Thursday, August 28, 2008

Brain fog potty mashing

Random stuff:

-Who isn't curious about a blog entry with a title like that? I am afraid that it is false advertising though. I don't even know what potty mashing means.

-I think that I miss the Olympics. They were a welcome distraction on a nightly basis. Except for badminton. It was simply annoying.

-I went to an event last night where a panel of CEOs spoke. They admitted that luck was a part of their success. They said that you have to be prepared for the moment when luck presents an opportunity. I think luck is a term that was made up because God's mercy was too difficult for some to accept.

-Andrew Peterson's new song makes me tear up. I am quite the wuss, I am afraid.

-I think that when you find a place that is really quiet, you become very aware of just how loud our lives are. Selah.

-And then you turn on the radio.

-I have committed to run a 5k on October 11th. I like food more than my training regimen. But as long as I beat my small group leader's time, its all good.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Just call it what it is, okay?

An old fashioned lady, always quite delicate and elegant, especially in her language was planning a camping trip in their Motorhome with her husband. While writing a letter to a campground to learn about their facilities, she became concerned - she could not bring herself to write the word "toilet" in her letter. She needed to know about the campground toilets.

After much deliberation, she finally came up with the old-fashioned term BATHROOM COMMODE. But when she wrote that down, she still thought she was being too forward. So she rewrote the letter - this time referring to the bathroom commode as BC; "Does the campground have it's own BC?", she wrote.

The campground owner was puzzled when he got the letter, he just couldn't figure out what the woman was talking about. That BC business really stumped him. He showed the letter to several campers, but they couldn't imagine what the lady meant either.

The campground owner, finally came to the conclusion that the lady must be asking about the local Baptist Church. He sat down and wrote the following reply:

Dear Madam:I regret very much the delay in answering your letter, but I now take pleasure in informing you that a BC is located nine miles north of the campground and is capable of seating 250 people at one time. I admit it is quite a distance away, if you are in the habit of going regularly, but no doubt you will be pleased to know that a great number of people take their lunches along and make a day of it. They usually arrive early and stay late. It is such a beautiful facility and the acoustics are marvelous...even the normal delivery sounds can be heard. The last time my wife and I went was six years ago, and it was so crowded we had to stand up the whole time we were there. It may interest you to know that right now a supper is planned to raise money to buy more seats. They are going to hold it in the basement of the BC. I would like to say it pains me very much not to be able to go more regularly, but it surely is no lack of desire on my part. As we grow old, it seems to be more of an effort, particularly in cold weather. If you do decide to come down to our campground, perhaps I could go with you the first time you go, sit with you, and introduce you to all the other folks. Remember, this is a friendly community.

Sincerely, (Campground Owner)

Integrity on display

I thank God for examples like Joe Gibbs:

You may have seen ads for an insurance company touting its commitment to responsibility. They feature people doing the right thing, such as returning lost property and helping strangers, simply because it is the right thing to do.

The ads have struck a nerve with the public—probably because personal responsibility is not one of the defining traits of our age.

There is another, equally important, aspect of good character and responsibility: that is, owning up to your mistakes and transgressions. Happily, there are real-world examples of this kind of responsibility in, of all places, the race track.

Earlier this year NASCAR ordered one team to reduce the horsepower generated by its engines in an attempt to make races more competitive. That team had won more than half of the races this season.

Compliance with the order was determined by what is known as a “chassis dynamometer” test—or “dyno test” for short.

In the competitive world of auto racing, where money, prestige, and pride are always on the line, such an order does not go down very well. Mechanics and technicians who have spent countless hours perfecting their cars might resent this attempt to level the playing field. They might even put a kind of moral spin on the issue: It is “unfair,” maybe even “un-American,” to “punish” excellence in this way.

So it comes as no surprise that someone might try to disobey the order while appearing to be in compliance by fooling the dynamometer. And that is exactly what happened: During “chassis dyno” tests after a recent race in Michigan, NASCAR inspectors found that the team’s mechanics had rigged the cars to appear as if they were in compliance when they were not. In other words, they cheated.

While the cheating is not surprising, the name of the team is: Joe Gibbs Racing. It is surprising because Gibbs is an outspoken Christian who has gone into prisons with me. I know Joe well and respect his character and integrity—they are unimpeachable.

That is why I was not surprised at what followed: While neither Joe nor his son J. D. had any clue as to what their employees were doing, they took “full responsibility” for their employees’ actions.

Joe said that the incident “goes against everything we stand for as an organization.” He added that “we will take full responsibility and accept any penalties NASCAR levies against us.”
That’s it: no evasion, no excuses, no spin. It stands in marked contrast to the evasions and “damage control” we hear and read about all the time. People caught breaking the law or behaving badly blame everything from dyslexia, their disadvantaged upbringing, and even acid reflux for their failings. When they do acknowledge fault, they seek to mitigate their responsibility by citing “extenuating” circumstances—or, as we see with politicians, regularly they call sin just a “mistake.”

It is not just celebrities and politicians. Americans talk about responsibility, but we are all-too-eager to pass the blame along, especially if there is punishment involved.

That is why I so admire Joe Gibbs’s willingness to take his punishment without qualifiers. Joe and family are not only doing the right thing, they are setting a real-world example for the rest of us to emulate. Thank you, Joe, for your Christian witness and teaching the rest of us a lesson.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Be brave, Bobo.

There once was a bear named Bobo. And Bobo like boating. When Bobo went boating in the bayou, he banged his belbow on the bait bucket. Bobo got a bad boo-boo. So Bobo took his bad belbow boo-boo to dad for a band-aid. And Bobo Senior, a big bad bear took one look at Bobo Junior's bump and banished him to bed. Why? Little bears that bemoan small boo-boos become big bears that lack bravery.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Be grateful for every swing of the bat...

Parenting is about hope

I met with a good friend of mine this morning and we talked about how parenting is about hope. No matter what you do in your parenting, ultimately God has to be graceful to you (and your children) for them to turn out "okay".


In a completely unassociated note, I came across this Calvin & Hobbes cartoon this morning:

Monday, August 18, 2008

The coolest last name

Mrs. Underdog is reading the biography of William Wilberforce. What a cool last name. I think that any last name can be cooler just by adding "-force" to the end of it. Try it:

Michael Jordanforce.

Barak Obamaforce.

Kermit the Frogforce.

I might change my last name. For my boys, of course.


I have been reading stuff that is smarter than I am. I struggle and I wrestle with the language and my little brain sweats and strains to understand. But the effort is made worthy in moments when God rewards the work with insight into His ways. The work and the revelation are both gifts.

I was reading this last week as someone wrote about the purpose of the Christian life. What is it that God wants us to do? It was a swift kick in the head when the author proposed that the Christian life is more about affections than it is about decisions. I have been chewing on this for a few days and I think that I believe it to be true.

Think about the commands that Jesus said were most important. Jesus commanded an emotion, an affection. Jesus said that the Law and Prophets were summed up in loving God and loving our neighbors. He did not choose one of the Ten Commandments or some ceremonial sacrifice, he commanded love. I think that Jesus' command pushes any self righteousness to the side and makes us depend upon God to help us love when love is not natural.

I think that our decisions will be based on what we love most. I find that most of the time, I love me more than anything else. So I make decisions that are purely motivated by what is best for me. If my affections were for my God and my neighbor, my decisions and actions would reflect that concern.


Thought provoking

I am not a political guy. And although I think it is our duty to vote, I believe that voting for a candidate based on a single issue is a little shallow, Obama's stance on "life issues" has me deeply concerned. This statement was in the comments section of Justin Taylor's blog today:

Let me propose a thesis, and I'd be interested in your response. Evangelicals who support someone like Obama do not truly believe that the unborn are human persons deserving full human rights. I know that sounds both provocative and unfair. But imagine that we were not talking about the unborn but about toddlers. If 50 million--50,000,000!--toddlers had been brutally executed in our country, wouldn't it be utterly unthinkable to vote for a candidate who had a 100% record of voting for toddler execution and who never once in his career voted for a single restriction on toddler execution--and who promised that his first order of business as president would be to sign a bill that would codify the laws in favor of executing toddlers, and in fact would make sure that taxpayer money supported it?

If you object to the analogy, then you have to explain the morally relevant difference(s) between an unborn person and a toddler. Appearance? Stage of development? Size? Degree of dependency? Location?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Greatness in retrospect

I think that greatness is best measured after the fact. It is hard to define something or someone as truly great as they are performing their craft. It is in reflection upon past events that gives us the best view of something brilliant. In referring to Abraham Lincoln, Carl Sandburg started one of the final chapters with the statement that "A tree is best measured when it is down."*

We have watched more TV as a family over the past week than we have in the three previous months. The Olympics have captured our collective attention. I think that some of this is due to the unique nature of some of the sports we have witnessed. I mean, how often do you get to see competitive badminton?

But the single most intriguing figure in the games has got to be Michael Phelps. When he gets prepared to swim, my entire household stops to watch. He is freakish in his ability to move through the water. Among the best swimmers in the world, he stands apart. So much so that my kids assume he will win every race he enters, it is simply a question of the margin of victory and how much he will destroy the world record.

In my lifetime, I have seen a few great athletes perform. But I would consider very few of them dominant. Jordan, Gretzky, Armstrong, and Woods would have to top the list. (I suspect that Thorpe and Jim Brown would make the cut, too. Before my time, you know.) I think that when the Olympics are finished, we will have to add Phelps to the roll of dominant athletes. And maybe he will top the list because he will have set world records in at least five seperate events in just a week's time.

Is there anyone else you would add to the list of dominant athletes? (No Dallas Cowboys, please. Yes, I am talking to you, Aaron.)

*I am not predicting that anything will happen to Michael Phelps. It's just a quote, okay?

Friday, August 8, 2008

A historic post from recent history

Mar. 31, 2008 - What are the odds?

What are the odds that a father and son would decide to play wiffle ball in a backyard on Saturday afternoon?

What are the odds that they would position themselves so that the batter was facing the house?

What are the odds that they would leave the back door of the house open on this particular Saturday afternoon?

What are the odds that, due to the father's brilliant pitching, the son would whiff on the first eight pitches?

What are the odds that he would crush the ninth pitch launching a screaming line drive?

What are the odds that mom would be walking through the kitchen with a skillet of newly scrambled eggs?

What are the odds that the mom with the eggs would be walking ten feet inside the backdoor at the exact moment that the aforementioned line drive burst into the kitchen?

What are the odds that the wiffle ball would strike the mom on the knuckle of the hand holding the skillet?

What are the odds that she would somehow manage to hold on to the skillet despite the searing pain from the well hit wiffle ball?

What are the odds that the wrong thing for the father to say to just hit mom is "Why didn't you catch it? If a ball hits you in the hands you should be able to catch it."?

The odds are pretty good around our household. Pretty good, I tell ya.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

French, but funny anyway.

I can still hear my seven-year-old son giggling.

No one is immune... the effects of high gas prices.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

China is beautiful

I found these picture at the site that is linked below. China is a beautful place. But as the Olympics get started, let's not forget that among all the fanfare, the government in China hates the church of Jesus Christ. Pray for the persecuted church.
My friend Aaron (commenter ranking: #1, sorry, Nate) will be in China for the next couple of weeks. There is a chance that he will get to interact with people that have never heard the Name of Jesus. Never. It is simply stunning to me that there are people that have not heard the Gospel.
Godspeed, Aaron.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Quotes like this scare me.

“…the lowest common denominator in all of the missional-incarnational practices is discipleship and the difficulty of discipling people in the midst of a consumerist culture. The story of the middle class in America is one of safety, security, comfort and convenience. In other words, American Christians have overwhelmingly chosen the story of the American way rather than the way of Jesus.”

-Brad Brisco from his “Alan Hirsch in New Orleans” entry from his blog, Missional Church Network

Big picture

I am a man of severely limited perspective. All around me, millions of little events take place that are beyond my awareness. Many of these events will have an effect on me, yet they lie beyond my short reach of influence. But God has each little action within his view. He is not unaware of even the tiniest incident that will touch my life. He has a limitless perspective on things that is simply beyond my ability to comprehend. And with a childlike trust that my Father loves me and sees me, I am at peace with that fact.

Fear not, for I am with you;be not dismayed, for I am your God;I will strengthen you, I will help you,I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ---Isaiah 41:10

A post for my friend

Mr. Scaggs, if you still read my blog, this post is dedicated to you...

Saturday, August 2, 2008

What sin looks like

Pure avian rebellion.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Dark Night

So Mrs. Underdog and I went to the theater last night to see the latest Batman movie, The Dark Knight. I am an unusually hard critic when it comes to movies. Of the hundreds of movies I have seen over the years, I think that maybe ten of them would fit in the "great" category. Maybe less than ten. But Batman Begins is one of those "great" movies, so my expectations for The Dark Knight were very high.

I am still digesting the experience, but a few thoughts on what may turn out to be the highest grossing movie of all time. (It is so pathetic that Titanic, Titanic!, is number one.)

  • Heath Ledger as the Joker is brilliant. I kept waiting for him to slip out of character, but it never happened. His portrayal of the Joker is sinister and evil and mesmerizing. It had to be a tremendous strain on the guy to descend into that character for days at a time.

  • This is a violent, but bloodless movie. There was a seven or eight year-old kid sitting two seats down from me and I couldn't understand why he was in the theater. The intensity of the film alone should have earned it an R-rating in my opinion. But the violence in the movie is nearly bloodless.

  • Long. This movie is long. Don't fill up on pop during the previews or you will never get through the whole thing. Just when you think that things are drawing to a close, another plot twist arrives. Greatness.

  • There were three moments that just took my breathe away. Those moments are what separates a great movie from just a good movie.

  • I am in the market for a Batcycle if anyone is selling one.

Like Batman Begins, I think that there are a lot of details that will require a second viewing to absorb. Each of the villians (and the heroes for that matter) displays a very distinct worldview that they then live out. This adds a certain depth to the characters that is rare in the blockbuster movie industry.

I would only recommend this movie for people that have a very strong constitution. You will likely be exhausted as the credits role. And if you decide to see it, do so in the theater. Unless you have a home theater like my friend Richard, you will need the big screen to absorb the full effect.

Food for thought

Mark Driscoll asked J.I. Packer about the most important theological issues that young Christians should study to be prepared for the next fifty years. This one struck me right between the eyes:

God-Centered Theology — He said that theology today is rife with man-centered thinking so that the glory of God in all things is not the essence of what is taught to be faithfully Christian. The result, he explained, is that even Christians often live their lives for the supreme purpose of their perceived happiness, feelings, and satisfaction. Yet, biblical Christianity differs from the other religions of the world in that the desires and purposes of God override ours; we are not the number one priority, but rather God is.