Wednesday, May 31, 2006

are you rich?

I oversee the international missions stuff here at our church and have had the chance to get out a few places in the world. One of the lasting effects on me is how much I/we have in comparison to folks around the world (and oftentimes how much happier they seem to be without all this stuff). It's one of the many reasons I think everybody should get out and see what God is doing around the world. It gives us better perspective on our situation.

This site tells you where you rank in terms of how much money you make compared to others around the world. It's so easy for us to want what our neighbors have and lose sight of how much we've been blessed with just by being in this country.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Try This...

So, there's this site where you can upload a photo of yourself and it does some facial recognition thing and tells you what celebrity you look like. Pretty funny...

First I put in one of the pictures with my fumanchu thing and it told me I looked like Peter Sellers and then Candice Bergen (?).

Then I put in a normal photo and it told me I looked like Tony Danza and JFK Jr (I get that all the time).

Then I put in that first picture of Michael from the post about the train ride, and the first name that came up for him was Saddam Hussein. Hilarious.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Da Vinci blah, blah, blah

Saw the movie the other night and thought I'd weigh in on this whole thing.

I read the book about a year ago and thought it was a great book. Guy had me hooked in from the second page and I read it in a couple of days over vacation. Really enjoyable. The historical stuff was plausible and challenging and that bothered me because I don't think it's true and just serves to confuse people, but as entertainment, it was great. I thought the movie was just as entertaining. Followed a difficult story line well. Had some good, funny one-liners as well as some tense moments that had people jumping out of their seats.

I'm not sure the makers had an agenda past making lots of money but by the end of the movie, Tom Hanks, who all during the movie is kind of rebuffing implications that Biblical picture of Jesus could be wrong, is speaking very matter-of-factly about how we have everything wrong and Jesus did have a kid and the church has lied for 2000 years. That really bothered me. It didn't make me angry. I didn't want to jump up and shout, 'blasphemy!', but it hurt my soul. I was talking to Jason Saturday and he put it perfectly. He hadn't seen it but said it sounded like someone was saying stuff that wasn't true about a friend and you feel like there's nothing you can do. That's perfect. It did feel like someone was saying all this untrue stuff about a great friend, and there isn't much I can do to stop it.

I've kind of been in that 'It's just a story' camp, but I'm not so sure anymore. I guess I don't want people to see it, especially people who don't know Jesus, because I don't want them to get the wrong impression of Him.

I think the church overall has done OK with this. I don't think we've totally bashed Dan Brown or Ron Howard or Tom Hanks. It seems like we've just tried to get our side of the story out there and used it as an opportunity to engage a conversation. But there's something irritating about how every single church is doing something on the Da Vinci Code. I was talking to a friend the other day about this and I think what's annoying is that this type of thing is what the church is known for in our culture. We're known for what we react against. Makes me wish we were known for our compassion, for justice, for our acts of mercy. This whole Da Vinci response would be set in a better context if we were.

My Birthday

Yesterday was my birthday (I'm 27 now) and for a month I had been telling Michael that for my birthday he was going to ride a big train with me. Now Michael's loves him some trains, but not trains that you can actually ride on. This may have something to do with the time I took him to the Amtrak station in Raleigh and we stood about 10 feet from the engine when it blew the horn. That even scared the crap out of me, I imagine it was pretty traumatic for him. But I thought it would be fun to ride on an Amtrak with him and I figured he would be really scared when we got on but then really enjoy the ride, so I bought tickets that took us to Burlington and back, about 2 hours of train time and an hour and a half just hanging around Burlington.

I was right. We got on the train and he was screaming, 'Daddy, I don't want to ride the train!' over and over. I got looks of 'Why'd that kid have to wake me up?', 'Oh god, not one of those kids. I wonder if he'll scream the whole trip.', and 'What kind of dad does this to their kid?'. The ticket guy came around and he helped calm Michael down by giving him his 'ticket' and within 5 minutes he was enjoying the ride. We walked between cars to get up to the lounge car, called mom, watched all the trucks, houses, animals, trees, cars and such that passed outside the train. Michael asked the ticket guy for a 'ticket' to give to Matthew when we got home. Burlington was great. Their train station has a display of what the railyard looked like 100 years ago and stuff like that. Michael was pumped to get back on the train when we went home. He even named the train 'Henry' and said we had to bring Matthew, Mommy and Abigail with next time.

Riding on the way back with my son on my lap, I was overwhelmed with a 'this is what life is all about' feeling. It's one of those moments in life that makes you appreciate everything you have and that you pray to God that you never forget. Something about spending time alone with my son, the romance of a train (strange, yes, but there is something historic and romantic about trains), the simplicity of his excitement about the ride, and a feeling of accomplishment as a father. I got my son to trust me, to overcome a fear, and to realize that the ride was worth a little discomfort at the beginning.

So all afternoon Michael's talking about the ride and telling people how much fun it was and talking about taking another ride, but he also would mention that 'henry' is loud and Daddy had to cover his ears. And then when I said goodnight to him, he says, 'Daddy I don't want to ride Henry anymore, it's too loud' and for some reason the air came out of my balloon. Now I'll get him on that train again, but I thought to myself, 'This is probably how God feels about us.' He prods us to points of taking a risk, getting out of our 'comfort zone', following Him someplace we're not too sure of. And the ride is always worth the risk. But somehow it seems like we always forget the thrill of the journey and we get comfortable and think 'Those noises were too loud. I don't want to go through that again.'

Here's to following God to the scary places, to remembering the thrill of the journey, and to letting Him 'cover our ears' during those first few tenuous steps.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I think they like her...

Been a fun week adjusting to having Abigail here. The day she got home, Michael asked if she could go bye-bye, but then a few days later he asked if we could have another Abigail. She slept almost 6 hours last night, but all of a sudden they can't make it through the night. Michael woke up at 4 and wanted his covers back on, Matthew crawled into bed with us at 5 and fell back asleep, and Abigail woke up at 6. Diana suggested it's like having human snooze buttons, which would be great if the whole deal started at 6 and didn't end then.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Finally watched crash last night. What a movie! It reminded me of a movie that came out about 15 years ago called Grand Canyon, which I actually liked a little bit better. Someone told me I would feel bad about being a white male after watching crash but I thought it's point was that everyone is a racist.

I'm doing this message on Cornelius this weekend and Peter coming to the realization that God likes everyone, not just the Jews, so I've been thinking a bit about racism and bias. At the risk of opening a huge can of worms and revealing my tremendous ignorance and insensitivity with regards to this subject, here's what I think: We all want to feel superior to somebody else. It makes us feel good in the absence of a right relationship with God. That goes back to Satan rebelling against God, he wanted to be exalted the way God was. Racism is a vehicle for us to feel superior to another person, but it allows us categorize people and do it in groups. Sandra Bullock's rant in the movie about being angry all the time might be the best reflection of this. She couldn't figure out why she was angry, but it made her feel better to feel superior to all the people she vented on, which manifested itself in racism. I don't know, maybe all this is just a side-effect of a deeper cause.

Feel free to unload on me...

Monday, May 01, 2006

Why does this bother me so much?

So this Left Behind series came out a few years ago as a realistic deptiction of how the dispensational view of the end times might play out. I started reading it and it was a compelling story and interesting take on what might happen. Then the books started slowing down to where each book seemed to cover a period of days instead of months or years, so I stopped reading and part of me wondered if the books weren't slowing down so there could be more them so they could sell better. Then I noticed there was a kids version, which furthered those suspicions. I was on the web site today and apparently there was a calendar and greeting cards, and there is now a prequel to the series and books that talk about what else was happening while the other stories in the books were going on. Lord forgive me if I'm 100% wrong, but this sure seems like a way of making money in God's name.

Then I saw that they're making a video game for kids out of the whole thing and my stomach turns every time I think about it, but I'm not exactly sure why. Here are some of the quotes about the game:

'the angelic Tribulation Forces and the demonic Global Community Peacekeepers, led by the Antichrist, battle it out to convert secular, neutral units to their respective sides'
(I think the term conversion has enough patronistic, 'we're right and God loves us more than everyone else' baggage that we don't need to add to it)

Players participate in "battles raging in the streets of New York"... using the power of prayer to strengthen your troops in combat and wield modern military weaponry throughout the game world'
(Not saying Jesus is opposed to military action, but 'modern military weaponry'? What happened to 'our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness...')

I guess I don't see anything positive coming out of this for the cause of the kingdom.

Here's the link to the article if you're interested: