Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Trust and Obey ... There Is No Other Way

The past few days (years, decades...) I've been feeling so much pressure with regards to all God is leading me to and through and yet I keep telling myself to "Trust and Obey" Literally this morning on the drive into work I felt like a character out of those old cartoons that had the little angel on one shoulder and a little devil on the other. There is such an internal (eternal) battle raging within me. The war between trust and doubt. I was speaking a prayer of trust outloud to God and yet my heart still felt pulled from peace to problems. I surrendered my attitude to the Lordship of Jesus and yet a nagging, painful headache claimed it back. The fight for childlike trust and pure joy is an everyday conflict.

I ran across this a few minutes ago and found it very insightful and encouraging. Maybe you need the reminder that I needed (and will need again and again and ...)

by Max Lucado
Nothing stirs so many questions as does the birth of Christ. The
innkeeper too busy to welcome God-did he ever learn who he turned away?
The shepherds-did they ever hum the song the angels sang? The wise men
who followed the star-what was it like to worship a toddler? And
Joseph, especially Joseph. I've got questions for Joseph.
What was he thinking while Jesus was being born? He'd done all he
could do-he'd made Mary as comfortable as she could be in a barn and
then he stepped out. She'd asked to be alone, and Joseph has never felt
more so.
In that eternity between his wife's dismissal and Jesus' arrival, what
was he thinking? He walked into the night and looked into the stars.
Did he pray?
I wonder what he said …
This isn't the way I planned it, God. This doesn't seem right. What
kind of husband am I? I provide no midwife to aid my wife. No bed to
rest her back. Her pillow is a blanket from my donkey. My house for her
is a shed of hay and straw.
Did I miss something? Did I, God?
You've stood where Joseph stood. Caught between what God says and what
makes sense. You've done what he told you to do only to wonder if it
was him speaking in the first place. You've stared into a sky blackened
with doubt.
If you are asking what Joseph asked, let me urge you to do what Joseph
did. Obey. That's what he did. He obeyed when the angel called. He
obeyed when Mary explained. He obeyed when God sent.
Just like Joseph, you can't see the whole picture. Just like Joseph
your task is to see that Jesus is brought into your part of your world.
And just like Joseph you have a choice: to obey or disobey. Because
Joseph obeyed, God used him to change the world.
Can he do the same with you?

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Hot Date!

Dates with Kim are amazing! We hold hands. We laugh (big surprise there!), talk (unless my seat at the restaurant faces a TV) and we have a blast. We love going to Abuelos, The Olive Garden and eating steak at Joe Allen's. Sometimes we grab a movie, sometimes run an errand, and others we just get coffee and dessert. We talk about God, our kids, our marriage and even my driving (ok, that last one was mean - sorry babe!)

We don't go every week but at least 3 times a month. We don't always go on Friday or Saturday night - sometimes it is a lunch date. Sometimes we dress up and sometimes we just go "comfortable" in sweats.

Here is the bottomline: Sometimes married people think that the "grass is greener on the other side" Here is the truth - "the grass is greener where you water it"

Kim and I have a great marriage! Part of the reason is because we just love each other so much. Part of the reason is because God is gracious and allows Kim to overlook my faults. But another part is that we are committed to working on our marriage - "watering it" if you will.

I love you Kim!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004


Please pause with me for a moment of silence.


I just found some heart breaking news. Read it and then at the bottom you'll find my comments on why this death is so sad.

O.D.B., whose legal name was Russell Jones, died at a Manhattan recording studio Nov. 13.
He died "as a result of intoxication by the combined effects of cocaine and Tramadol, a prescription painkiller but not a narcotic," said Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the New York City medical examiner's office.
"The manner of death is an accident," she added.
O.D.B. complained of chest pains before collapsing at the studio, and was dead by the time paramedics reached him. He was just days short of his 36th birthday.
O.D.B., also known as Ol' Dirty Bastard, was a founding member of the rap group the Wu-Tang Clan.
With his unorthodox delivery — alternately slurred, hyper and nonsensical — O.D.B. stood out even in the nine-man Clan, and as a solo artist he released hit singles such as "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" and "Got Your Money."
He had been working on his comeback album for more than a year and was almost finished.
O.D.B. was the latest in a string of rappers to meet an untimely death, among them Jam Master Jay of Run DMC, who was fatally shot in late 2002, and Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur, who were both shot to death in the late 1990s. Those killings remain unsolved.

Russell. His name was Russell. He is now dead. And to me that is sad.

What was life like for Russell? Can you imagine him at 4 years old? What kind of 2nd grader was he? When did he say his cuss word, drink his first beer, snort his first line of coke? Did he ever hear the good news? Was he involved in a church - or at least invited to a church? Did anyone spot him headed down the wrong path in junior high but was too busy, bias, or bigot-like to do anything about it? What were his dreams as a kid? Did he ever get tucked in, prayed for, snuggled with?

I don't know.

But I know this: At some point Russell traded in his birth name for another identity and wanted the world to know him as "Old Dirty Bastard". At some point he thought that cocaine and drugs would actually bring him peace and in doing both he "exchanged the truth for a lie." (Romans 1)

I know that those terms, all three of them, are not the stuff that any kindergartener aspires to be and yet somehow that is how Russell came to be known.

I don't know if it was marketing or misery that lead Russell to be known as O.D.B. but I do know that it is sad.

And I know that I don't want any other Russells, Randys, Robertas, or Rachels, etc to exchange the truth for a lie.

And I hope that my gut is wrong and that you really are in a place where there is true peace. Not the kind of peace that comes from a line of coke or prescription pain killers. The kind that passes understanding and is the oxygen of heaven.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Battle Tested


That's all I can say.


Read this.

VICTORVILLE, Calif. - When Marine Lance Cpl. David Battle learned he'd either have to sacrifice his ring finger or the wedding band he wore, he told doctors at a field hospital in Iraq (news - web sites) to cut off the finger. The 19-year-old former high school football star suffered a mangled left hand and serious wounds to his legs in a Nov. 13 fire fight in Fallujah. Battle, who is recovering at his parents' home in this desert city 80 miles northeast of Los Angeles, came under attack as he and fellow Marines entered a building. Eleven other Marines were wounded. Doctors were preparing to cut off Battle's ring to save as much of his finger as they could. "But that would mean destroying my wedding ring," he said. "My wife is the strongest woman I know. She's basically running two people's lives since I've been gone. I don't think I could ever repay her or show her how grateful ... how much I love my wife, my soul mate." With his approval, doctors severed his finger, but somehow in the chaos that followed, they lost his ring. Although Battle was disappointed, his wife, Devon, said she was honored. "I can't believe he did that," she said. "At first I was mad when he told me, but then I realized how lucky I am to have him in my life." The couple, who met in the eighth grade, were married in June, just two weeks before Battle left for Iraq. He hopes to eventually return to the Marines, and to replace his wedding ring, but that will have to wait until he recovers. In the meanwhile, Battle's high school has planned a banquet in his honor next week. "We need to make more David Battles," said Daniel Pierce, the school's assistant head coach. "He is one amazing guy."

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Just a Moment

Read Max's weekly email and said, "WOW"

Can anyone write quite like Max?

Read it and awe...

by Max Lucado
It all happened in a moment, a most remarkable moment.
As moments go, that one appeared no different than any other. But in
reality, that particular moment was like none other. For through that
segment of time a spectacular thing occurred. God became a man. While
the creatures of earth walked unaware, Divinity arrived. Heaven opened
herself and placed her most precious one in a human womb.
God as a fetus. Holiness sleeping in a womb. The creator of life being
God was given eyebrows, elbows, two kidneys, and a spleen. He stretched
against the walls and floated in the amniotic fluids of his mother.
God had come near.
He came, not as a flash of light or as an unapproachable conqueror, but
as one whose first cries were heard by a peasant girl and a sleepy
carpenter. The hands that first held him were unmanicured, calloused,
and dirty.
No silk. No ivory. No hype.
Were it not for the shepherds, there would have been no reception. And
were it not for a group of star-gazers, there would have been no gifts.
To think of Jesus in such a light is-well, it seems almost irreverent,
doesn't it? It's not something we like to do; it's uncomfortable. It is
much easier to keep the humanity out of the incarnation. Clean the
manure from around the manger. Wipe the sweat out of his eyes. Pretend
he never snored or blew his nose or hit his thumb with a hammer.
But don't do it. For heaven's sake, don't. Let him be as human as he
intended to be. Let him into the mire and muck of our world. For only
if we let him in can he pull us out.

from God Came Near Copyright 2004 Max Lucado

Not So Quiet Today

God screamed these words to me today in my "quiet" time.

It wasn't quiet. Loud and clear, but not quiet.

Paul to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:1-5

"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God - having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them."

Two questions arise from this passage:

1. Isn't this a description of most of the human race for the past 8,000 years? Doesn't sound too "last" to me.

2. How do I have "nothing to do with" myself?

Wednesday, December 08, 2004


Kim and I have been playing the fire out of the song, You Are God Alone and the lyrics are stuck in our heads. That is a good stuck, mind you. I have it on my Itunes and I just loop it and it blares throughout our bedroom and bathroom. I'm serious when I say this: It has been playing non-stop since 4:00 this afternoon and it is now 10:50pm. That is a lot of looping! But can you ever get tired of this message? Check out these lyrics:

You are not a god Created by human hands
You are not a god Dependant on any mortal man
You are not a god In need of anything we can give
By Your plan, that’s just the way it is
Chorus: You are God alone From before time began
You were on Your throne
Your are God alone
And right now In the good times and bad
You are on Your throne You are God alone

You’re the only God Whose power none can contend
You’re the only God Whose name and praise will never end
You’re the only God Who’s worthy of everything we can give
You are God And that’s just the way it is

Bridge: Unchangeable Unshakable Unstoppable
That’s what You are

Is there some change going on in your life these days? Take wrap your life in the truth that God doesn't change. Are there circumstances that are shaky to say the least? Stake your worries in the bedrock promise that God is unshakable. Do you need some encouragement? Do you feel like giving up against whatever foe you may be facing? Don't. God is unstoppable and he wants to exert the same unstoppable power in you and through you.

Whether times are good for you or bad remember this my friend: God is on His throne!

May those words loop in your heart too.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

A Cold, Dark Heart

I received this email today and found it quite worth sharing. I can't vouch for the accuracy but the concepts alone are worth pondering.

The university professor challenged his students with this question.

"Did God create everything that exists?"

A student bravely replied, "Yes, he did!"

"God created everything?" The professor asked.

"Yes, sir," the student replied.

The professor answered, "If God created everything, then God created evil, since evil exists, and according to the principal that our works define who we are, then God is evil."

The student became quiet before such an answer. The professor, quite pleased with himself, boasted to the students that he had proven once more that the Christian faith was a myth.

Another student raised his hand and said, "Can I ask you a question professor?"

"Of course," replied the professor.

The student stood up and asked, "Professor, does cold exist?"

"What kind of question is this? Of course it exists. Have you never been cold?" The students snickered at the young man's question.

The young man replied, "In fact sir, cold does not exist. According to the laws of physics, what we consider cold is in reality the absence of heat. Every body or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-460° F) is the total absence of heat; all matter becomes inert and incapable of reaction at that temperature. Cold does not exist. We have created this word to describe how we feel if we have no heat."

The student continued, "Professor, does darkness exist?"

The professor responded, "Of course it does."

The student replied, "Once again you are wrong sir, darkness does not exist either. Darkness is in reality the absence of light. Light we can study, but not darkness. In fact we can use Newton's prism to break white light into many colors and study the various wavelengths of each color. You cannot measure darkness. A simple ray of light can break into a world of darkness and illuminate it. How can you know how dark a certain space is? You measure the amount of light present. Isn't this correct? Darkness is a term used by man to describe what happens when there is no light present."

Finally the young man asked the professor, "Sir, does evil exist?"

Now uncertain, the professor responded, "Of course as I have already said. We see it every day. It is in the daily example of man's inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil."

To this the student replied, "Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is not like faith, or love that exist just as does light and heat. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God's love present in his heart. It's like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light."

The professor sat down.

The young man's name --- Albert Einstein

Monday, December 06, 2004

The Gift of Grace

I ran across this story today and was mindful that Christmas is truly a miracle! The fact that Christ came to earth is the divine gift from Heaven. Grace is the God-given gift that cannot be matched by anything under a tree, in a driveway, or in a bank account. The fact that we will never be able to earn it is the maddeningly mystery of Heaven.

A kindly 90-year-old grandmother found buying presents for family and friends a bit much last Christmas. So she wrote out checks for all of them to put in their Christmas cards.
In each card she carefully wrote, "Buy your own present" and then sent them off.
After the Christmas festivities were over, she found the checks under a pile of papers on her desk!
Everyone on her gift list had received a beautiful Christmas card from her with "Buy your own present" written inside-- without the check!

May we stop trying to "buy our own present" this season and rest in the reality of Christ's presence!

Give someone the gift of Jesus this week.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Some High Life For Some Low Life?

I read this today and thought to myself, I know plenty of Christians who are not all that concerned with the "return of Jesus"

Will Trade Beer for Jesus
ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) — An Australian brewing company is offering six cases of beer to anyone who returns a statue of the baby Jesus stolen from a nativity scene last week.
The South Australian Brewing Company (search) offered the reward after thieves swiped the statue from the company's traditional nativity display earlier this week.
Managing Director Mark Powell said security footage showed a man scaling a fence and lifting the baby Jesus from his manger.
"We are very concerned about the well-being of baby Jesus and we are calling for his swift and safe return," Powell said.
A reward of six cases of beer will be given to anyone who returns the statue, he said.
"That said, you would have thought that the incentive of a guaranteed exit through the right door after purgatory would be enough of an incentive in itself," Powell said.

Do you think that maybe they should have offered the thief a Carmen CD or a Prayer of Jabez Shoehorn or something "holy" like that instead?

Me neither. Good call on the beer!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Thank Anybody, Except God or Thank God Anybody Except ...?

Yeah, America is really the center of Christianity...

Yeah, right.

I'm recasting my vote for strong families and strong churches as the primary channel of communication to our children with regards to God. I know that sometimes we like to play the blame game and feel that if we could just fix the government, vote the right guy in, or overpower the schools, we could save the day and our kids morality as well.

I read this story below on the web today and was reminded again that God wants me to teach my kids the truth about the giver of all good gifts, not their history teacher.

Read it for yourself and see what you think:

Students Free to Thank Anybody, Except God
Monday, November 22, 2004
By Laurel Lundstrom

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland public school students are free to thank anyone they want while learning about the 17th century celebration of Thanksgiving (search) — as long as it's not God.
And that is how it should be, administrators say.

For the full story click here.

I am thankful for this reminder, as sad as it is.
And I'm thankful to God.
And that is how it should be.

Monday, November 22, 2004

The Truth About "Kat" and Dog

See yesterday's post.

Here are some more thoughts after a day of reflection on this defection.

Under the "What the Neighbors Are Saying Category"

*"I thought dog was man's best friend?"

*"I thought it was Pit Bull ... with a 'P' ... huh?"

*"Honey Boy, Honey the girl? Honey child you sick!"

Under the "What the Local Veterinarians Are Saying Category"


Under the "What I'm Saying Category"

*She said the following: "It doesn't hurt," she told the newspaper. "But it's a little bit ticklish." to which I say, "Total Freak!"

Sunday, November 21, 2004

New Zealand, Milk & Honey

Woman Breast-Feeds Pit Bull
Monday, November 22, 2004

Somedays I am ashamed to be a part of the human race. Somedays I'd like to cast my lot with say a more intelligent species - like a freakin slug or a nat or a ... (insert your own small dumb insect here)

Read this article only if you have some time to flush down the toilet (waste time - just not milk) or if you want to feel really superior to a "Kat"

September 29, 2004
Here's one way to make sure your dog loves you: breast-feed it.

Kura "Kat" Tumanako, who lives in Hastings, a small town on New Zealand's North Island, gave birth to a baby girl at the end of August.

But, as she explained to the New Zealand Herald, she had problems nursing little Honey Pauline Philomina Flo, and she "didn't want to waste [the milk]."

"So I gave it to Honey Boy," Tumanako said.

Honey Boy is her Staffordshire bull terrier (search) puppy — commonly known to Americans as a pit bull.

Tumanako thinks the practice will only strengthen the bond between the puppy and her 3-month-old daughter, who is drinking formula.

"I wanted to raise [the pup] with my baby," Tumanako told the Herald. "I wanted to bring it up with a baby. It will protect her as they grow up."

Nor does she care what the neighbors think.

To read the entire article (your sick) click here.

Friday, November 19, 2004


If you liked the movie Napoleon Dynamite then you'll thank me for this.

If you didn't - don't ever read my blog again. Idiot!

Check it out. Go to multimedia and watch the clips, look at the pictures, and listen to the sounds.

If you don't I'll be "kinda TO'd"

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Piano Man, Holy Ground, and Perfect

I had the divine joy of getting to know a man (whom for the purposes of this blog will remain nameless) last night over a meal at Highland. I had just finished my meal when Steve Hare pointed out to me that there was a man in a wheelchair who was one of our (Highland Church) neighbors and was joining us for our Oasis meal. He (Steve) had to run to a meeting and asked if I'd make a connection with him. I have to admit that I was planning on going back into my office when he said this but because he is my boss and because of some pulling on my heart by the Spirit I decided to approach this man and strike up a conversation.

His hair was long and hippie-like. His teeth were less than Hollywood-like. But as he wheeled over to my table I was struck by his eyes. They drew me in immediately and I was convicted that beneath those eyes was a story waiting to get out. After getting him some tea and enough sugar to make a sheet cake I began to uncover the story. A great story. An unfinished story.

Again, for the purposes of this blog and to keep his annonmity, I won't delve into the details but suffice it to say that this guy writes classical piano music (think Beethoven, Bach, etc)

Church was amazing as it was a time in my week when my mind was fixed on the things of God in an intense way.

The elders meeting was, as usual, totally amazing and such a "spiritual experience" I'm serious when I say this: being in an elders meeting makes me think about what it would have been like to have been alive during Acts 2 church times. The prayer, unity, compassion, anointing, wisdom, etc, is beyond comprehension. At one point during the meeting I leaned over to Bob Gomez and said we should video tape these meetings. While I know that we can't, I do know that people would be blown away to see just how biblical this eldership functions.

After the elder meeting (9:45pm) John (my son) and I went to see the movie Friday Night Lights. It was both fascinating and somewhat disturbing. Wow! My favorite line in the entire movie was the line about being "perfect" The thought of perfection being connected to a heart full of love was simply incredible. Such profound words from a football coach. But truth is out there...even in Hollywood. You just have to be in tune with it. God is not in retirement or on vacation.

I'm so blessed. I know that.

How about you? Anyone else see the Redeemer in the routine?

Wednesday, November 17, 2004


The Pentagon announced today the formation of an ELITE FIGHTING GROUP called the U.S. REDNECK SPECIAL FORCES (USRSF)

The boys of this unit, Cooter, Bubba, Hoss, and Boo, will be dropped behind enemy lines.

They will be given the following information about Iraqi Terrorists:

1. The season opened last weekend.

2. There is no limit.

3. They taste just like chicken.

4. They don't like beer, pickups, country music, or Jesus.

5. They are directly responsible for the death of Dale Earnhardt.


Oh Come Let Us Adore Him

If you haven't heard the rendition of "Come Let Us Adore Him" by Matt Redman on Passion '04 then you really haven't heard this song as it was meant to be proclaimed. WOW! This song is part prayer - part proclamation, and all Powerful!

Yesterday was another beautiful gift from God. Getting to sit in a staff meeting with Mike Cope, Steve Hare, Joe Almanza and the other amazing servants that I partner with at Highland is spiritually spoiling me. I learned more about being missional (not just in name) from lunch with Hare than in the three most recent books I read on the subject. Praise God for that guy!

Getting to work with Jeff Berry is not below average either. Godly, humble, and brilliant come to mind. God has really forged a strong friendship between us for which I'm so grateful.

My wife is the most giving, caring person I've ever met. If I had a dollar for everytime I saw Jesus clearly portrayed in her actions I'd make Bill Gates look like a pauper. Marriage to her is like winning a million dollars on a lottery ticket that cost you a buck. I get much more than I give in my marriage.

The time our family spends around our dinner table is sacred and holy. The conversation is almost always rich and the laughter is usually out of control. A good rule of thumb is that someone is going to either have some part of their food/drink come shoot out of their nose or almost lodge itself in their throat at some point in the meal. I'm so blessed! My kids are amazing!

Went to Grace last night...Luke was bringing the wood! By far and away the best I've ever heard him proclaim the gospel. I was uncomfortable and yet grateful if that makes any sense.

Kim and I worked on a project until almost midnight and when my head hit the pillow I remember thinking that while I was so wiped out from the day, I was still so thankful for the events of my day. I remember praying that if I got another day that I would use it to "Adore Him"

Oh Come Let Us Adore Him

Christ the Lord!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Speaking of Speaking

One of the richest blessings of my life is getting to travel and preach the gospel to people all over the nation. These past couple of months I've been blessed to speak in Marlow, OK -- Sweetwater, TX -- Brownwood, TX -- Santa Cruz, CA -- Redwood City, CA -- Austin, TX -- and San Antonio, TX. In fact, Kim and I just returned from San Antonio yesterday and I have got to say that the Oak Hills Church is an amazing community of faith! I'm speaking there again in February '05 and cannot wait. (I might even get one more opportunity between now and then!) Bob Russell preached that morning and Tim Kimmel did a parenting conference that same Sunday so needless to say, I wasn't the main attraction.

But let me tell you the speaking engagement I enjoy best.

On the drive home from San Antonio Kim and I shared 4+ hours of beautiful conversation (although it was quite interrupted - another blog altogether). When we returned home we decided to do something spontaneous with our girls (I know that it might be hard for many of you to imagine me doing anything spur of the moment - just go along with the story...) so we sat the girls down and told them how incredible they were. (John's incredible too but we was at work at the airport so his incredibleness was not rewarded). Telling them how incredible they are is the speaking that I love the most. Then after my little incredible speech - Kim announced that because they are so incredible we were taking them to see The Incredibles (which was an incredible movie - "totally wicked!")

Yes I love speaking about Jesus all over the nation. But I like it better in my home.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

I Am Sorry

Yes, the title of this post is chalked full of double meaning.

Several of my last post and ensuing comments have been way out of line. As one of best friends pointed out in a recent email: "You didn’t ask me, but I think your response to Julia’s comment was out of line. Not necessarily on its merits, but the spirit of it. Very belittling. Definitely not you."

His function in my life as a "Nathan" is a blessing for which I am eternally grateful.

So here it goes ... my sincere apologies (as sincere as an apology can get on a blog)

To the Democrat readers, I'm sorry. I was rude and stereotyping and not Christlike in my post about Kerry.

To Julia, I'm sorry. I was mean and vengeful and not Christlike in my response to your post. Opinions are over-rated and in an attempt to defend my honor I tried to dishonor you.

To my wife, friends, family, co-workers, and church, I'm sorry. When I act like I have it paints you in a negative light and brings your character into question.

And finally, to my Lord Jesus Christ, I'm sorry. As a dad I know first hand how it feels to see your kids treat each other unkindly (thankfully this doesn't happen too much in my home) and yet I don't know how it feels because I can't love my kids at the deep, life-giving level you love your kids (me, Kerry, Julia, etc) so my unfair treatment of my brothers and sisters must break your heart.

And that breaks my heart.

I'm sorry.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Pious Horror

John Stott just kicked my butt.

"Christian salt has no business to remain snugly in elegant little ecclesiastical salt cellars; our place is to be rubbed into the secular community, as salt is rubbed into meat, to stop it going bad. And when society does go bad, we Christians tend to throw up our hands in pious horror and reproach teh non-Christian world; but should we not rather reporach ourselves? One can hardly blame unsalted meat for going bad. It cannot do anything else. The real question to ask is: where is the salt?"
- John Stott in 'The Message of the Sermon on the Mount."

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Why The Long Face?

John Kerry

Well, it's over. And of course the last to admit defeat was Kerry. (He still hasn't at the time of this post).

I have some thoughts on this election:

Maybe Ohio voted for Kerry before they voted against him.

Look on the bright side ... while the "Flip" is gone - the "Flop" part of Kerry's persona is very much alive!

Looks like John isn't the only Kerry in the "Ketch Up" business.

Yes, more people will die in combat in a terrible war that may or may not have been a brilliant proactive move (only history will tell) but that number is only about 1/100th of the innocent babies that will be killed before they ever have a chance to be born, grow up, decide to serve our country and then die at the hands of our enemies. So if innocent lives being slaughtered are important to you I guess that today's news has to come as a dissappointment.

Maybe Kerry can take back that shotgun and camo outfit to Walmart since it has only been used once?

One thing is for sure - while being a master of the English language is helpful - America has spoken (by more than 4 million votes) that being a great debator and the most liberal politician in America won't get you elected.

I'm sure Kerri can catch up (pardon the punn) on his sleep in one of 7 mansions.

With Kerry out of the picture it might just mean that the government will have to handle Air Space Defense, new highways, and putting officers on the beat. Caring for the poor, helping the sick, and teaching our children values will default to individual family members, churches and other non government sources. I know that isn't the news that most Kerry supporters wanted to hear.

If anyone is really upset that Kerry never got the chance to implement his health insurance policy they could always move to Canada and check it out first hand.

And finally, as sinical and snooty as this post has been I want to end this post with my true feelings:

No matter who had won the election or what happens in the future God is still God. America's future is not dependant on an election but on an our eternal God. The kingdom is still alive in America and breaking forth in pockets of faith every where, every day. And the world we live in is much bigger than America and we need to remember that God is in all peoples and over all nations.

This song says it best:

You Are God Alone

You are not a god Created by human hands
You are not a god Dependant on any mortal man
You are not a god In need of anything we can give
By Your plan, that’s just the way it is
Chorus: You are God alone From before time began
You were on Your throneYour are God alone
And right now In the good times and bad
You are on Your throneYou are God alone
You’re the only GodWhose power none can contend
You’re the only God Whose name and praise will never end
You’re the only God Who’s worthy of everything we can give
You are God And that’s just the way it is
Repeat Chorus Bridge:
Unchangeable Unshakable Unstoppable
That’s what You are


Wednesday, October 27, 2004

And the Oscar goes to .... Napoleon Dynamite

Kip, Napoleon Dynamite, Uncle Rico

One of the greatest movies of all times has to be Napoleon Dynamite. If you have not seen this epically (is that a word?) funny movie - by all means - go see it right now. It is PG and put out by - get this - MTV films! It is super clean, terribly hilarious, and is one of the most quoteable movies ever (Fletch, Dumb & Dumber, Tommy Boy & Tombstone rounding out the top 5) and I've taken the liberty to share of my favorite lines in this classic comedy:

Napoleon Dynamite : Stay home and eat all the freakin' chips, Kip.
Kip : Napoleon, don't be jealous that I've been chatting online with babes all day. Besides, we both know that I'm training to be a cage fighter.
Napoleon Dynamite : Since when, Kip? You have the worst reflexes of all time.
Kip : Try and hit me, Napoleon.
Napoleon Dynamite : What?
Kip : I said come down here and see what happens if you try and hit me.

Napoleon Dynamite : Hey can I use your guys's phone for a sec?
Secretary No. 1 : Is there anything wrong?
Napoleon Dynamite : I don't feel very good. [takes telephone and dials number]
Kip : [making nachos on the other line] Hi.
Napoleon Dynamite : Is grandma there?
Kip : No, she's getting her hair done. Napoleon Dynamite : Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...
Kip : What do you need?
Napoleon Dynamite : Can you just go get her for me?
Kip : I'm really busy right now.
Napoleon Dynamite : Just tell her to come get me.
Kip : Why?
Napoleon Dynamite : Cause I don't feel good!
Kip : Well, have you talked to the school nurse?
Napoleon Dynamite : No, she doesn't know anything. Will you just come get me?
Kip : No.
Napoleon Dynamite : Well, will you do me a favor then? Can you bring me my chapstick?
Kip : No, Napoleon.
Napoleon Dynamite : But my lips hurt real bad!
Kip : Just borrow some from the school nurse. I know she has like five sticks in her drawer.
Napoleon Dynamite : I'm not gonna use hers, you sicko!
Kip : See ya.
Napoleon Dynamite : Ugh! Idiot!

Uncle Rico : So how are things going with you and your girlfriend?
Kip : Well, I think it's getting pretty serious. We chat online for like two hours a day so yeah, you could say it's getting pretty serious.

What were your favorite lines?

Monday, October 18, 2004

He Had A Million of Em!

I came across this and thought it was worth sharing:

Comedian Rodney Dangerfield, who died October 5, 2004, at age 82, made a living making fun of himself and the difficulty of getting what we all desire: a little respect, please. Some of his best lines were:

"I tell ya I get no respect from anyone. I bought a cemetery plot. The guy said, "There goes the neighborhood!"

"Last week I told my psychiatrist, 'I keep thinking about suicide.' He told me to pay in advance."

"My uncle's dying wish, he wanted me on his lap. He was in the electric chair."

"I could tell that my parents hated me. My bath toys were a toaster and a radio."

"I remember I was so depressed I was going to jump out a window on the tenth floor, so they sent a priest to talk to me. He said, "On your mark. …"

"My wife made me join a bridge club. I jump off next Tuesday."

"I come from a stupid family. During the Civil War my great uncle fought for the West."

Post a comment sometime when you have no class.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Flop Til You Drop!

A friend of mine sent me this link today in an email. This is funny no matter who you are. Click here.


You might have to refresh it and it does take a minute to load but is worth the wait.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

My Head Hurts

My head hurts. Why you ask?

Headache? No.
Blunt blow to the skull? Nope.
De-hydration? Nah.

Sitting in a church planter's conference from 9:00 - 5:00 that was light on breaks and heavy on content? Yes.

Yesterday was amazing! My head is a Thanksgiving turkey crammed with the stuffing of information and quotes and ideas.

Here is a taste:

* There is more than one way to grow a church.
* It takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people.
* If a principle is biblical, it will work anywhere.
* Never confuse the method with the message. The message must never change, but the methods must continually change.
* It's not about church growth. It is about church health.
* We need to have the attitude of "We are a family expected guests"
* Churches can be driven by tradition, personalities, finances, buildings, programs, events, the un-churched, and many other bad forces.
* We must continually communicate the vision. The MVP of the World Series will go to spring training next year.
* It is all about balance.
* Goals help faith turn into facts.
* Pastors must help the church catch the vision. We must practice "creative redundancy"
* The major difference between church planting and church launching is that you plant small but you launch large.
* Priorities of a Purpose-Driven Church should be: #1: Purposes #2: People #3: Program #4: Property. Most churches focus too much on property.
* Jesus had a clear evangelistic target: Matt 15:24
* Paul had a clear evangelistic target: Gal 2:7
* Jesus gave the disciples a clear evangelistic target: Matt 10:5-6
* Most unchurched are not athesists. They are just turned off and too busy.
* The longer you have been a believer the less you think like one.
* We can be committed to building a church without building a building.
* More people are won to Christ because of feeling God's presence rather than understanding the right theology.

A few great quotes:
* The secret of concentration is elimination.
* God loves you and everyone has a plan for your life
* Without vision the people find another parish.
* Is what is hanging on the wall - happening down the hall? (Mission Statements)
* It is easier to turn a crowd into a core than turn a core into a crowd.
* Jesus sent us out to be wise and harmless. The church has nailed down the second one.
* Money spent on evangelism is never an expense - it is always an investment.
* Churches never really have money problems - they usually have idea problems.
* God's work done God's way will not lack God's support. - Hudson Taylor.
* The tension between "service" and "serve-us" exists in every church.
* If we send mixed signals we will get mixed results.
* Depth is action - doing the word not in knowing it. Don't judge a church my how deep the preaching is but rather how the members live.
* Internal announcements often become eternal announcements.
* If you want to take the temperature of your church - put the thermometer in your own mouth. (Pastors)
* We need to make our churches safe places to hear a dangerous message.
* Growing churches love and loving churches grow.
* The second half of a man's life is determined by the habits he acquired during the first half. - Dostoyevski

There was so much more. So much. Thanks for letting me down load some of this. My head feels better already.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Turn Down The Silence!

Disclaimer: This will be a reflective post in the "journaling tradition" of Brandon Scott as opposed to the "insightful tradition" of Mike Cope, the "encouraging tradition" of Kim Quile, or the "comical tradition" of Grant Boone.

Yesterday God spoke to me. Actually we had a nice long talk. Well actually he did most of the talking.

No, not in a deep, Sean Conery-ish, audible voice, but rather in a still, quiet moving of my spirit. How he spoke is not the issue - But make no mistake about it - He spoke.

And what he said is particularly not the primary point of this post either.

No the real deal is that God spoke to me.

Here is how the day unfolded:

When I woke up I thought that God was trying to tell me something but I was in a hurry to get the gym to build up my beaten down temple so that God would have a nice home. So I really didn't hear Him.

Later that morning He painted me a sunrise and gave me my family which, while I was really grateful for this, never took the time to thank Him for because I was in a hurry to get to work at the ministry I work at and do some really important work for God. So I really didn't talk to Him.

In between work and I was driving to my Spiritual Formation class and I could've sworn that God was trying to get my attention but I turned on the radio to get the weather report because I was flying out later that day so I never caught what he was saying.

In my class we focused on the spiritual disciplines as tools to get closer to God and I know God was almost shouting at me about my lack of space for Him to work in me but I had no time to deal with those tough issues because as soon as class (Spiritual Formation class - no less!) was over I was going to rush to the airport and catch a flight to Dallas so that I could attend a (get this) Church Planters conference so I just couldn't deal with my lack of spiritual disciplines - I had to focus on planting a church for God!

Then a funny thing happened. A storm appeared and lightning and floods and thunder came on the scene. Could it be God was trying to give me a glimpse of His power in hopes that I might be drawn into His presence? No. It was simply a distraction which soaked my pant legs and canceled the last flight (my flight) out of Abilene and caused me to have to spend $100 that I didn't have and drive 3 hours that I didn't have. What a pain! Did God not know my plans?

(Insert Napoleon Dynamite saying "idiot!" right here)

Of course God did. And he also know that my priorities can get out of sync quicker than N'Sync broke up.

So he put me in a car and drove with me to Dallas.

And He told me to not turn on the radio and for some strange reason I didn't. He told me to not get on the cell phone which of course, I fought Him tooth and nail and made a few calls because - hey - that silence was deafening.

And then it happened. God began to speak to me in that silence. He told me of ways that I live out of balance, out of step with His spirit, and rushed. He told me that before I can make His home better I better have room for Him to live. He told me that families can be taken away and I better be grateful because before you know it they'll be gone. He spoke of missionless ministry and the sin of working for God without God working in me. God used this silent, rainy drive to convict me of taking a class on spiritual formation and yet not allowing my own spirit to be formed as it should. And here is the kicker - God actually said, "Joel, before can plant a church you must allow me to be planted in the soil of your priorities, your time."

I almost turned on the radio to listen to some music (Christian of course) but I didn't. I drove on letting God speak. And something happened on that quiet journey that I don't think would have occurred on the planned plane ride - I listened.

It was quiet ... and I loved it!

Thursday, September 30, 2004

I Dropped The Ball!

Alright! I admit it! I made a mistake!

Yesterday when I posted my now famous (by "now famous" I mean that 3, possibly 4 people have looked at it - 2 on purpose!) I failed to include fellow blogger and all around good guy,

Greg Kendall-Ball

Please, Please, Please forgive me Greg.

And for the masses who missed out ... check it out.

Down and out,

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Read 'Em and Weep, Laugh, Think, Grow, etc...

I read 5 blogs quasi-religiously:

Mike Cope (daily)
Grant Boone (3-4 times a week)
Kim Quile (1-2 times a week - this is only because she doesn't post as much as Mike or Grant - something about getting 1,000 phone calls a day at work? ... slacker)
Brandon Scott Thomas (weekly)
Sam Middlebrook (weekly)

I read others semi-regularly including, Val Durington, Corey Patterson, Ty Lovell, Matt Ritchie and a few others.

So who do you read? Hey, while I'm at it ... who is reading me? (of course that begs the question - why?)

Speaking of reading ... I have like 180,756,276 pages to read for school ... peace!

Monday, September 27, 2004


I just finished watching video about Mother Teresa. Usually I have words to describe the experiences that I find myself in throughout life. Not so today. Here is what I do have: Go find a book about her. Do it today! Find a video that documents the desires of her life. Do it today. And above everything - Love others today. Labor in love. Serve with a sincere sacrificial spirit. And finally, go get among the poor. Touch them. Feed them. Serve them today. I’m done talking. It’s time to get quiet.

“God speaks in the silence of the heart.” – Mother Teresa

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Entertain? YES! Amuse? NO!

I jsut finished reading an amazing article by Rob Bell. For more on who in the planet he is click here.

Check out these tasty morsels:

"So my understanding in communication is you engage people right where they are; if you don't, they leave.
Sometimes I hear people say, "The church isn't here to entertain." To entertain means to hold people's attention, which is clearly something teachers throughout the Scriptures are doing. They engage and capture attention.
But we're not here to amuse. To "a-muse" means to "not think." And it's wrong to prevent people from pondering or distract them from thinking. I'm not here to amuse. But of course I want to engage people. I have something to say."

"Artemis: the goddess of fertility. Her world center of worship was the city of Ephesus. It was believed that if you were pregnant and you brought an offering to her temple, she would protect you in childbirth. Now in the mid-first century, one out of two women was dying in childbirth. This is a real terror. So what does Paul say to Timothy? "By the way, women will be saved in childbirth." But what about Artemis?
Paul, in a brilliant, subversive way, says Artemis doesn't save women in childbirth. God does.
Now how on earth do you understand that verse without knowing some history?"

To read the entire article (a great use of 5 minutes!) check it -

Friday, September 24, 2004

"Feed My Sheep"

Found this on the web tonight. Incredible! Check this out. Saddleback church in CA is doing what most churches only talk about - making a difference in their community. The following is a letter that Saddleback's pastor, Rick Warren sent to thousands of the church's neighbors:

What is “40 Days of Community”?

You may have seen 40 Days of Community signs popping up in our neighborhood and wondered what it’s all about. It is an effort to build the sense of community in our area, sponsored by Saddleback Community Church. Beginning Oct 2, nearly 3,000 neighborhood groups will be meeting in homes once a week for six weeks - all around south Orange County. The focus will be on deepening relationships and building community spirit. Together these groups will also share in a historic community project: feeding all 34,000 of Orange County’s homeless - three meals a day for 40 days. This has never been attempted before. Regardless of your church affiliation, you are invited to share in 40 Days of Community. Just ask someone with a sign for details or visit!

For more details on this amazing display of compassion and a church truly being light on a hill go to

Walker or Walker?

My wife is amazing! Simply amazing! Check out her blog! She is doing a 5 mile walk to raise money for the American Heart Association less than 7 weeks after major surgery. Let me be candid, if I am less than seven weeks out of that kind of surgery (of course there would have be a lot of surgery prior to me having the same surgery that Kim had) I'm not a Heart Association walker - I'm still using a walker.

A Lesson Well Learned

This morning my youngest daughter Emily (who will be a very big 8 yrs old in 10 days and counting) and I were playing our traditional "YOU'RE IT!" game while getting ready for school. On Monday's and Friday's (for September -- the days change each month -- always 2 days out of the week though) Emily and I try and sneak a kiss on each others face and then shout -- "you're it!" It is like the game of tag but with lips instead of hands. (Editors Note: I tried to play under these rules in junior high with girls that were not necessarily my girlfriend and the game didn't go so well as my broken finger can attest - "I can't believe she kicked me!" -- "I can't believe I tried to block it")

Anyway, Emily jumped on the sink while I was shaving and tagged me with a wet one and shouted gleefully, "you're it!" I maturely retorted, "That's not fair!" to which Emily calmly and wisely replied, "Dad, life is not fair."

I am glad that at the young age of 7 (almost 8 you know!) Emily "gets it." My other kids get it too. Why haven't I figured it out. You would think this would be a clue.

"In this world you WILL have troubles, but take heart, I have overcome the world." - Jesus

Yes, life is not always fair.

Which explains why I kissed Emily and shouted "you're it!" as I dropped her off at class this morning. I then proceeded to run down the hall like a junior boy running from a pack of vengeful girls.

I know, I'm mean!

But hey, she said it: life's not fair!

Sunday, September 12, 2004


There was this new bar in town that everyone was talking about because it had a robot-bartender. A man walks in to see this for himself. He sits at the bar and sure enough, a robot was bartending. The man orders a drink, and the robot asks him what his IQ is. The man replies that his IQ is 150. So the robot begins discussing nuclear physics, hydrogen power cells, and the current state of the global atmosphere. The man is amazed. He has to see how good this robot really is. He leaves the bar and comes right back in and sits at the bar. Again, the robot asks him for his IQ. This time the man replies "100." So the robot discusses football, basketball, and the proper way to grill a steak. The man leaves and comes back in for a third time. This time he tells the robot that his IQ is 50.

The robot replies: "So, are you democrats really going to vote for this
Kerry guy?"

Monday, September 06, 2004

A Day in the Life of Joel

Okay, for the hand full of people (granted, the hand might possibly be missing a few fingers) who actually care I have decided to let you in on the chaos and coolness that was my Monday. It is fairly typical and only the names, dates, and actual events have been changed to protect the innocent. Actually, this was my day. Enjoy.

5:40am Wake Up
5:41am Wonder why I'm up.
5:50am Read Psalm 90
5:55am Go to Powell gym and work out with my buddy Taylor Manning.
6:30am Watch guys half my age and weight lift twice as much as me.
7:13am Return home to get ready for the day.
7:55am Leave for office.
7:58am Stop by McDonalds and purchase a breakfast burrito and consume all the calories I burned during the workout plus tack on a couple a hundred extra.
8:10am Arrive at work at Crosswind.
11:35am Call Kim on the way home and ask her to whip me up a yummy hot lunch and have it ready for me to drive by and pick up and eat in my 12:00pm - 3:00pm class which she did. And yes, it was yummy!
11:55am Arrive at class. Check email for work before teacher starts.
2:55pm Class ends. Run back home and grab books for 6:00pm - 9:00pm class.
3:20pm Head back up to ACU and write a paper for above class.
4:10pm Prep for meeting with Highland Campus Ministry Leadership Team.
4:30pm Meeting for Campus Ministry.
5:15pm Leave meeting and go pick up Subway for Laura who has been away at a youth retreat and take it to her. We eat together and discuss the retreat in 9th grade girl detail.
5:48pm Leave house and go back up to ACU for class.
5:55pm Arrive at class. Class begins and so does my battle with staying awake for 3 hours of
9:00pm Class ends. Arrive home.
9:05pm Check email from work and catch MLB scores.
9:45pm Talk with my wife and listen to her day while I'm typing this blog.
9:49pm Stop typing and really listen. My wife is so amazing!
10:09pm Post.
10:30pm Hopefully go to bed.
11:30pm Probably actually go to bed because I had to read.
11:30pm Begin nightmares about reading.


40 Days Til The Blog-a-versary!

Coming Oct 18th to a monitor near you...

My blog is turning ONE YEAR OLD in just 40 days. Get ready for the Grandhootenanny of celebrations party people. You have no idea what I have in store for my little Bloggerite Community.

Stay tuned! We've only just begun!

A Paragraph in the Life of Joel

I just read a few pages in one of the 9 books I have to read this semester and then it hit me: "why should I keep all this good information to myself?" So, with that being said, here is a paragraph that I'm confident will change your world view, your life, and the way you order take out...

One frontier of the study of Christian spirituality, for which little has been done to date, is the relationship between the shifting styles of spirituality-i.e., the dominance in turn of apophatic/speculative, speculative/katphatic, kataphatic/affective, or affective/apophatic-and the nature of human institutions. The hypothesis is that a relation exists, just as it does in all forms of knowledge, and that this expresses itself in styles of devotional action characteristic of an age. Having stated the hypothesis any documentation must be offered very hesitantly. There are some tenative and partial correlations. Apophatic forms of prayer seem to be related to the collapse of social institutions. The fourth and fifth centuries and the fourteenth centuries were times of an emphasis on apophatic prayer. The decline of the Roman Empire and the shaking of the structures of feudalism, particularly as effected by the plague, coincide with these times...

Okay ... that is enough. I'll spare you the rest. Suffice it to say that my reading assignments don't always fire me up. I mean after reading that scholarly stuff did you feel more compelled to reach out to the lost or feed the poor or even to not want to yell at the guy with 18 items in the 15 items or less lane at the store? Me neither.

But hey, it's my blog right? If I want to e-bellyache then who is to say no?

Friday, September 03, 2004

This World Is Not My Home...

This can't be as good as it gets.

"Russian School Tragedy::Hurricane Frances::Scott Peterson:

Thursday, September 02, 2004


Just ran across a copy of Max Lucado's prayer at the Republican Convention from this past Monday. Check it out:

"Oh Lord, God of our fathers, You direct the affairs of all nations. You made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth. We echo the declaration of Job: "God makes nations great, and destroys them; He enlarges nations, and guides them." Please guide us.

You are the supreme strength of the universe. We trace every decision and blessing back to your hand. Thank you for this nation. And have mercy upon her. Please unite our citizens. Nurture the poor, abused, and abandoned our children; keep our homeland free from harm. Remind us, oh Lord, that you do not exist to bless America. We exist to bless you. Remind us of your unquenchable, unconditional love. Affirm us when we seek your will, forgive and correct us, when we don't. Speak to us about the brevity of this life and the beauty of the next. And, most of all, prepare our souls for the moment we meet You face to face. We lay this election before you. And, in the end, your will be done. By the source of mercy we pray. To you be the glory forever and ever. Amen."

Now before any one drops "conservative" or "liberal" or any other stereotypical smack, do me a favor. Just read the prayer again. Read it close and slow. I thought it was both beautiful and brilliant. Your thoughts? (not on the election, politics, Max, churches of Christ, women's role, apartheid, the cutting of the rain forest in the Amazon Basin ... - just the prayer) What do you think about the prayer.

Saturday, August 28, 2004


Mike Cope said the other day that he was "ready for the Olympics to end so he can get a life back." I'm ready for them to end so the athletes can get a life back. Am I the only one who sees some of the events as "not-even-close-to-being-a-sport" at best and "totally ridiculous" at worst? I can't believe some of the events I've caught channel surfing during Sports Center commercials. (In fact, isn't channel surfing an event this year?)

Bill Simmons of's page 2 summed up my sentiments exactly:

"While we're on the subject of pet peeves, I vent about this every Olympics, so forgive me for covering old ground ... but really, have you seen some of these sports in the Olympics this month? Wind-surfing? You get a gold medal for this? Freaking wind-surfing?!?!???!?! Are you kidding me? And how did beach volleyball become an Olympic sport when we already hand out medals for team volleyball? Isn't that like making three-on-three hoops an Olympic sport? In fact, why don't we just do that? And touch football, too. And wiffleball. Where does it end?"

So me being the hyper-focused, purpose-filled person that I am, I've decided to give a few brain waves to the cause of conjuring up some other "not-even-close-to-being-a-sport" possiblilities that you might actually enjoy (or at least would get a sick kick out of) watching on the tube in 2008.

Here is my short list:

Synchronized Lawn Darts
Beach Crossword Puzzle Solving
Team Tether Ball
Whale Watching
Soup Can Speed Chuck*
Egging Your Jogging roommate in the Hamstring*
Power Flossing
Speed Sleeping
Women's Ice Moshing
2 Man Kite Flying

You get the idea. Let's hear it fellow bloggerites. Name that "not-even-close-to-being-a-sport"

* Those were good times, weren't they?

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Hail Bonds

If you're not a sports fan click "back" now. If you're not a baseball fan click "back" now. But if you like baseball even a little and have a decent understanding of the history of the game - read on my friends. You might call me a "homer" (pardon the punn) but this is incredible. I ran across the following article on page 2 of (usually a great read) and thought I share it with the baseball fans in the cyber-house! Enjoy.
By Eric NeelPage 2

It's begun. The anybody-but-Barry campaigns have been launched. People are starting to talk about Adrian Beltre as the National League MVP. And they're putting forward Scott Rolen, as well. (In a poll on Wednesday, Beltre led all vote-getters with over 40 percent of the 12,000+ votes cast, and in another one conducted by ESPNews Monday night, Rolen was the leader of the pack.) It's crazy talk. It's pretzel logic. It's Shannon Stewart time. (I know I said in last week's column that Rolen and Jim Edmonds were viable MVP candidates, but upon reflection those lines look like inexplicable brain farts to me, tales told by an idiot. Did I write them? Were there monkeys with typewriters involved? I literally don't know what happened. Did someone slip me a mickey? I have vague recollections of swirling lights, bright colors and Bruce Dern standing over me, talking through a wicked-bad mustache. And I keep humming Jefferson Airplane tunes. Could these things have played some part?) There is one and only one candidate in the NL MVP race: He plays left field for the San Francisco Giants and his name is Barry Bonds. Beltre is a house of fire these days, and he's put together a fantastic breakout season. He drives balls to the opposite field like never before, and he's been so unusually patient with the low-and-away breaking ball (a pitch that killed him in years past) that Dodger faithful secretly wonder if maybe an Invasion-of-the-Body-Snatchers sort of switcheroo went down when they weren't looking. He's cashing in his superstar potential chips, playing smart, drumming doubts out of his detractors' heads, and chasing the memory of the Duke Snider. Tim Kurkjian on BondsTim Kurkjian explains why he picks Barry Bonds as his NL MVP right now. Kurkjian He's a force. He's a joy to watch and a great story. But he's not the MVP. Rolen is the heart of a modern-day Murderer's Row, the brightest star this year in the star-studded Cardinals lineup. He's having one of those near-perfect seasons, a wondrous thing, a year when every hit seems to come with runners in scoring position, and every RBI seems the difference between winning and losing. With a .612 on-base percentage, Bonds is set to break his major-league record of .582, set in 2002.He's been huge on a team heading to the playoffs. But he's not the MVP. Barry is. Barry is hitting .367. Barry is sitting on 181 walks and just 25 strikeouts as we speak. Barry is on base more than six times out of every 10 plate appearances (200-plus points higher than either Beltre's or Rolen's on-base percentage). Barry strikes fear in the hearts of the heartiest pitchers and sends their managers screaming into therapy and begging for Xanax. Barry's OPS is 1.425, roughly 400 points higher than Beltre and Rolen, and higher than any of his previous MVP seasons. Barry has pulled a lineup made up of old men and young lightweights within a game of the wild-card lead. Barry hits .429 when there are runners in scoring position and two outs. Barry slugs .813 (150-odd points better than Beltre and almost 200 better than Rolen). Barry maintains his focus through a season-long intentional walkfest. Barry pokes balls up and out of his pitcher-friendly home ballpark. Barry has 35 home runs, 106 hits, 101 runs scored, and 22 doubles ... in just 287 at-bats. Read that again. Read any part of that again. And then close the book. Give Beltre kudos. Give Rolen your admiration. But give Bonds the hardware. They are valuable (Beltre's Win Shares total projects at 36 and Rolen's at 47), and their defense is superior to Barry's, but Bonds is still the Most Valuable (with a Win Share projection of 51). They stand out (both have a Value Over Replacement total of 69.8 runs), but Bonds stands above them (with a VORP total of 113.8 runs). This is obvious stuff. We know all this. But still, some of us talk of Beltre. This is an overwhelming mountain of data. But still, there are those who say it should be Rolen. How? Why? Because we love the home run. Beltre goes on a tear we get carried away. There's a rush. We can't help ourselves. Like breathless toddlers telling stories, we exaggerate. Because the laws of (mis)perception are in play: The Dodgers' and Cardinals' first-place perches seem to reflect bonus value on their numbers, and the chance that the Giants might not make the postseason seems to cast the value of Bonds' otherworldly line in doubt. Sure, Adrian is among the NL elite, but he's not an MVP yet.Because the Beltre redemption story is feel-good stuff and the St. Louis juggernaut seems deserving of some sort of prize. Because the Bonds case isn't built on the traditional MVP numbers -- the RBI total in particular is unspectacular (tied for 15th in the NL). It's the "new" numbers, the "Moneyball" numbers, that send him into the stratosphere. Because walks are boring. Because Bonds has been so good for so long, even his historic numbers seem routine. Because going back at least as far as Twain and Mencken, we're a culture full of contrarians. Because, in the words of the immortal contralto Peter Brady, "When it's time to change you've got to rearrange." But Mr. Bonds is making history. Again. And no matter what you hear in the weeks to come, hold onto this straight truth: He's our 2004 MVP. Period. * * * * *

Am I the only one who wishes I was sitting on the firstbase line at Pac Bell eating peanuts and drinking a cold


and watching Barry jack them into the water?

I doubt it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004


I work 20-25 hours a week as Director of Ministry Development for Crosswind Ministries which is the parent ministry of the Jeff Berry Band and four other ministries. I also work 10 - 15 hours a week as Associate Campus Minister at the Highland Church of Christ. In my spare time I am also a M-Div student taking 6 hours in Grad School at ACU. This Friday my band is playing at my church to the audience of my classmates. Talk about convergence! I am stoked!

For a better view of this pic click here!

By the way...anyone is welcome! You don't have to be a college student! Come on!

Monday, August 23, 2004

The Wray of The Heart

I've just come out of my first class of this semester with Dr. David Wray, spiritual formation. I'm so stoked about this course. The problem is that the content is not what excites me most. I just love sitting under David and listening to his wisdom pour out. But the real draw of a Dr. Wray class is his heart. The man is 6'9"a big dude to say the least. But his heart is even bigger. He loves his family, the Lord, anyone else he comes into contact with, and the church. I am sure I will learn a lot this semester, more than I can imagine. Let me tell you what I learned today. People gravitate toward leaders. I know that because I realized that it doesn't matter what course Dr. Wray is teaching - I will want to take it. Carburetor Techniques, Advanced Baking, Speed Yoga, etc - if David teaches it I'm on the front row. I've made "F"s" and "A's" and grades in between in courses with Dr. Wray - he is definitely one of my favorite teachers.

People don't leave churches - they leave leaders. Churches don't have visions - they have leaders with vision. People follow leaders with passion. Dr. Wray is a leader with passion. I'd follow him anywhere.

Everyone has a teacher that has set the bar high and made an incredible impact on their life. Care to share who you'd follow anywhere?

Packing 'Em In

I sing a simple song of condemnation...

I was driving across town this weekend and stumbled upon this little evangelistic gem of a sign. I happened to be on the phone with my buddy Grant and I shared with him what my eyes had just witnessed, to which he replied, "better bring out the folding chairs this Sunday, they're going to be packing them in." The problem with the church today has little to do with "hot" and more to do with "lukewarm." This sign makes even me want to puke.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

They Will Know By Your Love

Kim and I received this email from a friend of ours today. They wanted us to know that our youngest daughter, Emily had been a blessing to their daughter this week in class.

Any time a parent hears something like this about one of their children they get a priceless feeling of pride (the good kind). Fortunately, we get this kind of feedback on all our kids often.

You might see this as bragging, but hey, my blog right? Kim and I just believe that our kids are amazing and we brag on them all the time.

Here is the email:

Hey guys, This past Wednesday night our second grade girls moved into a new class situation. They started going to class with the third and fourth graders for their large group time. Susie (not her real name)takes a little while to acclimate to change and this room full of older kids really caught her off guard. She started to cry and John (not his real name) sat there trying to console her, but with no success. Emily came up and put her arm around Susie. She asked what was wrong and then said "Come on, Susie, you can go with Julie (not her real name) and I to class." Then she and Susie and Julie walked down the hall together and all was right with the world for Susie. Such a little gesture, but such a great outpouring of the love of Jesus. These girls blessed us and our precious Susie. We just wanted you to know.

Love to you all, Mary (not her real name)

"I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart;I will glorify your name forever." Psalm 86:11-12

How about you all? Anyone want to brag on their kids? Come on with it!

Thursday, August 19, 2004


How do you break a 19 day fast from blogging you ask? With eggs of course. Click here for some egg art? I know you're saying, "you've got to be yoking" (no, you're not saying that...I'm the only one on the planet that would say something that lame) but I'm not. I'm sharing with the human race the beauty of eggs cut with a laser beam. Again, I invite you to click here for some serious shell sculpting.

I've been rather busy these past few weeks. Usually that doesn't stop a guy like me from killing time (mine and yours) with the swift sword of my blog, but these weeks were different. Something about adding a new job to your plate, your wife having surgery, and a 20 page paper on Nehemiah due can really take a guys focus of the more important matters like ... like blogging. Anyway, be warned. I'm back.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Who'd Win In a Fight?

Tonight Mike Tyson fights Danny Williams in a classic "Who Cares?" match. Click here if you actually do care. But it got me to thinking (along with some help from my wife who was actually going to post some similar foolishness on her blog but was talked out of it because I wanted her to keep her job and me to get the glory) about a game we used to play on road trips over the walkie-talkies between vans. I say something profound like, "who'd win in a fight: Lois Brown (70+ sweetheart of a lady at our church) or Glen Kauk (135lbs of the nicest guy on the planet, also at our church)?" to which the kids in the other van would debate it and then give me via the walkie talkie their pick. So I thought we'd play that game here - blogger style! Here it goes:

Who'd Win In a Fight?

Bush or Kerry?
Animal (Muppets) or Barney (big, dumb purple dinosaur)?
Royce Money or Dalbert?
The Apostle Paul or the Apostle Peter?
"Rev." Sharpton or "Rev." Jackson (I'd pay to see that)
Grimmus (big purple guy from McDonalds) or Taco Bell dog?
A Watermelon or a Waterpick (tooth care product)?
Afleck or Damon?
Michael Jackson or Lisa Marie?
Stewart Scott or Dan Patrick?
Shaq or Yao?
Grant Boone or Pat Boone?
A feather or a paper clip?
Saddam or Bin Laden?
Moses or John the Baptist?
Luke Wilson or Owen Wilson?
Jeff Berry or Brandon Scott Thomas?
Mel Gibson or Michael Moore?
Bill or Hillary?
Mike Cope or Rick Atchley?
A DVD or a VHS?
My Blog or a kick to the groin?
The Wiggles or N'Sync?

You get the idea... So who are your picks? OR... Who are your "dream fights?"

Taking idleness to a whole new level,

PG-13 Political Parody

Bush & Kerry

I received an email with a link to a political parody that I found funny. That doesn't mean everyone will find it funny. It is somewhere around rated PG in my book but I'm calling it PG-13 just to be on the safe side. It is a cartoon of Bush & Kerry singing to the tune of "This Land Is Your Land" and is about 2 minutes long. Check it out at your own risk. Click Here.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Mike-so-rich or Microsoft?

Kim ran across this illustration I used back in my youth ministry days and gave it to me the other night.  I used it last night when I taught the High School Class at Highland.  I thought it was worth sharing.

In 1998 (a long time ago) Michael Jordan signed a contract that paid him over $300,000 a game.  That's $10,000 a minute, assuming he averages 30 minutes a game. 

Assuming $40 million in endorsements, he'll be making $178,100 a day, working or not. 

If he sleeps 7 hours a night, he makes $52,000 every night.  Sleeping! 

Going to see a movie will cost him 8 bucks, but he will make $18,550 while there. 

If he boils a 3 minute egg, hell make $370 while it boils. 

If he wanted to save up for a BMW 8 Series ($90,000), it would take him a whole 12 hours. 

If he went to play a round of golf, it would cost him around $200 but he would make $33,000 while playing that round. 

He'd make about $19.60 while watching the 100-meter dash in the Olympics but about $15,600 if he watched the Boston Marathon until the first runner crossed the line. 

In the time it takes for the average person to eat in Michael's trendy Chicago restaurant for the average cost of $20, Jordan will make $5,600. 

If you were given a tenth of a penny for every dollar he made, your salary would be $65,000 per year. 

In one year he will make twice as much as all our past presidents for all their terms combined. 

But consider this: Jordan would have to save 100% of his income for 270 years to have a net worth equal to that of Bill Gates

And consider this:
The average working man in Tijuana, Mexico considers himself lucky to make
$50 per week

Wow!  I don't know whether to feel rich or poor. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Buckle Up Bloggers!

I ran across the following article on this morning:

Alaska Crash Trial Focuses on DVD Player
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — When a pickup truck crossed the double yellow line along Seward Highway (
search) and killed two occupants of a Jeep Grand Cherokee, police initially thought the accident was another tragic mistake by a momentarily distracted driver.
Then they spotted the dashboard DVD player (
In what may be the first trial of its kind in the nation, prosecutors have accused the pickup truck's driver of second-degree murder for watching a movie instead of the road when he crashed head-on into the Jeep.

I have to admit that sometimes I take my focus off the freeway of faith...and I crash.  Praise God that my fenderbenders are not fatal.  The airbag of the Almighty saves me every time.   For me it comes down to a lack of discipline in several areas that results in a wreck-of-a-relationship with God.  Spending, eating, and time management have always been my DVD players of distraction. 

Daily, I have to strap on the seatbelt of the Spirit and keep the sedan of my soul crucified to Christ.  And the days that I live like that...they are the most abundant, delightful drives despite the difficulties of this drive we call discipleship.

May we all keep our eyes on the prize, Jesus Christ.

You've Got Life...

Below is a sampling of email that I have received in the past 24 hours.  This does not include any email from my wife or from my boss.  It does not include much spam (only two).  It represents about 1/2 of the 50+ emails I get daily.  I got to looking at my inbox and I noticed that my inbox is a microcosm of my life.  Good news - bad news.  Money in - money out.  Here is some help - I need your help.  Loved ones - Unknown ones.... A sampling of emotions, people, roles, and goals. 

  • The Post Office Delivery problems with your mail Tue 7/27/2004 10:34 AM 8 KB 
  • Notification of payment received Tue 7/27/2004 9:54 AM 11 KB 
  • A.J. Tue 7/27/2004 8:12 AM 3 KB 
  • Aug 1 Tue 7/27/2004 8:10 AM 5 KB 
  • Plaxo Customer Care Plaxo Activity Summary Tue 7/27/2004 6:42 AM 24 KB 
  • Your membership is expiring: only 15 days left Tue 7/27/2004 2:34 AM 7 KB 
  • Karen Rich song Tue 7/27/2004 1:21 AM 5 KB 
  • Falls Creek Mon 7/26/2004 11:13 PM 3 KB 
  • Leadership Wired John C. Maxwell's Leadership Wired: Volume 7, Issue 13 Mon 7/26/2004 4:55 PM 25 KB 
  • Joel Quile Summer Update 2 (HTML version) Mon 7/26/2004 3:35 PM 15 KB
  • Mike Provencher  Mon 7/26/2004 1:55 PM 3 KB 
  • Abilene Christian University Tuition Payment Plan Mon 7/26/2004 1:20 PM 11 KB 
  • Kintera customer service Kintera Customer Support Tracking #: 85700 Mon 7/26/2004 12:44 PM 6 KB 
  • Joel Quile Jeff Test 5 Mon 7/26/2004 11:33 AM 16 KB 
  • Jackie Diaz Tuition Payment Plan Mon 7/26/2004 11:23 AM 11 KB 
  • Dennis Wuensche Funny political animation Mon 7/26/2004 11:04 AM 3 KB 
  • sharpj class 7/25 Mon 7/26/2004 10:29 AM 5 KB 
  • The Pastor's Coach Important information for growing your church Mon 7/26/2004 10:17 AM 7 KB 
  • CARL B. SMITH RE: Jeff Berry Band Mon 7/26/2004 9:52 AM 10 KB 
  • John Quile Fw: Qtru site Mon 7/26/2004 1:16 AM 4 KB   

Take a look at your inbox.  You will might just see a lot more than just emails.  You might just see life.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Slim Lancaster

Slim & Kieth

Yesterday a good friend (as opposed to a bad friend) of mine, Sam Middlebrook posted a blog about getting a music card for his Ipaq and then detailed numerous groups that he had been listening to that day.  I felt compelled by the Spirit (read: wasting time trying to be funny) to make the following comments (in italics):

What? No Emenim or Acapella? I'm disappointed in you Sam. Will the real Sam Middlebrook please stand up? By Joel Quile, at 7/20/2004 08:14:49 AM

Then Sam replied:
Amazingly enough, neither of those are on my playlist. I'd rather hear Andy Griffith cover Dave Matthews, or something like that. By Sam Middlebrook, at 7/20/2004 08:17:59 AM

Then a friend (hopefully a good one) of Sam's dropped in this jewel that I had to share with you:

Oh come one Sam, there could be nothing better than fusing those two artists together. Just think of what it could be..."Sorry mama, I didn't mean to hurt you, I didn't mean to make you cry but tonight I'm cleaning out my closet...'cause I'm teaching the truth in love, telling it like it is, while holding pure motives, and showing that we care, are we teaching the truth in love... Stop the tape! This kid needs to be locked away, Dr. Dre, don't just stand there, OPERATE! I'm not ready to leave, it's too scary to die, I'll have to be carried inside the cemetery and buried alive...but you come to my rescue, rescue, rescue, rescue. Lord You care and You've become my friend. Amazing love whose boundaries have no end. And Lord You show what a greater love can do. By being there for my rescue...Ha ha, Guess there's a Slim Shady in all of us"Now that is a hit song! Question: Does that play on CCM stations or Top 40 stations?? - Russell

Well, Russell got me thinking (a rarity I know) about what would be the greatest combination of artist that I could imagine.  The first that came to my mind was AC/DC & Clay Aiken.  But wait there is more.  Wouldn't you like to hear these musical projects?:

Ludicrous and Michael W. Smith (and friends are friends for $&*@#*^! ever)
Hillary Duff & Ozzy Osborne  (Why not ride the Crazy Train?)
Pat Boone & D12  (Ain't that a shame to sneak in with this many heaters in our jeans?)
Hoobastank & Hanson  (Did you give it your best Hmmm Bop?)
G-Unit &  Garth Brooks (I got friends on the stage in the Bahamas with AK's)

Well, you get the idea.  So my fellow bloggerites the choice is yours.  Who would you like to see?  What would be your "dream" joint production?  Let's hear it!

Friday, July 16, 2004

My Dream State and My Dream Court

I'm dreaming here for just a minute.  I have given myself permission to think about something besides D, J, E, & P (the four sources of the Pentateuch) and the rest of the OT (Old Testament for you non-brainiacs) for a brief moment.  My massive final (which I plan to post at a later time) is due by midnight tonight so I am in full study mode.   When I smelt my brain frying I knew it was time for a pause in the action.  I took a break and ran across some fairly funny material from (page 2) which I felt compelled to share a sampling with you.  So here it is.  It is not any thing to do with the Deuteronomic History of Ancient Israel and that my friends is good enough for me.
This is a comment that Jimmy Kimmel made about Los Angeles:
Here's a little secret I probably shouldn't let you in on, but I will: Wherever you're living right now, L.A. is nicer. In nearly every category, we win. No reasonable person who has ever spent any amount of time here would argue this -- and those who do are in denial. Our weather is better, we have more to do, more to see -- our gardeners charge 50 bucks a month -- and, as a group, the women here make yours look like livestock. L.A. is to cities what George Clooney is to men. Better. And those "earthquakes" we have once every 10 years? Spielberg, Lucas and -- starting next year -- DeVito produce them to scare people away who might be thinking of moving here. Please don't tell anyone.
What is your thoughts?  Is your state/city better?  Why?
And then again from page 2 came this thought from someone named Scott Dempsey, College Park, Md.
So I was sitting bored in a Constitutional law class and I thought if I got to pick the Supreme Court, the UCR would be through the roof. So here's what I came up with: Toby Keith, Harold Lederman, William Hung, Sly Stallone, Paris Hilton, Chyna, Malcolm Jamaal Warner, Stephen Hawking and Ruthie from "Real World Hawaii." C'mon, how hilarious would it be to see Sly walk into a courtroom wearing a leather robe and with his "Rocky II" hat. And seeing Lederman go back and forth with Stephen Hawking has got to be right up there with a Dikembe Mutombo press conference. Am I wrong here?--
So again, I ask you (the bloggerite community) (man I'm in this OT stuff too deep) what are your thoughts?  Who is your dream Surpreme Court?  I'll share mine at a later point (i.e. when my final is done)
Speaking of my final...

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Blessed Be The Lord

In the last 24 hours I have:

*received news of my mother-in-law being completely cured from cancer - Blessed be the Lord!
*studied for an final in an OT course I'm taking so much my head hurt: - Blessed be the Lord!
*Watched my wonderful wife teach a group of junior high girls about Jesus: - Blessed be the Lord!
*Blogged about some pretty vulgar stuff and been called on it: - Blessed be the Lord!
*Repented of my sins (more than just one tacky blog) - - Blessed be the Lord!
*Danced with my wife in my living room & kitchen to the song Blessed Be The Lord blaring at 1:00am this morning: - Blessed be the Lord!
*Awoke tired from staying up and praising God past 1:00am: - Blessed be the Lord!
*Awoke amazed at the blessing of my wife and kids, health and possessions, friends and family: - Blessed be the Lord!
*and much, much more...

Life is such a roller coaster of emotion and melting pot of pleasure and pain. God gives and takes away. We rise and we fall. We bless and we curse. We taste joy and sorrow in the same minute.

The song that Kim and I danced to late last night seems to say it all.

Blessed be Your name in the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name
And blessed be Your name when I'm found in the
desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be your name

Every blessing You pour out I'll turn back
to praise
And when the darkness closes in Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name when the suns shining
down on me
When the world is all as it should be
Blessed be Your name
And blessed be Your name on the road marked
with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name