Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Element of Cool

I didn't coin the prase used in the subject line... I heard it from my friend Shanna. However, I would like to pose a question to the virtual world about what that phrase means.

I was talking with another friend of mine on Sunday... and she said that the idea of being "cool" is a huge lie that has been handed down in our society. I hope I quoted her correctly on that... at least that is what I got from what she said. That being said... here is my point: Who defines what cool is?

Donald Miller, in his book Searching for God Knows What talks about Life Boat Theory. Life Boat Theory essentially says that if you have a group of 7 people in a life boat that can only support 6 people... how do you determine who gets thrown out?

Miller says that all of our lives are spent trying to be of more value in society than someone else (and thus securing one of the 6 spots in the life boat). You see it very clearly in children... there is always one kid who gets picked on by everyone else. Then, on the other side of the coin is the "cool kid" who everyone looks up to. (see also Lord of the Flies by William Golding).

And so we all find ourselves in this spectrum... not everyone is at the top (the Donald Trumps of the world) and not everyone is at the bottom (the people whose names we don't care to learn). We are all in the middle... but we are always jockeying for a higher position.

The fundemental problem with this (as pointed out by Donald Miller) is that we are not to compare ourselves to other people... but rather we are to find our worth in Christ alone. Adam and Eve did this before they tasted of the fruit. From then on... the human race has been in this competition with itself... all the while losing site of Who truly gives us value.

So what does it mean to be cool?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Sometimes, it's the random things...

I am bored at work... not for lack of work to do, but for lack of a desire to do it. So I decided to see how far back and how far forward my Outlook Calendar goes. The answer raised some questions in my mind...

The earliest date available is 4/1/1601... and the latest date available is 8/31/4500. (it actually didn't take long to find this out... so don't think I have spend all day on this)

Now my questions are these: Who chose these arbitrary dates and why? I mean seriously... why would you not start time on January 1 and end it on December 31? And the years themselves are pretty random.

Someone make sense of this for me... I honestly may not be able to sleep with this issue looming over me. That is what I get for not working while at work...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

It's The Little Things

I walked into Starbucks this past Sunday, and the red cups were out... a sure sign that the Christmas Season has begun. I make a big deal out of that every year, and as my good friend Laurie Johnson said last year... "it's the little things in life." It really is. I mean red cups? What is special about that? Well, the Starbucks slogan for this year sums it up... "It only happens ONCE a year." Yes, I know that I am a slave to the corporate machine... but cut me some slack on that. This post isn't meant to highlight Starbucks... but rather to state that I enjoy this time of year very much.

This morning, I was in Starbucks... with my red cup of coffee... reading Proverbs. (no, I was not posing Greg). It is finally cold outside... so the coffee served the purpose of warming me up (in addition to meeting my addiction fix). Fewer things are more enjoyable to me than a good cup of coffee and reading God's Word.

And to continue with the little things in my day... I have begun playing Christmas music in my office. Today is Harry Connick Jr.

Of course, all these little things only serve as lagniappe as compared to the real reason for the joy of Christmas - that being the birth of Jesus Christ. I was talking with a friend of mine earlier this week, and we decided that God is amazingly subtle. Specifically, we were talking about the compilation and preservation of the Bible over the years... and how strikingly subtle He was in those two issues. And I rasied the point that He speaks in the "still small voice" (see 1 Kings 19:11)... and then when we look at how He chose to have our Savior enter this world... it is remarkably subtle and low key. See... it really is the little things in life that truly make the difference. A Baby born in a dirty stable... Who is at the same time the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Who knew?

So now you need to respond with your favorite "little things" about this time of year. (and they don't have to be spiritual...)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Safety First - Logic Last?

This morning, I attended a required safety meeting here at work. We do these every quarter, and it basically is a push for the company to operate safely and avoid instances that will lead to "Lost Time Incidents." We were all challenged to talk to one another about unsafe practices that we see in the building. Now I am all for working safely... especially in areas that have large machinery and chemicals and the like.

But the big example that was given today took place in our office building. Apparently, someone thought is might be "safe" to stand on the top rung of a ladder to work on some wiring. Well... the person fell and it created a Lost Time Incident. They presenters made such a big deal out of this... and said that it might have been avoided if someone had warned the individual of his poor choice to stand on the top rung of the ladder.

So my question is this... who doesn't know that such an action is unsafe? I mean really... who in this world (beyond the age of 7) is unaware of the precarious situation created by standing on the top rung of a ladder?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

There's No Crying in Baseball

OK... so we gave it our best shot. I am happy to report that I didn't cry last night... I simply turned the TV off and went to bed. I was not happy, but I was so tired from being up so late on Tuesday night (basefall fatigue had really set in) that I drifted off to slumber land in no time. In fact, I was falling asleep during the game... maybe that is why they lost.

I recognize that these guys are professionals and that the White Sox just out-played the Astros... but seriously, what is up with making us keep the roof open? That completely compromises the homefield advantage. But at the end of the day, the Sox had the bats and we just didn't. We could get them on base without a whole lot of trouble... we just couldn't bring them home to save our lives (or to save a World Series that Houston has waited forever for).

I now have three times in which I can sing the words "It's the most wonderful time of the year."
  1. The Christmas Season - pretty much have to sing it then since it is a Christmas song... and Christmas does celebrate a pretty important even in history (but this is not meant to be a serious post... so I will leave it at that).
  2. The Month of March - the NCAA tournament is definitely the best sporting event in a given year. It beats out all others because I can get into it no matter who is playing. It is all about the underdog sticking it to the powerhouse teams.
  3. The Month of October - In the future, I don't know if I will be as excited about the MLB play-offs if the 'Stros are not playing; but I have certainly enjoyed it this year. I am sure that ever year has its own special drama... so we'll see what happens next year.

And yes, I do realize that all three times of the year can't really be the most wonderful... but work with me on it, OK....

Friday, October 21, 2005

Emotional Involvement

So I have always been pretty aloof when it comes to getting emotionally involved with others. I am an emotional person, to be sure. But I try to guard myself from letting other people/things get to me emotionally. I always expect the worst case scenario so as to always be pleasantly surprised when the outcome is favorable. So some may say I am a pessimist (or call me Debbie Downer), which is fair to a degree.

But recently, I have let myself get emotionally invoved. I have opened the flood gates and given my heart away. I have fought it for a few years... as there has always been something in the way to keep me from truly letting that wall down.

But recently, I have decided to throw caution to the wind.

I am speaking - of course - of the Houston Astros. They have won more than the NLCS... they have won over another fan. Now many will say that I am merely a fair weather fan who is hopping on a bandwagon. To a degree, that may be true. I had written the Killer Bee's off in June of this year, but was still hopeful for next year. I have only been into the 'Stros for about 6 years... and this year I have decided they are worth the effort. So time will tell if my heart stays with them..

So to all the lifers out there who have been in a love affair with the Astros for years... I congratulate you in this season of joy as well.

Will the Astros win it all? Who can tell for sure this side of October 30. But one thing is for sure... they will give it their best shot, and I will probably cry if they don't. But such is the price you pay for getting emotionally involved with another.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Captivating and Pure

I have been reading a book entitled "God Wrote a Book" by James MacDonald. The book is essentially a defense of the Bible as God's inspired Word to mankind. One of the points made in one of the chapters is that Scripture is captivating... that it stirs the soul like no other piece of literature. When I read that, I paused and asked myself if I really believed that statement. I mean there are many people who read/hear Scripture but are not moved by it like they are moved by some songs... or some other written words. But then my thought changed as I considered how millions of lives have been transformed by the Word of God... because of His Spirit guiding the reading of It and so on. So I agreed that it was captivating... but it had been a while since I was personally captivated by Scripture, so I was still "unsure." (I read this chapter a couple weeks ago)

Last night, a friend of mine was telling me about his experience at another church here in Houston - Grace Presbyterian. He attends the evening service at HFBC, so he decided to take the opportunity to visit another church on Sunday morning; and that is where he found himself. He said that as they were administering the Lord's Supper, they had someone reading Scripture verses one after the other. No commentary... just Scripture. He said that is was a very worshipful experience as he considered the beauty of (as he put it) the "pure Word of God read aloud."

Then this morning, I read 2 Timothy. There were a number of things in the book that popped out to me, but one thing in particular stayed with me long after my eyes passed over the words:

"Remember Jesus Christ..." - 2 Tm 2:8a

Now the verse goes on to say more (hence the reference being 2:8a). But those three words were absolutely Captivating and Pure.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Lessons Learned from Rita

This one will not be nearly as theological or spiritual as my post about Katrina... but I figured I would post a few thoughts on this most recent hurricane that has affected our area.

1. Never Evacuate To The North East In A Hurricane
  • I think most people realize this... and I even realized it in theory. But I still sought refuge in Alexandria, LA during this storm. The good news was the my evacuation time out of Houston was normal... the bad news was that the roads between Alexandria and Houston were ravaged by Rita (thus making my return trip much longer as I had to avoid all the road closures)

2. As Much As We Plan... Stuff Still Happens

  • As people evacuated, the turmoil created on the highways was astounding to me. The good news was that people were kept out of "harm's way," but the bad news was that many people experienced frustration beyond anything they had experienced to that point. Just further proof that man's plans are foolishness. And all that we do is still subject to God's ultimate plan.

3. Texas Is A Better State Than Louisiana

  • As much as it pains me to say it... the proof is right there for all to see. Texas was ready... Louisiana wasn't. Granted, Katrina gave the nation a view into how important it is to be prepared for the worst case scenario. But I think Texas would have been as efficient as it was this past weekend even if Katrina hadn't happened. This is my favorite quote thus far: "My biggest mistake was not recognizing by Saturday that Louisiana was dysfunctional." - FEMA Director Michael Brown Again, I hate to say it... but he is right. However, I still think Texans are arrogant. But arrogance isn't always a bad thing, I guess... :-)

Thursday, September 15, 2005


Yep... Attention Deficit Disorder. I am convinced that I have it... and that it has only recently set in. Here are a couple examples of why I think I have been stricken with this "condition."

This morning, I was getting ready in the bathroom. By "getting ready," I am referring to shaving, brushing my teeth, and adjusting the appearance of my hair so as not to get fired when I arrive at work (aka - using "product"). The A.D.D. part came in while shaving. I lathered up my face with the shaving cream (I use the gel, actually... something I learned from my dad). Anyway, I was standing there with my face all lathered up... and I grabbed my toothbrush and started running it under the hot water. Now the obvious issue here is not the first thing that occured to me... instead, the first thing that occured to me was that I was about to use hot water to brush my teeth, and that struck me as odd because who does that? I had completely forgotten about shaving my face. I am laughing even as I type this... so anyway, I realized my error, put the toothbrush back in the holder, grabbed my razor, and finished my morning routine.

Another example involves printing at work. I print to two different printers depending on the application I am using. Many times, I will print something... and then instinctively know that I have to "go to the printer" to get it. But on the way to the printer... I forget which printer I am going to. Now the two printers are on opposite sides of the building (I can explain why I use two printers another time). There have been many instances where I get to printer A only to find that there are no print jobs with my name on them. Then I remember that I printed to printer B.

So there you have it... I am officially A.D.D. (self-diagnosed, of course). It is a wonder how I get though posting an entire blog that is still understandable.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Lessons Learned from Katrina

First off, let me apologize to anyone who may have been checking this blog looking for updates over the past few weeks. I have been slacking in my blog duties... and as punishment, I think those of you who read this should take it upon yourselves to send me on a trip to a secluded island (with white beaches and crystal blue water) so I can think about what I have done. So you just let me know when that "punishment" will need to take place.

So any good blogger can't let something as catastrophic as Hurricane Katrina occur and not mention it, right? So I have decided to immortalize a few of the lessons I learned from last week. (these are not necessarily in the order that I learned them or was reminded of them... just of the top of my head as I type).

1. Man's depravity always finds a way to shine
  • Please understand that my heart broke for the people who were stranded in the Superdome, but the reactions of so many people (both those stranded and those watching them remain stranded) broke my heart as well. Shootings, rapes, looting... all of this shows that at our core, we are all evil. Yes, I said we not they. We all have the capacity to respond in similar ways... and I was reminded of my own sinfulness as I watched the news last week.

2. In times of trouble, people help (as the Lord directs)

  • The reports of shelters being overwhelmed with volunteers and donations is amazing to me. I am not all that shocked, but it still is amazing to me that so many people want to help. And I will say this as well... even those who are not born again believers are willing to help - a LOT. Now because of how I view God's sovereignty, I trust that any good that is done in this world is done by His prompting (even if the person doing the good is unaware of it). So this really just highlights the Lord's love for this race of humans He created... He loves us and works ALL things together for the good of those who love Him.

3. The Freedom we have in Christ

  • This is more of an analogy that came to mind this morning. As I started thinking about my own sinfulness, the Lord reminded me that I have liberty to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions (sin). That made me think of the thousands of people who were stranded at the Superdome. They were not able to get to safety. They could still physically move... but the obstacles were just too great for them. They could not overcome the barriers that had been placed between them and the rest of the country. In the same way, we cannot overcome our sin on our own. We need the Lord to be gracious and rescue us from our sin. And when He does, we are free to stay away from it. Just like the evacuees are free to stay away from the toxic wasteland that New Orleans currently is. But just like many of the evacuees... we want to go back, don't we? But why? Why would we want to go back to something that only brought misery and pain? We are free in Christ to stay on the "High Ground" that He has brought us to. It is for freedom that He set us free... what a beautiful truth.

So those are the highlights... I hope they encourage some of you. I could probably write more, but my lunch hour is fading fast.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Moral, Immoral, Amoral

Is there such a thing as an "amoral" decision? Some friends and I were discussing this issue yesterday in light of the passage of Scripture that tells us unless something is done in fath, it does not please God (and therefore is sin). So the question then becomes this... when I decided to don the pink shirt I am wearing, I didn't do it "in faith"... so does that mean that wearing this shirt is a sin?

So I am curious to hear from those of you reading... what makes a decision "amoral"?

Friday, August 05, 2005

God's Word... and Paul's words

I just finished reading 1 Corinthians... and a few thoughts occured to me.

First... Paul has to be one of the coolest dudes ever. Most of the letter is written to set the church in Corinth straight on some issues, so there is some strong language. But through it all, what do you see? You see Paul's love for God... and his love for the people in Corinth. He is frustrated with them, but not to the point of writing them off. Rather, he takes great pains to instruct them in the way they should be living.

Second... (and I have Matt Chandler to thank for this thought) The problems being discussed in 1 Corinthians probably came about because the Church grew so fast. When you see 3,000 added to your number in one day, discipleship of those people is a pretty difficult thing to accomplish. So it seems to me that much of what Paul is clearing up for the Corinthians are things that just had not yet occured to them... or said another way, they were ignorant of the truth. But Paul tells them at the outset that they are "sanctified in Christ Jesus" which affirms that they have been bought by His blood and He will teach them by His Spirit.

Third... The words contained in this book (and all of Paul's letters) are inspired by God. I do not doubt that or discredit that. But they are Paul's words (guided by that inspiration) to the people he loves. His pastoral nature comes through so clearly in this letter... it is touching, actually. I guess the point of this third thought is that this letter is actually a letter from one man to a church. He wrote this to them specifically;and yet because it is God breathed, it applies to us as well. I think sometimes we think that these letters were written by Paul with the intent that Christians everywhere would read them. But that is not true. He wrote this letter for a purpose... and it was God's intention that they be preserved for our edification. I may not be making sense... so I will stop there.

Bottom line... dig into the Word of God. Dig in deep because it is a beautiful piece of literature... and one that I can't imagine my life without.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Jerry, this is George... I got nothin' to say

So the title of this post pretty much says it all... I am dry. I guess after knocking on death's door and then being caught in the women's bathroom, a person's "life excitement level" can only go downhill.

The title of this post is from Seinfeld (that is probably one of the more obvious things ever to be said on this blog). It is one of those lines that is applicable and useful in many situations. If you have not guessed, I am a movie/TV quote fiend. Specifically, I can usually bring just about anything back to an episode of Seinfeld. Well, anything that has very little substance to it. Deep things never happened on Seinfeld. They never took themselves too seriously - which is why it is my favorite sit-com. Friends, while entertaining, had moments of sappy love story drama. Seinfeld, on the other hand, even made fun of Schlindler's List (in a tactful and humorous way).

So for all the Seinfeld fans... share your favorite quotes.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

And God Created Them... Male and Female He Created Them

Last night, I went to see Jack Johnson in concert (and yes, some of the songs did sound different from the others). Anyway, I had been drinking a lot of water throughout the day, and it was time to let nature take take its course... so I mosey over to the restroom.

(Now, if you have ever been in the Verizon Wireless Theater, this may make sense... otherwise, it will not make sense at all.)

I saw the Men's Room sign, and an opening to the bathroom. So I walked right on in. As I walked in, I did notice that certain fixtures that are typical in a Men's Restroom were not in view. I thought this odd... but decided not to question it. I entered a stall and went about my business.

The next thing I notice is a high-pitched voice... a group of them, actually. They were entering the very bathroom I was in. I thought to myself, "they must be drunk." Well... turns out, they were not drunk (and neither was I, for the record).

The young ladies began to laugh at the situation as I asked them (from inside the stall - with the door opened) "Am in the women's bathroom?" The affirmed my suspicion... and I laughed at the whole deal. They told me to at least shut the door if I was going to use the girl's bathroom. I walked out and apologized to one of the girls - who simply could not believe what had just happened.

Later, I thought about how great a story it would be if I had asked her for her number... and we actually dated. But alas... I was not drunk, so this did not happen.

Oh... and to fill you all in, the Men's Room sign was directly over the entrance to the Women's Room... but the actual Men's Room was around the corner. The Women's Room sign was there as well... but it was lower and not as well lit. Throughout the night, others almost made my same mistake.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Near Death... It Wasn't So Bad

This is a quick "lunch-time" post... not enough time to actually develop a story or anything, but I almost died this past weekend (or as Dave Bray tells it, I attempted to kill him and Adam O'Kelley).

Possibly to the chagrin of some and the joy of others... God chose to allow me a few more days on this earth. Honestly, by the laws of physics... I should either be dead or seriously injured. God was certainly guiding my Saturn along Loop 610 Friday night as I had a 18o degree spin out that almost cast us into the barrier on the side of the road (going around 70 mph). But as you can tell (because I am actually typing this post), all is well...

Oh... and Dave, Adam, and I agree that in retrospect, the experience was actually pretty fun. I would do it again, but that whole "don't put the Lord your God to the test" thing keeps getting me...

Friday, July 29, 2005

I Like Funny Words... That's What I Like

The title of this post is actually a quote from an SNL skit where Will Farrell is portraying the lead singer of the B-52's. He is explaining how he comes up with the titles of songs like "Rock Lobster." It is one of Farrell's best skits on SNL... and I highly recommend checking it out if you get the chance. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find it anywhere on the internet... but it exists.

Funny words... I think we all have words or sayings that we use with our friends that only we think are funny. For example... today at work, our Admin brought in some snacks for us to graze on during the day. One of the items in the trough is a bowl of pistachio nuts. When I saw them, I instantly called them "pi-stanky-toes." The people around me were slightly taken aback by this rather uncouth name I had just given to the food they were about to eat.

Well... the term "pi-stanky-toes" was coined by my college roommate and I... and it will forever be what I call pistachio nuts (at least in my head... I think I will refrain from blurting it out in public from now on). Unfortunately, no one but my old roommate will really appreciate the humor in it. But it did get a few laughs today... so I got that goin' for me... which is nice.

So for those of you reading... share your "funny words" with the rest of us.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Don't Call it a Comeback

No... seriously, don't call it a comeback. I really didn't go anywhere, and this post will likely not change lives. However, at the request of many (a surprising number, actually), I have decided to break my unofficial blog sabbatical. I am still not certain that I have too much to say that will be of much interest; but as the title of the blog says, take it "for what it's worth."

So I spent this past weekend in "baby mode." I went to visit my family in Louisiana... and my brother and sister-in-law have a four month old baby named Landon. While visiting them, I noticed some things... and God used them to remind me of some important lessons and truths of the Christian life.

Landon is completely helpless. He can't really stand up yet (though he tries when you help him), he can't feed himself, he can't talk, he can't do a whole lot but sit there and just be the cutest baby in the world (at least that is how we all see him).

Now... here is the lesson (and I am sure most of you see where this is going). We are the exact same way with our Heavenly Father (well, without the part about being the cutest baby in the world). We are helpless when it comes to so many aspects of life. And like Landon, we try... oh how we try to be better or to do more for God. But also just like Landon, we can't do any of that unless our Father in Heaven helps us. He lifts us up by our arms and lets us get our feet on the ground. He is still holding us up, but He is letting us exercise our spritual legs. He starts the whole thing... because without His help, we just sit there (some looking cuter than others).

But one way that we differ from Landon is that, in some respects, we try too much... when Landon needs food, he doesn't try to find his way to his mother by pushing himself out of the bed and rolling into Brad and Renee's room. No... he simply cries (loudly, I might add). And Brad and Renee' aren't shocked by his cries... they know it has been three hours since he last ate, so they go and tend to his needs. It is such the same way with our Heavenly Father. He knows our needs... and when He doesn't meet them right away, it isn't because He forgot.

But the best lesson from all of this is that I saw and experienced the fact that Brad, Renee', my parents, my grandmother, and I (all of whom are flawed by the fall of man) want to give the best to Landon. And when I was playing with him and trying to get him to pick up a toy... I didn't get annoyed when he couldn't do it. In fact, I clapped when he finally did do it (even though he still needed a little help). Jesus said that if we who are sinful humans would not give our sons a stone when he asked for bread... how much more will God give what is best to His children. This is a basic truth of faith, but one that is so much richer when you see it first hand.

Sorry this wasn't a comical post... I hope it was encouraging though. I will try to be funny tomorrow. ;-)

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Slap Happy

I had breakfast with a friend of mine this morning... and he made a comment that was most definitely blog worthy. He said that he wished that everyone had a slap quota... basically this slap quota would allow you to slap anyone you wish without fear of retribution. Now the question is how often does this ration of slaps get replenished. I say daily. So each day, we should all be allowed to slap one person for whatever reason we choose. Some examples include the following:
  • People who stand in the express check-out lane with more than the alloted number of items
  • People who say things that are so ridiculous that they don't warrant being corrected... they just need to be slapped
  • People who use air quotes incorrectly
  • People who ask you questions they have no business asking

Now I am sure you are all thinking this would be a bad idea because everyone would be slapping each other... but I think if we punished the above mentioned behaviors with a firm hand to the cheek, many of them would cease to exist.

So I am interested to hear what some of you would consider "slap worthy" behavior.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Google - Man's New Best Friend

I am currently involved in a study of the book of Romans with two other guys. We each have been charged with the duty of finding a commentary to read through as we study Romans in order to give us some guidance. I am a little bit behind because I have missed two of the three weeks of the study... but that is not the point of this post.

I feel rushed to get a commentary so that I can participate in the study... so I went to Border's bookstore to find one. That was my first mistake. I went to the Bible section of the store and I saw a nice collection of commentaries by William Barclay. I know I have heard his name used before... but I can't remember where. I think it was used in a good way... and that scares me (as you will soon understand why).

So I purchase the commentary relying strictly on the fact that I have heard him quoted... it is expositional in nature... and he is Scottish (OK, that was not really part of the criteria... but Dovie is probably reading this).

I decided to research the guy by way of a Google search, and I found out some very interesting bits of information:

  • Barclay does not believe in the literal virgin birth of Jesus

  • Barclay does not believe that anyone will go to hell (he believes in Unversalism which says that everyone will be gathered up to heaven).

  • Barclay does not believe in the substitutionary atonement of Chris on the cross. (this is at least consistent with his Universalist beliefs, but wrong nonetheless)

So the point of this post is to simply say something that everyone else in the world may know (but I had to learn the hard way)... research authors before you buy their books. I was a little sick to my stomach when I realized that I had just bought a commentary written by someone who does not affirm some of the basic Truths of the Christian faith.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Back to the grind

So I have been back from Guatemala for a few days, and I am already settling back into my "daily grind" routine. In addition to the joys of seeing what God is doing in another culture, a large part of the blessing of last week was being able to take a break from the normal life that I am so accustomed to. Of course, that normal life consists of many things that I would have a difficult time giving up (clean water to drink, food that I know is safe to eat, air condition). But there are aspects of the normal life that I don't like - and it is those things that prompted this email.

I have not had a chance to adequately summarize the trip yet... and I am sensing that there is more that God will teach me from the week spent in Guatemala, but I have not taken the time to seek Him in that area (another part of the normal life that I am not in favor of... being busy all the time).

I will say this... Guatemala is a very neat country. We didn't get to experience all of the culture in the one week that we were there... but I experienced enough to make me want to go back.

Friday, May 27, 2005


It just occurred to me that some people reading this may wonder how I got the name Toddatello.

Well... it all began a couple months ago. My singles group from church had its annual retreat. The entertainment portion of the weekend was "A Night at the Oscars". I was asked to emcee the event along with my pseudo wife - Beth Richards.

Beth wanted to take on the identity of Melissa Rivers (complete with staged cell phone calls from her loving mother). Since there is not an obvious male counterpart to Melissa, my friend Catha suggested that I be Toddatello Versace. Beth then added that I was the lost cousin from Louisiana... the one who has no fashion sense.

So that is how the name was born... and since I started this blog soon after that, it was fresh on my mind when I had to come up with a name for my blog. I am sure I will grow to regret this momentary lapse of good sense... but it is fun for the time being.

Let Guatemala be glad... at least in part

One of my favorite books is one entitled Let the Nations be Glad by John Piper. The book is all about the supremacy of Christ in missions. In it, Piper unpacks the reason for missions... which essentially is this: "Missions exists because worship doesn't." That is part of the first sentence the book. Anyway, to further elaborate on that short scentence... the Church is involved in missions because there are still many people groups (nations) that do not yet know Christ as they should. The purpose of missions is two fold: 1. it fosters worship for the almighty God 2. it spreads joy to all peoples by fostering worhip of the almighty God. Piper makes the point that these peoples will not truly be glad (ie. experience true joy) apart from authentic worship of the Triune God - Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

So having said that... I will be heading off (along with about 44 other brothers and sisters in the Lord) to Guatemala to share the truth of our great God and His redemptive work that was accomplished by His Son Jesus Christ with the express purpose of seeing and knowing that more Guatemalans will be worshiping Him in spirit and truth.

Many of you reading this are either going on this trip with me (which makes this post somewhat useless to you), and others of you reading this are already aware of this trip because you attend the same church as I do. But for those of you who were not aware or the trip... if the Lord leads you to pray for us, we would greatly appreciate it. Let the Nations be Glad has an entire chapter on how prayer is the fuel for missions... it is the way that God has ordained that His whole Body be involved in the spreading of His truth to the nations. Those of us going will certainly be praying... but we cherish and need the prayers of others to support us during this next week. So as He leades, please intercede for us.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Seminary Education

So I was reading in the book of Acts today, and I came to this verses:

"Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus." - Acts 4:13

Now this follows two important events. First, Peter had just healed a man who was lame from birth. (Acts 3:6) Second, Peter had just finished speaking about how this healing had been done in the name of Jesus Christ... and how His name is the only name under heaven whereby men must be saved. (Acts 4:8-12)

So the point of this post is to pose this question... how much does a seminary education detract from or add to a person's validity as a pastor, missionary, etc.?

Peter and John were known to be uneducated men. And because of there lack of formal education, the words they spoke were viewed as being a result of them "having been with Jesus". So at what point does a seminary graduate move from being a person who walks with Jesus to being a person who has been formally educated? I am not sure.

Quick note for those who may be reading this and do not know me... I am not advocating that seminary is useless. I am simply asking the question of how much does formal education veil the Spirit's work in the lives of His people who serve as pastors, missionaries, etc.?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Japanese Brain Teaser

This is difficult but fun... it took me about 45 minutes to figure it out.

The object is to get the whole group across the river while following the following rules:

1. Only the Father, the Mother and the Policeman know how to operate the raft.
2. Only 2 persons on the raft at a time.
3. The father can not stay with any of the daughters without their mother's presence.
4. The mother can not stay with any of the sons without their father's presence.
5. The thief can not stay with any family member if the Policeman is not there.

Cut and paste the following link into your browser and click on the blue dot to start.


Star Wars

So for everyone who grew up in the 80's, today should be a pretty monumental day. Today is the day that the missing link to the Star Wars Saga is being released - Episode III: Return of the Sith.

I am excited about this movie release, but will not be viewing the movie at midnight tonight like some of my friends. I see it like this... I like the movie too much to view it when I know I will be too tired to enjoy it. I saw Matrix Reloaded at midnight... and fidgeted the entire time because I was tired and ready to leave.

Furthermore, I have not even seen a trailer for the movie yet... and I don't intend to. I am a little worried that someone will begin spouting off about the movie before I can see it... so I may need to go into hiding between now and Friday night (when I plan to see it).

Monday, May 16, 2005

Private Blogs

Last Friday night, I was enjoying some time with friends and the subject of blogs came up. Much to my detriment, I confessed that this blog was not my first one. I told the group that years ago I started a private blog where I would post and write out some pretty personal private thoughts. One of the girls in the room was quick to point out that such a "blog" was not a blog at all... but rather it is called a "journal". This then sparked much laughter at my expense for the fact that I had used cyber space as a journal... and I have to admit that I was left without excuse. I could not adequately defend myself in the least. So for all of you out there who have "private blogs", don't tell your friends about it.

And for the proverbial record... the laughter that ensued from the "journal" comment was led by me. So no feelings were hurt in the writing of this blog.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Fortune Cookies

OK, I have finally had it with fortune cookies. I just had lunch at a Chinese restaurant up the street from my building, and I received the most interesting "fortune" in my fortune cookie. Before I get to that... my real question is this: does anyone still believe in these things? I mean does anyone really read the little strip of paper and think that what it says has any credence whatsoever?

Oh... and the lotto numbers on the back... those are rich. I bet there are plenty of people in America who faithfully play the lotto with those nubmers and every week they are disappointed.

I am curious where the fortune cookie began. I will have to do some google searching and get back on that. But for now... here is the "fortune" that I received today:

"You like participating in competitive sports."

First off... this is not a fortune. It is merely a sentence that may apply to any individual. If it had said, "You will like participating in competitive sports" I may have given it a second thought (except for the fact that I don't believe in such hogwash).

Second off... well, if you know me at all, you know how ridiculous that is.

So I rest my case (a case that should not need to be argued, but I fear that it does need to be argued with far too many people). Fortune cookies are rediculous. Tasty? Yes. Good for making life decisions? Not so much.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Lessons from sunsets and rainbows

Last night, I was driving back from Louisiana... went to see my Mom for Mother's Day. Well, as I was driving back to Houston, there was some pretty bad weather ahead of me. As I got closer to Houston, the worse the weather was. But then, in the distance... I could see the clouds lifting. Now this was all happening around 7:30 PM - which is currently the time the sun sets. So as the clouds were lifting, the sun was setting... and it made for a strange yet beautiful site to drive toward. The sun was reflecting off of the dark clouds with a beautiful orange/yellow color. I was reminded of the verse in Revelation that says that in Heaven we will not need the sun... because God Himself will be the light.

So as if that site was not beautiful enough... I turned to my left and what did I see? Well, I guess if you read the title of this post you guessed a rainbow. Regardless, that is what I saw. So on the one side, I saw the sun setting in a beautiful way, above me were dark clouds, and to my left was a symbol of God's faithfulness.

But here is the part that truly spoke to me... the sites were beautiful, but there was a lesson to be taught in them... a reminder of a truth that I know already. I noticed that as soon as the sun dropped below the horizon, the rainbow disappeared. Now we know that to be true because of physics and such. But moving beyond that... the following thought crossed my mind: "Without the sun (Son), there is no rainbow (Promise). Without Christ, there are no promises of God. Christ is the means by which all of God's promises are fulfilled. Because of His obedience on earth... leading up to and including the cross... we are granted God's promise of life. He is the way, the truth, the life. Without Him... there is nothing. So just as the visual site of a rainbow is dependent on the light shining forth from the sun, the promises of salvation and sanctification are dependent on Christ.

And to top it off, the following song was playing in my car:

"Your grace is sufficient for me... Your strength is made perfect when I am weak... Your grace is sufficient for me..." - Shane and Shane