Congratulations, Overzealous Campaigners

You've taken all of the joy out of voting.

I mean, seriously... it isn't even about "facts" anymore (of which I've heard so many contradictory facts that I am beginning to wonder what the word "fact" really means)... although both Obama and McCain backers will point fingers and say it is the other camp that is doing all of the fabrications, claiming to be morally impeccable and bastions of truth. That alone makes me want to punch someone in the nose, but it isn't what I am the most steamed about.

It is the success of both parties in trashing my perception of their opponents. I mean, no matter how much I am convinced academically that Obama may actually have enough experience and knowledge to be a successful president, the old idiotic comments about him wanting to hand us straight to Muslim extremists and constant mispronouciations of his last name (Osama) and emphasis on his middle name (Hussein) make me inherently averse to voting for him. I hate myself for it, but the power of suggestion worked on me, and now I can't escape those perceptions. Plus you have the McCain Zealots, trying to make sure you like McCain with Christian voting, and questioning your relationship with Christ if you don't agree with them 100%.

And then there is the Obama trump card, constantly reinforcing the link between McCain and Bush ("a vote for John McCain is a vote for George W. Bush"), has left me unsure of McCain, mainly because Obama's ridiculous funding has let his message infiltrate virtually every home in America. That, coupled with the sheer old-ness McCain exhibits in any live speaking situation, has killed what would have been my somewhat sure choice. Then there are the Obama Zealots, constantly yapping their heads off about social programs that America "needs" and the promise of "change" that an Obama presidency apparently would sprinkle like fairy dust over the entirety of Washington D.C.

All of this has gotten old for me. So, although I am a registered voter, I have made a decision. Since there is no space on the ballot that simply states "Sarah Palin is a hottie" (check!)...

I will not be voting this November.

Also, I am withdrawing for every bit of debate about these candidates. I will walk away or ignore any conversation about the candidates, and if pressed, I will state my decisions and reasoning, followed by a rousing chorus of "SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! STOP TALKING PLEASE! SHUT UP!!!"

I would appreciate your support in this endeavor, and if I get anything else, I will promptly ignore it and/or make fun of you. Thank you :).


P.S. I am not apathetic, nor uninformed. I graduated with a History major and a Poli Sci minor this summer, I have heard about and researched and thought about this election for the past year. There is no choice, in my mind, that strikes me as more desirable than the choice to intentionally, purposely withdraw from this vote, although it may only matter to/affect me.

Blue Like Jazz... THE MOVIE!!!

Why am I barely hearing about this?

I loved this book, and Don Miller's other books as well! I am looking forward to this movie a lot :).

I like the way they are going about this.

Jesus On A Crowded Street (Luke 2)

Luke tells us (or Theophilus, at least) that Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem for the census, and that there was no room at the inn for them, so they had Jesus in a manger.

No room at the inn. That means lots of people were there. Mangers weren't only out in quiet countrysides... Bethlehem may have been a small town, but from what Luke says, it was also an old town that was used by the government for gathering people who descended from there. The manger was probably near the inn, near the city and the torches and the noise and the bustling.

Amidst all of that hustle, the Son of God was born in a humble manger... like the babies born on subways or taxis or city buses or streets everywhere, children this world has forgotten.

Jesus never forgot those children because He was one of them. His lung's first cries for air were probably heard by passers-by, dismissed as the birth of another lower-class citizen. His first rest was the best rest the humble couple could offer him, and it was perfect in His plan.

There are places we wouldn't go, places we feel we are above, where He can be found alive and actively working. He hasn't forgotten the people there, His children... even if we have.

Jesus and the Naked Woman (John 8:1-11)

In Ironman, the bible study I attend on Thursday mornings, the speaker talked about being an example to your kids, or to other guys, in keeping yourself from lusting. He used John 8:1-11 as an example of Jesus showing those around Him what to do:

Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?" This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more."

I had heard this story so many times, either as an example of Jesus' forgiveness and the woman's repentance, or the inequality of treatment between the man and the woman (where was the man?), or a diatribe against our judgement. I'd also heard speculation on what Jesus was writing in the ground, everything from profound teachings to squiggly lines and doodles.

However, I'd never considered the significance of the mere act of looking down and writing on the ground. Jesus was presented with a woman caught in the act of adultery. You don't do the act of adultery with clothes on. This woman was most likely naked. The Pharisees and teachers of the law had brought a naked woman in the midst of all the people. Men, women, children... all. They, of course, probably went to the middle of the group in order to gain access to Jesus and keep their view of this naked woman.

Jesus, confronted with a naked woman, sets the example by bouncing His eyes away from her, and occupying Himself with writing on the ground. It obviously affected His disciples, since John remembered exactly what He was doing 40 or 50 years later (John was the last gospel to be written and/or compiled). He was setting an example that probably convicted those around Him, so that they knew exactly what sin He was talking about when He told them, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." The old men, whose eyes had probably been fixed on the naked woman in front of them, knew immediately that they had been figured out. The young ones took a little longer to get it, or perhaps took their cue from the elders to leave the situation.

Was Jesus lusting? Well, no, because He was able to speak to the woman after her condemners had left. It wasn't for His benefit that He was bouncing his eyes from her... it was for the benefit of His imperfect disciples, those twelve young men who were learning to walk in His footsteps.

I think we can take two lessons from this aspect of the story. The first, of course, is to keep your eyes off of naked women. The second lesson is that we need to be setting an example for those following us (children, younger men). This second lesson is important, because as Jesus showed, it's not just about what we can handle or not feel convicted about. We should do whatever we can to show righteousness, striving so that those around us will be challenged.

Rich Mullins

"Jesus said whatever you do to the least of these my brothers you’ve done it to me. And this is what I’ve come to think. That if I want to identify fully with Jesus Christ, who I claim to be my savior and Lord, the best way that I can do that is to identify with the poor. This I know will go against the teachings of all the popular evangelical preachers. But they’re just wrong. They’re not bad, they’re just wrong. Christianity is not about building an absolutely secure little niche in the world where you can live with your perfect little wife and your perfect little children in a beautiful little house where you have no gays or minority groups anywhere near you. Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the broken." -Rich Mullins

"Jesus seemed to have a particular place in His heart for the oppressed. I think maybe because He was Jewish." -Rich Mullins

"I will be my brother's keeper, not the one who judges them. I won't despise him for his weakness, just regard him for his strength. I won't take away his freedom, I will have him learn to stand. And I will (I will) be my brother's keeper." -Rich Mullins

I think most worship leaders look up to Rich Mullins, but I wonder how long he would have lasted on the average church staff? I mean, even being a very humble and honest man, his ideas would not be acceptable content on a Sunday morning in most American churches. I could imagine lead pastors and elders and deacons cringing as this incredibly talented man stopped singing and began to speak.

Still, I admire him. I want to be a man strong enough to speak when words are needed and act when words are no longer enough. I want to be a man humble enough not to speak when it is only my own feelings that are hurt, and to serve those who would never think to serve me. I want to be a man with the wisdom to know the difference between the time for words and action and the time for silence and service. I am not entirely sure he found that balance... he died as a young man, he may have had growing and learning yet to do.

His words, though... his honesty is beautiful. I heard that he was considering joining the Roman Catholic church, but didn't in order to be truly ecumenical. I find that awesome. I am also quite impressed by his apparel... most worship leaders I know (including myself) at least somewhat value appearance and presentation, and dress accordingly. I don't see that as a bad thing, but I love Rich's utter lack of concern for his own appearance, and the contrasting care put into his music (meticulously having all of these instruments to add their parts to the beauty of the music). It exudes humility.


I am still not completely unpacked from my move to Arizona. I only had a car full to begin with.

It's not all about the stuff, though. It's more about my mindset, and the things I've felt being here in this new place.

After six years of progressively moving into leadership roles and making many amazing friends in Kingsville, Texas and elsewhere in that wonderful state, I saw myself as a man ready to take on the world. I figured it wouldn't be hard to just go wherever the Spirit led me, because of a couple of summers I had spent away from home.

My first move, to Dallas, showed me that I could still be insecure, and still feel out of place and alone. It was like God's warning shot. But there, I had a best friend and a group of guys to hang out with, although my "social circle" shrunk down to a more reasonable size.

This second move, though, has been something I didn't expect. I didn't know I could feel as alone as I felt those first couple of days here, or as insecure as I have been these past two weeks. It's nothing to realistically be surprised about... I, however, apparently was not in touch with reality. I could almost feel everyone sizing me up, and feel myself being driven by this desire to make everyone like me. I wondered if I had said too much, or not enough, or if I had made sense... just so many questions in my head. Did I even belong here? Had I made the wrong move?

So this is what it's like to be the new person, in a strange place. I think we all need to be reminded of how this feels from time to time. We get so comfortable that we can't empathize with those around us. I have a new understanding for those who are new to the fellowship at Third Format, or whatever group I'm a part of. Every struggle has a purpose.

So I'm here, finally realizing that I'm here for a reason, and finally getting past those initial insecurities. I realize that I am human, and that I am not invincible. I've been tempted to live with my life still packed away, subconsciously preparing my escape if things get too hairy and keeping myself linked to where I once was.

I realize, now, that it is time to unpack. I could sure use the trunk space.

A simple fact to start us off

Texas is cooler than Arizona.