The West Wing

I have a friend who came across the entire series of The West Wing on DVDs, they were being given away for free, and she grabbed them up thinking of me.  How cool is it to have friends who on occasion think of you?
I had heard of this TV show, of course, but I had never seen an episode.  Surprisingly I hadn't watched it, seeing as I'm a really big fan of Aaron Sorkin, the creator of the show.  Aaron is known for writing screenplays to movies and television with quick-paced, tightly-scripted dialogue.  Maybe you've seen one of his other shows like: Sports Night, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, or The Newsroom.  Or perhaps on of his movies: Moneyball, The Social Network, or one of my personal favorites A Few Good Men.  I think he's brilliant, and generally watch whatever project he's attached to.  So I repeat, that it was amazing that I had never seen The West Wing.
The West Wing has some incredible acting in it.  It's incredible how much talent they were actually able to amass on this show.  And throughout it's run they continue to add talent like Jimmy Smits and Alan Alda, who play candidates in an election to replace the series' president played by Martin Sheen.
I generally don't get too interested in politics, at least not the output of politics.  Obviously I care just enough to try and make the best informed decision I can make when it comes to elections.  But for the most part I don't really care who's in whatever office and whatever decisions are made.  Instead I get much more enjoyment at watching the behind the scenes and the details of how something is created more so than the actual product.  For instances, I watch all the DVD extras for all seven seasons of this show.  All the extras.
This show is a fictional glimpse at the inner workings of the people who work inside the White House and the daily happenings that help our country function.  I've recommended to one of my students that he should ask his U.S. Governments teacher if he can watch the show for extra credit.
President Jed Bartlett ranks up there with President David Palmer and President James Marshall as fictional Presidents you secret wish were actual presidents.
If you're interested in watching the series, let me know and I'll pass off the DVDs to you.


The Invisible Bike Helmet

This video is 3:36 long.  But you need to stick with most of it in order to see the invisible bike helmet.
A couple of things that stood out to me in this video are:

  1. "It's chicken to be a realist"
  2. "Cars are so yesterday. Bikes are the future."
  3. And...they made an invisible helmet!  Incredible.


"...give us today our daily bread..."

At church the past several weeks we've been progressing through The Lord's Prayer line by line, allowing it to soak into our lives and giving it opportunities to overflow in our lives through words and deeds.  This past weekend we considered the phrases "give us today our daily bread".  A phrase that has less to do with giving or bread or frequency of giving and bread.  Rather it's a phrase in the prayer that forces us to wrestle with moving from our own perception of control to the reality of the Kingdom of God.
Specifically, my friend Jon McClarnon broken down the phrase into four separate tensions; (1) from independence to dependence, (2) from wants to needs, (3) from my bread to our bread, and (4) from the physical to the spiritual.
If your curious you can listen to it HERE.

There was a quote that Jon shared during the sermon that has been stuck in my head all week and I thought I had to share it somewhere.  It's from St. Basil...

“The bread that is spoiling in your house belongs to the hungry.  The shoes that are mildewing under your bed belong to those who have none.  The clothes stores away in your trunk belong to those who are naked.  The money that depreciates in your treasury belongs to the poor.”


Many of my middle school years involved me practicing and playing baseball outside my house for hours.  I would pitch and create entire baseball games in my imagination.  I used a tennis ball most often and throw it against the wall, where I had chalked out a strike zone.  I think of those days when I read this Calvin & Hobbes.


Quote: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“The Word of Scripture should never stop sounding in your ears and working in you all day long, just like the words of someone you love.  And just as you do not analyze the words of someone you love, but accept them as they are said to you, accept the Word of Scripture and ponder it in your heart…until it has gone right into you and taken possession of you.”
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Life Together"

My pastor, Jon McClarnon, share this quote in his sermon this past Sunday and it's been in my head all week.


"Make Every Effort"

This phrase has been in my head a lot lately. "Make every effort".

Much of the time when I consider my faith I focus on the bottom line, the minimum requirements, the smallest amount possible. What am I to avoid.  What can't I do.  What exactly do I have to do.  Give me a checklist and I'll try to accomplish that.

Or I often hear people, or hear myself suggest to people, to find balance.  Everything in moderation.  Balance your lives.  Be willing to experience the extremes, but know you can't live there.

But the language of Jesus and Peter and Paul and the writer of Hebrews is opposite of that.  Instead of defining the minimum standard and the bottom lines basics they challenge us to pursue faith the to the fullest.  Life to the fullest.  Live in the extremes.  Make every effort to embrace discipline.  Make every effort to embrace salvation.  Make every effort to embrace Sabbath.  Make every effort to embrace peace.

It seems counter intuitive sometimes.  Especially as we consider that faith is free.  And that salvation come by faith alone.  Yet we are to make every effort to enter the narrow door.  Or to make every effort to enter Sabbath rest, that seems like an oxymoron.  Make every effort to do what leads to peace.

I'm not even sure I know what MAKE EVERY EFFORT means.  Right now I just know that I don't do it enough.  And even as I typed that sentence I see the frailty of my efforts.  I want to know how much of MAKE EVERY EFFORT is enough.

What would it look like if I just went for it?  What if I just embraced passion?  How would I be different if I truly embraced the idea of MAKE EVERY EFFORT?

Luke 13:23b-25
He said to them, "MAKE EVERY EFFORT to enter through the narrow door, because many I tell you will try to enter and will not be able to.  Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, 'Sir, open the door for us.'
"But he will answer, 'I don't know you or where you come from."

Romans 14:19
Let us therefore MAKE EVERY EFFORT to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

Ephesians 4:3
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  MAKE EVERY EFFORT to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Hebrews 4:11
There remains, then a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.  Let us, therefore, MAKE EVERY EFFORT, to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.

Hebrews 12:14
MAKE EVERY EFFORT to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.  See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.  See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son.  Afterward as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected.  Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done.

2 Peter 1:5, 10, 15
For this very reason, MAKE EVERY EFFORT to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
Therefore, my bothers and sisters, MAKE EVERY EFFORT to confirm your calling and election.  For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have.  I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.  And I will MAKE EVERY EFFORT to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.

2 Peter 3:14
Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, MAKE EVERY EFFORT to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that Lord's patience means salvation, just as out dear brother Paul also wrote with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. 


Opening Day

It's a great day.
Months and months of baseball to look forward too.
I'm trying to spend the year avoiding sports as my central conversation piece.  But I thought I'd post my preseason picks.  I'll probably have to post some mid-season picks, because you just never know...

NL EAST - Miami
NL CENTRAL - St. Louis
NL WEST - San Francisco
NL WILD CARD - Philadelphia (one game playoff winner)
NL WILD CARD - Arizona

AL EAST - New York
AL CENTRAL - Detroit
AL WEST - Texas
AL WILD CARD - Los Angeles (one game playoff winner)
AL WILD CARD - Tampa Bay

National League
     Los Angeles defeats New York
     Texas defeats Detroit

American League
     Miami defeats San Francisco
     Philadelphia defeats St. Louis

America League
     Texas defeats Los Angeles

National League
     Miami defeats Philadelphia

      Texas defeats Miami  (it's gonna happen this year!)


Quote: Van Gogh

“I prefer painting people’s eyes to cathedrals, for there is something in the eyes that is not in the cathedral, however solemn and imposing the latter may be – a human soul, be it that of a poor beggar or of a street walker, is more interesting to me.”
- Vincent Van Gogh
"The Potato Eaters"


Quote: Rich Mullins

"I would rather live on the verge of falling and let my security be in the all-sufficiency of the grace of God than live in some kind of pietistic illusion of moral excellence."
- Rich Mullins


Don't Look Down

I don't remember ever feeling like I suffered from vertigo.
Well, except for that time in Paris.  When I was in the sixth grade, living in West Germany, my parents sent my two older brothers and I on one day trip to Paris.  The bus tour dropped us off at the Eiffel Tower for a couple of hours.  On the second deck of the structure my brothers and I were playing around, looking down over the railings, and then whipping our heads around to stare at the top of the Tower our backs leaning against the railing, and then rolling back around towards the ground.  For some reason this stupid maneuver began to make my stomach flip. That eventually led to my brief experience of being an eleven year old lost in Paris.
Outside of that incident I have never had a problem with heights.  I've never been a fan of falling, but heights were not the issue.
Lately, however, that's not been the case.  I've been getting really queasy with certain things; the top of a ladder, hanging Christmas lights on the roof, tightrope walking between the Twin Towers, or just watching YouTube clips.  It's getting bad.
For instance:


Book: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

I discovered John Green a couple years back. Back then, the author had just released his third young adult novel entitled Paper Towns.  I heard about it from a hyperlink of a hyperlink of a website I once heard about from a website I regular read.  

I found Paper Towns in local bookstore and I purchased it.
Began it.
Devoured it.
Thoroughly enjoyed it.
Finished it. 
Told everyone I knew about it.
And then returned to the bookstore to purchase Green's two previous books Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines.  
John Green's books share the stories of teenagers who arrive at life altering events.  Events that most adults can relate to, and events that many teenagers are anticipating.  And then in some of the most honest writing about teenagers I've ever read, the characters journey through their events.  The stories are filled with emotion and humor that create some of the extremely enjoyable reading I've ever had.  
In his latest release, The Fault In Our Stars, John introduces us to a group of teens who are dying.  They are dying, like we are all dying, but their deaths have a side effect of cancer.  It's a story of cancer, and death after life, and questions of life after death and love.  It's an honest story mixed with a sense of hopefulness and hopelessness.  It's brutally honest, and yet, it's beautifully honest.  
I would suggest you go pick up this book today.  I assume it'll cost more once it starts winning all the awards.


Song: Ho Hey by The Lumineers

I heard this song on the soundtrack of a recent tv show.  I'd share with you which show it was, but quite honestly it's not all that impressive of a show and I'd be embarrassed to openly admit that I've seen too many episodes.  However, it has on more than one occasion led me down the path towards good or decent tunes.  And the lead actress is kinda cute.
The song "Ho Hey" by The Lumineers is one of those songs.  It's a rather simple song, but for some reason I resonated with the lyrics and melody, and now it's been stuck in my head for the past several days.  I've liked this song well enough that I haven't even begun exploring the group's other music yet.
This Youtube clip is one of the best recordings of the song, although you can find a number of live performances online as well.  Enjoy, the lyrics are down below:

'Ho Hey' by The Lumineers
Verse 1:
(Ho!) I've been trying to do it right(Hey!) I've been living a lonely life(Ho!) I've been sleeping here instead(Hey!)I've been sleeping in my bed,(Ho!) I've been sleeping in my bed (Hey!)
Verse 2:(Ho!) So show me family(Hey!) Or the blood that I would bleed(Ho!) I don't know where I belong(Hey!) I don't know where I went wrong(Ho!) But I can write a song (Hey!)
1,2,3 I belong with you, you belong with me in my sweet heartI belong with you, you belong with me in my sweet (Ho!)
Verse 3:
(ho!) I don't think you're right for him(hey!) Look at what it might have been(ho!) Took the bus to china town(hey!) I've been standing on Canal(ho!) And Bowery (hey!)(ho!) You should be standing next to me (hey!)
1,2,3 I belong with you you belong with me in my sweet heartI belong with you, you belong with me in my sweet heart
The love we need is nowIts hope for someThis love we need it now
Chorus:I belong with you you belong with me in my sweet heartI belong with you you belong with me in my sweet (Ho!)


Video: "Not Where You Saw"

I think this video is ridiculously clever and hilarious.
It's two brothers watching childhood home movies.  As they watch them they offer commentary on the movies as if they were legitimate Hollywood produced films.
I seriously wish I had some childhood home videos to do something like this:
If you enjoyed this video, make sure you watch all three.


2012 Goals: Scheduled TV Breaks

I've fallen into a small routine that I don't really care for.  
When I arrive home the first things I generally do are, kick off my shoes (just right of the front door), unload whatever I've hauled in with me (my backpack), turn on the TV (the silent apartment disturbs me) and grab something to drink (Dr. Pepper or a Capri-Sun and a bottle of water).  
The shoes part I like, no need to track dirt around the place. 
The backpack part I like, because it's silly to walk around your castle with a backpack strapped to your shoulders and one shouldn't leave their laptop in their car.
The beverage part I like, because I'm going to drink something ever night.
But the TV thing annoys me.
One of my annual goals is to read 40 books.  And last year I just didn't think I read as much as I should have.  I can do better.  But not with the squawk box killing my attention span.
So I'm taking Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays off from my television.  

Now again, I'm not legalistic with my annual goals, and there are a couple exceptions.
If I'm playing trivia on Wednesdays and there are televisions on every wall, I'm not going to be running around like a crazy man trying to avoid them.
And If the MLB playoffs and World Series are on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday...well...I've got to watch.  However, in view of my first 2012 goal I won't talk about it.

My Girl Friday (#5): "cause God knows we're worth it"

I think this is beautiful...

My Girl Friday
- #1
- #2
- #3
- #4


2012 Goals: No Sports Conversations

I really enjoy sports.  I absolutely love baseball.  But what I really am starting detest is when the only thing some people talk about is sports.  In the great grand scheme of things sports mean nothing.  Which isn't to say that depth of character, and the beauty of a story cannot be found in the realm of sports.  But the conversations I typically find myself in are not those.  Rather they're just a lot of noise about stats, and Monday morning quarterback decisions, and mutters about games that I know nobody in that conversation really has a concern about.
Fantasy sports have really pushed this to the next level.  We talk about the scores and stats of games and players that we would never concern ourselves with otherwise.  And we speak about them as if our lives really in balance.
And I guess I'm just frustrated that I'm easily drawn into these conversations.  And I don't want to say that I think talking about sports is wrong.  You and I go out to lunch and talk baseball for hours and I would complete enjoy that discussion.
It's just that I want my life to be about more.  And I'm willing to purge this portion of my life, for the small percent of my time on earth, in hope that the Spirit of God might be powerfully displayed.
I want to have conversations in my life that have greater depth and worth.
I want my words to be filled with grace and truth, not stats and scores, so that that the powerful work of the Spirit in my life could possibly bring life change in someone else's.
I could have picked several of topics to ban myself from instead of sports.  It could have been movies, or television, or food, or music, etc, etc, etc...  But I chose sports because I think it's going to be incredibly difficult.
I'm not even sure how this plays itself out.  Can I listen to others speak about sports?  How do I politely excuse myself from engaging in a discussion (something I wrestled with today while speaking on the phone with my dad and he asked me about the 49ers and the NFL playoffs)?  I'm foreseeing a couple of exceptions to this discipline, but I'm not looking to pursue this on a legalistic pursuit, so I'll be willing to offer grace to myself in certain scenarios.
And I'm sure that I'll fail with regular consistency.
I just think this is something I have to do.


2012 Goals

For the past several years I've posted several of my yearly goals on this here blog.  While I've not been very consistent with blogging I figured I still should continue this exercise.  I had some goals for last year, which I was extremely successful and extremely unsuccessful.  I hate failing, but I'm actually okay with my failure (it's becoming a lifetime habit).  However, I'd like to do a little better this year.
So here are my goals for 2012:
No Sports Conversations

Scheduled TV Breaks
Read 40 Books
No Fast Food
Attend Andrew Peterson's Behold The Lamb of God Concert
Track Everything I Spend
Attend a Monti Event (and tell a story)
Visit a City I've Never Been To
Some of these might need a little explanation.  I'm going to attempt to share a few thoughts on each of those over the next few days.