We live in an ESPN/CNN type of world now

Last night DS1 stayed up late with me to watch the Dallas Cowboys beat my favorite team in the whole wide world... the Carolina Panthers. For the most part i felt that it was a really good game. Especially for football fans. The game was tight, a good chess match type of deal. I am disappointed in a few things as a Carolina Panthers fan though. Muhsin Muhammad... dude... i know you thought that you were just playing decoy when you went deep on the first interception, but you are a big man, and Jake had been throwing to you... you had to have thought there was a chance it was coming your way... right? Regarding the touchdown that was called back, i saw the replay and i can see how they called you for the offensive pass interference, but i still disagreed with the call. You were once Carolina's #1 receiver... you still are loved and respected by this fan. Mr. Smith, i loved your - and Mr. Beason's - passion on the field and the sidelines. Please do not lose that. Steve, i also love and respect how you are man enough to stand up and take a hit for that second interception. A lot of the passing game is timing and being on the same page as the quarterback, thank you for stepping up like that. Football is a team sport and last night the game was lost as a team. I know organizations like ESPN, and some local sports writers, like to single out certain players and point the finger. But i know the Panthers can do better. There are thirteen games left in the season fellas... all you need are nine more victories to make this fan happy. I hope to read about a "players only" meeting in the next few days. If there are men on the team who are not moving at 100% i hope you call them out in front of their peers. I don't need to know or read about it. And since i have been writing like i am addressing the team (like any of them would even read this little blog of mine), Mr. Richardson... please do not listen to the media. I so respect and appreciate how you have managed your Football franchise. You have spoken to the men in your organization directly and you have maintained control. Don't let ESPN dictate how this team moves forward. Did you ever notice how news organizations like CNN, Fox, ESPN seem to have nothing better to do than make mountains out of foothills? I've heard them say that all they do is report the news... baloney. Sometimes it's not what you report, but what you don't report. Sometimes it's not what you say, but how you say it. I've already read that it's time to bench Delhomme, really? Because Feeley is all that better? Has anyone else seen just how average Moore is? Or what about daily reports of just how many soldiers (or civilians) were killed in Iraq or Afghanistan every day? How does that support the troops accomplish their mission when it undermines the support of their efforts at home? Look to how torn apart the Vietnam Veterans were when they first came home. It has taken over two decades to get them as a group to where they are today. It's hard as a population to get anything started, to build up any momentum. But it's very easy to get an avalanche started when it airs on TV. And it doesn't matter the political "leaning". If ever an industry could use the cold in-human touch of a computer it would be the news media. If you've read my blog for any amount of time you know that i am a science fiction lover. All of this talk about "Big Brother" in regards to media is reminding me of a show i really liked way back when ~ Max Headroom. Man i loved that show. I need to talk to my step-mom more. She could probably help me figure out just what it is that i like so much about the Cyberpunk and Post Apocalyptic genres. I know i would most likely NOT be like the hero's of such movies and books, but i am just fascinated and drawn to them. Recently i was reacquainted with an old game that i wanted to play, but could never get my friends on board ~ Shadowrun. Cybernetics, Elves and humans and orcs and dwarves, and magecorporations run amok. Intrigue, double crossing, morals being all one big gray area. Matrix-like hacking and networking. It has all of the elements i am drawn to in a fictional environment. Unfortunately most authors of those genres have a very low opinion of organized religion in general... and a really bad opinion of Christianity in particular. Perhaps it speaks to my sin nature... a desire to rebel against things that tell me what to do. But the great thing about my faith... it is not God telling me what to, but tell me what He has done... and my response to His actions.


Music Monday - 20090928 - and other randomness

Thank God it's Monday! \o/ What a weekend. Nothing too strenuous, and nothing more than a typical American family probably goes through. A maintenance activity kept getting rescheduled due to local weather and that was a little frustrating. I am praying for those affected. Right now it is on 'prolonged hold' until the local authorities can get things cleaned up. This morning i was startled into consciousness by my 'electric leash' (aka cell phone). My boss was trying to get the status on another, unrelated, issue that i had been called on. I had left the ringer set WAY loud and when it rang i felt like a cat being startled and vaulting six feet in the air ~ picture America's Funniest Home Videos. I could have sunk my fingers into the ceiling and hung there. *ckl* Yesterday my beloved's and my search for a new church home continued. We've known about the church we visited since before we were married but had never visited there. Mostly due to concerns regarding the doctrine, but we've also seen it raise up two very fine young adults in the children of some friends of ours. We were seated a little late due to not knowing where the youth services for our DD3. We also found out that the youth services for our sons took place at the earlier service. Be that as it may, shortly after we sat down we stood up to worship to this song, and even though my 'spirit' was not as prepared for worship as i would have preferred, this song spoke to my heart... and i hope was a glorious sound in my Savior's ears...
REVELATION SONG by Jennie Lee Riddle © 2004 CCLI # 4447960 Worthy is the, Lamb who was slain Holy, holy, is He Sing a new song to Him who sits on Heaven's mercy seat Holy, holy, holy Is the Lord God Almighty Who was, and is, and is to come With all creation I sing: Praise to the King of Kings You are my everything, And I will adore You Clothed in rainbows Of living color Flashes of lightning, rolls of thunder Blessing and honor, strength and Glory and power be To You the only wise King Filled with wonder Awestruck wonder At the mention of Your Name Jesus, Your name is power Breath, and living water Such a marvelous mystery
I would consider myself "charismatic" in my worship of Christ. I believe in the gifts of the Spirit. I believe that there are times my emotions should be fully engaged in the worship of Christ (an ironic statement since i have trouble engaging my emotions in every day life). I would like to believe i am a fellow Christian "Hedonist" with John Piper. At the same time it needs to be said... the emotions, and the gifts of God, are NOT to be pursued in lieu of our relationship with Christ. They should be as a result of a passionate pursuit of the Savior. It is the pursuit of the gifts over the Giver that has given the "Charismatic movement" a black eye, and a sour taste in the mouth. I long for the day when i will stand among the throng before the Throne of God, with my emotions and mind fully engaged, singing similar words... What a weekend for the undercats! How about those Lions getting their first win in twenty games! Then, the Pittsburgh Steelers traveled to Cincinnati and then the Bengals dished out a plate of humble pie! With the Panthers struggling thus far this year i am pulling for all of the feline NFL teams. 8) I just wish i knew that the Panthers were going to win tonight! *ckl* I don't want to lose out on sleep for no reason! On Friday i got on a roll on a background piece for my 'novel'. It's a 'visualization' piece that i can use to help me keep a consistent picture of my four main characters. I was unable to finish it Friday night, and i made about three attempts over the weekend to pick it back up to no avail. I am just way too easily distracted. 8/ Oh well... i hope to pick it back up some time this week.


Enough is never enough

This morning i was reminded that sometimes no matter how hard we try we do not always get things right. Our best efforts, our best intentions, no matter how motivated we might be it will never be perfect. Sometimes our intentions are not noble, they are mischievous. Sometimes our failures are mistakes. But in the end the result is the same. A perfect 'score' has not been achieved. Even the best efforts, the noblest intentions, have some taint of imperfection. "A little leaven leavens the whole lump." (Galatians 5:9, ESV) - it only takes a hint of selfish ambition, or pride, or covetousness, or any other form of sin, and the sin works it way through and taints the whole. "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." (1 John 1:8, ESV) There are two expressions that kind of bother me. The first one is that there is good in everyone. Good and evil are used in relevant terms. In one sense i could agree with this expression. When used in a human comparison point of view, yes this is possible. But when used in light of God's perfection this is not true.

"And Jesus said to him,Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone." (Luke 18:19, ESV)

The second is giving "110%". This would imply that it is possible to give more than your all. By the very definition our "all" IS 100%. It is impossible to give more than that. The expression of giving "110%" would imply that the standard for "all" is a bar set so that everyone can achieve it and thus the person giving the "110%" was superior to all of the rest because (s)he was able to give more. Granted we are not all born with the same abilities. I will never be an Evangelist like Billy Graham, or an Apologist like Lee Strobel. In college i took Finite Math. At the beginning of the semester the instructor told us that he grades on a curve because it is rare for anyone to score higher than the upper 60's and he felt that it would be unfair to fail the entire class because they could not score high enough on his tests. Well, when the first test came back there were two in the class who score in the upper 90's while the rest of the class was in the Intrsuctor's anticipated range. When it happened again with the second test i thought the class was going to Lynch me and the other guy. Fortunately the Instructor saw this and informed us that he would exempt our two scores from the over all curve. Having said that i will still never be a mathematician like Albert Einstein. Our best is our best, and my 100% is not your 100% and vice versa. Today i am "suffering" with the fact that i am not perfect. I want to be perceived in certain ways. I have been known to 'exagerate' (i.e. lie) personal accomplishments in order to be better thought of by others. I like being thought of as the 'hero' in my home. The 'go to' guy in all things. I like the fact that others come to ask me things at work (i still think it ironic that i am asked to proof read things... especially since i never passed an English class past the first half of the 10th grade). But here's the kicker... when i fail to live up to some perceived standard (more often than not - my own) i get irritated, and too often it spills out on those around me. Such is the sin of pride. If you take such a train of thought out to its logical conclusion... isn't that what got Satan and his followers tossed down from Heaven? But the truth is we are to run the race as if to win it? (1 Corinthians 9:24) And at the same time realize that because of my own sin i will never achieve the perfect obediance that God requires... it is ONLY by His grace, His substitution that i am redeemed and made perfect it in sight. In the end i do receive the prize because of His initiation on my behalf.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. [2] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling [3] the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:17-21, ESV)


Early morning ramblings

Setting the "way back when machine" on circa 1990... i was reminded of my times on the sound crew of my first church this morning. Part of my duties at my current employer is being on-call, and from time to time i am actually called in the middle of the night! Can you imagine! (jk ) This morning was one of those deals. But that is not what this part of today's blog is about. Way back when i was a fairly young Christian the church i attended did not yet have a home of their own and in order to get ready for our services each Sunday a team of volunteers were needed to set-up/take-down all of the sound equipment needed. It was on a month long rotational basis. In order to be completely set up for the worship team to have a last minute rehearsal we met very early (my mind is saying 0500, but it might have been later than that) at a storage location where we had to load up two small box trucks (picture pickup chassis and not a 10-wheeler deal) and cart it to the High School where we met at, and get it all set up by 0800. I LOVED it! Back then i did not own my own car, but two very nice 'sisters' who also served on the crew would come and pick me up. These poor ladies were NOT morning people. Unfortunately for them... i am . I loved climbing up into the ceiling to help install the speakers. I loved running the cable to/from the sound board and the hookups. I loved the team work. I loved the hours. I LOVED the work! This past Sunday "my" Panthers went down again, but i was glad to see that the offense was greatly improved. Even up to the last play of the game. The Defense was unable to stop the Atlanta Falcons on 3rd down. Argh! I am only frustrated in the sense that they are my team and i want to see them win, but in the end it is only a game and i don't care enough to let it ruin my week. I was really happy that John Kasay kicked a 50 yarder. Just incredible that he is still booting them that kind of distance! I am not sure what i am sharing this next little tid bit, but it is sort of related to my previous mention of how i like Elves (can be read HERE). Way back when there was an independent Comic Book titled "Elf Quest". Being an "Elf Lover" and an avid comic book fan back then i was of course drawn to this title. Early on a very small background character was mentioned... Rain the Healer, he met an unfortunate ending but an enduring legacy in my little circle. This guy was not all that big of a character in the storyline. As a matter of fact, i am not sure he is even mentioned anywhere else except for two little panels early in the story. But it is the situation that stuck with us... and struck us funny in a twisted sort of way. He was the groups healer, their medic... and when the fat hit the fire he was the first to drop. Not good. Still to this day, over 30 years later i remember my friends and i joking every time one of our healers took a hit we would repeat the line, "His name was Rain, the Healer... and he was the first to fall!" It is weird what one remembers. I've been thinking about some of my on going temptations. Sins that continue to haunt me for lack of a better word. Every one of my brothers and sisters in Christ is in the same state, although we do not all struggle with the same sins. Some might struggle with pride, others selfishness, maybe it's greed. I bet if you were to meditate over the Ten Commandments you will find something your heart and mind struggles with. For me one is covetousness. I want want my neighbor has... i want the things that the Lord has not allowed me to have. Over the years i have struggled with porn as well. And it is for good reason because "enough, is never enough". In essence i am saying that what God has provided is not enough... that what He does not know what He is doing in my life. Last night my beloved and i watched a show called Hoarders. While i was appaled at the scale of these people's problem i could not say that i would never be like that. Growing up my own home (whenever we stayed in one place long enough) was similar. Even today i go through seasons when i just get the urge to buy things. By God's grace i am usully able to resist buying those things... especially things i and my family do not need. but not always. I had come to think of it as a thorn in my side, similar to Pauls's affliction in 2 Corinthians 12. Apparently i suffer from my own pride as well because it really isn't anything that 'deep'. My own "weaknesses" do not compare with all that Paul went through. By God's grace i am able to resist and grow and learn from temptations, but there are days when i long for when "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." (Revelation 21:4, ESV)


Music Monday - 20090921 - and other randomness

Of late i have been desiring to grow more passionate about my relationship with Christ. (Last weeks blog is HERE.) One cannot be passionate about things unless they spend time pursuing and thinking about it. Although i have had this song on my Music Monday blog before (ironically almost exactly one year ago) it is where i am at again this morning... unless the Father calls i am unable to respond (John 6:44)
Draw me close to you Draw me close to You Never let me go I lay it all down again To hear You say that I'm Your friend You are my desire No one else will do 'Cause nothing else could take Your place To feel the warmth of Your embrace Help me find the way Bring me back to You You're all I want You're all I've ever needed You're all I want Help me know You are near
So, i have been working on drawing close to God by reading Living the Cross Centered Life by CJ Mahaney, i have been thinking about the things of the cross, and a lot of my prayer life has been centered around what Christ has done for me on the cross.


The writing process and other random ramblings

Have you ever heard a song, seen a landscape or picture and been inspired by it? Have you ever just been moved in a moment by something outside of yourself? Some of you may know that one of my hobbies is that i enjoy writing science fiction short stories ~ but more specifically, stories based in Games Workshop's Necromunda setting. Well, i've been working on what i call my 'novel'. It's really just an overly ambitious short story idea. Well, about two or three weeks ago i was researching for a part of the story when i stumbled across the picture to the left. I had in mind four 'major' characters ~ you know, with other minor ones coming into play in the background, etc. ~ but as soon as i saw this picture i completely rewrote one of them. In addition to having an affinity for the samurai of feudal Japan i have had a love of Elves since i was aware of their 'existence' within literature and fantasy settings. I am not referring to the little Sprite like elves, but those of the Tolkien ilk. So much so that while i was growing up, whenever i played a game with my friends - no matter what that game was - if it was possible to play an elf character 95 times out of 100 that was the character type i was going to play. My gaming nickname was "elf buddy" because of this... and my seemingly incredible ability (i.e. luck) to roll exactly what i needed no matter how long the odds where. Well, this guy here is what is known as an Eldar Ranger. He is the long range scouts for his kind, and conveniently he fit the bill of the archetype Nomad/Scout of one of the main characters. This picture, along with "Tulip's" encouragement of setting reasonable daily goals and my beloved's encouragement to "just do it", has sort of re-ignited my writing of late. Which i am very, very happy about. I do have one concern though. This guy is not the 'hero' of the tale... LOL Last week my favorite team in the whole world, the Carolina Panthers of the NFL, got their rear ends handed to them by the Philadelphia Eagles. It was reminiscent of the drubbing at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals in last years playoffs. Both of those games opened up with a really good drive, grinding it out on the ground culminating with a Touchdown, only for it all to get flushed down the toilet by turnovers. A lot of the blame has been put on the back of Jake Delhomme, and to a point deservedly so. BUT, this is a team sport and i was listening to this past weekend's game... some things i'd like to point out... 13 attempts to Mr. Steve Smith... 3 catches (some of those were bad throws... but these two have been such a tandem in the past...), on one interception the ball was tipped... on the fumble it was a screen pass and the defensive lineman had a clear shot to the QB and popped it lose... which was then returned for a touchdown. Those in the media are already calling for the firing of #17 with severe implications for Coach Fox. Both Coach Fox and Jake Delhomme have been the best in Panthers history... by a pretty wide margin. Now, past performance does not necessarily guarantee future results... but i think it is crazy that people are unhappy unless a team makes it to the championship game every year. I am still dreaming of a 9-7 season for my Panthers. Geaux Panthers! Yesterday i came across Josh Harris' blog and i saw that he blogged about Gollum and man's slavery to sin. I keep a statue of Smeagol on my desk at work. Not because i find it particularly attractive, or because i particularly like the character. I keep it on my desk because i see Gollum as the example of man's depravity... of our addiction to sin. But when i read Pastor Josh's blog on the subject i felt that he put it so much better than i ever did. I was going to quote him in full here... but i am out of time and space for today... i encourage those who stumble across this blog to think about this.


Music Monday - 20090914

In the past i have felt a desire to be more passionate about my God and Savior. I've felt lukewarm for a while about my relationship and pursuit of Christ. Well, let's just say i am 'cooler' than i really wish to be. Due to illness and other reasons the family was not able to make it to church yesterday so i searched for a website that carried sermons from C.J. Mahaney and i found a site called Vimeo. Sovereign Grace Ministries has registered a user name there and have uploaded almost 30 videos of various speakers so i did not narrowly focus on just CJ, but a video titled "Extravagant Devotion" struck a cord with me and i proceeded to watch it on my home PC (with the occasional interuptions, "Daddy, I'm hungry", etc.). Reader, if you have the time i whole heartedly recommend the following video:

As God often does there was a poignant line that struck to the heart of my "dilemma". About 2/3 to 3/4 of the way through CJ says that he is sometimes asked how he is so passionate. This of course made me perk up my ears. His response?
"What do you review and reflect on each day? We all want to feel deeply, but we don’t want to think deeply. There is a relationship between thinking, theologically informed thinking, and feeling."
To my shame i am guilty of allowing my Bible to have dust settle on it. It sits all too often idle on my night stand. It is not dusted off either dusk or dawn. The Bible verse for this sermon is:
It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him, for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people.” And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, [1] as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii [2] and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him. (Mark 14:1-11, ESV)
In his sermon CJ remarks on how everyone in the room was critical of Mary, and what they should have been doing is lining up behind her to do the same. I literally wept at this point. Haven't i been forgiven! Aren't my sins nailed to His cross! Too often i am among the scoffers and not often enough am i sitting at His feet. While i was listening to this sermon the song, Mary Did You Know came to mind... and it is my song for today.
Mary Did you Know? by Mark Lowry - October 1988 Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water? Mary did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters? Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new? This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you. Mary did you know that your baby boy would give sight to a blind man? Mary did you know that your baby boy would calm a storm with his hand? Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod? And when your kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God. Oh Mary did you know--- The blind will see, the deaf will hear,the dead will live again. The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb---. Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation? Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations? Did you know that your baby boy is heaven's perfect lamb? This sleeping child you're holding is the great--I--- AM---. So i ask...
Do you intentionally review and reflect upon the gospel? If not, and i am including myself in this question and statement, do not expect to be passionate about the Savior.
“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation.

“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” (Revelation 3:14-22, ESV)


It's like sitting underwater

Wow, what a week. On Sunday, just before we went over to a friends house for a BBQ (which was awesome BTW) i suddenly felt VERY tired. I laid down and took a nap and then felt fine. On Monday i felt it descend like a blanket of snow on a Norman Rockwell painting... the dreaded summertime cold. That thing knocked my off my feet pretty much till yesterday. I am still feeling a little worn, but much better. As a result i am way behind on work tickets, blogging, and even my writing which a good friend has encouraged me to get off the fence and pick up the hat i already threw over! lol Today is off course 9/11. Eight years after the day international terrorism struck home. I still remember where i was, what i was doing, and how my life has changed since that time. God willing i will pick up my ramblings next week.


Praise God for all things BIG and small

A little while ago i mentioned about a friend from church who's 5 year old daughter had been diagnosed with Leukemia, well today their Caring Bridge update says that the doctor is saying that she is officially in REMISSION! Praise God! I know she still has a long road to go, but the fact she responded so well and so fast to the treatment gives a really good hope for the long haul! \o/ Another good piece of news is that my co-workers wife, the one who is a quadriplegic has been much more responsive and interactive with the doctors. She too has a long way to go, but this was a vast improvement over last weekend. I have sent him an e-mail with the link for the song below. For some reason i felt compelled to share it with him... The Panthers finally traded for a DT. Louis Leonard from the Cleveland Browns. Since i don't follow the other NFL teams as closely as the Panthers i am not sure how hopeful to get. I am just glad that the Panthers have made some kind of move to shore up the middle on defense. I've read that this fellow started all 16 games last year so that is a most definite plus. In other news i also read this morning that the "Big Cat" basically gave the axe to his own two sons within the Panthers organization. Talk about the lack of nepotism! Personally i feel that this is a great move because apparently the two sons were fighting (that's impossible... brothers never fight... right Dan?) and it was beginning to affect the chemistry within the organization. It showed that Mr. Richardson was still in charge and he was taking charge. Last but not least for today... i read that a deal is close in regards to the lawsuit against New Line Cinema by the Tolkien estate. If true and it all works out, this is great news for the fans of The Lord of the Rings movies and those who are hopeful for the upcoming Hobbit movies. With the lawsuit out of the way the road clears up considerably for the filming to move forward! There is not much in the way of what God has been doing in my life of late. That's not because He is not doing something, but because i am still trying to process things i am learning, and things i feel He is showing me. May God be seen in, and through, all of the things i do.