Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Adventure Park: tonight was the night we went to Adventure Park which is our new Putt-putt, arcade, laser tag, go-karts, bumper boats and more. It was a bunch of fun. I didn't do so well on the laser tag but I won the go-kart race and I won enough tickets to get the inflatable hammer I had my eye on. A good night overall!

Morph: I was referred to this book by one of my college profs-Doug White. It's sat on the shelf for a few months just waiting for the right time to be read. I started reading this morning and after the first chapter am ready to give an assessment on what this book will be about. The subtitle is a texture of leadership for tomorrow's church, this sums things up pretty well. Ron Martoia states that the idea of transforming or "morphing" is necessary in leadership. The idea of morphing means that all the substance stays the same but is reorganized to form something completely different. Of course his motivation is to make leaders and thus the church a greater organism growing the kingdom of God. Out of every leader is formed a ethos and out of every leader leaks their ethos thus surrounding the leader and the church with people with a like ethos. Meaning that leadership is the crucial first step in morphing into who God wants us to be.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Through Painted Deserts: The kind of book that makes you miss old friends, appreciate relationships and help you realize the deeper importance of life. There's so much more to say but none of it would be quite what I mean to say. One the best stories I've read, ever.

Direction: I have no directions. I needed to go to the new Adventure Park today to make a reservation for tomorrow night and I figured I had seen it off of the interstate (I-70) so I wouldn't take directions. MISTAKE. I was talking on the phone so I completely missed my exit and seeing adventure park. The good news is I made it halfway to Baltimore. I guess that's not so good news. I wasn't in any hurry so it didn't stress me out, I just thought it comical that I was driving up and down I-70...because I have no directions.

Meanderings: The good news about my meanderings is that I was able to listen to three sermons today. Not all on my trip to Baltimore and back but in all my driving today I listened to three sermons. I decided that I'd like to start listening to other people preach to make myself a better preacher. I'm not sure if it will work but I figured it won't hurt anything either. Don Miller; (June 26, 2005) Our Father in Heaven, Rob Bell, Josh Bishop and Letha; (July 31, 2005) Bringing the Cheese and Jeff Manion; Elijah's Meltdown (the link to this one disappeared since yesterday, sorry it was a great sermon) are the three I listened to today.

Van: The book I'm reading right now tells a 2 young men's adventure from Texas to Oregon. They are making this adventure in a Volkswagen Van from the 70's. Like a bunch of hippies they sleep in the van and live a minimalist life. Today I was taking my boy to the babysitters and I saw a green hippie van parked on the side of the road. I looked for the driver and sure enough he was a long haired fellow and not to stereotype but a hippie. Then this afternoon driving out to Adventure Park on I-70 at least 15 miles from where I last spotted him was the same guy in the same hippie van. No spiritual lesson, no stirring revelation, just a green hippie van with a long haired hippie driver, twice.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Mornings: I'm getting better about not sleeping all day but there are those days, the days off in particular that I like to sleep till about 9 or so. With Nathan waking up about 7 to eat that can get difficult. So what we do is after we feed him we put Nathan in our bed on days Heather doesn't work he lies inbetween us, normally he manhandles my face or in this case babyhandles my face. He does that for a few minutes or 45 minutes depending on how he's feeling and then falls asleep. When he wakes up he will resume grabbing my face and will smile at me till I smile back. It's the things like these that are so incredible.

Nathan: Nathan will be six months on Saturday. He has three teeth, specializes in rolling over and chewing things. Nathan enjoys long walks in his stroller and looking at people make funny faces. Looking for girlies to share these interests with.

Through Painted Deserts: My wife says I'm a nerd when I post the picture of the book I'm reading, I tell her that's not nice to say to someone but she does it anyway. Well...nerd or not currently I'm reading Donald Miller's first book, which was just rereleased this month. I wanted a break from the po-mo stuff I'd been reading and get into something a little more narrative in nature. Don Miller is definately one of my favorite authors mainly because he's not afraid to be honest and open. He describes a journey in his life not only covering thousands of miles but covering questions and ideas about his origins and the origins of his faith. In a time in his life when he questioned those things often deemed unquestionable or too dangerous to question he dares to ask them. I know from reading Blue Like Jazz (Don's second book) that he comes out on the other side a better man, capable of deeper thought and frankly a more devout follower of Christ. Go figure. The past year or so God has reminded me of the ok-ness of asking questions of him others frown upon. I'm reminded of Abraham, Gideon, Thomas, Peter and the list goes on.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Coffee: So I now have a justification for my 2 cup habit a day. This article on Fox News says that coffee is the number 1 antioxidant for Americans.

ipod: so I love my ipod and I've never been a headphone guy so I normally use my fm transmitter or rca cable not using the headphones. Good thing. Seems like one the earphones which provide excellent sound, by the way, that enter the ear canal make the noise quite loud which can result in hearing loss. The ipod is also especially dangerous because of the length of play. Now I've never listened to my ipod for 15 hours in a row but I could if I wanted!

Hurricane: National Geographic had an issue a few back about hurricanes and that there seems to be an odd number of hurricanes lately and even more projected in the next couple of decades. This number can be attributed to either global warming or just a natural trend that we haven't seen in a hundred years or so. So while the idea is not to panic we have to understand the population boom that is occuring in Florida and in the south in general. So not only does this mean more people are in danger for their lives but their property is at risk also.

With all that said it looks like New Orleans is going to get it pretty rough..

Names: Which needs me to my next thought...why in the heck to we name these things? We talk about them like they have personalities not forces of nature. I have an answer. People can be controlled, tamed, handled; forces of nature can hope to be endured and then when it's over you access the damage. The latter is far more scary.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Entertainer: Heather, Nathan and I went to a fair today down in Virginia. It was a ton of fun, lots of nice people, good free samples and a few entertainers. I noticed that the first entertainer we saw was funny, and overall enjoyable, he juggled and rode a unicycle. The second entertainer had a little monkey perched on his shoulder. He wasn't a friendly guy at all and he kept trying to be funny and tell people to pay attention but in reality he wasn't funny or entertainint.

Lecturer: I have been reading a lecture by N.T. Wright, an excellent lecture, you can find the like below if you are interested in reading it.

So since I study public speakers and/or entertainers I was reminded that preachers are neither lecturers or entertainers but they need to both be engaging and informative but most of all impacting people to align themselves with the will of God.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Story: That, in fact, is (I believe) one of the reasons why God has given us so much story, so much narrative in scripture. Story authority, as Jesus knew only too well, is the authority that really works. Throw a rule book at people's heads, or offer them a list of doctrine, and they can duck or avoid it, or simply disagree and go away. Tell them a story, though, and you invite them to come into a different world; you invite them to share a world-view, or better still, a "God-view". That, actually is what the parables are all about. They offer, as all genuine Christian story-telling does, a world-view which, as someone comes into it and finds how compelling it is, quietly shatters teh world-view that they were in already. Stories determine how people see themselves and how they see the world. Stories determine how they experience God and teh world and themselves and others.
-N.T. Wright (How can the bible be authoritative?)

bleh...: For the past 2 days I have opened this page with full intent on leaving a post but either the post would evade me or I just didn't feel like...articulating.

First Week: The first week back to school is always crazy for Heather and I and I thought this year would be all the more consider we now have a new one to take care of and I'm preaching this sunday which generally takes up more time and makes me more stressed. But this week has been great, I know because of our prayers and other's prayers. I was also careful to plan out my week and then guarded it, in regards to my time. So now it's friday, we are 2 hours away from getting through the week and it has been a GREAT week. Praise Him.

Enertaining: Anyone that knows me or has spoken to me for more than 10 seconds knows that I'm not much of an entertainer. Now I think I'm a pretty friendly guy and there are really few things that I enjoy more than good conversation, having fun with someone and dialoguing about the Scriptures (an odd combination I know but it will make sense in a minute). I'm friendly but I don't entertain, I think because entertaining is one way, not two way. Being entertained is self centered. Like I said I am preaching this sunday and I really enjoy preaching. It is an excellent discipline to submit yourself to, preparing and listening. But for some reason I lack the passion that I normally do. I think today I was able to get a grasp on why. The reason is that I feel like I'm entertaining the people in the church till my sr. pastor gets back from vacation. I get a feeling that we have conditioned our people to listen or pretend to listen. The idea keeps nagging at me -the scriptures lead to action. Always. The scriptures lead to action. So hopefully I won't entertain anyone on sunday, I pray that I'll lead them to action by the work of the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Sometimes the things we want most in life are the things that will kills us: Anyone that knows me knows that Donald Miller is one of my favorite authors. He tells a little story in his book Blue Like Jazz about "Don Rabbitt" and tells how Don Rabbit wants to eat a carrot and he chases this beautiful carrot all over Oregon and then all over the U.S. and then he finally catches the carot and it's his and HE DIES.

I've really grown fond of that quote.

Probably because I seem to be continually dealing with people that want things. Nothing really want with wanting things, but the problem is they want things that will kill them. No not like eating rat poison will kill you but things that will kill you over time or spiritually. Truth be told I know very few people who don't chase after things that won't kill them eventually. Some people choose better things to chase after them, things like not-pornography, not-gambling, not-hookers, not-drugs, and not-other-obvious things, but in reality the death might be slower but it's still death.

Sometimes the things you want most in life are the things that will kill you.

Trust Me: It seems I lost my Sam's card. Which is really only annoying since I hate loosing things. So I go up to the desk to tell the lady I lost it and that I need a new one. I also told her that my card was/is connected to the business credit for the church so if I needed to report that I was doing so then. The lady then informed me that my card was NOT part of the business credit for the church. Well darn, I've been filling out expense reports for nothing! Then rather than wonder who's been paying for the goods every time I said "charge that to the business credit please" I told the lady that I was pretty sure it was.

I didn't get too aggravated but I couldn't help but wonder why she felt the need to not believe me. Why would I make that up? Of the two people standing there at that very moment, me and her, who would be the one better equipped to determine if indeed I was part of the business credit?

After she took the time to check to see if I was able to make credit purchases she said is a surprised tone of voice "oh you are on the business credit"

What I wanted to say: "next time when me and you disagree on something...believe me"
What I really said: "Thanks, have a good day"

The perk of my new Sam's card is that I got a new picture.

Good-Bye: Tonight one of my best friends and my only youth sponsor announces his leaving. He is a good friend that is leaving for all the right reasons. But that doesn't change the fact that I'll miss him as a friend on those youth retreats. I'll miss him as that other guy adult that I can vent to when needed and can lean on when I'm running late or need an errand. He is an excellent sponsor, I hate to let him go but I'm doing what's right.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Preaching: When I preach I take the opportunity very seriously. There are several reasons. The first being that I don't get to preach to often, maybe 3 times a year, so when I do preach I want to gain experience in preparation and delivery for when I am doing it every week. The next reason is that I know that for many people in my church it is the only time they are hearing from the word during the week. And because of this reason comes my final reason, when I preach I want the word of God to come alive for that person I want them to engage the scriptures and of course I want them to be stirred to action.

Because of these reasons I am always paying attention when I hear others preach. I pay as much attention to the crowd as I do to the preacher. I am hoping to learn what is engaging people. What is making them take notice? What is boring them? What parts of the text are they interacting with? and if I have the ability I ask them weeks down the road what the particular sermon was about and to see what they remember and if they actions changed because of it.

I was sitting outside with my son this morning and I came to that point once again, like I do for every sermon that I have to lay the message at the food of Christ. I have to surrender the sermon and be reminded that I preach not for the approval or benefit of man but I preach out of obedience to Christ. I think that when I study people and how they learn and how they are impacted I am being obedient but because of this study I sometimes wonder how I can best impact the person rather than ask how I can best be obedient to Christ. The paradox is that when I am obedient to Christ and what he wants me to say he uses my gift of creativity to impact people. Which is what I love to do.

Wise: I was just about to comment about people's general lack of being able to make wise decisions when I get an email from my best friend JB. JB asked me to pray for him for a particular struggle, I know he wasn't just asking me to pray for him but he really wants to be interceded for through my prayers. JB is a wise man because he knows he can't handle all things on his own.

Fools: I am continually amazed by people's inability to make good decisions. Not only their inability initially but their continuing to make poor decisions. You'd think they'd learn after a few poor decisions they'd figure out they need help but they continue to try to do it on their own and continue to make poor decisions. Simply Amazing.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Enforcer: For a few years now I have dubbed myself "The Enforcer". It's a fun nickname used especially when I'm beating down on my youth in a video game or strategy game. It's also fun to use when youth are acting like they need to get roughed up a little. I'm know to make threats about how the Enforcer is about to take them down, they get scared and behavior improved. The name stuck and when kids start acting up one of the other students will mention how the Enforcer is going to get brought into action, etc.

Well today the Enforcer got his first piece of mail. It is an advertisement for ESPN fantasy football cheat sheets. I'm sure this is a sign of things to come such as fan mail, gift packages and money.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

From Pope Benedict:
"Freedom is not simply about enjoying life in total autonomy, but rather about living by the measure of truth and goodness so that we ourselves can become true and good," he said.

He said there is a "strange forgetfulness of God," while at same time the sense of frustration and dissatisfaction has led to a "new explosion of religion."

"I have no wish to discredit all the manifestations of this phenomenon. There may be sincere joy in the discovery," he said. "Yet, if it is pushed too far, religion becomes almost a consumer product. People choose what they like, and some are even able to make a profit from it."

"But religion constructed on a 'do-it-youself' basis cannot ultimately help us. Help people to discover the true star which points out the way to us: Jesus Christ."

He urged the youth to take the time to regularly attend Sunday Mass.

"If you make the effort, you will realize that this is what gives a proper focus to your free time," he said.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

I just wrapped up Velvet Elvis and I have to be honest that I'm still trying to get a grasp on all the implications of this book. Needless to say I enjoyed this book and found it challenging, inspiring and invigorating. I started a seperate blog, it's not a review like The Present Future blog but rather a compilation of quotes and ideas from the book that I enjoyed. Look on the right in my links section.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Metaphor Part II: The whole point of me writing all that out in my last post was to mention metaphors. While I used many metaphors I never discussed metaphors themselves. Specifically I wanted to mention my struggle with metaphors.

I love the Bible. I love that it is the word of God, the real words of real men, inspired by God. The Bible is living, organic and applicable to our lives today. When I preach I preach heavy application. I love to study the bible and what it means. But I also strongly believe that the bible applies to us today and when I read it and teach it I generally focus more on personal and communal application rather than other aspects.

So yesterday as I was preparing my message for next sunday I was torn. There they were, those metaphors about the ship just staring at me. Just asking me if they could be used in my sermon. They were ripe for the picking.

I had to ask myself. Is that I'm doing ok. Is this what Luke had in my when he wrote them? Was Luke just giving a history of the Early Church? Was I digging out of the word things that were meant to be there?

I decided to go with the metaphors.

We live life in the metaphors of the Bible. The Bible is applicable not as an owners manual, not as a rule book or a text book, it is the living word of God applicable to our lives.

Metaphors: I'm preaching on the 28th of this month and to get a jump on some things and because I have a busy week next week I got started. I already had my text I just needed to get some study and some writing done on my sermon. I was directed to Acts 27 the time where Paul is finally send to Rome for his trial. He and Luke and some other prisoners together with the soldiers and the sailors head off to Rome too late in the season to be sailing. So instead of heading for Rome they decide to winter in Phoenix just 45 miles up the coast of Crete from where they were, Fair Haven.

Well those that have read Acts know the story about how their Cargo ship carrying wheat was caught by a strong wind and was supposed to be a 4 hour 45 miles trip turned into a 600 mile 14 day struggle for survial.

When the bad weather hit the sailors go with the wind and let it carry them.

The waves then get so strong they have to drop ropes under the ship to hold the ship together due to the rough weather.

Then they fear running aground so they drop the sea anchor to slow down their demise.

Finally riding too low in the water to survive they start to dump their precious cargo, destroying the very wheat that they were making a run so late in the season for.

The metaphors in this passage are so easy to grasp and so obvious. The bottom line is that we are not equipped to handle the rough seas of life. We don't have the tools. But still we venture out where it is dangerous, we do deperate measure to hold our ships together.

We try to hold our life together.
We try to slow our life down.
We try to get rid of our baggage.

But while were doing all this were still heading in the wrong direction with nothing as our guide. So even if we succeed in all of these things we have still missed the target destination.

Again if you have read Acts 27 you know that Paul comes up on the deck and says..."an Angel of the Lord, whose I am and whom I serve, has told me not to worry that no one will be harmed." Paul then instructs the sailors to run the ship aground on the upcoming island and they will all be saved.

If you're not paying attention you miss it, you miss the phrase "Whose I am and whom I serve" in the NLT is says "to whom I belong and to whom I serve".

That's the answer, that's the answer to it all, do we belong. I think we're afraid of the idea of belonging to someone. It sounds like slavery. But when I read this verse and I believe that when Paul said it he said it with adoration, with love, with rest.

I belong to a family, I belong to my wife, I belong to my son. Belonging is wonderful. Belonging is love, adoration, trust, comfort, rest, unconditional love.

It is good to belong.

"Whose I am and whom I serve"


there's a free sermon for you...just add some illustrations and research the text a little bit more and you're set...

Velvet Elvis: I'm about 100 pages into this book by Rob Bell. I'm always amazed at Rob's teaching on the Nooma Videos and he is just a stellar communicator. I like how he's passionate but not overly burdensome. He speaks in comman man's language and give direct life application. Well his book is no different and I really enjoy his vast knowledge of Jewish customs and the history of the Rabbis and their teaching practices.

I generally underline phrases or thoughts in a book I will want to remember but some about this book says "don't write in me" so I haven't.

"We live in the metaphors"

"The intent then of a rabbi having a yoke wasn't just to interpret the words correctly; it was to live them out. In the Jewish context, action was always the goal. It still is."

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Well...I finished The Best Question Ever, 184 pages in a matter of hours. Not only am I proud of myself I'm glad it was such a great read. Really it reminded me of The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer. An excellent book, quite challenging to my thinking and planning!

The Best Question Ever: I bought this book originally because it looked like a good small group resource or a good launching piece for a wednesday night messages. I want some other books by Andy Stanley but before I order a whole batch of books by him I wanted to see if I like his writing style. Sidenote: For months now the story that Brennan Manning tells in a Ragamuffin Gospel has followed me. I won't tell the story here but the chapter is entitled Paste Jewelry and Sawdust Hotdogs and if you have the book then review that chapter, if you don't have the book buy it and read it or you can read the post below where I've quoted it. So the first few chapters of Andy Stanley's Best Question Ever is similar to that chapter, the fact of looking in a mirror and seeing who you really are not who you're lying to yourself about.

Seems like this book with be a quick read but an important one, truth that I can pass on to others and continue to apply to myself.

Paste Jewelry and Sawdust Hot Dogs: an excerpt from The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning

One of my indelible memories goes back to April 1975 when I was a patient at an alcoholic rehabilitation center in a small town north of Minneapolis . The setting was a large, split-level recreation room on the brow of a hill overlooking an artificial lake. Twentyfive chemically dependent men were assembled. Our leader was a trained counselor, skilled therapist, and senior member of the staff. His name was Sean Murphy-O'Connor, though he normally announced his arrival with the statement: "It's himself. Let's get to work."

Sean directed a patient named Max to sit on "the hot seat" in the center of the U-shaped group. A small, diminutive man, Max was a nominal Christian, married with five children, owner and president of his company, wealthy, affable, and gifted with remarkable poise.

"How long have you been drinking like a pig, Max?" Murphy-O'Connor had begun the interrogation.

Max winced. "That's quite unfair."

"We shall see. I want to get into your drinking history. How much booze per day?"

Max relit his corncob pipe. "I have two Marys with the men before lunch and twin Martins after the office closes at five. Then . . ."

"What are Marys and Martins?" Murphy-O'Connor interrupts.

"Bloody Marys--Vodka, tomato juice, a dash of lemon and Worcestershire, a splash of Tabasco; and Martinis, Beefeaters gin, extra dry, straight up, ice cold with an olive and lemon twist."

"Thank you, Mary Martin. Continue."

"The wife likes a drink before dinner. I got her hooked on Martins several years ago. Of course she calls them 'pre-prandials.' " Max smiled. "Of course you understand the euphemism. Isn't that right, gentlemen?"

No one responded.

"As I was saying, we have two martinis before dinner and two more before going to bed."

"A total of eight drinks a day, Max?" Murphy O'Connor inquired.

"Absolutely right. Not a drop more, not a drop less."

"You're a liar"'

Unruffled, Max replied: "I'll pretend I didn't hear that. I have been in business for twenty-odd years and built my reputation on veracity not mendacity. People know my word is my bond."

"Ever hide a bottle in your house?" asked Benjamin, a Navajo Indian from New Mexico .

"Don't be ridiculous. I've got a bar in my living room as big as a horse's ass. Nothing personal, Mr. Murphy-O'Connor." Max felt he had regained control. He was smiling again.

"Do you keep any booze in the garage, Max?"

"Naturally. I have to replenish the stock. A man in my profession does a lot of entertaining at home." The executive swagger had returned.

"How many bottles in the garage?"

"I really don't know the actual count. Offhand, I would say two cases of Smirnoff Vodka, a case of Beefeater gin, a few bottles of bourbon and scotch, and a bevy of liquors."

The interrogation continued for another twenty minutes. Max fudged and hedged, minimized, rationalized, and justified his drinking pattern. Finally, hemmed in by relentless cross-examination, he admitted he kept a bottle of vodka in the night stand, a bottle of gin in the suitcase for travel purpose, another in his bathroom cabinet for medicinal purposes, and three more at the office for entertaining clients. He squirmed occasionally but never lost his veneer of confidence.

Max grinned. "Gentlemen, I guess we have all gilded the lily once or twice in our lives," was the way he put it, implying that only men of large mien can afford the luxury of self-deprecating humor.

"You're a liar!" another voice boomed.

"No need to get vindictive, Charlie," Max shot back. "Remember the image in John's gospel about the speck in your brother's eye and the two-by-four in your own. And the other one in Matthew about the pot calling the kettle black."

(I felt constrained to inform Max that the speck and plank comparison were not found in John but in Matthew and the pot and the kettle was a secular proverb found in none of the gospels. But I sensed a spirit of smugness and an air of spiritual superiority had suddenly enveloped me like a thick fog. I decided to forego the opportunity for fraternal correction. After all, I was not at Hazelden doing research on a book. I was just another broken-down drunk like Max.)

"Get me a phone," said Murphy-O'Connor.

A telephone was wheeled into the room. Murphy-O'Connor consulted a memo pad and dialed a number in a distant city. It was Max's hometown. Our receiver was rigged electronically so that the party dialed could be heard loud and clear throughout the living room on the lake.

"Hank Shea?"

"Yeah, who's this?"

"My name is Sean Murphy-O'Connor. I am a counselor at an alcohol and drug rehabilitation center in the Midwest . Do you remember a customer named Max? (Pause) Good. With his family's permission I am researching his drinking history. You tend bar in that tavern every afternoon, so I am wondering if you could tell me approximately how much Max drinks each day?"

"I know Max well, but are you sure you have his permission to question me?"

"I have a signed affidavit. Shoot."

"He's a helluva guy. I really like him. He drops thirty bucks in here every afternoon. Max has his standard six martinis, buys a few drinks, and always leaves me a fin. Good man."

Max leapt to his feet. Raising his right hand defiantly, he unleashed a stream of profanity worthy of a stevedore. He attacked Murphy-O'Connor's ancestry, impugned Charlie's legitimacy and the whole unit's integrity. He clawed at the sofa and spat on the rug.

Then, in an incredible coup de main he immediately regained his composure. Max reseated himself and remarked matter-of-factly that even Jesus lost his temper in the temple when he saw the Sadducees hawking pigeons and pastries. After an extemporaneous homily to the group on justifiable anger, he stoved his pipe and presumed that the interrogation was over.

"Have you ever been unkind to one of your kids?" Fred asked.

"Glad you brought that up, Fred. I have a fantastic rapport with my four boys. Last Thanksgiving I took them on a fishing expedition to the Rockies . Four days of roughing it in the wilderness. A great time! Two of my sons graduated from Harvard, you know, and Max Jr. is in his third year at . . . "

"I didn't ask you that. At least once in his life every father has been unkind to one of his kids.

I'm sixty-two years old and I can vouch for it. Now give us one specific example."

A long pause ensued. Finally, "Well, I was a little thoughtless with my nine-year-old daughter last Christmas Eve."

"What happened?"

"I don't remember. I just get this heavy feeling whenever I think about it."

"Where did it happen? What were the circumstances?"

"Wait one minute!" Max's voice rose in anger. "I told you I don't remember. Just can't shake this bad feeling."

Unobtrusively, Murphy-O'Connor dialed Max's hometown once more and spoke with his wife.
"Sean Murphy-O'Connor calling, ma'am. We are in the middle of a group therapy session, and your husband just told us that he was unkind to your daughter last Christmas Eve. Can you give me the details, please?"

A soft voice filled the room. "Yes, I can tell you the whole thing. It seems like it just happened yesterday. Our daughter Debbie wanted a pair of earth shoes for her Christmas present. On the afternoon of December 24, my husband drove her downtown, gave her sixty dollars, and told her to buy the best pair of shoes in the store. That is exactly what she did. When she climbed back into the pickup truck her father was driving, she kissed him on the cheek and told him he was the best daddy in the whole world. Max was preening himself like a peacock and decided to celebrate on the way home. He stopped at the Cork 'n' Bottle--that's a tavern a few miles from our house and told Debbie he would be right out. It was a clear and extremely cold day, about twelve degrees above zero, so Max left the motor running and locked both doors from the outside so no one could get in. It was a little after three in the afternoon and . . .



The sound of heavy breathing crossed the recreation room. Her voice grew faint. She was crying. "My husband met some old Army buddies in the tavern. Swept up in euphoria over the reunion, he lost track of time, purpose, and everything else. He came out of the Cork 'n' Bottle at midnight . He was drunk. The motor had stopped running and the car windows were frozen shut. Debbie was badly frostbitten on both ears and on her fingers. When we got her to the hospital, the doctors had to operate. They amputated the thumb and forefinger on her right hand. She will be deaf for the rest of her life."

Max appeared to be having a coronary. He struggled to his feet making jerky, uncoordinated movements. His glasses flew to the right and his pipe to the left. He collapsed on all fours and sobbed hysterically.

Murphy-O'Connor stood up and said softly, "Let's split."

Twenty-four recovering alcoholics and addicts climbed the eight-step stairwell. We turned left, gathered along the railing on the upper split level and looked down. No man will ever forget what he saw that day, the twenty-fourth of April at exactly high noon. Max was still in the doggie position. His sobs had soared to shrieks. Murphy-O'Connor approached him, pressed his foot against Max's rib cage and pushed. Max rolled over on his back.

"You unspeakable slime," Murphy-O'Connor roared. "There's the door on your right and the window on your left. Take whichever is fastest. Get out of here before I throw up. I am not running a rehab for liars!"

The philosophy of tough love is based on the conviction that no effective recovery can be initiated until a man admits that he is powerless over alcohol and that his life has become unmanageable. The alternative to confronting the truth is always some form of self-destruction. For Max there were three options: eventual insanity, premature death, or sobriety. In order to free the captive, one must name the captivity. Max's denial had to be identified through merciless interaction with his peers. His self-deception had to be unmasked in its absurdity.
Later that same day Max pleaded for and obtained permission to continue treatment. He proceeded to undergo the most striking personality change I have ever witnessed. He got honest and became more open, sincere, vulnerable, and affectionate than any man in the group. Tough love had made him real and the truth had set him free.

The denouement to his story: The night before Max completed treatment, Fred passed by his room. The door was ajar. Max was sitting at his desk reading a novel entitled Watersbip Down. Fred knocked and entered. For several moments Max sat staring at the book. When he looked up, his cheeks were streaked with tears. "Fred," he said hoarsely, "I just prayed for the first time in my life." Max was on the road to knowing God.

An intimate connection exists between the quest for honesty and a transparent personality. Max could not encounter the truth of the living God until he faced his alcoholism. From a biblical perspective, Max was a liar. In philosophy, the opposite of truth is error: in Scripture, the opposite of truth is a lie. Max's lie consisted in appearing to be something he wasn't--a social drinker. Truth for him meant acknowledging reality--his alcoholic drinking.

Ministry Nuts and Bolts: For any pastor, assistant pastor, youth pastor or para-church ministry leader this is a great book for you to read to get a grasp on the importance of Values, Mission Statement, Vision Statement, and Strategy. It will also give you direction and instructions on contructing your own statements. This is not a recommendation to leaders but a must!

I'm more than just a pretty face:

Monday, August 15, 2005

White Water: Well I'm pleased to report that I have taken another white water adventure and have yet to fall out of the raft. This time was by far the closest call. There we were navigating a class 3 rapid, we got turned around in the rapid and smashed into a rock, I went flying out of the raft and was about to hit the water when I realized my feet were locked into the sleeves and I was still in the raft I just needed to get my top half there. Just a few seconds later we hit another rock and I was yet flung out again but as fortune would have it I was still holding on with my feet.

We had a great time, no one died and we returned with all the students we left with. A recipe for success.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Water Night: Wednesday night was water night, which is one of my favorite nights of the year and one of the few nights where I give no message, we just have fun. I always try to do new stuff to keep the kids guessing. This year was by far the messiest year yet and it was the most fun as well. Flour, eggs, slip and slides, yuck, and mass mayhem. I loved every bit of it.

White Water Rafting: We're heading up to Ohiopyle to raft the Youck River tomorrow. This is the most dangerous thing I've ever done with my kids...beside letting them hang over the Grand I'm hoping I don't lose any of the. I guess that explains the permission slip thing!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Red, White and Green: I've been threatening this for sometime now it seems I have the people to pull it off. Hispanics now make up more than 50% of the population of Texas...who's next? My father being mexican when I hear people make comments like "Mexicans are taking over" I generally just look at them and say "Yes we are".

Red, White and Green!

Wife-Beater: Most people will know when I say "wife-beater" I'm talking about a type of undershirt. I believe the official name for them is called A-Shirt (that's what the packaging at wal-mart says). I believe the history of the word comes from the 50's and 60's where the "man" of the house would take off his overshirt after he got home from work just wearing his undershirt and proceed to insist his wife cook for him and cater to him the rest of the night, abuse that may or may not include actually beating his wife. *edit* I just learned that the wife beater probably gained fame and it's name by being worn by Stanley in a street car named desire.

I got into a habit long ago of always wearing a undershirt and when I wear a t-shirt I wear a "beater" underneath.

But the point of this post is not the history of the word or my habit of wearing undershirts. In true Nick fashion when I got home yesterday I took off my outershirt and was running around the house in my beater. This works good in case Nathan decides to spit up on me I can just change the undershirt not my t-shirt.

In our neighborhood is seems we have an unusual amount of door to door people wanting us to sign petitions, save the bay, support the boy scouts, cut my grass, convert to mormonism, catholicism and become baptist, generally at different times. I have developed a habit of keeping them at my door as long as possible, really just for fun.

Last night as we're about to eat dinner I hear a knock at the door and go to see who it is. I step out onto the porch's the mayor. I said Hey are you the mayor? She says yes and we have a nice conversation. As I step back inside I realize I just spoke to the mayor in my wife beater. You may think nothing of that, because in your mind you don't realize I am approximately the size of an overgrown silverback gorilla and have tan lines that resemble zebra stripes.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

I've been really having a lack of things to post. Normally my mind is churning with ideas or rants that I'm just dying to get down on this blog...but not this week.

pod!: I got my ipod a few months ago and have really been enjoying it. I have all of my music in one place and it's so portable, so easy to pull up any song, any artist off of any album, I simple love it. My favorite feature is shuffle. I select a genre or all my music and just hit shuffle and it plays all my music all mixed up, this is an excellent way to dig up old stuff that I've either forgotten I have or haven't listened to in years.

The scary thing is this. I'll be listening to a song and really digging it and I'll think to myself, this song is great but it's even better followed up by this song and at the end of the song the very song I was wishing for starts playing. Completely random yet somehow pod! knows my wishes and caters to them.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

I'm taking the day off from ranting today. I'm going to let this person do it for me.

by Mike Straka

When it comes to annoying the average citizen, Susan Wal-Martian takes the cake.
She thinks that cans of dog food — no matter how many — count as just one item. Therefore, when she enters the express checkout lane (10 items or less) with 24 cans of dog food, plus nine other items, by golly, she's well within her rights.

Of course, she pushes her cart into the nearest empty parking space after loading her goods into her Hummer, because walking a few more feet to the cart corral is just too much to ask.
Besides, she says, "Somebody gets paid to round up those carts. It's not my job."

After leaving the store, Susan has a problem merging onto the highway with such a large vehicle, so she sits at the yield sign and waits until there is absolutely no traffic in the right lane, wondering why people behind her are leaning on their horns.

When Susan Wal-Martian is hungry she likes to go to Subway for the low-fat sandwiches (Incidentally, a note to Subway: Lose Jared). Anyway, Susan goes to Subway practically every day during her lunch break.

But no matter how many times she's been there, the concept of knowing what she wants when she gets to the front of the line is way too much for her. No matter how long she's been waiting to order, she still has to ponder the merits of the plain Italian roll versus the Parmesan cheese alternative.

At the grocery store, Susan is delighted to see her next-door neighbors, whom she doesn't deign to speak with at home, but she'll block the cereal aisle with her cart to blab endlessly with them, catching up on the last five years.

Never mind the people sighing loudly as they maneuver by her. She doesn't even notice.

At her favorite restaurant, it's very important for Susan to let her waiter or waitress know that she is a regular customer, so she'll give them a review of exactly what was wrong with her last meal there, and then order the exact same thing.

In the morning, Susan is very keen on smelling good, so right before she gets out of her car she sprays a considerable amount of her White Diamonds perfume all over her, so she's smelling of powdery flowers for the packed elevator ride up to her office.

"You never know who'll take notice."

Yeah, how about the allergy police!

Anyway, look around you. Susan Wal-Martian is close at hand. She may even be in the mirror.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Marry, Bury and Visitation: I've been thinking about the role of a pastor and the duties of marrying, burying and visitation. I'll admit that reading James blog (see like on right) brought it to mind. Don't hear what I'm not saying. I'm ordained in the Christian and Missionary Alliance which means I earned the right to marry and bury, it was a two year process with mentorship, reports, many books read, and an exam. I excelled in this.

So with my Rev. I earned the right to marry and bury. I really don't have a problem with this as a role of a pastor. I love the people I pastor and it is my honor to marry them if they choose to ask me and on the other note at the end of their lives I am pleased to do their memorial service.

Now visitation...where did that come from? In Acts and much of the New Testament the only real visitation I see is possible in Acts 6 and the deacons taking food to the widow (which was done by the deacons) I see the visit of some apostles to peoples houses. I think of Peter to Cornelius house and then Paul on various visits. I want to emphasize that anytime an apostle visited a sick person when they leave the person is no longer sick. So I suppose that's where pastor's or churches get the idea that a pastor's role is visitation of the that I think about it my beef isn't with visitation it's with the lack of power visitations.


Loyalty: Again I ask...people expect their leaders to be loyal but often have a problem being loyal to their leaders.

I'm so ahead of myself I'm in retirement.

Refreshing ice cold yet at the same time blazing hot.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Stage Setting and Background: Everyone that does public speaking knows that stage setting is pretty imporant, if you have going to have a non solid background is needs to be not distracting yet at the same time enhancing and not dull and if you are going to use props they should be enhancing what you are saying not distracting.

So why hasn't anyone told Al Qaeda that? I mean if they want people to start taking them seriously they need to start inproving their presentation. "Hey Ay- let's shoot your bombing threat to London against that plain tan cave wall, oh and we'll throw in an ak-47 for visual effect so they know we're really serious. Wear your new glasses, they eminate the feeling of danger! Ok now speak in a real monotone voice, that'll really make em think you're serious."

Pastoral Heartbreaks: On a more serious and less offending note...I think people think that pastor's don't have feelings. Really its more oxymoronic than anything. People will come to the church heart broken, their families are falling apart, they can't pay their bills, they have a terrible illness, all legitimate concerns. So I see my senior pastor take the time to help them, he spends time with them, finds resources to help out their financial needs, provides counselors to help mend marriages, they come to the church expecting a man with a heart of gold and that's what they receive when they get here.

Crises is averted.

Then they leave the church with nary a word about leaving or why. Really it's sickening. I really have little problem with people leaving churches because different churches are for different people for different seasons BUT it is not fair to the pastor's heart to do this too him. I don't think people realize the emotional investment that they are asking of the pastor and it's not that the pastor wants anything in return...well maybe one thing...loyalty and friendship.

It's really not fair but I suppose that why Christ illustrated to us in John 13 the washing of the feet, sometimes you have to deal with the crap and you don't even reap the benefit of it. But that's not the point, the point is that we are called to serve, and serve we will!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Calculator: Just wanted to say a thanks to all those concerned about my calculator. It has been recovered. It seems my description of it was wrong so if you were looking for it that search was in vain. But it has been recovered and placed back in the work bag.

Space Walk: It's amazing that I can watch the space walk and the removal of the gap filler...LIVE!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

I figured out what I was talking about yesterday with my post entitled "Generations". It boils down to this.

New Generations need new worship styles, new leadership styles and new teaching styles. Therefore they also need new churches.

maybe that's a question...maybe it's a comment, I'm really not sure.

Feral: Last night while flipping through the channels I saw a show on TLC about Feral Children. Children either raised with very minimal human interaction- usually confined to a crib with a cage on top or locked in a room and depraved of human interaction- or children totally abandoned by their parents and raised by wild dogs.

In wanting some more information I came across this website that explains much of what the program aired showed and even more.

What sickens me is the ability for humans to be able to treat their children this way. I realize that some of the cases were the result of death but very few. Most of the cases are ones of extreme neglect. How can a human lock another human, especially a child, in a room and never interact with them? How can it be? How is it humanly possible?

What is even more sickening, and amazing is that when humans threw away their children wild animals began to raise them! Maybe it is the lack of reasoning on the animals part, or lack of emotional turmoil but something enables them to act contrary to what some humans can, compassionately and lovingly.

Monday, August 01, 2005

If anyone has seen my calculator could you let me know when and where you saw it so I can find it and start using it again? It's a little grey/white number that folds in half for easy storage. I miss it.