Showing posts from April, 2009

Pat White, Meerkat Manor & the Miami Dolphins

Some of you will have no idea what this post is about. My apologies. But to those of you who know much of anything about college football, you should recognize the name Pat White. This former quarterback for West Virginia University holds a number of NCAA, WVU & Big East records. Perhaps the most impressive record is 4-0. He is the only starting quarterback in collegiate history to go undefeated in four bowl games.

No one wanted him as a collegiate quarterback. LSU wanted him, but as a defensive back. Others were looking at him to play wide receiver. Rich Rodriguez, WVU's former and now much-despised coach, believed Pat was the perfect fit for his spread offense. And was he ever!

I personally saw Pat play at least 20 times. The packed houses at Mountaineer Field attest to his electrifying performances. He was fun to watch and a great leader on and off the field.

It's easy to forget that this and other athletes we adore are just young people -- "kids" as some would s…

One Thing People Failed to Tell Us about Fresno

We like Fresno. A lot!

Having said that, there are a few things people failed to tell us prior to moving here. Maybe they simply took them for granted and assumed we would know about these things. But we didn't know. Now we do.

For example, each morning our front porch and lawn seem to be experiencing a storyline from a B movie thriller that I would name, "Attack of the Hungry Snails." These snails, both old and young -- how long do snails live, after all? -- munch down on any greenery and leave their slimy residue behind them. I haven't accidentally stepped on one yet, but I think I backed the car over one recently -- at least I guess I did due to the shell fragments left on the driveway.

I remember an old Czech codger, Mr. Němeček, in a small village outside Prague who served us snails once as part of an evening at his wine cellar. One of our Czech teachers had invited us out to visit with this man & spend a "cultural evening" in his courtyard. It was a …

One New Thing I Like about the College Church

In our three months here in Fresno, I have seen many things that impress me about the College Church of Christ. Those "things" are generally people who inspire each other just as they are already inspiring me. They have committed themselves to building a church that makes a difference, not just building a church that is different.

I noted one thing today that I really enjoy about College Church, one thing that I just have to brag about. What an awesome feeling it is to look up and see your son, along with 30 other people, walk up on stage for the final song. They provided a full sound behind our praise team as they led us in "The Hallelujah Chorus" to finish off our time of worship. What an amazing tear-jerker! And what an amazing song!

I'm so fortunate to work alongside a creative person like Sandra Henderson who plans our worship week in and week out. We are working together to find ways to include the full spectrum of personalities and voices within our congre…

Cappadocia & Spiritual Formation

Okay, so I've been doing some reading about Gregory Nazianzen. Not exactly your household name, Gregory was a bishop in the 4th century in what is modern-day Turkey. He came from a wealthy family and was used to the comfortable life, even though he was at times embarrassed by it. He would often flee his clerical duties for periods of retreat among monastic communities that had recently started to develop and grow.

He struggled to find a balance between a "life of action" and a "life of contemplation." He knew that if you withdraw from people, you may have personal tranquility but you are typically harsh and unable to deal with people. And if you are someone who is constantly working, you may do tremendous good but personally tend to be filled with anxiety. So he advocated a balance between the two, especially for those in ministry. (Though his form of "doing" was pretty much limited to showing up at the church building to preach. He wasn't too skil…

Miss California

Poor Miss California. She was beautiful. She was smart. She might have won. But she told her honest conviction. And she lost. I'm sorry.

Now that I've got that out of the way, let me tell you what I really think. Why is everyone in such a tizzy about this? Christian radio stations and conservative TV shows have been on this like ugly is on a possum or like stink is on a wet hound dog or like -- well, you get the picture. Some people can't get enough of this.

Should it surprise us that speaking your mind on morality costs a person? Do we think that our culture is by nature Christian and therefore promotes and protects our own values? Don't get me started on this.

But even more importantly, why do Christians find such courage to speak out their views against gay marriage but are strangely silent on many other issues that the Bible speaks clearly on, issues that God has repeatedly punished people for not speaking out on? American Christian "pundits" love to say tha…

Pockets or No Pockets

The boys are back in school this week. Tuesday was the first day back after 6 days off for Spring Break.

Jacob was excited about going back to school for one reason only: shorts. According to the Clovis Unified School District dress code, kids may wear shorts the first week where the Monday falls within April. Yes, this is Clovis schools where they have time to make up such rules. You should see the other codes about clothing & grooming.

At any rate, Jacob was excited to finally wear his shorts. He would gladly wear shorts all day, all year. Imagine our surprise Tuesday when he came home wearing different shorts. He had to go to the office & change into shorts provided him by the school nurse. His own shorts had been illegal.

The offense? Not length -- they were down to his knees. Not color or fabric -- nothing unusual there. Not weight -- these were lined shorts. The problem was pockets. His shorts had none. School district policy says that shorts must have pockets. That single …

Britain's Got Talent

Susan Boyle is the highlight of my week and of countless other people. A woman who lived in complete obscurity, dreaming of being like superstar Elaine Paige, somehow got the chance to audition live on British TV Saturday night. In what is Simon Cowell's UK cousin of American Idol, Susan wowed the audience and has now wowed the world. The show put her audition on YouTube, and it has gone viral with over 16,000,000 views at this point.

Like Paul Potts before her, a completely unassuming person is shooting to fame and glory. So many of us can relate to a person who is the underdog in every way, so NOT like the glamor and pretentiousness of Hollywood stars. Susan is a real person, and we love seeing a real person win.

Of course, the truth is that real people generally never get fame and glory. It's nice to see the story play out in such dramatic fashion. I can't hold back the tears when I watch Susan walk on stage to the sound of derision and then blow everyone away.

But almost …

Nick Adenhart

I'm not an Anaheim (or Los Angeles @ Anaheim or whatever) Angels fan. Nothing personal. Just not an American League guy. The Pirates were always my team. Growing up near Pittsburgh in the 70s made for some great MLB moments. Remember Willie Stargell, Kent Tekulve and "We Are Family"? It's okay if you don't.

Anyway, I was pulled into the story of Nick Adenhart this week. He's the 22-year-old pitcher who threw 6 beautiful scoreless innings against the Oakland A's on Wednesday. The bullpen blew it though, giving up 6 runs. Think they wish they still had K-Rod?

I read several long stories in the LA Times about the tragedy that unfolded that night after he pitched. Another 22-year-old, whose life was headed in the opposite direction, got behind the wheel of his minivan with a blood alcohol level of 0.24. He ran a red light and plowed into Adenhart's car, killing him and two friends.

The tight-knit community of baseball execs, scouts & agents we…

Hosting the Folks

My parents have been here all week. It's their first trip to Central California. Many people, myself included, don't know the real face of California till they get a taste of the good folks of the Central Valley. They've enjoyed putting faces to the names that we've been talking about.

My parents live in Middle Tennessee. Lebanon to be exact. They moved there in 1977 and probably soon wondered where they would go next. Needless to say, God has used them there for longer than they might have planned.

My dad preached for the College Street (now College Hills) Church until his semi-retirement two years ago. That congregation was an influential, blue-blood church in a Bible-belt town, but it had been through a couple of scandals. Walking into a situation like that requires great patience and tact, and my folks probably thought about throwing in the towel more than once.

But God in His grace has nearly tripled the church. He has made it a refuge for hurting people while still …

Climbing Mount Kenya

I visited Kenya following my junior year of college. My aunt and uncle were missionaries among the Calenjins in the region around the major city of Eldoret. I spent about three weeks with them -- seemed like an eternity at the time, but in retrospect was such a drop in the bucket.

I have many memories from the trip, conversing with young Kenyan Christians and drinking chai in mud huts or under shade trees. We got to experience several touristy things as well, including a brief stay in Amboselli National Park. I'll share these stories some other time.

My uncle, Amos, proposed a climb up Mount Kenya. If my memory serves me correctly, he floated the idea before we flew over. He had wanted to do it & needed someone to go with him. You sign up (and pay of course) to participate in a guided climb.

For some strange reason I was reluctant to sign up. It's not considered a technical climb. In other words, you don't need any special mountain-climbing skills to hike it. But still, I…

What are the Strengths of the College Church?

Just curious about a couple things: (1) Is anyone actually reading this blog yet? Probably not, but I am curious. (2) What are the strengths of the College Church? If we're going to build on something -- and I know we will -- what exactly are the healthy foundations already in place?