My favorite part of The Voice

It’s at about the 50 second mark. Sixteen-year-old Jacquie Lee’s time is almost up and none of the super star judges have activated the switch to turn their chair around, signaling approval of Ms. Lee’s performance. If none of them turn, her journey will be over in less time than it takes to change classes at school.

Christina Aguilera’s hand hovers over the button.  Time is nearly gone as she finally pounces on her button, convincing Blake Shelton to rapidly follow suit. Both chairs spin around to a smiling young lady. She has been accepted. She has received the approval of people who could propel her into stardom. Continue reading

If the blind lead the blind, both fall into a pothole.

source:wfmj.com

Salt truck succumbs to a pot hole in nearby Youngstown, OH (source:wfmj.com)

It’s not like I haven’t been around potholes before. But, they’ve been extra bad this year. I’ve had conversations with co-workers who agree that it seems far worse than in the past.

As it turns out, we’re correct.  I read online that in 2015, the state of Ohio has been sued 256 times for automobile damage caused by these gaping craters – the most ever. Our local newspaper even has a “Pothole Patrol” so commuters can report the location of the most cavernous routes and whether or not they have been repaired. However, we have seen potholes before, and you’d figure that drivers would have some idea how to navigate them.

On my way to work last week, I took my normal route, which had birthed and expanded potholes overnight. At many points in a one mile stretch, cars slow to a crawl to safely maneuver a pothole minefield. I was at one of those points, and a driver behind me was in too much of a hurry to worry about the potential damage to his vehicle. 

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The LGBT sentiment is godly, in a way

Choosing between God and Gay

 

I saw this posted on facebook yesterday and it has stuck with me.  The tone isn’t combative. The sentiment portrays a basic human need: to be accepted for who we are.

I’m not sure what rock I’ve been under, but this is the first I’ve heard of Vicky Beeching. From what I’ve learned about her from the internet, she seems like a lovely person who isn’t out to pick a fight. Her web site describes her: “. . . with warmth, humour, an ivy-league mind and striking honesty Vicky communicates a message of authenticity, challenge and self-development, much of which is drawn candidly from her own journey.”

In her interview with the BBC after the announcement about her sexuality, she noted that she stayed with the church because she thinks that disagreeing with someone doesn’t mean you can’t associate with them.

Wow, it looks like we’d get along swimmingly.

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Here’s how I got my best bowling score in years

Photo credit: Seth Tisue / Foter / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: Seth Tisue / Foter / CC BY-SA

Okay, it was only a 135. But that’s a great score for me. And by the way, the sign above wasn’t my issue.

Village Church, the missional community my wife and I started with a few friends last year, chose to have a fun night last week for church. As an MC, not only can we do that sort of thing for church – we’re supposed to do it from time to time.

The first game we bowled I did predictably pathetic. I believe my score was 89. For some reason, I slice when I bowl. I’m right-handed, but the ball consistently cuts to the right and I don’t know why. Interestingly, when I golf (which I’m equally bad at) I almost never slice the ball.

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Zach, the fish whisperer

A fish photobomb

A fishy photobomb

My intent was to get a picture of the bigger fish.  Zach, my 11 year-old, will have had that fish for two years this April. Goldfish are supposed to live like what, a few months? I’ve always thought that pet stores sell goldfish as bait or as a starter fish for kids interested in getting an aquarium. So, when we bought Zach this fish for fifty cents almost two years ago, we didn’t invest in gravel, plants or other fishy stuff. We didn’t think he’d last that long.

A few months later we bought the smaller fish because Zach was worried the first fish was lonely. They’ve been bowl mates for about a year and a half.

My wife and I can’t believe they are still alive. Zach doesn’t clean the bowl as often as he should, though it looks darker in the picture that it actually is because the room was dark. However, he never forgets to feed them each night. In the early days I would ask Zach at bedtime if he’d fed the fish. But, I could never remember their names so I’d just refer to them as famous duos in history. Zach stopped correcting me about a year ago.

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My M&M friend wanted to take a selfie. I had to help him.

Do you know what this is?

Photo credit: Dave Knickerbocker (as you could probably guess by the lack of quality)

This little guy looks pretty good for being around for so long.  He’s an M&M (duh) from the Christmas tree lights I insisted on buying. It was for our first Christmas tree after getting engaged over 17 years ago. He’s been through a lot. For the first couple years, at the end of the season I would meticulously re-insert green and the colorful friends from his light strip neighborhood into the plastic case they had come in. My hope was that they would remain in mint condition for years.

Then the kids started coming. When Jess got tall enough to be able to liberate them from their coniferous cage to live out the rest of their days with Barney and a few Disney princesses, I was forced to adjust. I reassigned the plastic candy that hadn’t been claimed by a Knickerbocker toddler to the top of our plastic tree. Also, with more kids came more decorations and more frustration packing and repacking them every year. It took several years, but eventually I resorted to winding them up like any other set of lights and tossing them in the box.

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Intricate un-faith

Photo credit: Leonard John Matthews / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Photo credit: Leonard John Matthews / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

“People often have intricate and well-thought-out reasons for not believing, and we treat them with less than respect if we ignore this.”   

N.T. Wright (Outreach Magazine, Nov/Dec 2013, p. 100)

I wonder how often Christians are stopped in our evangelical tracks by an unbeliever who presents greater reasoning to reject Jesus than we do to follow him.  My guess is that it’s not that often.

It doesn’t happen much because it only takes one time experiencing that for a Christian to shy away from ever going through it again.  Instead of challenging someone else with changing their eternal course the conversation turns into us not having the answers.   Continue reading

Our new church on mission: Pre-prom for kids with Autism

I wasn’t thrilled with having to get a part-time job.  Vanda, my wife, reminded me that God uses our situations – even situations we might see as a bump in the road – to do amazing things.  And so he did.

My first assignment as a substitute teacher for Summit Academy was with the Autism Unit on the west side of Youngstown, OH.  There are always at least two teachers in a classroom, and since Kristen Dimas was on maternity leave for the first few weeks of the school year, I had a steady gig filling in for her and working with Michelle Walsh. Continue reading

Jesus was made perfect. So, he must have been less than perfect, right?

 

Photo credit: Jilles / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Photo credit: Jilles / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Short answer: yes.

Perhaps it wasn’t the smartest idea.  I introduced the question posed in the title of this post to the young adult Bible study at Evangel Baptist Church for one of the first studies I led for them.  The look on Brian Barth’s face – a young man who studies the word and is faithful to it – was priceless!  He didn’t know me yet and was deeply concerned that I was bringing some kook teaching into the lives of our young adults.  We can laugh about it now, right Brian (tee-hee)?

But, it’s a question that is valid.  Hebrews 5:8-9 says, “Son though [Jesus] was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him. (NIV)”

Lest you think it’s a mistake, the Biblical author says it again in Hebrews 7:28, “For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever. (NIV, too)” Continue reading

The Epic Undoing of Haley Ann Ewing

The epic undoing of haley ann ewing

There are none so blind as those who will not see.

I’m not much of a reader of fiction.  I’ve read the first 175 pages of Crime and Punishment three times.  For some reason, I just can’t make it to the end.  When I do manage to finish a novel, it usually takes me a few months.  Vanda laughs as me because she’ll read about seven books before I finish one.

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