Head First: 2006

Friday, December 22, 2006

Smile, Jesus Loves You Sucker

There are just a couple days left before Jesus turns 2039 (depending on how you calculate). Thankfully, we don't celebrate with a cake. That would be a lot of candles! Hoowee!

Anyway, here are a few last minute gift ideas for the special people on your list.




Lighted Grown-up Jesus Tree Topper

Let the Light of the World light up your holiday festivities this year. He's advertised as lifelike, with actual nail-holes in his hands (You can try to attach him to your tree that way, but he'll be off in three days).





AtoneMints

If Jesus came back right now, wouldn't you want to have the freshest breath possible? Guaranteed to hide both beer and cigarette breath, so they're perfect for Sunday morning.




Bobblehead Jesus

Just place this guy in your rear dash and you can always be sure that JC has your back. (I swear I've seen this particular Jesus in the NBA. Who is that guy?)





Jesus Bandages

This is how Benny Hinn began his healing ministry. Think of the possibilities.





The Last Supper Lunchbox.

It's extra long, perfect for a hot, juicy Philadelphia cheesesteak (which, according to scholars, was ordered by nine of the twelve disciples, but they were out of luck. Philadelphia hadn't been invented yet).





The WWJD Hemp Bracelet.


This is what I'm getting my teenage daughter this year. The first question I'm going to ask is, "Would Jesus smoke this bracelet? I don't think so."





Jesus Coat Hooks

Here's a great way to make your holiday guests feel welcome in your home, while still reminding them that Christmas is only the beginning of the story. (Yes, some sick bastard is actually selling these.)





The Cruc-Z-Boy Recliner

I don't really know what to say about this. There doesn't seem to be anything easy about this easy chair. What if you drop the remote while you're all strapped in? Now THAT'S agony.





Here's the one that inspired this post in the first place:

Smile, Jesus Loves You Sucker

That's exactly how they're labeled at christiandollarstore.com. I wonder if they did that on purpose.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

It's raining money! Hallelujah!

I got this email yesterday from the IRS (click image to enlarge):



Pretty sweet, huh? All I have to do is give them my Social Security number (because the IRS doesn't have my Social Security number), and the credit/debit card account number where I want my tax refund sent.

So I've got that going for me, which is nice.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

This is Gonna Be the Best Xmas Ever!

The response has been overwhelming! Apparently, the gift of music was such a hit, that Amazon has completely sold out of all those titles, except Mylon LeFevre and Tammy Faye. Jim Post's "I Love My Life" is backordered until Easter. Clearly, everyone is in a shopping mood this Christmas. So, while I'm digging up some more gift ideas for the loved ones on your list (don't forget Dorse! hehe), here are some more musical selections for your consideration.









































Monday, December 04, 2006

Only 20 shopping days left!

This Christmas, give the gift of music. Here are a few ideas, from my iPod to yours.

















































































Merry Christmas everyone!

(shout out to Bruce Garrison for the inspiration)

Friday, December 01, 2006

Stop fixing me and I'll stop fixing you.

Lately, several passages from Romans 14 have come to my thinking. I especially like Eugene Peterson's translation of it. Is it just me, or does Paul suggest that being in good relationships is more important than believing the same things?

Cultivating Good Relationships

1 Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don't see things the way you do. And don't jump all over them every time they do or say something you don't agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.

2-4 For instance, a person who has been around for a while might well be convinced that he can eat anything on the table, while another, with a different background, might assume he should only be a vegetarian and eat accordingly. But since both are guests at Christ's table, wouldn't it be terribly rude if they fell to criticizing what the other ate or didn't eat? God, after all, invited them both to the table. Do you have any business crossing people off the guest list or interfering with God's welcome? If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learned, God can handle that without your help.

5 Or, say, one person thinks that some days should be set aside as holy and another thinks that each day is pretty much like any other. There are good reasons either way. So, each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience.

6-9 What's important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God's sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you're a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. It's God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—not each other. That's why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other.

10-12 So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother? And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister? I'd say it leaves you looking pretty silly—or worse. Eventually, we're all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgment, facing God. Your critical and condescending ways aren't going to improve your position there one bit. Read it for yourself in Scripture:

"As I live and breathe," God says,
"every knee will bow before me;
Every tongue will tell the honest truth
that I and only I am God."
So tend to your knitting. You've got your hands full just taking care of your own life before God.

13-14 Forget about deciding what's right for each other. Here's what you need to be concerned about: that you don't get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is. I'm convinced—Jesus convinced me!—that everything as it is in itself is holy. We, of course, by the way we treat it or talk about it, can contaminate it.

15-16 If you confuse others by making a big issue over what they eat or don't eat, you're no longer a companion with them in love, are you? These, remember, are persons for whom Christ died. Would you risk sending them to hell over an item in their diet? Don't you dare let a piece of God-blessed food become an occasion of soul-poisoning!

17-18 God's kingdom isn't a matter of what you put in your stomach, for goodness' sake. It's what God does with your life as he sets it right, puts it together, and completes it with joy. Your task is to single-mindedly serve Christ. Do that and you'll kill two birds with one stone: pleasing the God above you and proving your worth to the people around you.

19-21 So let's agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don't drag them down by finding fault. You're certainly not going to permit an argument over what is served or not served at supper to wreck God's work among you, are you? I said it before and I'll say it again: All food is good, but it can turn bad if you use it badly, if you use it to trip others up and send them sprawling. When you sit down to a meal, your primary concern should not be to feed your own face but to share the life of Jesus. So be sensitive and courteous to the others who are eating. Don't eat or say or do things that might interfere with the free exchange of love.

22-23 Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don't impose it on others. You're fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent. But if you're not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe—some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them—then you know that you're out of line. If the way you live isn't consistent with what you believe, then it's wrong.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

(Buuurp.)

If you overate as I did this weekend, then join me in cheerfully accepting the rebuke of the Clive:




"He that but looketh on a plate of ham and eggs to lust after it hath already committed breakfast with it in his heart."





[/guilty]

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Church screws the least of these...again.

According to Britain's Daily Mail,

The Church of England has broken with tradition dogma by calling for doctors to be allowed to let sick newborn babies die.

Christians have long argued that life should preserved at all costs - but a bishop representing the national church has now sparked controversy by arguing that there are occasions when it is compassionate to leave a severely disabled child to die.

And the Bishop of Southwark, Tom Butler, who is the vice chair of the Church of England's Mission and Public Affairs Council, has also argued that the high financial cost of keeping desperately ill babies alive should be a factor in life or death decisions."


I guess this isn't surprising, coming from the church that owes it's existence to the adultery of a king. I'm way uneasy about putting a decision like that in the hands of humans.

Friday, November 10, 2006

My take on the whole Ted Haggard thing...

We are all liars and deceivers. Every single one of us.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

It was political PMS.

Sorry about that last post. It was written in the haste of frustration and not altogether thought out. Mere mention of the Supreme Court would have brought my logic to its knees. I hope I'm allowed one intellectual lapse. I still hate politics.

Anyway, gredaadt posted this speech from Illinios Senator Barack Obama. The more I hear from this guy, the more hopeful I am that the left and the right can someday come to a reasonable working relationship.

It's a long post, but read it. It makes a lot of sense.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Did I mention that I hate politics?

I will be so freaking happy when this election is over. Mark my words, it doesn't matter who gets elected. No politician (or group of politicians) is going to solve this country's problems. The priority of a Republican politician is exactly the same as that of a Democratic politician-- getting into (and remaining in) a position of power. Ideologically, I haven't heard a sensible proposal from any quarter, so it really doesn't matter to me who wins tomorrow (except that Democrats always seem to raise my taxes, even though I'm nowhere near the top 2 percent). Personally, I'm hoping that the President will feel free to ask for Donald Rumsfeld's resignation after tomorrow, but that's neither here nor there.


I really don't want to seem fatalistic about it, but I can't even imagine a solution to the extreme political division in America. We can argue all day about how we became so polarized, but the question is how do we find common ground again? I'm pretty sure tomorrow's not going to offer a solution.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Oh, to be a revolutionary.

(turn up your volume)

This made me cry. Twice. I'm not entirely sure why.

Maybe affection is too simple. That's why we don't get it.

(Please note: I DO NOT WATCH OPRAH. I was working in a place where her show was on, and she featured this clip and interviewed the guy. That's the truth, I swear.)

Saturday, October 14, 2006

We'll return to our regular programming, right after we sell out to the man.

Bear with me as I take this post to fulfill a couple obligations.


I'm feeling much better now, but it can be a little ego stroking to get an email from a big company that says "We have identified you as an influential online presence and an opinion leader." This only weeks after a book publisher tells you, "...yours is a blog that we keep an eye on." For a moment, I wondered if I should hire an agent, until I realized that about a billion other people got the same offers.

I really don't know how my name got into this particular pot (probably a mistake), but the Philips Corporation and its partner, Douwe Egberts recently offered to send me a Senseo pod-style coffee maker in hopes that I would like it and use my vast influence to command you to leave suitcases full of large bills in the lobby of their corporate headquarters. I had seen similar machines in a couple high-end kitchen shops, and assumed it was just the latest gimmick. But still, it retails for between $70-100, and they've sold millions of these machines in Europe, and I thought, "What the hell. If it's good enough for Europeans, how can I say no? I can always put it on eBay or give it to a homeless person." So I agreed.

Wait a minute... I just remembered. About a year ago, I posted here about complaining to Philips that their DuraMax lightbulbs last a couple months instead of a couple years, as advertised. In response, they sent me a whole case of lightbulbs which was pretty nice, except that the new bulbs didn't last any longer than the ones I complained about. The way I see it, they still owe me lightbulbs for the next 9 years.

Anyway, the coffeemaker arrived last week. It's bigger than it looked in pictures, but still attractive. There was a little bit of setup involved, but the instructions were pretty clear. The machine uses small pre-measured pods (like little round teabags), very hot water and pressure to produce a very frothy, very attractive 8 oz. cuppa joe, or two 4 oz. demis in about a minute. The pods that came with the machine were a medium roast, but the selection of available coffees, cappucinos, decafs, etc. is pretty impressive, and available at all of my local supermarkets. They're a little pricey, but you can buy a reusable mesh pod and use your favorite roast, if you like.

I made several cups that evening. It was rich and delicious. Not weak, and not acidic. I would be interested in trying a stronger roast or an espresso, and I have to admit, the Senseo makes a spectacular cup of coffee. But therein lies the rub. It makes only a cup of coffee. I need a machine that makes a spectacular POT of coffee. Most mornings, I wander around the house with my 14 oz. mug, stopping for a warmup as I pass the coffeemaker. When I'm ready to leave, whatever's left goes into my 20 oz. travel mug. The Senseo, as good as it is, just doesn't fit my coffee lifestyle.

However, if you just drink one or two cups in the morning, or want to offer a guest a treat, then this machine is for you. You can pick one up pretty cheap on eBay right now (apparently, everyone had the same idea that I did). The pods are widely available, but I like the idea of the reusable pod.

In fact, if you're interested, you can have mine for free. Well, throw me, say, twenty bucks for shipping and handling, and I'll send it to you, along with the remaining coffee pods. Let me know. Supplies are limited. Operators are standing by.

I have some things to do, so the book review will have to wait a bit. Meanwhile, read reviews from bruced and Jason Clark. I don't have much to add.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Friday, September 29, 2006

Dorse, the imperialist dog.

Did you know that New Jersey is one of two remaining states in the union that does not allow self-service gasoline? Nope. You are not allowed to pump your own gas in the Garden State. The only reason I can think of is that they want to prevent the spread of germs by keeping people from drinking straight from the pump. I mean, you never know where that's thing has been.

Anyway, regular was $1.97/gallon this morning. This was the first tank of fuel I can remember that cost me less than $35. So, as I sat in my SUV while someone else filled my tank this morning, the little red Dorsey-in-a-devil-suit sat on my right shoulder and said, "Y'know, if only this war really was about oil, I might support it."

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Where I went to church this Sunday.

I received an email yesterday from someone I care deeply about who is starting to talk about her own dissatisfaction with organized religion. Parts of my reply echoed some recent posts:

"I don't know what the solution is, but for me, Church is going fishing with my friend, or getting together with some online friends and raising over $4,000 for an orphanage in eastern Europe, or going for a long motorcycle ride in the country with my daughter, or discussing God with a buddy over a beer. The kingdom of God is measured by our relationships, not our attendance at a weekly meeting. I find it ironic that religious people are often the first to break relationship when someone disagrees with them or fails to live up to their standard of performance. Didn't Jesus say that people would know his disciples by their love for others? I guess He was right."

Maybe I'm more aware of it because I tend to work alone in my job, but I just love getting together with my friends. I wish I could fully articulate the sense of connection I experience when we're together. I know a lot of people hate the word "fellowship," but for me, it's rich with meaning. Look up "fellow." It alludes to our shared interest and the common ground between us. Shaking hands in a crowd with someone you barely know is not fellowship. The most profound sort of friendship, a deeper element of relating occurs with the understanding that we have partaken of similar experience, to become "fellows" with one another.

It is in that sense that I refer to "my Church." That sense of fellowship to which Jesus referred when he said:
"I've told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I'm no longer calling you servants because servants don't understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I've named you friends because I've let you in on everything I've heard from the Father." (John 15:11-15, The Message)

It's the idea that "I've let you in on everything," that makes such friendship so dear. "I'm no longer calling you servants," or, in other words, "I don't base your value on what you can do for me. In fact, I value your life above my own."

Man, that's hardcore.

Anyway, I started this post to tell you about the awesome bike rally I went to on Sunday with my friend, Paul (I wish I had taken a camera, sorry). There were somewhere between 1800-2200 bikes on a gorgeous 65-mile run through the still-gardeny part of the Garden State. We had a great time riding, talking, hanging out. The weather was perfect, and the countryside was magnificent. The whole earth, indeed, declared the glory of the Lord. It was the best church I've been to since, well, my fishing trip the week before.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Lovin' the YouTube.

As a non-cable-having person, I am aware that I miss a lot. But if I ever do get cable, Stephen Colbert will likely be the reason.

This is stinking funny:


It's funny because it pokes fun at the logic we often use to "prove" our faith.

Monday, September 11, 2006

A Head-Clearing Exercise...and Some Food for Thought.

You've likely seen the t-shirt: "A bad day fishing is better than a good day working."

I'll add this: A GOOD day fishing is better than almost anything. Actually, it doesn't even have to be fishing. Just being on the water is enough for me. If it's salt water, then consider me completely at home.

A couple friends (from church) invited me out on the Delaware Bay last weekend for a little amateur angling. It was a great day. The weather was perfect, the waters relatively calm. We caught the tide just right, and in four hours, caught over a hundred fish between the three of us (we didn't keep that many, but if it enters the boat, it counts). I caught two fish at once (I was using two hooks), and then caught one fish on both hooks! Hilarious. We shared a lot of laughs and some good conversation. We talked about fishing, we talked about movies, and we talked about Jesus. My ever-cluttered mind was washed clean, for a while, at least.

I know a lot of people who left church have found themselves ostracized and ignored by their old "friends." I've lost contact with the vast majority of the people from my church, too, but since I became, um, congregationally disaffiliated, there have been a number of people from the congregation who have been a little relentless (far more than I have, I admit) in their efforts to keep our friendships alive. Unexpectedly, most of them aren't maneuvering to try to steer me back into the fold. Much like Steve's friends, they're just looking to hang out, enjoy some company, be amigos. A guy (again, from church) called today to see if I'm available to go to a motorcycle rally next Sunday. I'm definitely in.

Scott, over at ironicobservances put up this post, suggesting some possible reasons that people go to church. I considered some of the reasons usually given for congregating on Sunday: worship God, learn God's word, pray, give, encourage and support each other, etc. Pretty much all of these things can (and should) be lived out each and every day by someone who follows Christ (ok, by me, at least. I won't judge you, godless sodomites.). But there's little that compares to the dynamic of doing those things together, with people I love. I have to admit, I miss that.

Now, I'm not ready to go back and drink the Koolaid, but I'm seeing the critical value of those relationships, and I submit that, while a lot of relationships in the church are contrived and meaningless, some of them are real. And church, at least, gave us a convenient opportunity to get together. But instead of using the institution as the starting point to engineer "fellowship," we must begin to see our relationships as the basis of what the Church (capital C) is meant to be.

I don't know what form it should take, but I want to be more intentional about living out community with people I care about.

Friday, August 25, 2006

An Unexpected Encounter.

Yesterday, on my way to a job, a lady followed me into a 7-11 parking lot and pulled in directly behind me, as if to block my quick retreat. Immediately, I tried to replay the last several miles of traffic, supposing that I had done something stupid while trying to find the new Godscrum podcast on my iPod...oh...wait, nevermind. Well, turns out that she pulled in to tell me that she liked the "Religion Kills" sticker on the back of my truck. I got it from Revolution Church and put it there last year, along with a little plastic Jesus fish, in hopes that the evangelical contradiction might cause just enough confusion to generate a question or two.

I've often run through some potential responses in my mind, trying to articulate how religion is a human construct that denies and ultimately kills Christ's true message of love, forgiveness, restoration and peace. I was mentally retrieving one of these responses when the lady started telling me about a catalog that she had just received and that I would love some of the stickers she had seen there, such as, "Who Would Jesus Bomb," "Somewhere in Texas, a village is missing their idiot," "He's NOT my President," "Bush is a four-letter word," "Give Bush an inch, and he thinks he's a ruler."

Hmmm... That's not what I expected. Not at all. I put that sticker on my vehicle as a commentary on the state of the American church, but somehow this lady interpreted it as a left-leaning political statement. I admit, I have moved more toward the center than I once was (I was so far to the right, I had to eat with my left hand, so I wouldn't bump my elbow), but my intent for that sticker wasn't really political at all.

I think I may have just learned something about people's perceptions and assumptions. Now if I can just figure out what it is...