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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Monday Morning Insight

I've been reading Church Staffing's weekly email "Monday Morning Insight" for a couple of years now. Very informative about a lot of relevant things in church world today. They just launched their blog recently (along with everyone else with a heartbeat on this planet... self included) and I just got time to check it out. A couple of great blogs already.

I especially found this one (Link) intesting. Sort of along the lines of one I had a few weeks ago about people leaving church.

Wagons of Smoke

Okay now that my heart has stopped racing when I think about my mistake, I'll post my original blog for today on the correct blog site. (Stupid, Stupid, Stupid... I'm so Stupid)
- - - - -
I've been running for about 18 months now 3 times a week. I get together with a friend at 6:20am and start plodding down my road usually beginning the first half of our journey with few words. When we do speak it's usually phrases like "Oh My God This Sucks!" "I can still feel the pillow on my face" or "Why exactly are we doing this?" Well this morning we decided it would be a great idea to get up 15 minutes earlier and run 15 minutes longer. Things always seem better in the planning stages. However, it was a beautiful morning, perhaps the best morning I have felt in a long time. A cool breeze as the sunset rose over Mt Pleasant. The sleepy town felt so charming in the early morning dawn. I felt great physically, strong and in a good rhythm. I could almost hear the theme from Charriots of Fire playing in the background as we looped around town. Well, I suppose you have to be running a little faster than we were to hear that song, perhaps Wagons of Smoke would be more appropriate.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


Made my first HUGE mistake today.
Went to update our 40 Days of Purpose Blog for our church. Then went to update this blog.
Forgot to log out so I accidentally posted my personal blog on the church one. Not that big of deal normally, accept I wouldn't have normally posted what I did to the church.
Wow - my heart was racing and back of my legs tightening up like when you go speeding past a cop. Thank God for DSL and fast connections to take it all down.
Later today I'll post what I originally was trying to post here.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Revolving Dream Job

I continually frustrate my wife by always talking about what job I'd love to be doing. She gets frustrated, because it's never the job I'm currently doing. For example, there was a time when I thought it would be really fun to run a construction company, yet at the time I worked another job. She finally realize that my dream job was just that... a dream. I'm very happy where I work now. Would never think of leaving, despite recent lucrative offers (Thanks Chad) However, I still see jobs that intrigue me - they totally facinate me and I would love to have the opportunity to be that for 3 months, maybe a year at the most, then resume my regular life.

Currently, I want to be a private investigator. I'm pretty obsessed with the idea. What fun to turn reality tv voyurism into reality career. Watching people without them knowing you're watching. Uncovering all their life's mysteries. Totally facinates me. I even tail people around town for no reason at all, just to see if they become suspicious.

So, my question for you all is this. Am I the only one who does this? And what jobs do you dream of doing?

Friday, September 24, 2004

Father John

I admit it and most people who know me will confirm that I am a closet geek. I am cool enough to cover up my geekiness in public, but at heart I love the things that geeks love. For example, I have been watching EWTN lately. Not that Catholics are all geeks, but honestly most people who are on this station are. Of course the same could be said for TBN, Sky Angel, or what ever mainstream Chrisitan station you want to name.

However, I came across this guy Father John Corapi, who simply put captivates me. Doctrinely, not being Catholic, there are a few things that I don't agree with, but saving the baby and not the bathwater, I really find him enjoyable as a speaker. Relavent to social issues and practical to where we live life. Definately breaks the stigma of what a Catholic Priest is like. So if at 3am some night you find yourself awake staring at the ceiling, I encourage you to check him out. I'll probably be watching too, so we can share the experience together while apart.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Hurry up and Vote

A month and something to go before I can turn on my television and not hear those words that have become so quickly annoying "I'm George Bush and I approved this message" or John Kerry, or who ever else is running for some office.

I miss the fine print that we never had to hear, it just flashed below on the screen and we never paid attention to what it said. We just assumed it was pointless babble about some idiot paying to take up ad space in the middle of my favorite show. Now they are calling my house wanting to drop off absentee ballots for me. So they tell me how to vote on TV, they give me what I need to vote on the phone... heck, I ought to just let them vote for me next time so they can save all their money and time.

In the midst of all this annoyance, I still enjoy campaign season for one reason and one reason alone. The funniest things get published on the web.

I don't care what your political affiliation, that is funny!

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Reality Church

Well since my running partner decided to bail on our 6:20am run, what else should a fellow do other than run to the basement, log in and start blogging.

Found this article about a church in Barnsley, South Yorkshire where Donald Trump meets Simon Cowell for some kind of church bake sale reality show where they eliminate candidates to find the right priest for the small dwindling church.

I'm trying to imagine something as dramatic as "You're Fired" or "You are the worst preacher I have ever heard" coming from the confessional when they begin eliminating people.

How about - "The tribe has spoken - You're going to hell" then the outcast priest has to extinguish his candle?

Monday, September 20, 2004

Potty Training and Ho-Ho's

I've been watching our 2 year old go through the potty training process around our house. Running around naked, peeing on the couch and finally... FINALLY doing his job in the plastic cabode. It's been funny watching him become self aware. He used to just let go without regard thanks to Pampers, but now he's learning to be aware of bodily funcions. Thank God there comes a time when we no longer have to hold our manhood and dance when we have to go. Hopefully I will reach that point soon. Kind of embarrassing when the person next to you at the gas station wonders why a grown man is doing the pee shiver dance and holding himself... uh.. anyway...

I wonder at what point we become self aware. Certainly there are some things that come early. Hunger, thirst and yes peeing. But at what point and after what research, study and training do we become self aware of deeper issues like depression, irritability turning to anger or insecurities?

I bring all this up because I just realized that when I get stressed I like to eat. It's a relaxer, maybe even a defense mechanism to just climb on the couch with a package of hoho's and suck the cream filling out while my stress goes away. Great - I've identified why I'm fat... now I just have to redirect that I guess.

I read this article and most of the website for that matter. Interesting if you are into that kind of stuff, which I am self aware that I am.

How do you handle stress? Or better yet, what are you self aware of???

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Caught Cheating

Last weekend a 16 year old girl and her 10 year old brother run a stop sign and get broadsided by a school bus. Then carom off it and get hit by a truck. Jaws of life, life flight and sirens. The girl lives, the boy dies on the scene. I saw the car before they put it away. I've never seen a car that bad before. Literally, the only thing still salvagable on it appeared to be the front license plate.

The funeral was today. They attend our church. I never knew them. Hardly anyone knew them. They'd only attended since Easter and they are one of the ones that unfortunately got lost in the cracks somehow. They aren't lost anymore, but that's another blog for another day.

I watched as the small gymnasium of the small town school filled with hundreds of people. People grieved in many ways. Weeping - misty eyes - clearing throats to choke back tears - holding loved ones and children. I hate sitting through weddings, they are boring and too cerimonial. I hate funerals even more. The worst was when people share - kind of open mic night for the grieving. It ended with the sister who drove the car explain "I looked over at him, he smiled at me. I saw he had his seatbelt on. I pulled forward and that was the last time I ever saw him."

Their are lots of articles on grieving. 4 steps this, 2 styles that, blah blah blah. Bottom line is that while with other emotions, you can cheat them and substitute with other emotions, you can't substitute grief and not emotionally survive. I mean, you can substitute nervousness with laughter - or anger with physical activity, but you can't substitute anything with grief. If you do it's like acid that eats your insides out.

I'll admit it. I'm a cheater. I like to cheat. I cheat my emotions all the time, but you can't cheat grief. I watched hundreds of people today wishing they could, but none could. Maybe I'll find my crib notes or answers to the exam in time for my turn to grieve when a loved one of mine dies... but probably not.

-sorry this got so heavy... more jokes tomorrow - I promise.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Payback is Fun!

My good friend Betsy thought it would be cute to give visual examples of what a doppleganger is. Check out her post here (Link)
Well she thought it would be just great to show how much my doppleganger looked like John Candy in Space Balls. So, to show how perception can be easily altered, I decided to take it upon myself and return the favor to her.
Below you can see that I've found her doppleganger to be none other than James Brown, and mine not to be John Candy, but rather Antonio Sabato Jr. of Calvin Klein underwear.
I know we all agree with this, so I'm sure the comments will all be supportive right???

What a resemblance!

An even better Resemblance!

Bottom line... any bad picture can make a normally good looking person look bad.
(remember - right click, save picture as - and you too can own this picture of Betsy. Better yet, post it on your blog.)

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

I have this sick twisted sense of satisfaction when I have the opportunity to make fun of stupid people.

People who "accidentally" post the same message 2 times absolutely cracks me up for instance. I won't name names, because I don't want to embarass anyone, and besides we all know who I am talking about anyway.

I never seem to be short on laughs, regardless of where I go or what I do. There are always stupid people in my presence. Here's a great site (Link) to help you evaluate the extent to which those around you are stupid.

Of course my faithful, loyal and intelligent readers would never get anything wrong on the Stupid Test, so rate the stupid person across the room from you, or maybe even your stupid boss and tell me who you rated and how they came out.

Monday, September 13, 2004

A Few Bad Decisions

Ever wonder how life could have been diferent if you just would have chosen differently at some critical juncture in life? I've been thinking about that a lot this weekend after I found this article (Link) on America's Most Wanted.

That show always seems sort of far removed for me and as a result I don't ever watch it. I never feel like I have a chance of knowing any of the people and my neighbors seem pretty normal, so I'm fairly confident that I don't have to worry about one of them being former Columbian Cartel.

But what really struck me about that article, is I went to school with Paul Eischeid. Yep, grew up around him, actually idolized him to an extent. He was a drummer, better than I was and I wanted to be like him. I remember digging forts with him in the woods across the street from where I grew up. He is a bright guy. He had that seemingly natural ability to lead.

Wonder how many different decisions I would have had to make to end up with him.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Karen's Comments on Leaving Church

Couple of days ago, I blogged about reasons people leave church (Letting the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya) Karen had a great comment that got me thinking, and instead of just commenting, I thought I'd dedicate a new blog to the topic and my thoughts on it.

Karen's comments are here (Link)

When Karen asks why don't people seek God first on where to attend church, I totally agree with her point. However, only to the extent of life being lived in a vacum. In a perfect world, people would spend time seeking God's desire for their life in every aspect of it, church attendance included. Unfortunately, people are not such devout seekers of God. I would venture to say that of the people who attend church, any church of any denomination, less than 10% spend time with God about their decision. Instead, people are lead by their emotions and personality preferences.

This causes a problem for churches because part of their job is to reach those who are not spiratually mature and help them journey to a higher level. The problem is that people who aren't spiritually mature become easily turned away because they don't understand the will of God for their life. And when the church tries to communicate to them God's will doesn't involve them leaving because they don't like the style of something it offends them or turns them away even quicker. As a result, the church ends up acting like a kid holding a handful of sand. The harder the kid squeezes, the more sand slips away. So, it becomes the tendency of churches to loosely hold the sand in hopes of keeping it and on some level effecting their lives.

In my opinion, this is where most churches who call themselves "seeker sensitive" mess up. Now I think a true seeker sensitive church is right on its approach, but when things get watered down as the environment becomes less intimidating for the seeker, you end up with a Reader's Digest sermon and lots of frills.

I guess to sum up this never ending blog, people are wrong for not seeking God, and churches are forced to chase these people. Can anyone say Conundrum?

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Dude the Dog

I went to have the brakes on my van looked at yesterday. A nice old guy from our church is a mechanic so I go to his shop and ask him to take a look. There leashed to the bench is this cute little German Pointer. The dog starts barking and the guy yells at him saying "Dude, be quiet" Probably doesn't sound odd, unless you knew the guy and realized that dude is not a word in this old man's vocabulary. So I ask him, did you say dude? To which he replies, yeah, its what my son named the dog.

As I look around the shop and see 5 or 6 cars, then gaze out onto his lot and see another 15 or so, all I can think while trying not to bust up laughing is "Hey, if you ever loose your car, just ask Dude, where's my car?"

I think I may need more sleep than I'm currently getting.

A Few Changes to Grin and Barrett

To make things easier for everyone to post their comments I've changed some things up in the comment sections.

One unfortunate side effect to all of this is the deletion of all of your comments. All in the name of progress I guess.

Sorry and feel free to repost your comments if you want.

Especially Betsy who was just saying how great this blog is and what a wonderful writer I am. I'm paraphrasing a little, but that was the essence of it.

Boob Tube Without Underwire

Just as I was coming to grips with my addiction to Television, the summer slump rolled around and save a few reality shows, which is like chewing a piece of gum to fend off hunger pangs an hour before the lunch whistle blows, there is nothing to watch.

Then I saw the coolest thing ever. (Link)

For a TV-aholic this is the equivalent of a drive through liquor store for an alcoholic, or a dealer who delivers to your house with a punch card - Every 10th nickel bag is free! WooHoo!

It's basically television on your cel phone. Never again do you have to miss CSI or Alias because you are stuck in traffic or some late meeting at the office. "Um, excuse me, I have to take this.. uh.. call"

Better yet, you never have to miss kick off because your pastor wont shut up on Sunday. Caution - if you get carried away during a service and accidentally jump up when your team recovers the fumble... you'd better be prepared to quickly disguise it as the Holy Spirit and start rolling on the floor. Maybe God will use it to start a revival... okay, maybe not.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Letting the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya

We recently had a key family in our church decide to leave and go to another church. When it comes down to it, I have no problem with people leaving our church as long as they do so for the right reasons and are remaining plugged into a good church. But, the competitiveness in me wants to win the battle for the customer. This particular family's departure got me thinking and researching. I came across this great article by John Duncan on Why people leave churches. I think it sound easy to fix, but in actuality it is a little harder to handle.

Link of the complete article

Here's the condensed version

6 Reasons People Leave Your Church
1. Poor leadership
2. Different Style
3. Specific Program
4. Disillusionment
5. Inner Hurts
6. Church Size

How to Handle Their Departure
1. Learn From It
2. Pray For Them
3. Open the Gate

Monday, September 06, 2004

Happy Labor Day

Ever wonder why you get Labor Day off? Not that we would ever complanin about it, but seriously, why does everyone (well almost everyone) just decide to shut down for a day?

Here is the official reason.

What I really and truly appreciate about Labor Day is the American tradition of taking something that at one time meant something important and turning it into a reason to go to the lake, get drunk and grill burgers. God Bless America and pass the catsup.

So what was your Labor Day filled with? Political speeches and activist parades or BBQ pits on the waterfront? Me? - I spent mine blogging.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Small Town Explosion

During Labor Day weekend, our quaint little town of 8700 people expands to over 80,000 people for the Midwest Old Threshers Reunion. It's basically a bunch of hick farmers and hilbillies getting together to look at antique tractors and threshers which are steam powered machines that are used to thresh wheat.

This has been going on for over 50 years and the same people come back year after year to see their friends and to see all these old tractors. There's a big parade of old tractors starting on Wednesday, then daily at noon they all get together and blow off their steam whistles. First of all I don't understand why so many people want to come back year after year for the same thing. Nothing ever changes. I mean, how can you add a new antique tractor? "Oh, look I just found this years edition of the old tractors." Uh, I don't think so. At least at a car show you get new things, here... same old rusty tractors year after year after year.

But, that's my smallest complaint. I don't get it, I don't go to it. Said and done. BUT, what I really am growing to dislike is when our town grows in population by 1000% in one weekend. I know 80K doesn't seem like a lot of people, but think about it in proportion. What Chicago be like with a 1000% increase. 2.9 million would become 29 million or New York 7.3 mil becomes 73 mil. Gridlock galore! Big cities at least have the road systems to handle heavy traffic. Our 4 stoplights and one stop sign aren't exactly up to code for this. I've heard more sirens and seen more accidents this weekend than in the last 6 monts here. Probably because all these rural hicks haven't driven on a road with more than 6 vehicles on it (one of which is a combine) at a time since last Labor Day.

The icing on the cake was as I drove in to town yesterday after we went Burlington for some shopping, I saw smog over the town. Okay, maybe not bonafide smog, but it was a definate heavy cloud over the Old Threshers area caused by all the coal / wood burning steam engines. If I wanted to see that I'd move to Phoenix. At least I get Monday off from work and may get to hear the Lonestar concert as it echoes across town tonight.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Small Town Living

I always kind of joke about Pleasantville a.k.a Mount Pleasant where I live as being such a quiet, quaint, Beaver Cleaver town. Well news flash. My boss told me a recent story of his neighbor’s teenage daughter, who one night gets a phone call from a man who asks if she is home alone. She was. She starts to get a little freaked then hears footsteps on her deck. Looks out through the sliding glass door and sees a man standing on her deck dressed in black, wearing a black ski mask talking to her on a cel phone. At this point she runs to the bedroom and locks herself in. Crawls under the bed and calls the police. Yikes – right?

Well, then I’m getting my hair cut last week and my stylist says, “Did you hear about the guy who dresses in black, black ski mask drives a black truck getting arrested?”
“Uhh… maybe…” I replied.
“Yeah”, she continued, “the guy got arrested for raping a girl about 20 miles north of here and one in another small town in the area”
“How did you hear about this?” I asked
“Well, I cut the hair of this teenage girl and her mom and… well, you might know them, they’re your bosses neighbors.” You can guess how the rest of the story goes.

Gets even more freaky when she says he lives just 2 blocks away from where I’m getting my hair cut. That’s it, I’m moving to south side Chicago where I can be safe!

What’s really, I mean really aggravating – no just plain disturbing is that the local newspaper, which ought to be starved for a story like this hasn’t printed word one about the whole thing. Small town gossip and the local radio station’s daily news fax (Link) is all I’ve heard about it.