Monday, December 25, 2006

Hayes Christmas Fun!!

Here's a sneak peak of our family Christmas. Cale got sick and had to throw up. I'm afraid I'm not far behind. Donna, my sister, is in from Philly to hang with us. Even my friend, Chad Freeman, came by for some gumbo and an accidental shot to the jewels (courtesy of Donna). Hope you enjoy the video. Merry Christmas!!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Summits, Trails and Books, Oh My!
I accidentally recorded what has become my favorite show of the year, and it's started me on an obsession that won't easily be assuaged. The show, Everest: Beyond the Limit, is the best thing to hit TV in a long time. It chronicles the story of a team of strangers who are seeking to climb Mount Everest. Their ascent of the mountain, and the accompanying story lines, is some of the most riveting stuff ever put on film. Incredible!!

Since discovering this gem, I can't get the idea of climbing and hiking out of my mind. I have no plans to climb Everest, but those who have attempted this feat are fascinating to me. I would, however, like to try something closer to sea level, and a little more attainable. Perhaps something like the Appalachian Trail.

In light of this, I've purchase two books that I highly recommend. The first is "Into Thin Air", by Jon Krakauer. It's the story of an Everest expedition gone wrong... very wrong. This book is intense and gripping, and it's also very sad. Even so, it's an enthralling read. The second book is called "A Walk in the Woods", by Bill Bryson, and this book is so funny and fresh that I just about can't put it down. It's Bryson's account of his hike through the Appalachian Trail (more than 2,100 miles). This guy can flat out write, and it's as enjoyable a book as I've ever read. A true joy!

If you have some time this holiday season to rip through a book, these two are guaranteed to satisfy. Enjoy!!

I'm Dreaming of an Ugly Christmas?

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Each Christmas it seems I see different aspects of the Jesus event. In the past I've been struck by the simple beauty of the somewhat anonymous birth of the Savior of the world. I've been amazed by the bright glory of the Christmas Star, and its leading of the shepherds and wise men. I've been blown away by the pageantry of the heavenly host, and their dramatic announcement of the Messiah. But this year I've been struck by something completely different and unexpected.

This Christmas has been, for lack of a better word, ugly. The nice, clean picture of the Nativity, depicted serenely on Christmas cards and manicured lawns, is what most of us picture when we think of Jesus' birth. We think fondly of the winsome Christmas hymn "Away in a Manger", where we are told that "The little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes." What a bunch of hooey!

The fact of the matter is that Jesus was born under the worst of circumstances. His mother, fresh off a seventy mile donkey ride, settled into childbirth within the lovely confines of a livestock kennel. The smell alone had to be nauseating. Then there's the blood, sweat and tears that accompany such an event (after witnessing the birth of 4 kids, I can testify that childbirth is no picnic). Finally, think about the fact that Jesus' first guests were shepherds. No heads of state thought this birth worthy of a visit, but a bunch of penniless (and, no doubt, smelly) shepherds descended on the stable like flies on, well, you know. This was definitely not a pretty sight.

I like this picture, ugly though it may be. It gives me comfort to know, in an age where important births are so gaudy and on parade (see baby TomKat, baby Brangelina, etc.), the birth of Jesus wasn't even worthy of an attempted Madonna adoption. Jesus came to us like he left us: ugly, bloody, and humble. In so doing, he proved that he is such a different kind of King. He defends the weak, empowers the lowly and embraces the humble. Thanks, Jesus, for showing up without bells and whistles. Your meager entrance is pure and real. It's a story I can believe in!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Signage 1
It's probably not right to write about this sort of thing this close to Christmas, but it's on my mind, and that's kind of what this whole blog thing is about.

People come to me with stuff because I'm a pastor. Most of the time they come to me with stuff they can't go to anyone else with. I'm sworn to confidentiality, so I can't go into specifics, but let's just say I hear some pretty ugly stuff. I don't know what's in the water lately, but I've had a record month for ugly stuff.

I can honestly say that I'm seeing more and more people lured into terrible choices by life's temptations than ever before. My proof is not scientific, but all I can do is base this on what I'm observing, and what I'm observing is not good.

Look, we all have our stuff, but what I'm writing about is a bit more than the occasional slip up, or the periodic moral dilemma. What I'm addressing is full blown, large scale, no-way-out, what-the-heck-am-I-going-to-do-now screw up's of the highest order.

The most difficult thing about all of this is that it makes me realize how thin the line is between walking upright and falling face down. Many of the people who have bombarded me with their stuff are indistinguishable. There's nothing about them that would cause others to have any suspicion about the level of their personal failures. Most of them are people I would describe as noble, yet they've been lured into deadly traps like bugs into the inviting confines of a hungry spider's web.

I'm reminded of this quote by the great John Bunyan: "One leak will sink a ship; and one sin will destroy a sinner."

I've probably shared more than I should have already, but if you think about it, please pray for these folks. Pray that their confidence would be renewed, and that their faith in the goodness and sovereignty of God would be bolstered. Pray for me as well. As Augustine said, "Nothing so clearly discovers a spiritual man as his treatment of an erring brother." I want to be discovered as one who is gracious with those who have fallen, and humble in the knowledge of my own weakness.

Grace and Peace to you.

More Christmas Funnies

OK, I'm getting over myself slowly but surely, and am feeling a bit better about Christmas this year. Here are a few fun things that have helped. Enjoy!!

  • In this lovely clip, Bill Clinton tells a little girl of his plans to kill Santa. If you saw his original interview, you know he actually just wants to kill Fox News Sunday Anchor Chris Wallace
  • This comes from my good friend and coworker, Joanne (Well, I guess she's not "officailly" a co-worker. She's Canadian, so she doesn't actually get paid. I still consider her a co-worker!). Thanks Jo!!


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Christian or Christ Follower?

Keith at Bag of Nothing had this posted on his site today. It's brilliant! Forget the Mac/PC debates, and let the Christian/Christ Follower talks begin.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Christmas Funnies

As I said in my previous post, I'm not exactly in the Christmas spirit. Here's a few things that have helped put a smile on my face this Christmas:

  • I'll never forget the first time I heard this lovely rendition of "O Holy Night." Man, this just never gets old. As you listen, picture that one drunk Uncle who's always sneaking a swig from his trusty flask at the family Christmas party belting this one out. Enjoy!!
  • Check out this hillarious video that shows what a jerk Santa was to Rudolph in the classic claymation holiday favorite. I guess I just never realized how much of a tool Santa was.

More to come!!

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year?
I'm tired, unmotivated and a bit grumpy.

Tired because we had to travel to Georgia for Kim's Grandmother's funeral. It was a long trip... with all the kids... in the minivan... for fifteen hours. Tired.

Unmotivated because, well, that's just the way I roll. I do really good and stay really focused for a long time, and then I just hit the wall. Who knows why, but it just happens. I think winter hits, and my motivation flies south for the season. Hopefully no one will mistake it for a duck and shoot it. I really need it back, so if you see my motivation, please scold it and tell it to get home right now!

Grumpy because I'm finding less and less joy in the Christmas phenomenon. Not a fan of Christmas music. Not so much a fan of Christmas decorations. Hate to shop. Frustrated by the commercialism. The only things I like about Christmas are Jesus and the Charlie Brown Christmas Special. When Linus quotes the Christmas story from Luke, I almost always shed a happy tear. Awesome.

In a feeble attempt to cheer myself up, I'm going to post a few Christmas funnies that I've found on the web lately. I hope they help you enjoy this time of year. It can be hard sometimes.

Hit me "Big Baby" one more time!

LSU and TX A&M faced off last night in an early season battle between two teams that are on the rise. A&M went 0-13 two years ago in the Big 12 conference, but has since posted some very impressive victories. They are in the top ten for the first time I can remember. No, this is not football, but basketball. Yes, I'm talking about TX A&M. weird, huh?

LSU is coming off of its first appearance in the Final Four since 1986, and is led by that big ball of chocolate love, Glen "Big Baby" Davis. LSU is confident and fun to watch, and this years Tigers bring back memories of the good ole days under former head coach Dale Brown (BTW - I once witnessed a speech by Dale Brown when I attended Louisiana Boys State as a Junior in high school. He was dynamic, inspiring, and every adjective above that. Man, I miss Dale Brown!).

Anyway, LSU won the game, 64-52, and that gives me back to back bragging rights over all my A&M buddies (Help! I'm stuck in Texas!! Seriously, help). We beat A&M by one point last year in the NCAA tourney. Way to go Tigers!!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Turkey Musings

Thanksgiving was good this year, and here are some random thoughts I had over the holidays:

  • If you ever find a recipe to cook turkey on the grill, watch out! When the juices drip into the flames, it can cause a pretty significant fire. Hence the piece of charcoal with legs that I proudly served on Thanksgiving day.
  • Kim's Grandmother got really sick this year, and it looks like she's going to pass away this week. We found out on Thanksgiving day, and it was really hard to enjoy the day.
  • Holiday shopping is no fun when you're a cashier. Kim started working at Kohl's, and the lines on Friday morning were literally a mile long. Wow, what some folks will do to get a bargain!
  • The football was spectacular this Turkey day (that means LSU won!).
  • Putting up Christmas lights is a beating. I was ready to mail it in while unraveling the hellacious mess that is the Christmas light knot. Nothing is more difficult to untie!! I seriously thought I was going to fall off the ladder and die about a dozen times. Don't put up Christmas lights without an insurance policy.
  • Thanksgiving should be cancelled if it's 70 degrees or higher. Dallas winters are a joke!
  • I saw the movie "The Fountain" over the holidays. What a strange and boring film. It had some beautiful imagery, but was very new age-y and Hindu. I highly recommend that you do not see this film.
  • Thanksgiving parades are lame. My sister-in-law loves them, but seriously, what is the deal with watching a parade on tv? The music is horrible, and those performing are lip synching. Tons of money and manpower goes into this thing, and for what? I just don't get it. No offense, Jess. You know I love you!!
  • I am extremely unmotivated heading into the Christmas season. I just want to go on vacation. Anyone else with me? Road Trip?!!
  • I started reading Don Miller's "Searching for God knows What" the other day. Man, it's good. The guy is just a good writer. I also love the fact that he doesn't summarize thoughts about God - the kinds of thoughts that people have wrestled with throughout history - into neat little formlas. So different than most mainstream Christian fluff.
  • I talked to my sister a lot on the phone. She was alone this Thanksgiving, a slave to the evil residency programs that most doctors have to endure. I love talking to her. She makes me feel like I matter. I think I make her feel the same way. Thanks, Donna, for being such a bright light!
OK, I'm back on the saddle again, and you should see some more posts coming soon. Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving! Now, get ready for the ultra hyped marketing machine known as Christmas. You know, the holiday where we celebrate the birth of Santa with large credit card statements and spoiled children? Tis the season!!

Disclaimer: I realize that Christmas marks the birth of Jesus, but I'm referring sarcastically to what Christmas has become, not what it should be.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

God in a Shoe Box

One of the recent struggles that I've entered into in my view of the church is the knowledge vs. service war that rages throughout many communities of faith. Most people aren't aware of this war, but it exists, and it is fought on many fronts. I deal with it all the time. People come to me - well meaning people - and they tell me that they're not getting enough out of their Bible study time, and they need more solid teaching. They seem particularly distraught when, on certain weeks of the year, we emphasize service more than Bible knowledge. There is a fight at this point, and it's usually characterized by a passive/aggressive attitude that smiles at the idea of service, but sneers at the loss of Bible study.

I guess I have trouble seeing where the two are mutually exclusive. What you know, you are required to act upon, and in so doing, you usually gain more knowledge than you ever could in a classroom environment. Protestantism has been largely defined by individual practices of holiness: reading your Bible, prayer, "quiet times", and moral behavior. Unfortunately, these practices have led to a myopic view of faith, and have resulted in a selfish attitude toward service.

But isn't knowing God more defined by a life that is generous with its knowledge of God? How can we know God and be miserly with the riches of His goodness? How in the world can the knowledge of God be a completely individual discipline? It seems to me that if we wanted to know God more, we'd practice serving as many people as we could. That, after all, is what the crucifixion - God's ultimate act of service - was all about.

One of my classes (Life Together) pleasantly surprised me the other night when they decided to forego their normal class lecture for a group act of service. They each brought shoe boxes to class and filled them with all sorts of loving gifts and treats. They spent their entire class time decorating these boxes and filling them with a couple of size 12 doses of love. Their goal was to help with the Operation Christmas Child project, which gave 7.6 million shoe boxes to children in 95 different countries last year. Instead of clamoring for another lecture, this class decided to put all those lectures into practice by spending their valuable class time serving those who have nothing. If that's not knowledge of the divine, I don't know what is!

Thanks, Life Together, for modeling what it means to be knowledgeable Christians. You're winning the war one act of service at a time!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Change of Power
The Republicans got pummeled in the recent elections, and, in my opinion, they got what they had coming. Many will be surprised to see me write that, but I think it's true. Good leadership is all about having vision and communicating that vision in a way that is convincing, appealing and worthy of following. The Republicans have been miserable vision-casters, and as a result, they have seen the power that they fought so hard to attain slip right through their Iraq-loving, scandal-having, money-spending, Fox-News-watching hands. There, I said it.

By the way, I have traditionally voted Republican and I still believe in the more basic tenets of Republican thought: small government, fiscal conservatism and moral responsibility. The current Republican regime isn't placing a high priority on any of these traditionally conservative ideologies. That's probably another good reason why they got hammered in the elections.

On another note, this year's elections were out of control. The kind of bile that both parties spewed was ridiculous and disturbing. $1 billion were spent on negative advertising in this years elections. That's sickening. I wish these guys would clean it up. They expect us to believe that politics are the only hope for humanity, yet they cut each other down like school kids in the middle of a recess smack down. Grow up!!

If you don't believe me, check out John Ellis' article in the Wall Street Journal. It's called, "All Slander, All the Time." It's a worthwhile read. Something's going to have to change soon, or I just won't have the stomach for this junk.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Say Cheese!!

Ever wonder why we run around eagerly snapping photographs of smiling faces? Why is it that we tell the kids to say "cheese" at every family photo-op? When politicians sign bills, they shake hands and smile for the camera; when models flaunt the latest lip gloss, they "turn that frown upside down" and give it their best shiny lipped grin. Why are we obsessed with capturing smiles?

Could it be that the reason we take pictures is to solidify memories of the ideal? I mean, no one runs around at a party and says, "Say Yuck!", while snapping off a picture of the unhappy couple. Photographers don't generally tell families to "act like the dog just died", when they're trying to capture that eternal family moment. Friends don't run around with their camera phones telling each other to "stare blankly so that I can get a good shot of you in my phone." That's just not the way we want to envision each other.

No, we take pictures the way we want to remember and be remembered. We smile, or do silly things, or try to look noble or cool. In so doing, we say a lot about ourselves. We say that real life, with its hardships, frustrations and pains, is not what we were really made for. Those aren't the things we want see when we get the chance at a snap shot. We want to see love and fun and dignity and grace. In short, we want to see what it should be, and not always what it is.

We are our most idealistic when we're holding a camera, because we hope to see only that which is good. Shoot, even when we take a picture of something disturbing like war or death, we don't want it to be blurry or poorly lit. We want it to be clear and symetrical, with shades and accents framing every detail. When people view such photographs we want them to think "Whoa, that's a good picture." When we look through the lens of a camera, we see a world of potential and beauty, so unlike the one we see with our own eyes.

Jesus looked at life through a camera lens. When people saw leppers and blind men, Jesus saw healing. When others saw whores and tax collectors, Jesus saw disciples. What some viewed as treacherous and criminal, Jesus saw as compassionate and wholesome. When Jesus looked at mankind, he optimistically saw endless facets of redemption.

So, as I look at the pictures on my desk, around my house and in books and magazines, I remember that we should be optimistic like Jesus. We should certainly not be decieved into thinking that life is as good as a picture, but we should squint, look through the lens, and see the potential beauty in the world. When we do, we'll see what Jesus saw: opportunities to heal, chances to lead and love, openings for compassion and grace.

Say Cheese!!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Hayes Family Halloween!!

We didn't really celebrate Halloween when I was a kid. We were too spiritual to recognize such an evil day. Well, now I realize that it's hard for a holiday to be evil when every kid I know loves it so much! My kids absolutely love dressing up and eating candy, and I'll be darned if I'm going to stop them. Anyway, we had a good time trick or treating this year, and here's the video to prove it!!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Contextualizing the Mid East

 Victor Davis Hanson
Victor Davis Hanson has written a very interesting piece entitled "The Dark Ages - Live from the Middle East!", in which he effectively demonstrates how the progress and innovation that have come about as a result of the enlightenment are virtually nullified by the primitive views and practices of the majority of the Middle East. It's just odd to me how so many people defend the right of the Middle East to hate women, practice barbarism, support censorship and promote anti-semitism. The Middle East needs a revolution, and the only way that will happen is when the civilized world formally stands against the backward cultural milieu pushed forth in this region.

Anyway, check out the article. It'll make you think.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Dancing With Noonan

Peggy Noonan, my favorite syndicated columnist, has done it again. This is may be my favorite article to date. Here's a glimpse:
"Everyone is focusing on the polls and spreadsheets, on the scandals and negative ads. This in fact may be the year negative advertising reached critical mass. Voters are no longer running from the room saying, "Smith is dishonest, I must vote for Jones!" They're slouched in front of the TV thinking, They're all bums, I'll try to pick the least bummy. Or asking, 'Honey, which bum is least likely to raise my property taxes?'"

Ya Gotta love Peggy! She has once again crystalized my thoughts. Enjoy!

Poetry in Motion

OK, so I stumbled on a few poems I wrote about ten years ago, and I thought I'd share them with you. Some are about Jesus, others are about relationships, and others are about finding your way again after you've fallen. I just hope they make sense!

I hope you enjoy the poems below. I know it was a lot of fun for me to find them and post them for you. If you're impressed by them, just remember I probably looked something like the picture above when I wrote them. Now, that's impressive!


What would Jesus do if he were in the world today?
Would he step into our gawdy church and venture not to stay?
Would he cringe at his cruel cross recreated 'round our necks
And wonder why we market him and make him so high tech

And I'm curious to know if our assumptions are correct
Would the Son of God be happy with the money we collect?
To make ourselves remember Him with bracelets on our wrists
Or would it simply convince Him that we don't get the gist?

Would He really be happy with the pains that we go through
To turn off all our common sense in light of what He'd do?
Or would He tell us "Use your brains and follow my strong lead
Not with gimmicks, but with my book which I've given you to read."

"And talk with me, my sweet child, and I will give you rest
But please don't treat me like I'm some annoying kind of pest
Cause just because you wear my cross or have me on your clothes
Does not mean your favor in my eyes just grows and grows."

"I love you now as much as I have loved you all along
So get to know me, understanding that my love is strong
And follow me regardless of the fads that come your way
Cause who are you to know what I would do anyway?"

I've shown you what I've done, and I've offered you my hand
Now learn to love me properly and do the best you can!"

Beneath The Sea

I find myself consumed with you and what you think of me
Your thoughts concealed like coral reefs, set well beneath the sea
And if, by chance, I swim so deep, what answers will I find?
An injured anger held within, or thoughts as sweet as wine?

But soon before you have a chance to open up to me
I lose my breath and struggle to the surface of the sea
And as I gulp the tainted air of selfish preservation
I realize this problem is my own miscalculation

If only when I delved beyond the surface of the sea
I could have held you close and brought you to the top with me
For then, amidst the crisp clean air, true clarity we'll find
To conquer all our dissonance with tenderness and time

Time to trust and savor all the love we have to give
Believing that with God's sweet grace our love will truly live
A love that swims the murky depths of the darkened sea
Returning to the safety of the surface faithfully

The Sun

I heard you missed the sun today
It's precious light simply vanished from your way
And as it moved to slowly disappear
Its afterglow was dampened by your tears

So now the only light in all this dark
Burns the crackling embers of your heart
and lying ashen in your bed
You can hardly even lift your head

Why'd you cause the sun to fall?
It could have been so different, after all
You really didn't have to lose
You dragged your feet, were slow to choose

And remembering your lapse
You desperately began to grasp
The pleasant days of long ago
Set in the sun's amazing glow

It's now a year from that dark day
When the great sun had gone away
And though the memories are clear
And you still hurt and sometimes fear

The embers of your heart have died
And now a new light shines inside
So now the sun shines on your skin
Revealing newness, peace within

To know that if, again, it's dark
God's grace provides a brand new start
The sun is bigger than your faults
It rises steady, never halts

So even though the darkness comes
Somewhere, there's alway shines the sun.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Don't Worry, It's Just a Rumor!

OK, a while back a friend of mine, whom I would consider a credible source on anything music related, told me that Bobby McFerrin (you know, the "Don't Worry, Be Happy" guy?) committed suicide. I couldn't believe it. It just seemed wrong for a guy who seemed so happy, with no apparent worries, to take his own life. I mean, if a guy who immitates drums, guitars, violins, and what-not with his mouth can't be fulfilled, who can? What hope is there for any of us if Bobby McFerrin commits suicide?

Anyway, I was glad to find out that he is, in fact, alive and well. The rumors of his demise have become so prevelant that he has had to address them on the FAQ page of his web site. Now, what kind of sick person would create a rumor so insidious as to suggest that the writer and performer of "Don't Worry, Be Happy" would lynch himself? Sicko!

Here's a fun game dedicated to Bobby McFerrin... the very much alive and well Bobby McFerrin. Don't worry, be happy... that he ain't dead.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Black Rebel Review

Check out my friend Ryan's review of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's album, Howl. He does a great job of capturing the feel of the music. I'm just happy that somebody else like this cd. Very cool stuff!

My 3 Year Old Mystery

Pierce is with me at church today. He keeps flipping though the Bible, probably because he likes the way the pages feel. He's the easiest child in the world to entertain: put a book or toy in front of him and sit back and watch him go. All you'll hear for the next two hours is rapidly flipping pages and guttural murmurings. Such is the life of a 3 year old mystery.

He's as beautiful as ever, but I'd give my heart and soul to know what's going on in that little beautiful head of his. If I let it, I could be constantly distracted by concerns over his future. Will he ever be able to drive a car? Does he have the capacity or interest to have a romantic relationship? Can he know God? Those are the kinds of things you never think you'll think about with normal kids, but with an Autistic child, those thoughts bounce around your mind like a shiny silver pinball.

Man, he sure is cute! I just love him, but sometimes I don't know why. Of course there's the fact that he's mine, but aside from that the rules are so changed that I don't know how to reconcile things. I don't really know Pierce. We've never had a conversation. He's never said "I love you." It's hard to say whether or not we've even bonded. Yet I love him with all my heart. Not sure how that works, but I'm glad it does.

I don't know why I wrote this today except for the fact that he's right here with me, humming some version of "This Old Man" while again flipping through my Bible. I guess if I can know God, it's not much more of a miracle to think that he could too. It's the same grace that saved my wretched soul, the same grace that allows me to love even though I don't know why. And the mystery continues...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

LSU... ughhh

My Tigers lost another game this week, and that effectively ends their quest for the SEC title. They looked terrible, and seem to lack the ability to put it all together in the big games. JaMarcus Russell followed his career best game with a morbid performance (3 INT's and a fumble), and the LSU special teams turned the ball over twice. If LSU doesn't beat themselves, who knows? Oh well, I guess I'll just have to turn all of my football dreams and wishes over to The Saints!!

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Reggie's next opponent: Hurricane Katrina
Prediction: Reggie 60, Katrina 0

I'm about to throw an interception!!

Fumbles R Fun!!

Let's get out there and show everyone how bad we suck!!

The Hurricane's Revisited
This is an excerpt from a sermon I preached about a year ago, when the hurrican's had just finished their gulf coast demolition tour. I don't want to forget what I was feeling back then. Just thought you might not want to forget either.


I grew up in Lake Charles, LA, and we lived on Contraband Bayou. Legend had it that somewhere along the winding waters of Contraband Bayou, the famous pirate, Jean Lafitte, buried his treasure. Now, you have to remember that I grew up in the 80’s, when The Goonies was a smash hit, and each weekend became a Goonies adventure for the kids in my neighborhood. We would pile in our canoes and boats and paddle down the bayou in search of this famous hidden treasure, and we were sure we would find it. But even if we didn’t find anything, at least we were doing something adventuresome, something that made us feel like a team on a quest bigger than ourselves.

I recently took a crew of guys to the Lake Charles area, and there they are pictured behind on the screens (display picture). We worked with a chainsaw crew from Tennessee, and helped clear trees from homes affected by the storms. Needless to say, my heart was broken as I drove past Contraband Bayou, only to find boats washed along the shore, and some of the biggest, most beautiful trees uprooted from the winds of Hurricane’s Katrina and Rita. Even worse was the damage done to the homes of close friends and family members.

My in-laws, in fact, suffered heavy damage to their home from an oak tree so large that its root system extended taller than the roof of the house. My Uncle passed away because he couldn’t get access to the necessary medical treatment that would have sustained his life. We hosted family and friends who were displaced by the storms. When I tell you that these storms hit hard, I’m not talking about the land that was destroyed as a result of their intensity, I ‘m speaking of the impact they’ve had on my heart.

I watched, just like many of you, the mayhem that descended upon the city of New Orleans in the days following Hurricane Katrina. And as we watched, most of us felt strongly that we needed to do something. And so we did. As a staff, we met to determine what, if anything could be done to make a difference in the lives of those displaced by the terrible storm. Instead of crying, “that’s a shame”, and turning the channel to a prime time sit-com, we gathered together to help meet the medical, housing, and emotional needs of those in our midst, and it was beautiful.

And what I’d like to propose to you is that we continue to seek out the needs of those who are hurting all around us. Let’s not be content to help only when a national crisis hits, but like kids searching Contraband Bayou for hidden treasure, may we begin to search this metroplex for the everlasting treasure of serving our community together.

Acts 4 tells us of a people who were united in heart and mind. People who were passionately pursuing God’s best for their world. And that is our mission as well. As we dedicate this day to prayer, can we fix our hearts on the heart of God, and commit to serve this community in all that we do. May we never be more concerned about filling up this auditorium than we are about the thousands of people who live within miles of our doors who haven’t felt the loving touch of Christ.

Can we be treasure hunters by committing ourselves to God’s work in the world around us? In the words of John of the Cross, “May God himself awaken your sleeping soul, so that you see with the eyes of faith the multitude of excellent virtues that are found in Him. May He wake you – those who have ears to hear – with thousands and thousands of voices, each one shouting about one of the countless ways that He and all His works are good… and only good.” The voices are shouting... may we have ears to hear.

Politics and The Church

The Cross or the Sword?The political climate these days is really depressing to me. I can't remember a time when things have been more polarized, and it seems that people are only talking at each other instead of to each other. Bill Clinton recently jumped into the fray when he angrily wagged his finger at Chris Wallace over questions about his administration's actions, or lack thereof, in the years preceeding 9/11. In the meantime, George W. Bush is being hammered in the media, the entertainment industry, and the polls, for his job performance. These are only a couple of examples of the tempermental political culture in our country today.

I try to stay out of the political scene, but I want to be an informed citizen. The problem I have is not a personal problem with politicians, but a philosophical problem with the process. I really see politics as ultimately futile. Our political system is not the solution to our human condition. There is something deeper going on here than politics, and as a pastor, it's my role to remind people of that truth.

That's why I found this article on pastor Gregory Boyd so interesting. Boyd, the pastor of Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, recently preached a sermon series on the difference between kingdoms of the world, and the kingdom of God. He has also written a book on the subject entitled, "The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church." I find his story fascinating, and what is really interesting is that he lost over 20% of his congregation when he started preaching on this topic. Amazing how politics could have that much of an effect on the church.

Trent's Football Video

OK, I put Cale's video on here, so I had to put Trent's up as well. Trent's team started with a bang, but they've lost some momentum lately. Trent is a good player, and he tries really hard. Let's hope his team can turn the corner this week and win a game. Way to go Trent!!

Check out Trent's highlights here.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Cale's Highlight Video

My second son, Cale, has been a mad man on the football field lately. It seems that everything in his world is starting to click, and he's excelling in school, sports and at home. We couldn't be more proud!

This Saturday, Cale's flag football team, the "White Texans" (a very uncomfortable name, by the way), played the "Yellow Texans." This game was unbelievable!! Each team scored at will, and in the end Cale's team fell by the score of 60-59. What a game!!

Anyway, here's a little video I put together of some of Cale's plays. He's #88, and he plays on the team with the white jerseys, hence "White Texans." Thankfully the team name doesn't refer to a group of racists in white sheets, although those guys aren't all that rare in this part of the country.

Check Cale out here.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Just a Beating

LSU scored 45+ points for the fourth time in five games on Saturday as they just destroyed Mississippi State, 48-17. Aside from a very close loss to Auburn, LSU looks like one of the best teams in college football. There's not a team in the country they couldn't hang with.

JaMarcus Russell had the best passing day of his career (and one of the best I've ever witnessed), going 18-20, 330 yards, and 3 TD's. Russell only threw two incompletions, and was extremely sharp and confident. The defense was stout, and all of MSU's points came when the game was way out of reach. Watch out for the Tigers. If they can keep playing like this, they'll get some BCS attention at years end.

Next up is the hated Florida Gators. LSU goes to The Swamp for this one, where they have won 3 straight. Tiger bait!!

The Hills Are Alive...

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Just wanted to post a few of the cd's, or albums, or whatever you want to call them's that I've been listening to lately. I'm a bit of an old fogey in that I usually listen to talk radio (Sports radio 1310 - the Ticket, to be exact), but I've been listening to a lot of fun new music lately, and I thought I'd share it with you. Wanna hear it? Hear it go:
  1. Guster, "Ganging up on The Sun" - Really cool stuff. Kind of Ben Folds meets Coldplay. Catchy music and good writing with a dash of contemplative pop. Very cool.
  2. Keane, "Under the Iron Sea" - A real U2-ie kind of band with a 80's flare. Loves me some Keane.
  3. Anything by Spoon - I like everything I've heard from them. Kind of remind me of The Cars on some stuff, but much more broad. Good stuff.
  4. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, "Howl" - This group is just cool. Accoustic and raw, yet polished. If you like Blues, but don't like the redundant licks, you'll enjoy this fresh band. This is the kind of stuff Doc Savage, Spyder Monkey and I would've listened to on road trips. I like 'em a lot!
  5. John Mayer, "Continuum" - OK, so many of you will ask me to turn in my "Indie music cool guy" card for putting a mainstream guy like Mayer on the list, but this is a great album. Lots of Jazz and Blues, and no radio "hits" in the whole bunch. This is one guy who deserves to be on a major label. Check out "Gravity." Great song!
OK, that's all I have for now. Sometimes I just have to post stuff like this in a feeble attempt to make myself feel relevant and cool. Just indulge me, ok?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Tigers Overwhelm Wave - 49-7

LSU bounced back big time this weekend in an absolute destruction of Tulane. The Tigers were clearly the superior team, and freshman running back, Charles Scott, showed that he has the ability to emerge as the next great LSU back. Then again, it was Tulane, and the Green Wave can make anybody look like world beaters.

Up next for the Tigers: Mississippi State. Look for LSU to have a big day against the Bulldogs next week. This one will get ugly quick. LSU 35, Miss. St. 3.

A Worthy Revolution

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Been thinking a lot lately about money. It's a constant stressor. Money is like a relentless ruler who demands more of those under him than they can give. It is cruel and decietful, and as active as a school boy at recess.

On a recent trip with my Mother and sister, I was refreshed at Mom's view of money. I usually look forward to trips with Mom because she pays for everything. Lunch... it's on Mom. Movie... Mom's got it covered. Souveniers for the kids... What are Mom's for? But this trip was different. Mom had several opportunities to treat my sister and me to good food and fun. Instead, she was sure to make us lunches that we took with us on our travels. There were no nights out at the movies, but there were plenty of moments filled with what my friend Mike Spratt would've called "Free Fun!!" In all, it was a great trip, and it was a cheap trip.

I asked Mom about her new philosophy of spending, and she told me, with all the passion of a conscietious objector, that she was on a budget, and had set a meager spending goal for herself on this trip. Her main motivation was to save a significant amount this month in order to help a woman in her small group who needed help paying her rent.

I learned a lot from that conversation about generosity. I learned that generosity is our way of sticking it to money's propensity to rule us like a tyrant. I learned that money can't impose it's will on us if we make it work for the benefit of others. Most of all I learned that I am selfish and spoiled. I hate the way money rules over me, yet I willingly bow at its alter almost daily. I fall for the lie that money can make my life better, and in so doing, I turn my back on generosity and my front toward the evil ruler.

Thanks, Mom, for being an example of generosity. You're on the front lines of a wonderful revolution. Viva la generosity!!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Tigers Go Bottom Up.

Well, I'm almost finished mourning the gut-wrenching LSU loss this weekend to Auburn. There were several calls in that game that may have affected the outcome, but in the end LSU had every opportunity to win, and they just couldn't capitalize. On the last drive of the game, the Tigers were driving deep into Auburn territory. With no time-outs, QB JaMarcus Russell allowed himself to be sacked with only 30 seconds on the clock. LSU lined up for two more plays, the final one being a pass to Craig "Buster" Davis that was completed a mere 4 yards from the endzone. That's right, folks, only 4 yards seperated the Tigers from victory over Auburn, and first place in the SEC West. Instead, we fell to the War Eagle 7-3, in what was one of the toughest defensive battles I've ever seen.

This week LSU will face off against the Tulane Green Wave in what should be a rout. Tulane used to be a huge rival, but LSU is simply in another league now. There's no way that Tulane can keep up. This game should have a very different tone because both LSU and Tulane were so disrupted by the hurricane's last year. I'd be shocked if this contest weren't very respectful and clean, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if the tiger faithful give Tulane a standing ovation. Lord knows they deserve it after Katrina ravaged their campus last year.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Defending The Lion
Two weeks ago, while burning a couple of hours at Barnes & Noble, I overheard a tense conversation between a mother and her adult son about whether or not God should be defended. The mother, speaking in a thick southern accent, was vehemently opposed to her son's idea that God doesn't need to be defended. I pretended to read the back jacket of the latest best-seller, while intently listening to every muffled word of this awkward interaction. The quote that caught my attention was when the mother quietly shouted, "He died for me, you better believe I'll defend Him!"

I can remember a time when I felt the same way. People in school would talk about abortion and how a woman has the right to choose, and I'd take it as a personal shot at God. Others would bad mouth certain conservative politicians and I'd get all huffy because to me, those politicians were upholding the kinds of things God would want us to uphold. I got to the point where I'd read books about defending God from the evils of a society that was out to push God further and further to the fringes of culture (the same culture, by the way, that was founded by God-fearing men). After all, somebody had to defend God or else we'd lose Him for good, and then what would we do?

I'm not sure when it happened, but at some point I came to realize that God is big enough to defend himself. There was freedom in that thought for me, I guess because it made me feel secure, like God could handle it. Stuart Briscoe tells the story of a Royal Marine in the British army who demonstrated his faith by kneeling on the floor of his barrack to pray. The other men in the room, seeing that he was in prayer, threw their boots at him. The man, instead of defending God and scolding his bunkmates, cleaned their boots and returned them. What a beautiful picture of the way Jesus himself defended his character.

Charles Spurgeon, the great British preacher, once said, when asked if we should defend God, "Defend God?! Do you need to defend a lion? You don't defend God, you turn him loose!!" Turning God loose doesn't mean that we treat people like adversaries because they don't believe as we do. It means that we live lives of powerful impact that can't help but be noticed and respected. It means that we stop "doing" ministry and start "being" ministers. It means that we are moved and led by God, and that we rally around the revolutionary idea that we were made for a purpose and there is no greater cause than to live according to that purpose. We no more need to defend that than we need to defend our need to eat, for this purpose is as gnawing and natural to man as hunger.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Cats beat Cats in Week 2; Face Cats in Week 3 (Confusing)

Last night the LSU Tigers took on the Arizona Wildcats before a sold out Tiger Stadium. LSU was dominant from the opening bell, and the #6 Tigers (2-0) did their part in setting up this week's showdown with #3 Auburn (2-0).

LSU quarterback, JaMarcus Russell, continued to show that he is improving in both confidence and ability as he led the Tigers on several long scoring drives. Wide reciever Dwayne Bowe also demonstrated that he is over the case of "dropsies" he had toward the end of last year. Apparently his off-season Lasik surgery has proven to be a wise decision. The rushing game was much improved, and it looks like LSU is poised for this week's early season SEC showdown with Auburn.

Speaking of which, Saturday's game with Auburn will be one of the best games of the year. LSU and Auburn have a long history of great games, and this one is usually decided by less than a touchdown. Auburn comes into the game cruising through it's first two opponents, and LSU is coming off of its second straight 45-3 victory. Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn will be jumping for this game!!

So, after dismantling the Wildcats, the Tigers now face... the Tigers. Just for the record, LSU has a real, live Tiger on campus (Mike V). Auburn's only live "mascot" is an eagle (I know, it's unstable to be the "Tigers" and the "War Eagle" all at the same time. I don't get it either). Now, who do you think would win that fight?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

RIP Steve Irwin

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I used to watch a lot of Crocodile Hunter when it first came out, and was constantly amazed at this nut-job, Steve Irwin, and his fascination with crocs, snakes, and other potentially deadly animals. I remember one show in particular where Irwin battled a green mamba, one of the deadliest snakes in the world, for about 10 straight minutes. The first five minutes had me jumping around the room as I nervously watched Irwin try to contain the lightning quick killing machine. Somewhere toward the middle of this epic showdown I turned my allegiance toward the snake. I actually thought about what this guy was doing, and I started rooting for the snake to bite him. I thought, "Why am I worried about this dude? He's holding a green mamba! The laws of nature dictate that he should be bitten and die!!"

Anyway, there's no way I'd even go near some of the creatures that Steve Irwin held, caressed, and claimed "crikey, this animal is so beautiful!", but I had fun watching him do it. Even though I once actively rooted for his demise, I truly enjoyed watching his passion and energy. He was a cool dude, and I'm really sad to hear that he passed away. For those of you who haven't heard, he was killed by a stingray a couple of days ago. It punctured his heart with it's barb. You can read the story here. What a way to go.

By the way, the stingray is now #1 on my list of most hated creatures. It is followed closely by the wretched, red-bottomed baboon.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Tigers - Game One

LSU claims its first victim of the season as they hammer The University of Louisiana at Lafayette 45-3 in their home opener. The Tigers looked pretty dominant, but the level of competition was less than challenging. I was encouraged, though, to see Alley Brousard, LSU's vaunted running back, return from last years season ending knee surgery with a good performance (he averaged 7 yards per carry). The most impressive aspect of this team in game one was the passing attack, led by massive quarterback, JaMarcus Russell (6'6", 260lbs). Russell looked fantastic, and Tiger fans are pumped to see if the canon-armed Russell can continue to improve upon his 15-2 record as a starter.

Next up, Arizona. Let's see if the Tigers can work their Tiger Stadium mojo on Mike Stoops' Wildcats this Saturday.

Geaux Tigers!!

What is War?

War. What is it, and what things characterize it? Here are several things that Wikipedia lists as "Effects of War":
  • Death, injury, and destruction of property
  • Unexploded ordnance
  • Destruction of works of art
  • Rape of women and children
  • Territorial changes
  • Liberation/Institution of new social/economic/political order(regime change)
  • Resolution, continuation, or increase of political, economic, or social conflict
  • Increased or decreased probability of future armed conflicts
  • Environmental/Infrastructure damage
  • Famine
  • Disease
  • Scientific advances
  • Negative psychological effects on individuals
  • Drain on resources(economic, material, manpower, etc.)
  • Displacement of refugees/strain on surrounding states due to conflict
  • Social upheaval
  • Destabilization or strengthening of involved/interested/surrounding states position due to conflict
Now, take a look at these numbers of war casualties:
  • The number of World War I casualties (military and civilian) was over 37 million - over 15 million deaths and 22 million wounded. This includes almost 9 million military deaths and about 6.6 million civilian deaths. The Allied Powers lost more than 5 million soldiers and the Central Powers more than 3 million.
  • The total estimated human loss of life caused by World War II, irrespective of political alignment, was roughly 62 million people. The civilian toll was around 37 million, the military toll about 25 million. The Allies lost around 51 million people, and the Axis lost 11 million.
  • 600,000 Korean soldiers died in the Korean war according to US estimates. More than a million South Koreans were killed, 85% of them civilians. According to figures published in the Soviet Union, 11.1% of the total population of North Korea perished, which indicates that 1,130,000 people were killed. In total about 2,500,000 people were killed. More than 80% of the industrial and public facilities and transportation works, three-quarters of the government offices, and one-half of the houses were destroyed.
  • US casualties in the Korean war are as follows: 33,686 battle deaths, 2,830 non-battle deaths, and 17,730 deaths of Defense Department personnel outside the Korean theatre.[17] There were also 8,142 US personnel listed as Missing In Action (MIA) during the war. US casualties in Korean war are fewer than in the Vietnam War, but they occurred over three years as opposed to 13 years (1960-1973) in Vietnam.
  • 58,239 US troops were killed in action during the Vietnam war. 128,000 were wounded in action. 1,000,000-5,000,000 North Vietnamese were killed in action, and 2,000,000 to 3,500,000 Vietnamese civilians were killed.
Let's take a look at the casualties of the current war in Iraq:
  • The Iraq Body Count project puts the total of civilian deaths reported in major media between 41,041 and 45,613 through August 24, 2006.
  • US casualties: 2,637 total deaths, 19,323 combat wounded (8,773 evacuated), plus an unknown number of non-combat injuries.
Now, the purpose of this post isn't to justify the Iraq war based on the fact that casualty totals are significantly lower than other major conflicts. The purpose of this post is to simply state that war is long, ugly and full of death. If you believe that we are truly at war in Iraq, your expectations should be lots of casualties, significant time and resources, and victory. If you believe that we are not at war in Iraq, but are instead stuck in the middle of a civil war that doesn't involve us, your expectations are that we have failed and should withdraw before we suffer further casualties. The way you view Iraq seriously depends upon whether or not you think we are truly at war.

This has no bearing, by the way, on whether or not this is a just war, or is the best way to carry out an advance on our enemies. That is for you to decide. If, in fact, we are truly at war, no one should be at all surprised by massive casualties, difficult, time consuming conflicts, and even civilian casualties. I hate to say it, but that's what war is.

I'd love to read your thoughts on this. Please feel free to share.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Ya Gotta Have Faith

Innocence 1
I Just hung out with a close friend who is struggling right now on a number of levels. Most of all, he's dealing with a life that is absent of faith. His main reason for this startling lack of faith is that he doesn't see the benefit in the here and now. In the present, he is full of sorrow, pain and a "loneliness that most people can't comprehend." He fails to see how faith can replace the lack of companionship, happiness and purpose that he enjoyed during his 10 years of marriage, which recently ended in a sudden divorce.

This guy is smart, handsome and just flat out cool, but he's lost right now, and nothing seems to comfort him. What's a pastor to do with a situation like this. I guess I could quote a bunch of scripture and try to force this guy to see the obvious wisdom of a surrender to Christ. I could condescendingly tell him that life's not fair, and he should just deal with it. I could rebuke him for living a less than moral existence, and show him that good works are the way to find truth and freedom. There are a lot of things I could do, but I don't like any of these options.

Instead, we sat on his porch, relaxed to some good music, enjoyed some fine tobacco, and just talked. Sure, the subject of Christ's sacrifice and offer of redemption came up, but it was one among many things that we discussed. You see, I can't make that call for this guy. I can't wrestle through the depths of belief for him, but I can walk beside him in his journey. I can tell him my story and pray that he will find the same peace that I've found, but I can't walk that path to faith for him. I so wish I could, and I honestly believe he does too. I think he'd be thrilled if faith came as easily for him as it does for me, but that's not the way it works.

The way it works is that we talk about the ups and downs of life, and in so doing, we naturally cross the path of faith. When we do, either faith will win out or it won't. Either the path of faith will irresistably lure him down it's wonderful trail, or he will continue to travel down other, more certain dead ends. Either way, all I can do is listen, share my story, and continue to be a friend no matter what. After all, if he can have faith in my friendship, maybe he can one day excercise faith in my best friend. Without my unconditional friendship, my best friend may look more like a tyrant. With my friendship it's obvious that God loves those who are weak, and faith is less about being happy and more about being needy.

I'm praying for you, friend, and God knows I'm all about being your friend. May faith find you in your time of need, just as it did me.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Does Baylor Hate Black People?

Call of the Wild - 2006 Football Commercials
I'm a college football fanatic, and am interested this year to see, of all teams, the Baylor Bears. I think Guy Morriss is a good coach, and enjoyed watching his team when he coached at Kentucky. he did a great job for the Bears last year, and I think you'll finally see some continued improvement by Baylor this year. I wish them well.

On another note, I was a bit shocked when i saw the new Baylor Football teaser that the school produced for the upcoming season. It's just funny to me that they did a video that depicts several lilly white (no doubt rich) Baylor kids running from a giant black guy.

While on the subject of Baylor, how many Baylor girls does it take to change a light bulb? Two: one to hold the diet Coke and one to call Daddy!

Anyway, I really do hope Baylor football does well this year.

A Cut Above!

Pierce, my little Autistic dream child, recently got a haircut. He's had his hair cut in the past, but it has not been such a pleasant experience. Cutting Pierce's hair is like bathing a cat. He squirms, screams, and scratches, and that's just when they put the apron on him. When the hair starts flying, he goes absolutely ballistic.

We wouldn't even worry about cutting his hair because we think it's cute when it's long, and Pierce is just one of those kids who looks adorable no matter how you style his mop. You could give the boy a mullet and he'd look magazine cover good. But when it gets long, his hair hangs over his eyes and creates a shade that allows him to hide in his own little world. The whole struggle with Autism is the isolation that it fosters, so allowing his hair to further isolate him is a big deal.

Thankfully, Pierce's therapy center started introducing elements of a haircut into his therapy, and he has been getting more and more comfortable with the apron, clippers, scissors and blow dryer for the last couple of weeks. This past Friday was the big day to finally cut his hair, and he did great! It's amazing what his therapists are able to teach him, and we couldn't be more pleased with his progress.

If you're interested in helping with Pierce's therapy, click here to read more about how you can help.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Smells Like Tiger Bait!!

Only 11 days until my beloved LSU Tigers take the field at the legendary Tiger Stadium. I know everyone's got their favorite places to watch a game, but I want to invite any of you, even if you're not a fan of the Tigers, to try to make your way to Baton Rouge on a fall Saturday night for a game in Death Valley. I'm a bit biased, but I think any fan of sports would love the environment. I've been to many great stadiums; Auburn's Jordan-Hare, A&M's Kyle Field, Colorado's Folsom Field, Florida's Swamp, Tennessee's Neyland Stadium, and many others, but I've never been anywhere like Tiger Stadium. It's loud, low-rent, and flowing with great food and drink.

I'm getting goosebumps just talking about it!!

My favorite game that I attended was the Florida game in 1997. Florida came in ranked #1 in the nation, and Steve Spurrier's team was poised to take another national title. The 14th ranked Tigers were supposed to be out of this one early, as everyone was confident the Gator's passing attack would prove too potent for the Tigers. LSU won the game 28-21. We stormed the field after the game, and it was awesome. That was in the second year of my marriage, and Kim and I celebrated that victory with my brother-in-law and the girl who would become his wife. I remember it like it was yesterday.

Anyway, I love Tiger Stadium, and apparently so does this guy. He ranks it #1 on his list of college game day experiences. Geaux Tigers!!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

This Chick's Got Guts

Wafa Sultan on Al Jazeera February 2006
What do you think of this lady's views? This was aired live on Al Jazeerah, the Arab television station. Pretty interesting stuff. You have to think that those Muslims who were really listening to her might be thinking, "Well, when you put it that way it sounds so bad." Is there any other way to put it?

Click here to read the entire transcript.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Irresistible Revolution

I'm reading a really cool book called, "The Irresistible Revolution" by Shane Claiborne. I'm only in the first chapter, but already there are several quotes that I've found encouraging, insightful and super challenging. Here's a sampling:

- While musing about the entertainment industry's propensity to support global initiatives like Live 8 and the One Campaign, Claiborne writes, "...but most Christian artists and preachers have remained strangely distant from human suffering, offering the world eternal assurance over prophetic imagination. Perhaps it should not surprise us that Jesus says that if the Christians remain silent, then the rocks will cry out... or the rock stars, I guess."

- While reminiscing about the great influences in his life, he writes, "In college, one of my professors said, 'Don't let the world steal your soul. Being a Christian is about choosing Jesus and deciding to do something incredibly daring with your life."

- On the humor of God: "I've grown to admire the humor of a God who uses the foolish things to shame the wisdom of this world, and weaklings to remind the strong that they may not be as mighty as they think they are (1 Cor. 1:27). And in an era of smart bombs, maybe the world needs more fools. There have always been 'fools' in the imperial courts, but it's an interesting age when folks trust the court jesters more than the court itself."

- On being an "ordinary radical": "I have a confession I'm sure many of you will find refreshing and familiar: I don't really fit into the old liberal-conservative boxes, so it's a good thing we are moving on to something new. My activist friends call me conservative, and my religious friends call me liberal. What I often get branded is 'radical.' I'ver never really minded that, for as my urban-farming friends remind me, the word radical itself means 'root.' It's from the Latin word radix, which, just like a rad-ish, has to do with getting to the root of things. But radical is not something reserved for saints and martyrs, which is why I like to compliment it with ordinary. Ordinary does not mean normal, and I lament the dreadful seduction which has resulted in Christians becoming so normal. Thankfully, there is a movement of ordinary radicals sweeping the land, and ordinary people are choosing to live in radical new ways. So this is a book for ordinary radicals, not for saints who think they have a monopoly on radical and not for normal people who are satisfied with the way things are."

So, if you get the chance, grab this interesting little book and give it a whirl. Ordinary Radicals Unite!!

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Evolution of Grumpy

Man, I'm grumpy today. I told a little white lie to my wife last night, and she caught me (I told her I changed the filter on the A/C, and I didn't. What a stupid lie!), I missed a deadline at work, and it's haunting me, and a good friend informed me that a ministry I'm involved with isn't doing so well. I'm not upset about these things as much as I am just angry. It's irritating to live this life!!

I find myself asking, "why can't everybody just leave me alone!", but I still have this desire to be around people. I hate being alone, but I also hate the pressure and responsibility I face each day. What a silly, confused little man I am.

Today is the staff day of prayer, and we heard a beautiful message from Jackie Roese, our women's pastor. Jackie's such a gifted communicator. She summed up my frustrations, and led me to see the one thing that I need in order to continue to live this life with joy instead of grumpy irritation. She spoke of Martha and her tendency to value "distractions" more than a place of honor and knowledge at the feet of Jesus. I could relate.

So what does it mean to sit at the feet of Jesus? Maybe it's that sitting-on-the-edge-of-your-seet kind of listening that you do when you hear to a song that is saying something important and moving. Maybe it's living life with the same kind of optimistic anticipation that you have when your favorite team runs onto the field for the first game. Maybe it's confessing all your anger and frustration on a blog and learning as you write that Jesus loves you and will give you peace... even though you're a liar, a deadline misser, and a manager of a failed ministry. Maybe it's just taking the time to sort it all out and be still.

I'm calm now, and Jesus has done his thing with me again. He has shown me that I'm deeply flawed, but his love is deeper. He's given me a desire to love and know him, not by making me feel bad and guilty, but by reaching down in grace to pick me up, dust me off, and send me on the way. He's been good to me. I'm not so grumpy anymore.