Friday, January 30, 2009

25 Things

The term Internet meme is a neologism used to describe a catchphrase or concept that spreads quickly from person to person via the Internet. (thank you, Wikipedia)

And that, my friends, explains the dancing baby, the dancing hamsters, the dancing prisoners (anyone else notice how many things are dancing on the World Wide Web?) and "all your base belong to us."

It also explains the chain mail-like nature of the 25 things meme that has swept through Facebook like a band of rampaging zombies. (You can't kill it - look out! Run! Zombies Ahead! - btw, did anyone else get to see this?)

But I digress. (Heck, that pretty much covers about 1/2 of my blogging - I am the King of Digressions, the Duke of Rabbit Chasing, the Earl of Run-On Sentences, the Vizier of Parenthetical Reference Overuse... ehem.)

So, my 25 things. I will NOT be "tagging" anyone with this... if you want to join in, do it. If not, don't. It's a free country.

  1. I have glaucoma. It was actually diagnosed when I was 6 months old & I had surgeries to stop the progress of the disease.
  2. I've never broken any bones - well, maybe my toe, but probably not. Anyway, no casts.
  3. The guys from Hokus Pick used to call me "Dad" - I don't remember why but I'm really proud of that.
  4. I've actually had a hand in two different books: I wrote the teaching materials for a Jay Strack "True Love Waits" book and consulted on Klutz's latest board games book.
  5. Frank Branham gave me playtesting credits on Dia de los Muertos (which I only played once) but didn't give me playtesting credits on Nodwick: The Card Game (which I played a lot).
  6. I've said this before, but I played keyboards & sang in a rock'n'roll band. We weren't very good.
  7. I sold a chunk of my comic book collection to buy Shari's engagement ring.
  8. I did NOT know Shari was 18 when we went on our first date.
  9. I will eventually publish the top 35 games of the Kid Games 100 - I promise.
  10. I got the Order of Light (Webelos) but wasn't interested in going much farther in the Boy Scouts, due to the stoner nature of the troop I would have been a part of in late 70's SoCal.
  11. I grew up in the O.C., only we didn't call it the O.C. and it didn't look like the TV show.
  12. My two best friends from high school & junior high (hi, Keith & Jim/James) live hundreds of miles from where we grew up... yet only live about 30 miles from each other.
  13. I've been involved in pretty much every facet of the boardgaming hobby (family games, wargames, RPG's, CCG's, Euros, etc.) with the exception of serious miniatures gaming. (Now, if you count Heroscape, I've done the minis thing, too.)
  14. I did not intend or want to be a minister and/or a senior pastor - I spent most of my youth telling people that was NOT going to happen.
  15. I was really scared of being a dad of a boy - I've always struggled with my lack of sports and/or mechanical skills - and yet the moment Braeden was born, I knew it was right. Collin was an exclamation point at the end of the sentence, "God loves you, Mark."
  16. I'm secretly enjoying watching season 5 of the Gilmore Girls with Shari, but don't tell her that.
  17. I don't have a gall bladder... any more.
  18. There's a part of me that wonders if I couldn't find a job with the Disney parks when I retire.
  19. I work very hard not to be obnoxious about what I believe, but the birth, death & resurrection of Jesus Christ is at the absolute center of my life. And not just because I preach for a living.
  20. Shari & I will be married for 19 years this June - I am a blessed man.
  21. I still think Frank Branham's Battle Beyond Space deserves publication... and I don't care who knows it.
  22. Sometimes I still wonder what I could have done differently to keep the church @ hickory hollow from dying.
  23. I live close enough to go to high school reunion stuff now, but a lot of those folks weren't particularly kind to me 25 years ago so I'm not sure I want to subject myself to that again.
  24. I love to read.
  25. I wish there was a way I could tell people about grace & truth & love that helped them know & experience it rather than cause them to go 15 rounds with the crappy churches & hypocritical "Christians" from their past.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Memory Is A Funny Thing

Certain things trigger memories - places, songs, smells, whatever. It was over 25 years ago when my best friend, Keith, came bounding across the AstroTurf greens of the Camelot miniature golf course (just off the 91, for those who know the area) to ask me for $20 based on "The Agreement." (We had a deal... if either one of us got a date & was short on cash, we could hit the other up for $20 without question.) I handed him a twenty, he smiled & bounded away again - and turned to explain this odd exchange to my date.

Of course, as strong as that memory is, neither of us ended up married to the girls we saw that evening. But when I passed Camelot earlier this year on my way to a ministry conference, the memory came flooding back.

I've been loading my CD collection into iTunes - and a number of those CD's have strong connection with place & time as well. I was driving around the back side of Cal State Fullerton when I first heard Michael W. Smith's "The Big Picture"... and Tonio K's "You Belong With Me" always makes me think of Shari Jo, because I put it on not one but TWO mix tapes I made for her. (Yes, I am John Cusack in the film, "Hi Infidelity", except I don't own a vintage record store.)

And I can't hear the hymn, "Just As I Am" (which is NOT the same thing as Andrew Peterson's "Just As I Am" which we're using in the worship service Sunday morning) without flashing to a little Central TX church where the music/drama group that I directed was the "special guest" for a night of their youth revival. When it came to the invitation (the part of the service where the pastor asks folks who want to respond to come down to the front of the church), he drafted my roommate to lead the congregation in singing - you guessed it - "Just As I Am". Jeff jumped up front & sang out... but then reality set in.

You see, "Just As I Am" in the old school Baptist Hymnal has 7 verses - seven! People began coming down front, so we got to sing all 7 verses - and Jeff, who managed to get up there without a hymnal, was lost by the third verse. We attempted to feed him lyrics from the front pew without being obnoxious or breaking the mood of the worship service, but it was a lost cause.

It's one of those situations that is alternately horrifying & hilarious - here's my good friend & roommate, a talented guy, who's completely adrift, trying to lead a congregation of people through the less-traveled regions of a slow & solemn hymn while he himself has absolutely no idea what he should be singing and is trying to lip-read the lyrics from the rest of us.

For some of you who are reading this, your church memories aren't hilarious - they're just horrifying. When you think about church, you flash on business meetings that spun out of control in sickening ways. You have no trouble conjuring up the sound of a graceless preacher haranguing a crowd or the razor-edged laughter of gossipping church members.

Some of you have church memories that are interesting largely because of their absence of interest - you might ending up using like "droning", "uninspired" or the ever popular "boring." (You can say it like a teenager if you like, with two syllables: "Boh-ring..." It's fun, I promise.)

Regardless of the content & quality of your memories, whether it's a Pavlovian response to the smell of a musty church air conditioner or tears of joy that well up in your eyes when you hear "Amazing Grace," they aren't just memories. Our past - or at least how we remember our past - has a huge effect on right now... and on the future.

See, if the controlling image in your head of church is a fort, then you're going to think in terms of church as a place to hide, as people gathered behind a thick set of walls hell-bent (yes, I chose that phrase on purpose) at defending themselves against all the godless people on the outside.

If the imagery of church life in your head is primarily a collage of preachers behind large wooden pulpits or standing above a congregation in their robes with dust motes floating around their heads, you're primed to see church as a place where stupid people go to hear a smart guy show off how smart he is & how damned they are.

And if you resonate like a tuning fork with my mentioning gossip-y laughter... if the sound of people talking behind their hands in stage whispers is like nails scratching down a chalkboard for you, you can easily come to see church as a beauty parlor with crosses on the wall or a country club where the Muzak comes straight from a Wurlitzer pipe organ.

That's sad to me - sad not just for the church I pastor (because people who feel like that are really unlikely to take a chance & see what we're really about) but also sad for them - because they've let their past dictate their present... and their future.

Over the past few weeks in our Sunday morning service, I've tried to suggest a few alternative pictures for the church:
  • diving board - The church is a springboard for us to use to dive into the world with the love & grace of Jesus Christ. It does no good for us to sit on the board - we never get the pleasure of splashing in the world God created... and we never touch those who live there.
  • emergency room - Everybody without exception has some kind of injury - physical, mental, spiritual, emotional. No one has "arrived"... and so, just like a hospital emergency room, people in varying states of fear, frustration & need mix together, seeking hope & healing.
  • convenience store - Convenience stores aren't convenient for the people who work in them - who in their right mind wants to sell beer & candy to people in the middle of the night while worrying about some nutball trying to rip off the register for a hundred bucks & change?! Convenience stores are convenient for the customer. In the same way, churches shouldn't be convenient for the members but for the people who need Jesus.
Some of you have reached this point and are thinking: "OK, I like those pictures better... but the junk of my past is a whole lot stronger than Mark's messages & a couple of PowerPoint slides." Let me suggest something simple.
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. (Philippians 3:12-14, NLT)
Or, to shorten it up a bit (and U2 it at the same time), don't let yourself get "stuck in a moment." Ask God for help to get unstuck... maybe something like this:

Jesus, it is so hard for me to let go of the past hurts & wounds inflicted on me & others by people who claimed to be Your followers. It feels like trapped like a fly in amber... melt the memories and warm my heart, Jesus. Give me the ability to make more steps toward You and Your people, the church. In Your name, amen.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Less Than 50 Years...

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
You may not like that Barack Obama is now President Obama, but you can not deny that there is great wonder & a hint of the Divine in Martin Luther King's words becoming a reality in such a short time.
Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (Colossians 3:11-13, ESV)

Regardless of who you voted for, it's time to celebrate that the vision of Scripture is a little bit closer today. Now we must pray for our President & our nation with compassionate hearts, patient & forgiving rather than strident & bitter. We must live in hope - strengthened not by the victory of a particular party or candidate but by the victory of Jesus on the cross.

Once again, Dr. King:
With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Wordy Shipmates

I'm in the process of reading Sarah Vowell's The Wordy Shipmates... if you're easily offended by liberal viewpoints and/or incisive analysis of American Christianity, you'll probably want to avoid this book like the plague.

OTOH, she's a great writer and has some very thought-provoking things to say. For example:
I will also say that readers who squirm at microscopic theological differences might be unsuited to read a book about seventeenth century Christians. Or, for that matter, a newspaper.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Moral/Ethical/Legal

OK, this is going to start with semi-technical gaming stuff, but I promise I'll actually get to a spiritual point for the non-gamers out there if you'll just hang with me. (Yes, I'm talking to you, Mom & Liz.)

It's no surprise to anyone that I'm a big fan of Race for the Galaxy, a card game designed by Tom Lehmann that takes the role selection mechanic (you get to choose a particular special action each turn that you & all the other players get to do) and uses it to create a fast-moving game of interstellar exploration & development that plays well with 2-5 players... and even has a very nifty solitaire variant. Between face-to-face & solitaire games, I've played it over 100 times.

So I was pretty excited when I read a thread title on Boardgamegeek yesterday announcing an online version of the game. Well, that excitement quickly faded when I asked whether or not the developers of the online version had permission from the designer (Tom Lehmann) or the publisher (Rio Grande Games).

Like I said, this is going to get technical for a minute. The law that governs the copying of games is, shall we say, "in flux." (Or, for the gamers in the audience, "in Fluxx." Thank you, good night - I'll be here all this week. Don't forget to tip your waitress!) The graphics of the game board, cards, and pieces are protected by copyright, as is the specific wording of the game's rules... but the mechanics are not. (Mechanics, in board game terms, are the ways that the game works - in Monopoly, the mechanics include rolling the dice & moving, purchasing or auctioning properties, collecting rents, improving properties, mortgaging, negotiating deals.)

So, if I choose to make a new version of, say, Uno (why, why, WHY would I do this?!), I might get away with it if I changed the card colors & design, called it "First & Goal" (which is what my unsuspecting players would be forced to yell when they got down to one card) and rewrote the rules. OTOH, if I kept their card design, called it "One" and essentially copied their rules, I'd be subject to some pretty swift legal attention.

So, the guys getting ready to unleash their homebrewed version of Race for the Galaxy online feel like since they're using new artwork (or at least trying to find new artwork) that they fall under the "fair use" doctrine of the copyright law.

Legally, they may be right. (Like I said earlier, there's a lot of grey areas in copyright law... and the advent of the Internet and the easy publication of almost anything has made for a lot more grey.) But is it morally or ethically right?

In this specific situation, the designer has asked the individuals not to continue (which they have refused to do) and is, along with the publisher, attempting to negotiate to license the game officially to someone else. Seems pretty clear-cut to me: these guys are taking Tom's work and benefiting from it without him.

But the specifics aren't really the issue here... the question that has intrigued me is the differentiation between
  • what is legal?
  • what is ethical?
  • what is moral?

I'm in real danger of oversimplification here as I begin this discussion - actually, there's no question I'll be doing just that. Bear with me.

Legal refers to what is lawful - do the written rules of the society permit or prohibit a particular action? Ethical refers to what is right - how should an individual or group conduct themselves as a responsible member of a society? Moral refers to what is good - what is the best behavior in light of truth & the reality of evil?

I don't want to go rabbit-chasing, but you need to know that the previous paragraph would make some academic types crazier than Carrot Top on a bad hair day. Not everyone agrees that there is any qualitative difference between morality & ethics... and don't even get started about the theories about where moral/ethical norms come from. Anyway, just wanted you to know that the preceding is my personal attempt to define the three terms.

OK, an example, courtesy of a poster on blurtit.com - until 1863, slavery was legal in the United States. It was the law of the land that one man could own another man... but that did not make it ethical (right) or moral (good).

Another example, this time from the Old Testament - when Shadrach, Meschach & Abednego are "prompted" to worship the huge idol or face being burned alive, they had the choice to do what was morally good (honoring God) and ethically right (being true to what they believed)... or they could simply do the legal thing and grovel on their knees.

Yes, I realize that pirating a game with an online version & the slave trade are not the same thing - not even close. (It's also not the same as worshipping a 70 ft. idol - I figured most of you would understand that.) But it is a clear example of the principle I'm trying to get across - just because something is legally permissible doesn't make it ethically right or morally good.

"Everything is permissible"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. (1 Corinthians 10:23-24, NIV)

So, what does all this mean for those of us who claim to be followers of Jesus? Again, this is just me typing here, but I think the Biblical standards are:

  • "the good of others" (see the verse above)
  • the honor of God
  • just because I can do something doesn't mean I should do something

When we're faced with difficult decisions, our tendency is to rely on the letter of the law, whether that is a particular interpretation of the Bible or the Federal case law. As believers in Christ, that simply isn't enough - we must let go of the permissible and instead grab on with both hands to what is right & true, what is pure & good.

Our work as God's servants gets validated—or not—in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly . . . in hard times, tough times, bad times; when we're beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; when we're telling the truth, and when God's showing his power; when we're doing our best setting things right; when we're praised, and when we're blamed; slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; ignored by the world, but recognized by God; terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all. (2 Corinthians 6:4-10, MSG)

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Pliable & Curious

This quote jumped out of the book Wide Awake and bit me.

The longer we live, the less pliable our minds are to learning. And certainly that is going to be our epitaph if we give up on learning, if we think we've learned enough, or if we've chosen to simply work off what we know. We convince ourselves that somehow what we already know will take us where we need to go. Unfortunately, we who build our lives on the Scriptures are at times most in danger when we conclude all we need to know is in one book so we can be ignorant of everything else.

A person of faith must never be afraid to explore. We above all should be driven to question, to examine, to learn. Faith shouldn't make you less curious but insatiably curious. When you live in relationship to the God of all creation, learning is a given. You are now and forever on a journey involving mystery and discovery. This journey is as endless as God is infinite and eternal. For all eternity we will be not only worshippers but also explorers. (emphasis mine)

As usual, thanks to Erwin McManus for saying it better than I could.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Google Sounds Like the Coolest Place To Work

And I'm not just saying that because they own the company that hosts my blog. Really. (Please, please, please don't delete me, Great Google Overlords... whimper, moan.)

I'm saying that because one of the things they do is host Google talks - and this last year, two of my greatest interests, board games & faith in God, were up for discussion.

Here's Matt Leacock, designer of Pandemic (and the upcoming Roll Through the Ages), talking about the process of game design. (BTW, Pandemic is one of the best cooperative games out there - accessible to non-gamers & fun for gamers.)

And here's Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, NY, talking about his book, The Reason For God (which was on my Top Ten books post from earlier in the week).

Enjoy!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Favorite Designers

I've always said that my favorite game designers were: But I recently ran some stats (love BGG John Farrell's x-tended stats page, eh?) and here's the actual order of finish for folks I've played enough to matter:
  1. Stephen Baker, Craig Van Ness & Rob Daviau... yep, they not only created Heroscape, but they also made Queen's Gambit a reality and have overseen some really nifty re-treads of Risk, Clue (the Clue DVD game is great!), and Monopoly.
  2. Richard Borg... Liar's Dice alone would cement his rep - but when you add in Pig Pile (the best "better than UNO" game ever), Mutant Chronicles: Siege of the Citadel, Wyatt Earp and the Command & Colors series (Battle Cry, Memoir '44, C&C:Ancients and Battlelore), you've got a genius on your hands.
  3. Tom Lehmann... and it's not just about Race for the Galaxy. To Court the King is golden and Fast Food Franchise is one of my top ten games.
  4. Klaus Teuber... I love me some Settlers - but the cream of the crop is the original Lowenherz.
  5. Mike Fitzgerald... the Mystery Rummy series is so good that I'll give anything else he touches a try.
  6. Wolfgang Riedesser... he hasn't done much lately (Wurfel Kick, which I've never even seen) but his ratio of game/fun is so darn good (Ave Caesar/Ausgebremst, Dschungelrennen, Secrets of the Deep, Route 66, etc.). Your mileage may seriously vary. :-)
  7. Uwe Rosenberg... the man does magical things with cards. I love Agricola, but I'm fasciinated right now by how much we're having with Nottingham.
  8. Heinz Meister... the king of kid game design. Seriously. Here's a short list of some major accomplishments: Barenstark, Daddy Cool, Die Kullerbande, Galloping Pigs, Hupf Hupf Hurra, Igloo Pop, Karambolage, Maus nach Haus, Nur Peanuts, Turbulento, Zapp Zerapp, Zitternix. The gaming world would be a much sadder place without him.
  9. Franz-Benno Delonge... and speaking of sad, the loss of Herr Delonge is great. While I don't like all of his designs, he approached things from a different angle.
  10. Wolfgang Kramer... I don't like his action point games (with the exception of Torres) but he knows his way around a game table and is willing to design just about anything.
  11. Alan Moon... again, many of the supposed "classic" designs from Alan are not my favorites - but I'd be happy to play Andromeda or Mush with anyone who asks.
  12. Michael Schacht... sometimes his stuff gets a little same-y, but when it works (Zooloretto, Kardinal & Konig, Richileu, etc.) it's very good.
  13. Reiner Knizia... like Moon, the stuff I like is not always the stuff other people like - Clash of the Gladiators or Hot Potatoes, anyone?!

And a few guys I want to watch:

2008 Rewind: Top Ten Books

Just gonna take a quick look back (hopefully without turning into a pillar of salt) at the year that was 2008... we'll start in a literary mode.
Janine Melnitz: You're very handy, I can tell. I bet you like to read a lot, too.

Dr. Egon Spengler: Print is dead.

Yep, I watched Ghostbusters again the other night... and that little gem stood out like a sore thumb. Seemed like a pretty profound statement back 25 years ago - and yet, here I am still buying & reading those antiquated lumps of paper & glue they call books.

What follows is a list of the ten best books I've read this year in no particular order

  • Faith & Doubt (John Ortberg) - Ortberg deals tenderly & creatively with the tension between faith & doubt... as usual, he writes in a personal, thoughtful style with flashes of humor that is disarming & wise. If I wasn't a pastor myself, I'd probably try to be somewhere I could hear this man teach on a regular basis. The book is probably best for those who believe but are struggling with doubts (for folks who've not yet chosen to believe, I'd probably send them to Tim Keller's "The Reason for God").
  • The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read The Bible (Scot McKnight) - A very well-written book on Biblical interpretation - probably the best I've read that's accessible to non-theologians. McKnight's honesty & willingness to follow the truth where it leads will make liberals & conservatives uncomfortable - and that's a good thing!
  • The Coldest Winter: America & the Korean War (David Halberstam) - I love David Halberstam's way of writing "narrative history" - and it was esp. interesting to learn about the Korean War, which was a giant black hole in my 20th century knowledge. The book was engrossing & informative. In a couple of places late in the book, Halberstam generalizes the lessons learned in Korea to the current war in the Middle East, a leap I'm not sure he fully supports with the evidence. That didn't diminish my personal enjoyment of the book, however - it just reminded me that everyone has a axe to grind. I look forward in 2009 to going back & reading his classic work on Vietnam, The Best & the Brightest...
  • Axiom: Powerful Leadership Proverbs (Bill Hybels) - Bill Hybels has proven over time that he can not only lead a church but can inspire other leaders to lead well - and this book is a distillation of his leadership philosophy into bite-sized pieces. It makes a great companion to his longer book, Courageous Leadership - and in some ways is probably more useful in a staff/volunteer setting where focusing on a short chapter (some are just one page) can really help you flesh out the concepts. If you've been listening to Hybels preach/teach for a long time, there won't be much "new stuff" here... but having these truths succinctly stated is valuable in and of itself. I can't recommend this highly enough - I expect to read it multiple times & use it in my ministry.
  • Mouse Tales: A Behind-the-Ears Look at Disneyland - Golden Anniversary Edition (David Koenig) - This is the expanded anniversary edition of a book I already love - the added stuff (one chapter on 1955, the accompanying CD walk-through of 1955 Disneyland, and the added tidbits in a number of chapters) is nice but not essential. Still, this is possibly the most enjoyable "behind the scenes" book about Disneyland... written by an author who knows his subject & loves the park. (I actually read the original edition some years back... but the new chapter allowed me to sneak it onto the 2008 list!)
  • It Came From Within: The Shocking Truth About What Lurks Within (Andy Stanley) - I'm still struggling with putting together the premises in the opening chapters of this very good book with the premises in John Eldredge's Waking the Dead... but that doesn't change how helpful this is in dealing with how our inner junk plays out in sinful & destructive ways in our lives & the lives of people around us.
  • The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (Tim Keller) -"Mere Christianity" for the postmodern generation... this is a stunning achievement in apologetics. And even as I say that, I'm afraid I'll scare some of you away from reading possibly the best book in the last 50 years to discuss the logical basis for belief in Christianity - please read it anyway!
  • The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt (Edmund Morris) - A biography that doesn't devolve into hagiography about a profoundly interesting man - police commissioner, cowboy, politician, naturalist, writer, family man... and finally, at the end of the book (the first of two volumes), President of the United States. This was, surprisingly, a page-turner... I carried it with me for a couple of weeks, reading it whenever & wherever I could. (Yes, I plan to read Theodore Rex, the second book of Morris' biography, this spring.)
  • The Case for the Real Jesus: A Journalist Investigates Current Attacks on the Identify of Christ (Lee Strobel) - I like all of Lee Strobel's "Case For..." books - but this feels like the best of the bunch to me. His writing is improving with each book, plus this particular book is dealing with recent topics such as Bart E.'s Misquoting Jesus. I also like that he allows the people he's interviewing to speak for themselves. I'd recommend this book to followers of Christ who are wondering about recent attacks on the nature of Jesus and to unchurched folks who have questions about why we believe what we believe
  • unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity and Why It Matters (David Kinnaman) - Insightful & thoughtful look at what the younger generations "see" when they see Christianity. Based on survey research & interviews done by the Barna Group, the statistics help back up what many of us in church leadership are already sensing. Read it with Dan Kimball's They Like Jesus But Not the Church to get a one-two sucker punch about how we inside the institutional church are acting like bug zappers rather than a city on a hill when it comes to showing people the love, power & grace of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

50 Odd/Random Things

Tip of the New Year Dunce Cap (don't those party hats make us all look like we should be sitting in the corner saying "But I don't know how to sing the songs..."?) to Val Hoback, who inspired this with a Facebook post.

50 ODD Things about you (more random than odd)
  1. Favorite object in your room? Which room? Seriously, my Apple G4 ranks pretty high in one room... though my nearly complete Heroscape collection (where are you, Agent Skahen?!) is high up the list in another room.
  2. Have you ever smoked heroin? Nope.
  3. Do you own a gun? Nada.
  4. What flavor do you add to your drink at Sonic? Coconut... maybe cherry.
  5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? It depends... am I going to be lectured about my cholesterol?
  6. What do you think of hot dogs? They taste best at baseball games - the best hot dog I've ever had was at Wrigley Field.
  7. What song are you listening to? Shari's listening to something on her iPod, but can't actually here what it is... earlier, I listened to Hokus Pick's "I'm So Happy" while I worked out.
  8. Drink in the morning? Coke Zero, thanks.
  9. Any plans tonight? Finish watching "Kit Kitteridge: An American Girl" with Shari & Braeden.
  10. Can you do a chin up? Yes, but I'll whine about when I'm finished.
  11. What's your favorite piece of jewelry? My ONLY piece of jewelry is my wedding band - which is my favorite for other reasons!
  12. Do you like blue cheese? Nasty rotten stuff... blech.
  13. Ever been in a car wreck? Yes... all fender benders, all caused by me. Sigh.
  14. What color is your couch? Light tan with slashes of other earthy colors.
  15. What's one thing that you hate about yourself? My tendency to procrastinate about important things... maybe I'm afraid of screwing up & so don't do anything. Whatever - it's stupid & not helpful.
  16. Middle name? Allen.
  17. Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment? 1. My shoulder hurts. 2. I have to take down the Christmas decorations, but I think there's some football on in a little bit, which should mitigate the pain. 3. I love my beautiful wife.
  18. Name 3 things you bought yesterday? We bought Shari an iPod nano with her Christmas money, I bought stuff to hang Tracey's pictures (see #15), and we bought the boys Lunchables because we're lazy, evil parents.
  19. Name 3 drinks you drink regularly? Coke Zero, Diet Coke, lemonade
  20. Current worry? finding a part-time worship leader for NewLife
  21. Current hate right now? doom & gloom news media
  22. Who was your last text from and what did it say? I don't text... I know, I'm a Luddite.
  23. How was New Years? Wonderful... Braeden & I stayed up and played Memoir '44. Collin woke up around 11:45 pm so we all watched the ball drop together.
  24. How was your day? So far, very nice. Slept in, worked out, got dressed.
  25. Name three people who will complete this? Zionred might... so might Ironcates.
  26. Do you own slippers? Of course... they're very comfortable. (Read: they're about to fall apart.)
  27. What shirt are you wearing? My Tennessee Titans 1999 AFC Champions shirt... almost as worn as my slippers.
  28. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? No.
  29. Can you whistle? Yes... but not as good as my dad.
  30. What kind of shampoo do you use? Head & Shoulders.
  31. Would you be a pirate? A Disney pirate - sure! A real pirate - nah.
  32. What songs do you sing in the shower? It depends - whatever pops into my head. Of course, I do a lot of sermon writing in the shower, too.
  33. Favorite girls name? Mariah. (It would have been Braeden's name if he was a girl.)
  34. Favorite boy's name? I really like Braeden & Collin!
  35. What's in your pocket? Cash, keys, wallet, wadded receipts.
  36. Last person that made you laugh? Collin - of course.
  37. Best bed sheets as a child? I didn't have cool bed sheets.
  38. Worst injury you've ever had? I had glaucoma as a 6 month old... actual injury, though? When I fell into the fireplace (not lit) following outpatient surgery.
  39. Do you love where you live? Well, I love the church I work for/with & the poeple we hang out with, but Fresno is not exactly in my Top Ten Places To Live list.
  40. How many TV's are in your house? One.
  41. Who is your loudest friend? My lovely wife. Chris Herndon is second.
  42. How many dogs do you have? Zero.
  43. Does someone have a crush on you? My lovely wife!
  44. What is the most recent picture in your phone of? I don't put pictures on my phone - my wallpaper is a early 60's Disneyland poster of the Matterhorn.
  45. Who is your best friend and why? Shari Jo is #1 - from there, it's divided into Nashville friends (Chris & Buster) and pre-marriage friends (Tim & Keith).
  46. What is your favorite candy? Almost all candy - chocolate is a very good thing. I really like 100 Grand bars.
  47. Favorite Sports Team? The TN Titans, the Baylor Bears & the Fresno State Bulldogs... oh, yeah, the U.S. Olympic team.
  48. Where is the next place you want to travel? Walt Disney World with the family!
  49. What were you doing at 11 pm last night? Playing some silly computer game.
  50. What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up? Why is Collin in here?

Thursday, January 01, 2009

My Personal Five & Dimes for 2008

played solitaire or primarily online:
  • Race for the Galaxy 81 (approx 40 face to face)
  • Agricola 28 (approx 8 face to face)
  • Powerboats 16 (zero face to face)
  • StreetSoccer 12 (one face to face)
played face to face:
  • Scene It? - Disney (1st & 2nd edition) 23
  • Hop Hop Hooray! 19
  • Beppo der Bock 16
  • HeroScape 16
  • Hisss 14
  • Duck, Duck, Bruce 11
  • Mouse Trap 11
  • Mutant Chronicles: Siege of the Citadel 11
  • Tsuro 11
  • Tumblin-Dice 11
  • Dish It Up! 10
  • Memoir '44 10
  • Monopoly - Tropical Tycoon DVD Game 10
  • Moo! 10
  • My First UNO 10
  • RattleSnake 10
  • Turbulento 10
  • Maskenball der Käfer 9
  • My Haunted Castle 9
  • Zooloretto 9
  • Bounce It-In Game 8
  • Chainsaw Warrior 8
  • Chuck-It Chicken! 8
  • Dungeonquest 8
  • Funny Bunny 8
  • Gulo Gulo 8
  • Jamaica 8
  • Rabatz auf dem Riesenrad 8
  • Ringel Rangel 8
  • Zingo 8
  • 10 Days in the USA 7
  • Burg-Ritter 7
  • Daddy Cool 7
  • Obstgärtchen 7
  • Pickomino 7
  • Scene It? - Friends 7
  • Schloss Schlotterstein 7
  • Shanghaien 7
  • Battleship Express 6
  • Boggle 6
  • Cat & Mouse 6
  • Diamant 6
  • Harry's Grand Slam Baseball Game 6
  • Käfer Kunterbunt 6
  • Marrakesh 6
  • Motley Wheels 6
  • Platsch! 6
  • Powerpuff Girls, The: Saving the World Before Bedtime 6
  • Star Wars: Epic Duels 6
  • Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit 6
  • Chateau Roquefort 5
  • Chicken Cha Cha Cha 5
  • Fat Cats 5
  • Frechdachs 5
  • Geisterwäldchen 5
  • Halli Galli 5
  • Jungle Speed 5
  • Jungle Treasure 5
  • Kleine Gewitterhexe 5
  • Lost Valley 5
  • Pandemic 5
  • Reiner Knizia's Decathlon 5
  • Say Anything 5
  • Schildi Schildkröte 5
  • Scrabble 5

Old Clothes


[ Happy New Year ]
Originally uploaded by Đя εℓ7σв ♥ ~