Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Barney McCloud

This past weekend, two of my growing up television icons passed away: Don Knotts and Dennis Weaver. Both played lawmen of a different kind. Though Weaver got his start on Gunsmoke, I remember him from being a New Mexico cowboy cop misplaced in New York City. Though I saw him as a cartoon fish in Mr. Limpet, I will always remember Don Knotts as Barney Fife. (I never got into his Mr. Furley character on Three's Company.)

Lots have been written this weekend about these two famous character actors, I'll simply add I was more than entertained by both of them.

Our church is starting 40 Days of Prayer this next week. I'm excited about it. A dad just left my office who's infant daughter came home home from the hospital yesterday. Our church family has prayed for her since she was born seven weeks pre-mature. He shared his belief that she is at home because of God working and prayers offered.

Is there anything more powerful to faith than answered prayers?

Have a great Tuesday.

Monday, February 27, 2006


Had a great day at church yesterday. It was jam-packed with inspirational stuff. It's amazing what God can do with people who meet week-in and week-out.

I'm slowing reading through John Maxwell and Les Parrott's book 25 Ways To Win With People. I'm up to way number 5. But I got to tell you I like what I'm reading. This book offers some really practical stuff that helps you get along with people and deepen relationships. Numero Fivo is Compliment People In Front Of Other People. Boy that's a great thing to remember. We do this thing in our office (when we remember) to give the outstanding staff member of the previous week a can of Mr. Pibb. (Trust me there is a reason for this particular reward.) We clap, hoot and holler and cheer for the person who wins the award for their going the extra mile. It's a lot of fun and helps create an atmosphere of encouragement and helps us add value to each other.

Have you seen some great ways to compliment people in front of other people?

Just for grins. One of the more memorable compliments I've ever publicly received was early on in my preaching career. At that church if you were a visiting male, you were asked if you would say a public prayer. This Sunday to conclude our worship the guest male prayed, "...and dear Lord, please bless Brother Black, who works here from time to time..."

You could hear the laughter throughout the entire auditorium. It was great.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Can Money Buy Happiness?

I read yesterday about the eight people who won the $365 million Powerball. After taxes they each pocket $15.5 million. Their immediate plans are education, travel and taking it easy. I wonder what I would do if I suddenly won $15.5 million dollars?

I also found it interesting that one of the winners, when asked why he played the lottery responded, "Everyone has dreams..." I wonder about the other millions of people who didn't get their dream because he got his?

I remember reading about a minister who won a smaller version of the lottery a few years back. He claimed to have found the winning ticket in the church parking lot. Yeah, right.

I truly don't know exactly what to think about the lottery. My gut reaction is that it's not a smart investment. I've heard people claim that it's gambling and therefore it's wrong. But are retirement investments in the stock market a form of gambling? I know people who spend their day watching stock reports. In fact, aren't their many areas of life where we participate in a form of gambling?
Are you gambling right now with your GM car with the company ready to declare bankruptcy? Trying new medicines to cure an illness? Sending your kid off to a college you never attended.

I think anything that becomes a potential "god" in my life is sin. Since I don't play the lottery it might be easy for me to condemn it. But when it comes to when does food become a "god" that might be my "American Idol."

What do you think? Got any Scripture to go with your thoughts about lotteries and get rich quick plans? I know we all have read stories of people who won the lottery and their lives ended up worst rather than better.

I'd like the help.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Sasha, Snow and Sweet-spots

Do we really think it was a "coincidence" that the Ladies were front and center on the two largest stages in the world last night. Last night it was Ladies night in Olympic Figure Skating and on American Idol.

I watched little of either. I knew I didn't have to. I knew I would see replays of each performance 653 times by weeks' end. So Sasha leads after the short program and the younger girls got all the props from the Randy, Paula and Simon.

How about that snow this morning. If you don't live in the northern or western suburbs of D.C. you may not be aware that we are currently getting two to three inches of unpredicted snow. Again, "Is there any greater job than being a TV weatherperson?"

I just picked up Max Lucado's lastest book, The Cure For The Common Life. (Or something like that.) It looks really good. I'm about 50 pages into it. It's written to help everyone discover their "sweet-spots." I see where Max has now sold over 40 million books. Wow. Jeanette and I were in college with Max and we all served in student government together. He was a great guy then and obviously he's a great and talented guy now.

Have a great day and check our website to see if we're still meeting tonight.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Happy Presidents' Day Sale

I heard that the Post Office is going to put the image of late President Ronald Reagan on the 39 cent stamp. Seems kind of tame compared to Washington and Lincoln getting a three day weekend set up in their honor.

Yet, you have to look hard to see if there is really any evidence that anyone remembers much less celebrates the 1st and 16th presidents. The only thing I really saw today was a whole lot of stuff on sale in their honor. Hey, maybe if you bought something for me today you could mail it to me with a few Presidental 39 cent stamps.

By the way, does Herbert Hoover have anything named after him besides a vacuum cleaner?

It was a great day to sleep in till after 7:30 AM. We went to a movie, ate a mid-afternoon lunch and actually went for a walk. Now we're getting ready to watch Jack Bauer on 24. It's still the best thing on TV.

By way of being a name dropper. I have been in the lobby and the gift shop of the Ronald Reagan Library. I would have gone farther than the lobby and the gift shop but there was a admission charge.

I've been all the way to the top of the Washington Monument and all the way inside of the Lincoln Memorial. They're free.

Have a presidential evening.

Friday, February 17, 2006

T.R. Knight and the rest of us

USAToday has as its lead Life Section article TV's top everymen. The article highlights five guys who are now on hit TV shows who aren't anything really special by Hollywood standards. They're kind of just like the rest of us.

Evidently in Hollywood everyday people aren't the kind of people who get cast in big shows much less become "standouts." It's such a wierd twist that it captures a national newspaper's attention.

When I see stuff like this it makes we wonder why we listen to Hollywood. I don't know about you, but there are more Georges (from TV's Grey's Anatomy)Edgars (from TV's 24) and McGees (from TV's NCIS) in my life than Brad Pitt and Matt Damon. In fact, all I know are "everymen and everywomen."

So why are we so obsessed with the life that Hollywood protrays. Maybe life is at it's best when you're playing a supporting role as an "every-person."

What do you think?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

February Plans Mean June Weddings

Weddings are springing up. I was doing pre-marital counseling yesterday for one couple. (Actually I think I'm scheduled to do pre-marital counseling for five different couples over the next few months) Answering email about another wedding this morning.

But get this... I was in a bookstore this morning. (I think it was Borders or Barnes and Noble or Barnes and Borders or Noble Borders or something like that!) Anyhoo, I'm walking through the two city block magazine area and finally come upon the "Wedding" section. Can you guess how many different magazines, not copies of the same magazine, but different wedding magazine publications, there were?

Did you guess THIRTY! That's right. The Big 3-0! I was so stunned I had to "take-a-knee." I'm convinced there is a sermon illustration in there somewhere and I bet you it has something to do with the age old battle of silk verses real flower reception arrangements. Or it could be... D.J. or live band? Sit-down or buffet reception? Staged or candid photos? Or maybe it has to do with chocolate fondue fountains and the groom's cake? Or, should there it be a couple's shower or just the traditional bridal shower or both? Or who should be seated with the family? (What row should Aunt Tilly and Uncle Spike sit on?) Or maybe the rational behind the benefits of a wedding cake that costs $6.95 a slice? Answering the pressing question: all inclusive or pay as you go Carribean honeymoon? Or how to make the ring bearer not pick his nose during the ceremony?

What do you think 30 different magazines have to say about weddings? I'm not sure, but if you're getting married this year, you need to do three things immediately:

First go to your bank and take out a line of credit.
Second go to Barnes and Borders and purchase 30 wedding magazines.
Third, buy a truss for your fiancee for the hernia he will get as he carries them to your car.

Happy reading...And please don't skip over the section on how much to pay the minister!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Don't I Feel Special

I was just reading another article about the habits of aging Baby Boomers. I was reminded that I am one of 77,702,865 Americans born between 1946 and 1964. (Extra credit information: I was born on July 16, 1955 so I was almost smack dab in the middle of that 77,702,865. I truly know what it means to be a "middle child.")

The above mentioned Newsweek article shared that:
"...more boomers are single than any previous cohort of forty-to-sixty-somethings. According to the Census Bureau, 28.6 percent of adults age 45 to 59 were unattached in 2003, compared to only 18.8 percent in 1980. (Of those, 16.6 percent were divorced, 2.9 percent were widowed and 9.1 percent had never been married. And many of these singles are on the prowl. In a recent AARP (no I haven't joined yet!) survey, up to 70 percent of single boomers said they dated regularly."

I don't know what 28.6 percent of 77 million is, but it sounds like a pretty big number.

I've got to tell you, this "single" situation really is getting my attention. I couple of single guy friends sent me some D.C. data recently that documented that around where we live, the single adult population is about forty percent of all adults.

I think someone stuck in the middle of millions of baby boomers can figure out that this singleness in "The States" is significant.

Speaking of snow, it should be gone by Friday. Elven and a half inches of snow on Saturday night and 60 degree temperatures the day after Valentine's Day. You might want to get your life right. We could be experiencing the "last days."

This past Sunday instead of shoveling sermon material, I shoveled snow. I'm still sore. I'm guessing in another ten years I'll be hiring one of the neighborhood "high school boys" to shovel the driveway. I remember that's what the "old people" did in the upstate New York town where I grew up. It was good money too. A couple of bucks per driveway. Up there it could take half a day to shovel out after a storm.

Enjoy the melt.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy V Day

It is an amazing thing to have love in your life. The apostle Paul knew what he was talking about when he said it was the most excellent way (1 Corinthians 12:31b). This morning I woke up to realize this is my 32th Valentine's Day celebration (three dating plus 29 married) with Jeanette. Though they are different now than when we were dating, they are no less passionate and are far more meaningful. Through the love we share, God has showered us with so many other blessings. In fact, through the love of our marriage God has been able to show me His love in a fuller sense over the past 32 years.

If you read this blog you are aware that I've been reading a bunch on "being single" recently. What I've discovered is that the Big V Day may be one of the hardest of the year for people who are single. If you are single and are looking to be someone's Valentine, count yourself one of ours (Jeanette and mine). What we've learned from 32 Valentine's Days is the joy of knowing that God loves each of us. That may sound cheesy, but it's true.

So whether your single, single again married or married with children realize that God loves you and enjoy your little candies (that taste like Tums) with "Be Mine" on them.

Monday, February 13, 2006

May I help you?

When I’m meeting someone for lunch or dinner at a restaurant in a shopping mall or plaza, I will typically go into the stores and look around. Pretty regularly, a nice salesperson will come up to me and ask, “May I help you?”

To which I respond, “You could if I knew what I wanted.” It’s hard to buy something when you don’t know what you’re looking for.

· It’s hard to find someone for your life, if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

· It’s hard to find a church if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

· It’s hard to raise a child or children if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

· It’s hard to find a job, a place to live, a college, friends, a pet, if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

· It’s hard to find a life, if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

What are you looking for? It’s worth thinking about. If you can write it down, say it out loud then you can at least get started. Talk to some other people about what you’re looking for and who knows you may find some help.

Currently I’m looking for warm weather to melt the snow in our yard.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Interesting point of view

I'm currently reading Albert Y. Hsu's book, Singles at the Crossroads. About half way through the book he mentions that being single brings with a lot of positives in serving the Lord. One positive is the ability to serve and work with local churches. Albert laments however that most churches would never hire a single to it's ministerial staff. He then shares that many churches refer to 1 Timothy 3 as a fallback scripture for the position of not hiring singles as ministers.

Albert points out that it is interesting that Paul could be an apostle, but not an elder. And calls that self-contradictory. Is it? There are lots of people who can be elders but only 13 who were apostles. And there are many of us who are married who will never be elders. Is that the point? Is the highest calling in life to be an elder or apostle. I think not. In the same way the highest calling isn't to be married or single.

But I'll tell you Albert got me thinking. When Paul is talking about being the husband of one wife in that culture, could Paul have been talking about men who had more than one wife at a time?

Plus if we are looking to find the best qualified person to serve in ministry (when the job isn't being an elder) should married or single matter?

Some times I like thinking about this stuff.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Ultimate Snow Bind

I hate weekend snow. If you don't live in the D.C. area you may not know that a snow storm is headed our way this Saturday. Weathermen and weatherwomen are already salivating at the thought of inches of the fluffy accumulationg coming our way.

However Saturday snow is a nightmare for Sunday church. Take this Sunday: we have Birth Dedications planned for both assemblies. This means that for some young families grandparents have traveled to be here this weekend for their grandchild's dedication. If we are snowed out, it might mean they might not be able to come back another weekend. That's just one of many examples I could sight. Weekend snow is a blight on church life.

From the other perspective I'm married to a school principal who has her world turned upside down when it snows Monday through Friday. Snow delays are a logisitcal nightmare and missed days mean missed instruction. Standardized tests are just weeks away from being taken.

So where does this leave us: praying it won't snow! Or praying for more snowplows!

Oh for the days when as a family prior to going to bed we would all do the "snow dance."

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Bagels and the Olympics

Just in case you every need to know, the best bagels in the world come from Panera. The Dutch Apple and Raisin bagel is the best bagel ever baked. Oh, and there is no need to comment on this choice. Everyone knows that the Panera Dutch Apple and Raisin with Hazelnut Creamcheese is the best bagel-breakfast experience one can have this side of heaven. No exaggeration!

For those of you who live in places without a Panera I have only one thing to say, "Move!"

Speaking of sabbaticals, I've decided when I am taking mine: May. I'm already kind of weirding-out about it. It will be the first time in my adult life I have ever had so much time away from work. A month with no sermon and class preparation and delivery, no staff meetings, no counseling, no articles to write, no Monday night Elders' meetings, no blogging, no required reading, no lunch or dinner meetings, no mandatory emails, no funerals, no weddings, no hospital visits, no phone calls, no decisions to be made, no church responsibilities, and did I mention no meetings? It will be wierd and wonderful. I am truly blessed to be a granted such an experience.

Does anyone care about the Winter Olympics? I might watch to see the ski jump and maybe some snowboarding and downhill skiing. I'm not to interested in the two-man luge or 30K cross-country skiing. Though seeing icicles "growing" in a guy's beard is pretty cool.

Hey if you are a guy who lives or works in Chantilly, VA some of us are going to be starting a guy's breakfast soon. Let me know if you want details. Unfortunately it won't be at Panera.

Hey, I just thought of something. Could those five rings of the Olympics actually be the outline of Panera Dutch Apple and Raisin Bagels?

Just a thought...

Monday, February 06, 2006


I'll expect lovely gifts from all Steeler fans who read this blog. I convinced that my selection of the Seahawks to win is what pushed the Steelers on to victory. Yeah for the Yellow Hankie or whatever you all call that caution-colored washcloth thing.

I got home from church yesterday afternoon about 12:45 PM, flipped the channel to ABC and they were already in the pre-pre-pre-game show. Super Bowl hype has reached a new level.

I thought the game was less than fantastic. I watched about three quarters of the game and missed the half-time. That may not have been wise, considering how old The Rolling Stones are. I may never see them perform again. Of course, using the term "perform" loosely.

I didn't see many commercials, but my top two were: the fly that got zapped in the hospital and the sheep "streaker." I thought the Diet Pepsi adds may have been the most lame.

The highpoint of the evening may have been the smoked pulled pork sandwich I had at the Newcombs. That truly was super.

Actually I'm glad the Super game has come and gone. Now I can give my full attention to my sporting passions: the curling competition in the Winter Olympics.

Bye for now...

Friday, February 03, 2006

Super Stuff

Please pray for me. I am about to do some serious harm to the people at blogger.com. Due to their site’s technical errors this is the fourth time I have had to type this entry. So I’m taking a deep breath and starting again…

Sorry that I missed you yesterday. I had a case of the “rockin’ pneumonia and the bloggie-woggie” flu. Okay, I had a runny nose and tiny temperature. But my sickness did allow me to use my day off to finish reading a great book. How To Get A Date Worth Keeping is written by Dr. Henry Cloud. It’s a 2005 paperback published by Zondervan.

You may know Dr. Cloud from his co-authoring the bestseller Boundaries. You may not know that Dr. Cloud was single into his thirties and for the past ten years has been a “dating coach” to a host of Christian singles. In How to Get A Date, Dr. Cloud gives specific and practical (make that brutally practical) advise on how to help anyone to get their dating groove on.

In fact, Dr. Cloud makes this promise…if you buy wholesale into his program you will be dating within six months. After reading his book I would definitely agree with his guarantee.

If I ever teach a seminar for singles or faciliate a single’s small group this book will be required reading.

Sunday is the Super Bowl. Here’s my prediction: Seattle by 3. Actually I want Pittsburg to win and that’s why I’m picking Seattle. If you remember, every team I’ve chosen to win in the playoffs has lost. Sorry Seattle fans.

If you are a FXCCer, this Sunday you’ll get to see a great video. Thanks to the amazing talent and super human effort of Dana Bradshaw, Darla Robinson and bunch of other FXCCers, you’ll see this video of how God helped FXCC go the second mile in 2005.

This evening and tomorrow I’ll be attending a small group seminar along with 40 plus FXCC small group leaders and co-leaders.
Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Lessons Continue

This warm weather is nice, but I have the Shenandoah River running down the back of my throat.  I’m not supposed to have allergy attacks until April or May.  Does this mean that I’ll have them now and later?  

I know…nobody likes a whiny blogger.  I hear that all the time.

I’m just finished reading Table For One by Camerin Courtney.  Reading it again helped me to pull back the curtain and see into the lives of people living single and the way “the church” relates to them.  Talking about the way that typical congregations work (primarily for those who are married and have families) Camerin comes to this conclusion:

A lot of movers and shakers in the church have no idea there’s a problem for those of us who are single.  (page 40)

So Camerin has given her single efforts as a writer and church attender to not only help Christians deal with being single, but helping churches understand the perspective of people living single.  

Also in this book, Camerin spends a lot of energy helping singles not to give into self-pity or blaming.  She points out that though people are insensitive in conversation and relationships it’s best to take the high road and not give in to cynicism and grudge-holding.  I thought that was really helpful.

I just started reading How To Get A Date Worth Keeping by Dr. Henry Cloud.  I’ll let you know what I find out.