Friday, April 29, 2005

Your JQ IQ

Okay, it's the Friday before finals across the campuses of universities everywhere so I thought I would be nice and give everyone a little quiz to get your ready for the big week of tests next week. It is only Ten Questions and the subject matter is fairly simple. Simple as in "ME"

So if you are feeling up to it check it out by clicking here:

Good luck!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Do Not Read This Post

Do not read this post unless you meet the following criteria:

1. You count yourself a very dear friend of mine and enjoy reading most anything I write about.
2. You count yourself a good friend of mine and would feel some guilt should you not read it.
3. You count yourself an acquaintance of mine and you are curious by nature.
4. You don't know me but are a defiant person and the title has set you off.
5. You have way too much free time on your hands.

Everyone else...please hit the "back" arrow now.

Still reading? Okay, don't say I didn't warn you!

The following is what a vocabulary-challenged and tact taxed person (that would be me) would call a "Blog Barf" ... a veritable vomiting of ideas and throw up of thought. It will be my longest post to date and contain (like any good upchuck) a mix of content, all at various stages of cerebral digestive states. So grab yourself a 7up and some saltines and watch me toss my e-cookies:

This Past Weekend:
I had a great weekend preaching at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Kemp Texas. Kemp is a fine city roughly between Dallas and the end of the earth with a booming population of 1134. I was blessed to get to speak at their D-now (Disciple Now) on Saturday night and then preach on Sunday morning. Great people. Good church. Amazing youth pastors in Don and Rima Griffin. My mother in law (Cathy) also came in town for Grandparent’s Day at Emily’s school which was fun. But the highlight of the weekend for our family was (I know what you are thinking…”how could spending the weekend in Kemp, TX AND having your mother in law come stay with you not be the highlight?”) … the highlight was Laura making Eaglettes! (Eaglettes are the dance/drill team at Abilene High). Congrats Laura!

Jeff Berry’s Heart Problem:
I returned home Sunday evening and it wasn’t long after dinner that I received a call from Jeff who proceeded to tell me he was in the hospital due to chest pains. Let’s just say the past few days (Sunday – Wednesday) have been chaotic to say the least. Bottom-line is that Jeff did not have a heart attack but did have a viral infection in his heart and did sustain some heart damage. He was released from the hospital yesterday and has been ordered to rest by the doctors for the next few weeks. You can read more about this on Jeff’s site by clicking here.

Monday Night Walker’s Appreciation Dinner:
On Monday night Kim and I got the blessing of helping with a dinner at the home of Jerry and Patsy Strader in honor and appreciation of the college students at Highland who walk the neighborhood every Sunday night with the simple (and completely Christ like) goal of loving people. It was a great evening and we were so encouraged by their faithfulness and love for God and His kids. Steve Hare, Bob Strader and Jordan Swim have done such an amazing work with equipping and empowering these students to serve so strong. They wouldn’t ask for it or even want it but they are worthy of our honor!

Tuesday’s Trip to Dallas:
I flew to Dallas on Tuesday to see my friend Jeff and help him with a few ministry related items. Plane was delayed on the way out. Supposed to have left at 5:45 and left at 6:45 which is not a big deal. The trip was great and it was such a blessing to see Jeff and Anna. I got to see Jeff’s mom and meet his aunt and grandma too which was fun. Okay, now the not fun part. The flight home was frappin horrific! Seriously, it was the worst approach to a runway I have ever experienced. In fact it wasn’t an approach. Our plane fell from the sky like a broken rocket. Totally thought I was going to take the big dirt nap! It was like “bring your kid to work day” in the cockpit or something because that was the worst “decent” into Abilene or anywhere else I have ever been through. My son was working the ramp at the airport that day (you know the guy with the cool orange glow sticks waving the plane in?) and his partner who was waiting to unload the bags both saw the plane dropping out of the sky. Put it this way, John’s partner said to him, “there is no way that pilot is going to land that plane!” That is exactly what all of us who were clinging to our seats with white knuckles thought too.

Laura Gets Her Driving Permit:
I just thought I was scared on Tuesday afternoon’s landing. I immediately got off the plane (kissed the ground and prayed) and then hopped in the car and picked up Laura and drove to the DPS office where Laura proceeded to pass here driving test (the book part) which meant that she was able (well let’s just say legal) to drive home with me in the front seat. The good news is that her first behind the wheel on city streets experience happened at 5:10 pm right at the busiest intersection of Abilene (Starbucks) which I know isn’t saying a lot because after all, it’s still Abilene. The bad news is that … no wait, that was the bad news. In all seriousness, she did great (better than that altitude/speed/quantum physics challenged pilot!) and is a great driver.

Last ONE of the Semester:
The emotional roller coaster that was my Tuesday just kept going as we gathered together for our last ONE that night. It was a powerful time of commissioning and commitment. Steven and his band, Branch, did an amazing job of leading worship and Luke preached one the best sermons I’ve heard in the past five years! To get to be a part of ONE is such a blessing and these college students are so incredible! They want God! They are so hungry. Hopefully I can post more about ONE in the days to come. One (pardon the pun) other amazing bit of ONE news was that we received a donation for $3000 on Tuesday night! Praise God. We are trying to raise about $10,000 more for sound equipment so keep that in your prayers.

My Dad is Back Home in the States:
I don’t want to write too much about this yet but I did find out that he is home and sober again and is doing better. I hope to report some incredible news some time next week about my dad. We talked on the phone for a long time during my drive home from Kemp. It was wonderful! I am so grateful for all of you that prayed for him and our family.

The Mighty Men:
As many of you know I meet with 8-10 of the coolest college guys every Wednesday night in my house and it is often one of the highlights of my week! These guys are really trying to pursue Jesus and are tired of simply being good kids who go to church. They want more and have taken some radical steps to make space in their life for God. With only about a week remaining in the semester we decided that we wanted to stay in touch with one another over the summer. One of the ways that we are going to do this is through a blog. So last night we launched as a way for all of us to keep connected over the summer. I don’t know what will happen with the blog but I did think it was cool that they cared about staying in community with each other.

My Future:
I haven’t shared this with too many and definitely not on this blog but I am in the middle of a season of change with regards to my employment. I don’t know how much longer I’ll be doing what I do now. I will write more on this topic in the next week or so but I did want to ask for your prayers in this area of my life. I have a couple of options and for those who know me well know which one I hope God allows! Bottom-line is that I miss ministry and while I’m grateful for the part time positions I hold now and for the opportunity to go to grad school, I am really missing ministry. I hope God will open a door for me to get back into full time ministry in the next month or two. Please pray. Kim and I are confident that God has a great plan for us and our family.

and finally…
My non profit ministry, Firstverb Ministries, has a totally redesigned website thanks to Scott Ballard and Twelve Nine Design. If you are still reading this blog then you might as well go check that out too. (btw – why are you still reading this?) The site is not near complete but I will be working hard to finish it over the next couple of weeks. I’d love some feedback on the site. I am hoping that God opens some doors for me to at least do some preaching or consulting in May and June while other opportunities materialize. Prayers toward that end would be appreciated too.

Well, you made it! You’ve just experienced a “Blog Barf” and lived to tell about it. I’ll close with a quote from M.P. Horban:

“The work of God is held back not by bad men and women, but by good ones who have stopped growing.”

In the words of the most amazing woman on the planet who happens to be my wife, “Have a blessed day!”

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Fine Junk

Most mornings I pass right on by what has to be the pride of Abilene's chamber of commerce, Hazel's House of Fine Junk. In fact, I've probably driven by this diva's decor dynasty no less than 200 times. But today as my car proceeded past Hazel's a thought parked in my head:

Isn't that exactly what all of us are trying so desperately to acquire so often in life? Fine Junk? I mean we would never couch it in those terms ... but in reality ... yeah, it's all junk. It doesn't matter what we are chasing after really: clothes, cars, careers, homes, status, or fame. Bottom-line is that if it is not Jesus or rightly related to revealing His kingdom, it is junk.

The apostle Paul isn't so tactful. In Philippians 3 Paul lays out a impressive portfolio of position, production, and power but concludes that it is rubbish. Now unless you're British your use of the word "rubbish" is rare. In fact, Paul didn't use that word either. Paul used the literal word for dung. As in excrement! Apparently, some translators found that word a bit offensive and toned it down a bit. Helen might call it fine junk but Paul calls it poo.

Possessions, popularity, power, prestige, pleasure ... to Paul: POO!

I don't know about you but when I see a pile of dog waste ("rubbish") on the sidewalk, I don't stop and admire it saying, "Oh, Kim, look at that! Isn't it lovely." No, you say, "Hey, hey, don't step in that!" You avoid crap, not clamor after it, compliment it, crave it!

Fine Junk. Hilarious ... yet ... sad.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said of this realization: "The call of Jesus teaches us that our relation to the world has been built on an illusion."

Compared to the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, it's all Fine Junk.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Church Chat!

Kim, sent this to me today. You've probably seen it before but still really funny!

Thank God for church ladies with typewriters. These sentences actually appeared in church bulletins or were announced in church services:

The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals

The sermon this morning: "Jesus Walks on the Water." The sermon tonight: "Searching for Jesus

Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Don't forget your husbands.

The peacemaking meeting scheduled for today has been canceled due to a conflict.

Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say "Hell" to someone who doesn't care much about you.

Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.

Miss Charlene Mason sang "I will not pass this way again," giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.

For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.

Barbara remains in the hospital and needs blood donors for more transfusions. She is also having trouble sleeping and requests tapes of Pastor Jack's sermons.

The Rector will preach his farewell message after which the choir will sing: "Break Forth Into Joy."

Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.

A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.

At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be "What Is Hell?" Come early and listen to our choir practice.

Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.

Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.

Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.

The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.

Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM - prayer and medication to follow.

The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.

This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.

Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10 AM. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B. S. is done.

The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.

Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door.

The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7 PM. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.

Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.

The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new tithing campaign slogan last Sunday: "I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours"

Giving new light to the phrase, "the church is made up of imperfect people."

Laugh. And be blessed.

Sunday, April 17, 2005


I'm teaching the college class this morning at Highland. We are in the middle of a great series called ENGAGE. Today's topic of discussion is Reality TV and Our Vicarious tendencies or something along those lines. Bottomline is: Reality TV is big in our society and it is a good thing for Christ followers to spend some time reflecting on what we are watching and why we are watching it.

I asked Matt Maxwell to help me put together a short introductory video for the class today. You can take a look at what we came up with on Matt's site by clicking here. I say "we" ... Although I came up with the concept, graphics, and movie clips, the real art is putting it all together. Matt is amazing and his talents should be the subject of another post altogether.

I pray the same prayer during the hours and minutes before I speak. I recite, "Father, speak through me so that they might hear you." over and over. It is a mysterious and wonderful mix of blessing and curse (yes, curse) to get to speak for the Lord. If it isn't Spirit lead - it is dead. If it doesn't flow from the overflow of your heart - it is fake. Mike Cope posted a great piece about "The Art of Preaching" yesterday that is well worth your read. Check it out here.


The men of Gamma Sigma Phi are almost finished with their 60hr softball marathon! I've had so much fun watching my boy, Matt Saller contribute to this wonderful cause (see my post below from Friday, April 15th) here. A couple of quick thoughts on the game:

Early Saturday morning (about 2:30am I'm told) the men of Galaxy showed up to the game. Of course as the person relating this story to me was telling me that Galaxy showed up my mind immediately goes to what I would've done in college - chuck water balloons! ... anyway, that didn't happen. Galaxy shows up and presents GSP with a check for $3,200! Can you believe that? Now that is class in my book. There is a healthy (and often, unhealthy) dose of competition between the clubs on campus and for the Moonies to make that move made me proud.

And finally, yesterday I helped (or hindered?) the cause of Insanity for Humanity by agreeing to work the Dunking Booth for a half an hour. By working I mean sitting on the edge of a plank and heckling small children and periodically take a quick plunge into cold and dirty water! It was great fun (for the kids) and I only got dunked three times.


Jesus calls us to be doers of the Word. Don't live a life of vicarious participation in the mission of God. Go engage. Don't almost engage. Do it! Do it for the Lord.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Pride's Crossing

Last night Kim and I went to the Spring Dinner Theater at ACU. Nothing newsworthy about that, really. Fridays are our date night. We do have season tickets to the theater.

But last night was different.

Oh sure the meal was delicious ... We met some great people at our table (Ray & Trish - who go to Highland) ... Kim looked fabulous! ... We held hands and looked at each other with "puppy love" eyes ... I almost fell asleep during one of the slower scenes ...

But it was different.

Most plays I find myself either laughing, or crying, or critiquing, or wondering how they made some technical component work, etc. But not Pride's Crossing. I found myself reflecting and associating and truly engaging. Well not me personally. I saw Kim on stage. The main character of Pride's Crossing is Mabel. Mabel swam across the English Channel. The focus of the play is Mabel reflecting on her life. It is set in the late nineties but half of the play is Mabel remembering critical points in her life. The component of time and the concept of memory are powerful in this play. But let me explain how I connected Kim with the character of Mabel. Mabel had a tough life. Not the best childhood and some tough times in other relationships. She had every right to be bitter and yet she remained positive! She smiled and sang and swam against all the cruel current life channeled her way. She loved parties, people and positivity.

There were some elements of her story that Kim does not share and so don't read too much into these thoughts. However, the amazing ability to overcome the challenges that life presented is something that totally reminded me of my wife.

It was a great night last night. I watched a talented college girl powerfully play the part of a courageous and conquering character all while holding the hand of the most remarkable woman, whom for me ... stole the show!

Keep swimming Kim! You are my hero!

Friday, April 15, 2005

Insanity for Humanity

Back in the dark ages when I attended college at ACU I was a member of the the men's social club, Galaxy. For those of you not familiar with social clubs ... think fraternity ... kind of. To put it simply, social clubs are non national and non hazing. We'll at least now they are non hazing. That wasn't necessarily true when I was in club - but that is a story for a later post. Anyway, I had a positive experience in club during my time at school. It wasn't the most important thing in my life but I didn't hate it either. Galaxy was "the club" to be in when I was in school. We'll let me preface that by saying it was the club to be in if you cared about things like winning, leading, and serving ... which I did. During my four years of college (actually 18 but that too is for another post!) we (Galaxy) never lost an intramural championship or Sing Song competition. The student body president was always a Moonie (a Moonie is what you called a member of Galaxy. Unless they were a pledge then they were called a Nova. Actually a STUPID Nova!) and most all other leadership positions on campus were held by Moonies. We were heavily involved with all types of service on campus and in the local church. Bottomline is: we did a lot of great things for which I am still today very grateful.

But let me tell you about one thing we never did and I sure wish we would have!

Last night Kim and I went out to the intramural fields to watch the start of a 60 hour softball game called Insanity for Humanity. Yes, that's right - 60 hours! ACU sophomore, Matt Saller, is in my small group on Wednesday nights and is a member of Gamma Sigma Phi (GSP). GSP is another social club on campus at ACU and was rechartered my sophomore year by some of my closest friends. Matt, along with 39 of his club brothers are playing in a softball game that began last night (Thursday, April 14th) at 10:00pm and will continue on until Sunday morning (April 17th) at 10:am. The purpose of the marathon game is to raise money for Habitat for Humanity. They (GSP) are trying to raise $68,000 and build three houses for those in need of housing. If you are not familiar with Habitat check out their website. It is a great cause.

Not only are they raising money for a great cause - they are breaking a WORLD RECORD! And not only are they raising money for a great cause and breaking a world record, they are having a blast doing it! Kim and I watched for about 1/2 hour last night and they were having so much fun. Kim and I were having fun just watching them. I went by this morning after dropping off the girls (Score: Humanity 132 and Insanity 130 in the bottom of the 60th) and they were still having a blast! And not only are they raising money for a great cause and breaking a world record and having a blast, but they are making a memory that will last a life time. I am so glad that Matt is getting to experience this and truth be told, I wish I could too!

Please take a minute to check out their website and if they Lord leads you - send them a donation. These guys are great guys and are really serious about helping others. In years past they have rode their bikes to Pepperdine (Abilene, TX to Malibu, CA) and jogged to Harding (Abilene, TX to Searcy, AR) in an effort to serve their community. Any money sent to them will be given directly to Habitat for Humanity. If you live in Abilene, come out to the intramural fields (Campus Court) and encourage them. Bring them something to drink or eat (They aren't allowed to leave the field at all) or just tell them thanks! The club members who are not playing are conducting a carnival (I'm in the dunking booth Saturday at 3:00pm!) so if you have kids - bring 'em on!

Our motto in Galaxy was and still is: "God first. Others second. Self Last."

It appears that Galaxy isn't the only club who believes that.

Hats of the men of GSP! I'm proud of you!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Freaky Thursday?

I'm going to do you a favor here. If you want an insightful, honest, and practical post click here.

My wife has just written a great post. Yes, I'm biased. But I'm also honest. Her post is not the most eloquent, catchy, or even theological post you will ever read. It is not necessarily super funny or super serious. It is real.

You might say it is real ... freaky? See for yourself. :)

Monday, April 04, 2005

Take This Cup From Me

Everyone has a cup to drink. A bitter cup. For some it is constant temptation: a battle with greed or lust or revenge. For some it is their health: a naggin pain or cancer that won't go away or a terminal disease. For some it is financial and for others it is faith (or lack of it). Some drink the cup of loneliness and some swallow serious amounts of insecurity. My cup is none of those.

I have an alcoholic father.

My dad has drank 95% of my entire life. He and my mom were married and divorced three times before I was six years old. Each time he would sober up and my mom took him back only to have him drink again. Dad has 4 kids by two different women and has left six wives. By most people's account Dad would be a "bum" or "loser" or "deadbeat." To some he would be the victim of permissive parents or a terrible head injury while in the Korean War. To some he would be a pain or a problem.

But to me he is just Dad.

And for the last five years Dad has been sober! For 1825 days my dad lived without alcohol.

For the past 14 days my Dad has been in Mexico trying to drink himself to death.

That is my cup. It is bitter.

I don't know why I feel lead to share this pain with the readers of my ramblings - but I do.

Here is the email I received from my mom today:

Gary's family (children) are trying to find him. Once again he's taken off and all his kids are really worried, when he didn't show up to meet his daughter Terri in Reno. Have you heard from him or do any of you know his whereabouts? If so, please let me or his kids know if he is O.K. and not hurt or out there alone. They want to find him or know where they can locate him before it's too late.
They just want to know he's O.K. You can respond to this email address or call Garron Quile' @916-773-1318.
Thank you,
Pat Fiorentino
(formerly Pat Quile')

Then I received this email from my mom who had heard from my dad later in the day:

From: "Dick"
>To: "Pat Fiorentino"
>Subject: Re: Gary Quile'
>Date: Mon, 04 Apr 2005 22:37:50 +0000
>yes, i am still alive. not doing good!! drinking hard and can't wait to die. I'm leaving to go to Yuma to sell my truck, as I need money to buy a place down here. I am sorry I did not tell you are the kids, but I am to ashamed of what I did. It is hard to write as it makes me sad. Give my love to the kids.,,,,... love gary
> please don't send kids down. I'll be O.K.

And finally, here is an email that I sent to my dad tonight:

I heard you were in Mexico and drinking. That is ok with me. I love you and forgive and want you to know that I will do ANYTHING to help you. You don't need to be ashamed or regretful. You have taken 1825 steps forward (days sober - 5 yrs) and a week or two backwards. Stop drinking as soon as you read this and call me at 325.864.1879 (cell) or collect. I will drive out to Arizona or California or Mexico and take care of you Dad. We can go to the hospital or if you're not that bad off we can just drive back to Texas. You can live with us until you get back on your feet. Our church has an amazing outreach program and 12 step classes. We could use you Dad. You could come live here and help countless people with their alcohol problems. You can help John and I with our business. You and I can hang out and go fishing. Our whole family agrees that you should come here and we are all praying that you decide to do just that Dad.
Dad, I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't disappointed. But I'd also be lying if I said that I didn't disappoint God and my family all the time. God forgives me and I have already forgiven you.
By the way, I've lost 20 pounds in the past 17 days. I am also making some huge changes in how I handle money. If you came out here then we could make some changes together. I would sure love that Dad.
Please don't let the enemy win this battle Dad. Claim the saving and forgiving blood of Jesus and call me right now. I have faith in you and truly believe that you will make the right decision.
I love you Dad.
Your son,
Joel Gary Quile

This is my cup. I share it not for sympathy but I do ask for prayers for my dad.

What is your cup? How can I pray for you?