather) was Okay! I was pleasantly surprised! Of course I had low expectations of my free concert with scads of Geriatric Rockers; and I don't mean rocking chairs. I pictured withered old Rod-fans lustfully tossing their back braces onto the stage. I was braced for the aged rock star to have to stop halfway through his show to work out some cramps or to pull his belt back up to cover his paunch.
But, hey, I was surprised. It really was a cool stage setup and concert in a Scottish kind of way (Stewart plaid stage curtain, plaid drumset). Also, I didn't realize how many of his songs I had heard before. I actually got out of my seat well after the intermission; and, if you know me, I don't get jarred off my rear very often. But I joined in when the entire crowd sang along to "It's a Heartache, nothing but a heartache...."
Okay. I admit it. It was fun.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Cleaning off the Desk

  1. I just might use the new Google MY MAPS to plot and advertise our Summer Missions trip to the Big Apple this summer.
  2. Speaking of the Omni-Inventive Google, I tried this out: I simply typed in my home phone number in the Google search bar and POOF! My name and complete directions to my home appeared as quick as a google-wink. This is especially handy for my new friends, predators and stalkers! Fortunately, I was able to click the link and I found directions to delete my number from this invasive service.
  3. Did you know that you could buy a Cessna personal jet for $2.7 million at SAM’S CLUB? (per Consumer Report).
  4. At COSCO you can purchase 6.02 carat diamond earrings for $110,999.99. And COSTCO also sells caskets!! (per Consumer Report).

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Barna: Parenting Approach Determines Kids' Devotion to Christ.

We already know that parents really influence their kids' faith, but what I'm puzzling over is what are the Key approaches that parents employ that make or break their child's faith. Here's Barna's article.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Excerpts from: In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day; ch. 1-2

Sue and I just started reading Mark Batterson's book before bedtime. We haven't done bedtime readings much in the past but if I find more books like Batterson's, it may become a Thomas tradition.
Taking his cue from the obscure OT passage about Benaiah, son of Jehoiada in 2 Samuel 23, Mark Batterson challenges his readers to become modern day lion chasers. In fact, he calls it a "survival guide for lion chasers."
I thought I'd yank some meaty lines out of the guts of "Lion"...
  • "Spiritual Maturity is seeing and seizing God-ordained opportunities."
  • "Unlearning fears and embracing uncertainty requires a counter-intuitive approach to life."
  • "Most of our problems are not circumstantial. Most of our problems are perceptual. Our biggest problems can be traced back to an inadequate understanding of who God is. Our problems seem really big because our God seems really small. In fact, we reduce God to the size of our biggest problems."
  • "You know what the greatest tragedy in life is? It is someone whose god gets smaller and smaller with each passing day."
More later...

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Interview of Dr. Francis Collins

The head of the Human Genome Project, Dr. Francis Collins, is interviewed about his coming to faith on Anderson Cooper 360.
Great Stuff!

Also, my daughter Shannon has arranged for Sue and I to join Jimmy Carter for a reception and a Photo Op next Wednesday night! What to wear? What to wear? More info later.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

"I slaughtered a llama on the way to work..."

I skipped out of a ministry night at Prime Time to take Sue and Megan to the My New Orleans Tour of Harry Connick, Jr. and his 11 piece band. As you can see from the ticket, we were in the nose bleed section; right balcony, section 3.

We savored everything; from the New Orleans style set complete with lamposts, ceiling fans and an upright piano to the incredible musicianship. Connick selected the best for his band; the trombonist and drummer were my fav's.

The band started in minor keys and transitioned to upbeat major keys. The jig-like dancing must be a New Orleans thing; different, relaxed and fun. He performed infinite twists on classic tunes that I haven't heard in years; simple songs composed in a very complex, jazzy way:

Working in the Gold Mine
Havin' Fun Down on the Bayou
Hello Dolly
I'll Love You Till the End of Time
Heaven, I'm in Heaven

On Connick's first trip to the front of the stage to converse with the crowd a boy, Mason, came to the front and gave the musician a large bag of Skittles. I was surprised at Connick's sharp sense of humor and we loved him mocking American Idol.

Connick, noticing that the audience was in a mood to laugh at nearly every he said, began to make stupid statements just to hear us laugh, like, "I slaughtered a llama on the way to work and covered myself in its entrails." Silly, but comfortable and fun.

What was my divergent mind thinking during the concert?
How can so much talent reside in just one person?
How much does he end up making from a concert like this; after he pays agents, managers, musicians, etc.?
There's a wedding ring on his finger. I'm surprised he wears it; but kinda glad he does.
Jazz like this feels like a guys' thing. Relaxed and cool and a little off-beat and spontaneous. Like a bunch of guys goofing around.
Fantastic encore with the drummer tapping on the top of the grand piano with Connick, the trombonist and a trumpet joining him at, or on, the piano.
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Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Yes, sir. I'd like to have my truck "fixed"...

4 things, among others, are bugging me.

Peeve #1. I absolutely detest those artificial things that pozer macho dudes dangle from the trailer hitches of their trucks. I'm not going to go into it because I'm trying to keep this a "G" rated post. But they're disgusting. Every time I see those things I want to ask the driver to get his truck neutered. You can imagine little kids asking their dads, "What's that?" And the dad can answer, "It's Sick." I really don't like our hyper-sexualized culture.

Peeve #2. I can't figure out how to have the dates on my posts dated when I actually post them. As it is now, blogger automatically dates my posts permanently on the date that I create a draft.

Peeve #3. Another blogger peeve...why can't I create a draft and assign a certain date that blogger will automatically post it? Other blog services do this. Am I missing something?

Peeve #4. Why can't I add my own header to my site without knowing computer code?

(I'll probably be proven a real idiot for not knowing how to work blogger).

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Sailing Too Close to the Shore, part 2

You’ve perhaps heard of the movie Donnie Darko. The theme song, Mad World by Gary Jules, talks about easy to reach dreams that can smother us.

And I find it kinda funny
I find it kinda sad
The dreams in which I'm dying

Are the best I've ever had

It is so easy to have small dreams and then die in them.

But, we become spiritually alive when we try new things for God. When we sail farther from the “shore” it gets scary but it is a holy kind of scared.

Sailing a bit farther from the shore is…

  • When obedience takes you out of your comfort zone
  • When you commit more money to the church beyond what "normal" people would.
  • When you confide in your accountability partner about a secret sin.
  • When you tell your dad that you love him.
  • When you invite neighbors for a cookout.
  • When you allow your daughter to bring Christ to a dangerous part of the world.
  • When you, once again, give everything over to Jesus; your friends, your health, your future.

Like Francis Drake prayed, we need God to disturb us! We Americans get too comfortable. Comfort kills. Safety is a corrosion of the soul.


Lord, I confess my faithlessness and the smallness that is its fruit. Disturb me, God. Disturb me.”

Added note…

From The E-Myth Revisited. Here's what Michael Gerber had to say:

"The curtain is your Comfort Zone. And your Comfort Zone has been the false mask you put on...because it was safe when your spirit was not. Your Comfort Zone has been the curtain you have placed in front of your face through which you view the world. Your Comfort Zone has been the tight little cozy planet on which you have lived, knowing all the places to hide because it's so small. Your Comfort Zone has seized you before and it can seize you again, when you're least prepared for it, because it knows what it means to you. Because it knows how much you want to be comfortable. Because it knows what price you are willing to pay for the comfort of being in control. The ultimate price, your life... Comfort overtakes us all when we're least prepared for it. Comfort makes cowards of us all."

Sailing Too Close to the Shore, part 1

Okay, I’m going Retro now. Back in the the 60’s a melodic quartet hit the top of the charts with California Dreamin’. The song was written on a cold winter’s day in New York City while The Mamas and the Papas were yearning for California sun.

The first two stanzas of the song goes like this…

All the leaves are brown
And the sky is gray
I've been for a walk
On a winter's day
I'd be safe and warm
If I was in L.A.
California dreamin'
On such a winter's day

“To be safe and warm” in Los Angelos would be fun to dream about now as the Iowa temperature is dropping outside.
Our dreams get pretty small compared to God’s dreams for us. We dream about safety and warmth, recreation, comfort and...sunny California.
Now, compare our small dreams to those of Sir Francis Drake who circumnavigated the earth. He is credited with this prayer from 1577: “Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little, when we arrived safely because we sailed too close to the shore.”

Someone said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.”

Stay tuned for part deux.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Pluralistic Gift

I’ve gotta get one of these clever items! (just kidding). I'm sure that at the very bottom of my gift list is this display that expresses the equality of all religions. The Bible, Koran, Torah, and more; all leveled.

The product description says it all, “For the first time, the world’s most influential religious texts are brought together and presented on the same level, their coexistence acknowledged and celebrated.”

Never mind that any devoted Christian, Muslim or Jew would vehemently object to the implications of this piece of art.

Never mind that "progressive" thinkers most likely won't apply the same tolerance to politics, economic systems, etc.

Never mind that when I "celebrate coexistence" I implicitly celebrate the un-truths of other religions' core beliefs.

Never mind that when I "celebrate coexistence" I effectually value co-existence more than my other beliefs.

Let me know if I'm off-base on any of my points; and, oh yeah, Happy Festivus!

Questions to ponder:

1. What is good about this artistic expression? What is true about it?

2. What is wrong about it? What is misleading?

3. Really, what is wrong with the idea that all religions' "coexistence" should be "acknowledged and celebrated”?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Tough Times

My Dad had a really rough week last week. He's having trouble with his kidneys. So we placed him in the hospital. He's doing much better but I would appreciate it if you could throw up some prayers on our behalf. My Dad's an awesome guy and I hate to see him suffer. Isaiah 26:3 has been rolling around in my mind this past week...
"You will keep in perfect peace
him whose mind is steadfast,
because he trusts in you."

Friday, March 16, 2007

That's My King!

Mark Barnes added images to S.M. Lockeridge's moving sermon segment entitled "That's My King"

Mind Mapping

Mind Mapping and Concept Mapping

I was totally unaware of the methods of Mind Mapping and Concept Mapping. Cool stuff. You can use mapping to help with categorizing ideas, brainstorming, planning, etc.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Emotional Hurt

I’ve suspected for some time that the emotional blows that hurt the most are those that drive us closest to the truth about ourselves.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Me Worship

I plan to use this video before our worship time at Prime Time next Wednesday. Enjoy!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Emotionally Mature or Just Spiritually Mature?

Leadership coach Dan Webster says in his Training Course that one cannot be spiritually mature unless one is emotionally mature. In what ways is this true? In what ways is this untrue?

Webster's insight opens a Pandora’s box of issues.

· How can we fulfill our core calling, loving God and loving others, if we are emotionally diminished?

· What does it mean to be emotionally mature?

· If emotional maturity is necessary for spiritual maturity to develop, what hope does a depressed person (or emotionally scarred person) have of becoming spiritually mature?