Thursday, July 27, 2006

Kissing Cousins

The following is a transcript of the opening segment from Wednesday's Colbert Report:

John StosselCOURAGE. It's rare out there in the media-scape, but John Stossel's got it. This guy's got courage up the wazoo. And no government regulation is going to take it out of his wazoo. It is packed tight up there.

Never one to back away from a controversial subject, in his syndicated column this week, Stossel comes out strongly in favor of marrying one's cousin. He says, quote:

"It would be ridiculous [...] to prohibit middle-aged women from having children. It's equally wrong to prohibit cousins from marrying. There are risks and challenges in any marriage ..."
"Give me a break!"

Who hasn't been to a family reunion and brushed up against an attractive cousin? Maybe you're both reaching for the potato salad -- your hand wraps around her's on the handle of the serving spoon. She blushes, and looks up at you with those crystal blue eyes just beaming from beneath her visor with the little fan on it. You tighten your grip. Her lips part. Your heart races. She runs away, but you chase her into the shade of an ivy-tangled gazebo. She tells you that you can't, you shan't, you musn't. Just because you live in a state that bans marriage between cousins. DARN IT! This grim parade of sorrow called life!

Well, next time that happens, just tell her that John Stossel says it's OK. Thank you John Stossel. And Charlene, I hope you're listening -- there's nothing wrong with it! Call me!

The lesson, as always: Never trust a guy with a mustache. Just look at Rafael Palmeiro. Am I not right?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

What the World Needs Now

Tonight I just finished Philip Yancey's excellent book, What's So Amazing About Grace? I really enjoyed the work, even though it appeared aimed more at Christians & politics than Christianity in general. He makes some excellent points, though, that speak to the perspective of the "Evangelical Right" today. Often, it seems that the Christian Right seeks to affect change through legislation. It's as if we could pass enough laws, we could clean this country up. To that perspective, Yancey says this:
A state government can shut down stores and theaters on Sunday, but it cannot compel worship. It can arrest and punish KKK murderers but cannot cure their hatred, much less teach them love. It can pass laws making divorce more difficult but cannot force husbands to love their wives and wives their husbands. It can give subsidies to the poor but cannot force the rich to show them compassion and justice. It can ban adultery but not lust, theft but not covetousness, cheating but not pride. It can encourage virtue but not holiness.

The point is that Christians should not look to government to affect change. Churches and Christians should be agents of positive change, one community and person at a time. And Yancey argues that our primary weapon in that process of change isn't power, or even truth. It's grace.

I give Yancey's book 4 stars out of 5. Well worth your time to read. Give it a shot.

I picked up some new books today. You'll be hearing about them soon.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


It's good to see old friends. I spent tonight at the Burleson's with, among others, Jeannie P., Kimberly C., and Kathy C. What a treat.

I'm not sure how to describe this sensation. It's not accurate for me to say, "I love preaching." I've heard Rick Warren talk about how he doesn't like to hear people say that. A person might simply be in love with being the center of attention, and that's why they love preaching. So it's not that, but I love preaching a sermon that really connects with people -- a sermon that speaks to a person's need, felt or not, so that the Word of God reaches down and pricks someone's heart. An old friend was at service today, and he came up to me afterward & thanked me for the sermon. Not your typical pleasantry. It's good to know that God uses my preaching to encourage & challenge his people in a deep way. I love that feeling.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Moms in town

I have two mothers in town. My maternal mother is in town to visit my sister & I. And also my pseudo-adopted mother, Kathy C., is in town to help her real son move in. She brought a couple Proverbs 31 women with her -- daughter Kimberly & Kimberly's friend, Jeannie. Sometimes it stinks having so many loved one's in town at one time because you don't quite get to spend enough time with any of them.

I'm sick. I have mucus built up in my chest, and I have a huge, whooping cough. It's annoying & to the point that it worries me -- I hope I don't get pneumonia.

I should have written it here before the British Open started so I could point to it & poke my chest out. But I told two separate people before the Open that Tiger would "win going away." While Ernie is close to him now, when Tiger gets leads like this in Major's, he is rarely caught. Chalk up major #11 for the prodigy.

Friday, July 07, 2006

No Dice

Well, I asked her. Yesterday. No go. Tried to see if she wanted to go see Pirates of the Caribbean tonight. She had to work. She politely apologized. I was slightly disappointed, but you know, my mind didn't obsess over it like I thought it might.

Wednesday night, someone at church encouraged me to go for it. That's what finally pushed me into it.

I might try again. Might not. I'll go with the flow, and we'll see ...

Thursday, July 06, 2006


I think I'm going to try to make it a point to blog about some of my under-the-rader favorite Bible passages. I'll do it, say, once a week. Or who knows, I could get tired of this whole blogging thing in a month. So for as long as this medium captures my interest, I'll try to highlight some oft-unhighlighted texts of Scripture.

Sure, anyone could wax eloquent (or, as Dr. J. Fortner would say, "wax an elephant") about Romans 8 or John 1. But there are some rich stories that go untold. Last week, it was Hosea at the auction block for Gomer. This week, it's Habakkuk.

Habakkuk was a faithful prophet living in 7th century Judah. One day, Habakkuk looked around at the unfaithfulness of his countrymen, threw up his hands, and cried out to God. "How long, O Lord, must I call out for help," he begins. And he rails on about the injustice in his land that goes unpunished. In essence, he's saying, "What are you going to do about this, God?"

And wouldn't you know, God talks back! "You're not going to believe this. But I'm raising up the Babylonians. They're going to be my big stick, and they're going to come in and punish your people for me."

Habakkuk is in disbelief. "The Babylonians?! But they're worse than us! How is that justice?"

God answers back with a list of Judah's misdeeds. And then the book ends with a prayer from Habakkuk to God. Habakkuk is trying to reason through what God has told him, reflecting on God's history of faithfulness as he talks to his Lord. Finally, he writes these words:

I heard and my heart pounded,
my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
and my legs trembled.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
to come on the nation invading us.

Basically, he's saying, "You know what God: I've thought about this, and I still don't like it. Your plan scares the heck out of me. But knowing how you've worked things out for Your people in the past, I know that ultimately you are going to work all this out for good." It's the Romans 8:28 of the Old Testament! :)

And then this:

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength.

[Sigh]. Beautiful.

Thank you, Mr. McGuiggan, for teaching me about Habakkuk.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Iron Men

"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."
Proverbs 27:17

This afternoon, David, Daniel, Carlos, and Philip gathered together for the first time. It is so neat that the four of us have found our way to Panama City at the same time. And we had a blast. We shared lunch & then we talked about all kinds of fun ministry-related things.

It's such a fun group. David is a military chaplain, and you get the quick impression that he is very cutting edge. He's the one that initiated the idea for this group. Daniel is fresh out of "seminary," and you can tell he's full of great ideas. He brings a higher level of maturity to the group. Carlos works primarily with youth and he brings that perspective. Carlos does now have a Bachelor's in Bible, but he wasn't as classically trained as the rest of us three. I point that out because I appreciate the perspective he brings to issues, because while the classroom is excellent & necessary, it can sometimes limit perspectives. And then there's me. I'm the youngest and the only single guy, so I bring that perspective to the collective. And ironically, I might be the one with the most actual preaching experience, though not significantly more than any of the others. It was fun to see how ideas bounced around the table from one person to another & to hear each person's perspective on things.

I am already looking forward to our next meeting.