12/31/2006

Deeper Into Mordor...












I just keep tumbling down the rabbit hole...

Tour De Southern Food: Day 9...

Today's tale is one of disappointment and despair. Have your sad face emoticons ready. Editor's Note: You might be wondering where Day 8 of this post series has gone... Believe it or not, I actually just stayed in the whole day and did the cereal and sandwich thing. More on this situation later...

Today, I decided that it was time to accomplish one of my new life goals: Go to (and eat at) restaurants owned by chefs/hosts on the Food Network. Living in the south, the closest restaurant fitting this category is The Lady & Sons, owned by Paula Deen. I've been planning this for at least two months and today was the day!

So, Tommy and I made the 2 1/2 hour drive down to Savannah, GA to enjoy some amazing southern cooking. However, upon arrival, we were greeted with this:
We found out that you have to stand in line just to put your name in for a chance to eat. Well, long story (and wait) short, we didn't get in. When we finally got to the front of the line, we were told by the hostess that they were booked solid for the night. Here's the sign:
Yeah. I know. It sucked.

So, ever the idealist, I knew that the trip could be salvaged. Enter a little thing I like to call "Plan B". We did seafood on the river at a place called Fiddler's Crab House. Here's a pic of my meal (salmon) and our view (the Savannah River):
Not too bad, eh?

On the way back to the car, we stopped back by The Lady & Sons and snuck inside to look around. Here's a pic:

So, the dream is postponed a bit. But, I won't give up. It will happen. As an added bonus, on the way home, we stopped to get gas and found these two guys next to us:
It's always good to see two giant elephants on your way home from a great (if not first choice) dinner...

12/29/2006

World Series of Pop Culture: Do Board Games Have Ratings...

Cue the training montage! I have begun my training for our audition for the WSoPC. And how does one train for such an elite competition? Glad you asked...

First, you have to get up at the crack of lunch time everyday. Second, you have to put on a gray sweatsuit and blue knit cap. Third, crack two eggs into a glass. Fourth, pour those eggs into a frying pan, scramble them, make some bacon, sit down on the couch and turn on the TV. Editor's Note: This was actually the original training montage in Rocky Balboa, but they cut it due to pending legal action from yours truly over trademark dispute.

Actually, to begin my training, I bought Trivial Pursuit Pop Culture 2. Surprisingly, this game has an amazing variety of topics. I played with my buddy Tommy two nights ago and barely won. (What can I say? He learned from the best...)

But, like any inherent champion, my training must be around the clock. So, during the late nights, I break out the Trivial Pursuit cards while I watch TV. You know, just to keep the mind sharp.

Well, tonight I came across a trivia question that is quite disturbing. In the TV category, the game asks: "What does Elmo lift to reveal Mr. Noodle?" Now, I haven't watched Sesame Street in quite some tim, so I wouldn't color myself a fan. As a result of this, I might be missing out on some contextual subtleties. But, as an outsider, upon reading this question, I can't help but be led to believe that Elmo may have some type of exhibitionist fetish. Is Elmo a sexual deviant? Does the moral authority from which Sesame Street has spoken from for so long now need to be called into question? I don't know. I'll leave it for the FBI to investigate.

Wait... My bad. Turns out the answer to the question is "His window shade". Hmm... I might have overreacted... Maybe they should print both the question and the answer on the same side of the card to avoid similar mistakes in the future...

12/28/2006

Tour De Southern Food: Day 7...

Tonight was CiCi's Pizza. Not only is it an all you can eat pizza buffet, but they have all kinds of weird pizza too. Tonight I had Macaroni & Cheese Pizza, Buffalo Chicken Pizza, and Apple Cinnamon dessert Pizza. And, for the first time I can remember, I conquered my "all you can eat mental block". This is, of course, when I can eat quite a bit at a normal place, but as soon as I go to an all you can eat place, I can only eat one plate's worth. Yeah, tonight I put down 4 plates...

Dr. Emmett Brown, Hope, and the Breton Fisherman's Prayer...

I decided to stay in today (because my mom and step-dad took both of the cars this morning) and continue watching The West Wing Season 6. One of the reasons why I love this show so much is that it has so many gems of wisdom concerning leadership and life. Here are some gems that I found today:

*Here is a excerpt from a speech given by Jimmy Smits' character, Congressman Mattew Santos, when he declared his candidacy for the Presidency...

"And I'm here to tell you that hope is real. In a life of trials, in the world of challenges, hope is real. In a country where families go without healthcare, where some go without food, some don't even have a home to speak of, hope is real. In a time of global chaos and instability where our faiths collide, as often as our weapons, hope is real. Hope is what gives us the courage to take on our greatest challenges, to move forward together. We live in cynical times, I know that. But hope is not up for debate. There is such a thing as false science, there is such a thing as false promises, I am sure I will have my share of false starts. But there is no such thing as false hope. There is only hope."

*In an episode entitled "Faith-Based Initiative", one of the last scenes shows President Josiah Bartlet (Martin Sheen) struggling to regain his balance after an MS attack. He uses crutches to walk to his desk where he drops the crutches and tries to stand on his own. In the forground of the shot is a desk plaque reading "O Lord, your sea is so great, and my boat is so small." This was actually a sign that JFK had on his desk. You can read all about it (and even order one of your own here. For some reason, this small sign struck me as a reminder of how big God is, how small I am, and how much I need Him.

*Christopher LLoyd (Dr. Emmett Brown from Back To the Future) appeared in an episode entitled "The Wake Up Call". The whole time he was on screen I was hoping he would get flustered and exclaim "Great Scott!"...

12/27/2006

Do You Have Your Tickets...

Today I participated in a rite of passage that every southern man goes through at some time in their life.

I went gun shopping.

Now, having grown up in the south, I have shot guns before. In fact, I have shot guns of various shapes and sizes. I even own guns. Editor's Note: Don't freak out! One of them was passed down from my Granddaddy and the other is a Red Ryder BB Gun. Both of them are locked up in a closet in my house here in South Carolina.

So, as I was saying, tonight I went with two of my friends who I grew up in youth group with as one of them shopped for his first gun. We held a lot of different types of hand guns. We talked about weights and "stopping power". We heard words like "30 ought 6", "magnum", and "25 minute long waiting period". Editor's Note: Yeah, that last one scared me a bit too.

My two buddies talked guns for the majority of the time we were there. I got into a discussion with the salesman about Dirty Harry...

Tour De Southern Food: Day 6...

This is for Steve Faiai. Today I went to one of my favorite delis in the entire world. Groucho's Deli has a sandwich called the STP Dipper which, put simply, will change your life. It comes with a dipping sauce called Formula 45. Everytime I come home, or someone from home visits me in Cali, I ask them to bring me some of this sauce. Steve, you have some coming home for you...

Tour De Southern Food: Day 5...

I haven't always worked with Middle Schoolers. One summer, before my junior year of college, I worked at a day camp at First Baptist Church of Hilton Head teaching Bible to fourth graders. It was a super tough summer (for many reasons). But one of the things that made it a whole lot easier was the Wild Wing Café. Eating at this place was one of my favorite things about that summer. And imagine my delight when I found out that they had opened a couple of them in Columbia. Uh-mazing! They have something like 31 flavors of wings, of which the Colorado Coppers are my favorite.

Let me be honest with you guys: I'm going to have to hit the gym SUPER hardcore when I get back to San Diego to work off all of this great food...

12/26/2006

Tour De Southern Food: Day 4...

Christmas Dinner: Southern Style.
This, my friends, is how it's done.

1) Deviled Eggs

2) Potato Salad

3) Vegetable Casserole

4) Baked Squash

5) Dressing

6) Maccaroni & Cheese

7) Deep Fried Cajun Turkey (White Meat)

8) Baked Turkey (Dark Meat)

9) Baked Turkey (White Meat)

10) Deep Fried Cajun Turkey (Dark Meat)

11) Sweet Potatoes

12) White Rice

13) Butter Beans

14) Hmm... Some kind of Zucchini thing...


Boo Ya...

Tour De Southern Food: Day 3...

Ok, so I know that, technically, Sonic is not a southern food, as it has locations all over these United States. But, I can't get it in San Diego (The nearest one is 2 1/2 hours away) and this is my blog. Not only does Sonic have amazing food (Chili Cheese Coney and Tater Tots!) but they are the KING of drinks! Vanilla... Diet... Dr. Pepper...

So, my diet is completely blown since I came home, but man I love this food! Oh how I love this state...

12/25/2006

Important Thoughts #3...

I can't help, since it is Christmas morning (well, technically afternoon now), to think about the nature of this holiday celebration; of how it is all born out of God's great love for us. How, two thousand years ago, the thousands of years of set-up allowed the time to be just right for God to send His son to rescue us from ourselves and restore our relationship with Him to what it once was in the garden: naked. But not just physically nude. Naked emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. When you're naked you can't hide anything. You can't hold anything back. You are completely vulnerable and open. (Why do you think so many killers attack people in the shower in movies?) That's how it used to be with us in our relationship with God, and with each other.

Donald Miller has something to say about this in Searching For God Knows What. I just finished this morning! Chapter 14: Page 226...

Anything less than this complete trust...would not be love, anything less than pure trust would be a kind of careful negotiation. And careful negotiation isn't love. A person must be willing to be dashed on the rocks or made the fool in exchange for a relationship in order for pure love to take place. And in our spirituality, anything less indicates a question of God's character.

Robots In Disguise...

The fact that I haven't posted this already shows that either A) I am actually growing out of my superhero/comic book/cartoon phase, or B) I just forgot. Probably the later. So, here you are: the newest Transformers trailer. And the best part is, that it proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that this movie will rock your face off! This is what happens when Steven Spielberg gets involved in something. For a good comparison, see episodes I and II vs. episode III. Autobots, transform...

12/24/2006

Home Sweet Home...

...equals the guy that I saw buying boiled peanuts outside of Wal*Mart today. I've also decided that a tucked in polo shirt, semi-tight jeans, boots, and a baseball cap (fish hook optional) comprise the required unifrom of a typical southern dude. And I thought that I was fashionably impaired...

12/23/2006

Welcome To the O.C...

So, today I finished the first season of The O.C..

Now, let me qualify everything I am about to say with this: I'm watching this show for two reasons. 1) Allison threatened to brake up the band if I didn't. And 2) I decided that it would be good training for the WSoPC. But, after finishing season 1, I have decided that I have to make sure that Seth Cohen is alright.

You'll notice that, in the above diagram, things are getting darker as they move farther into the series. This is not a commentary on the plot of the show, but rather my opinion of myself as I watch more and more of it. I think that I might be decending farther into the seven circles of Hell.

Good news? I just met Lindsay...

Tour De Southern Food: Day 2...

And now, the greatest one of all! I have said many times that, if given the chance to decide on my last meal on the earth, I would get it from the place that I ate at today: Rush's. Not only do I love the food from this place as much as I love Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes and Banana Spring Rolls, but I also got kicked out of it once in high school. Meal of the day (and, if need be, last of my life): Chili Cheeseburger Basket, ketchup/mustard only on the burger, no slaw, extra fries. My gosh I love the food in my state...

Rocky Balboa...

"Ain't nothing over 'till it's over."

I don't care how cheesy you might think Sylvester Stallone movies are. If you're a guy, you are required by law to watch this movie.

Rocky Balboa
Running Time: 1 hr. 42 mins.
Directed By: Sylvester Stallone
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Burt Young, Milo Ventimiglia

This is going to be a short review, as I am quite tired, but I wanted to make sure I got it down.

What follows is a SPOILER FREE review.

Rocky Balboa has now been retired for some time, but feels like something is missing from his life since the death of his wife, Adrian. After seeing a special report on a computerized matchup between him and present boxing champ, Mason "The Line" Dixon, he decides to step back into the ring against a few small-time boxers. Everything changes, however, when Rocky is offered the opportunity to step in the ring with the champ. Does Rocky still have the eye of the tiger?

So, what was good?
-The usual funny quips, montage training scene, and fight to the finish are there. And in full Rocky awesomeness!

-Milo Ventimiglia is great as Rocky's son.

But...
-Well, one of the things that made the Rocky movies great was the prescence of a great conflict. But, in this movie, Rocky and the champ are fighting an exhibition. It doesn't mean anything for either of them to win. So, you have no reason to care about the outcome of the fight.

-The beginning is a little slow, but the pace picks up as the movie goes on. I just wish that there would've been some story developed between Rocky and Dixon.


And so, to Rocky Balboa, I give the honor of being awarded with a certified 3 Yarmulke™ rating.


I think that, for anyone who was a fan of the first 4 Rocky movies (because nobody likes the 5th), and any guys, this is a must see movie, if for no other reason than to close out the series on a high note. I would say, opening night movie for die hard fans, first week for everyone else.

12/22/2006

Tour De Southern Food: Day 1...

Every year, when I make the trek back to South Carolina, I get most excited about eating at all of my favorite restaurants. I love a lot of things about California, but one thing that I will continue to say is that Californians do not know how to eat. Allison has a series of posts on her blog about her favorite restaurants, so I thought that, while I was home, I would post about my faves too.

The Tour De Southern Food began today with a place called Maurice's Piggy Park. Now, I should qualify this post with this: Maurice Bessinger, the owner of this chain of restaurants, is an outspoken and quite controversial person in South Carolina. This post is an endorsment of his food, not his beliefs.

Maurice's is famous all over the south for it's Carolina Gold brand of barbeque sauce. It's different from traditional barbeque sauce because it's mustard based. So it's yellow. I love the barbeque from this place and I've had my aunt bring me bottles of the sauce when she came out to California. So I had to make sure that I hit this place up while I was home.

Below is a sample of what I had:
Here's a break down of some of the items for those who aren't as versed in southern food:

1) Hush Puppies: These things are basically fried pieces of cornmeal. A.K.A. amazing!

2) Barbeque Hash and Rice: I'm not exactly sure what hash is. It has the consistency of spaghetti meat sauce. I think it's made using pork and barbeque sauce. You put it on rice to eat. I should probably not ask too many questions.

All in all, an amazing meal that was only made better by the fact that it was an all you can eat buffet...

Brand New Blog Design...

So... I decided to try out a new blog design. What do you guys think? Dump it or keep it? Or, and Josh Peters and Griffin I'm looking your way, any ideas for further improvements...

Polkarama...

I have never been a dude who backs away from admitting his love for "Weird" Al Yankovic. In fact, and I can't recall whether or not I've said this before, he was the first cassette tape I ever owned. So, because I am on the east coast and still on California time, I have spent the better part of tonight watching the O.C. and surfing the internet. (I arrived home to find out Mom had gotten wireless!) Here's something I found that is sure to change your life forever. It's "Weird" Al's polka version of a lot of the hit songs from last year. Watch it, but stay with it until the rap songs come up. A polka version of "Drop It Like It's Hot" might be the funniest thing I've ever heard...

No Wonder Santa Uses Reindeer...

Wow. Today is finally over. Thank you Jesus! Here's a brief shot of how my day was supposed to go:

5:15am PST- I get to the airport.

6:18- Depart for Chicago, IL.

2:30pm CST- Arrive in Chicago, IL.

3:45- Depart for Columbia, SC.

7:30 EST- Arrive in Columbia, SC. Start eating...

Here's how it actually went:

5:15am PST- I get to the airport.

5:27- I find out that, due to bad weather, my flight has been canceled. So, they put me on as a standby (which is latin for "passenger who has been forgotten about") to another flight to Chicago.

6:18- The flight fills up and I miss it.

6:18-8:59- I wait patiently in line to be assisted in finding an alternative route to get home.

9:15- I find out my only option is to fly to Cincinnati, OH and spend the night, flying to Columbia in the morning. I am not stoked.

9:45- I decide to roll the dice and ask to be put on a standby list for a flight to Atlanta, GA, in hopes that I can catch one of many flights departing from there to Columbia that night.

9:45-11:30- I wait patiently to find out if I can get on the flight.

11:57- I get on the flight.

8:00pm EST- Arrive in Atlanta, GA.

9:45- Depart for Columbia, SC.

10:30- Arrive in Columbia, SC. Collapse from exhaustion and hatred for airline travel.

Now, for you to properly understand the horror that my day entailed, I would have to tell you a tale involving horrible customer service, many, many people crying beside their gates, me knowing more about the airline business than most of the people who work for United and Delta, and worst of all; people who have absolutely NO concept of personal space.

But, it's Christmas, and I won't soil your holiday joy. I'm home. And for now, that's good enough...

12/20/2006

Happy Chrismukkah...

Tomorrow morning at 6:18, I will be making my yearly pilgrimage back to South Carolina. I'll be home for ten days. I'm not sure if I've ever thought this before: "I can't wait to get back to the east coast and away from this cold weather in southern California." I might be in an episode of the Twilight Zone.

On a side note, Allison Hibbard is a bad person. As a teammate of mine in my bid for total domination in the World Series of Pop Culture, she has, obviously, gained my trust and respect. But, she has now used threats and ultimatums to force me to watch season 1 of The O.C. Can you believe that she would threaten me with disbanding team "Cherry, Get Out of the Fridge!" if I didn't watch this dvd set?

At least one good thing has come out of it: Anna. Ohhh, Anna.

Anyway, expect a bit of blog silence while I'm home. I'll post as much as I can, but my mom still has dial-up. I know. I hear next week we might be getting indoor plumbing...

12/17/2006

Wii Have a Problem...

For some reason, whenever the newest gaming consoles come out, I always seem to pick the less successful one. When it was Super Nintendo vs. Sega Genesis, I picked Sega Genesis. When it was Sony Playstation vs. Nintendo 64, I picked Nintendo 64. When it was Playstation 2 vs. Xbox, I picked Xbox. Actually, I was rather happy with that decision. Anyway, once again the console war has started with the release of the Xbox 360, PS3, and Nintendo Wii. So, I am faced with a decision.

I must admit that I have, for the most part, already made up my mind. I want an Xbox 360. This way, I get all the glory of GTA coupled with the indispensable student ministry mainstay, HALO. But, lately I've thought about changing my mind. I mean the PS3 has a built in Blu-ray DVD player. And the Wii... Oh, the Wii.

There's a mall just around the corner from my apartment. In this mall, they have a Wii station set up with about 6 Wii available to play with anytime during regular business hours. Editor's Note: Those of you who think that I could have typed that last sentance without giggling CLEARLY don't know me. And I have to say, the Wii is awesome.

Just this past Thursday I was with some old friends from Orange County and three of the dudes are getting Wiis for Christmas.

I don't know... Maybe it's the peer pressure.

But, to combat the social pressure to conform to what is popular, and for the safety of you, the reader, I bring you wiihaveaproblem.com. It's a website dedicated to reporting all the latest news concerning Wii-related injuries. Allison, should I have just said Wii-lated injuries?

Are any of the other consoles causing bodily harm to their users? Does this mean that the Wii cannot be considered "user-friendly"? Is it now considered "user-hostile"? Does this even matter since you, as Link in the new Zelda game, can take a break and go fishing using fishing motions on their nunchuck control?

Let's not even talk about the possibility of another Mario Kart game...

12/16/2006

World Series of Pop Culture: Let the Countdown Begin...

I received a phone call from the World Series of Pop Culture on Tuesday. Here's how the beginning of the conversation went:

Me: Hello, this is Josh.

WSoPC: Hello, this is the World Series of Pop Culture.

WSoPC: What?! Really?

They were calling to confirm our audition time. Josh, Allison, and I will begin our conquest on January 26th in the year of our Lord 2007 at 9am at the Le Meridien Beverly Hills.

I'm beginning my training while home in South Carolina for Christmas.

Very soon the world will know...

12/15/2006

This Also Gives Me Hope...

I found another video made by Lasse Gjertsen tonight. This time he tackles the art of beatboxing. Tonight, I make a declaration: I will make a video like this. And it will be amazing...

12/13/2006

This Gives Me Hope...

So... I would consider myself a musician. But not a great one. Here's a video of a guy who can't play the drums or the piano, but can edit video using Final Cut. He uses the program to make himself rock. This video gives me hope...

Today Was a Good Day...

Here are some interesting things about today:

1) This morning, when I went to Target to puchase my copy of Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, I saw a woman walking out of the store wearing a Barry Manilow concert t-shirt. "Josh," you may ask, "why is that blog-worthy?" Well, dear readers, it's blog-worthy because it may, in fact, be the first time that someone has ever shown their support of the Copacabana singer in public in t-shirt form. I always thought that the concert t-shirt was reserved exclusively for Lynyrd Skynyrd, Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley, and others of their ilk. I had no idea Manilow-moes rolled that way.

2) I also saw an old man sitting in his car in the passenger seat all alone. I thought to myself, "I hope when I'm old my wife lets me go into Target with her."

3) Our annual Church Staff Christmas Lunch was today. Every year, our pastor treats us to an amazing lunch at a restaurant called the Boathouse down past the airport. He also gets us some pretty rockin' gifts. This year, it was a Logitech mm50 Portable Speakers for iPod. Mmm Hmmm...

4) One of our pastors celebrated being at our church for 10 years. Not a common thing, unfortunately, in most churches. Congrats Rod. You're truly one of my heroes man...

12/11/2006

What's In a Name...

I found this on the internets tonight. It's a list of 33 things that you never knew had names. I'm going to try and figure out a way to use everyone of these names in a conversation in the next week. Below, you will find the list.

Oh yeah, and the picture to the left is a game too. Click on it and see if you can name all of the bands depicted using pictoral symbols...

33 Things That You Never Knew Had Names

1) AGLET - The plain or ornamental covering on the end of a shoelace.

2)ARMSAYE - The armhole in clothing.

3)CHANKING - Spat-out food, such as rinds or pits.

4)COLUMELLA NASI - The bottom part of the nose between the nostrils.

5)DRAGÉES - Small beadlike pieces of candy, usually silver-coloured, used for decorating cookies, cakes and sundaes.

6)FEAT - A dangling curl of hair.

7)FERRULE - The metal band on a pencil that holds the eraser in place.

8)HARP - The small metal hoop that supports a lampshade.

9)HEMIDEMISEMIQUAVER - A 64th note. (A 32nd is a demisemiquaver, and a 16th note is a semiquaver.)

10)JARNS,

11)NITTLES,

12)GRAWLIX,

13)and QUIMP - Various squiggles used to denote cussing in comic books.

14)KEEPER - The loop on a belt that keeps the end in place after it has passed through the buckle.

15)KICK or PUNT - The indentation at the bottom of some wine bottles. It gives added strength to the bottle but lessens its holding capacity.

16)LIRIPIPE - The long tail on a graduate's academic hood.

17)MINIMUS - The little finger or toe.

18)NEF - An ornamental stand in the shape of a ship.

19)OBDORMITION - The numbness caused by pressure on a nerve; when a limb is `asleep'.

20)OCTOTHORPE - The symbol `#' on a telephone handset. Bell Labs' engineer Don Macpherson created the word in the 1960s by combining octo-, as in eight, with the name of one of his favourite athletes, 1912 Olympic decathlon champion Jim Thorpe.

21)OPHRYON - The space between the eyebrows on a line with the top of the eye sockets.

22)PEEN - The end of a hammer head opposite the striking face.

23)PHOSPHENES - The lights you see when you close your eyes hard. Technically the luminous impressions are due to the excitation of the retina caused by pressure on the eyeball.

24)PURLICUE - The space between the thumb and extended forefinger.

25)RASCETA - Creases on the inside of the wrist.

26)ROWEL - The revolving star on the back of a cowboy's spurs.

27)SADDLE - The rounded part on the top of a matchbook.

28)SCROOP - The rustle of silk.

29)SNORKEL BOX - A mailbox with a protruding receiver to allow people to deposit mail without leaving their cars.

30)SPRAINTS - Otter dung.

31)TANG - The projecting prong on a tool or instrument.

32)WAMBLE - Stomach rumbling.

33)ZARF - A holder for a handleless coffee cup.

12/10/2006

World Series of Pop Culture: A New Name...

Just wanted to give a little update on what's going on with this. We changed our team name from "Where's Waldo Geraldo Faldo?" to "Cherry, Get Out of the Fridge!". It's a reference to Punky Brewster. Thanks Jake...

How Do You Stop a Man From Exploding: Chapter 4...

Are you still with me? Good. Just imagine if I would have posted this as one entry…

When we last left the search, I had concluded that, after asking all kinds of things about my destiny (“What is destiny?”, “Is it possible to know mine?”, “Could I even handle knowing it?”), I had been asking the wrong questions (or maybe pursuing the wrong answer) the whole time. I didn’t really want to know my destiny. But, throughout all the time I spent thinking, reading, researching, and writing on the topic, the things that I learned acted as a kind of mirror. They allowed me to see something in myself, something I lack, that I had never really noticed before.

I don’t trust God.

That’s the punch line. Here’s the joke:

As I was in the process of thinking through all of this stuff about destiny, a couple of things happened which made my thinking take a hard left.

I’ve said before that I’ve been reading Donald Miller’s book, Searching For God Knows What. It’s not uncommon for me to be confronted with new, thought provoking and sometimes convicting ideas when I read Miller. But, a couple of weeks ago I read something that made me stop. In Chapter nine, page 137, Miller writes:

“…I know how very long it has taken me to trust completely in Christ and to understand the ramifications of my relationship with him.”

Upon my initial reading of this, I must admit that it kind of blended in with the rest of the text. But, about a day or two later, for some reason, the statement popped back into my mind. The more that I thought about it the more that it bothered me.

For the better part of the last twelve years I would characterize myself as having been quite a cynical person. I know, after many talks with some of my most trusted friends and mentors (and a lot of time), that this is a result of my feelings of fear associated with intimacy, vulnerability, and abandonment that I have as a result of my Dad leaving our home, and for the most part our lives, when I was fourteen. What do you do when the person you trust the most in your life decides that they would rather not deal with the hassle of being in a relationship with you full-time anymore? As good of an answer as you just came up with, try to deal with that question with a fourteen-year-old mind.

I’ve said before that I believe trust to be the currency of relationships. Deep, healthy, lasting relationships are costly and, as such, require trust. Trust, much like a plant, takes time to grow. Therefore, in order for any relationship to have trust, you have to water it with time. Most people begin new relationships by offering a kind of trust “start up kit”. For instance, on a scale of one to ten (10 being total trust. 1 being an absence of it.) most people, at the beginning of a relationship, offer up a five level of trust. This trust, with time, can grow deeper if we want it to. It can only be taken away if someone in whom you place it doesn’t meet your expectations of what you think someone at their trust level should be doing.

This is the logical, and normal, way that relationships should work. It isn’t, however, how my relationships work.

For me, because of my past hurt, everyone starts out at about a 2 or a 3. (I’m saying this, knowing that it’s something that’s broken in me.) It takes quite a bit of time for me to trust someone. Not to mention what it would require for me to completely trust them. For me, trust is an arduous process; one that I have to work at.

But, for some reason, I think it shouldn’t be that way with God. For some reason, I‘ve always operated under the broken philosophy that trust with God should be immediately and completely given. As a result of this, whenever I’ve had trouble trusting God; putting my “faith” in Him as church talk would say, I’ve beaten myself up. “How could I be so immature?” Or the more recent, “How could a pastor have trouble trusting God?” These are questions that have lived in my mind for years. Add to this my propensity for comparing myself to my colleagues and you have a killer recipe for guilt.

Why would I think that trust in people should be doled out over time, but trust in God should be given 100% up front? This is what was bumping around inside my brain when I talked to Bethany.

As we sat in the worship center after one of our Friday night services, we discussed our upcoming Middle School Christmas Dinner. So far, we’d only had ten students sign up and we were a week away. I told her that unless we doubled in sign-ups that Sunday, I was going to cancel the event. Bethany told me that she didn’t think that we were going to get ten more sign-ups. She thought we were going to get twenty. “Wow”, I said. “I wish that I had the gift of faith that you have.” That’s when everything that I had been thinking about for the past couple of weeks snapped back into play.

A little while ago, I had my staff take a spiritual gifts test. The interesting thing about taking one of these tests is that you’re tempted to take it so that you end up with the gifts that you want, rather than being honest and seeing which gifts you actually have. I was surprised at some of the results of my copy of the test. However, it wasn’t until my conversation with Bethany that I began to think about what I wasn’t gifted with.

A new question rang through my mind. Is it necessary for a pastor to have the gift of faith? And, if so, could you pray to receive a spiritual gift that you hadn’t been given?

You see; this is where my search had led. This is the punch line. What is faith but trusting God?

I realized that I don’t trust God completely. Don’t get me wrong, I trust God sometimes, just not all of the time. I think it’s because I’m afraid that God is going to let me down like my dad did. But that’s not God. The strange thing about it is that, even though He didn’t have to, God has proven himself to me time and time again. And yet, I’m still afraid to let go of all of my chips and actually trust that God will see me through.

Donald Miller says that we serve a relational God. Our God is deeply longing to walk with us as a partner in our lives. I’m not sure if my understanding of relationship should change when concerning God or people. But I am sure of this: I’m tired of holding back. I’m tired of a kind of cautious, cynical faith that will give God a little expecting Him to show a return before trusting Him with a lot. That’s a backwards faith. And I’m tired of it.

Lord, I’m ready to go all in. But I do declare that I’m scared. Help me to have the strength to trust you with all that I have. Help me have a brand new kind of faith, a kind that gives you everything, even when I don’t think I can. Help me to lean on your strength. Help me to leave my destiny in Your hands…

My 2006 Christmas List...

I promise that I'm not posting this because I am so vain as to think that those of you who read this blog actually want to get me a gift. It just so happens that this is an easy way for my family to access it and for me to show them pictures.

But if you did want to buy me something...

1) A Folee XM Booqbag

2) A nice set of cookware, knives, and utensils (Not another set from Wal-Mart! I'm training for the Iron Chef!) Hmm... maybe this is better off bought online and shipped to me in CA. I'm not sure how well a knife set would get through security at the airport.

3) A white Bose SoundDock

4) The Office: Season 2 DVD

5) Songs From the Labyrinth and Ten Summoner's Tales CDs by Sting

6) Continuum CD by John Mayer

7) The West Wing: The Complete Series DVD Boxed Set This is cheaper if bought off of amazon.com. That way, you don't pay tax or shipping!

8) Superman Ultimate Collector's Edition DVD

9) Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest: Two-Disc Collector's Edition DVD

10) A Green Bay Packers' Cheesehead

11) The Godfather DVD Collection

12) House, M.D.: Season 2 DVD

13) A Gift Certificate for a cooking class with Sam the Cooking Guy

14) Alton Brown's Plunger and Plunger Jr. Set

15) Gift Certificates to Gap or American Eagle

16) Gift Certificates to Barnes and Noble or Borders

12/06/2006

How Do You Stop a Man From Exploding: Chapter 3...

In my search for destiny, I’ve examined the definition of the word, but was unable to narrow it down to more than two meanings. I tend to lean more towards a directional definition over an isolated event. But, in the end, I suspect it somehow involves both.

In looking at the life of Christ, I wondered if he knew his destiny. Did he know about the cross? He, of course, knew the prophecies. But did he know the exact details? And, if he did or didn’t, did he know all of the steps that he was to take in order to get there? And, if so, when did he find out? How did he find out? Was it revealed all at once, or a little at a time?

In my search for destiny, and through all of these questions, rather than discovering the answers, I have stumbled upon two, more personal, queries.

1) Is it possible, be it event or direction, for us to know our destiny?

-AND-

2) If we did know, could we handle it?

Is it possible, be it event or direction, for us to know our destiny?
I believe that, at times, it is possible for us to know a piece of our destinies: be it a step in the journey or a “life’s calling”. This would, of course lend itself more toward the directional definition of destiny.

I don’t necessarily think it possible to know our destiny in an event sense of the word though. Not because I don’t believe that God hasn’t or won’t share with us that information (as I’m sure there has to have been an exception to this), but because I’m not sure that we would be able to handle that type of information.

If we did know, could we handle it?
I think that, in the directional sense of the word, we could. I suppose that if we look at our directional destiny as our “life’s calling”, chances are, especially if you’re in ministry, you’re dealing with it already. But, what if we were to look at it in the event sense of the word?

Let’s say that our destiny is all about one event. And, somehow, we found out about that event long before it is set to take place. What would you do? My guess is that it would have a lot to do with whether or not you approved of what you found out.

Something Bad
Let’s say that God were to send you a text message containing information revelatory of your exact purpose for being on earth. But, instead of it being a noble act of heroism or sacrifice, it’s something embarrassing and seemingly pointless: something that you deem undesirable. What would you do with that information?

If you’re anything like me, you might spend a good deal of time in the beginning bargaining with God; trying to change his mind. Once you got past that stage, you would probably become depressed, feeling somewhat powerless to control or have any say in your future. Finally, you would probably either run away or hide out; trying to avoid whatever dismal future is in store.

So, if knowing our destiny (albeit, one that we don’t like) produces less than courageous and noble results, what would knowing our destiny look like if we approved?

Something Good
Ok, same scenario: text message from God. This time, however, you discover that your destiny is to become a world famous author: Purpose Driven Life 2: Tokyo Drift. Billions of copies sold. Billions of lives changed. Billions of dollars made. What would you do?

Perhaps you would become complacent. My guess is that the majority of us, if we found out far in advance, would shrug off our responsibilities. I know that I might be inclined to think that, if my future is already determined, and it turns out pretty sweet, then I would have license to do as I please. Unfortunately, I can’t be sure that I would maintain a level of faithfulness, righteousness, and holy discontent such that it would propel me forward towards God. Why would I? I already know I’m going to be great.

So, at least in my own case, it appears as if knowing my destiny (mostly in an event sense, although, somewhat in a directional sense) would not be the best thing for me. On one hand, were I to disapprove; I would run and hide from what I knew was coming. On the other hand, were I to approve; I would possibly feel no personal responsibility to remain faithful to the things that I now value.

So it would appear as if my search for destiny has led me to the conclusion that, were I to actually find out what it is, I could not be trusted to handle the information properly. Time wasted? Nope. Upon arriving at this conclusion and processing it for a while, I realized that I had been asking the wrong question all along. I thought I was searching for destiny, when all along what I really wanted; what I really needed, was faith…

Body Double...

And now, for your viewing pleasure: I present hair style-based dares. Is it a body double? You decide...

How Do You Stop a Man From Exploding: Chapter 2...

In my search for destiny, I felt like I had to start with the foundational definition of the word.

What is destiny?

I think that, traditionally, I’ve always seen destiny as something like our future. (See figure 1)






Destiny would be anything that happens to the right of the Men’s room guy.

I felt a bit of dissatisfaction with this definition. I don’t know why, but I felt like it could be focused more.

So, in an effort to hone in on destiny’s more concise meaning, I decided that I needed to examine a case study. And if there was ever a man whose life seemed to have such an obvious presence of destiny, it was Jesus. During his entire adult ministry life, as recorded in the gospels, he was aware of a grander plan (God’s plan) for his life. In fact, it would seem that, even as a young boy, he was aware that his life was meant for something more. (See Luke 2)

But in looking at the life of Christ, I began to wonder this: Yes, I can see that destiny would have everything to do with our life in the future. But is destiny an event or a direction?

Destiny: The Event
Some people would look at the life of Christ and say that, undoubtedly; his destiny was to die on the cross. They would say that his entire life was meant for this one act of sacrifice. He was born and then lived his life, all for the purpose of becoming the atonement for our great sin.

This definition of destiny would see it as an isolated incident. A one time act. (See figure 2)
Kind of like climbing a mountain. You climb up and up and up and finally reach the summit. And once you reach the top, you’ve arrived. You can’t reach it again. Mission Accomplished.

But, there are some problems with this view. First, what happens if one reaches their destiny, but it doesn’t come at the end of their life? If I accomplish my great act at the age of 27, and yet live to the age of 88, are the last 61 years of my life meaningless; a sort of downhill coast? Second, when looking at the life of Jesus, what about the thousands of other things he did on the way to the cross? Rob Bell once said that salvation (here referring to Jesus’ sacrificial atonement on the cross) was not the point of Jesus’ coming to earth. Rather, restoration was. He then went on to say that Jesus’ death on the cross was simply the last step in a plan to restore mankind to the naked relationship with God that we once took part in.

Destiny: The Direction
Rob’s view of Jesus’ destiny would seem to indicate something other than a one-time event. His view would seem to be more of a directional definition. (See figure 3)
Wherein, Jesus’ destiny lay not in the crucifixion, but in the thousands of miracles, redemptive acts, restored relationships, revolutionary teachings, and, in general, time spent with the ones he loved the most: us. In this view the crucifixion is no less important, but rather the knock out punch delivered at just the right time in a ten round fight.

So, which is it? Was Jesus’ destiny his death on the cross or was it his life leading up to his death? My inclination would be to lean more towards the directional definition. But perhaps it’s a little of both.

But, what I can’t help but wonder is, did Jesus know? Did he know exactly what he was to do and what would happen to him if he did? The scriptures seem to indicate in Luke 2 that he knew he was to be doing his father’s work. Elsewhere in the gospels there are very strong implications that he knew things that others didn’t. But did he know the last step in the journey? And, if so, did he know all the steps that he had to take to get there? And, if he did, when did he find out? Was it revealed to him all at once or step by step?

All of these questions have led me to a personal one: Can we know? Can we know our destiny? I ask this in two ways: 1) Is it possible for us to know our destiny, be it event or direction? And, 2) If we did know, could we handle it?

With these two new questions in hand, I was brought one step closer to what was really at the heart of my search…

12/05/2006

How Do You Stop a Man From Exploding...

I love TV. Especially good TV. And I don’t necessarily mean good as in high ratings or good as in highly entertaining. (Although, those things do help.) I mean good as in a good story. Hmm… Maybe I should start this post over.

I love a good story. If you have the privilege of hearing a story told by someone who knows what they’re doing, you will get to experience all of the things that make up our everyday lives in the span of a couple of minutes.

A good storyteller knows how to draw you in from the beginning. He knows how to keep you interested by helping you to place yourself in the middle of the story. He does this by giving you details. Things like setting, context, and descriptive adjectives help us to imagine that we’re there. These things are great (and, for sure, help us use our imaginations), but they’re not the parts of the story that stay with us. The parts of the story that stay with us are the parts that reach deep down into our soul and reflect who we are, at our core, in them. Things like conflict, tragedy, comedy, success, failure, and the search for something more. These are the things that are common denominators amongst all of humanity. No matter who you are personally, geographically, or economically, you will encounter and experience all of these things in your life.

And that’s why I love the show Heroes

I fear that I may have lost a few of you there. I’ll explain. Yes, I am a comic book nerd. Yes, I quite enjoy a good science-fiction story. And yes, I love a good serialized hour-long television drama. But none of those things, all of which the show possesses, have earned my love. No, the reason that I profess my allegiance to the show is that I have found common ground with all of the main characters. The one thing that unites them all in the story also pushes me forward in my everyday life. And what could that thing be?

Destiny.

I’ve always found the idea of destiny fascinating. This idea that our lives aren’t just a random series of events and transitions, but are meant for something more. I think that all of us, if we were honest with ourselves, have wondered about it. Probably more than we’d like to admit.

And it would seem that our culture has followed suit. The past 5 years have seen a rise in epic storytelling across all media. We see that in movies like the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Spiderman, and the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. We see it in TV shows like Lost, Prison Break, and 24. But why? I think that it has a lot to do with a spiritual sobering of our society as a whole. We, as a people, are finally beginning to publicly (even with our art) ask the question that, internally, we’ve been asking for centuries: Why am I here?

I think that’s what our fascination (at least mine anyway) with destiny boils down to. It’s about our search for a purpose. The reason why millions of dollars are spent on ticket sales and DVD purchases of epic movies is because we want to imagine ourselves as part of a story that’s bigger than us. We want to know that our life, whether we believe it to be small or large in the grand scheme of things, is an important part of a grander plan. We want to fight for something. Something good…and big.

But as good as I’d like to make myself out to be, what with saying all of that, for me the fascination also boils down to one final thing: I want control. I want to know the future. I want to know what’s coming.

And that’s where Heroes came in. You see, in this show, people from around the world discover that they’re special. And, one by one, they begin to discover that they have a purpose; a destiny, that they are being propelled toward. Some embrace it. Others fight it. But, like it or not, they are bound to it, and to each other.

And, in watching this show, something was awakened inside of me. A question. This isn’t really that odd for me, as I find myself asking questions all the time. But, this question was different. It was different because I felt like it didn’t have an answer that I could discover definitively. And yet, I found myself drawn to it anyway.

What’s my destiny?

What I found at the end of my search for an answer wasn’t what I expected at all…

12/02/2006

Christmas Is a Coming and the Goose Is Getting Fat...

So, tomorrow we start our weekend teaching series on Christmas. We decided to build another set design for it and decided to try our hand at making a fireplace. Editor's Note: Picture Tom Hanks in Castaway shouting "I made fire!". That's how we decided to do this. I think that it turned out pretty nice.

Editor's Note: Of course, just like the last time we built something, I sliced my hand open a couple of times. If I can't stop cutting my hands while building sets, we'll have to stop building sets. That, or build them out of pillows and spaghetti noodles.

Here's my favorite part of the set up: we found a Snowflake Touch Switch to turn the tree on and off with. You plug your lights into the ornament, then the ornament into the wall and all you have to do is touch the snowflake and the whole tree comes on! We also hooked up our fire to it so that everything comes on at once. Here's a pic:

Hopefully, the kids will love it.

By the way, I have no idea what the title of this post means. I remember, when I was growing up, my aunt would always sing it around Christmas time...

World Series of Pop Culture: A Team Is Formed...

We are, as of Friday, December 1st, an officially registered team. Our name is "Where's Waldo Geraldo Faldo?" and we're going to beat every team that has the guts to face us. I don't even care about the prize money, I just want the bragging rights. Of course, I wouldn't turn down the prize money...