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.