Sunday, December 28, 2008

The burning Bush...

He's going down in flames.

Bush has realized he's had one of the worst presidencies... ever. He's admitted to many of his failures in an ABC interview (which you can read here). I don't think he has much ground to defend himself on. His wife feels differently. But come on. Really? She really thinks he's made a difference for good in the world? I think Dora the Explorer has improved more lives in the past four years than George W Bush.

Listen, I don't know the dude. I'll lay it out there and say that Dick Cheney is probably as evil as I think he is. Though I have my inklings about Bush, its hard to tell. I don't believe a word he says. I think he's allowed big business to run our country. I think he started a war for profit and has let it get totally out of hand. I think he's let spending get way out of hand and has greatly handicapped our nation by putting us so far in the red. I think he's the worst president this nation has seen.

You can make up your own mind. I won't miss him. January 20th can't come quick enough. Reading all these articles and interviews with Bush and his counterparts lately has kept me entertained but unable to understand how anyone can still support the dude.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I've been busy...

I really have. So here's some updates and thoughts from the past two weeks...

Dick Cheney is an evil man. I've thought this for a while. But he basically agrees with me now.

We've already been through the bailout of the mortgage industry. That made me sick. We, as American taxpayers, are paying for the greed of others. Now this. American automakers keep killing technology that could cut our dependance on foreign oil and continue refusing to cater to the desires of the majority of their potential customers. I drive a Honda with good reason. Why is it our responsibility to save companies that maybe shouldn't exist anymore anyway? Survival of the fittest in business, right? I know its a complicated issue, but still...

Ann Coulter is talking again. She had her mouth wired shut for a while, and the world was a better place. Now she's running around demanding apologies for the hateful diatribes she delivers on national media outlets. Listen, lady: everyone else has been sworn in using their full name when taking the presidential oath of office. Barack Obama has every right to use his full name. I proudly use all three names that my parents gave me--Barack Hussein Obama should, as well.

And while we're on the subject of Barack, let's talk about something. I know the man is of a mixed ethnic background. I'm fully aware of it. But I can't believe how many people I've heard tell me something to the effect of: "People are making too big a deal over the fact he's black. He's not even really black. His mother is white and we determine our race by our mother." By saying something like that, I feel like people are admitting to their own racist tendencies. His race is a big deal because the majority of the country is still very prejudice--particularly here in the South. And as far as his mixed racial background, let's just put it out there: he's obviously not white. I dare say that if we were to mix him in a crowd of people and have the typical white person from Kentucky go down the line and identify his race, he would be labeled "black." So enough with the bigotry, as Ben would say...

Speaking of such issues, I got to visit the National Civil Rights Museum while I was in Memphis a couple of weekends ago. Brittany and I went down with several friends for the St Jude Memphis Marathon weekend. No, no--I only ran in the 5k. But still, I ran. It was a fantastic weekend. Rendezvous' world famous barbeque and Flying Saurcer and BB King's Blues Club and oh my gosh there was lots of good food. Beale Street was just as much fun as you would think--but, oddly enough, that's about all there is to night life in Memphis. Anyway, after all the races were over on Saturday, we walked down to the Civil Rights Museum. Its partially housed in the Lorraine Motel where Dr Martin Luther King was assassinated. It was interesting and very educational and exceptionally eye-opening. The trip really makes you think about how far we've come and reminds you of how far we have to go. It was certainly worth visiting. Though I was a little disappointed we didn't visit Graceland... Elvis will have to wait.

We lost a tremendous human being on Friday the 12th. Dr Kela Fee finally succumbed to her battle with cancer. She was an amazing lady. After being diagnosed in 2004, she did so much to raise money for cancer research and to give hope to others. She will be sorely missed around Broadway and Bowling Green in general.

I've found a new slice of Sabbath during the week. At Total Fitness' gym on Russellville Rd, they have a super hot tub and steam room. Who knew a gym membership could be so relaxing? I went this afternoon while Brittany was helping Dana paint the Beasley-Brown's new place. I slipped into the hot tub, turned on Ryan Adams' "Heartbreaker," closed my eyes and forgot the world for a little while. Its quite heavenly.

I love my job. I really do. Tonight, Brittany and I went shopping for a family that just moved into the TC Cherry area. The children were in real need of clothes, coats and shoes. Someone at church had handed me a $500 check last weekend to take care of a situation just like this--crazy timing. But Broadway has come so far in the last year. Its a beautiful thing to see a church begin to shift its focus in the right direction. Don't get me wrong, Broadway as an institution still has a long way to go--but at least we're on the right track. Helping develop local service agencies. Mentoring students at a local elementary school. Winterizing the residences of families who couldn't afford to do it otherwise. Providing home furnishings for individuals and families in need... People are beginning to get it. I hear it in the stories they tell. You see it in their eyes when they talk about being in the home of an under-resourced family. All the preconceived notions about "poor" people fade away when you see hungry children or a family without heat in their home or an elderly lady that hasn't had hot water for three years. They know they have to do something. Not try to do something. Not try to convince them of their idealogies. They feel a deep need inside of them to reach out and help another child of God... and it changes them. I love my church. I love the Church. I feel more hope now for the future of our community, state and world than I ever have. Like I said, when a church starts taking steps to follow in the way of Jesus, its a beautiful thing.

The JAWS of Life's former members still haven't picked a new name. Seth, Allen, Collin and I have talked about lots of options, but nothing has emerged as a clear winner. We're on the hunt, though...

Speaking of music, last Thursday night we got to go see Andrew Peterson's "Behold the Lamb of God" at the Ryman in Nashville. It was a great show--really, really great. Andrew Peterson, Andy Gullahorn, Jill Phillips, Gabe Scott, Ben Shive, Randall Goodgame, Andrew Osenga, Bebo Norman... so many great musicians, writers and singers. For me, Andy Gullahorn was tops of the evening. The dude can write a song. Really. I loved the concert.

That's about enough for tonight. More posts soon.

High five.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The heights from which we have fallen...

COLDPLAY STEALS MUSIC! - For more amazing video clips, click here

First three Coldplay albums = amazing
Fourth Coldplay album = pretty lame
Stealing other people's music for fourth Coldplay album = extremely lame

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I still smell like Beale St...

Went to Memphis this weekend with a bunch of folks to run in the St Jude Marathon weekend. I ran the 5K--in 33:37 (official time) and was pleased. That's the longest I've every run in my life and I had a great time doing it. The weekend was wonderful--I'll blog about it soon, but this week at work is going to be killer.

So, in the mean time, here's something to chew on:

The Story of Stuff

You are what you eat and you should be responsible for what you buy. Think about it...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

"You're not your freakin' khakis."

So we didn’t buy anything on the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday—which, by the way, I find to be a very appropriate name). We weren’t “sticking it to the man.” We weren’t changing the systems. We were just taking another step.

We stopped shopping at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club. We still shop at Target. So are we making a huge difference? No. Are we taking a step in the right direction? Yes.

We started trying to eat local as often as possible—cooking local food and eating at local restaurants. Do we always do this? No. Is it making a huge difference in the lack of accountability at supermarkets and fast food chains? No. Is it a step in the right direction? Yes.

We are trying to sell one of our cars to take us down to a single car between Brittany and I. Do I still ride the scooter (which is gas powered) a lot? Yes. Does it get 70 mpg and save us a lot of money on fuel? Yes. Do we still go on road trips when we want to? Yes. Am I opposed to flying in planes? No. Are we making a huge difference in American’s addiction to oil? No. Are we taking a step in the right direction? Yes.

That’s the thing with all of this. We’re trying to move in the right direction. The steps we are taking aren’t near as drastic as others—we even have some friends who are taking more extreme measures to change our country and world. But we are taking steps. We are trying to change.

That’s why we didn’t shop the day after Thanksgiving. In doing so, we weren’t changing all that is evil within our capitalist economic systems. We were simply taking a stand and saying we will not take part in things like this anymore. We aren’t perfect. We’re not ready for a lot of steps yet. But that’s why I say “steps.” One at a time, we’re working our way towards a goal of living in a way that is both environmentally sustainable and conscious or product origins.

I don’t want to say too much about retail extravaganzas like Black Friday for fear I’ll hurt someone’s feelings. (I obviously don't think ALL purchases made on that day were bad ideas or a waste of money.) Then too, I realize full well that I’m as much responsible as anyone else for humanity’s current state—so I admit my hypocritical tendencies. But after hearing about this, it’s hard to be quiet. Are the sale prices worth all this? Is this what people need to get excitement in their lives? Do children need the next Tickle Me Elmo or video game system so bad that it’s worth all this madness? Advertising like Best Buy’s “You, Happier” campaign makes me want to vomit. To sum up Tyler Durden, advertising and media and marketing has us chasing cars and clothes and crap we don’t need.

I guess I say all this for two reasons: 1, to defend my actions and worldview; 2, to remind us all that we have to change. We should be responsible for the things we purchase. We should spend less on useless gifts. I encourage everyone to check out the Advent Conspiracy. It’s a great first step for those interested in taking one.

On a side note: Brittany and I have figured out a legitimate and legal way to setup back enough money to move to Europe before next Christmas. We’re keeping our fingers crossed…

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Socio-Political Animated Films and Me

This movie blew me away. 90% of the movie has no real dialog. Its brilliant.

I know this movie is aimed at children, but it has a lot to say to adults. People in the movie become totally reliant on technology, which, eventually, results in their becoming fat and stupid. Their insatiable need for buying larger amounts of cheap products results in the destruction of the earth--mainly through the overwhelming amounts of waste. They are all so absorbed in the technology they've been surrounded by since birth, that they're all totally unaware of the world around them. The connectivity brought by technology has caused a lack of real relationships and active lifestyles.

Not only is there all of this stuff going on under the surface, but it has laughs. I loved it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

According to you, God must be lonely...

I've talked about Doug Pagitt's book "A Christianity Worth Believing" on here before. Its a great book--well worth your time to read. But just as great as reading the book was getting to go to the book tour stop in Nashville, helping setup the lights and sound, and hanging out with Doug, Tony Jones and Mark Scandrette. When Doug was doing his book reading/share time, he was talking about his opinion on tracts--and it was a enlightening moment.

I know you've probably seen the "Gospel tract" before--here's an e-version of one. They attempt to explain the whole story of God in a short, concise manner so as to convince someone to "personally invite Christ" into their life. (I use quotations only because I'm quoting the text from the page, not because I'm poking fun at what its saying.) Anyway, a lot of times these tracts show man and God separated by some great void that sin has created. (See here.) Doug made the point that God, who is (according to the diagram) all by himself on the one side of the void, must get lonely over there.

I've been thinking about that a lot. Not the joke. I got the joke. It was very funny to me. But I've been thinking about the separation from God that these tracts proclaim. One of the most beautiful teachings within Methodist doctrine is prevenient or preceding grace. (Decent explanation here.) It basically boils down to the idea that God is always part of all of our lives--his grace, his love is an active part of every individual's existence.

That's my problem with tracts. That's my problem with a lot of evangelism styles. They always boil it down to the "fact" that we're broken people (which I agree with) who are sinful (which I also agree with) and because of that, are separated from God (that, I don't agree with). I think God is always part of every life. For instance...

I think we all have an inherent sense of morality. Try cutting in line at the water fountain after recess at your local elementary school. Try cutting in line at Wal-Mart during their Day-After-Thanksgiving-Sale. Try sleeping with your wife's best friend, tell your wife about it, then blame it on her. Try living in Columbus, Ohio and supporting the University of Michigan. Try eating more than two Big Bufords from Rally's. There's just some things you KNOW you shouldn't do. You don't have to be told. You know.

That's just one example, and to some of you, that's a piss poor example. There's plenty of others we could talk about. But the point is this: there exists all kinds of evidence that God is at work in the life of every human. God isn't on the opposite side of some void or chasm, waiting for us to "invite Jesus to be our personal Lord and Savior." God is involved here and now--pointing us towards a better way. God's grace is present in all of our lives.

Psalm 139:7-8
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

Friday, November 7, 2008

No more guessing...

All the votes are in.

This is a big deal.

I wait in anticipation. I'm incredibly curious to see what this change in administration brings us. I don't think Obama is the answer to all my prayers--my hope rests in Jesus. Obama was just a better choice than the McCain/Palin ticket. A MUCH better choice...

Regardless of what you think of him, its a historic day: our first black president. As far as change goes, we'll just have to wait and see what happens come next year...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Interesting news...

For those who care:

Emergent Village is undergoing some major changes. Read about it here.

Emergent Village has been such a huge catalyst for change (re:much needed change) to the structure, practices and conversations of the American church. Indeed, many of the people associated with EV have been encouraging and helpful in my own journey in figuring out what it means to be a follower of the way of Jesus in this day and time. I kinda saw this coming when I filled out the survey they talk about in the press release--but its good to see that they are being consistent to meeting the need rather than building the institution.

"High five!" Tony Jones and all the good people of Emergent Village. Thanks for what you've done and can't wait to see what's next.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

National Set Your Clock Back An Hour (For Some Reason) Day

The Road Hog (part 2):
I've almost got two thousand miles on it now.

The Eagle (its what makes The Scooter into The Hog):
Recognize! And in case you were wondering--the answer is "yes." The eyes do light up.

The Guitar Cabinet (I built it out of solid red oak. It's sexy.):
Who doesn't love green velour?

The Cabinet Rear (its loaded with a Celestion Vintage 60 and a Jensen Vintage Ceramic):

And now...

Prepare yourself.

The Goatee:

Its been with me for about six months. A little skanky, but very dignified:

I'm gonna donate this to the Locks of Love program:

I'm gonna miss it. My face feels weird now. Perhaps that's why I look so odd here:
Merry Christmas, Brittany...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Pictures! (as promised)

The Girl (Penelope Jane Ryan):

The Boy (Capo Hemingway James Ryan):

The Shoulder (before Wes Carter):

The Shoulder (after Wes Carter):

The Plinko Board (I built this at the request of Jason for the youth):

More to come! This is all it'll let me load for tonight. I've got pictures of the scooter, some new pedals, my finished speaker cab, and Halloween. High five...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My Mom...

The technology integration specialist.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A "Song For Sarah"...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Do I need to swear more?

I'm kinda surprised.

I figured people would have a lot to say about my "Oh Hell!" post. Thus far, there's only been silence.

Did my blogbbatical kill all interest? Am I not controversial enough anymore? Does this dress make me look fat?

I miss how we used to talk.

You remember?

How we'd stay up late and argue on my blog posts? We'd comment away all night...

Why can't things be like they used to be?

(post on "prevenient grace, the problem with tracts, and God all by himself" is coming soon...)

Monday, October 20, 2008

He's old, but he's fiesty...

Fox News asks Ron Paul a question.

Ron Paul drops a great Sinclair Lewis quote.

Suddenly, its time for a commercial break.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Oh, Hell!

I don't like talking about the idea of "hell." I don't wanna believe in it. I just don't. I don't wanna confront the idea of people spending forever separated from the presence of God (which is what hell is). That's too heavy and too awful.

Then too, the Bible isn't extremely clear when it comes to how all that works. I know, I know--some people are going to say that the Bible is very clear on the matter. They'll say things about if you "accept Jesus into your heart" then you're bound for "heaven." They'll say if you choose to "reject Jesus" then you'll spend eternity in a place that involves "burning" and "weeping" and such. I don't think its that cut and dry. I think way of Jesus is much bigger than that.

Don't get me wrong. There's definitely a line of accountability with God. That's a fact that is very clear Biblically. As a human, I just don't think its my place to define what that line is and what puts people on one side or the other. I'll leave that to God.

But anyway, some friends and I are studying Romans together and Paul talks a lot about God's wrath and such in the first few chapters. Its funny--well, not humorous, but I ironic I suppose. When Paul talks about God's wrath, its typically letting people have the independence from God they're asking for. It wasn't what I expected to find. So we decided to find out how many times Paul talks about "hell."

He never does.

Paul mentions "hell" zero times in any of his letters. Luke, in writing the book of Acts, never quotes Paul as mentioning the word hell there, either.

That blew me away. Here's a couple of good links to read about further discussion on the subject.
Running With The Lion
Jerry Bernard


Sunday, October 12, 2008

I beg your pardon! There was lots of love!

On Saturday, Brittany and I went down to spend some time with her parents in Nashville. I had to get a speaker I had special ordered at Sam Ash for the new speaker cabinet I just built. (I'll post pictures on that soon.)

Anyway, Mr Steiner thought we should go somewhere different for dinner. So we headed south to the famous Loveless Cafe. I've heard stories about this place and even seen a special on TLC about their biscuits--but nothing could prepare me for the delightfulness that I would find there.

I have no idea what heaven will be like. But I do know one thing: there will certainly be an endless supply of the Loveless Cafe biscuits in heaven. They were a-maz-ing.

If you ever get the chance, GO! We even saw Alfonso Ribeiro there. Can a home-cooking restaurant get any better? I submit that it cannot!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Dr Seuss should have written a book of the Bible...

I worry about the state of the church a lot--when I say church, I mean to say the church at large, the global brotherhood/sisterhood of people who would call themselves followers of Jesus.

I think we can all agree that humanity, over the past two thousand years, has greatly messed up the church. To look at its current state greatly disturbs me--especially when evaluating the church here in America. (It can be so political and country club-like and I could go on and on...) I know that there are people everywhere working to restore the original vision of Jesus' life and message. But I still feel like there's a tremendous amount of tension among Christians--there exists a lot of grief and strife and heartache that has no place in the church.

I don't think these thoughts are anything new. We've been going through Romans on Wednesday nights at Ekklesia--and its amazing to read about the 1st century Jews and Gentiles within the church at Rome. In his letter, Paul is constantly discussing the stress between the two groups. They would have both identified themselves as followers of the Way, but one group always thought they were better than the other. He was always reminding them that God cares for everyone and doesn't show favoritism.

With that framework in mind, I present to you the infamous Dr Seuss:

Combine my previous thoughts and those videos and gee whiz... blows me away. (The psychedelic 70's moments and the Carpenters-esque music just add to the fun.)

What say ye?

Promises and all that jazz...

Not to be a tease, but I have four posts on the way. They include:

1-camping, otters and disc golf
2-Dr Seuss, the emerging church and love
3-grace, bad "evangelism" tracts and Methodism
4-Paul and "hell"


Friday, October 3, 2008

Break's over...

Well, I think I've decided its been long enough.

Here's the issue: I like to stir the pot. Which is fine normally. I get away with pushing buttons and fanning the flames a lot. I don't mind the negative reactions that come my way--I like the fight. When it affected those I love and care about, however, it made me pause and think.

I don't know how to approach this. I like asking questions. I like talking about the things no one else wants to talk about. I like being able to put it all out there. I like being completely honest and not having to hold myself back. I want to continue these things.

I do not, however, want to cause grief or hurt feelings.

So I'll be walking a fine line. At times, I'm sure I'll cross that line. It happens. I will not be anything but true to myself, though. This is who I am.

There's a possibility of posting a ton of videos from the past few weeks--mainly political and social commentary. But here's a quick run down of my thoughts and events from the past month or so:

-I like to blog--I missed it
-I got to see Shane Claiborne speak at Lipscomb
-Sarah Palin, in the words of Andrew Sullivan, is a "farce"
-Brittany and I have set our sights on moving to Spain
-we got a new puppy--a lhasa apso named Penelope Jane (pics to come because...)
-we finally got a camera
-I like it when people who are supposed to be on the Late Show w/ David Letterman don't show up and he harasses them all night
-Bobby came into town for a couple of days--high five
-Kaleidoscope threw it down at the Capital Art last Monday night
-my concerns about the government keep growing (can we say multi-billion dollar buyout of groups that let greed overtake their good sense?)
-disc golf and scooter rides offer moments of sanity when I need them most
-Barack Obama is not the answer to our problems--he may be the best choice of the available options, but that's about it
-I can't handle much of the Grateful Dead
-my wife is an amazing human being that makes each day spent with her better
-we decided to sell the VW Jetta--its all scooter all winter, baby!
-I setup an appointment in October to let Mr Wes Carter do his thing
-leaves have started changing, fall is coming, my allergies are getting worse
-I need to play music as often as possible--I might otherwise explode
-I like to blog--I missed it

Monday, September 8, 2008

Drum roll, please...

Well, I blog a lot. If you are going to call yourself a "blogger," you need to be about the business of posting regularly. And I do. I put a lot of thought, effort and time into my more lengthier posts--but even if its short, I only post something if its worth you reading or watching.

I am incredibly grateful for all of you that read my blog--I typically have several hundred hits a week comprised of anywhere from 75-125 individuals. (I have my blog monitored by SiteMeter.) I am even more grateful for most of you that post comments on here--I thoroughly appreciate the conversation. Regardless of whether or not I agree with comments, I am always glad that the discussion goes on.

However, for several reasons, I'm going to take a break from blogging. I will continue to read the blogs that I normally do and I won't turn comments off on my own blog--I just won't be writing any new posts or comments for a while. I don't know how long. Maybe a week. Maybe a month. Maybe two months. Long story short, I'm taking some time off from it all.

Please, by all means, read some of my older posts if you haven't before. I've written on a lot of fun (and a lot of not-so-fun) stuff. But either way, there's a year and a half's worth of posts to read if you'd like.

Here's me, sadly waving goodbye:

I'll talk to you later...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Normally, I'm a Colbert kind of guy. But...

This is too good for you NOT to watch.

The infamous John Stewart, everyone:

Sunday, August 31, 2008

John McCan't...

I don't get it. I really don't get it.

Why would anyone in their right mind vote for John McCain? Why?

I've only been able to discover two reasons someone might vote for him as president of the US:

1-He's a Republican party candidate and they're voting Republican no matter what. (Why they'd do that, I don't know.)

2-He's "pro-life." (I put that in quotations because he's not 100% pro-life. He's about 75% pro-life when it comes to his voting record and past statements on his stance.)

I can't find any other reason someone might vote for him. And those two don't make a lot of sense... actually, the first makes no sense. But the second makes some sense. I just don't see how you can boil everything down to that. You want to support someone who doesn't support the killing of babies, right? But what about the Iraqi babies he doesn't mind killing? I'm pro-life, sure. But I'd take it a step further: (to quote Rick Warren) I'm whole life. I care about the child after its born--about its healthcare and education and the economic circumstances of its family and so on. Being pro-life is a big picture issue. Its not just a political stance. Being pro-life isn't about voting Republican. In the same vein, for a president to call himself/herself pro-life, they need to be more holistic about it than simply being opposed to abortion.

I'm not the biggest Obama supporter. (I'm actually a big Clinton supporter, but that's old news and another post). But telling people I'll vote for Obama brings with it a set of assumptions from a lot of folks. Collin and I talk about this all the time: I'm not a Republican, I'm not a Democrat, I'm not a conservative, and I'm not a liberal. But sadly, in the current US political system, people assume that if you're not one, you're the other. Please don't. Just because I'm opposed to John McCain doesn't mean I'm opposed to right-wing political stances. Just because I'll vote for Obama doesn't mean I'm pro-abortion. My world view is much bigger than that.

Voting for a president is such a big decision. I hope we put all of our thoughts, feelings, logic, reason, and experience behind who we vote for. This is the next four years for all of us, but the repercussions will last much longer than that...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

the Windy City...

The wife and I are specifically not having kids for a while for several reasons--one of which is that we want to travel. We like our freedom and want to see as much as possible while we're young and we can. With that in mind, we headed to Chicago last weekend.

I would have blogged daily while there, but the internet was $12 a day in our hotel room--so that was outta the question. Here's a weekend recap:

Day .5-
We drove up Thursday night, got into town late. So it was just part of a day there, hence the Day ".5". Anyway, to save on parking fees, we just parked in the long term long at Midway Airport then rode the train into the city. Great idea, saved us a lot of cash. But it also provided some interesting experiences over the course of the three days we were there. For instance, that night, a guy got on the train who looked visibly upset. Brittany said he must have suffered from Terrets Sydrome as he was shaking his head and repeating the phrase "Mother F---er" over and over and over. I was glad when he got off at the first stop. Anyway, we get to our hotel smack in downtown Chicago: the Palmer House Hilton.

Its a beautiful lobby and facility. Absolutely beautiful. We thought we'd got such a great deal by booking on and we did (financially). But as we got off the elevator, we started to get worried. We made a right hand turn, went down one hallway, another right hand turn and down another hallway (with a lower ceiling), then a left hand turn and down another hallway (with even lower ceiings), then finally to our room. It reminded Brittany of the movie "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" when they go into the hallway where everything gets smaller as they walked--we laughed about it. Then we opened our door... to our closet with a sink. It was tiny! Clean, but lacking any real amenities and it was friggin tiny! But once again, for what we paid, to be staying in the location we were, it was fine. We walked around downtown for a while then called it a night.

Day 1-
We slept in and had a quick breakfast at some little coffee/bread cafe then started walking around the city taking in all the sights. We hit Michigan Ave/the Magnificent Mile, Millenium Park, Navy Pier, Water Tower Place and all that jazz. We had dinner at the original Geno's Pizza--Chicago style is oh-so delicious. Then we walked to the Chicago Institute of Art where it was free to get in from 5-9 (apparently they are remodeling the contemporary section and the American art section, so we missed most of the good stuff). Some girl was walking around talking on her cell phone (loudly) the whole time--I about went ballistic. Brittany said it would have been wrong and illegal to take her phone, snap it in two and the punch her in the face... so I didn't.

We finished the night with smoothies from Caribou Coffee and watching the Olympics back in our closet. Barack was in town, but called and said he was too busy to hang out. We were disappointed.

Day 2-
Yay! My birthday! Twenty-freakin-five.

We got up early for breakfast at this great little cafe called the Bongo Room--real modern, minimalist place. The food was to die for. I had banana pancakes with a graham crackers crust covered in a vanilla cream and three berry sauce. Wow. Just wow. Then we got on the train and headed out to Oak Park--Frank Lloyd Wright's old stomping grounds. We got to see his house and studio. Instead of paying for the tour around the area (he designed 20 other houses in the neighborhood), we just followed the people around who were wearing head sets. It was amazing. The dude was so far ahead of his time and the houses are simply breath-taking.

We headed back to the hotel around lunch and took a nap--we had a big night ahead. Went to a place called Opera for dinner and holy freakin crap, it was (as with breakfast) to die for. Modern Chinese cuisine, creative/modern Asian decor, and a very witty/very gay waiter made it an incredibly enjoyable dining experience. We caught the train back to the theatre district as we had tickets for the musical "Wicked." If you've never heard of it, "Wicked" is a re-telling of the story of the witches from the "Wizard of Oz." The story is very well written and the music was astounding--I've never been to anything like it. It was the first Broadway-caliber show I've ever been to and it was the highlight of our weekend.

It was a different sort of birthday. I wouldn't have had it any other way.

Day 3-
Donuts and coffee from Dunkin Donuts and we were on our way back. (Sad faces from Brittany.)

It was a great weekend. I'd post pictures but we're still without a camera so we didn't take any. But it was memorable and the first of many trips to come. We've all only got one life to live so we'd better make the most of it while we can. Brittany and I have decided that we want to live life to the fullest--see, do and experience as much as we can. It may not be some people's picture of what life should be about, perhaps our choices and decisions aren't agreed on by all people... but dammit, this world is beautiful and life is wonderful and we're gonna soak it up.

I want to die knowing I've truly lived.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

There's a snake in my boots...

I like Greek food. Hummus is the bomb. Falafel is some great stuff. I don't know if I like Greek as a language simply because I've never taken a class on it and don't know much at all about it. The country of Greece seems like a neat place. I bet I'd like it. I just wanted to get that out there so you know that I don't have any issues with all things Greek.

But I've really been bothered by this dualism of the physical and spiritual. I've really tried to figure out where the idea came from. Apparently, the answer was easier to find than I expected...

Christians have a tendency to take stories, holidays, Scripture, etc., and make them fit their cultural understanding of it all. For instance, take a gander at paintings of Jesus and Mary. Most European artists paint a lily white version of both. Or you can look at Christmas and Easter. Neither were originally "Christian" holidays, we just adopted them as our own and modified them to fit our view of things. Its not out of the ordinary for Christians to contextualize things to accommodate their cultural understanding.

The followers of Jesus were originally mostly Jews. A lot of historical documents addressed the Christians (in the early years) as a sect of Judaism. It didn't take long, however, for Greeks/Gentiles (non-Jews) to begin converting to the Way of Jesus. This posed some major issues. Greeks didn't cut the foreskin off of their penises. Greeks would eat a lot of things that a good Jew wouldn't come near. Greeks weren't allowed in the Temple and most of these Jewish Christians still went to Temple to pray. Long story short, these were two very different cultures colliding.

The book of Acts in the New Testament has lots of stories about the tension between these two groups in the church. At one point, Paul even goes to Jerusalem to discuss with James and Peter what Jewish guidelines Greek converts should be held to. Jews were still the majority at this time. But that didn't last too long. In fact, some of the books written later that are included in the New Testament document the flow of Greek culture into church. Though the term isn't used in the Bible, Gnostics (a sect of Christians who believe that knowledge {Gnosis in Greek means knowledge} equaled salvation and that temporal things, like the body, were evil) were butting heads with others in the church. These were just our first indications that more trouble was on the way.

Post-New Testament, the church changed dramatically. Greco-Roman culture overtook the church. As Christianity made its way across Europe, the majority of new converts were no longer Jews holding to Judaic law and culture. These people were Greeks who held Socrates, Plate, and Aristotle in high reverence. Then Constantine comes along and makes Christianity a protected religion of the state. Augustine, who is considered one of the major shapers of Western thought, was actually a convert from a form of Gnosticism. Though he improved some of the thoughts on the "equality" of body and soul, he furthered the idea that the two are separate.

In Gnosticism, the physical world was tainted and lesser than the spiritual world. Therefore, the body was separate from the soul because it wasn't as important from the soul. The body was earthly and evil. (Some sects even held that Jesus was never crucified because he couldn't have a body because the body was sinful. They said we just "saw" it happening, but it never happened.) The soul was spiritual and would have been God's main concern. It follows that if the soul is God's main concern, it should be our main concern as well, right?

Its easy to see that this line of thought still affects the church and Christian thought today. I'm sure people won't like reading some of this. Some people will argue that this dualism is held in Scripture. But to be honest, the only way you can read the New Testament and come out with the understanding of a separate body and soul, of which the soul is more important, is if you read it through a world-view that has been heavily influenced by Greek philosophy.

I think we are a holistic being. Matthew quotes Jesus as saying "Love the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." Mark and Luke quote the same thing, but they add "... with all your strength" as well. I think Jesus was reminding us that we're one, whole being. Not separate, but one.

In light of all that, lots of people have told me that I put someone's "physical" needs above their "spiritual" needs. That I overemphasize the "temporal" and am forgetting about the "eternal." I'm not here to argue that one is more important than the other. I'm pointing out that they're the same thing. To verbally tell someone about the God who loves them and desires them to be a part of His story is the same thing as making sure our friend Rick under the Church St bridge in Nashville has food and water. I think 2 Timothy 4:2 is on the same plane as Matthew 25:31-46.

Doug Pagitt makes the point in his book "A Christianity Worth Believing" that "when we minister to people, we minister to the whole person. This is the implication of holism, not that we pick one side of the old debate between caring for physical needs and caring for the soul but that we understand and live in the reality that the "difference" between them is not what we may have thought it was."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Michael Phelps is a freak of nature...

I don't know if you've been watching any of the Olympics, but you should catch up on Men's Swimming if you haven't seen any as of yet. Michael Phelps is a freak! The dude can swim... fast. He's unbelievable to watch. (Plus his neck is the circumference of an average car tire.) But that's just an aside...

My wedding was one of the best days of my life. I'll breathe my last breath knowing that the decision to marry Brittany was one of the best choices I made on this earth. Our wedding was a celebration of that love and it was tremendous.

With that being said, I'm not a fan of attending weddings. I know, its selfish. I wanted people to come to mine and then I'm not enthusiastic about going to others unless I'm really close to them. Ah well... atleast I admit I'm selfish. But anyway, I struggle at weddings because of what is said a lot of times.

I hate when people talk about "soul mates." (Brittany told me she remembers when I first said that to her--she was so upset. Now she understands where I was coming from and what I mean. For instance, when a marriage ends in divorce, are those people not soul mates after all? Is their soul mate still out there? Was their first marriage a mistake? What about the kids from that non-soul mate marriage? Its a complicated issue for me...)

I hate it even more so when its taken a step further and its talked about that "God made these two people for each other." Its pretty much the idea of "Christian soul mates." That's probably some of the worst theological talk one could possible make. I am a Creationist. I believe that God literally made the universe and everything in it... including humanity. However it worked and however it was done (including how long it took), I find to be trivial. To me, the important part is that God/Jesus/Elohim did it. Anyway, in that same vein, I believe God made people for him. (Which is a complicated issue within itself, but that's another post.) We were created with a bigger purpose that marriage to another human.

For Christians to talk about "two people, who were made for each other" sickens me. To imply that we are made for marriage is horrible! Horrible for the reasons I've already discussed and because it puts so much emphasis on marriage. What about singles and people who never get married? Did God not "make someone for them?" Are they doing something wrong that they are not entitled to a soul mate? Is their life incomplete because they haven't found "their" significant other?

I think we can "over-spiritualize" choices in life. Like prayer before meals and softball games being a requirement, we can miss the point entirely if we aren't careful. If you've gotten to really know someone, to really love them, and you can't see a future without them, then rock and roll on it. But that's not the point of our existence.

I told a friend one time that I feel like most Christian college ministries are just free dating services. We emphasize it to the point that people feel like they must find someone to marry. A lot of Christians are so eager to marry, that they go with the first person who comes along. (Is sex really that important? By no means! I've heard Shane Claiborne talk about the fact that we can live without sex but we cannot live without love. Marrying for sex is like flushing happiness down the toilet.) The New Testament, quite frankly, encourages singleness. Let's be honest: there's a lot of inherent freedom in being single. You can go where you want to go and do whatever you want and need to do without having to worry about anyone else.

I'm rambling at this point. I obviously don't have a problem with getting married or with weddings--I'm married and I had an amazing wedding celebration. Brittany and I just attended a great wedding celebration this past weekend. I just can't believe what we do with Biblical texts sometimes. I can't believe what we tell our kids and teenagers. I think, at the end of the day, if God created people for each other, our existence is meaningless. It turns the Way of Jesus on its head--life becomes about something it is not. And I find it sad...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

With the wife gone...

Brittany was outta town all last weekend. To fill my time, I finished a couple of projects I had been working on. (The one I was most excited about was my speaker cabinet I had made of red oak. I finished the exterior of it and MY OH MY is it lovely. I'll post pics when we get a camera.)

Besides that, I watched movies. Movies Brittany would not want to watch, specifically. My reviews are as follows:


Fantastic. I really love Will Ferrell anyway, but thought his last couple of movies haven't been so great. ("Old School" and "Anchorman" set the bar really high, you know? "Talladega Nights" and "Blades of Glory" simply didn't live up to my standards. Though "Stranger Than Fiction" was top notch.)

I like this movie. It was vulgar and over the top and hilarious. I've heard his other new movie, "Step Brothers," is funny as well. So maybe Will is on the up and up. But if you don't have kids (the language is bad) and you like his brand of humor, try it out.

Hot Rod

Andy Samberg is a funny, funny man. He (along with Bill Hader) keep SNL alive right now. I expected this movie to be comical but stupid--and it was. It just wasn't as comical as I had hoped.

The movie has its highlights. Like when Rico beats up a guy with a parking cone or when Rod and his step-go nuts on each other at the end. Laugh out loud moments. They are just few and far between. It was okay. But just okay. Nothing to write home about.

Shoot 'Em Up

Clive Owen is a jack of all trades. He does romance movies ("Elizabeth"). He does drama ("Closer," "Children of Men"). He does a historical/action/romance ("King Arthur"). He does action ("Sin City"). And to be honest, I've enjoyed them all. Same goes for Paul Giamatti--he can play a stuttering introvert ("Lady in the Water"), an ambitious old-school cop ("Illusionist") and even a guy trying to find his way in life and love ("Sideways"). Once again, I generally enjoy his roles and movies.

This movie surprised me. It was a caper style action film--unexpected story line, interesting characters, lots of violence, great dialogue. I liked it a lot. Stylistically it fit somewhere between "Snatch" and "Sin City." It wasn't a top ten or anything, but it was well worth watching. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

Rocket Science

You gotta watch an indie film occasionally. Not too long ago, Brittany and I watched a British indie film called "Death at a Funeral" and we loved it. (British comedies are great--they like to use the f word and their brand of dry wit cracks me up.) But the low budget films like this are typically well written and shot in ways that aren't typical of such movies.

This movie takes awkward to a new level. Once again, though its not a British flick, the humor is very dry. It had me laughing out loud a lot at the incredibly odd situations it threw the main character into. Its focused on figuring out love in the teenage years. But all in all, it was fantastic. The end catches you off guard a little bit and perhaps doesn't resolve like some people would want it to. And you don't understand the title until the final two minutes. I would label it "subtlely hilarious."

So there you have it on JD's movie reviews.

My blogging has not be as prolific as usual. Jason has been putting me to shame lately. For that, I apologize. I've been really busy. I know, I know. That's not an excuse. Forgive me. I'll be rolling again before you know it. Until then...

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Road Hog-pt 1

Well, many of you know that I recently crossed the line from "cool" to "very cool" with the purchase of a scooter. I bought a Roketa Capri--a sleek, silver 150cc machine that will get me down the road at up to 60 mph. The best part has definitely been the gas mileage--on bad weeks I get about 65 mpg and on good weeks I average out around 75 mpg. It has made a big difference in our checking account at the end of the month. It will have paid for itself pretty much before winter gets here. When we moved into town last month, it put me about a mile form work. So between the bike and the scooter, I typically use about $4.00 is gas all week. That's right: four freaking dollars.

The paperwork was a nightmare because I ordered it from a wholesale group in Arizona. I was the first person to purchase from their eBay store and they basically had no clue what they were doing. It took about 8 or 9 weeks to get all the paperwork straightened out so I could get it licensed at the courthouse. (Yes, the state of Kentucky considers the scooter a motorcycle because of engine size.) The wait was worth it and I love my Road Hog.

Yesterday, I rolled 1000 miles on it! It was such a momentous occasion that I pulled over to take a picture of the odometer with my phone.

I would highly recommend you purchase a scooter for yourself. It will change your life: you'll save money on gas, you'll get to feel the wind in your hair, and you'll just plain be cooler.

PS-Brit and I are without a digital camera at the moment. Soon as we get one, I'll post actual pics of my scooter.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Bishop himself...


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The one, the only, the infamous: John 14:6

Read it here: John 14:6

You see it on a lot of billboards. You see it on a lot of t-shirts. If would be a toss up between this verse and John 3:16 if you asked someone to boil down Christianity into one basic verse. And, unfortunately, I think John 14:6 is often misunderstood.

I agree with John 14:6—one hundred percent. I think that catches people off guard sometimes. (For some odd reason, people either misunderstand what it means to be an Emergent Christian or misunderstand a lot of the changes I’ve gone through in the past couple of years. But that’s another post…)

However, I think when a lot of people quote John 14:6, they mean something other than what Jesus meant.

You see, the verse says that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life—and no man comes to the Father (God) except through him.

Jesus is the way, the truth and the light…


Not Christianity.


You see, Jesus didn’t come to establish a new religion. He didn’t come to setup business model churches or establish Christian retail stores or start a Christian music industry or etc.../I could go on and on...

Jesus said he came to bring hope—a new way—a better way.

For some reason, we’ve told people that Christianity is the way. And that’s not what Jesus said. It’s certainly not what he meant. To say “Christianity is the way, the truth and the life” has a totally different set of implications than saying that Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life.”

I don’t believe that Christianity is THE way. I believe Jesus is. He didn’t boil it down to a specific set of beliefs or ideologies. The man himself boiled it down to following in his path—to following the way of Jesus.

I’ve really wrestled with what to write now. Should I pose questions or scenarios about what this changes and try to answer some of them? Should I explain further what I think this means? I could. But I won’t. Not now. I’d like to hear what you have to say. I have comments enabled for a reason, and only once have I ever edited them. So talk about this with me. I’d love to hear from you. Let’s chat…

Saturday, June 21, 2008

"Do you even know what you're buying into when you follow your leader?"- John Reuben

How in God's name did John McCain become an elected official?

I find myself amazed that people would want him to be our president. Why the heck did Arizona choose him as a senator? I honestly don't believe that any thinking, responsible human being could possibly vote for him. I would go so far as to add to that: I definitely don't know how any thinking, responsible follower of Jesus could vote for him. (Single issue political voters are alive and well, I guess.)

In his own words, he "disagrees with the majority of Americans" when it comes to the war in Iraq.

Barack Obama wasn't my first choice. (He came third after John Edwards and Hillary Cinton. Ron Paul wasn't a bad option either, if you don't like big government, but that's another post...) But Obama will certainly be getting my vote over John McCain.

Does anyone think there's any reasons left to have any trust or hope in our US government actually doing their job properly? To stop wasting billions of tax dollars annually? To stop colonizing the world? Any reason at all?

I think all hope for governmental change at a national level would be dead if McCain gets elected.

I'm trying to get two more posts up--a follow up on what happens when we die and a commentary on John 14:6. They are both complicated topics that I want to handle properly, so all in due time.

Friday, June 13, 2008

John 14... part Uno

I don’t believe in heaven anymore.

(Notice: “heaven,” not “Heaven.” The capitalization is quite important. I’ll get to that later…)

I think this myth of dying and going to “heaven” has been perpetuated by Christians and Christian culture for far too long. Sure it’s a nice idea. Sure it makes people feel better at funerals. But I find no Scriptural evidence for it. None. Zero. Zilch. Nada. (An aside: I'm sure someone who cares is going to throw 2nd Corinthians 5:8 at me. Don't bother. The Greek is very clear on what Paul is saying there, regardless of what you think your translation is telling you. So don't bother bringing it up.)

In John 14:1-4, Jesus uses wedding imagery to tell his disciples about the End. Why? Because his disciples were Jews and it made sense to them. (He had a tendency to do that a lot--use wedding imagery. {ie, Communion, the End, etc.}) See, in a Jewish marriage, once an engagement was sealed, the groom would return to his father’s place of residence and build an addition onto the house. He was making ready for his bride-to-be. Things weren’t ready immediately—it took some time. The groom would then return to the bride’s place of residence and escort her to her new home.

I find it obvious that Jesus was telling the disciples that he was going away, was going to get things ready, and then was going to return and take them “home.” Here we run into another issue.

Christians like to throw around this mumbo jumbo about a “Rapture” happening at this point. Its been described in an awful series of books that have nothing to do with the New Testament as a moment when all Christians will simply disappear and be taken up to heaven. Isn’t that lovely? (Well, lovely for everyone who is taken. Not so lovely for everyone who is left. The world pretty much turns to crap at that point and its really terrible.) The only problem is that, once again, there’s no Scripture to support the idea. There’s not a single shred of evidence in the Bible that points to an event like this. Lots of theories and interpretations could lead you that way. But it takes some stretching and reading with scissors.

Hang with me.

In 1st Thessalonians chpt 4, it talks about Jesus returning to earth. It says that the “dead in Christ” and those who are “alive in Christ” will be caught up into the air/clouds/sky/etc to meet Jesus. It’s a really nice thought to think that this is saying Jesus is coming to take all of the Christians away to goto heaven and away from this "terrible" planet, right? Once again, the imagery here is ever so important. The language and terminology being used is of an important figure coming to a town. The city goes outside of the gates to meet this person, welcomes them, and then they all return back into the city together. So based on what Paul is saying here: followers of Jesus would rise (somehow) to meet Jesus in the air/clouds/sky/etc then return to earth with him. Not go off to a magical place and leave the rest of the planet to its demise. (Note: this is called Christian Escapism or Dispensationalism and has been very popular since the World Wars.)

So what’s the point?

The point is: I don’t believe in heaven. I believe in a future Heaven. But I think the Bible is clear that the Heaven it discusses in Revelation chpt 21 is a future existence on earth. Heaven will be here. According to John 14, Jesus is preparing that existence. God is going to restore this place. (Another reason why I believe God meant what he said in Genesis about taking care of this planet. But that’s another post…) Not some far off dimension with clouds and harps and all that jazz. Earth. Jesus is gonna 'make the magic happen' (to use a Jason Brown term), at some point in the future, here.

So logically, if I don’t think Heaven exists yet, where do we go (once dead) in the mean time? I don’t know. I don’t find Scripture to be 100% clear on the subject. I think it would be really odd if I died, was judged by God, sent to “heaven,” then was taken out again at the End to be re-judged and sent back to “heaven.” That makes no sense. I believe in one Judgment. I couldn't tell you exactly what that looks like or how it will take place, but I do know there’s only one. So once we're dead, and until Judgment, we wait. How? Where? In what state? I don’t know. Luke 12 points to a waiting place that’s comfortable, but obviously not “Heaven.” In clarifying what Jesus and Scripture and Judaic tradition say about all this, it leaves a lot of things unanswered. It doesn’t really bother me. Either way, in the End, its all gonna make sense. Right? Hopefully...

All that from four verses in John 14! Obviously, this doesn't cover everything--its just my thoughts (condensed as possible). But, nonetheless...

Up next: the infamous John 14:6

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I know... I promised... but...

I promised some blogging on John chpt 14, and it is soon to come. I've been quite busy at work and such. Little time to write lately. But its coming. Some of you will love it. It will piss some of you off. Typical writing on Scripture and Jesus from me, right? But it is coming.. SOON! I promise.

Tonight, Christian "the real deal" Villarreal invited me to watch the employee preview of "The Happening," M. Night Shymalan's new movie.

I was incredibly disappointed.

The dialogue was pretty bad in places--poorly written, poorly acted out. The plot just didn't play out well. The music was really great, but that was about it. I'd spoil it all and tell you what its about, but perhaps you wanna watch it so you can be angry, too. More or less though, its about the plants/trees/grass/foliage/etc attacking humans. They run from the wind at several points. I just didn't get why they thought it was a good idea to write a script and make a movie about it.

It just wasn't good. And I'm a little sad. I expected more. "The Sixth Sense?" Mind blowing the first time I saw it. "Unbreakable?" Great concept for people who appreciate super heroes/comics/etc and a great movie. "Lady in the Water?" Heck, I even enjoyed it. Different, but triumphant and enjoyable.

"The Happening" was one big let down. The guy behind me said: "The twist is: there is no twist!" I think he was getting at the fact that the movie was anticlimactic. But I'm repeating myself.

If you can watch it for free, like I did, take a shot. Otherwise, save your money for something... anything... else.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

the one and only Shane Claiborne...

At the moment, I can't put into words how I feel after watching this.

When Shane speaks... writes... lives his life... he points to real Christianity.

Not this fake B.S. so many of us have been taught to follow.

This video is a litany Shane lead people in at Catalyst Conference. You can read the whole script here (after the jump, just click "more info" beside the date to the right of the video image). The words here made me uncomfortable. The words made me think. Its as much a confession as anything. It should a confession we make together as a church. I wonder what the response was in that arena full of people.

Sunday, June 1, 2008



all together

one of the best weekends ever

We enjoyed the spring showcase for Kaleidoscope on Friday night. It was amazing. Q and Marcus are probably the two best young writers/rappers I've heard locally. The art... the photography... the dance... the step... the stomp were all phenomenal. It was really, really great.

We then went to Jordan and Tim's house with Collin to watch "Lars and the Real Girl." I really liked it. Brittany said she would call it interesting, not hilarious though. Very dry, awkward humor. The movie has a lot to say about humanity and relationships. I wouldn't recommend it for the average movie-watching night. But for something different, its well worth it...

Saturday was a present. From the wife. And it came in the form of tickets. Club box seats in the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnatti to watch the Reds and Braves. A-maz-ing. We had nice padded chairs in the shade. We didn't feel like getting up, so we flagged the server down and put in our order for hot dogs and drinks and they brought it to us and it was delightful. VIP treatment guys. The game was great, too. The icing on the cake was watching Bobby Cox get thrown out--but that's normal for him.

And today was a nice end to it all. Played a lil git-er at Broadway's Greenwood campus this morning. Then met the wife at the Shoemaker's for a lil brunch and Scriptural discussion. The afternoon involved playing some GTA IV and taking a ride with the wife on the hog around BG with Jordan and Tim. Then I played Grillmaster for the youth at Broadway--hot dogs and burgers all night.

Nothing mind blowing in this post.

Its just that weekends like this remind me of how good life is. People tend to be so excited about future things and miss out so much on the here and now. I am so grateful for this beautiful world. So grateful for this beautiful life--my wife, my job, my friends, my scooter, etc etc... I want to enjoy every minute of this. To live fully in it. To laugh and love and sing and be here now.

Coming soon... my thoughts on Jesus' statements in John chapter 14. Prepare thyself!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

It does a body bad.

I hate milk. I’ve never been a fan. I don’t like the taste. Its wretched. I don’t like yogurt or cottage cheese—they’re gross, too. Call me a hypocrite, but I like cheese and ice cream in small amounts. But milk… milk is the debil (along with foos-ball).

People don’t know much about milk. They drink it and assume what the commercials say is true.

Ever read Hoard’s Dairyman? Me neither. It’s the leading dairy industry magazine. They report typical business news for the average dairy farmer. They had a real interesting article a little while back on the pus content of average milk in America. The average liter of milk has about 323 million pus cells in it (liter, not gallon mind you). The government does not allow milk with more than 750 million pus cells per liter to be shipped--thank God, right? Because 323 million pus cells isn’t a big deal at all.

I used to work for Orkin. I killed a lot of bugs. But pesticides were some crazy stuff. As a general rule of thumb, there wasn’t a pesticide or insecticide that was okay to work with. They ALL caused terrible side effects when humans ingest them or get them on their skin. I had to be super careful all the time—I constantly told Brittany how much I hated using them. In the process of just spraying some of them, my eyes would burn and skin would itch. It’s interesting that in FDA surveys of milk pulled from grocery store shelves, nearly 75% contained pesticides of some kind.

My favorite milk fact has to be the one pertaining to calcium. Did you know that there’s relatively low levels of magnesium in milk? You might be asking: “How does that pertain to calcium?” For us to absorb calcium, we need magnesium. Milk doesn’t have enough magnesium in it for us to get the benefits of calcium. We can get some negative side effects—like our bodies using calcium to line our artery walls. But none of that healthy bones crap the commercials feed you.

Humans drink another animal's milk. We're the only species that drinks milk post-babyhood. There’s all kinds of fun stuff to talk about: growth hormones, high protein diets causing calcium loss, mucus, lactose, etc etc… But I’ll end with this: I hate milk. I try to avoid it whenever possible. You should, too. Milk is the debil.

Not Milk!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tony, Trucker Frank and Me...

I like these videos a lot. You can visit Tony's website to view them all and you can log onto YouTube to see the full interviews unedited. Well worth a few minutes of your time...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Tuesday=Kentucky Primaries

Here's my assumptions of what you want based on who you'll vote for:

John McCain
-I'm assuming you are pro-life, fond of war and don't mind an economic recession. Or perhaps you are Republican and you like single issue politics and droopy jaws. Or perhaps you like the way things have gone the past eight years and want another four.

Hillary Clinton
-I'm assuming you desire a president who knows how the system works, advocates drastic change and is cold as steel. You don't care about unity in our government necessarily, but you want someone in there who knows how to get things done.

Barack Obama
-I'm assuming you strongly desire both unity and change and are willing to take a gamble on a candidate to accomplish those things. You are probably a very positive person and are easily swayed by media hype. You also like people who know how to wear a suit.

Ron Paul
-I'm assuming you really don't like the government and want someone in there to begin tearing it down. You desire the federal government to be greatly reduced in size and for power to be handed over to the states. You also tend to forget that people don't live forever.

Ralph Nader
-I'm assuming you think everyone in politics is evil and every major corporation has someone in power in their back pocket. You also don't spend a lot of time investigating candidates to see if they're possibly a major hypocrite because you like how loud they yell about issues that everyone else is ignoring. Or perhaps you think all the other candidates are crooked and can't remember what you're registered as anyway.

I hope you laughed at some point. Don't take yourselves too seriously.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The word from Don... (I wish I knew him well enough to call him Don)

I heard Donald Miller talk about this at Orange Conference. Very exciting to hear about more and more people bringing awareness to such an important issue.

Be crazy: love your neighbor.

Friday, May 9, 2008

My better half...

Brittany graduates from Western today. To say that I am proud of her would be a vast understatement. She is a brilliant woman. This is a huge day in her life, and she deserves every bit of "congratulations" that can be given.

She has worked hard and studied hard and accomplished in 8 semesters what many people don't in 8 years. She has been through a terrible break-up, two jobs, a 14 month engagement, a great wedding and her parents moving--all while maintaining above average grades. (She has earned the honor of graduating Cum Laude.) She works in the mornings, goes to school, goes back to work, heads to then gym, and still comes home to cook dinner and spend time with me.

She can write a compare and contrast essay on two Jane Austen novels, work eight hours, do her spinning/toning class at the gym and cook a creative, gourmet meal all on an ordinary Monday.

You all know these things. Its the things that only I know about her that make her that much more special to me. How she steals the covers constantly but always blames me (in actuality, I'm merely trying to get them back and tend to over-do it). How deep down inside she's way too urban, glamorous and fashion-forward for this town and our budget but doesn't complain. How she still maintains an incredible amount of modesty, even when its just the two of us in this tiny apartment. How she hides her clothes instead of putting them up. How she can't fall asleep without multiple appliances (ie: TV, air purifier, etc) making noise. How she watches TV, plays games on her cell phone, and uses the Mac all at once. How she refuses to do anything on Thursday nights because "Grey's Anatomy" and "LOST" are on and that's two hours guaranteed together. How she sleeps in pants nightly (socks, too, in the winter).

How her hugs make every day better. How coming home to her always gives me something to look forward to. How waking up next to her makes every day worth while.

I married up. There's no doubt about it. But I don't question it. I thank God for it. (Hey, I'm not stupid.)

This is my Brittany Marie. Other men's wives pale in comparison. She is all that I ever hoped for and way more. 

You are amazing, sweet pea. Congratulations.

We can drive it home, with Juan Head Lice...

So I've done quite a bit of traveling over the past couple of weeks. Its been a lot of fun and very tiring. More than anything, both conferences have helped me to process a lot of things that have been bouncing around in my chest lately. I wrote last week on my viewpoints on the Gospel.

One of the more interesting things I heard talked about was the elements of story. Donald Miller has spent a lot of time over the past year developing and discussing how Scripture uses the different aspects of story. I heard him discuss it on Mars Hill's podcast in the fall. But in this breakout session, he was talking about the element of love.

In story, as with real life, there is always a way out of love. In a true, loving relationship, each individual has the option of leaving. If they don't, then its not love. If one person doesn't allow the other a way out, then they are both controlling and manipulative. I wouldn't call it love if there's not a way out.

Its interesting that in Genesis, the story tells of God allowing Adam and Eve a way out. He loved Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve loved God. I don't think there's any question about that. But since they chose to love God, he didn't force them to stay in said situation. He told them about the tree and the repercussions thereof. Essentially, the story reveals that God told them they could chose to be in the relationship or they could chose to leave.

I was really intrigued by the thought. I know you Reformed thinkers won't appreciate it, but to hear a writer discuss how Scripture (specifically the Torah) develops the different elements of story was incredible. I really loved the thought that true love doesn't control--it involves an inherent freedom that makes it so much more beautiful.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

This week, its Mile High for me...

We are spending the night in Hendersonville with Brit's parents. I fly out super early in the morning.

Chris has been raving about this little place in Hendersonville called Shane's Rib Shack. Its ribs and BBQ and potato salad and a little slice of heaven. It was a-maz-ing. I'd much rather eat BBQ from a joint like that Smokey Bones, ya know? It fits. Not super classy. Not over the top. Just simple, really good food. Loved it.

That's not the point though.

The point is, Ricky Skaggs was there. Bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs.

If you wanted to sum this post up in one sentence, it would be this: Tonight, I ate dinner with Ricky Skaggs.

PS-Joe and Jason: "We never landed on the moon. God bless."

Thursday, May 1, 2008

I'm jet lagged and I didn't fly...

I'm still tired. We didn't get home uber late last night or anything. I just am still tired. The Orange Conference was amazing. I was thrilled that Joe Pa let me tag along.

I had been telling people for weeks how excited I was to hang out with Donald Miller. Unfortunately, he's apparently very popular and was quite busy so I never got the chance to talk to him one-on-one. I did however get to hear him speak twice--once in a small breakout and the other in a main session. He's a writer, not a speaker. But the way he tells a story, the way he communicates, is amazing. You don't have much of a clue of where he's going for the first little bit, but when he gets there in the end, it knocks your socks off.

Francis Chan was great, too. He's really challenging. He talked about the church in Acts 2-4 and talked about it being the only model we should pursue as leaders in the church. He pretty much said that if you choose to call it idealistic then you're ignoring the way of Jesus and the early church. He set the bar high...

The surprise of the conference, for me, was Gabe Lyons. He started a few groups like Catalyst and the Fermi Project. He and David Kinnaman recently wrote a book title "unChristian" that talks about how 16-29 year olds perceive the church. Brittany's parents gave it to me for Christmas and its a brilliant book. I would say its a necessary read for anyone who is part of any type of Christian leadership.

He held a breakout session called "Cultured" that discussed church/gospel/future/culture. Basically, the premise was that culture has dramatically shifted in America and people's perception of the church has dramatically shifted. We need to be aware of what's changing to be relevant to the world around us. He made some very thought-provoking statements.

If you've had a discussion with me lately concerning theology, then you know I've really been wrestling with things like the gospel, salvation, being "saved," evangelism, prosetlyzing, etc etc... I haven't been willing to blog about my feelings for lots of reasons--but the main being that I haven't known how to articulate it well. (I haven't wanted to put a poor explanation of my thoughts up here and be misunderstood. It happens often enough even when I'm lucid in my writing...) Then Gabe Lyons puts this diagram up on the screen that sums up what's been bouncing around in my chest.

Basically, he talked about the fact that the American church has been proclaiming a Half Gospel for fifty years--that we start with the Fall and end with Redemption. Sadly, its true. We start with the fact that we're all screwed up (ie, "sinners") and that Jesus offers "salvation" if we would believe in him... and we leave it there. But that's only half of it!

The Gospel begins with creation. It begins with the fact that we are ALL created in the image of God. We all have the potential to do good. We are all a beloved creation. This is our starting point--not that we're "all sinners doomed for hell."

Our ending point isn't with Jesus' redemption either. It ends with restoration. If our final point in the Gospel is Jesus' death and resurrection, then we've totally left our purpose on the shelf. Everyone's all about quoting Ephesians 2:8-9 but tend to forget that the section ends with verse 10. We have a purpose for being here. Jesus offers new life because he wants us to take part in the reconciliation of the world--of all of creation. Taking part in helping fix this broken world IS taking part in the restoration process that God wants here... now.

This is my problem with most people's approach to evangelism--the use of overarching metanarratives that are inadequate to explain what they're talking about. I'm still working through lots of things--don't get me wrong. I am in a time of transition with lots of ideas in life. But this I know: the Half Gospel we've tried to push for so long doesn't stand up against competing world-views. It pales in comparison to many. But this Full story, this better understanding of the gospel of Jesus, changes everything... This Full story really is good news.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thanks are in order...

I appreciate my friends.

People who know me and love me anyway.

I love you all.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tony Jones and Trucker Frank...

Incredibly interesting story...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Woe to you... I guess

(I've edited this post some since I originally wrote it.)

I am typically appalled at the mega church mentality. No church is perfect. I work for one, and we don't have it all together. We don't do everything right. We all learn as we go, too. The size isn't the issue. A church pursuing the way of Jesus will affect its community and will grow. Healthy churches grow. But lots of the mindsets and theology behind the structure and purpose of most "mega church" churches are worrisome to me.

That's not to say that the mega church mentality isn't sincere. I'm sure it is. I just don't get where it comes from. I don't think it comes from a close look at the Gospels and the way of Jesus. I think it comes from years of Christianity, American culture and business mindsets all coming together in some weird form. Its the wrong influence on a sincere desire, if that makes sense.

For instance, Broadway chose a long time ago not to waste their money and time building a megaplex church. They saw the need to branch out, impacting communities one at a time, and using their money wisely. So we chose to go forward with a multi-site church: partnering with smaller churches that are close to closing their doors to bring new life to the church and community. Our first step was with Greenwood United Methodist, a place with a lot of history that had shrunk down to just a few who strongly desired to see things get turned around--and our new campus in that area of town is super great. Brittany and I actually attend there on Sunday mornings. Once again, not to say we have it all together, but even as skeptical of a person as I tend to be, I really appreciate the direction and proposed future of Broadway. (Otherwise, why would I work here? I love being a part of this community.) When I came on staff and was asked to help the church become more outwardly focused, this was question was asked of me: "Do we create new programs or do we support what's already positioned in the community?"

This is one of the main forks in the road where the mega church mentality and other world-views tend to take separate paths.

I see the things God cares about happening through a lot of social organizations already in place in Bowling Green. There are refugee resettlement houses, needs assistance groups, homes for battered women, protection groups for abused children, governmental agencies in place helping struggling families, and the list goes on and on. I sat down with our pastor and executive minister and told them that there isn't a program we could create that would be anything new. All of the things Jesus would be about are already at work in our community--and most of them need some type of help and support. We need to spend some time seeing who does what and partner with some of these local groups to really impact our community.

The mega church mentality is quite the opposite. Everything is done through their church and their church alone. Its great, it really is, that a church wants to do something about issues in their backyard. But when the work of God is really already being in done in different ways all around us, we should join that. (Its a "Same team! Same team!" kinda thing rather than a
competition.) Sure, its not as easy as starting our own program. We don't have control over everything that happens. We don't get to make every decision for that group. Our name isn't put on the plaque at every door and we won't always see eye to eye. In the book "The Externally Focused Church," Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson make the point that we come "to serve and bless, not to control. When we partner or aid an organization in our community, we understand that sometimes the church is merely the hands and feet, not the mouth and brain, of the project."

I think we should be about what's best for everyone in our community, not just us. It's easy to forget that sometimes...