Friday, December 30, 2005

The Weight of the World

It is official: I have reached 190 lbs. I'm sure many people out there - weight watchers, calorie counters, & especially daily, scale tippers, you can identify with my weighty declaration.
The mystical 200 lbs. has always been looming out in space, but not a real space as though my handles could stretch to that height. Scientist are now concluding that this feat is now attainable. The ends of the universe are within reach!
I echo this attainment as an almost thirty-something year old who continues to lose hair even as my breaths grow shorter and shorter. Ah, but when kings and heroes look back to the life of John Mark, they will say THIS is his finest hour.
Watch out for the radical transformation of a 190 lb. thirty something to drop weight like hot grease rolling down flabby bacon.
I say this statement with inner thoughts of dropping my six hour TRI time to 4 hours.
I can't help but give a shout out to my brother-in-law, Ivan, who says that blogs give way to much information about a person that he could care less about knowing. I have to admit that I am sucked into the pantheon of "giving much information about self". That's right counselor I have confessed all about self.
Enjoy all of my moments everyone. You have heard my predicament and my target so let us join together in an ever blessed goal. Eat, drink, and be fast for tomorrow we race!
Take a deep breath Ivan, because you are the wind beneath my wings :)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Handlebar Mania

The bottom line is this face has to make you laugh! You might be laughing at me, with me, or whatever; the bottom line is handle bar mustaches are funny. I hope you enjoy it as much as my wife does :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

My Kind of Santa Claus

Check out James Parker's article on good ol' St. Nick

Tis the season

I love Christmas season, but I must say that I despise the smorgasbord of senseless songs, decor, and newsreports. More directly it is dung that needs to be trampled under somebody else's feet. I'm tired of smelling this putrid smell every time I turn on the radio, TV, or see some "holiday spirit" in front of someone's house.
First, radio stations that play "christian" music prove the point that parachurch organizations not held in accountability to a covenant church are simply not faithful to God's Word. Listen for yourself on any given day, much less Sunday. I don't want to hear White Christmas, Jingle Bells, or Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer on a channel that is supposedly committed to "exalting Jesus as Lord". As a youth minister, I love to play wacky games like bobbing for gold fish (many fish die in the process but do not stop the game). However, sticking to the mission and purpose of the ministry is vitally important. The main problem is having a message that is "safe for the whole family". The Gospel is not safe for the whole family. When church membership is a good thing to put on your resume, then we've got a problem. When the safety net does not include anything about the bloody Gospel that gives life to me, then we've got a problem. When I can sing along with the Christian church, Nazarene church, Methodist church in the same tune, then we've got a problem. None of us attend the same church yet we're in one accord on the radio station. I don't want safety. I don't want bubble gum theology. I don't want Peter Gabriel singing to me about the Father eyes or Los Lonely Boys asking me how to get to heaven, and I surely don't want A CHRISTIAN STATION AIRING THESE SONGS LIKE THEY ARE GOOD CHRISTIAN SONGS!!! Let's make music to the praise of God's glorious grace and redeem the creativity that God has uniquely given to His creation. Let's explore whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise. Surely in this wide expanse we can enjoy the finest Christian made music and art that is not a likeness of the world's music.
Besides the radio stations playing, I Saw Mama Kissing Santa Claus, the battle for Christmas is not only faught on the radio stations but in Christian homes with being Christians on the wrong side. Churches wage war over Halloween because every dutiful Christian knows that creepy goblins, bloody monsters, and witches with brooms have 666 stamped on their costume. Yet, when Christmas time comes we blow up a ten foot Santa Claus in our yard! What message are we sending when the TV crews do reports asking "will you say 'Happy Holidays' or 'Merry Christmas'?" Santa and Frosty do not look like the reason for the season. We have to remember that we are to provide a defense for the Gospel. What defense do we provide when people merely watch us? I don't think Santa is evil, but the signs of the times have raised this controversy to a level that Christians must be proactive. In the same way, I didn't have a problem with Halloween, but the day that we now live requires churches to answer to pagan history. We cannot celebrate Christmas with a syncretistic twist.
Stand up church and redeem the times with the truth of the Gospel and be the light in a dark world. We must give an account for the reason that we celebrate Christmas. To quote Peter Frost, Christmas without Christ is just mas - Spanish for more. More problems than before.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Oh boy, Hear our prayer

Jim Hornback passed this interesting article of his along to me.

In recent months/years, there has been a push by the ACLU and others, to restrict, or do away with completely 'Christian' prayers at public functions, such as innaugurations and installations of public officials, or in settings such as in Congress, state houses, etc.

In lieu of 'Christian' prayers, if there HAS TO BE any prayer at all, then a NON-SECTARIAN prayer is requested, so to not offend anyone who may be of another religion, or an atheist.

According to Websters dictionary, non-sectarian is defined as 'not affiliated with a particular religion'. Prayer is defined as 'a request to God or a god'. Someone smarther than I will have to explain how you can pray (make a request, without defining to whom it is you are making the request. Which is why I contend that non-sectarian is an 'oxymoron', which is defined as 'a combination of contradicting or incongruous words'. Incongruous is defined as not harmonious, disagreeing, or inconsistent. Let me put that all together: Christians are being asked to request, or petition an entity which is not affiliated with any particular religion or of no religion. Why did I add 'no religion'? If I address A N Y God (god), there is a built-in system of belief (or non-belief per the atheists).

Does that not describe oxymoron: a combination of contradicting, or inconsistent or disagreeing words?

So here is my attempt at a non-sectarian prayer -
Hello? Anybody, or anything, there? Or, in case there is more than one of you, to whom it may concern, whereever you (all) are. I address my request to you. If you have any power, any knowledge and if you can, or wish to, blah, blah, blah. I hope my remarks are acceptable to you, as if that matters. I ask this in the name of somebody else, if that would do any good. And all the people said, 'HUH?'

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Thursday, December 01, 2005

I'm looking for the party

MacDonalds has a solid menu that is hard for me to turn down or pass by when I'm hungry. Many fast food restaurants try to rob Ronald of the best fries in town, but my fast food cravings can only be satisfied by the double cheeseburger and medium fry - ALL FOR $2.12!!! Anytime my need strikes, I am only $2.12 & a mile away from satisfaction. The reality is I can satisfy any need I have with relative ease. Hunger is one thing, but every individual has a need that has only one satisfaction.

Every Wednesday night, teenagers gather at Shively Heights for something expected. There is form and process to each evening. Recently the ping pong table has returned to the foreground of the night. I once reigned as champion over the table, but now I disgracefully admit, I have been dethroned.

After as many games of ping pong can be squeezed in before 6:30, all the teenagers are rounded up to the main event - WORSHIP. I wonder what they expect to happen. The majority of teenagers come on their own initiative, and most of them who come have a knowledge of God, Jesus' death and resurrection, the need for forgiveness, and the need for some kind of religion.

The problem with me is that I do expect something to happen. I love getting to tell people about God's Word. The point is not that I like to hear myself talk. Rather, the point is that I get excited when I talk about God's Word. The beginning of nearly every single New Testament letter begins trumpeting the truth of what God has done for His people. When a believer hears the truth, the response is simply to celebrate, rejoice, get excited, pumped up, crunked. How many teenagers use the word rejoice in a day? I don't care what the word is. It is the response that's the same - the Word makes us exuberant with joy! When I don't hear people respond or don't see people moved, I wonder what in the world has seized their minds and desires.

As each week passes, I see the glaze in many teenager's eyes. There are so many things that grab the attention of a video junkie teen. Materialism has cashed on all of America's generations - not just teens, not just young adults, EVERYBODY! I crave to hear someone say, "I want God. This Jesus, you talk about - I want to know Him."

I want more than $2.12 worth of religion. I have been shown my Creator. I know what the victory is. I just want to celebrate the truth with everyone. I do keep coming back to church because the church has the truth. I'm not the lone ranger, and I need the party.

Pray for students to crave a relationship with God. Pray for worship at Shively Heights Baptist Church

My Cousin Seth

On Thanksgiving Eve, a few friends and I went to the concluding show for My Morning Jacket. Check out Seth's blog about the show

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Greatest Thanksgiving Movie

After the Thanksgiving festivities, Karen, Seth, the dog, and I travelled back to Louisville Saturday afternoon. When I say "Thanksgiving festivities," I truly mean we had great excitement and celebration like never before.

Our family began the tradition of watching movies on Thanksgiving over a decade ago. You can appreciate being thankful for ten plus people simply agreeing on one movie. That aspect of Thanksgiving is a gem in itself. Let me state for the record, in recent years we have been helped in the movie selection by Princeton's Capital Cinema. This historical theatre presents Princeton's entertainment seekers with not fifteen, twelve, or even ten, simply four movie selections.

Yes, we have had some poor picks through the years; The Mirror has Two Faces tops the list of all-time worst movies, not to mention the harrassment we still give our mother for this selection. Two years ago, my uncle, Hershael York, called a quick audible from Master and Commander starring Russell Crowe to The Missing featuring Cate Blanchet and Tommy Lee Jones. Let it be known that the only two who enjoyed the movie were my uncle and his wife Tanya - hmm. The rest of the family knew this was a close second to Barbara Streisand's two-faced mirror. Last year's movie can be summed up by my wife. At that time we weren't married but I had told my parents I met the woman I was going to marry. As we watched the previews, Karen laments with relief, "I'm glad we're not seeing that movie," but to her suprise, National Treasure was beginning.

Harry Potter was our film of the year, and I must say it was better than its predecessor and really the best yet to come. Although, the movie was not the highlight of the night. My sister Cindy and her husband Ivan stole the show with their humorous yet serious card passed first to our parents then to everyone else for their enjoyement and celebration. The punch line of the card read, "Seeing your mother's expression in a movie theatre - priceless." The card led the reader to believe Cindy was pregnant. Once my parents read the card, we heard mumbles of disbelieve and questions to Cindy for certainty. We read the card and all sat in Capital Cinema thinking about Cindy and Ivan's blessing. Mom and Dad's face were quite the sight as the reality of a grandchild soaked into their heart.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving List

In my Dad's weekly column "Chip off the Old Block" in the Times Leader, he always has a Thanksgiving list. I try to emulate my dad in many, many ways because as my sister concedes he is the world's perfect dad. Thus, what I am thankful for

being married to the most wonderful woman in the world

waking up with my best friend everyday :)

spending time with my wife

snuggling on the couch with my wife

yes, the dog too :)

parents that love me

a dad who traveled everywhere to my wrestling matches

a mother who always prays for me

finishing the ironman

my wife taking care of me after the ironman

my dad running ahead of me during the run of the ironman telling everyone I was coming (WOW! He's awesome)

Cindy's initiative to start new traditions in our family

a sister that reaches out to me

a grandfather that has preached the Gospel & been faithful for life

the last remaining days of vanilla coke (as of '06, Coke is ceasing to make vanilla coke)

my sister that always has the cousins over at holidays

My MSJ jogging pants

friends that travel to support me in the ironman

family that provides money to earn a college & masters degree

My Morning Jacket

a pastor who supports & loves me

the ping pong table at church (even if I've been dethroned)

the picture @ Mitchell's of us wrestling

when my wife leaves me notes in misc. places

meeting with John Mark at Starbucks

the desire for knowledge & the ability to read

a crazy dog that fights with his own feet

godly women like Bea Cundiff who desire so deeply that teenagers will commit their lives to God
a mother that hates dogs but will allow Bozzy into her house

friends that still make fun of my 5-head

being married

Michael & Charlie Frost

when Karen makes her famous peanut butter bars

feasting on Karen's peanut butter bars

living with Karen

being a youth minister

hearing Karen say, "I love you"

hugs & support from Gerald Cannon

hubcaps on the grand am

chipotle sauce from Subway

when friends ask me to officiate their wedding

going to my wife's hometown for Christmas

listening to the preaching of God's Word

which necissitates a thanksgiving for Russ Moore

in-laws (Ivan, you are #1, seriously, I am thankful for you)

a wife that wants to do the half-Ironman in May

nag champa - one of the greatest aromas, even though I'm one of the few that thinks so

a house that is HUGE

playing uno with my wife

having a wife that is a conference champ @ a division 1 school (she really is good @ everything!!!)

Nathan Hardeman who mentors me in the ministry & also opened the door to triathlons

the funniest man on the planet - Chris Mills

an amazing uncle, whom I can't say enough about

my wife's faith & ministry

the love I know because of God

Monday, November 21, 2005

Hillbilly or not?

For a short time of my life I was branded as a hillbilly, when I moved from Princeton, Kentucky to Cincinnati. I certainly thought it was strange considering I never even heard my own accent much less think I was from "the hills." Nonetheless, Bill Cunningham sheds some light on one of the historical uses of hillbilly right at the turn of the 20th century in his book On Bended Knee.
Caldwell County played a central part in the war against the giant American Tobacco Company or simply known to the tobacco farmers as the Duke Trust. James Duke had made a monopoloy in the tobacco industry. Thus, the tobacco farmers in Western Kentucky and Tennessee formed the Dark Tobacco District Planter's Protection Association of Kentucky and Tennessee. The Association banded together under the leadership of Felix Ewing, Charles Fort, and Caldwell County's own, David Amoss. Tobacco farmers joined the association to loosen the stranghold the trust had on tobacco prices that had plummeted from 8-12 cents a pound to 3 cents and less. The Association rallied support throughout the black patch in order to hold out for better prices and not accept any offer until ALL farmers were compensated for their hard year of work. Beginning in 1904, the Association began and turned to dark mearsures in this war with a group known as the Night Riders beating, threatening, and destroying crops of those outside of the Association.
The farmers that did not join the Association were termed hillbillies. Cunningham states,
"The only known explanation for this term was given by a farmer from Trigg County, Kentucky: 'It's this way you see. Most people that live on hills has got goats. Most of those goats is billy goats. And you know what a goat is? No matter how much grub he gets at home he is always wandering around for stuff belonging to other people than his owner. He is forever taking for his own good things he never did nothing for. For that's the way with those here men. They don't do nothing to help the Association if they takes the benefits of the prices the Association makes.'"
Enjoy your lesson on the historical usage of hillbilly. I'm sure you'll think twice the next time someone calls you a hillbilly. Rather than being considered someone from "the sticks", maybe, just maybe, they might be calling you one of those goats that are forever taking things you never did nothing for.

What to eat for the holidays?

The new Johnny Cash film has just opened. Although I am not a big fan of biographical movies because of the known rise-to-fame heights & pitfalls that accompanies this genre, I have high expectations for this movie and will watch it.
The reason I bring that up is because of the fun ad I just watched with star Joaquin Phoenix. The commercial featured him shopping with a cart full of fruits & vegetables but when the turkeys were in view the ad turned sad and gloomy. His clutch line was, "Holidays can be murder for turkeys. Let's do this one for the birds."
If that doesn't inspire me, I don't know what will.
The ad was displayed on a Peta email I receive. That's right I receive Peta literature. I enjoy the propaganda combined with the serious plea to treat animals with the same dignity as a person. It is the responsibility of Christians to be a good steward of God's earth. However, the bottom line that stacks Peta's philosophy is that we are all one big family of the same biological pattern but different process.
I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving and Christmas turkey in these next two months, but I hope you don't lose any sleep like the turkeys do over there soon to be demise.

Winds of Change

I just recently joined the blogosphere only to jump ship to another site. Oh well, I'm glad you're here. More to come . . .