Monday, June 30, 2008

the Today Show

Every morning I get up and watch the Today Show while Steph gets ready for her day and every morning I hear the same story. The economy is bad! Oil prices are going through the roof! Etc. etc. I’m tired of it. Let’s get serious people!

I live in reality. Reality is that people do dumb things for seemingly no reason. Like the person with no job and no income thinking that is’ ok to get buy a house. STUPID! I mean come on why do you need to get a house? I know, I know that it builds equity; but can you afford it? The answer: No! The evidence: Mortgage companies are going out of business because of the volume of people having to file bankruptcy because of bad loans.

Another stupid thing is when people buy huge cars that cost literally hundreds of dollars a week to fuel. I ran into a guy who told me he spends around $300 a week on gas! He lives 30 minutes away from work and they use their vehicle for work related travel. I did a little math, that’s 15,600 just on gas!

I think that the problem is that people are continually trying to move up. I need a bigger house. I need a nice car, that’s not too small! I need the most in-style clothing. I need to go to the coolest events and most luxurious vacation spots. Nobody is content with who they are. This is a problem of epidemic proportions.

I’m learning to be content with myself. I’m trying to be ok with the fact that I’m not the funniest and coolest. I’m trying to learn to do with less (that means eating out less). We’re trying to survive with only one car (Steph’s Saturn station wagon). I’m trying to be ok with the fact that I’m working 2 part time jobs, neither of which I really enjoy doing.

Not that I’m better than anybody else, but I think that part of the problem with the economy is when we continually try and move up and be something we’re not. I don’t know just things I think about while Matt and Meredith talk about Today’s events.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

races and machine guns

Two amazing things happened to today.

Today ran a 5k race with Steph in Wilmore. It took me a record breaking 27 minutes and 1 second to finish this course! Stephanie's time was strong enough to finish third among the 24-29 year old women! That's right I'm married to a superstar distance runner! Major props!

My boss at work today uttered this amazing phrase. It was poetry that struck the deepest cord in my heart. One only longs to hear phrases this beautiful and this true every day. Well maybe not everyday, that would make my head hurt.

He said,
It is my God-given right to own a machine gun!

After hearing something like this I am always completely speechless!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Thank you for being patient will I got the last three posts out of my system!

Thank you for putting up with me an my past 3 posts (booze pt's 1-3), as they have been a conversation I have been having with myself over the past few months. I hope that you are not offended nor annoyed by what you found there, but instead maybe thought about the issue a little differently!

If you have not noticed (maybe because you use and RSS feed to follow the blog) I've changed the format of this page. In an attempt to organize myself have decided to commit myself to post updates from daily Wilmore life on this site (Thoughts from the Press Box). I have committed to writing in two areas, the book of Matthew and Peace in two seperate places that I have created links for in the margin of the blog. I have also decided to write random Sports thoughts on another page (here)

And once again, thanks for being patient while I got those last three posts out of my system!

booze pt.3 (concluding remarks)

If one were to disagree with the Wesleyan Church’s stance on alcohol, be a part of the Wesleyan church, and drink alcohol anyways, that person would have an issue. The issue would have nothing to do with alcohol. The real issue would be one of submission and rebellion.

Regardless of whether or you agree with all the membership guidelines of the church, the fact of the matter is that you committed to submit yourself to the guidelines of the church. For those of us who have taken the next step and have committed ourselves leadership in the church by way of ordained ministry there should be a deeper level of commitment. Sadly, many people who disagree with the guidelines confuse this with the fact that they have placed themselves as part of a body.

While here at Asbury, we are asked to sign a communal agreement on how we live called an ethos. The first paragraph of this ethos states: 

“The Asbury community is a family of believers who have committed themselves to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord…As servants of Christ…seek to develop relationships in mutual respect. They exercise their individual and collective responsibilities…for the whole institution to fulfill its ministries.”

So the point of an ethos statement is that it is an agreement of lifestyle commitments everybody can live by. The point is not that everything is Biblically accurate; the point is that we’ve set parameters for community. Living in community is about submitting to the community and sacrificing our freedom to that community.

This is the point of the Wesleyan Church’s special directives. We as the Wesleyans have set a certain set of lifestyle choices that we all have agreed to submit ourselves to. The point is not that we agree with the individual lifestyle choices, the point is we have committed to them. If one issue bothers us so much we cannot live by it, it is not ethical of us to just simply ignore it.

If we disagree with issues in the church, we should not rebel but instead push for change. (which is what happened at this summer's General Conference). We cannot call ourselves people of integrity if we simply ignore or break the commitments we made when we joined the church. 

In these three posts, I have tried to make two points:

  1. As Christians we should understand that alcohol itself is not bad, instead the abuse and addiction of this substance is what is bad.
  2. As Wesleyans even if we have issues with the church’s stance, we have covenanted to these stances of our own freewill. The choice to break these agreements is an unethical one.

But at the same time, I think that the Wesleyan church should change its stance on alcohol to a more holistic stance, a stance that acknowledges the real issues at stake – addiction and abuse - and remains true to them. This is important because if we do not, we run the risk of becoming legalistic. 

These are my proposals for the Wesleyan Church:

  1. “As Wesleyans we stand against all destructive practices and lifestyles that from all the ways that we abuse that which God has created good. Thus we commit to living lives free from abusing that which God has called good.”
  2. “As Wesleyans we believe we were created to live lives of freedom, free from the control of addictions. Thus we commit to being free from all addictions that we might truly live lives of freedom.”


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Booze pt. 2

As Christians we need to understand the nature of creation as innately good. Just like a beautiful painting that has been covered in smut and smoke, the world has been distorted and its beauty has been hidden. Even though its been tarnished, we can never forget the painting is still beautiful underneath! And if cleaned off, its original beauty can be restored.

Why then does the Bible speak of drunkenness being bad? Is it because alcohol itself is bad? If your answer is yes, then how do we understand the fact that God created everything good? If God indeed created everything good then we must believe that even the ingredients that go into producing alcohol are innately good. If that is true how can alcohol be bad?

Just because alcohol can be abused does not mean that it is bad. It just means that as humans we’ve found a way to abuse the beautiful creation that we’ve been given to care for. This is the problem with humans: we abuse everything around us. We abuse our resources, other people, and all elements of creation. If you want examples look at domestic abuse, slavery, dog fighting, human trafficking, strip mining, sweat shops…the list could go on and on. We call this pattern of abuse sin.

What we need to understand is that abuse is sin. The problem is that it is very easy to not understand the difference between action and abuse of the action. This is called legalism. Legalism is just as wrong as the abuse itself, because it blinds us from seeing the beauty of creation.

Thus as Christians:
1. We need to understand the innate goodness that is in the world.
2. We need to stop being legalistic.
3. We also need to stand against the abusive (or sinful) nature that is the pattern for those around us.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Booze pt. 1

Recently, for those of you in the know, the Wesleyan Church had its General Conference. One of the issues that has been heavily debated over the last couple years is the issue of alcohol. Many of you know that the Wesleyan Church has a hard stance against drinking alcohol, and all of its members must affirm this stance if they are to be a part of the church.

Now I disagree with this position. I do not feel that a list of do’s and don’ts is appropriate. I don’t think that alcohol itself is necessarily wrong, but I do affirm that an addiction to it (alcoholism) and the abuse of it (drunkenness) are both wrong. (The addiction part because it is an addiction and it causes you to lose control, and the abuse part because we should not abuse anything)

Many young persons in the Wesleyan community agree with me and have made their voices known in the church. Apart of this group has decided that it is ok to drink citing the fact that there is no Biblical mandate against it. Thus, the church’s rules prohibiting drinking are wrong, and they have the freedom to drink. This is not an isolated group, but it stretches all over the denomination.

To me the issue of whether or not I should drink has nothing to do with whether or not there is a Biblical mandate. To me the issue is that I have made a covenant saying I wouldn’t. Until that covenant is changed, I am bound to it. To me this is not a Biblical issue, it is an integrity issue. I have decided that alcohol (or any other issue) is not worth me jeopardizing my integrity.

I personally do not find drinking to be that important anyways. If I need a beer or a martini in order to have a good time, I have a problem. Comedian Jim Gaffigan makes a good point in one of his routines; we make way too big an issue out of the whole issue. As he mimics somebody asking a non-mayonnaise eating person whether or not it is ok it they eat mayo.

More Thoughts to come…

Things to take away from this post:
1.) I chose not to drink, not because I find drinking wrong, but because I have covenanted myself to the Wesleyan Church.
2.)The real issue is abuse and addiction.
3.) If I have to have a drink to have a good time, maybe there’s another issue-namely addiction.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Election Thoughts...

It's election year, which means it’s the time when we get to hear a bunch of empty promises from politicians. Let's be honest, every four years we hear two lines:

  1. We need to work some kinks out then everything will be good. It's the other party is holding us back from progress.
  2. We need to make big changes before everything will be ok. The current party is wrong and we need to get a new party in place.

What really happens is that a new party comes into place and nothing really changes, because politicians only care about getting elected and don't want to do anything radical that would threaten this. So real change doesn't happen because people are worried about job security. (and who could blame them!) I just don't think that politicians will ever make the world a better place!

I'm not going to lie to you, I'm kinda burnt out on the political process because I don't think it works. I don’t think that the current party that is in power will ever work things out. And I don’t think that a new party, and the change they’ll bring along will make things any better.

I say all this because I have no idea who I am going to vote for. I can’t decide which line is the least false this time…

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Rules for Driving in Lexington

  1. be prepared to stop at least 50 times, because none of the stop lights are timed to help traffic flow
  2. nobody is to use turn signals...ever
  3. watch out for flying cigarette ash from drivers in front of you flicking their cigs unto the road
  4. construction may take weeks, so be prepared to drive on half completed roads
  5. driving should happen at 5 mph below the speed limit
  6. making a right turn from the left lane is acceptable
  7. patience is unacceptible
  8. all cars must be outfitted with a Jesus Fish
  9. cutting in front of larger vechiles is perfectly acceptible
  10. rain, sleet, snow, and ice (or the forecast of) are perfect reasons to go 13 mph...even when the skies are clear

Monday, June 16, 2008

My sink is throwing up...

So we went to Indiana for the weekend because our friend Joel got married! He is now in Las Vegas with his beautiful wife playing the slots....errr watching one of the amazing shows. We were so happy for him.

It was a great weekend, but when we got back the apartment we noticed an interesting aroma. Now there is a back story here. Last week I was working and got a call from Steph saying that there was nasty black gunk in our sink and it smelled like burnt rubber. This was the smell that we encountered when we opened the door. Our sink had the hiccups!

So I went over to Maintenance and informed them of our issue. Jill, the receptionist, told me they'd get it taken care of. Steph called me at lunch and said that the maintenance guy was digging in front of our apartment trying to get it all fixed. So apparently it was something big that needed to be fixed! Yikes!!

Needless to say, our sink is done burping!

Great Story...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mass Transportation

As gas prices continue to go up, owning a car becomes less and less attractive to me. The only problem is that if you don't have a car (and you don't live in a big city) you're out of luck. But what if you didn't need to own a car.

Whenever I go into Chicago, I take the train. It's just easier. I pay my bill and take a quick nap while I wait for me stop. The only thing I am responsible for is knowing the schedule. I love it.

What would it be like if we had the option to not drive. What if everywhere you wanted to go there was a subway, a train, or a city bus that would take you there? To me the idea sounds like it would be great!

The only catch is by buying into mass transit we lose a bit of our independence. But would that be ok if it means we become unaddicted to our gas guzzling vechiles. It's not that I am anti-personal transportation, but the issue is we're addicted.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dogs are better...

The other day Stephanie and I were talking about what we'd name animals that we may or may not get in the future. We have different visions about our pet situation; I want a dog and she wants a cat. We figured we'd solve this by getting one of each. Now don't get me wrong, I like cats. They're fun! But I'd rather get a puppy.

Here's my deal. Cat's are very independent, they take care of themselves. You can put a cat in a house, put their food out, give them some clean kitty liter (or even just sand) and not worry about them for days. Even if you do worry about them, they only care about you when it is time for feeding. Stephanie's cat, Chocolate is a great example of this. She hates me! When I walk into a room, she hisses, growls, and even tries to scratch me, but when I am eating meat she is my best friend. I have no stomach for this type of pet.

Robert Di Nero in Meet the Parents is right when he describes dogs. They need you, they are happy to see you, and when you are angry at them their tail goes between their legs to...well if you have seen the movie you know what he says next. Dogs cannot live without you. You are their life! When I am spending time to feed an animal, I want to have the satisfaction of knowing that it actually cares about me-this will never happen with a cat.

Back to my first sentence, we were talking about pet names. I think it's absolutely hilarious to give titles (i.e. Sir, Senator, Coach, etc.). As we were talking about what to name our pets, we decided on naming the dog, Colonel Hank Greenberg and the cat Coach Bobby Knight.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Summer Randomness

Two points of interest that I would like to point out…

Today I learned that the state of Arkansas calls itself the ‘Natural State’ because when you think natural…usually the conversation goes back to Arkansas. This makes you think what type of process people go through when picking these cute mottos. Why is Arkansas natural?

Delaware calls itself the 1st state. This is because they were the first to ratify the constitution. Why is this so? Well because they are so small!

Did you know that two states make claims on flying? North Carolina says that it is first in flight, while Ohio claims that it is the birthplace of flight.

Abraham Lincoln’s importance is also shown as three states stake a claim on his life. Kentucky calls itself the birthplace of Lincoln. Illinois calls itself the Land of Lincoln. Indiana says that it is childhood home of Lincoln.

Michigan calls itself the Great Lake State. Minnesota says that it is Land of 10,000 Lakes. Who knew that having lakes was so cool!

Wilmore has been invaded. 75 bazillion cicadias have attacked our fair city. On trees, on the sidewalk, and in the grass for the past week or so these nasty bugs have jumped out at us. Steph and I went hiking a couple weekends ago and I noticed a ton of these guys hanging out in the woods…now they’re all over!

They don’t bite but today when I was driving home from work about 100 flew over my car like snowflakes. It’s unbelievable how they swarm. When we went to church in Lexington, we didn’t see any, but in Wilmore and Nicholasville they’re like locust.

Which brings me to my second thought…has God sent a plague against us?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Pain Free Living?

And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.

Summer is here, and that means I have some spare time to think. As well as thinking, I have been challenged to memorize Matthew 5-7 (the Sermon on the Mount), which is a pretty crazy passage. Not only is it long (I heard once it takes 19 minutes to read), but it’s intense.

I have been stuck on the first part of the passage, the part where Jesus explains the type of people who will be blessed. They are the poor in spirit, those mourning, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted. If you really think about it, this is not the type of person you dream of being when you’re a little kid. You don’t hear the 7 year olds saying, “I want to be a mourner!”…just doesn’t happen.

I was thinking the other day that most of the time the message communicated to us is that God wants you to not go through hard times. I hear it in prayers, in songs, in sermons, and in conversations. We pray asking to avoid hard times. We pray that God would spare us from pain and suffering. Sermons are focused on how to live a better life. Most Pastors are focused on giving biblical advice on how to have a more successful and fulfilling life. We’re focused on how to free ourselves from the issues of life that drag us down. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no masochist, but maybe we’re missing the point. Maybe there is more to life than just looking to avoid trouble. Maybe there’s more to life than sunny skies and being debt free (not that those are bad things either).

I am in the middle of reading the book, “The Politics of Jesus” by John Howard Yoder. He made the point that Jesus actually lives out the Sermon on the Mount when he is crucified. For instance, he mentions that in Matthew 5:40 Jesus says if somebody taking your tunic to give also your cloak. When Jesus is being crucified, he points out that Matthew very purposefully mentions the fact that the soldiers were dividing his clothes. How should we take this: Jesus is actually living out the Sermon on the Mount! The cross is not just the story of God becoming man and then dying so we can be saved. The cross is the example for us to follow.

Paul picks up on this in the book of Philippians, chapter 2, verses 5-8. He says that we should have the same attitude as Jesus. Who though He was God, didn’t seem to care to hold on to this and he became like a slave. As a man, he again humbled himself and died. He didn’t just die he was crucified. So Paul wants us to see that Jesus doesn’t care much about taking the easy route, and we’re supposed to be like that.

I don’t know where to take this topic any further. I’ve already said I’m not a masochist, and I do not enjoy struggling through life, but I think that Jesus is trying to tell his followers something. I guess I’ve read over this text a dozen times in the last year or so, and it has struck a cord in my mind that maybe I’ve been thinking about life wrong. I’ve wanted to find the easiest, the most comfortable, or the least painful way–but maybe that’s not the way of Jesus.