Tuesday, May 31, 2005

And one more...

This is from Phil Humbert serving in South Africa.
Dear Friends and Family,
"For I am not ashmaed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for Salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, 'The righteous shall live by faith.' Romans 5:16-17
Greetings once again from South Africa! It's good to finally find the time to send out another letter, and I hope that this letter finds you doing well. We've just recently returned from our week off in CapeTown, and what an unforgettable experience that was. It was a great week of relaxing and exploring some of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Thank you for your prayers during this time! Our team really had a wonderful time during this week, but in the end I think we were all ready to get back HOME! Also, while we were in CapeTown we got the opportunity to visit a ministry which is in it's beginning phases. The ministry is called 'Monte Cristo', and was funded and started by a fortune 500 buisness man from California. They own a tract of land that I believe is about 250,000 acres off the side of a mountain, which they will be converting into a camp, retreat, seminary, and conferece center. It was exciting to see their vision, and we got to spend a couple of day s with them before heading to CapeTown. We also had the opportunity to visit some local youth ministry outreaches. One of these outreaches was at a youth pastor's barber shop. He converts his shop into a safe place for kids to come in off the streets on a friday night. There was a DJ, people were break dancing, group games were played, and there was a message shared from God's word at the end. Let me say I have never experienced anything like that before, but it's not something I will soon forget!!
We have just started our next learning posture, which is the 'inviting' posture. In this posture we are looking at what is God's invitation for all people, and also how we can be inviting in our lives as Christ followers. During this time we are reading through and studying the book of Romans and the other Epistles, as well as reading a book entitled "A New Kind of Christian" by John McLaren. So for the next several weeks we will be diving into these things and exploring the idea/concept of what it means to live a 'tasty' (inviting) life.
Let me catch you up to date with my local ministry involvements! First, I must be honest in saying that I have not gotten involved in the children's home/safehouse. I felt challenged by God and some of my leaders here to really invest my time and efforts into developing relationships with the local street kids/homeless. This is such a challenge for me, because it stretches me in ways I have never been stretched! I find it extremely difficult to relate and even communicate with these kids. There is a huge language barrier and obvious cultural differences. At this time I really feel called to just BE with them, to spend time with them, and make efforts to get to know them better and learn their stories. I'm still serving them meals once or twice a week in the evenings and setting up soccer games to play with them, but my biggest desire is really to just BE among them. Please pray with me that I would better understand these kids and that I would s omehow be able to relate to them.
I am still involved at the university here with one of my american team mates(Deric). We are currently going to the university on Wednesday afternoons and meet with a small group of students. This time has primarily been focused on sharing our stories and encouraging one another through fellowship and discussing challenging biblical topics and processing through them together! It's been awesome to see some of the friendships and relationships that have developed as a result of this time. Also, Deric and I are still involved in the volleyball program as well, and have been able involve some of the guys from the team in our discipleship time!
Currently I am working on putting together a VBS type of event for the young kids in the local area here. I've still got a lot of work to do in preparing for this, but I am excited about it as I know this is something that God has placed on my heart since I have been here.
As always I would like to leave you with a couple of interesting South African facts:
1. They didn't have Television in South Africa until 1978....The frist TV show that aired in South Africa was Dallas!
2. Our elevation here in Pretoria is roughly the same as Denver, almost a mile high!
3. Pretoria is the ANT capital of the world....At least I am convinced of this!
Please Pray For:
-Our team: Everyone has been getting sick lately- me being the most recent victim!
-My time with the street kids, developing relationships
-Our upcoming reflection weekend; June 10-12- Drakensburg Mountains.
-Thienus, a young guy that I just met.....He is really seeking the Lord right now, but just needs encouragement!
There is so much more that is happening here that I wish I could tell you about. Just know that God is doing some pretty amazing things in South Africa and I am so blessed to get to be a part of His work! Once again I just want to say how thankful I am to have such an amazing group of friends and family in my life! Your prayers, encouragement and support are such a huge part of who I am and what I do! Thank you!!
In His Hands
PHIL <>< Romans 15:5-6
106 Emily Hobhouse Ave,
Pretoria North, South Africa 0182

Another ministry update

This one comes from Amy and Elijah Brown. Elijah is now working on his PhD in Edinburgh.
Dear Family & Friends,
We hope all is well with you & yours. We’re pleased to say that Edinburgh is now breathtaking! Cherry blossoms are a personal favorite, but it’s the culmination of pleasant scents & beautiful pastel colors that are enough to pull anyone outside, despite the weather still being a bit chilly, windy & wet – the 3 Scotland Staples! Praise the Lord for color! Plus, it occurred to me since the last I sent out a newsletter, that Scotland is an island! J So Elijah & I discovered that ‘oceanfront,’ though deserted & not the prettiest that is out there, is a 40-min walk from the apartment! Very nice!
I have had a wonderful first two and a half months. It has been the most refreshing, yet simultaneously fairly near to the most stressing time in my life (taking into account that 25 warrants not much life experience). Maybe bewildering is a better word. And as it were, I have far fewer answers now than I did prior to coming, but all the same, I can testify to pervasive peace in the midst of elusive means. God’s been more than generous with miracles in our lives, and the current is no exception.
The BIG news is that Elijah’s been upgraded from a Masters to a Ph.D. student!!! Praise God for His continued provision! This not only saves at least ½ a year of living expenses in Edinburgh, but saves Elijah the task of having to write a 15,000 word Masters dissertation, as now he GETS to work on a 100,000 word Ph.D. thesis! J (terminology backwards from the States). But the real bonus… it saves us $17,000 off the overall schooling bill! The Univ. of Edinburgh is set up so that their Ph.D. students only pay for the first 3 years. So the upgrade means this previous year’s tuition has now been credited towards Ph.D. work, leaving us with only 2, not 3 more that come with a price tag. Amazing answer to prayer.
I’m going to address the topic of study, with the disclaimer that a future email will better answer the subsequent questions of ‘oh, that’s interesting, but… why?’ or ‘what exactly are you going to do with that?’ Don’t feel guilty (though I doubt you would), I myself had those questions.
THE DEGREE – Ph.D. in Christianity in the Non-Western World
THE THESIS topic – Development of the Southern Sudanese Church in Refugee Camps & Among the Internally Displaced
So that will be the crux of Elijah’s life for the next two years!
I, on the other hand, have been less than successful in finding employment. And three weeks ago as if from above, I knew that, as absolutely of a financially wretched time to know, I was supposed to start writing a manuscript for a book the Lord had laid on my heart. So I’ve given myself to the topic of "Dating God: Finding Your Ultimate Love Before Your Right Love." This has been quite the task for me, but enlightening & a joy & I’m hoping to be able to wrap it up in a month or two if we don’t go clean broke before then. If you want to know how it is we are going to support ourselves, refer to paragraph two, it’s all in there.
One of the most delightful things E&I have gotten to experience in these few months was the discovery of a Gaelic (native Scottish language on the verge of extinction) church service. We figured we’d stand out a bit, but thought for one Sunday ‘why the heck not’. So we picked a week and suited up for our 30+ minute walk just in time for all of heaven to come pelting down. We arrived a drenched, odorous mess, & they still hugged & kissed us all the same. The Gaelic language is beautiful, but it was their music that transcends foreign listeners to some unknown mysterious ‘celtic’ haven. The closest comparison that we can afford is the Sacred Harp music in the States (mainly Alabama). Both are non-instrumental, both have a lead ‘caller’ or ‘pronouncer’, and in both the voices raised follow what seems to be no identifiable melody, but roughly blend into a ‘calling’ harmonious empowering message, whether the language is your own or not. After the service the fellow! ship with these believers was priceless. They were precious people & the experience comes highly recommended.
One other bit of exciting news is that on the same day that Elijah & I ‘discovered’ the beach, we also discovered… Asda!! Better known in the States as Wal-Mart! Now for you non-Wal-Mart lovers out there, I would like for you to know that when faced with the option of buying a bottle of saline at any other store for $8 (£4), or at Asda for $2 (£1), maybe you can try to understand our excitement. And it only got better when we walked outside & saw 3 buses in a row funnel up to Asda’s entrance! We can bus to Wal-Mart! Now that is exciting! We have a trip planned at least twice a month from here until we leave!
Our last, but certainly not least bit of exciting news is that 6 weeks from now, we are privileged to be hosting family visitors! Elijah’s parents are flying out for 12 days, June 28-July 9. We are already crossing the days off the calendar & making all kinds of fun plans. Pray for them as they prepare for the trip.
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory…" Eph. 3:20-21
We love you all dearly,
Elijah & Amy
Elijah & Amy Brown
6 ½ Waverley Park
Edinburgh, EH8 8EX

Mission Request

Since today is Slam day at the paper - and I haven't had a chance to do much reading or blogging today, I thought I'd share the following e-mail with everyone.

May 31, 2005
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
When our pastor and his family returned last summer from a mission trip to Siberia, my heart was deeply moved by their stories of the many Russians who came to know Christ as a result of their ministry. I felt God speaking to my heart about missions, but I said nothing. Instead, I prayed that if He wanted me to serve, I would receive a personal invitation from the mission team leadership about future trips.
Imagine my excitement when Brother Mike Harkrider asked if I would pray about traveling to Russia this summer! My husband David and I both felt God calling me to Siberia to teach the children of Dalmotovo about Jesus. There are 14 members of Immanuel Baptist Church in Temple who plan on going to Russia June 29 – July 13.
Will you spend a few minutes praying for our trip? Ask God to lead us, and pray that we would be willing to follow. Ask Him to protect us and to help us with the logistics of such a huge undertaking. Pray for the hearts of those we will meet and minister to, and ask God to soften and prepare them to hear His Word. Finally, ask God to provide for our financial needs. Funds are unexpectedly slow in arriving, but we know God is faithful.
Thank you for your love and your prayers. I will report back to you on how our prayers have been answered. God is good! I’m excited about what He will do.
Pat Rutland
Immanuel Baptist Church
1401 West Central
Temple, Texas 76504
254 773-2147

My sister Kara, my "Adopt-a-Sister" Kathryn Shindoll, her father Ron Shindoll, and my best friend Matt Lehmann are all going on mission trips this summer and I would ask for you to support each of them in prayer and financially if possible too. Kara will be going to China and the rest will be going to Russia. If you're interested in supporting any of them financially, please let me know and I'll be sure you know where to send the donation.
God bless.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Run with the Devils

Texas Monthly has a great article on a trip down Devils River in Texas this month.
Even the beginning is quite intriguing:
DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, take a trip down the Devils River. You are not welcome there. If you so much as set your big toe on the river’s privately owned banks, you are likely to be arrested, hauled down to the Val Verde County courthouse, and prosecuted for trespassing. You may even be shot at.

None the less, I'm totally inspired to buy a kayak and make the two day trip down the river. Anyone interested?
Unfortunatley, you'll have to buy a subscription or pick one up at a store in Texas to read the rest. But I always say, for Texas Monthly it's worth it. Great design, good articles -- and all about Texas. Can't get much better than that.
They also have a fun ethics quiz on Tom DeLay.
He may be crooked - but they still love him in Sugar Land.

Bono: in conversation with Michka Assayas

Brian Bailey has a quick review of Bono: in conversation with Michka Assayas. Bailey is the Web Director at Fellowship Church and has been blogging lately about his vacation to Florida.
But he gives a quick preview of the book (which I've been meaning to track down and read - come on Belton Public Library).
He gives an interesting quote from Bono...
Coolness might help in your negotiation with people through the world, maybe, but it is impossible to meet God with sunglasses on. It is impossible to meet God without abandon, without exposing yourself, being raw.

How often do we try and wear our sunglasses into the presence of the Almighty?

The death of Capt. Waskow

The Belton Journal has run the following piece from World War II correspondant numerous times in the past and since we're not a daily paper, that can run it today, I thought this would be the next best place to honor our fallen soldiers, including Belton's own Capt. Henry T. Waskow.
The piece was orginally run on the front pages of newspapers across the country and The Washington Daily News devoted its entire first page to the column -- not even a headline, just solid text.
The paper was completly sold out that day.
There is another war now, and have been others since, and The Belton Journal continues to reprint the Waskow piece once in a while, as a tribute to Belton men and boys who have been killed in wars of this century, ranging from privates to generals.
Actually, Ernie Pyle wondered about this piece; he thought maybe he was "losing his touch."
Henry Waskow was a 1935 graduate of Belton High School, attended grade school at Hay Branch and Wiltonville.
He attended Trinity University in Waxhachie, paying his way with his "Guard Money."
He highwayed it back to Belton every Tuesday to make the guard drill.
Guardsmen were paid $3 for every drill they attended.
Waskow taught school two years before Co. I was mobilized in November 1940.
Belton’s Waskow High School bears his name as well as Henry T. Waskow V.F.W. #4008 Hall located at 2311 S. Pearl.

AT THE FRONT LINES IN ITALY, January 10, 1944 — In this war I have known a lot of officers who were loved and respected by the soldiers under them. But never have I crossed the trail of any man as beloved as Capt. Henry T. Waskow of Belton, Texas.
Capt. Waskow was a company commander in the 36th Division. He had led his company since long before it left the States. He was very young, only in his middle twenties, but he carried in him a sincerity and gentleness that made people want to be guided by him. “After my own father, he came next,” a sergeant told me.
“He always looked after us,” a soldier said. “He’d go to bat for us every time.” “I’ve never knowed him to do anything unfair,” another one said.
I was at the foot of the mule trail the night they brought Capt. Waskow’s body down. The moon was nearly full at the time, and you could see far up the trail, and even part way across the valley below. Soldiers made shadows in the moonlight as they walked.
Dead men had been coming down the mountain all evening, lashed onto the backs of mules. They came lying belly-down across the wooden pack-saddles, their heads hanging down on the left side of the mule, their stiffened legs sticking out awkwardly from the other side, bobbing up and down as the mule walked.
The Italian mule-skinners were afraid to walk beside dead men, so Americans had to lead the mules down that night. Even the Americans were reluctant to unlash and lift off the bodies at the bottom, so an officer had to do it himself, and ask others to help.
The first one came early in the morning. They slid him down from the mule and stood him on his feet for a moment, while they got a new grip. In the half light he might have been merely a sick man standing there, leaning on the others. Then they laid him on the ground in the shadow of the low stone wall alongside the road.
I don’t know who that first one was. You feel small in the presence of dead men, and ashamed at being alive, and you don’t ask silly questions.
We left him there beside the road, that first one, and we all went back into the cowshed and sat on water cans or lay on the straw, waiting for the next batch of mules.
Somebody said the dead soldier had been dead for four days, and then nobody said anything more about it. We talked soldier talk for an hour or more. The dead man lay all alone outside in the shadow of the low stone wall.
Then a soldier came into the cowshed and said there were some more bodies outside. We went out into the road. Four mules stood there, in the moonlight, in the road where the trail came down off the mountain. The soldiers who led them stood there waiting. “This one is Captain Waskow,” one of them said quietly.
Two men unlashed his body from the mule and lifted it off and laid it in the shadow beside the low stone wall. Other men took the other bodies off. Finally there were five lying end to end in a long row, alongside the road. You don’t cover up dead men in the combat zone. They just lie there in the shadows until somebody else comes after them.
The unburdened mules moved off to their olive orchard. The men in the road seemed reluctant to leave. They stood around, and gradually one by one I could sense them moving close to Capt. Waskow’s body. Not so much to look, I think, as to say something in finality to him, and to themselves. I stood close by and I could hear.
One soldier came and looked down, and he said out loud, "God damn it." That's all he said, and then he walked away. Another one came. He said, "God damn it to hell anyway." He looked down for a few last moments, and then he turned and left.
Another man came; I think he was an officer. It was hard to tell officers from (enlisted) men in the half light, for all were bearded and grimy dirty.
The man looked down into the dead captain’s face, and then he spoke directly to him, as though he were alive. He said: “I’m sorry, old man.”
Then a soldier came and stood beside the officer, and bent over, and he too spoke to his dead captain, not in a whisper but awfully tenderly, and he said: “I sure am sorry, sir.”
Then the first man squatted down, and he reached down and took the dead hand, and he sat there for a full five minutes, holding the dead hand in his own and looking intently into the dead face, and he never uttered a sound all the time he sat there.
And finally he put the hand down, and then reached up and gently straightened the points of the captain’s shirt collar, and then he sort of rearranged the tattered edges of his uniform around the wound. And then he got up and walked away down the road in the moonlight, all alone.
After that the rest of us went back into the cowshed, leaving the five dead men lying in a line, end to end, in the shadow of the low stone wall. We lay down on the straw in the cowshed, and pretty soon we were all asleep.

I'm sorry

Is it just me, or do the words, “I’m sorry” not have any real meaning today?
Maybe it’s because of who I keep hearing it from.
If someone makes mistakes or messes up everyday and says, “I’m sorry” after every failure, without any change in behavior, should it mean the same thing?
Scripture says we should forgive 70x7 times. But sometimes I admit, I have a lot of problems with that.
If you’re an employer or manager and your workers keep doing things over and over again, without really thinking about what they might be doing wrong and then, “I’m sorry” is all you hear for their reasoning - do you keep forgiving?
What if you’re a parent or family member and every day you hear, “I’m sorry,” for the same thing over and over again? Is there any difference?
I admit, I like a little mercy every now and then, but if all I get is mercy, what incentive do I have to shape up and do better next time?
If there’s no punishment for the action, I’ll keep sinning.
Paul writes,

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

A friend said recently, after being teased about not doing something at work, “Why go out of my way to work harder, there’s no repercussion for not doing something.”
One of the great scenes from Office Space tells this story in a new modern twist.

Peter Gibbons: You see Bob, it's not that I'm lazy, it's that I just don't care.
Bob Porter: Don't... don't care?
Peter Gibbons: It's a problem of motivation, all right? Now if I work my ass off and Initech ships a few extra units, I don't see another dime, so where's the motivation? And here's another thing, I have eight different bosses right now.
Bob Porter: Eight?
Peter Gibbons: Eight, Bob. So that means when I make a mistake, I have eight different people coming by to tell me about it. That's my only real motivation is not to be hassled, that, and the fear of losing my job. But you know, Bob, that will only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired.

If the only motivation someone has is to do the bare minimum, they’ll continue messing up and continue doing nothing more than say, “I’m sorry."
And will never learn to take responsibility for their actions.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Wilson and Aaron Lehmann enjoy a walk in the rain Saturday at Aunt Beverly's. See the list of photo links on the left hand side for more photos. Posted by Hello

By the Way

BTW... for those interested, I'm sure I'll get around to posting an entry about this weekend fairly soon. Maybe even this afternoon. I'll have some photos posted for sure.
Also, I've been thinking lately about my "dream" of writing a book.
I'm still working and hatching out a theme or subject matter, but right now, its come down to Christian Wrestlers or Marketing the Gospel in the 21st Century.
Any thoughts.
And of course my other "dream" of running/programming a Christian Radio Station for Belton, Texas that would reach Baylor University and Waco, Texas A&M and College Station and University of Texas and Austin is still flowing through my head constantly.
Aren't dreams great? I only hope one day God will give me the wisdom, strength and resources to see both of my dreams come true.


effective web ministry notes has an interesting entry on podcasting and its future.
I think this could be the next big thing.
How long will it be before churches begin podcasting services or Bible studies to shut-ins or people traveling?
How great would it be to be traveling with your family during the summer, take a break at a restaurant with Wi-Fi access, or even from your hotel room, and in the process download a podcast of your church's Sunday morning service for you and your family to listen to as you continue your travel down the road.
With former MTV VJ and podcast founder Adam Curry giving podcasting a huge push and Sirius Radio giving Curry a four hour program to push podcasting -- it's coming.
How will we as Christians take advantage of it and use it to further the Kingdom of Heaven?
What other ways do you see podcasting being used to present the gospel in new relevant ways?
I'm excited and hope I can be on the frontlines.

Friday, May 27, 2005

U2 Flash animation

U2 Sermons Blog for Get Up Off Your Knees: Preaching the U2 Catalog has a link to a Flash animation made by a youth group apparently.
There's nothing fancy about it, but with the song, Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own, it does have a good message. Right click on the link and then click Save As to save it to your desktop.
I don't know if or when I'll ever use it, but I like to save nuggets like this to show in Sunday School or elsewhere at times.

Psalm like it hot

I've been looking to find this for a while and haven't found it in any brick and mortar bookstores.
But thanks to @U2, I've finally found Bono's opening to The Book of Psalms. It's part of a series of Biblical books, published in 1999, introduced by celebraties and others.

The publication of the King James version of the Bible, translated between 1603 and 1611, coincided with an extraordinary flowering of English literature and is universally acknowledged as the greatest influence on English-language literature in history. Now, world-class literary writers introduce the books of the King James Bible in a series of beautifully designed, small-format volumes. The introducers' passionate, provocative, and personal engagements with he spirituality and the language of the test make the Bible come alive as a stunning work of literature and remind us of its overwhelming contemporary relevance.

Psalm Like It Hot
What Elvis was to rock'n'roll, David was to the blues. Bono, U2's singer and a campaigner to end Third World debt, argues that the psalms truly rock the soul.
The Guardian (U.K.), October 31, 1999


Explaining belief has always been difficult. How do you explain a love and logic at the heart of the universe when the world is so out of kilter with this? Has free will got us crucified? And what about the dodgy characters who inhabit the tome known as the Bible, who hear the voice of God? Explaining faith is impossible: vision over visibility; instinct over intellect. A songwriter plays a chord with the faith that he will hear the next one in his head.
One of the writers of the psalms was a musician, a harp-player whose talents were required at "the palace" as the only medicine that would still the demons of the moody and insecure King Saul of Israel. It is a thought that still inspires: Marilyn sang for Kennedy, the Spice Girls for Prince Charles.
At the age of 12, I was a fan of David. He felt familiar, like a pop star could feel familiar. The words of the psalms were as poetic as they were religious, and he was a star. Before David could fulfil the prophecy and become the king of Israel, he had to take quite a beating. He was forced into exile and ended up in a cave in some no-name border town facing the collapse of his ego and abandonment by God. But this is where the soap opera got interesting. This is where David was said to have composed his first psalm -- a blues. That's what a lot of the psalms feel like to me, the blues. Man shouting at God -- "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me?" (Psalm 22).
I hear echoes of this holy row when un-holy bluesman Robert Johnson howls, "There's a hellhound on my trail" or Van Morrison sings, "Sometimes, I feel like a motherless child." Texas Alexander mimics the psalms in "Justice Blues": "I cried Lord my father, Lord kingdom come. Send me back my woman, then thy will be done." Humorous, sometimes blasphemous, the blues was backslidin' music but, by its very opposition, it flattered the subject of its perfect cousin, gospel.
Abandonment and displacement are the stuff of my favourite psalms. The Psalter may be a font of gospel music, but for me it's despair that the psalmist really reveals and the nature of his special relationship with God. Honesty, even to the point of anger. "How long, Lord? Wilt thou hide thyself forever?" (Psalm 89), or "Answer me when I call" (Psalm 5).
Psalms and hymns were my first taste of inspirational music. I liked the words, but I wasn't sure about the tunes -- with the exception of Psalm 23, "The Lord is my Shepherd." I remember them as droned and chanted rather than sung. But they prepared me for the honesty of John Lennon, the baroque language of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, the open throat of Al Green and Stevie Wonder. When I hear these singers, I am reconnected to a part of me I have no explanation for -- my "soul" I guess.
Words and music did for me what solid, even rigorous, religious argument could never do -- they introduced me to God, not belief in God, more an experiential sense of GOD. Over art, literature, girls, my mates, the way in to my spirit was a combination of words and music. As a result, the Book of Psalms always felt open to me and led me to the poetry of Ecclesiastes, the Song of Solomon, the book of John...My religion could not be fiction, but it had to transcend facts. It could be mystical, but not mythical.
My mother was Protestant, my father Catholic. Anywhere other than Ireland that would be unremarkable. The "Prods" at that time had the better tunes and the Catholics had the better stage-gear. My mate Gavin Friday used to say: "Roman Catholicism is the Glamrock of religion" with its candles and psychedelic colours -- cardinal blues, scarlets and purples -- smoke bombs of incense and the ring of the little bell. The Prods were better at the bigger bells, they could afford them. In Ireland, wealth and Protestantism went together. To have either was to have collaborated with the enemy -- that is, Britain. This did not fly in our house.
After going to Mass at the top of the hill, in Finglas on the north side of Dublin, my father waited outside the little Church of Ireland chapel at the bottom of the hill, where my mother had brought her two sons.
I kept myself awake thinking of the clergyman's daughter and let my eyes dive into the cinema of the stained glass. These Christian artists had invented the movies. Light projected through colour to tell their story. In the Seventies the story was "the Troubles," and the Troubles came through the stained glass, with rocks thrown more in mischief than in anger. But the message was the same: the country was to be divided along sectarian lines. I had a foot in both camps, so my Goliath became religion itself: I began to see religion as the perversion of faith. I began to see God everywhere else. In girls, fun, music, justice and still -- despite the lofty King James translation -- the Scriptures.
I loved these stories for the basest reasons. These were action movies, with some hardcore men and women, the car chases, the casualties, the blood and guts. There was very little kissing.
David was a star, the Elvis of the Bible, if we can believe the chiselling of Michelangelo. And unusually for such a "rock star," with his lust for power, lust for women, lust for life, he had the humility of one who knew his gift worked harder than he ever would. He even danced naked in front of his troops -- the biblical equivalent of the royal walkabout. David was definitely more performance artist than politician.
Anyway, I stopped going to churches and got into a different kind of religion. Don't laugh. That's what being in a rock 'n' roll band is. Showbiz is shamanism, music is worship. Whether it's worship of women or their designer, the world or its destroyer, whether it comes from that ancient place we call soul or simply the spinal cortex, whether the prayers are on fire with a dumb rage or dove-like desire, the smoke goes upwards, to God or something you replace God with -- usually yourself.
Years ago, lost for words and with 40 minutes of recording time left before the end of our studio time, we were still looking for a song to close our third album, War. We wanted to put something explicitly spiritual on the record to balance the politics and romance of it; like Bob Marley or Marvin Gaye would. We thought about the psalms -- Psalm 40. There was some squirming. We were a very "white" rock group, and such plundering of the scriptures was taboo for a white rock group unless it was in the "service of Satan." Psalm 40 is interesting in that it suggests a time in which grace will replace karma, and love will replace the very strict laws of Moses (in other words, fulfil them). I love that thought. David, who committed some of the most selfish as well as selfless acts, was depending on it. That the scriptures are brim full of hustlers, murderers, cowards, adulterers and mercenaries used to shock me. Now it is a source of great comfort.
"40" became the closing song at U2 shows, and on hundreds of occasions, literally hundreds of thousands of people of every size and shape of T-shirt have shouted back the refrain, pinched from Psalm 6: "How long (to sing this song)." I had thought of it as a nagging question, pulling at the hem of an invisible deity whose presence we glimpse only when we act in love. How long hunger? How long hatred? How long until creation grows up and the chaos of its precocious, hell-bent adolescence has been discarded? I thought it odd that the vocalising of such questions could bring such comfort -- to me, too.
But to get back to David, it is not clear how many of these psalms David or his son Solomon really wrote. Some scholars suggest that the royals never dampened their nibs and that there was a host of Holy Ghost writers. Who cares? I didn't buy Leiber and Stoller -- they were just his songwriters. I bought Elvis.
The Book of Psalms, with this introduction by Bono is published tomorrow by Canongate as part of a new series of pocket canons.

May 28

Tomorrow is Saturday, May 28.
For most, it will be a normal Saturday, filled with sleeping in, baseball, t-ball and softball games.
Many will wake up, throw on some old clothes and get out and work in the yard.
A really good friend of mine, Leslie Leech, will be married tomorrow afternoon.
But for me and my family, it will be another first.
May 28 was the day my sister, Amy, planned to say her own wedding vows with my best friend Matt Lehmann.
Yet, God had other plans.
I still don't understand it. I probably never will.
You always think, "This will never happen to us. It only happens to other people."
Well now, we're everyone else's other people.
I'm not sure how I feel about tomorrow.
Our family will be gathering together at my aunt and uncles home with Matt's family.
I'm almost dreading it. I know it's better for everyone to be together tomorrow than moping at home, but for some reason, bringing everyone together means more moping and more sorrow.
My friend Chris said it best (out of the blue) yesterday.
"When you have a jig-saw puzzle and all the pieces are tossed about, you don't really realize any pieces are missing. But when you put the puzzle together and you have one piece missing - it makes a huge difference."
For me, I hope to have fun, laugh a lot and enjoy the day - but I almost wonder if that's even possible.
Will the strain and sorrow on everyone's heart over shadow everything?
I wish I could just bring my laptop along and blog everything that's said or done. But would anyone else really want to know?
I'm sure the people around me get tired of me talking about Amy. It tends to come up in half my conversations.
I miss her greatly, but I don't want to dwell on that. I just want to tell everyone how Godly and amazing she was in life and in death.
I want to tell everyone crying for her, "Shake it off. Amy would hate to know you're crying for her."
But that seems rude and crude. And if they ever catch me crying -- I'd punch them in the face for saying it to me.
C.S. Lewis wrote after his wife's death, "I've become an embarassement to all my friends. They don't know how to respond to me. I hate the people who bring it up. And I hate the people who don't."
People say, "You'll get over it. You'll move on."
I don't think you ever really will. There's still that missing piece of the puzzle.
It's like telling an amputee they'll get over the loss of a leg.
You don't get over it -- you adjust.
So, there are my plans for the weekend. I hope I didn't just throw out a huge downer on yours.
If so -- simply turn off your computer, walk away and pretend you never read this.
But know this: Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
And Jesus is the friend of a wounded heart.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

'boards - Darth Vader vs Hollywood Execs

This is great... 'boards - Screening Room

Darth Vader's heart of evil is no match for Hollywood executives'.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


An addition to my previous post:
Here's blogging and public comments at its best: Whataburger Stories.
People get the opportunity to send in their stories from Whataburger and share them with the world.
That's an idea I think everyone could use and add to their website.
Especially a previously mentioned competitor of Whataburger.

Have it your way?

I'm on a bit of a rant here.
After working late tonight, I decided to stop by a local burger joint to grab a value meal for my evening dinner. I asked for a particular burger and I was told, "Sorry, we're out of those buns."
I was taken back and asked her to repeat herself.
Sure enough they were out of the buns needed to make my burger.
I asked what what burger I could have then, and she named off a childs burger, a chicken sandwich, a fish sandwich and a specialty sandwhich.
I was still taken back -- a burger joint, at 9 p.m. would not serve me a burger.
I asked if they could simply put my burger on a differnet bun. "No, our manager said those are too expensive." WHAT!? Too expensive? Whatever happened to "Have it your way?!"
Maybe I'm expecting too much, but I think if your out of buns for your trademark burger, you should allow a substitute - not complain that another bun is too expensive.
So with my new understanding of what "Have it your way" really meant, I drove down the street and grabbed a What-a-Burger Tripple Meat-Tripple Cheese (Tripple Bypass) Value Meal - and I had it What-A-Sized.
Oh my, a cheeseburger never tasted so good. Well maybe, but after my huge dissapointment from earlier, anything probably would have tasted just as good. When I came home, I went to the companies website to file a complaint.
And what did I find, but the company does not accept e-mails and has no forms for feedback on their website.
Instead, I get three options for contacting them.

Search our Web site:
Franchising Opportunities
Nutritional Information
Special Dietary Needs or Allergen Information
Programs for Kids
Public Policies
BK/McLamore Foundation
Donations/Charitable Contributions
Marketing Ideas

Contact your local BURGER KING® restaurant:
For contact information, please use our Restaurant Locator.

Contact the Burger King Corporate Office:
5505 Blue Lagoon Drive, Miami FL 33126
Corporate Headquarters (305) 378-3000
Marketing/Advertising (305) 378-7200
Donations/Charitable Contributions (305) 378-7096
Consumer Relations (305) 378-3535
(Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. ET)

Communication with Burger King Corporation is not accepted via e-mail.
Click here for our corporate policies & more info.

Not only could I not have my burger my way - but I couldn't contact them my way.
Some one needs to check their slogan and make sure that it's still company policy.
Advertising "Have it Your Way" is great. I love having it my way.
But instead of getting it my way there - I went to What-A-Burger where I had it "Just my Way."
Thanks What-A-Burger for standing by your corporate slogan.
And I'm glad to be able to send you my comments my way - by a form on your website or email.

Bison Chips

Oh - now this is great. Check out this musical group:Bison Chips.
According to their website:
The Bison Chips are a group of talented gentlemen bonded together by their never-ending pursuit of wine, women, and song. Despite their uncharacteristic panache and boyish good looks, The Bison Chips have exuded a harmonious aura of awe-inspiring proclivities at Bucknell University for over 30 years.

A really fun album. I downloaded it from Yahoo! Unlimited, but you can buy or listen to their music here as well.

Reverse-engineering passion: part 1

Every business, church or organization needs to have passion to make it work. Passion is the fire that feeds people and gives them energy to keep going. Here's a great look at what passion should look like: Reverse-engineering passion: part 1.
Kathy Sierra says there are seven ways to realize passion. And rather than focusing on one or two of them, we should always do things that help our users:
Show Off
Spend Time
Spend Money

Often we want to do the later, but not the rest.
It's easy to throw money at a project or ministry or organization, but without the rest, there is no passion.
When people leave our meetings or fellowships or use our products,
Do they want to tell everyone else about it?
Do they want to find ways to connect with others who have used the product or tried the church?
Do they go to a website or blog to learn more about us?
Do they try to feel like they've improved or know how they can be a better Christian or believer when they leave?
Are they proud to be a member or a part of the group?
Do they want to keep coming back and spending time using the product or spending time with the group?
And a big one for the church -
Do they put their money where their faith is? Or do they believe in the ministry strongly enough to open up their wallets?
Passionate people create more passionate people. Passion breads passion. And that can do nothing but strengthen a cause, a group or a belief.

Creating Passionate Users: Users don't care if you are the best.

Creating Passionate Users blogged this week about how Users don't care if you are the best.
It really had me thinking about ministry and the church and even my own work at The Belton Journal.
According to sociologists, psychologists, and cognitive scientists, people don't care how great my product or message is - they care about how great it will make them.
It makes sense. Anytime I've been in sales, I've always been trained and taught, don't sell the product, sell how the product will benefit the user.
I have a really cool cell-phone in my opinion. A Motorola V551. I love it - now that I have one that works right.
It has bluetooth technology, a still camera, video camera and all sorts of gizmos that I think belong on a cell phone.
Now if I were to show this phone to my mom, she wouldn't understand.
"Mom this phone has bluetooth, a camera, voice memo record and handsfree! Isn't that great?!"
She'd look at me like I was an idiot (well maybe not an idiot - she is my mom after all).
She wouldn't understand.
But maybe if I told her of how all these tools can benefit her, she might be interested.
"Mom, I know you love taking pictures and seeing pictures of your family - this phone lets you carry a camera with you, so you can take a picture where ever you are and then send it to any other cell phone. And if you want to save the picture to print it out later, you can use the bluetooth feature to send the picture, or video, to your computer, so you can print it out or save it to a disk."
That gives her a lot more reason to make the purchase. She now sees how the phones features will benefit her.
Just because a phone is high tech, doesn't mean it's for everyone, but now she has reason to believe, this is the phone for her.
When I share the gospel with someone, its one thing to tell them how great I am because I'm a Christian and its another thing to tell them how great their life (and eternal life) will be if they become a Christian.
Share how being a Christian has benefited you and how it will benefit them as well.

Ministry Follow Ups

Effective Web Ministry makes a great point with a recent blog, Quick! Follow Up!
A recent study showed that of people who send comments or seek responses from websites:
- one in five near receives a reply
- a third receive messages that are deemed unhelpful
- 31 percent of firms did not respond consistently or did not respond at all to online inquiries
- only 47 percent were answered within a day of being sent
If you're doing ministry, how quickly are you responding to inquiries?
How quickly are you responding to visitors to your blog, website or even your services?
I try to keep a rule in my office: Always return calls the same day you receive them.
Now, somedays that just not possible, but when I'm on the other end, a quick response goes a long long way.
Respond quickly, efficiently and completely.

4 Ways Blogging Can Change Your Church

Churchmarketing sucks.com relayed an article from Lifeway that tells of 4 Ways Blogging Can Change Your Church.
Here's a quick summary:
1. Blogging will bring churches closer together as it closes a communication gap
2. Blogging will help to develop sermons and classes
3. Blogging will break down barriers and remove masks
4. Blogging will help the church to engage the culture.

Saint John's Bible

So I was doing a bit of web surfing before I went night, night tonight and I came across this site, The Saint Johns Bible.
I haven't had much time to look at it and seeing that my laptop battery is getting low -- and it is 4 in the morning. I probably won't look at it much more tonight.
But it looks very interesting. According to the site:
At the dawn of the 21st century, Saint John's Abbey and University seek to ignite the spiritual imagination of believers throughout the world by commissioning a work of art that illuminates the Word of God for a new millennium.

Apparently they are writing the entire Bible in calligraphy with ink and quill. Some of the artwork looks amazing.
I'll be excited to stay on top of this and see the progress they make.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Church Flowers

A pastor in St. Paul, Minn. blogged this week about a flower garden planted in front of his church.
First of all, I love pastors that blog regularly. It gives a lot of insight into the ministry and what they go through and see throughout the week.
Some even give insight into how their weekly sermon progresses.
Fellowship Church in Dallas has a blog set up for their entire church staff to post notes and journals on.
It gives you a connection with the staff that you might not otherwise have.
Now of course, I imagine some of you are thinking, “What in the world is a blog?” Of course if you’re reading this on my blog, you can skip the next few paragraphs, but if you’re reading it in The Belton Journal, you might want to follow along closely.
To sum it up, here’s the explanation by Fellowship Church:

“What is a blog? A blog is a regularly updated website made up of a series of topical posts.
For Fellowship Church, a blog is simply a new way to reach people - to tell the story of Fellowship Church and the incredible things God is doing here. As our church grows larger, we must continually find ways to connect with one another and share the amazing stories of life-change that take place each and every week.
Written by the staff of Fellowship, the Fellowship Church Blog is your backstage pass to the day-to-day life of our church, with the latest information, photos, and stories.”

A blog is basically an online journal of whatever you so choose. You can be the sole writer, or if you’d so prefer, you can let a group of your friends or an organization add their own writings to your blogosphere. You can find free blog servers all over the place, but I personally prefer www.blogger.com or www.wordpress.org.
If you’re still clueless, visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog for a better definition.
So, now that you’re totally knowledgeable on the world of blogs, I’ll continue with my original story.
Pastor Pat Kahnke of St. Paul Fellowship Church writes that he noticed a bunch of kids bustling around in the church parking lot earlier this week.
As he walked closer he realized that a number of his church members had taken the initiative to plow up a weedy section of their church lot and plant a flower bed in its place.
While planting the flower bed, one of the church members knocked on a neighboring house door to ask to borrow a water hose.
The church neighbor said they could borrow the hose that day and year-round to keep the flower bed looking healthy.
And as a result, another member volunteered to plow the man’s backyard for him.
What a great sign of ministry on so many levels.
They took the care of the church upon themselves
No one sat around and waited for a church beautification committee to tell them what needed to be done. No building committee hired out work that church members could easily do.
People took responsibility for their church and went the extra mile to be sure their place of worship was taken care of.
What if each of us looked for areas in our own churches or work places where we could go the extra mile without being asked?
What if we quit shrugging responsibility for things in our offices or church and stepped up and said, “This needs to be done – and I’m going to do it. Even if it’s not in my job description and even if I may not be an expert on the subject.”
They involved outsiders
One of the things I love about this story is that it involved people in the neighborhood.
Now granted, with a little planning they could have brought their own water hose, but think of the ministry opportunity they would have missed. In the process, they made sure that a neighbor of the church knew what was going on at the church and then found a way to meet him at his need.
Wasn’t that Jesus’ entire ministry was about? He met people at their need.
If we are passionate about what we do, or wherever we do it, it can be contagious - people will want to be a part of it.
A business cannot grow without new customers and a church cannot grow without new members. We must rid ourselves of being exclusive or selective in who we reach out to. We must bring outsiders in.
A few months ago I wrote about George Masters who was so passionate about Apple’s iPod, that he spent several hours designing a complete television commercial based on his favorite toy.
“Why would a school teacher spend a good chunk of his free time, for five months, crafting a really slick ad for no money? For no real recognition other than a, ‘Hey, that’s cool,’ from a few friends? Because he really, really likes his iPod,” wrote blogger Andy Havens. “Masters frankly admits that he partly worked on the project as a way of teaching himself some computer animation basics, and to be part of a portfolio. That being said, why pick the iPod mini as his subject? Because he’s a huge fan. And let’s remember that ‘fan’ is short for ‘fanatic.’”
If we can get people passionate about our product or message, people will become a part of the message and share it with them where ever they go.
Little efforts can go a long way
Third, as Pastor Kahnke wrote in his blog that he was blessed and ministered to by seeing their effort and the beautiful flowers left by their effort.
A pastor who was worn down was encouraged and blessed by a small effort by members of his congregation.
I can’t imagine that this group of church goers would have realized the impact their thoughtfulness had on their pastor, or the impact it would have on a newspaper editor some 1,113 miles away.
You never know what impact your willingness to serve will have on others.

CWF Results from 5-22-05

Sorry for the delay, but here are Sundays CWF results from Mountain Home, Arkansas.

Chris Idol def. Michael Malick
Eagle def. Son of Thunder James Zebedee
Tim Storm def. Rob Jesus Freak Vaughn
Jesus Freak and Michael Malick def. Chris Idol and Tim Storm

And more importantly, 10 people made decisions to follow Christ.
Praise God.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Sand is overrated. It's just tiny, little rocks.

I'm really tired from this weekend. But for some reason I'm just not ready to go to bed. I'm afraid I'll lay there staring at the ceiling or the back of my eyelids forever. Maybe I'll go home and watch a movie or two. I'm thinking about Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It's a really clever movie that sometimes I wish and wonder if it could be true.
Could you possibly erase someone or an event from your mind?
And if you could, would you really want to?
I can think of several events or people I might like to erase, but what purpose would that serve?
What if I errased my sister's death? Where would that leave me? Would I just hurt even worse because in my mind she would have just simply disappeared? I would never want to erase her from my memory or any part of her. She means too much, even as bad as her death hurts sometimes.
I can think of ex-girlfriends that I would probably love to erase, but there's always so much I can look back on foundly and wish to return to those happier moments.
What would you erase if you could? And why?
Either way, I think I may head home, open a cheap bottle of wine and enjoy the rest of the evening before I finally run out of things to think and worry about.

"Sand is overrated. It's just tiny, little rocks. "

Weekend Update

Well, the weekends over and I need a vacation to recover.
It seems like the last few weekends have been whirlwind experiences that keep coming.
I spent last weekend I had plans to visit friends and family in Dallas as well as announcing for the first CWF Comeback show in Rockwall.
I ended up doing all that, as well as attending the visitation and funeral of a friend on Saturday.
This weekend, I began a fun Friday evening with a good friend, as we planned to eat and visit the Planetarium in Killeen.
And naturally, we ran into someone I knew at dinner.
A couple from our church saw us on their way out of the restaurant and I'm sure immediately began to hear wedding bells as they saw my friend and I sitting on the bench, waiting for our table.
I guess that's what everyone assumes when you're single and you're hanging out with someone of the opposite sex.
What really stinks is when you or that other person starts hearing wedding bells, while the other is hearing, "Run Forrest, run!"
But none the less, we enjoyed our evening and I was waiting anxiously to see Laser U2 at the Planetarium.
We arrived a few minutes early and were pleased to see a very small crowd would be joining us. But as the show started, we soon realized, without any sound or music, the lasers lost their attraction.
So, the show was cancelled and we were given rain checks for another show.
I emailed the Planetarium Monday morning to ask if there would be another run of the show -- and maybe its my wonderful persuasive writing skills, or their over abundance of generosity, but the center agreed to run a special show for me and friends.
So, I'll get to wait anxiously for another show at another time.
Saturday I saw Star Wars - Revenge of the Sith with my good friends Aaron and Keri Lehmann.
I don't know if Revenge of the Sith will replace The Empire Strikes Back as my favorite installment or not, but it is my favorite of the three pre-quils.
We finished the day off with dinner at Kobe's Steakhouse in Addison with friends and family, celebrating Kathryn's Crappy Birthday and her brother-in-law's Happy Birthday.
The weekend wrapped up with a whirlwind trip to Mountain Home, Arkansas for a CWF show.
We were a bit bumed before the show began. The crowd was thin, with only 20 people in attendance up until the last 10 or 15 minutes before showtime. Luckily the crowd grew to 72 by showtime -- but preparing for a show with an extra small crowd is never a good feeling - especially if you've just driven eight hours to do so.
As the show began, we had technical difficulties with the mics and music intros (which to me is ALWAYS frustrating) but surprise, surprise, God still chose to use a bunch of guys who love ministry and wrestling, to bring 10 people into His kingdom.
It still amazes me how God can use a wrestling show to bring people into His loving, outstretched arms, but He does.
And an eight hour ride, in a van, full of goofy guys, suddenly becomes worth it all.
Even if we don't make it back to Dallas till 6:30 a.m. on Monday, and I have to be at work (2 hours away) at 10 a.m. -- it's all worth it if just one comes to know Him.
The thrill of doing Kingdom work is amazing.
I don't quite feel at home anywhere else. The CWF proves that God works outside of our boxes all the time.
And the angels rejoice in the salvation of 10 people, who put their trust in the Lord. And we rejoice with them.

Friday, May 20, 2005


I found this cool website tonight:Evite.
You can plan and invite people to parties through forms and such on the internet. Then the site will send an e-invitation to all your invitees. And they can respond with a yes or no as to whether they'll be there or not.
Granted, I've never had much luck with regular invitations, phone email or otherwise, but maybe this might change my luck.
Who knows.
We'll see.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Steve Jobs Buys a Washing Machine

Wired News has an interesting article on Steve Jobs buying a washing machine. The college drop out and Apple Computers Founder and CEO got his entire family envolved in discussing the design of their new washer and dryer.
In a 1996 interview, Steve said, "Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But, of course, if you dig deeper, it's really how it works. To design something really well, you have to 'get it.' You have to really grok what it's all about." (A geek's word, to grok is a coinage of science-fiction writer R.A. Heinlein, meaning to understand something thoroughly by having empathy with it.)
I think we miss that many times in designing things and communicating messages.
I've designed websites in the past that really jump out at people because they look great, but in all reality they suck as a website, because they don't work well. You can't find the pages and information you want quickly.
A well designed newspaper is the same way. Not only does it look good, but the information is organized in a way that people can pick it up every day or every week and know exactly where they need to go to get the information they need.

Jesus Wept

My buddy Aaron has a post about my sister Amy and how he came to realize that even when we feel alone, we can remember that Jesus too, wept.

IT Tour of Fellowship Church

Scobleizer writes in his blog about visiting Fellowship Church in Dallas and discusses how they've used IT and technology to make people feel more welcome and at home at church.
He has some good points for churches and companies wanting to use technology to tell their story.
Make it easy for everyone to learn about you—on their terms. Scoble notes that the only thing visible from the freeway is the church's url.
Make it easy to experience your product's special attributes. Scoble was given a DVD with an overview of the church.
To get word-of-mouth advertising you need to be remarkable. 50 manned computer registration stations, all-digtal sound system, plasma screens everywhere, etc.
Use IT to efficiently get close to your customers and take care of their needs. A high-tech system to register kids quickly and easily.
If you want to be better, make sure you're better from the first minutes of someone's experience. The church makes a sports fan feel at home.
If you want to be seen as bleeding edge, invest to be bleeding edge and do so throughout your company. They are the first church to film all their services in HDTV.
Extend the usefulness of your plant. They make WiFi available to their congregation during the week.
Design your systems so they never go down and can expand for future growth. they've got redundancy all over the place.
Don't be religious about technology, choose what gets the job done best for the least amount of money and staff time. While they heavily rely on Microsoft's technology, they also use Macs and Linux when those platforms work better.
When you become successful, bottle up what got you there and sell it to others. They sell their own software: FellowshipOne.

There's bits and pieces there that each of us can use daily wherever we are.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

U2's The Edge enters the wrestling business

Apparently a week or so ago, my best friend Shawn Michaels was interviewed before his match with WWE Superstar Edge (Adam Copeland). The brilliant journalist apparently mixed up The Edge of U2 with Edge of WWE. Way to go.
Thanks to the Wrestling Observer for the transcript.
MARIA: Shawn Michaels, tonight you're facing The Edge. Do you think you can win?
SHAWN: I'll tell you what, Maria, I -- did you just call him The Edge?
MARIA: [nods proudly]
SHAWN: ...okay. You asked me if you thought I could win too, didn'tcha?
MARIA: [nods proudly]
SHAWN: I dunno, I guess now that I think about it, yeah! Yeah, I do think I can win. Especially after last week. You know something, Shelton Benjamin I have to admit gave me a run for my money last week. Shelton Benjamin, you are the finest piece of young talent that I have faced in this industry in the last 20 years, and you my friend have an incredibly bright future. Now that notwithstanding, someone's future who is not looking so bright is ... [points at Maria] The Edge! Haha! The name problems aside, he's facing the Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels.

Quality journalism there.
We had a discussion today in our office (however brief it was) about problems in journalism reporting.
This Monday, Newsweek magazine reported that a story that ran on May 9 was inaccurate. Now, an error in a news story is not that shocking, but the results of mistake is where the horror comes in.
The Newsweek article reported that U.S. military investigators had confirmed that personal at a Cuba detention center had flushed the Koran down the toilet as a means to get al-Queda and Taliban operatives to talk.
While it may seem harmless, 16 people were killed and more than 100 were injured in Afghanistan when angry protests were sparked from the report.
Desecration of the Koran is punishable by death in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Egypt, Saudia Arabia, Bangladesh, Malaysia and The Arab League have all condemned the report.
Now Newsweek Editor Mark Whitaker said he regretted that any part of the story was wrong.
"We extend our sympathies to victims of the violence and to the U.S. soldiers caught in its midst," Whitaker wrote in the Monday, May 16 issue.
The magazine said that the information had come from a “knowledgeable government source." Only now the source said he could not be certain he had seen the account of the Koran incident.
What does it say about our media, when we're so pressed to get a news story that we find one "knowledgeable government source" to base an entire story on? What happened to being "democracy's guardian angel?”
For some reason, "find at least three sources for every story" still echoes in my head from my journalism classes.
Where have we, as the media, gone wrong?
Where did we cross the line that having an exclusive or keeping advertisers happy became the standard?
Why are we as a country more concerned with who testifies in Michael Jackson's case or Kobe Bryant's case, than the continent of Africa going up in flames with an AIDS crisis?
When did covering a congressional hearing on steroid abuse become more important than covering the thousands of lives that have been lost to civil war in the Darfur region?
Recent reports confirm that up to 400,000 people have died in Darfur as a result of the government-sponsored genocide. The New York Times reported recently that President Bush has actually asked Congress to delete provisions about Darfur from upcoming legislation.
Yet while this genocide continues to go on, the top stories online are, "Abu Ghraib abuser sentenced to six months prison" and "British lawmakers ask Congress to back off."
According to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, “News is the reporting of current events usually by local, regional or mass media in the form of newspapers, television and radio programs, or sites on the World Wide Web. News reporting is a type of journalism, typically written or broadcast in news style. Most news is investigated and presented by journalists (or reporters) and often distributed via news agencies. If the content of news is significant enough, it eventually becomes history.
“To be considered news, an event usually must have broad interest due to one or more news values:
- Impact (how many people were, are or will be affected?)
- Timeliness (did the event occur very recently?)
- Revelation (is there significant new information, previously unknown?)
- Proximity (was the event nearby geographically?)
- Entertainment (does it make for a fun story?)
- Oddity (was the event highly unusual?)
- Celebrity (was anyone famous involved?)
“News coverage often includes the “five W’s and the H” -- who, what, where, when, why, and how.”
That last news value always upsets me.
So I think the real question is, who decides what the news is?
Does the public decide? With some of the phone calls and press releases I get, I have trouble believing sometimes the general public knows what news is. But granted, we are a hometown newspaper, where hometown events, however small, are important.
Maybe instead, managing editors and publishers who know the business side of the paper should decide what the news is.
Or maybe, we should leave it up to the wide-eyed, green journalism interns.
I don’t know for certain.
I don’t think anyone really knows. But we must keep the discussion open.
John Stewart discusses journalism in his book, "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction. And Stewart was more than willing to discuss the media with his usual sarcastic wit.
When the U.S.S. Maine was sunk in the late 1800's, Stewart reports that the papers were more than willing to tell the story as they saw fit.
"The pairs blend of fiction, bigotry and jingoism became known as 'Yellow Journalism,'" Stewart writes. "Later the term was shortened to 'Journalism.'"
A free, honest and independent press is essential to democracy.
Without it, we might as well all take out lifetime subscriptions to the Thrifty Nickel.
“By removing the investigative aspect of investigative journalism, today’s modern media finally has the time to pursue the ultimate goal the founding fathers invisioned for news gathering organizations,” Stewart writes. “To raise the stock price of the media empire that owns them.”

Monday, May 16, 2005


Well, I think the redesign is finally complete for the new Belton Christian Youth Center Website. I'm a lot happier with this version than the original I created around this time last year.
If you get a chance, browse through the site and see if you can find any errors or problems (and then be sure to let me know). A new website tends to always have bad links or other design issues, so let me know what you find.
If you want to get carried away, feel free to laugh at the old design and compare it to the new bright, colorful design.

Happy Crappy Birthday

I'd be amiss if I didn't wish Kathryn a Happy Crappy Birthday. Granted, I'm sure no one really knows what that means, but that's OK. Kathryn does and that's all that matters.
This weekend was amazing.
I feel like I've been out of the loop all weekend. I don't believe I checked my e-mail or the news or my regular blogs all weekend, but somehow I survived.
Saturday night the CWF had our "first show back" in Rockwall. It was amazing to be a part of, even if it was nothing more than the ring announcer.
I believe we counted approximately 250 people in attendance. We only had seats for 75.
And while everyone wants to critique their match and find the flaws, I really don't care. I enjoyed five great matches, including a great Battle Royal and God used each person there.
15 people made decisions Saturday night, so no matter how many screwups anyone had, it goes to prove that when God is ready to work, it doesn't matter how good we are or how bad we are - He'll work.
So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty--handed. They'll do the work I sent them to do, they'll complete the assignment I gave them. - Isaiah 55:11

For those of you keeping track, here's a rundown of Saturday's card:
The matches were for control of the CWF for the next three months.
Seven def. Michael Malick
Son of Thunder James Zebedee and The Zealot def. "Jesus Freak" Rob Vaughn with Tim Storm (DQ)
Jonah def. Phil "The Bishop" Barron
Shiloh def. Chris Idol
Battle Royal (last man standing) Winner: "Jesus Freak" Rob Vaughn
The New Blood won control of the CWF after the 2-2 tie and the win by Jesus Freak in the Battle Royal.

In the news:
Adding to his donation of $200 million in 2003, Bill Gates announced a pledge of $250 million toward the race to solve the world`s most pressing health problems through science and technology. The award will aid researchers as they tackle 14 specific public-health challenges in developing countries—ranging from the development of vaccines that need no refrigeration to creating a single staple crop to help alleviate malnutrition.
Here's to putting your money where your mouth is.

Friday, May 13, 2005

And the show goes on

Saturday is the big day. At 7 p.m. your fearless editor will make his triumphant wrestling debut as Dr. Blundell.
Well OK, maybe I should clarify. When I say my wrestling debut, I’m not really talking about ME wrestling.
It’s more like, I come in, tell people who the wrestlers are and get the fans worked up into a frenzy. I might even get to step into the ring once or twice.
Either way, I’m fired up. I’m almost as fired up as I was after taking my first body slam during workout last week.
And to be honest, I’m not so sure that I was fired up because I was thrown to the mat -- or just fired up that one of my friends actually had the strength to lift my fat butt off the mat to begin with.
Way to go Storm.
So Saturday I’ll join a bunch of green wrestlers in the ring to show of our skills (cause girls like guys with skills) or the lack there of. But, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my short life, no matter what happens, the show must go on.
You’ve got to keep pushing ahead, even if your opponent literally knocks your head off or rolls over you and busts your mouth open.
You can’t get distracted by the rude kid in the third row who thinks your tights are sissy looking.
You can’t get down because your company truck breaks down at the intersection of I-35 and New Road -- at 2:30 in the morning.
Oh wait - that’s a whole ‘nother story. Flip over to B2, maybe Allman will tell you about that, but that’s up to him.
You have to keep going when everything around you is crashing down.
Scripture says that when the spotlight was turned on Jesus, He was ready to stop everything. He anguished so much in the garden that drops of blood poured from his pores. That’s not normal. That’s extreme anguish. He cried out, “Father if it’s possible, take this cup from me.”
But then He remembered, the show must go on. “I have a job to accomplish here and a silly cross is not gonna keep me from finishing my job.”
He then prays, “Lord not your will but mine be done.”
The show must go on.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” - Ephesians 6:12

Oh and I ain’t dropping the belt. That thing’s 14 karat. I’m the champ!

CartoonChurch.com � Cartoon � Born again

Looking for something to liven up your church bulliten or publication, check out cartoonchurch.com. They have a number of great cartoons, including my current favorite, Born Again.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Amy's Song

By Switchfoot

Amy's gone
And time rolls on
How far? how fast? how long?

The last time we saw Amy
She was headed for the shore
Fighting off the volatile gray skies

She said now begins forever
And that no one knows their time
We bid farewell not knowing
That might be our last good-bye

Amy was a fighter
She cut like Casius Clay
She burned like a fire
Despite these rains

Where time was a question
She only knew one song:
She's singing, "how far, how fast, how

Salvation is a fire
In the midnight of the soul
It lights up like a can of gasoline

Yeah, she's a freedom fighter
She's a stand up kind of girl
She's out to start a fire
In a bar code plastic world

Amy was a fighter
She cut like Casius Clay
She burned like a fire
Despite these rains

Where time was a question
She only knew one song:
She's singing, "how far, how fast, how

When everything stops moving
And I stop to catch my breath
And ride my train of thought
All the way round

My thoughts return to Amy
And the fire she's begun
She came when we were freezing
And left us burning up

Amy was a fighter
She cut like Casius Clay
She burned like a fire
Despite these rains

Where time was a question
She only knew one song:
She's singing, "how far, how fast, how

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Powerline v. 2

So those of you who have kept up with my blog over the last week or so, know that I'm getting addicted to blogging as well as podcasts. For those of you who aren't familiar with the term, too bad. Just kidding.
Podcasts are basically radio programs that can be set to download automatically to your computer and then loaded onto your iPod or Mp3 player.
And for those of you who really know me, know I dig radio and I really miss being on the radio. So naturally, I'm looking into this new phenomenum with great interest.
I'm exploring my options for creating a weekly music show featuring either Christian Indie bands and/or Texas Indie bands. Of course with either show, I'm sure I'll have to do some wrestling updates, because I know how much all of you love wrestling.
But I'm wondering how much interest there is for either.
So leave me your thoughts. Either click on the comments button below or send me an email. Let me know what you'd like to hear.
And if you really want to be my friend, and would like to be a sponsor of the new Powerline, or Lighthouse 21 or whatever the final project becomes, be sure to let me know.
In the mean time, for those of you down with podcasts... check out this show... Spin 180.
God bless.

Bruce Almighty

Tomorrow I'll be showing clips from Bruce Almighty in Sunday school.
For some reason my sister's death has really hit me while talking to my mom late tonight and then watching clips from Bruce Almighty.
I don't believe we can ever understand why God does what He does. But He does it no matter what. I want to be bitter and upset, but then I see how horrible people can become even when they have all they want.
I think Bruce Nolan realizes that throughout Bruce Almighty. He realizes that while it might be easy to give everything to everyone who asks, there's a greater plan involved.
While he may want everything to go his way, God's way is actually greater.
I have to believe that with my sister's death. I want her back in my life so badly, yet I know I'll never be able to see her again until I join her in Heaven.
It makes me want to sing along with the Los Lonely Boys singing "How far is Heaven?" even more.
But even more, several other songs come to mind that helped me through the week of my sister's funeral.
Home Free - Wayne Watson
I'm trying hard not to think you unkind
But Heavenly Father If you know my heart
Surely you can read my mind
Good people underneath the sea of grief
Some get up and walk away
Some will find ultimate relief

Home Free, eventually
At the ultimate healing we will be
Home Free Home Free, oh I've got a feeling
At the ultimate healing
We will be Home Free

Out in the corridors we pray for life
A mother for her baby, A husband for his wife
Sometimes the good die young
It's sad but true
And while we pray for one more heartbeat
The real comfort is with you

You know pain has little mercy
And suffering's no respecter of age, of race or position
I know every prayer gets answered
But the hardest one to pray is slow to come
Oh Lord, not mine, but Your will be done

and also:
Beautiful Road - Wayne Watson
If I had my way, I must admit
If I called every play of the game
I'd pray for good times, blue ky and sunshine
And I'd avoid with a passion any pain
But with every blow from an engry wind

And with every dark shadow that falls
There's a better view up around the bend
Where this puzzle makes some sense after all

Mistakes and misfortunes will come and go
For you to try and still fail is no disgrace
Sometimes a rough and rocky road
Is gonna take you to a beautiful place

Is there anyone out there looking back through you rfaith
That can deny that your Father knows what's best
Oh but at the time and place for the life of you
You saw no reason, no good for the test
But now remembering as you watched His hand
Put the color to your black and white dreams
Maybe one more time past what you can see
Oh the trouble of the moment ain't as bad as it seems

Sometimes the unspoiled beauty of the wisdom of God
Is lying there in the wilderness
Up there beyond the easy reach
Where the journey takes a little more,
just a little more faith I guess

Bruce Nolan says "Things happen for a reason" is cliche.
I sure hope its not cliche.
Paul writes, "That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good." (Romans 8:29 MSG) or the NIV translates it as, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
If things happened by chance, it would make Amy's life and death meaningless.
I hope, believe and know better.
God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Lappy 486

Isn't it just a little suspicous that there's only a one letter difference between 'garage sale' and 'garbage sale'?

Thursday, May 05, 2005

AIM Flakes Out Again

So I came into work today and went though my normal routine. Checked the local papers for any stories of interest, checked my inbox, turned on my computer, logged on to AOL IM, opened my e-mail and then noticed a friend was online.
I sent her a message and then bam. AOL punts me off and won't let me back online. Apparently my account was suspended for some reason. I can't even find a real person to talk to or give me an answer as to why.
I feel so lost knowing that my friends might be waiting online now and I can't talk to them.
So, with my AIM down, I have to waste time and try and find a screen name I like. Something that suits me and something that's hopefully temporary.
And I don't mean to put myself over, but I had a really long buddy list that's now just floating in cyberspace somewhere with my suspended account.
I'm getting a little upset.
But why the heck is that? Why is staying in touch with people through a cell phone, AIM or e-mail so important to me?
Jeremiah 33:3 says, "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know."
Now I really like all my friends and family, but there's not many great and unsearchable things they can tell me.
Sure, they can tell me news that's going on in their world. But is that really great and unsearchable.
Yet, I'm misserable when I can't keep in constant contact with people and have them available at the click of a mouse or the push of a call button.
I have a direct line to God and I'm worried because I have to change screen names on AIM? Sounds like my priorities might be a little off.
I guess I can be thankful that God doesn't suspend our accounts like AOL.
I'd have to change screen names every day if that was the case.
The annoyance of man becomes and example for God's grace. How wonderful He is.
So for those of you who don't hear from me on AIM for awhile, you know.
Drop me an e-mail and maybe I'll send you my new screen name.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

All Thumbs

With postings like this: "All Thumbs," who needs my comments or thoughts.
I've been in a number of conversations lately that have discussed the rules/value and who's who of Christian music.
What makes music Christian. If you compare a love song by Bryan Adams to "In the Secret" by Sonicflood, aren't they basically the same song? But we know one as a secular love song to a girlfriend or a wife and the other as a cry to God, simply because of where we heard it. Had we heard "In the Secret" on a secular radio station, we would likely consider it a secular song.
Think about the song, "Every Breath you Take" by the Police. People have considered it a love song for years.
Personally I think its a stalker song.
Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I'll be watching you

Every single day
Every word you say
Every game you play
Every night you stay
I'll be watching you

O can't you see
You belong to me
How my poor heart aches with every step you take

Depending on how you view it, I suppose it could be a romantic love song, or a song about a stalker singing to his prey.
In reality, Sting wrote the song about an oppressive government that watched and censored everything it's citizens did.
So if music can be viewed in numerous ways, what about design in general?
What makes a design Christian or not?
When I send a flyer or postcard to my singles group, what determines if the design is Christian or not?
I remember last year after the Janet Jackson Superbowl fiasco I designed a flyer that had a picture of a sleeveless girl on it.
My church staff wasn't super happy with the idea because of the previous week's fiasco. But was it because the design was un-Christian or was it because it suggested things that might not be Christ-like.
Isn't the human body a thing of beauty, created by the All Mighty Creator?
When Michelangelo sculpted his statue of David was his thought, "I want to make this a Christian sculpture, so I'll sculpt a figure from the Old Testament" or did he think, "I want to make this as un-Christian as possible, so I'll scuplt David in the nude?"
Does it matter?
Is there really a difference between a Christian design and a non-Christian design?
When I look at the marketing and design work that "secular" companies put out and then I look at the flyers I get from my church or other churches, I see a definate difference in the design quality but what about the elements?
Should we be concerned about the design elements itself or simply the message it conveys?

Your inspiration

Blank has written a posting that takes a look at the books and magazines that inspire us.
As we explore the heart and soul of design, I thought it would be helpful for everyone to take a peak at your library, your coffee table and what's in your bathroom near the toilet. What I'd like to know is what books have/are giving you a glimpse into the heart and soul of design and why. Break them down into three categories:
~ In your library (books read in the past year)
~ Near the toilet (books you are currently reading)
~ On your coffee table (books you will be reading soon but have not started)

So I figured I'd list my books/magazines and then let each of you list your own in the comment section.
Library - The Hiding Place, The Chronicles of Narnia, A Grief Observed
Near the toilet - Jesus CEO: I've been working on this one for quite sometime. I read several sections, get inspired and then set it down for awhile.
The Coffee House Gospel: I've just started this one and haven't made a whole lot of progress mainly due to the other reading near my toilet.
Relevant Magazine (May - June): A constant companion in my "office." A great article this month on Moby and his faith.
Texas Monthly (May): Another constant companion in my "office." A great article this month on Kelly Clarkston.
On the coffee table - I don't really have a coffee table, but most of my mail and magazines end up on my table until their moved to "the office." Right now I have a recent copy of American Photographer and a number of bills on the table.

Word It

Ok, I'm taking this from another website but I think it's a great idea. See how creative you can be or how creative other folks can be. Here are the rules, follow them as closely as possible and then send in your submission. I'm excited to see what everyone comes up with. If you feel totally un-creative, that's fine. Just send me an e-mail with the words you chose. I won't laugh. I promise.

The word for May: Disciple

What exactly is this?
Word It is your opportunity to express in as many words, and as many other graphic elements as you need, what best describes each monthly topic.

Each month we will choose a specific topic, idea or theme. For example: the first theme was “disciple.” So you would go home, or do it at work, and find words, images, artwork, whatever that best describes what inspiration means to you. It could be anything: music, cats, chocolate, museum, love, laundry. Anything that reflects what disciple is to you. You can do whatever you want to it: vectorize it, photoshop it, scan it or build it and then send it to us.

What kind of file must be submitted?
It’s this simple:
› 5” by 5” (yes, that’s in inches). If points are your thing, then make it 360 x 360 points
› High resolution! 300 dpi please. If submitted at 72 dpi it will not be considered for possible publication
› Send a JPG, just remember to save it as hi-res. A Photoshop file (flattened) could also be accepted.
› CMYK files please. RGB is acceptable but frowned upon, the color might change for print reproduction, keep that in mind when breaking the rules.
› Please specify a URL (if you have one) for the image to point at. If you have no web site, the image will link to your e-mail address.
› No self-promotion please. Do not put your name, your business’ name, your tagline nor your URL in the image.
› If you're clueless about everything above, e-mail wordit@one21media.com and we'll tell you were you can send your submission via snail mail.

Copyright information
› By submitting, you grant 121 Media the right to reproduce your artwork on the site. We will give you credit, normally. If we decide to print this and make a nice coffee table book that will be the envy of all your friends, we might then contact you to get your official blessing. But don't count on it. Our record keeping has been pretty bad up until this point.
› Also, and very important, please use original material, pay for your fonts, buy or create your images (no stripping off photos from a Google image search), don’t use anything that is copyrighted in its own way. We will come back to you if this the case.
› Common sense is all we ask for, we don’t want to get sued

› Disclaimer: 121 Media is not responsible for the views expressed by each individual entry and its author. Nor does it represent 121 Media's own opinions. We have zero censorship (unless deemed completely unpublishable material). If you have a problem with somebody’s entry we ask you to contact the author.

Where do I submit the file?
To: wordit@one21media.com
Please include your name in the file’s name for easy identification.

Only current Word Its will be accepted. Meaning that past Word Its (from past months) will not be considered nor uploaded.

Anything else?
› Be creative. And don’t worry, there are no clients around to tell you the type is too small.
› We highly reserve the right to not post what you send. Whether because it’s offensive, pointless or even lame.

One Idea is Better than Three

GarrettDimon.com has a great theory about presenting ideas to clients. I think he may be on to something. In his article, One Idea is Better than Three he wrote:
If you present clients with multiple ideas and expect them to choose one, invariably, the end result is muted and diluted as the message of the different ideas gets blended together. This is what happens when you approach the situation with an offering.
Instead of spending time creating 3 differnt comps, ideas, or concepts, take aim at that one that’s great and make it amazing. Blow them out of the water. Leave them speachless. That’s guiding.
It’s really about taking them where you feel and know they need to go. You may be a little off course and that is to be expected. Believe it or not, your clients are looking to you for answers, and they want to help you find those answers. They are looking to you for guidance to the best solution.

While I really haven't purposely tried this, I know from past experiences that presenting one plan or design to someone and then letting them see why you're passionate about it tends to get them on board with whatever your idea is.
When people see that you're passionate about something they tend to want that same fire and passion in their own life.
I can't recall who said it, but they were right, "Preach always, use words if necessary."
If people see a passion in our lives about Christ or life or a silly computer game, they will want to be a part of it.
So be passionate and live hard and strong.
Let the grace of God shine throughout your life.

(Faith + Design) x Passion = Joy

I just read an article that truely inspired me. Why am I dependent on other people to make a living? What if I had the faith of a mustard seed and stepped out and really went forward with 121 Media. There are many opportunities that I would love to work on, given the time.
It's the business and money side of it all that scares me.
Lord, grant me the peace to do Your will. Help me to move in the direction You want me to go. If You desire I stay at the newspaper, keep me there as long as You will. If not, show me the door.