Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Whole Bunch of Randomness

  • SABBATH: Marcy and I have been trying to be more intentional about observing the Sabbath. Since we are church-workers, it's really hard to do it on a Sunday because work calls. So, we have been starting on Thursday night at dinner - followed by date night - and continuing until dinner on Friday. We try to not watch TV, do worky kind of stuff, and instead we just hang out with each other and Colin and God, and rest. It's hard. Especially for Marcy. It's tough to sit around and do relatively nothing. Humans are so wrapped up in accomplishing and doing to create worth, that it's hard to shut down and not accomplish anything. It made me wonder: Did God get bored on His Sabbath? Heck, He just created everything that exists, and then He took a day to do nothing but rest. I wonder if He thought, "I need to get something else done today. I'll go over here and create another universe." Probably not...
  • I AM THE MAN!: Time magazine recently came out with its annual Person of The Year issue. There were many worthy candidates, but they declared that I am 2006's Person of The Year. In their statement, they said, "The answer is, you do. And for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME's Person of the Year for 2006 is you." OK, so they didn't mean solely me, but anyone that utilizes the world wide web for publishing and communcating (like blogs, MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, etc.). You can read the article here...
  • BRAWL: Which was more wussy, Carmelo Anthony sucker-punching a Knicks player and then running away like a little girl (no offense to little girls, because most little girls are more manly than him), or TO spitting in the face of D'Angelo Williams? Both actions were incredibly unmanly...
  • BRAWL II: Another Brawl at Madison Square Garden thought: Is it any surprise that the coach of the Knicks, the team that flagrantly fouled the Nuggets player, is Isaiah Thomas? He was a part of a team that was the biggest collection of thugs ever, the Bad Boys. Alongside him on that Pistons team were Bill Laimbeer, Dennis Rodman, and Rick Mahorn, just to name a few. You can take the man out of the fight, but you can't take the thuggery out of the man...
  • COLIN: It's amazing how having a child allows you a little more insight into what God might be feeling and thinking. The latest realization of this was the other day when Colin was inconsolable, we think because he is teething. Man, was that difficult! I wanted to say, "Colin, I am so sorry for your pain. Here, let me take it away for you. I'll even take it on me so you don't have to deal with it." That's pretty much what God did in sending His only Son to take away our pain of separation from Him...
  • COLIN II: Colin is crawling now, as you can see here. This is exciting, but also adds a whole new set of challenges: baby-proofing, making sure the basement door is shut, etc. But it also adds what could be hours of entertainment: Watching Colin chase Attie all over the house. She's still not too sure what to make of him..
  • If I don't post again before Christmas, I hope you have a very Merry and Christ-centered Christmas...

Friday, December 08, 2006

Apparently, they don't watch college football in Salem, Oregon...

The Heisman Trophy award ceremony is tomorrow night, recognizing the most outstanding college football player of the year. Most pundits say that Troy Smith, Ohio State's quarterback (67% completions, 2,507 yards, 30 touchdowns, five interceptions), will not only win the award, but some predict that he may win with the highest percentage of first-place votes (Reggie Bush is the current record-holder at 84.9%), and could come close to the highest margin of victory ever (O.J. Simpson currently holds that distinction). The other finalists invited to the ceremony this weekend were Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn, and Arkansas RB Darren McFadden. But, according to one less-than brilliant fellow from the great northwest, none of these players even deserved a mention on his ballot. I guess he knows more about college football than the rest of the country combined. Or maybe he is simply trying to make some sort of silly statement or trying to arouse a controversy. Or maybe, he wants to be known as the guy that didn't vote for Troy Smith. Whatever his motivation, his Heisman voting privileges should be revoked.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Friends, real friends, are hard to come by.

Friendship doesn't happen overnight nor does it come easy. Usually it takes time and it takes sacrifice.

It takes treks in the woods, time spent fishing, time enjoying a cup of coffee, time spent at some volunteer project, time spent praying, time spent around the table eating simple foods, etc. It takes time like sitting in front of a TV watching the A-Team with popcorn. Or maybe it will take times like sharing a baloney, onion, cheese and tomato sandwich.

I guess for me it was the time spent together, and not what we were doing.

Friendship is one of the most valuable commodities in the world today.

Your friend,

This was written by the Maintenance Guru at La Croix. I thought it worthy of publishing...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Are You a Racist?

Ran across a series of tests that are part of Project Implicit at Harvard while reading Malcolm Gladwell's blog. Try one of them out to see if you have any subconscious preferences based on race or other factors. Go here and click on Demonstration and choose a test to take. Interesting stuff...

Monday, December 04, 2006

Ugliness, Ugliness, It's What I Long For...

Fox Sports has posted a list of the Top Ten Worst Sports Uniforms. I can't disagree with any of their choices, but how can the old Houston Astros uniforms be exempt? Seriously. Not to mention the fact that The Astrodome's colors reflected the uniform colors also. Ick!

Friday, December 01, 2006

I'm back...

OK, again it has been a long time since I have updated. I know there are those of you out there that pay attention to this blog - all two of you - that have been concerned. Sorry about the lack of communication. Life has just been really busy. I will try to be back and better than ever (to steal a line from Mike and Mike in the Morning).

This morning, I woke up a little cranky. The weather "professionals" were calling for 1-3 inches of snow for Cape Girardeau overnight. But, as should be expected by now, there is no snow. Just grey and cold outside. I like the cold, but I like it better when there is snow on the ground. I didn't particularly care for snow when I lived where we got a lot of it, but now that we never get it, I sure miss it.

Our trip to Ohio for Thanksgiving was very good. We visited my family in the Cleveland area. It was a great visit and much fun to see how much all of the kids have grown. My nephew Matthew is very scary because he is so big. I made sure that I was nice to him and didn't pick on him. And Kaylee and Mikey are getting so big and mature as well. We got to see cousins and their kids as well (except for my cousin in Arizona). It was insane at times, so it was good to get home to relative quiet and normalcy. And we discovered that Colin travels like a champ. He took three good naps, and only got really fussy once. But when Marcy climbed in the back seat with him, he calmed right down. Ten hours, fifteen minutes total, and that includes getting lost once.

Before our trip to Cleveland, I was at the other end of Ohio - Cincinnati - for the National Youth Workers Convention, put on by Youth Specialties. As always, this was a great time of refreshing, rejuvenation, and reeducating for my job as a youth pastor. The main stage speakers this year were especially good. Donald Miller, Brenda Salter McNeil, and Mike Pilavachi all hit home runs, as far as I'm concerned. The worship leaders were excellent: David Crowder Band (of course) and Starfield. It was great to catch up with some good friends, Trey and Jonesy in particular. But the highlight of the weekend had to be Ohio State laying the smackdown to Michigan for a trip to the national championship game in January. It was a great weekend, and I am already longing for my next conference. Marcy called me a conference junkie. She's probably right, but I'm not ashamed. Only ten months 'til Catalyst!

OK, I think I'm caught up now. Have a great day, and thanks for reading...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Funny Stuff

Last week at The Porch we had our usual "Dress Up Because It's Halloween" night. There were several creative costumes, but my highlight of the night came from Logan. He had a Grim Reaper hood and a scythe, and yet he was wearing his usual Hawaiian shirt and shorts. I told him I liked his outfit, to which he replied, "I'm on vacation." I laughed so hard I had to sit down! I can just imagine the Grim Reaper sitting under a beach umbrella sipping a pina colada. Now that's one funny kid!

Thursday, November 02, 2006


New York Mets pitcher Guillermo Mota has been suspended for 50 games by Major League Baseball for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. In response, he made this statement:

"I have no one to blame but myself," Mota said in a statement that did not explain how he ran afoul of baseball's drug rules. "I take full responsibility for my actions and accept MLB's suspension. I used extremely poor judgment and deserve to be held accountable."

"To my teammates and the entire Mets organization, I am sorry. I truly regret what I did and hope that you can forgive me. To baseball fans everywhere, I understand that you are disappointed in me, and I don't blame you. I feel terrible and I promise this is the first and last time that this will happen. I am determined to prove to you that this was one mistake."

How refreshing! An athlete that comes out and says, "I did it, and I'm sorry. Forgive me." Compare this to some other recent athletes when faced with the same issues :
  • Rafael Palmeiro, in front of Congress: "I have never used steroids. Period." - He tested positive five months later, and claimed that he took the steroids unwittingly.
  • Mark McGwire, in front of Congress: "I'm not here to talk about the past." - Maybe he never used stuff, but that lack of a statement sure is condemning.
  • Barry Bonds: Claims he unknowingly used steroids that he thought was flaxseed oil. Seriously.
Granted, Mota made his admission after he had been caught, but it was still nice to hear an athlete own up to their failings, instead of trying to make all sorts of excuses.

Shouldn't we follow that example in life? Instead of making excuses for the way that we are and the ways that we screw up in our relationship with God and others, shouldn't we just say, "I screwed up. I'm sorry. It will be the last time"? Isn't that what repentance is all about?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Time to Vote...or Not

You can tell when it's election season. The leaves are starting to change colors, there's a chill in the air, and mud is getting slung all over the television. As a result, I hate election season. No, I like the colorful leaves and the chilliness in the morning, but the negative political ads make me a little puky. It's a shame that no one running for office has stances on any issues anymore; they only know every thing that their opponent has done wrong in their lives...or at least it seems that way to me. "Vote for me because that other guy/lady is a moron with no ethics whatsoever. Here's exactly how bad of a person he/she is." And so on. One particular set of ads have been running for months and months for someone named Judy Baar Topinka, and the tagline, "What's she thinking?" Not, "Vote for me and here's why," but, "You can't vote for her because she's that stupid. (paraphrased)" And I still don't know who she is or what she is running for. These types of ads - and the ones for prescription drugs - almost make me want to stop watching TV...but Prison Break keeps bringing me back.

We did a teaching last week at The Porch. We are in the midst of a series we titled GodSpace: A Space for God (modeled after the popular MySpace website). The idea is, what does it look like when you give God space in your life. The focus last week was on the Comments section, specifically, when you give God control of your life, how is your tongue/speech/comments affected? We found ourselves in James 3, where the tongue is compared to a bit that controls a large horse, a rudder that controls a large ship, and a spark that can start a huge fire. It can do a lot of damage, and it can do a lot of good. If you can control our tongue, it makes controlling the rest of you that much easier.

As I thought about this teaching, I thought back to my repulsion for political ads. I had this thought: What if we chose to not vote for anyone that ran attack ads on their opponent? By voting for the individuals that "approved this message," are we not saying, "I condone your methods of advertising"? I would have a hard time looking the attacked opponent in the eye and saying, "I agree with all of the awful things that [my candidate] said about you." If we made that kind of a stance, with massive support behind it, we might actually have some ads aired that were helpful and informative, instead of nasty and dirty. Granted, that kind of movement is more than this lowly blog could ever generate. So the more applicable question is, if we each made that stance, to not vote for anyone that ran negative, attacking policital ads, would we have anyone to vote for? Or have they all gone over to the dark side?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Catalyst Conference

This isn't so much an update as it is a question. I am heading to Atlanta next week for the Catalyst Conference. Anybody else going that would want to hook up for a cup of coffee? If so, let me know. I will also try to blog when there...

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Weekend in Sports

OK, so the Browns are still really stinky. And my fantasy team showed that I don't have a clue about drafting a good team (congrats on the big win, Oral). But it was still a good sports weekend, as far as I am concerned, as my Ohio State Buckeyes laid the smackdown to #2 Texas on Saturday night. Go Bucks!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Fantasy Football

Our fantasy football league had our draft tonight. Here's how my team played out:
  1. Lamont Jordan - RB
  2. Clinton Portis - RB
  3. Reggie Wayne - WR
  4. Donovan McNabb - QB
  5. Reuben Droughns - RB
  6. Anquan Boldin - WR (keeper from last season)
  7. Javon Walker - WR
  8. Jason Witten - TE
  9. Jake Plummer - QB
  10. Tampa Bay - Def
  11. Wali Lundy - RB
  12. T.J. Duckett - RB (handcuff pick for Portis)
  13. David Akers - K
I think I did OK, especially since my good friend Brian Jones isn't in this league, so I might have a chance. But knowing how things go for me in fantasy sports, Portis' arm will fall off completely, and Boldin will come down with a rare virus for which there is no cure. But I'm not a pessimist. Your thoughts on my team?

Saturday, September 02, 2006


A couple of weeks ago, we introduced cereal into Colin's diet. For those of you that aren't yet parents, allow me to educate you for just a moment. When I say "cereal" I don't mean Fruity Pebbles or Honey Bunches of Oats (or Cheerio's, which seems to be a popular little kid cereal choice). When a child is Colin's age - closing in on five months - cereal means a tasteless, pasty white mixture. It reminds me of the paper mache mix we used in elementary school to make maracas out of light bulbs...tastes pretty similar, too...don't ask how I know. Colin is at the point of his development where he gets two 1/3 servings of this each day. And daddy - me - is often called upon to make the delivery. What an adventure that is! Colin treats each bite as though it were the most amazing stuff on earth, and as if he's afraid each bite will be the last. Even before he has swallowed the previous bite, he is already grunting and whining for the next one. He has an unbridled sense of urgency that I have never before witnessed. "Daddy, I know I haven't swallowed yet, but if you don't get that next bite near my mouth for me to eat, I don't know what I'll do. I might just blow a gasket, even though I have no idea what a gasket is yet. So let's go Dad, step it up and get me that pasty white food stuff!" It's really a site to behold. And last night was an even greater adventure, as he was so excited, that both arms and both legs were flailing while his head swiveled from side to side. It was like target practice, and quite frankly, I'm not good at target practice. Thank God for bath time.

As I fed him last night, I started to think about my life. I have the tendency to live life with this same sense of urgency. I do a lot of sitting around, until push comes to shove, and then I shift life into urgent mode. I have often said that I work really well behind the 8-ball. The problem is that it doesn't work so well for those that have to deal with me. And it's not a great way to live. So many important things get pushed aside for the urgent things. Sometimes the urgent is the most important, but oftentimes it just seems that way due to its, well, urgency. The challenge for me, and for any of you like me, is to fill and focus our lives on the important so that stuff doesn't get pushed to the side in favor of the urgent. How to do that? I'm not sure, but one day, when I absolutely have to do it, when it is urgent, I hope to figure it out...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

New Video

Check out the new video I just posted on YouTube. You can see it on the sidebar to the right. Enjoy! And remember, Old Guys Rule...

Monday, August 28, 2006

Trees and Tag, You're It!

The big Bradford Pear tree that adorned our front yard is officially gone. What was left after the storm was cut down and removed over the weekend. Now there is a great big hole in our view where once was a nice-looking tree. We will especially miss it in the spring when it was known for it's beautiful white blossoms. It's departure made me reflect on the brevity of life. If I was counting the rings correctly, it was in the neighborhood of 16 years old. Granted, this is not old when you think about Oak trees and the like, but a 16 year old Bradford Pear tree means it is a pretty big tree. And the majority of it was gone in a matter of a half hour. All that time and effort on the part of the tree and Mother Nature reduced to a pile of sawdust and leaves in minutes. What a bummer! Our life is no different. We work hard and long at whatever for however long God gives us on Earth, and then one day, we are reduced to a pile of sawdust and leaves. But hopefully, we have done something in our lives to leave a hole when we are gone, to know that we will be missed. What have you done that will be missed when you are gone?

On to the tagging. A buddy of mine from seminary, D.G. Hollums has tagged me, meaning I have to - actually, I chose to, because it's fun and interesting - answer a series of questions. This particular tagging focuses on books, so here we go:

1. One book that changed your life: (We'll assume the Bible is asssumed) The Ragamufin Gospel by Brennan Manning - If you still have a hard time grasping grace, read this...

2. One book that you have read more than once:
Put Me In The Zoo by Robert Lopshire - Colin loves this one!

3. One book you would want on a desert island:
The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide by Douglas Adams - Makes me laugh out loud every time, which brings me to...

4. One book that made you laugh:
Anything by Bill Bryson - Hilarious and educational

5. One book that made you cry:
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

6. One book you wish had been written:
The Answer Book for Being the Best Husband and Dad Ever

7. One book you wish had never been written:
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown - Could there be any more hype for a below-average book? I think not

8. One book youĂ‚’re currently reading:
Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time by Howard Schultz and Dori Jones Yang

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read:
The Challenge of Jesus by N.T. Wright - I'm actually in the middle of it...for the third time

10. Tag 5 others:
Brian Jones
Guy Williams
Jennifer Schenkelberg
Jason and Jeni Russ
Scott Russ

Monday, August 21, 2006

A Lot to be Thankful For

So, Saturday night during a bad storm, a tree fell on our house. And in the past week and a half, our ministry has lost five SIMYs (that's the acronym for our adult leaders). So why the title, "A Lot to be Thankful For"? Well, with regards to the tree, everyone is OK, and the damage could have been a whole lot worse. It just clipped the corner of the front porch. And with regards to our ministry, we still have many good, solid, committed leaders in our youth ministry, so I have that to be thankful for. And, I talked with my aunt the other day, and she told me of the problems they have had with bitter youth leaders that have gone so far as to leave their church (they are the junior high youth leaders) because they don't agree with the direction that the new youth pastor is taking the ministry. As near as I can tell, and from what those that have left our ministry have told me, we are not experiencing that sort of bitterness at all. It is simply a matter of people trying to scale back their lives or God taking them in a different direction in their own ministries. So praise God for that!

On a different note, I am looking for some good quotes. We are nearing the end of the renovation of our youth space at La Croix. There is a company that sells lettered wall decals. I would love to get some good, meaningful quotes that would appeal to youth to add to the walls in there. So if you have any, please pass them along. And, part of the renovation is a prayer room. If you have any quotes that specifically pertain to prayer, please pass those along as well. Thanks in advance...

Saturday, August 12, 2006

I'm Back!

It's good to know that two of you have noticed my blogging absence and have been concerned about it. That's more than I figured it would be. To return, I thought I would present my On Notice list of things / people that are dead to me:
  • Turn signal non-users: Nothing drives me battier than someone who is driving in front of me and they slow down for no apparent reason...and then they turn! That's what the little stick on the left of the drive shaft is for!
  • Prescription drug commercials: When did they start advertising for prescrip drugs? Sure, they have always advertised for Bayer and such, but a drug for Restless Leg Syndrome? Come on!
  • On-air talent shows: OK, so I watch American Idol, but do we need America's Got Talent? If you judge it by that show - which I admittedly have not watched, but have seen a few clips - no, we don't have talent. And are David Haselhoff and Brandy the ones that should be determining it?
  • Chuck Norris: Why is he popular? Are people trying to make him the next Kevin Bacon? It will never work.
  • Fox Sports football coverage: Just show me the dang game, don't make it sound and look like a blasted video game.
  • Sweetest Day: Just a holiday invented by Hallmark to sell cards. Love you, Marcy!
  • Neckties: The only time I have worn one in the past several years was to preach at my sis-in-law's wedding. Can't stand 'em.
  • Mike Shane: He is the local news anchor in Cape. Marcy and I laugh at him most of the time, because he is ridiculous. His time of usefulness as an anchor is long gone. Yesterday he was commenting on the ears of the Humane Society dog of the day saying that, wouldn't it be great if humans had ears like that? Huh?!?
It's good to be back...

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Schlemiel, Schlemozzle, Hossenfeffer, Incorporated!

Tomorrow morning at 8:00am, 27 teenagers, 6 SIMYs (adult leaders), and I will be piling in 15-passenger vans and hitting the road for our annual summer mission trip. This year, as hinted at by the title of this post, we are heading to Milwaukee, WI. Please pray for us. Pray that our teenagers and adults get a glimpse - or another one - of what it means to serve the way that Jesus talked about and demonstrated. Pray that our leaders are able to establish good, strong relationships with the students. And pray that I don't screw anything up...and that I'm able to deal with missing my wife and baby for the week. I hope to give updates on a regular basis this week at The Porch's MySpace site and upload pictures at Flickr. Don't hate on me if it doesn't happen, though...

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Life is Good!

Man, I had a great weekend! My dad came to visit me from Ohio. He got into town a little late due to some car issues, but he made it Saturday morning. It was fun getting to see him meet Colin. Almost everyone on Marcy's side has met him, but my dad was the first one on my side to do so. We had a fun weekend of doing very little. Hey, we live in Cape, so what do you expect? I also preached my last sermon in the series I have been working on called, "What you talkin' 'bout, Jesus?" While I certainly enjoyed preaching, it is nice to have that extra workload off of my shoulders. And to top it all off, my dad and I went to Busch Stadium last night for the Cardinals game. Our beloved Indians were in town, so we snapped up tickets. The stadium is great, and our seats - section 164, row WC - were awesome! They were plastic fold-up chairs placed just behind the lower section, so we were actually able to move them around and lean back in them. Very nice! And to top it all off, our Tribe laid a serious butt-whooping to the Cards, 10-3. Too much fun!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Brennan Manning and Kisses

Now, if that title didn't catch your attention and imagination, then you are simply not alive. Last weekend, our church had the privilege of hosting Brennan Manning for our weekend services. He is booked solid through 2008, but through the fortune of a church cancelling his visit with him, we were able to land him to speak while our pastor was on sabbatical. And what a blessing it was! He gave three distinct messages at each of the services, all focused on the theme of God's amazing love and grace. If you have read any of his books, you will find this theme to be unsurprising, as many of his writings - The Ragamuffin Gospel, Abba's Child, Ruthless Trust, etc. - have this as their central theme. During one of his messsages, he referenced a particular translation of the story of the prodigal son. This translation, when it gets to the part of the story of the father greeting his son upon his return, says that the father, "...couldn't stop kissing him." What a beautiful way to read it!

Rewind now about two months. Colin had just recently been born. As I came into contact with friends and acquaintances, many of them would ask, "So, how is it being a daddy?" My reply to many of them was, "I just can't stop kissing him!" Almost word for word what that translation read. I guess this being a daddy thing is just a glimpse of the overwhelming love that the Father has for me. It means so much more now...

Friday, May 19, 2006

Apple Envy

The new MacBooks are out. They make me hate the whole nature of computers. A couple of months ago, I purchased a refurbished iBook - which Apple is no longer making - and I love it! But, now they come out with the new MacBook, which features the Intel processor (translation: 5X faster), the new iLife '06 software bundle, a built in webcam for video chats, a remote that can control iTunes and the DVD player, and a magnetic power cord to prevent accidentally tripping over the cord and pulling the laptop off the table and onto the floor. The entry level one is about what I paid for my refurbished laptop. Curses! If I had just waited a little longer, I could have the new fancy one. But I know that a few months after that, they would have come out with something else to make me envious yet again. It's a never-ending spiral downward.

Plus, the new 24-hour Apple store opens today in New York City. It features a glass-cube at street-level, with stairs that descend into the store. There you find lots of computers and toys that you can try before you buy. If I ever make it back to NYC, that will certainly be a stopping place. You can read more and see pictures here.

I do love the new Apple commercials, though.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Two nights ago Marcy and I finished watching our TV addiction of choice for the year, Prison Break. It was the season finale, and boy, what a great season it was. The plot centers around Michael Scofield, whose brother - Lincoln - is on death row, having been framed for the murder of the Vice President's brother. He robs a bank so he can get put in jail to help his brother - and others, as the show progressed - escape. It's a very intense show, and most of the episodes ended with a cliffhanger, causing me to wait with baited breath for the next week's episode. Every Monday I would say to Marcy, "You know what today is?" She would answer, "It's Monday." To which I would reply, "And you know what that means?" "Prison Break," would be her answer. And I would be giddy with anticipation.

I am also in the process of reading The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. Now, before you question my Christianity or my wisdom, read my post below about this book. Anyway, Brown's writing style is a little annoying to me. I know, the book has sold a bajillion copies, but his chapters are each only a couple of pages long, and practically every one ends with some sort of cliffhanger:
  • Langdon could not believe the words that were scrawled on the floor.
  • Collett saw that the keys to the Land Rover were missing.
And so on. I know these fabricated sentences don;t make a lot of sense by themselves, but in the context, they would make one think, "Oh, I can't wait to find out what happens next! I must read the next chapter, all two pages of it!" It simply gets a little tiring after a while. It might work for an hour-long TV drama, but for a novel, I just don't think it works as well.

These two pop culture elements of my life have caused me to think about life in general. What would life be like if it were like Prison Break or The Da Vinci Code? What if, every hour or so, or at least every day, we had this huge cliffhanger in our lives that we had to deal with? I wonder how many of us would be able to deal with that kind of pressure on a regular basis. One minute, we lose our job. The next, we find out we've been set up. The next, we find out it's part of a huge conspiracy. The next, we discover that it is a conspiracy that we actually set in motion. And so on, and so on. By the end of the day, I would be curled up in the fetal position sucking my thumb. Thank God for the comparitively mundane-ness of life. Thank God that when I go home, I can simply kiss my wife, hug my child, and pat my dog on the head without having to worry about the government agent showing up at my door with a gun. Thank God that most days, the most exciting thing that may happen is that I get an e-mail from a friend or discover what great salad Marcy made for dinner. Thank God that the excitement of my life comes from an occasional great sporting event or roller coaster, and not from someone holding a knife to my throat. Cliffhangers are great for TV, not so great for novels, and distressing in real life.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Pac Man

If you have ever been a fan of the video game Pac Man - or even if you haven't - you will likely love this video of two people reenacting Pac Man in real life. It must have been finals week...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Da Vinci Code

I ran across this blog entry when it was republished in Christianity Today. It was written by Barbara R. Nicolosi, a scriptwriter, author, and speaker. She has some very opinionated things to say about The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. Her basic premise is that we should stay far away from the book and the movie, as utilizing it for discussion purposes or to educate ourselves with it for those purposes would be similar to arguing with the Devil himself. She likens a discussion with anyone advocating DVC to an exorcism of demons. She criticizes those that might fall away from God because they did so "over this cartoonish, illiterate, dishonest piece of hack drivel..." instead of something bigger and more important like a love affair. Her depiction of "typical DVC inspired dialogue" paints the advocate as a close-minded, rude, sex-crazed, demon-possessed individual. Wow! Nothing like being open-minded, eh?

I just got The Da Vinci Code out of the library (the huge, illustrated, coffee-table version, since it was the only thing left) and started reading it the other night. It's an OK book so far, not great. And I plan on seeing the movie when it comes out, either in the theater or more likely on DVD (since I have a baby now). Why? Not only do I really like Tom Hanks as an actor and Ron Howard as a director. I also need to be prepared. I have heard much about the book, but have experienced none of it first-hand. I need to be prepared to know what I'm talking about when the topic comes up. And come up it will. If I were to take Ms. Nicolosi's high road, and one of my students were to approach me with questions about some of the so-called facts that the book or movie espouses, how would I respond? "Sorry. I didn't read or see it. It is spiritually-unfit for me to consume. And just the fact that you are asking me about makes you the Devil!" Come on! Let's be a little less closed-minded and impractical. Jesus Himself in Mark 5 not only communicated with the demons, but also granted their wishes by casting them into a herd of swine. I am not putting myself or anyone else on par with Jesus, but this book will open conversations with people about God, even if they have skewed opinions of Him. 1 Peter 3:15 exhorts believers to be prepared to give an answer for the hope that in them, and with humbleness, not pride. I would much rather be prepared to dialogue and give an answer for my hope than to condemn...

Sunday, April 30, 2006

30 Hour Famine

First of all, allow me to say that I did not puke this year. I consider that to be a big success, since last year involved copious amounts of fluid being, shall we say, expelled from my body. OK, now on to more impotrant things.

Our Famine this year involved many less students than it did last year. I'm not sure of the exact numbers, but I think it was about half as many. Not to mention the fact that there were half the students there than THAT SIGNED UP! I'm not sure what happened. I know life gets in the way sometimes, but for HALF the kids to call and cancel, or simply not show up, was a little discouraging. It doesn't discourage me personally or for the ministry - OK, it does - but it discourages me more for them. They missed out on what I thought was a very good event and an incredible ministry opportunity.

The students that did show up were amazing! They actually raised more money than the group did last year. Despite the reduced numbers, they brought in over $3,000.00! Not bad at all. Plus, they had such great attitudes throughout the event. I heard no whining - except for Jory when I tried to wake him up on Saturday morning. Maybe that was because we gave them pictures of World Vision kids to pray for when they wanted to whine. Maybe it was because I threatened to laugh at them if they did whine. Not sure. And, they served hard at the various service projects we lined up for them, at the grocery store scavenger hunt, and stuffing envelopes for our mission trip fundraiser. Well done, Faminers!

The highlight for me for the Famine was our worship service. Our church's worship leader, Chris Nall, came in and led us in worship songs for about a half hour. Great! And then we had a special guest speaker from Cameroon (he actually lives in Atlanta, now) who is with an organization called Bread for Life. He gave his personal testimony and spoke and answered questions about the living conditions in Cameroon. It was great for me and the students to hear about stuff outside of Cape Girardeau, MO.

If you are a youth pastor and are not doing the Famine, or if you are a student that doesn't participate in it, I would encourage you to reconsider. You won't be sorry...unless maybe you puke...

Monday, April 24, 2006

Miss USA

Let me start by saying that yes, I spent my Friday night watching the Miss USA pageant on TV. Sad, I know. Marcy's family was in town and her niece wanted to watch it since she knew - sort of - Miss Ohio and Miss West Virginia. So we indulged her. It was fine, even though Drew Lachey, one of the co-hosts, was about 4 1/2 feet tall and sounded about as dumb as a box of rocks (rocks are dumb, trust me). We watched as they trimmed the contestants from 51, down to 15, and then down to the final five. The last competition was <dramatic music> The Final Question. Each contestant would be given one question to impress the judges with their poise and intelligence. First of all, I was expecting a little more out of the questions. Instead of questions about what to do about world hunger and how to fix the economy, we got questions about whether or not they felt that pop musicians were role models or not. Silly. But sillier yet were their answers. The only one that didn't sound ridiculous was Miss Ohio, and she finished in 4th place! Some of the highlights - or lowlights - that literally made me laugh out loud were these:
  • Miss Kentucky, when asked whether pop musicians were good role models said that she thought that a lot of music was "too much edgy." Interesting grammar, to say the least.
  • Miss California, when asked what advice she would give to strengthen families spoke about spending time with each other. Good advice, but then she kept going on and on about how this was so important whether you came from a family of two or a family of 15. Now seriously, how many families of 15 do you know of?
  • Miss Florida, when asked if we were too politically-correct as a society, said that yes, we were too PC, especially in "the Department of Religion." Is that a new Cabinet post that I am not aware of? Department of Transportation, Education, and now Religion.
  • Miss Georgia, when asked what she would want to teach men about women, said that they were strong creatures. I thought, "This might be good. She can talk about how women can do anything that men can do." Instead, she continued on to say that women wear high-heels, which proves just how strong they are. Come on! Is high-heels the best you can come up with to discuss just how strong women are?!? Sad.
All this further goes to show that Solomon knew what he was talking about when he wrote, "Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. (Proverbs 31:30)" Physical beauty is fine, female or male, but shouldn't our emphasis be on our inner lives instead?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Reflections on Daddyhood, Part 1

Wow, what a ride it has been! Colin Samuel is now a mere 16 days old, but it feels like a whole new world has opened up to me. That has happened a few times in my life. Events happen that make me feel like life has really started. First, when I was 12 years old, I met and began to follow Jesus for the first time, and I thought, "Now, life has begun." Then, many years later, I met and married Marcy and thought the same thing. And now, with Colin in my life, I feel like life has begun all over again. It is an amazing life, with so much joy, so many highs and lows. I have discovered one of the truly great simple pleasures in life, that being sitting in my recliner with my boy asleep on my chest. It just doesn't get any better than that! And my priorities have been all shaken up yet again. I have been reminded that it is not aout me at all. Any time that I might be disillusioned that it is, I am awakened by Colin's cries and I realize that it is about him. It really is a good life. More reflections to come, I'm sure...

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Church Signs - Annoying!

If you are like me, you get really annoyed by churches that use cheesy slogans on their church sign. For example:

"CH__CH - What missing? UR"

That is so what it takes to draw people to church (sarcasm). The Wittenburg Door, a Christian satire web magazine, apparently is also annnoyed, as evidenced by these rejected church slogans. Enjoy...

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Colin Samuel Fitzpatrick is here!

Our boy has finally arrived! He was born yesterday, 4/5/06, at 2:23 in the afternoon, after a 20-hour labor by Marcy (She's a stud...in a girly kind of way). He was 8 lbs. 8 oz. and measured in at 20" long. He was a little anxious to enter the world, so he stuck his hand out with his head, tearing Marcy quite a bit. She had surgery to get sewn up and is recovering nicely. The boy is a looker, despite the fact that he has the Fitzpatrick nose. All are doing well, and we are so excited to have our boy finally be here!!!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


What a boring NCAA Men's Basketball Championship game it was last night. As exciting as the tourney had been up until the Final Four, I had great hopes that this would be one of the best, if not the best, tournament of all time (at least all of my time). But the Final Four was a big dud. Neither of the semifinal games was close, nor was the championship. And the tourney had such promise, too. We had upsets, like Northwestern State over Iowa on a last-second shot; like Montana over Nevada; like Bradley over Kansas (yes, Kansas choked in the first round - again!). We had amazing finishes like UCLA over Gonzaga and Texas over West Virginia (Cursed Texas!). And we had the Cinderella #11 seed George Mason make it all the way to the Final Four, the first time in history that a team seeded that low ever made it that far. It had all the makings for the best tourney ever, but at the end, it laid a great big egg.

It makes me think about what we discussed at youth group the last couple of weeks. Sometimes, Christianity is the same way. In our eyes, it can lay a great big egg, too. But it's not because it's bad. I'm sure Florida doesn't think that the tournament was bad in any way. It is because we have the wrong expectations for it. We expect to be happy all of the time. Or we expect it to be about living a moral life. Or we expect God to show up in some big, dramatic burning bush experience for us daily. Whatever it is, we often expect the wrong things about what it means to follow Jesus, and it ends up being a drag to us. Has this ever happened to you?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Wal-Mart Inn & Suites

When I was in college, I never really did anything exciting for my spring break. While other friends jetted off to Florida or South Padre Island, I usually had just enough money to pay for gas for my one-hour trek home. But if I had been half as creative as Skyler Bartels, I might have had some seriously crazy stories to tell. Enjoy...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Worship Leader, or Lead Worshipper

I witnessed a really cool thing the other day. I was at the church, getting ready for the Saturday evening service. I was the worship assistant for the weekend, which meant that I was sort of the emcee for the service: I welcomed people, ran through some announcements, read Scripture, prayed, and invited the ushers up for the offering. It was about 45 minutes before the service was to begin, and all of the last-minute preparations were going on: soundchecks, double-checking the PowerPoint slides, running through songs one last time, etc. Currently, our stage is adorned by a rather large stained glass-esque picture of Jesus and some traditional Christian symbols. It was while the band was running through one of their songs that I witnessed this cool thing. The worship leader for the weekend was a good friend of mine, Geoff Smith. While he was singing, instead of facing 990 empty seats, he was turned with his back to the auditorium, facing the huge picture of Jesus. I don't know why he did this. Maybe he was trying to hear the band and the other vocalists better. Maybe he was trying to not be distracted. Or maybe, as I imagined it, he was simply doing what he was called to do, and that is worship God. Maybe he was so caught up in that Jesus hanging behind him that he didn't care what was happening around him. Too often we get caught up in the idea that church is a show that we come and consume, instead of realizing that it is a participatory event. We think that those that are up front are in some way more important because they are up front. In reality, they are just one of the worshippers, just like anyone that is sitting in our comfy seats. But we like to be entertained instead of having to participate and present our bodies as living sacrifices, which is our reasonable act of worship. "Let someone else do it, and let me watch," we think. And that is the wrong attitude to have, if you ask me. I wish we could all just turn around more often and stand face-to-face with Jesus and let it be about Him and me...

Monday, March 20, 2006

Kelly Clarkson Video

Before anyone starts slamming me for having the Kelly Clarkson video playing on this blog, let me explain. Two of my students from the youth ministry I used to volunteer with in Ohio are currently in LA trying to make it as actors. They have already appeared in an episode of Charmed, and now are in this video, 'Walk Away.' I have to give them some props, and as much exposure as I can. So now, the three or four people that actually look at this blog will know who they are, too. They are the twins that are singing while washing dishes and wearing rubber gloves. Enjoy...

Thursday, March 16, 2006

I'm Too Busy for God

That seems to be the message that I have been hearing lately. Specifically, it has come through loud and clear in two articles I have read recently. This one, from Christianity Today, talks about the abundance of new Bibles that are coming out that "hope to make God's word digestible for the masses not in years, but in weeks, days, and—yes—even minutes." First, there's The Bible in 90 Days, a Bible and a curriculum that allows the reader to get through the Bible in - you guessed it - 90 days. But maybe that's too much of a time commitment for you. If so, there's the HCSB Light Speed Bible which combines the Bible and speed reading to get you through the Bible four times in one day. Four times! And finally, there is the 100-Minute Bible which condenses the Bible to 20,000 words in about 60 pages. I think it reads something like this:

"First, there was God. Then there was Adam and Eve, they sinned, then there was Abraham, who was the father of Israel, who became enslaved to Egypt but Moses led them out and they wandered for a while. They liked God, then they didn't, then they did, then they didn't, did, then didn't, and so on. Then came Jesus. He healed and preached and loved. Then He died, but He rose again. Then the Church was started and Paul wrote a bunch of letters. Then there was some crazy stuff that happens at the end featuring horses and trumpets and bowls. The End."

What does it say about us that we need Bibles that we don't have to spend a lot of time with? We're too busy to really spend time in the Word, right? I mean, we have work, and family, and extracurricular stuff, and church stuff. We need something to get us a quick fix in the Word, but it can't take much time. Is that really the best approach to the Word of God?

And then I ran across this article and pictures of a drive-thru church in Daytona Beach. People drive up just like you used to do at a drive-in movie theater. You watch the service from your car, someone delivers the Communion elements to you there, and then you drive away. Again, what kind of message is this sending. That we're too busy to even get out of our cars? That church is really just a show, so why bother participating? That we don't need the community that church is supposed to be about, and instead, I'm in a hurry to get to my real community on the golf course? Now that's the kind of church I want!

Now, before you think I'm getting all high and mighty on you, keep in mind that I admit that I am just as bad as the next guy or girl in this area. I like to think that I am soooo busy in my life that I don't have the time to really sit down and quiet myself and take time alone with God, whether it be through prayer or time in the Word or worship or whatever. I busy myself with some important things, but also with a lot of inconsequential things. Spending time with my family: important. Watching American Idol: inconsequential. Being with my youth group students: important. Goofing around on the internet: inconsequential. May God help me to be more like Martin Luther who is widely quoted as saying, "I have so much to do today that I should spend the first three hours in prayer."

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Johari Window

OK, so I was surfing over at my friend Nolan's blog, and I came across this thing called a Johari Window. It was invented by Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham in the 1950s as a model for mapping personality awareness. By describing yourself from a fixed list of adjectives, then asking your friends and colleagues to describe you from the same list, a grid of overlap and difference can be built up. (from the website - italics mine) I have started one for myself, and would love to hear what you have to say. If you are looking at this blog, chances are you know me a little bit. So help a brother out and make me more self-aware by clicking below and following the directions. Thanks...


Thursday, February 16, 2006

A Look Back At The Porch

Maybe it was just me, but man, was The Porch good last night! Here's what went down:

First, I get a call in the afternoon from Putty, one of our SIMYs that helps lead the youth band, telling me that no one showed up for band practice on Sunday, so we wouldn't have a band for that night. Bummer. So I figured, "Well, we'll just punt and play some stupid game or something and do some God Rocked My Face Offs." Then, about 20 minutes before we were supposed to start, while everyone is eating and hanging out, Lauren, one of the singers from the band, came up to me and said, "Is it true that we don't have any music tonight?" I told her yes. She said, "That's bad." I said, "I know." She said, "What about doing those iWorship videos? I could lead with those." So we found them on the server, and she and Jen, one of our SIMYs that used to be in the band, picked out some songs.

The meeting started, and we went ahead and played the stupid game that involved marshmallows, which was quite funny. Marshmallows are just fun in a white, squishy package, anyway. We plowed through our announcements, and got to our One Life Revolution announcement, and discussed the Penny War we have going on to raise money for those suffering from the AIDS crisis in Africa. As I'm making the announcement, one kid stood up, pulled out his wallet, and threw some money in one of the jugs. Then someone else. Then another. And another. And another. Then a SIMY. and another SIMY. And another student. And so on. It was crazy how much money they were just giving away like it was God's or something ;-) .

And then, if that weren't enough, we started singing, and everyone was really into worshipping God. So after Lauren and Jen led us in two or three songs, I felt like we should do more. So I got up and said a few words while they picked out a couple more to do. Then we sang some more, and I said a few words. We sang and I read from a Psalm. By the time it was all said and done, we had sung for 45 minutes! It was awesome to see how pumped everyone was to just take the whole meeting to worship God! I can't say for sure, but I think He was pretty pleased with the offering we brought last night. If you were there, that's what worship is about, and should be about in our everyday lives. God rocked my face off last night! I was stressed about the program, and God showed up and said, "It's not about the program. It's about Me." And it was...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Be Your Own DJ

Do you like music? Check.
Do you like downloading songs that you like? Check.
Do you not have enough money to pay for all the songs you want to hear? Check.

Here might be a good alternative for you. Go to Pandora, where you can enter the name of an artist or song that you like, and it will configure a virtual radio station that plays similar music. I just entered the David Crowder Band, and it brought up such artists as Delirious? and the Robbie Seay Band. Pretty cool...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

We finally got some snow yesterday. It warmed my heart as it chilled my fingers and toes. This 60 degrees in January is crazy! It's not supposed to be that way. Winter means snow. So, while it is practically gone already, I'm glad we had a little bit at least. A few other thoughts:
  • During a prayer meeting, people prayed for our country that it would return to its Christian heritage. I'm not sure exactly what they meant by that. Probably a return to prayer in school and an end to abortion. But what about ending poverty and taking care of the alien, widows, and orphans? And would it really do us good to have our government agree with our Christian heritage, or would it simply add to our complacency? Look at Israel in the Old Testament. When things were going smoothly for them, that was when they turned away from God to other idols. And when I was in high school, the strongest Christians were the ones in the public schools, where they had to fight for their faith daily. And who do you think is stronger, the average American Christian that has life easy, or the Chinese Christian that has to worship underground? (I know I'm going to hear from my brother about this post) Just a thought...
  • I was ever-so-glad to hear that U2 cleaned up at the Grammys last night, and that Mariah Carey did not. Granted, I haven't heard any of Mariah's CD at all, but seriously, who is more culturally relevant when you look at the big picture? I think about stories of REM winning Best Alternative Music Grammy with their first mainstream album when going up against Nirvana's Nevermind, which etched grunge into the consciousness of America. Or Jethro Tull beating out Metallica for the first Metal Grammy. And when I do, I say, "The Grammys got it right this time."
  • Have you heard what is going on at Asbury College in Wilmore, KY? A revival is breaking out there, and God is driving people to their knees. This is reminiscent of the revival that occurred there in 1970. Go God!
  • Fitz, Jr. in 54 days and counting! if you have any name suggestions, I would love to hear them...but I can pretty much guarantee that we won't use them. I'm fairly sure that Marcy wouldn't allow us to name our child from a suggestion submitted on my blog. But it could still be fun. So let's hear your ideas.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Super Bowl Ads

OK, so the Pittspuke Stillers won the big game. Big whup. They had the refs' help in that matter. But what really mattered, as it does in every Super Bowl, were the commercials. Advertisers paid $2.5 million for a 30-second time slot this year. And judging by some of their spots, many of them overpaid. Here is my personal list of the top five and bottom five commercials from the 2006 Super Bowl:

Top Five (in no particular order):
1. FedEx: Caveman - hilarious with a great surprise ending (I won't spoil it for you if you haven't seen it yet)
2. Bud Light: Man Kitchen - although I don't drink, I love it that you can usually count on Budweiser to come up with some original ads
3. ESPN: Mobile - very effective way of showing how much the product has to offer
4. Emerald Nuts: Druid - just too weird to not include it
5. Ameriquest: Hospital - usng the paddles on a fly: classic - and the liittle girl's reaction: priceless

Bottom Feeders:
1. Ameriquest: Flight - just plain wrong
2. Diet Pepsi: Brown & Bubbly - all the Diet Pepsi ads stunk, but this was the worst of them
3. H3: Little Monster - that was weird, wrong, and just plain stupid
4. Toyota: Camry - maybe I'm just too sensitive, but the implication that someone needs to know English to have a successful future seems remarkably ethnocentric
5. Paramount: MI:3 - as much as I love Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tom Cruise just needs to go away

If you haven't yet seen the comercials or you missed some, you can see them here...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Train up a child...

Oral, the tech guy at our church, did some clean up work on my baby's ultrasound picture from several weeks ago. It revealed something startling, but not so surprising...

Thursday, January 26, 2006

iPods and The Cross

I ran across this article about a pastor in Houston that is using the iPod to talk about the gospel. He is the midst if a sermon series called "iPod Theology," the main gist of which is that the iPod is so simple, and that life can also be simple. Now, I don't have my own iPod (but my birthday is coming up in seven short months, hint-hint), but I have my own take on how the iPod relates to our life in Christ.

The pastor, in making his point about the simple life, says this: "All you do on the outside is push the little button, drive the wheel and pick what usefulness you want out of your iPod," he said. "And so when Jesus talks to us about simplification, it must start on the inside." While the first step in a relationship with Jesus is a simple choice to follow Him, it is much more complicated than that. Just like the iPod, much work and effort went into the salvation process to make it simple for us. With the iPod, there were designers, computer programmers, engineers, musicians, etc. all working to bring about this product. With God, there was the Law - not simple - and then there was the sacrifice of Jesus - not easy - that went into developing a reconciliation with God. And once we start that relationship, it is often not as easy as kicking back and listening to tunes.

The pastor goes on to say, "When I go to iTunes, I select all that I want. When I go to Jesus Christ, he gives me all that I need. It's that simple." Yes, Jesus gives us all we need, but the implication here is that we can design for ourselves what our life in Christ will look like. Fortunately, we don't get to pick the playlist of our lives. When we sign on to follow Jesus, we are submitting ourselves to his playlist. We might want to hear the song of self-gratification; He plays the song of self-sacrifice. We might want to hear a tune about looking out for #1; He plays the tune of service and selflessness. We try to dial in a song about pleasure; He dials up one about dying for Him. We are not afforded the luxury or deciding what our life will sound like once we follow Jesus - He plays it for us. And it's not always easy to hear.

"When I am sitting here and I am rocking out with my music ... you don't know what I am listening to. That is between me and the iPod," he said. "That's between me and God. That's between you and God. All I can be responsible for is myself." This statement by the pastor is one that is very pervasive in evangelicalism. We talk at length about a "personal relationship with Jesus." While our relationship with Jesus should be a personal thing, it is not just about you and Jesus. Our relationship with Jesus should be seen in the greater context of the Church. When the Bible speaks about the great marriage, He talks about Jesus being the groom, and the Church being the bride. Fitz is not the bride (although I bet I would look good in one of those dresses); the Church is. The relationship with Jesus is not simply about you and Him; it is about you and Him and the Church. It may be personal, but it is not individualistic. When you try to keep it to yourself, you are like an eye trying to function like a whole body all by itself (another of the metaphors used for the Church). It simply won't work that way.

I fully expect to hear back from my good friend Brian, since he is the Apple expert. Any of the rest of you have any thoughts?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

My New Toy

The thing I have been saving several months for is finally here: my Apple iBook with a G4 processor and 14" screen. It is quite sweet! I am looking forward to having the DSL hooked up at home so I can surf the web there instead of having to come up to the church every time I want to use the internet. Marcy is a little concerned that she will become a computer widow, but I don't think so. This computer will come in quite handy when Fitz, Jr. comes along and we are taking pictures and videos left and right. We need to edit and send them somehow, and now we have the way to do it. The iLife software package that it comes with is pretty cool! So, be jealous if you must. I know my friend Oral is already...

Friday, January 13, 2006

Lawyers...When Will They Ever Stop? (Sorry Stephan)

Just when you thought frivolous lawsuits couldn't get any more weird, along comes this story about the family of a man who is suing Benihana restaurants for his wrongful death. Apparently, the chef - as they are known to do at Japanese grill restaurants - threw a cooked shrimp at the man, and instead of catching it, he ducked, wrenching his neck. Later, when the pain wouldn't go away, the man went for surgery on his neck, and complications led to his death. Now, I feel very bad for the family. I try to imagine the pain that they are going through, and I simply can't put myself in their shoes. But to sue the restaurant, come on! That's just ridiculous...or is it, Stephan?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Misery of a Cleveland Fan

ESPN.com has come out with their misery index, measuring how much misery a football team has made their fans endure. Not surprisingly, Cleveland finished as being the team with the highest misery index, using the categories of Historic Despair, Recent Despair, Historic Pain, Recent Pain, Intangible Misery, and Misery Outlook. Here is what Jim Caple had to say:

"1. Cleveland Browns

Sure, Cleveland once was an NFL powerhouse, winning three championships in the days before Roman numerals. But that was so long ago that America's heartland actually still manufactured things.

The decades haven't been kind to Cleveland since Jim Brown retired to the set of the "Dirty Dozen" to pursue his "acting career." The Browns have had more losing seasons than winning seasons in the past three decades. They've lost five games that could have sent them to the Super Bowl, losing three of them in a span of four years. They watched John Elway march the Broncos 98 yards for a touchdown in the final minutes of the AFC championship game on Jan. 11, 1987. They watched Ernest Byner fumble at the 3-yard line. But just when it seemed it could get no worse, owner/Satan spawn Art Modell stole the team and took it to Baltimore -- where the Ravens won a Super Bowl. Sure, Cleveland got a replacement team. But it stinks. It was like having someone take your Jim Brown throwback jersey and giving you a Jeff Garcia giveaway T-shirt in return.

Lousy teams, painful losses, a hijacked team. Sheesh. The only thing missing from the Browns' misery is Kathy Bates' crushing their ankles with a sledgehammer."

To see how your team fared, visit ESPN.com...

Monday, January 09, 2006

Football and Kong

It is almost getting to the point that I don't like watching football. Now, before any of you revoke my guy status, let me explain. I watched the Rose Bowl, the college football national championship - the 2nd half, at least - last Wednesday night. I liked watching it almost as much as watching the Buckeyes whoop up on Notre Dame. I watched as Vince Young simply threw his team - Texas - on his back and carried them to the title over USC. He threw for 267 yards, and rushed for another 200 yards. He was a beast! But what impressed me far more than any of the numbers that he posted was how he reacted every time he scored or made a big play. Actually, what impressed me was how he didn't react. Each time he scored, he simply walked to the ref, handed him the ball, and walked off the field. No dancing, no Sharpies or diving into the stands, no imaginary cell phone calls. He just did his job, and let that do his talking for him. In marked contrast, I watched the Steelers vs. Bengals game yesterday. Not only did it pain me to watch Pitts-Puke win, but what I really didn't like was the reaction of the players after virtually every play. Score a touchdown, strike a pose. Make a big tackle, pound your chest. Make a reception, start talking trash to the defender. Make a small tackle after the offensive player has already gotten a first down, still act like you did something big and impressive. It doesn't matter what you do, make sure you show everyone that you are big and important. Vince Young and his humble behavior in the title game was refreshing. I never thought I would say this about someone from Texas, but why can't more people be like him (no offense, Guy)? Whatever happened to humility and gentlemanly behavior? On a side note, I'm just glad that he is going into the draft. It increases the chances of Ohio State winning the national championship next year...there I go jinxing them again...

I went and saw King Kong this past weekend. I do have to say that it was a good movie. I don't know that it blew me away like it did everyone else. But it was fine. One thing I noted was that I am getting quite tired of computer-generated special effects. I'm not talking about movies like Toy Story or the soon-to-be released Hoodwinked (go see this movie - a friend's friend wrote and directed it!). Those movies are good because they don't try to be reality. I'm talking about movies like King Kong, and Chronicles of Narnia, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy (gasp!), where they are trying to portray something that is real through the use of computers. So much of these kinds of movies revolve around special effects. And for the most part, they are pretty good, but still not as good as the real thing. How long before we do away with actors altogether? The day is coming when you will be able to make a movie with computer graphics and some sort of voice-manufacturing device. I know, these movies are good and have a particular audience. I liked them all, but I just know that I am getting tired of all of the computer stuff. Bring back the real thing...or maybe go back to claymation like in Jason and the Argonauts. Now that is some cool special effects!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Books Read in 2005

My reading list is not quite as prolific as my friend Guy (30 books read this year), but I am pretty proud of the fact that I read an average of 2 books per month this year. That works out to be 24 books for the year, for those of you that are arithmetically-challenged. Here's what I read, with a brief comment about each, links to the books at Amazon.com, and my favorites of the year in bold:
  1. The Last Don by Mario Puzo - not as good as The Godfather, but a decent mob piece
  2. The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey - anything by Yancey is good
  3. Lightning on the Sun by Robert Bingham - disturbing and depressing, but I still liked reading it - a gift from my cousin's husband
  4. Visioneering by Andy Stanley - good for pastors and non-pastors alike, about developing and following the vision for your life
  5. Reimagining Spiritual Formation by Doug Pagitt - a week in the life of a postmodern church in Minneapolis
  6. A New Kind of Christian by Brian McLaren - a challenging look at modern Christianity in the postmodern context
  7. Thriving Youth Groups by Jeanne Mayo - good tips for making your youth group a friendly place
  8. The Seven Cries of Today's Teen by Timothy Smith - good info about what teens want/need that I have used to train our adult youth leaders
  9. Good to Great by Jim Collins - business principles that we can use in the church (or anywhere else)
  10. Do They Run When They See You Coming? by Jonathan McKee - about not turning off visitors and fringe kids from your youth group - didn't thrill me all that much
  11. Hurt: Inside The World of Today's Teenagers by Chap Clark - loved it! It made me sad to read about a lot of the stuff that today's teens are dealing with, but I sure appreciated reading it
  12. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving - the inspiration for Simon Birch, but very different - excellent!
  13. The Relevant Church by various authors; edited by Jennifer Ashley - a look at some how different churches are remaining relevant to their culture - ok
  14. The Brethren by John Grisham - I really enjoyed this, especially since it didn't have a Hollywood ending
  15. The Testament by John Grisham - I liked the fact that it had a Christian character that was portrayed in a positive light
  16. Praise Habit by David Crowder - loved it! David Crowder wrote it. 'Nuff said
  17. Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith by Rob Bell - loved it! Rob Bell wrote it. 'Nuff said
  18. Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller - memoirs of a Christian on hi journey - great conversational style
  19. Jewish Spirituality: A Brief Introduction for Christians by Lawrence Kushner - helps to understand the Jewish understanding of some of what is in the Bible
  20. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell - a study on what makes certain things epidemics, social and otherwise - loved it! - probably my favorite this year
  21. The Coffeehouse Gospel by Matthew Paul Turner - a discussion on how to turn everyday encounters and conversation into venues to share your faith - nothing groundbreaking
  22. The Runaway Jury by John Grisham - the book that inspired the movie - can you tell that I think Grisham is not so bad
  23. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis - I had to read this classic before the movie came out - great!
  24. Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land Through the Five Books of Moses by Bruce Feiler - the authour writes about his travels through the region that the patriarchs travelled through - very interesting and insightful about the Biblical stories

I notice that these books average a score of 4.02 stars out of five at Amazon (no rating was available for Do They Run...?), so I guess I have pretty decent taste. I think I am shooting for 27 books this year. Shoot! Now that it's in writing, I have to do it. I have already started with Erwin McManus and a book about being a father. Stay tuned...