Thursday, January 21, 2010

New Site Test

I am testing a new site to continue the growth of this little venture.  Point your clicker here to view the site as it is being built:

Be patient with design... the content is as poorly written as ever....

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The aged wood is beginning to reveal its weaknesses against the power of the weather; cracks and chips follow its sinewy grain.  The door hangs at a slight angle, giving way to the rise and fall and movement in the frame of the house itself; floating slightly with the spring rains, sinking again with the cooler weather and contracting concrete slab.

The door has translucent panels of yellow glass that sets off the dark brown stain.  Hardware is more than 30 years old, original with the house and the heavy door placed in its protective, yet friendly station in the mid-'70's.

Yesterday, we lost the doorknob.

For weeks, it had showed signs of weakness.  We thought it was simply cold, and would recover with warmer weather this week.  We were wrong, and yesterday, the knob- the heart of the front door- died.

From inside the house, I removed the knob and its coverplate, revealing its internal organs and mechanical apparattus that allowed the knob to function so well for so long.  I could not find any reason for failure, and I decided that the knob must be replaced.  With only the strike bolt in place, we prepared to say farewell to the old knob and to begin the search for its replacement.

But the striker bolt refused to budge.  I tapped it lightly with a scredriver handle.  I struck it forcefully with a hammer and chisel.  As little pieces of metal were flying off in all directions, I assumed that we would soon have a replacement knob in place, and we could actually use the door again.

Sadly, I was mistaken.

Today, I removed the hinge pins in an effort to remove the door from the back side of the frame.  I would not be denied use of the front door of my own home!  Pushing; pulling; lifting; prying.  Again, the door refused to budge.  The heavy, weather-worn wooden door that had served as our protector from the outside for so long, has turned against us.  It is now our captor.

We are now on day two without the use of our front door.  The deadbolt locked; the hinge pins replaced; and the outer half of the knob in place so the neighbors wouldn't see a towel sticking through the gaping hole to block the cold weather.

And tonight I will dream of the day when the difficult and obstinate old striker bolt gives way, and we can replace the door knob for good.  Soon.... someday soon.

Middle of the Road Churches

William C. Taylor writes in his new book, Practically Radical:

        "Imagine any and every field possible. There are so many brands, so many choices, so many claims, so much clutter, that the central challenge is for an organization or an individual is to rise above the fray. It’s not good enough anymore to be “pretty good” at everything. You have to be the most of something: the most elegant, the most colorful, the most responsive, the most accessible.
        For decades, organizations and their leaders were comfortable with strategies and practices that kept them in the middle of the road—that’s where the customers were, so that’s what felt safe and secure.
Today, with so much change and uncertainty, so much pressure and new ways to do things, the middle of the road is the road to nowhere.
        As Jim Hightower, the colorful Texas populist, is fond of saying, “There’s nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos.”
        We might add: companies and their leaders struggling to stand out from the crowd, as they play by the same old rules in a crowded marketplace.
        Are you the most of anything?"

        In these paragraphs, you can replace the words "field", "organizations", and "companies" with the word "church".  Query: Are we content with a church that looks, acts, worships, and reaches (or doesn't reach) people the same as every other church in our market?  
I believe it is time to get the church out of the middle of the road.  Stretch!  Squeeze!  Move!  Change!  Reach!  Focus!  Simplify!  Prioritize!  Be the Most!

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Cost of Discipleship

I stand (sit at my desk, actually) convicted by these words, written ages ago by Deitrich Bonhoffer:

“He wants to follow, but feels obliged to insist on his own terms. Discipleship to him is a possibility which can only be realized with certain conditions have been fulfilled. This is to reduce discipleship to the level of the human understanding. First you must do this and then you must do that. There is a right time for everything. The disciple places himself at the Master’s disposal, but at the same time retains the right to dictate his own terms. But then discipleship is no longer discipleship, but a programme of our own. . . .”

When God calls, go. Do not try to see how it fits into yours or anyone else's plans. Do not dictate your terms. God has plans. When you find them, though you may not understand them, you will find they fit.

Life is Good!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Hoops Season is Here!

Today is the day!

It's snowing on our little hillside in Oklahoma this morning. Morning temp around 0 to 1 degrees is seemingly squeezing the moisture out of the air and packing it into little snowflakes that dust the roads and fills in where the Christmas Eve blizzard has melted in the yard. Beautiful.

It is a beautiful backdrop for the best of winter sports, basketball! My daughter's team will meet in a few short hours to play the first game of the season. It will be a challenge, but they are ready!

Let's go get 'em!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Roll...... SEC!

The University of Alabama has just defeated the Unversity of Texas in the national championship game in college football. Pasadena and the Rose Bowl (sponsored by CITI) played host to the big game, and was a gracious host city. The hype, the pre-game buzz, the months of trash-talking has come to an exciting end. And I wish I could say I couldn't be happier.

Truth is, I could be happier.

Let me say this now: I don't hate Texas. I am neutral towards Texas and all Big 12 schools and teams. I live in a Big 12 state, yet I feel nothing.

But I do hate The University of Alabama.

Let me elaborate.

As a child who grew up in TENNESSEE, there was never an option to like alabama. As kids, when we played a pick-up game of football, one team was always TENNESSEE and the other was always alabama. And even if the team called "alabama" was winning, the team knew it was inevitable that the team called "TENNESSEE" was going to come from behind for a big win. Even if the team called "alabama" had to purposefully fumble, throw an interception, or miss a tackle or two. There was no way "alabama" was gonna win. They could not stand the peer pressure, the beatings, the broken friendships if they did win. So, it's sort of a socially genetic condition that prevents me from pulling for the team from Tuscaloosa.

Which is odd, knowing that my mom grew up in Alabama. That we have precious family who still live in Alabama. I have experienced some of my favorite memories while visiting my family in Alabama. I have high-school friends whose children attend that school over there. Birmingham and Sand Mountain are two of my favorite places to visit.

Yet here I sit, thrilled that Texas made a game of it, but still with just a little bitterness in my heart when I think that for the next year, I will time and time again hear the 5 worst words imaginable in college football- "Alabama- The Defending National Champions".

So, I will default to my optimistic, 'my glass is always half full' attitude, and celebrate a BCS record 6 wins for the Southeastern Conference this season in the Bowl Championship Series. And as I recall, the last 4 BCS National Champions are from my beloved SEC.

I can rest, knowing that the University of Alabama has added to the storied history of the SEC. And I can persevere through the next season, hearing those five dreaded words.

Sadly, next season, the five words will probably turn to seven: "Alabama- The Two-Time Defending National Champions".

Roll.... SEC!

Weather Update...

It's a balmy 18 degrees.

No snow.

Beautifully sunny day.

No vacation day for me.