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!

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2453217212869715744

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

BLAH-g

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."

Uh-huh.

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. www.whatthebleep.com

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!