Monday, May 30, 2005

Without A Thought

Two days ago my family and I were traveling West on I-20 in Arlington on our way to meet a friend. It was pouring rain and traffic was bad. Kim had no sooner said, "be careful" when the brake lights came on in front of us in unison. I was in the slow lane and immediately pulled over on the emergency lane when I noticed a car ahead of me do the same. The driver from the vehicle opened the door and and began running towards our car and I looked to my right and saw a Nissan Armada that had rolled over only seconds before and was laying upside down, tires still spinning, 20 feet off the highway down an embankment.

I yelled to the kids, "don't look!"
I opened the door and ran down the hill toward the car just steps behind the other guy. He ran to the front passenger door and then stopped. He turned and looked at me and yelled, "call 911!"
I ignored his reasonable request and tried to open the front passenger door. It was stuck. Again this guy yelled out, "call 911" and mumbled something about the door not being able to be opened. And again, I tuned him out like a guy watching the Super Bowl. I then proceeded to open the rear passenger door.
The door opened up and there on the floor (which was the roof) was a young teenage girl crying uncontrollably and up in the front of the vehicle was her mom. I asked the girl if she was OK and she replied yes and I proceed to climb into the car and pull her out. I handed her off to that 911 yelling guy and went back into the car to get the mom out. I asked the mom if she was OK as she was crying even harder than the daughter. Through her tears she told me that she was seven months pregnant with twins. My heart stopped. I asked her if she hurt anywhere and she said no. I told her to grab onto my neck and I began to pull her out. Once outside of the vehicle she was still holding onto my neck and I held her as she shook and continued crying. Again I asked her if she hurt anywhere and she said that her stomach hurt just a little but she thought it was just upset due because she was so worried about the health of the twins inside her womb.
I asked her if I could pray for and she said, "yes! please! please!" I placed my hand on her stomach and began to beg God for the safety of those babies. Kim stayed in the car with Emily but had Laura run down and give us blankets and my golf umbrella. Laura began to gently cover up the young girl and I continued to hold both of these scared sisters. It wasn't long (maybe 3 minutes) before the firetrucks and the ambulance arrived. Once the ambulance arrived they were put inside (neither of them had a single scratch on them) and I headed back up toward the car, soaked, muddy, and very quite.
I got inside the car and sat there for a moment very still. I relayed the story to Kim and the girls and then I pulled the car back onto the highway. A few miles down the road it hit me that I had not once thought about anything I just had just did. The entire experience took less than 5 minutes and cost us being a little late to our meeting, three blankets, and my shoes remaining clean and yet I will never forget it.

If you had asked me a minute before that vehicle flipped if I would want to get muddy and soaked I would have said, "no way!" If you had asked if I would want to be late to my meeting or give up three blankets I would have said, "no, not particularly." If I had thought for a second about what I might have (could have) been the scene when I opened that door I honestly don't know if I would have done it.

I do plenty of selfish and stupid things without thinking.

I wish I did more for others...without a thought.

Friday, May 27, 2005

The Living Reminder

This week I should have been pre-reading for a Maymester I'm in next week. Instead I read Blue Like Jazz. Today I should be finishing my PowerPoint for my sermon this weekend. Instead I started reading The Living Reminder by Nouwen (1977).

Check out the first paragraph!

"What are the spiritual resources of ministers? What prevents them from becoming dull, sullen, lukewarm bureaucrats, people who have many projects, plans, and appointments but who have lost their heart somewhere in the midst of their activities? What keeps ministers vital, alive, energetic and full of zeal? What allows them to preach and teach, counsel and celebrate with a continuing sense of wonder, joy, and gratitude, and praise?"

Miller then Nouwen. It's been a good week for reading!

Monday, May 23, 2005

Its Official: The Human Race Is Doomed!

Okay, first things first regarding this post:

I know some of you are thinking Don't Be Cruel but you are On Your Own. Every Little Step of this blog will be an attempt to Get Away from the Good Enough mentality that plagues The Girl Next Door, your Girlfriend, and even Roni. As humans we all have Something In Common. I hope and pray that I don't have anything in common with anyone who reads the following and is actually excited about it. You can read the entire article here which actually is equally as tragic (both the stabbing and the open mic part) or you can just read this:

Brown, 36, is the subject of a new eight-episode reality TV show, "Being Bobby Brown," that will debut June 30 on cable television channel Bravo.

Okay, we are talking about Bobby Brown here! Do we really need a reality show about Bobby Brown? Tell me that is a typo, or a joke, or that I'm going nuts...

Let me repeat this to you one more time: Beginning in June there will be a reality show on the televisions of America about Bobby Brown!

Lord come quickly!

I am ashamed of being part of the human race!

If you don't like this post, too bad. It's My Prerogative.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Good Like Grace

From the amazing book, Blue Like Jazz:

"In exchange for our humility and willingness to accept the charity of God, we are given a kingdom. And a beggar's kingdom is better than a proud man's delusion."

Grace is good!

Friday, May 20, 2005

Ten Things I Learned Yesterday (some for the gajillionth time!)

10. Eating at an “All You Can Eat” Chinese buffet is not as fun when you are trying to lose weight.

9. Taking a class from 8am – 5pm (with exactly 2 ten minute breaks & an hour for lunch) with two teachers who are bona-fide brilliant (I’m talking geneisis. I’m talking doctorates from Harvard and Columbia) can be A LOT more enjoyable than you might imagine.

8. Baby ducks are really, really cute. (We bought three yesterday @ $2.95 a piece) Whether or not three full grown ducks will be as cute is an entirely different matter.

7. I regret not getting to know Kyle Douthit better when I was in college. He is like a Tootsie Pop. Once you get past the hard outer part there is something very soft and very sweet on the inside. The dude is Godly and he and Julie are both genuine and generous.

6. Getting a voice message from (one of your good friends) a crazy blind man trying to sound like Chewbacca and knowing your best friend set him up to it is one of life’s most underrated pleasures.

5. Teenage girls (i.e. freshman in High School) can be a little emotional. (By little I mean 98% of the time, or little like roughly the size of the state of Texas, or little like the egos of NBA players)

4. Martin Luther King’s, “I Have a Dream” message is one of the most frappin’ amazing speeches ever to be spoken on the planet. (I’ve put it on my site: – resources – downloads)

3. Holding hands with Kim while walking through the store is a romantic experience and one I will never, never, stop loving. She is holy and hot and I’m so proud she is my bride!

2. Eating chips and salsa and drinking large quantities of Diet Coke w/ Lime from 11:12pm to 11:45pm and then climbing into bed at 11:46pm is not exactly the “ideal” bed time routine.

1. God is so good. He is always faithful. He loves us.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Faint Transformation

Anyone else ever feel like this?

Copyrighted by

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Early this morning I received the following comment to a previous post:

I was just wondering if you could post every thing that you're doing to lose weight. I stumbled on your site, and I read it every once in a while, and I have a weight problem, not that those things relate to one another. Actually, I have made food a God. And I don't want to any more. I just don't know where to start, though. Thanks!

Here is my reply to that inquiry.


You are 99% there! You've identified the problem. You've reached a point of discontent. I have to disagree with knew exactly where to start! Here is my short story...

I grew up very undisciplined and have always struggled in some areas with personal leadership (remember that phrase - personal leadership) for as long as I can remember. Some things I have been highly disciplined - temper, alcohol - never been drunk or tried hard liquor, lust & pornography, letting bitterness set in, etc. But in the areas of spending money, time management, and diet and exercise I have always struggled. As both a kid and a young adult I always had the ability to make more money than I could spend. I was able to save when I was younger but have become progressively worse in that area. My lack of time management skills wrecked havoc on the majority of my academic career. As a kid I played four sports and even when a little more than a decade ago weighed 200lbs, had a 33" waste line and could still dunk.

Three years ago I was constantly late, constantly losing thing, and totally disorganized. I was $80,000+ in debt and was a terrible tither. I weighed 285lbs.

Here is what I did. I identified the problem. I knew it was a spiritual problem. I knew it was a sin problem. It was also a matter of poor habits, lack of skills, and overall ignorance.

I confessed to my elders, wife, and family. I cried out to God and got help.
I began seeing a specialist in the field of adult ADD at Stanford University.
I started working with a professional organizer.
I worked with an executive coach.
I started attending Debtors Anonymous.
I got myself accountability partners.
I fasted often to declare my hunger for discipline.
I prayed and begged God to remove my thorn.
I adopted a life mission and carried it (still do) in my pocket daily and read it often. (My life mission is right under my picture on this blog.

And it wasn't easy.

My wife, kids, and church played such an important role. I leaned on my faith community! One couple, Bill & Virda Stevens, played a vital role.

Within six months I had become organizationally transformed and was rare that was late or lost things. Within a year I had become debt free (except a house payment). Within 18 months I had lost 25 - 30 pounds (depending on the day and scale!)

And then I made the fatal mistake of trying to maintain.

I began to let my workspace become cluttered. I prayed less. I stopped fasting. I stopped working with my specialist, organizer, & coach. I stopped losing weight. I started to incur debt again.

And then, on March 14th of this year, I found myself in the emergency room with chest pains. It turned out to be nothing. It also turned out to be a blessing!

Kim picked me up from the hospital and I dropped her off at the house and went to a mentor of mine, Steve's house and picked up a copy of the South Beach Diet. That book has been very instrumental in helping me lose the weight. I went over three weeks without eating anything that had sugar of any kind. I lost 15lbs in the first 3 weeks. I followed the diet with a God given discipline and with the encouragement of my family and community of faith.

There was another book that played a crucial role in some of the changes I have made of late and that is The Blessed Life by Robert Morris. Not in coincidently, I have also made giant steps in the transformation of our personal finances and especially in the area tithing. Kim and I have always tithed but never like we have in the past few months. I could write so much more on that subject alone! Totally amazing!

I don’t know if this kind of self disclosure was what you are looking for or not. I do know that all change is difficult. I do know that I have plenty of more spiritual transformations still to take place in my life.

I will be praying for you (Anonymous) and am excited to hear about the changes God will be making in your life!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Big News!

What is the chance that the following took place today?

I woke up and did my morning weigh in prior to getting into the shower. The scale said 230lbs. That might sound like a lot but two months ago it said 260 and a year ago it said 285. The fact is that I'm getting smaller. I felt "lighter" all day. But throughout the day I gained the knowledge of some truly heavy news.

In the morning I read this article.

After lunch I read this article.

This evening I read this article.

And right before bed I read this article.

All were found in either yahoo news or in simple searches for other things. Crazy huh?

Talk about "Fat Chance!"

(Disclaimer: Please do not read anything into to this post that is not there. I am pointing out the simple fact that on the day that I finally lose my 30th pound I also came across four articles that deal with large people. I used to phrases "Big News" and "Fat Chance" only as a play on words. I do not dislike people who weigh more than average. I am one. I'm not trying to start a war between the skinny and the plump. Now that I'm writing this, I don't even know why I'm weighing in on this subject.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Burning Up The "Pick Up Lines"

Today Mike Cope posted a great entry about his marriage with Diane. He "invited" me (and a few select others) to drop a few possible pickup lines to use at an Evangelism Conference. I have done just that in my blog today (didn't want to fill up Mike's entire comment section) and have added just a few other pick up lines that I've come across (or used?) over the years. Enjoy!

Alright Mike, you asked for them:

Joel's Top Ten Pick Up Lines At An Evangelism Conference:

10. Are you lost?

9. You know Jesus? Really? Me too!

8. Do you know the difference between making out and witnessing? (she replies: "no") Do you want to go witness with me?

7. Did it hurt when you fell from Heaven?

6. Is it a sin that you stole my heart?

5. My name is Will. God's Will.

4. I don't want to covet. I'm going to make you mine!

3. I picked David over Goliath!

2. Wanna go knock some doors?

1. You put the "cute" in persecution!

Other Pick Up Lines

Christian Ones

10. "I just don't feel called to celibacy."

9. "Did I tell you that my great-uncle was a personal friend of Billy Graham?"

8. "I don't see it myself, but people tell me I look like Michael W. Smith."

7. "What do you think Paul meant when he said, 'Greet everyone with a holy kiss'?"

6. "You have the body of Amy Grant and the soul of Mother Teresa." (DO NOT get this confused!)

5. "You know, I'm really into relationship evangelism."

4. "I'm pretty flexible--I don't think a woman should be submissive on the first date." 3. "Before tonight, I never believed in predestination..."

2. "Just looking at you makes me feel all ecumenical."

1. "I hear there's going to be a love offering tonight."

Pick Up Lines Used By Adam (to Eve)

10. "You know you're the only one for me!"

9. "Do you come here often?"

8. "Trust me, this was meant to be!"

7. "Look around, baby. All the other guys around here are animals!"

6. "I already feel like you're a part of me!"

5. "Honey, you were made for me!"

4. "Why don't you come over to my place and we can name some animals?"

3. "You're the girl of my dreams!" (Gen. 2:21)

2. "I like a girl who doesn't mind being ribbed!"

And the number one pick up line from Adam is:

1. "You're the apple of my eye!"

I recently came across an interesting statistic:

Men who were successful when they used the pickup line "Hi": 71%
Women who were successful when they used the pickup line "Hi": 100%

Other Pick Up Lines

"Was it love at first sight, or should I walk by again?"

"I lost my phone number. Can I have yours?"

"I'm new in town — could I get directions… to your place?"

"Can I check your tag?" (Checks tag on back of shirt) "I was right, Made in Heaven."

"You must be tired — you've been running through my mind all day."

"Do you come with a map? I keep getting lost in your eyes."

"If I told you that you had a nice body, would you hold it against me?"

"Can I buy you a drink so I look better?"

"Are you from Mars? 'Cause your moves are out of this world!"

"Are you a parking ticket? Because you have FINE written all over you."

"Who beamed you down from Planet Gorgeous?"

"Do you have a library card? Good, 'cause I want to check you out! "

"Are you from Greece? I thought all Goddesses were Greek."

"Your daddy must be a thief, 'cause he stole the stars from the sky and put them in your eyes."

"Miss December, right?"

"If I followed you home… would you keep me?"

"If this bar is a meat market, then you must be the prime rib!"

Top Ten From Romantic Movie Classics

1) Casablanca
“Was that cannon fire, or is it my heart pounding?” Ilsa in “Casablanca” with Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart. Warner Bros. 1942, directed by Michael Curtiz.

The Public Enemy
“You’re a swell dish. I think I’m gonna go for you,” Tom in “Public Enemy” with James Cagney and Mae Clarke. Warner Bros. 1931, directed by William Wellman.

A Guy Named Joe
“Everything wrong with you I like,” Captain Randall in “A Guy Named Joe” with Van Johnson and Irene Dunne. MGM 1944, directed by Victor Fleming.

China Seas
“If you aren’t decent, boyfriend, you’ll do until something decent comes along.” Dolly in “China Seas” with Jean Harlow and Clark Gable. MGM 1935, directed by Tay Garnett.

The Man Who Came to Dinner
“I guess you are sort of attractive, in a corn-fed sort of way. You can’t find yourself a poor girl falling for you if – well, if you threw in a set of dishes,” Maggie in “The Man Who Came To Dinner” with Bette Davis and Richard Travis. Warner Bros. 1942, directed by William Keighley.

Across the Pacific
“We’re going to know each other eventually, why not now?” Rick in “Across the Pacific” with Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor. Warner Bros. 1942, directed by John Huston and Vincent Sherman.

“Here’s looking at you kid,” Rick in “Casablanca” with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Warner Bros. 1942, directed by Michael Curtiz.

Red Dust
“Mind if I get drunk with you?” Vantine in “Red Dust” with Jean Harlow and Clark Gable. MGM 1932, directed by Victor Fleming.

Johnny Eager
“Oh, now don’t turn ordinary on me, I get tired of ordinary dames. And I don’t want to get tired of you,” Johnny in “Johnny Eager” with Robert Taylor and Lana Turner. MGM. 1943, directed by Mervyn Leroy

The Public Enemy
“I'm not accustomed to riding with strangers,” Gwen. "We're not gonna be strangers," Tom in “Public Enemy” with Jean Harlow and James Cagney. Warner Bros. 1931, directed by William Wellman.

Well, there you have it! More than you asked. Some good. Some not so good. I've never been much of a pick up line guy. I just usually went, "Hey, I'm Joel. I don't think we know each other." And they either gave me their name and we'd start talking or they'd say, "let's keep it that way." and walk away.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Mother's Day

I have put a lot of material on Mother's Day on my website including the DVD I played in class yesterday at Highland.

Go to
click on resources
click on downloads
click on Mother's Day '05

To watch the video click on Mother's Day '05 Video.
then right click on the video and either save it (watch it later) or open it (watch it then)


Effective Ineffectiveness

I know nobody that reads my blog could ever be accused of the following:

Wasting Time
Being Distracted

However, there may be some of your friends that could be and I am here to help! Think back a few posts ago as I shared my Blogging circuit with the planet. Well I have short circuited my circuit and it was a long time coming! A friend of mine, Greg Kendall Ball (missionary, Mac user, husband of the Ruler of the GST @ ACU, and overall cool guy) showed me how to use Bloglines and my life has never been the same since. Let me explain.

Bloglines (there are other services you can use) is a service that lets you take all the blogs that you read (daily, often, rarely) and put them into one place. Then it sends you a message from your task manager (or via email) every time someone on your list posts a new entry. It is simple, quick, and best of all it is FREE!

No more checking 5 to 10 blogs and finding only 1 or 2 new posts. No way! Now the posts come to you and you have saved valuable time that could have been spent in other unproductive ways such as Fantasy Baseball, signing up your friends for The Hair Club for Men, or watching

Saturday, May 07, 2005

The Kingdom of Heaven

I saw the epic movie The Kingdom of Heaven last night with my son John and Max, Bryson, & Drew. I wish I could tell you how amazing this movie is. It easily moved into the Top 5 movies I have ever seen. It is truly an epic adventure about a common man who finds himself thrust into a decades-long war. A stranger in a strange land, he serves a doomed king, falls in love with an exotic and forbidden queen, and rises to knighthood. Ultimately, he must protect the people of Jerusalem from overwhelming forces while striving to keep a fragile peace.

Ebert wrote a great review of the movie that you may want to read by clicking here.

It is a violent movie. It is a disturbing and thought provoking movie. I expected a really graphic love scene in the movie but it was one of the most tasteful displays of sex I have ever seen. In fact, it was a non-scene. Implied, but not shown. Overall, I would highly recommend the movie to those who can stomach a lot of violence and I would not recommend it to anyone under 16. Of course last night the theater had the "token-idiot-parents" who felt it reasonable to bring their two elementary aged daughters to this movie. Be prepared to be impacted for life. There are some scenes that were shot so well that the visual picture will never leave my mind. (and that is a good thing) Two in particular were the view from the city of the two armies approaching each other in the desert and the aerial shot of the armies doing battle at the broken wall of Jerusalem. If you have seen the movie then you know what scenes I'm referring to.

The best line of the movie for me came at the end of the movie where Saladin responds to Balian's question to him, "what does Jerusalem mean?" with the deeply profound reply of,
"It means nothing. It means everything."

For some the Kingdom is Heaven means nothing.

For some it means everything.

Kingdom of Heaven

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Blogging Circut

Most every morning I follow the same routine once I arrive at work. It goes something like this:

Open laptop
Turn on desk lamp
Light candle
Look at
Look at

Then I begin my "blogging circut":

Kim's blog
Mike's blog
Grants blog
The Mighty Men's blog
The "blog of gut instinct" for the day (Greg's, BST's, Wade's, Larry's, Sam's, Scott's, Val's, Matt's)

I read several other blogs on a less regular basis.

Here is my "Top Ten" posts from the past two weeks:

10. Matt's Cool Factor part 1 (powerful, convicting)
9. Wade's Tombstone Exercise (you're killing me Wade - pun intended)
8. Mike's Angry Christians (I was angry at myself)
7. BST's Monday, May 2 (What a beautiful family!)
6. Val's Tuesday, April 26 post (amazing picture!)
5. Larry James' Oscar Romero (thoughts on sin gave me goosebumps)
4. Grant's Mass Hysteria (Props for "Popemobile"
3. Mike's Article on Megan from Christian Standard (tear jerker)
2. Kim's Tuesday, May 3rd post (simple, profound)
1. Greg's Baseball 2005 v. 1 (Your Best Blog Now)

I didn't take the time to make these links so you're on your own.

What is your "blogging circut"? What is your "Top Ten"?

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

When It Rains It Pours

When you take a long trip, where do you get food to eat? Yeah, of course: Fast Food. Or if you are one of those "Cleaver/Huxtable/Brady type families you might pack your lunch in a picnic and take it along. You know if you think about it, the Israelites were on a really long trip. Where were they going to get food? They couldn't carry enough to last them. They didn't stay any place long enough to grow any. There were no stores to stop at. No McDonald's, Bell, or KFC. And they numbered a million or more people. That's a lot to feed. Probably wouldn't want to work the drive through on that day.

It wasn't too long before the people began to complain, "We wish the Lord had killed us in Egypt, where we had plenty to eat. You brought us out to the wilderness to die of hunger." The Israelites tended to concentrate on their current troubles rather than look to the past for encouragement. Instead of remembering the great things God had done to free them from slavery, they spent time complaining about their hunger. The obvious question: "Hello, Israelites, do you think God went to all that trouble, just to watch you die for lack of food?"

God told Moses he would "rain bread from heaven" for them. He provided Manna, a new food that appeared with the dew each morning as small, white, round pieces. The Israelites were to gather each day the amount of food they needed for that day. No more, no less. Each day God would give them that day's food. They were to trust him each day for the very food they ate. On the sixth day, he would provide two day's food, so no one would work to gather it on the Sabbath. If one of them was mistrustful, and tried to stock up, the food would melt or rot away. The Israelites baked, boiled and prepared the manna several ways. It tasted sweet, like wafers made with honey.

I don't know about you, but I can relate to those Israelites! Kim and I are in a season of total dependence on the Lord. Since August of '03 we have been on a "long trip" and while our numbers are a million (five to be exact) and we weren't previously in a slavery situation the similarities are significant. I find myself desperately wanting to "stockpile bread" so that I won't have to be so dependent on the Lord. I can't. That, like the manna that the Israelites tried to keep, stinks! Many days my attitude is rotten and my complaining outweighs my remembering.

But the inescapable fact is that this is exactly where God has lead us and he has us right where he wants us. God has always been faithful and met all our needs (and a lot of our wants) and I know I can trust Him. A word that God has pressed upon my heart lately is Proverbs 3:5 which reminds me: "Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart and lean not upon YOUR own understanding!" Often I find myself trying to trust in myself with all of my heart and leaning everything I have on my own understanding. That approach leaves me hungry.

I am glad that God has me and my family on this trip. I know the promise land awaits!

Rain on God. Pour your manna from heaven. How sweet it truly is!