Friday, August 31, 2007

Cole Trickle and the Voice of God

While we were on vacation we didn't have cable TV, Internet, or a phone. It was wonderful in one sense. So Cyd packed some movies for us in case we got really bored or one of those afternoon thunderstorms popped up. One that she packed was Days of Thunder. You are probably familiar with this Tom Cruise look at the sport of Nascar. This is one of those movies that just gets your adrenaline pumping. One afternoon Cyd and Claire were asleep so I decided to watch the movie. As I was watching a scene caught my attention in a new way. Isn't it funny how music and movies can do that sometimes. The scene is right after Cole Trickle crashes his car at Daytona and he is in the hospital being treated. As they are doing all kinds of tests to him including CT scans, he shouts out of frustration of not being able to see and not knowing what's going on around him. He says "When I'm driving I got a guy on the radio that talks to me. I can't see him but he talks to me." It struck me that the same could be said about God. We can't see God, but He still talks to us through the Bible, other Christians, His creation, and prayer. Isn't it comforting to know that even though we can't see God, He is right in the midst of our daily lives.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Do you ever get frustrated with life or with yourself or with your circumstances? I think most people would say yes that has happened to them at some point in life. The neat thing about that is that God's grace shines through the broken pieces and the cracks of our life or our situation. It's a comforting thing to know that grace is ever present in our lives and our hearts. Sometimes I think we miss the reality of God's presence breaking into our lives because we are so focused on the what, why, and how of the frustrations of life, but the good news is that He is always there. That makes my heart smile in spite of my frustration.

Christians and Culture

I have observed several instances lately of Christians who are retreating from culture rather than engaging culture. As followers of Christ, I believe we are called to be a force of cultural transformation. We are to be ambassadors of the Redeemer by redeeming the culture around us, yet it seems that too often Christians retreat away from the world for fear of being tainted with even the smell of sin. I'm certainly not advocating that we dive head first into sinful practices and attitudes...I guess my frustration is that Christ, our ultimate example, didn't shut himself off from 1st century culture, so why do we? A friend recently expressed these thoughts in more simple way that rang true with me. We don't necessarily have to be the "trendy" person in our spheres of influence, but how can we expect to reach broken and hurting people with the gospel if we are never engaging those people and the culture around us. Christ's death isn't just our ticket to heaven, it is the redemptive work of God to set all of His creation, including you and me to rights. My prayer is that I will do more to proclaim the redemption of God in our culture. Prayerfully consider joining me...

Monday, August 27, 2007

Tybee Island

Last week Cyd, Claire, and I spent several days at Tybee Island for our vacation. It was wonderful to get away from the schedule and routine of life for a few days and simply enjoy God's creation, my family, and rest. We had no agenda except to have no agenda. We had so much fun playing in the sand, surf, and sun. The jellyfish were really bad, fortunately only Cyd and I got stung. Tybee is a wonderful place to go for a vacation. I remember as a kid going their and staying at my aunt and uncle's how the island has changed and grown over the last decade. There are a few constants that you should try if you make it to Tybee this year. First, The Sugar Shack, an ice cream shop, on the left of Hwy.80 just before you turn onto Butler Ave. Excellent ice cream, milkshakes, and such. The other is Spanky's Beachside. Spanky's is an institution at Tybee. Although it feels kinda run down and it's usually quite warm inside, the food is always excellent. Plus you get to see the ocean while you eat. Someone took us out to dinner at AJ's Dockside on the backwater. If you can find it, because it's smack in the middle of a residential area, it's worth it. As a side note, I saw a picture of Heather Buckley, a high school classmate. I haven't seen her in years so it was funny to see her as I was showing Claire pictures of people fishing that AJ's has posted on the wall. Last week was so refreshing and fun. I think I could get used to that type of life.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Dad, Bruce, and the Resurrection

I remember as a kid listening to Bruce Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A album with my dad. I thought that it was cool that he listened to popular music. We connected through those moments riding around in the car listening to the Boss sing about life, working, good times, friends, and love in his signature voice. The funny thing is I didn't realize how much my Dad and I connected in this way until years later. I have been listening to Springsteen's Greatest Hits CD lately, and one of the lines from the song has stuck in my mind. "Well now everything dies baby that's a fact/ But maybe everything that dies someday comes back" from Atlantic City. I guess Bruce is more right than he realizes. As believers in Christ we know that everything has an appointed time or season, but we also cling to the hope of the resurrection of Christ that promises new life and the chance to come back. I know that because of Jesus' coming back on the third day that I have the promise of life eternal. My life, my body will one day die, but it will come back through the promise of the resurrection and the hope of life forever with God. Thanks Dad for turning me on to the Boss all those years ago.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, and Home Plate

It seems that Barry Bonds' triumph in the world of baseball went largely unnoticed. Perhaps the allegations of performance enhancing drugs are to blame. I'm not sure what your take on Bonds' new record is, but I think everyone would agree that it's cool to see such a milestone broken in this generation. It seems to me that what Bonds and Hank Aaron before him did time and time again is step up to the plate take his pitches and try to make the best out of what was there. And when it comes right down to it, that's all any of us can do. We may face difficult situations, frustrating situations, and seemingly hopeless situations but what each person has to do is step up to the plate wait for your pitches and swing for the fences. Yes, there will be times when we strike out or hit a pop-fly, but there will be plenty of times when we squeeze a triple out of a double, or make it to first on a bobbled grounder, or perhaps hit that monumental home run. Batter up!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

I'm Hot!

This has certainly been the expression heard across most of the southeastern section of the country the last few days. Isn't it funny how the temperature and weather in general is so much a part of our conversations with people. If you are at all like me you are hoping for some cooler temperatures real soon, otherwise we might all melt. I suppose it could always get hotter, especially with the whole global warming theory/talk. Whatever your take is on global warming, I think we would all appreciate a little relief right now from the triple digit temperatures.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Joy of Dancing

Have you ever put on some music in your den or living room and just danced around? Most adults would probably would answer no to this question, but as kids we probably all did it. One day last week I put on James Brown's 20 All-time Greatest Hits and danced with my daughter in our den. We had a lot of fun as we danced, laughed, sang, and fell down to the Godfather of Soul singing "I Got You". Isn't it funny how we forget how much joy we can find in the simplest pleasures of life. My daughter and I shared a wonderful father/daughter moment without really expecting it to happen. I even think if the Godfather was still around I made could give him a run for his money, well, maybe not...

Celtic Spirituality and My Journey

I just finished a new book by my preaching professor in seminary, Calvin Miller. The Celtic Path of Prayer, is a great introduction to the richness of Celtic faith for our postmodern world. Miller deals with different types of prayers employed by the Celts, think St. Patrick and other early Christians in Ireland. He also draws on his own experience in recent years of employing these different types of prayers in his own devotional life. I enjoyed this book for two reasons: 1) Miller writes like he is having a conversation with him and 2) it made me even more proud of my Irish heritage. I know what your thinking, "Aren't you Italian?" Yes, but my grandmother is strongly Scot-Irish. Really though the heritage that I am most proud of is the presence and influence of the church, the body of Christ, throughout the centuries. It is because of the faithfulness of generations of believers before me that I was able to hear the gospel nearly 15 years ago. For those who I won't know or see until I leave this world, thank you.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

America's Favorite Animated Family

I have a confession to make, I am a huge Simpsons fan. With all the hype surrounding the shows jump to the big screen I must admit I had my doubts as to the success and laugh factor for the movie. I finally saw the movie yesterday, and in a word "funny." Let me share a few thoughts about the experience. First, The Simpsons is not a show or movie for young children, even though it is animated. Over half of the theater was filled with children ages 4-12. As much as I like The Simpsons I don't think that it is intended for that type of audience. Here is the core of the show is a commitment to provide social, political, and religious commentary for American culture. In one sense nothing is sacred, because the show makes fun of everything and everybody including a jab at the theater audience for paying money to watch something you can see on TV for free. In the past the show has ruthlessly mocked Rupert Murdoch (media mogul buying the Wall Street Journal), and he is the big cheese for Fox the station that produces the show. Yesterday I found myself laughing not at the goofy animation scenes but at the cultural commentary. The Simpsons offers what I believe is the dominant view of America on the different issues facing our country. The writers have a way of making you look at things from a different perspective. Now, sometimes this is good and I agree with them and other times I don't.

One last thought, towards the beginning of the movie Homer and the rest of the town are in church. A scene happens and Homer quickly leafs through the Bible and says "Oh, there aren't any answers in here." That statement reflects so many people's views of the Bible and Christianity. For me that scene isn't a mockery of my faith, rather it is a challenge to boldly proclaim the only source of truth and answers, Jesus Christ, to a world in desperate need of God.

So you can either laugh at the corny jokes, or you can allow the messages in this film or any other to spur you on to make a difference for the Kingdom by consistently living out your faith.