Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's Christmas Time . . .

Christmas time is a time of year that I've come to really enjoy . . . and hate at the same time. I can remember as a kid and even as a college student loving Christmas, because that meant, as a kid, that I would get all kinds of gifts and as a student, that meant we got a break from school. It was a time to hang out with friends, spend time doing nothing, sleeping a lot and getting new gifts.

Well now that I'm not a kid anymore or one that attends classes anymore, on one hand, I'm ready for this season to be over. Is that okay to so say?

More than ever, this year I've truly been able to focus more on the true meaning of Christmas than I have in years past, but I hate what Christmas has become, and I think I hate it more now, because my focus has shifted, but I can't seem to get away from my old thinking because its all around me and it easily sucks me back into that mindset.

But I have learned one thing from this shift in thinking this Christmas. I have been able to read through the Gospels and the birth and life of Jesus with new eyes. I've been able to pick up things that in the past I have so easily past over. Through conversations and reading of his blog, a good friend here in town has really caused me to see the story of Jesus' birth different and I would love to share.

The statement Mary makes to the angel Gabriel, "May it be to me as you have said", could be one of the most moving statements I've read and thought about in a while. A statement of humility, of sacrifice and of surrender.

Then give or take a few years, 30 years later, we find her son, with the weight of the world on him, the torture he's endured, the pain, the fear, the isolation he feels; we find him making a similar statement, "Not my will, but yours be done."

Now I normally think, well yes of course Jesus would say that, he's the son of God. He's Jesus. But my friend Matt proposes the question that maybe it's not that simple. Maybe, Jesus was able to say that because his mother once said something like that many years ago. Maybe Jesus grew up hearing the story of his birth and of his mother making humble statements like that, surrendering her will, her life to her Heavenly Father. Did Jesus learn to give up his will because that is how he was raised?

And this is what Matt suggests, "When Mary gave herself, her future, her life’s trajectory over to an overwhelming, scary promise of God, she didn’t just set herself up for something. Instead, she gave permission to those around her, to those watching that they could do the same. She’s still giving me permission today."

Such a beautiful statement. Mary is still giving us permission today that we can give ourselves to something bigger, to this God that we so often talk about. She is showing us and challenging us to not just talk about Him, but to believe in Him, trust in Him, give everything to Him.

It's when we give ourselves to something bigger, that we give those around us permission to believe that they can do it too.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

A.W. Tozer thoughts

“No man is better for knowing that God so loved the world of men that He gave His only begotten Son to die for their redemption. In hell there are millions who know that. Theological truth is useless unless it is obeyed. The purpose behind all doctrine is to secure moral action."

“Bible exposition without moral application raises no opposition….As long as people can hear orthodox truth divorced from life they will attend and support churches without objection….Much that passes for New Testament Christianity is little more than objective truth sweetened with song and made palatable by religious entertainment.”

Taken from The Best of A.W. Tozer. Your thoughts, if any?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The leaves are falling

Well yesterday after I got home from work, I started up the lawn mower that our land lord was gracious enough to leave for us to use. Started out for the first mow of the Fall season. Now if you've seen pictures of our house on Courtney's Facebook page, you'll notice that we have a nice size yard, with lots of mature tree's, which means lots of leaves.

I don't mind it so much however, I spent about an hour and a half or so mowing and picking up leaves. After I had mowed the yard and blown the leaves into a huge pile in the middle of the back yard and front yard, I grabbed some trash bags and headed back out to pick the leaves up.

This reminded me so much of my childhood that I just kind of smiled the whole time I was out working. Some of the best memories I have from my childhood are from the Fall season, running through the leaves, raking leaves with my dad, laying in big piles of leaves, playing football in the yard and hearing the leaves under your feet, diving into the pile of leaves for a touchdown.

I couldn't help but smile and think about when even more leaves pile on the ground and I rake them all up and take our dog Marley out and hide and play in the big pile of leaves.

For some reason, everything is better in the Fall.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

That first weekend . . .

With the weather around here is starting to feel a little like Fall already, even though I know it probably won't last but for a few days, I can't help but already start to get in my Fall season of music.

When I come to the Fall season of music, my music makes a turn for the more relaxed, chilled style of music, even though most of my music would fall into that category, there is a clear difference.

Suddenly my intake of Ryan Adams, James Taylor, Iron & Wine, Bob Dylan, Damien Rice, Norah Jones, Martin Sexton, Ray LaMontagne and the likes of these musicians.

I can't help but think about the times when this music played such an important role and had such an influence on me. When I listen to certain songs or musicians I think of the long talks that Taylor and I would have on UT campus and enjoying the finer things in life as we sat on picnic tables or wondered around. The many dates we had with the Gooche's, the days spent on the disc golf course with Bill or on his porch once again enjoying the finer things of life. Or all the time spent downtown, at the Brewery or in the markert. Or to think about the time that was spent out on the curb at JBC, throwing the frisbee with Vaka or the trips to the mountains or the trip the guys took to Jake's house for the weekend. Some of the best memories I have.

I can't help but think of Virginia when Fall comes around. Virginia has made its mark on me. When I listen to James Taylor I think of my family in Virginia. You hear stories about how some people are glad they live far away from their in-laws. I however am the exception I suppose. I miss them. I miss getting a knock on our day and its them asking what we're having for dinner or just going over to their house and hanging out all night doing nothing really, but just being there with family. The trips we would take, even if its just across town. And by family, I don't mean just my in-laws, that includes the Maynard's, Lumia's, all of Sarah's friends, all of Ashley's friends, the Browns, Rogers, and many more of you that I'm sure I failed to mention. I miss you and its like an ache that just doesn't seem to go away at times.

When I think of family and when I think of Virginia, I think of Montebello. You have forever marked my soul. The beauty that is there, the beauty of the scenery that you find there, the beauty of the family that is there, the beauty of the conversations that take place there, the beauty of relationships that start there and that deepen there, the beauty of the solace you find there, there is so much beauty that at times it overwhelms me to even think about it, let alone see it all with my own eyes and be a part of it all.

So here's to Montebello and to the first weekend in October. I will make it back to you, but not soon enough.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Just Around The Corner . . .

So this past weekend, I spent the whole weekend with just our dog Marley. Courtney went to Port Hope, MI to see her family, with my job being one to where I work on Sunday's, I unfortunately was unable to go. So Marley and I just hung out and spent a lot of time together. We went on some drives together and she just sat in the passenger seat and stared at me, I think she enjoyed the time we spent together.

Yesterday however, I finally got a chance and went out and played golf with some friends. I actually shot pretty good, I was 6 over for 18, I shot a 77, which I was very pleased with.

While I was out on the course, there were numerous times my ball seemed to find the trees, so I had to go searching through a small forest to find my ball. I couldn't help but think of my high school days when I was out there on the course, whether in the small forest or waiting to hit the ball. All the time I spent on golf courses in high school, it brought back some memories.

I think the best memory was when I would be walking and underneath my feet I could hear the crackling noise of the leaves, it's already happening.

I could see myself walking down the golf course back in high school and it being cold enough to wear pants and a long sleeve shirt. Just me out there playing a few holes before dusk would settle. I loved going out and just being out there and just thinking and listening to the sound of the season. Yesterday, I was able to have a glimpse of what is just around the corner.

I was reminded that the Fall season is just around the corner and I couldn't help but smile and get excited.

PS - Congrats Bill and Betsy, I can't wait to meet him. :)

Friday, August 29, 2008

A few pics that I've taken . . .

I find myself missing my friends more and more. I had a good friend call me the other night and inform me of another good friend of ours having their first child. Exciting times and I can't wait until our next reunion.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Is this it?

Just a few quotes from the book Jim and Casper Go To Church. What are you thoughts and what do we do?

"Casper had a number of questions for me before, during and after each church we visited. But the one question that was far and away the most difficult for me to hear was this one: 'Jim, is that what Jesus told you guys to do?'"

"Casper could not imagine Jesus telling his followers that the most important thing they should be doing is holding church services."

"Unless we're willing to remove the handles from the front doors of our churches and publicly say to outsiders, 'We don't care what you think,' the church must become more reflective and repentant about how outsiders perceive us.

As long as pastors continue to promote 'bring a friend to church Sunday' and as long as we put 'Everybody Welcome' on our church sign, we are the ones who need to change - not our guests.

Jesus gave us a mission. I don't remember reading anything in the Bible written to missing people telling them to 'go into all the church.' They don't have a mission to adjust to us; we have to adapt for them. It's called the Incarnation."

Your thoughts?

Monday, August 18, 2008


I'm hoping that life will get back into somewhat of a routine with school starting for the students and summer being over. I hope that it will get in a routine to where it allows me to read more and to meet with other people more and to write more.

I met with a guy named Matt Conner, who is a local pastor here in the area and also does a lot of writing for several different websites and magazines as well and you can visit his website by clicking on his name. But I met with him and was excited to meet with him and just get to know him. I'm excited to continue to get to know him and just love meeting new people and getting to know people.

So with that said, I'm just excited to continue to get to know people both at Bethany (the church I work at) and outside of that as well.

I was doing almost my daily reading of the Rabbit Room which is an awesome website, and one that Matt writes for as well, but I check it daily and came across a few comments given by one of the writers that I'll leave you with.

~The deeper we go into our union with Christ, the more He manifests Himself in our lives. And we develop more and more a sense of responsibility about sin, and less and less of a sense of condemnation about it.~

~Holiness is a Person, and only one Person in the universe is that holiness - and He has given Himself to us to use as living Bread.~

Monday, August 04, 2008

Here are a few pics of Marley, our new dog.

So lots of new things happening in these parts of town. Moved into a new house, still renting but a bit bigger and a big back yard, which we love. However, will probably be a pain in the butt when fall comes around and we have a ridiculous amount of leaves in our yard, but it's worth it.

We also got a new dog. We were able to get a chocolate lab for free, so we couldn't pass it up. She is a great puppy so far and super cute.

For those of you that care, I tried to post the video of Courtney and I dancing from a few months ago when we did parts of the Napolean Dynamite dance, but I couldn't get it up and running, so I'll try it again and see what happens.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Cars suck.

Cars suck. Thats really all I have to say. Having to replace more on my car and it sucks. I'm going to trade in my car soon. . .I'm thinking about getting a horse.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

that old radio

I was sitting out on our deck the other night. It was the perfect night. Beautiful, clear sky, a little chilly, but not too bad. I was in a chair next to my wife, she was sitting there with her hair just right, drinking a glass of red wine, just sitting there looking beautiful, not saying anything. I was drinking a beer and smoking my pipe. We were just sitting there, had our tiki torches lit, Norah Jones on the cd player. It was perfect. I can't wait to just grow old and can't wait for all the nights my wife and I will sit on the back deck and drink some wine, smoke a pipe and listen to good music.

It also caused me to miss those nights where a good friend and I would sit on his deck, smoke our pipes, play yahtzee or dominoes or just sit and have a conversation that I would soak up like a sponge. I couldn't get enough of those conversations, even though we didn't do it as much as I would have liked. But I miss those and hope those will happen one day, maybe with our kids running crazy, us on the back deck with our wives and our pipes.

"I want an old radio, everything else can go and on summer nights, we can dance together slow"

Monday, May 05, 2008

The Dogwood Festival a few weeks ago was bittersweet. I loved being in Knoxville, that place feels more like home than any other place. I loved being with some of my closest friends and spending the whole time we we're there with them, I miss them terribly. It was so nice to ride bikes around Knoxville and reminisce and remember Knoxville, the place I learned how to be me. Knoxville is where our moods suddenly change, we feel home, you get that feeling like a little girl does when her daddy is pulling in the drive-way from work, where she's so excited and runs out to give him a big hug before he can get the car door shut. Thats how I felt when I was driving over Jelico Mountain and I began to sense the feeling that someone was coming home and I was excited. So I waited by the door to see the car pull in the drive-way. And when I got to Henley Street exit, I felt home.

But yet I knew I had to get back to Anderson, which doesn't sound that enticing and that exciting. But last night I had a conversation that I had been needing. After our Sunday night youth service, I stayed and talked to a few students that wanted more, they wanted to read more, study more, but they weren't just saying that, they genuinely wanted to make it happen. Which was encouraging and beautiful.

So here's to you Knoxville, Tennessee. Don't go anywhere and don't change too much, for when we make it back down there, either for a visit or maybe for good,either way we'll be coming home.

Friday, April 25, 2008

What am I doing?

So now that I have been at the church for over 2 months, I think the honeymoon stage is over.

Every few years, probably 5 or 6 years, the church does this evening event called Friday Night Live. Yes just like Saturday Night Live, but they add their own little twists to certain acts. For example, this year they have Pep Talks with Harold. Just like the priceless pep talks with Peyton Manning, except its with Harold, who happens to be an 83 year old man that is about as big as my thigh, seriously, no seriously he is. A twist on Dancing with the Stars is also happening and different things like that.

Well they have roped me into doing a few acts. And for most of you who read this, you know I like to have a good time and have fun. Well getting on stage and dancing and lip singing is a whole 'nother deal for me. Well here are my two acts that my wife and I are doing this year. For those of you who are Spinal Tap fans, there is a movie called A Mighty Wind which is made by those same guys. In it their is a group called the Main Street Singers, well Court and I and all the staff and their wives are all in it and we make up the main street singers, in our cheesy outfits and our cheesy smiles. It's very interesting. Check this out for a video from the movie.

My second and last performance for the night will be a little dance number. Our senior minister here, Bob, was asked to dance the Napolean Dynamite dance. Well he didn't want to have to do it by himself so they roped myself and Court to dance as Pedro and Deb with him. So I am wearing my old man jeans, my cowboy shirt, and belt buckle and my fake mustache and Court is wearing her 80's gear for the dance that we have composed.

This will be a very very interesting night for myself and everyone watching, to see me on stage, dancing and lip singing.

I guess this could be kind of fun. If I get any video from it, I will post it for all of you to laugh at me and make fun of me.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

. . .oh the joy's. . .

So in the past two weeks, this has been our situation. Replacing Courtney's windshield, dealing with taxes and not understanding any of it, getting my oxygen sensor replaced in my car and then we just found out that the back two coil springs on my car are cracked and need to be replaced ASAP . . .totaling to at least $2,400 in the past two weeks. Boy life is fantastic. The perks of growing up I suppose.

But if thats the worst that can happen to us right now, we're living a pretty good life. So I guess I can't complain to much, but it sucks a little right now, but we'll make it through.

The weekend to Knoxville is needed more than ever now after this week or so. I can't wait to head down that way and just relax and see good friends and be in back in a town we absolutely love.

Viva La Knoxville!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

2 years ago today . . .

Two years ago today I asked my girlfriend at the time(now my wife) to go out on a date with me. Playing it up as if it was just another date to where we would probably just go to Starbucks and hang out and talk and then maybe go to McKays or walk around Worlds Fair Park, thats usually what most of our dates consisted of, three of our favorite places to go.

Little did she know that I had an engagement ring in the car at the same time in the same car we were driving in to go to the same places we had always gone. So this is how it all played out . . .

We arrived at Starbucks, got our normal drinks that we always got, went and sat on some comfy chairs and just hung out. Well, it began to storm, and storm reeeally hard, so hard that the power went out and we were hanging out talking in the Starbucks with the floodlights on and thats all that was on in the whole store. So this isn't really working out like I had it all mapped out in my head. Well we look outside only to see chairs floating down the street because there was so much rain and wind. Not really playing out at all like I had thought. So we hung out there a little bit more, then it finally died down and began to sprinkle only a little. So I asked her if she wanted to go walk around Worlds Fair Park, which caught her off guard because I'm usually not the type of person that wants to just go walk around in the rain for fun. But I convinced her to and so we did. While she ran to the bathroom in Starbucks, I ran to my car and popped the trunk and put on a light jacket that had the ring in the pocket. So it was starting to pull together.

Well with all the rain, it ran everyone out of the park except for one homeless man we saw, so that ended up being alright. We walked around and just talked. I had my phone on vibrate and had set the alarm to go off 9:11 pm. She always looked at the clock at that time and she never knew why. Well I actually had it set for 9:10 so I knew to ask her a question when it went off. When I felt my phone vibrating I asked her when she needed to get back because she was supposed to hang out with a few friends that night and she said whenever we got back. Well by that time, I looked at my clock and was like . . ."Oh, guess what time it is?" and of course it was 9:11 and I asked her why she thought she always looked at the clock at that time and she gave me a few reasons. I suggested that maybe she looked at the clock at 9:11 because she knew big things happened at that time. Which is when I proceeded to pull out the ring and propose to her on a few steps right next to the water in worlds fair park.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hmmm. . .Thats Good

I was reminded of this video the other day and thought I would post this little nugget of pure joy for you. This was about 8 minutes before we had to walk out to stand on stage for my wedding. While the ladies are freaking out, the guys were listening to a little love song by John & Dave. (aka Bill & Taylor)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Change of scenery

So I finally got out this year on the trail. My first time riding Indiana trails and I think it was a bad idea to try yesterday. My brother was in town for his spring break/easter weekend and he had just got a new mountain bike and I haven't had a chance to get out and go biking since we've moved up here. So I thought, hmmmmm, perfect time to get out, hang out with Ben and to try out my new clipless pedals (which I don't know why they call them clipless, cause they have clips).

Well the pedal idea worked great. I felt a little more comfortable riding with them then I did the last time. It was nice to get out and actually ride my bike on a trail.

But boy oh boy was it a mistake to pick that day. It was about 40 degrees and the wind was howling around and the air was freezing. I'm not sure my lungs have felt that bad since I was a baby and had fluids in my lungs and had to sit in a pumpkin seat my first few weeks of life (I don't remember that, but its just a guess, my lungs reeeeally hurt).

Needless to say, through the pain of breathing for the next 3 hours, I enjoyed getting out and riding with Ben and spending some time with him. I don't usually get to spend much time with him so it was nice.

ps - no jacob my color change of my blog is not due to st. patty's day, just a change of scenery.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Naked anyone?

This could be my favorite album right now. This is the Beatles Let It Be album, but its titled, Let It Be . . . Naked, because it is closer to the original artistic vision that they had to get back to rock and roll. Their producer, Phil Spector, added orchestra overdubs and embellishments to the originally released Let It Be album, but most of the band didn't like it.

You should by this album, or have your good friend Kenny send you a copy of it, either one works, either way, you should listen. I can't stop listening to this album or any of the Beatles album right now. It's real good.

I also have this fixation on the 50's and 60's pop music right now. The two artists that I can't stop listening to besides The Beatles right now are Sam Cooke and Dion & The Belmonts. Sam Cooke is AMAZING and I love just sitting in my office and relaxing to Sam.

Three artist you should listen too if you don't already now. Sam Cooke, Dion & The Belmonts & The Beatles (especially the Let It Be . . . Naked album.)

Also, just a side note, I think I'm officially a Student Minister now, I had my first Youth Coach meeting and I had my first complaint.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

. . .raise your hopeful voice. . .

I was so glad to see Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova win the Oscar for Best Song, I was so excited that I actually clapped my hands emphatically when they announced they're victory, I might have thrown in an arm pump as well, not sure, I can't remember, so I probably did.

If you haven't seen the move Once, you should. I really really liked this movie, this movie was up there as one of my favorites, not just for this year either. I think I just really liked it because it was such a simple movie, nothing big and showy, just simple. And the music is great, I can't stop listening to the soundtrack.

You need to see it. The End.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Man I miss those days. . .I think often about those days and think of how I have the best crew of friends. . and I miss them. . .

So Im helping teach a bible study on Wednesday nights for our high school group. . .and were going through the book of Romans. . .and this last week we went through chapter 5, which is a heady chapter, which could be said about most of the book. . .but in verses 18 & 19, he talks about justification. . .and I was reading a commentary on this and I found it to be intriguing and thought Id share. . .

"Christ's sacrifice on the Cross not only made possible "justification," but also "justification of life." Justification is not merely a legal term that describes our position before God; but it results in a certain kind of life. . . In other words, our justification is the result of a living union with Christ. And this union ought to result in a new kind of life, a righteous life of obedience to God."

I'll tell you why I like this. . .in my short 25 years of living and growing up in the church, we have this pandemic in our churches. . .which is not a new one and most leaders of the church recognize it. . but these few verses call us to have responsibility. . .there has been very little responsibility and even expectations for us from the church to have been reading and studying and wrestling through scripture. . .but this verse tells me. . .yes you have now changed with entering into a relationship with Christ, and since you have, there is an expectation of you living in this union with Him, a responsibility on you to live in this union and to have this life transformation happen.

I just like it because it tells us that there are expectations given to us as disciples of Christ and we have this responsibility placed on us. . .if we dont put effort into our marriage, it will fail.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

New beginning

So here is to a new start. . .we finally got up to Anderson, IN and this has been my first week working at Bethany Christian Church as the new Student Minister. I know I just started so its to be expected. . .but I still feel like a fish out of the water a little bit, with not knowing exactly what Im doing or where Im supposed to be, but thats ok, that will come with time Im told.

So with this new beginning and new job, I am also hoping that this will allow me to be able to blog more than in the past, which has been little to none. So for the 3 of you that might check this periodically, maybe you'll have something new to read every now and again.

Im also excited about hopefully the time that I will have to read, since that is part of my job now, learning new things and ideas and approaches, so Im excited about my to read list. . .here are a few that are on that list right now, I have way to many, but a few for you that are towards the top of the list. . .

Simple Church by Thom Rainer. . .
Son of Laughter by Frederick Buechner. . .
The be with factor by Bo Boshers. . .
Contemplative Youth Ministry by Mark Yaconelli. . .
Everything Must Change by Brian McLaren. . .
The Idea of a Christian Society by T.S. Elliot. . .

and many more. . but that will do. . .Im also finishing up Jim and Casper Go To Church which has been a real easy read and an interesting little book.