"I asked for a car; I got a computer."

Looking for a commentary that uses big words and ponders the deeper meanings of various topics? Well...you've come to the wrong place. This blog is all about extolling the greatness of Christ, the joy of marriage, the rollercoaster ride called parenthood, the supremacy of the 1980's...and doing all of it at a fifth grade reading level!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Once Is Enough

I was driving to my softball game last night, flipped on the radio, and heard the words from the revered U2 song, "Sunday Bloody Sunday." I'm a huge U2 fan (of everything through Joshua Tree. After that I'm out!), and will stop down my channel-surfing to listen to the greatness of Bono any time!

Only this wasn't U2 playing, and it wasn't Bono singing. It was some Christian alternative band (sorry, didn't catch the name).

Then, my late-night stroll through the channels landed me on A&E's tribute to George Lucas. One of the commercials was the trailer (at least three minutes long) of a movie...another remake of "King Kong!"

What is the deal with remakes?

Granted, I enjoy the occasional "tribute" album -- those albums that gather several artists together to redo a popular band's or artist's materials (for instance, the Led Zeppelin tribute album is very cool -- especially 4 Non-Blondes' rendition of "Misty Mountain High"). And I even like to see a band perform a popular song from another artist in concert. The Goo Goo Dolls did an awesome version of Tom Petty's "American Girl" in Las Vegas; U2's rendition of "Helter Skelter" at Reunion Arena (and on Rattle & Hum) is equally awesome.

But I think the entertainment world needs to be careful about things they redo. Here are a couple of guidelines I suggest they follow:

1) Never remake something regarded as a "classic." In other words, if they got it right the first time, there is no need to try again. It's the old adage: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
2) Do not remake something that has ALREADY been remade. This third attempt at getting "King Kong" correct violates these first two rules!
3) Anything by The Beatles, U2, Led Zeppelin, or The Rolling Stones is off limits. I don't know who you are, but your version of Sunday Bloody Sunday was bad, and you need to have your microphone taken away from you.....TODAY!
4) Hard rock bands that want to remake a song should not choose a slow-moving, acid-inspired ballad-wanna-be. Reference Joan Jett & The Blackhearts attempt at redoing "Crimson & Clover."
5) Never remake a movie or song that failed originally. It may not have been the actors, the script, the aritist, the arrangment, or the music...it may just be a bad movie or a bad song. There's no harm in that...but please don't make us relive someone else's mistake.
6) Don't try to make your debut with a remake. Anyone heard from Tiffany lately?

That's all I got. Please feel free to add to the list!

Thursday, June 23, 2005


A few weeks ago the boys and I accompanied Robin to the Mall. While Robin meandered from store to store, Elijah, Noah and I tried to remain focused and patient, anxiously waiting for Robin to utter those immortal words, "Okay, I've seen enough." Unfortunately, she was in a good shopping mood this day.

We wind up in Old Navy. Robin goes to the "girl" side of the store, while the boys and I head for the clearance section of the store...because they usually have balls and frisbees and other cool stuff we can throw around. They also have that cool rolling ladder that says "Employees Only"...so we like to pretend we work for Old Navy.

On this day, however, they have some good deals on little guy clothes, so Noah and I begin the process of trying to find something a husky two-year old can fit into. I become so engaged in finding a bargain, that I lose track of Elijah...and as I stop to get a bearing on where "#1 son" is at, he's nowhere to be found.

And I panicked!


I ran up and down the aisles calling his name, but got no reply. Sprinting (a relative term) to the front of the store with "big 'un" under my arm, I asked if anyone had seen a little blond-haired, blue eyed boy. No one had...and as they called Mall Security, I went back to find Robin, dreading the news I would have to share. Before doing so, I went back to the last place I had seen Elijah...and there he was sticking his head out of a rack of clothes...the same rack of clothes he had been hiding in! He giggled, taking great pride in the fact that he was able to elude his father. But he could tell Daddy was not in the mood to laugh. So I picked him up, hugged him, and pleaded with him to never do that to me again.

I was "raised in the church." My father was a deacon, and began one of the first bus ministries in the Churches of Christ. We went to church everytime the doors were open, I was baptized at the scriptural age of twelve, and did everything else a good Christian boy should do. I've always known what it was like to be a Christian. But it has taken me years to realize that, as the song "Amazing Grace" says, "I once was lost..."

I admit that I am envious of those who came to know Christ later in life. Those who were steeped in sin, living a life that was taking them on a direct flight to Hell. Maybe it's someone who was battling an addiction; someone that was a professed Atheist; or someone indulging in a lifestyle of self-gratification. Whatever the case, I admire those who did an about-face to follow the Lord. They are the ones that seem to be so passionate about their salvation...while I struggle with realizing that "I once was lost!" They share their faith because they can't bear to think of someone else being lost...while I listen to dogmatic arguments rattle inside my head.

I thought Elijah was lost...and with every ounce of my being I was going to find him. Yet I'm surrounded by those who are lost...and how diligently am I searching for them?

Monday, June 20, 2005

10 Great Things About Being A Dad

This past Father's Day caused me to reflect on my 4 1/2 years of fatherdom. During that time I have discovered many great things about being a dad. Here are the 10 best...

10. No more buying alarm clocks.
9. At the age of 35 my reflexes are faster than ever...by having to protect my "area" from the flailing arms of a 4-year old.
8. Watching a soccer game come to a grinding halt because one of the team mom's pulled out an assortment of juice boxes and animal crackers.
7. My gag reflex tolerance is at an all-time high!
6. Learning that a 2-year old will eat anything (and I do mean ANYTHING) once.
5. I can poke a hole in a Capri Sun the first time...with my eyes closed.
4. Watching my boys learn that the world is their bathroom.
3. I can talk about "The Wiggles" without cracking a smile.
2. The joy of the human censor button.
And best of all...
1. Being blessed with the opportunity to shape and mold two young men (with a third on the way) into the type of Christians that God desires...and getting to do that beside a beautiful, Godly woman -- who somehow has managed to tolerate me for 13 years.
(Yes, I know this is a sappy ending...but it's the truth).

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

A Day In The Life

It was a day much like any other day. He probably kissed his wife and kids good-bye as he headed out the door. "Another day, another denarii," he might have muttered to himself as he trudged through the streets. This was the part of his job he dreaded the most.

People treated him as they would a leper. Men would turn their backs on him as he would walk by. Women would quickly move to the other side of the road imploring their children not to look at him. Young boys would hurl insults at him, daring him to use his authority. Perhaps it was his skill with a whip that made him infamous. Maybe it was the cold stare that emerged from underneath the helmet. Or was it the sword that he wore at his side that repulsed the people so. Yes, they treated him as they treated a leper...but at least, for the leper, they had empathy

He was a Roman Centurion, and he represented everything bitter and vile to the people of Jerusalem.

All of this he endured each day as he made his way up the odd-shaped mountain outside the city. As he journeyed he began to mentally prepare himself for another day when he heard the sounds of sorrow coming from the city. The sounds grew louder as a crowd began to make its way up the hill.

"His name is Jesus," laughed one of his fellow soldiers. "Some radical that was supposed to become King of the Jews. But the best part is this: he said he could rebuild that temple in three days if someone tears it down! What a nut!"

"Jesus," thought to himself. He had heard of Jesus. He had heard that he performed magic that rivaled Jupiter. During his time in Jerusalem he had hoped to catch sight of him and witness his power. Now, it seemed, his chance was gone.

These thoughts are brought to a grinding halt for the crowd is near. In front is a soldier leading a man carrying a large, jagged crossbar. Behind him is a procession of sobbing women with only a couple of men sprinkled throughout the crowd. As they draw near to the place of execution, the crowd divides revealing a beaten, bloody man stumbling towards him.

"They almost beat that guy to death," he exclaims aloud. "This won't take long."

He and three other soldiers quickly seize the man and bring Him down on top of a second jagged post. The Centurion recalls how sickening this process was the first time he participated in it. But he's done it enough times now that he has become almost calloused to the agony involved. He firmly holds the man's feet in place while the others prepare the agonizing task of nailing the man to the tree. The sound of metal striking metal is drowned out by a mixture of screams and the cracking of muscle and bone. The Centurion can feel the muscle in the man's calf nearly bursting through the skin as he writhes in agony.

With both hands permanently affixed, the soldiers move to the man's feet. As the Centurion looks up his eyes are met by the man he is helping to kill. Though he is certain the man is enduring a torture unlike any other, he senses a peace in his face. He quickly looks away as the hammer finds its mark...

...once...twice...three times...

...and the cross is lifted into place.

With everything finished except the waiting, the Centurion begins to analyze the crowd. He sees a crowd of women immersed in sorrow trying desperately to comfort a slightly older lady. Also present is a young man barely out of his teens. From above him the Centurion hears Jesus say, "Woman, behold thy son," and to the young man, "Behold thy mother."

"His mother," the Centurion thinks to himself? He doesn't see many mothers on this hill; the embarrassment and humiliation are too much for them to bear. He watches her weep and reach up for her son as though she might be able to comfort him. A lump grows in his throat as his thoughts wander to memories of his own mother.

There are others in the crowd teasing and taunting the dying man. He has seen this happen before...but not by a man's own kind. The sights and sounds makes him angry.

His thoughts are interrupted by one of his fellow soldiers. "Hey, are you playing or not? I know it ain't much, but these clothes will feed my family for three days!"

He merely shakes his head. He is not interested in gambling for clothes. Instead, he is interested in knowing more about what he saw in the eyes of a man about to die. He looks skyward, and once again his eye's are met by Another. He stares at the man hanging above him. His face is covered in blood; his muscles convulsing with each passing moment. Yet he senses the same peace again in his eyes.

Their gaze is interrupted by one of the men being crucified next to him. He pays little attention to their conversation as he ponders what it was he saw. He seems to be in trance for hours when he notices that the sky has grown exceedingly dark for that time of day. In the distance he hears rolls of thunder; thunder the likes of which he has never heard. An overwhelming sense of dread comes over the Centurion. As he looks around him he sees the same concern on the faces of the soldiers and the crowd.

Filled with a terror he can't explain he once again looks skyward and again his eyes are met by Another. The same peace is there...but only for a moment...as this time the peace is interrupted by a scream of despair and words he doesn't understand.

And then He is gone.

Immediately the ground began to shake; rocks split in two. And the Centurion is left with the same confession that some day the whole World will make...

"Surely this man was the Son of God!"

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Sesame Street -- BAD!

When I was young there was one word that terrorized me: "tornado." It took little more than mentioning the fact a Tornado Watch had been issued for Tarrant County to transform me into a blubbering wad of fear. To complicate matters, a Civil Defense horn was less than 200 yards from our house. So in the event a Tornado Warning was in effect, our family was fully aware...and I instantly flew into panic mode -- running around the house grabbing every blanket and pillow I could hold and diving into the bathtub...for I was sure that, of the 393,476 residents in Fort Worth, TX, that tornado would seek me out.

Fortunately for me (and my family), I emerged from that phase.

Today, however, there are two words that have taken the place of "tornado"; words that cause me to shudder and shake with unfathomable terror; words that cause me to take the same evasive action I would take when I knew a tornado was near. Those words: "Daddy watch!"

This past Sunday I experienced another "Daddy, watch" moment. We were eating at a BBQ joint called Betty Rose's after church on Sunday. Betty Rose's is very popular with the over-55 crowd on Sunday, and the place was packed with 'em. Both Elijah and Noah LOVE a good turkey sandwich, so Betty Rose's works great for our family.

Noah was sitting across from me enjoying his turkey sandwich when he says, "Daddy watch." A feeling of dread comes over me when he says something to the effect of, "Mon-to goo-kee." Before I can reach for my two-year old translator, Noah takes a piece of turkey from his sandwich, grips it with both hands, and shoves it in his mouth making a sound that, phonetically, would be spelled: "OM-YOM-YOM-YOM-YOM-YOM!" This is not a whisper; this is a two-year old making a joyful noise unto the Lord...and unto every person sitting in Betty Rose's.

I begin to assess what is happeneing. "Mon-to goo-kee"...sounds like....Monster Cookie....which could mean.....Cookie Monster. Is he imitating Cookie Monster? But...he's on Sesame Street. And they teach values, manners, integrity...good things. I grew up with Sesame Street. They're not supposed to be teaching my child to act like a monster. Sweet Mother of Pearl, WHAT ARE THEY TEACHING MY SON!!!

But before I can fully process what is going on around me Noah takes a second piece of turkey and violently begins the same process. His mother finds this hilarious, and is impressed with the accuracy of his depiction. His four-year old brother is equally impressed, and responds with cries of "Do it again, Noah, do it again!"

I now know how an Olympic diver or an Olympic gymnast feels. For years they practice and practice, honing their skills for the day that they will perform in front of judges in hopes of getting a perfect score...only to have their hopes dashed by a poor performance in front of a band of critics. While imploring my child to stop I feel the eyes of every parent boring a hole right through me, their disapproving stares focused on my possessed son; their hands reaching for their cell phones in an effort to immediately contact Child Protective Services, Dr Phil, or Supernanny.

I jumped from my seat, grabbed "Legion" and took him to the bathroom to begin the discipline process. As we're walking to the chamber where beatings occur, he looks at me with his pretty blue eyes and says, "Daddy, Mon-to Goo-kee funny. You do it."

So Daddy chilled...and accomodated his son's request...but I waited 'til we got home.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Risking An Eternity of Fire And Brimstone

This past Wednesday night we had a singing night at church. I love to sing. Granted, I ain't that great of a singer (ask my wife...or anyone else that has sat by me in church, chapel, etc), but I love to sing. And I think I know a good song when I hear one.

I also think I know a bad song when I hear one as well.

I know that Psalms 100:1 says "Make a joyful noise to the Lord..." and that Ephesians 5:19 says, "Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs." I also know that God is glorified, worshipped and praised when we sing. But sometimes I wonder if God scratches his "Sacred Head" (GREAT song!) at some of the songs we sing.

So...at the risk of hellfire and damnation...AND at the risk of having the ghosts of Barton Stone and Alexander Campbell haunt me 'til the end of my days...here, from the home office in Gunter, TX (the final residence of the great hymn-writer Tillit S. Tedllie), are the top ten worst hymns:

10. "Wonderful Grace of Jesus" -- A song with a beautiful message...but it sounds like a bad college fight song. All we need is a drum major, the flag corp, and a twirler and this song would be perfect.
9. "Kum Ba Yah" -- I know this is a traditional song, but c'mon!
8. "God's Family" -- "Sometimes we laugh together; sometimes we cry"...especially when we see this song listed in the order of worship!
7. "The Great Redeemer" -- Sorry, but every time they sing the "He-is ev-'ry-thing-to-me-to-me" part I giggle.
6. "Night With Ebon Pinion" -- I'm familiar with Peter, Andrew, James, John, Phillip, Thomas, Matthew, Bartholomew, James, Thaddeus, Simon, Judas.......who is this Ebon Pinion guy!?!?!?!
5. "Now The Day Is Over" -- This song makes it sounds as though not only the day is over, but life is as well.
4. "People Need The Lord" -- Yes, people do need the Lord. These same people also need to start a petition to have this song deleted from future copies of "Great Songs of the Church." Alton Howard where are you!!!
3. "A Beautiful Life" -- This song is exceptionally awful when pitched too low. Also -- dial the last four digits of your phone number...and it's the first four notes of this song!
2. "Angry Words" -- This is a song filled with good advice...but it's horrible!!!
1. "Low In The Grave He Lay" -- The transition from verse to chorus is odd by itself. But it becomes a real recipe for disaster when the song leader wants to sing all three verses, and THEN sing the chorus only once. There are always the handful of members who weren't paying attention and just can't wait to hit the chorus after the first verse. This song also haunts me as there was a gentleman in our congregation, when I was growing up, named J.T. Rose. So all of the kids would sing, "Up from the grave J.T. Rose!" Juvenille, I know.

Special recognition should also goes out to "Hilltops Of Glory" and all six verses of "Just As I Am."

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

I'm no Blackie Sherrod...

...but here's my feeble attempt at imitating the Dallas Morning News legend:

Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to Kurt Bevacqua...
I saw that the Royals have hired former Ranger Buddy Bell to rescue their payroll-hindered team. Now all we need are jobs for Pete O'Brien, Curtis Wilkerson, and Wayne Tolleson, and the ol' Rangers infield will be back in tact!
My neighbor Jones is so heavy he needs a shoehorn to get out of the bathtub.
The NCAA Division II Track & Field Championships were held this weekend at Elmer Gray Stadium here in Abilene. What a blast! Nicodemus Nmadu from ACU won the 3000 Meter Steeplechase by more than half a lap. The night before, in the preliminaries, he broke the NCAA Division II national record...and it was only his fourth time to ever run the race! He also won the 5000 Meter Run in 14 minutes...and was disgusted with his time.

The most exciting race of the night was the Men's 4x400 Relay. ACU was in 2nd going into the final leg, but with 200 Meters remaining sophomore Delt Cockrell ran past the St. Augistine runner like he was standing still. That's the first time I ever saw a white guy run the anchor leg on a winning relay team.
Hey...they're playing tennis in France. I quote the great Forrest Gump: "That's all I have to say about that."
Drew Bledsoe expects that playing for Bill Parcells these days will be different than playing for him when he was a rookie. Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing many a shouting match on the sidelines...followed by Bledsoe carrying a clipboard and cheering on Tony Romo. Someone see if Phil Simms can still throw a football!
Note to NBA fans. Amare Stoudamire was the superior post player in the Phoenix-San Antonio series...and he's only 20!
And then there was the Aggie that flew to China because he heard of the controversy over euthanasia.
For my next trick I'll try copying Dr Seuss...or maybe Leo Tolstoy. Hopefully those efforts will suck less.