"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, February 21, 2006

I Love Lectureship

For those of you who have never been to or even heard of Lectureship, it is quite possibly the greatest thing that happens on the campus of ACU. I don't get nearly enough of an opportunity to hear all of the fine discussions that take place each year in February (now being moved to September)...but I have gotten to hear a couple of life-changing things. So here are some fairly random thoughts on a couple of lectures I've heard:

The Woman at the Well
David Fleer from Rochester College had an interesting sermon on John 4 (the woman at the well) last night. Two things that he said that are resonating through my simple mind this morning: (1) Jesus' response to the woman's "worship war" question: "A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks." (2)While the woman was off evangelizing to her entire community (gee, our women allowed to do that?!?!?!), the apostles (who happen to be men) are more concerned about eating.

Listening to his complete talk would be well worth the investment of time and money. And on a completely different note...the guy sounds like a cross between George Carlin and Mr. Hand from "Fast Times At Ridgmont High!"

U2 And The Psalms
That is, by far, the coolest title for a lecture that I had ever seen...so I HAD to make a trip over to the Campus Center on Sunday night to check this out. It's been over 18 years since I beheld the greatness of U2 live and in-person...but this was just as exciting and invigorating as the concert I saw in the Tarrant County Convention Center in the Fall of 1987.

Greg Stevenson, a Bible Professor also from Rochester College, presented a lecture that made me look at the Psalms and their place in worship in a new way. He also used a recorded U2 performance to exemplify his points. To top the evening off, a local ACU band, Homer Hiccolm and The Rocketboys, covered six U2 songs. The crowd was decisively young in nature -- I'd say 80% of the group were students. But I did see a few 30-somethings in the crowd...so I felt a little better about being there.

Granted, I can't do Bro Stevenson's lecture justice...but I'll try to give my version of a couple of the points he made.

If you take a trip through our hymnals very rarely will you find any song that would qualify as a "lament." Meanwhile, the "Book of Psalms" is FULL of laments from David...with the overriding theme encompassed in a two word question: "How long?" How long must Your enemies be triumphant? How long must we sing this song of sadness? How long must we wait for your return?

As a Christian there will be times to lament. However, being a Christian does not mean being full of lamentation. Rather being a Christian means that a psalm of lament can be answered by psalms of praise.

It was at this point in the evening that Stevenson played a portion of a concert. The first song he played was "Bad" (my favorite song of all times, by the way -- I looked silly with tears streaming down my face surrounded by a bunch of college kids!)...a song lamenting the drug-overdose death of a friend of the band. As the song "Bad" draws to a close, Bono begins to sing the chorus to "40" -- U2's rendition of Psalms 40:1-3. The words repeat over and over: "How long to sing this song?!" Staying true to form, the crowd quickly joins in and sings along...while the music becomes still." From there, the familiar intro of "Where The Streets Have No Name" begins. A song that once referred to the band's trip to Ethiopia is now often interpreted to be a song about Heaven. Bono recites the first 4 verses of Psalm 116: " I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the LORD: "O LORD, save me!" So a song of lament is followed by a song of praise.

Growing up "in the Church," I have been taught that it's not a wise thing to make your laments known to God. God is to be praised -- not whined to.

So I thank Stevenson for the new and Biblically sound perspective. Pretty cool.

Mike Cope is speaking this evening...so I'm sure seats will be hard to come by.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Basketball, Jesus, and My Family

A few weeks ago, the congregation I attend here in Abilene (University Church of Christ) opened its Ministry Activity Center. We in the Churches of Christ still seem to be afraid of the word "gym," so we select creative names that allow us to identify things with cool-sounding acronyms. Thus, we now have the MAC! And it IS much more than a gym (four classrooms, a huge kitchen, great A/V setup)...but it's still funny to bring up the subject.

ANYHOW...I got a chance to play a little ball there this past Sunday night as our class had free reign of the place for a couple of hours. It's amazing how a simple game like basketball can draw folks in. That same night I had an opportunity to meet 4 gentlemen I had never met before. Each of them is "seeking" something; hopefully God will empower us to help them find IT/HIM.

It also gave me a moment to reflect on how basketball has influenced my family.

My father-in-law came to know Christ due, in large part, to basketball. He was living in the thriving metropolis of Howe, TX, with his wife, his son and his baby daughter (my wife). He knew some men from work who attended the Church of Christ there in Howe. They were starting a church basketball league, and they invited my father-in-law to join them. He loved basketball and anxiously agreed to play.

All of the families would go to watch the men compete against other congregations from around the area...and Robin's family would go to. The ladies would sit around laughing at their husbands as they longed for the glory days of their youth; meanwhile, the kids would run and play in the stands.

My in-laws didn't know Jesus...but they knew they enjoyed being around these people. So they started going to church with them. When they showed up no one asked them to memorize the "five steps of salvation," their opinion on instrumental music, or what they thought the Holy Spirit's role was in the Trinity. Instead they got to know them. They invited them into their homes. They made them feel welcomed in their church.

Were it not for those men inviting my father-in-law to play ball with them, I would never have met my wife. I would not have the three adorable little boys that Robin and I are privileged to raise. And in reality, I would probably have strayed from the Lord by now.

And it all started with basketball...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Super Bowl Moments

The mixture of rabid sports fans, indifferent spouses of rabid sports fans, and children creates the potential for mass chaos during a Super Bowl party. It also creates the opportunity for comical moments.

Randy and Chellee Hill were kind enough to have Robin, the kids and I, along with some other families over to their house for the Super Bowl...and following are a couple of the entertaining things that went on...

A "Sandlot" Moment The younger kids were getting bored watching the game and decided they actually wanted to PLAY football. So the disappeared downstairs. A few moments later Macy, Randy's four-year old daughter, yells up to the crowd, "Daddy, we're going to play football outside." Randy responds, "Okay.......hey, wait a minute! Where did you get a football?"

"From your office," came the reply.

"Bring that football up here," Randy howled! A crowd of kids are heard stomping up the stairs with Elijah in the lead holding the prospective entertainment device...a football that just happened to be autographed by Dallas Cowboy legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer Bob Lilly.

So the kids wound up playing "House."
Man, am I old! Derek Hood's 12-year old daughter was actually interested in the football game...and spent a good amount of time watching the game upstairs with the men. A few minutes before halftime Al Michaels reminds the viewing audience to stay tuned for The Rolling Stones. To which Derek's daughter asked, "Who are the Rolling Stones."

All of us looked at each other with the painful realization that we were quickly ascending the ladder of old age. No one even bothered to explain who The Rolling Stones were...as we were busy searching for our false teeth and Metamucil.

Once halftime started our young 12-year old audience member was still perplexed. However she finally realized she knew exactly who The Rolling Stones were. As the familiar guitar riff of "Satisfaction" cranked up, she jumped up from the couch, pointed at the TV, smiled at all of us and cheerfully exclaimed, "I know them -- that's my ring tone!"
Indifference at its peak. There are 6 minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Steelers are up by 11, overcoming a halftime deficit on Willie Parker's record-setting 75-yard run on the second play of the third quarter...and Antwan Randal-El's touchdown pass to Hines Ward. Excitement is brewing as Seattle is mounting a drive down the field.

I run downstairs to throw some trash away. Circled around the dinner table are our lovely wives who claim they've been watching the game. There is little evidence to support this...as I start to head back up the stairs, I hear one wife say, "Hey, the Steelers are ahead now."

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Birthday Memories

I'm a couple of days late...so let's just consider this a Belated Birthday Memories List. But here are the 5 greatest birthday memories I have...

5) My First (and only) Birthday Slumber Party, 1978: It's probably not a wise idea to have 10 second grade boys in one house for an entire night. There were no DVD players, no X-Box (although I did have an Atari 2600), or other mass-entertainment apparati (is that a word?). Among the memories from that night are my parents making us play some stupid balloon popping game (which wound up lasting for hours - bad move on their part) and Reginald Stinson wetting his sleeping bag.

4) A Bad Cake Decision, 1976: For 36 years now, my mother has been the model of consistency when it came to birthday cakes. Every year (even the four years I was in college), mom managed to deliver with her WONDERFUL chocolate cake...except for the year 1976. My mother, who was a history teacher, was enamored with the United States' Bicentennial celebration...and assumed her six year old son would be as well. So...instead of baking a chocolate cake that year, I got a crappy red, white, and blue cake...complete with flags, patriotic soldiers, you name it. Heck, if she could've found a white wig and a Thomas Jefferson costume that fit a fat 6-year old, she would've put me in that as well.

3) Special Delivery, 1989: On January 30, 1989, West Texas experienced an ice storm that stretched the length of I-20 all the way to Fort Worth. I was a freshman at ACU, but my parents had planned to come out to help me celebrate my birthday. But with the roads as treacherous as they were, I didn't expect to see them. Lo and behold, on the morning of January 31st, Mom and Dad pulled into the parking lot of Mabee Dorm on the campus of ACU. Mom was driving her Pontiac; Dad was driving my birthday present...a 1985 Dodge Daytona. Boy, did that escalate me to Ladies Man status!

2) Chris Mowry & Joe Tomme, EVERY year I had a birthday party: I mentioned previously that every year, with the exception of 1976, Mom would bake a chocolate cake. No one in the world had a problem with that...except my high-maintenance pal Chris Mowry. He hated chocolate and refused to eat it. So my mother would bake a chocolate cake...and then would make two white cupcakes for Chris Mowry. The other constant during birthday parties was Joe Tomme. While it was a mystery what you were going to get from the other kids, you ALWAYS knew what to expect from Joe: a kite. And not JUST the kite...but a kite wrapped up in the comics from the Sunday newspaper.

1) The Best of All, 2000: It was the day I found out I was going to be a daddy. Robin got me a birthday card that was signed: "Love Robin...and the baby."

Fell free to share your own!