Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I hate

I hate hearing political talk. Because, let's face it. If you're a republican you're bent on smearing Obama and if democrat bent on smearing McCain. Not only is your "candidate" perfect but the other is a polar opposite. Then there are the doom and gloom people that say we're screwed no matter what.

It's absurd.

Today at the gym I heard two guys talking about how Obama was going to make the market crash and how he's a socialist. What I'm about to type is true, it really happened. The guy was not joking or trying to prove a point. He started making a point about Obama and accidently called him Bin Laden.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


New Blog. I think the thinking padre is moving. Well that's not quite true. This blog will still exist but I need to focus my efforts on this other blog for a while. Some come on over and join the community.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Where? What?

Where to begin and what to blog about? I don't know, I just don't know. A group of Bridger, seven of us to be exact went down to Atlanta last week to participate in Catalyst. Most would say they went to a conference but can honestly say we participated in this conference. Geared toward next generation leaders the Conference features some of the best in their respective field from church planting to business. I always go with the highest of expectations and of the three times I've been I've never come back home disappointed. I might be exhausted but I'm passionate for the calling God has revived in me.

It's funny that the only reason I ever heard about Catalyst was that I wanted to hear Donald Miller speak after reading one of his books and the only play I saw him speaking was at Catalyst 2005. I've been to 05, 07 and 08. I missed 06 because I was in Russia.

I'm sure I'll have more to add later...

Friday, September 26, 2008

A book you'll actually read

I stumbled upon these books because Amazon recommended them to me. I'm a little surprised I didn't hear about them sooner because Mark Driscoll is one of my favorite authors and preachers. I'm glad I found them though. The books are marketed as books you'll actually read because of their brevity.

I read the one titled "On who is God". It was brief, 82 pages I think but it was good. Part of it was excerpts from the other book I'm reading Vintage Jesus but it has enough original content to make it worth the purchase.

Great book overall. There are a few quotes in it that I'll highlight in another post.

Right now on Amazon the books qualify for a buy 3 get 1 free deal so you can get all 4 for $30 (free shipping).

ABYAR Website

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


So like I mentioned earlier today my friend Kristy asked me to compile a list of benefits to losing weight and being health. I can't sleep tonight for some reason so I might as well see what I can churn out.

1. I don't think overweight people ever really view themselves as overweight. I'm mean sure we know/knew we had a few extra pounds we knew we needed to get our diet under control but still when I read those statistics about the majority of Americans being overweight somehow that number didn't include me. I was confused as to why seats were tight. It was weird that all at once manufacturers started making movie theater, roller coaster and airline seats two sizes too small all in the same couple of years. It was also weird that for some reason all clothing manufacturers starting making xxl's so small.

In a way it was good that I never let my weight damage my perceived value or self worth. It was bad that I never was able to see my self for who I really was both in what I really looked like on the outside but also who I was on the inside. It's sort of like those two things were hiding from each other.

2. I think my favorite thing about this process is the energy that I now have. It was a chore to get up and play with Nathan or to take a little walk to the park. Just the little things in life took so much energy. After all it's quite a bit of work lugging around that much weight.

Rarely do I lack the energy to do things now and if I do it generally means I either worked out very hard that day or I didn't get enough sleep the night before. My feet don't get tired, my legs don't get tired and I can literally go all day without a break. It's not uncommon for me to get up and go for a run (5 or so miles), to spend a few hours cutting the grass and other lawn work and still have the energy to spend time with the family. I don't say that to boast but just that I'm still amazed that I don't have the insatiable urge to rest but rather enjoy exerting myself beyond what I have before.

It's all about pushing limits.

3. The final benefit (for now) is health I can be proud of. My resting heart rate is about 54, I have excellent blood pressure and cholesterol. This link is the benefits of running but I believe it would apply to any kind of regular and strenuous exercise. Benefits of Running.


My friend Kristy asked me about a month or so ago to compile a list of reasons that it's great to lose weight and get healthy. I promised I haven't forgotten but have been too lazy to sit down and write something up. However as I am currently reaching a few new milestones I realized I should write this thought down to share with others.

One of my goals when I started lifting weights was to one day be asked to give someone a spot in the weight room. If you don't know what that means I'll try to explain it. When someone is lifting free weights and attempting to do a weight that they have not done before or a weight that they aren't sure they will be able to do safely and with good form they will often find a random guy or girl in the weight room and ask them to "give them a spot" or be their spotter. The spotter is there in case something goes wrong or if the person lifting can't get the weight back up and on the rack.

Naturally when you look around the weight room you're looking for someone who can handle the weight. After all it might mean your safety. In my 18 months I've been in the weight room I've never been asked to give someone a spot. It doesn't happen that often anyway but it was a goal of mine. Today was my day. No big deal, no big story just a guy that was lifting on the bench press walked past two other guys to ask me if I'd give him a spot. That was a milestone for me.

I'm also approaching a new milestone in that today I weighed 201 lbs. My next major weight milestone is to weigh 199.

So that's what this entry is about. Setting realistic goals for yourself when attempting to live a healthier life. Whether you're just in it to get in better shape or to complete a race or triathalon or if you have lots of weight to lose setting goals, milestones that you'll place in the sand is important. Afterall how will you assess your progress if you don't know how far you've gotten or where you're going to begin with.

When I weighed in at 340 on April 1, 2007 I knew my first milestone. It was to get under 300 lbs. I knew I wouldn't stop there but I didn't allow myself to set my final goal weight. At that point in time it wasn't about weight loss as a collective whole, it was about 40 pounds. It's probably not a coincidence that Weight Watchers sets a 10% goal for their customers. The initial goal is to lose 10% of their current body weight. They are not allowed to set a goal weight until that 10% is lost. I recommend you do the same.

The amazing part was I was in a hurry to lose that weight so I lost it quickly. Then when I hit that goal I realized how attainable 40 lbs was so I decided to set my next goal at 250, 50 more pounds.

But I didn't stop there. I started an exercise goal. I had started walking. Walking is great exercise but one thing is true about walking. It takes a long time. So as a goal I told myself I could start running my miles when I hit 275 lbs. That was a big deal for me. I wasn't really looking forward to running but was looking forward to finishing my miles faster.

When I started running I thought it would be fun to run a 5k. I started running at the end of August 2007 and set a goal to run the Toys for Tots 5k on Thanksgiving day. I wanted to finish it in under 30 minutes. My time was 28:43. I did it.

By the time all of these goals were accomplished I was getting close to my goal weight of 220. So as far as weight loss goes it was time to pursue that goal. But I had one other goal I wanted to accomplish. I wanted to be able to bench press my body weight. I was 235 when I benched pressed my body weight. Today I can't bench 235 and I was only able to do it for that one day, but I did it.

I was also able to add in some running time goals, some race goals, some strength goals, push up goals, all stuff I can work towards. That's the key, keep working, keep pressing, keep achieving. Success generates more success.

Fun with the news

PETA is nuts I tell you. They have requested Ben and Jerry's consider making breast milk ice cream. That's gonna go over like a lead balloon.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I would like the whole story on this, is this true?

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Nation Divided

I was reading an article in Smithsonian magazine about previous party conventions. The contributors of the articles painted a picture of party conventions that featured debate, division and rally to certain causes. It made our current conventions seem like high school pep rallies compared to some of the stuff that was happening then. An interesting point was made about the divisions of the republican vs. democrat and their respective differences. Here you go.

Very interesting stuff.

As was pointed out in that article in recent history, my lifetime, there have been few democrat victories for the white house. In fact in my lifetime, if I subtract my toddler years, there has been exactly one democrat president, Bill "Party Boat" Clinton. I point that out to say that it's amazing to see the electoral college map and my memory of the first two presidential elections I've voted in. America is fairly evenly divided and while I know bipartisanship is paid lip service I'm not sure it's happening.

I'm certain it's certain issues that have so sharply divided us; gun control and abortion among others.

I mention this because I've been wondering lately how much I should let the ideologies of the different parties determine my vote. I think this is important because even if a candidate mentions their version of change how much change is really possible. Not only will they need the approval of those on the other side of the aisle of them but also of the ideas of their own party.

I think I'm pretty much decided who my vote will be going to on election day (actually before because I'll be on vacation and will be voting absentee) but there are still some things to be considered.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ohio State Fans

You knew it was coming. You were perhaps the most overrated team coming into the season. Or at least a close second to Clemson and USC. At least this year you guys didn't win in an easy big ten all year only to have it handed to you in your bowl game. The heartbreak must be easier to take in September than it is in January.

USC fans... play somebody and then talk trash, which means you might be able to talk trash sometime in 2011.

Friday, September 12, 2008

College football

Sorry OSU fans (those words go so well together), but USC is going to absolutely destroy you on Saturday. Don't get me wrong I'm not USC fan but I've got USC 35 OSU 14, if you're lucky. And none of this crying about Beanie Wells, he wasn't going to help you out any.

Just to be fair:

So now for my final comments. Wow how about the ACC football? It was better when you guys just tried to stick to basketball. Big East, who?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remind me again...

I'm sorry the first is so small, it's my one of my favorites in the book. I can't find the bigger versions online but know that these comics are a 9/11 tribute done by DC comics.

Photobucket Image Hosting

Photobucket Image Hosting

Wednesday, September 10, 2008



Monday, September 08, 2008

Polls are stupid (part one)

A college football team, East Carolina, starts off with a win over #17 ranked Virginia Tech on week one. The week one games most of the time are gimme games, glorified scrimmage, ECU SHOULD have been the team that got beat down in that one, it wasn't it won. Then week two ECU ROMPS West Virginia, a Big East powerhouse ranked #8 in the nation and had as high a ranking as #2 last year (I think VA. Tech did too). So ECU as far as I know is the only team in college football that has played and defeated two top 25 ranked opponents. The rankings game out today for AP top 25 and USA today poll- 14 and 20 respectively. That's a load of crap. They deserve at least a top 10 ranking if not higher.

I'm not a pirate fan, I can't even tell you where ECU is but they deserve better!

:EDIT: it's in Greenville, NC.

Monday, September 01, 2008


I did my first of three weddings I have for this fall yesterday. I've known Audrie for most of her life. I first met her when she was about 4th or 5th grade. I saw her grow up and have seen her have a baby and now get married. It was the most special wedding I've ever been part of. Her and her new husband, Jeremy, really are very genuine and real with one another. They were most emotional about the ceremony and about getting married. It was obvious in many ways how special they are to one another and how special this day was. The vows they shared with one another were incredible.




Friday, August 29, 2008

What's a guy to do?



Thursday, August 28, 2008

Random thoughts...

aren't they all?

While grinding out a few miles on the treadmill this morning I saw on one of the wall tv's that Michael Phelps was on the Today Show. I like Phelps and think his 8 golds are amazing so I wanted to hear him talk. I also like to hear him speak because in between phrases he makes this hilarious "aaahhhhh" nasal sound that cracks me up, every time with out fail.

But I really do admire him as an athlete. He mentioned that he got to meet Tiger Woods yesterday. I can't find the picture online but when I do I'll post it. It's a shot of them meeting and then embracing. Michael Phelps said in the interview, quite absent of the nasal ahhhhs, that it was just a regular conversation and then he said something that moved me. Phelps said "He told me I did a good job and that he was proud of me."


I don't think I realized until today, or perhaps I forgot and was reminded today how powerful those words are. I'm not sure this statement is true for women but I know for men, at least most men, that these words are incredibly powerful. I'm proud of you.

It's so seldom heard, I think some might even view it as demeaning. We might get recognition through our jobs, from our bosses, from our wives/husbands or our children. But it takes someone that we respect, someone that is more advanced than us or more experienced that us or someone's whose opinion we value. I think it's most powerful from someone that is part of your life but not in the day to day grind with you.

I digress.

I'm proud of you...

Donald Miller and Barack Obama

As a follow up to the video of Don Miller giving the benediction for the DNC the other night I got an email from Don this morning explaining a little bit more about his ongoing relationship with Barack and how they got to know each other.

You can read about it on Don's blog.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Donald Miller

Looks like Don wanted to be like me and lost some weight. I'm guessing his cross country bike trip helped out as well.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Confessions of free spirit

I thought I should give a little plug for my friend Kristin Garrett. While I'm jealous of her that she has a book published before I do I'm also very proud of her and want to let you know about her book.

Here is the link to the publisher and also where you can buy the book online Confessions of a Free Spirit.

"In Confessions of a Free Spirit: A Girl’s Guide to Finding Herself in an Image-Obsessed Culture, Kristin Garrett tells sincerely of her experience as a self-declared free spirit trying to find her place as a Christian and as her own person in a society that makes girls feel like they must fit a certain type to be worth knowing and loving. Garrett discusses pertinent issues to middle- and high-school girls, speaking honestly about self-confidence, the media, guys, and community. Perhaps most importantly, she moves away from legalism and formulaic answers in favor of the importance of the presence and movement of the Holy Spirit through surrender. Through her unique writing style, she addresses her reader personally, like an older sister or good friend, scattering journal entries throughout and connecting closely with the reader. Teenage girls will connect emotionally and practically with the experiences and insights in Confessions of a Free Spirit, and in doing so, they will come to see themselves and their relationships with Christ as beautiful, active, and healing. "


Wow- so it's been a while. I'm noticing a trend...

Well in case you don't know I love the olympics. I love all the sports that we don't really have here like badminton, or the ones we don't get to see on tv much like kayaking and rowing. I love seeing Michael Phelps win medals and I love hearing him speak. He's the Rocky Balboa of the pool.

I love seeing Team USA (basketball) playing some defense this morning against Greece. I know there are dopers and cheaters and I know the athletes are sponsored and therefore paid but I still believe there is something pure about olympic athletes. I noticed a fire in the eyes of the basketball team this morning as they realized it was a dollar bill they were playing for but the pride of representing their nation.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Baptism Service Pics









Ryan Hall

I came across this article on Ryan Hall. In case you don't know Ryan is the #1 marathoner in the US. He is the fastest american born person at the distance of 26.2 miles. He also holds the american record for the fastest half marathon. Ryan is also a first class guy and clearly a follower of Jesus Christ.

Read the article here. It's long so if you don't get to all of it I highlighted a few things. They might not make sense if you don't read the whole article or know a little about Ryan's life and achievements.

There is no dust on Ryan Hall's Bible. It is hardly tattered, but the gilding on the pages is scored and worn. When he opens it to follow the sermon, it falls open easily to reveal well-thumbed page corners and verses underlined in pen. This Bible is not a prop. You can see him turning to it again and again. When racing for Heaven, one must train to the finish.

Everything is extraneous to those legs. You can see them in footage from the homestretch of the Trials, turning over in a pinwheeling lope, each foot meeting the earth right on axis, then looping up and away to fly forward again. The legs are all business right to the finish, even as the arms begin to loosen, even as Hall's head begins to swivel to acknowledge the noise of the crowd. The closer he draws to the line, the more evident it is that this is a finish for the ages. Hall begins to gesticulate, pointing to the sky, raising his arms high, even slapping hands with the people crowding the course. At first it seems uncharacteristic based on what you know of Hall and his mellow Christian demeanor. Then you notice the blazing intensity of his eyes and the inclusiveness of his open arms, and you realize he is not exulting, but exhorting. He is not celebrating triumph over man but rather triumph in the Lord--in short, this is a man in rapture. Hall often refers to running in terms of sanctuary, and here he is now, Brother Lawrence in a singlet, twining work to worship, running 4:55 splits, praising God full tilt right until he breaks across the line and the only thing left to do is bow quietly down, the work all done, the victory won.

Eventually, Susie speaks. "You know, for three days before every one of Ryan's races, Mickey fasts and prays. He prays that it will be a good race and a safe race." Up on the screen Ryan is surging for the finish, strong as a bolting deer, glorifying the Lord with each step. You think of Mickey, on his knees and hungry (so weak one time he fell and wound up in the ER), beseeching that same Lord that He might deliver every runner safe to the finish line. And yet we know full well watching the footage now, that even as Ryan Hall was pointing to the sky and the crowd was making a crazy joyful noise, his friend Ryan Shay was dead. The following night Mickey dined with Shay's father-in-law. "What do you say to someone who's lost their son?" he says, shaking his head. "What do you say?"

Ryan Hall's grandmother is suddenly at my elbow. Her face is troubled. All day she has been a sparkling presence. A petite woman with glittering eyes, her family loves to tease her for her vociferous cheering at Ryan's races. In private company she is quick to laugh and often punctuates her asides with a knowing grin. But now the house is quiet--Mickey has his son paused up there on the screen--and the glitter in her eyes has gone wet.

"I want you to know?" says Madeline, faltering. "I want you to know that this family prays, and prays for many things. That it will be a good race, that it will be a safe race, but they never?they never?" She stops now, holding her hand to her mouth as her eyes fill with tears. It takes her a moment to gather before she can speak again.

"They never pray to win."

Friday, July 25, 2008


What’s your passion in life? What burns in your belly? What do you do that excites you? What do you do that gives you a feeling of accomplishment and achievement?

I love to read books. When I’m asked what type of books I like to read I always fumble around for an answer because truth is, I like to read all kinds of books. I like to read books about church growth, books about business and small business success, books about hobbies I enjoy, theology, and probably my favorite types of books are auto-biographies of people’s lives where were passionately lived. Most of the time these lives were passionately lived about one central thing. This genre also encompasses the new style of book that isn’t quite an auto-biography but is a book that is written from the heart from a non-ficitonal person’s life.

So now when I’m asked the question as to what types of books I like to read I’ll have an answer. But more than an answer as to what types of books I like to read I have an answer as to how I want to live my life. Don’t get me wrong this isn’t exactly the newest revelation. What I recalled in my car this morning, with the radio turned down and only the sound of my car driving on the highway with the windows down is nothing new for me. But it is fresh. And a freshness is what I need right now.

What burns in my belly? Well I have to say Jesus Christ. Thing is if I’m honest I’m not sure I have to say Jesus Christ because I know that’s what I’m supposed to say or if I have ot say Jesus Christ because I really believe that. Of course, I’d like to say it’s because I believe it and I’m pretty sure that’s true. I kknow Christ is my chief corner stone and without him life is futile I just hesitate because I often say that if our behavior doesn’t reflect a belief it’s hardly a belief at all.

What else? I think it’s the secondary passions we have that Christ uses to impact the world. As he resides at the center of our lives and as we strive to reside at the center of his will he sparks in us passions that motivate us. This may or may not be our vocation. I think we often mistake passion for vocation. I think its perfectly possible and perfectly healthy for your vocation not to reflect your passion. Because what we do is not who we are, who we are is this. We are always disciples of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

But what burns in my belly? If I had to boil it down and give an answer, which after all is what this post is all about then I would say my passion is to equip people to live their lives on all cylinders. Pardon the car metaphor. My passion is to equip people to live their lives as close to 100% as they can, as close as possible. I absolutely love hearing what God is doing in people’s lives as a result of one of my ideas, messages, or even a class/study of some sort that I initiated. I even get excited when someone else initiates a class that is changing perspectives and in turn will change lives. It motivates me so much, to see people get closer to the life God intended for them, a life closer to 100% than they’ve ever had before.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Every year about 32,500 people commit suicide. In 2004 my little brother was one of those 32,000+. There are some statistics HERE, if you're interested in further reading them. They aren't encouraging but might bring your awareness up to a point where you might be able to help someone that's hurting.

Today, July 24 is my brother's birthday. If you're a reader of my blog you know that last year I also made an entry about my brother, Doug. I'm not a big proponent of causes, I don't normally take part in charity walks, fund raisers and stuff like that. Don't get me wrong I respect those that do and think it's a valuable use of their time but it just doesn't stir my heart like it does some others.

Today, my brother would be turning 22. I often wonder what he would be like as an adult. He really loved children and the elderly. He was very patient and gentle with people that fell in those two categories. He really enjoyed music, I could always count on him to give me the update of what's "indy" and what was up and coming. And for some reason he would get stuck on one type of food and just eat the same thing over and over and over again. I guess he got that from me. I'm sure his love for people and for music would have endured...

But for the rest of my life I will remember Dougie as a 17 year old. Sometimes, with regret, I remember how at times in his life he never quite figured where he fit into the world. I think as a teenager that's a very normal feeling and a great source of frustration. Normally as one grows up and out of those teen years that bring more questions and insecurities than it does answers and reassurances that feeling of "where do I fit" and "how will I make it in this world" fade away. Sadly, one either stops asking those questions and doesn't care any longer or one finds his or her answer and pursues that with her life.

Today you can answer that question for someone suffering from depression. You can show them how they fit into this world. You can be a listening ear. You should ask your depressed friends if they are considering suicide. You can let them know you care about them deeply and would miss them terribly if they were no longer living. Finally, take all mention of suicide seriously, encourage the person to get professional help!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Moral Code: It doesn't occur to me that there are those in this world that don't share my world view. I know that sounds stupid but for most of the time I surround myself with two types of people; either people that have a christian world view or those that are living in contrast to the christian world view on purpose as rebellion.

I know even within these two view there are many sub views but that's not the point of my post here.

My point is that our world view dictates our moral code. And I've been thinking about moral codes (the rights and wrongs we live by) probably because of the election coming up. I think we often want to vote for the candidate that shares our moral code; we agree and disagree with laws based on how they fit into our lives and our view as to what is right and wrong. So...what's a moral code we can all agree on?

I believe that all believers should live under the grace of the cross of Jesus Christ. I believe we should also work out our salvation as those worthy of the cross of Jesus Christ. Because we are saved we are obligated to behave in a certain way. Now this means there are things we should not do but let's not forget the things we should be doing.

However is it fair to expect those that are not in relationship with Jesus Christ to live under those same expectations? If not, then how does this relate to our laws. Especially how does this relate to the politicians we vote for?

Just some thoughts- do with them what you will!

As I mentioned before I've been preaching through the book of Philippians for the month of July and it will continue into the August as well. I love the continuing theme that Paul puts out there, Christ. It's all for Christ, Christ is central, Christ is all, Christ, Christ, Christ.

I've quoted before the surveys of "believers" it continues to shock me and baffle me that about 50% of believers claim that they believe there is more than one way to achieve eternal life. Shocking that as I quoted before that american christianity is 3000 miles wide and 1 inch deep. But Jesus doesn't call us to a mild life of mediocre following.

I just saw on the early show that happy people live longer. One of the things they said is that religious people are happier people so there are actual health benefits to going to church- maybe our next advertisement should be at the ymca (sarcasm intended). I don't want to sound jaded though or get off topic. I just want to remember what Paul said. That he considers all of his achievements rubbish next to what he has in Christ Jesus.

Friday, July 11, 2008

A few more pictures

This is the dinner party we had for Nathan and his friends. The parents were able to make it but as you can see we fine dined on hot dogs anyway.

Dinner Party

And this is Nathan being Nathan. He's sitting in a bumpo seat that is made for babies and he's lifting his hands, I think, because that's what we do on the swings at busch gardens.


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Put the gospel first

One remembers what an aging Christian said to John G. Paton in the last century when Paton was planning to go as a missionary to the South Sea Islands. "You will be eaten by Cannibals!" Paton was warned.

Paton replied, "Mr. Dickson, you are advanced in years now, and your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave, there to be eaten by worms; I confess to you, that if I can but live and die serving and honouring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by Cannibals or by worms; and in the Great Day my resurrection body will arise as fair as yours in the likeness as our risen Redeemer." Put the gospel first.

From D.A. Carson's book Basics for Believers (Philippians)

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

How bout some pictures?





So um...:What's been going on lately? I'm doing ok. You've haven't called for a while I thought you were mad at me or something. Nah, I've just been busy. So we're cool then? Yeah, we're cool. Are you mad at me? Nah it's no biggie.

Wow now that we got that awkwardness out of the way...

Philippians: I started a new message series on Sunday called Philippians. Like many of my message series the title is a bit deceptive in leading you to the content of the messages.

I've loved studying and preparing for the messages and from the response I've been getting from those in the church they are enjoying hearing them. It's funny the responses you get to a message sometimes. I don't get this too often because our church is very untraditional and very authentic but sometimes I'll get the typical "nice message today pastor". Which unfortunately I always interpret to mean "I didn't hear a word you said and before you ask me about the message I'll just say this". I hope that doesn't sound too jaded and for the record I never ask people about their thoughts on the message.

But then there are those times that I get feedback from people about a confirmation that my message brought them or how it was in some other way relevant to their life. These are the times I most cherish. You can see the tears in their eyes and they are tears of comfort of them knowing that God cares for them enough to speak to me and to them at two separate times and somehow plan to coincide those conversations at just the perfect moment. It's hard to explain but simply incredible. Those are the times I'm so grateful to do what I do and those times that I hope I always get to do what I'm doing.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Neighbors: I took this picture last night because I thought it was hilarious that these kids did this by themselves at no prompting. If an adult tried to get 5 kids to sit down and talk it would be a miracle but when it's the kids idea they make it look easy.

Tonight the girls were especially present since I was working outside so I could get some stuff done but still be around for Nathan. At one point the oldest girl (don't want to use their names) asked where Mrs. Heather was? I told them she was at a bible study. They gave me the funniest look and said "what's a bible study?" That thought never occurred to me. I said "they study the bible." She replied "What's a bible?"

It was one of those moments you know doesn't come along often. It's sort of like hearing someone ask "So who's this Jesus guy I keep hearing about."

So I told Nathan to go get his bible books and we'd read them. So there we sat the 5 of us, me reading them Nathan's book Bible stories for kids. It was hard to believe it was the first time they had heard the stories. It was real special for me. They especially like Noah's ark and they learned that whenever they see a rainbow they should know that God loves them. They were looking for rainbows in the sky the rest of the night!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Article Here

America remains a nation of believers, but a new survey finds most Americans don't feel their religion is the only way to eternal life — even if their faith tradition teaches otherwise.

The findings, revealed Monday in a survey of 35,000 adults, can either be taken as a positive sign of growing religious tolerance, or disturbing evidence that Americans dismiss or don't know fundamental teachings of their own faiths.

Among the more startling numbers in the survey, conducted last year by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life: 57 percent of evangelical church attenders said they believe many religions can lead to eternal life, in conflict with traditional evangelical teaching.

In all, 70 percent of Americans with a religious affiliation shared that view, and 68 percent said there is more than one true way to interpret the teachings of their own religion.

"The survey shows religion in America is, indeed, 3,000 miles wide and only three inches deep," said D. Michael Lindsay, a Rice University sociologist of religion.

"There's a growing pluralistic impulse toward tolerance and that is having theological consequences," he said.

Earlier data from the Pew Forum's U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, released in February, highlighted how often Americans switch religious affiliation. The newly released material looks at religious belief and practice as well as the impact of religion on society, including how faith shapes political views.

The report argues that while relatively few people — 14 percent — cite religious beliefs as the main influence on their political thinking, religion still plays a powerful indirect role.

The study confirmed some well-known political dynamics, including stark divisions over abortion and gay marriage, with the more religiously committed taking conservative views on the issues.

But it also showed support across religious lines for greater governmental aid for the poor, even if it means more debt and stricter environmental laws and regulations.

By many measures, Americans are strongly religious: 92 percent believe in God, 74 percent believe in life after death and 63 percent say their respective scriptures are the word of God.

But deeper investigation found that more than one in four Roman Catholics, mainline Protestants and Orthodox Christians expressed some doubts about God's existence, as did six in ten Jews.

Another finding almost defies explanation: 21 percent of self-identified atheists said they believe in God or a universal spirit, with 8 percent "absolutely certain" of it.

"Look, this shows the limits of a survey approach to religion," said Peter Berger, a theology and sociology professor at Boston University. "What do people really mean when they say that many religions lead to eternal life? It might mean they don't believe their particular truth at all. Others might be saying, 'We believe a truth but respect other people, and they are not necessarily going to hell.'"

Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum, said that more research is planned to answer those kinds of questions, but that earlier, smaller surveys found similar results.

Nearly across the board, the majority of religious Americans believe many religions can lead to eternal life: mainline Protestants (83 percent), members of historic black Protestant churches (59 percent), Roman Catholics (79 percent), Jews (82 percent) and Muslims (56 percent).

By similar margins, people in those faith groups believe in multiple interpretations of their own traditions' teachings. Yet 44 percent of the religiously affiliated also said their religion should preserve its traditional beliefs and practices.

"What most people are saying is, 'Hey, we don't have a hammer-lock on God or salvation, and God's bigger than us and we should respect that and respect other people,'" said the Rev. Tom Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University.

"Some people are like butterflies that go from flower to flower, going from religion to religion — and frankly they don't get that deep into any of them," he said.

Beliefs about eternal life vary greatly, even within a religious tradition.

Some Christians hold strongly to Jesus' words as described in John 14:6: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Others emphasize the wideness of God's grace.

The Catholic church teaches that the "one church of Christ ... subsists in the Catholic Church" alone and that Protestant churches, while defective, can be "instruments of salvation."

Roger Oldham, a vice president with the executive committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, bristled at using the word "tolerance" in the analysis.

"If by tolerance we mean we're willing to engage or embrace a multitude of ways to salvation, that's no longer evangelical belief," he said. "The word 'evangelical' has been stretched so broadly, it's almost an elastic term."

Others welcomed the findings.

"It shows increased religious security. People are comfortable with other traditions even if they're different," said the Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance. "It indicates a level of humility about religion that would be of great benefit to everyone."

More than most groups, Catholics break with their church, and not just on issues like abortion and homosexuality. Only six in 10 Catholics described God as "a person with whom people can have a relationship" — which the church teaches — while three in 10 described God as an "impersonal force."

"The statistics show, more than anything else, that many who describe themselves as Catholics do not know or understand the teachings of their church," said Denver Roman Catholic Archbishop Charles Chaput. "Being Catholic means believing what the Catholic church teaches. It is a communion of faith, not simply of ancestry and family tradition. It also means that the church ought to work harder at evangelizing its own members."

My Life on the Run by Bart Yasso. I've had this one in my cart at Amazon for a while now and I just planned on buying it when I needed some other books to get the free shipping. Well my opportunity arrived late last week.

Bart works for Runner's World Magazine and some excerpts from his book were in one of the issues a few months back. The book is about some of his exploits encountered while running in places all over the globe. He's run a marathon on every continent and has dozens of cool stories (I'm sure many more that didn't make the book).

It was a great read, quick, easy.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tim Russert: I hate going to funerals but I enjoy what people say at other's funerals. I especially like to hear what is said about exceptional people when they die. I have the idea that I want to glean what I can from exceptional people for the purpose that I can also be exceptional.

This morning I watched a few excerpts from Tim Russert's funeral. You can catch them here

I must admit that I never saw him on his tv show but I did read his books. It was a real special book for me because my father gave it to me for father's day. It was an affirmation to me as a father and was a confession of sorts for me from my father. The book expresses the importance of father's not the importance of perfect fathers. It also struck such a cord with me because I believe one of my God-given callings is to equip men to be men and in turn to equip men to be the best father they can be- when or should the time come.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Oops: 55% of pastors can identify one or more topics on which they would not preach at all or only sparingly, because the sermon could negatively affect their hearers’ willingness to attend church in the future. Among them are politics (38%), homosexuality (23%), abortion (18%), same-sex marriage (17%), war (17%), women’s role in church and home (13%), the doctrine of election (13%), hell (7%) and money (3%).
Your Church 5/6/08

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Shack by William Young. I'm not really sure how to review this book because I don't read many fiction books that I feel the need to review. I guess I'll try for a brief synopsis first and see where that takes me.

A father and three of his children are camping. At the very end of the incredible weekend tragedy strikes and his youngest daughter goes missing. As all the details unfold it is determined that she was kidnapped and killed by a serial killer. (Uplifting read!). For years the family struggles with this tragic loss and most of all struggles with so many questions unanswered.

Eventually the father is drawn to go to the shack where they assume the daughter was last living and the place where they found her clothing and blood. It is at this shack that he encounters God and for the next several days interacts with the three persons of the trinity in an incredible manner. He learns their personalities, their abilities and their divinity. They each walk him down a separate section of his journey toward wholeness and restoration to the life God wants him to have.

It's a story of forgiveness, redemption, theology and a bunch of other things. Well worth the read. The cover dubs it "The Pilgrims Progress" of our generation...

Monday, June 16, 2008

On the Radio

I've been thinking about LOVE lately...

No, this is how it works
You peer inside yourself
You take the things you like
And try to love the things you took
And then you take that love you made
And stick it into some
Someone else's heart
Pumping someone else's blood
And walking arm in arm
You hope it don't get harmed
But even if it does
You'll just do it all again

Monday, June 09, 2008

Grandma: I've blogged about my Grandma before but I'm going to do it again. Yesterday I went over to see her. I knew Granddad would be out shooting pool with my uncle so I figured she could use the company. I usually have Nathan with me and he keeps us entertained and they really enjoy spending time with him. But yesterday I didn't have Nathan so me and Grandma shared some conversation with just us, which doesn't happen very often.

I'm amazed at what she remembers at age 92, almost 93. She'll talk about my uncle, who is at least 56, and how he learned to walk and how he did this and that. She clearly dotes on the boys which is probably why we are so close. Sometimes we talk about church, religion, or politics. Mostly we talk about family. But it's not so much the subject matter that's important to me as is the fact that we're able to share the time.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Yesterday was your 4th birthday. Happy Birthday. You've changed a little over the years. You've gotten some new looks.

Keep up the good work.

Headstand: I could say in a message that to get to heaven you have to do a headstand and people would try to learn how to do a handstand. But if in a sermon I emphasize the gospel of Jesus Christ and that faith is credited to us as righteousness (Romans) and I denounce others that are preaching a different gospel it rattles people. What is it about our human nature that is so driven to accomplish and in our accomplishments we feel God loves us? It's so absurd that that's our logic but we've all been there and most of us live there in that thought. It's as we have security in our accomplishments rather than safety in God's promise. Baffling.

Bum: While on my run tonight I ran into my first bum. By bum I mean someone bumming money. This bum happened to be a 10 year old kid standing in the driveway of his house, in the background I heard the ice cream truck. It made me laugh and I actually appreciated the kids boldness. I told him I don't carry money when I'm out running. The funny part is when I finished my run I was just walking to cool down and stretch my legs and the kid was riding a bike. He asked me if I lived in his neighborhood and I told him just a few houses down. He thought that was the coolest thing...

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Daddy: I'm running today on the trail and there are two women ahead of me walking towards me. I notice they are walking two dogs both of which are very large. I'm not afraid of dogs at all but I respect big dogs and so I remember noticing them a little bit more than normal. As I'm running past the women one of them says "You must be the daddy?" I wasn't thinking real straight so I just gave her a confused look (not so much on purpose). I'm then thinking, is she calling me ugly? Is she saying I look like a dog or that we look alike? She then interjects he's a pre-adoption he'd be great for your home.

I felt better about my self-esteem at this point so I told her the dog was cute and kept on running.

Google: Seems like Google knows me. I just googled my name and I'm 6 of 10 hits on the front page. Kind of freaky.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Funny stuff my kid says.

We were at Busch Gardens on Sunday and I needed to change Nathan's pull up. We head to the bathroom and all of the stalls are gross so we just pick a corner and start changing his diaper. Nathan notices the guys line up at the urinals and says (in his loud 3 year old voice)

Daddy, what are they doing?
They're going pee pee.
(thoughtful look)
Are they pushing their pee pee down?

Let me explain: When Nathan uses the potty if he's not careful he pees all over the place so to prevent this I tell him to push his pee pee down. Turns out he wanted to know if everyone used this technique or just him.

I was putting Nathan to bed the other night and he asked me to read a book. It was an old Sesame Street book so I opened the cover and was looking for the copyright to see how old the book was. Nathan looks at me and then looks at the book and says. Daddy, there, aren't, any, words, coming, out, of, your, mouth. Read the book.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I love funny news stories so here is one I came across today. Last week I was talking with Nathan and asking him his whole name and asking him what his parent's names are. I thought that might come in handy of he ever got separated from us or was in some other situation that we couldn't speak for him. He did really well and I was real proud of him.

What to do when you're lost.

Turns out I've taught my kid what a parrot can do...I'll be wrapping up my book "Breakthrough Parenting" here in the next few years. Maybe you'll buy it?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Hi, I'm 28.: As a teenager I remember reading 1 Timothy 4:12 (Paul giving instructions to young pastor Timothy) Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in life, in love, in faith and in purity. I remember is so well because I figured it would come in handy as a young pastor.

If I'm honest I can't say that one time someone's behavior has indicated that they look down on me because of my youth. In fact sometimes I'm uncomfortable with the opposite. I remember as a youth pastor I would get calls from parent's asking me what I thought they should do about their misbehaving teenager. I remember just laughing in the inside. First of all because I was only a few years older than a teenager myself, second because I wasn't the best behaved teenager so I was better equipped to give advice as what not to do rather than what do do and finally because the person asking the question was often older than my parent's. I just remember thinking, what can I offer this 50 year old person who has so much more life experience than me. But then I remember that as long as I didn't trust in my own skin and abilities and allowed God to work through me I did have some stuff to offer.

A good number of people at The Bridge are older than me. In fact many are old enough to be my parents. Sometimes while I'm up there bringing the word God has for that week I just think to myself that they are listening to someone so much younger than me. And often I'm so grateful they hear the words coming through me from God rather than words just coming through me.

I've been a part of my district's Church Health Committee which I find ironic because I have been the pastor of exactly 1 church and while I think we are a increasingly growing and quite healthy church we are also not the poster church for church health. But God in his wisdom let my superiors know that I love the Church as the Bride of Christ and that I enjoy assessing and equipping churches to be more healthy. It's perhaps one of the most humbling experiences I have.

Today I received yet another humbling thing. I've been asked to stand to be nominated to our Districts DEXCOM, which is like the district's governing board. What? I'm honored, but also baffled at this. Yet I learned years ago that God does these things to stretch me.

Finally, I was having a conversation with a man on the phone today that told me he was 57 years old. He's never met me or seen a picture of me so he has no idea how old I am and he didn't. In our conversation he said something to the effect of "Who knows that 27 year old kids are thinking these days?" I wanted to say "I do, I was just one a year ago."

Does this mean age is relative?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Graduation: My dad graduated on Saturday. As kids he always talked about going to school and getting an education. He worked hard in the Navy for 29 years and retired at the top of his rank. When he left the Navy 7 years ago he started taking classes at the community college and working towards his associate degree. His associate took about 4 years to get. Then after graduating with his associates he started going to ODU for his Bachelors. He finished his bachelors in 2 and a half years. As he likes to say he was pacing himself.

This Saturday all his hard work paid off and I was able to sit and watch my dad graduate. I can't express how proud I am of him. He finally did the one thing he has always wanted to do. So good job POPS! I'm proud of you.

Chris Matthews: While at graduation I got to hear Chris Matthews speak. He has a tv show in MSNBC called Hardball with Chris Matthews. I really enjoyed his speech. I don't often get to hear professional speakers. I liked his style and his brevity. His point was this. Don't expect success to find you but go out and find success. People won't be knocking on your door asking you to take incredible jobs but rather you have to seek them out. He said the secret to success is in the word "ask". The more you ask the better the chance to hear a yes. When people say yes to you they have invested in you and when people invest in someone or something they want to see it succeed. It left me with some motivation.

China: If you haven't seen this month's National Geographic it's worth checking out. The entire thing is about China and provides some great insight into their culture and mentality. It's also casts an outlook in their future, which I must say looks bleak. The culprit seems to be their incredibly large population is providing most of their economic growth at this time and then their new 1 child policy for those of the Han nationality. In just one generation the work force will begin to dwindle because of this policy. Another major concern is the lack of water to drink. The many damns on their major rivers that are used to power industrial plants have reduced the water to a trickle in many places add that to the pollution that those same plants dump into the rivers they are on the verge of an epidemic.

But what I wanted to comment on is the recent earthquake that has so far claimed the lives of 19,000 people. I don't think we americans can grasp 19,000 deaths. I don't think I want to. You can read more here,2933,355247,00.html.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Some pictures?

Robbie and I breaking it down with the 2008 rendition of "The Sprinkler"

Am I cold? Now I'm doing the "Cold Dance" if you've never heard of it that's because I created it.


Nathan giving Seth some love

Me and Nathan goofing off with the camera.

I thought this spider web would make a neat picture.

Mormons: A few weeks ago our local mormon missionaries stopped by the house. I knew the previous set but hadn't met these two yet. I always make sure I make my intentions clear with them and let them know what I do for a living so as not to deceive them in any way. After we talked for a few I asked them a few questions that I had for them about mormonism in general. I asked them about archeological proof for the ancient white race they said inhabited North and South America in the 4th century AD. My logic and knowledge of history tells me that if there was a large nation of people around only 1600 years ago there should be some archeological proof it exists. I also learned that for them Special Revelation is above all in their faith system; special revelation that was given to Joseph Smith and written in his writings. I also questioned them a little about the character of Joseph Smith. They weren't offended and gave me a book of mormon before they left and asked me to read several passages. I told them I would and they said they'd come back to talk about it.

They came back a few nights ago and I'm not sure they were ready for my questions. I didn't intend to but I gave them some pretty serious challenges. I wasn't trying to be aggressive to them but sometimes when talking with them I get so angered because I believe they are being deceived. I'm not angry at them but angry at the evil one and angry at the false prophets that founded the LDS church.

In short we had a circular conversation for about an hour. I commended them on their sacrifice to give up their lives for a 2 year mission. I also commended them on their faith and their willingness to put their faith in action. I believe they have sincere hearts and I made sure they knew that. I also told them that from what I can tell of the Bible that the entire Old Testament points to Jesus Christ. Christ himself makes it pretty clear in the gospels that he is the one that was to come and as he left he made clear he would be the one to come. Jesus never told me to look for another prophet that would make complete the true gospel (this is what the LDS church teaches.) In fact I find in the New Testament that the prophets that are to come will be false prophets and to not trust them.

I also told them that I have some serious problems with the "revelation" given to Joseph Smith. I see how some of these "revelations" were awfully convenient for Joseph Smith and in his life. The first that I find awfully convenient is that Mormons use water in their communion or sacrament service. I found this interesting and started doing some research on this. Turns out that before the prohibition the LDS church used wine just like many protestant churches. However during the time of prohibition their began to be an uproar in the church. Turns out that Joseph Smith has a revelation that it is no longer pleasing to God to use wine but rather they should use non alcoholic grape juice or water. Turns out they selected water because they could all agree on it. Oh yeah, it was also ok to use wine grown in the vineyards that were owned by the Mormon church. Even though today Mormons are forbidden to consume alcohol.

There are two other convenient revelations. Joseph would have mens meetings in his home. The men would smoke on their pipes and then when they were done would chew tobacco. Turns out he didn't clean up after himself very well and his wife must have complained to him about having to clean up the mess. Suddenly Joseph Smith has a revelation that tobacco is wrong.

From wikipedia

According to Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, the Word of Wisdom was received in 1833 as a revelation from God. After Smith's death, Brigham Young claimed that the revelation was given in response to problems encountered while conducting meetings in the Smith family home:
"When they assembled together in this room after breakfast, the first they did was to light their pipes, and, while smoking, talk about the great things of the kingdom, and spit all over the room, and as soon as the pipe was out of their mouths a large chew of tobacco would then be taken. Often when the Prophet [Joseph Smith] entered the room to give the school instructions he would find himself in a cloud of tobacco smoke. This, and the complaints of his wife at having to clean so filthy a floor, made the Prophet think upon the matter, and he inquired of the Lord relating to the conduct of the Elders in using tobacco, and the revelation known as the Word of Wisdom was the result of his inquiry."[2]

The final convenient revelation is that of plural marriage in the mormon church. The LDS men began practicing polygamy in the church. It is revealed that this practice is what God wants. The US gov't catches wind of this practice and makes it illegal to practice. It is again revealed by God that this is not what God wants.

Sound like someone wasn't the most in tune with!

It absolutely boggles my mind. I thanked them for coming and they went on. I want to emphasize that I wasn't going for victory but that I don't agree with them that special revelation should have more power over them that the scriptures of the Bible. It burdens my heart...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tornado: Yesterday our area was hit with a pretty serious tornado. I've lived in this area most of my life and I can't say I ever remember a tornado. I can't even say I ever remember a tornado warning, a watch maybe but not a warning. Well yesterday it happened.

You can read the details here Fox News Story

Friday, April 25, 2008

Kids: Nathan has a friend that lives two doors down. She's a newer friend, meaning she's just started coming over to play with him and the next door neighbor girls. This little girl's mother is german and she speaks pretty good english but with a heavy german accent. The little girl was talking to me today and every time I talk to her she cracks me up. She makes me laugh because of what language she speaks. First of all she speaks american english, most of the time. Tonight she was telling me "Nathan isn't ------(insert some word". I do pretty good talking with little kids I can figure out what most kids are saying so I ask her to repeat it and she said it again "Nathan isn't ------ (insert some word). I could tell from the context that she was meaning to say "sharing" but she wasn't. She said it again and I realized she was saying a german word. Crazy kid.

Then sometimes when she speaks she speaks with an english accent. The kid has to be confused.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Quiet Strength by Tony Dungy. My love for reading started in the fourth, fifth and sixth grades with the usual Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary books most of us grew up on. But the first grown up books I started reading were sports biographies and autobiographies. I learned all about major league baseball straight from the words of Willie Mays, Joe Dimaggio, Mickey Mantle and Dave Dravecky. It was weird how I could smell the grass of the ballpark and catch the atmosphere of the dugout from reading a book. I loved it!

So I was thrilled to find an excuse to order Tony Dungy's book Quiet Strength. I knew I would love it. First of all I know that Coach Dungy is a follower of Christ and from what I could tell it wasn't just lip service. I also saw the way he responded to his son's suicide a few years back and I was very impressed by him.

I ate this book up. I think I finished it 3 days, most of it read while holding Seth in one arm and my book in the other. It was easy reading and so much fun to read. I walked away even more impressed. Coach Dungy is a man of principle and he's stuck to those principles through some hard times. The thing I'm most impressed is that he views his life as a platform for the message of the cross of Jesus Christ both in his words but most importantly in his actions.

My Eldest: Let me tell you about Nathan for a minute. Mostly because he cracks me up almost every day. I know I'm biased but the kid is hilarious, this post is more about the hilarity of having a child.

I check my voice mail on my cell phone. On the other end is Nathan saying LOUDLY "Daddy, I pooh-poohed in the potty." *click*

At his age independence is king. He wants to do it by himself and for himself. Our help is shunned in almost every thing. But sometimes he'll forget he's 3 and he'll walk over to me and crawl in my lap. His long legs will dangle off my lap, he doesn't realize how big he's getting but I notice he takes up more and more of my lap each time this happens.

Record: Much to the chagrin of The Bridge Church's nursery workers I broke a record on Sunday. I preached for more than 50 minutes. It really wasn't planned. However I did forget my watch (forget?) and I noticed the congregation was very engaged in my message on prayer so I preached on.

We were drinking coffee and enjoying conversation after church when an almost 4 year old boy comes up to me and asks "Pastor Nick, what took so long today?" I laughed and could only reply with the truth "I guess I had a lot to say." That seemed to satisfy him.

If you've got an hour of cardio planned today you can catch the marathon message HERE

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

April 16, 2007:

Day of Remembrance