Welcome to Carnivorous Caribou

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

What's the Big Deal about Graduation

We just had our local high school graduation this weekend, with the first round of open houses as well. Since my own graduation, this entire system has baffled me.

Why do we make such a big deal about kids graduating from high school?

For none of the graduates we celebrated with was it a suprise. In fact, most graduated with honors. In 4-5 years they will be graduating from college. At that point, we'll say congrats (if we bump into them) and they'll be expected to be in at work by 9am the Monday after graduation. Does anyone else find this odd?

However, this year I got the difference. As I watched the graduates I knew cross the stage, I realized the entire celebration has nothing to do with the diploma (Does anyone even know where their diploma is anymore? Is it not the most over rated piece of paper of all time? Will my children just receive a confirmation of the completion of high school via an email in 18 years?)

Graduation is America's attempt to acknowledge the transition from boy/girl to man/woman. I watched them walk across the stage as an adult. Moving the tassel doesn't mean liberation from high school, but rather an acknowledgement that these students have arrived into adulthood. It obviously doesn't happen in the ceremony, they became adults somewhere along the way, but it's really our first big chance as a society to admit it.

Congrats to the class of 2005! As I consider the students I know from the class, I'm delighted to think of the men/women you have become. Continue to grow! Take I Timothy 4:12 to heart. And pursue God with all your heart.

Power 5

1. Carson City Caribou--while the Suns-Spurs series has been entertaining...the real joy for me has been watching my keeper (Amare and Manu) announce their arrival as superstars. Could make my 05-06 season pretty interesting!
2. Detroit Pistons--after melting down, you may wonder why they are listed so high. They've found a graceful way for the Larry Brown era to disappear. Larry may be able to coach, but he makes terrible player personel decisions. Look at how his tinkering killed a competitive Philly team. He was bound to run Dumars out, but now, Detroit keeps the best GM in the league, and avoid Larry stabbing them in the back. (By the way, congrats to Cleveland who just received a man who make terrible player decisons and is sure to run for greener pastures when his mistakes fully surface.)
3. Texas Rangers--the only thing to cool off Jon Garland. Texas is now in control of the AL West and with it's solid bullpen, its arms should survive the hot summer Texas heat.
4. Danica Patrick--got us beyond the "woman in the Indy 500" story by not being a bitter feminist, but rather remaining a lady. She just let her driving do the talking. (as a side note: do you realize dave letterman was a co-owner of her racing team? what doesn't this woman have?)
5. Elgin Baylor, Chris Mullin, Isiah Thomas, whoever's been running the Hawks since Dominique retired--with Larry jumping to the Cavs, they will now have to try even harder to be the worst gm in the league. (At this point, a four year lockout may be the only way to see Lebron in a Cavs uniform in 2008).

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Why I'll Never Be Good at Journaling

What really is a blog? I've heard this question a lot lately, and I guess there are a number of possibilities. Some view it as a public journal, a way for them to share their heart. Others see it as a way to update and connect with friends. I guess for me, I see it partially as a way for me to share my thoughts about what's happening outside my head and all around me, as well as the thoughts inside my own head.

I tried to keep a journal once. I couldn't escape the fact that someday that journal could be read by someone else. I never really got honest as I posted my thoughts. This blog is tricky, I want an audience (like most, I love reading comments in reply) yet I don't want the blog to become so much about the audience that I cease to share what's happening in my heart.

I guess some things happening lately have taught me a couple lessons. One is to never blog about a topic while it is frustrating you (something I am totally exercising right now!!!!). If your emotions are high, odds are, someone else's are too. Instead, I've decided to make a personal list of topics I want to some day get around to.

I can not promise you good writing. I can not promise you deep thoughts. I can not promise not to offend or anger. Sadly, I've realized I can't even promise to honor God at all times with this stupid electronic invention. I promise to try though.

And I promise to be me...eventually.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Creation Declares

Well, we're back from vacation (hah, didn't even tell you we were taking off!). We had a great time with the kids...just being able to relax, not answer cell phones, focus on our family the whole week. But we've also learned that you don't really get away unless you literally get away. So we packed up the car and headed to....Cincinnatti.

Ok, so that's not America's number one destination. It's not even Ohio's. But when you've got two little kids, where do you really go?

Our week ended up being an exploration in creation. We spent tons of time playing outside, walking in parks, and checking out the zoo and the aquarium. We were totally entertained by the things God has made (some exotic that we'd never see, some around here that we never take time to notice).

My friend, Brian, was also at the zoo and shared some very similar observations.

Giraffes. Elephants. Sharks. Penguins. God's creativity was all around us during the week. Yet God's glory was most visible in my children's eyes. Watching their eyes spark with wonder during the first time they saw a unique animal, touched a turtle, or saw the swimming pool at our hotel.

Sure, the zoo should be full of enough creatures to declare God's glory. But if that doesn't work, I highly recommend going there with a child. If you can ignore their excitement, I don't know what will sway you from evolution.

Power 5

1.Manu Reigns Again--sure that Wade guy in Miami did alright, but am I the only one that's starting to wonder if Duncan and Parker aren't the supporting cast for the Ginobili show? The guy has taken over the playoffs (not even sure Tayshaun can guard him!)
2. Rooney Family--here's what sets this franchise against all other small market franchises. They may draft a total headcase, but somehow they figure out how to make it work, but when the dude is coming apart, they let him walk away.
3. Milwaukee Bucks--hopefully they are in the driver's seat to keep Redd now. Of course, I'm not on the Bogut bandwagon. Just ask Dickie V if he remembers the last tall white center drafted high out of a college in Utah...hmm.
4. Chan Ho Park--at 4-1, he's finally earning ace money (though he's a long way from earning the $15 million he's getting this SEASON!)
5. Philadelphia--Knavel asks a rhetorical question, with the obvious answer being in the negative. Anyone who puts up with Iverson and Webber should be given job security for the next 20 years. Maybe Philly can really help Mo out (who was overwhelmed with malcontents in Portland) and could sign T.Owens to play during the Eagles offseason!

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Silence is Active

Due to concern about the wisdom of placing such an article on the web...this article has been removed.

Please contact me in person if you'd be willing to discuss this matter.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Take a breath, and Jump back in

wow, the indy/detroit series was a classic. most locals around me are pacers fans, so i'll be gentle...but my observations were:

1) 11/16 from the floor was reggie going out with bang. (of course, only two boards, two assists and no blocks/steals is also very reggie like.
2) thank you ABC for airing a game so i could finally see it.
3) tayshaun has really really long arms (and yes, i agree, he looks like curious george).
4) why are all of indiana's point guards overweight?
5) jeff foster is a lot of fun to watch. he's like scot pollard before he got the big money and quit caring.
6) did i mention darko had as many blocks and steals this game as reggie?
7) minus stephen jackson's 25% shooting, indiana would have shot 52% from the floor. (plus a team high 3 turn overs). [i do really believe jackson is out of control and dearly cost indiana several times in this series. however, i do not believe the answer is to trade him. a friend and i were talking today and the real solution is for indiana to trade for ricky davis and bonzi wells. added with artest and jackson...that would be FANtastic! i'd even give them sheed if they'd do that, just to make it more fun.}

Questions anyone?

in the month of june, instead of normal (if that is an applicable adjective) youth meetings, we will have a question and answer forum. in that forum, we plan to tackle some of the students questions such as: "can i lose my salvation?" "do i really have a choice or does God make them all for me?" "do exercisms still take place?" "are there really crowns in heaven?" etc.

they've asked some really good questions, and some that fire up my little calvinist engine. but we've probably got room for some additional questions too (there are 5 wednesdays in june after all!).

do you have any questions you think would be good? one a student typically asks you, or one you may be struggling through yourself?

if so, fire away. i'd really love for this to be an exciting, challenging exercise in critical thinking for our students.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Power 5--Newsweek Retraction Style

1. Relax, Manu--angry about getting bumped from the Power 5, Manu responds by demanding his starting job back, and pours in 39. It's just a silly list, no need for Ginobili to get so upset.
2. Same to you, Jon--I've got to be more careful. Garland gets offended about the list and dominates my Rangers.
3. Mr. Dependable?--seriously, if the Pacers are depending on this guy, they are sunk. (And yes, I've learned my lesson about calling guys out...I think an angry Jackson probably helps the Pistons even more.)
4. Billy Hunter--fighting David Stern is like bringing a knife to a gun fight. Also, if you're depending on fans to side with athletes who make millions to play a game...you may want to find a different strategy.
5. Athlete Feuds--whether it's Culpepper/Moss or Iverson/Webber, just once I'd like to hear of a player calling someone out, and then defending themself with "Yeah, I said that. The guy is a pain in the butt. I only hung with him because he's tall and fast." Is that really too much to ask?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Is the Church an Extracurricular Activity?

One of the trickiest issues for a pastor is working around the schedules of the people. Jesus called for us to be in the world, so we can't require so much time from our people that they become isolated from others. At the same time, genuine ministry involves relationships, and a person struggles to grow when isolated from the Body of Christ. But is attendence an indication of commitment? And does our response to conflicts in scheduling reflect our strongest commitments?

This is one of the busiest times of the year for high school students. Even as I type that last sentance, I begin to doubt its validity. Aren't our student's schedules pressed from January to January. In our home town, it's the good students who now attend summer school, because their schedule won't allow them to fit all their classes into the school year. Sports camps are all through the summer, because instruction during the school year would have interfered with traveling teams with which they participate. Then you pile on a pursuit in the arts, and club memberships and general high school experiences like prom, homecoming, and taking your ACT's. Their lives are full.

Where does discipleship through student ministries fit in?

That very question bothers me. It suggests that somehow, the very process of turning a person into a disciple of Christ is an activity that should be shoehorned into a life wherever their is extra room. Are we participating in the Body out of what's leftover of us, after all other events, instead of vice versa.

Where does this issue lie? Lately, I've been wondering if it isn't in the rewards system we offer. I can't offer a student a letter jacket for their faithfulness to Christ (how would I even define sucess?). We can't dangle the carrot of financial scholorships for higher learning before our students. Their participation holds little to no value in their acceptance to a college (even in the Christian colleges). I certainly can't/don't give them a grade. Mom and dad can't enjoy sitting in an audience, listening to people applaud/cheer their student on for their faithful walk. And so all the rewards are in the extracurricular's corner.

Except two.

1) Their is an immediate reward. I am by no means suggesting that skipping youth/church due to an ocassional conflict is guaranteed to set a person back in their walk with Christ. To the contrary, there are probably times that attending another event, and influencing those around you, will heighten your walk more than your attendance to youth group. However, I am baffled by the mother who recently was in my office, telling me that she can't wait for a conflict for her daughter to pass so she can be back in youth group. She basically confessed that this time of year is always a spiritual drought for her daughter, as she is isolated from a Christian community due to the conflicts her activities present. She can't wait till the conflict is over because she knows she'll see a difference in her daughter's walk. Yet at this point, I know the parents would place their daughter right back in the same conflict as before. Why?

2) Spiritual reward is most often unseen, by definition. To do something in faith often requires it be done without sight. Is it making a decision of devotion and commitment to the Lord if all of the benefits are immediately visable and attainable? Are we content to forego the world's reward system (potentially even call upon its condemnation/persecution) for the sake of a rewards system that may not be evident this side of eternity? Yet isn't that which comes by faith always greater?

As a church, we try to do all we can to avoid "busy work." Our people don't need events just for the sake of the event. But when we do plan something, how do we convey that it is planned for the spiritual development of the participants? And then, how can we fairly articulate our displeasure when someone fails to see the priority as such?

I am not calling for a legalistic, "everytime the doors are open, we need to be there" attitude about the church. But I also don't see it as an extracurricular activity. Participation in the Body of Christ is a Biblical mandate (and participation goes well beyond Sunday morning attendance). If we NEVER say no to an extracurricular activity when it conflicts with our participation in the Body, are we truly commited to the Body?

Monday, May 16, 2005

Power 5

1. Dirk Nash or Steve Nowitzki--is anything more fun than watching Dirk and Steve face off? Well, since I don't have cable, I don't know...but the box scores look good.
2.El Tigre--rattled off a pretty decent streak. I just hope he made some money for all his efforts.
3.High Heat Wash Cycle--thanks to Washington being the weakest team to make the second round in quite some time, everyone is sure Miami is the juggernaut. Be prepared to be flooded with Wade/Shaq articles...meanwhile, Detroit, San Antonio, Phoenix and Dallas could all take Miami out.
4.C-Webb--while some think the injury has ruined him, Webber is back to his original form...wrecking teams in the offseason. Now he's calling a time out on his comments.
5.Golden Bear--don't really care, but golf making 40% of the list makes me look like a well rounded sports fan, eh?

Have I Sacrificed Anything?

So we take the kids (our two plus 7 students from the youth group) to Kentucky this weekend for a mission trip. Before the trip I'm thinking about how I gave up a weekend at home. How I'm giving up some sanity trying to bring a 2 year old and a one year old on a mission trip. Even driving down, I was still thinking about how I had given up a peaceful evening the night before to "do some much needed church business." Yes, I'd even considered that I was giving up a chance to see some NBA this weekend as well as the re-airing of last week's 24 (our tape quit after 43 minutes, so don't you dare tell me what happened!).

Then we get down there. I was challenged by the poverty I saw. By the hopelessness that had crept into a community and taken it over. By my comforts here in my own home town. Yet i wan't most convicted by those things.

Mostly, I was convicted by the pastor and his family. As I looked at them, I wondered what they hadn't given up. Big house: gone. Consistent paying job: gone. Healthy environment for their kids: gone. Pleasures/aminities/joys of living near friends and family: gone. I felt like such a child when I considered my complaints, and such an arrogant punk whenever I felt good about myself for what I have given up over the years.

Quite honestly, I've given up nothing. I have a wonderful wife, incredible kids, the most amazing youth group in the greatest church I have ever been a part of, where I get to work daily with people I consider my friends. If ever you hear me complain, feel sorry, or even boast about my sacrifice, please, you have permission to smack me around.

God has blessed so much that I haven't given up a thing. If anything, I've traded in that which is worthless for that which is priceless.

What's funny though, is that as I look at the joy on Mike and Connie Tabor's faces, I wonder if they are thinking the same thing.

Friday, May 13, 2005

5 Second Rule--Bathtub Style

Kids make you ask questions you never thought you would. I like hypothetical situations, particularly when they become reality. So today's question is:

You have just finished giving your son and daughter a bath, and now they are just splashing around in the water and having fun. You look over at the son and notice his face turning red and he's grunting. You know that face and immediately scurry to get your kids out of the tub. Of course, still in the tub are a couple of fecal floaters...

If your kids were clean from a bath, your son pooped in the tub, but you got them out within 5 seconds, are they clean?

be back after the weekend. taking the eteam on a trip to jackson, ky...sure i'll have some things to post after that!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Reaching to Pull

i have never been one who engages well with culture. though i'm sure we all feel this way in high school, my teen years were the beginning of me understanding i just don't fit in. it doesn't cause pain, i'm arrogant enough to see it as the world doesn't get me, not vise versa. (joke, yet some fact too, if i'm honest).

i know that i don't get the culture, but i don't really feel bad about that. it's funny how heavily i lean on guys like Brian to not only keep me posted on the culture, but also on the ramifications of the latest trends. it's not that i don't care. i do. i get that understanding the culture is necessary to reach souls.

i understand that being a social alien (not just a spiritual one) may make me the last person in the world to speak on this, but i wonder if we do a disservice to people when we focus on their worldview....allow me to explain.

who that has studied acts 17 does not love it? certainly, no person who loves preaching (i enjoy it so much i would honestly consider it a hobby of mine) can look at that passage and not marvel. the way paul engages their culture is breath taking. how i've longed to have that ability to see a person's stack of cd's or read their post on the internet and immediately identify the "God-shaped hole in their heart."

yet paul does not leave them there. a closer look at the passage displays that paul engages in their language (an altar inscribed "to an unknown god"), yet immedately exposes their error, calling it ignorance. paul sees an altar to an unidentified god reveals their religion is unfulfilling, addresses that he knows the One who can fill the void, but then even attacks their most foundational view that God could be created or contained. paul addresses them where they were, it's their altar. but he doesn't leave them there.

i wonder if we do a person a favor when we approach them in their language (modern, postmodern, transmodern, what have you) and leave it there. biblical christianity doesn't fit any of those systems exclusively. i want to reach a person in their world, but i also must then show them that their world is built on a foundation of sand. if i leave them in their old house, and merely help them change fixtures and appliances, it's still built on a house that will crumble. have we discipled if a person doesn't see some error in their preregenerational (is that a word?) mind?

Power 5

1. MANU--missing only two shots and logging 28 points off the bench gets him my vote again.
2. THAD--Matta is making the Buckeyes and spring mean more than just a football scrimage.
3. who?--this guy is quietly having an amazing season.
4. CAPTAIN INSANO--The Pistons would have beat the Pacers anyway, but Mr Anger Management's decision to go in the stands will keep this series a snoozer. Rest up for Miami boys!
5. DAVID STERN--Aptly handling Artestgate and more Van Gundy craziness. I disagree with Michael Smith...Stern should stick to his guns. Heck, He'd have my vote for President of the USA if he ever ran.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

My Mom and Michael Scott

I had a blast enjoying a late "Mother's Day" with my mom. It was so good to just hang out and talk (though it seems I did most of it), and the Carmel Strussel was awesome.

I had a great time watching "The Office" together. I could get all theological and claim I love that the comments of racism, sexism, arrogance, narcissism, and ignorance because they reveal the depravity of man.

In reality, I just find it hilarious. I actually find a glimmer of brilliance in the midst of all the stupidity.

And as mom and I watch the episode together, I realize I'm thankful I like the "Office." I don't know how much I've been able to get through simply because I can laugh.

So mom, if you ever quit downloading virus infested shareware, and figure out how to check out this site, I just want to thank you.

Thanks for teaching me how to laugh.

Earthen Vessel

i've never been a poetry guy. at times i wonder if the right portion of my brain is even connected. i've never even had an urge to place my thoughts in prose, until recently...please read with mercy!

Earthen Vessel

My heart cries out for logic and order
Yet my thoughts float around in veiled fragments
I just want to make sense of what runs through my head
Yet irrationale floods my soul

I pray to the Lord that I would be teachable
Can conviction deter further learning
Can I teach others and fulfill my call
Passionately teach truth without claiming to house it?

I beg for the Father to give me humility
I'm so sick of losing my battle with pride
but just when I think humility has come
I find that I've failed again in the fight

I'm too scared to ask You to use me
I'd just volunteer for a task I can't do
I stand before You and offer nothing
Naked in the throne room of the King

Who am I to say You can't use me
But who am I to think that You should
I want the blessing of being Your pawn
When I'm probably just a chip in the board

I have no worth, I'm an empty clay pot
Yet so valuable You'd lay down Your life
I pray that the world, my church and my family
Does not see me, but My Maker and His Message

Sunday, May 08, 2005

23, 45, 23, 0

anyone who knows me, knows that i'm not the biggest mj fan. but i found this article quite interesting.

widely received by most as the greatest basketball player of all time, jordan has lived with a "could do no wrong status" for quite some time. however, if you are like me, there were things about his playing days in washington that just didn't sit right. more than just the creeky bones and layups instead of dunks. something was a miss about the whole situation.

now i think we are realizing what it was. jordan was a great basketball player, possibly the greatest, but nothing more. jordan the gm was a failure. jordan the exec didn't work out well. even after he laced them back up for washington, jordan the "mentor/player/coach" wasn't a success either.

it appears that jordan approached every person as if he were approaching himself. there was some talent in washington when he returned. the talk was that the talent just needed some seasoning, a cagey veteran. insert jordan. however, apart from rip hamilton (who was jetisoned away to detroit. thank you joe dumars!), which player is still effective in the league. chris whitney? courtney alexander? brendon haywood is probably the closest we can come.

it got me thinking about discipleship. the very penetrating question has to be asked, "what am i trying to reproduce?" myself? something like me? am i trying to disciple cookie cutters, who will all look the same? am i only thinking about now, or am i willing to let my ministry be measured by the results generations from now?

maybe it's just my pistons bias coming out, but i'd rather look a lot like joe dumars. be known as a great player (don't debate me on that one, to quote jon rose, "look at the stats!"), a great mentor/player (seamlessly intigrated grant hill), an amazing gm (insert darko joke here, but also acknowledge he brought a dead franchise a championship). if anything, dumars took the guys that everyone else said had no potential, and proved the critiques wrong.

i guess i like that so much, because when i look at my own life, i think i'm more of a darvin hamm than a michael jordan.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Power 5

Here's danny's ocassional take on the world of sports

1. MANU--No one in the league is more exciting right now!
2. BIG BEN & CO.--No one playing better team defense.
3. SUNS TAKE OFF, EH--No one playing better team offense.
5. HEAD AS HARD AS HIS WILL--please don't tell John Hart that he's still available.

It all starts

Gotta be honest, i've hesitated to start one of these things for fear that i have nothing to say.