Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas!

For My Politically Correct Friends:

"Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, our best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. We also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the generally accepted calendar year 2007, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. And without regard to the race, creed, color, age physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishes. By accepting these greetings you are accepting these terms:

This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for herself or himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher."

For My Politically Incorrect Friends:

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

McClaren "The Politics of Joy"

Brian McLaren wrote this short article for Sojourner's. Very appropriate, and worth your consideration. Very well said...

Earlier this week, I was speaking to a group of Methodist ministers and we sang the Christmas carol "Joy to the World." Two moments in the song took my breath away.

The first came when I sang "let every heart prepare him room." If the carol is right, the way earth receives God's "prince of peace" is through individual hearts like ours. By making space, by opening our hearts to Christ, by letting our lives be the stable and manger into which good news quietly comes, by rendering the vacuum and vacancy within us vulnerable to the incoming of the Spirit ... we become, like Mary, "theotokos" - God-bearers.

That might sound kind of mystical, not political, and I guess it is. It is something that I believe we all can actually experience: the possibility of preparing room in our hearts so that Christ truly comes.

That brings me to the second transcendent moment in the carol for me this week: "No more let sin and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground. He comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found."

The coming of a good king in the ancient world meant a lot, and although kingly language may sound archaic today, I think we can recapture its meaning when we think of a thorny land, polluted by sin and cursed by sorrow, becoming verdant and fertile and healthy again - blessedness flowing over the land like a warm breeze.

And of course, this is where the personal and political meet. Thinking about justice, talking about peace, debating public policy, and working for social change are important ... but not as a substitute for the very personal choice to "prepare him room" in our hearts, so that (as the saying goes) we can be the change we want to see in the world.

The way "earth receives her king" (and the blessings he brings) is not by bombs and guns and wiretaps and coups; not by aggressive blog postings or passionate media pronouncements by pundits. Rather, the king (and the kingdom) come first to the quiet hearts of humble people who "prepare him room," and the joy flows to the world through them.

That's the language of spiritual formation, no doubt. But how can there be political transformation in the external world of thorns, sins, and sorrow if our inner lives don't become the manger into which hope, healing, empowerment, love, and joy are born?

What happens in the political realm - in the public world where people treat one another justly or unjustly, peacefully or violently, as neighbors or as enemies - can never be separated from what happens in the personal realm. And the reverse is true, too.That's the source of the politics of joy.

Brian McLaren is chair of the board of Sojourners/Call to Renewal. A former pastor, he is now an author and speaker. Rumor has it that his latest book, The Secret Message of Jesus, would make a great Christmas gift.

What Are You Going To Do With This Jesus?

I had a small devotional wrap-up at the end of a recent Christmas service. Following is the manuscript of what I shared. Thought it would be good to post it here. Some of the references relate to the Christmas service, but I think the main thrust of the piece can stand on its own. Hope something here is valuable to you.

"What are you going to do with Jesus? This human manifestation of God himself, leaving his Father’s side to come and join us in the human experience, born only to be sacrificed on our behalf. What are you going to do with Jesus? From the beginning of time, God has been laying the foundation for you and I to deal with this question.

It’s a question that generations of people around the world have faced since that night in Bethlehem. It’s a question whose ramifications have altered the course of history. What to do with Jesus.

Many have chosen alternate paths, finding other belief systems or perhaps the trappings the world offers that are begging for our allegiance and our faith. Others have chosen to simply ignore this Jesus, instead forging ahead with their own set of values, moral compass, or popular self-help thinking of the day. Truth is, in this universe that God has created, there is an undeniable reality known as free will. Frankly, you can choose to do with Jesus as you see fit. And we’ve all done just that.

Some have embraced Him, going so far as to make Him their Lord, which is another way of saying Master, or even Boss. If that’s you today, I hope this morning has been a sort of ‘holy reminder’ to you. Of a God who has loved you since the beginning of time. A God who knows what its like to walk in your shoes. A God who has never and will never abandon you. A God who gives you peace that goes beyond your ability to understand.

Some have decided to pick & choose which parts of Jesus we’ll embrace, and leave the other, more uncomfortable parts of Jesus to be picked up by someone else. If that’s you, I hope this morning you’ll reconsider Jesus. This baby who later died on a cross for you offers abundant life, yet so many of us are wondering when that kicks in.

Many, however, want little to do with him. Usually, it has little to do with Jesus himself. In fact, many non-followers of Jesus have high regard for his teachings. Jesus isn’t the problem - it’s the incompatibility that exists between His teachings and the lifestyle & behavior of some of his followers. As Brennan Manning says, "it’s what an unbelieving world finds simply unbelievable."
If that’s where you are this morning, I hope you’ll indulge me for a moment and look beyond our hypocrisy to the story we’ve told you today. Yes, sometimes those of us who claim to be his followers come up short and don’t live our lives in a manner that exemplifies this Jesus. We’re pretty good at being the vocal mouthpiece of the body of Christ, but not so good at being the hands & feet of Christ. But that doesn’t make the story any less true. It just makes us fallen human beings, in need of grace that can only come from God.

You see, from the beginning of creation, we were a part of the plan. Somewhere in the outskirts of this enormous universe, God saw fit to design one tiny speck that has the capacity to sustain life. We call that speck Earth. That tiny speck would be the home of many billions of other tiny specks called humans. Since the creation of the first of our type, God has been at work, all throughout history. The Prophets came along as spokespersons for God with a message that some day, God himself would come and a new arrangement would be instituted - not an empty system of religion based on rules, but rather a personal relationship with God himself, a relationship based on love.

A love that would come to us as a precious baby, climax by going to a cross on behalf of humanity, and continue to dwell in the hearts of millions. A love that’s available to you. Today.
This really is a choose your own ending story. We wouldn’t go to all of this trouble if we didn’t think there was good reason. Our troop of storytellers? We’ve each been changed by this Jesus who still does wonders. How does your story end? That’s up to you. Will you leave Jesus safe & sound in the manger, or will you welcome Him into your life as a personal God who still does wonders? Will you say to him these words - "You’re my king." This light of the world named Jesus who stepped down into our world to give us life."

Changing The World, One Person At A Time


Came across this article about Shaun Alexander, running back for the Seattle Seahawks. Had him on my fantasy team this year....and frankly, for fantasy purposes, really wish I had chosen Ladanian Tomlinson (I had my pick of the two! "I coulda been a contender..."). Just after I drafted him, I was made aware of the "curse" of the Madden games. If you make the cover, you have a subpar year. Look out Tomlinson! Anyway, great article....very short, but hope you'll check it out. We need not only more star athletes who do this sort of thing (that in itself is very refreshing), but we just need more people doing this kind of thing period. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas Reflections & Quotes

Found these at Christianity Today

Christmas Reflections
Quotations to stir heart and mind.
Compiled by Richard A. Kauffman posted 12/18/2006 08:33AM

CHRISTMAS has really become a hopeless muddle of confusion. The humility and the poverty of the stable are somehow confused with the wealth and indulgence and selfishness of gift giving. The quietness of Bethlehem is mingled with the din of shopping malls and freeway traffic. The soberness of the Incarnation is somehow mixed with the drunkenness of this season. Blinking colored lights somehow have some connection to the star of Bethlehem.
-John F. MacArthur Jr., "The Incarnation of the Triune God"

WHEN Jesus was born, the voice of God became flesh and dwelt among us. And what the voice said was, "Console, console my people." The consolation that God's anger is past … the consolation that our heavenly Father has a tender affection for us in our weakness … the consolation that our sins are pardoned and "cast into the depths of the sea" (Micah 7:19).
-John Piper, "Looking for the Consolation of Israel"

REJOICE, you who feel that you are lost; your Savior comes to seek and save you. Be of good cheer, you who are in prison, for he comes to set you free. You who are famished and ready to die, rejoice that he has consecrated for you a Bethlehem, a house of bread, and he has come to be the Bread of Life to your souls. Rejoice, O sinners everywhere, for the restorer of the castaways, the Savior of the fallen, is born.
-C. H. Spurgeon, "Joy Born at Bethlehem"

THE ENTIRE human race had a place, and the Lord about to be born on earth had none. He found no room among men. He found no room in Plato, none in Aristotle, but in a manger, among beasts of burden and brute animals, and among the simple, too, and the innocent. For that reason, the Lord says in the Gospel: "The foxes have dens, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head."
Jerome, Homilies on the Psalms

HE CHOSE a time of utmost peace as the time when he would be born, because this was the reason for his being born in the world, that he might lead the human race back to the gifts of heavenly peace. … He, as a kind mediator and reconciler, has made one house of God of angels and humanity.
Bede the Venerable, Homilies on the Gospels

WE KNOW full well that the work begun in that manger is not yet complete.Christmas is, for the time being, a feast of light juxtaposed with darkness. We brighten our sanctuary with candles, but the night persists beyond these walls. Though we wipe our tears away to join in the yuletide celebration, we are still a people who mourn.
Katherine E. Willis Perchey, "A Feast Juxtaposed"

WHAT you do not understand, treat with reverence and be patient, and what you do understand, cherish and keep.
Augustine of Hippo, Sermons for Christmas and Epiphany
Copyright © 2006 Christianity Today

Friday, December 15, 2006

They Speak For Themselves

Couple of political cartoons worth sharing....


Let He Who Is Without Sin


Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. So here it is...you can buy one. Of course, if you never need to throw it, its designed to be a handy paperweight for your desk! You can get one here for your very own, for only 9.95 plus shipping and handling...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Psyche Ward Christmas Carols

  • Schizophrenia --- Do You Hear What I Hear?
  • Multiple Personality Disorder --- We Three Kings Disoriented Are
  • Dementia --- I Think I'll be Home for Christmas
  • Narcissistic --- Hark the Herald Angels Sing About Me
  • Manic - Deck the Halls and Walls and House and Lawn and Streets and Stores and Office and Town and Cars and Buses and Trucks and Trees and.....
  • Paranoid --- Santa Claus is Coming to Town to Get Me
  • Borderline Personality Disorder --- Thoughts of Roasting on an Open Fire
  • Personality Disorder --- You Better Watch Out, I'm Gonna Cry, I'm Gonna Pout, Maybe I'll Tell You Why
  • Attention Deficit Disorder --- Silent night, Holy oooh look at the Froggy - can I have a chocolate, why is France so far away?
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder --- Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle,Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells , Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

New Christmas Gift Idea?


Napoleon Jesus? Once again, Christian marketers (is that an oxymoron?) have managed to conjur up 'zero' creativity whatsoever, instead choosing to simply steal any creative idea or trend and make it their own. I for one am a big fan of all things Napoleon Dynamite. Mark me as not so much a fan of this kind of stuff...
(Of course, I'm more than OK with borrowing their stuff to make up for my lack of creativity on my blog....)

Evangelicals on 'Today'

The Today show, the bastian of truth and wisdom of the American airwaves (OK, so its not really all that bad), had a recent series, I think, entitled The Mystery of Faith. This clip deals with the Evangelical movement, also highlighting those within its ranks who are bucking the trend that most Evangelicals have blindly accepted. There is much more to say than a 2 1/2 minute highly-edited clip can give, so other study is a good thing too. Here's the clip.... I'm becoming a big fan of Jim Wallis, who is briefly quoted in the clip.

BTW, is anyone else getting a little tired of Joel Osteen? He's in this video clip, and last night was on the Barbara Walters special as one of the 10 most influential people of 2006. His whole Christianity-lite approach is just that. If you can watch his segment with Barbara, let me know if it leaves you scratching your head a little and saying 'Huh?'

Monday, December 11, 2006

All Is Right In The World


Saturday, my beloved Kentucky Wildcats avenged their last-season pummelling at the hands of the Indiana Hoosiers. Their victory makes me happy (and thusfar their season has been less than happy). But a win over IU is always a good thing...in fact, this is the 15th time they have played since I have been a resident of Indiana, and UK has won 12 of those matchups, I do believe. So my missionary work amongst the IU faithful marches on. Next up, in-state rival Louisville, with the coach any honest UK fan would tell you we wish was still wearing Blue. Now if the Colts can just recapture some of the magic. (Wonder if Pitino can tackle?)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

White & Nerdy

Funny video. "Weird Al" Yankovic's music video from his new album "Straight Outta Lynwood". I'm so non-hip, I'm sure its a take off on some popular thug rap song....I just don't know what it is. Song/video is funny anyway!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Give Life

Looking for a different Christmas idea this year? Something that might make a difference in the life of someone, rather than a gift just for the purpose of giving a gift to someone who needs litte? Check out this video from The Work Of The People and respond accordingly. You can download the video for free (I think), or you can simply watch a streaming version right there on the site. It's worth your time....

Monday, November 20, 2006

Connections

This weekend, the National Missionary Convention was held in downtown Indianapolis. Over 10,000 were in attendance of all ages. I was able to catch up with a number of folks that I've met along the way, and continue to walk away in awe of what God is doing in the world...and how he's utilizing folks like you and I. A few of the folks I spent some time with this weekend:

Dave & Lisa Sprinkle - Lisa was in my youth group in Ohio a bunch of years ago. She and Dave live and work among Indian reservations in Arizona & New Mexico. Their ministry is called Hope In Transit. Very creative...they have a travelling music school on various reservations, providing free music lessons to kids, and telling them about Jesus along the way. Very cool...

Ajai Lall - Without a doubt, one of the most amazing men of God I will ever meet. Had the privilege of visiting the Lall's minisitry, Central India Christian Mission, a few years ago. Just an unbelievable ministry. We were fortunate to arrange for Ajai to speak at our church this Sunday. It was a home-run as expected. Can't say enough about what CICM has accomplished, and all that Ajai has been through - persecution, government stubling blocks, you name it. Oh, and only a small percentage (3% or so) of the over 1.2 BILLION profess any form of Christianity. Ajai is definitely called to do what he's doing.

Another old friend, whom I've bumped into over the years, and whose name I won't use, is currently running a coffee shop in K*bul, Afgh*nastan. His strategy is to simply run a business and live & work there, growing friendships. The dream is to start other shops, and hand off the ownership of these to other Christians, to slowly build a stronger base of believers in the country. Fascinating... if you want to get involved & help somehow, contact Team Expansion

Many more...these are 3 that pop into my mind at the moment, and I'm thrilled to know them and have the opportunity to pray & support them my own way. You're welcome to as well!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Do I Creep You Out?

Found this humorous...Weird Al and the JibJab guys joining forces...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Jesus for Tots

Seems the good folks at the Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Company, and their one2believe division, had a good idea. Give 4,000 of their talking Jesus doll to the Toys For Tots program. Only problem...the TFT people don't want scripture-quoting Jesus dolls. So they said no (read about it here). Not a big deal, thinks I...can't the folks at the doll company just give away the Jesus dolls anyway? Seems like that's what we're supposed to be doing anyway with this free Gospel we've been given, the one so many have exploited & capitalized. Click the picture to order your own version, including David, Moses and others!

Prescription Drug or Metal Band?

A little something fun....answers at the end!

Prescription Drug or Metal Band?
BY ERYK SALVAGGIO
- - - -
1. Norvasc
2. Xentrix
3. Skelaxin
4. Glycolax
5. Eidolon
6. Acyclovir
7. Hirax
8. Mythotyn
9. Krabathor
10. Ilium
11. Ketek
12. Insomnium
13. Armour Thyroid
14. Depakote
15. Lantus
16. Diovan
17. Zetia
18. Gorgoroth
19. Amebix
20. Finntroll
21. Behexen
22. Flonase
23. Xalatan
24. Avelox
25. Ted Nugent
26. Treponem Pal
27. Advair Diskus
28. Zocor
29. Ensiferum
30. Ambien

Metal bands: 2, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 25, 26, 29
Prescription drugs: 1, 3, 4, 6, 11, 13, 14, 16, 17, 22, 24, 27, 28, 30

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Haggard Truth

In the past couple of weeks, two hard-to-watch items have bombarded my television screen. First is the ad-nauseum political commercials that seem to never end. Fortunately, we have a brief reprieve until the next election season. For some reason, it got really old, really fast.

The other more difficult thing to see and learn about was the fall of Ted Haggard. Admittedly, I've never been much of a fan. Not because I thought he was a fraud, crook, or cult leader (as he's since been called by many in the media). But because for some reason he was one of a handful of people that "spoke" on my behalf. Not because I wanted him to, and not because he really did speak for me. But because he was the main mouthpiece for this loosely arranged group in our country known as evangelicals. Some 33 million of us, the majority of which didn't have a say in who would speak on our behalf, and my hunch is don't really want anyone but Jesus speaking for us in the first place. But its a reality, and now those of us who fit into that category of evangelical, whether we like it or not, live with the fall-out.

I certainly don't fault Ted Haggard for being any kind of spokesperson. Often its driven by other forces, like the media who need someone for a sound bite, or other special interest groups who can find someone who lines up with their particular ideology and "anoint" someone as the voice of their movement.

Truth is, I believe in a God of transformation & restoration. I do believe he has worked through people like Haggard, and I believe he can again. Sure, right now its a big target, and any jab or lob will hit just fine. I just hope we'll all look in the mirror before throwing stones. Admittedly, I don't always do that, and have been quick to partake in the jokes and/or criticism. For that I repent and seek forgiveness. Instead, lets pray for Haggard and his church and his family.

Here's a terrific article called The Haggard Truth from Gordon MacDonald, who is no stranger to forgiveness & resoration. It's very well said, and I hope you'll read it and pass it around.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

7 Steps to My Best Life!


Oh, how I was hoping that something like this would hit the market! Not because I needed to pick up one for everyone on my Christmas list, but so I would have something to make fun of ad nauseum. Apparently, the folks at some lame board game company thought this would be a good idea. I guess they ran out of other games to copy-cat and simply add "The Bible Edition" to the title. You know..."Outburst - Bible Edition" or "Apples to Apples - Bible Edition" or "Operation - Bible Edition" (if this one did exist, I suppose removing the Adam's Apple would take on a whole new meaning...). Looking to pick up your own copy of this ridiculous waste of money? You can get it on sale here, but you better hurry to beat the rush! Order today, and get the new copy of the Prayer of Jabez video game for your XBOX 360. You can "increase your territory" by marching on Washington and single-handedly impeaching one left-wing democrat after another....
(Jesus died for this?)

Friday, November 03, 2006

New Products 4 U

Need some new products for home, office, or car? Here's some to choose from. They do lean a little to the left. The "Jesus was a Liberal" T-shirt might give you that impression! And though I don't particularly line up with all I see here, a few things struck a chord...like this bumper sticker! Click the pic to check out the site for yourself....

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Spider House

My friends have been dealing with an unbelievable dilemma for the past year. Their home is infested with brown recluse spiders. They have had all sorts of experts & "bug" people check it out, and nothing has worked. Many friends, family & church folk have stepped up to help, mostly by offering some sort of housing. But I'm sure they're approaching the proverbial 'wits end.' They can't live in their home, but they still have to pay the mortgage, insurance, you name it. Both insurance & mortgage companies have been involved, but so far, little help is available or offered.

Our local ABC affiliate does a "Call 6 For Help" feature each week. Tonight at 6:00 on channel 6, my friends the Cooks are featured - Chad & Wendy and their kids. I hope lots of people watch, and that we would all pray that through this being aired, some solution might arise. Watch if you can; not sure if Channel 6 will put the entire story on their site after the fact, but it appears they archive the stories here, so you can probably watch the story after Thursday the 2nd. You can catch the trailer for the story here (or click the picture).

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Voting God's Politics

"Christians have a moral and civic responsibility to participate in the political life of society. We must, however, remember that God is not a Republican or a Democrat, and prayerfully measure the policies of all candidates against a range of Christian ethics and values. A broad set of Christian values should inform our politcal decisions."


That paragraph is taken from the opening section of "Voting God's Politics," an invaluable booklet produced by the folks at Sojourners and Call to Renewal. It's not one of those right-wing "here's who to vote for" pieces of brainwash that usually come to my inbox. Rather, its design is to paint a broader picture than the one commonly woven into the fabric of the nation, that Christians are only concerned about Supreme court judges, abortion, and homosexual marriage. Sure, those are legit....but what about compassion & economic justice? What about peace and restraint of violence? Racial justice? How about all of the "ethics of life" issues, including capital punishment and genocide? Human rights and gender injustice? Family and culture renewal? Stewardship of God's creation? The list could go on & on...and it probably does. But often, we evangelicals have ignored the majority of that list and focused on what we've deemed the "top" priorities (which is another debate entirely).


So, I hope you'll check out the Voting God's Politics guide and see for yourself. You can get it here...if for some reason that doesn't work, please let me know...I'll personally email you the pdf so you can print it out. There are several other things to check out there, too. While you're at it, sign up for the Sojourners email blurbs. Always good stuff.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Fancy New T's

Came across this random T-shirt company appropriately named randomshirts.com . Thought I would share a couple of designs that made me chuckle.... most shirts are only $10. Kinda fun...


Monday, October 23, 2006

Come As You Are, We Have An Espresso Bar

Had the opportunity to preach at the weekly chapel service at the alma mater, Kentucky Christian University. It was good to be there. Interesting how different things seem having been gone from there as a student since May of 1989. Frankly, the hairstyles & clothing felt a little like the 70's (not to mention the carpeting in the chapel building that was probably put down in 1972...). It was a treat to be there, and I hope I had something to share that was worthwhile for the students that were there.

I did have one moment of attempting to be funny, and it killed. But I think it killed for a reason. I was speaking on the importance of getting Christianity "out there," instead of keeping it holed up into our little subculture. As a former student at a Christian college, its pretty easy to completely miss the reality that you're being absorbed by a subculture, and you can totally ignore the bigger culture that's happening (and changing) all around you.

Here's a piece from my message...the first a quote from George Barna, followed by a paragraph aimed at the city where I live:

"This is our reality, despite 320,000 churches, 800,000 ordained ministers, several networks devoted to religious broadcasting, evangelistic ministries that spend $200 million on television time and $100 million on radio broadcasts each year, 5,000 evangelistic para-church organizations, and a Christian book and music industry that boasts $1 billion in annual revenues." By all accounts, we should be ‘out there’, shouldn’t we?

Where I live, with a population of some 65,000, and around 144,000 in our county, we have well over 150 churches, 3 Christian bookstores, a denomination headquarters for the Church of God Anderson IN, a Christian college with 3,000+ students, a seminary with 150 or so students, 6 Christian schools and counting, more church preschools than we could count, Bill Gaither and Sandi Patti, a handful of mission organization headquarters, and new churches starting all the time because apparently there aren’t enough of those "come as you are - we’ve got an Espresso bar" kind of churches. And yet our crime rate doesn’t change. Divorce & teen pregnancy are still toward the top of state levels. Homeless ministries that continue to grow out of necessity. And thousands that are still lost and uninterested in what they see as the hollow promises of organized religion.

OK, so the Sandi Patti/Bill Gaither thing got a laugh. But I was totally unprepared for the response to the "come as you are - we've got an Espresso bar" kind of church phrase. I thought I would come across as a cynical, fuddy-duddy, out-of-touch-with-church-growth kind of guy. But what I sensed through the laughter was a little bit of agreement with the overall point I was making.

So, what's the point I was making? That none of the above "stuff" is getting it done - not even the whole "wear whatever you want, sip a cup of Joe, and sing a Tomlin song" thing. Sure, there may be a few folks who have been reached, and a handful of de-churched, turned off folks who are re-engaged with this new flavor of church that seems to be "brewing" all over America. But is that it? Is that the best we can do to make Jesus real to people?

Please understand, I'm all about finding whatever works and finding better ways to bring people to Jesus. Those guys in Mark chapter 2, who busted out a roof to lower their friend in because they thought Jesus had the answers for their friend? Those guys are my heros! I'm all for innovation & progress that brings Jesus to those who don't know Him.

However, and maybe this is just cynical ol' me, but I'm seeing two things happen. First, it just seems like a lot of shuffling the deck. The cool "church of what's happening now" just attracts Chrisitians from other churches. Sure, this is nothing new. In our particular spot on the map, they all seem to be fighting over college kids. Most of whom are Christians already, looking for the cool place to be. I know I'm generalizing here...there are a ton of reasons these kids flock to the aforementioned Tomlin-singing, coffee sippin' places. I'm sure some are legit, and most use the right terminology (they speak my language there, I can find true community, etc.) So sue me...but that's what I see.

The other thing that I see happening is really a two-fold result. Brain drain & dropout. We've all heard the brain drain explanation as our best & brightest from our states or counties or cities move on to other places where the grass is presumably greener. I see it happening in the church to some degree. Lots of established churches that really do want to reach the lost and really do have a desire to create a culture that is accommodating and speaks truth (is that possible?), and yet a whole bunch of our future influencers & decision makers are stepping out & congregating elsewhere. (NOTE: I'm not blaming them! I'm not blaming them! So before you respond & rip me...read on!)

The other result that I've personally seen happen is when young Sally goes to college, finds the hip college/coffee/Tomlin-singing service (sorry to bash Tomlin...I'm really a big fan...but you know what I mean...), and then Sally moves away and winds up somewhere like Toledo or Omaha or London, KY, and she can't find "the church of what's happening now." If, and its a big IF, if Sally's faith is tied up in her experience at the hip college deal, what happens when the best option is...you guessed it...some sort of organized, evangelical congregation down the street? If your faith is tied up in experience only, and that experience comes to an end, what happens to your faith? Take a look at the giant sucking sound of kids who leave church youth groups and go to college and walk away from their faith! Isn't that telling us something? Maybe we're pretty good at converting kids to love their youth groups or whatever and all of the warm fuzzy feelings that go with it, but maybe we're not pointing them to Jesus?

Yes, I'm part of the problem. All of us in church leadership are part of it. The cultures we've created don't address the heart of the reason(s) that those who flock to the coffee bars & such do so in droves. Sure, we spend a lot of time keeping the machine going, and putting bandaids on the concerns of the already convinced.

Is this really the best we can do to engage our culture? Candles & powerpoint & coffee? I wonder if those we're "reaching" with this model are starting to see through it a little. Yes, its cool & all, but its no substitute for genuine authentic faith in a God who couldn't care less about my coolness or hip factor and in most cases wants to strip me of that because that makes it all about me, not him.

Genuine, authentic faith is attractive. Regardless of music style, facility, dress code, generational differences, or political affiliation. The Church has to continue to disciple people toward being real, authentic, and dwellers in the Kingdom.

Let the ripping begin....

Free Derek Webb

I'm a big fan of Derek Webb and his music. He was one of the original members of Caedmon's Call, which will mean something to some. But as a solo artist, the guy is somewhat unglued, breaking all the rules, and saying things lyrically that I didn't think many Christian artists were even allowed to say! If you haven't heard of him or checked him out, now is the time. In fact, here's the kind of "breakin' the rules" guy he is. He's giving away his newest CD. It's been out about a year. Now you can get it free by downloading it. No kidding... go to www.freederekwebb.com and find out more! While you're checking out the site, find out a little about what makes him tick. Some on his website, but here's a feature article from Relevant Magazine. (OK, so this isn't exactly the cover article, which I couldn't seem to find...get your hands on a May/June Relevant and read it...)

One of my favorite lyric lines from the free Mockingbird download, I think the song is called "A King and a Kingdom" goes something like this -- "There have been two great lies: if y0u eat of the fruit of this tree you will not die, and Jesus Christ was a white, middle class Republican." I guess people actually get up and leave his shows when he gets to that line! I find that refreshing...check him out, and get Mockingbird FREE! Derek also has his own MySpace presence, complete with concert listings, a chance to hear his stuff, etc. Go there, too!

Monday, October 16, 2006

"I'll hit you with these crutches!"


By now we've all heard about & probably seen the footage of the footbrawl during Saturday night's game in Miami. It was an ugly mess. I of course missed it live, and went looking online to see what all the fuss was about. A couple of observations....first, before I found video, I found pictures. It became apparent that pictures of a football fight looks a lot like football. Then I came across this picture, and wondered what the guy on crutches was thinking! And if you haven't seen the footage and/or listened to the idiot broadcaster, that's worth you time. Not only should several of those players be kicked off their teams, but that broadcaster (a former Miami player, I'm told) should be looking for a job elsewhere. I'm sure there's a Shoney's breakfast bar he could stock or something. I guess the honest truth is, as ugly & wrong as the whole footbrawl incident is, do we have a certain sense of fascination at watching it unfold? Are there people who would actually pay to see this happen? Isn't this the sum total of the appeal of the National Hockey League anyway? Do we all have a little Roman colliseum mentality hidden deep within our psyche?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Meditteranean, Anyone?


So, today I broke all personal rules and went through the McDonald's drive-thru. I have been fairly good lately, and since I had a dentist appointment that was cancelled, I had a few extra minutes. I purchased one of the "meal deal" options, which gave me a tasty sandwich, a hasbrown, and a medium diet coke. Fortunately, the fine folks at McDonald's are entrenched in their Monopoly promotion, so I had the chance to unveil the "playing pieces" and win big prizes! Imagine my suprise when both playing pieces from the diet coke cup were both Baltic Avenue. Odd, but no problem, thinks I. The hashbrown "containalope" will undoubtedly bring me greater fortunes. Or so I thought. Imagine my surprise when I once again unveiled 2 more Baltic Avenue playing pieces! Is there some sort of Monoply nazi out there just messing with people? I don't know...maybe mix in a railroad, one of those high-dollar dark blue pieces, maybe even have me go to jail? Is there some sort of 'Monopoly Monopoly' going on? Like a few years ago, when some folks managed to con Ronald & friends from a few hundred thousand bucks during the Monopoly bust of '03? Some disgruntled Cheesburgler dude in a factory matching all of the playing pieces on the cups & 'containalopes' just to mess with people? Well, I'm not letting this get me down. I've determined my options are this...
  1. Solicit as many Mediteranean playing pieces I can get and give the money to missions (if you have a Baltic and a Mediteranean piece, you win $100....so I'm halfway to $400....that will send a kid to Bible College in the Philippines for a year...)
  2. Solict more Baltic Avenue pieces and wallpaper my basement
  3. Boycott McDonalds for the good of my health and wallet (a move that needs to happen anyway)

I think I'll go with 1 and 3, but since 1 is unlikely to actually happen, I'll stick with 3. In the mean time, if you need a Baltic Avenue or four, I'm your man!

(BTW, Super Size Me is one of my favorite movies. If you haven't seen it, check it out. I have the DVD...$2 in a bargain bin...and I'm willing to loan it out!)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

My $5 Car...I'm Not Kidding

I live approx. 200 yards from a large car dealership. It seems they always have some sort of giveaway, drawing, and gimmick to get people over to the lot. For the last week, they've given away a car for $5, one per night. I decided that I lived close enough to justify going over and seeing what happens. And as luck would have it, I am now the proud owner of a 1997 Ford Contour, with over 148,ooo miles. Go figure. And I said I would never own another Ford, after what has affectionately been referred to in my family as "The Tempo Debacle of 1990."

Anyway, the jury is still out on the Contour. It does run, and for those that know me, it runs a little like several of the cars I've owned. For those who don't know me, I've owned what can only be referred to as some "hum dingers." However, the Contour has many "things" going on, and I've spent little time uncovering all of those. Obviously, it wasn't real closely taken car of by its previous owner. I've only driven it the 200 yards from the dealership to my house. Only then did I discover that I have to roll down the window to open the door! Admittedly, I laughed out loud. And though you can't see from this picture, the front bumper has somehow drooped down (my best description), and the previous owner thought using some packing tape to hold it in place would be a good idea!

So, much may be fixable, including the Scotch Tape job on the front. I'm trying to decide what to do with the car...your advice would be helpful. Sell? Keep? Other?

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Irony


Sometimes, the irony just provides the humor. Couldn't help but laugh when I saw the name of the actress who plays Mother Teresa....

Miracles Never Cease

I'm not sure which is more frightening...that someone thought these porcelin items would be a good idea to produce, or that there are those out there looking to buy stuff like this. But what is REALLY funny and disturbing is the "entire collection" of Jesus porcelin figurines. Go ahead, name the sport...you can find a Jesus to match. My favorites? Its a toss-up between golf & martial arts. Go ahead...do your own shopping and pick your fave! I'm disappointed that curling didn't make the list...

You can view these "works of art" here...
(Apparently, another funny tid-bit...all of the "children" in these figurines are Caucasion. Not to worry...more politically correct figures are on the way. Wonder if they'll stick with the Caucasion Jesus, or if they'll make him look, well, like a Jewish middle-east resident??)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

rapture

Are you ready??

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Political Science 101

DEMOCRATIC
You have two cows.Your neighbor has none.You feel guilty for being successful.Barbara Streisand sings for you.
REPUBLICANISM
You have two cows.Your neighbor has none.So?
SOCIALIST
You have two cows.The government takes one and gives it to your neighbor.You form a cooperative to tell him how to manage his cow.
COMMUNIST
You have two cows.The government seizes both and provides you with milk.You wait in line for hours to get it.It is expensive and sour.
CAPITALISM, AMERICAN STYLE
You have two cows.You sell one, buy a bull, and build a herd of cows.
BUREAUCRACY, AMERICAN STYLE
You have two cows.Under the new farm program the government pays you to shoot one, milk the other, and then pours the milk down the drain.
AMERICAN CORPORATION
You have two cows.You sell one, lease it back to yourself and do an IPO on the 2nd one. You force the two cows to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when one cow drops dead. You spin an announcement to the analysts stating you have downsized and are reducing expenses.Your stock goes up
FRENCH CORPORATION
You have two cows.You go on strike because you want three cows.You go to lunch and drink wine.Life is good.
JAPANESE CORPORATION
You have two cows.You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk.They learn to travel on unbelievably crowded trains.Most are at the top of their class at cow school.
GERMAN CORPORATION
You have two cows.You engineer them so they are all blond, drink lots of beer, give excellent quality milk, and run a hundred miles an hour.Unfortunately they also demand 13 weeks of vacation per year.
ITALIAN CORPORATION
You have two cows but you don't know where they are.While ambling around, you see a beautiful woman.You break for lunch.Life is good.
RUSSIAN CORPORATION
You have two cows.You have some vodka.You count them and learn you have five cows.You have some more vodka.You count them again and learn you have 42 cows.The Mafia shows up and takes over however many cows you really have.
TALIBAN CORPORATION
You have all the cows in Afghanistan, which are two.You don't milk them because you cannot touch any creature's private parts.You get a $40 million grant from the US government to find alternatives to milk production but use the money to buy weapons.
IRAQI CORPORATION
You have two cows.They go into hiding.They send radio tapes of their mooing.
POLISH CORPORATION
You have two bulls.Employees are regularly maimed and killed attempting to milk them.
BELGIAN CORPORATION
You have one cow.The cow is schizophrenic.Sometimes the cow thinks he's French, other times he's Flemish.The Flemish cow won't share with the French cow.The French cow wants control of the Flemish cow's milk.The cow asks permission to be cut in half! .The cow dies happy.
FLORIDA CORPORATION
You have a black cow and a brown cow.Everyone votes for the best-looking one.Some of the people who actually like the brown one best accidentally vote for the black one.Some people vote for both.Some people vote for neither.Some people can't figure ! out how to vote at all.Finally, a bunch of guys from out-of-state tell you which one you think is the best-looking cow.
CALIFORNIA CORPORATION
You have millions of cows.They make real California cheese.Only five speak English.Most are illegals.Arnold likes the ones with the big udders.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Another Tribe, Another New Testament

I'm a big fan and believer in the little-known efforts around the world to translate the Bible into native languages. There are a number of groups I'm aware of that work in this important arena, including Pioneer Bible Translators, Wycliffe Bible Translators, and New Tribes. I have acquaintences & friends in the first two organizations, who labor in Indonesia and Papau New Guinea. Here's a short story from Mission Network News about a people group that will soon receive its own New Testament....

Papua New Guinea (MNN)--New Tribes Mission reports success in a Papua New Guinea New Testament translation project that has lasted seven years. The completed efforts arrived in the form of 15-hundred copies of a beautifully bound Asengseng New Testament. The New Testaments will soon be on their way for a two-month voyage to West New Britain in Papua New Guinea. Their arrival will occasion a joyous celebration for four Asengseng elders -- Giaman, Krosli, Wisnamli and Tawin -- 20 Bible teachers, and the believers in ten local churches who are eagerly waiting to get the new Book in their hands.In preparation for this, Bible teachers last year began working toward chronological teaching at Elihi, another village in Asengseng. Pray for the literacy classes which are continuing in various villages throughout Asengseng - both teachers and students.

If you would, pray for those working in villages around the world, learning languages, teaching literacy, and slowly making God's Word come alive.

Monday, July 31, 2006

You Know You're Church Is A Redneck Church...


IF the finance committee refuses to provide funds for the purchase of a chandelier because none of the members knows how to play one.
IF people ask, when they learn that Jesus fed the 5000, whether the two fish were bass or catfish, and what bait was used to catch 'em.
WHEN the pastor says, "I'd like to ask Bubba to help take up the offering,"
five guys and two women stand up.
IF opening day of deer season is recognized as an official church holiday.
IF a member of the church requests to be buried in his 4-wheel-drive truck because "It ain't never been in a hole it couldn't get out of."
IF the choir is known as the "OK Chorale".
WHEN in a congregation of 500 members, there are only seven last names in the church directory.
IF Baptism is referred to as "branding".
IF high notes on the organ set the dogs on the floor to howling.
IF people think "rapture" is what you get when you lift something too heavy.
IF the baptismal pool is a #2 galvanized washtub.
IF the choir robes were donated by (and embroidered with the logo from) Billy Bob's Barbecue.
IF the collection plates are really hub caps from a '56 Chevy.
IF instead of a bell, you are called to service by a duck call.
IF the minister and his wife drive matching pickup trucks.
IF the communion wine is Boone's Farm "Strawberry Hill".
IF "Thou shalt not covet" applies to hunting dogs, too.
IF the final words of the benediction are, "Y'all come back now!! Ya Hear"

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Efforting for Clean Water



This is a cool opportunity to literally save a life. The Living Water International folks are challenging us to drink nothing but water for 2 weeks, and to donate the money we would have spent on soft drinks, etc. to the effort to provide clean water in places around the globe where it doesn't exist.

Anyone want to join me? Together, we could pool our $, and make a difference. Click the pic above to go to the site. Click here to watch a video that might stimulate your interest.

Middle East Mess

I'll admit it - I have little idea what's going on (or why its going on) in the Middle East. I usually think that just makes me not-so-smart, uninformed, or apathetic. But I think I'm really just more the average American.

This article struck a chord with me, and you should read it. It's from Christianity Today and is entitled Another Point of View: Evangelical Blindness on Lebanon. Make sure you read the opening disclaimer, and keep in mind that this is simply another point of view, not necessarily mine. I'm not smart enough or informed enough to really have a point of view on this and many things (oddly enough, that doesn't seem to stop some people from having the "definitive" answer to any and all things!)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Trifecta Brush with Fame


I've had my share of rather random brushes with fame. But this one was the triple whammy. There's a lot to the story, and I won't bore you with too much minutiae, but I happened to be in Great American Ballpark last night for the Reds/Mets game. It was a long night - a lengthy rain delay, hot & sticky, etc. But then in walks Dennis Miller, Ron Howard, and Tom Hanks. We were fortunate to see them early on, before the masses caught on that they were in attendance. They walked right by us on at least 3 occasions. I did a polite wave and said "Mr. Miller" and received a wave in return. Unfortunately, my camera was not working properly to do me much good, and when I could get it to cooperate, the thugs/security (which I understand is very necessary for these kind of people...the throngs of folks trying to get near them was kinda funny to watch) wouldn't let you get too close. So I got a couple of great shots of the back of their heads! Anyway, my son actually stuck his hand out as the entourage was leaving and got the customary "hand bump" from Hanks. Pretty cool. Somewhat larger than life, but in a regular guy kinda way. The pic above is from the Cincinnati Enquirer story, with a link to the interview...

The crowd was kinda funny, once the word was out that Hanks & Co. were in attendance. When things would get quiet enough, you would hear someone yell "Wilson!" or "Run, Forest, Run." I think I even heard an "Opie Cunningham" reference (from back when SNL was funny). Interestingly, no one mentioned The Terminal...though the length of the game last night (Reds pulled it out with 3 runs in the bottom of the 8th) started to feel like The Terminal.

On a much more exciting & interesting note, I snagged my first-ever foul ball in the top of the 9th inning (at approx. 12:35 am) off the bat of Julio Franco, who I think has been playing baseball since its invention. The smile on my son's face when I placed that in his glove.....priceless!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Most Influential Churches?

I'm not sure this new list really matters, but there is a site/magazine that puts out their yearly take on the "50 Most Influential Churches in America". I'm not sure the measuring stick that's used, nor am I convinced there should be one. What we don't need are more examples of churches we should all try to copy. I'm also convinced that a church of 15o people in a town of 1,000 can be just as influential as a chuch of thousands in a major city. But it makes for interesting chat. Check out the list...strangely enough, from what I know of a few of these places, I would agree that they're influential and are playing an important role not only in their location, but they're also "mixing it up" with our culture. Ball is now in your lap...

Monday, July 10, 2006

World Cup Soccer - Zidane - Headbutt

I didn't see this live, but its all over the news. Dude really clocks the guy. This Zidane guy is one of the best players supposedly. Guess anyone can lose it in the heat of the moment!

Friday, June 30, 2006

Firework Fun

Want to do your own on-screen fireworks show? Check out this link and have a rousing good time......

TOP TEN LEAST POPULAR CHURCH-SPONSORED FIREWORKS DISPLAYS
10. Disciple sparklers
9. Janitor Bob's burning of pile of flammable, secular cleaning supplies
8. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in that old sparking electric furnace, stored in church garage
7. Youth group shoots bottle rockets at floundering Noah's Ark
6. David slays Goliath by telling him to light fuse and not get away
5. Book of Romans Candles
4. Exploding M-80 causes donkey to bolt during triumphal entrance into Jerusalem
3. Moses loses a finger lighting Spinning Burning Bush
2. Finale has Lazarus shooting out of tomb on an exploding shell
1. Joseph and the Amazingly Flammable Dreamcoat

Copyright 2006 Dave Tippett (djtippHA@yahoo.com). Permission is granted to send this to others, with attribution, but not for commercial purposes.

KY's Republican Governor

Just returned from a 24-hour trip to a Christian convention in Louisville, KY. I don't make it to this event often, but when its close, I find it a little encouraging and fun. I guess it was fine. We did get to spend a little time with folks we've known over the years. I do get sort of tired of the questions "so how big is your church" and my favorite question "so what is it you do now?" That one has no easy answer, so I get to describe in detail the "unique" position I have. All in all, it was fine.

One moment of shear annoyance took place during one of the main sessions I attended. I'm not sure the attendance - I would guess approx. 8,000 - 10,000. Wayne Smith, a popular retired preacher who is a treat to hear, was introducing Ernie Fletcher, his friend and the governor of Kentucky. He started by saying that "Ernie Fletcher is the first Republican governor of Kentucky in 50 years." And then it happend...people applauded. Some 9,000 Christians all packed into a room, sharing their joy that finally the great state of Kentucky was being led by God's chosen party - the Republicans.

I've got nothing against Fletcher - he read scripture & prayed and seemed like a good guy. And all Smith did was point out the fact that there hasn't been a Republican in that office in KY in a good long while. What irks me is this on-demand triggered response from the crowd. As though somehow there was now hope for Kentucky, since the God-party was in power!

How did the church of Jesus become only about two causes: abortion & homosexuality? I agree, those are issues that should concern us. (I contend a lot more is being done by Biblical "one-anothering" than by legislation, but I know there is much debate here...) But the poor & disenfranchised, the environment, and a host of other problems in our country and in our world are important issues as well, and those are issues that "we Republicans" tend to avoid. Funny, Jesus had a lot more to say about those issues than he did about the "pet" issues the Republicans have used to get the evangelical Christian vote. Just a question...has anything changed??

(The image above is a bumper sticker...you can get it here)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Church Sign Generator

From time to time, I've documented my disdain for various church signs that I've driven past. Nothing like a "God always checks his knee-mail" slogan on a church sign to just make me feel all cheery about how we're communicating the Gospel to our culture.

But I've decided to join in on the fun. Someone sent me the "Church Sign Generator," which enables me to put whatever I want on a church sign (there are also links there to make George Bush, Chuck Norris, etc. say or think whatever you want them to say or think!) Anyway, its kinda fun. Here's my own attempt at a generated church sign, with a phrase that I heard a guy years ago use every time he got in front of a microphone. He had the uncanny ability to use this quote in any sermon.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Road Icons


Here's an interesting contest of sorts. You can send in pics of religious-themed places and perhaps win. I think you can win...maybe its just a bunch of pics. Anyway, here is a link to a few. Some and interesting; others just make you want to say "hmmmmm." You can draw your own conclusions. Click on the "Take the Trip" and see some examples. Here is the world's largest 10 Commandments in Murphy, NC. You can also see the World's Largest New Testament there, too.

Monday, June 19, 2006

A Reading Maniac

Just returned from vacation. In the days leading up to my time away, and also while sitting in the sun by the lake, I polished off four books. All were good, all very different. A brief synopsis:

"Confessions of a Reformission Rev." by Mark Driscoll
Wow, this book was incredible. I couldn't put it down. It's the story of Mars Hill church in Seattle (www.marshillchurch.org), and is one of those books I can't stop recommending to everyone I know. Including you. This is church-on-purpose like none other. Not only that, but Driscoll is just flat out hilarious at times. I had a couple of those laugh-so-hard-you-can't-tell-anyone-why-you're-laughing kind of things. My kids actually asked me if I was OK. An oxygen tank would have been nice, I think. All in all, its a story of how a church happened. It wasn't/isn't easy, and Driscoll makes sure we know that. He's certainly not afraid to barbeque a sacred cow or two. Which is one of the reasons I liked it so much. His previous book, The Radical Reformission, is also a terrific book.

"The DaVinci Code" by Dan Brown
Frankly, I enjoyed the book. And managed to escape with my faith in tact! Come on, its fiction. I couldn't wait to see what would happen next! Funny how a few weeks after the movie premiered, is anyone still ranting and raving about it? I found it to be a fun yarn, and wasn't at all offended or threatened by what to me was obviously fiction. Plus, I like to use the word "yarn."

"The Irresistible Revolution" by Shane Claiborne
Along with a few other radicals, (subtitle of the book is "Living as an Ordinary Radical), Claiborne and friends founded The Simple Way, a community in the inner city of Philadelphia. Claiborne spent some time with Mother Theresa, and is one of those who went to 'find his own Calcutta,' so to speak. So they're doing it, its radical, and its extremely interesting and attractive. This was a different read, but well worth it. Oh, and he also went to Iraq and just went around ministering to people. God is definitely working through these folks, and you'll be challenged if you read the book. I can recommend it (not sure I can recommend just getting on a plane and going to Iraq!)

"Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith" by Rob Bell
I'm not one to call a book an "important" book, but I feel like this one is. It's actually my second time through it, this time with a highlighter. He makes me think, as he has many others who have commented about the book. It's just full of thought-provoking stuff that helps me see things a little differently than my conservative, evangelical, fundamental upbringing. Many things to quote, and some might lose emphasis if out of context, but here is one section...

"I think that the way of Jesus is the best possible way to live. This isn't irrational or primitive or blind faith. It is merely being honest that we all are living a "way."
  • I'm convinced being generous is a better way to live.
  • I'm convinced forgiving people and not carrying around bitterness is a better way to live.
  • I'm convinced having compassion is a better way to live.
  • I'm convinced pursuing peace in every situation is a better way to live.
  • I'm convinced listening to the wisdom of others is a better way to live.
  • I'm convinced being honest with people is a better way to live.

Anyway, its a read that I think is important - too much worth quoting. His point above is that we all are following a "way." The way of Jesus is just a better way. Period (uh, not necessarily the way of Jesus that's described by many on the fundamental right-wing...)

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Pacman

Pacman

I'm a proud descendant of the Pac-Man generation. Someone sent me this, and I found it insightful. It never occured to me that Mr. or Mrs. Pac was actually frightened from the colorful blobs that chased them around. I wonder how Mario felt about those barrels being thrown by that large monkey??

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Roaring Lambs VI - Go See 'Triple Espresso'

Around 10 years ago or so, my wife and I were at a conference in San Diego. We paid the extra fee for the evening banquet and entertainment, which would be hosted by 3 comedians that we had seen previously, and had always enjoyed. We were treated to a fabulous off-broadway-type show that these three guys created, called Triple Espresso. It was a blast!

Turns out, these guys were rather serious about their comedy. Triple Espresso has been a long-running show in both Minneapolis and San Diego, and has begun to travel to other cities.

Sunday night, we took a group of friends to Indianapolis to see the show, and we were not disappointed! Though not the original cast (I guess those 3 creators just sit back and cash the checks...), these guys were very good. They have around 30 or so actors that they have trained to perform Triple Espresso, which makes it possible to have it running simultaneously around the world.

I'm a big proponent of Christians flavoring our culture (OK, I stole the whole thing from Jesus!) We need Christians who write, act, sing, paint, whatever. Problem is, most Christians who do these things only do so for other Christians! And we wonder where the "salt & light" influences in our culture have gone. Mostly, they're holed up in an obscure Christian bookstore that only a small segment of our society would ever enter in the first place. But one of the things I like most about Triple Espresso, (which is not some sort of Christian event at all), is that its good art - written and produced and directed and acted (for the most part) by Christians. Roaring Lambs, serving the most creative being in the universe, using their God-inspired creativity. Not to mention that you'll laugh a lot!

The Indianapolis run has been extended due to popular demand! It runs through June 25th at the Indianapolis Repertory Theatre, located downtown, almost next door to Circle Center. Well worth your time and money (not exactly cheap, but a terrific night out...if you're one of my baker's dozen of people who actually read this, I have coupons for $5 off if you're interested...)

Check out Triple Espresso at their site for clips, comments, etc.

Monday, June 05, 2006

School Overcrowding "A Good Problem?"

School is winding down. Today happens to be the last day for my kids. Next year, I will have kids in 3 different school buildings. That should be interesting. This year, my two youngest were in one of the brand new "mega, Taj Mahal-type" schools that have been built with my tax dollars. It's very nice & all. And huge.

Recently, I've been at 3 different school program-type events at the aforementioned Taj Mahal school. Just for the 2nd & 3rd grade program, the new, large gymanasium was packed, standing room only. Wall to wall people.

The principal steps up to the mic and says "Isn't this a great problem to have?"

Well, frankly, no, its not a good problem to have. Somebody please explain to me how this problem is good. Granted, every school program that I ever attended at our quaint old school that was shut down last year was also crowded. But many of those had the entire school and their parents shoved into the gym (one that was much smaller). Not to mention smaller classrooms, etc.

So after this first year in the Taj Mahal, our school system has decided to move some 150 or so kids to a couple of other schools. On the surface, this seems like a good idea to aleviate some overcrowding. I suppose it would be if they chose to use that decrease in number to ease the classroom numbers per teacher. But in their wisdom, that isn't happening. In fact, instead of making the classes smaller, they will stay the same. The result of moving kids out will actually leave empty classrooms.

I guess there are mysteries in life that are hard to explain. I'm not sure which leadership group I'm least impressed with...my local school system, or that guy who somehow got re-elected as mayor of New Orleans. (names withheld to protect the guilty).

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Clay Faken on Idol

OK, so we are AI watchers at our house. There really isn't much that we can watch together as a family, and the music dna in our system warrants that we tune in.

The finale had a particularly funny moment, combining one of the early round "bad" singers with one of the current stars that the show is responsible for launching. If you didn't see it, it was kinda funny. The guy's name is Michael Sandecki, who claims to be a Clay Aiken look-alike. Apparently, it was enough for Clay to change his hairstyle. Here it is...

http://www.ifilm.com/ifilmdetail/2730200

Thursday, May 25, 2006

How do you spell ESPN?

My family has proudly resisted having cable TV for a number of years now. Not a moral decision as much as a financial one. Honestly, there are times when its challenging (UK basketball season is tough...this year was tough for lots of reasons...) But here is a reason NOT to have cable TV. I just heard with some level of amusement that ESPN 2, "The Deuce" as its called by those in-the-know, is covering the Spelling Bee. Come on, Curling is a lame enough sport. But the Spelling Bee?

I can just imagine some of the words that might come up on ESPN's version:

S-T-E-R-O-I-D
O-V-E-R-P-A-I-D
U-N-D-E-R-A-C-H-I-E-V-E

Feel free to add your own words to the list.

A Mystic Funny

Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath.

This made him (oh, man, this is so bad, it's good)...A super-calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.



(more at www.mikeysfunnies.com)

Friday, May 19, 2006

Top 10 Surprises In "The Da Vinci Code"

TOP TEN SURPRISES IN "THE DA VINCI CODE"
By Dave Tippett
10. In Last Supper painting, Da Vinci drew himself in background as waiter preparing the bill
9. In the painting, James seen listening to iPod in background
8. In movie, TV in background has old "Andy of Mayberry" episode on, the one where Aunt Bea warns Opie to not be involved in no heresy
7. One disciple at Last Supper table seems to have Nike swoosh on his sandal
6. Da Vinci’s "Mona Lisa" revealed to have been first wife of that American Gothic farmer guy with the pitch fork
5. Was discovered that Da Vinci was insanely jealous of the ancient ancestor of Thomas Kincaide and their better-selling "The Soft Lighting Last Supper" painting
4. Da Vinci's followup painting was first velveteen Elvis
3. The Books of Judas and Mary Magdalene traced to goofy teens on MySpace.com
2. "Code" actually just Da Vinci’s ATM card pin
1. Closer examination of Last Supper’s tablecloth reveals food strains that map out who shot JFK
Copyright 2006 Dave Tippett (djtippHA@yahoo.com).

More Da Vinci Drivel

Infuze is an online newsletter that I typically enjoy. They have a blog that has some interesting thoughts about all things Da Vinci, and some of it was interesting. A couple of quotes...

"Maybe I'm a bad Christian and I'll have to answer for this someday on the
other side of the pearly gates, but the number one thing that makes me
uncomfortable is that this seems like a great opportunity for Christians to line
up to say stupid things. You know... people like Pat Robertson... but that's
just an example."

"In all seriousness, the main concern seems to be that the unchurched will
see this movie and accept it as gospel truth, and I say if anyone takes The
DaVinci Code as gospel truth, whether they are the unchurched or stereotyped
preacher's kids, then they aren't especially intelligent. I read "The Lovely
Bones" by Alice Sebold. It wasn't scriptural in any way, shape, or form, but it
didn't shake my faith, or brainwash me into thinking that the biblical
description of Heaven was untrue.

It doesn't matter who or what you follow. It doesn't change the fact
that this is still just a novel.

And you know what else doesn't matter?It doesn't matter if Jesus got
married and had kids or not.I still believe that Jesus Christ was a man with no
home, who didn't have a place to take a wife, and was tempted in every way
(including sexually) and yet did not sin.But if Jesus got married and had a
family, He would be no less of a Savior to me, or to you.

There's a big, huge, ENORMOUS difference between a historical
discrepancy, and a supernatural one.Either Jesus suffered, died, and rose again
to save you from your sins, or He didn't.

A wife and kids doesn't change that."

You can read more here, and don't hesitate to read the critical reviews (scroll down to "Bloodbath at Cannes! Critics Crucify 'Da Vinci'!") \

Here's a free download that sums up some of the sticking points...

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Save on Gas

Here's an ultra-practical article that I found worth the effort to share. Two guys tested several common theories or myths about saving gas in your car, and these are worth knowing about. Now, if I can just get my lawn to stop growing so I wouldn't have to spend $5 or so every time I mow! Read about it here, and be a good steward. Oh, and go ahead and eat your veggies, too.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Glad When Its All Over

Plenty of fuss about Da Vinci. I do hope to see it eventually. Its hard to escape all that's being said about the film. Brian McLaren weighs in, another voice I respect and like to hear. Always edgy, always controversial, never spoon-feeding Sunday-school answers. His thoughts from "Sojourners Journal".....

Brian McLaren on The Da Vinci Code
An interview by Lisa Ann Cockrel

With The Da Vinci Code poised to go from bestseller list to the big screen on May 19, pastor and writer (and Sojourners board member) Brian McLaren talks about why he thinks there's truth in the controversial book's fiction.

What do you think the popularity of The Da Vinci Code reveals about pop culture attitudes toward Christianity and the church?

Brian McLaren: I think a lot of people have read the book, not just as a popular page-turner but also as an experience in shared frustration with status-quo, male-dominated, power-oriented, cover-up-prone organized Christian religion. We need to ask ourselves why the vision of Jesus hinted at in Dan Brown's book is more interesting, attractive, and intriguing to these people than the standard vision of Jesus they hear about in church. Why would so many people be disappointed to find that Brown's version of Jesus has been largely discredited as fanciful and inaccurate, leaving only the church's conventional version? Is it possible that, even though Brown's fictional version misleads in many ways, it at least serves to open up the possibility that the church's conventional version of Jesus may not do him justice?

So you think The Da Vinci Code taps into dissatisfaction with Jesus as we know him?

McLaren: For all the flaws of Brown's book, I think what he's doing is suggesting that the dominant religious institutions have created their own caricature of Jesus. And I think people have a sense that that's true. It's my honest feeling that anyone trying to share their faith in America today has to realize that the Religious Right has polluted the air. The name "Jesus" and the word "Christianity" are associated with something judgmental, hostile, hypocritical, angry, negative, defensive, anti-homosexual, etc. Many of our churches, even though they feel they represent the truth, actually are upholding something that's distorted and false.

I also think that the whole issue of male domination is huge and that Brown's suggestion that the real Jesus was not as misogynist or anti-woman as the Christian religion often has been is very attractive. Brown's book is about exposing hypocrisy and cover-up in organized religion, and it is exposing organized religion's grasping for power. Again, there's something in that that people resonate with in the age of pedophilia scandals, televangelists, and religious political alliances. As a follower of Jesus I resonate with their concerns as well.

Do you think the book contains any significantly detrimental distortions of the Christian faith?

McLaren: The book is fiction and it's filled with a lot of fiction about a lot of things that a lot of people have already debunked. But frankly, I don't think it has more harmful ideas in it than the Left Behind novels. And in a certain way, what the Left Behind novels do, the way they twist scripture toward a certain theological and political end, I think Brown is twisting scripture, just to other political ends. But at the end of the day, the difference is I don't think Brown really cares that much about theology. He just wanted to write a page-turner and he was very successful at that.

Many Christians are also reading this book and it's rocking their preconceived notions - or lack of preconceived notions - about Christ's life and the early years of the church. So many people don't know how we got the canon, for example. Should this book be a clarion call to the church to say, "Hey, we need to have a body of believers who are much more literate in church history." Is that something the church needs to be thinking about more strategically?

McLaren: Yes! You're exactly right. One of the problems is that the average Christian in the average church who listens to the average Christian broadcasting has such an oversimplified understanding of both the Bible and of church history - it would be deeply disturbing for them to really learn about church history. I think the disturbing would do them good. But a lot of times education is disturbing for people. And so if The Da Vinci Code causes people to ask questions and Christians have to dig deeper, that's a great thing, a great opportunity for growth. And it does show a weakness in the church giving either no understanding of church history or a very stilted, one-sided, sugarcoated version.

On the other hand, it's important for me to say I don't think anyone can learn good church history from Brown. There's been a lot of debunking of what he calls facts. But again, the guy's writing fiction so nobody should be surprised about that. The sad thing is there's an awful lot of us who claim to be telling objective truth and we actually have our own propaganda and our own versions of history as well.

Let me mention one other thing about Brown's book that I think is appealing to people. The church goes through a pendulum swing at times from overemphasizing the deity of Christ to overemphasizing the humanity of Christ. So a book like Brown's that overemphasizes the humanity of Christ can be a mirror to us saying that we might be underemphasizing the humanity of Christ.

In light of The Da Vinci Code movie that is soon to be released, how do you hope churches will engage this story?

McLaren: I would like to see churches teach their people how to have intelligent dialogue that doesn't degenerate into argument. We have to teach people that the Holy Spirit works in the middle of conversation. We see it time and time again - Jesus enters into dialogue with people; Paul and Peter and the apostles enter into dialogue with people. We tend to think that the Holy Spirit can only work in the middle of a monologue where we are doing the speaking.

So if our churches can encourage people to, if you see someone reading the book or you know someone who's gone to the movie, say, "What do you think about Jesus and what do you think about this or that," and to ask questions instead of getting into arguments, that would be wonderful. The more we can keep conversations open and going the more chances we give the Holy Spirit to work. But too often people want to get into an argument right away. And, you know, Jesus has handled 2,000 years of questions, skepticism, and attacks, and he's gonna come through just fine. So we don't have to be worried.

Ultimately, The Da Vinci Code is telling us important things about the image of Jesus that is being portrayed by the dominant Christian voices. [Readers] don't find that satisfactory, genuine, or authentic, so they're looking for something that seems more real and authentic.
Lisa Ann Cockrel is associate editor at Today's Christian Woman.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

'Da Vinci' undermines faith, survey says

Story on MSN that's worth noting. Again, its fiction. But it can open doors for conversation, and this survey at least should be considered for what its worth. One quote:

“An alarming number of people take its spurious claims very seriously indeed,”
said Austin Ivereigh, press secretary to Britain’s top Catholic prelate Cardinal
Cormac Murphy-O’Connor. “Our poll shows that for many, many people “The Da Vinci
Code” is not just entertainment.”


Read the article.

Born Again Chickens

Once again, I'm somewhat speechless. My friend Kyle, one of the faithful dozen, sent this link to Walmart's music catalog (where he finds some of the stuff he sends me is a complete myster). This is apparently legit, though I'm unclear on who actually might purchase "Praise & Eggs" by the Born Again Chickens. Although, they cluck a mean version of "A Mighty Rooster Is Our God."

Really, aren't they worried about lightning striking them on the spot? Now that's what I call fried chicken! Other song titles include "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Poultry" and "Onward Christian Chickens, Marching 'Cross The Road." I'm not sure which bothers me the most - that this even exists, or that Walmart carries it at all!

I'm looking forward to Volume II: "I Could Cluck Of Your Love Forever," featuring all the hottest, most overdone new worship songs of the church.

You have to check out this site...Walmart does give you a chance to hear the songs, which I assure you is eggciting (sorry....just yolkin' around).

If you need me, I'll be out having an omlette somewhere.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Brush With Fame

Today my kids had a piano recital. All 3 of them, and they did awesome. Halfway through I happened to look behind me (to apologize to whomever was behind me as I stood to do the dad-thing and videotape another of my kids), and who should be sitting behind me? None other than the divine Mrs. G - Gloria Gaither! That's right, Gloria herself apparently has a couple of grandkids who take from the same teacher our kids take from! Not too often that your kids get to perform in the presence of someone who's in the hymn book!

(This sparks an idea for future posts. I've had an eclectic bunch of "fame-brushes" over the years, and from time to time, as I remember them, I'll let you know. Of course, fame is relative...probably half of my "faithful dozen" readership is thinking "Gloria who?" And one of those faithful readers actually works in Gaitherville, so I'm sure he's thinking "Big deal." But I press on....)

Friday, May 12, 2006

You say Gas-tro-scopy, I say Gastros-copy

Regardless of how you say it, I'm a proud participant of my first of hopefully very few "scopes." I know these are fairly routine (actual procedure on the paperwork I was given is Esophagogastroduodenoscopy). But anything invasive beyond a lengthy dental appointment is new for me. Please allow me to spare you all of the details, but know that I was nervous, and once it was over (a.k.a. once the drugs worked themselves out of my system), I realized it was really no big deal. But knowing that a stranger stuck a camera down my throat and looked around in my stomach, well, that's just plain weird. They even checked out parts of my digestive system that I forgot I had...hadn't heard the word "duodenum" since 7th grade health class!

Couldn't help but think a little about Psalm 139 - God knows me inside & out. Sure, there are others who know me. But inside & out? Do we realize how much effort it is to know someone "inside & out?" I paid attention to how much effort went into my "procedure," and it was monumental. All just to look around my upper digestive tract. But God just knows. He knows my thoughts, my dreams, and I can't believe I'm about to type this, but God knows the state of my "duodenum."

Weird? Possibly. But I need a God that big, don't you? A God that isn't that big, well, is more of a little "g" god. They type I worship that really doesn't deserve it, the type of god I put in my life that's full of what appear to be perks, status, and bonuses. But not the God who put me together, the God who knows me inside & out.

All in all, its good to be scoped from time to time. Been scoped lately?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

My Country Weekend

I'm not much of a country music guy. I don't know why - the foundation was firmly poured in my life for it to happen. I have vivid recollections of Merle Haggard and Charlie Pride playing from the 8-track in the Vega glove compartment. No kidding. But, somehow, I escaped.

This weekend, my friend Rob was in town to play guitar for a concert that featured a female country artist from our area, as well as a couple of other singer/songwriter folks.

Well, it was my friend Rob (who has a couple of terrific tunes 'out there' being considered by various recording artists). And, I had some tickets. So my son and I went to the downtown theater to get our groove on. Or whatever you do when you go to a country music event.

Admittedly, its a lot of country music. I felt like I should be eating peanuts and throwing the shells on the floor, waiting for my name to be called for my non-smoking table for 4.

But talent is talent. It was very good, and they even coaxed Rob to do his song "Three Months And A Winnebago" (great song...coming to a Texas Roadhouse jukebox near you...). I had the privilege of meeting all of the folks involved, and they couldn't be nicer. It would help if those performing country music were jerks, and if some out there are the 'Barry Bonds' of the country scene, I'm unaware. These folks couldn't have been nicer to chat with. Rob was able to catch up and crash with the wife and I - since he did sing in my wedding, my casa is always his casa.

So, I'm not on any bandwagons just yet. For now, Rob's tunes on my mp3 are about as country as I go, along with the soundtrack to O Brother (more bluegrass than country). But it was a nice forray into a cross-cultural experience (more Dale Jr. jackets than you could shake a stick at).

The website(s) for the artists that night are:

Barbara Blog Blasted

If you read the Christianity Today article (I pasted it here a couple days back) from Barbara Nicolosi, you might guess that it set off a firestorm of response. Check out some of the email thoughts from readers, on both sides of the fence:

Lisa Rutherford: Bravo!!!! This article was so on target, I practically want to frame it. I just hope the word gets out and enough people do it.

Annie Fitzsimmons: The Da Vinci Code is a FICTIONAL NOVEL.It is pure entertainment, and that's it! Why are Christians flipping out and figuring out how to "othercott" it or "evangelize" through it? Let's talk about the gospel in our churches and go see whatever movies we'd like to see.

David Christy: What an excellent commentary. Thank you so much for a clear voice with specific content, rather than the unending "Dialogue for Consensus" that is literally killing us all.

Dennis Payne: I believe Nicolosi is missing the point for many in the Christian community. We should prepare ourselves and learn our church history that "the church" has neglected to teach. I know our Scriptures very well, but I have been caught off guard with church history. Until now, it hasn't mattered, but to prepare for the movie, I'm reading the book, because we have zero credibility to talk about DVC unless we have read it. I challenge every Christian who wants to make a difference with the outcome of DVC to dive into our church history, read the books and don't be afraid to share with anyone who would ask.

Dan Portnoy: Getting bent out of shape isn't helping anybody. I think this movie is a great way to bring conversations about coworkers' spiritual thoughts out around the water cooler. What an opportunity.

More HERE

Of course, 2 of my "certified dozen" readers had some interesting things to say. I would like to personally invite my friends Jeremy and Chris to go to the movie with me. Maybe we'll invite Barbara, though she'll be seeing the cartoon flick, or the the "one starring the Scientologist looney, or the one where Hollywood can make a "killing" glamorizing a national tradgedy." (quote courtesy of Chris P)