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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Prayer Of The Weak

Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone: Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Great Exchange - The Golden Thread

I've been reading a novel, The Shack, lately. I'll post more on it later (along with the rest of blogsphere). But one of the lines in the book intersected with a story I read online recently.

In the book, the primary character is having a conversation with God. The conversation was dealing with one person's appreciation for what Jesus did for us and all of humanity. In the midst of the conversation on this idea of what Jesus did for us, God says this, "Stories about a person willing to exchange their life for another are a golden thread in your world, revealing both your need and my heart."

That is so true. Whether we find it in a book, in a movie, in a poem, on t.v., online or in real life, our eyes are opened and hearts are awakened to the reality that God in his great love did something absolutely amazing, profound, life changing, and beautiful when he gave His only begotten so to die on a cross for me. For you. For us.

Then I came across this story on written by Rick Riley. It's a great exchange story that reveals the golden thread of truth. Here is one glimpse of the story that stuck out to me:

After floating for 26 hours, a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter spied a weak flashlight signal and rescued the bobbing five. All suffered severe sunburn and dehydration. Roger was found hours later, trapped in the boat. "He's gone," the Stones' son, Eric, posted on a sailing website. "He was a hero. He did his job as safety officer. He got those kids off the boat. He's in a better place now."

And that's about the moment Linda Stone realized that the man she married 18 years ago this week—in Veracruz, no less—was never coming home.

"I wish to God he were sitting next to me right now. But if he had saved himself and not those boys, I'd have a body next to me but not a person. He'd be an empty shell of a man. He did the right thing. And that gives me peace."

May it open your eyes and stir your heart to ponder on God's "right thing" he did for you and me that gives us peace.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Man Classes

I don't pay much attention to forwarded emails, but this one caught my attention and had me laughing out loud. Too freaking funny!

Summer Classes for Men at THE ADULT LEARNING CENTER

REGISTRATION MUST BE COMPLETED by Friday, August 17 th 2008


Class 1

How To Fill Up The Ice Cube Trays--Step by Step, with Slide Presentation.

Meets 4 weeks, Monday and Wednesday for 2 hours beginning at 7:00 PM.

Class 2

The Toilet Paper Roll--Does It Change Itself?--Round Table Discussion.

Meets 2 weeks, Saturday 12:00 for 2 hours.

Class 3

Is It Possible To Urinate Using The Technique Of Lifting The Seat and Avoiding The Floor, Walls and Nearby Bathtub?--Group Practice.

Meets 4 weeks, Saturday 10:00 PM for 2 hours.

Class 4

Fundamental Differences Between The Laundry Hamper and The Floor--Pictures and Explanatory Graphics.

Meets Saturdays at 2:00 PM for 3 weeks.

Class 5

Dinner Dishes: Can They Levitate and Fly Into The Kitchen Sink?--Examples on Video.

Meets 4 weeks, Tuesday and Thursday for 2 hours beginning at 7:00 PM

Class 6

Loss Of Identity--Losing The Remote To Your Significant Other--Help Line Support and Support Groups.

Meets 4 Weeks, Friday and Sunday 7:00 PM

Class 7

Learning How To Find Things: Starting With Looking In The Right Places And Not Turning The House Upside Down While Screaming--Open Forum

Monday at 8:00 PM, 2 hours.

Class 8

Health Watch: Bringing Her Flowers Is Not Harmful To Your Health--Graphics and Audio Tapes.

Three nights; Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 7:00 PM for 2 hours.

Class 9

Real Men Ask For Directions When Lost--Real Life Testimonials.

Tuesdays at 6:00 PM Location to be determined

Class 10

Is It Genetically Impossible To Sit Quietly While She Parallel Parks?--Driving Simulations.

4 weeks, Saturday's noon, 2 hours.

Class 11

Learning to Live: Basic Differences Between Mother and Wife--Online Classes and role-playing

Tuesdays at 7:00 PM, location to be determined

Class 12

How to be the Ideal Shopping Companion--Relaxation Exercises, Meditation and Breathing Techniques.

Meets 4 weeks, Tuesday and Thursday for 2 hours beginning at 7:00 PM.

Class 13

How to Fight Cerebral Atrophy--Remembering Birthdays, Anniversaries and Other Important Dates and Calling When You're Going To Be Late--Cerebral Shock Therapy Sessions and Full Lobotomies Offered.

Three nights; Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 7:00 PM for 2 hours.

Class 14

The Stove/Oven: What It Is and How It Is Used?--Live Demonstration.

Tuesdays at 6:00 PM, location to be determined.

Upon completion of any of the above courses, diplomas will be issued to the survivors.

(bu to my dad via email)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

My Brother Is 50!

This is crazy. My brother, Bret, just turned 50 a week or so ago. In honor of that historic birthday, my sis-in-law, Leigh Ann, threw Bret a weekend shindig full of family and friends from as faraway as Dallas, Chicago, and Pensacola, FL. We had a great time celebrating my brother's life, his impact on the Kingdom, and our relationship with him.

One of the ways we did this was by putting together a little slide show spanning the breadth of Bret's life. I got the pleasure of putting the show together with the help of family and friends who sent in pictures in from all stages of his life. So I thought I'd share with you the fruit of my labor. It was worth all the time, all the effort, and the all nighter it took to pull it off.

I love you, Bret!

In This Corner...

...we have Sen. Obama, maybe the most liberal senator in the history of congress who speaks of change, hope, and casting a new vision for America while supporting partial-birth abortion laws while also speaking out for the poor, marginalized and disenfranchised. And in this corner we have James Dobson, founder of the hugely influential Focus on the Family, staunch conservative who fights for family values and all things Republican who has gone on record to say that he will not vote in this years election if McCain got the Republican nomination.

This verbal sparing match has got the conservatives, emerging, and non-religious types buzzing on the net. Thought y'all might find this dialog interesting over on Jesus Creed. Scot McKnight has some thoughtful words that we all might want to consider. You can also check out how Jim Wallis and others are weighing in on the topic over at God's Politics blog. And here is a post about "evangelical rhetorical accountability" by Brian McLaren in light of what he thinks of Dobson's comments.

Some really thought provoking stuff here.

Here is an ABC news piece that highlights the spat.

Here is a fairly lengthy rebuttal of Dr. Dobson's comments from a Sojourner's email I received today:

James Dobson, of Focus on the Family Action, and his senior vice president of government and public policy, Tom Minnery, used their "Focus on the Family" radio show Tuesday to criticize Barack Obama's understanding of Christian faith. In the show, they describe Obama as "deliberately distorting the Bible," "dragging biblical understanding through the gutter," "willfully trying to confuse people," and having a "fruitcake interpretation of the Constitution."

The clear purpose of the show was to attack Barack Obama. On the show, Dobson says of himself, "I'm not a reverend. I'm not a minister. I'm not a theologian. I'm not an evangelist. I'm a psychologist. I have a Ph.D. in child development." Child psychologists don't insert themselves into partisan politics in the regular way that James Dobson does and has over many years as one of the premier leaders of the Religious Right. He has spoken about how often he talked to Republican leaders -- Karl Rove, administration strategists, and even President Bush himself. This year he tried to influence the outcome of the Republican primary by saying he would never vote for John McCain or the Republicans if they nominated him, then reversed himself and said he would vote after all but didn't say for whom. But why should America care about how a child psychologist votes?

James Dobson is insinuating himself into this presidential campaign, and his attacks against his fellow Christian, Barack Obama, should be seriously scrutinized. And because the basis for his attack on Obama is the speech the Illinois senator gave at our Sojourners/Call to Renewal event in 2006 (for the record, we also had Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republicans Rick Santorum and Sam Brownback speak that year), I have decided to respond to Dobson's attacks. In most every case they are themselves clear distortions of what Obama said in that speech. I was there for the speech; Dobson was not.

I haven't endorsed a candidate, but I do defend them when they are attacked in disingenuous ways, and this is one of those cases. You can read Obama's two-year-old speech, [audio link] which was widely publicized at the time, and you can see that Dobson either didn't understand it or is deliberately distorting it. There are two major problems with Dobson's attack on Obama.

First, Dobson and Minnery's language is simply inappropriate for religious leaders to use in an already divisive political campaign. We can agree or disagree on both biblical and political viewpoints, but our language should be respectful and civil, not attacking motives and beliefs.

Second, and perhaps most important, is the role of religion in politics. Dobson alleges that Obama is saying:

I [Dobson] can't seek to pass legislation, for example, that bans partial-birth abortion because there are people in the culture who don't see that as a moral issue. And if I can't get everyone to agree with me, it is undemocratic to try to pass legislation that I find offensive to the Scripture. ... What he's trying to say here is unless everybody agrees, we have no right to fight for what we believe.

Contrary to Dobson's charge, Obama strongly defended the right and necessity of people of faith in bringing their moral agenda to the public square, and he was specifically critical of many on the left and in his own Democratic Party for being uncomfortable with religion in politics.

Obama said that religion is and always has been a fundamental and absolutely essential source of morality for the nation, but he also said that "religion has no monopoly on morality," which is a point I often make. The United States is not the Christian theocracy that people like James Dobson seem to think it should be. Political appeals, even if rooted in religious convictions, must be argued on moral grounds rather than as sectarian religious demands -- so that the people (citizens), whether religious or not, may have the capacity to hear and respond. Religious convictions must be translated into moral arguments, which must win the political debate if they are to be implemented. Religious people don't get to win just because they are religious. They, like any other citizens, have to convince their fellow citizens that what they propose is best for the common good -- for all of us, not just for the religious.

Instead of saying that Christians must accept "the lowest common denominator of morality," as Dobson accused Obama of suggesting, or that people of faith shouldn't advocate for the things their convictions suggest, Obama was saying the exact opposite -- that Christians should offer their best moral compass to the nation but then engage in the kind of democratic dialogue that religious pluralism demands. Martin Luther King Jr. perhaps did this best, with his Bible in one hand and the Constitution in the other.

One more note. I personally disagree with how both the Democrats and Republicans have treated the moral issue of abortion and am hopeful that the movement toward a serious commitment for dramatic abortion reduction will re-shape both parties' language and positions. But that is the only "bloody notion" that Dobson mentions. What about the horrible bloody war in Iraq that Dobson apparently supports, or the 30,000 children who die each day globally of poverty and disease that Dobson never mentions, or the genocides in Darfur and other places? In making abortion the single life issue in politics and elections, leaders from the Religious Right like Dobson have violated the "consistent ethic of life" that we find, for example, in Catholic social teaching.

Dobson has also fought unsuccessfully to keep the issue of the environment and climate change, which many also now regard as a "life issue," off the evangelical agenda. Older Religious Right leaders are now being passed by a new generation of young evangelicals who believe that poverty, "creation care" of the environment, human trafficking, human rights, pandemic diseases such as HIV/AIDS, and the fundamental issues of war and peace are also "religious" and "moral" issues and now a part of a much wider and deeper agenda. That new evangelical agenda is a deep threat to Dobson and the power wielded by the Religious Right for so long. It puts many evangelical votes in play this election year, especially among a new generation who are no longer captive to the Religious Right. Perhaps that is the real reason for Dobson's attack on Barack Obama.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Where The Hell Is Matt?

One of the most colorful and joyful videos on the net shot while traveling in some amazing locations. You can check out the web site dedicated to Matt, his dancing and his travels here. How fun would this have been to do even just once let alone the 4 times Matt has done this little personal/marketing project.

Prayer Of The Weak

O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving­kindness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Greatest Ever?

Heard a sport guy on the radio tonight coming home from class. For the most part I like him and he's got some pretty good sports takes. Tonight, however, he made some pretty big claims. Here they are:

1. Golf players are great athletes.

2. Tiger will go down not only as the greatest golfer of all time, but the greatest athlete of all time.

Talk about your bold statements. What do you think?

Me? Yes to number 1. And pretty darn close to saying yes to #2. He is a demi-god in the athletic arena. He almost has no peers. Except for Jordan, Ali, Babe, it's hard to find another to compare him to imo.

Here's a clip from one of my favorite shows on t.v., Pardon the Interruption or PTI for short. Some great commentary on Tiger and the U.S. Open this year.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Prayer Of The Weak

Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Cool Paint Program

Bomomo is cool little paint program where your inner Jackson Pollack meets your Windows paint program. There are some really cool effects. Fun for kids of all ages if only for a few minutes. Here is my little masterpiece destined to sell for millions after I am dead and gone. I call it "This Week's Chaos #9".

Never Look At Shooting Stars The Same Way Again

I'd love to know the crowd this guys is talking to, but it's got to be middle school or high school kids with a dude asking the question: What happens to #2 in space? Great question when you think about it and the guy handles with some humor and some good ol' fashioned NASA ingenuity and engineering.

(bu to Hemmy)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Happy Birthday, Sarah!

Tell me I don't have a 6 year old now. Seriously. Somebody pinch me! Crazy.

We had a great day today. We woke up to balloons and streams throughout the house She opened Parker's presents he got for her with his own jack (Side note: Kelly said Parker was so excited when he gave his five dollar bill to the lady at the dollar store and got one dollar back. It was like he thought he was making money out of the deal! Too funny.)

Then it was off to Granny and Granddad's house while I went to work. At the g-unit's house, Sarah got some play jewelry and they went to see Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who.

After Kelly and I both got home from work it was home for Sarah's favorite dinner, chicken fish and pasta, and some serious cards and presents openings. We got her a Webkinz unicorn (she wanted to name it Horny, but changed her mind to Sparkles...whew!), curlers, and her first boom box.

Good times were had by all. Here are a few pics from the day. I can't believe she's 6. Where has the time gone? Crazy.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hard To Go Home

Every now and again, you can find a great quote from a college text book that wasn't/isn't attributed to some other great think, theologian, philosopher or writer. Check this out:

"Increasing self-awareness, which includes awareness of alternatives, motivations, factors influencing the person, and personal goals, is an aim of all counseling. It is the therapist's task to indicate to the client that a price must be paid for increased awareness. As we become more aware, it is more difficult to 'go home again.'" Ignorance of our condition may have brought contentment along with a feeling of partial deadness, but as we open the doors in our world, we can expect more turmoil as well as the potential for more fulfillment."

This stuff doesn't just apply to counselors. This is huge for anybody in the world of helping other people wrestle with deeper stuff. Youth workers, pastors, educators, small group leaders, and, in general, anyone committed to seeing people grow in some aspect of life can be impacted by that.

It's also a great piece for personal reflection as we think about the junk, stuff, baggage, shit, garbage, sin, and issues we have to wade through, struggle about and wrestle with as we come to understand who we are, what our purpose is, where we belong, and who/what might attempt to derail our process to becoming healthy, whole, and holy.

It is truly hard to go home once we come to grips with reality of who we are and the truth of the world in which we live. I know I don't want to go back, but also understand the ease doing "what I know" or living from the past. Fear is also an issue as we think what will those around me think of me and how will they react to a "new" me.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Face In Hole

Great little web site, Face In Hole, where you take a picture of your self (or your family or anyone for that matter) and put it picture where the face has been cut out. Fun, creative site where you can make new pics for your blog, social networking site, school newsletter, or youth ministry brochure. Good times.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Prayer Of The Weak

O God, from whom all good proceeds: Grant that by your inspiration we may think those things that are right, and by your merciful guiding may do them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

My Wild Man Is Two Wheelin'!

So a little while back I posted here on the exciting news that Sarah learned how to ride her bike withOUT training wheels. In light of that big sister achievement, Parker began asking if he could take off his training wheels and start riding his two-wheel bike. Therefore, two weekends ago we said a big yes. However, once on the bike, Parker wasn't so sure.

He got and I think realized that it was going to be a bit harder and maybe a bit more painful (the falls can go ouch) than he originally thought. So he decided to shelve the experience for a later date. When we got to this past weekend, he declared that he was ready to give the old preschool try and hope back on the two wheeler. Thus donning his protective gear, he hopped on the bike he went! Two or three times with Kelly holding on to the seat for some balance and moral support is all he needed be for he was free stylin' and profilin'!

Pretty cool stuff. X-Games here he comes! Way to go, Parker!

On a parenting note/tip: I think one of the things that helped our kids figure out the whole balance thing on a two-wheel bike was learning how to ride a scooter. Our kids were flying around the driveway and circle long before we took off the training wheels. I really do think that was huge help in getting their balance coordinated for riding their bike without the aid of training wheels. So if you want a fun way to help your kid work on large motor balance skills as it relates to riding doohickey: invest in a scooter. It's not scientifically proven, just my humble opinion.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Something Better?

I just got done walking (more like trudging) through the book of Leviticus. About halfway through, I decided to add the book of Romans to the reading time. Leviticus is about God's attention to detail and devotion of his chosen people, Israel. This time around (and it's been a LONG time around since last getting into Leviticus) I decided to read it in The Message version. Good way to read that book with some fresh language.

It was great to couple that read with Romans as you run parallel tracks about the depth of the law and the depth of grace.

However, as I read the books, I couldn't help but wonder that as the people of Israel were hearing, receiving, and incorporating the law into their lives, were they thinking to themselves, "There has got to be a better way! All these rituals and sacrifices? There has got to be more to loving God than choosing and presenting the right animal offering. Why are the Levities the only ones who get to experience the intimate presence of God? There has to be more. There's got to be better. There's got to be deeper!"

I know that's how I'd feel given the fact that I'm not a detail guy. I'd get lost in dotting the "i"s and crossing the "t"s. That would be tough. I'm pretty sure they would have either stoned me pretty quick or at the least banished me to live outside the community. I'm also not sure I would have seen my need for something or someone else that ultimately satisfies what I long for apart from following the law.

Just something I've been wondering about for awhile. I also think that there are some of you out there that are thinking similar, if no, the same thing. "There has got to be a deeper way to know love, meaning, hope, peace, and/or God in this life. I can't be just going to church. I can't be just being a good person who follows the rules and doesn't rock the boat. There has to be more to this life. There just has to be."

Just some things I've been pondering. How about you? What have you been thinking about for you or others lately?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Spellings Bees Are Crazy!

Did you see this? If you are like me, probably not. But who says spelling bees aren't sweet? This is actually pretty classic.

Spelling Bee Blooper - Watch more free videos

(bu to Digg)

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Water Park Becomes Skate Park

This looks fun, but TOTALLY insane!

Prayer Of The Weak

O God, your never-failing providence sets in order all things both in heaven and earth: Put away from us, we entreat you, all hurtful things, and give us those things which are profitable for us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Hunger Site

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