Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Acronyms & Answers

My father, who died in 1972 when he was 49 and I 14, once told me he had a fear of heights. I replied that I too was not keen on high places but then he said, "Yes, but you fear you may fall...I fear I may jump."

It was a puzzling thing for a father to say to his kid, and I'll never know why he said it.

I mention that in part because I will turn 49 next month and I feel like I am up on a limb.

It wouldn't be wise to go into details here, but let me assure you that I mentioned my father's remark only as a metaphor for my befuddlement. I'm not about to go take a flying leap, or even climb a tree...heck with my laptop and a wireless network I rarely even climb our stairs.

For the first time in more than 20 years I'm giving serious thought to radically changing my life...and serious consideration to not making any changes at all.

The change would be quite a leap, but it ideally won't be undertaken suddenly...a lot of pieces would have to fall into place.

I guess I'm only telling you I'm in a puzzling position.

This has nothing to do with anything I've mentioned but while I'm being cryptic...are you familiar with S.P.J.S.T.?

The radio station I work for in Waco sells sponsorships to the news and sportscasts I produce for them. Each day, one of the guys in Waco emails me a list of sponsors to mention. Today, one of the sponsors read, "S.P.J.S.T."

Now, occasionally the Waco crew will abbreviate a regular sponsor's name, assuming I'll be able to determine their meaning. Usually they're right, but on some bleary-eyed mornings I've become forgetful, and I thought this morning that might be the case. I emailed back asking what S.P.J.S.T. stood for and if I had suffered a memory lapse.

The reply?

S.P.J.S.T. stands for Slovanska Podporujici Jednota Statu Texas.

It's apparently a fraternal organization that also dabbles in insurance. Central Texas has a lot of folks with Czechoslovakian roots and Slovanska Podpurujici Jednota Statu Texas translates to Slavonic Benevolent Order of the State of Texas.

I sent back an email expressing my appreciation for acronyms...

And I prayed that the other puzzles in my life would be as easy to decipher.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Designer Genes

I'm sure this article is going to spark a lot of debate, a lot of denial, a lot of anger, and a lot of publicity which is likely what the author hoped would happen all along (see previous post on offending your way to success).

For those of you who don't click on links - which by the way I'm realizing is quite a few blog readers - here's the Reader's Digest version: A geneticist - who coincidentally is about to release a new book - claims to have found proof that there is a gene which makes people more apt to believe in God. It's given all sorts of folks an excuse to get in an uproar including religious scholars and believers as well as scientists and genetic researchers.

The author is the same guy who years ago claimed to have found a "homosexual gene" so he obviously has a gift for finding genes that will get him book contracts result in people perhaps reexamining some long-held personal truths.

This is the type of research that I don't really care about one way or another. It's not that I don't find it interesting, it's merely that to me it doesn't matter.

I have a relationship with God. This is an undisputed truth. No scientist is ever going to disprove it to my satisfaction.

I'll readily admit that how I developed that relationship is mystifying to me, so if God were to use genetics to help lead me to Him, I certainly wouldn't be shocked. After all I believe God is The Creator, not a creator.

I also believe God uses all sorts of resources available at His fingertips to touch the hearts of people. I know this is a truth...I've seen it.

I found my way to God via a bizarre mix-master which was made up of on-ramps of death, passing lanes of love, by standing birds, and ignored stop signs of self-abuse...among other things.

I know folks who found their relationship with Christ only after they abandoned the church they knew all their lives, and I know others who didn't find true faith until they had attended the same church for decades.

I know people who developed a true belief in God only upon deep reflection about their many blessings, and I have been on my knees with believers whose relationship with Jesus only became personal after they had lost everything upon which they had placed value.

Come to think of it, everyone I know amid the body of Christ it seems arrived at where they are by at the very least a slightly different, and more commonly, a radically altered or downright strange path.

So who am I to rule out God using genes?

Yet I'm not going to dwell on it at all. What a complete waste of time and energy!

It doesn't matter. In truth I find it kind of silly.

"This just in: God who created you, has been very creative in finding ways to communicate with you."


My only regret about this guy's research is that it might prompt folks who already have a tendency to "over-think" things to waste their energy pondering what this means to their theology when they could instead be deepening the most meaningful of their relationships.

Here's my take...the result of years of personal research and in-depth study: God is within me...in part and in whole...and He got there by reaching out to me with every means possible, and some seemingly impossible.

Alas, I suppose that's not quite enough to stretch into a book deal huh?

"Instead of so knowing Christ that they have Him in them saving them, they lie wasting themselves in soul-sickening self-examination as to whether they are believers, whether they are really trusting in the atonement, whether they are truly sorry for their sins--the way to madness of the brain, and despair of the heart." - "The Misguided"- George MacDonald

Sunday, May 28, 2006

My Ignatius Sanity Secret

I have mentioned my "Ignatius file" on a number of previous occasions but in brief it's a collection of letters, cardboard cut outs, paper dolls, wild religious mailings, and various other stuff most of which allege the writer is the victim of a conspiracy or worse. Often they are hand scrawled letters, some are type-written using up every square inch of paper. Some are torn-out news articles with deep philosophical thoughts written along all the edges. All of them are usually hysterical.

I have quite a collection...one day I'll compile them into a book.

Today I got another. My pastor gave it to me as it was addressed to our church and "all members of the media." It's from a gentleman in Connecticut and it's too complicated to explain fully...even if I could.

The Ignatius file is based on the character Ignatius J. Reilly from the Pulitzer prize-winning novel, "A Confederacy of Dunces." I highly recommend it for folks with a twisted sense of humor and who cannot be offended...note I did not say, "are not easily offended." I said, "cannot be offended," because it can offend almost everyone at one level or another.

Anyway, the letter I received today, from what I can understand of it, is from a man who claims he was once a police officer in Connecticut but was put on disability due to post traumatic stress disorder. To give you a general idea, the first line of the letter reads, "I am writing in an attempt to save my life from the federal government. I.e. (sic) George W. Bush and the F.B.I.. I am a political prisoner in the state of Connecticut."

The letter then goes on to mention surgery on his ankle, a micro-chip he believes was implanted somewhere in his body, how he is "tortured daily" and followed by men wearing black and white which he determined is the tactic used by police gang units in New York whereby they wear the "color of the day" to identify each other. The same letter mentions that he's been poisoned, sent electric shocks via CNN and has been "mocked by Jesse Jackson."

That's only the first page.

He goes on to mention having spit up blood, finding blood in his "stool" and....sorry about this but I have to quote him..."was forced to defecates (sic) 'farts' hourly at varying degrees. "
Included are pictures of his ankle and two copies of what is obviously a form letter reply from a Senator in Virginia thanking him for his letter "regarding affirmative action in college admissions."

Affirmative action, and for that matter Virginia, are not mentioned anywhere else in the letter.

Okay...you get the idea.

The guy is obviously a taco short of a Mexican plate...he might be missing the enchilada too.

I'm sure when he's on his meds he's fine and probably of no great harm to himself or others however I do still adhere to my "Ignatius rule" which is "read their letters...never ever meet them."

I realize it would be easy to assume that my assembling this collection of letters, scribblings, etc. just goes to show that I am cruel and am mocking people like this poor fellow.

Believe it or not, that's not really my intent.

I will admit I get some amusement out of reading their ramblings and I'm stunned to think of some of these folks walking around unattended.

However, there are three other things in my Ignatius file which I've never mentioned before to anyone...not even Amy.

They are cards...two from my daughters and one from one of my nieces. They are heart-felt sentiments that go way beyond what Hallmark could ever write. They mean the world to me.

So sometimes I pick up my Ignatius file and read of people whose worlds are spinning on a different axis from the rest of us, and I admit that sometimes I feel that way too. Sometimes I wonder what it would take to push me over the edge of societal standards of sanity.

Then I find those three cards, and I read every word of them...and no matter where I am mentally or spiritually...in good times, bad times, crazy times...my life is suddenly put back in balance.

I know what's important...and the axis of my world is right where it should be.

I owe the Ignatius Reillys of this world a debt I can never repay.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Tell A Joke Saturday

Since I don't feel like writing today, I thought I'd simply open up the forum and let folks comment with their favorite "religious" joke. Presumably that will keep them clean. I'm going to turn off the word verification - which seems to confuse some folks - so anyone can comment, even folks who can't figure out the word verification.

I'll start things off with a stale, old joke that I still love:

An atheist finds himself in a jungle and spots a lion who also spots him. The atheist suddenly decides he might not be an atheist after all. He briefly stops running from the lion, drops to his knees and cries out, "God, please help me!"

Instantly he hears a voice saying, "I wish I could, but you don't even believe in Me."

Sweat pouring off his brow, the atheist replies, "I do now, and I pray that you'll make that lion chasing me a Christian too."

The atheist hears no response so he gets up and starts to run again. He nervously looks over his shoulder only to see the lion suddenly stop running.

The atheist let's out a huge sigh of relief....and then he notices the lion fall to its knees.

The atheist is even more relieved now....then he hears the lion say, "Dear God, thank you for this meal I am about to receive...."

Thursday, May 25, 2006

And Not For Most First

Being a stepfather I missed out on a lot of the good stuff.

Lisa, the youngest of our three children, was seven-years-old when Amy and I met, and a few days shy of nine by the time we got married.

That means I missed out on many "firsts" - first steps, first words, first haircuts, the very first day of school, and so many other "firsts" that simply trying to think about all of them and what they must have been like allows an unwanted door to melancholia entry into my heart.

So for a lot of those "firsts" I have to rely on the stories of Amy and others. That's fine, shared memories have a value too...especially when they're revisited in front of the children producing new moments of embarrassment to cherish.

I do have regrets about missing out on those early developmental moments and thus lack an arsenal of my own stories with which to mortify our children. I mean it's unfair since, believe me, our kids are well armed with degrading tales about my feeble attempts at parenthood.

Honestly, during the years I have been part of their lives, our children have blessed me in so many ways that my spirit overflows with gratitude to God for His astounding generosity. I have a bountiful harvest of memories of which He has allowed me to be part forever etched upon my undeserving heart.

Admittedly, it hasn't escaped my awareness that missing out on those early years also entitled me to take a "pass" on a variety of other experiences which many parents do not look back upon with quite the same fondness and more than a few take medications in an attempt to entirely blot them out of their minds.

Yes, I dodged diaper duty - pardon the pun. I never got the chance to entrench myself in the terrible twos...although I'd argue surviving the "frustrating fourteens" is an often overlooked period of parenting that at least deserves an honorable mention. Lice invasions...I averted lithely. The same can be said of rear-end ring worm, Wal-Mart induced temper tantrums, and the completely unfathomable concept of attempting to potty-train anyone.

Amy might in fact argue - with the evidence on her side or at least the side of the commode - that when my inherent laziness combines with the dark of night and a lack of sleep, I would not only be disqualified from potty-training instruction, I might very well be conscripted for a refresher course.

Mercifully discussing such subtleties this evening was not my aim....so I'll let that rabbit trail go untread and quickly attempt to re-target my thoughts.

When I started down this mental tangent my intent was to point out that although I missed out on a lot with our kids because they weren't "our" kids when they were little, I have come to term with it over the years.

Now...enter Emily.

Suddenly, this little girl with big brown eyes is gently sliding into our lives...and our hearts.

And her world is still full of "firsts" to sample...to savor.

How long Emily and her parents will be sharing our home is up in the air. We have no time table; we'll let God dictate that as always.

I will hasten to declare that Amy and I are in no hurry whatsoever. We're loving this arrangement. Amy is at least temporarily getting the grandchild she's yet to convince our children to desire and I'll confess I'm marveling at the chance to observe Emily discover more of the world each day.

No, I promise I'm not going to miss out on this story...

It's a "first" for me.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Sweetness In The Air

The week is flying by...I woke up minutes ago to Amy in full-fledged "cook" mode and our young neighbor keeping her company while giving her testimony.

The house is filled with the stomach-rumbling aroma of Amy's famous chicken, mushroom, water chestnut dish.

Amy is catering a "youth" fundraiser tonight...our neighbor, whom Amy befriended, is little more than a "youth" herself. Lately, we've been giving her rides to work and she's attached herself to Amy, much to Amy's delight. Our neighbor is a "foster child," and probably the only person in the house next door except her foster Mom whom we haven't called the police on.

She's had a rough life from what I have heard, and she talks a mile a minute. She's made some very wrong choices, and some very right ones. I learned, moments ago, that she's the mother of a soon-to-be two-year old whom she gave up for adoption. It was an "open" adoption and she gets to see her son every so often which brings her great joy.

She quit drugs and an alcohol-fueled lifestyle when she found out she was going to have a child...at 17. Now she's sober, working a lot, a class away from getting her G-E-D, and has plans to start college classes in the fall.

She also recently became baptized in the Holy Spirit.

I had a pastor once who said something akin to, "When people first get saved we should lock them up for five years or so until they settle down." He said that half-facetiously...I think, but I understand his intent. Sometimes when the Spirit of God fills someone, and so radically alters their life, they're bubbling over...nearly babbling over. This young woman fits that description. She's so enthusiastic it's hard to get a word in edgewise, but that's okay.

She's telling us a lot about her life...how God has turned that life around and how she has great faith that despite the wrong turns she's made in the past, God will be there for her in the future.

I just woke up and the air in our home is filled with delights.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Doest Thou Offend?

We had Mark Cuban on the radio this morning. He was affable, and did his best to try to rationalize his recent behavior. Essentially he said that he had to be offensive to be effective in creating a true rivalry which he says the NBA needs.

Offend people...and succeed.

Maybe that is the way.

Did you notice how the Dixie Chicks decided today to "withdraw" their pseudo-apology for bashing President Bush in England? Their heart-felt "withdrawal" happened to come the day before their new CD is released. Natalie Maines said, "I don't feel he (President Bush) is owed any respect whatsoever." One of her bandmates then went on to offend country radio listeners by saying, "We don't want those kinds of fans."

There was more...all inflammatory... "I don't listen to music," Natalie said. "I listen to Howard Stern all day long."

They've got a plan...maybe it will work...it's certainly offensive.

Madonna's got a new album or concert tour or something. Here's how she comes on stage for her "show."

Maybe that will work too.

Congratulations to the Mavericks. As I said before, they're a good basketball team.
I still think Mark Cuban is a jerk.

Good luck to the Dixie Chicks...they're sticking to their guns "we disrespect what you respect so respect us" approach.

I respect people's beliefs, but I don't have to listen to them.

Good luck to Madonna.

I hope her children will understand.

Maybe the Mavs, the Chicks, and Madonna will all succeed...

I hope if they do, you won't be offended if I hold my nose.

Then again maybe you won't care.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

A Jerk By Any Other Name

No matter how the current playoff series between the Spurs and Dallas Mavericks turns out there are some things of which I will be certain:

1. The Spurs are a class organization from top to bottom.
2. The Mavericks are a very good basketball team.
3. Mark Cuban is a jerk and he tarnishes the Mavericks image.

There was a time when I admired Mark Cuban...now I think he's an embarrassment...to himself.

He was always an entrepreneur it seems. Years ago, he and a friend capitalized on a newspaper strike in Pittsburgh by snagging newspapers from Cleveland and then reselling them in Pittsburgh. That story is in his official biography on ABC.com. They summarize it by saying he "imported" newspapers from Cleveland. In a Fox Sports biography I watched, Cuban admitted he and his buddy actually went to Cleveland and raided the newspaper vending machines...paying for one paper, taking all of them, and then they sold them for full price in Pittsburgh. I remember how he smiled as he recounted the story as an example of his financial savvy. If you spell success with a dollar sign...Mark Cuban fits the bill - pardon the pun.

Yeah, he's a $uccess.
In my opinion he's an ethical failure, but you can do your own research and judge for yourself. I do know since Cuban has been owner of the Mavericks he has spent a fortune, he has energized the fan base, and he has made a spectacle of himself...often.

And his Mavericks have always been losers.

You'd be hard pressed to find anyone outside of San Antonio who knows the name of the Spur's majority owner. He's a quiet man whose delegated the business of basketball , for the most part, to people he trusts know more than he does. Although he has insisted the Spurs look for certain qualities in their players... primarily that they be decent people who won't embarass themselves, the team or San Antonio.

The Spurs have won three championships since 1999.

Monday night, the Mavs and Spurs will square off for game seven in their NBA Western Conference semi-final series. The winning team advances to the Western Conference finals, the loser goes home. It appeared for a while that the Mavericks would win this series easily...now it's not so certain.

As the series tightened, the true character of Mark Cuban started to show itself a little more - if that's possible.

He spent the past week criticizing the referees, blasting league officials for suspending a Dallas player for punching Michael Finley in the groin after the league examined video of game 5 - for the record Cuban was the first owner in the league to hire videographers to make tapes of the referees and send them to the league office to document his many complaints about how his team was being treated unfairly.

He belittled San Antonio calling The Riverwalk - the number one tourist destination in Texas - an "ugly-ass, muddy-watered thing."

He didn't reserve his childish name-calling to tourist destinations, he went so far as to refer to Tim Duncan - arguably the most even tempered player in the league as a "cry-baby." And to top it off, Cuban went to an extreme even some of his sober fans (if he has any) would have a hard time stooping to...he encouraged Mavericks' fans to "boo" Michael Finley.

Michael Finley, for those of you not familiar with the NBA, played for nine years in Dallas...for Cuban. He was the heart and soul of the Mavericks and never acted in a manner that was not professional. He was a credit to the team, and to the city. Last year, Cuban cut him to save himself 51-million dollars. Finley - who admittedly didn't lose a dime on the deal - walked away without one harsh word.

Despite Cuban's antics, the Spurs have said nothing during this time except the usual sports banter, "Our backs are against the wall", "We're still in this thing...", etc. Well, Michael Finley did say one thing in response to Cuban encouraging Dallas fans to boo him. Finley said, "I thought I did a lot for this organization, but I guess that doesn't matter."

On Monday night, it will be over. I obviously hope the Spurs win, but they may not.

If the Mavs win, you can bet Cuban will take as much credit as he can...if the Spurs win you can bet Cuban will find someone to blame.

Either way, he'll get his name in the newspaper...hopefully he won't have to steal a copy.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Thou Art What You Eat

Our annual nesting of barn swallows have taken roost above our front door...and the babies are vehemently expressing their desires...or should I say desire, for they have only one demand and it is constant: they want food...nourishment...sustenance.

It is instinctual. Seemingly from the time they emerge from their shells these tiny creatures are consumed by an unceasing knowledge of need.

I also assume they don't even realize why. After all they haven't had enough time to even know what life is, much less what it takes to sustain it. They know only that "need"... that unrelenting hunger.

Theirs is a reality oblivious to the knowledge that should their simple needs not be met - something we have sadly witnessed repeatedly over the years - they will never leave the nest in flight.

Their only exit will be a fall...a tumble of death.

Tonight, as I smiled and watched Amy attempt to share her oatmeal with Emily, I thought of how we too are born of this world helpless and needy.

For most of us though, our early lives are blessed. We are cuddled and cradled...fed, nourished and nutured.

Yet - for whatever reason - many of us who start life lacking neither comfort or nourishment, still leave our "nests" wanting...unable to really take wing.

I believe somewhere deep within all of us is that inherent knowledge of what we must have to survive...to succeed. Unlike the fragile baby birds roosting among us though, many of us choose to ignore that inner wisdom.

I know I did for many years. Too many years.

Tonight I pray that one day we shall all come to recognize that we in fact "fell" from our nest long ago...and the only way we'll ever "take flight" is to focus on that one instinctual need: to be truly fed.

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.
- Proverbs 3:7-8

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Leaks & Creeks

It sounds like gattling guns are being fired in our house...actually in the garage.

I haven't mentioned it lately, because I haven't wanted to think about it lately, but our "plumbing issue" arising out of our foundation repairs is still an issue. Today, God willing, these leaks under our slab will be repaired. I write "leaks" because the previous repair of our "leak" revealed another "leak." Each leak requires a seperate repair, which involves jackhammering additional holes in our garage floor. Each repair also requires a seperate payment.

It's going to be far more expensive than I hoped, so I'm praying foremost that today's repair does not reveal any other leaks.

I mean how many leaks can there possibly be?

If they do discover more leaks I think I'll attempt to petition the state to declare the outflow of water below our house a river.

Actually that might be a bit ambitious, perhaps we could get the state to sign off on something simpler...like calling it a "creek."

In fact, the more I think about it, considering the "head" waters and the direction the current seems to be taking us - without a paddle I might add - designating it a "creek" seems entirely appropriate.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Much Ado About DaVinci

I came into work on Tuesday and found a news release from Britain. Not from someone in Britain...from Britain itself. It included a map and was essentially touting Britain as a tourist destination for folks who wanted to "see many of the locations mentioned in the film 'The DaVinci Code'."

I haven't read "The DaVinci Code" and probably won't see the movie. I have no great issue with folks who do though. Obviously a lot of other people's opinions differ from mine.

There are calls for boycotts, threats of lawsuits, and the obligatory survey claiming to prove that people who read the book changed their opinion of Christianity as a result.

First off, I long ago stopped believing "surveys" and "polls"...I think their intent is to create news not report it. Plus if the core elements of your faith could be radically altered by a novel or movie, I suspect it would require only a slight scratch to unmask the thin nature of your theology.

Secondly, I believe when Christians get all red in the face, screech, and wave their judgmental fingers while demanding boycotts and lawsuits all they truly accomplish is to give whatever has their pious panties in a twist a lot more publicity. It's counter productive at best and reinforces the all too common image of people of faith being people of intolerance.

It's especially amusing to me to hear Christian leaders holler about how Hollywood is suddenly defaming their faith. This is news? I'm reminded of the line from "Casablanca," "I'm shocked, shocked! There's gambling going on here!" With the exception of "The Passion of the Christ", I'm hard pressed to think of a time in the modern era when Hollywood was guilty of NOT taking cheap shots at Christians. Perhaps I missed the great cinematic conversion.

I tell you why I'm thankful for the DaVinci debacle - besides the fact the much hyped movie is getting lousy initial reviews. I'm proud of the churches who are using interest in the movie as an outreach tool. There are many, some even screening the film and then offering sermons, seminars and bible studies not necessarily to debunk the DaVinci Code, but rather to explain the basic tenets of our faith to the curious.

Finding opportunities to share our beliefs is often not easy...sometimes we have to look under rocks, in dark alleys, in unpleasant and unfamiliar territories to locate them.

And when we do?

In my mind that's when we've truly cracked the code.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Advent Of The I-God

I used to say, "Whatever gets 'em through the door on Sunday." I don't say that too much any more, not after seeing mega-churches and other houses of worship giving away motorcycles, houses, etc.

I am trying hard to give up judging "church giveaways" that are supposedly designed to get more people's fannies into pews.

Today I read that an Arizona church is giving away I-Pods to boost its congregation's numbers.

Even if the I-Pods are loaded with ol' time religion tunes, I must admit it still makes me cringe.

Is it right to lure folks into hearing "the message" by plugging their ears?

Monday, May 15, 2006


The Spurs and Mavs are tied at half-time...I suppose so am I.

I've made my share of mistakes, but I hope I've counter balanced most of them over the years.

I guess that's the eventual goal...in the end to come out ahead on the grand scale of things.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Luck Of The Ma

I knew about God before I knew about Amy.

He and I had talked, although for many years I'm fairly certain He wasn't pleased with my side of the conversation.

When I met Amy, things changed...between God and me.

It might be argued that I changed...that God had always been exactly the same. I suppose that's probably the more likely scenario.

Nonetheless, instead of only knowing about Him, I started actually knowing Him...developing a relationship with God - Creator of all that is and will be.

It's a relationship that leaves me stunned to this day and one which I've been trying to cultivate ever since...and I hope evermore.

I certainly give Amy much of the credit for encouraging this relational transformation, but there are others to thank.

One other in particular.

Amy describes her as, "the most godly woman" she knows.
She, more than anyone perhaps, instructed Amy in "the way" making certain at the core of her education were the teachings of Christ Jesus.

More importantly I think, she also chose to live a life of honest faith - a godly life - so those biblical values were not something Amy only "heard about on Sunday." Rather they were lived - demonstrated, explained, and encouraged - every day.

Many crucial years of my life lacked such noble role models.

So I consider it another sign of God's mercy that Amy never wanted for inspiration...for she has had Priscilla...her Mom.

And due to God's grace, I became a collateral beneficiary of Priscilla's steadfast faith and wisdom.

For reasons still somewhat inexplicable to me, one of the daughters Priscilla raised in the ways of God agreed to be my bride.

I've come to realize that this is one way God works...shining His love outward through the body of Christ.

And occasionally some undeserving fool is lucky enough to stumble into that giving glow - becoming a hapless heir to a legacy of obedience and adoration.

Priscilla, thank you.

Happy Mother's Day.

Her children arise and call her blessed... - Psalm 31:28

The World's Gone Nukak

The tribe that came in from the warmth...

This is a fascinating and sad tale about worlds that collide...and one world losing.

Which loses is the question.

Perhaps the answer is both.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The $100,000 Post

I have nothing against Mark Cuban, except he owns the Dallas Mavericks who are giving the Spurs a real run for their money in the playoffs, yet neither am I his biggest fan. I used to like him a lot more until I watched a pseudo-biography and realized we possibly would have significant variations were we both asked to define the word ethical.

That not withstanding, even in the middle of the Spurs/Mavs playoff series, I feel a certain calling to come to his defense - something, by the way, the Mavs only recently learned was part of the game of basketball.

Yesterday, the NBA fined Cuban $200,000. When you're worth mega zillions like Cuban, that is the equivalent of demanding the late Marlon Brando fork over a skin cell - when he was alive of course, I imagine by now Marlon's skin cell stash has depleted a great deal...at least I hope so. Okay, I really don't want to imagine that at all - (shudder).

Anyway, I digress.

Half of that fine was for one of Cuban's usual maniac-like maneuvers where he ran onto the court during the first game in the current Spurs/Mavs series. Everyone knows that's a no-no. Cuban isn't a player. He's not a coach. He's an NBA owner and simply because he is writing checks for millions of dollars for almost half the people who were on the court during that game he still doesn't have the right to actually put his Nikes on that hallowed hardwood.

The other half of the fine -$100,000 -was for "a posting on his blog."


The NBA fined him more money than probably everyone reading this post makes in a year...or three...for writing a blog entry.

Now, no one will dispute that Cuban has been a thorn in the side - and many would argue for a lower anatomical positioning - of the NBA since the first day he became an owner. He's challenged everything the league does at every turn - which I personally find refreshing and in truth think the NBA should consider paying people to do - so the excessiveness of the fine is partially due to his history....but $100,000 for writing something on his blog?

I can already hear some of you saying, "Well, he probably wrote something really incendiary like calling NBA Commissioner David Stern a Yoda look-alike."

He didn't.

There's not a degrading remark, curse word, or even a reference to David Stern's oversized head anywhere in the post.

Cuban instead wrote what I at least consider a rather thoughtful piece about how he believes referees should be chosen for the NBA playoffs. You can read it here if you so desire.

It's not really even controversial AND he wrote it before the current playoff series between the Mavs and Spurs began. For those of you who don't follow basketball, let me say that during the last game, 18,000 people inside the AT&T Center in San Antonio were screaming their opinion of the referees and they only used two words...one of which rhymes with "ducks."

In the grand scheme of things this entire hullabaloo means nothing...Cuban probably earned more than $200,000 since I started writing this, and the NBA has really only succeeded in getting more people to read what Cuban wrote.

Still...a $100,000 fine for writing something on your blog?

Blow the whistle!

Somebody missed the call on this one...for flagrant lunacy.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Sizing Up Birds

I see God in birds.

No matter the size.

I've always been that way.

Seeing God in the little things is easy for me although I have no way to explain it.

Although I do believe God still sees greatness in the smallest of things too..

My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees.-Ezekiel 37:24

Monday, May 08, 2006

Serenity & Surrender

It is somewhat disconcerting that to drive to Laity Lodge you must literally drive your car into a river...and down the river.

Our time there, as is the case with many visitors, was breathtaking and renewing.

Surrounded by the stunning beauty, concealed in the rugged confines of the hills of central Texas, is a legacy of faithful service...to God.

The story of this place is too storied to be told here, but it is a living vibrant testament to the will of believers and to the promises they've made to the God they love.

And it is here, in a vast 2000-acre canyon cut by a river, that Amy and I found some peace.

Peace in each other and in His awe-inspiring truth...a truth to which we were reminded we must completely surrender.

It seems God provides many opportunities in this life to be baptized.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Should Anyone Come Looking

We haven't fallen off the planet. Amy hasn't been feeling super well and we're doing the medical test shuffle again. I'm a little stressed out about the usual stuff, Amy, finances, what God really wants from us.

So we've found a solution, albeit a temporary one. We're running away.

To here.

Laity Lodge is a retreat center which Amy and I have "heard" a lot about but have never had the time or money or whatever to actually visit. We still don't have the time or money in truth, but as they say, "Sometimes you have to sell the cow and go to the fair." Our friends Ben and JoAnn invited us to join them on this couple's retreat by emphasizing that "nothing on the agenda is mandatory." In other words we can sleep the weekend away...go play in the Frio river...or attend sessions of various speakers. I suspect Amy and I will be spending most of our time simply enjoying the silence. There are no phones, no computer connections, no TV's.

I will confess part of me is still trying to plot a way to at least try to listen to tonight's Spur's game, but amid the tranquility I'm anticipating even that scheme may quickly fall by the wayside.

So if you're looking for us this weekend...you won't find us, but be comforted in knowing we're doing our best to experience a little piece of Heaven.

p.s. The song that plays on the Laity Lodge website is the same song which our church congregation sings every Sunday as our benediction. We only sing one verse but it resonates very deeply.

"Go in peace...live in grace...trust in the arms that will hold you.
Go in peace...live in grace...trust God's love."

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Nice To Eat You

I'm doing my usual early morning scan of newspaper sites and ran across this photo from the Killeen Daily Herald.

I couldn't but think, "Aw how cute."

And then wonder how soon afterwards that cat was dining on frog legs.

It's 2 a.m....I have a right to be cynical.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Rocker By Baby...

I must admit I've been puzzled by this week's story that legendary Rolling Stone band member Keith Richards suffered a concussion in Fiji...when he fell out of a tree.
I mean I know he, at least in the past, has been known to "get high" but I never thought that meant tree climbing. Then again, I've also been somewhat dismayed that Keith Richards has managed to stay alive all these years...although upon looking at him that is somewhat debatable too.

This morning I ran across this story and now I'm wondering if perhaps that's why an aging rocker would climb up to where the boughs break.