Thursday, December 29, 2005

TT5: Favorite Comfort Foods

My cyber-pal, and fellow Cube Head, the Cubicle Reverend, filled with delicious eats from the holidays, posed the question of my top five favorite comfort foods. Always looking for an excuse to blog, I offer my reply:

1) Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Preferably with the PB & J mixed together before spreading onto the bread. Blackberry is my favorite jelly, and only crunchy pnut butter will do.

2) Spaghetti made by my wife. I don't know what she puts in it, but it is unrivaled.

3) Meatloaf made by my wife. There is no recipe to speak of, but it is a winner every time.

4) Pumpkin pie with a glob of Cool Whip (fat free of course). Ugh!

5) Blueberry Pop Tarts and a tall glass of milk. It is better after the kids are all in bed.

Anyone else wanna play?

2006 New Year's Resolutions

I know what you're thinking. I feel the same way, which is why I haven't made any resolutions since High School. I always break them, usually within the first week of January! However, I want this year to be different. I need this year to be different. So I am taking some personal initiative and setting some goals for the New Year. Call them goals; call them resolutions; call them a joke (for those who have known me awhile). Regardless, and without further ado, I present my resolutions:

1) Seek God daily. For many years this was a token answer. The "preacher" is supposed to say that. This year I am driven to know Him deeper. I really want to , and I really need to. Whatever the next level is, I want to get there.

2) Love my wife and kids more. By this I mean by my actions. I don't think I could love them more in my heart, but this year I want to show them more love by spending more quality time and sharing new experiences.

3) Lose 30 pounds and keep it off. I know, another pat resolution, but I really want to do this. I did it a couple years ago, and I know I can do it again. I felt better, slept better, and just had a better overall outlook when I was 30 pounds thinner.

4) Find a place of service in the ministry again. Or rather pray that one finds me. I really want to record some Christian jazz songs I have written, and see where it goes. I may preach again, who knows. Whatever comes, I am ready.

5) Become more financially independent. I didn't say wealthy. I just want to be able to pay the bills as they come in and maybe have some left over to save for vacation or something. Tracy and I really want to help others in need. We want to be the ones the church calls when there is a need, and be able to meet that need without hesitation. We do what we can now, but we want to do more.

6) I want to go to Las Vegas and see Barry Manilow's show. I have never been to Vegas, and I don't gamble (except while driving on I-26 toward Spartanburg!). But I have dreamed of visiting there and taking in the magic of the Vegas show scene. Who better to start with than Manilow?

7) This year I want to take my family to Wisconsin. My grandmother in her 90s, and she has never met my children, except through pictures. I haven't been home since 1994. I miss Madison very much, and I really miss my family there. I also want to make another jaunt to Seattle.

8) Have a more positive attitude, and be thankful for everything, good or bad. I am trying to learn to see every situation as an opportunity to grow in my faith without whining about it.

9) Laugh more. Laughter produces so many positive things, physically and mentally. I need to laugh more at myself. I can be pretty darn funny sometimes. I also want to enjoy life more this year than any year in the past! I am very blessed. Sure, there are bad times now and then, but when the smoke clears, I have a lot to enjoy and celebrate.

10) Spend more time with my friends. I have some of the best friends in the world, and I grow weary of seeing them only once a year. I'd like to see more of Rick, Lori, Jimmy & Teresa, Tim & Angela, and of course, James. No more excuses, lets just do it!

11) Last but not least, I want to wrestle again. Just one full match, just to prove to myself that I can do it. Maybe WFJ will give me a title shot. Todd Matrixx has one match in him, I believe. JD Justice, Dynamite Dave, and T-Money are going to have their hands full in 2006, that much is certain!

That wasn't so bad, was it? No pressure with these. I will do my best to keep and reach these goals and celebrate the small victories along the way.

Care to post yours?

Monday, December 26, 2005

6:30 am Christmas Morning

Ready, set, unwrap!

The Day After

Western commercialized Christmas is now over. The presents have all been opened. Soon the tree and all the trimmings will be packed away along with the warm memories of another great Christmas. My wife outdid herself. She put together the nicest Christmas I have ever had in my life.

Tomorrow it's back to work for me. I feel somewhat rested. I approach 2006 with great anticipation. 2005 was the most trying year of my life thus far. I learned that trying to be anyone or anything other than what you really are leads to deep depression. I am who I am, and that is all I am required or expected to be. I am called to minister the gospel. My calling, according to Romans 8, is irrevocable. My life has changed a lot over the last couple of years. What has not changed is that at the age of 16, God gave me a crystal clear calling to the gospel ministry. What form or shape it takes is not in my hands. Be it pastor, teacher, singer, wrestler, or all of the above, God has a perfect plan.

All I know at this moment is that I have been blessed with a life greater than I have ever deserved, and someone to share it with who is a better wife than I ever imagined existed. I also know that I have children who need me, and I them. And whether they know it or want to believe it, God's people need me too, and despite the hurt that many of them have caused me, I need them, too. Jesus died for the church, and He has called me to live for her, while dying to myself. It is a daily process. For me it is a moment-by-moment process. Yet it is the joy of living.

It staggers me when I think that had Jesus not been born, I'd have nothing to blog.

Friday, December 23, 2005

No more shopping!

I finally have all my shopping done. Each time I ventured out and was reminded of why I dread the commercialized holiday season. The angels proclaimed at the Lord's birth, "peace on earth and goodwill toward men." Ironically, Christmas shopping produces kind of an opposite attitude.

Christmas will soon come and go, then the year 2005.

This has been a year of growth for me. The Lord has stretched my faith beyond anything I have ever experienced. Each time I convince myself that God has left me out to dry, He proves me wrong. This year, though kicking and screaming most of the way, I have learned to totally trust in Him. Everything I have held to in my faith has been challenged, questioned, and called to the carpet.

One thing I have come away with so far, is that all that really matters, through all the smoke and mirrors, is Jesus. The child born in a manger came to do something that man nor his religion could do. This year, all of my doctrine has been stripped off of me and thrown to the ground as filthy rags. I have come to the bitter end of myself, my intellect, my compassion, my reason, and my education. All that remains is Jesus, in my heart, and in my life. Where we go from here is uncertain to me. He has it all mapped out. Grace really is amazing.

This has turned out to be a good Christmas after all. Not sure if I'll get everything I wanted or needed, but I got something I sure didn't expect: broken and spilled out, and ready to be molded for God's glory.

Like Charlie Brown, I have been reminded of the real meaning of Christmas, and the reason for my joy.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Three Truths and A Lie

A day late as usual, yet never too late to answer a tag from the King of Coffee. Below are 4 statements; one is a lie. Guess which one.

1) I finally saw A Charlie Brown Christmas!
2) I once played golf with Max Baer, aka Jethro on the Beverly Hillbillies.
3) I was a minister for 15 years.
4) My wife is in the medical profession.

Check the comments to see which one was the lie.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Remembering a Dear Friend

WARNING: you may need a tissue.

Today is a difficult day for me personally. It was 5 years ago today that one of my best friends succumbed to a very tough battle with cancer. Brenda Smyth was a gem. She was one of those rare people that God puts in your life that you never forget. To me she was a great friend and a sister in the Lord.

When I was a Bible college student, Brenda and her husband, Randy were my on-campus neighbors. We all worked at the Ruby Reid Child Care Center on campus. We went out together. We took vacations together. We saw Titanic together. Randy and Brenda in no small way made the whole experience of Being a 30 year old college student enjoyable and meaningful. Brenda was my sounding board for many personal struggles.

Brenda was a woman of supernatural faith. To her, there was nothing that God couldn't do. Prayer was the driving force of her life. She brought it up in every statement, I'm sure. When she discovered that the battle with cancer she had already fought and won was back for round two, she became even more faith-driven. I never saw her discouraged or defeated. She was the terminally ill one, and yet she comforted and ministered to everyone around her all the time.

I was privileged to lead a prayer service for her at her church in Knoxville. There were tears all over the sanctuary, except in Brenda's eyes. On her face was absolute joy and peace. I will never forget that as long as I live. Then after the service, I watched her comfort the people who came to pray for HER. She was an amazing woman!

Despite all of our praying and believing on her behalf, she died peacefully in her sleep, beside her husband, 5 years ago today.

For a long time, I struggled with my faith because of her death. How could God allow such a beautiful spirit suffer from cancer, and then even with all our prayers, allow her to die, leaving a husband and three children? I asked such questions and had such doubts because my friend Randy lost his wife of 25 years. I was angry because her sons, Aaron and Jordan, would be growing up without their mother. I was angry because her daughter Tia, then in the most formative teenage years, was now without her mother and best friend. I was angry because I had lost a very dear friend.

I still struggle with it. The only "answer" I seem to get is that some people are just not long for this world. I think of others in Christendom who died way too soon...for me. Rich Mullins, Keith Green, Robert Perry (a friend), and of course, Brenda Kay Smyth.

When you think of it, none of us are really long for this world. I only hope that when my time comes, I will have touched people the way Brenda did.

Brenda, I miss you. I could have used your ear a couple years ago. I miss the friendship we had, and I miss your faith, which always seemed to inspire mine.

And for Randy, Aaron (now married), Tia (about to graduate college), and Jordan (starting college), I am praying for the comfort of Christ to carry you through another holiday season without your wife and mother. No one misses her more than you do, but those who knew her love and miss her with you.

At her funeral, a lady sang a song called, "If you could see me now." I believe that was her way of letting us know she was all right and that we would see her again.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Top 5 Christmas TV Traditions

There are five programs/movies that put me in the Yuletide spirit each and every year. Here they are, as always, in no particular order:

1) It's A Wonderful Life
2) Home Alone 1 & 2
3) Die Hard
4) Star Trek: Generations (Picard's Nexus experience is so Dickens-esque)
5) The Charlie Brown Christmas

Without these, it just ain't Christmas for me. Care to share yours?

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Good friends, good times, good grief

I had an espcially nice evening last night. Tracy and I met up with two of my dearest friends, Jimmy and Teresa. It was the first time I had seen Teresa standing up in over a year. She had been bed-ridden since October of 2004. Back in April, we were told she wouldn't make it through the night due to several blood infections. Well, she did make it, and hopefully last night was the first of many more such visits and outings. Jimmy and Teresa are very special people.

Tonight, my honey and I will join Rick, Vicki, and Lori for dinner and and pre-Christmas gathering. Rick and Lori are two of my longtime friends. We were all in the same youth group growing up and I have to say those were some of the best times of my life. That we are all still close after all these years is such a blessing.

I believe I have missed Charlie Brown Christmas...again. Good grief! I need to give greater attention to my local listings.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Quotables to live by

Having been inadvertently tagged by the Cubicle Reverend, I am now tasked with providing a list of quotes which I live by and/or have meant a lot to me. So, here goes:

  1. "Then I guess you have two choices: get busy living or get busy dying." --Tim Robbins, The Shawshank Redemption
  2. "You gotta look out for number one, but don't step in number two." --Rodney Dangerfield, Back to School
  3. "Space Mountain may be the oldest ride in the park, but it still has the longest line." --The Nature Boy, Ric Flair
  4. "God has hard-wired the universe to operate though prayer." Dr. David Jeremiah
  5. "I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13
  6. "Failure is not an option." Ed Harris, Apollo 13
  7. "Stupid is as stupid does." --Forrest Gump (this simple quote beckons to be heeded; I have certainly done some stupid things in my life)
  8. "A man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man." --Don Corleone
  9. "Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer." --Michael Corleone
  10. "Todd, you watch way too %$&#@ much TV." --My mother, during my formative years

Now, if you are reading this, you have been tagged. Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Christmas Humor

New Year's Mayhem with a Message

December 31st, 7:00 pm, Lexington, SC at the Chapel of Redemption, WFJ is in the house! I know for certain that Matt Cruz will be defending his World Heavyweight title against the infamous T-Money. I also have it on good information that there might even be a special appearance by Todd Matrixx, who was sidelined in March of this year with a broken arm at the hands of Dynamite Dave and Hollywood Inc. Matrixx has not yet been medically cleared for in-ring action, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have a little mayhem up his sleeve...

The Chapel of Redemption is located at 5181 Platt Springs Road in Lexington. Go to Mapquest for directions. The show will be finished by 9:00 pm, so you will still have plenty of time for other New Year's festivities.

I will post more as I hear more about what other superstars will be in Lexington on December 31st.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Welcome to the Blogosphere

My wife, Tracy has started blogging. Go and check her out and show some love. In addition to her blog, she can whip up some mean mashed potatoes! They are the hit of every family function.

You may read her blog, but the taters stay with me! :o)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Sunday School Moments

Today our Sunday School class talked about Jesus. We are studying the "Doctrinal Tenets" of the Christian faith, that is to say, "What We Believe and Why." Today we looked at what the Bible says about Jesus, and somehow managed to encapsulate it into a 45 minute lesson.

We focused mainly on Jesus as Savior. 30 of the 45 minutes dwelled on the fact that we are saved FROM sin. Saved from sin, yes, but then what? I kept waiting and waiting for the "Saved TO" part. Being saved from sin, and as numerous people interjected, being "drawn to the cross," is not all there is. That is only half the gospel.

I believe we should be drawn to the cross first, and then over to the empty tomb, the other half of the gospel. A lot of men were crucified in the days of our Lord. Seeing Jesus only for His death makes Him no different than any other common criminal. Of all those who were crucified and died, only one rose again, Jesus.

Saved from sin should be followed with being saved to life. A life empowered by grace. A life where there is now no more condemnation. A life where God's wrath and judgement are no longer an issue. A life of joy and fruitful growth. A life where we don't HAVE TO please God by our works, but where we do good works because He is already pleased with us.

So many churches are full of people who came to the cross, but missed the empty tomb. The are powerlessly trying to get through life, doing the best they can, and hoping it's good enough to keep God from being angry at them. They are defeated, when in fact they are on the winning team.

God is still working this out in me. With the help of His word, the Holy Spirit, and a couple of caring friends, I am daily working out my salvation.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Time for a change

I cleaned up my blog a bit, added, deleted, and refurbished. Let me know what you think! More upgrades coming soon. I didn't realize a degree in Computer Science was needed to have a blog.

Rick, I will need some help with a few upgrades when you can make time. :o)

Thursday Top 5, Weekend Edition

My favorite long time cyber-pal, Rick, asked, "What are your Top Five Catch Phrases?" Here are mine, in random order, and a couple days after the fact:

1) Yo!
2) Wazzzaaaaap?
3) Duuude!
4) "That's no's a space station!"
5) "Read my lips...."

Honorable mention goes to The Cubicle Reverend for inspiration. Long live the 80s!

Friday, December 09, 2005

I've been tagged!

Tagged by Rick - Write 5 random facts about yourself, and then list the names of 5 people whom you in turn infect.

1) I have a collection of baseball, football and basketball cards dating back to the early 70s.
2) My mother has the Beatle's first album, in its original form, in good condition.
3) The original spelling of my last name was Wiik. It was changed to its current spelling in the 1860s. My ancestors were from Norway.
4) I ate Bruschetta at The Bistro last night.
5) I have seen Die Hard 122 times.

I tag Tracy, Jenna, Christi, James, and Jayuff

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Buddy Begins with "B"

The "B" Brian James and Me

One of my favorite WFJ wrestlers and a valued friend is known as the "B" Brian James. How I met this man is quite a story, which I am happy to share here.

One day I was reading my email, and I received one from Brian James, asking me to look at the WFJ website. I am on numerous pastor's lists and still receive emails from various ministries looking for support. I usually delete them (sorry). But I visited the WFJ website at his request and was amazed. What amazed me most was an invitation to participate. I emailed him right away. He called me and the rest is history.

I don't think either of us expected that I would botch a fall and break my arm.

The "B" Brian James is actually just a cool guy named Brian. He is a big guy with a huge heart. He only knows two things really well, Jesus and wrestling. He can talk for hours about either one. He has an amazing testimony, and everyone, and I mean EVERYONE in the WFJ locker room loves this man. In the photo above, Brian is receiving the award for "Most Christlike" at the WFJ Banquet this past July. He was surprised, nobody else was. The guy just oozes Christlikeness. He calls me at least weekly just to see how I'm doing. He actually calls just about everyone on the roster.

I expect great things from this young man; I am proud to call him friend.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Anticipation of a thing...

Tomorrow is my birthday. Last year, that was a statement of joy. Today, it is one of dread.

I know, I know, some of you will read this and say, "Hey 38 isn't that bad, dude." Some of you are even older and feel no sympathy for me whatsoever. That's ok.

The strange thing is that a birthday has never bothered me so much as this one. I have never been more depressed than I am this Christmas season, and I don't know why. The fact that Christmas music is playing and it is 74 degrees outside only heightens the doom and gloom for me.

I am going to try and put on a happy face for tomorrow. My kids are excited about my birthday, and I'm pretty sure my wife is. I am ready for the anticipation to pass and for the big day just be over and done.

On the other hand, I am thankful for 38 years. That is more than many of our Nation's Finest will ever have, and surely more than I deserve. I remember when my Dad turned 38. I didn't think he was old at all, and I sure don't feel old. I am a bit miffed that my Dad was more handsome and had no gray hair at 38, but I'll get over it. I am thankful that I still have a full head of hair. I could lose about 30 pounds, but other than that, I feel pretty good.

I apologize to my regular readers who usually come here to see what witty and sarcastic observations I will offer. The Church Signs have been a big hit. I'm glad. I just have a lot on my mind this holiday season, and the holidays themselves are barely on my mind at all. Thanksgiving was a nightmare, and I don't even want to think about Christmas.

Maybe we can enjoy some witty birthday observations tomorrow.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

More Church Signs

Now here is a sign I can deal with. This one is actually on a church sign next door to my work. People who do not regularly attend church, and people who do can surely be encouraged by this sign's message.

For a long time, I used to think God was mad at me. I even thought He was disgusted with me at one time.

Many times, we see God as a mean stepfather who is just waiting for us to mess up so he can strike us down. To be sure, the Bible does make reference to God's wrath, and even Jesus is depicted as angry when He cleared the temple. He wasn't angry just because He was in a bad mood; He was angry at the way His temple was being used for profit and financial gain (let's not even go there right now).

What the church and the unbelieving world need to see is God as a loving Father. One who invites us to crawl up in His lap and just sit while He holds us. The Bible depicts Him as "gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in great kindness. Psalm 103:10 says that God has "not dealt with us according to our sin, nor punished us according to our iniquities." Why? Because He is gracious and merciful. His mercies are "new every morning." That means every day begins with a fresh supply of God's mercy, untainted by our failures of yesterday.

Might I add that all of the above exists because God chooses it to be that way. He is not angry at us. Now, don't go wild and get all sinned up because of this wonderful truth of God's grace. Grace is not license to sin, it is freedom to live.

For me this was a huge relief of many years of guilt and shame. I couldn't even pray, because I felt God was disgusted with me and couldn't even stand the sound of my voice. Quite the opposite, He can't wait for me to pray. In the same way I can't wait for my children to get home from school, God cannot wait for me to come to Him, only His love is immeasurably greater than my own.

He feels the same way about you. Don't take my word for it, ask Him.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Guilty Pleasures

Inspired by my close friend Rick, and cyber pal, The Cubicle Reverend, I have elected to participate in a survey.The topic is, "Top Ten Guilty Pleasures." I may actually have more than 10, but I'll try to keep it real. So, here they are, in no particular order:

  1. Professional Wrestling. Not just WWE though they are the Mecca of wrestling. I really prefer the old NWA back in the 80s. Ric Flair was in his prime, and Greg "The Hammer" Valentine was/is so cool. I have loved wrestling since I was 5 years old. Now my son enjoys it with me, though we change the channel when the Divas come out. Of course, my favorite wrestling is WFJ. Mayhem with a message!
  2. KISS will always be, in my opinion, the greatest rock band ever. These guys had it all, talent, charisma, and superior creativity. They are a regular in my CD player.
  3. The 3 Stooges are my favorite comic escape. How can you ever tire of those classic, timeless antics.
  4. Adam Sandler's movies. This guy is so funny and talented.
  5. All the John Hughes classics, Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Weird Science. Anthony Michael Hall was the consummate geek. I am pleased to see his acting career is still doing well and geek free.
  6. The music of Barry Manilow.
  7. The music of Hall and Oates. How can anyone ever tire of these two?
  8. John Boy and Billy Big Show every morning on Fox 102. For a bunch of self-proclaimed rednecks, these guys are really funny in an intellectual sort of way.
  9. Little House on the Prairie. With no father in the house growing up, I can honestly say I was "raised" by Charles Ingalls and his family. I learned values, honesty, and hard work from this show. I think I turned out OK, anyway. I watch it every night now with my children on TV Land.
  10. Doughnuts. I don't buy them, but if someone else buys them and offers them to me, I will not refuse. In my early 20s, I could scarf a dozen all by myself.

Well, there you have it, my top ten guilty pleasures. Say it with me, "BOOOR-ING!"

Thank you for playing.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

So long, November

I am in kind of a reflective mood today. December always does that to me. Last night I chatted with James for about an hour. I miss him terribly. I have friends here, to be sure, but a friendship like this only comes once in a lifetime.

December holds a lot of memories, too. Some good, some not.
  • My birthday is in December. Once I hit 30, I quit counting.
  • My first wife and I separated in December.
  • Two dear friends of mine passed away in December.
  • Then, of course, there's Christmas. Most people don't realize that Jesus was not actually born on December 25. Scholars believe it was actually around April.

I am sitting here at my desk, listening to the "Hurricane Hero," Harry Connick, Jr. sing Christmas songs, thinking about a lot of things. My eyes have actually teared up a couple of times. Just one of those reflective days.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Christmas Spirit Breaker

Today my company is a drop off point for Food and Toys for the needy. Half of the county police department is here, tents and tables are set up, food is being served, TV and radio will soon be here, Chrisrtmas music is blaring in the background, and something is just not right. It is the weather.

It is warm, humid, and 70 degrees here in Lexington, SC. I have prayed for cold weather; I have contacted my relatives in Wisconsin and asked them to send snow. All to no avail. The humidity is so thick I can hardly breathe. This is supposed to be November, isn't it?

I have lived in the south for 30 years, and my Wisconsin blood has never been able to adjust to this climate. I'm trying, but I cannot seem to feel Christmas cheer while perspiration rolls down my back.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Sick out, and Bruce Willis is still cool

Every couple of years the "crud" wreaks havoc with my immune system. I have been feeling less than great for about a week now. It usually lasts 5-10 days. Sinus, throat, chest, ears, and no sleep. Even Nyquil is falling short this time. May have to resort to the Sonny Corleone remedy, "get a little brandy, and sweat it out." Yuck.

At any rate, today is a special day for my oldest and dearest pal, James. He has reached the big 3-8. I will be following suit in a matter of days. We are celebrating 30 years of a childhood friendship that means more to me than words or blogs can express. Happy birthday, and Yippie Kai Yay, brother!

How cool that Die Hard was on last night. It really boosts the Christmas spirit!

Back to bed now.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Turkey Day Traditions

Happy thanksgiving, dear reader. May I add, thank you, for reading my blog. I sometimes get comments from people I don't know, and I think that's cool. That someone would even take the time is an honor to me. So, thanks!

My favorite Turkey Day tradition is not the turkey and/or the trimmings. The family time can be nice, but that's not it either. My two favorite traditions for thanksgiving are:

1) The Macy's Parade, and
2) Watching Home Alone thanksgiving night. I still laugh at the same things after all these years. My kids do too...well, my son does. The apple didn't land far from the tree.

Someday I will actually go to NYC and watch the parade in person. Until that day, I will merely be content to listen to Katie, Matt, and Al while enjoying the best seat in the house, and never have to do it alone.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I Feel Vindicated

The other day I posted on one of my least favorite preachers, Robert Tilton. Did I say, "Preacher?" I meant to say scam artist. The following link made me feel so good! Enjoy...and feel the power!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

One of the greatest has gone home

In my ministry career, I have heard some of the finest preachers on earth. One of the greatest of the great passed away last week. How the news got by me is a mystery, but the passing of Dr. Adrian Rogers gives us some tough shoes to fill.

My fondest memory of Dr. Rogers was hearing him speak at a Pastor's Conference in Jacksonville, FL in 2000. He spoke of how he had sat beside Muhammed Ali in his hotel room and shared Jesus with him. He was truly one of the greatest preachers ever. His commanding presence in the pulpit, his ability to tell a story, and his ability to break down the immortal Truths of God's Word have always been an inspiration to me in my own pulpit ministry. He will be greatly missed.

Church Signs 3

And if you keep using this ridiculously worn out church sign, I will not likely be back!

Do you want to know what is REALLY missing in Church? Honor, loyalty, compassion, reverence for God of the things, not the so-called things-of-God, genuine worship, friendship, understanding, Truth, and consequences.

Pity that the Mafia has a handle on these things and the Church does not.

What is missing in church? Jesus. But He is coming back. Could be today. Now is the time to love Him and grow up in Him. The Bible says, "BE ready," not "GET ready."

Maybe church needs to be the place where believers can BE together, and not just GET together.

Perhaps church could be the place where believers come to BE a blessing rather than GET a blessing.

Will we ever GET it?? I hope so.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Thanksgiving Thoughts

First, I apologize that I couldn't conjure a better title than this. But I am trying.

My pal, Rick posted on Thanksgiving today, and I was inspired to shamelessly copy him, rather than be original or creative.

Today I went to my children's school to watch one of my daughters give a presentation in her Gifted & Talented class. It was great, of course (proud parent to the core). I was sitting there, watching my daughter and her peers do their thing, and I began to flashback to when she was just a baby and sort of "watched" her grow up again in my memories to today.

I am so thankful that I have been able to be at just about every major event in my children's lives. Moreover, they have been there for mine, too. Furthermore, I am thankful that they still want me there. I am greatly blessed with phenomenal children. They are my heart, and my raison d'etre.

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a Daddy. I can honestly say that I would do anything for my children, and that I wouldn't trade anything for our time together.

If by chance any of them ever reads my pathetic little blog, I hope they see how much their Daddy loves and treasures them. Always.

Thank you for letting me be your Daddy, and I hope I always make you as proud as you make me.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Church Signs, Part 2

Are you kidding me? Are you now beginning to see why my hindquarters are chapped over church signs? I actually saw this one on a church sign in my neighborhood. In fact, it was the very church where I was pastoring at the time. When I drove by and saw it, I was horrified and immediately changed it, which went over like a you-know-what in church. At the time, the deacons took turns each week changing the sign. The fellow who's turn it was to change the sign on this occasion obviously possessed a "works" mentality and not one of grace. In his arrogant opinion, if you were not working in the church, you were "useless" (a direct quote). I blatantly disagreed, and continually proclaimed a message of grace and acceptance. People do not come to church looking for a job, they are looking for Jesus, and did NOT see it in this man's life. Sadly, the author of this sign became one of the largest thorns in my side in this church. He finally left after three very unsuccessful (and one very ugly) attempts to run me off. Unfortunately, he had planted many seeds of discord before his departure from the flock that exist even today, nearly 2 years after my own departure.

For the record, I took over the "Sign Ministry" at the church after this incident with very few objections.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Church Signs, Part 1

Today I want to begin a short series of blogs on "Church Signs That Really Chap My Hindquarters." We see them all over town, especially here in the tightest notch of the Bible Belt. Every day I see at least one church sign that makes me just want to call someone at the particular church and say, "Bet THAT sign really brings 'em in this week." You see, I am of the firm belief that church signs are not the place to broadcast crusty old church sayings. If I were an unchurched person and read some of the signs I've seen, I'd keep right on driving by. So anyway, off we go, with one of my personal non-favorites:

"Give God What's Right, Not What's Left."

Much to my shock and horror, the world of televangelism has allowed Robert Tilton back on the air. Most unchurched people think the church is already after their money anyway because of morons like brother Tilton and so many others. When I was 16, I ordered a set of Jerry Falwell's teachings on the Second Coming of Christ. It was my free gift for calling. As Mr.Yawn, my economics teacher in High School used to say, "There is no free lunch." In this case, there was no free gift, either. My payment for the Falwell teachings was to receive one letter a month from 1983 to 1989 from Dr. Falwell, BEGGING me to send my $1,000.00 donation or his ministry was going to go off the air. The letters stopped when I finally wrote Dr. Falwell personally explaining that I was a teenage student making $3.35 and hour (minimum wage at the time) and would not ever be sending in my $1,000.00 donation. I thanked him for the tapes on the Second Coming, and offered my condolences for the fact that despite his well documented predictions of the Lord returning in 1984 (five years prior), we were all still here. I then politely asked him to remove me from his mailing list.

It is now 2005, and I have not received even a postcard from Dr. F. and last time I checked, the Old Time Gospel Hour is still being aired, even without my assistance. Though I recently offered him $1,000.00 to go off the air. Still waiting for a reply...

Giving God what's right is a "Old Time Gospel Hour" way of referencing the biblical concept of tithing (10 percent of gross earnings). Tithing is an act of worship and obedience. Recall the story of the widow giving her mere pittance at the temple (the Widow's mite). Jesus didn't go up to her and say, "Hey, lady, give God what's right." Instead He told the other disciples to look at her and notice what a cheerful giver looks like.

"Give God What's Right and Not What's Left" sends the message to the unchurched that "we are not very accepting of people without money to give." Most people live beyond their means and are trying to put their children into college and retire one day. They don't have a lot of disposable income as it is. They would probably feel safer giving money to charity than to give to the local church, and with obnoxious church signs like this one, who can blame them?

One particular theme runs through the entire Bible. It is the theme of a kind, loving, gracious, and patient God Who is more interested in what He can give to you than in what you can give to Him. There is only one "right" thing to give God, and that is your heart.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Kinda melancholy today. Still bummed at the passing of Eddie Guerrero. Still waiting on a big commission check. All the usual tried-and-true sources of comfort and reassurance are not working, so I will need to dig deeper. However, work intrudes. So much is up in the air for me at this moment. Need to pay some bills and take a vacation. I'd love to just drive to the mountains for the day and ponder some of the things I am bummed about. I need to go to the dentist; I am long overdue for a checkup. I need a new prescription for my glasses. I need to lose about 30 pounds. I am not sleeping well.

I have the upcoming weekend off. No kids! Maybe I can recharge and reboot. A long nap may be in order.

Monday, November 14, 2005

In Memoriam

Last night the world of professional wrestling lost one of the truly great ones. Eddie was one of my favorites. I have shared the ring with his older brother, Hector. I never met Eddie personally, but Hector shared with me how Eddie's faith in Jesus Christ was the driving force of his life. WWE is not a Christian organization by a long shot, but I took great comfort that there were sheep amidst the wolves like Eddie Guerrero. His life and career were an inspiration. Wrestling will never be the same without him.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Control vs. Community

Allow me to be perfectly blunt: I am fed up, yes, FED UP with the local church. Where did the concept of the "local" church come from anyway? It is not in the Bible, that is certain. There were no denominations in the ancient times. There was "one church, one baptism, one faith." Since everyone couldn't be everywhere all at once, they congregated in local groups, where they "had everything in common." They shared their stuff with everyone. And the church grew spiritually and numerically, and the Word of the Lord spread.

Why did we change it? Did we feel the need to improve on God's design?

Perhaps it is a matter of control. Church history (too lengthy to recount on my humble blog) demonstrates that throughout the centuries, the Church in her various forms, led by well-intended individuals or groups, have created a system of control rather than a community of believers.

Have you ever tried to join a local church? Some are fairly simple. Others will have you attend a class or sign a Statement of Beliefs before you can join. In the New Testament, simple faith in Jesus as Lord got you in.

And don't even get me started on denominations.

Dr. Larry Crabb insists that the church ought to be the "safest place on earth." He is right, but is this the case? Do we share everything? Do I feel safe telling my Sunday School class all of my issues? Nope. Last time I shared personal stuff at church it ruined me.

Church as a community has a common bond (Jesus) and a common purpose (ministry and evangelism). Church as a system of control tells us how we should act, think, talk, sing, dress, walk, work, and worship. They make us feel like we are outcast if we don't do it this way or that.

I am reminded of a funny church sign, "Don't Let Stress Kill You; Let the Church Help."


Thursday, November 10, 2005

Comfort Zone Defense

"To be comfortable with uncertainty is to be free to grow and change."

I work for straight commission. I have not had a day off in 17 days. For 12 weeks I have been working 45-50 hours a week for free. When the commissions come, it will be huge, but each day is faced with the question, "Will I get paid today?"

I have two choices:

1) Grow where I am planted, or
2) Find a "normal" job.

I have chosen to grow here at LCB. I have never loved a job so much. I could not ask for a better work environment, or a better caliber of people to work with. I am planting seeds, and seeds take time to germinate, take root, and then blossom.

I am learning patience in a whole new way. My new "comfort zone" is one of uncertainty. It has remade me as a person.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Quantum Bleep

My co-worker recommended a movie to me called, "What the Bleep Do We Know?" Check out the site if you dare.

The movie is a combination of a poorly developed storyline mixed with most of the lectures I slept through in college. At the end of the movie, I found myself asking, "What the bleep was this about?"

Bleep deals with the human brain and quantum mechanics. As a devoted Star Trek fan, I have done my own research on quantum mechanics, and for what its worth, I was in agreement with the scholars from the film, with the exception of the chubby blond lady who claimed that we are all God. Poppycock.

The film's premise that we create our own reality by what we think was written a long time ago when Paul said, "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind." The computer acronym GIGO applies here, too. Garbage in, garbage out is true for the brain as well as a computer. Proverbs 22:17 says that "as a man thinks in his heart, so is he."

I would like to dig into this some more. I hesitate to recommend What the Bleep, but at the same time, I think we all need to flesh this out. I am reading Joel Osteen's book and he says, "It is time to think about what we think about." He asserts that if you think negatively, your life will be negative and vice-versa. Could it be that our brains are so powerful as to literally change the temperature of our existence? When Jesus spoke to the winds and the waves, was it a quantum miracle?

Is faith really just an exercise of quantum power? Did God make it that way?

Is the power to bless or curse with words another example of quantum mechanics at work?

Many questions. At any rate, I must flesh this out. I'll be the guy in the library hunched over the Steven Hawkings section.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Question of the day...?

Have you ever felt that the world is a tuxedo and you are a pair of brown shoes?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Halloween Humbug

Somehow I lost the excitement of Halloween this year. My kids went Trick-or-Treating with their mother. My step kids went with their mother, and I sat home alone. We had bought no candy, and I intentionally left all the lights off, so as not to draw T-or-T-ers to my home.

Between 6:30 and 7:15 pm, the doorbell rang at my house no less that 12 times.

"Look, Mommy, a house with no lights on. Maybe they have candy! Let's ring the doorbell several times and see!"

Relaxing upstairs in my room in an empty house, fighting the urge to answer the door with a flamethrower, I made use of my rare quiet time on Halloween counting the number of rings at my unlit doorbell.

To top it off, I forgot to watch "The Great Pumpkin." Can't wait for Thanksgiving!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Show me T-Money!

T-Money and Me at the WFJ Banquet in July Posted by Picasa

Saturday's WFJ show in Branchville was a huge success. Many came to know the Lord, and many were touched, including a few people in my home! It was great to see everyone in WFJ and I love watching them perform. Along with Tama, I provided ringside commentary and had a blast. The best part was no broken bones!

I have a confession to make. My favorite part of the WFJ show is NOT the wrestling. It is the chance to hang out, briefly or not, with T-Money, the heart and soul of WFJ. T-Money's real name is Timothy, and rightly so. Like the Timothy of the Bible, he has the heart of a pastor, and WFJ is his flock.

WFJ is a Christian organization located out of Langley, SC, aka, The Valley. Most of the wrestlers are from the valley, but quite a few are not. Some are from Charleston, Columbia, Newberry, and Augusta, GA. With WFJ being a Christian ministry, you might expect that all the wrestlers are perfect people and have no problems. Most churches would accept no less. WFJ accepts the least of the least. How do you think I got in?

Let me tell you where I was when I found WFJ. I was an outcast. I was on the back end of two divorces. One was from my wife of 13 years, who just didn't want to be married anymore. The second was from my church where I had pastored for almost 4 years. I hadn't done anything wrong. Even after the news of my separation and impending divorce, they allowed me to stay and minister there. They were very supportive on the surface, but then one person began stirring stuff, then another, then another...

Under intense pressure I resigned my pastorate. My colleagues and friends told me that I was never to step back into the pulpit again. All my life and education had been in preparation for the ministry. What was I going to do now?

Add to all of that the reality that I could not go out in my community without seeing people whispering behind my back and pointing. As a youngster I wanted to be popular, but this was not at all what I had imagined popularity to be like. I couldn't even register my children at school without catching the whisperers behind me. As a pastor I had spoken at two PTA meetings in front of hundreds of parents and teachers. Now I was a social outcast in my children's school. I was worried what this might do to them. Fortunately, the Lord protected them from any comments or other such nonsense. It was truly one of the worse times in my life.

Fast forward. It is November of 2004. I am happily re-married and working for the cable company. In my email box is a note inviting me to check out WFJ's website. The email was from The "B" Bryon James, who is now a treasured friend. I love wrestling. I have since I was a kid. I love Jesus and the ministry. Before I left my church, we were going to pit me and an ex-ECW wrestler who was a member of our church and a good friend in an exhibition match upon reaching 200 in Sunday School. We even had Nikita Koloff come to our church so the fire was hot for me in terms of mixing ministry and wrestling.

So I got Timothy's phone number off the website and sitting in the driveway of a "no-show" cable installation, I called him. He invited me to come to practice and listened as I shared my "shameful" tale. When I finished, I waited for him to say, "Well, Todd, your story is most unfortunate, and while Jesus loves you, there's just no way we could dirty ourselves by allowing you into our ministry." Quite the opposite, he said, "We aren't worried about that. Just come on and be a part of us."

Almost a year later, I have discovered over and over again that this is how Timothy is. He has a beautiful wife and family. He could have a better life financially than what he has. Yet he has chosen to work around WFJ. None of us are paid, by the way. In fact, Timothy has invested quite a chunk of his personal finances into this ministry.

Timothy is one of those rare people who just make you feel better having been around him. He is a builder of people. He takes time, lots of time, to minister to all of us. He never complains and never asks for anything in return. When I broke my arm, he called me every day for nearly a month to check on me. Never once did he say, "Well so much for your wrestling career." Instead he found other ways to use my gifts. Sometimes I get to offer the gospel message and invitiation at our shows, or lead Bible studies at practice. WFJ has given me back the ministry, but more importantly, WFJ has shown me grace that can only come from the Lord. God used Timothy to give a confused, beaten, burnt out case another chance and rebuild me into a much more gracious and accepting man of God than I ever was.

T-Money, you da man! The best is yet to come!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Branchville Bash 2

Ok, go ahead, if you will, and spew forth all of your "midlife crisis alert" comments, and then we will get to the nitty-gritty.

At age 37, I pursued professional wrestling as a pastime. I met a group who uses the platform of pro-wrestling as a means to proclaim the gospel. I love wrestling, and I love Jesus. I reasoned that I wasn't getting any younger, and having been divorced, was limited in my ministry options. Welcome to life in the buckle of the Bible belt.

For six weeks I trained every Saturday. I would literally ache in places I had no inkling would hurt, but I went back for more every week. Additionally, I was building a camaraderie with a group of people that I can now say I dearly love. I was improving in skill, not hurting quiet as much, and so Timothy, aka T-Money, the CEO of WFJ thought I was ready to make my wrestling debut... a referee. It wasn't a world title shot, but I was on it. Our first show was out in the middle of nowhere in a place called Branchville, SC. We arrived early, and I wanted to get in wrestling training before the show. T-Money enlisted one of WFJ's distinguished veterans, a cool cat named Dynamite Dave, to work with me. Dave had been beaten with a strap by the legendary Wahoo McDaniel early in his career, and knew a lot of the legends I grew up watching on TV as a teenager. So I was honored to have him teach me some basics.

One of the premiere wrestling moves everyone must master is called a "back bump." You literally fall backwards, tuck your chin, and land on your shoulder blades, which absorb the shock quite nicely if you do it right. I was not. So Dave was going to use one of the more effective methods of training me to teach me how to do a professional back bump. I was a most eager student.

I assumed the ready position (later to find out there was no actual ready position in wrestling...only tennis) and without warning, which is the proper way to master this technique, Dynamite Dave hit me with the force of a perfect dropkick. I went back with heavy force, and, somewhat startled, instinctively reached out to catch myself (NEVER DO THIS) the next thing I recall is the sound of my right forearm literally snapping. I heard the snap, then I looked at my arm (NEVER DO THIS EITHER) and realized my right forearm was in the shape of a capital "C."

Suddenly I was the object of much attention. I regretted this because I really was about to vomit. Another wrestler, Deuce, told me to breathe deeply. The nausea began to subside, but the pain was unbelievable. One of our security guys was also an EMT, and for 45 minutes while we waited on the ambulance (recall I am in the middle of nowhere) held my arm in traction, easing the pain somewhat. Thanks again, Brian!

There is an old saying among Christians that sometimes a man has to get flat on his back in order to look up at God. On March 12, 2005, I was that man. I had been running from God, running from ministry, and running from myself. Now I was literally flat on my back in a strange place. I recalled an old sermon of mine based on Psalm 23 where I illustrated that actual Shepherds will break the leg of a sheep if it falls into the "Cast" position, where they have fallen over and cannot get up due to the excess weight and fleece. The shepherd first shears the sheep of all its fleece, the thing that makes it most significant. He then takes the naked sheep and breaks its right foreleg. The result of this is that the sheep now has to be carried by the shepherd for awhile. Also, the shepherd deliberately places the ear of the sheep over his heart. Eventually, the sheep, which would have otherwise died, regains its equilibrium and is able to rejoin the flock.

That is what I needed. Just to be out of commission for awhile and listen to the Shepherd's Heart. It was truly a life-changing experience.

Tonight WFJ is back in Branchville, and I'm going. I will most likely do ringside commentary and maybe help with the ministry part afterwards. Can't get hurt that way. It is now 7 months later, and my arm is 98% healed. It has been a long process. I will need to wait at least 6 months to begin wrestling training again. I will be 38 years old. We'll see what happens. What will I feel as I walk into that gymnasium so far away from home and everything else? I don't know. I do know that I have an 8 inch scar on my right forearm that daily reminds me of how awesome God is, and of how NOT to take a back bump.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Now he tells us

The following was sent to me in an email from my brother, who is also a die hard Trekker. I wonder if Chekov was aware of this....

George Takei Says He's Gay
Actor Is Best Known for Role of Mr. Sulu on Star Trek

LOS ANGELES (Oct. 27) - George Takei, best known for his role as Mr. Sulu in "Star Trek," came out as homosexual in the current issue of a magazine covering the Los Angeles gay and lesbian community.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

I miss my Harley!

My Sleeping Beauty

My Sleeping Beauty Posted by Picasa

Today's blog is about my wife, Tracy. The above photo was taken while we were on our way to Walterboro, SC, where I was to preach at a church that day. It was an hour and 15 minute drive.

Tracy is a helper. In her position as a CNA/Nurse Tech, it befalls her to care for the elderly in the same way one would care for an infant. She feeds, bathes, changes (yes diapers), and generally cares for elderly people placed in a permanent care facility. She takes great care in preserving their dignity and making them feel special all the while. I have watched her at work. It is a sight to behold, and the residents and their families all adore her. No surprise to me.

Tracy is a giver. She will do anything for anyone. She knows how to say no, but chooses not to. We have sort of "adopted" a young teen who needed some love and parental guidance. Yup, it was Tracy's idea. Both of Tracy's brothers are living with us right now. She does their laundry, cooks their meals, prepares their lunches, and picks up after them. Might I add she does all of this cheerfully and voluntarily. She works all day long, and has the energy and heart to do these things when she comes home. Note that all of this is above and beyond her primary duties.

Tracy is a trip! Man can she make me laugh! We have so much fun together. Sometimes, well most of the time, I want to steal her away and have her all to myself. I am planning a trip for just such a purpose. She is not selfish at all. She wants nothing for herself, except to be loved and provided for. If we lived in a motor home with only three wheels, she would keep it clean, find a place for everyone to sleep, and make it fun.

Tracy is a mother. We are a blended family. I have three children and she has four. When I first introduced my 3 to her, they loved her right away, and she them. I pray one day that all of our children realize what a wonderful woman this is who feeds and cares for them. She washes, folds, and puts away all of their clothes. She makes sure everyone gets their medicine at the right times every day. She helps with homework. She never does this grudgingly, and she doesn't do it because no one else will. She does it out of pure love.

Tracy is my wife. She is my best friend, lover, and soulmate. The Bible uses the phrase, 'ezer kenegdo, which is a Hebrew expression sort of conveying the idea of a missing piece completing a puzzle. Tracy completes me. She is the only woman in the world to ever make my coffee. She herself doesn't drink the stuff, but she makes it for me. She was made to be a minister's wife. Anything I do in church, praying, preaching, singing, or ministering at the altar, causes her eyes to light up with a pride and love that only a wife could have. The picture of her sleeping above is special to me. She could have stayed home and slept that day while I went and preached. That would have been fine. But she wouldn't have missed being there to see me preach for all the tea in China. She couldn't keep her eyes open coming or going, but when her husband was preaching, she was wide awake. Her eyes are the most beautiful things I have ever seen. They are so full of love and compassion. She is so very passionate. What she loves and believes in drives her. I am blessed, so very blessed, that God gave her to me.

Tracy is God's daughter. His baby girl. She has been through so much in her life. In every moment, good or bad, God was there, protecting and guarding her. He had big plans for her, and was getting her ready. There has not been one moment of her life that God has not loved her absolutely. He is going to do huge things through her life. He already is. Maybe one day the world will see these huge things. Maybe only her family and the host of Heaven will see it. At any rate, God sees. I believe He looks at Tracy and then calls everyone in Heaven over and points with joy while exclaiming, "Look at her! That's how I want it done! Isn't she precious!" Her earthly father abandoned and neglected her. Her Heavenly Father adores and cheers her while guiding and loving her through each day.

Tracy, I love you more today than I did yesterday, and as hard as it is to imagine, I will love you more tomorrow than I do right now. Thank you for being you, thank you for being there, and thank you for being my wife. I hope we get really, really old together.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

No more ice cream at bedtime

On a typical night I sleep very soundly. So much so that it takes much effort to awaken me during the night. Case in point, back when I was pastoring, I was summoned in the middle of the night to attend to a family who had just lost a loved one. It was about 1:00 am, and to this day, I barely recall actually going. I remember that I did in fact go and sit with Mrs. Doby, but the details are a bit hazy. I hope I didn't say anything dumb. Sleep-pastoring? A new mental disorder which I may delve into in another blog.

Last night I was awakened rather suddenly, which, as I said before, is hard to do. But this time it wasn't a family emergency, or a sick child, or my dog, Levi, sticking his big wet nose in my face desiring a late-night petting. This was something I haven't experienced in a long time.

I had a bad dream.

Bear in mind I seldom recall my dreams. I wake up in the morning and the dreams are gone. Last night I remembered the whole thing. The dream began with my co-workers, friends, and family at a restaurant being merrily led by yours truly in a chorus of Elton John's, "Crocodile Rock." Then I had to leave to go to another engagement. I was driving my old 1990 Nissan Sentra, which in reality was totaled by the ex-wife on I-85 near Cary, NC. She was OK, the car was a goner. I now drive a 97 Chevy S-10. Nevertheless I was in my Sentra in the dream.

Suddenly I had taken a wrong turn and was in the woods driving along a spooky looking trail headed toward a cabin. I felt an eerie presence, so I rolled up the car window, leaving it cracked slightly (which I always do...I need air). Without warning there were hands covering my ears, and another set of hands grabbing my shoulders, but they were not hurting me. In my mind I felt the hands were leading somewhere I didn't want to go, only I didn't mind. I believe it was Deceit leading me into some terrible sin with grave consequences. I'd been here too many times before. I began to resist.

I startled awake and immediately began to pray. I confessed every known sin. My heart was pounding and I even nudged my beautiful wife Tracy and told her I'd had a bad dream. She mumbled something about Root Beer and put her arm around me. So there I was, late last night, praying until I finally dozed off again while my semi-comatose wife laid her arm on me.

I woke up this morning feeling somewhat rested and glad to see the sunlight. I prepared my coffee, showered, dressed, and out the door I went. I was never happier to see my truck in the driveway. I arrived at work this morning and got settled in. As I began to post this blog, guess what was playing on the radio?

Elton John's Crocodile Rock.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Daddy's Chair

There is a sacred place in my house. It is my chair. My recliner. My source of comfort and relaxation. No one can sit in it but me. I work for a living. I pay for everything, and all I ask for is this one chair...all to myself...all mine.

Yet every time I leave the room, someone is sitting in my chair. MY chair...MY world! It's MINE! I make the child get up, and remind them that there are other places to sit in the house, and that this chair is not one of them. Not for you, anyway. It's MINE!

Then it occurred to me. What if God, MY father, MY Daddy, kicked me out of His private place everytime I tried to get in it. I shed tears this morning over the thought of a loving, selfless, Heavenly Dad who welcomes me into His Most Holy Place anytime I want to come in. I can crawl in His recliner, watch the tube, eat my chips and look at Him and say, "Daddy, this is the life." My children have not had that privilege. I have not offered it to them.

They love me so much that they feel perfectly comfortable "invading" my personal space at anytime. In return, I kick them out. Not anymore.

Today, I am going to offer my chair to whoever wants it. Then I am going to wait on them hand and foot. Maybe we will have a family devotion tonight on Selflessness.

I still love my chair and the comfort it brings. But I have a brand new outlook and perspective. "Daddy's Chair" is for everyone to enjoy, and so is Daddy.

Thanks, Father...I mean, Daddy.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Now, I'm really gonna sing!

Is it possible to have missed God's perfect will? Let me explain...

I recall the day as if it were moments ago. Truly, it was one of the first big "God" moments of my life. The first of many, might I add.

There I was, kneeling at my bed, Bible open, needing an answer to the question, "Why am I here?" I was a new Christian and only 16 years old. I felt as if my life were a mistake and wondered what purpose there was for me. I was saved now and going to Heaven. What was God waiting for? I wanted to go right then, but I knew I'd have to wait. I said, "Lord, I am Your servant. Tell me what You want me to do with my life."

Though the Bible was open, I had not yet chosen a passage to read. At the end of my prayer, I looked down and saw Colossians 3:16, "Let the Word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God." That was it! Before I got saved, I had the typical adolescent fantasy of being a singer, or playing in a band. I wanted to sing like the masters, Barry Manilow, Tom Jones, Dean Martin, and of course, Frank Sinatra. When they sang, it was from their gut. No cheesy falsetto with these men.

So that was my answer. I was to sing for Jesus. Though I had never sung in public in my life, I auditioned for the musical, "The Witness," at my church. My audition was probably the worse anyone had ever heard. I couldn't sight read and had no musical training, except singing at home into the mirror. Miraculously, I got the lead part of Peter. Scared to death doesn't begin to capture my emotional roller coaster prior to the event. I never actually threw up, as I've heard that some singers do before a performance, but I sure could have.

When the musical was over, I don't remember anything except a huge sense of relief, and Pastor Davis hugging me. After that moment, I felt as if I were right in the center of God's will. Talk about a "happy place." That was it. Singing the Lord's praise was/is my happy place.

Then why did my life's journey take me into the preaching ministry? Am I a singer who sometimes preaches, or a preacher who sometimes sings? Did I miss God's perfect will by choosing to take the educational path of Bible exegesis and preaching? I thought I had until I read the verse again this morning.

"Let the WORD (emphasis mine) of Christ richly dwell in you, teaching and admonishing...(THEN) singing..."

God has meticulously led me on a journey of building a solid biblical foundation. And although I have "renounced" my Southern Baptist roots, I do not believe I'd have received the quality Bible education I got from anywhere else. Along the way, there have been life lessons and experiences that I'd have chosen to avoid (given such a choice).

Mix it all up, add a little jazz, and you have a 37 year old husband and father who no longer pastors, but still preaches and sings (or sings and preaches). I am writing songs every day, and we'll see what the Lord does with them. Maybe they're just for me to sing to Him. Maybe He'll let me share them with you. One of my original songs was recorded in 2002. I will try to figure out a way to get a link/stream or whatever, if anyone actually wants to hear it.

Where it goes from here is gonna be one fun ride.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Peekaboo! more pictures. Posted by Picasa

Resistance is futile

Today has been a tough one. There is a principle that Dr. Jack Hayford teaches called the Principle of Resistance. For every advance of the Kingdom of God, there is a counter attack by hell's forces.

God has been advancing in my life recently, and much has happened. Financial troubles, ex-spouse troubles, teenager troubles, church troubles, etc. They all seemed to pile up today.

My wife had an amazing time at the women's retreat this past weekend. It is easy to see that the enemy is threatened and he is trying to cause resistance in the lives of two of God's babies.

The Bible says that "No weapon formed against us will prosper." In other words, "resistance is futile," to quote the Borg. The enemy's fate is sealed. The war is over. He is defeated, and we are victorious. The enemy can bring it but he can't use it to defeat us. He has NO power and NO authority to mess with our lives this way. He is rebuked, and Father is with us!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Am I famous?

Last night was huge. That's the best word I can come up with. After a long time of sitting in the pew, I was put back in the pulpit last night at my church. I preached like it was my last time. I preached on hell from Luke 16:19-31 and Mark 9:42-ff. God's favor was with me, and I received another unexpected miracle.

My 15 year old son Steven received Jesus Christ last night. Oh, how his mother and I have been praying for him.

Thank you Jesus, that his name is now written in Your book of life. Thank you, Pastor Dave, for sharing the pulpit with me. Thank you, church family, for being there and loving me anyway.

After the service, people were lined up to speak to me and express their gratitude for the message. My daughter Katie tapped me on the side and motioned for me to bend down so she could whisper in my ear. She very earnestly asked, "Daddy, are you famous?"

Not in this world, Katie, but I think I made news in Heaven last night! Thank You, Lord.

P.S. No casualties from the weekend. We all survived and Mom had a great women's retreat.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Another Proud Parent Moment

4 of my 7 children made the Honor Roll! One of the 4 made the Principal's List, which is all A's!

In middle school, my best friend James and I were on the Principal's List, but it was a different list!

I am very proud of my bunch, even the ones who fell short of honor roll status. Remember it's not how you start but how you finish that really counts.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Never just a haircut

One of my best friends is Angela Hill (see links section). She and her husband Tim are two people who fall under my "Solid Gold" category. Back in the day, she was just my hairstylist. Now she is a budding Christian Country Superstar. I will not try to tell Angela's testimony here, but it is a powerful one. Go to her link. Her music really tugs the heartstrings of the downtrodden and brokenhearted.

Angela has been cutting my hair for 7 years, and whenever I go in, I never get just a haircut. Angela and her Mom, Fran, are a ministry team. Over the last 7 years I have been prayed for, prayed with, invited in to prayer, ministered to, rebuked, encouraged and blessed.

All for the price of a haircut.

Now my hairstylist is going to Nashville to perform at the CCMA Awards Nov. 5-10. I know that the Lord is gonna use Angela and that new opportunities will open for her. I have always known they would.

NowI am left with the dilemma of who's gonna cut my hair. I may just have to drive to Nashville for my bi-monthly tweak. Where else can I go to get a haircut, a blessing, and a song for one low price?

Angela, I am proud of you and excited about what's next.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Weekend Warrior

My wife is going on a women's retreat this weekend. This leaves me home to attend to the children...all 7 of them. I will post on Monday how I did and report any casualties.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Have you lemon and butter?

On the left corner of my desk sits a "megarita" sized cup containing a blue fish. That is until today. When feeding him today, I noticed that he had gone to fish heaven.

I recall my first day on the job wondering why I had a fish on my desk to begin with. Now that he is gone, I miss him. I never even named the fish.

At any rate, I performed my first (hopefully last) Fish Funeral.

For no reason, I recalled a spinoff from the old "Barney Miller" 70's TV series starring Abe Vigoda (how old is he now, 1000?) called, "Fish."

There's something fishy about that (like you didn't know that was coming!).

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Before Heaven

I have always wanted to make a list of things I wanna do before I die. My motto is, "Get busy living!" It is taken from The Shawshank Redemption, one of my favorite films. The defining moment for me was the line, "You have two choices, get busy living or get busy dying." At the time, I was going through a separation and divorce, and so I decided to get busy LIVING.

Here is just a partial list of things I wanna do before I expire (hopefully no time soon):

1) Own another Harley. I miss my bike.
2) Put my wife on the back of said Harley and ride with no worries and no hurry to get home.
3) Jump out of an airplane. Yes, with a parachute.
4) Go to New York City and just hang out for a few days.
5) Go to Las Vegas to catch Manilow's show.
6) Be financially independent...SOON!
7) Be buff. Why not? I have been average with extra padding long enough.
8) Win the WFJ US Heavyweight title.
9) Take my family to Disney World.
10) Increase my net worth to $500,000 by 2008. A bit lofty, but why not?

Remember, dear reader, you have two (2) choices: get busy living or get busy dying.

Make your lists!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Help me, Rhonda

I think that my views of Christian music of today are fairly well documented within the confines of my humble blog. I was in Christian Radio back in the 80s, and I did a lot of local singing. The songs of that day just seemed to challenge me more. Maybe I am just showing my age. But I have good news.

At long last, the winds of change seem to be blowing in the realm of Contemporary Christian Music! Allow me to introduce someone who I discovered on the web, Rhonda McCoy. She is a christian jazz singer out of Virginia. Visit my link section and check her out. Now! Go!

Welcome back! So what did you think? I have not recommended a Christian singer since the late Rich Mullins. However, it gives me great joy to present Rhonda to you. Those of you who live in my area will be treated to a visit by Mrs. McCoy as soon as I can work out the details. Meanwhile, go back and buy her CD.

A reviewer of her CD at called her the "Diana Krall" of Christian Jazz. That's major. Mrs. Elvis Costello is a staple in my regular CD playlist. She is now joined by Rhonda McCoy.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Go, God!

This morning I baptized my sister's two sons. Both of my nephews are great. Justin is so athletic. He is 12, but I think if I provoked him enough, he could whip me. Jacob (Jake) is his younger brother, and the comic relief of the bunch. Jake is the life of every family gathering. In 1983 I watched as their mother got baptized. That was a proud happy moment in and of itself. I never thought I'd ever be baptizing her boys much less anyone else. I have had the privilege of baptizing 4 of my 7 kids and my wife. In a few weeks, I will have the honor of standing to baptize my stepfather, who has been more like a Dad to me than any man on this earth. I prayed for his salvation for 13 years. He was a tough nut to crack, but the Lord specializes in cracking us nuts. He and my Mom both attend church and now Sunday School. Go, God!

My sister's church has evidence of God all over it. The pastor is a man who I knew as a kid growing up. He was a wild one. You should've heard him preach today! Go, God!

I also saw a man there today I went to school with and played football with in middle school. This guy was a BAD kid. He was in trouble all the time and seemingly destined for jail or worse. A couple years ago God gloriously saved him and his wife. Now they are active in the church and their son helped with the baptism today. Go, God!

Then at the end of today's service, a young couple joined the church and got saved. You guessed it, another former schoolmate who was on the wild side. Go, God!

The rest of you wild tough nuts better look out; if you don't want to be gloriously saved and changed, stay away from Pastor Chris and my sister's church!

Go, God!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

A Proud Parent Moment

My 12 year old son, Cody, is a 7th grader who does high school math and college level reading. Talking to him is like talking to a very smart grown up, and yet he is still very much a kid. He loves the Lord. At a recent Acquire the Fire event, he went with the youth from our church (my firstborn is now in the youth group...AHHHHHH!!!!), and he gave his birthday money during the offering. The other teens couldn't figure out why he would do that. It was a $20 bill. Thank you, Lord, that my children are learning the joy of giving over receiving. To be honest, I was a bit surprised that he did that myself.

Now he has been tapped by Duke University because of his Homeschool Placement Test scores to participate in their TIP program

He is the only one of my children who is homeschooled, and his mother (my ex-wife) and I have probably heard every reason not to do it. Both sides of Cody's family have all protested and told us how crazy it is to homeschool him. "He needs to be around other kids." Well, he is. I have 7 kids in my home. He is in the youth group at my church and his mother's church. He takes Karate. He was just too smart for public school. There, I said it. They were stifling his potential, so we decided to homeschool him.

Now he has Duke University schmoozing him at 12 years old.

To all of you who gave me crap about homeschooling Cody, I have only one intelligent thing to say:

THHHHHPPPPPPPTTTTT!!! (Apparently Cody's smarts were acquired from the maternal genes).

I'd always hoped he'd be a Gamecock or a Wisconsin Badger, but I'll take him being a Blue Devil, especially if they pay for his college!

I am so proud of you, son. I love you, and you will always be Daddy's boy!

Friday, October 07, 2005

My Seattle, My Pride

I have had the privilege of travelling quite a bit for a guy who's usually broke or close to it. On of my favorite places to visit is Seattle, Washington. My brother lives there with his precious wife and daughter (with whom I had the distinct privilege of playing "Pirates" on my last visit).

I have been to several big cities in my travels, the trips usually funded by the company I was working for at the time. Atlanta, St. Louis, Kansas City, New York City (ever too brief lost in Queens), Madison WI (born there, done that), Chicago, and of course, Seattle.

In most of the big cities, I found much pretention among the city dwellers, many of them transplants with no love for their city. In Seattle, however, I found real people of all ages who work very hard and are mighty proud of their fine city. Even the beggers on the street had a certain charm I cannot seem to find in my own city back east. So much to look at. So many great places to eat. So much dang coffee. I actually saw two Starbucks across the street from each other. The very thrill of crossing the street to get your White Chocolate Mocha obliterated by the driving force of caffeinated capitalism.

While in Seattle my brother took me to a Mariners game. Thousands of people in that huge city had nothing better to do that day than go to a ball game! They wouldn't have been anywhere else. They are mighty proud of their sports teams.

And oh, the seafood. A bowl of chowder at Duke's changed me from seafood no to seafood yes. They are mighty proud of their food.

That's my take on the great city of Seattle.

Today I met a coworker's nephew who just returned home from service in Iraq. I introduced him to two of my kids. I said, "Boys this is John. He is a Marine who has been serving our country in Iraq." As I said these words, to my surprise, my voice cracked and my eyes teared slightly. I was mighty proud to be standing in the same room with one of our nation's heroes. The way my boys looked at him was priceless. Even they knew how special John and those who protect our country are.

Good times or bad, I am mighty proud to be an American, and the fighting men and women over there fighting for us are awesome. They are my heroes.

Mon Capitanes!

I have two heroes: Captain James T. Kirk and Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Why, you may ask, at 37 years old (almost 38) am I still looking up to two larger-than-life fictional characters? Silly though it may be, here goes:

Captain Kirk is bold, fearless, and in charge. He is creative in his problem-solving. He keeps going when everyone else would just give up and die. As Bones said in ST:IV, Kirk "turns death into a fighting chance at life." He just won't take no for an answer. When the crew asked why, he would ask, "Why not?"

Captain Picard has many of the same qualities as Kirk, yet he is also compassionate, cultured, and down-to-earth. He speaks with authority and can convince you to do anything, and yet you don't mind because his tone is gentle. He is diplomatic and can diffuse even the toughest of situations by talking and reasoning.

Put the two together, and you have a character combination worth striving for.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Accepting Obedience

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to live in obedience to him. Let your roots grow down into him and draw up nourishment from him, so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught. Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for all he has done. (Colossians 2:6-7, New Living Translation).

I have a personal issue. Call it a character flaw if you like. I don't like to be told what to do. I am not sure when or how this started. I think it may be a family trait in the male gene pool. Maybe this is why I preferred to play alone for the most part as a kid. By myself, I only answered to myself. Then Jesus came along when I was 16.

When I got saved it was glorious. You shoulda been there. After I got saved it was harder. All of a sudden I was being deluged with a list of do's and don'ts. Gotta pray, give, go to church 3-4 times a week, dress right, live right, talk right, listen to this music and not that, etc...

I don't like to be told what to do. 21 years later I still struggle.

Todd: Do I have to read my Bible EVERY day??

God: Todd, I love you.

Todd: How about 15 minutes a day? 10? Will that be enough?

God: Todd, I really love you.

Todd: Can I write you an IOU on this month's tithe so my Cable won't be cut off.

God: Todd, I spin around wildly with joy at the thought of you!

You get the picture I guess. His love for me is settled. I can't do anything to increase or decrease it. On April 11, 1983, I accepted that love.

On October 5, 2005, I settled my love for Him by accepting a lifestyle of obedience. I still don't like to be told what to do, but I love the Lord and I trust Him to guide my life. Therefore I must decrease and He must increase. I desire to be deeply rooted in Him, strong and vigorous in the faith, and to overflow with thanksgiving (not whining). Jesus said if I love Him I will keep His commandments. Words like surrender and submit are for my growing.

21 years in the faith, and today I decided to grow up! What took me so long?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Things I love

I love the Lord, with all of my heart, soul, mind, body and strength. I don't always understand him, and sometimes He makes me angry...only because He is always right I am always wrong. But I love Him and will never let go of Him.

I love my wife very much. I love her eyes, her smile, and her laugh. I love her heart, because frankly, it's bigger than her brain. That's how it should be. You should watch her take care of everybody at home and where she works. I have never seen such love in a woman ever before. She has a servant's heart that I am certain makes the Lord say, "Yeah, that's how to do it." I am blessed to have her.

I love my children. Watching them grow up every day (too fast) is more fun than a Sanford and Son marathon. Their lives are so innocent and pure. It terrifies me when I cannot be with them and protect them sometimes. I know the Lord can protect them much better than I, but I would walk through fire for every last one of them. I envy them. I would give my right arm to go back to myself at their age and tell myself to take a different direction at certain times. My children haven't had the chance to make the mistakes I made, and I pray like mad that they won't.

I love my church. Pastor Dave and the church family have helped me be excited about church again. Even when I was pastoring, I wasn't this excited about church. Great things are about to happen there. You can feel it as soon as you walk in the doors.

I love my job. They say working with successful people makes you more successful. Well, the jury is still out on me being successful at work, but it has done wonders for me to be here with JJ and KQ. I have learned so much from them, personally as well as professionally.

I love my friends. I don't have many, but the ones I have, I have had for a LONG time. They are loyal, and they are gold. SOLID gold.

I love my pets. No matter what mood I'm in, they just cozy up in my lap and want my attention. They don't mind if I'm broke, tired, or discouraged. They love me no matter what. Isn't that how God is?

I love my family. My folks don't always like me, but they love me. My sisters have great kids and married great men.

I love music with substance. Today's Christian music stinks, in my opinion. Give me Keith Green, Rich Mullins, Michael W. Smith, Clint Brown, DeGarmo & Key, or Mylon LeFevre. Even Steve Taylor has substance. I also love the smooth and heartfelt melodies of jazz. No one can sing it like Sinatra, and I am not too macho to admit that after 20 years, I never tire of Manilow.
I love people who are real. Maybe that's why the Christian music of today irks me. It is so "Cotton Candy." It looks like a lot, but when you bite into it, there is nothing there but air. People can be like that, too. I have always just tried to be me. What you see is what you get. To do this, you have to know yourself and be happy with you. It has taken years, but I am getting there. Jesus had a word for those who pretend to be something they're not: hypocrite. Ouch.

I love my truck. It is old and worn, but it is mine. It has taken me everywhere I needed to go for a long time, and it's almost paid for!

Finally, I love getting older. As the great Ric Flair once said, "Space Mountain may be the oldest ride in the park, but it still has the longest line!'

Monday, October 03, 2005

Fresh Air, Breaking Wind

One of my old SBC buddies posted a blog bashing women preachers. To imply that someone like Joyce Meyer is not in her right place in ministry is just arrogant. The Bible DOES speak of female deacons and prophetesses. How can we claim to "rightfully divide" God's Word and insert our own prejudices? I am beginning to suspect that the SBC hates women.

How can you not like Joyce Meyer? My wife is reading a JM book right now and has turned three other ladies onto it. It is changing their lives. According to my SBC friend, it is OK for the ladies to read it and be taught, but if I read it, then that is not biblical.

I am no Bible scholar, and I do not feel like delving into a dissertation in defense of women in the pulpit. But I will offer this:

Joyce Meyer's book has been a breath of fresh air into my wife's spiritual walk. I see the difference in her life. Why is it that anytime the Lord has breathed Fresh Air into my life over the years, the powers-that-think-they-be in the good ol' SBC try to pollute that fresh air with the flatulence of their own pseudo-theological, politically motivated, denominational bigotry?

To insist that God can't do something or use someone because it clashes with our predilections and/or denominations no doubt chokes out the sweet aroma in God's nostrils with something more foul and offensive than anything I've ever experienced in an elevator full of quiet people.

To me, the whole thing just stinks.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

A New Attitude

My, my...since last post things sure have turned around. I am not nearly as depressed as I was back in November. So much has happened, not all good. The main thing is that I am rediscovering the joy of my relationship with Jesus. I have suffered much loss these last two years, yet I have gained so much more. My pastor keeps telling me that God has such wonderful plans for me and my wife. What if He doesn't? Does God's love HAVE to culminate in some ministry job? I don't care if I ever preach again. I am content in just knowing Him and loving Him. I literally depend on Him every moment of the day. Especially when I am behind the wheel. I'm much more relaxed now while driving, but please don't pull out in front of me and then slow down. You may get the high sign! :o)

Thank you, Jesus, for everything. I never thought I'd utter those words again. I love you, and You are my everything.