Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Growing up on the east coast one of the biggest changes I had to deal with moving to the midwest were stores and restaurants that closed at 6 PM. In fact, I couldn't believe that even in a college town, you couldn't get something to eat after 11 PM.

As I write this blog entry at 11:13 PM it reminds me of the three restaurants in Abilene, Texas that used to be open after 11 PM: Pizza Inn (it closed at 2 AM); the Barn (it was open all night and had jukebox and the best and greasiest onion rings I've ever eaten and Sambo's. No I'm not making that up. Back in the politically incorrect early and mid 1970s there was a chain of restaurants named Sambo's. And on their place mat's that had an African American male child.

Sambo's was a regular nightly hang out for us Christian University boys. Back in the 70's Christian colleges weren't afraid to be politically incorrect themselves. They were more than glad to have obvious double standards. One of the more visiable double standards was the enforcement of nightly curfews for girls and no curfews for boys.

So typically, we fellows would drop our dates back at the dorm at 11 PM or 10 PM on Tuesday nights (I guess that the college powers at be knew that girls needed an extra hour of sleep to meet the demands of Wednesday) and the we'd head out to one of the three places open in Abilene to eat.

I remember one night shortly after midnight, a bunch of us were sitting a Sambo's booth by the window facing the front parking lot. As we were hanging out, one of our buddies, Robert drives up in his souped up red Corrolla hot rod (yes I am aware of comic ironic of a Toyota Corrolla hot rod!). But Robert has a guest in the passenger seat. We don't recognize his face, but we do his tush. Because Robert has driven up parallel to Sambo's window so our buddy Richard could moon us, which Richard was often prone to do, in the most Christian of ways.

But here's the kicker, as Robert is honking his horn so everyone in the restaurant will turn to salute Richard's hairy backside, Richard screams, "Hit the gas." But Robert refuses to move. He just keeps his hand on the horn with Richard's ham pressed against the window.

We see Richard screaming at Robert to get moving, to peel out and burn rubber. But Robert isn't budging. He's keeping his hand on the horn and his foot on the brake. I'll never forget watching Richard's moon sinking below a Corrolla's passenger window's horizon.

See the things you miss if you don't stay up past midnight!

Do you have any late night memories?

PS Due to technical difficulties I was unable to spell check this entry. Feel free to openly mock my grammer and spelling!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Mind Bloggling

I just opened an envelop from an advertizing company that sells personalized calendars. In fact they sell the new "Peaceful Cascade Monthly Calendar." If we will just order immediately we can get any quanitity of the Peaceful Cascade Monthly Calendar for only 69 cents each! (FYI, random thought...my computer keyboard doesn't have a "cent symbol" key. Did keyboards or typewriters ever have "cent symbols"?). Currently in my middle desk drawer I have three calendars that advertizers have sent me hoping we'll order zillions to give away.

Why I opened this particular envelop rather than tossing it directly into the trash was this wonderful sales pitch embossed on the outer envelop..."Express Your Faith in Glorious Full-Color!"

Think about it. Millions of people out there in the world struggling without meaning and purpose; broken and battered by the blows of life; hungry and cold, confused and frustrated. What do these people need, obviously they need the glorious full-color 24 page Peaceful Cascade calendar with our church logo on it. Once they receive it as an full-color glorious expression of our faith, then life will all make sense.

That truly is mind boggling. Because of my job I get random stuff like the Peaceful Cascade Calendar all the time. . . pens, tee-shirts, key-chains, coffee mugs all to the glory of God, plus a one time set up fee for your church's logo and a slight extra charge for pms colors.

I once received a tee-shirt sent to me by advertizer who went to our church website and printed it out, silk-screened it the front side of shirt and then put his personal theology in 8 point font on the entire back of the shirt, to the glory of God. You haven't lived until you possess a shirt with the pictures of our elders and ministers running from armpit to armpit!

Cheesiness for the cause of Christ.

PS They misspelled our church name.

Friday, August 26, 2005

grovin' to michael w. smith

I'm working on sermon prep and I'm listening to Michael W. Smith, "the first decade." I remember the first time I went to a Christian music concert. It was in Michigan and I went to see Amy Grant. Her opening act was this good looking unknown named Michael W. Smith.

I was never a big concert goer growing up. I've maybe been to a dozen or so even now. But I was pretty sure I wasn't going to like Amy Grant and whoever was her opening act. But I was wrong. That concert opened my eyes and ears to an entire new way to experience music. It was great. I've seen MWS three or four times since that Michigan concert. He's still handsome and his music causes me to connect with something more than a good tune and a beat you can dance to. My favorite all time MWS song still is "Secret Ambition."

The chorus goes:
Nobody knew his secret ambition;
Nobody knew his claim to fame.
He broke the old rules steeped in tradition
He tore the Holy Veil away.
Questioning those in powerful positions,
Running to those who called his name.
Nobody knew his secret amibition was to give his life away.

Man I love those lyrics. They still rock.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Little one to school

Sorry to have missed the past couple of days, but we took the little one to school Monday. Instead of secretly following her school bus that took her away on that fateful first day of kindergarten, I rode in the passenger seat of her car as she drove to Charlottesville and Jeanette followed along in her car. Dropping her off to start her "third year" (UVA is so snooty!) was even a far different experience than two years ago when we dropped her off at college for the first time. Two years ago I remained in an empty-nest funk for two months. This time as we left her apartment, I hugged her and told her, "Don't be a stranger."

I now have officially reached the age that I have to write things down. I had a couple of great ideas for blog entries but because I didn't write them down, I now have forgotten them. But trust me they were hysterical, ingenious, unique and would have touched your soul.

That reminds me of something that happened when I was working for Strosniders Hardware years ago. A guy walks into the store and walks up to Walter Strosnider and says, "You sell this hammer for $25. The store down the street sells it for $20. Will you sell me your hammer for $20?"

Walter looks at the guy and says, "Why didn't you buy the hammer at the other store for $20?"

The guy says, "They didn't have any."

Without missing a beat Walter said, "Well if we didn't have any, I'd sell it to you for $15!"

I do remember that.

Friday, August 19, 2005

It's nice to remember

I just got back from a funeral. It was for a sweet, 83 year old Christian woman named Kay who passed away last week. She and her husband Paul, had been married for 63 years. By all counts they had a wonderful marriage. They have two sons who are each happily married and who both spoke glowingly of their mother at the memorial service.

The reason that I was in attendance is that Kay, Paul and their boys were part of my growing up. When I was a teenager, we all went to church together and Kay and "her boys" made a big impact on my young life.

For example:

After miserably failing my driver's test because my parent's car stalled 17 times during the test (and also I was a lousy driver) Kay took pity on me and lent me her 1968 blue Camero to retake my driver's test. Not only did I pass, I was super-cool doing it.

At one point in a conversation between Kay and my mom, Kay mentioned how her oldest son, David dedicated one night a week to watching TV and doing his ironing. It wasn't long after that conversation that I found myself ironing all my own clothes.

I remembered both of these experiences as I was ironing my shirt to wear to the memorial service.

So today I remembered two of God's great blessings. First, Christian people who not only tolerate immature teenagers, but love and encourage them. The second blessing that came to mind as I drove 495 to Kay's memorial service: the memories of such great people.

My life has been blessed by so many incredible Christian people who have influenced me toward God and his way of life. Fortuneately, my mind is filled with memories of saintly people like Kay who have blessed me by showing Jesus to me.

God blessed me with you, Kay.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Love and Learning

Last night I taught a class on "Second Mile Friendship." In case you don't attend FXCC our theme this year is going "The Second Mile." This summer every Wednesday night lesson is built around this theme.

As I prepared for last night's class on friendship I realized how easy it is to forget that relationship is central to Christianity. Why is that? Why is it that we can get so focused on defining, describing and debating Christianity we forget friendship? Maybe we don't forget friendship but we typically marginalize it or rationalize why we aren't better at it.

I think I know why.

Loving is a lot harder than learning. Once you learn something, you take the test, get your grade and move on. But love is risky; it's messy; it's scary; it's never really over and you can't get it completely right.

But it's worth it the risk, it's worth facing your fear over, it's worth feeling out of sorts and the joy of love and friendship is spending a life time trying to get it right.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Shuttle Scuttlebutt

I need help. I need everyone who has ever read this blog to give me your help. Our church needs to have 100 cars part at an off-site parking lot beginning on September 11th. On that Sunday morning FXCC begins a new morning schedule and for it to be successful, we are going to need to have 100 drivers park their cars at the nearby hospital parking lot and ride a shuttle bus back and forth.

Here's where you come in: What ideas do you have that would entice people give up an extra 20 minutes and ride the shuttle? What reward would you need to make that shuttle sacrifice?
Krispy Kremes? A back rub from Murray? Lunch at Neal's house? A coupon for a free funeral?

I need your help, because this shuttle need is looming and large. So come to my aid. Talk to your friends. Send other people to this site and have them give me their ideas. This really needs to work!

Thanks!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Have you noticed the heat?

What's that title say? I couldn't read it for the sweat burning my eyes.

If you don't live in the D.C. area you have no idea about the heat that we've been experiencing. Trust me, it's so hot, it almost makes you not think about how high gas prices have risen.!

Almost...

When it gets hot, I typically stay inside and whine. You should know that I typically do the same thing when it's cold or when it's comfortable outside.

At one point this weekend,when it wasn't 137 degrees outside, I walked across the street to meet our new neighbors. I'm pretty sure I'm not going to like them. She graduated from West Point and Stanford. He looks like a personal trainer and naturally loses weight if he doesn't work out. (I'm not making this stuff up.) Who are people like that?

Actually they look like great people and I hope that we can become great friends, they don't mind lowering their expectations.

Yesterday I asked our church to say a three word prayer for two weeks. Let me ask you to do the same. . .

God, use me!

PS Even in this heat!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

What you'd say? Patience. . .

Last night at 10 PM my left hearing aid quit working. Now mind you, I've had this thing for all of 17 days and paid a lot of money for it. And it quit. I immediately did all the stuff I had read to do. I even re-read the trouble-shooting section in the literature that came with the thing. I changed the battery three times. No help.

This morning I went back to the place I got it to have them look at it and fix it. The verdict. No fixing it. It had to be sent back to the factory (They just made a movie about this experience: Brucie and the Hearing Aid Factory. It stars Johnny Depp as "Wet Willie" Wonka and Walter Brennan as Brucie, the hard of hearing minister. Sorry that is really bad... but funny!)

Anyway, it's going to be ten days before I get it back. And I am quite bummed about this. I'm not bummed so much about the expensive thing breaking, I'm bummed because I've grown accustomed it. Like Jeanette said, "It's not life I can't hear. . ." And I've only had it for 17 days, but it's really made a big impact on me.

It's amazing how something can change your life so quickly. . .

I think there's a sermon illustration in there somewhere, don't you?

Oh, if you're talking to me and I turn my left ear toward you and smile , take a hint...

Friday, August 12, 2005

Sorry I've been seminaring

Sorry I've been away from blogging the past 48 hours, but I've been attending a seminar called "The Leadership Summit." It's hosted by the Willow Creek Association and has been going on the past two days. It's been inspirational and extremely instructional. Leaders like Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, Ken Blanchard, John Maxwell, and others have given great talks about different aspects of leadership.

What's been weird is that I've gone to the seminar at a local church and watched the whole thing on big screen television. It's a satellite broadcast. So 1200 of us sit in an auditorium and look and listen to two dimensional images. And truthfully it has still been awesome. These last two days have helped clarify some important areas of my life that have been fuzzy for some time. It's also been shown me how important it is to be inspired by other people who have a great sense of clarity about their lives and their life mission.

I would hope that next year we could take a 100 plus FXCC people to be a part of it. Mark your calendars it's August 10-12.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Bruce the Builder

Three of us from FXCC met with an architect yesterday to discuss what further things we need to do to prepare an appropriate bid for property that has become available. It's always humbling to meet with architects for this simple reason: they know so much that I don't know. Wow, there is so much information that a person has to have in order to build a silly building.

At one point yesterday I found I could finally relate to something the architect said. When asked about a soil types and what makes for good soil foundation, he first replied, "Well, we know you don't want to build your building on sand." At which piont I chimed up, "I know that song, too!" And then I started doing the hand gestures to The Wiseman Song.

I think it was then that he turned his chair away from me.

Seriouisly, it can be scary thinking about purchasing land, designing a new building, selecting an architect, a host of engineers, and a builder for the project; then there is selling this site, finding financing, checking into church planting and a whole lot more.

Keep the FXCC Eldership in your prayers. It's an exciting time and we are so blessed to have the opportunity to even consider options for growth. We just want to be sure to build wisely, so the blessings will surely come down.

Monday, August 08, 2005

One Tired Temple

I don't know what it is, but I'm tired. It's certainly not because I work too hard, or play to hard or think to much. Hey wait a minute, it might be because I don't get enough sleep! That might be it.

Why is it so difficult to get enough sleep? Could it have something to do with lack of physical exertion? Could it have something to do with going to bed too late and getting up too early? Could it be from eating poor food?

The Bible talks a lot about caring for your body because it is the "temple of the Holy Spirit." But instead of treating our bodies like temples, we seem to treat our bodies like rented bowling shoes. Just as long as they smell okay, who cares what they look and feel like.

How do you get enough sleep? I'm interested. Hey, if you read this take the leap of faith and leave a comment. And sorry, "I read your blog, that's how I get sleep when I need it," is already taken!

Saturday, August 06, 2005

What happens in Vegas goes in my blog!

I just read this about a new book:

Las Vegas is geared toward adults — no doubt about it. But that doesn't mean it's off limits for kids. Though the city is known for its naughty side (and it's getting naughtier by the day), it's also a surprisingly fun place for little ones, says Kathy Espin, author of Kidding Around Las Vegas: A Parent's Guide to Las Vegas (Huntington Press, $12.95).

I have one lasting Vegas memory and suprisingly it doesn't contain Siegfried and Roy. Though we did see "S and R's" family-friendly afternoon show. (I am such a name dropper.)

Here's the memory: The four of us are visiting Vegas in the early 90's (that's 1990s) with our great friends, Paul and Sue and their son, Jeff. Jeff is the same age as our oldest daughter. Our kids are probably 7 and 4. We're driving down "the strip." The name "the strip" is hard enough to explain to our inquistive young children, when we come up behind a cab with sign on it's trunk. The four of us adults read it and try to divert our children's attention. Our efforts are futile as our seven year old reads the sign and asks, "Mommy, what's a "nude on ice?"

Now if that doesn't scream "kid friendly" I don't know what does. Oh, in case you are wondering: to this day I can't remember how "Mommy" answered the "nudes on ice" question. That moment reminded me again of why it's great to be "Dad." It seems like our children are always asking Mommy the fun questions. They just ask me for money.

Friday, August 05, 2005

World Traveler Returns

Okay, so it wasn't the world, but I did just get back from southwest Georgia. Along with a good friend, I traveled to Columbus, Georgia on "business" this week. The only places previously I had been in Georgia were confined to the I-95 coridoor and the Atlanta Airport. So I was boldly going where I had never gone before.

FYI Columbus, Georgia is the second largest city in Georgia with a metro area populaton of nearly 400,000. (This will be on the final, so pay attention.) Between (and during) dining at Applebee's, Crackerbarrel and Chick-fil-A, I had the opportunity to meet some great and dedicated Christians who really touched my life. We had the opportunity to meet with church leaders and members from three different congregations who are helping to shape the lives of people for eternity.

What these people have in common is their combined work at Fort Benning in Columbus. Each Sunday close to 400 basic training recruits who are on the Fort for 14 weeks. Weekly these committed Christians help share the good news of Jesus with these young men. Last month, with God working through their efforts, 56 men committed their lives to Jesus and were baptized.

Incredible and inspirational.

Keep the Fort Benning work in your prayers. These people I had never met before Wednesday and who you may never meet are helping shape lives for eternity.

Thanks to all of them.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Thanks for a standard to dial into

I listened to the report on NPR about our church's new podcasting. I thought everything was great except for the five second sound clip of me paraphrasing the apostle Paul. In fact, let me repent right now and apologize to Paul and the entire church of Corinth for my meager attempt to quote 1 Corinthians 9:22.

But I will tell you it's pretty cool to go to a church that has people like our technical staff that figures out ways to get the message out, i.e. podcasts, downloads and streaming audio. Since the NPR blurb ran, I've heard from people in Arkansas and Texas who heard newscast about our podcast.

Speaking of newscast I continue to be amazed at how in our culture of relativism, there truly is no filter to determine what matters. Have you noticed that in our culture everything is of the same value? Check out any newsite right now on the web and you'll see that the death toll of U.S. soldiers in Iraq has just passed 1,800 and while performing Sunday night in Manchester, New Hampshire, American Idol runner-up Bo Bice fell and broke his ankle. Oh, and Jennifer Aniston really does want to have children.

Yikes.

One of the great things about being a Christian is that it helps you measure what's really important from what's really not important. I've come to think that right now that may be one of the greater blessings God can give to any of us.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Just hit me with a 2 by 4!

Despite my best efforts and best intentions I still make way too many mistakes. This past week I got all hyped up about some work stuff that I needed to do and I never even thought about talking to other people who this stuff might impact.

This morning at a meeting it was graciously pointed out to me how much better life would have been if I would have widened my focus and shared some information.

No duh.

It isn't like I make my living by communicating! Considering my line of work and at my age you would think that I would understand that in life (and at work) we are all interconnected. And typically, what effects one of us, effects all of us. No one should have to tell me how important communication is!

But evidently I still haven't figured it out.

So I apologized and renewed my commitment to over communicate. In fact, I'm telling you that from this point forward, my goal is to communicate to the point that people are telling me, "Enough already! You've told me so many times, I can't ever forget it!"

Either that, or all my co-workers could just start reading my blog!