Thursday, November 30, 2006

Where is the Passion?

I had a problem coming up with suitable birthday and Christmas gifts this year. It's easy to ask for video games, but I realize that I don't have much time for them and when I do make the time for them I feel like playing them wasted my time. That is of course, unless I have Lily interested in the game in which case we're actually bonding. At any rate, because of my dearth of options I decided that it would be fun to get an electric guitar.

I've played guitar in various forms and ability for almost 3 years now. In fact, this birthday will mark the third anniversary of the receipt of my steel string. I've got to the point when I can strum some chords, change them smoothly, and sing along (though it hasn't helped my singing). I can pluck out a couple of pieces on my classical and continue working on that. Through this all I've kind of kept my eyes on getting an electric, but knew that the cost was prohibitive to the point where it had to be a gift.

Unlike some guitarists, I really am not that into guitars. Maybe it's just been a matter of time, but I'm just now to the point where I can hear a difference between a good guitar and my cheap guitars. I do know that my classical is very cheap because the nut pinches when I tune it. So I've come to the conclusion that if I'm going to get an electric perhaps I should get a better one than my classical.

I have a couple of coworkers who play guitar and to whom I go for advice. One is a guy named Al who owns about 7 guitars and, I'm told, can really shred. I've had some long conversations with him and he has given me some great insights. I now know some things to look for in a guitar so that I can test them more intelligently than just strumming an open G and hearing how it sounds. I've found that he will happily speak at great length about the qualities of a good guitar. I can also see the excitement that he has for someone who is getting deeper into the hobby he loves so much.

It makes me wonder about how much passion we self-proclaimed Christians really have for Jesus. Do we get excited when spiritual topics come up in conversation? Will we drop everything to have a discussion with someone about spiritual things? Do we spend time reading what people have to say about various topics regarding Jesus (i.e. different teachings, apologetic methods, etc)? Just how passionate are we?

I feel like I do pretty well with this, but I would hope that my passion for sharing about my Lord and Savior would surpass anyone's passion for sharing about a musical instrument. I'm all for hobbies and have spent much time talking about sports and other things. But I do hope that Jesus has a primary place in my passion.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Gracious Edginess

I really enjoyed this blog over at the Resurgence. It's funny how the tables are turning. Like the author, I wonder what comes next?

Visiting Family

We survived another trip to northeast Ohio and we're still hanging in there. Amanda is officially in the family way and is having the normal first trimester stomach problems. It was really bad on Friday when she got dehydrated, but things seem to be better now.

I keep thinking and writing in an effort to put my finger on what it's like to visit family. I got to see my stepbrothers which was great. I also got to meet my twin nieces, which was also great. Visiting my stepbrothers and their families feels more like spending time with friends that have a common bond than the kind of obligation you feel with family.

Visiting my mom is not quite as easy. On the way home I asked Amanda which set of parents she thought lived in a way that is most different than ours. It's something we can't quite put our fingers on because they are all different. My mom's house has a very chaotic feel because she is in nearly constant motion and can't sit still. She has more books on spirituality and self-help than I could count. Some of them are good and some of them are likely not so good. But what's frustrating is that she doesn't seem to embrace anything except what seems good to her.

To her credit she has certainly grown over the years. I guess I find it frustrating because she seems to circle the Truth, yet never quite lands on it. She and my stepfather tried to get us to do some impromptu marriage counseling with them. We managed to avoid it, but it shows that there are some problems there.

At any rate, it was good to go up there. We disappointed mom in July when Amanda and Lily didn't come with me. I'm glad that Lily got to see her grandparents and that they enjoyed her. She certainly was a big hit, as she usually is. The sad thing is that there will always be at least some spiritual distance between my mom and I until some things get worked out. And that means that there will always be an extra tension.

I'm trying to be a good son. It's just not always easy.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Going to Cleveland

We're taking the big trip up to Cleveland tomorrow in anticipation of spending Thanksgiving with my mom. The trip itself never a lot of fun, but it will be good to visit with my mom and Ernie. It will also be good to see our new nieces as well as my stepbrothers and their wives.

I find that my mind has to do a lot of switching around when I see both sides of the family too close to each other. Spending a couple of days with my mom leads to a certain way of living and behaving, while spending time with my stepbrothers leads to a different way. Neither is right or wrong, but they are different. Things certainly feel a lot calmer with my stepbrothers.

What's bizarre is that the weather in Cleveland is supposed to be better than it will be here. It's supposed to be in the 50s and sunny. I'll take that every time.

I just hope that Amanda and I have good attitudes through all of this. It's so easy not to sometimes...

Monday, November 20, 2006

A Large Distraction

My alma mater just played in a very large football game on Saturday. They managed to last against the hated rivals to the north. I spent the better part of last week counting down the hours to kickoff. I read all I could about the game. I learned about the young man from Hudson, OH who got to dot the "i" in Script Ohio. I learned about how Lloyd Carr showed the movie Cinderella Man to his team. I was ready for the game.

Then the game happened. It was pretty unnerving as usual. OSU made some mistakes and UM kept coming. But in the end OSU prevailed. They established themselves as the best team in the nation. Yippee.

I've spent a fair amount of time today discussing the game with some UM fam coworkers. It's been fun to gloat a little bit. But as the luster from the victory fades I realize just how distracting the whole thing was. I used roughly 5 perfectly good hours in going to a friend's house to watch the game and watch it. Note, I did not waste that time as it was good to hang out with a friend. It was fun to watch the game.

But overall I just wonder about this misplaced worship. I really want to avoid that, but it's so easy to do. In fact, a part of me feels badly for Chad Henne now that he's lost to OSU in 3 out of 3 tries. But not so badly that I want to see UM win next year.

Don't get me wrong, I fully intend to watch the National Championship Game. I hope that OSU will establish itself as the best team in the country with a resounding victory. But in the end I realize that it matters so little compared to all the other things in life.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Worst and Best Day

I had a brutal day on Sunday. It started with staying up late for work and waking up in the middle of the night for work. I expected the middle of the night one, but the staying up late was not part of the plan. I turned off my alarm and expected to feel a little rough in the morning as I normally do when deprived of sleep. I wasn't disappointed.

Lily and I had some toast. My stomach felt a little funny and I thought maybe that sleeping in messed up my normal routine, so I should have some peanut butter & butter toast with some coffee to get the works moving. That didn't really do a whole lot. As the morning wore on I felt worse and worse. It started becoming clear that this went beyond regular sleep deprivation. I had to do some work at around 10:30 and I nearly passed out while doing it. I couldn't hold my head up long enough to work. I did a lot of sleeping that day. I can't remember ever feeling that sick and weak before.

The problem is that Lily and I were alone for the weekend while Amanda was at a retreat for the women's ministry leaders. The reason the day was really cool is that Lily pretty much took care of herself. She could tell that I wasn't feeling well, so she spent a lot of time playing by herself in her room. She also took a nap with me. I had to fight through making her a sandwich for lunch, but she ate it on her own. She even got herself dressed, though she mixed a polka dotted top with striped pants. We watched some videos, though I mostly slept.

It was just really fun having my 3 year-old daughter take care of me. In retrospect I should have called on some family or friends to help me out, but I just didn't have the strength even to call. That sounds absurd in retrospect, but it was a bad day.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Midterm Thoughts

I'm not quite sure how to handle the results of the midterm elections. I guess part of me is upset to see the GOP just get trounced throughout the country. But another part of me hopes that it gets the party's attention. I read someone said that the GOP has to focus on what put it in power in the first place. All the corruption and scandals have not helped.

This again speaks to how Jesus cannot possibly be a Republican or a Democrat. I tend to feel like voting for the Republican party is really choosing the lesser of two evils. I'm interested to see how the Democrats push their new bi-partisan agenda that will bring unity and peace to the country and the world. After all, the President and the other Republicans are the problem, right?

Lord Jesus, come quickly!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Being a Flaky Friend

I had to blow off a friend for a planned activity tomorrow. He is going to the Airborne & Special Forces Museum in Fayetteville tomorrow. If I do go my day would be pretty busy with grocery shopping, some chores I want to accomplish, and then roughly 2 1/2 hours in a car with a museum visit tucked in. Amanda and I are going to a small group leaders appreciation dinner tomorrow night at 6:30. That means that I'd be on the go all day once again.

What occurs to me is that Amanda and Lily are going to a birthday party at 3:00 tomorrow afternoon. I'll have a quiet house to myself for a couple of hours! That seems like an opportunity too good to pass up. Maybe I'll play my guitar. Maybe I'll play some video games and make progress on Ace Combat 5. Maybe I'll read something besides my textbooks for a change. The house will be my oyster for at least a couple of hours!

I think this museum would be a good place to go with my dad the next time he visits. We'll do that and some wineries, I think.

On a side note, I wonder if composing a blog entry gives the impression to my coworkers that I'm working on something. They certainly hear plenty of typing. I wonder if doing student emails gives the same impression.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Slacking-Driven Life

I've come to realize that slacking is a fundamental problem for me when working from home. If I have specific things to accomplish I can stay pretty focused. But if I have something I don't really want to do and it's not particularly time-critical I have a way of just drifting off. For example, I read this great blog article about Jack Bauer and how he is a type of Christ. It's good stuff, but it has little to do with work.

The problem is that a lot of my slacking has little to do with anything. I guess that's why it's called slacking. What I realize is that if I'm going to slack I need to do it with some intent. I'm going to practice my guitar, study my Greek vocabulary, or maybe even write a few sections of my paper. But I'm not going to just drift off as much as I once did. Besides, that's usually when I start walking on the edge of looking at what I oughtn't.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Happy Reformation Day (one day late)

I got this from an article we discussed last night in Greek class:

Since it becomes Christians then to make good use of the Holy Scriptures as their one and only book and it is a sin and a shame not to know our own book or to understand the speech and words of our God, it is a still greater sin and loss that we do not study languages, especially in these days when God is offering and giving us men and books and every facility and inducement to this study, and desires his Bible to be an open book. O how happy the dear fathers would have been if they had had our opportunity to study the languages and come thus prepared to the Holy Scriptures! What great toil and effort it cost them to gather up a few crumbs, while we with half the labor--yes, almost without any labor at all--can acquire the whole loaf! O how their effort puts our indolence to shame! Yes, how sternly God will judge our lethargy and ingratitutde!

What's incredible is that this quote is from Martin Luther. Keep in mind that he lived in the 15th and 16th centuries. And he considered his access to the Scriptures to be fairly easy! I don't think he could have quite imagined a source like the Bible gateway. Could he have imagined the vast quantity of study Bibles available at Amazon? How about a Greek textbook like the one we use? Could he imagine the helps available to those of us who want to read the original language?

Just off the top of my head, I can think of 3 good study Bibles I have at home in NIV, NASB, and ESV. I have extensive commentaries avaialble through e-sword. I can get Scripture emailed to me daily from a plethora of sources. Most Christians own more than one Bible.

But do we read them? I'm reminded of a story I heard from a friend. He knew a girl who got pulled over for speeding. The police officer noticed her Bible in the passenger seat. He asked her if she read it and if she believed it. Basically, he turned it into a warning for her.

God must have been pretty serious about Scripture to preserve it for thousands of years. Let's take that seriously.