Thursday, March 31, 2005

I am Barnabas?

Tonight in men's group we'll be looking at the life of Peter. He is my favorite Biblical character...maybe b/c he is so different than I am.

But that got me to thinking, what Biblical character am I most similar to? At Bethany, I sometimes referred to myself as 'The 4th member of what was formerly known as the Trinity.' But, surprise, I made that title up. There is no such position and if there were, I wouldn't be Him! But who in the Bible would I be?

I ran across this 10 question quiz and it told me:

"You are Barnabas! You just wish everyone could get along. You seem to spend your life trying to mend other people's problems. Everyone likes you. But sometimes you feel like a bit of a doormat."

But I don't really find that very accurate. Do you? What character are you?

Wednesday, March 30, 2005


Last night my mom handed me directions she had obtained from MapQuest so that I could drive her someplace in the mornin.

The directions were quite complicated. Lower Lake to Burgess to Lake to Hess to Ridge to Lake Ave to Grand to Transit to Millersport to 990 to 290 to 90 to 219 to exit 55 toward Orchard Park to 219 again to Milestrip to Sterling. Estimated time: 1:15.

That sounded dumb. So I made my own directions.

The directions I made were simple. Lower Lake to Lake to Hess to Ridge to Transit to Milestrip to Sterling. Actual time: 1:15.

I am a rigid simpleton.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Passion of the Christ, the

After 9 straight posts about the Passion Week, I figured it made sense to review Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. I just watched it for the 2nd time the other night.

The first time I watched it I was all by myself. I watched it on the big screen in our sanctuary. I'm not an emotional guy. I didn't cry. But it did show me, probably more accurately than I'd ever seen before, what Christ really did for me. It made me take a walk outside.

The second time I watched it in the same place, but this time the congregation watched with me. This time I was interested to see how useful it was as a ministry tool. After seeing people react to the film, I'd say it's a pretty good tool.

Gibson made some strange choices regarding the Satan character, but nothing that ruined the flow of events. Overall, I'd say the movie was very good. I probably like it better as a resource than as a movie. I'm also glad it made a lot of money b/c that means more religious/Christian/Bible stories will hit the big screen.

STATUS: Must Own

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Power Sunday

I remember hearing Deion Sanders (professional football player) talk about his Super Bowl experience some years ago. Super Bowl Sunday is, perhaps, the biggest day in the sporting world. 100 men meet their destiny on the evening of the Super Bowl. They've dreamed of and prepared for this 1 game their whole lives. 50 of them come out victorious. Deion Sanders was one of those 50. But, for Sanders, the accomplishment didn't satisfy. Later that very night he seriously contemplated suicide. He had reached his preferred destination only to find he'd started with the wrong dream.

All of us have dreamed of a Super Bowl of sorts. Some want Super-Power. Others want Prestige and Popularity. Still others seek Pleasure or Plenty. Many will find them to some degree. But, like Deion Sanders, they may find their dreams were wrong to begin with. Or maybe the dreams just got twisted along the way.

I really do believe we all, deep down, long for something greater than our own variation of the Super Bowl. We long for something powerful, but not the kind of power the world offers. We long for real relationships, not the fleeting popularity found with fickle friends. We long for pleasure, but not the kind that lasts mere moments. Who remembers the names of all the Super Bowl winners 10 years ago? 5? Last year?

Super Bowls come and go. There is only 1 Sunday that has stood the test of time. I believe only the empty tomb matches our original dream. Power over death. Popularity with God. The Pleasure of painless eternity. We're forgiven through His death, but we're victorious through His resurrection. The Super Bowl is the end of a false dream, the resurrection is the beginning of a dream come true.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Patient Saturday

When I was a kid I couldn't wait to grow up. As a student growing up I couldn't wait to graduate. After I graduated I couldn't wait to find a girl and get married. After I got married...oh crap, nevermind.

But my point is that life is, in a sense, all about............................waiting. see!

Jesus died at 3pm on Friday and His body was placed in the tomb just before sundown. At that point the women had to wait till the Sabbath was over before they could visit His tomb. But what they found, or in that case didn't find, was well worth the wait.

Have you ever considered the fact that if Jesus hadn't been resurrected we may never have heard of Him? I mean, sure He did some neat stuff...but I doubt His celebrity would have lasted 2,000 years w/o that final miracle. He saved the best for last.

And I wonder what He has in store for me. I've heard it said a time or two or two-million that He has a wonderful plan for my life. I don't doubt that, but I am sure curious what that plan is sometimes. Guess I'll be waiting! That part is inevitable. But waiting on Jesus seems far more attractive than all other options.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Pain Friday

We call it Good Friday now, but for roughly 40 hours it was misery for Jesus' closest followers. They had left their family and friends to follow Jesus and now He was gone. The dream was dead. And think of it from Jesus' perspective. The physical anguish is almost unbelievable. The emotional distress is almost incomprehensible. Add to that the weight of sin, satan's temptations, and His human nature...these were by far the most painful hours history has known.

And then I question if God is going to be able to use a bad situation in my life for good? That doesn't make much sense on my part. If God can take the worst event in history and turn it into the best, He can work in my situation. If God can take the greatest pain and turn it into the greatest reason for joy, then I can bare my current sorrow.

Everyone has pains in their life. Pain can be private or public. Pain can be physical, emotional, or spiritual. Pain can make sense or be confusing. Jesus' pain was all of those. He's ready to handle my pain and He's the only one qualified to do so.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Passover Thursday

Pretend you are being accused of a heinous crime that you didn't commit. Now pretend you have less than 24 hours before the authorities showed up to, for all intents and purposes, end your earthly sojourn. What are you going to do with your day? Try to build a defense? Hide? Go skydiving? Mend a broken relationship? How would you spend your final hours of freedom? How would you spend the last hours of your life?

Thursday of the Passion Week marked Jesus last full day before His death. How did He spend those precious moments? John's Gospel gives us the most information regarding Thursday evening’s events (technically, in Jewish culture an evening was the beginning of a new day, so to the disciples this would have been considered Friday).

First, He spent them in service. Incredibly, Jesus washed the feet of His followers. The same disciples who had earlier bickered about who would be Vice President in the Kingdom were now being served by the President Elect. Peter squirmed. Jesus, however, showed them that the way to true leadership is the opposite of the quest for worldly power.

Second, He spent them in communion. It was their Passover Meal and it was going as anticipated until Jesus started comparing the food and drink to His flesh and blood. The disciples must have lost their appetites. I don’t think anyone quite understood ‘The Last Supper’ until Jesus ate ‘The Next Supper’ with the 2 believing travelers after the resurrection. It was while breaking bread with them that their eyes were opened. It’s interesting that in one of the most mundane acts known to man, perspective grew larger than ever.

Finally, He spent those final hours in prayer. He prayed for Himself, His disciples, for future believers, and then prayed some more at Gethsemane. And knowing that Judas was on his way, knowing the disciples were too weak to save themselves, knowing His Father would have it no other way…Jesus prayed Himself to death.

I’ve prayed myself to sleep before, but I’ve never done what Jesus did.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Planning Wednesday

According to most chronological re-creations of the Passion Week, not much happened on Wednesday. In fact, we don't know of any specific events that definitely fell on Wednesday (although, there is a school of thought that actually places the crucifixion on this day). So what do you think was going on?

I think everyone was planning.

The chief priests, scribes, pharisees, etc were planning a way to eliminate Jesus. Parts of the crowd were probably planning what they'd do with their new-found political freedom Jesus was assumed to be on the verge of providing. The disciples were planning to follow Jesus even if it meant death. Judas was planning on betraying Christ. Satan was planning a victory party. Jesus, of course, was planning to die and rise again 3 days later.

The best laid plans of mice and men...

Only Christ had His plans work out long-term. Everyone else had incredibly short-term success. Makes me wonder why I'd ever try planning apart from Christ. If I want long-term success, I want to go the way of Christ.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Parable Tuesday

I remember at Bethany, I would occasionally go to the hockey games to 'boooooo' the Blazers and cheer for the opposing team...just to be a jerk. I received some playful punches, but my life was never in doubt.

Tuesday morning Jesus and His entourage entered the temple courts once again and Jesus began to 'boooooo' the hometown team. And I don't think His life was in jeopardy either. They were certainly going to kill Him. They'd been planning it for a long time.

The parables He spoke that day were unmistakable 'boooooos' directed toward the team of Jewish leaders. These were the most final and serious 'boooooos' in history. When He finished the three stories, 'they looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them.'

Before leaving the temple, Jesus delivered a scathing rebuke of the religious leaders. He called them hypocrites, blind guides, blind fools, whitewashed tombs, snakes, and a brood of vipers. But then He did something that sets Him apart from all others. He grieved over them.

Jesus had the perfect balance of judgment and compassion. Maybe that's why on the cross three days later He could utter the amazing words, 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.' He prayed compassionately for His killers as He was dying for the sins He knew were utterly serious.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Pure Monday

As Jesus journeyed back toward Jerusalem Monday morning He became hungry. In the distance His eye caught a full-looking fig tree, but as He approached He found no fruit. 'May you never bear fruit again,' Jesus cursed. He and the disciples then proceeded toward the temple. The temple was, no doubt, impressive to the eye as well. The disciples would later say of it, 'What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!' Jesus, however, was as unimpressed with the temple as He had been with the fruitless tree and answered their praise with a description of its coming destruction. 'Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.'

But before the prophecy of its external destruction was fulfilled in A.D. 70, Jesus exposed its ghastly contents. What was designed to be the capital building of the 'city on a hill' had turned into a glorified back alley. Jesus would have none of that. Throughout His ministry, nothing seemed to upset Him more than hypocrisy. The grandeur of the temple screamed of sacredness, but its guts screamed of secularity.

God...keep me from being that fig tree. Don't let me become a deceptive temple. "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Palm Sunday

A few months ago my Thursday men's group began a study in the Gospel of Mark and we've been making our way through bit by bit. This coming Thursday, of course, our church is doing a communion service for the whole congregation so I THOUGHT our study in Mark would have to be put on hold...but then I realized that last Thursday we left off at Mark 14:12, just in time for the 'Last Supper.' So my Thursday devotional will simply be the next passage in our Mark study. I thought that was neat.

On Sunday nights we've been going through the book of Revelation. Today being Palm Sunday, I wanted to somehow connect Chapter 7 to the triumphal entry. How in the world was I gonna do that? Well, it just so happens that the waving/laying of palms is only mentioned twice in the whole New Testament. John 12:13 at the triumphal entry and, you guessed it, Revelation 7:9. I thought that was neat too.

I am super organized when it comes to leading Bible studies , but not THAT organized. I really believe God is making these fun little connections. Why? Maybe just for my amusement! Who knows!?!? Not me.

But It does remind me that my Savior is in complete control. He's a Savior who knew exactly where a colt would be tied and exactly how to obtain it; A Savior who knew the people laying palm branches and cloaks at his feet would, in a matter of days, argue passionately for His murder; A Savior who knew the leadership of a city wanted Him dead, but rode in for all to see; A Savior who broke bread with a disciple He knew would betray Him in mere hours, and then sent him to complete that task.

Only Jesus would do all that He did knowing all that He knew.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

This is Fashion?

I saw this pic from portuguese designer Dino Alves.

Who wants one? Do you think it'll catch on!?!?

Friday, March 18, 2005

Orange Crush

Okay, so my team lost already. It stinks. Actually, it sucks. They didn't play very well and then, just when I thought they were going to win anyways, the other team got red hot. Warrick was very good, but McNamara was horrible pretty much all game long.

Who to root for now? Ummm....Here are the candidates:

1. Arizona-They have a really good 3-point shooter so that's fun 2. Gonzaga-They are probably my 2nd favorite college team 3. Utah-They have a tall guy from Australia, that's cool 4. UConn-They're a rival, but I like the way they play

UPDATE: Replace Gonzaga with West Virginia
UPDATE: Replace UConn with NC State

Since non-basketball fans may find today's post super boring, I'll say something else. Pop (or Soda depending on where you are from) is no longer something I drink regularly. But when I do, I find these to be the best kinds:

1. Root beer
2. Squirt
3. Sprite
4. Mountain Dew

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The NCAA Tournament

Today is the start of the greatest Tournament in all of sports. 64 Teams. You lose one and you're done. No second chances. All or nothing. And these aren't those annoying pro athletes that are only in it for the money, these are college kids playing for the love of the game (okay, perhaps they're also playing for a chance to be one of those annoying guys).

I am rooting for the Syracuse Orange. They've always been my favorite team. They actually won it all 2 years ago and have a decent chance again this year. The team from my county (Niagara) made it into the tournament this year too, but they'll probably lose in the first round.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Ordination Interview

Yesterday morning I had my ordination interview at the Houghton Wesleyan Church. The hour seemed to go super fast. It was actually fun. I enjoy talking about doctrinal issues and the like. The questions from my application that they seemed most interested in were #'s 13, 52 & 63.

13. What is your understanding of the experience of entire sanctification?
52. What should be the Christian response to the practice of homosexuality?
63. What is your understanding of the 'gift of tongues?' Is it the evidence of being filled with the Spirit?

By the way, I mentioned 'blogging' on my application. I wonder if other people have done that.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Napoleon ISN'T funny?!?!

Does your mom think Napoleon Dynamite is funny? Your boss? Can you think of anyone over 32 years old that finds the movie hilarious? Now, I know everyone will think of an exception to this 32-year-cut-off-rule, but the rule is true in general.

But why? Why don't they find Napoleon funny. My brother and I were discussing this the other day and decided that our generation finds TONE humorous moreso than CONTENT. The WAY someone says something is more important than WHAT they say. The line DELIVERY is more important than the line ITSELF. Ok, I'm out of ways to say the same thing.

My question is...does this generational characteristic affect how we view church, politics, sports, etc?

Monday, March 14, 2005

Purpose Driven Life Saver

Some of you probably heard the terrible story that occured the other day in Georgia. Brian Nichols, on on his way into court for a rape trial, shot and killed a judge, court reporter, a deputy, and later a federal agent in order to escape the proceedings. To avoid the search party, he eventually kidnapped a 26 year old woman named Ashley Smith at her home.

Smith calmed Nichols by reading an excerpt from Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life and speaking to him about God. Nichols was so moved by the writing that he asked her to read it again. This led to further discussion about angels, miracles and, of course, purpose. Eventually Smith told her captor that he was in her apartment for a reason. She speculated that Nichols could end up leading many people to Christ in prison.

Nichols eventually let Smith go and surrendered peacefully to authorities.

Click HERE to read the full article

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Plenty of Time

I'll admit it. I have plenty of time on my hands. I work. I come home. I do basically nothing. Then I sleep. Repeat. Sometimes I feel guilty when people tell me they're 'super busy' or whatever. I am sure there are plenty of reasons why I have so much 'free time.'

Maybe it's b/c I am single.
Maybe it's b/c I don't like going out on the town.
Maybe it's b/c I've kept my life very simple
Maybe it's b/c I'm lazy.
Maybe it's b/c other people are slower than me
Maybe it's b/c others are lying about being busy
Maybe it's b/c I'm not very ambitious

Those are my current theories

Saturday, March 12, 2005

The Agony of Defeat

I just caught the end of the University of Buffalo's 1st ever chance to win the MAC Conference Championship. They lost on a last second basket by Ohio. But that's not what this post is about. It just reminded me of my sports career.

When I was a teen, our church participated in the 'Houghton Tournament' every year. Our basketball team finished 2nd every single year I played. It was usually a very close game, but we always lost.

But I've experienced some wins too. Every year at church we did a flag football tournament (great outreach idea btw) and one year my team won. That was cool. In my senior year of high school my team won the Senior Cup floor hockey tournament. That was cool too.

What is your greatest sports victory?

Friday, March 11, 2005


What's the highest you've ever counted?

On a message board I'm part of, you earn points by starting threads that get a lot of responses. So, naturally, I started a counting thread. There have been over 800 responses. They're currently up to 809

The internet is strange...and I'm right in the middle of it all.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The Buffalo News

The Front Page of the Buffalo News had a story entitled Mansions of Worship this past Sunday. The article is long, but can be found here. There are plenty of quotes from the pastors of my areas largest churches, 2 of which are Wesleyan. For readers from my denomination, I'll quote the following section:

"In the Buffalo-Niagara region, among several denominations, only the Wesleyan church made any sizable gain in adherents between 1990 and 2000. The denomination's presence grew from 2,687 people to more than 15,000."

Pastor Karl (Eastern Hills Wesleyan)
"Does church have to be dry and yawning and you can't wait for it to be over?"

Pastor Greg (Hamburg Wesleyan)
"People ought to be able to worship God using music they're comfortable with and they enjoy."

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


I remember a time when I remembered my dreams almost every morning. I even wrote them down in a little green spiral notebook until that notebook became too incriminating. I also was a huge fan of interpreting dreams. Just like reading into Scripture, it's very easy to read into dreams whatever meaning you want. For a while I could interpret both a dream about a worldwide flood and one about a red-eyed Big Bird chasing me around town to mean that my current crush loved me back.

I don't remember my dreams very often anymore. I don't write them down. Even if I do remember them I don't often try to interpret them. Maybe I'm just a boring person, but my view of dreams has changed. I don't think they mean anything (not that God can't use dreams for a special purpose). I think they are simply information floating around in a common pond of your brain while you sleep.

Did you ever realize you were dreaming? This morning I had the rare ability to control my dream. For some reason my dream had me reading a piece of paper. Once I realized I was dreaming I decided to read the whole page. It was mumbo-jumbo. It made no sense. It was just a combination of words I've been dealing with lately: China, tone, book, contradiction, car, passport, etc. Dreams are recent thoughts bumping into each-other.

Sunday, March 06, 2005


The other night I saw Saw. My sister saw Saw and said I should see Saw also. Then a second sister, who also saw Saw said I should review Saw for those who may see Saw soon. Saw is a movie in the style of one of my favorite movies Seven, but Saw falls far short of Seven's brilliance.

While watching Seven you get a good sense of the bad guys purpose, I think that makes the movie. You almost appreciate his purpose. In Saw, however, you don't get that internal conflict as you watch. I didn't anyways. Plus, I hated the ending. Stop reading if you don't want to know the ending, but I hate it when the 'bad guy' ends up being some nobody that you saw once earlier in the movie. I mean, it was certainly a surprise ending, but just b/c it was so stupid...nothing like the great ending of Seven.

Rating: 5.7
Status: Average

Saturday, March 05, 2005


I like Microsoft Photostory. If you have high speed internet feel free to check out the 2 I just made:

30 Hour Famine 05
Snow Camp 05
China Trip 04

Friday, March 04, 2005

Comfort Zones

I remember the days when 'gettting out of my comfort zone' meant trying to drink a gallon of milk without throwing up or rolling in dog poo and then asking a cute girl out on a date. That was youth ministry, or at least that's what the successful youth ministries entailed. In fact, I would wager that an alien observer of some youth ministries wouldn't be able to differentiate them from the TV show Fear Factor. You know what? Kids SHOULD fear drinking a gallon of milk. Kids SHOULD fear rolling in dog poo. When did being gross become synonymous with being brave? All this to illustrate that teens need to get out of their comfort zone.

I was very happy to see, at our 30 Hour Famine that 'getting out of your comfort zone' meant obeying God over and over again. It meant being Christlike. Here are a few closing thoughts about comfort zones:

The comfort zone....
Is synonymous with 'the disobedience zone'
Is probably even more relevant for adults
Is a stronghold in a pleasure driven culture

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Sleep Charts Stink

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know I used to do sleep charts every week. If you search the archives, you won't find them. Those posts have been replaced. I now HATE sleep charts. They were keeping me up at night.

Since I quit charting my sleep, I've been sleeping at more reasonable hours. Lately I've been falling asleep about 1:30 am. Quite an improvement from 4ish. And I've been waking up earlier too. It's been great.

I owe this change to Napoleon Dynamite and Pilgrim's Progress. 7 nights in a row I fell asleep while listening to Napoleon and Kip bicker. And then my Pilgrim's Progress audio book arrived in the mail. I've fallen asleep listening to it 3 or 4 nights in a row now. I think I like audio books. I know I like Napoleon Dynamite. And I'm definitely liking my latest sleep patterns.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

My Ten Life Values

I value OPTIMISM in light of our promised future. Looking at the bigger picture allows us to stay positive. I value BALANCE in life personally and relationally. No storm in any one area should be able to knock down a person of wholeness. I value PEACE of heart. Stress doesn’t accomplish things. Know that God is in control. I value TRUTH that is tested, thought out, deep, fundamental, practical, timeworn and evidential. I value ORDER in private and public settings. Structure brings productivity and brings God glory. I value EXPRESSION of truth. Truth should be expressed through preaching, teaching, testifying, sharing and singing. I value COMPETITION between those with differing abilities, skills, opinions and doctrines. Iron sharpens iron. Debating issues is an important procedure in understanding and clarifying truth. I value SERVICE to others. We should be givers rather than takers; holding the needs of others as we hold our own. I value RELIABILITY. Inconsistency is a sign of insincerity. Finish what you start. I value QUALITY over quantity. Better to have one authentic anything than one hundred superficial somethings.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The Search Concludes

One week after my search for a car began, it is finished. I was, at first, interested in a Jeep Wrangler. I didn't find many used one's. I was considering a used Wrangler with less than 40,000 miles on it, but the price was a bit beyond my liking. I actually thought about buying a brand new Wrangler for about $23,000, but decided against spending that much.

I ended up looking more towards smaller cars instead of Jeeps. My search concluded with a 2002 Dodge Stratus V6 that only has 22,000 miles on it. I paid closer to the 'private buyer' Edmunds number than the 'dealer' number, even though I bought it from a dealer.