Wednesday, April 27, 2005
- Cornelius Hackel in HELLO, DOLLY (though I don't have the tenor voice to cover his songs and I'm not really the romantic leading man type... honestly, I've got Horace Vandergelder written all over me)
- Sweeney Todd in SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET (I so do not have the pipes to sing this one, but the music is hypnotic)
- The Music Man in THE MUSIC MAN (which is a show I might actually be able to carry off now as a 40 year old... sigh, anyone want to give an out of work actor a chance?!) :-)
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Friday, April 22, 2005
- Soren Kierkegaard
Thursday, April 21, 2005
2nd Chronicles 26:16-21 (The Message) Ouch.Uzziah ended his days alone when "strength & success went to his head." It doesn't invalidate the good he did, but it drastically decreased his opportunities to enjoy it. So the questions start ping-ponging off the walls of my mind:
- where do I trust in my own "strength & success"?
- am I pacing myself to live a "right in the eyes of the Lord" life, or am I burning myself out emotionally, physically & spiritually?
- who is speaking truth into my life about where my actions are taking me... and am I listening?
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
- The Gathering of Friends is an invitation-only boardgaming event held each spring, hosted by Alan Moon (see below). Over 250 people gather in a hotel/covention center for 8 days to play board & card games, primarily "designer" games. It also is a major "meet-up" event for game designers & game companies.
- Sheila Davis is an extraordinarily avid game collector from Colorado, whose collection has over 10,000 games in it. I bring her collection up whenever Shari begins to worry about how many games (roughly 700) I own. Sheila also runs a yearly Battle Cattle miniatures event that was one of the highlights of my only Gathering experience.
- Joe Huber is a good friend and designer of two published games (and many other unpublished ones):
Monday, April 18, 2005
Isaiah 6:8 (NIV)
Friday, April 15, 2005
I'm a good Baptist kid. I was president of my youth group and directed the drama ministry at my campus BSU. I've led small groups, completed any number of Lifeway studies (including Experiencing God & Masterlife), and served in any number of special mission projects. I've served on staff at 7 different churches. I've written Bible study materials and articles on youth ministry for Lifeway.I'm the SBC equivalent of Paul's "I have more" speech in Philippians 3.
And all of that is useless for getting God to love me one iota more. The Bible clearly teaches that:
"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Romans 5:6-8 (NIV)
And Paul concludes the aforementioned speech with:
"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that whichis through faith in Christ - the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith."
Philippians 3:7-9 (NIV)
Powerless, still sinners, ungodly... the story of our lives. But the story doesn't end with the mess we've made - it is completed in the extravagant grace of God. All those good works can't make God love me more - but they are great ways for me to show God how much I love him. And they are not garbage - what Paul says is that he considers them rubbish in light of the righteousness of God.
Chew on that for a little while.
Monday, April 11, 2005
...Shari wants to be sedated! (Gotta love the Ramones... thanks again to Mark Pittman for teaching me the "Interl'inc Fight Song.")
Anyway, we went to the ob/gyn today and found out that Collin has decided to go breech again. This time he's head up, feet down. And, if that weren't enough, he's got the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. (It's not like I don't spend enough energy keeping his older brother from using the jump rope as a necktie as is... sheesh.)
Our ob/gyn was really clear that Collin is fine - the reason he's gone breech again is that he's uncomfortable going headfirst with the cord around his neck. (Smart kid, eh?) There's plenty of fluid and everything is looking good.
Anyway, we're having a C-section tomorrow morning at 11:30 am. Braeden's staying with my mom at our house and if all goes well, Collin will enter the world tomorrow just in time for lunch.
Prayers are greatly appreciated - as is "forgiveness" for not posting to the blog for a few days. :-)
Friday, April 08, 2005
In contrast to the world's "if I can't touch it, it isn't real", the Bible clearly teaches that we live with a stunted view of reality. Spiritual warfare rages around us and in us (Ephesians 6:12) and we all too easily write it off as coincidence or the ill will of another person. Like the Israelites, it's tempting to equate earthly wealth with the blessing of God... and so Jesus tells parables about wealthy men who die and answer for their souls without their possessions.
We live in a spiritual equivalent of "The Matrix". (Yes, the film with Keanu Reaves... otherwise known as "The Man Whose Best Roles Involve Him Saying 'Whoa' A Lot.") The vast majority of us live as if there is no spiritual dimension to our lives, blind to both the potential destruction inherent in our sin and the incredible hope present in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
In other words, if I'm not immersed in the Bible and listening to God in prayer, my view of reality is seriously skewed. On the other hand, when I take the "red pill" of Scriptural truth, the world comes sharply into focus in the shadow of the cross.
The prophet Habakkuk wrote:
"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights."
Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NIV)
It is so simple for me to focus on the circumstances of my life to obtain validation and significance... and so dangerous. My moods, likewise, have a tendency to bob like a ship in a storm-tossed sea - happy when things are smooth & the winds are favorable; bitter & depressed when the waves kick up and my life founders in the storm.God, through the prophet Habakkuk, issues a clear reminder that the circumstances of my life do not define reality. I can only understand what is going on through the intimate knowledge of Who is in charge.
Thursday, April 07, 2005
I promise, despite the overly tech-head title of this article, it will eventually apply to all of you. Really.
The last three months have been a veritable blizzard of changing addresses, unpacking boxes, and hooking up various services to our home. The one great holdout has been an internet connection. Easton (as many of you know) hasn't been wired for cable (therefore, no cable modem) and we're too far from the nearest phone "station box" for DSL... so the only choices is dial-up.
Except that the church has a satellite broadband connection... and a wireless router pointed at the parsonage. (I'm sure I've lost some of you by now - let me try to explain it a little better: it's like having a super-fast cable modem connected to a DirectTV dish at the church office, which we can connect at the house kinda like a cell phone uses a cell tower to connect.) All we had to do was make our poor little iMac wireless-ready. And all that takes is what Apple calls an "Airport Card".
Well, I bought & installed the Airport card... and it didn't work. So, I called Mark Curts and got the passwords & other necessary stuff from him (hi, Mark!). No luck. I had a tech-savvy friend from Nashville (hi, Chip!) help me with the wireless router at the church. Still didn't work. A gamer buddy here in Fresno (hi, Randy!) brought his laptop and checked to make sure we could get a signal in the house. We could - but not with our computer. A friend of Nancy's from Northpointe (hi, Dana!) helped make sure everything was cool at the church and did major research into how to make the Airport card work. Close, but no cigar. I called Apple Tech Support (twice!) and got some helpful answers... but their final call was simply "take to a service provider who can look at it." (And we won't get into how non-helpful CompUsa was... sigh.)
So, yesterday, my dad & I drove 100+ miles to Modesto, CA, to Mac Daddy (yep, the place really is called Mac Daddy.) A Gen-X looking dude in a knit cap (hi, Jeff!) popped open the back of my ruby iMac, moved a couple of things around... and made it work. (Here's a short plug for the guys who rescued my 'puter: http://www.macdaddy.net/)
That's all it took... 5 minutes with a guy who knew exactly what to do.
My mind made a jump this morning from my computer 'life' to my spiritual life. Why in the world do I spend so much time asking people for help when God himself, the ultimate tech-head when it comes to my life, is waiting to tune me up and connect me to His love & power. He knows exactly what to do. Nothing wrong with other people, mind you... but it makes a whole lot more sense to go to God first.
What do you need to go to God about today? Where & how do you need to be connected?
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
An excellent article from Christianity Today's website, compiling evangelical response to life, death, ministry & leadership of Pope John Paul II. The blurb reads: "Most are unreserved in their praise on political, social, and even theological matters, but critique of papacy remains."
The article is compiled by Ted Olsen.
Inigo Montoya: Let me 'splain. [pause] No, there is too much. Let me sum up. Nearly 3 years ago, I was part of a e-mail group called Nigglybits (which was a bunch of gamers who also enjoyed talking about all sorts of off-topic kinds of stuff). They'd made good-natured fun of me for quite a while because I like "fluffy" games - as opposed to 'brain burning' or 'strategy' games. (Which is funny, as I actually like both.) Anyway, one day I goofily posted a "rap" to the group, attributing it to M.C. Fluff Daddy (taking off on the then-popular Puff Daddy.) The nickname stuck - and to this day, I'm referred to in most gaming circles as Fluff Daddy. So, I just decided to enjoy the silliness and it's what I use for e-mail and my blog id. And that's the story. What follows is the actual posts/"raps" that started the whole thing. WARNING: I rap only slightly better than I dance. Plus, this contains lots of obscure German gaming references that are better left unexplored. And did I mention it's really bad? [cue Greg Schloesser to make beat box noise with his mouth while Sarah Samuelson turns her cap around backwards and says "Heyyyy, boyyyy" a lot] I'm a fluffy fool, and a real down dude
I don't play mean and I don't play rude
Ab die Post, Aura Poku,
Carabande, Storrisches Muli, too!
Willy Wachsbar's my homie,
So's Loopin' Louie,
If you get in my face,
I'll... I'll... chase you up a tree! Oh, I can't rap [no, he can't rap]
Oh, I can't rap [no, he can't rap]
But I'm the Prince of Quirky Fluff
Go Quirky! Go Quirky! Go Quirky! Go Quirky! (We now return to something approximating reality.) And as if that weren't bad enough... donald seagraves wrote:> I move that "rapping" of this sort should be heretofor banned from the pub..... Any seconds? Mwahahahaha dave bernazzani wrote:> Seconded! hehheh 1st Amendment! 1st Amendment! Rapping is a form of personal expression... of course, when *I* do it, it's also cruel & unusual punishment, so we've got a Constitutional crisis in the works. Soooooooooo... (you asked for this, all you nay-sayers!) [cue Nick-E to do his best 'sullen white guy' impression] You can't stop me! I can rap if I want
I can sing! I can dance! I can rap! I can taunt!
(Any resemblance of me dancing to actual dancing is purely concidental.) Don't... (oohhh - yehhh) dis... (oohhh - yehhh) Fluff Daddy!
(Everybody intha house...)
Don't... (oohhh - yehhh) dis... (oohhh - yehhh) Fluff Daddy!
(Everybody intha house...) My fluffy games are like a pile of cotton
I can lean right back and fall right on 'em
Like Charmin, Mr. Whipple and the Snuggle bear
You won't find no sharp edges there! Bring on the cutsie wooden animals
Spinners & shakers, too!
I'm willing to play anything
Even that stupid Aura Poku Come on, girls, sing about that Angry Brother "Angry Brother, he's a heavy
Doesn't drive a Ford or a Chevy
Looks like Nick and sounds Greg
Fluff Daddy's gonna take him down a peg" BE-you-tiful... join us on the chorus! Don't... (oohhh - yehhh) dis... (oohhh - yehhh) Fluff Daddy!
(Everybody intha house...)
Don't... (oohhh - yehhh) dis... (oohhh - yehhh) Fluff Daddy!
(Everybody intha house...) I warned you - if you've got this far, you're either a glutton for punishment or... well, a glutton for punishment. I promise - no more rapping on this blog.
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Monday, April 04, 2005
- Family Business 0-12
- Monster-Fressen 0-7
- Coloretto 0-6
- Die Mauer 0-6
- Small Soldiers Big Battle 0-6
- Adel Verpflichtet/Hoity Toity 0-5
- Caramba 0-5
- Die ErbRaffer 0-5
- Formula Motor Racing 0-5
- Overthrone 0-5
- Phase 10 0-5
- Pit 0-5
- Tic-Tac-Chess 0-5
I'm a big fan of Christianity Today's Movies website - which includes subscribing to their weekly e-newsletter, CT at the Movies. (Unlike many "religious" sites that rate movies, CT does a very good job of reviewing movies as movies and not simply as "attacks on Christianity." At the same time, they don't shy away from critiquing shoddy theology - or shoddy filmmaking.)
This last week, they challenged me (and a whole lot of other people) with:
So … let's play the Desert Island Disc game! You know how it goes: You're stranded all alone on a desert island, but you've got a DVD player and screen. (Hey, it's a desert island with perks, OK? Just play along, all right?) What ten movies do you want with you, and why? For the purpose of counting, I'm just talking about individual movies. So, even though I'm planning to take my Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King extended edition—and all four of its discs—it still only counts as one movie.
So, in no particular order, my 10 Desert Island Discs.
1-3) Lord of the Rings: Extended Versions. Yep. All three of 'em. I figure I'll finally have time to watch 'em straight through. And then time to watch them with the audio commentary tracks turned on. And then time to watch all the documentary stuff. And then time to actually look through & enjoy the galleries. If a rescue boat can't reach me by then, it ain't coming. The cast of ABC's Lost needs a DVD player, stat.
4) The Princess Bride: Special Edition. Because there is no possible way you can watch this movie too many times. (And it's a movie that should NOT work - a Frankstein-like combination of an Errol Flynn swashbuckler crossed with a Monty Python film, cast by an eclectic mix of neophytes, Broadway musical stars, independent film faves, and a legendary wrestler, and directed by the guy whose main credits up to that point were playing Meathead on All in the Family and directing This Is Spinal Tap. Yet it does - brilliantly.)
5) Singing In The Rain: Special Edition. I defy anyone (even people who hate musicals, because, to quote Dana Whitaker on Sports Night, "They often contain hoedowns") to resist the charms of this movie. (Another moment in How Did They Get Away This? movie history: the 15 minute "Lullaby of Broadway" sequence which has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the plot, but still manages to be incredibly enjoyable.)
6) Raising Arizona. I don't think there's a special edition set for this movie (there should be), but that won't stop me from taking it with me. I find myself laughing harder & harder at this film each time I see it. The offbeat humor has wormed it's way into my heart.
7) Still Breathing. I don't even know if this movie is out on DVD. (I know, I know, I could check, but that would take time I could be wasting playing games on Brettspielwelt.) A very quirky romantic comedy about redemption and forgiveness... and a film that isn't in a rush to tell it's story or reveal it's charms. It makes me peaceful and more in love with my wife every time I see it.
8-9) Toy Story/Toy Story 2 3-Disc Set. Again, I'll have plenty of time before the rescue boat shows up to really enjoy the extras on these discs. Besides, I cry EVERY TIME I see Toy Story 2's "Jesse being thrown away" sequence - and want to go find Puppy (my first cuddly animal) and beg forgiveness for putting him in the trash can because I was in my 20's and he looked like he'd been run over by multiple cars.
10) Sabrina (the Harrison Ford/Greg Kinnear/Julia Ormond version from 1995). OK, I know it's some kind of cinema buff heresy to prefer the modern remake to the classic Humphrey Bogart/Audrey Hepburn film, but the fact that Audrey is so embarassed that she tries to kill herself with automobile exhaust just rubs me the wrong way. Besides, Julia Ormond is stunning & sweet & adorable, Greg Kinnear is swarmy & likeable, and Harrison Ford manages to play the Professor part of the Indiana Jones role for a whole two hours and make it work.
Well, that's it. Other things just missed the cut (the Star Wars films, Disney's Beauty & The Beast and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the classic con movie The Sting and others... but I figure the 10 I chose would keep me busy & happy.
Sunday, April 03, 2005
It's official. I hate Daylight Savings Time.
Well, I guess I need to be specific. I hate the "Spring Forward" part of Daylight Savings Time - as it steals my sleep and messes with my biorhythms and all that jazz. The "Fall Back" thing is OK, though. I'm always up for an extra hour of shut-eye.
BTW, does anyone really follow the whole biorhythms thing anymore? I still remember "charting" my biorhythms back in high school (which would make this the late 70's/early 80's). So, with that kind of timing, biorhythms are from roughly the same era as mood rings & pet rocks.
I'm not sure Daylight Savings Time makes a huge difference for a lot of people - unless, for example, you've got a job in which Sunday is a work day. Which may explain my irritation. I can think of at least three times in which I've shown up early (or late) for church due to D.S.T. Thankfully, no worship services - just Sunday School [at the traditional churches I've served] or load-in [at the church plant I pastored].
So, I guess that's enough whining for one moring. Go read Dilbert (which is actually funny today).
Friday, April 01, 2005
Unfortunately, way too many of these forwards end with a line or two that sounds something like this:
"Pass this message to 7 people except you and me. You will receive a miracle tomorrow. Don't ignore and God will bless you." or: "If you're not ashamed of Jesus, forward this on to 10 other people."
(Those of you who've read a good bit of what I've written know what's about to happen. I'm gonna drag out my soapbox and climb up on top of it and commence to preaching.)
I just have to ask: what in the world do we think we are doing when we send stuff like this out!? Has spiritual encouragement become so impoverished in our world that we are forced to use emotional blackmail to get people to say nice things to each other?
Because what the "not ashamed of Jesus" line implies is that if I refuse to forward the e-mail, I am ashamed of Jesus. It has an element of pride in it - because, of course, the person who sent is obviously not ashamed.
Hogwash. If the test for being a devoted follower of Christ is whether I can hit the "reply to all" button on Outlook Express, then faithfulness has been majorly devalued. In the classic illustration of the carrot & the stick (two ways to get a donkey to move), this is the "stick" methodology.
In the same vein, the promise of a miracle and/or blessing is just as big of a theological problem. This is the "carrot" approach to inspiring people to forward the e-mail... in other words, "send this on and you'll get paid off by God for your good behavior."
Now, God clearly promises to bless us and that we will experience miracles (things beyond natural explanation)... but nowhere in Scripture is that tied to chain mail. Nor is it a formula: "if A, then B". Saying it another way, "If I do this for God, He has to do that for me." We cannot obligate God to perform for us!
Yes, the Bible clearly says that if we ask anything in His name, He will do it. But take a close look at that passage:
I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 14:12-14 (NIV)
The purpose of giving us what we ask for Jesus to bring glory to the Father... not to make our lives easier or our health better or our bank account fatter. If those things happen, well & good! Give God thanks... but when we ask Jesus for things "in His name", we must not use his name like a magical incantation.
Let me draw that out a bit... when we view God as someone we can 'force' to do our bidding by our behavior, it's as if we turn the prayer, "Jesus, please heal my son" into "Abracadabra, heal my son!" And that's not any different than "God's gotta give me something good if I hit 'reply to all.'"
(OK, I'm climbing down off the soapbox now... sort of.)
Here's what I do. When I receive a forward with one of those lines or something similar on the bottom, I delete it. Nuke it. Zap it. Consign to Deleted Items Folder for all of eternity. And I do that regardless of the quality of the rest of the e-mail.
One last thought: seems kind of nutty that I've gone off like a Roman candle about this, doesn't it? I mean, it's "just e-mail."
Well, here's something for you to chew on: I "went off" not because forwards are irritating but because the underlying theology is bad. This week, try and look carefully for the underlying theology of some things you take for granted in your life: what you watch on TV; a magazine article you're reading, a discussion you have around the water cooler at work. All part of that "taking thoughts captive" thing, right?
This article originally appeared in 3/30/05 issue of "the Grapevine", the weekly newsletter of NewLife Community Church.
...to the show that never ends. (Extra points for everyone who can complete the obscure reference to ELP... and no fair Googling your answer.)
Well, at least I hope the "show" won't end any time soon. A number of people have been after me to start blogging (hi, Paul, hug Harrison & JuJuBee for me) and a recent article in Leadership Journal on "Pastoring By Blog" finally pushed me over the edge. (The article hasn't been posted there yet, but Leadership Journal has a web presence.)
So, I'm going to start slow. My goal is to post 3 times a week - one post on gaming (naturally!), one post on being a pastor, and one post on something else. (I'm thinking the "something else" topic may well be my attempt to prove I have a life.)
I really have 3 goals for "aka pastor guy":
- Meta número uno: to sharpen my writing skills. Someday, I'm going to write something besides youth ministry curriculum and an offbeat website about board gaming. Blogging seems like a good way to hone my abilities.
- Ziel Nr. zwei: to expand my ministry. Over the years, I've discovered that I "pastor" a whole lote more people than are in my congregation. (The e-newsletter I write on an almost weekly basis goes out to over 200 folks.) Blogging is just another way to continue doing what I do in that weekly newsletter.
- but numéro trois: to have fun. Writing is fun - really. Being a smart aleck is fun. Talking about Jesus is fun. Being a minister is fun - well, most of the time. Sharing that with other folks is fun, too
So, "come inside, come inside"... and enjoy the show.
Oh, yeah - I forgot that I was going to explain the "aka pastor guy" name for the blog. It's not really a terribly great story (not like the time I got kicked out of Disneyland or the time we poured beer on burning bus brakes in Arkansas, but we'll get to those later.)
It's just that when I'm being lazy and don't want to type:
NewLife Community Church
aka pastor guy
So, there you have it.