Sunday, October 30, 2005

What is truth?

Hey gang, I have an article on truth published here. Feel free to check it out. The "excellent" photo of me is worth the price of the click.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

It’s A Guy Thing (in depth)

For several years now I have been hearing this phrase in conversations: "It’s a ________ (fill in the blank) thing." An ambiguous discomfort fills me when I hear someone use this kind of language. For years I have tried to ignore this uneasy feeling, but it hums in the background of my psyche with the annoying persistence of a mosquito I just can’t swat. I’ve had all I can stands and I can’t stands no more (Popeye voice). So, rather than continue to be dogged by this menacing language, I am taking it head on right here and now.

The first thing we need to do in unlocking the mystery of this "thing" language is to figure out what this phrase means. There is a clue to the meaning packaged in how people fill in the blank. I have heard the following words used to fill in this blank: girl, guy, black, white, gay, straight, Baptist, Pentecostal. Surely there are others, but these are the inserts I have heard.

It appears that there is a little linguistic posturing going on here. For example, when I hear a female, among a group of mostly females, say to a male, "It’s a girl thing," in response to a question or perplexed facial expression he has, I generally translate it like this: "Of course you don’t understand, (you poor thing), you’re not capable of knowing what we know. I don’t hold your incompetence and stupidity against you. Right now, your best move is nod and smile and not say a word, OK shmoopy-boy?"

Now, when we get beyond the faux-compassion expressed for the apparent plight of the guy on the receiving end of this comment, we realize that although he is not directly insulted or formally shunned, he has no meaningful retort at this juncture. His presence in the conversation has become superfluous. Nothing he contributes to the conversation at this point, whether there is logic, sense, or meaning to it can possibly be received with any credence. Any attempt to speak now would only serve to prove that he is indeed stupid and deserves an even stronger chastisement than he has just received.

Ah, but this phrase can be turned the other way as well. Supposed that a guy, among a group of mostly guys, says to a female, "Yeah, that’s a girl thing." She, then, is the one who is suddenly out-grouped. The phrase this time is a masked insult to the female and not a statement made to her social advantage. The translation this time would be something like this: "We all know that’s the way women are – uh-hem - irrational, petty, weak-minded. But hey, they can’t help it– they’re women. Hey toots, just sit there and be pretty – that’s what you’re here for anyway." What is she going to say after that? Any attempt by her to speak at this point will only invite ridicule.

Again, any sense of compassion within this statement is merely a mask for the true intent, which is not at all charitable. The female just got ex-communicated from being a true equal in the conversation. She was demoted from full member to object.

Regardless of which of the above ways this phrase is used, it serves the very same purpose. It clearly marks social distinctions and in-groups some while out-grouping others. It also serves as an effective silencer of the out-group. It is a clear and undeniable assertion of social power meant to make the more powerful group comfortable at the expense of the less powerful group.

In short, this phrase is used to mask religious bigotry, homophobia, heterophobia, sexism, racism, and lots of other kinds of –isms by bundling it into a socially acceptable linguistic package. Once again, prejudice has found a way to reincarnate itself within the common vernacular.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Walter Scott's Five Finger Special

This guy's name is Walter Scott. He is not to be confused with Sir Walter "Oh what a tangled web we weave" Scott, the Scottish novelist and poet. No, this is the American Restoration Walter Scott. He was an Alexander Campbell groupie. OK, I really like this guy, but at the same time he was a little nuts. Richard Hughes, in his book Reviving The Ancient Faith, tells on Walter Scott a little bit.

So, I like this guy because he was culturally relevant. He knew that his audience back in the 1800's was mostly illiterate. So, rather than pumping out voluminous book, chapter, and verse, Scott gave them an easy five finger memory help.

1. Hear
2. Believe
3. Confess
4. Repent
5. Baptism

>>>Depending on where you live you might have a different order<<<

Rick Warren could not have said it any better. And it is all good, right? Well, it was fine when it was a neat memory trick. The problem is that I didn't learn it as a neat memory trick. I learned as The Gospel. I doubt many people of the American Restoration Movement these days learned it as merely a neat memory help. What I thought was rock solid, undeniable Biblical truth was really something that had to do with how many fingers I have on my hand and a Bible quickie.

Had Scott just left it alone, left it as a memory help, I think we might have been OK. But he didn't. No, and this is what I do not like about him, he had to go and say stuff like he had completely restored the ancient gospel with this five finger special. When he went and did that, he turned from a clever and culturally sensitive guy to freakin' nut case.

I know that it was the spirit of the age and he could never have known how much damage his overstatement would cause. And in all fairness, it did a lot of good. It must not have sounded so arrogant and naive back then like it does now. It must have been an invisible thing that got glossed over and made so much sense in that day.

But I still have a little heartburn about it. I was taught that the Bible and salvation could be reduced to a little formula. Slam-bam-thank-you-ma'am, you're saved! I mean, the stupid memory trick doesn't even mention God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit.

I think there is a lesson here. Our words, whether with our children, friends, co-workers will have a legacy. Having said that, I am a litlte concerned about saying Scott was a freakin' nut case, but I am going to stand by that one. More than our words, though, it is our life and the direction we go and the force with which we go in that direction.

What's your five finger special you hope doesn't get overstated?

Monday, October 24, 2005

Best Ever

I'm not going to lie to you, Batman Begins is the single greatest comic book movie ever. Do not even try to argue.

Linguistic Posturing

What does it mean when someone says, "It's a guy thing," or, "It's a girl thing." Or how about "It's a Black thing," or what about, "It's a God thing."

What is meant to be communicated by this "thing" language that seems to pop up in conversations?

And what about when people preface their opinions or responses with unusual disclaimers?

"Look, I'm not going to lie to you..."
"You won't believe this..."
"Now hear me out..."
"You're probably not going to believe me, but..."

What are we to make of these?

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Relative Free Will

The beat of a person's heart is an involuntary action. It is not up to the person to will this action to happen; it happens no matter what. Now, a person could do something to stop the beat of the heart through some extreme means of self-destruction. For the most part, though, it is a given.

When a person bends the elbow, it is an intentional and voluntary action. It is used as needed and stays quiet when not needed. Now, there are situations in which the elbow just does whatever it wants to. A person with a disability may lose control, or perhaps someone recovering from a stroke. But for the most part, it is a given.

Then there is the type of action that goes both ways. Blinking is such an action. If I forget about blinking, I blink. If I try to blink, I blink. If I try not to blink, I don't blink for a good while.Of course, I pay a price for going too long without a blink. My eyes get talking to me.

For each of these three kinds of actions there are various levels of will required in order to put them into action. Each seems to fall on differnet spectrums of willfullness and are to some extent dynamic as it relates to where they will land on the scale at any given time. At the same time there is a typical place where they would land on such a spectrum.

Could it be that there are various levels of free will in different areas of a perosn's life? Could it be that some people have more free will than others?

Calvin (or more so his followers) would say that there is no free will as all is predetermined. God has absolute and total sovereignty over every single action ever taken and every one that will be taken. Deists would say there is total free will within the laws of physics. God's allowed sovereignty to rest with humans, or the strongest of all species. Neither of these extremes is attractive. Calvinism is depressing to me because my actions ahve no meaning since they can make no difference. Deism is depressing because I know I am incapable of doing enough good to make enough of a difference.

I wonder if God does not so much judge according to what you did on a flat scale in comparison to everyone else, but rather judges against your own unique scale.

Here is an example: will the humble and successful missionary who introduces 1000's to the Way of Jesus with many following be judged the same as the person who was abused badly as a child, abuse which left him emotionally and spiritually disabled who does his or her best to even believe that there is a God? Is their equal free will in this scenario? It is unlikely that there is an absolute either way, but to what extent?

Could the abused person exercise a greater expression of free will by praying, "God, if you even exist, I'm really pissed at you. I want better," than the missionary who tells the truth about Jesus to 50 people and convinces them? What if that prayer was a terrific leap of faith while the missionary felt more at ease and comfortable with the Jeus conversations and required no leap of faith?

Now, that might be an extreme example, but it does make the point that every person has what he has and none of these life packages is the same as any other. There is no real way for anyone to know for anyone else what was pleasing to God, or how pleasing it might have been.

If this relative free will concept holds any water at all, then judging people is completely arrogant. We suppose that we know something about that person and about God that we do not and can not.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Saved By Doubt? (maybe?)

Mike Cope got the ball rolling here with a post on doubt. I've included my comment below.

Doubt may be what saves me from unbelief - or maybe I should say misplaced belief.

If it were not for doubt, how many false beliefs would I maintain with the certainty that they were actually reflective of God? And what is belief in something false but an insidious and dangerous kind of unbelief?

My experience, riddled with doubt as it is, tells me that God gives us the gift of doubt so that we will have good faith and not settle for bad faith. He allows doubt in ours lives not because he takes any pleasure in our suffering, but as a way of loving us away from that which would cause a much greater suffering.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Reflections of Shattered Glass

This morning I leaned over in the parking lot of my workplace with little broom and dust pan in hand to clean up some broken glass. It was my glass, but I didn't break it. It was the remains of the rear window of my mini-van. The nearby brick, the timing of the incident (3-6 PM), the location (lots of middle school kids travel this way after school), and the fact that nothing was stolen gave me some clues as to how this happened. It was probably an 7th grader with an unrestrained curiosity who found a brick lying around . "I wonder what would happen if..." CRASH. And away he goes.

So, this morning as I was cleaning this mess up, I thought to myself, "why isn't the janitor doing this or the kid who violated my van doing this?" Then I answered myself, "because there is meaning in this work."

As I swept up the tiny shards of glass I had this feeling like I was doing this poor kid a favor. I was not angry (haven't priced out a new window yet), I was not bitter. In fact, I didn't even consider it the kid's responsibility. It's my glass afterall. Somehow, even though this kid will never know that it was I who cleaned up the mess he made, or even care if he did know, I was showing him love.

I want you to know that this is not my normal line of thinking.

I kept sweeping, carefully looking for little pieces of glass hiding under the orange pine needles. I relaized that this is one special little opportunity for me. I get to a little glimpse into what God does for me all the time. For the most part, I am a decent guy, but then again, I have this unrestrained curiosity that gets me to making messes. Many of these messes I will never know who cleaned them up, but I know it wasn't me. Many of these messes I never realize the cost to someone else.

I kept sweeping, doing my best clean up everything. I needed to clean up everything. It was important to know what it is like to clean up someone else's mess

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Gift of Fun

My daughter is in 2nd grade. Her school gave her a nice looking T-shirt with the school logo on it and a bunch of sponsors on the back. She was very proud of this shirt. Her sweet and delightful way of invitng me into her excitement over the shirt was great. There was no way I was going to be allowed to give her a mere "yeah, that's nice." No, this shirt deserved much more than that.

So, she asked me to name her shirt.

"Name your shirt? You mean like, Sherrie or Bob?" I asked.

"No. A made up name."

"Ah, right, let's see. How about Gerfiffle?"

She asked me how to spell it and wrote it down.

"OK, I need another name."


"I am getting names from everyon in the family and then I will decide what to name the shirt."

"Right, uhmmmm, How about Shamma-lamma?"

"How do you spell that?"

I spelled it for her.

"Thanks dad," she said and went to find her brother.

She got some names from her kindergarten aged brother and her mother. Then she came back to me and asked of all of the names given which two did I like the best?

"Hmmm, I like Tukey and Sherdy."

"OK, thanks, I really need to think about it."

I went outside to mow the badly neglected lawn. After a few minites of mowing the back yard I heard the familiar yelling, "Daaaaaad!" My kids always have something important to say during the mowing of the lawn.

"Dad," she said with her brother standing right next to her, "the name of the shirt is Sherdy."

"Hey, that was your brother's idea." My son beamed. My daugter beamed.

I turned to walk back to the lawn mower, but stopped. Something had captured my mind in that moment.

"You know what?" I asked.

"What?" she asked back.

"You gave us fun. Thanks for giving the whole family the gift of fun."

You should have seen the look on her face. It looked like she realized that she had this incredible power that she never knew about, and the power was good. She put fun into the family. Oh, it was one of those very special moments.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Lost in a Taize

Sunday evening I went with a group of friends to a Taize (tay-ZAY or T'ZAY) worship offering at the Holy Communion Church (Episcopal) in Memphis.

We entered the building. Instantly we were greeted by the sound of a flute and harp. A harmony of beauty and peace could not be avoided. We entered the sanctuary from the rear. Lighting was medium-dim with lots of candles, dozens of them, in the front. Their littles lights dancing, speaking almost, the prayers of the saints.

There were about 75 people scattered in a sanctuary that could hold 300 -400.

It was liturgical with lots of repeticious chants. Now, that would sound to me boring, but having been there, it was anything but boring. It was calming, soothing, relaxing. There were moments of silence like I have never experienced in worship, ever. Beautiful moments of silence.

We communed at their open communion. I didn't know how to do it without the little crackers and juice cups brought to me. But I followed along. We made two lines down the center aisle to receive communion. I took the wafer from the women and she told me that this was Christ's body broken for me. I then went to another woman who held a goblet of wine (real wine I tell you) and she told me that this was Christ's blood. Watching the people commune before me I learned that there were sippers and there were dippers. Sippers drank winde from the goblet while dippers dipped their wafer into the wine. I learned tonight that I am a dipper and definitely not a sipper.

At another point in the service we lit candles representing our prayers. I thought of someone I know who needs to know of God's love. I let my prayer for her go up to God in the candle. I really liked doing that for her.

Every single word was not only written and read, it was available to us in a brochure. We sang in English and Latin.

This was a healing and refreshing experience for me.

Sadly, I couldn't help but think that the different kind of communers - dipper and sippers - would have created a split in some restoration churches with a fight over whether Jesus dipped or sipped at the last supper. There is evidence that goes ways you know.

In the prayers and words spoken, there was a real sense of love and peace and reconciliation. It was a real departure from the "bless me" mentality that is so easy to fall into in evnagelical worship.

This was a rich experience and without powerpoint. I felt this connection to God that could never have happened in my church gathering.

God, thanks for this wonderful communion with you and with friends and with your church.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

That’s Easy For You To Say

There are two statements I often hear in marital counseling that really get under my skin. I don’t think that these statements are made out of malicious intent (most of the time), but I do think that they are used as leverage in the power politics of marital negotiations.

The first statement is this: "The Bible says wives are supposed to submit to their husbands." This quote comes from the frustrated husband whose wife is not doing what he wants her to do. So, since he does not have (or has not earned) the relational authority in the marriage to get what he wants, he pulls out the big guns and diverts the issue. He changes the game on her and shifts the issue from an issue between husband and wife to an issue between God and wife. He is effectively off the hook. And hey, it’s in the Bible so it’s got to be true.

The fact that this quote comes from the Bible really irks me. It is not that I have some issue with the Bible. Really, I like the Bible. The problem I have is what kind of violence a person has to do to scripture in order to use it in this way.

All you have to do is read the few verses before and after this verse quoted to realize that the whole point of the passage is mutual submission, mutual sacrifice, and mutual surrender. It is a beautiful picture of marriage; not a relational weapon dressed up in religious language to privilege men in marriage.

The second statement that gets under my skin is this: "I just wish he would be the spiritual leader." This quote comes from the frustrated wife whose husband is not doing what she wants him to do. So, since she does not has the power of positive persuasion, she uses guilt, manipulation, and spiritual browbeating to get her way. She plays the victim. Make no mistake about it, this statement is meant as an accusation. It may come in tones of helplessness or maybe good intentions, but it is the female version of "wife submit."

In fact, let me translate this one for you. "If my husband weren’t so stupid, such a dolt, I could have a better life. Everything wrong in my life is his fault. If he doesn’t do what I want him to do he is defying God." When I hear this one it often comes with the assumption that she knows what male spiritual leadership looks like in a marriage and he has no idea what it looks like. She somehow assumes that she is the conduit from God to know what he is supposed to do, but God has no real interest in keeping him in the loop.

What is really true in almost all cases, neither of them knows what male leadership (or female leadership for that matter) looks like in a marriage.

There is so much irony in both of these statements: they are both uttered by Christian people in the most unchristian of ways. A certain hypocrisy is exposed when these statements are used in order to force a behavior in a marriage.

Now, it is not to say that there aren’t women in marriages who are out of control; there are. And it is not to say that there aren’t men in marriages who are bumps on a log: there are. That’s not the point. The point is two-fold. First, using God and the Bible as a relational weapon goes counter to the very nature of the God you’re using as a weapon. Second, it never works. I have never seen a wife who was ordered to submit by her husband cheerfully and willingly hop into submission. And I have never seen a husband spring into action when told he was not a sufficient spiritual leader.

When working out problems in your marriage, rather than using God as a weapon, trying living in God’s character.

Dilemma Explained

Read this first as it is the post I am referring to in this post.

There is so much to do with this, and I really like the ideas some of you have floated.

What we have here is a dilemma between two good things, in fact, two very natural body processes.

1. Potty.
2. Sexual attraction.

Both are important, and I would say necessary for healthy linving and normal body functioning. The problem was not my attraction to girls, wanting to get noticed by girls, or even playing a video game. The problem did not come because my body produces waste. The problem came in priorities.

I was overly focussed on one thing to the neglect of another. I was all hot and bothered by these girls, so I went to ridiculous means to catch their attention. In fact, from the outside (anyone outside my mind and outside my psychosis), what I was doing didn't even make any sense. I was so fixated on getting their attention that I fell into a delusion and ended up self-destructing.

Is this not like the denominations of the Christian church? Think about it, we get so fixated on the differences between groups and which one is right that we become psychotic about them . Assemblies of God go nuts over speaking in tongues. Baptists demand baptism, not for salvation or any real spiritual benefit, but rather as a hoop to hop through to join their ranks. Churches of Christ have this bizarre instrument phobia. I could go on and on.

It is as if we all are vying to be noticed as "right," "true," or "the one church." The crazy theological contortions we do and impose upon others in order to acheive "The One True Church" status is as insane as playing Donkey Kong Jr. to impress the girls, especially when you really gotta go.

Certainly there is nothing wrong with wanting to be right and pure in the eyes of God just like there is nothing wrong with a 13 year old boy wanting to get some female attention, but that cannot be the priority above all other natural body functions.

When churches choose to program their entire functioning to knowledge and perpetuating our own "rightness," we neglect the poor, forget to give grace, become exclusive and on and on. We become so self-absorbed that we forget to release. All the while, the waste builds up and will not be denied and expression of some kind. All of our religious posturing puts us in position to spiritually pee all over ourselves.

And people notice. My fellowship, the churches of Christ, have humiliated themselves before the world with their ridiculous mandates. Although they have served many in good ways, they have also repulsed many people not only to the church of Christ, which frankly is not that big a deal, but against God, which is horrible.

The bad news is that our jeans are sopped full of our own waste. The good news is that everything can be washed. We can become clean again. We can be humbled and wiser for the mistakes we have made.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Yellow and Dark Blue Dilemma

Warnings: Long post (2000 words). Includes potty talk. One of my most embarrassing moments.
Challange: Theological metaphor. Try and guess it.

My mother worked at Carbones Pizza and Video Arcade in 1983. I was 13 years old at the time and feeling a little nervous because I didn’t know how to be a teenager. So, I learned how to kill time at the video arcade. With her employment came certain privileges for me. I got to eat lots and lots of pizza. That was good because I loved pizza. But the better of the perks from which I benefited was the unending supply of video game tokens. She would give me fifty tokens at a time and tell me to go and have fun. I realize now it was her way of keeping me out of trouble after school, but I thought she was the greatest mom ever. OK, I still do. She’s great.

It was around this time that varieties of Donkey Kong games were rolling into American arcades. So, one day I thought I would try out my skills with the new and exciting, Donkey Kong Jr. In this game I was the little kong trying to save my father, the big kong, from the evil Mario. The game was set in the jungle. Playing as the little monkey, I would climb vines, knock down fruit for points, and clear screens, but sadly, I never saved my father. This game was based on not winning, just hoping to win at some point. Interesting concept.

Anyway, I played it a couple of times and found I was a natural. Who knew I had a God-given propensity for Donkey King Jr? After a couple of games I decided that I would go for the high score. I reached into one of my token-bulging pockets for one of those fake gold coins, put it in the slot, and I was ready to go. Preseason was over and I was playing for real now. Nothing was going to stop me from putting my initials in the top spot. CJG was going to appear in huge letters for everyone to see.

This was important for me - very important. In fact, it was essential. I was a teenager now I needed to act like one. All of my guy friends were getting girlfriends and getting noticed. I was still feeling quite invisible with the ladies. I needed to remedy this emerging problem. What could I do to get some attention? How could I get noticed by cute girls?

I had a plan. If I landed the high score on this new game, then the girls would be impressed and notice me. I imagined girls huddling around close by the game, cheering me on and other girls standing off a bit, talking, giggling and pointing over my way. “Hey,” they would say to each other, “look at that guy on the Donkey Kong Jr. game. He’s kind of cute." "I heard he has the high score, you know.” “Seeing CJG on the high score drives me crazy.” Then they would ooh and ahh. Everyone knows that hot chicks dig the video game stud. I could never match Ryan C. on Robotron or Al S. at the Wizard of War, and no one could touch Mike P. at Dragon’s Lair, but I had a corner on the Donkey Kong Jr. scene. I was poised to break into the big time.

As you can tell, my sense of self-delusion was more than a little exaggerated. I genuinely believed that I would get noticed by cute girls when I achieved the high score on this stupid game. But I have got to tell you, there was no greater motivation for a 13 year old boy than the idea getting a little attention from Lori B. or Kristi P. (10th graders by the way). I was determined to make this my in with the ladies.

That particular day the arcade was relatively quiet with a very sparse crowd. In fact, there were only a couple of teenagers and a few younger kids there that day and that was it besides the guy behind the ice-cream counter. He could see me from where he stood behind the counter as he wiped dry those tall milkshake glasses. I’m not sure how I thought these girls would ever know what I was up to since the place was practically empty. I guess I just figured high scores were announced globally over a special news bulletin. They would hear about it and flock to the arcade. Or maybe I was thinking that those high scores were not erased when the lights were turned out at night. Whatever the case, I believed that these girls were just waiting to notice me. What was really amazing was that these hottie girls in my mind never even went to the arcade. Reality didn’t seem to matter to me one bit. It was more the idea that was my reality that mattered.

I cleared the first screen without losing a monkey. I did a little dance of self-congratulation. I cleared the second screen, still with my first monkey. Man I was good. It wasn’t until the middle of the third screen that I noticed a slight pressure on the inner wall of my bladder. No big deal. I can hold it.

I kept on like a champ, clearing screen after screen, dropping fruit and chasing away the evil Mario. Yet the further I got into the game, the more I felt the pressure from within to release. This pressure was no longer a mere discomfort, it was beginning to be an urgent request from within.

I cleared another screen and did another dance. Only this time it was not the self-congratulation dance. No, this was the I-have-got-to-hold-my-pee dance. No one saw this dance, or so I thought. The ice cream man was wiping the counter with a silent snicker.

I was caught up in the ultimate dilemma. No one in the history of Donkey Kong had ever gotten off to such a start as I had. At the same time I needed to go pee really bad. Now I understand that for most people this is not a dilemma. You let the game go and you take care of business. I had 50 tokens for crying out loud, I could play this game as many times as I wanted. But you have to be a sane, non-teenager who is comfortable with who you are in order for this not to be a dilemma. I was blessed with none of those luxuries. I was a self-diluted, adolescent male, rife with a crippling insecurity and a desperate craving to be noticed. I wasn’t exactly a good candidate for rationality. So for me, this was an incredible dilemma.

I cleared another screen, twisting and turning my legs for maximum urinary track blockage. The little intermission between screens seemed to last for minutes. During this little intermission I did a full body wince as I thought for sure it was all coming out right then. The wince worked and bought me some more time. I started into the next screen when a little boy, about 8 years old, walked up to watch me play this game. I cleared a screen and did my pee dance, hopping up and down, bending over, contorting my legs, huffing and puffing. The boy just looked at me like you might look at a homeless man walking quickly down the street cussing at himself. Pity, caution and a little fear.

I held my breath and started into the next screen. I was making my way through the screen just fine when I felt the most terrible sense of relief I had ever felt in my life. My bladder released and sighed. A warm, wet sensation made its was down my leg changing my light blue jeans into dark blue jeans.

“Crap! You take it.” I said to the boy watching me as I offered for him to continue my game.
“Really? Wow. Thanks,” he said.

I ran across the arcade and down the hall to the bathroom. I was well into a full pee at this time. Once it starts, the point of no return has been crossed. I shouldered the door open while trying to unbutton my pants. Blasted buttonflies! Finally, I got to the urinal at the same time as my bladder had completely emptied itself. I stood up close and…nothing. There was nothing left to give.

I couldn’t believe it. I slowly buttoned up my sopping jeans and limped over to the mirror (though my legs were not injured – it was a limp of humiliation). In the mirror I saw a 13 year old boy who had just peed his pants trying to get the attention of a girl in quite possibly the stupidest schemes ever devised in the history of carbon-based forms of life.

Sadly, my problems were not over. I faced yet another daunting problem: How do you leave a public restroom after you have peed all over yourself? There is really no formal etiquette to fall back on here.

I needed to get my pants dry. The wet, dark blue portion of my jeans that trailed all the way down my right leg was so obviously pee generated that there was no way to pass it off as some kind of cool style of blue jeans. I looked for paper towels. None. This was an air dry only restroom. I went into the stall and started to dry my jeans with toilet paper. No use. It just wadded up and made things worse. Then I thought about that air drier. I hit the button and stood up close. Bad idea. What if someone walked in and there I am blowing myself with the air drier? There is no good explanation for hat.

I began to panic. I looked in the garbage can in desperation. Nothing. I looked behind the toilet, under the sink, behind the door. I don’t even know what I was looking for, but whatever it was, it wasn’t there.

Then I got a brilliant idea. I froze in my tracks and slowly turned my head and looked over at the sink. It was the single best if-you-can’t-beat-them-join-them moments of my life. Here was the plan: I would intentionally soak myself with water, all over, and then blame it all on a faucet malfunction. Yes, yes, this would work. No one would know what really happened. Faucets are known to malfunction all the time. Why didn’t I think of this before? I’m a genius. No, super-genius.

So I went to work. I turned the water on and flung handfuls of it onto my pants and shirt. I got some up in my hair. I wanted to make sure that my mid section was not the wettest part of me. After a minute or maybe a couple of minutes, I looked in the mirror and was satisfied. I was so wet in places that pee could never reach that I could never be accused of what I had really done to myself. The only logical explanation was that darned faucet malfunction.

I took a deep breath and prepared to exit the bathroom. I needed to make this real. I flung open the door, almost violently, threw myself out of the bathroom, and yelled, “The frickin’ faucet is screwed up! Gosh!”

As I did that, the ice cream guy came walking down the hall. He saw and heard everything He looked at me and laughed, the kind of laugh you give when you have just heard the worst and most pathetic lie of your life. It was an incredulous laugh of pity.

I was busted. He witnessed everything. In all of my efforts to get noticed…well, I got noticed. I got unforgettably noticed.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

So, I did this

I got tagged by Sprittibee and this what she did to me.

Search your blog archive.
Find your 23rd post.
Find the fifth sentence (this is meant to say something about you).
Post that sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
Tag five people to do the same.

Here was my sentence from my post What if...?

"I bet people would find a way to be together."

This is supposed to say something about me.

Maybe I seek peace among people. Perhpas I am called to be a man of peace. Or maybe I am a melancholy idealist who cynically clings to hope even when evidence is insufficient for it. Yeah, that sentence was messed up - but not too far off.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Paper, Scissors, Rock

So my wife and I are pulling up into our driveway after a nice date and we are trying to decide who has to drive the babysitter home.

Gail: So, is it paper, scissors, rock?
Chris: Yeah, sure. 2 out of three?
Gail: I'm too tired, just one.
Chris: Let's go. 1 - 2 - 3

we both has scissors. laughter.

Chris: Again. 1 - 2 - 3

I held out paper and Gail held out her extended index finger.

Chris: What is that, a booger picker?


Gail: No, it's a pencil. Pencil writes on paper, I win.
Chris: Pencil?
Gail: Yeah, it writes on paper.
Chris: There is no pencil in paper, scissors, rock.

Gail realizes her error and laughs uncontrollably.

Zoe Confeence II: Missional?

First of all, I was so glad to see all of my blogger friends. I felt like I was meeting my family for the first time. It was a bit surreal for me. I sit at my computer screeen and communcate with you all, have been for a year. And then I get to meet you live for the first time, but not for the first time. Seeing your faces was a real treat for me. I wish I had hours with everyone there. I really like you all.

At the Zoe Conference I had a chance at a "missional opportunity." What this meant was taking some boxed lunches and $10 to a few select areas of Nashville and giving them to homeless people. OK, I knew I was not the best minister inn the world, but this one takes the cake.

I had the lunches and money, along with my wife and sister, and found this homeless guy on the north side of Nashville. It was a broken down, kind of nasty part of town. We met Sammy. We offered Sammy some food. He refused. We offered him money - cash - no strings attached. We didn't evenm say we were Christians or anything. He refused.

I can't even give money to a homeless guy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Not only was I unable to give, it was hard for me to receive. He gave us affirmation, advice, and direction. He affirmed our work for the Lord, told us where the really dangerous spots were around town and that should stay away from them, and he pointed us toward a couple of "al-KEE-holic" brothers living in the vacant lot across the way. I walked away from Sammy stunned.

I was exposed.

We never found the al-KEE-holic brothers. We went back to the conference site with food and $10 in hand, just as we left. Only I was not the same. Sammy is haunting me - even now.

I have spent over a year asking God, intensely, what he wants out of me and I get nothing clear. No, I get nothing at all. I hear nothing. My life is a mystery. So, when I get this little chance to give, I am rebuffed. This might not seem like a big deal, and maybe it isn't, but I was humiliated at my absolute incompetence. I defy anyone to be turned down by a homeless guy when you offer him money. It isn't going to happen.

"We view the poor as needy because we are materialistic." -Larry James

Friday, October 07, 2005

Zoe Conference I

If you weren't there, oh man, you missed it. Art, drama, worship, scripture, preaching - Jesus. Let me try to help fill you in.

The best part of the night, bar none, was Donna Hester's incredible drama. She portrayed six women in the genealogy of Jesus from the book of Matthew. Somehow she integrated Rolling Stones music, Jerry Springer, World War II, ironing, hanging clothes out to dry, and a bunvh of stuff with Eve, Ruth, Tamar, Rahab, Bathsheba, and Mary. You will have tears if you get the chance to see it.

Mike Cope retold the Sermon on the Mount in way that could not be legalized.

The worship was strong, moving, and Jesus honoring.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Zoe and thought

I am off to the Zoe Worship Conference later this evening. I wish I could be at the Leadership part of the conference, but I just can't pull it off. I look forward to meeting all of my blogging friends Saturday morning around 7:30 AM at the Zoe INTERNET Cafe.

If this is indeed an internet cafe, then I plan to be blogging the conference while I am at the conference. For those of you who would like to go, but cannot, I will probably have a fews posts from the conference to help you feel a part.

And now, for a thought:

The only effective mercy God reserves for the man (or woman) who clings too much to something is to rip it from his hands, violently if necessary. This is a mercy that transcends even forgiveness.

So, what do you think about that one?

Want a great story to go with this quote? Click here. Waiterrant will have you spooked and humbled.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Book Blogging

For the past couple of months I have been blogging over on this blog about stepfamilies. I want to let you know that starting Monday, October 10th, and for every Monday after that in 2005, the Successful Stepfamilies Blog will be blogging through one of the best books on stepfamilies that is out on the market. It is called, The Smart Stepfamily.

If you are in a stepfamily, this book is a must. Get it. Then check out the Successful Stepfamilies Blog on Mondays for blogging through this book. Certainly there will be other stepfamily related posts between Mondays, but Mondays are the days we'll be blogging through the book.

Please join us with your readership and especially your comments - and please spread the word about this blog to any people who are in a stepfamily, which is more than you might think right off the top of your head.

OK God, if that is your real name #2

This series makes it sound like I am questioning God. I'm not. Now, I'm not against questioning God, but that is not what this series is about. This series is about questioning how we interpret God.

We have spent a long time as a people looking at God through a microscope. We have used the Bible as the thing that goes under the microscope, and called it God. We have analyzed it, disected it, legalized it, scientized it, modernized it, and on and on. We have gotten so good at looking to the Bible as THE SOURCE that we have a heard time thinking about any other sources.

We need to spend more time looking for God through a telescope. We need to explore as much as we have reduced. We need mystery, awe, wonder, and experimetnation. We need to use all sources God made available to us in order to learn more of God, to experience more of God.

It's not about getting rid of the Bible. That would be a terrible thing to do. However, worship of the Bible as if it were God is a terrible thing to do as well.

Restorationsists feel safe with the Bible only and feel like it is too risky to understand God with anything else. But we do risk idolatry, missing God, legalism - in short, our Bible fetish (OK, that was overstated) gets us into league with the first century Pharisees much more than it does the first century Christians. It also leads us away from being 21st century Christians - ah, that's another post.

The Line

"You crossed the line," someone said to me once. I was not sure what he meant besides that he didn't like what I did. "The Line" is subjective. I've got my lines and you've all got yours.

I've had some feedbcak on the vodka piece, so I pulled it off the blog.

Now, I'm not going to make it practice of just pulling things off the blog just because people don't like it, but I decided to go ahead and pull this one.

Also, speaking of the line, Sumer has crossed the line. 90 degrees today. This summer is like a psycho girlfriend you can't rid of.

Go away already!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, October 03, 2005

Wade Speaks on Speaking where the Bible Speaks

If you liked my post, "Speak Where The Bible Speaks...," which set an all time comment record (45, which is big for my piddly blog), then you will like Wade Hodge's post on synogogues.

Let's Pretend...

Hollywood gets low scores for showing life as it is. Compare the sex and drugs consequences of Hollywood movies to real life sex and drug consequences.

Ipod Gollum and Orc potty

There are some sweet photos just like these here. Thanks to the Tall Skinny Kiwi for passing this one on from Worth

These photos are classic pomo blending of the unblendable, mixing fantasy with contemporary. If you think a little further, you can imagine..., nah, it's just for fun.

OK God, if that is your real name #1

Let's suppose everything in the Bible is a communication from God about His nature. Let's assume it is all true. Let's even assume we could interpret the Bible with the same meaning God inteneded - in other words, we get it without contamination.

I know, these are some big assumptions. But let's get to the question.

How much of God's totality is revealed in the Bible?

Is God completely revealed in the Bible? Half revealed? One tenth of one percent? What do you think?