Friday, February 29, 2008

An interview for the ages

I apologize for this longer entry. Hopefully it will be a quick read.

During our Comm group this past Wed we did something a little different. Our senior pastor every so often 'interviews' folks to give them a chance to share how they came to Christ and what difference that has made in their lives.

So instead of continuing our 4 part video series on relational outreach called "Just Walk Across the Room," I figured I'd steal a page out of an older coach's play-book and interview someone who spent the last week involved in relational outreach. Staci and John, who deserve their own Wikipedia page in my opinion, have hosted week long reunions the last several years. You could call them family reunions of sorts, for several different families who adopted children out of the same orphanage in Vietnam reunite once a year down in sunny Florida (pronounced Flar-ida of course).

Largely successful and quite anti-Christian, these families have built a strong bond with John and Staci over the last several years. They already have planned a trip for next year.

Since I didn't podcast my interview with Staci and John (interviewing someone is harder than it sounds on the radio-I have to give that to Jim Rome, who is the best I've heard), I'd like to just conclude with some of her concluding points, encouragement and challenges to our group.

1.) Hospitality-Having people in your homes opens up a new level of trust, intimacy, friendship. After several years, one woman quite hostile to Christianity allowed Staci to talk with her about the gospel. In addition, having folks in your homes allows people to see your strengths as well as your weaknesses-which gives you a chance to model repentance. Weaknesses probably give us more of an opportunity for the gospel, so there is nothing to fear (like screwing up or accidentally saying something you shouldn't) for the repentant person! There is simply a deeper level of intimacy when people come into our homes. Staci mentioned that it is different than just being out in public or hanging at a coffeehouse.

2.) Intentionality-Staci specifically mentioned being convicted about being intentional with her neighbors. The Vietnam gang takes the initiative with this whole deal each year. While Staci has been involved in bringing several folks to Hope and even more into her house, she still felt a need to continually be intentional in seeking to bring folks into their homes. She has seen the gospel go forth in the context of hospitality over the years. Obviously a very hospitable woman already, we all felt challenged/encouraged to keep pressing forward to advance His Kingdom, not our own. I love it when 'non-professional Christians' (I'm being facetious of course) communicate my vision and live it even better than myself. I left encouraged, and excited to continue moving forward.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Cut it out!

First of all, I do need to make reference to an earlier post. I left early from the Casting Crowns concert on Sunday night, and apparently the lead singer chose a later time to encourage people to find a church home. And one of the folks whom I thought didn't attend a church, apparently, has been visiting a church. It takes a big man to admit he's wrong, and sometimes I'm big. I'm being big now. Big and humble.

I chose not to attach an image to this post. You'll understand why very shortly.

When one is an expectant father, he will find himself doing things he never would have seen himself doing. Here's an example. Yesterday I made a few phone calls during my lunch break to doctor's offices. Why? Our OBGYN doesn't do circumcisions anymore. And neither does our desired pediatrician. I'm not going to do it, so I realized I would have to 'hire out' or 'subcontract' (not really sure what the correct term is) out this procedure.

The two offices I talked to yesterday both informed me of their prices. So I was trying to find the cheapest circumciser in the area (the strange thing is that we don't know what we're having so it all might be a moot point). Not sure if that's really wise. The cheapest circumciser? One place told me they take cash only. 200 dollars as opposed to 250; but they take cash only. Not sure if that was a good option either.

I really wanted a boy at first (I would be happy with whoever God will bless us with-so don't go nuts on me please) so I could take him fishing, coach his sports, etc....But I actually think we're going to have a girl, which I will be plenty and JUST AS thankful for. And I really want a girl some time. Maybe sooner rather than later, especially after these strange conversations!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Good Samaritan or simply doing the right thing?

One of my favorite things to do (well that is probably an exaggeration) is to pronounce myself a "Good Samaritan." Amy and I do it all the time if we do anything decently nice or nicely. On the way to the concert on Sunday, I did so again, and explained to those in the car that anyone who does anything good or semi-good automatically becomes a Good Samaritan. Especially on the evening news.

Just last night it was reported that a homeless man turned in a wallet he found with a hundred dollars in it. Now honestly that is amazing, and probably news worthy. But when he was interviewed, his 'title' was "Good Samaritan." I've seen dozens of similar interviews where the person in question somehow garners that title. If you do something good, you're a Good Samaritan.

This title has been used so haphazardly that it no longer means what it used to mean. A Good Samaritan was originally an oxy-moron. It originally referred to someone who risked his life and spent his time and money to save a clear cut enemy: the person he saved actually despised him (or Samaritans as a race).

Probably a more relevant term would be "The Good Talibani." That might capture the hostility and the risk, cost, and grace shown by the parable of the Good Samaritan.

I don't really like it when folks no longer use the word "Christian" (substituting 'Christ-follower') to define themselves-I think we should just redefine the term biblically. However, I understand why they do so. Just like Good Samaritan, "Christian" doesn't mean a whole lot anymore. Anyone who does something 'good' could be interviewed by the news with the subtitle "Christian."

And a Christian is a disciple (Matt 28:19-20) or 'Christ-follower.' So I guess I could get used to it; though I do think its a little too trendy for me to start using it! I wonder how long that term will last; I'm betting a century or less. Too bad I won't be around to collect the money.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Flexibility, Concert, and "I wish he would have said..."

As a pastor, my calendar is usually filled with stuff. So being flexible is usually not an option. I usually have to plan flexibility, if that makes any sense (leave days open to be flexible). If my mother-in-law is a schedule 'Bloodhound,' my Mother has nasal blockages. My family is a last minute family. Because of Amy's mother, they are a first minute family. Just for the record, I think both have good points.

On Thursday night my mother left a voicemail explaining that someone had given her a bunch of tickets to the Casting Crown's concert on Sunday night. After an interchange of yes and no, wait-and-see phone calls, I felt led on Saturday to take the youth group, and a random spattering of others (friends, in-laws, roommate of friends and boyfriend, etc...). I usually hate to cancel normal youth group due to lack of momentum, but I'm glad I did this time. Change of pace is good some times.

The concert was great, the musicians skillful, and worshipful (Lyrics on the screen), and Christ centered. We were fortunate just to get there in time (I had to run to the ticket counter, arriving there 5 minutes before it closed-which would have precluded us from getting in). God providentially worked out several things of which I have neither the time to tell nor can afford the embarrassment of telling.

One thing I've noticed over the years: if you're a Christian artist in a concert setting, you can say no wrong. People just go nuts. But at least the lead singer promoted the sponsorship of World Vision kids-and the line at the table was WAY LONG.

My only real critique of the evening was that he ASSUMED everyone attending had a church home. Unfortunately that is not always the case, and sometimes regularly not the case. You'd be surprised at how many people simply don't go to church, or don't go on a regular basis. With the affect he had on World Vision recruiting, I only wish he would have said: "Get thee to a church home and stay there, worship, connect, and serve." I had folks with me who don't go to church at all, or go off-and-on. It would have been nice for them to be challenged by someone else other than me.

Other than that, a late, but great, fun, and bonding filled evening. And flexible too.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Sins of the father....

As a father to be, I wonder how my own junk will affect my child. No father is perfect, and so all of us who were at one time children, deal in some way with junk passed down from our parents. One family I knew at a previous church always blamed others and never took any personal responsibility. It was passed down from father to all of his children. In Billy Madison, the O'Doyle family continually proclaimed "O'Doyles rule!" until the whole family drove off a cliff in their station wagon. I see it all around me. Even at the gym.

Let me explain. On Friday, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a beautiful Mulletino (aka the Latin Mullet). The long part in the back was bleached and permed, while the rest was dark brown. As I left the gym, I spotted one of his kids. The sides of his head were shaved, while the top was short, and the back was long, flowing, and pristine. Another Mulletino. Like father, like son. Sorry I didn't get a picture with my cell phone. Maybe another day.

Since no father is perfect, it just reminds me of the need to be a repentant father and to regularly point my child to the Heavenly Father. Otherwise he might try to look a little bit TOO much like me. Although I'm not worried about him/her trying to copy my hair style: balding brown is not really 'in' right now.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Harry Potter Handover

This year for youth group, the main theme has been "How to live as a believer in an unbelieving world?" Our first step was to spend time studying how to study the bible. Our next step involved going through a study on the book of Daniel written by yours truly.

Our final step is a series on engaging culture by analyzing movies and music: teaching the kids not to be oysters (and suck everything in), but to engage with ideas presented, evaluate them biblically, and hold fast to Jesus. Well, one great joy as a teacher has been seeing a 'student' begin to teach.

I gave some framework to a youth and let him 'run with' the discussion on Harry Potter V. He did quite well. There is something beautiful in seeing information, passion, and skill passed on to the next generation.

The Harry Potter 'Handover' happened because I hadn't seen ANY of those movies. I just watched the fifth one. While I enjoyed it, I wasn't quite 'qualified' to lead the discussion, seeing as I couldn't remember any of those weird names.

But for our next movie, I'll be intentionally allowing another youth to lead the discussion. Hopefully I can train up some new youth leaders who can continue the process in due time. Allowing new people to lead does a few things.

First of all it allows me to see if they are 'getting it.' A seminary professor once said, "You don't really grasp the material until you can teach it." Whether in a classroom, discussion, or one-on-one setting, I think he's right.

Next it gives youth more responsibility and ownership. If we don't push them and expect anything out of them, we'll see very little out of them.

Finally, giving over control of the these lessons, trains new leaders. It's what Paul did to Timothy. But Paul did so with the expectation of him continuing the process of raising up new leaders (II Tim 2:2). In other words, do everything you can to make yourselves expendable. You won't be around forever. One of the goals of a pastor or any elder or lay leader in a church should be to do all he/she can to work himself out of a 'job' and make himself more and more expendable. Strange goal, but I think a good one.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Training Day

I spent most of today in Lakeland, FL. It was a "training day" of sorts for me and several others. An elder at Trinity Pres named Tim is on the board of I See Jesus (the study is called The Person of Jesus ) and trains leaders to more fully master the craft of leading these discussions. Our community group had been going through this study but have since taken a break.

The format was fairly loose. Five people presented and led us through a study of 5 different lessons. Each of these sessions took 45 minutes to an hour. Afterwards we all helped in evaluating the discussion, with Tim (all 6 foot 9 of him) of course taking the lead.

At first I felt a little nervous for those leading the discussions. Second, I thought, "I'm glad I'm not leading one of these babies." I hadn't really been in one of these group evaluation things since preaching Lab (where people critique your sermons and take notes while you're preaching!). However the group was extremely loving, quick to commend, and yet still offered some constructive feedback.

Tim mentioned that there is very little evaluation that ever goes on within the church body. And he was not talking about people critiquing sermons. I think that he had a strong point. Very few people seek input on how they can do something better. Very few people even listen to input without getting defensive.

But the other day, Amy gave me some constructive criticism on how to ask questions in youth group. Its not too hard (its always a little hard because of that pesky pride problem we all have) to hear that kind of stuff from her, because I know she loves me and respects me.

I can't read minds or hearts (I leave that to Jesus-and you should too), but it seemed like the discussion leaders actually welcomed the constructive feedback. No one was defensive at all. It was beautiful. It was loving. Not self-protecting, and not enabling (both of which pass for love these days), but actually loving.

Everyone in there definitely respected each other's commitment to ministry and to Jesus. And over time, I really got to like the folks. When those two components collide, evaluation is much easier.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Authority, Evil and Hell from Colbert

While there are many folks who reject all authority as evil, I found, via another blog, one who doesn't. Stephen Colbert has a theistic worldview (I think he's Catholic) and argues with a doctor on where good and evil comes from. Since his show is primarily comedy, I can't tell how serious he really is. However I found this dialog humorous, somewhat surprising, informative, and slightly encouraging. By the way, it only takes 5 minutes. Click here to view the clip from his show "The Colbert Report."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

To End All Wars

We had a fruitful discussion on the movie To End All Wars in our Christian Ed Sunday. While we had fewer people than with The Waitress (which surprised me-this movie actually had a Christian screen writer), our time was beneficial to me-and I hope to all who participated. I highly recommend this movie. However, recognize that it is HEAVY. But I've not seen a movie that more clearly and practically displays the gospel and its power to change lives.

The movie is based upon a true story of Scottish POW's in WWII who build the trans-Burmese railroad. Obviously conditions didn't prove beneficial to living or loving, yet some prisoners found strength through the gospel and its application to life. For anyone to love in those conditions, the power of the gospel would HAVE to be real. And it was. And it still is. Fortunately, that means there's hope for all of us to love our enemies.

One of the topics of discussion-and there will probably be several more to follow-was the need to understand the culture/background/personal idols of people among whom we're living. The Japanese followed (to some extent) the Bushido code, which valued honor and deference to superiors, and devalued the individual and right to life.

Upon arrival, the POW doctor reminded the Scottish lads that beating a White person was like beating someone of an inferior race, tantamount to beating a dog. In addition, they had to learn to bow in deference to the guards. Since these guards were the lowest of the lows (that's how you get to run Japanese prison camps), respect went a long way to these folks. In time, the POW's learned how to better relate AND communicate with the Japanese. In one instance, a guard (an enemy) actually became friends with and stayed with the POW's when all the other Japanese fled the scene.

We agreed that it is necessary to understand the mindset of those among whom we live. For all people subscribe to some sort of code, idol, or system of thought. It is nearly impossible to get to heart issues without understanding where one's ultimate allegiance lies. In other words, we need to understand WHY people do things: they act according to what they hold most dear. We should always be on the lookout for the WHY. The POW's began to understand the WHY and thus managed to live among and communicate with those hostile towards them. So too must we seek the WHY, in order to live among our neighbors, become friends with, and eventually, hopefully, communicate the gospel to them via our lives, Christian community, Church, and personal discussions.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Better someone else's hands than your foot

On Valentines Day, Amy and I did what most love birds do on this special day: go to the dentist. It would have been romantic, I guess, if we had been in opposite rooms or something. But our appointments were staggered so we didn't quite get to share the moment.

Regardless we shared a great joy through sharing good news. I had no cavities (by the grace of God), great teeth (still not really sure what that means), and she didn't complain about my small mouth (she only mentioned it after I first brought it up). Hygenist of the year for sure. Of course Amy's report was similar.

While being subjected to one of the few necessary evils (the dentist office) left in this world, I had two predominant thoughts.

1.) I was impressed at the hygenist for being able to talk with me, in a conversational way, that still afforded me a chance to respond with grunts and 'uh-huhs.' That takes skill.

2.) Since her hands were in my mouth pretty much at all times, I had to listen to what she said. And she was interesting and surprisingly inquisitive so it wasn't all that hard. But I really had no choice either. I couldn't speak. I was reminded of two verses.

a."Be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to become angry (James 1)." This is hard for
pastors-we spent 3 years of our lives studying so that we could come back and teach people. But its probably hard for most, and necessary for all.

b. "I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth while the wicked are in my presence....(Psalm 39:1-2a)." At the dentist office, we have a muzzle. But when we leave, we leave that muzzle behind. I'm going to try to remember the blessing of someone having their hands in my mouth: I'll listen better. After all, its better their hands than my foot.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

No Woman, No Cry: What does that really mean?

I can't remember what I did on many Valentines Days before I met Amy. If I were dating or trying to date (as was usually the case) a girl, that relationship rarely, if ever, occurred over a V-day. But I do specifically remember one V-day in college.

Most of us in the dorm were not dating anybody. Hence most of us were in the dorm that night. Being the responsible and shepherd-ly RA (resident advisor), I gathered some freshmen in my room and we all listened/sang along with Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry." Besides the fact that it might be one of the best songs ever-with a guitar solo voted in the Top 10 of all time-I felt it was apropos.

We had no woman, and we declared to each other, that we would not cry. No woman, no cry. No woman, no big deal. Right?

Well, I found out years later, from a true Bob Marley fan (I just have the greatest hits album), that what the song really communicated was this: Woman, please don't cry. We had interpreted the song in a manner not intended by the original author; and had championed the song for our purpose.

Bob Marley was not American, but Jamaican. And they talk a little different down there.
So we needed to know something about his language and culture before we could interpret what he was saying. But we also could have simply listened to the words of the song, "Hey little darling, don't shed no tear." The context is everything.

Folks often believe something, find A verse or two that backs up that belief, then assume that belief or conviction is taught by the bible. But if we know nothing or little about the context (how that verse fits into the passage, that passage to the book itself, that book itself into the entire bible) or the language and culture from which it came, we can easily err. We might even end up looking like a bunch of college students singing "No woman, No cry" to find comfort, when the song was intended to comfort the 'opposing party.'

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

How long should you lie?

Whether its worth it or not, the Feds have become quite involved in sports related issues. You've probably at least heard of Roger Clemens, regardless how disinterested you are in baseball. He's being accused of using HGH and steroids, and is coming in front of all kinds of officials-I'm losing track of where he is each day. 

And of course we can't believe anyone anymore, because every athlete that has ever been proved to have taken 'roids has lied about it. Everyone. And to prove someone did 'roids is incredibly difficult.

So the government is going with the next best thing: perjury. One of Hugh Lawrie's quotes on the show House is "Everyone lies." And every patient who comes to him in hopes of getting healed lies. I'm not sure these athletes are any different.

Even though many people have no problem with regularly lying, or 'need' based lying, probably all understand that you just don't lie to the Feds. The buck (or puck if you're a hockey fan) has to stop somewhere. People realize that there has to be some standard where truth can be affirmed. That's just part of humanity being made in the image of God: "created in righteousness, holiness, and truth (WCF)." 

Regardless how much the truth is suppressed (Romans 1), people, regardless of faith, want to have the comfort that there is some standard. Unfortunately God's Word is not that standard for most. But I think this concern for the truth has its root in a humanity created in God's image. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Balding, burning, and renewal

As is custom on my day off, I went out fishing-this time with a buddy. A buddy who also happens to be a part time guide. So when we don't catch fish, its the fault of the fish, not the fisherman. I managed a few big trout and a small flounder. But it was a really a slow day. 

Regardless I returned home with a bit of a burn. Not on my face, hands, or neck, but the top of my head. Not as bad as this gentlemen pictured, because I have a bit more hair. For now.

I'm truly getting older now, and balder. My buddy who is about 45 or so fished without a hat. I forgot to put on my infamous Orange Bucs hat and simply used a visor. People like Steve Spurrier can wear visors in sunny conditions. People like me, sadly, can't. I was hoping to catch some redfish. Instead I caught a red scalp. My scalp now has a reddish hue. At least its pretty.

Outwardly my body (and specifically my hair) is wasting away. But inwardly, Paul contends that we are being renewed 'day by day' (II Cor 4). And even though sanctification is the work of God's free grace (WCF), we do have a responsibility in that renewal. We throw ourselves wholly upon the gospel of Christ, repenting, resting, and reflecting upon His work.

Losing one's hair is only a small reminder; I understand that. But my sunburned head reminds me that my body is wasting away (even though I'm hoping to get 60 more years out of it; who knows if that will be granted or not) but inwardly I'm called to actively run, 'day to day' to the gospel to be renewed. Hair is temporary, but so is hope. One day, I'll need neither, for I'll have all the hair I can handle and no need for hope. I'll have sight of Christ.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Another Bradenton Herald Article

Some of you locals may have read my Bradenton Herald article. In case you haven't and would like to do so, here it is. Of course the title bandit struck again and butchered it. My original title wasn't all that good-I had a bad 'title day.' But it is supposed to read: How's Your Offensive Line?
Again, not great, but better than the crud 'they' came up with that had nothing to do with the article. Oh well. Maybe its time to get a lawyer....

Friday, February 8, 2008


I guess because Valentines Day is approaching I've had some 'love' thoughts and feel its an apropos time to share them. The other day I was watching a Saturday Night Live Commercials special that my Pops had Tivo'd (or DVR'd or whatever contraption he has). Since the best cast members, in my opinion, are no longer with the show, or no longer 'with us' at all, I never really watch it anymore. 

However I do take advantage of their commercials when I get a chance. Most SNL commercials make me laugh. One of them I found quite clever: Me-Harmony. I searched all over "You-Tube," with high hopes of finding that video. No dice. So I'll just have to describe it to you with words and a still picture; sorry that's all I got.

Anyhow, as the name suggests, the commercial is a take-off from Eharmony. Those who found true love on the commercial say that they're tired of trying to match up with people who may have different interests. At ME-harmony, the founder comments, "We only ask questions about the most important person: YOU. We match you up with someone who is exactly like you on every level." And then they reveal their match. It's either a female or a male version of themselves. 

Several thoughts came to mind, but I could only put one into words. 

My closest friend is just like me. We're both ordained PCA ministers in Florida who are similar in personality, interest, family background, experiences growing up. Even our wives have similar personalities to each other (though quite dissimilar to us). But I'm glad my wife is different than me; I can't imagine being married to a female version of myself (its kind of scary thinking of what that would look like). And I'm glad I have some friends who, while sharing similar interests, are way different. Surrounding myself solely with people who have the EXACT same interests, gifts, personality, experiences, doesn't sound ridiculous. In fact, things might be easier on some levels. But just look at the picture above. It really does look that ridiculous. 

Thursday, February 7, 2008

A command for all times

I'm currently preparing a special Valentines Day lesson for the youth, and continuing through a marriage and relationship series in Christian Ed. So love is in the air, I guess.

In our Christian Ed class on marriage and relationships, we've been unpacking what it means for husbands to love their wives and now we'll turn to what it means for wives to submit to their husbands. And I've also been personally studying this Ephesians 5 passage in my devotions. One thing that I'm really struck by is how counter-cultural and 'ahead-of-the-times' this passage really is.
But for most in the world, this seems so backwards. Like going back in time. Someone in my community group informed me last night that Huckabee was asked this submission question in a debate. Does your wife 'submit' to you?

People hear such words as 'submit' and don't read the husbandly role of 'love.' If you think about how few rights women did have back in the day, this verse really was 'ahead-of-the-times.' If you think about how women need to feel cherished, protected, sought after, its quite down-with-the-times. That means relevant if you're not 'with it' and 'hip' like myself. Husbands primary need is to feel respected. Once again, that fits.

The husband cannot rule over (what people think of when they think 'submission') the wife. In fact he is to cherish and nourish her as if she were his own flesh (Eph 5:29). How strange might this have been for its first pagan or Jewish hearers? It might have seemed quite anachronistic, like a command from the future. And now today folks think of this command as an abacus-not necessary in our calculator world. But its really down-with-the-times and is consistent with the needs of humanity. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Before the Blue Brothers there were the Brothers Karamazov

You've probably heard of the expression: "Don't judge a book by its cover." Well, I would like to introduce a new aphorism: "Don't start a book without looking at how many pages it has."

A church member and I swapped books the other day. I lent him a previously borrowed submarine book; he lent me The Brothers Karamazov (don't ask me how to pronounce it-I hear different pronunciations every time someone brings it up). Without looking at how many pages, I commenced reading this book. And when I start something, I have to finish it. All 776 pages of it. 

So while Amy is reading Baby This or Baby That (not real titles), I, the good husband, am reading Dostoevsky. Well, I finally finished that beast a few nights ago and will be reading Babywise next, and chasing that down with another baby book or two. 

But I do have some thoughts on The Brothers Karamazov that I feel are worth sharing with you: my loyal, semi-regular, or first time blog reader. Dostoevsky brings up several issues in the book that prove to be quite prophetic, as well as pathetic (both for Russia).

One of the main characters in the book departs from a Christian worldview (that many of the characters embrace) and embraces Atheism. But at least he is consistent with that worldview. His mantra becomes "Everything is permissible." Without the existence of God, there is nothing inherently wrong with actions one would normally consider wrong: stealing, murder, lying, etc......It may be against the law, but no one can argue that it is truly, essentially, right or wrong.

Unfortunately for that main character, another character actually bought into that atheistic, nihilistic system of thought, and followed through with a terrible crime. A severe backfire. And of course there was no remorse. Then he followed through even further with that and did the only logical thing left (according to Camus)-kill himself. 

Fortunately many folks today don't live consistently with their atheistic view. However some do, and some did. As the person who lent me the book suggested, this thought was only the harbinger to the dictatorial communism which took over Russia some years later.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A different winter resident: The White Pelican

Yesterday I spent some time doing what I normally do on my day off: fishing. No pictures to show from that trip. It was quite slow, with only some ladyfish and 2 'rat' reds (meaning small-17-18 inches or below-now you know some fishy lingo) to show for my efforts. 

Regardless, I was still blessed by the site of my new new favorite bird: the White Pelican. In case you don't know much about these winter resident only birds, they're really quite amazing. 

First of all, they look like the regular Brown Pelican, but they're almost completely white with a black patch under their wings. So they look a bit more pretty than our regular Brown Pelicans. 

But the 2nd and coolest thing about them is the way they feed. They don't dive bomb pods of baitfish like the Browns (and I have nothing against dive bombing pelicans-I think that's cool: to each bird his/her own) but paddle through the shallows, and dunk their large bills in the water to scoop up baitfish.

Their body style looks the same as the Brown. They just feed in a totally different manner. God created two birds so similar, and yet they feed in totally different manners. Even when they share the same waters. I think that's cool.

I wonder what the Browns think of these Yankee birds coming down to fish in the same waters. Its hard to tell if they actually get along, or just tolerate each other, since I'm not a bird watcher. They don't fight, but the Whites and the Browns don't make it a habit to hang around each other. That whole birds of a feather thing, I guess. 

I'll pay closer attention next time I'm out. But thus far, I can't draw any conclusions that would help the us regulars and winter residents get along any better. No lesson, just information. Sorry.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Tom Terrific?

Last night I watched one of the most exciting Superbowls I've ever seen. And yes, I actually was able to watch it. We always have a youth group party, and its usually at a house with a huge yard, huge driveway, additional garage upstairs-room. Translation=the kids don't watch the game. 

This year a different family graciously hosted it. With a different venue, less room, and plenty of couch space, we actually watched the game. Honestly it was a little freaky, kind of twi-light zone-esque; the youth were actually watching the game too. Weird.

Regardless I witnessed the 'best quarterback ever' (according to some) look like he could have played for the Bucs. He really looked average. Not so much because he was bad, or because he was hurt, but because the defensive line put pressure on him. His incredibly protective offensive line gave up 5 sacks and left him getting hit all game. It was beautiful.

Brady is good, but part of his goodness depends on the strength of his offensive line. It really does. 

It reminded me of the body of Christ. The church is described as a body in I Corinthians. The letter begins with divisions among the body, where different factions claim allegiance to a certain apostle or church planter-(Peter, Paul, Apollos). But Paul points out that each part of the body needs the other parts to survive. The hand can't say to the eye, "I could do without you bro." And vice versa. 
Both football and the church are 'team sports.' If the pastor is the quarterback, then much of the rest of the body comprise the offensive line. As we saw with the Patriots, the offensive line is really the key to the game. So is the congregation. A congregation using their gifts, serving, reaching out, ministering mercy and the like is a congregation firing on all cylinders. Throw in the preaching of the word and other pastorly duties, and you got one heck of a team. 

The main difference is that our enemy is not the Patriots, Baptists, Methodists, but the world, flesh, and the devil. That's who we compete against.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Love is Grand; Divorce begins at $295

Driving to work today, I passed by a house with a van I see virtually every day. The van advertises the ASAP divorce-here's an actual picture of the van. Several thoughts popped into my overcrowded mind (so obviously something had to go-hopefully it wasn't worth hanging on to).

First of all, their slogan is absolutely hilarious and catchy: "Love is grand. Divorce begins at $295." It makes me laugh. I think its clever.

But it also makes me sad as well. Divorce is a sad thing. And I realize that in some cases its quite biblical, and in many others there may just be one 'guilty' party. And even where its not biblical, there is forgiveness, and I don't look down at divorced people like they have three eyes (if we were 'keeping score' they could look at me like I had 5 eyes). I really don't, and I want to make sure that is SUPER clear. So please don't be offended.

What I find the saddest part is the ASAP. I know that most people don't look for biblical standards in marriage, so they won't think to look at biblical grounds for divorce. I get that. But what big decision do you really want to make ASAP?

Even when the decision to get divorced has been decided on, should one hasten one of the bigger decisions of his/her life? The other day I was talking with someone who had a couple in his church file for divorce-and do all the fun stuff that came with it like empty bank and assets and the like-only to totally reverse his decision in a few days. 

But in general, what big decisions in life should we make ASAP? Usually wise counsel, the Word, prayer, opportunities, closed/open doors all play a part in our decision making. But one thing that all have in common is time. Big decisions, no matter what they are, usually take time for all of the aforementioned.