Monday, February 25, 2008

Shout Outs

It's no secret that we've had some "communication issues" at College for a while. Too many people don't know what's going on when it's going on, or even after it's already happened! I don't have nearly as much of a problem with the communication issue as I do with the problem of placing blame. And my problem there is not with who ends up taking the blame, but with the felt need to place blame at all.

The truth is, our poor (but improving) communication is nobody's fault...and everybody's fault!

Just as our elders, deacons, ministers, and ministry leaders could all do a better job of getting the word out about church activities, the church itself could do a much better job of paying attention to bulletins, e-mails, announcements, PowerPoint slides, and so on. We could all do a better job of asking questions and staying involved with churchwide activity and not just our own personal areas of interest.

I had a conversation about a week ago with one of our Children's Education leaders (whose name is Tannon, and whose blog needs some serious work) that led me to a real eye-opener. I believe the main reason these communication issues exist at all is that so many different people are doing so many different things! Now, I gotta be honest, I can't see any way that that is a bad thing! The College Church has always had a high percentage of real involvement and, despite great efforts, people will often not know everything that is going on because so much is going on! And if you don't think I'm excited about that, just look at all the italics I've already used! Not to mention exclamation points!!!

So today I wanted to give a few shout outs to some people who are doing amazing things. This will be the tiptop of the tip of the iceberg.

Our new Youth Ministers, Brandon and Melissa have hit the ground sprinting. I think that anytime a new minister comes into a church there is an automatic energy and excitement. These two servants have taken that freshness and raised it to the power of...y'know...some really big number. And if the growth of the youth group wasn't enough reason to be excited, you should have heard Brandon beat box during worship yesterday. I stood there, beaming, thinking to myself, "A C of C that will put a beat boxer up with the praise team on Sunday morning will do anything to bring the world to Jesus and Jesus to the world." I've never felt more firmly that our traditions are waaaaaayyyyy down on the priority list where they belong...and Christ is occupying the number one spot.

The church website has just gotten a makeover and our dear, sweet Robin has been working hard to make it look great and be incredibly user-friendly and functional. Too few people know about it yet, or visit it regularly, but we're working on that. I truly believe that our servants that put together bulletins, websites, communion trays, and so on cannot receive enough praise.

I had an exhilarating meeting (I know, I know, oxymoron) Saturday morning with an elder, a minister, and a leader of our Children's Education ministry. Wonder of wonders, four men came together and agreed that loving God, loving our neighbors, and bringing the message of Jesus to a lost and broken world ought to be the primary concern of the church! The Children's Ed representative, Shawn, is another great example of a servant. Here is a man with such a heart for children, with such a desire to teach them about Jesus, that he is willing to give up evenings and weekends during a hectic schedule (with a sore neck to boot!) to walk through the doors that God has opened. I am honored to see his example and call him friend.

There are three examples out of...who knows? Let's all fix our eyes on Jesus, encourage each other, and focus on the positive ways our church represents Christ in this world. Let's leave the negatives by the wayside and come alongside each other, showing people what a united body looks like as we do the will and the work of our loving Lord.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


There are a lot of things rolling around in my head lately.

Revamps to the Adult Education Ministry at College. Actually, no such ministry has existed for many years, so "revamp" is the wrong word.

Seminary search.

My job. Teaching. Education in general. And, in specific, the WILD tech training I find myself currently enduring.

Upcoming Emmaus stuff.

Spring Training. This occupies an entire quadrant of my brain. I include in this quadrant all fantasy baseball related thinking.

Preaching curriculum.


As a confirmed NON-multitasker (SINGLEtasker?), I can only focus on one thing at a time, and I'm perfectly willing to admit that the baseball quadrant occupies too much of my consciousness. But today I would rather chuck ALL of that and just focus on my wonderful wife.

Lisa never ceases to amaze me. She is SO smart. She is incredibly gifted and so good at all of her jobs. She is such an example to me of how to treat people, how to love people. She is so supportive of me and my scattered thinking, to the extent of doing a LOT of things she would rather not do. She loves God and models that love to our son. She is a wonderful friend (to many) and my favorite person to spend time with. Yes, even more than Kevin, honey.

She is beautiful. She is sweet. She is fun. She is funny (and that has taken some work, believe me). She is the perfect partner and the love of my life.

So mushy.

I love you, baby. Happy birthday.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Top Secret

I love this picture.

The last shot in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" has been compared to the final image in "Citizen Kane," and rightfully so. It's iconic. It's the perfect ending.

One of the things I loved about the trailer is how much of it was footage from the warehouse. I also loved the "Indy smirk" right at the end. This picture has 'em both.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Geeked Out Fanboy

I was thinking about what my life was like when the LAST Indiana Jones trailer came out, some 17 years ago or so. There were a lot of differences, but none so significant as this: the last time, I wasn't able to prop my son up on my knee and say, "Watch this!"

I must have watched the new trailer 20 times yesterday (often giggling like a madman) but my favorite time, even more than the first time, was the one where James saw the hat and the whip and happily murmured, "Indianda Jones!" That's not a typo, by the way, that's how he says it and I love it too much to correct him.

If you've seen the trailer already, then you know how super-cool it is. Harrison can still pull it off, God bless him, and they haven't forgotten how to make an Indiana Jones movie look like an Indiana Jones movie. Sure, there's some CGI this time (more on that in a minute), and a lot more grey hair, but it's all good because Indy can still swing high, punch hard, and crack wise as well as whips. I'm wild about all the stuff in the warehouse and there's an actual Roswell sighting too!

If you follow the above link to the trailer, you'll see something different than what was on TV, websites, and in American theaters yesterday. There are two significant differences between this trailer (the "director's cut") and the one pervading the airwaves (etherwaves?). First off, the one on the official website, Yahoo, and elsewhere has an American flag cut separating the "old Indy" stuff and the "new Indy" stuff. Huh? What's that got to do with what? I mean, Indy fights Nazis and, now, Cold War Russians. So, I guess it makes sense. Still...huh?

But the second difference troubles me more. And, yes, I'm a nitpicky fanboy and many of you have moved on already because I've got my Indy on and when I do, I tend to ramble but what are you gonna do? If you can download an HD version of the trailer or slowmo it on an HD tv, you'll notice some weird things going on in the scene where Indy and his chubby pal (Ray Winstone) have their hands up and are surrounded by soldiers. Winstone's pants have been CGI'd, as well as Indy's shirt pocket, some soldiers' legs, and other things. It's unnoticeable in a regular viewing but if you watch the thing enough times...or slow it down frame-by-frame which you just knew I'd do, didn't you?'s painfully obvious. Now, if you've watched the linked trailer, you won't see any of that. You'll see...wait for it...guns. Right, guns. They CGI'd the guns out of that scene. Before the movie has even opened, they've already ET'd the darn thing!

I have some thoughts about what those additions/deletions say about America...or at least about the MPAA...but I'll keep them to myself. Instead, I'll just revel in the glow of new Indy and begin the countdown until midnight, May 22.

"Fortune and glory, kid. Fortune and glory."

Thursday, February 14, 2008


I'm not old enough to remember when 3D movies were a phenomenon. I never sat in a theater with my little red and blue glasses on, pretending to be afraid when the Creature From The Black Lagoon reached out a fake foam-covered arm towards the camera. I do remember the glasses though, as they would occasionally come with 3D comics or in an issue of "Cracked." I've even been to a few 3D movies, the most recent being "Superman Returns" where only the last 20 minutes had any 3D effects and they still looked pretty much like the old 3D effects. Sure some things were in the foreground and some things were in the background, but everything still looked flat. There has always been depth to 3D, but up until now it's been one flat plane seemingly closer than other flat planes.

Until now.

Yes, boys and girls, they have finally mastered (or nearly enough) the technology of three dimensional movie making. Can flying cars and a cure for cancer be far behind?

So when I say I went to a U2 concert last night, it's because it truly felt like being at a U2 concert...with the following exceptions:

The sound was better. IMAX surround sound is amazing.

There was no breeze, even though I was apparently outdoors.

I did not feel free to stand, clap, dance, shout, and/or sing along. There were only four of us in the theater and I chose to respect the experience of others.

I would never get seats like that at a real U2 concert. We started out far in the back of the crowd, looking out over all the heads. Then we zoomed up to stageside, looking right up at Bono himself. Suddenly we were onstage next to The Edge as he played guitar. Next we were hovering over the drum kit...and so on and so on. A 5-story tall Bono was slightly unsettling.

I've heard that James Cameron is heavily involved in the development of the 3D medium and that his next movie (believe it or not, his first since "Titanic") will make us of it. I've also heard that George Lucas is planning on yet another re-release of the Star Wars movies, this time in fully realized 3D for IMAX. I have to say, both of those prospects now excite me. They wouldn't have yesterday at this time.

We've come a long way from Count Floyd on "Monster Chiller Horror Theater Presents 3D House of Pancakes." ("Look at that cup! It's coming right out at you!") There's just no way to believe how cool this stuff looks unless you're seeing it at an DVD home release available here. You truly have to see it to believe it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Cat's Outta the Bag

I've written recently about how little traveling we did in 2007. A couple of beach trips and that was about it. I knew that 2008 would be different, far more tropical, but I didn't let on just how different until Sunday night.

Lisa has earned a trip to Maui and the two of us will be spending a week there in May. James has been wanting to see Lego Land, so we will visit San Diego this summer. And for our 10th anniversary, Lisa and I are going to take a cruise to the Mexican Riviera!

I sprung this on her Sunday (because Lisa needs time to plan her business around vacations) and she immediately jumped into high gear. She has a travel agent connection who can get us a lower rate and we talked about who might go with us. I was glad she was so excited because I was already!

It's weird that I have a little guilt about this. I'm planning to start seminary soon and having to get some help with tuition. So all of this traveling seems exorbitant. I find myself defending it all: The Maui trip is free...San Diego is using the vacation budget...I've been saving for the cruise for quite a while. I guess it's odd that I would expect anybody to view our fun-filled year with a raised eyebrow. Still, God hasn't stripped me of all my cynicism yet. He's teaching me to love, even to deeply love, but I still have trouble simply expecting the best of people. I confess that I'm working on that.

On a tangentially-related note, Lisa and I were sad to miss our concert last night (Matthew West, Toby Mac, and Jeremy Camp) due to babysitting woes. But we were SO glad that some well-deserving friends got to go instead. In fact, we had a nice evening together and were really happy to know that others were enjoying the show. To make up for it, I'm going to a U2 concert tonight. I'll file a report tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Two Pictures

Please don't feel the need to write any more captions (unless you just can't help yourself). I just had to post this picture Lisa took during last night's Mother-Son Banquet at James' school.

For more photo fun, take a gander at my buddy Jim's blog. He posted a picture of a long-ago Halloween party where he, our friend Pat, and I dressed up as three versions of Carl from Caddyshack. Jim dressed as Groundskeeper Carl, Pat dressed as Commando Carl, and I dressed as Hazmat Carl (fishing the Baby Ruth outta the swimming pool). I really like that picture.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The Latest Revelation

James and I had (mostly) fun while Lisa was away this weekend. Lego Star Wars may be the greatest father-son video game ever made. We missed Mommy but had our usual fun. I'm happy to say that my boy has overcome many of the behavioral obstacles that had been plaguing him recently. He's not perfect, never will be, but he's such a great kid and he tries so hard. I'm very, very proud of him.

I know I just quoted him a few days ago, but James made another discovery yesterday while watching "Go, Diego, Go!"

"Daddy! Did you know there's a bird made entirely of turkey?"

"Yeah, dude. I knew that."

"The turkey bird."

"That's the one."

Good stuff. Even better, someday I'll be able to remind him that we watched the Patriots end their season 18-1 together. Great game. Great weekend.

Friday, February 01, 2008


Matt Ritchie (of running with the lion ) tagged me yesterday. That means:

Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more. (No cheating!)
Find Page 123.
Find the first 5 sentences.
Post the next 3 sentences.
Tag 5 people.

I have three different locations from which I blog. Since I will have to be at all three today, I thought I'd personalize my tagging and respond from each.

From the table in my classroom (where I sit and watch my poor freshmen struggle with their Algebra exam):

"How would I persist against positive eroding forces if I were not drawing on invisible forces? And patience has a positive tonic effect on others; because of the presence of the patient person, they revive and go on, as if he were the gyroscope of the ship providing a stable ground. But the patient person himself does not enjoy it." (Eugene Peterson quoting Paul Goodman in "A Long Obedience in the Same Direction")

From my desk in the Math Department workroom:

"Knowing the derivatives of the sine and cosine functions, you can use the Quotient Rule to find the derivatives of the four remaining trigonometric functions. The summary below shows that much of the work in obtaining a simplified form of a derivative occurs after differentiating. Note that two characteristics of a simplified form are the absence of negative exponents and the combining of like terms." (You can guess this one on your own.)

From my desk at home:

"The manna was like coriander seed and looked like resin. The people went around gathering it, and then ground it in a handmill or crushed it in a mortar. They cooked it in a pot or made it into cakes." (You can probably guess this one too.)

Thanks, Matt. My turn to tag.

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