And The Battle Rages On...

This past sunday, a group of sixteen brave soldiers trudged onto a battlefied brown with the winter's death. We came from all parts of the valley, with tape and water bottles and cleats. Sixteen men, putting our reputations on the line in a war most of us were not prepared to fight.

It had been awhile since I had last strapped on the boots. The motion of attack had long faded and was but a sweet memory. The emergancy manuvers that had once been instinct had now become something of a chore and took more time.

As the battle lines were drawn, the anticipation grew. Men who had been mortals a mere hour preceding, had now become immortal gods on the eternal scales of a gridiron.

This was serious. This was a war.

With flags.

Okay, so it wasn't the epic event I was hoping for, but it was epic in other ways. Football is unique among most modern popular sports. With baseball, it only takes two to get together with a couple of mitts and make sport of it. With basketball, hockey, and soccer, you can literally practice by yourself. But not football.

Sure, you can toss the pigskin back and forth, but that is nothing like the assault that takes place after the ball has been snapped. Or the feeling of invincibility as you catch the touchdown pass. With football, it takes a concentrated effort of coordination. It isn't something that is just going to spontaneously errupt after a trip to starbucks.

When you are going to engage in this competition of greatness, you make the appointment days, if not weeks, ahead of time, ensuring the proper warriors of kinship are present. And the anticipation builds.

The last time I threw a ball in competition was during football intramurals at Johnson Bible College. It's amazing how quickly the throwing motion comes back. The instinct of linemen breathing down your neck, forcing you to scramble and throw a pass you have no business throwing. Your body cracks as the rust breaks free.

But then, you catch the receiver's eye. You know what he's thinking. He makes a break. You cock your arm and release with the power of a man's arm. And it all comes back. Poetry in motion.

The war was hard fought. And when the final whistle blew, the combatents threw their arms around each other and vowed to meet again in a couple of weeks...

After the soreness wore off.


Stephen Colbert Is A Genius....Seriously...

More Than Heaven...

It's been quite awhile since I've had anything real to blog about. Not that I have anything real to say right now, but I thought it might be nice to actually post words that I've written than ones I've simply copied and pasted into the Html area.

Two weeks ago I started real estate school. It's been a lot of fun learning all the different laws that go along with it. Before I took this class, I thought real estate agents simply printed out a pre-manufactured set of papers and then said, "Sign here and here and here and here..."

Even though I now see all the work it actually takes to make money in the real estate world, I find myself excited at the thought of doing it. For the first time since ministry I think I would actually enjoy getting up in the morning for work. That would be a good feeling.

Back to real estate school for a moment. I want to tell you about my friend Grace. Grace came to this country from South Korea four years ago. She came to study at a small bible college somewhere in Kansas (if I could remember the name of it, I would). She was telling me about her professor who had died on three seperate occasions. The first two times he went to hell but God called him back to earth. The last time he was on his way up to heaven but God told him not to come yet. I type all this nonchalantly for that is the way she explained it to me, as if we all have friends who have died and gone to hell and came back to tell us about it.

She then proceded to let me know that the most important thing we could do is go to heaven. That nothing else on this earth matters but that when we die we go to heaven.

Sadly, I know that she believes this with all her heart.

My good friend Bill and I have had many conversations on this topic. I'm pretty sure he's blogged about it a couple of times, but I'm too lazy to find it and link to it, so you'll just have to do a little homework on your own.

The problem is, while I disagree with Grace in principle, my life agrees with her in practice. I know I get too comfortable in my grace. I'm not sure that I understand fear and trembling anymore. Don't get me wrong, I love grace. Mainly because I need it more than most. I just think I get too used to having it there, knowing that I'll never be good enough, so most often I think, "why even try?"

Of course, I know the answer. I know it's because there is more to life than getting to heaven. I know that there is a journey that we are all on and that we are incomplete without each other. And that our journey is incomplete with out the Guide.

I don't have any eye opening final points. I can't think of a clever way to wrap this up that will make everyone go, "Ohhhh, what a clever way of stating that obvious fact." I just hope when I think of Grace, my soul will desire more than heaven.

NEWS FLASH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

CHICAGO (AP) -- Chicago Bears football practice was delayed nearly two
hours today after a player reported finding an unknown white powdery
substance on the practice field. Head coach Lovie Smith immediately
suspended practice while police and and federal investigators were called to
investigate. After a complete analysis, FBI forensic experts determined
that the white substance unknown to the players was the goal line.
Practice resumed after special agents decided the team was unlikely to encounter the substance again....



I'm pretty sure that Janice will be the cause of some future therapy sessions.



Um...Am I Going To Hell?

Okay, before you judge me, let me at least say this: If they didn't want us to watch and enjoy they wouldn't have made it, right?


My Son...

For those of you who don't have myspace, here is a look at the newest addition to our family...Diesel!

I Usually Don't Stay Up This Late...

Good thing they didn't send him to report on the AVN...


Nice Web, Mr. Crack Spider...

Found this little gem on Ebaumsworld. Warning: Adult language ahead.


A Tale Of Two Churches...

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all doing direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."

Thus begins Charles Dickens classic "A Tale Of Two Cities." (Forgive me Mrs. Pugh, I have no idea if I'm supposed to italicize, bold, or underline the title of a book...two out of three ain't bad eh?) As many of you know I am a huge fan of the Church. Sometimes, I am also her worst critic. I can be the loudest cheerleader or the most skeptical cynic. I love her and hate the whore we've made her. I often feel like the beginning lines of this book encapsulates all that I feel about her, possibly never more than the events of the past two weekends.

Two Sundays ago was Christmas Eve. We woke up early and took my wife's parents to the Gospel Brunch at the House of Blues. This may sound like a strange place to have been on Christmas Eve, but my father-in-law had been wanting to go there for awhile so we thought it would be a nice Christmas gift. Plus we scored some free tickets so what can I say?

It was quite an experience. Any House of Blues that you go to is going to be decorated very cool. With the quilt tapestry for a stage curtain and the eclectic art on the walls, it was a groovy environment. The food was also quite good (though the coffee had been sitting out awhile and was a bit cold) and I must say the bacon was very tasty. Then the show started. Luckily, about a quarter of the congergation...er, crowd was of the ethnic persuasion so it soon became very lively and gospely. I was quite impressed with how forward the singers were in their proclimation of Jesus as Lord. I remember several times thinking...this is just like church. There's energy, food, and people singing to Jesus. Sure, you have to pay 50 duckets to get in, but hey, that's less then my average offering per week. This is kinda neat.

That same afternoon we went to a church service near our house. We've been to this church several times and now that we live on that side of town, we will probably start attending. Of course, being Christmas Eve, they were doing their big Christmas production. After a few songs of the obligatory Christmas worship, the bulk of the service consisted of a drama about an unwed mother trying to win a car when a fellow contestant befriends her and tells her about Jesus. There are some more details in there, but I think you get the idea. It was all very well done with first class production. I think it's safe to say that everyone who left that day felt good about who they were and that Jesus was a baby and then were soon distracted by the hustle and bustle of the night before Christmas.

This past weekend, we (the in-laws and my wife and I) traveled to Indianapolis to watch the mighty Colts defeat the hapless Dolphins. (Okay, so they put up a fight, but who cares, we won!) One of my best friends lives on the north side of Indy. He attends a church called Common Grounds. I know, I know, it sounds more like a coffee house than a church, but believe me, it's a church. You can tell too, from the moment you walk into the more than 100 year old cathedral type building to sliding across the wooden pews. It reminds you of the kind of church your grandparents went to when they were growing up. Right down to the beginning of service and a guy on a mic doing a congregational reading of Psalm 104. But then the worship leader got up and grabbed his guitar and we worshiped. Occasionally a second guy would sing with him, but mostly it was just a dude and guitar. I asked my friend if it's always like this, so un-produced. He said not always. He said it's generally different everytime. Even though it was only a dude and a guitar, somehow it seemed more than just a dork who knew five chords. It was somehow very authentic. Then, the music stopped and there was silence for about five minutes. At first I didn't know what was going on, but quickly I realized this was some type of unanounced meditation time. Soon people began getting out of their seats and moving towards the front. Up there they had the communion elements. After communion, the pastor got up and basically said the following:

"We're not going to have a sermon today. I've been praying this whole morning that God would move His Spirit umong us and I think if I try to preach the sermon I've prepared, we won't give Him the opportunity to do it. So I'm going to sit back down and ask the worship leader to lead us in some more songs. The front of the chapel is open to anyone who needs prayer. Or if you just need to get out of the seat to actualize and set in motion some of the feelings in your spirit, come. We are going to worship and we are going to let the Spirit move."

Now, it very well could be that this was a cop out for not writing a good sermon because of the Christmas holiday. Or maybe he had family in town and didn't even attempt one. But I think there was more. I think so because I felt so.

Maybe it'd be neat to say that by the end we were all dancing in the aisles and handling poisonous snakes. Maybe it'd be neat to say that someone started prophesizing and I knew God's specific call on my life. Or maybe it'd be neat to say that a lame person was healed or a deaf could now hear or even a mute could now speak. Maybe. But what I saw was about a third of the congregation go foward. After that, about another eighth or so came up to pray with them. I saw people hugging and laying their hands on one another. I saw tears and I saw smiles. But most of all, I saw Christ glorified by his people being devoted to prayer and to one another. I knew with those tears and hugs came stories of struggles and of battles and of defeats. But I also knew that with those battles were victories. I knew that daily there were people who call themselves Christians soldiering into the world and taking up the battle right where they were at. This was their refuling station. This was their respite. This was their peace.

It's hard to say that one church experience is "better" than another. I'm not sure anyone but God can know for sure that what happens at any given moment isn't exactly what is supposed to be happening. But I think I've seen a tale of two churches.

I don't have a problem with attrational ministry. I'm probably going to attend a church whose main focus is attrational ministry. I simply find it refreshing that there is a fellowship of people who aren't afraid to not be attrational. To be intentionally un-attrational. And maybe, just maybe, that is the most attracting element of all.