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Saturday, December 31, 2005

First Word: Joy

In my last post, I wished pain for you. I wished it for you because it might be what saves your life. Pain is the message to change. At the same time, the capacity for pain is packaged together with a capacity for joy and pleasure. That within you that can feel pain and also feel pleasure.

C. S. Lewis shared this truth with us in his writings.

When I talked about no pain is deadly, I also meant that no joy is deadly as well. The same little nerve endings bring us both sensations, and therefore damage to them prevents both of them as well. The same sensitivity of the heart and soul bring it to us in our emotions and in our spirits.

So when I say that I want you to have the capacity for pain it is because I want you to know when you are hurt, but I also want you to know much pleasure.

May 2006 be a year of great joy.

Last Word: Pain

Now, PAIN is probably not the last word you want to hear for 2005. It has, in fact, been a painful year for many. At the same time, pain is underrated by many as well.

Here is what I mean. In Soul Survivor, Phillip Yancey tells about Dr. Paul Brand's work with lepers. He says that if he could give a leper one thing, it would be pain. Why? He talks about it in his book called The Gift of Pain. The reason is that leprosy kills nerve endings and thus feeling. So, with no pain comes no attention to the wound, cut, shoe tightness, and so on. An infection can set in under the radar because it is not felt.

People who experience huge pain are certainly not to be envied, but people who experience no pain are in much worse shape in the long run. Most people, Americans especially, want a pain free life. Yet, the very thing longed for is what is going to kill us all. Do we really want no physical, emotional, spiritual pain?

Ignatius of Loyola writes about Spiritual Exercises and how to combat the times of desolation - spiritual pain. St. John of the Cross writes about the Dark Night of the Soul - spiritual pain - meaning something good is about to happen. No one wants the Dark Night of the Soul, but it might be a good thing when it hapens - if it does not kill you of course.

So, my hope for you is that you feel pain - not so you can suffer, but so you can live.
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Speaking of pain, 40 Days of Fat is on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Blog is here.
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More Pilgrim of Worship series to come. Start here if you want to read the series.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

BlogCoCs & 40 Days of Fat

Nomination for the 2005 BlogCoCs (Church of Christ Blog series and topics of the year) are rolling in. Make sure you make your nomination - click here to nominate. Place your nomination in the comment section of the post or e-mail me here. Nomination open until January 6th.

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40 Days of Fat is launching January 1, 2006. We are exercising, losing weight and raising moeny for World Vision. I would love your participation!!!!!!!!!!!

The current BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) is to buy a farm to serve 10 families. Please join in any way you can. It begins Jan 1. You can begin today. Click here to see the 40 Days of Fat Blog.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

2005 Church of Christ Blog topic or series of the year nominations

Please make a nomination for the blog topic or series of the year for Church of Christ bloggers in 2005.

For example:

"Church of Christ bloggers help remove Anne Coulter from Harding University Speakers Seris"

or

"An Emerging Church of Christ" by Wade Hodges

I'll be taking nominations for the next several days and then I will open up the voting. I need to figure out how to do the voting. Keith Brenton or any other genius is welcome to give me a pointer on this one.

So, let the nominations begin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bacon

Is there anything better than the smell of bacon in the air while lounging during a day off from work and the sound of children (my kids and their cousins) enjoying a day off from school?

Oh yes, this is Christmas vacation. How nice.

God, you are generous and kind. What a treat to get to indulgde in the aroma and sounds of freedom. This must be a little glimpse into the Great Reality that I spend most of my life avoiding. The kingdom is here, in my presence. This little taste is nice. I want to live in this kingdom you speak of, I want to live there on a regular basis.

Teach me to bring this to people who never get a whiff of it. Teach me to be the sounds of joy for someone who hears so much clanging and banging. You didn't keep this joy to yourself, and neither should I.

What I want is for generosity to be natural for me, so that I don't have to try anymore.

Thank-you for your patience.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Karen the Homeschool mom, come on down...

I have been giving away a free copy of my book, homefront, every 10,000 hits I get on my homefront blog. My other blogs here, here, and here make no such offers. Nope, this is the place to get the free stuff.

At #30,000 I hit a snag and couldn't figure out who #30,000 really was. Donna at Chit Chat, expressed interest in the book, but then Karen said something like, "Hey no way lady, the book is mine," (I can't remeber the exact wording)and challenged Donna to a mean game of Paper, Scissors, Rock, which also happens to be the name of my favorite posts.

Anyway, who knows what really happened offline, but Donna ended up deferring to Karen. Karen gets the book. If Karen e-mails me her address I will send it on.

If you want to know our winner a little better, check out 100 things about Karen. Her blog is named, Life with 4 Kids and a Dog (and there is a husband I understand, but that would make the title a little bulky). She's been blogging (on blogger) since November 2004 after giving Xanga "the adios" because Xanga is weird. Her bloginality is ESFJ, which means that she likes to make peoaple feel good. That is unless there is a person between here and free book I guess (ha ha).

Go ahead and check out Life with fours kids and a dog. I think you'll like it.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Past, Present, & Future

Christmas past is a collection of contrasts. Opening presents at gramma's house was far and away the highlight. It was always the 90 minutes trip from Apple Valley to ALbert Lea (Minnesota towns). It felt like a millions miles for all the anticipation. "Are we there yet?" "No, we still haven'tgottne gas yet.""Grrrrrr - Are we there yet?"

However, the trip could never begin until my fahter had gotten done delivering the newspapers. He delivered the Minneapolis Star-Tribune in his working days. Well, weather was a major factor in the amount of time needed to accomplish news paper delivery. He had the farm routes - miles between houses, dirt roads, deep ditches, late coming snow plows.

Although beautiful, a white Christmas meant a delayed Christmas. A white Christmas also meant a mad dad Christmas. Some of you have never had a mad dad Christmas. For those of you who have never had the experience, please understand what a great joy it is to have a happy dad Christmas. You don't want to have a mad dad Christmas, not with 90 minutes of driving ahead of you.

Sometimes we would sleep over at Gramma's house. I can't remeber why, but that was a real treat. We'd ask to stay the night.

Right now I am at my in-laws (who just got internet access - hooray!) and my kids are experiencing Christmas at gramma's. I am so glad thatI have not given them a mad dad Christmas. I video taped them opening presents and being excited. What a joy.

I am just enjoying the day. Ahhhhhhh.

I want to be a better present giver. I suck bad at gift giving. I want to create something for the people I love. I want to bring them joy. I get this mentla block and get busy right before Thanks giving and it doesn't end until after the Christmas season. Maybe next year will be my year. I want to deposit something more into the memories of the people I love.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Pilgrim of Worship 5: Honesty (or Ugly Worship)

When worship changes from the thing you're supposed to do to the thing you can't do without, something honest has happened.

I graduted from Harding after 11 semesters of academic cluelessness, wondered around in Milwaukee for 5 months unable to find my butt with both hands (thanks dad for that one) until my good friend, Brian Mashburn, saved me. He hooked me up with a youth ministry job at a nearby chruch of Christ in Houston,Tx. (Important side note: Never, under any circumstance, swear on your soul that you won't do something. My rash vow cost me six years in Texas.)

I quickly found a way to get fired from that position (nothing scandalous I assure you) and began to wander again. I got a girlfriend, but then she dumped me. My lime green Noah's ark sized gas guzzling beast of a car died on me. I had no car, no insurance, no income, no girlfriend, no job, no cash, and bascially no life.

The problem was that I had committed honesty in prayer and worship to God. I asked God (prompted by Dennis Jerniganworship music) to ask God to "show me everyway I don't love you." He was faithful.

After God took everything away from me, I took one of my jogs into the steamy Houston night. I found myself depressed, unable to sleep, losing weight (not on purpose), angry, hopeless, and a lot of other things. I was a wreck and my life, what was left of it, was falling apart completely. I stopped my jog in the middle of a field, far from people, and "had a little talk with Jesus." This, however, was not the sweet little talk the old hymn speaks of. I'll spare you all of the details, but just know that the conversation ended with me telling Jesus to "F*** off!"

I couldn't sleep that night, which was about par for the course those days. However, that night I felt something so raw and open inside me. "What have I done?" It felt like murder, like a crime of passion, one that had gone way too far. I didn't know what I was doing. Did I really tell Jesus to "F*** off?" Would he honor this request as well?

I came back to Him weeping and pleading and begging and hoping that I had not just sealed my fate with those foolish words.

"Oh my God, I am so sorry. I didn't mean it. Please don't leave me. Please don't hide from me? I need you. I know I asked for it. I know I asked for you to show me how I didn't love you. It's my fault. Please forgive me. I know I am nothing - I have nothing. I got nothing to give you but me and that isn't much, but it is all I have and I want you to have it. What else am I supposed to do? There is no one to turn to, no one who can keep a promise. Without you I am going to die."

And the gasping, crying, sniffling, broken, prayer went on through much of the night. And he held me.

Now, I would not make "F*** off" my first choice for the Sunday evening "request night" at my old church. Something about it seems a little off key. No, that is another one of those private tunes meant to be sung only once. However, I had the courage to speak to God without any pretense. There was something deeper than the profanity that was real, and real was something I needed to be more than any other thing right then. Pretending to be happy with losing everything would have only been perpetuating my idolatry. I needed to get to the other side of my anger - through it was the only way.

And I leanred that God can handle anything I can dish out. I was a four year old throwing a major hissy fit and he loved me.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Wineskins giving away the store

I just got an e-mail from New Wineskins, an excellent online magazine covering Christianity and spirituality, saying that they are (for a limited time) allowing everyone access to the entire site. New Wineskins is an excellent resource with smart articles and relevant features.

If you are not a subscriber (like me), then check it out. I am sure you will be convinced that it is well worth $20 a year for full acces all the time.

If you are a subscriber and have money you don't know what to do with, then send along a donation as your Christmas gift to New Wineskins.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Pilgrim of Worship 4: Awesome God

When I realized that Awesome God was not a "camp song," but a worship song, one that could be sung not only by teenagers, but college students, I was stoked. Again, Peak of the Week at Harding was transformational. By my sophomore year at Harding, Peak of the Week had outgrown it's location on campus and required the Benson Auditorium just to fit all 2000 of us.

Wednesday nights were electric. Each Wednesday evening there was an expectancy that built starting at about 4PM and climaxed when the praise team belted out the first song - not a hymn, but a song. Sometimes "special" songs and sometimes worship songs. I didn't know what to do with these new songs but sing them like I was at camp.

Ah yes, I learned about praise teams at Harding. My home church back in Minnesota had never heard about praise teams and therefore I had never heard that they should be condemned until it was far, far too late.

Later, drama was added to Peak of the Week along side the praise team. Oh man, I was hooked. I tolerated Sunday morning high church, but I longed for those Wednesday evening times. Mike Cope would bring it week after week. Relevant preaching. Who knew?

It was about this time that Free Indeed hooked up with Jerome Williams and launched the Sing a New Song series of praise and worship songs. "Hail Jesus You're My King." Couldn't get enough of it. Acappella and AVB were just launching into their newer and hip (less like the Oak Ridge Boys) format. (Believe it or not, Keith Lancaster's newest CD is titled none other than Awesome God.)

I think it was my sophomore year when my non-Church of Christ friend, Mike Foster, told me that the song Awesome God was written by a guy named Rich Mullins, and he wasn't from the Church of Christ. Not only that, but there was more to the song, the best part in fact. And when the song is sung with instruments, like it was originally meant to be sung, it is so much better.

Disillusionment dogged me badly. How could someone bound for Hell write such a great song? It was like he knew a truth about God, but was lost at the same time. I wondered what this "one song wonder", Rich Mullins was all about. I figured he got lucky.

By the end of my senior year, uhm, my first senior year, I was heavily questioning the mandatory prohibition on the use of instruments in worship. Eddie Veddar had just unleashed Pearl Jam on us and someone handed me a bootleg cassette with Christian music on it - instrumental Christian music. And wouldn't you know that it was Rich Mullins Awesome God.

It was the summer of 1991 when I switched sides. I went from acappella only to instrumental is OK. Oh, and I kept reading that one verse over and over, the one about how evil instruments are and realized that it really didn't say it. In fact, I came out of the fog and realized that every single reference to instruments (except I cor 13 clanging cymbal) in the Bible was affirmative.

What a loving and patient and Awesome God that gently released me from a ridiculous bondage. Oh, if I had only known how many layers of bandage there were. More to come.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Pilgrim of Worship 3: Christmas Songs

You might think that having the dream I had unshackled me and released me to worship God unfettered. Assumptions like that are not wise because they grossly underestimate the power of context. I was still a boy trapped within a family, trapped within a church, trapped within a denomination, trapped within an ideology, trapped within modernity. I pretty much grew up with two options in life: the one true way and Satan's wicked and detestable ways - which meant anything different than the one true way.

Here is how bad it was: Christmas songs were banned during the month of December. Why? Who really knows when Jesus was born? That's why. If it's not in the Bible it is man made and therefore against God - end of discussion. So, when I went to Harding and John Ogren (the one who should be blogging) lead several Christmas hymns at a Wednesday PM Peak of the Week service (in December), I was thrust into conflict. It was 1987 and singing "Walk Like an Egyptian" and "Everybody Wang Chung Tonight" was more acceptable than "Away In a Manger."

It felt all wrong, like I was sinning. What would my mother say? Here I am at a liberal college being indoctrinated away from The Truth. I use the word liberal to mean anything not the way my church did it. That is how I first leanred to use the word liberal - and believe me, where I came from you didn't want to be liberal.

At the same time, however, there was a sense normalcy with 1000 college students all singing together these songs which tell the story of Jesus' birth. My brother (who should be blogging) and I discussed the Christmas songs afterwards. He agreed with me that John was really pushing the envelope with his radical and brazen leading of Christmas hymns in December. I didn't tell my brother that I thought it was kind of cool, too.

As time passed, I thought a lot about what was so wrong about Christmas songs at Christmas and eventually decided that it was okay. Please believe me when I tell you that this was a huge step for me. It was my first real church and faith decision that departed from the prescribed way. But oh baby, it was not the last.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Pilgrim of Worship 2: Camp Songs

Stage 2: Camp Songs - I found food at camp. My relentless hunger for worship passed through a little camp in northern Minnesota and I found a surprise oasis of nourishment. Flaming Pine Youth Camp saved my life.

We didn't sing from the big red books. No, no, no, no, no, no - we sang from the "song sheets," and the thin orange and baby blue paperback "Rejoice" song books. We chose the songs. We sang the songs. Kids ruled. We didn't sing in a church building, we sang in a lodge, at the lake shore, in our cabins. Worship didn't merely happen on Sunday - it was EVERY! SINGLE! DAY!

"It only takes a spark..."
"I love you Lord, and I lift my voice..."
"Give me oil in my lamp..."
"Have you seen Jesus my Lord?" sob sob

Somehow, the music was alive. We sang and we sang loud. It didn't matter if someone was a terrible singer. I was personally liberated to voice my worship completely, despite that fact that I couldn't carry a tune in a wheelbarrow.

I envied the people who could carry a tune. They got to lead the worship. I wanted to lead it so badly, but I knew I was out of my area to do so.

One night while sleeping on my bunk in one of the cabins, I had an amazing dream. I stood at the end of the dock at the beach. In my dream it was midnight and I was the only one awake. I stood at the end of the dock in the blackness of the night over the black water. There was no moon and no stars. How I even found my way to the dock I do not know. I must have just appeared there. The only sound was the occasional lap of the water on the sandy shore. Otherwise, the lake was glass.

There was a tension, an eager anticipation that hung in the air - like when the lights go down at a Broadway musical, but the music hasn't started yet. Something was about to happen.

Then somehow I knew what to do. I began to sing. It was a song I had never heard before and to this day cannot remember. It was beautiful and in four part harmony (Pretty good for a guy who can't carry a tune). The music that came from my lips not only sounded beautiful, but it looked beautiful. Each part of the harmony was a color in a rainbow that rose from my mouth. The four bands of color - red, yellow, blue and orange - that emerged from my mouth shone with radiance and rose slowly up to Heaven like smoke in an imperceptibly light wind.

When the glowing rainbow of worship finally made its way up to Heaven, the blackness of the sky could no longer hold back the presence of the angels. Millions of angels cluttered the sky in candle white light and joined me in my song. They looked to me as their worship leader and worshiped with limitless gladness. These angels looked to me with eager anticipation as to where the song would go next. What would next line say? What would the next note be? Just how would this mortal worship God next? Each line and note rang more beautiful and true than the one prior.

The voices of the angels filled in every bit of silence in the universe. There was no room for anything else but the collective voices of the angels. Darkness could no longer be dark, silence could not longer be silent, and it was impossible to be lonely in such company. I was not afraid. In fact, never before and never since have I felt more in my place.

The song was never sung before and would never be sung again for it was the expression of my heart in a unique moment of time. For this song to be sung again would be counterfeit and cheap. It was a song meant to be sung only once.

When the last note was sung, I closed my mouth and the rainbow filtered up into the sky and slowly dissipated. The echo of the angels reverberated over the lake and throughout the forest like pounding thunder - until it was gone. Then it was black again, and silent, save the warm breeze that moved my hair, just a little.

I had accomplished worship.

Pilgrim of Worship 1: The Beginning

Stage 1: The Begining - It all started in a Southern Church of Christ just south of Minneapolis, Minnesota. How did a Southern Church of Christ get located near Minneapolis? Hey, in the 1970's they were all Southern Churches of Christ, no matter where they were located.

We sang the old hymns and Stamps Baxter tunes - from the red book of course. Blue book people were liberals. We sang "In the Bible We Read of a Beautiful Prayer" (because we had some great altos) and we had "Just A Little Talk With Jesus." On special Sundays there was the added extra singing on the chorus - slow and with feeling - the basses lead with a slow and deep "Nowwww let us...". That little extra took me right to the edge of excitement. We sang "Rock of Ages," although when Def Leppard came out with a song bearing the same name, the old one lost its edge.

I was an acappella only, hymn-singing, stand up for 728b, dyed in the wool C of C worshiper. Singing these songs and many other of the old favorites was the highlight of going to church. It was the music of God that kept me engaged.

About once or twice per year was the area-wide worship. All the Churches of Christ in the Twin Cities, all 7 of them, would gather together on Sunday afternoon and sing. 400 real Christians all together in one place. Wow. We were knock, knock, knocking on Heaven's door.

And preachers would preach, song leaders would lead, "the Black church" would have a singing group sing and man would they nail it. They were allowed to do such liberal things, I think, because they were Black. No one really said it like that; it was just understood.

I felt united in song. I knew a oneness and unity that could be matched in no other way.

However, there was a darkness about church, a discomfort - like breathing with half a lung. Because as great as the singing was is also as great as the challenge was to really be OK. In other words, had it not been for the singing, I might have suffocated.

Even though I knew that I was supposed to be fully satisfied with what was offered (it was the one true way afterall), there was this rebellious and scandalous desire in me that really wanted church life to be like the very best song ever sung. I wanted more.

Certainly I never let on. That, my friends, would have been suicide. I towed the line like a good boy and tried to excel in ways that were acceptable in my context. I did what I was told, but I was hungry.

Hunger does not just settle. It either grows in intensity or dies. All my hunger needed was some food...

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Who knew?

First of all, we have a growing dilemma. No one claims a right to the book for actually being #30,000. I can't figure it out from my dumb stat tracker. More than one person has positioned herself to get the free book. And there is only one book up for grabs.

What to do what to do.

Meanwhile, I learned this about myself.

Which 24 character am I?

I am President David Palmer.

Who are you? (link is fixed)

Saturday, December 17, 2005

#30,000 Mystery

I can't tell who won the book because all my stat tracker says is localhost (Loopback) - which makes me think I won my own book. Any tech people out there know what this means?

I promise that I do not intend to win my own book. So, when this is resolved, I will name the winner.

If you think you are the winner, then e-mail me and let's talk.

Peace!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Pilgrim of Worship: An Introduction

Update: Be # 30,000 and win one of my award winning - er, uhm, a copy of my book.
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I grew up going to church. I was baptized as a fetus (my mother was pregnant with me during her baptism). I was later baptized at age 13. I have gone to church all my life. I have gone to Churches of Christ all my life.

Never in my entire 35 years have I been without music by which to worship. Worship is a word in my native tongue - it might be my native tongue. I love to worship. I love to sing. I love to give thanks. I love to appreciate.

Now, this worship pilgrimage has taken quite a few twists and turns over the years. There have been times when I felt dry as desert bone and other times when I felt like I was entering the throne room of God. I have felt humbled with some moments of worship and scandalous with others.

I was challeneged 5 years ago to construct my pilgrimage of worship by a good friend named John Ogren (who really should be blogging). I never did take up his challenge. Now that I have a blog, I am going to do it.

The next few posts will be my journey of worship.

A glimpse of beauty

It's 4 AM and I can't sleep, so this is what you get
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I drove with a fellow youth minister (back when I was one myself) from Minnesota to Wisconsin for a ministers retreat. We left at sunrise and the fog was dense. You could hardly tell it was sunrise. He was driving and I was quiet.

It gets quite hilly on either side of the St. Croix River, which is the state line. The hills were full of trees whose Autumn leaves had lost their vibrance and were losing their grip, falling one by one through the fog onto the cold ground. Up and down the hills we journeyed, around the curves, slowly. Shivering children awaited their coming school busses as they stood next to their mailboxes out on those lonely country roads. Everything was dark gray and dreary, like the earth was smudged with soot.

The weather matched my mood, a brooding melancholy that doesn't sleep well at night and hates being awake in the day. After several silent minutes, a blinking light, strobing ahead of us in the road broke a little hole in the dreariness. It was mysterious and somewhat welcomed.

" What is that light?" I asked my friend.

"It's the fog light on a school bus. You can't see the bus in the fog and that's why they put these strobing lights on them. I guess they work." My friend the youth minister was also a part-time bus driver for the local school district because his church didn't pay him squat. He took the day off from driving the bus to go to this retreat.

"Oh," I replied with as little energy as possible. Mystery solved; back to the dreariness. I guess it was 't enough light for me. We kept driving.

Conversation did pick up a little, though it seemed like the sun was stuck just below the horizon and buried in fog. It just didn't get any lighter. The fog, the tall trees, the hills - everything kept us from the sun. We griped about our lousy pay, parents who wouldn't cooperate, teens who didn't care. Talking didn't really help.

Then something seemed just a little bit different, enough to catch our attention. Finally, it appeared to be getting a little brighter. The fog turned from deep gray to a thick and hazy, deep orange, but still quite dark. We were both glad that the sun looked like it was preparing to finally make an appearance.

"Maybe it'll burn off this fog and we can make some good time," I said.

"Yeah, that would be nice," my friend replied.

We kept talking and griping at a little faster clip this time, getting into detailed gripes when WHAM! We were struck speechless.

We crested a tall hill and completely burst free from the fog into a brilliant orange sunlight. The morning sky above our heads was completely clear and the last star had just faded away in the light. We were above the fog. The sun was positioned straight ahead of us half emerged from the horizon, lighting up the top of the fog with a blazen orange as far as the eye could see in every direction. Though you're not supposed to look at the sun, we couldn't help ourselves. Words were totally inappropriate - only sounds of amazement and wonder.

We started back down the hill and plunged down into the fog, so deep that it was dark gray and dreary once again. We never crested another hill tall enough to see the sun, but for every next hill we had hope. We would wonder if there was a chance to see it again. We talked about the beauty we saw. We must have said, "I've never seen anything like it" a dozen times.

It was unforgettable. And what was forgettable, was forgotten.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Monday, December 12, 2005

Christmas Bible Blowout

Interesting question at Christian Parenting.
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You've read The Mens Bible and loved it. You took home theThe Spirit-Filled Bible and couldn't get enough of it. You've even read the The Max Lucado Bible. But you want more.

Well, thanks to Bibles-Your-Way and Zondervan, a new line of Bibles arrives this Christmas for people like you. No more settling for a Bible that almost fits you or the one you love. Those days are over. With Bibles-Your-Way there is sure to be a Bible for everyone on your Christmas list. Here is just a sample.

The Beer and Brat Bible - Perfect for the depressed Packers fan on your Christmas list.

The Smoker's Bible - From cheap cigarettes to classy Cubans and all varieties of pipes, this Bible covers it all. ***Chew tobacco not included***

Short People's Bible (with expanded David & Goliath commentary) - Made especially for people who have a problem with being too short, this one will boost their self-esteem.

Wicca Lover's Bible - Come on, who's your favorite witch? Now she can have a Bible too.

Warring Nation Bible - Perfect for the times. Special sections written by Genghis Khan, Adolph Hitler, and Napolean.

8 Mile Bible - White rapper's bible complete with correct Biblical usgae for all profanity and hate speech. Complete with "Am I a dog that you come at me with sticks?" and much much more.

Fat Man's Bible - Fold out section on Eglon and other Bible big guys.

Adulterers and Fornicators Bible - Now, all of your favorite Bible adulterers and fornicators listed in chronological order at your fingertips for easy access.

Smack Down Bible - Yes, Bret Hart, Kash Money, and Booker T, there is a Bible for you.

Victoria's Secret Bible - Fully illustrated.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Battered Faith; Bettered Faith

You don't know how much faith you have in something until it disappoints you.

Take politics for example. A life long Republican finds out that the policies he has supported and the people he has supprted are not exactly all that great. He finds out their claims to faith are more a political posturing than a self-desciption. Disillusionment sets in and the extent to which faith in the party existed is now revealed by the depth of pain experienced in the disillusionment.

Politics is one thing, but religion is so much more. What if the people (public leaders - not my current preacher) with whom you religiously identify are unethical toward a "good end?" What if the Christian association to which you pay dues uses fear tactics to influence the behavior of its constituents? What if your denomination is not merely mistaken, but is causing spiritual harm to people? What if your elders (not my current elders) are power hungry scumbags just waiting for their chance to pounce on control of the church, but use book chapter and verse for every one of their power plays? What if many of the essentials of Biblical interpretation handed down to you are hack theology that presses an agenda derived from intense ecclesial division than the Spirit of Jesus? What if all the people you considered "rocks" of faith are either rocks of bad faith or have turned to mush? What if you read about the church in Acts selling possessions to give to the poor and you see your church accumulating possessions and throwing crumbs to the poor?

What if you look in the mirror and find a confused person making lots of mistakes? What if that person knows one thing and does another? What if you find that you're now the age that you should have been grown up by, but aren't even close?

When the props get kicked out from beneath your faith, what's left?

There is enough evidence in the world of church and in the mirror today to make just about anyone want to roll over and die. At the same time, there is something within that refuses. And undying something protests. There is a hope that goes beyond evidence. There is a dream that defies identifiable facts. When everything crumbles to the ground in broken pieces, something remains unshaken.

Live faith requires much death. There is no end to the parade of ideas, beliefs, organizations, structures, feelings, people, that want to merge with our faith and eventually hi-jack it. Attachment to these things must die. In a faithful person without the will to detach from these things on his own, God Himself is gracious enough to come and make the separation - ripping things out of hands if necessary.

Great faith does not take a pleasant float trip down a calm river. That's wussie faith. Great faith takes a perilous and dangerous trip into unknown waters.

"When everything that can be shaken has been shaken, all that remains is all you ever really had." - Rich Mullins

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Narnia

Well, I have seen it. Narnia is good, very good. It does justice, in my opinion, to the book. I really has my doubts about portraying talking animals because every movie I ahve seen with talking animals is terribly done. Disney has found a way to pull it off.

It was not "de-christianized" as many feared it would be. I mean, take the reusrrection of Aslan out of Narnia and you just don't have Narnia - same with Jesus.

I have a new favorite part of the story. At one point in the story, Santa Claus gives gifts to the kids. Lucy gets a potion that can heal any wound. When Edmond receives a terrible woud from the White Witch in the awesome battle scene at the end of the movie, you think he might die. Lucy gives him a drop of potion and heals him.

And here is my favortie part: she realizes the value of her gift when she heals Edmond, and then goes around healing everyone who is wounded. She has to do it one at a time with a personalized drop of her healing potion. She can't just heal them all at once; she has to go to each person and give them this potion. Her gift was not about making war, but about healing after the war, the necessary war, was over.

I guess I find comfort in Lucy as the healer since I am a counselor. I have often struggled over my role in this life. I am not exactly bring throngs to Christ, but I am constantly bringing healing to people, one at a time. Lucy does not lament her role not being a great warrior on the front lines, but she joyfully fills her role when the time for healing begins.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Youth In Action

Every year between Christmas and New Years, the youth group of my church hosts Youth In Action. It is a cool youth rally. This year, they are taking it up a notch.

This year, it's missional.

Rather than hosting in Jonesboro, it will be in Hattiesburg Mississippi. They are working their rears off with Katrina relief work. I am so impressed.

Check it out.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Bad Mental Health Marketing

Top 10 Bad Mental Health Marketing Schemes

1. Mental Health Gift Card: Excellent gift for that holiday stress.

2. Multi-Level Marketing: All you need to do is get three more people to counseling, and if they get three and those three get three, then your counseling is free. Beyond that, you’re making money.

3. Prepaid Mental Health Services: For only 19.95 per month you can have a counselor ready to meet with within 24 hours, in case you ever have mental health issues.

4. Free Webcam: All sessions stream live on the internet.

5. Friends and Family Network: Discounted therapy for the more people in your network you can get to come to counseling.

6. Buy 1 Get 1: Special deal to eliminate the problem of people coming to only one session.

7. Bulk Discount and Wholesale Counseling: Buy 10 sessions at a 9% discount. Buy 100 Sessions for a 15% discount.

8. Diagnosis Sensitive Fees: Adjustment disorder - $25. Dysthymia - $50. Major Depression $75. Bipolar $100. Borderline – Call ahead.

9. Media Ads: “Have you ever been unhappy or dissatisfied with any at any point in your life? If so, you might have __________ (fill in with most frightening diagnosis for your area). People with this disorder never get better on their own. You might need intensive psychotherapy from a trained professional who knows much more than you and frankly, this is a person you cannot live without. Not seeing a trained counseling could result in harmful behaviors and in rare cases, death.”

10. Cure All Pills: Oh, wait, that’s not really funny.

Have a good day :-)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

New Link

Bloggernation listen up, my buddy Brad Shumpert is THE MAN!!!!!!!! Check out his success at this blog site.

He is my newest featured link in "The Fellowship of the Link" on the sidebar.

Quote of the day

Click here to read a hilarious quote.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Link-you very much

In the continuing celebration of my 300th post, I decided that I would show my appreciation to everyone who has ever linked to me by linking to them. You'll see in the right sidebar a list of blogs who technorati claims have linked to me at one time or another.

Technorati says that 45 other blogs have linked to this one, and they have done so 91 times - that gets me a ranking of 45,561. I have a couple of other blogs that I run, here and here, so I factored those out of the links and linked up the rest.

Take a looky-loo to see if your blog is listed. If you have linked to me and your blog is not listed, please let me know and I will make it right. If you want to be listed on my coveted blogroll, link to me and I'll link to you - unless of course you are a porn blog, then I will choose not to link to you.

Thanks for your readership and your comments and your links.

One fixed point

A philospoher (can't remeber which one) longed to find just one fixed point. Then everything else would make sense. Think about it for a second and there is sense to be made of this. If there is nothing to rely upon as sure (if there is no fixed point), then there is no refernce point for anything else. If there is no fixed point, then how can there be meaning of any lasting value? How can meaning even be shared?

Modernism (militant modernism) says there is not only one fixed point, but that everything has a fixed point. Everything has a place it should be - in its fixed point. This kind of modernism played out to its logical end is ridiculous. What is the fixed point of toasted almond fudge ice cream? Well, if you ask me it is the one and only ice cream worth eating. There may be one or two of you who disagree with me (fools). But in that disagreement we must conclude that one of us is wrong or that there is no fixed point for toasted almond fudge ice cream.

I fall on the side of no fixed point for this one, though it is tough for me to believe anyone would not exalt toasted almond fudge ice cream as I do. But now let's go to militant postmodernism. That would say there are no fixed points anywhere, ever. Played out to its logical end runs into lunacy itself. The fact that there are no fixed ponts is a fixed point and therefore disqualifies its own assertion by proving itself.

APPARENT RANDOM TANGENT: I love the andromeda galaxy.

What if there is one fixed point? What if rather than trying to find it outside of ourselves or inside of ourselves, all that there is occurs inside of that one fixed point? What if all of creation is a fixed point amid the nothingness of pre-creation? Which of course leads to the question as to whether or not there remains a lingering nothingness that is still in pre-creation stage - but we won't got here right now.

What if creation is the fixed point and God is the context of the one fixed point? So in essence, creation is a fixed point within the larger fixed point of God (if encompassing everything can be considered a fixed point). God can enter creation but creation cannot transcend God.

Ah, but what if the context, God, permitted the creation to transcend its context - God himself? Would that be anything but Hell?

Only God can be self-contextual. Creation requires God as context in order to be sustained. But God, loving the fixed point so much he allows it permission to exit its context, though does not desire its exit.

Does this make sense to anyone or do I have tumor on my brain?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

300th Post and question

Dear friends, this is my 300th post on blogger. Thanks for your readership and keeping it interesting (blow kiss, blow kiss). Now, you wise ones, blow some holes into this one (because there are holes). Seriously, I want to see who I am dealing with out there. Find the flaw in the logic.

My paypal moneymarket account earns 4.03 percent. Yours does to if you have one. I get a fee of 30 cents plus 1.2 percent per transcation. The difference of the percentages is 2.83 (minus 30 cents) in my favor. So why wouldn't I run up my credit card on a monthy basis and pay it off with my paypal account?

Friday, December 02, 2005

My 2005 Reading List - 1 Sentence Reviews & Highlights

1. Finding Faith - Brian McLaren
Review: Logical progression of finding faith.
Highlight: Difference between good and bad faith.

2.The Last Word - Brian McLaren
Review: "What the Hell?" - Explores theology of Hell.
Highlight: Wraps up A New Kind of Christian Trilogy with a bang.

3. Planting Churches in a Postmodern Age - Ed Stetzer
Review: Excellent strategies and thoughtful ideas with ample extra-book options.
Highlight: The fact that it addresses postmodernity from a practical perspective.

4. Blink - Malcolm Gladwell
Review: You will find it hard to be nored with this one.
Highlight: The ideas of rapid cognition and thin-slicing.

5. The Relevant Church - Jennifer Ashley and friends
Review: Explores new kinds of churches; very different churches.
Highlight: No one way to do church is OK.

6. The Gospel Accordning to Tony Soprano - Chris Seay
Review: Looks for God in culture - and stretches a bit.
Highlight: Fearless.

7. The Emerging Church - Dan Kimball
Review: Introduction to what is being called the Emerging Church
Highlight: Deconstructs & Reconstructs - doesn't leave you hanging at the end of criticism.

8. A Generous Orthodoxy - Brian McLaren
Review: Explores the spectrum of Christianity.
Highlight: The 7 Jesuses

9. Experiential Storytelling - Mark Miller
Review: How to tell stories well.
Highlight: I can't remember.

10. Blue Like Jazz - Donald Miller
Review: Takes a cool and refreshing look at Christianity
Highlight: Goes from sophomoric to soul level and you don't even notice.

11. Things Unseen - Leonard Allen
Review: Describes Churches of Christ entering the postmodern era.
Highlight: Wonders why we look for resuscitation when we need resurrection.

12. You Have What It Takes - John Eldredge
Review: Classic Eldredge for men.
Highlight: Naw, just read Wild At Heart.

13. Man's Search For Meaning - Viktor Frankl
Review: Survivor of concentration camp finds meaning is life-giving.
Highlight: Self-awareness is best acheived through self-transcendance.

14. The Practice of the Presence of God - Brother Lawrence
Review: God is everywhere and you can be with Him always.
Highlight: Washing dishes is worship.

15. Soul Survivor - Philip Yancey
Review: Spiritual mentors who helped Yancey survive the church.
Highlight: Ghandi.

16. Aging and the Life Course - Quadagno
Review: Right, like you are interested in this one. It's a textbook.

17. Emerging Worship - Dan Kimball
Review: New ways to worship.
Highlight: Practical examples - refreshing.

18. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - C. S. Lewis
Review: Deep theology hidden in kid's story.
Highlight: "Safe? Of course he's not safe, but he's good."

19. A Horse and His Boy - C. S. Lewis
Review: Follow up to LWW - great.
Highlight: Shasta knows he does not belong as a slave and seeks for something else he knows is out there.

20. Revolution - George Barna
Review: Forecasts church over the next decade and a half.
Highlight: House churches, family churches, and arts churches will proliferate.

21. Mere Christianity - C. S. Lewis
Review: Deep and insightful - a must for all people.
Highlight: Every chapter carries a gem within it. Best book on this list.

22. Statistics For People Who (thin they) Hate Statistics - Neil Salkind
Review: The title says it all.
Highlight: I can now runa T-test.

23. The Jesus Proposal - Rubel Shelley & John York
Review: Return to Jesus' idea of faith.
Highlight: Refreshing departure from small minded religion.

24. The Jesus Community - Rubel Shelley & John York
Review: Better than Jesus proposal.
Highlight: From institutional to relational church. Bam! There you go.

25. Struggling With Scripture - Walter Brueggemann
Review: Three theologians share the value of wrestling with scripture.
Highlight: Makes you feel dumb if you've got it all figured out.

26. The Smart Stepfamily - Ron Deal
Review: Best Christian book for stepfamilies. Check out the blog.
Highlight: The stories are helpful.

27. Who Moved My Cheese? - Spencer Johnson
Review: Short, simple - simplistic. Decent metaphor for change.
Highlight: The conversation I had in my book club.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Post Removed and Reduced

I ranted about a certain parade in a certain community at a certain time of year, but I removed the post. Here is my shortened, min-rant.

1. Parades are about fun, community, and appropriate celebration.
2. Parades are not about marketing, celebrating irrelevance, and uncool cars.
3. People in the parade should enjoy themselves.
4. People watching the parade should be able to enjoy themselves.

McRant

Check out Matt Ritchie's McRant over here.

Check out Christian Parenting

Christian Parenting does a smack down on consumerism.