Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Karen is my wife!

The longer I live the more I begin to understand how phenomenal my wife is. I wish I could tell you everything that she does in a day, but that would take oh so long and might become a bit laborious for you, the reader. What I do want you to know is just how wonderful my wife is to me.
Monday night after two exillerating games of Laser Tag with the youth, I discovered many messages, voice mails, and missed calls on my phone. I quickly discovered that my wife, Karen, came face to face Jim James. For those of you that don't know, Jim James is the lead singer of My Morning Jacket. This band, in my opinion, plays the greatest music to ever have been created. So much so, that when I listen to other music, in the back of my mind somewhere, I'm thinking, "I could be listening to My Morning Jacket." I encourage you to sample My Morning Jacket.
After she aced (literally) a test at Spalding, Karen decided to get a bite to eat at City Cafe, or as I like to think of it, she was drawn to City Cafe for THE MEETING. Karen didn't take in all of her meal. She was too concentrated on internal questioning - "Is it him? I don't know? Why is no one else staring or talking to him? It's got to be him. Yes! Yes, it is Jim James! John Mark will kill me if I don't talk to him." She picked up one of the Leo magazines from the rack then proceeded to the cash register for a pen. Upon asking to borrow a pen, she learned they only had one - THEY ONLY HAD ONE!!! She promised to be quick.
At the right time, Karen made her move. She introduced herself and apologized for staring only to learn that they too had been staring at her wondering if her shirt was vintage. Karen was wooed by the Rock-n-Roll superstar persona unable to speak normally. Nonetheless, Karen let me know Jim James was very nice and naturally cool . . . because he's a rockstar. She continued to have a short conversation with Jim James and GOT HIS AUTOGRAGH FOR ME!!!
My reaction to all of this?
Naturally, I would have liked to meet him. I'm not upset I missed it; I know my day is coming. The most exciting part of Monday night's events were my wife's desires for me. She was exuberated to give me such a gift. Her entire motive in the meeting was to give me joy - what I wanted. I can't explain to you how satisfied I felt in her that night as she explained to me play-by-play everything that went down. She did give me a truly, wonderful gift - herself. Karen continues to show me how in love with me she is by demonstrate her love for me. I have an awesome wife who plans her life around me, changes her plans for me, and loves me even more everyday.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

One Unaccounted Variable

The New York Times published an article today titled, "An Anti-Addictive Pill?" Benoit Denizet-Lewis recaps most recent studies, research, medications, and plans to treat addiction. Denizet-Lewis diagnoses the current problem in America with addiction and discusses later in the article the range of addictions that Americans deal such as behavioral addictions like gambling and sex. With a quick trip through the pharmaceutical history of addiction treatment, one can clearly see there are tantamount developments in research, medicine, and theory.

Even though the common reader may not be very well versed in the neurological make-up of the brain and the biological observation of addiction, this article discusses dopamine D2 receptors, the relationship between GABA and glutamate, and the pharmaceutical salvation through vaccines and anti-addiction medicine.

In regard to dopamine's potential cause and effect on addiction, Denizet-Lewis says,

In fact, we don't yet know how to do much when it comes to dopamine and addiction. Understanding how the neurotransmitter works may help us to understand addiction better, but it hasn't led to any effective medications, the ultimate goal of many researchers. Because addiction seems to disrupt so many different brain regions, neuroscientists are now casting a wider net in their pursuit of effective medications. For some, the new frontier involves the brain's two major "workhorse" neurotransmitters: GABA and glutamate.

In regard to GABA and it's role in preventing addiction Denizet-Lewis turns to "Hythiam, a Los Angeles-based health care services management company that made national news in the spring when it plastered Chris Farley's face — with the words 'It Wasn't All His Fault.'"

She goes on to quote Sanjay Sabnani, Hythiam's senior vice president for strategic development. He says, "It's all hypothesis at this point, because we haven't sliced open anyone's brain yet, but it seems that normalizing the GABA receptor takes away the craving and anxiety that one would typically experience in the absence of the drug. And it doesn't appear to be happening because of will power, love, God, discipline, family support or anything else. It seems to be happening because the protocol resets a faulty mechanism in the brain."

Soon after reading about the British company Xenova Group Plc creation of effective vaccines for cocaine and nicotine addiction, we read that addiction specialists believe America will stop having to use the word "treat". Rather, we will use "cure".

The biological and neurological advancements that have been made in the last five years are great news for what can be done to aid and prevent suffering due to the effects of addiction. However, as seen evidenced in the article, no one can explain why addiction occurs, and there are high hopes of biologically correcting this problem.

The author does handle the spiritual component of an individual and offers a scientific study that comprimises the foundation of addiction being totally a biological cause.

The author concludes with her story with William C. Moyers. Read on,

. . . a recovery advocate (and the son of the journalist Bill Moyers) who for 12 years has been free of crack and alcohol, was invited to speak at the M.I.T. conference. In a room full of scientists and addiction researchers obsessed with the intricacies of the human brain, Moyers read a lecture that reminded them that treating addiction might be even more complicated than they thought.

"I have an illness with origins in the brain. . .but I also suffered with the other component of this illness," he told the gathered researchers and scientists, some of whom dutifully took notes. "I was born with what I like to call a hole in my soul.. . .A pain that came from the reality that I just wasn't good enough. That I wasn't deserving enough. That you weren't paying attention to me all the time. That maybe you didn't like me enough."

The conference room was as quiet as it had been all day. "For us addicts," he continued, "recovery is more than just taking a pill or maybe getting a shot.. . .Recovery is also about the spirit, about dealing with that hole in the soul."

In his paraphrase of Blaise Pascal, "There is a God-shaped vacuum in every heart," Moyers summarizes the problem and the need. Sin has infected every person so that whether someone manifests an addiction and another has an overt anger problem, we are all sinners. We are all unsatisfied sinners. The only full satisfaction and joy that will gratify my every longing and want is the Creator. The first need that everyone must resolve is the sin problem. We have the Gospel, and it does transform people and their desires by offering to fill exactly what is wanted.

Resource - The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Conventional Thinking

Dr. Mohler has a new blog to which he will address issues relating to and being discuessed in the Southern Baptist Convention. Check it out at

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Being Humbled

Ping pong is central to the youth ministry at Shively Heights. I like to think I'm good at ping pong. My learning began just a few years ago at Southern Seminary. Thank you Adrian, whereever you are. After that brief semester of ping pong, I acquired a decent foundation and thought myself a fair player. Now that the game has elevated to such high status of activity at church, I am a prominent player. I can go out with friends of my own age and dominate them. That's right Mitchell Scott - I dominate you at ping pong.
However, there is one teenager. That's right one teenager spoils my joy of competitive supremacy in all things. His name is Michael. He handedly won the Ping pong tournament at Shively Heights a few months ago defeating me in the finals with an easy three game sweep.
This Sunday was the first time we had played in over a month. I challenged him before Sunday school and took down him easily. Then we proceeded to our Sunday morning Bible study on unity from Philippians 2:1-11. The lesson was heard as well as this group of teens hears on a summer, Sunday morning, and were quiet during the group activities, and questions. They were hard pressed to give examples of how they could exhibit humbleness, patience, and gentleness to others. Very well.
We didn't play after Sunday school, but don't worry, I had this teenager in my scope. After church Sunday night, I told him he was going to be humbled and I was going to defeat him . . . easily. What serves there were! What slams there were! Oh, the unfathomable returns there were! Spinning, power, precision. Words can't explain the battles, FIVE TO BE PRECISE, waged in the Basement. The scores were tight 11-9 (three times!!!), 11-8, and once battling it out through deuce to win by two. Alas, I was winless, 0-5.
There is nothing more humbling than knowing as a 27 year old I cannot overcome a 17 year old in the simplest of games.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Know Your Roots

Just prior to heading to Greensboro, NC for the SBC, I picked up two books dealing with Southern Baptist history, Dr. Tom Nettles - A Foundation for the Future and Dr. R. Stanton Norman - More Than Just a Name. Each year before the convention, I become read up on Southern Baptist history and heritage. Last year I read Paul Presslor's A Hill Worth Dying For, which details a layman's perspective of the conservative resurgence or for those who like to term the shift beginning in 1979 as "The Takeover". This book details the grass roots movement of people in Southern Baptist churches that saw the direction of the denomination moving far from the Gospel and biblical authority. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the account and recommend it to every Southern Baptist and to anyone interested in denominational history of the 20th century.
I am thankful to have been born in Western Kentucky into a Southern Baptist family. Although my sociological landing is not the sole reason I am a Baptist. I know why I am a Baptist, and I know the roots of my denomination. In short, Baptist proclaim the Bible as the sole authority of life and the church. Baptists have churned out their theology and practice based on the Bible and carry out the life of the church based on the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20). In short, Baptists were a missional group thanks to the urging and going of William Carey, Adorium Judson, and Luther Rice. There were associations amongst churches throughout the North and South whose sole existance was to send missionaries "to the ends of the earth."
The downfall of Baptist unity and emergence of Southern Baptist identity came in the 19th century. The General Missionary Convention of the United States of America for Freign Missions denied slaveholders the right to be missionaries. The Constitution stated, "Such persons only as are in full communion with some church of our denomination, and furnish satisfactory evidence of genuine piety, good talents, and fervent zeal for the Redeemer's cause, are to be employed as missionaries and are not slaveholders." The South diverged from the Convention at this point - slavery. Those in the South desired to send missionaries but could not abolish slavery immediately and thus, formed the Southern Baptist Convention. Nettles comments,
In the words of Jams B. Taylor, a Virgina Baptist, the action had the effect of "forbidding us to go to the Gentiles." This was a condition that the Baptists of the South could not tolerate. Going into all the world, a Christian duty so recently rediscovered, could not so soon be forsaken. The only option was to form a new convention. The mixture of good and bad, grace and nature, Spirit and flesh is quite remarkable in these events. That a sinful racism penetrated much of the thinking and motivation of Baptists in the South cannot be denied. It appeared in many differrent modifications and in some was only slight and greatly softened by gracious kindness. Along with this, a genuine fervor for gospel preaching in the whole world branded the consciousness of Baptists. Inspite of the cloud that dulled their consciences concerning the "peculiar institution," they were guilelessly committted to that which is infinitely excellent - missions. A missionary plant grew from missionary soil.

While this division was not new to me, one still has to admit the difficulty in the SBC's history. As I was reminded of America's and Baptist's past, I was present during one notable speaker at the 149th Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. Mohler drew attention to our history and the significance of Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice addressing the Convention. She identified herself as a woman of faith and prayer, and said that she literally grew up in the back of a church her father pastored. Dr. Mohler highlighted the continual applause to her address on the issues of foreign policy, and most notably to Rice's denunciation of human trading still present in the world. The Convention body continued to align themselves with Rice as she stated the United States's goal to abolish human trafficking.
The Southern Baptist Convention was born with a desire to carry the Gospel to the ends of the earth at a time when great ethical concern and moral havoc was present throughout the South. It is very refreshing to know the SBC has remedied the fault of it's origin yet continues to carry out the church's mission - "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

Sunday, June 11, 2006

To Greensboro

I'm leaving this afternoon for the Southern Baptist Convention in Greensboro, NC. You can follow along with live bloggers Don Hinkle and Scott Lamb.
I'm traveling with the other John Mark, and we'll meet up with Chris Mills who's flying down.
I'm excited for the SBC; pray that this will be a unifying convention and a time for all present to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord.

Friday, June 09, 2006

News Flash

(Bad joke approaching)
It seems a new meaning has been given to "dog fight".

Summer Camp

This week I returned from summer camp. One of the benefits of being a youth minister is that I still get to attend camp. These teenagers and I went to Talladega, AL for a Student Life camp. Check out pictures and the worship services here.
I chose this particular camp because of the speaker - Ergun Caner. Caner is harsh and abrasive, even as his own words testify, "I am an equal opportunity offender." Needless to say, he lived up to the description.
Caner's strength is motivating believers to defend the faith and to know their faith. He often tells crowds that he is not a pastor. Caner's a fighter, a debater. Even in house, the SBC, he's a fighter, but in house everyone needs to love more, respect more, and share the Gospel more.
The surprise in worship were the song leaders - Billy and Cindy Foote. No, the Feete did not lead us in worship. Their songs were on target with great biblical content, and they led repitition were it was warranted. The song that resonated in my mind throughout camp and even now is "Set Free". Check them out on iTunes, but the bottom line is buy their music because it is a blessing.
The group that went to camp was small, and we had a tremendous time growing together in love. These teenagers were refreshed with the commitment to know the Word, and walked away with a desire to begin memorizing Scripture - books not simply verses.
Pray for the students at Shively Heights to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and to be the person that makes an eternity's difference in someone's life.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Same Ol' Misunderstanding

Woody Harrelson and his wife celebrated the birth of their third daughter, Makani Ravello.
He commented, "In this crazy patriarchal world we live in, we are doing our part to balance the energy. We are proud to announce the completion of our goddess trilogy with the birth of our third daughter, Makani Ravello."
The feminist agenda is determined to undermine the goodness of Patriachy. Harrelson exclaims his part to counter the poor example of patriarchy because the the world does not understand God's design for man as husband and woman as wife. Thanks to Woody we know white men can jump. Now let the church show Woody and the watching world the biblical call to patriarchy gives the utmost satisfaction and fulfillment to men, women, children, husbands, and wives.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Things Change

My wife and I have been married for ten months and have had quite the adventure in this first year of marriage. Many people joked about things changing after you get married and after the "honeymoon" fades away. I can testify that we have a wonderful marriage, and I am more in love with her today than I have ever been.
I do understand there are some things that pass away, die once a single man is married. I am thankful to God to be married and have her as my wife, but I note there is one thing that changed after Karen and I were married. One small, minor, and insignificant thing that I did not expect to pass away once we were married; I had plans that it should rather intensify.
When I lived as a bachelor, one of the fragrances I loved to grace my apartment, as did Mitchell my roommate, was Nag Champa. Nag Champa (Näg chumpa) is a flower in India that is used to make incense, soap, oils and such. Before Karen and I married, she enjoyed coming over to my apartment where she was welcomed by this smell that reminded her of me. I was thrilled that Karen was fond of incense and especially Nag Champa.
However, I was not ready for the abrupt end to my Nag Champa days. After we married and returned to Louisville, naturally, I wanted our house to be filled with the aroma of Nag Champa. After a short time, of Nag Champa in our house, I found out that since Karen and I were now together she didn't need Nag Champa to remind her of me. After all my apartment is now her apartment. She like coming over to my apartment and smell the burning stick, but then she went home to her own "clean" smell. She had no desire for her house to reek of Nag Champa or in her words "a Buddhist temple" or "an Indian Mosque".
I was flabbergasted and speechless. Needless to say, I don't light it in the house anymore.
But I do have Nag Champa in my office at church. I don't light it too much there because I'm sure of what the concensus is. I am delighted with the smell of unburnt incense in my office.
So where do I burn my favored smell? The Pontiac Grand Am has become my Nag Champa sanctuary (not in a Buddhist sense mind you). That's right I have retreated to my car and burn incense while in motion. I am my Father's son who has in the past had to retreat his Little Debbie's to his vehicle due to my mother's insistence that those foods should not be kept in her kitchen. It is all I know. When your wife says, "Not in the house," then it's to the car.
I'm not saying that this is the best arrangement in Karen's eyes, but she gives me this indulgence. I love my wife, and I love our exciting marriage. I can say for her, she does not love my smells except after a long shower.