Thursday, November 29, 2007


It crossed my mind last night, at a Session meeting of all places (isn't that where most profound theological insights are born?), that somewhere along the line we may have missed the mark with this word. Aside from "Holy cow" and all of the secular-profane-profanity misuses of the word, I think there are still other ways that we've missed them mark on what it means, so I'm setting up some time to do a little study into this. It could become a sermon or a study or simply some personal insight that I will hope will change my perspective on things. Either way, whatever comes of it will, in some form or another, end up on this blog. I already found Young's Bible Dictionary (thanks Greg!) to be pointing in the right direction...

Am I Famous?!?

Q: What do you think a 3-4 with Rucker-Peko-Fanene up front and Jeanty-Johnson-Brooks-Geathers as backers would look like?
- Don, Delaware, OH
A: It's certainly intriguing, especially now that they've got more backers than Penn State's attic. All eyes will be on that defensive huddle when it breaks for the first snap of May's OTAs.
Read More

Ok, so here's the deal. I'm a fan of the Cincinnati Bengals and check out their website and read articles on a regular basis. I've also gotten into the habit of randomly sending out queries to the guy who runs the site. He posts responses weekly to a couple questions he gets. Once, I actually got an e-mail response from him to a question, but I've never had my question and a lengthy reply posted on the website. That is, until now. When I saw it, my jaw dropped and I can't describe how I felt. I'm not exactly much for celebrity, but this was a pretty cool feeling - seeing my "name up in lights" so to speak.

I think it's a good idea that I figured this out now. I need to be careful that I'm never driven by this kind of thing in my ministry. The last thing this world needs is me getting excited about seeing my name on the front of some book or on a poster or marquee for some speaking engagement. Although, I've got some ideas...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

One of those days

I've felt like today has been the slowest day in creation. I'm not entirely sure why that's the case. It's certainly not for lack caffeine. And I HAVE done work today, so it's not simply because I'm bored and twiddling my thumbs. I'm uncertain if this is true, whether anyone else has experienced it as well as me, but I'm starting to think that there has been some odd warp in the space-time continuum. "Oh" you say, "One of those days..."

Monday, November 26, 2007

Here we go again

Have you ever noticed that life is full of victories - followed very closely behind by defeats (unless you are the '07 Patriots). Anyway, I had a little bit of that experience last night. The background was that I'd had a wonderful time this weekend with family & friends celebrating Thanksgiving. My sermon, that I'd been excited to preach for months, until the night before when I was concerned it would fall flat, ended up fairly well. Unfortunately, the following rough sketch happened last night:

the Scene: two people visiting our house, sitting at our kitchen table
[small talk]

Person A: "I hate X people... they're..."

Don: "Whoa...[somewhere in the middle]... racist bigot..."

Person B: "[person A] is getting mad at you..."

Don: "Well, I'm shocked that [person A] would say something like that..."

The dialog continued for awhile. Unfortunately, I didn't realize soon enough that no matter what Person A had said, my words were hurtful and poorly timed. I doubt my apology did much - too late and not empathetic enough. That whole "sometimes you just need to keep your mouth shut and not say what you're thinking" is something I'm STILL working on. It was, yet another reminder that you need to, especially as a pastor, be so careful of what you're doing, when you're doing it, because at any moment you can end up flat on your face - and some of us are better at ending up there than others...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Who knew?

Tomorrow is Yankee Thanksgiving. While it's a little late for my Canadian blood (you have to cook frozen corn & green beans, pumpkin pie from a can and bruised apples for pies)there is the luxury of having the day after, Black Friday, off from work. 'Course, I work Sunday through Thursday which means that's no different from any other week for me.

Anyway, this US Thanksgiving will be a little different for me - now that we've moved to Ohio. At Liberty they have an actual Thanksgiving Day worship service. No, it's not long (30 min). It's actually held outside amid the fallen leaves, mulling cider in a cauldron that would fit in any rendition of Macbeth, and possible rain and hallowing winds of late November. Coming from Canada and presbyterian churches on both coasts, I'd never heard of such a service. But here in the heartland, and particularly at Liberty (where last Sunday we had a "Scottish Harvest" parade, led by bagpipers and a couple men in kilts)... well, it's kind of fitting.

So, while many are preparing turkeys and watching parades, I'll be worshipping and reading Lincoln's Thanksgiving Address at a special worship service. Which is where I'd rather be anyway - there are few things more boring than watching a parade on television...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Oh Well...

I guess there's always next year, eh? Of course, Lloyd may be watching someone else coach the Wolverines then. As much as I've been frustrated in the last 10 years about him not coaching up his team in big games. He is the only Michigan coach in the last 50 years to bring Ann Arbor a National Championship in football. So, at least once, he got it done. Unfortunately, 1-6 against Ohio State is tough to swallow. But, what can you say except that Les Miles better come up with a way to beat them - or stay in Louisiana!

Oh Boy!

I've never lived in Ohio or Michigan before. I've visited both often over the years while living in NY, NJ, CA & in Canada. But I've never been quite this "close" to the BIG game. I have to admit, and it probably has more to do with OSU's loss last week than anything else, but I'm surprised at the lack of intensity I've seen. People have been so crazy about these Buckeyes, and there's some kind of counter that people keep leading up to this game around here - but it's almost as if it became some kind of afterthought. I dunno. But what I do know is that I'm going to be watching this game and hoping that I get to go to church Sunday with a little smirk on my face..

GO BLUE!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Finally here

Low 28° F
Precip: 30%
Snow flurries or snow showers.

This is the evening forecast for Columbus. On my way into the church this morning, huge snowflakes fell from the sky. No, they didn't stick and it's more wet than anything out right now, but it IS cold. I've been waiting for this for quite awhile and I'm glad it's finally here. Just in time for Michigan - OSU...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What is Success?

I just read this article and it got me thinking, yet again. Having worked in a psychological hospital as an intern last year, I often thought about what our world would look like if we made room in it for those that didn't quite fit. What would our world look like if we were more concerned with caring for others than in securing some kind of success for ourselves. It certainly wouldn't look like the world we live in now. I've played sports all my life and there's this huge divide between those that play for fun (everybody bats, everybody plays, etc) and those that play to win (whatever it takes, if you're not good enough you sit, etc). Most of my life I've been on the latter side. I'm competitive. I want to win, I NEED to win. Or at least that's the way I feel. But when you're confronted with other people, as human beings, and reminded of the fact that winning means someone loses... it's a different story.

If winning and success were all that mattered, there'd be no room for people that weren't deemed "good enough." But as Christians, we're supposed to believe that everyone has intrinsic worth, that everyone is a Child of God and loved by God. But, do we really treat everyone that way? I mean, if we did, we'd probably come up short, we'd fail to be as successful as we possibly could be, right?

Reading that article by Mitch Albom from the Detroit Free Press reminded me that, whatever the cost, we need to make room in our lives for people who wouldn't normally fit. We need to enlarge our circle of friends and family - which may mean that we lose some of that "me" time or we become a little less "successful" in some people's eyes. But I truly believe that in doing so, we can actually be much more successful than we ever dreamed - in the eyes of the only One who really matters...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Sometimes I miss Youth Ministry

Yesterday, I met with someone that Liberty supports through our Mission budget. Now, you'd think that after 5 months I'd have a hand on all of what we do, seeing as Missions was one of the four areas on my job description. But you'd be wrong. Anyway, we met with someone who's in Youth for Christ, downtown at this really neat ministry center. This center is in a rough neighborhood of Columbus. Not a lot of good outs for these kids. So, they've got a ministry to teen mothers, getting them to finish their education. They've got an auto mechanic shop where they teach kids to fix cars. There are other things they do but there was one statement made that totally hit home to me - when you work with adults, you can "give them Christ" and have them walking for years, but all of the sudden their lives fall apart because all of the social baggage they've accumulated and they're right back where they were, but if you get a kid, share Christ, keep them away from those things that can trap them, and you can be so much more effective.

I heard that because I've seen it. It was just another one of those moments I've experienced in the last four years or so that have reminded me of why I enjoyed Youth Ministry and that I do miss it. Whether or not I'll ever "go back" I don't know, but I will always have a place for it in my heart - and I'll never haze a youth pastor...

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Overheard @ Panera

I'm not entirely sure about you, but it seems that Panera is overtaking Starbucks as the premier place to have a business meeting or simply sit, drink & eat and do some work. And I think it's completely attributable to the free wi-fi that they offer, while Starbucks has sold their soul to T-mobile. Anyway, I was over there last week for an aborted meeting and as I poured over a book and my coffee I heard a conversation between two men and their laptops. While this isn't verbatim, this is a rough recount of a key segment of their conversation:

Guy A - "Yeah, that sun is bright and it either gets my eyes or my screen."

Guy B - "I had to move onto this side because of that."

Guy A - "By the way, I found an attachment for my computer for my car that I was thinking of having put in, take a look."

Guy B - "Not bad, have you ever seen mine? I actually have it set up so I can have full use of my laptop & type while I'm driving..."

That was the point where I was like - "Huh?! Are they talking about what I THINK they're talking about?"

Have we gotten to the place in our society where we need to have fully functioning mobile offices? Man, if there's one thing we need to continue to encourage people to do is to somehow slow down their lives. Take a breather. How else are we ever going to experience God...

Monday, November 05, 2007

So Glad, I don't have to fix this!

First off, and I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but I'm a fan of the Cincinnati Bengals. I became a fan back in the 1988 season, in the middle of that exciting year featuring Boomer Esiason, Ickey Woods & the Ickey Shuffle and a host of great players. They lit up the Houston Oilers late in the season for 40+ points in the Jungle. I was 10 years old in Canada, the game was the one game broadcast on Global TV at that time and I was hooked. I've been a fan through the 2 win seasons, Ki-Jana Carter and Akili Smith debacles and watched in horror 2 years ago as the Steelers clawed their way to the Super Bowl, through the Bengals first Division Championship in 15 years and through Carson Palmer's left knee on an excruciating double-whammy play. And I'm still a fan today.

But after yesterday's game, and the frustration and anger I felt at a team that just two years ago was compared to the Indy Colts, and is presently 2-6 and on its way to a top draft pick in next year's draft, I came to a startling and very freeing realization: "I don't have to fix this!"

Now, part of being a sports fan is that whole "I would've done X on that play" or "If it were my team I'd sign Y" And to an extend, that's ok. But at some point you have to wake up and say, "That's not my job and I can't expend wasted energy on that." And I also realized how much that carries over into other places in my life. As an Associate Pastor, I have some very specific areas of ministry focus. Those are areas that I need to expend my energy. But I'm not there to "fix" the church or to somehow pine about what I would do if I were in the position to enact whatever. Just like in politics or in other arenas, I have a limited scope and limited ability to enact change and I need to exercise it and leave the rest up to God. If I try to take over as God in those areas, I'm only going to become more and more frustrated when things don't go right - even if the decisions I thought were right are made - because since I didn't actually make them, they're not up to me and I remain free to criticize.

So I was reminded that I need to "change the things I can, accept the things I don't, and understand which is which." Hey, that's kinda catchy...