Sunday, November 11, 2007
Sunday, November 04, 2007
I grew up in the great state of Louisiana, but have since bemoaned the fact that the state looks more gruesome these days than great. Hurricane Katrina underscored the mess of politics and societal issues that have plagued Louisiana for years, and although the state will always have my heart, I have given up any ideas of ever being able to live there again.
This article, however, gives me hope for home. I long for the days when Louisiana is known for more than food and football. I long for the days when it is known as a great place to live, raise a family and make a life. Good luck to our new Governor. May he usher in a greater hope for home.
Friday, November 02, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
It's been a long time since I've posted on this silly blog, and I apologize for that. I'm still here, and I plan on continuing to post and maintain Cajun Roast Beef, but life's been a bit hectic, and I've taken a little break.
Here's what's been happening since we last spoke:
- My boss went on sabbatical for 3 months, and I've absorbed his workload, which includes Bible Communities, Single Parent Ministries, Young Adult Ministires, Car Care Ministiry and Toolbox. Phew!
- My wife went back to work for the first time in 6 years. She is teaching Science at First Baptist Academy in Downtown Dallas. She's also coaching the 8th grade girls basketball team (Did I mention that she was the point guard for the 1988 Louisiana State Champions?). And, yes, she's still a Mother of 4 young children (that part doesn't change!)
- Our two oldest children, Trent (8) and Cale (6) played an entire season of football. Both boys played like future LSU Tigers, and we're very proud of them!
- I coached Trent's football team. All that means is that I was busy two nights a week with practice, and was at games every Saturday. It was totally worth it!!
- I (along with a lot of help from some very gifted people) organized a 5K run/walk benefitting Water is Basic, an organization committed to providing clean water in Sudan. The race attracted 563 runners and raised more than $12,000 for Water is Basic.
- Jillian, my baby girl, turned 3 years old. Man, is she special!
- Pierce, my Autistic wonder child, continued his therapy, and is now saying several words very clearly. I know it doesn't sound like much, but this is tremendous progress!!
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Marc McCartney and I loaded up the Honda CRV at around 10:30am and headed toward Baton Rouge with hopes that we might make it to the Tiger Cage before the Golden Band from Tiger Land marched down the hill. We spoke nothing but LSU Football for the first three hours, and then we hit a stretch of land between Natchitoches and Lafayette that made us feel like we might never arrive in Baton Rouge. Marc got sleepy, and I got really groggy and uncomfortable. Crazy, irrational thoughts started flooding my mind. What if we had miscalculated and were going to arrive after the game had already started? What if our tickets weren't waiting for us like we had planned? What if Va. Tech - inspired by their recent tragedy - played their hearts out and beat LSU?
By the time we reached the Atchafalaya River Bridge, my thoughts had settled, and I was ready for some Tigerbait!! I woke Marc up as we crossed over the Mississippi River and noticed the enormity of Tiger Stadium on the horizon. The scoreboard, emblazoned with a huge "LSU Tiger Stadium" nearly brought a tear to my eye, and ignited a sense of awe and wonder in Marc. We had made it!! Saturday night in Tiger Stadium would be our reality!!
We parked about two miles from the stadium and began to notice that every available space - every blade of open grass, every free segment of concrete - was filled with a canopy, under which the LSU faithful gathered for a tailgaiting feast. It was as if pioneers were settling the vast LSU campus and had set up thousands of tents in which to live until permanent housing had been constructed. I've seen this site many times in my years, but I'm not sure I've ever seen the campus so alive.
We made our way through these villages of tailgaters until we finally reached the Tiger Cage. Along the back wall of this sprawling new habitat lay Mike VI, a two year old Bengal Tiger. What a beautiful animal! It's always good to see the symbol of LSU athletics resting comfortably between the Football Stadium and the Basketball Arena. His new habitat, by the way, is a paradise. It's a beautiful addition to the campus.
Marc and I moved on to the rounded ramp that leads to the Pete Maravich Assembly Center (The PMAC), and watched as the crowd gathered for the Band''s triumphant march down the hill. It looked as though someone had stepped on an ant pile and thousands of purple and gold insects had crawled out. The place was covered with the Tiger faithful, a rabid bunch who were out in full force to take in the unique environs of LSU on game day. The band eventually descended down the hill, and the crowd was stirred to a frenzy as they played "Hold that Tiger!"
We made our way to our seats for the game, and there's not much to say about what happened next. Total domination. This team is good... Real good. The environment, as always, was loud, fun and full of the kind of spontaneous insanity that only Tiger Stadium can offer. It was awesome.
Thanks, Marc, for a great trip! Let's do it again sometime, buddy!!
Sunday, September 02, 2007
Whoa!! Imagine the kind of pain that sucker could inflict upon Nick Saban!!
Speaking of LSU and Tigers, I think this new ESPN commercial is hilarious! Watch and enjoy:
Friday, August 31, 2007
Friday, August 24, 2007
Thursday, August 23, 2007
I love it that many young entrepreneurs are using their hobbies and interestests and tying them to worthwhile causes. Statattack is one such effort. At Statattack, a t-shirt line based on statistics that people should be aware of (the design above tells us that, in Angola, 19.2% of infants will die before they turn one), every shirt you buy goes to help some aspect of world relief, not only by educating people, but contributing 20% of the sale to an orphanage in Mozambique. Here's a quote from their website:
Since Mozambique was the country that inspired all of this, the Sons of Stolen are putting 20% of the money from the sale of the shirts towards building an orphanage in Mozambique. Instead of giving the money to a charity, we will go to Mozambique with a group of volunteers from the design industry and build an orphanage from the ground up.Very cool! I think I'll buy one!
Monday, August 06, 2007
Saturday, August 04, 2007
Kim and I celebrated our 11th Anniversary last night!! We ate at The Palm, and it was awesome!! I can tell you this... Anniversaries aren't as easy as they once were. After our wonderful dinner, we tried to go see The Bourne Ultimatum. We took our seats in the Megaplex, along with about 400 of our closest friends, and I knew we were in trouble. I really don't like crowds, especially in a movie theater, and there was a sense - call it a gut feeling - that something was going to go wrong.
We got there about 30 minutes before the movie was slated to air, and at some point during our wait, Kim started to develop a pretty nasty headache. We debated leaving, but decided to stay and see if the headache would fade once Jason Bourne started killing people. In the middle of the previews, a smallish fellow with dark hair and glasses began to walk down our row. He stopped right in front of me and started demanding that the man seated on Kim's left move down a seat. He didn't ask politely or anything civilized like that; this guy simply started waving his finger in a circle (about two inches from my nose), while saying "Scoochie!" I thought it would be best to stay out of this thing, but the wagging finger on the tip of my face was really starting to bug me.
The man next to Kim reluctantly moved one seat to the left, and then the "Scoochie!" guy turned his attention to Kim and me. I could feel myself getting angry. In my minds eye I envisioned flicking this little guy, like a Milk Dud, across the room. As we stood to "Scooch" a seat over, I simply looked down at the guy and calmly said, "We're going to move, but you're going to have to quit waving your finger in my face. Do you understand?" Thankfully the guy backed away, put his arms up in the air - as if to say, "Please don't knock me onto this Coke and JuJube stained floor." - and returned to his seat.
In the end, we left about 30 minutes into the film because Kim's headache worsened to an unbearable point. Poor thing. We came home early, and she immediately retired to bed. It was still a good night (as is any night with my wife!), and I'm so thankful to have such a beautiful and wonderful wife. Thanks, Kim, for the best 11 years of my life!!
Monday, July 30, 2007
I sat in on a gathering of folks last night, and the topic of discussion was hope. For some hope is a difficult thing to grasp. It's kind of like a Star Wars movie... it seems wonderful and amazing and mind boggling and - well - unreal. That's the problem with hope. You find yourself wondering if it really exists or if it's some fantasy flying through your head like the Millennium Falcon.
Though I don't believe that Christians are blindly hopeful, there is certainly, as Barak Obama would say, an "audacity" to our hope. It takes a lot of nerve to claim hope in a world characterized by extreme materialism, extreme poverty, discrimination, violence, sexual perversion, broken marriage, environmental disregard, and a litany of other things that make me want to cash in my chips and get out of Dodge. It's crazy, in a world that cultures genocide, female circumcision and HIV/AIDS, that there would be any room for hope.
But the claim of the message of Christianity is, unashamedly, hopeful. What makes it even more audacious is that the object of its hope is unseen. Romans 8:24-25 says, "For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?" The point is well taken. Shouldn't it be said that if hope isn't audacious, it's not hope at all, but something entirely different? Isn't the whole point of hope its audacity?
I used to hope for a car. Now I have a car, and the mystery of its motorly goodness has well been revealed. Before I owned my own vehicle, the thought of driving a mechanized chariot seemed so alluring. After owning a car for several years now, the allure is gone, and all that's left is an overinflated car payment. The hope has faded, replaced by the harsh reality of $3/gallon gas, liability insurance and costly repairs. Truth be told, Dallas traffic has cured me of the desire to even want to drive.
Now, contrast this to a hope that is yet unseen. Unseen hope produces great longing. The desire to attain this hope is great, and the object of this hope is illustrious. For the Christian, this hope is found in the person of Jesus, because upon Him all the deepest hopes of man are placed. And what is the promise attached to this hope? Well, it's the same as the promise attached to the hope that Andy wrote about when addressing Red: “Remember, Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”
This post is dedicated to my good friend, Stephen Presley. Thanks, brother, for always reminding me of the hope of the Gospel.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
The first line from this story is just classic.
"Iraqi fans have been stocking up on gasoline and ammunition in preparation for their national soccer team's Asian Cup semi-final against South Korea on Wednesday."I'm going nuts waiting for LSU football to arrive, but gasoline and ammunition?! I probably won't stock up on that until next year's LSU/Alabama game, when Nick Saban makes his return to Tiger Stadium!
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Friday, July 20, 2007
Summer TV watching is tricky business. You get the usual bevy of spare stuff that wasn't good enough for prime time, and the stuff that was ready for prime time is playing through a loop of re-runs. In light of that, here's a few of my favorite shows this summer, and one that you should stay away from:
- Burn Notice (USA) - This slick action/comedy/drama is well produced, written and acted. The lead characher, Michael Western (Jeffrey Donovan), is a spy who's recieved a "burn notice", spy speak for getting fired. He's been cut off by the government and is on the FBI watch list. Only problem is he doesn't know why. So, while he's trying to figure it all out, he's also taking private investigator type jobs to pay the rent. This dude is as cool as they come. His list of supporting actors includes the dude from Army of Darkness and the Old Spice Commercials (Bruce Campbell). I love that guy!
- The World Series of Pop Culture (vH1) - Kim and I watched this show last year and were hooked. You may be still able to catch the replays of this super fun pop culture trivia extravaganza since the originals have already aired. It pits several teams of three against each other in a tournament style competition. I just love seeing how many of the questions I can correctly answer. Good stuff.
- The Closer (TBS) - Man, this is just a good show. There was one episode that had the craziest first five minutes I've ever seen on TV. It actually worked, too, which is rare for crazy scenes. Kyra Sedgwick's fake Georgia accent drives me a bit insane, but the show is really cool.
- Stay away from Sportscenter this summer. It pains me to write this, but it's true. Stuart Scott is hosting this silly segment called "Who's Now", and it's the most ridiculous thing I've seen in a while. It's intended to determine which athlete is both a superstar in their sport and off the field. Athletes are paired against each other in a lame and very subjective popularity contest. Plus, you get to hear from "the panel", which includes spare hosts who look like they wish they were as popular and relevant as the athletes they're judging. Just report the sports issues of the day, ESPN! Leave the commentary out of it. We don't need you to tell us who is popular, we just need to know who won the game.
Friday, July 13, 2007
This is really cool, and you can thank me later. My recommendation is to open this in your browser first thing in the morning and keep it open all day. If you need to use it throughout the day, it will be right at your finger tips. This is a website that allows you to type a text message to yourself to be delivered at a later date or time. For instance, if your wife calls the office 5 minutes before you go into a big meeting and asks you to buy bread on the way home, you can use this handy little tool to send a text message to yourself at 5pm when you get off of work. You and I both know you're going to forget about the bread, so why not send yourself a reminder? I'm going to use the heck out of this site!
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Pierce has officially turned the corner!! The little man is now going "pee pee" on the potty unprompted. We are all very relieved (hah! Get it?).
May the horns of triumph blast out their joyful song from the highest mountains... May the birds and beasts be roused from the jungles... May the people rejoice with voices of victory... For my child - my Autistic child - can now take a leak!!
By the way, everytime I talk to Pierce about going "pee pee", or utter the words "potty" or "tee tee", I feel like a total moron. I feel like one of those super sappy women who run daycare center's. Speaking those words as a grown man just doesn't feel right. This has been humbling experience, but I've never been so excited about urine!!
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
We are potty training Pierce this week, and it's a freaking nightmare. Here's how it works:
- Check his pants every 5 minutes to make sure they're dry.
- Put him on the potty every 30 minutes and pray for pee pee.
- Leave him on the potty for 10 minutes.
- Repeat the process.
- Should he have an accident, we have to sternly say "You're wet", and take him to the potty. We are to place him on the potty and immediately remove him, and take him back to the scene of the crime and announce "You're wet. Pee pee goes in the potty." We repeat this process 5 times, and then start the 5 minute timer again.
The first two days were full of lots of pee pee, but not on the potty. There were accidents-a-plenty. Kim was discouraged, and I was starting to wonder if I would ever get the smell of urine out of my nose.
Today, though, Pierce got it! He only had one accident all day!!!
This stuff is a pain, but it's all worth it if I don't have to change diapers anymore. No pain, no gain!!
...and he is really cool. This is The Ticket's own Bob Sturm, a local radio personality. Bob went to Liberty University, and knew the late Jerry Fallwell. He's now the co-host of one of DFW's most listened to radio shows (BaD Radio: noon - 3pm: 1310am). Anyway, Bob and I met for about an hour today, and he is a super nice guy. We actually visited at Irving Bible Church in the cafe. Could he be making another apearance at IBC soon? Check here in the coming days to find out.
Hey now, Sturminator!!
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Happy 4th of July!
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Trent and I hiked to Horn Peak, a 13,450 ft. mountain that ranks among the ten most difficult hikes in Colorado. Trent was amazing! He had a couple of moments on the way up where he was a bit beaten down, but by the time we got to the tree line and the first peak, he was fresh as a store bought Krispy Kreme. While I was gasping for air and cramping with every step, Trent was slinking to the peak with the greatest of ease. He graciously waited for me to catch up before we summitted the peak together.
The climb was easily one of the most difficult physical challenges I've ever attempted. It blew away two-a-days in football and roofing houses in the Louisiana summers (the physical challenges that ranked 1 and 2 prior to climbing Horn Peak). Having Trent there with me made it extra special. It was the kind of epic adventure that you imagine the great men of old embarking on with their sons; the kind of character building right of passage that makes a boy into a man. This was real Braveheart kind of stuff!
Our first Mile Marker. Only 3 miles to go!!
There's the Peak from the trees
Monday, June 18, 2007
My wife and I can be selfish, poor communicators. My other kids often times become fixated on certain topics or objects, and demonstrate self serving motives on a regular basis. There is no guarantee that Pierce's therapy will give him the bright future that we hope for, but there is also no guarantee that our typical children will develop into the wonderful people that we hope for. In a very real way, Autism is just an extremely magnified view of the problems we all face. We are all selfish, unresponsive, myopic and obsessive. We just have sophisticated ways of covering it up.
So, what I'm learning from Autism is that we are all broken, and there is no simple therapy for our condition. Only something transcendant can make us whole. Just as Pierce doesn't have the ability to "cure" himself, we have no way to fix ourselves. In our case, Jesus is the cure. Ephesians 2 tells us that we were "dead" in our sins, "but God, who is rich in mercy" has saved us, offered us a seat in heaven, and given us his son. His grace has made us complete.
Autism Lesson #4: Autism is just a magnified view of the problems we all face (selfishness, communication and fixation).
Monday, June 11, 2007
What I've learned from this propensity to wander is that fear and danger are good things in that they warn us when things become unsafe. Now, we certainly aren't supposed to base our life decisions on safety and security; God often times calls us to enter into situations that are insecure and unsafe. If we based our lives on safety, we'd never travel to places like Darfur, which desperately need our help. But it is foolish to subject yourself to danger if there is no extenuating circumstance that justifies such action. In Pierce's case, wandering into danger because you have no inner voice to stop you is simply reckless.
So, I guess the main lesson here is that danger and fear are reserved for causes that transcend common sense and call for drastic action. Reckless living for the sake of curiosity is a bad thing. It hurts those you love and compromises your ability to truly live out the Gospel. Our call is not a safe one, but it is also not one that is reckless and prone to wander.
Autism Lesson 3: God gives us a sense of fear and danger so that we will weigh our actions based on the Gospel and not be reckless
When you're wearing a fig leaf, it's hard to feel overdressed, but that kind of ironic imagery not only paints the cover of Caedmon's Call's new release, it permeates nearly every song on the album. The return of Derek Webb brings with it a raw and rich honesty, and the songwriting talents of the underrated Andrew Osenga give this album, and the band, a mature yet edgy, warm yet independant feel that is unmatched in their previous efforts. If 40 Acres told of a band coming of age, Overdressed tells of a band entering a new age with a feel that is at the same time both fresh and trusted.
The album begins, as it should, with Webb singing Trouble, a bluesy number that speaks of sin as not simply a "struggle", but something as deep as "the blood running through my veins." Webb's return is marked by the band's trademark B-3 organ, and fresh harmonies. Trouble is a song that sounds at once familiar, and demonstrates, right from the start, that all is right in the world of Webb/Caedmon's relations.
As the album progresses the thing that stands out is the flow of different styles and voices, instruments and arrangements. Need Your Love and Sacred, songs that easily bear the Caedmon's Call signature, are followed by Expectations, a simple yet sweeping epic that speaks of the over-optimistic outlook often attributed to real world faith. Osenga writes with great timing and truth that Christianity is often presented as another "expensive ad for something cheap." The variance in arrangements and writing gives the album the same kind of flow as a good compilation or soundtrack, and, as the album builds, a sense of anticipation develops within the listener. This is a "can't wait to hear what's next" release.
The anticipation created by the beginning of the album is richly rewarded in the second half of the release. The back-to-back-to back string of Share in the Blame, Hold the Light and Two Weeks in Africa is their best three song combination in recent memory. Share in the Blame is a folksy and melodic modern day admonition to get the log out of your eye before blaming others. Hold the Light is Osenga's tribute to accountability and trust, and it's haunting chorus is framed well by beautifully arranged instrumentals. It's a song more felt than heard, more absorbed than encountered, and it flows nicely into Two Weeks in Africa, a celebration of the change of perspective that comes only from participation in missions. The bridge on Two Weeks in Africa takes you from internal struggle to hope to outright elation over the possibilities present when people become partners with Christ in international missions.
The record ends with another gritty Webb number, All Across the Western World, followed by the encouraging Always Been There and Start Again. In a twist of irony, the final songs speak of the presence and new beginnings that Christ offers only to those who come poor and weary. It is a fitting ending for an album that recognizes man's propensity to stand before God Overdressed, embelishing his own goodness in light of God's glory.
In all, it's good to see Caedmon's Call return to form. The addition of Webb, though significant, is not all there is to Overdressed. Truth be told, this album dresses up very nicely. The writing is solid, as usual, but the overall flow of the music and themes is what makes Overdressed the best Caedmon's Call release in years.
If you're anxious to hear something off of Overdressed, check out Share in the Blame on the Caedmon's Call Myspace Page here. Great guitar solo by Andy!
Sunday, June 10, 2007
This lesson goes hand in hand with Lesson 1 (Taking is bad; asking is good). The process of teaching Pierce to ask for what he wants is only effective if what he wants is witheld from him. In order to do this, we have had to remove all the toys and books from his room, place his favorite foods out of reach, and generally put everything he desires out of his grasp. We still want him to see the things he wants, but we want those things to be accessable to him only upon request.
This brings up an interesting lesson that I find so profound. The lesson is that our desires often seem just out of reach, and there may very well be a purpose for that. When the things you really want are beyond your reach, you become patently aware of your inability to get them on your own. You realize that you need help to get that which you desire most.
In Pierce's case the toys, food, books, etc. that he really wants can only be acquired with the help of others, namely his parents. In the case of humanity, the things we really want that are out of reach are often merely reminders of our helplessness before God. Our ultimate desires are security, comraderie, happiness and love. To a certain degree we can find all of these, but not in their fullest sense. In this world, security is an illusion, comraderie is flakey and fleeting, happiness is here one minute and gone the next, and love seems to come only at a very high price. We can have all of these desires, but the elusive quality that nags at our soul is the complete fulfillment of these desires. It is the book on the highest shelf, the four star restaurant with the food we can't afford, the toy that Mom won't indulge us with at the check out line. It's that nagging sense that things aren't as they should be, that we need help to make sense of it all.
For now, the help we need is the faith that one day things will be set straight. It's the belief that this is not all there is, that the thing we desire the most will one day be realized. It is, as the Apostle Paul implied, something that we do not yet have (Romans 8:24-25), but that we are to believe nonetheless. For, as Paul says, "hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently."
So, what I've learned from this aspect of Autism is that the things that are out of reach are there for a reason: they make us aware of our need for help, and they instill within us a hope that some day they will not only be within our reach, but fully attainable. So, lesson 2 ends with these words: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13)
Autism Lesson 2: Desires are out of reach because they make us aware of our neediness, and fill us with hope.
I've decided to start a series on my blog called "Things I'm Learning from Autism." It should give you a glimpse into the world of Autism and the kinds of things a parent of an Autistic child thinks about. I'm going to try to post something everyday for a month on this topic. For those of you who don't know, my son, Pierce (4), has Autism.
So, here's the first thing I'm learning from Autism:
Autistic people are in their own world and they're only capable of thinking of themselves. In light of that, it's very important to stretch them to think about others. Here's what that means for us: We have to set up our home in such a way that Pierce has to ask for anything and everything that he wants.
I'ver never thought about it before, but having to ask for what you want is an interesting way to teach someone to think about others, isn't it? We usually think that asking for what we want is selfish, don't we? I want a new car, but making that desire known would just make me look unrealistic and self-absorbed. We all want a million dollars, but try going up to someone on the street and asking them for that kind of money, and you'll get a strange look at best and a punch in the face at worst. If we went around voicing our desires, we'd look extremely narcisistic. So, why would we want to force our self-centered little boy to ask for everything he wants?
The reason we need Pierce to ask for stuff is becuase we need him to know that, in life, you can't just go around grabbing anything you want without asking. In other words, what I'm starting to learn is that it's not wrong to desire things, but it's very wrong to take action on those desires without asking. It seems to me that this is why God tells us over and over again in the Bible to ask for what we want. He says that we "have not because we ask not" (James 4:2), and states in Psalm 37:4 that we are to "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."
Ultimately God tells us to ask Him for what we want for that same reason that we ask Pierce to ask for what he wants. What God knows (and what I'm starting to understand) is that when you have to ask for things, you have to recognize that there is someone who controls those things. And, when you see that you are not in control of the things you desire, you come to a place of unselfishness. So, while taking assumes ownership, asking assumes a lack of control and a limitation of rights. In this sense, teaching Pierce to ask for what he wants is training him for a life of unselfishness. In the same sense, learning to ask God for what we want is designed to teach us how to delight in God's control and ownership, so long as we ask with the right motives (James 4:3).
Autism Lesson 1: Taking is selfish; asking is unselfish.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
You can read the story here. This thing is getting real old, real fast.
Monday, June 04, 2007
Gosh, I love Peggy Noonan. I've linked to her many times, but linking to her recent article is pretty tough! I almost always agree with Noonan, and - man, this is hard to say - I agree with her again. In this article she articulates why she no longer supports the Bush Administration.
It's taken me this long to get here, but I'm here. Now, unlike my liberal friends, I don't think George W. Bush is a bad guy. I don't think he's this terrible dictator who is out to hurt America. I just don't think Bush took advantage of the most polarizing event in modern American history to unite a country that wanted to follow his lead. Here's what Noonan says about this:
Bush the younger came forward, presented himself as a conservative, garnered all the frustrated hopes of his party, turned them into victory, and not nine months later was handed a historical trauma that left his country rallied around him, lifting him, and his party bonded to him. He was disciplined and often daring, but in time he sundered the party that rallied to him, and broke his coalition into pieces. He threw away his inheritance. I do not understand such squandering.
Instead of using wisdom to lead us out of crisis, Bush and Co. jumped the gun, like an eager child pouring a glass of milk, and made a huge mess. The Bush Administration's consistent bungling has not been intentionally malicious, but it has cost us dearly. Again, Noonan's words ring true:
What I came in time to believe is that the great shortcoming of this White House, the great thing it is missing, is simple wisdom. Just wisdom--a sense that they did not invent history, that this moment is not all there is, that man has lived a long time and there are things that are true of him, that maturity is not the same thing as cowardice, that personal loyalty is not a good enough reason to put anyone in charge of anything, that the way it works in politics is a friend becomes a loyalist becomes a hack, and actually at this point in history we don't need hacks.
It's sad for me to say it, but I'm no longer on board. Immigration is a disaster, the war is a quagmire, government spending is out of control, and the only thing I can say good things about is the abortion issue (at least Bush appointed pro-life judges). Call me liberal... Call me a flip-flopper... Call me un-American. When it's all said and done, I just can't feel good about this thing any more. I'd like to apologize to all my fans.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
A few thoughts:
- Jet skiing on Lake Ponchatrain is generally not a good idea. If the snakes and alligators don't get you, there's always the chance that you'll have an accident. Not being disrespectful, but I wouldn't jet ski in that Lake.
- Hill was a heck of a player at LSU. He was part of the huge resurgence in Tiger Football that came about in the early 2000's. Hill was a monster (6'6" 300lbs), and helped LSU to a National Championship in '03.
- My favorite quote by Hill was after the BCS National Championship game. Jason White, the Heisman Trophy winner from Oklahoma, was the opposing quarterback. Hill and his defensive mates repeatedly roughed White up. After the game, Hill told reporters what he shared with White on the field.
“He’s Mr. Heisman, and we wanted to go at him all night,” Hill said after the game. “That’s a big award, and if you win it, you’re going to pay for it.
“I said to him, ‘Excuse me, Mr. Heisman, I’m going to be coming at you all night.’ He just nodded his head at me.”
I'll never forget where I was when my good friend, Todd Bragg, sent me his band's first cd. I was living in Vail, Colorado in a house with 20 other guys. By week's end, everyone was wearing out this folksy cd by the group with the funny name. Caedmon's Call was something unexpected, even for me. Todd has always been a great guy and a wonderful musician, but even I wondered if his band would be any good. Turns out they were great, and have stood the test of time in a very strange and flighty industry.
Several years back, one of the band's co-frontmen, Derek Webb, left the band. Derek was a bit of a tortured genius. His voice was raspy and haunting, his lyrics were equally raspy and haunting, and he was fun and quirky to watch. The chemistry between he and other co-frontman, Cliff Young, was always entertaining, and really quite magical. When Derek left, things definitely changed.
Caedmon's Call made their best album ever after Derek's departure (Share the Well), but it met with very limited success. Derek has developed a large college and young adult following, but he's still a bit on the fringes. Together again, perhaps the magic of the original Caedmon's Call will return. Their new album, Overdressed, will hit stores in late August. Derek wrote and recorded on this project.
However this turns out, these folks are some of the nicest, coolest, most real people you'll ever meet. I wish them well.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
My favorite line comes at the 3:20 mark when the Linebacker proclaims "I knocks the pride out of them!" Awesome!
Friday, May 18, 2007
Thursday, May 10, 2007
- In 1950 a list of the world’s leading Christian countries would have included Britain, France, Spain, and Italy, but none of these names will be represented in a corresponding list by the year 2050.
- In 1900 Europe was home to two-thirds of the world’s Christian population; today, the figure is less than a quarter. By 2025 it will fall below 20 percent.
- In 2005 about one third of the planetary population, some 2.1 billion people, were Christians.
- 531 million were Europeans.
- 511 million were Latin Americans
- 389 million were Africans
- 344 million were Asians
- 226 million were North Americans
- The number of African Christians will double in less than 30 years.
- In 2025, here’s how these figures will change. Of the 2.6 billion Christians worldwide…
- 595 million will live in Africa
- 623 million will live in Latin America
- 498 million will live in Asia
- 513 million will live in Europe
- Latin American and African Christians will account for half of the world’s Christian population.
- By 2050 only about one fifth of the world’s 3 billion Christians will be non-Hispanic whites.
Now, how does that make you feel?
I’ll be honest that it made me feel a little bit scared. It made me feel like I was losing my Christian voice. It made me wonder if Christianity would survive in such cultures, and if it did survive, would it even look the same as the Christianity that I believe?
Then it made me look at Christianity throughout history. It survived the Romans, the Catholics, the Europeans, the Nazis, the Russians and the Americans. It survived the Crusades, the Reformation, the Scientific revolution, Darwinism, the Industrial Revolution, Marxian philosophy, Television, the Internet, etc. If the West hasn't completely screwed up the gospel by now, who can? Plus, think of the culture of the West and compare it with the culture of the South. Which is more like the culture of the Bible? Perhaps there's a lot we can learn from our Southern friends about the true nature of the church.
We've reviewed the Western challenges to the Christian worldview, but have we considered how those challenges influence the way we view our faith? It would take us at least sixty days in the woods to begin to understand God without all our gadgets, television, internet, and luxuries, much less the philosophical baggage we may not even be aware of. So, while Christianity has survived these things, it has also been influenced by them. What will it be influenced by in 50 years?
This is important, because now, more than ever, we need a clear understanding of what it means to be distinctly Christian.
Is the Christian life summed up in the old hymn, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey”? Is it all about discipline and discipleship? Is it all about knowing Christ and obeying his commands? Here’s what Scott McKnight says about that:
“My 20 years of studying and teaching the Gospels have made me very aware of the power of Jesus images of discipleship--his admonishment to "be perfect" and to "take up your cross daily," and his warning that "any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple." I also am aware that these texts can be abused and misused, particularly when they are employed to present radical obedience as the entirety of the Christian life. Radical commitment is an important concept, but it is not what the Christian life is all about. There is something behind discipleship.
Is it the disciplines that stand behind discipleship? Jesus prayed, meditated, fasted, kept periods of solitude, lived simply, worshiped and celebrated. But he rarely spoke about the disciplines. They are there, but they are not his focus. Because they are so objective, the spiritual disciplines easily attract legalistic and pietistic barnacles that turn them into ugly monsters. Because the disciplines can be quantified, counted and assessed, they can easily lead people to compare themselves favorably or unfavorably with others. And because they are acts, they can easily lead to a sense of accomplishment and superiority. A discipline-focus for spiritual formation can lead to legalism--as evidenced by the Christians who congratulate themselves on their daily Bible reading, church attendance, or the superior vocations of their children.”
So, what is it that we are to be focused upon as Christians? What is our gospel? Again, McKnight is helpful:
“A scribe comes to Jesus and asks, "What is a life of discipleship? What are the disciplines designed to accomplish?" Because that scribe is a Torah-observant Jew and because Jesus is a Jew as well, the scribe asks this great question in a first-century Jewish manner: "Of all the commandments [and you know Jesus, there are over 600 of them], which is the most important?" "The most important," Jesus answers, is this: 'Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' The second is this: "Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no greater commandment than these" (Mark 12:28-31).In the ever changing landscape of the Christian world, the joy of the true gospel is what excites me most. The opportunities we have to be people of The Jesus Creed - lovers of God and lovers of others - gives us the freedom to embrace our Southern brothers and sisters with grace and simplicity, and allows us to learn and be shaped by them as they learn and are shaped by us. After viewing these statistics and pairing them with McKnight's quotes, I am as excited as ever about being a part of the world community of Christ followers. It's nice to know that as the world changes, the gospel remains simple, beautiful and believable: Loving the triune God, while sharing that love with the diverse world.
Behind discipleship and beyond the disciplines is love--love of God and love of others. Radical commitment is fine, if it is fired by love. Spiritual formation is noble, if it produces love for God and others. Without love, to modernize Paul's words, we become either fanatics or egoists. When Jesus says we are to love God he is quoting from the Shema, from Deuteronomy 6:4-9, words that were recited according to the "divine hours of Judaism." Most scholars think observant Jews recited this passage two or three times per day. But when Jesus goes on to say that we are to love others, he tampers with the sacred creed of his contemporaries. He adds to the Shema by quoting Leviticus 19:18, and in so doing creates a new creed for his followers, the Jesus Creed. Love of God is to be joined, at all times, with love for others. Both, always. Apart they turn humans into fanatics and egoists. Together they turn humans into the imago Dei, walking expressions of God's love.”
Monday, April 30, 2007
Kirk Cameron, the star of the 80's sitcom, Growing Pains, will be a part of a debate on the existence of God. This debate is a bible-less debate that is designed to try to prove the existence of God using logic and science and not the Bible. Interesting stuff. The event will be aired live on abc.com on May 5. ABC's Nightline will also air portions of the debate.
On a side note, I'll never forget that episode of Growing Pains when Kirk Cameron (Mike Seaver) tries to make the moves on this really pretty high school girl. He pulls out all the stops. Finally, when he's done with his big speech to try to win her over, she speaks, and her voice is the most high pitched, ridiculuous voice you've ever heard. That Mike Seaver... he was something.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Thursday, April 19, 2007
I'm too tired to get into what went on yesterday, but we had a pretty significant and difficult meeting with Pierce's therapist (for those of you who may not know, Pierce is our 4 year old Autistic child). I can't go through it right now, but it was a hard meeting. We left heartbroken and depressed. Each time we face this Autism monster we take a tremendous beating. I'm reminded of the Caedmon's Call song, "Wings of the Morning". It says "Ask any good detective and he'll tell you, 'It's the eyes that always give the truth away.' In yours I see a fear that's bound and gagged you with no hope for escape."
I'll be honest: we don't feel any hope for escape right now. This thing is so all-consuming and painful that neither Kim nor I know what to do. We're tired, depressed and confused. But hey... what's new!
Anyway, my good friend, Chad Freeman, just wrote an article about us on his blog. He does a beautiful job of captuing the heartache that we feel on a daily basis. For some reason, as I read his article, the rest of the song came to my mind. It says "On the wings of the morning hope is rising! In your darkest night His love will light your way!" Man, thank God for the gospel!!
Denny Burk writes a great article today about how the "blame game" is fruitless at this point. He pretty much sums up my thoughts. Check out his article here.
Monday, April 02, 2007
OK, I don't know why I love this kind of thing so much, but it just cracks me up when reporters get ambushed by the "loving" animals they are doing stories on. The sheer shock and anguish of the overzealous reporter when the animal attacks is just funny to me. Look, I know I'm sick and twisted, but just try to watch these videos without busting a gut. See, you're sick and twisted too. Just admit it!
Here's are the 5 best animal attacks of reporters. Enjoy the carnage!!
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Saturday, March 31, 2007
The reason I'm blogging about this is because I recently found this post, which features the 5 best Kung Fu movies of all time. "Five Deadly Venoms" tops the list!
"And in the end it's reality I want to deal with - the reality of what our world can provide, the reality of what we actually want. The old realism - an endless More - is morphing into a dangerous fantasy. (Consider: if the Chinese owned cars in the same numbers as Americans, the world would have more than twice as many vehicles as it now does.) In the face of energy shortage, of global warming, and of the vague but growing sense that we are not as alive and connected as we want to be, I think we've started to grope for what might come next. And just in time."
McKibben's point is this: "More" and "Better" are not turning out to be the best motivations for civilized society. Rather than making our lives full and rich, these economic motivators have left us overindulgent and wanting. Perhaps simplicity and community are the best motivators for a new age. If so, we are certainly poised for a better world. That not only makes me excited about America's future, but it also makes me excited about the cause of Christ. After all, Jesus is the perfect model of simplicity and community.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
The latest Time Magazine cover story is "Why We Should Teach The Bible in Public School." The premise, per the title, is that teaching the Bible might be necessary for a well rounded public school education. I'm skeptical because I believe it is a little wierd to teach the Bible without doing so in a context of faith. That would be like a math teacher instructing students about literature. Studying the Bible is not simply an intellectual pursuit. It is, at its core, a spiritual pursuit. So, while I'm not opposed to students being exposed to Scripture, I am uncomfortable with the idea of the Bible being taught in an intellectual vaccum. It was never intended to be viewed in this light.
Here's a snipet from the Time Magazine article:
"Says Stephen Prothero, chair of the Boston University religion department, whose new book, Religious Literacy (Harper SanFrancisco), presents a compelling argument for Bible-literacy courses: "In the late '70s, [students] knew nothing about religion, and it didn't matter. But then religion rushed into the public square. What purpose could it possibly serve for citizens to be ignorant of all that?" The "new consensus" for secular Bible study argues that knowledge of it is essential to being a full-fledged, well-rounded citizen. Let's examine that argument."
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
One other thing about this article: Noonan points out that Grandmothers have a lot of wisdom, and they have the kind of discipline and sensibility to restrain from the things that "are not nice." Noonan writes, "Fifty years ago, no one speaking at a respected political gathering would say, would even think of saying that Adlai Stevenson is a faggot. Nor would Arthur Godfrey or Jack Paar have declared on their television shows that we'd be better off if Eisenhower died. Is our discourse deteriorating? Yes, it is." Although I agree with Noonan's sentiments, I do find it troubling that prior generations demonstrated such great restraint, yet were capable of such great oppression with reference to race relations. They wouldn't have called other candidates "faggots", but they wouldn't have had a problem calling a black candidate a "nigger." Just a thought.
I still get Noonan's point, and I think the article merits acclaim. Her basic points are true and much needed in today's political world.