Thursday, September 29, 2005

Lovely Rita, Meter Maid

Well, not gonna be able to listen to that Beatles song again without flashing back on last weekend.

What follows is a random series of stories & impressions post-Hurricane Rita.

- I'm thankful that the storm skated east of Houston... Shari's family was holed up in Conroe (north of Houston) and fully expected to lose the barn/apartment on their new property as well as see their unsold former home flood if Rita hit them full force. As it is, they're without power and running the fridge & some fans off a borrowed generator, but there's no major damage.

- Being thankful for the hurricane not hitting my in-laws makes me feel guilty - because it isn't like the hurricane just fizzled out and did no damage. It actually came ashore in my old stomping grounds, southeast Texas. Back in 1987-88, I was the minister of youth in a little (smaller than NewLife) Baptist church in Silsbee, TX - Good Shepherd Baptist Church. I went into Beaumont every week to see a movie, pick up the new comic books, and just hang out. Seeing the pictures from Beaumont & Port Arthur are disconcerting, to say the least.

- I've been trying to get in touch with the pastor of Good Shepherd this week - but the phones are down & the power is out. I can still see the church in my mind's eye, and then I try to imagine what kind of damage they sustained. (The church sits in a bit of a hole, kind of like NewLife, and I have this sick feeling that they have a combination of wind damage & flooding.)

- My memories of Good Shepherd are really positive - it was my first full-time church position and the folks there were incredibly kind to me. I was hired as the summer youth minister after my first year at seminary... and things went so well that they invited me to continue on through the school year. They even gave me one work day a week to attend seminary (in Houston).

- I learned how to do hospital visits in Beaumont. Bro. Fred (our pastor) drug me along & had me watch him. Then, the next person we visited, he had me pray. By the end of the day, he was letting me do most of the talking. (Can't say enough good things about Fred Raney... he was a gift to me as a young minister.)

- I'm a little ticked that the news media is so focused on New Orleans & Houston. It feels like natural disasters really aren't that bad unless they happen to big cities.

All of this reflecting takes me (of course) someplace spiritual...

In the film, "Three Amigos", Steve Martin's character (Lucky Day) gives a short speech, meant to be encouraging as the little village gets ready to face down the bandit king, El Guapo:

I suppose you could say that everyone has an El Guapo. For some, shyness may be an El Guapo. For others, lack of education may be an El Guapo. But for us, El Guapo is a large ugly man who wants to kill us!

For some, your El Guapo may be a hurricane. For others, it's the storms of life. (Most of us don't have to worry about a large, ugly man wanting to kill us.)

I can't control the weather. I can't make a storm stop in it's tracks or change direction. If a hurricane is coming my way, I can either run or board up my house & ride it out.

I can't control most of the storms in my life, either. Oh, yeah... I know there's lots of storms we bring on ourselves (bad financial habits, insufficient courage to do the right thing, etc.) But many of the things that hit us are due to the mistakes & sins of others.

So the question is: how do I react to those storms? Have I properly prepared my life to deal with disaster, or am I pretending that "nothing bad will ever happen to me"? Look, if someone promised you that following Jesus would protect you from bad stuff, they obviously didn't pay attention in Sunday School. The Bible is filled with stories of bad things happening to people who love God: stonings, beatings, murder, natural disaster, shipwreck, flood, etc. Christianity is not a magic talisman to ward off difficult circumstances.

Instead, followers of Christ are spiritually prepared for the storms of life... armed with the peace of God's presence and the call to live out what they believe.

Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
Philippians 4:6-8 (The Message)

So, I'll ask again: are you ready for the storm? It's coming.

The waves crash in the tide rolls out
It's an angry sea but there is no doubt
That the lighthouse will keep shining out
To warn a lonely sailor
And the lightning strikes
And the wind cuts cold
Through the sailor's bones
Through the sailor's soul
'Til there's nothing left that he can hold
Except a rolling ocean

Oh I am ready for the storm
Yes sir ready
I am ready for the storm
I'm ready for the storm

Oh give me mercy for my dreams
'Cause every confrontation seems to tell me
What it really means
To be this lonely sailor
And when the sky begins to clear
The sun it melts away my fear
And I shed a silent weary tear
For those who mean to love me


The distance it is no real friend
And time will take its time
And you will find that in the end
It brings you me
This lonely sailor
And when You take me by the hand
And You love me, Lord, You love me
And I should have realized
I had no reasons to be frightened


"Ready For the Storm", written by Dougie MacLean (recorded by Rich Mullins on his Winds of Heaven, Stuff of Earth album)

This article originally appeared in the 9/29/05 edition of The Grapevine, the newsletter of NewLife Community Church.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Enter Pastor Man

I promised earlier in the week (two weeks ago - sorry!) to tell my own story about the whole "sacred vs. secular" thing... esp. as it applies to music. If you don't know what the heck I'm talking about, start by reading Enter Church History Man (and the connecting link to Scott's story).

Anyway, back to my personal corner of the Cultural Wars.

I grew up listening primarily to classical music (my folks bought a lot of classical records), show tunes (my mom loved musicals) and jazz (primarily Dixieland, with a bit of
Dave Brubeck mixed in.) It wasn't until I went to work for my dad the summer following my sixth grade year that I heard much of that crazy animal the kids call "rock'n'roll".

For ten cents a bottle, I cleaned & sterilized glass bottles by hand... and at the end of the summer, I had enough money saved up to buy my own stereo. It had a turntable, a AM/FM radio, a cassette player and an 8-track tape player. (Anybody else remember that "ka-thunk" noise every time an 8-track changed sections?) My mom bought me Eddie Albert's Greatest Hits (still wonder what she was thinking).

One of the guys who worked for my dad gave me some old 45's he had... so my formative years were spent with the Doobie Brothers & the Steve Miller Band. Mike, the older kid across the street, let me listen to his favorite albums - Led Zepplin, Kiss, and the Beach Boys.
K-Earth, L.A.'s longtime "classics" station, played a steady diet of the Beatles, Yes, Moody Blues, ELP, and the like.

Mom didn't particularly like the music I listened to, but as long as I wore the headphones and didn't irritate the rest of the family with it, it wasn't any big deal.

My first "Christian rock" albums came courtesy of my friend, Keith, who gave me his copies of Petra's
Come & Join Us and Keith Green's "So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt." (Ba-manna bread!) I played these albums for my mom, who responded to Petra's cover of God Gave Rock'n'Roll To You with an exasperated sigh and a crack about the difference between God's perfect & God's permissive will. (Evidently, Bill Gaither is God's perfect will, Keith Green less so, and Petra was "right out.")

That was the beginning of creating a very large collection of primarily (but not exclusively) "contemporary Christian music." At the same time I was soaking up stuff like Whiteheart, Sweet Comfort Band & Leon Patillo, I was also buying albums from ELO, Rick Wakeman, and Jethro Tull. (I still have a very strong memory of listening to Pink Floyd's "The Wall" for the first time in my good friend's bedroom... all of us very serious and deep as only teenagers can be about "we don't need no education.")

I managed to avoid the whole "
backward masking/subliminal message" hoo-ha that permeated some conservative church circles in the late 70's/early 80's... oh, I heard about it, but it didn't really make any difference to me. Frankly, it didn't (and still doesn't) make sense... Something that's played backwards goes into my subconscious backwards. What good is that to Satan or anybody else for that matter?

College brought a whole new set of bands to my attention. I traded a Sandi Patti tape to a guy in my dorm for the
77's "Ping Pong on the Abyss"... and the same guy is the one who first let me hear Prodigal (a long extinct art rock group with some excellent ideas.) Meanwhile, my roommate was introducing me to Alan Parsons Project, and one of the Christian magazines I got was breaking the news about this cool new band from across the Atlantic named U2.

My musical tastes continued to range across the map. Thanks to another roommate, I was introduced to the incredible writing & music of Stephen Sondheim. Around the same time, I found and bought all 4 releases from a new Word label - Broken Records. (That would be Youth Choir - later
the Choir, Ojo Taylor, Altar Boys - whose lead singer would later lead worship for my mom & dad's Sunday School class, and Crumbacher. Man, I miss Crumbacher... talk about your 80's synth-pop bands. Of course, when I went hunting for a link for this post, I found out that they've not only released a demo/b-sides album in the late 90's but they also just played a live reunion show with the rest of the Broken Records bands in August!)

I found the Talking Heads one evening when looking for someting to try out on the campus library's new CD listening stations. And this was about the time that...

...but my musical history isn't really the point, right? So we'll fast forward to 1991, as I struggled with how to teach kids to make wise decisions about what they put in their heads musically. As a part of that process, I decided that it was time to ditch my non-Christian tapes... and so we sold 200+ tapes in a yard sale. I'm not sure what it said to the kids (that was a pretty turbulent period in my ministry), but it was a big step for me to walk away from the music that I enjoyed. For the next few years, I didn't buy any non-Christian albums... not out of hatred of "secular" music, but in an attempt to walk closer to God.

Over time, I realized that the primary reasons I'd chosen to renounce "secular" music were others-based... sometimes the healthy thought of the power of my influence, sometimes the poisonous stew of people-pleasing & faking church that's so easy to do when you're paid to be a professional Christian. When Shari & I finally chose to buy a CD player and begin replacing my extensive tape collection with CD's, I rather cautiously began buying non-Christian CD's again.

Oddly enough, the book that inspired me most during this re-acquisition phase was written by one of my favorite fiction authors, Stephen Lawhead. Back in 1985, he wrote a book on engaging pop culture entitled Turn Back The Night. (I'd link to it, but it is so seriously OOP that no one even has a picture of the cover.) In it, he proposed four "boxes" to use in sorting out art:
  • good art, good message
  • good art, bad message
  • bad art, good message
  • bad art, bad message
Good art, good message is the sublime intersection of talent & timing & the breath of God that results in albums like Steve Taylor's Squint, Charlie Peacock's The Secret of Time, U2's The Joshua Tree or Rich Mullins A Liturgy, A Legacy & A Ragamuffin Band. (This is the easy one to define: both the quality of the writing, production, and performance is high as well as the message lining up with the life & word of Jesus Christ.)

Good art, bad message is that odd & difficult place where the incredible skill of the artist is used to say something that does not reflect the truth of God... Prince (the artist formely known as) is a classic example of this for me, as is much of Stephen Sondheim's work on the Broadway stage.

Bad art, good message is, unfortunately, where much of CCM (contemporary Christian music) lives... welding the Gospel of Jesus Christ to poorly produced rehash of what was popular last year. Cheesy writing, inadequate production, overblown performances... you get the picture. I'm flashing on "Dear Mr. Jesus" and "Touch of a Master's Hand" right now. (Now, I don't intend to tar & feather all of CCM with this indictment... just that all too often, the excuse "The message is good" acts as a cover for mediocre art.)

Bad art, bad message is also pretty easy to spot. The message is bad and so is the quality of the production. Most of this kind of stuff disappears quickly - anybody besides those guys doing "rock'n'roll is evil" videos actually remember Black Oak Arkansas?

And, of course, the grid isn't just for music - it works great with any kind of pop culture/art piece.

A short note on truth: a good message (well, a "true" message) does not have to be evangelistic and/or explicitly reference God or the Bible. Truth is true even without a chapter & verse reference. The question is, "Do these lyrics reflect Biblical truth?", not "Do these lyrics sound like they were written by a Southern Baptist preacher?"

Well, that's where I live now. Most of my non-Christian additions to my collection now are either:
  1. highly recommended artists with profound things to say (David Wilcox, Ben Harper)
  2. 80's music I remember fondly (the Hooters, Asia, and, yes, even Go West's greatest hits)
Party on, dude.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


Fasten your seatbelts... I'm going to ramble through a lot of territory today. For those of you who've been wondering when I'd post about games again, this may help. Or it may not, because I've got a lot more than games on my mind.

I got sick Friday night with the same evil stomach flu thingee that sidelined Shari earlier in the week. I spent Saturday in front of the TV set, watching college football (the UT-Ohio State would have been much more fun if I was feeling better) and the last few episodes of the first season of Lost. I also spent some serious time worrying about whether I'd survive Sunday.

You see, Sunday was one of those "heavy load - use your back, not your legs" days in ministry. I started a new teaching series (entitled EPIC) which uses a lot of video clips. Right after services, I led a training meeting for the capital campaign leadership... then I got a 2 hour break. Actually, not a break as much as "some time where I wasn't at the church". (Shari & I had to plan for the experience we were leading that evening.) Then back to the church to lead Church Council, followed by "Church: a hands-on experience", which is the aforementioned thingee Shari & I are doing to help get our folks ready for ministry in a postmodern culture.

By the time I went to bed, I had a 102 fever. It broke some time during the night... but was back up to 101 by the morning. Needless to say, I didn't go into the office on Monday. Instead, I did a bit of work from home via computer and got to watch Shari & Braeden as they homeschooled. (Which was cool... Shari's an incredibly gifted teacher and Braeden's like a knowledge sponge.)

This week, Braeden is learning about himself - Monday was about the body. So Shari picked up a copy of
Twister, which wasn't previously a part of the family game collection. And I, as The Sick Guy, was designated referee, which means I got to spin the spinner.

For the first time in my life, I read the rules to Twister. (Really - there are rules.) And there's a bit more of a game there than what you grew up playing. (Like Monopoly... sigh.) I didn't realize you could move a hand or leg and return it to the position as long as you let the referee know beforehand. And it became obvious quickly that there are some board position issues (it pays to stake out a lot of real estate so you don't get cut off) if you're trying to win.

For the record, Braeden wasn't all that fascinated with Twister, but he's actually a bit young (4 when the box says 6+) to enjoy it. I think he might like it better solo or with his buddy Canaan. Playing against Mom is a bit of a mismatch.

My reaction to Twister? I found myself surprised that I didn't hate it. Now, that may seem a strongly worded shot at an American classic, but that's what came boiling up when I took the lid off my feelings. With nothing better to do than lay on the couch & stare at the ceiling fans (Monday Night Football wasn't on yet), I decided to unpack those feelings a bit.

Here's what I think. Twister, along with it's "cousins",
Funny Bones (sadly out of print) and Octopus (so obscure I need to add it to the Geek database), are very "body-conscious" games. I discovered Funny Bones at my ACTUAL cousins' home in Missouri (and played primarily with them) as an elementary school kid. Shari & I didn't buy Octopus until after we were married. Twister, OTOH, entered my life during junior high.

Think about it... at a time in a young man's life in which he has the worst possible body image (because his puberty-driven growth betrays him with broken voice & clutzy ineptitude) as well as the most heart-destroying social scene, get him to play a game like Twister in front of people he hopes will think he's cool. Recipe for freakin' disaster.

And, since those lovely images from the Turner Classic Movie Channel of my mind came rolling back, right next to them are the two times I played Spin the Bottle. (Yes, there is a Spin the Bottle entry on the Geek... but we all know that's not what I'm talking about.) The red-faced embarassment, the meaningless kisses, the agony of watching the girl I liked kissing another guy, the sound of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack playing in the background...

And there I realized that I wanted to make sure that Braeden & Collin, when they're old enough, understand how precious it is to kiss a girl. What a privilege it is to have that kind of physical contact with God's creation... and how sad it is to waste it on a circle of junior highers. I can't stop my boys from doing painful things - but that doesn't mean I shouldn't let 'em know how empty it can be... or how a simple kiss can be filled with meaning.

Whew... pretty deep for a Thursday morning. And all started over a game of Twister. Imagine how nutty I'd have gotten if the memory train ran past Gnip Gnop or Which Witch? :-)

Friday, September 09, 2005

Supernatural Disaster

Joe McKeever is the director of missions of the New Orleans Baptist Association... as you can imagine, he's had an insane couple of weeks. (Which, of course, you can read about over on his website.) Mark Puckett, my Canadian pastor buddy, called the following post to my attention and I just wanted to pass it on. It's incredibly cool to here someone seeing the incredible opportunity for the body of Christ to re-tool because of something this horrible.

HERE'S MY DREAM FOR WHEN THIS IS ALL OVER.... Over the past 16 months as I've gone in and out of churches all over metro New Orleans, I've been struck by how alive and vibrant some are and how sickly and needy others seem. Some are healthy champions and others practically on life support. And the poor pastors of the sickly churches, it's all they can do to get up the strength to re-enter the pulpit for another Sunday.

Our people in New Orleans have heard it from me time and again that our churches are ISOLATED and therefore our people are INSULATED. The members of one church do not know the members of another, leaders do not know other leaders, and everyone feels alone and lonely. Whenever a prophet arises and speaks up and calls for God's people to break out of their cocoons, their shells of isolation, and get into the community and get to know their neighbors and to minister in Jesus' name, he is met by stares of despair that seem to say, "You don't know my situation. I'm so busy with my committee meetings and church programs and classes. I don't have time for my family now, and you're trying to put more jobs on me."

So, what does the Lord do? He shut the whole business down. Closed all the churches in the New Orleans area, every last one of them. Then, He sent the pastors home to rest and be quiet and pray. It's as though God is giving them time to reflect on what they would do if they could start their church anew, from scratch, from the ground up.

Here's a good question for every New Orleans pastor: "If you could start from scratch with your people, what would you leave off? What would you start? What would you do different?" Because this is precisely the situation you have been handed. God has given you a burden for ministering in your neighborhood in ways that really make a difference, don't ask anyone, pastor, just start doing it. If you've had dead programs that refused to lie down and go away, then simply do not restart them. Now, pastor, don't use that terminology. Just tell your people, "We'll get to that later as the Lord leads." That's not a fib; if God leads, you will get to it. But not until.

When we re-enter the city, we are going to have the greatest window of opportunity most of us have ever seen and may ever see again in our lifetime. If we are foolish, we will piddle this time away with planning meetings and discussions and forums. We will neglect the hurting people who live around us and convince them that we are irrelevant to real life. The greatest tragedy of Katrina, THE REAL SUPERNATURAL DISASTER, will be if our pastors and our churches miss this opportunity. Let's don't mess this up.

The Church Part

Every Sunday night through the summer, NewLife hosts what we call "Cool Summer Nights" at the home of one of our families. It's combination worship service/potluck dinner/pool party. Of course, Braeden loves it. Though he was very clear a few weeks ago that he wished "the church part didn't come first." Here he & his friend, Canaan, are waiting "patiently".

BTW, y'all realize that this is the same look I get from some adults on Sunday morning - those who've come in for their weekly "Zombies for Jesus Convention." Makes preaching/teaching ever so fun. :-) Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 04, 2005


As in, "My thoughts are jumbled."

A short tour of my mental landscape...

Last Sunday

Braeden & I arrive home from camping with church folks (much fun was had). I crank up the e-mail and find a blizzard of posts on the Gulf Games list... warnings from Warren Madden (hurricane hunter w/the Weather Channel & Gulf Gamer) about the potential severity of Katrina, questions asking the whereabouts of Lenny, Henry, the Moore's, the Cortazzo's, the LaBranche, Jim & Erin and others. I'm usually pretty cool about natural disasters (positive spin: I'm objective; negative spin: I'm cold as a fish) but I break down trying to tell Shari that we're not sure everyone is accounted for.

By late evening, it appears that everyone I know in New Orleans (admittedly, a small number of folks) is safe. I'm relieved and begin to realize that the "want to watch a train wreck" part of my brain is kicking in... I'd like to see what the hurricane does. Since I'd just visited the city in late July for Gulf Games, I think I have some perspective.


We don't have cable or satellite, so I rely on the Web and network news to figure out what's going on. Evidently, California stations are more interested in how Katrina will affect our already outrageous gas prices, so I don't get much info until watching Nightline late that night. I was heartened to see a reporter standing in front of Harrah's on Canal Street (where William & I got off the trolley to find Mother's - Home of the Most Excellent Po'Boy) with only palm trees down.

There's a part of me that feels guilty about thanking God for sparing New Orleans, because Biloxi & Gulfport end up taking the bullet. Mostly I'm relieved that most of the Gulf Games family looks like they'll come through this with minor damage & some good stories to tell.


While I'm asleep, the levee breaks and water pours into New Orleans. A little voice in my head does the whole "it wouldn't have happened if you'd kept watching the news" which is stupid but a pretty normal response, I guess.

By Tuesday night, the same reporter on Nightline is standing in the same place as Monday night, only now he's standing in 3 feet of water. That means our hotel (the Park Plaza) has to have water standing in the lobby. A couple of thoughts run through my head: "Could I have ridden out the storm in the upper floors of a hotel?" "I am SO glad this didn't happen during Gulf Games."

Things are getting rough in the Superdome, which has become Grand Central Station for news media. Braeden asks me if the Rescue Heroes can help, and I tell him that there are lots of heroes helping, but it's not like his cartoons - they can't stop the storm.


I find myself having difficulty working... as the scope of the disaster becomes clearer and clearer in the light of day, I start worrying about the future for friends like Lenny & Greg. It's not even my future... but I'm feeling long-distance empathy that immobilizes me.

We give to the North American Mission Board, which makes me feel better for about a minute, until I realize again how monstrous the need is.

I write a Grapevine (church e-newsletter) article about Katrina - including the proclamation of the Day of Prayer by the governor of LA, a great story about Sarah Lohroff (a Gulf Games kid), and my own comments about judgement & the love of God. I don't put down in the article that it seems presumptous to call Katrina "God's judgement on the sinful city of New Orleans", as Bourbon Street & the Quarter (aka Land of 100 Live Sex Shows & on-the-street drinking) looks like it's only going to suffer minor damage while huge swaths of poor neighborhoods are flooded.

The video from N.O. is painful to watch... I can only imagine how much worse it is for someone who likes the city. (I feel vaguely guilty today about my attitude about New Orleans after Gulf Games... I kept mumbling about how it was a dirty, smelly city that I didn't particularly enjoy. Gulf Games was wonderful, but I couldn't care less if I got to visit again.)

Gulf Games folks have begun talking about how to help each other rebuild... if this kind of conversation is going on in a lot of other places, the situation is a bit more hopeful.


Today somebody starts trolling for political discussion (in other words, bash the President for how screwed up everything is) on one of my gaming lists. Amazingly enough, the majority of folks weigh in with a hearty "shut up", which makes me feel better.

At the same time, I find myself wondering why help hasn't arrived. I know that Southern Baptist disaster relief crews headed out almost before the storm was done... why isn't something being done, and how can any self-respecting politician let the things happen at the convention center & the dome ON TELEVISION and not throw something at the problem?

I try to explain my theory to Shari, which I'm not sure really holds water (unfortunate pun): sending a small squad of Guardsmen into a crowd of 10,000+ starving people with food & water would certainly set off a riot. The only way to stop that is to give them "shoot to kill" orders, which would be political suicide. So, you've got to wait until you can move massive assistance & food all at once, along with big numbers of troops (who really won't shoot unless they have run out of options). My explanation makes me feel better, but it doesn't explain all the problems.

Greg is beginning to wonder if his business (insurance) will survive - while he moved to TN, all of his client's are in New Orleans, and it's beyond my abilities to wrap my head around what he's going to go through over the next few months. It'd be easier if he was a son of a you-know-what, but Greg's an honorable man who's deeply in love with Jesus, not to mention he's a man who feels deeply for people & esp. friends. I remind myself to pray for him & Gail & Lindsey.

Lenny, typing away from a hotel room in Sulphur, TX, is the voice of reason & information for us all. My mind wanders to Lenny's job change in the last few months... and whether or not the coin business will be survivable. His generosity to me has been so huge...

This is also the day I begin to wonder about places I've been before... how is New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary? (I was there back in 1997 for a mini-conference of GenX church planters.) What about Gulfshore Baptist Assembly, a retreat center just outside of Gulfport? (I took kids there for summer camp back in '89.)


I'm numb. Too many pictures of disaster. Too many times reading the lead story on Yahoo News only to find that all they've done is simply add a few more horrific details about conditions at the convention center.

I find myself more & more irritated by the finger-pointing... and yet, at the same time, amazed & hopeful by the way churches, esp. in TX, are stepping up to the plate and caring for people. I'm blown away that people are acknowledging that they'll need to think about "the long haul" in how to help these folks, not just feed 'em for a week and send 'em on their merry way.

New Orleans Baptist Seminary is under water... well, not completely, but enough so I'd guess fall classes are cancelled. I wonder what my nieces & nephew (William) are thinking - they stayed there last summer & did missions work in the community around the seminary... which is all underwater, too.

There's no word about Gulfshore Assembly online... the only scrap of info I find simply says that no one can get there because the roads are blocked. (When I was there in '89, we rode out a small storm one afternoon, and that was scary enough. Something like Katrina could wipe the place off the map.)


I wake up & once again check online for information. Kayne West needs to sit down & be quiet... for the difficulties of the disaster response to be a plot against African-Americans would require a plot of X-Files-ish proportions. I'm the first to acknowledge that it's awful and a tragedy and that the lag time in responding seems nuts, but it's not some kind of vast right-wing conspiracy.

The Purpose-Driven churches are already trying to figure out how to help churches in the affected areas rebuild... which is cool. I start praying about how we can do that here at NewLife... is this our next mission trip? I dunno... I ponder how much of my response is God's "still small voice", how much is "hey, kids, let's put on a show", and how much is guilt and/or "all the other cool churches are doing it"? Definitely need to keep praying about this.

The seminary is figuring out ways to do classes even with the seminary underwater... how cool is that?

OTOH, Gulfshore Baptist Assembly is almost certainly gone (due to the storm surge) and the 3 workers who stayed behind to ride out the storm are missing.

I'm beginning to wonder why New Orleans gets all the footage? Is it easier to take pictures of a mob of refugees and inflate the situation than it is to focus on the less-popular states of MS and AL?

Today (Sunday)

Braeden & I talk before I leave for church - last night, he went to Toys'R'Us with allowance money he'd saved and bought a Micro Rescue Heroes playset. This morning, he watched the videos that came with it and told me that one of them had a storm "like New Orleans." Then he asked me, "Dad, what's New Orleans like?" I tried to explain that much of the city was flooded and everyone had to leave their homes. He then wondered if scuba divers could rescue people who were trapped. I proceeded to tell him about the helicopter rescues that I'd seen on TV (we've kept the boys from watching most of the footage). Then we decided we needing to keep praying for people.

This morning in the shower I had a sick thought - I blew off a chance to go to the D-Day Museum back in July because I was sure I'd get to N.O. again... so, no D-Day Museum for me? I feel like a total heel for this running through my head.

This morning I've been working on my sermon... the primary focus was to be a "preview" for our capital campaign (which starts in mid-October), but that seems wack in light of what's going on in the South. The theme (Get in the Game) fits, but the application is a little weird. Looks like this morning will be one of those "fly by the seat of my pants and keep throwing up prayers" kind of messages.

Like I said earlier, my thoughts are jumbled. God, use this jumble to your glory.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Apologetics is not the study of Battlestar Galactica

Though I am watching the Battlestar Galactica miniseries (the new one) on DVD and while I'm put off by some of the "look, we're doing something naughty on TV" element of it, so far it's a brilliant re-imagining of the original cheeseball series. Plus, Edward James Olmos has some serious gravitas.

But, to quote "Airplane", that's not important right now. What I do want to do is point you toward an incredible post on someone else's blog:
Thank You Josh McDowell (sort of) on Dan Kimball's Vintage Faith. (You may recognize Dan as the pastor of Vintage Faith Church or as the author of one of the best books on the emerging church, aptly titled The Emerging Church.) His blog is as thoughtful & graceful as his books.

Apologetics, by the way, is a "theological big word" way of saying "how to intelligently defend our belief in God."

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Every Once In A While...

...I get reminded of why I'm a Southern Baptist.

Still not proud of our history (for those who don't know, the Southern Baptist Convention was started primarily by those supporting slavery), still not proud of our yearly bouts of goofiness (like the Disney boycott)... but there are some things we do right.

And disaster relief is one of them. By this weekend, SBC Disaster Relief teams will be feeding 300,000 people a day (wow!) in response to Katrina. For more on this, you can check out the story over at the
North American Misson Board's site.

As well, if you want to donate to hurricane relief, one of the coolest things about donating through NAMB is that 100% of the money goes to disaster relief, as the administrative expenses are already being taken care of SBC churches. You can use this link
right here.

I know a lot of folks who read this blog aren't believers... and even fewer of you are Southern Baptists. If you choose not to give through my denomination, that's no sweat off my back. Just choose to give in a way that can make a difference.