Thursday, December 22, 2005

Nut-job gets restraining order against Letterman

Letterman Lawyers Fight Restraining Order
Dec 21, 4:25 PM EST
The Associated Press

SANTA FE, N.M. -- Lawyers for David Letterman want a judge to quash a restraining order granted to a Santa Fe woman who contends the CBS late-night host used code words to show he wanted to marry her and train her as his co-host.

A state judge granted a temporary restraining order to Colleen Nestler (a.k.a "Nut Job," added by yours truly...), who alleged in a request filed last Thursday that Letterman has forced her to go bankrupt and caused her "mental cruelty" and "sleep deprivation" since May 1994.

Nestler requested that Letterman, who tapes his show in New York, stay at least 3 yards away and not "think of me, and release me from his mental harassment and hammering."
Lawyers for Letterman, in a motion filed Tuesday, contend the order is without merit and asked state District Judge Daniel Sanchez to quash it.

"Celebrities deserve protection of their reputation and legal rights when the occasional fan becomes dangerous or deluded," Albuquerque lawyer Pat Rogers wrote in the motion.
Nestler told The Associated Press by telephone Wednesday that she had no comment pending her request for a permanent restraining order "and I pray to God I get it."
Sanchez set a Jan. 12 hearing on the permanent order.

Letterman's longtime Los Angeles lawyer, Jim Jackoway, said Nestler's claims were "obviously absurd and frivolous." "This constitutes an unfortunate abuse of the judicial process," he said.
Nestler's application for a restraining order was accompanied by a six-page typed letter in which she said Letterman used code words, gestures and "eye expressions" to convey his desires for her.

She wrote that she began sending Letterman "thoughts of love" after his "Late Show" began in 1993, and that he responded in code words and gestures, asking her to come East.
She said he asked her to be his wife during a televised "teaser" for his show by saying, "Marry me, Oprah." Her letter said Oprah was the first of many code names for her and that the coded vocabulary increased and changed with time. Her letter does not say why she recently sought a restraining order. Rogers' motion to quash the order contends the court lacks jurisdiction over Letterman, that Nestler never served him with restraining order papers, and that she didn't meet other procedural requirements.

(On a completely unrelated topic, the year-in-review Jib Jab is pretty good. You can see it here; click the Jib Jab link in middle of page)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Persons of the Year

Last evening I read with great interest the newest edition of TIME magazine. It's their annual Person of the Year edition. This year, they chose three people for their efforts to change the world - Bono and Bill & Melinda Gates (the byline calls them "The Good Samaritans"). It's quite a fascinating read that I recommend. Of course, all of these people are highly criticized for this or that. Reminds me of an anonymous quote I once saw in Reader's Digest:
"To avoid criticism is to do nothing, to say nothing, and to be nothing."

A friend of mine who occasionally checks in here once said of Bono "Who made him president, anyway?" To which I replied I would vote for him tomorrow. He's getting more accomplished than most politicians can ever dream. He's more than your typcial loudmouth rock star. He's a student of the world, and has an unbelievable strategic effort behind the scenes to end poverty and provide vaccines to millions who don't have access to the health care we take for granted. The Edge (did his mother name him that?) said that the best thing U2 has going for it is that Bono is "unelectable." Not sure what he means exactly, but I think he's right.

As for the Gates', they're attacking the root of the problems of both hunger and disease in some very interesting ways. Yes, as my father-in-law whined last night "Sure they're giving billions...they've got billions to give!" ( far, their foundation has an endowment of something like 29 billion)Lots of folks have that opinion. But most people are doing nothing with what they personally have. These people have the influence and the dollars to make the world better in a hurry, and they refuse to sit back and count their interest and do nothing. Many will still criticize the evil Microsoft empire and the foul-mouthed rock stars (again, Christians I know who throw the baby out with the bath water.... does one curse word on national TV negate a guy's faith and all the acts of compassion he's catalyzed???). I however applaud them. Get the new issue of TIME. Read it. And act on it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Christmas Thought

"FROM THE HUMAN PERSPECTIVE, when you compare [God] to the other gods of the other religions in the world, you have to say our God is really sort of odd. He uses the most common of people, people that aren't any different from any of us here; he comes in the most common of ways, when by his Spirit an anonymous young woman is found to be with child. And the strangest thing is that he comes at all—he's not the Above-Us-God, too holy to come down. This God's love is so immense that he wants to come down. And he has proven his love by the fact that he did come down and touch our ground." James R. Van Tholen, Where All Hope Lies

Home Sweet Home

Just returned from spending Christmas with my family in my hometown of Corbin, KY. It's a small but quaint town nestled into the hills of southeastern Kentucky. I look forward to seeing family and the occassional friend or acquaintance I bump into in the "Walmarts". I haven't officially lived there in a while (since I graduated HS in 85). But its fun to go home. Things have changed some. A few highlights...

Above is our claim to fame, Kentucky Fried Chicken. Sign says "Sanders Cafe." Go to Corbin, and you can eat where it all began. Harland himself set up shop & concocted his secret recipe that's shure to clog arteries and add inches to your waist. Oh, how I enjoy the occasions to participate in some finger lickin' chicken. Unfortunately, some years ago the powers that be failed to recognize this little piece of international history and allowed the neighboring town of London to claim its status as chicken capital, bringing in a large yearly festival that I think is called the Chicken Festival, though I'm sure I'll be corrected. Oh, and bringing in big sums of tourism dollars. And of course, not using those dollars in Corbin.

From time to time, you see something that makes you go "hmmmm." Like drive-thru tobacco marts. Apparently, in an effort to make getting cigarettes more convenient, the drive-thru tobacco stop was created. Heaven forbid that anyone would, oh, say, have to get out of the car and walk into the place to buy cigs. Nothing against smokers - we all do stuff that's not good for us (except for that dude at the gym who eats wheat germ and is a perfect specimen of health...he'll probably drop dead at 40... oh, and see my note above about KFC - no redeeming health benefits there, though they tried that lame Atkins promotional package a few years back). But no need to fear - if you inadvertently drive past one of these places, there's another one just up the road (no less than 3 on a 4-mile stretch close to my home).Our president said the other night that small business is the backbone of America. So, I guess you can go down to the local Lowe's and buy yourself one of those backyard sheds for the Lawnboy and old bicycles and instead set it out on a major highway and start a business! Not sure which part here is the "unique" part - the tan or the gifts. I do wish I had looked in the phonebook for the astronomical number of tanning places in this town of roughly 8,000 people. I'm sure its pushing one tanning bed per resident.

Lastly, this made me laugh and do a double-take. Driving home from Grandma's, I came across this little house with a postage-size front lawn with somewhere between 20-30 of these giant blow-up things crowded into the lawn like Macy's floats in the off-season hangar. These things were literally side by side, touching each other. Nice use of the roof space, too.

I've often heard the little town that borders us (Chesterfield) referred to as Chestertucky. I used to be amusingly offended. But no more. I willing embrace my home sweet home and all it stands for. Speaking for myself and many I know, we all turned out to be pretty decent folk. Still lots of good decent folk there, too. Frankly, drive around most towns and you can find similar and often more head-scratching things than those above.

If you need me, I'll be at Home Depot picking out a storage building. Anybody know the going rate on deep-fried twinkies? Do I need a permit for that?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Feed African Children; get the Narnia inspired CD

A drastic food shortage threatens the lives of more than 15 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, nearly half of them small children.World Vision, the Christian relief and development organization, has partnered with EMI Christian Music Group to offer the CD "Music Inspired by The Chronicles of Narnia" AT NO ADDITIONAL COST to anyone who gives a gift of $20 or more.
Thanks to grants from the U.S. government, your gift will more than double in impact to help provide food to children and families in sub-Saharan Africa! The need is urgent, please respond now!
PS - Link will also list all of the artists that are on the CD. Particularly fun is the Crowder tune "Turkish Delight."

You're Still Allowed To Say Merry Christmas

Frankly, are we making a mountain out of a molehill? Does it really matter that employees at a few major retail stores are told what to say and what not to say? Does that really change anything? Do we really believe that we're "losing" some sort of culture war? I'm so glad that the right-wing is all over yet another "war on our faith." I'm anxiously awaiting the email campaign that says Madelyn Murray O'Hair is behind all this (uh, she's been dead/missing for years). Once again, Satan has a way of creating distractions that we buy into hook, line and sinker. We take our eyes off what really matters (suffering, those who don't know God, etc) and start to trumpet these and other causes. It's irritating.

If the clerk at Stuff-Mart says Happy Holidays, you can respond with Merry Christmas, Jesus is the Reason for the Season, or whatever you feel led to say. Oh, and be thankful you're in a country where you can say whatever you want.

Just for fun, carry this list around and fire some "International Merry Christmases" to your friends, family, and friendly check-out clerks....
African/ Eritrean/ Tigrinja: Rehus-Beal-Ledeats
Albanian:Gezur Krislinjden
Arabic: Milad Majid
Argentine: Feliz Navidad
Armenian: Shenoraavor Nor Dari yev Pari Gaghand
Azeri: Tezze Iliniz Yahsi Olsun
Bahasa Malaysia: Selamat Hari Natal
Basque: Zorionak eta Urte Berri On!
Bengali: Shuvo Naba Barsha
Bohemian: Vesele Vanoce
Brazilian: Boas Festas e Feliz Ano Novo
Breton: Nedeleg laouen na bloavezh mat
Bulgarian: Tchestita Koleda; Tchestito Rojdestvo Hristovo
Catalan: Bon Nadal i un Bon Any Nou!
Chile: Feliz Navidad
Chinese: (Cantonese) Gun Tso Sun Tan'Gung Haw Sun
Chinese: (Mandarin) Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan
Choctaw: Yukpa, Nitak Hollo Chito
Columbia: Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo
Cornish: Nadelik looan na looan blethen noweth
Corsian: Pace e salute
Crazanian: Rot Yikji Dol La Roo
Cree: Mitho Makosi Kesikansi
Croatian: Sretan Bozic
Czech: Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a stastny Novy Rok
Danish: Glædelig Jul
Duri: Christmas-e- Shoma Mobarak
Dutch: Vrolijk Kerstfeest en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar! or Zalig Kerstfeast
English: Merry Christmas
Farsi: Cristmas-e-shoma mobarak bashad
Finnish: Hyvaa joulua
Flemish: Zalig Kerstfeest en Gelukkig nieuw jaar
French: Joyeux Noel
Frisian: Noflike Krystdagen en in protte Lok en Seine yn it Nije Jier!
Galician: Bo Nada
Gaelic: Nollaig chridheil agus Bliadhna mhath ùr!
German: Froehliche Weihnachten
Greek: Kala Christouyenna!
Hausa: Barka da Kirsimatikuma Barka da Sabuwar Shekara!
Hawaiian: Mele Kalikimaka
Hebrew: Mo'adim Lesimkha. Chena tova
Hindi: Shub Naya Baras
(more at

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Top 10 Surprises from the Chronicles of Narnia Movie

10. Narnia City Council votes to remove all images of Aslan, replace them with generic alley cat that represents all felines of world
9. Mega Aslan den draws animal followers from smaller dens with better praise and worship band
8. Metaphors go crazy as Aslan assigns kingdom duties to second in command, a talking rock
7. Sequel set up when, after the victory, Charismatic Aslans clash with Southern Narnia Council Aslans.
6. The movie's original title: "Jesus, Satan, and a Closet"
5. The White Witch wins battle after her ACLU lawyers get injunction against 'lion roaring' in public places
4. Long-haired "Lion King" cast ostracized from Narnia for singing and dancing...and the long hair thing
3. Endless winter in Narnia originally blamed on George Bush
2. Aslan bobbing head dolls wearing little "Pepsi" t-shirts seen in back window of Narnia's mayor's Ford Ranger
1. WWAD? bracelets being sold in town stores
Copyright 2005 Dave Tippett ( Permission is granted to send this to others, with attribution, but not for commercial purposes.

Storm Team Doppler 6000 White Death 2005

We had a big bunch of snow. Of course, you would have thought the world was going to spin away from its orbit and be slung into the sun. My favorite part of the impending doom of snow is one of our local Indy weather guys and his giant parka standing at the salt depot where they fill the trucks. It's not officially winter yet until Dave MacAnally strikes a pose and makes some really bad pun.

Regardless, my kids make snow forts and had what turned out to be less of a snowball fight and more of a "snow dust" fight since the packability quotient wasn't quite right by the time they tried to make their amunition. But I thought the fort building was admirable.... not sure, but I think The Donald got started in a similar fashion.

Narnia Mania

I confess. I'm one of the countless who have anticipated this new film for many years. Not only because I'm a fan of Lewis and loved Wardrobe in particular as a kid. But this film and others can get God in the conversation. Sure, you can watch the film and just enjoy it without the religious themes - if you don't know the themes are there, you probably wouldn't notice. But the opportunity to talk to others who have seen the film and draw parallels is golden.

Blessed by a snow day that cancelled school, we hauled the kids to the metroplex on opening day (we stopped by Wachovia and took out a loan...I told the clerk I was taking the family to the movies...she just shook her head and approved the loan papers). I expected a big crowd for the first showing, but there were only about 20 of us there at the time. I was not disappointed in the film. The kids gave it a thumbs up, too.

I've read lots of reviews. I need to stop reading reviews! One in particular ripped on the character development and the overuse of CGI. Not sure the characters needed any more development (unless we wanted a drawn out, 5 hour movie). As for CGI, it seemed well done and balanced to me. One of the ONLY reasons this film could ever be made was the development of special effects to make it work. Without them, we may never have seen this hit the big screen. For me, it was enjoyable, and a terrific time to share with the kids.

Oh, Terry Mattingly, sort of a media in culture watcher, has a good article regarding the movie; you can read it at

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Author Andy Crouch, in a recent Christianity Today article, says "The apostle Paul wrote that the eye cannot say it has no need of the foot, yet "I have no need for you is written all over the way we do Christianity in America." So that might be a little harsh, but is it true?

In the context of each person discovering their gifts & talents and using them to their fullest, there seems to be some progress. No scientific research here, just reporting what my open eyes tend to see. People are serving (though not all) and people do discover their gifts and utilize them that promote the kingdom (though not all) and churches do try to help individuals find their gifts and get them into the game (OK, so not all).

But is it true that many on the fringes, those who have some spiritual interest but aren't quite sure they want to be labeled yet as a "fundamentalist" or lumped into the likes of Jerry, Jim, Pat et al, those who are just peeking behind the curtain to see what this is all about, those who may have an attraction to this guy named Jesus but not necessarily an attraction to his followers... what are they experiencing? Is it alienation? Frustration? Wondering how long it takes before they're really accepted by folks who talk a lot about acceptance but maybe aren't so good at the practice of it? Is the church going out of its way to not just meet these folks where they are, but to give them some ownership? Or are those who keep the machine running too busy keeping the machine running to spend any time cultivating those "diamond in the rough" gifts that are scattered throughout the church (like chads in a Florida voting booth).

Just asking.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Today is World AIDS Day

Today is World Aids Day. There are up to 36 million people living with HIV or AIDS and Christians are doing very little about it.
That's why Purpose Driven Ministries[1] held its first AIDS conference in the US, called Disturbing Voices, says Purpose Driven's Kay Warren.
"We've called this conference a wake-up call and a kick in the butt."
Because evangelical churches, especially, are doing little about AIDS.
Warren hopes pastors will go home, "Having repented of not caring, of being apathetic. We want them to go home full of enthusiasm for beginning an HIV ministry in their own church." The conference presented ways churches can have an impact on AIDS victims, and not just physically. "We want every person to come to know Jesus Christ. But, it's very difficult to introduce people to Jesus Christ when you're pushing them away. We've been given the task of making the invisible God, visible. How do we do that? (We do it) by our arms of love, by our compassion, by our acceptance." That provides a platform to share the Gospel.
Full Story:

(a related story)
Believers are acting on AIDS to save a generation.
Continuing our focus on World AIDS Day, AIDS has not lessened its grip in sub-Saharan Africa. But, World Vision's[2] Steve Haas says what's alarming is that the epicenter of the pandemic is shifting East to Russia and India. In spite of the bad news, Haas says
this is a great opportunity to fulfill the mandates of Scripture. "When
we look at the situation of AIDS, the greatest creator of orphans is AIDS.
The greatest creator of widows is AIDS. The issue that seems to find itself so closely akin to the poor is AIDS infection. The church was made
for moving against this disease." Haas explains that World Vision has
come around the pandemic with an effective multi-pronged approach.
"We're watching students become alive to the issue. We're also watching businesses get involved course we're also watching churches, many of which are not only becoming alive to what's happening on this issue, but they're getting their congregations involved."
Full Story:
(both stories from Mission Network News)

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Dan Gilliam on The Ooze

I have a confession to make. I'm a Dan Gilliam fan. I'm guessing that for 90% of my 12 or so "avid" readers, your first question is "Who?" Fair enough. Dan's cut from a unique mold. He's a singer/songwriter/artist/author with a story to tell. He's in the process of writing a book entitled God Touches - Finding Faith in the Cracks and Spaces of Life. It comes out later, but this emergent church website The Ooze has chapter one. You can read it here... If you want to check out some of Dan's artwork, hear or purchase music, or read other meanderings from his journey, check him out at You can sample his music. A couple of my fave songs are "Martha's Song" and "Ticket" along with the infamous "Farm Cafe." Anyway, read his chapter and give it a rating if you like.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Burlap to Cashmere Tragedy

Burlap to Cashmere was a band from the 90's that I followed and whose music I loved. They were fresh, different, and extremely talented musicians. I thought their live performance was exhilarating - the dudes are just plain wizards of the fretboard. Apparently they were in process of recording a new album, and one of the main members was assaulted and left for dead in NYC. He is alive, but under a medically induced coma. Very sad. Pray for him. Here's the article from the New York Daily News...if you get a chance to hear any of their music, check out the disk "Is Anybody Out There?"

Road-rage horror
Musician in a coma after beatingin Brooklyn fight - suspect arrested
A Christian rock musician - who once played for Pope John Paul II - was nearly beaten to death early yesterday by an off-duty airport security agent during a Brooklyn road-rage clash, cops and relatives said.
Johnny Philippidis, 27, lay in a medically induced coma last night at Lutheran Medical Center, and his mother, Jannine, was keeping vigil at his bedside.
"He was beaten and left for dead," said his stepfather, Bill Eisenhardt, 54. "It's a shame to be attacked over something as minor as a fender-bender."
The Christian rocker was attacked shortly after leaving a Manhattan studio where he had been recording a new album, his family said.
Jonathan Goody, 25, was driving from his job at Kennedy Airport when his luxury sedan and Philippidis' SUV collided at 12:40 a.m. at 65th St. and Third Ave. in Bay Ridge, police said. Both men got out of their vehicles after the wreck and allegedly exchanged heated words.
Police said the federal Transportation Security Administration agent hit Philippidis several times and then sped away.
A concerned passerby tried to help Philippidis as he lay in the street, less than a mile from his home, a police source said.
The passerby called 911 and an alert cop - who had earlier ticketed Goody for parking in front of a fire hydrant - heard the description of the vehicle over the police radio.
The cop already had Goody's address, and drove to his Brighton Beach home and arrested him.
Charges were pending last night, police said.
Goody's mother said her son is a quiet man and an Army veteran who was honorably discharged in January 2003 after serving in the Mideast before the Iraq war.
"The police told him he was in a hit-and-run," said Brenda Goody, 47. "They had to search his car."
Philippidis suffered a broken nose and fractures to his jaw and eye socket.
The coma was induced to relieve pressure on his brain.
Philippidis, who played for the Pope in Rome in 2001, was a member of the now-defunct Christian group Burlap to Cashmere.
The Brooklyn-based group, begun by Philippidis and his cousin Steven DeLopoulos, recorded an independent album in 1997 and signed with A&M Records the next year.
"His music is about living," his stepdad said, adding that the 5-foot-8 140-pounder would never have started the fight. "His hands are his livelihood. He would never attack anyone."

Friday, November 25, 2005

Why Narnia Is Important

Cal Thomas has a great take on the Narnia movie that hits theaters Dec. 9th. Please read it; I couldn't agree more.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction

I had never heard of this piece of work, entitled Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter. I suppose when you're the most popular, most talked about person in the history of the planet, some knucklehead movie producer was bound to think of this. Guess its some sort of cheesy horror movie. Even I figured that out from the title and the clever by-line for the film "The Power of Christ Impales You." Oh, and its the Special Edition DVD. Can't imagine what makes it so special. Here's the "from the cover" stuff from Amazon:
From the Back Cover - The second coming is upon us, and Jesus has returned to Earth. But before he can get down to the serious business of judging the living and the dead, he has to contend with an army of vampires that can walk in the daylight. Combining Kung-fu action with Biblical prophecy and a liberal dose of humor, the film teams the Savior with Mexican wrestling hero El Santos against mythological horrors and science gone mad and also manages to address contemporary sexual politics. And did we mention that it's a musical? This sure ain't Sunday school.
And for that last statement, we all breathed a sigh of relief.

Take This AIDS Test

This only takes a couple of minutes. It's worth your time. Click the image below and take an Aids Test.

My Dearest Wormwood

In C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters, the demon Wormwood is distraught that his assigned human has become a Christian. His senior demon supervisor responds to him by saying:
"The great thing is to prevent his (the new Christian) doing anything. As long as he does not convert it into action, it does not matter how much he thinks about this new repentance...let him do anything but act...The more often he feels without acting, the less he will be able ever to act, and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel."

Seems to be working, doesn't it? As long as untold millions of Christians do little with their faith, untold millions of others will continue to miss God altogehter. It starts with me...I have to get this. Not to mention the untold millions around the world who are starving, the 30,000 children who die every day from preventable diseases, mostly caused by impure water, and the fact that God has given us the resources to do something about it. According to Lewis, the less we act, the more likely we are to feel. And care. OR, you could have stood in line last night at midnight for the new $400 X-Box 360.

One more thought....
Philosopher Peter Kreeft is interview in the must-read Lee Strobel book The Case For Faith on the issue of suffering. Kreft says "On my door there's a cartoon of two turtles. One says, `Sometimes I'd like to ask why he allows poverty, famine, and injustice when he could do something about it.' The other turtle says, `I'm afraid God might ask me the same question.'

Those who have Jesus' heart toward hurting people need to live out their faith by alleviating suffering where they can, by making a difference, by embodying his love in practical ways."

(PS - I've read some of Kreeft; he's fascinating. Try The Unaborted Socrates or Socrates Meets Jesus. His book on suffering is Making Sense Out Of Suffering)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Add Pat To The List

The list of those that need to just stop talking is growing. Pat Robertson is one of several. Somehow, he finds a way to make it into the news. And those who hear or read his "well-thought-out babble" either a) are embarrassed (if they're Christians), or b) stay further from God than they were before and lump all of us in with guys who babble like Pat (if they're not Christians). Here's the latest, along with some editorial from the Washington Post:

Heeere's Pat!
Saturday, November 12, 2005; Page A24
LOOK OUT, JAY Leno and David Letterman: Pat Robertson is
at it again. The television evangelist and former Republican presidential
candidate has a way of coming up with some real thigh-slappers. This one must have the people of Dover, Pa., rolling in the aisles. On Thursday Mr. Robertson said on his daily television show, "The 700 Club," that because all eight Dover school board members up for reelection on Tuesday were voted out of office after trying to impose "intelligent design" on high school students as an alternative to the theory of evolution, God is not going to show up if there's a disaster in Dover. They'd voted God out of the city, Mr. Robertson said. How Mr. Robertson managed
to deliver that line with a straight face is beyond us. But we suppose that when you have his comedic touch, anything's possible.In truth, Mr. Robertson's sense of humor is a bit off for our taste.

Yes, the founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network and the Christian Coalition does have pretty good timing, and his delivery isn't bad. What does strike us as odd, however, is that while making something funny at another person's expense is a well-known trait of comedy, Mr.Robertson's choices of God and the citizens of Dover as the butts of
his joke seems a little over the top.

After all, what took place at the ballot box in Dover had nothing to do
with the acceptance or rejection of a deity. Candidates on the ballot happened to be school board members who ordered a statement read in school informing students that the theory of evolution is not established fact and that intelligent design is an alternative theory that students can pursue through reading a book. Dover citizens, hearing that, decided to vote the school board out of office. God, as far as we know, was not on the ballot." -Washington Post

OK, so the vote may have been a setback and a little disappointing. But come on, Pat. What are you thinking? Wait, don't answer that. We don't really want to know.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Crowder Concert

What a terrific night of worship & flat out fun. First was Shane & Shane. I found Shane Bernard several years ago when he was an independent artist. I happened upon looking for another independent artist named David Crowder (was looking for the song Rain Down, which was one of our staple songs for a long time). Anyway, the site was promoting Shane Bernard's disc, and lots of people said good things about it, along with another CD by another obscure artist named Rita Springer. So, I bit the bullet and bought 3 CD's from artists I had never heard of. That turned out to be a really good decision - all were awesome (Shane Bernard's Rocks Cry Out is still one of my favorites, if you can find it out there...many of those tunes were redone for later CD's...). Anyway, they are just so tight and refreshing. It was a real treat.

Crowder was, well, Crowder. Funny, passionate, the kind of guy you're not sure you would want your daughter to bring home, but a guy you might want to have coffee with from time to time just to hear how his mind works. Regardless, just an unbelievable show. (BTW, the first Crowder disc I had was actually entitled University Baptist Church All I Can Say, which is my favorite Crowder disc. I think it was re-released with Crowder's name on it, probably on a label. ) Hey pulled out the 80's "Key-tar" for a song. Just a sonically interesting evening, and I would go again tonight if I could!

Create A Caption Contest

OK, hit comment and give your caption. Winner gets big prizes, as determined by our panel of judges....

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Here He Goes Again

Just when you thought "Hey, Jesse Jackson hasn't figured out a way to get his name in the news in a few weeks," he shows up. Are there people who actually listen to and agree with this guy? If T.O. was of another ethnic persuasion, would we hear from Jesse? Does he have any idea who T.O. is, and the disease he spreads? Anyway, all I have. Here's the brief blurb from the Rev (still wondering what he's the Rev of, anyway...)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The Rev. Jesse Jackson called the Philadelphia Eagles' punishment of Terrell Owens "much too severe."
Jackson said in a statement released Friday that Owens could have been more professional when he publicly complained about his contract, his team and the Eagles' organization.
But Jackson said Owens' suspension without pay for four games and deactivation for the rest of the season is "much too severe for the charge" and hurts the athlete's NFL career at its height.
The civil rights activist said the level of punishment could have been warranted if Owens had been caught shaving points, selling drugs, carrying a gun or fighting fans without sufficient restraint.
"This does not warrant a one-year ban from the game," Jackson said, adding that the Eagles should release Owens to the open market or free agency if they no longer want to associate with him.
Ralph Nader, a consumer activist and former presidential candidate, has already called for the suspension to be rescinded.
Owens was suspended last week after he said in an interview that the Eagles showed "a lack of class" for not publicly recognizing his 100th career touchdown catch, and that the team would be better off with Green Bay's Brett Favre as quarterback. He has since apologized.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

86,000 Dead

I've heard it described as Disaster Fatigue. I suppose there are many ways to describe it, all of which explain why the world not only isn't paying attention, but is doing little. The quake in Pakistan and northern India has now claimed some 86,000 people. Did I know that? Did I have any idea it was that catastrophic? Does the average person in America know? I hope we talk much more about this tragedy in the days to come. More importantly, I hope we respond. There are ways to help. Best options I'm familiar with at the moment is World Vision. Their web site has more information, along with ways you can make a financial contribution. Check them out. Even if you can't give at the moment, be informed.

Here's a blurb from a newsletter I received today from Mission Network News; check the links in the story to learn even more...

Death toll increases again in Pakistan, Christians continue their work Pakistan
(MNN) -- We begin today in Pakistan where the death toll in the October
earthquake jumped by 13-thousand, to more than 86-thousand. However, that
could rise as winter approaches as an estimated three-million people are
homeless. Food for the Hungry's[1] Ben Homan doesn't want that to happen. FHI is
providing tents in God's name, but assisting in this region is complex. "The
winterized tents are very expensive to acquire and they're in short supply and
so the prices have gone up. And then, the shear physical barrier of getting them
to Pakistan and into many of the places where they're needed (is a problem).
It's just a huge logistical issue." However, Food for the Hungry is working
through a partnership that's helping them to be effective. "We've been
privileged to partner with one of the leading denominations that is in Pakistan.
That's immediately given us access to volunteers and workers that are on the
ground. They know the language and the culture."
Full Story:

A mission group sets up an all-important communications center in Pakistan's quake zone.
Pakistan (MNN)--Meanwhile, Mission Aviation Fellowship's[2]
humanitarian subsidiary PACTEC reports that the first emergency communication
center is up and running from Pakistan's quake zone. The center is in a
Muzaffarabad refugee camp. The PACTEC team is much appreciated because they've provided a way to get information out of the disaster zone as winter sets in. A second site in Balokot is on the way to becoming operational. Pray for the teams
as they serve the needs in this region, that they will be able to share the hope
of Christ. Full Story:

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Are we just making it cool? Is that it?

I'm all for cultural relevancy. But at what expense?

A couple of things have struck me in recent months that have stretched my tiny brain a smidge. Allow me to explain.

Our local Christian University invites churches over to a "Church Fair" to hand out brochures, etc regarding our particular church, service times, etc. Not a bad idea at all. But this year, I was asked a couple of questions that I've been unable to forget, along with one question that I was never asked (I guess it was assumed). Oh, and both of the questions, from two different well-meaning individuals, were really the same question. Ready? Here goes...

"Do you have a dress code at your church?"

OK, so know this about me. I'm at the front of the line for the "God Doesn't Look At Outward Appearances...He Looks At The Heart" conference. I'm a card-carrying member. I have no problem with any sort of setting where it "doesn't matter" what type of clothes you're wearing (although, modesty and respect of others isn't a bad thing and is okay to expect...though debatable).

But what bothers me about this question is that it really isn't the real question. I'm not just picking on the two well-meaning 19-year-olds who asked the question. I'm really attacking a much bigger segment of their generation. Here's what I think the real, honest question that is out there in some minds (admittedly, not all, just some):

"What's the smallest amount of effort that I can put into this thing? What's the lowest common denominator? Is your worship celebration going to be convenient for me, or will there be some sort of expectation I have to meet? Will the bar be high, or can I just put little or no effort into the deal? Are you guys cool, and have you created a cool place where I can hang with others who are cool and have also put little effort or thought into the deal?"

Wow, I'm harsh I guess. Yes, we need to create envioronments where people will want to come and meet God. And yes, things like "unwritten dress codes" and other hidden parts of our church cultures can be a detriment to those who are looking into the God thing. And yes, is more interested in our hearts. And yes, if someone who doesn't have anything "nice" to wear comes and everyone is dressed "nice," they might feel marginalized (hey, I was in Youth Ministry...I've had many conversations about all this before and heard lots of takes).

I guess my expectation was a little different for this next generation of Kingdom leaders. Haven't we learned that the "It's all about me" culture we've created in the Church today has hamstringed the church long enough? We've got pews FULL of folks that think its all about them. Truth is, in most churches, you see a little bit of everything. Most of us don't think too much about it. I've never really asked a non-church person, but does anybody really believe that the reason people aren't coming has to do with the fact that some people put on their nicer duds? Come on; I'm not buying that.

Regardless, I smiled and told both individuals that they'll see a little bit of everything at our church, and I doubted they would feel out of place, and that the music was blended with a little of the old and a little of the new, and that we were just trying to follow God best we knew how, and sometimes we chased rabbit trails, sometimes we miss the main path altogether, and sometimes we get to be in on the radical transformation of a person.

Oh, the question(s) I was never asked? A sampling....

"Is God there?"
"Do the people at your church strive to serve Him? To get to know Him more deeply?"
"Is there a genuine desire from at least some at your church to reach people who don't know Him?"
"Are you attempting to make God famous, or is it all about you?"
"Are their Godly people there with valuable life experience that I can learn from?"

(OK...A little more ranting. I'm fine with the "stand around and drink coffee and wear whatever" church environments. But after having had a few kids move on from here and invest their college years in those environments, what happens when they move back to Topeka or wherever, and the "experience" they've grown to know and love at the aforementioned-type church from their college years doesn't exist? What then? Unfortunately, some have thrown the baby out with the bath water. Bottom line: If you're in love with Jesus, does it matter much how he's packaged?? But if you're really in love with the Jesus only as he's packaged in an experience (i.e., the aformentioned type of church environment), when that goes away or you can't find it in another location, does Jesus become an afterthought, too? Just a question...but one that's based on experience)

Open for your thoughts.

Bumper stickers or scars

Came across this thought and wanted to share it:

"Believers have creeds and promises.
Christians have bumper stickers and catch phrases.
Disciples have scars and stories."

Intersting thought. Still chewing on it. Wondering which phrase best describes me. You?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Donate to World Vision - Get WOW Christmas CD

World Vision is active all over the world, spearheading the effort to relieve poverty. They're usually first responders in natural disasters, playing an active role during the tsunami and the most recent earthquake in Pakistan. More importantly, they stay. Many groups are in & out, moving on to the next thing. World Vision takes up residence and works for the long haul.

Occasionally, they work with other organizations, and these WOW CD's have been a popular fund raising tool for them. Currently, a $20 donation will not only feed 5 kids, but will be doubled by grant money (your $20 becomes $40) and feeds 10 children. Plus, a $20 or more donation will snag you the WOW Christmas CD. Click HERE to find out more, read about World Vision and their credibility, etc. Oh, and have a Merry Christmas, too.

Monday, October 31, 2005

What are we known for?

Came across this quote. Its from Mike Yaconelli from several years ago...
"Mix a good dose of ego addiction with Jesus, and the consequences are frightening. It causes ministers to build huge churches as a monument to their own ego, it causes people to go on television with their “unique ministry”, which is another term for “my ministry”. It causes people to write books, speak all over the world, abandon their families, their friends, and their neighborhoods so they can respond to the “great need”… which is really the need to be needed.

Think of all the churches in America right now that are supporting the egos of their ministers. Think of all the supporters of para-church organizations that are supporting the ego of their “founder and president.” Think of all the churches and organizations that are supporting the egos of their “internationally known speakers.”

The result is that the evangelical church is known more for its “big” churches and famous people than it is known for its Jesus. "(The Door Magazine, #125, October 1992)

Why this thought matters is twofold for me. One, I don't want to be one of those types. I'm not blaming those folks who have become household names. I've heard some of them plenty of times and respect them and sense a genuine heart. I'm worried about those of us who aspire to be like them. That's where it gets troubling.

The most striking thing Yaconelli says here to me is "The result is that the evangelical church is known more for its “big” churches and famous people than it is known for its Jesus."

The most troubling thing about THAT? It's true.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Not Sure What To Say II

I hope you check out the video link in the previous post. This is yet another example of someone with way too much time on their hands. It's a Lego Bible. No, I don't mean just a book made out of Legos. I mean stories acted out with legos. Go ahead. I wish I could make this stuff up. Click this link and get ready to be inspired!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Not Sure What To Say

There are many times when I want to just crawl in a hole and hide the fact that I'm a Christian. No, none of them have been the result of persecution of any type. Rather, its the Christian subculture doing its thing. As proud as I am of what the Church can and many times does stand for, there are an equal if not larger number of times I just want to throw a blanket over an issue and hope noone notices.

For example, a church in my area that I drive by frequently has a sign** in the yard that not only has the name of the church, but a few lines for interchangable letters designed for cute messages which ultimately are designed to give non Christians even more reason to stay away! Today's message? Something along the line of "Don't be tricked. Try the real treat - Jesus." Gee, I bet the masses are just lining up at the doors, hungry for more.

Or one of my personal faves, "God may not be on the internet, but he answers his knee-mail." I can't for the life of me understand why that message didn't communicate to our cynical culture "Hey...God matters! He has something that can connect to your life!" Come to think of it, THAT might be a good slogan!

SO, a new feature on Drivel - I'll make note of ridiculous church sign slogans, make fun of them, and will collect through the comments your additions to the list. I know, there's probably some Internet list floating around. That doesn't have to drive by and see it...and feel some level of disgust and/or cheese about it.

But on the title of this entry, "Not Sure What To Think," you absolutely must see this link. Unless you are a church/God skeptic, then please, look away. This would be embarrassing if it weren't so sad. Unfortunately, I think its a real product, but I'm hoping eventually we'll all get an email that will say "Surprise! Just kidding! Just a reject SNL skit! (actually, this would be better than some of the recent stuff on SNL).

**(FYI...we had a sign for many, many years. I lobbied hard for its removal and subswquent replacement with a sign that simply had our name. Mission accomplished. No room for any slogans, like "You can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the apples in a seed," etc. OK, so maybe our church sign is a tad on the gi-normous side... not sure, but I think NASA can pick it up from space...)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Churches Respond to Katrina

I receive a weekly update from a couple of churches in Louisiana. One is from a guy named Jason at Forest Park Church of Christ in Crowley, LA. This past update is sort of a thanks to the many, many churches from other states around the country that have sent donations, along with the many who have been down to assist or are making plans to do so. He sent a chart showing the amount of money that has come from various states. Indiana was a huge player here, with almost $21,000. The next largest amount came from North Carolina, around $7,000. In all, some 26 states have responded. Along with around $36,000 anonymous donations, their total gifts from churches throughout the US is around $110,000. Very cool. This is just the story from one church! They have an elaborate distribution center set up to help the community with various needs. Jason even sent a chart showing the distribution amounts and what they've gone toward. Very cool (if I knew what I was doing and could put an Excel chart on the blog, I would. As is, I'm inept...would value anyone's guidance on that for future reference!) All in all, there is NOTHING like the church when the church is working right. Nothing. Here's an interesting Katrina story about churches and their response, and of course the critics. My favorite part of it is the large distribution area where one church is helping folks, and back in the back corner at a small table doing nothing more than paperwork is the FEMA guy. Article is here; it's short.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

End Of The Spear Update

OKLAHOMA CITY – End of the Spear, the first theatrical feature release of Every Tribe Entertainment, won the grand prize at the Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis last week. The Heartland Festival seeks Truly Moving Pictures, and recognizes filmmakers whose work explores the human journey by artistically expressing hope and respect for the positive values of life.

(Click here to see the trailer...helps if you have a subwoofer...)

End of the Spear is the true story of five young missionaries who were brutally speared to death by a savage Ecuadorian tribe in 1956 -- and the remarkable forgiveness and reconciliation that followed. As told through the eyes of Mincayani, a Waodani warrior, and young Steve Saint, the son of Nate Saint, the slain missionary pilot. Together, Mincayani and Steve find that what Nate accomplished in his death gave them both a new life, and Steve’s family becomes a part of Mincayani’s family.

With the Heartland honor for best dramatic feature, Every Tribe Entertainment takes the $50,000 grand prize, one of the largest single cash prizes awarded by a film festival. During the awards program, a record 24 dramatic, documentary and animated shorts and features were honored by Heartland. Four films were awarded Jimmy Stewart Memorial Crystal Heart Awards for best student films while 20 received Crystal Heart Awards. These films were selected from 558 submissions for demonstrating excellence in filmmaking and for best meeting Heartland's mission.

"We’re thrilled with this honor," said Bill Ewing, president of Every Tribe and producer of the film. "Our goal is to bring truth beyond imagination to our culture through incredible true stories, and we’re excited by our first product. Just as this story has impacted the generations that have followed it for the gospel, we think the truth of this film’s message will impact a new generation while reminding us all of the redemptive and transforming power of God’s Word.

"Our hope is that this story will touch the hearts of all who view this film, and honor the memories and legacy of five outstanding young men and their families."
End of the Spear will open nationwide on January 20, 2006, commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the spearing raid on the five young men…an event that impacted American culture when it happened, and will again in 2006.
For more information about End of the Spear, visit
To learn more about the Heartland Film Festival, visit

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Quote from Len Sweet

"Jesus doesn't promise to still every storm in our lives; He does promise to still you and I in the midst of those storms."

Monday, October 24, 2005

Leonard Sweet

Leonard Sweet is one of those unique voices out there that beg for our attention. For many years, his writings have been a wake-up call for the church. He has an ability to see where we've been, where we are, and can help us chart a course for what lies ahead. He's here in my town this week and will speak several times. If you're around, it would be worth your time to check him out. For a detailed list of speaking times & places, click here....

Oh, and next Thursday, Donald "Blue Like Jazz" Miller will be here. Very cool.

A Reading Fiend

I've read a lot lately. Tons of thoughts to share as I've read, but too busy reading to sit down and type them out. Wanted to give a brief blurb about the books I've plowed through in the last month or less....

  • 9 Things You Simply MUST DO by Henry Cloud. Had never read Cloud before. He's most noted for the Boundaries book and corresponding juggernaut of resources. Good stuff, so I've been told. Heard him speak recently, and was very convicted. So I grabbed the book, and found it very enlightening. It's far from Covey-esque, and includes a great deal of common-sense. But put togehter, its very good. Easy one for me to recommend. Great to read and talk through with a friend or group. Bottom line: a lot of us are messed up, and we can take some action to straighten our lives out. Of course, this isn't a magic cure-all book, but rather a psychologist who deals with folks with all sorts of life situations and has some things to share with the rest of us. Primarily, he looks at traits of folks who don't seem to be all that messed up, and tries to figure out the values and behaviors they have in common. It's good, and you won't be disappointed.

  • God's Blogs by Lanny Donoho. OK, I know, its a book called God's Blogs. But I'm a big Lanny fan. He emcees the Catalyst Conference, and is responsible for much of the zaniness that takes place there (he came out dressed as a whoopie cushion and got 9,000 of us to sit simultaneously on whoopie cushions, which puts us in the Guiness Book of World Records. Really.) So, who wouldn't want spiritual insight from a guy like that? It is clever, and full of fresh thoughts. Great devotional book, designed to read in little chunks, though bulldozing through it like I did can be just as beneficial. Just a snippet from the book, during a section entitled "Light" (Oh, its important to note that it's written as though God actually had a blog...hope you can wrap your head around that concept" "I AM light. When you know Me, you can see better. How many of you are doing the same thing over and over, and you know those habits are what is causing your grief, your stress, your darkness? How many of you are stumbling, hitting your shins and your hearts, and swearing because it hurts so much? I AM the light. When you know Me, you see better. When you see better,... you don't get hurt as much."

  • Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell. Wow, this book is tremendous. Lot to say, but I would rather my 10 or so blog readers just stop everything, go get this book, and read it. The subtitle is "Repainting the Christian Faith." Bell is an artist. His short films (Nooma) and sermons have been a favorite of mine for a while, and I just love the challenges he lays out in his book. Believe it or not, I even read the end notes. They're quite funny! NOTE: If your brand of Christianity is in some sort of box with no breathing room, well, you might want to stick with more conservative fare. On second thought, if that's you, READ this book. Again, great with a friend or a group to hash it out, agree & disagree, burn Bell (and me) in effigy, whatever...

  • The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. Ramsey is an extremely entertaining radio show host who invites callers to creatively shred their credit cards on the air (shredectomies). He makes an enormous amount of sense. His book is easy to read, but hard to implement. I'm attempting to implement. It's rather startling to know what your money can do for you, but equally startling how easy is it to be a slave to debt. We just want it all, and we want it now. Regardless of whether we have the $ or not. So we use credit, and before we know it, we become a slave to it. That is Ramsey's basic message, but he offers practical advice to help climb out or avoid the trappings of debt. This should be required reading! For those just getting started in the "real world," get this and read it. Then do it! If you have Ramsey on the radio (probably a conservative talk radio station, late morning to noon-ish), he's worth a listen.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Still Rockin' After All These Years

Went to a rock& roll concert last night. It's been a little while for me, and granted, I felt kinda old. But I survived! It was a great night. Five bands played (it felt like more!), and I of course was most interested in the last two bands. Pillar was next to last, and they just rock. Their rendition of "Sunday Bloody Sunday" is just the best (it's on one of my top 5 albums of the last five years, entitled "In The Name Of Love: Artists United for Africa". Bunch of Christian bands doing various versions of U2 songs, with proceeds going toward the Aids pandemic efforts in Africa...if you don't have this CD, you need to get it...). Anyway, pillar was awesome. But the Audio Adrenaline fellas are still able to get it done after all these years. It's a power-packed show with a little bit of everything. It was fun to take it all in with the whole family, which is increasingly hard (and expensive) to do. Having gone to school with the Audio guys, and being one of the 100 or so at their very first concert as A-180, its fun to see them still doing what they do. And, my kids think I'm cool that two of those guys know me. So I'll play that card as long as I can! Looking forward to Crowder & Shane/Shane in a month or so, and hoping to make it another family affair.

Buying A Car

A farmer had been swindled several times by the local car dealer. One day, the car dealer informed the farmer that he was coming over to purchase a cow. The farmer priced his unit as follows:

Basic cow $499.95
Shipping and handling 35.75
Extra stomach 79.25
Two-tone exterior 142.10
Produce storage compartment 126.50
Heavy duty straw chopper 189.60
Four spigot/high output drain system 149.20
Automatic fly swatter 88.50
Genuine cowhide upholstery 179.90
Deluxe dual horns 59.25
Automatic fertilizer attachment 339.40
4 x 4 traction drive assembly 884.16
Pre-delivery wash and comb 69.80
Additional dealer adjustments: 300.00
TOTAL LIST PRICE (including options): $3143.36

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Movie I Want To See

The Gospel is currently in theaters. I know little about it, but did read a review that makes me interested. You can read it here in short fashion at Appears to be a modern Prodigal Son parable.

Also, the Steve Taylor movie Second Chance is still alive, just pushed to a February release. I wonder how much of that move was in response to the release of The Gospel, which is also in a church setting. Anyway, read more about it and watch the trailer at

Sunday, October 09, 2005

No Narnia for Me (Yet)

I was sort of led to believe that I would get to be in on a premier of "The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe" at the Catalyst conference. I'm assuming that perhaps someone in the Catalyst marketing department spoke too soon, or someone at Disney made a promise that was impossible to keep. We did get to see 20 minutes or so of clips, and its going to be an awesome film. Resident film maven Barbara Nicolosi has seen the film (she apparently has a little more influence on Disney than the Catalyst folks...better sic some Maxwellian influence on them next time, Gabe...). Barbara has some interesting insights about the film and you can read those on her site....

Catalyst Highlights

I've been privileged to attend the Catalyst conference for 4 of its 6 years of existence. It's a no-holds-barred, high-octane leadership conference. It rarely disappoints, and this years was a grand slam. Some highlights from my trip include:
  • Going early to check out 7:22, this incredible Tuesday night service at Northpoint Community Church. And who should be the guest speaker for the night? None other than Erwin McManus, one of my faves. Bonus! (Oh, and Chris Tomlin came out and led a coupla tunes at the end....x-tra cool bonus!)
  • Hanging with some old friends, Rob Harris from Nash-Vegas, and Tracy Tooley from WV. Great to laugh, reminisce, etc. Rob has written a couple of kick-butt country songs, and I'm convinced one of them, if not both, will be huge. Both songs make me want to ask the T-shirt clad waitress for a refill of my bucket of peanuts - they're that stinkin' good (as far as my infininte knowledge of country music goes...) "What you talkin' 'bout, Smitty?"
  • I will soon be in the Guiness Book of World Records. Well, me and 8,999 others. We all sat on Whoopie Cushions at the same time. I kid you not. Guiness people were there and everything. Who da thunk it??
  • Andy Stanley saying "an open door is not always an invitation from God," and "our love of progress sets us up for some unique temptations and small compromises."
  • Louie Giglio's analysis of worship consumers vs. consumees (no idea if I spelled that right); please Lord break me from consumerism (all about me)
  • Donald Miller's refreshing perspective. Having read his books (what are YOU waiting for?), I was anxious to hear more from him, and he didn't disappoint. "Find the wound - everybody's got one - and take God to the wound."
  • Incredible, incredible musicians and worship facilitators.
  • Erwin McManus, and just about everything he said. Will outline him in another post...but one thought "I hate the word Relevant. That just means someone else got there first, and we're just catching up!" Oh, and one of the few times I've taken notes during someone's prayer..."Jesus, You are beautiful & magnetic & caring. We've made you look ugly and uncaring."
  • Bill Hybels honesty. I could listen to him all day. (OK, many days I do....)
  • Malcolm Gladwell reminding us its not just about the message, but its about the messenger, too.
  • Last but not least, Stanley hammers it home regarding momentum, programming, et al. "Different doesn't mean better," "minor improvements in something that lacks momentum will not create momentum."
  • OK, the REAL last but not least. One session in particular featured the African Children's Choir followed by a heart-grabbing rendition of that mission-related Newsboys song for which I've never really known the name, but it was powerful...followed by a woman from Rwanda (I think) who couldn't have been more eloquent. She simply painted a word picture for us of the unthinkable conditions in many African countries regarding something as simple as clean water. An offering was collected for an organization that digs wells in African villages. We collected over $100,o00 thusfar. It was powerful, and one of the most moving worship & challenge experiences for me in a long time.

So there. It was a few days will spent hanging with my wife and a few friends.

Monday, October 03, 2005

New Music/New Band

A couple of new CD's came in the mail late last week. First is "A Collision" by the David Crowder*Band. I love the humor, the quirkiness, the brilliance that is Crowder. I just think he does some things musically that are fresh and unique. It's good art and good music - not something I can honestly say about a lot of the "copy cat" Christian music that's around. I'm not sure if I would call it his best (at least not yet...give me some time to crank it in the headphones a little more). But its awfully good, and I like it a great deal. He has a live honky-tonk version of "I Saw The Light" that is really fun ( a song our band has done for a long time...we're trend setters?) The other CD that I'm enjoying is Shane & Shane. It's called "An Evening With Shane & Shane." Great stuff. Terrific vocals and guitar work. Comes with a DVD of the concert. This is one of the best live CD's I've heard. In fact, at first I didn't know it was live. If you're new to Shane & Shane, its a good introduction - sort of a "best of" compilation.
Last but not least, my new favorite band is pictured at the left....

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Well Said

OK, so it's been a while. I knew this would happen when I became a nerd blogger. Not that I don't have a lot to say. Just time. But I read this and wanted to broadcast it a little more. Someone else's thoughts, but certainly some that have echoed between my ears more than once. Check it out....

Mark O's Blog

I promise I'll get back on the horse soon.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Our Tsunami?

Not sure who said this, or if it was a headline in some newspaper. I'm not underestimating the tragedy - I want to help and am looking for ways to do just that and mobilize others to serve. However, a couple of thoughts...
  1. Latest death tolls for the most recent Tsunami are somewhere in the neighborhood of 250,000. As of February 2005, almost 2 months after the Tsunami, they were still finding 500 bodies a day in Indonesia (which lost some 160,000 people).
  2. There was no advance warning for people to evacuate, unlike every hurricane we'll ever experience. Sure, the structural demolition is comparable, but think of the human lives saved because some did hear the warnings and evacuate. Just thoughts.

I think our country is learning a lot right now, and I'm excited to see so many people put others first.

BTW, if you haven't seen Hotel Rwanda yet, you should. One intersting quote from the movie that's worth discussion: there is a clip where a reporter says that Americans will just watch the news and see the tragedy and then go back to their dinners and say "Oh how awful."

I think we're guilty of doing that with disasters and famine and political genocide that happens in "other places." Well, we're getting a firsthand taste this time. I hope our hearts & eyes remain open.

Where Was God When Katrina Hit?

"Where Was God When Katrina Hit?"
Maybe you've asked that question. Perhaps you've heard that from others from time to time. Here's an interesting link with articles that address that question. One in particular to read and pass along was written by Luis Palau shortly after 9/11. It's very appropriate and addresses the conversations we're bound to have. Check it out here.

Ways To Help Churches In the Gulf States

Here's a post from IDES website,, where you can go to donate funds that will be distributed through local churches. Here is the latest bit of interesting stuff from their site:

URGENT NEED! Thank you for caring. It is heartbreaking to see the destruction that Katrina has caused. The hardest part for all of us will be waiting until it is safe enough to begin helping. We have been in contact with Rick Grover of Journey Christian Church in New Orleans. Rick Grover has been told it may be two months or more before they can get back to their church and home. You may get current information about this church by going to ( or( You may donate online by going to IDES website: Click on the 'PAY PAL' button and follow the directions. IMPORTANT: Please put your address in the SHIPPING ADDRESS box so we may send you a receipt. Checks should be made payable to IDES and sent to -P.O. Box 60, Kempton, IN 46049. Write 'hurricane relief' on the memo line of the check. 100% of funds designated in this manner will be used for hurricane relief. The following ministries are currently providing food and other items for evacuees/or relief workers. We recommend you contact these ministries to coordinate delivery of goods. 1. Garry Jones, minister, Real Life Ministries of Louisiana, Pineville, LA 71360. Telephone: Home – 318-640-3635; Shop – 318-443-0029; cell – 318-613-0416. 2. Jason Corder, minister, Forest Park Christian Church, Crowley, LA. Telephone # is 337-783-2754 or 337-581-9230. They could use the following items: Baby wipes Tissues Disposable diapers Blankets Pillows Air mattresses Tooth brushes & tooth paste Shaving cream, razors Feminine hygiene Bottled water Underwear T-shirts Shorts Towels, soap Please do not gather anything until you first contact one of these ministries to coordinate delivery. IDES does not have the resources to collect or store these items. IDES is considering sending $10,000.00 to -Bay Area Christian Church, Houston, TX to provide food for evacuees. At this time they do not have room for more items. MATCHING FUNDS OF $25,000.00 COMMITTED – Fern Creek Christian Church, Louisville, KY is taking a work crew to Sunbelt Christian Camp which is south of Jackson, MS. The crew will begin doing “clean up” work. Some from this church will be on the field for the next several months. If you want to take a work crew to Mississippi please contact – The communication person will be able to tell you what to bring etc. TEMPORARY HOUSING FOR SURVIVORS Many have offered their homes for evacuees. IDES does not have the resources to facilitate this kind of program. The following information was sent to IDES by Doug Delp. Doug was trying to organize our Christian Camps as shelters for survivors. “I have just been contacted by a V.O.A.D. director (National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster s from Dallas, TX. He has said that a decision has been made to not encourage secondary temporary housing for hurricane Katrina victims. Secondary housing is no longer encouraged. They need roots to begin not “reshuttled.” He encourages us to promote the Red Cross’s program for relocating Katrina victims in homes. BUT THE FOLLOWING IDEAS ARE CURRENTLY WORKING. 1. Communities that have private or government apartments available with families, churches, or organizations that can help defray 1 – 6 months rent should sign up with the RED CROSS. 2. American and Southwest Airlines have free plane tickets for Katrina victims to relocate to other area of the country. 3. Any homes where Katrina Victims would not be left in the home during the day with your children can sign up to have them stay with you. 4. Katrina victims need to be incorporated into our communities, e.g. children in school, adults finding work and/or establishing an address. CHECK OUT THE FOLLOWING WEBSITE FOR MORE RESOURCES: (

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Benefit Concert

My friend Allan Rhodes has coordinated a benefit concert that will be held this Thursday from noon to 9 pm at the Anderson Town Center (across from the Paramount Theatre) in beautiful downtown Anderson, Indiana. If you're around, hope you'll come.
  • Bands performing include:
  • Souled Out, a rhythm & blues horn band
  • Little Wing, classic rock
  • Dan Daugherty, variety
  • Mud Eye Joe, blues
  • Bob Stephens, gospel
  • Gregory Rhodes, country
  • Gordon Brookes, saxophone jazz
  • John Rinfrow, country rock
  • Allan Rhodes, acoustic rock/gospel
  • Dave Coplin and the Coptones, acoustic mountain punk

All donations will be accepted by the Anderson Fire Department and will be distributed to the Salvation Army or the Red Cross. Several food vendors will be set up as well, and some have committed a portion of their proceeds toward the effort. Plenty of ways to contribute - here's another. Come enjoy some music and food on Thursday and show your support!

Top 10 Signs Gas Prices Are Getting Too High

10. Can now swap farm animals right at pump as barter for fuel
9. Putting "kick me" sign on back of car as alternative way to get down road
8. Super heroes now car pooling to fight villains
7. Wildest police chases videos now reduced to about a block and half, then "Adam 12" reruns
6. Construction begins on giant, downhill Hotwheels tracks
5. Church tithes hiked for third time in four weeks to keep church bus going
4. To reduce drag, Jethro drives under low bridge, cleans Granny off top of truck
3. Blood conveniently taken from arm right at pump
2. Mortgage bankers set up tables at gas station entry for easy funding of fill-up
1. New hybrid vehicle, "Schwinn Prius"
Copyright 2005 Dave Tippett (

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Grassroots Gettin' It Done

This was an email from a church in Louisiana. Making it happen without asking for government handouts. Read...

Greetings from Crowley Louisiana,
The first loads of your supplies rolled into Acadiana this weekend from two different directions. A group of six students and professors from Johnson Bible College brought a truckload of donated supplies from campus and ministered in one of the areas larger shelters, the Cajun Dome in Lafayette. As with everyone who comes face to face with this disaster they were amazed by the numbers and needs of the refugees that have flooded into our area.

In addition to the Johnson group the Indian Creek Church in Indianapolis Indiana sent a truck loaded to the max with water, medical, and everyday hygiene and cleaning supplies. They were immediately unloaded at a local distribution point and put in the hands of refugees. Medical supplies were also delivered to a very thankful refugee nursing home and med center that are constantly in need of supplies.

The Forest Park Church currently has undertaken a number of ministries to help those stranded indefinitely by this disaster. We have since last Tuesday been helping to feed a thousand or more refugees here in the immediate Crowley area. Each evening we, along with other volunteers in our community, work to provide a hot meal and pass out supplies to all in need.

We are working to help fill the enormous gap left by the Red Cross by distributing your aid to those in great need all around Southern Louisiana. The Red Cross appears more interested at this point in assessing than they do in helping many areas around the State.

Even as I write this letter a team of our Church members are traveling to Bogalusa LA to meet a truck of supplies from Pineville Christian Church in Winston-Salem NC. This small town, near New Orleans hasn’t received any aid from FEMA, and only a few meals from the Red Cross, and are in great need of simple supplies like water and food.

A Church member’s step-mother is the mayor of Eunice a town to the North of Crowley. Their community has set up 15 shelters housing over 3000 refugees without receiving any outside aid from any of the relief organizations. We plan to funnel some of your help in their direction. The list goes on and on, but you get the idea.

Mrs. Priscilla is working with the Ladies of the congregation in what we call the "Laundry mission" an effort to provide washing machines at the local Laundromat free of charge so the refugees can wash what clothes they brought.
The students are working to organize school supplies for kids from kindergarten through college who have been forced by the situation to enroll in area schools.

If your Church would like to help financially we would appreciate that as well. We have ever growing expenses with the distribution of aid. The wide area of devastation and even wider area of refugee dispersion causes us to spend a lot of time and fuel to keep supplies going. We are also involved in buying food for meals, and laundry expenses as well.

Thanks to all of you who are working so hard to help us by gathering supplies and financial help. Below will be a list of needed supplies as well as addresses to send financial help to our relief fund (see the website listed below).

Before I wrap up this note I want to make a plea. For Christians it should be second nature, and yet sometimes we all need reminded. This weekend the load of aid from Indian Creek contained a few Bibles, as refugees got boxes of supplies the workers there told me that more than anything the people remarked "look they put a Bible in here". In this time of disaster many are turning to God and his Word. Before you close the doors of your trailer see if you can make some room for some Bibles, maybe take your Church stamp and mark the cover, or maybe let members write a short note inside. Let’s let them know that these gifts are to the glory of God.
Please continue to be in prayer for the work, and safety of those carrying out these tasks!
Jason Corder
Forest Park Church

So Much To Say

OK, so I've got so much on my mind, I'm going to let a few others do the talking for me.

Is anyone else just sick of the self-appointed social psychologists out there who seem to have figured out all on their own all that has gone wrong with the Katrina disaster? My first thought is "Why are they continually putting these people on TV?" Followed only by my second realization, "Because the people putting them on TV seem to be members of the same club!"

Not that its the case with all involved. Lots of objective reporting, people who care, those whose first concerns aren't to assign blame but help their fellow human beings. But the idiots are attempting to run the village. Just a few...

  • Kanye West, a rapper who for some reason we assume has something to say so we let him speak (?). He speaks out on a benefit concert on NBC and shows his ignorance: " George Bush doesn't care about black people" and went on to say that America is set up "to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off as slow as possible." I guess Kanye thought instead of pulling people together during the worst natural disaster in the history of our country, why not just add some race fuel to the fire? Unfortunately, there are others who really believe this nonsense. I'm thankful that its a minority.
  • Celine Dion. I'm not sure I should say any more, but it must be done. Her interview on Larry King Live had a lot of gems, including 'How come it's so easy to send planes in another country, to kill everyone in a second, to destroy lives," at a time when Americans need to serve their own country, she said. Hey Celine, that's a good point. So why don't you go back to CANADA? BTW, Celine did pledge $1 million to the relief effort. (not bad...that $832,500 she made per week at Caesar's Palace in 2004 should more than cover that...don't get me started on her wedding costs and her vow renewal extravagance).
  • Of course Michael Moore. He writes " Dear Mr Bush: Any idea where all our helicopters are? It's Day 5 of Hurricane Katrina and thousands remain stranded in
    New Orleans and need to be airlifted, Moore tells in a letter published on his website.Where on earth could you have misplaced all our military choppers? Do you need help finding them? Also, any idea where all our national guard soldiers are? We could really use them right now for the type of thing they signed up to do like helping with national disasters. How come they weren't there to begin with?" I just hope Michael and his cameras do their homework a little better. The hurricane hit on Sunday. ABC News headline on Monday night was "New Orleans Saved." The flood wall broke Tuesday and the waters came in. In less than 48 hours, the place THE SIZE OF GREAT BRITAIN was engaged with federal government support. Is there some way Moore can move in with Celine and what's his name in Canada?
  • Jesse Jackson. Showed up just in time to get his face on TV. Jackson says the change needs to come in the form of more food, more water and more rescues. He says there also needs to be a change in the way the world is viewing those hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina. "The imagery of blacks as refugees and blacks as thugs and blacks as a threat has complicated the relief efforts," said Jackson.
    The Reverend Jackson told supporters they should consider holding off on making donations to the Red Cross -- if that agency refuses to set-up relief efforts in areas it deems too dangerous.
    "For the Red Cross to use as a reason for not going in at all 'fear..." they're reputation is for going into war zones! There is no evidence of a mass riot in the mud in New Orleans," said Jackson.

Well, Jesse, we all are very aware that New Orleans and other major cities are home to an unfortunately large number of urban poor. They also happen to be disproportionately black. Oh, and TV cameras captured a lot of them with guns, shooting at people who were there to help. Get your facts straight. Oh, and I hear there's room up at Celine's place in Manitoba.

  • Last but not least, Oprah. She's apparently there doing her show today, so now we can all rest easy knowing that O is in NO. I'm sorry, but that just seems distracting, doesn't it? I'm sure she's one of many ("real" news people are all over the place and necessary). Isn't there a makeover somewhere that needs attention? Shouldn't she be in Paris shopping? Anyway, came across this gal for whom I'm unfamiliar. But I liked her blog. Read her stuff on Oprah, Kanye West, and others. It's hard hitting, amusing, etc. Her name is Debbie Schlussel, and apparently she takes on Bill Maher a lot on his show, and is a frequent guest on Bill O'Reilly (please don't confuse this blog entry with anys sort of commendation for his show...) Read Schlussel's take on Ophrah, Celine, Kayne, Jesse et all....

I'm extremely bothered by all that has happened, and my heart breaks for the people there that are affected. It's a time for our nation to unite and work together. The stories of how that is happening on a grassroots, no-red-tape level are very compelling (read my previous blog). But this will last a long, long time. So far, I'm very proud and pleased of what I'm seeing from God's people and how they are responding. Looking to put the serving towel over my arm and make a difference too. Hope some of these high-profile people will do the same, and stop dividing our country.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Dumb Things I Heard This Week

I guess I'm sort of glad I don't have cable. I'm addicted to the coverage of what's happening in New Orleans and surrounding regions. It's hard not to have your heart grabbed and squeezed by what has happened. I can't begin to even imagine what people are experiencing.

I've listened to a lot of commentary about the situation, some of which I agree with, some of which I don't. But there have been a couple of comments I heard that were just plain dumb.

#1 - Heard a guy in the locker room sort of flipantly say "Ah, they've been through it before." OK, so it was the first day, when we thought it was just another hurricane passing through. I'll give the guy the benefit of the doubt that he wouldn't say that a few days after the storm hit. But so what? So what if they've had their lives uprooted and their houses destroyed once before? So what if its not the first time that dead bodies are littering their neighborhoods? Again, I can't imagine what the whole thing must be like for those folks. But for some to go through it multiple times? Like its supposed to be "old hat?" Sure, they live in an area where it can and does happen from time to time. And there are some who chose to live there that could move elsewhere (not true for many of the urban poor in most cities in the US). Nonetheless, its a calous attitude to have to off the cuff say "they've been through it before," as though somehow they're old pros at having their lives completely rearranged.

#2 - Guy on a talk show who asked "So where are all of the countries that we're constantly helping? Why aren't they stepping up to help us?" The absurdity here is rampant...
  1. most of the countries we've helped are poor anyway;
  2. we're only a few days into this tragedy - who's to say some countries might not help down the road?
  3. we're the richest country on the planet - we have EVERY resource we need to help make this relief effort the biggest in history - IF and only IF we can see past "me" long enough to have our hearts engaged in what's going on with people in the region

If you want to help, there are many ways. World Vision is a good one. Our church is working mostly with International Disaster Emergency Services (IDES), a long-standing worldwide organization that works through churches in affected regions all over the world. Check them out and get involved.

If you want to see some amazing pictures, try this:

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Scathing Article

Wow. Here's a scathing article about mega-churches to follow up with my thoughts from the other day. Difference here is this guy (I think) is definitely a non-believer. In fact, I think he's scared of those who are! Anyway, interesting read that continues to give insight that the world is watching, and they don't always like what they see as it relates to the church. There is much here to disagree about, some that makes sense, and a lot that makes you go "hmmmmm". The article is titled "Huge Crowds, Rabid Devotees & Mick Jagger Nowhere To Be Seen." He has some interesting links, particularly the one to Forbes article (see pastor-CEO-huckster-salesman). To say the guy has issues is an understatement. I'll even avoid any references to the obvious facts that he writes on the "left" coast (I only mention since he openly bashes the "right"), and for a San Francisco paper (whatever that means...just an observation). Enjoy...I think...

PS - I've said a lot lately about "mega-churches" and such; it isn't my intent to talk only about that topic, it just keeps popping up! Oh, and after reading this guy, I'm going to try to be a lot less scathing. I don't want to come off sounding anything like him (a kinder, gentler me).

Saturday, July 30, 2005

The Funniest Man I Know

I've been privileged to know and be friends with some extremely gifted, brilliant, engaging, and fun to be around people in my life. OK, so not many hit ALL of those traits (save for my trusty 7-or-so on again, off again blog readers!). But I've been fortunate to have people in my life that I enjoy, and that I think enjoy my company as well.

I met Tony Johnson many years ago. My dad coached the East Ward Greenwave football team, and Tony and I probably met as 5th graders. He actually attended East Ward school; I went elsewhere, but could play for the mighty Greenwave only because my dad was the coach. Tony and I got to know each other from that experience, and a small group of us hung out together off & on throughout Jr. High and High School. And he's always been the funniest man I've ever met.

Granted, its been since approx. 1986 since we've talked. I did attempt to find him once (go ahead, try Googling "Tony Johnson" and see just how many come up), but lost track. Last week, we both managed to make it to our 20th High School Reunion. It was a lot of fun, and I'm glad I went and reconnected with that great group of people.

I didn't realize the Kramer-esque life that my friend Tony had led for the last 20 years, many of those spent as a college student! I knew he was nuts, I just assumed he probably had left some of that behind and moved on with his professional life (which turns out to be an oral surgeon).

Well, he has moved on with the aforementioned professional life, but he's still nuts. And still the funniest man I know.

When time permits, I will attempt to tell his story that started with this line: "Then there was the time my mom tried to poison the Japanese guys." It's a true story that could easily have happened in the apartment across the hall from Jerry Seinfeld. My jaws still hurt from laughing!
As for the reunion itself, it was fun. It was my first such event, having missed the previous one at 11 years (please, no Kentucky jokes...there were reasons for having it year 11, some of which have to do with the aforementioned friend who didn't realize he was class president and didn't pursue reunion plans...), and have had conflicts with the college reunions. So I was skeptical as most people are, but very impressed with our class (at least with the 30 or so who could come), and very glad I went.

I can't say that I've burned bridges with those from my past, but I didn't do so hot at keeping them active. I have lost track with many from HS and college, and wish now that I had done better. I'll make some efforts to keep communication lines open with these newly-discovered friends, and look for opportunities to "touch base" more often. Life is meant to be lived in community with others, so I'll do that better!

Polarizing People 101

I've come to the conclusion that the easiest way to completely polarize people is to become the pastor of a mega-church. OK, so the "becoming a pastor of the mega-church" is admittedly difficult. But it appears that once you're there, you become a lightning rod of criticism. Not from the secular media or those on the outiside (though they do tend to look for faults), but mostly from the Christian community.

I suppose its the "if you're growing, you must be doing something wrong" mindset. I've heard more than a few make this arguement over the years. That these churches must be compromising truth in some way to explain such growth.

I'm not saying that there isn't some validity to those concerns. I sat and watched Mr. Osteen in the inaugural session for his church in the former Compaq Center in Houston, and still have concerns. He's a solid motivational speaker, says some awfully happy things, might reference scripture once in a sermon (only if it backs up his point...not the other way around...and only if its a 'happy' scripture...none of this suffering for the cause stuff), but I can't help but feel he's trying to persuade me to go for the sports car with the bucket seats and finance it through GMAC. After all, no time like right now for my best life, right?

I do know many who beat these guys up, and have made some observations...

  • often, its pastors themselves who are the ones being critical...and often, their churches aren't large or influential or noticed
  • usually, their basis of criticism is based on news reports or other Christian-slanted publications that help them decide what they think, not any personal experience
  • many of the Christian critics have never visited these churches, talked to a member, or read a book from the author/pastor in question

Suppose we should be a little less critical? If we do choose to speak up (it is America, we should hold each other accountable, etc.), think maybe doing our homework a little might be in order? Actually find out what Willow, Saddleback, Southeast Christian and Lakewood (easiest - they're on 3 of my 9 TV stations...) are all about first?

Here are a couple of fascinating articles if you have the time. The first one is rather lengthy. Rick Warren speaks to a bunch of journalists about myths regarding the mega church. A couple of others are on the panel, and then they field questions. It's long, but interesting. Here's a guy who's legitimately making some things happen. But he is extremely polarizing! Before you click to read the rest of the article, read a few of the "responses" at the end. People seem awfully mad at Rick (perhaps they're theory). Hey, if my book sales were such that I could pay the church back for all of the salary they've given me, and could work salary free, and could live off 10% of my book income and give 90% of it away, I would do it too (or would I?) Anyway, read this if you have time at Rick Warren on Myths of the Mega Church (and other things); they print a little of the article, and you have to hit a link to go to the rest. Interesting thoughts nonetheless.

The second article that floated through this week regarding the 50 Most Influential Churches. A much shorter read, but full of interesting stuff, and plenty of pastors who "polarize" pretty well. Enjoy; interested to know what you think!