WARNING: THIS IS GROSS
A whale of an explosion in Taiwan
A deceased, beached sperm whale was being transported for research when it suddenly exploded in the city of Tainan in Taiwan. The explosion has been attributed to natural gas inside of the whale as it decomposed. The whale measured 56 feet long and weighed in at 60 tons.
The Taipei Times reports, ""More than 100 Tainan city residents, mostly men, have reportedly gone to see the corpse to 'experience' the size of its penis..." Ok. Still haven't found the picture of that.
Check out MSNBC or Taiwan News for the full story.
(Thanks Tien Mao for pointing out the story.)
Thursday, January 29
WARNING: THIS IS GROSS
I think it might be the snow.
All week I have had a major brian blockage every time I sit down to prepare my message for this weekend. I've gotten a lot of administrative stuff done (which I'm very proud of, by the way...) but at this rate we will have a long moment of silence at our church on Sunday.
Time to take out the Playdough & Etch-A-Sketch.
THE OTHER DAY...
...I drove by an old Pizza Hut that closed down and is now a Curves workout facility for women.
Kind of ironic.
Tuesday, January 27
LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW...
Dear East Coast People,
We send you this snow with our love.
Monday, January 26
REDEFINING THE PASTORAL ROLE
Fellow blogger, Randall Friesen posts a quote by another blogger named Chris Marshall:
"I spent 10 years climbing the ladder in evangelical ministry, being groomed to be the next super "up front" leader and what I learned is that it had more to do with being an American success story than anything to do with Christ following. I would go as far to say that until I learned to love 2 or 3 and be content in my giftedness, I really never understood what pastoring was. I believe the pastor who will thrive in the future will be one that turns in their pulpit for a guest bedroom, their preaching for true hospitality, their "up front" role for a towel and basin. Hospitality, which fosters powerful organic relationships underground will be the bridges that the Holy Spirit will use to bring healing to our communities. (by the way, women generally kick arse in this area). So men, learn how to clean a toilet and make a bed. Learn how to cut the vegetables and clean the dishes. Learn how to listen in conversation to people's stories as they share lives over a meal and be ready to respond with warmth and empathy with nobody to notice what your doing. The future leader will not be an expositor but a diakanos (table servant). If this is not enough for you, then let me end with this question: Who told you to be successful?"
This is good...
THE 5TH E
Jack Welch (GE CEO) talks about 4 vital aspects of successful leadership known as the 4 "E's": Energy, Energize, Edge, and Execute.
FastCompany blogger, Alison Overholt, suggests one more "E" - of which I agree with.
Check it out here.
Sunday, January 25
"MOM, CAN WE PLAY WITH THE GATOR NOW?"
New York website, Gothamist, shares this story about a family (including 8 children) living in Harlem who shared their apartment with an alligator and tiger. Yes - you read that right.
Saturday, January 24
I'm probably going to ruffle some feathers with this one...
A couple of days ago, I visited one of our local "Christian" bookstores to purchase something. It had been quite a while since I had visited there so I decided to walk around and see what was new in the world of "Christian" books, music, etc... Well there were a couple of things that caught my eye during my visit. Only one of them is really worth mentioning and that is the array of "Christian" candies that I saw offered for sale.
Something about this really frightens me. Scripture Mints, Faith Pops, Scripture Sour Gum and Scripture Smarties. Go ahead - say those out loud.
Tell me this isn't just a little corny... Maybe the thing that irritates me about this is what it seems to represent. I guess it's this whole "Christian culture" thing. To me it represents the problem that many Christians have of living in their Christian bubble. They've got their Christian music (which isn't bad in and of itself - in fact there is a lot of good Christian music out there finally), Christian clothing, Christian language (Christianese), etc... And now we've got our own candy?
Now we are relying on mints and gum to do the witnessing for us? First of all, where's the relationship aspect that is so vital (earning the right to be heard)? Secondly, regardless of the relationship thing, don't you think that 95% of all people who receive a Faith Pop are going to laugh or make fun of it? (On top of all of that, who really reads candy wrappers anyway?) Sometimes I feel like the Christian community has almost cheapened the gospel through all of its marketing and packaging.
Maybe I'm totally wrong and this is a new innovative way to reach people, but in my opinion, it's about as lame as the majority of TV preachers on television. My point is that all of this Christian "stuff" is great and all, but if we ever use any of it as a shield to hide behind or as a replacement for investing into the lives of people via relationships then we have a problem.
Ok, now I'll get off of my soapbox (Christian soapbox at that...)
Friday, January 23
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Tuesday, January 20
SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT "THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST" MOVIE
Today I had the privilege of attending a premiere showing of the movie, “The Passion of Christ”, written and directed by Mel Gibson. It was held at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, IL. Mel Gibson himself was there in person and was interviewed immediately following the movie.
The movie is about the last 12 hours of Jesus' life before his death and resurrection.
Prior to attending the premiere, I had read several reports from people who had attended a showing of the movie and they all basically said that the movie was “life changing”. Several people reported that after the movie the audience would sit there completely quiet in almost a trance like state not knowing how to respond to what they had just witnessed.
When we walked into the auditorium of Willow Creek (WC), there were greeters at the doors asking everyone to take a handful of tissues. They were all saying, “You will need them!” Being that they hadn’t seen the movie, I’m sure they were told to tell people that based on previous showings. So I grabbed a couple and put them in my pocket and found my seat.
As I was waiting for the movie to begin I made a decision that I was not going to be swayed by what I’ve read or by what people told me when I walked into the auditorium; but instead, I wanted to be completely open minded towards this movie, lest I be swayed by the power of suggestion. (said somewhat jokingly...)
After some preliminaries and a short introduction by Lee Strobel (former teaching pastor at WC & author of The Case For Christ) the movie began. The movie opened up with these words from Isaiah 53:5, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” It immediately shot to the opening scene of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.
I’m going to stop there because I don’t want to ruin the movie for anyone when it opens in February. But I will try to explain my general thoughts about the movie.
First of all, the movie was done very well. It was not a “Christian” made movie. What I mean by that is that it wasn’t a flimsy Christian produced movie. Mel Gibson put somewhere around $35 million dollars of his OWN money into this project. The acting overall was very good, the special effects were good (although, the version I saw today was not the final cut – so some of the effects were a tad lacking…). But it is certainly a movie that I would be proud to invite a friend to. (Not like the “Left Behind” movie – sorry guys, but nice try…)
Secondly, the movie was extremely violent. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen a person so badly beaten and tortured as Jesus was in this movie.
There was a scene where the guards were continually beating Jesus with a cat of nine tails (whips made with pieces of bone, glass & other sharp objects attached to it) and the pieces of bone, glass, etc… got stuck deep into his flesh and the guard had to pull really hard to get it unstuck, if you will, from his back.
During these violent scenes, I found myself tensing up and at times almost not breathing for several seconds. I would catch myself and take note of my reaction and literally force myself to take a deep breath. I can’t remember when a movie affected me this strongly. It was as though, in a way, you were suffering along with Jesus himself - like you were right there witnessing it first hand.
The movie is rated R and it is strictly because of the violence. I agree with Mel Gibson when he said that he wouldn’t suggest children under the age of 12 or 13 seeing the movie unless parents knew they could handle it.
Skipping ahead… At the end of the movie I, along with the 4,000 other pastors in the auditorium just sat in our chairs completely silent. You could have heard a pin drop. The only noise in the room were the fans of the projection systems. The only time I have ever felt so emotionally moved after a movie was watching "Schindler’s List" several years ago.
Someone asked me tonight how the movie was and the word “good” just didn’t seem to fit. The only word I can think of to describe it is “disturbing.” Disturbing to say the least…
After the movie Bill Hybels, pastor of WC, interviewed Mel Gibson for about a half an hour. It was very, very good… I was impressed by Mel’s humility and candor. It’s obvious that Mel is a follower of Christ - not because of the movie itself, but because of his obvious outward faith in Jesus. One of the things Mel said today that really stuck out to me was, “Jesus could have pricked his finger and used a drop of blood to save humanity – but instead he chose to give it all – he shed every drop of his blood to save mankind.”
Well I’m going to stop there for the night. I might write more as I have time to digest the movie a little bit more.
Overall, I give the movie a thumbs up!
Lots to tell... Have to write later. @ Starbucks getting ready to meet w/ our graphic designer.
PASSION OF THE CHRIST PREMIERE LOG 1
Sitting in the lobby of Willow Creek w/ my pops (he's the one in the picture) waiting for the premiere to begin. Will update more later...
Monday, January 19
Simply one of the best albums ever made...
MORE BRIAN MCLAREN...
Interesting quote by Brian McLaren at the Mayhem event in Cincinnati:
I hope that what catholic comes to mean is "post-protestant." There are problems in the Catholic church, so we decide to protest them and we made the Lutherans. Then we see their problems and we protest them. So we form the Pietists. Then they protest and we have Calvinists...so on and so forth. That sociology is possibly more destructive than the selling of indulgences we all know about.
Can we move out the Protestant era? Can we become embracing? When we have issues with whatever group, we come up with our 3 differences. Are those differences really that important? No, but we've had to differentiate ourselves from those people over there. I imagine that we'll find all kinds of different kinds of church life here. We'll either do this as protestants or post-protestants. "We don't pay pastors." Big deal. "We don't have a building." So you don't have a building? That's great. Big deal...Andrew Jones talks about having a deep ecclesiology. Let's honor the church in all it's forms.
What do you think?
(PS - Thanks Ooze Blog.)
It amazes me the people that God brings across my path who are always an incredible source of encouragement. I can easily look back over the past 12 months and name off specific moments where people went out of their way to say or do something that just absolutely gave me the fuel to keep pushing forward. (Those moments are etched in my heart.) These are the kind of people who seem like they are always happy and have a positive, upbeat attitude. It's like when you walk away from a conversation with them you just feel like you have been energized.
I could make a list of those people right now, but I especially want to say thanks (sounds like I'm giving a speech at the Grammy's...) to Dave & Rennie Garda for their continual encouragement and support to me personally and our church staff. Everytime I connect with these guys I walk away so built up and rearin' to go. They help make me feel like I can really change the world. Thanks Dave & Rennie, I'm glad I know you guys and I'll see you again soon at Starbucks!
P.S. If you get a chance, check out their website here. If you are a pastor of a church and you need help raising up leaders & volunteers - these people have some great ideas.
Thursday, January 15
WHO ARE YOU?
I'm curious who you are and where you are from. Click on Comments below and let me know!
The people over at Chipotle should be glad that I make Starbucks my second office. Why? Because they are the closest place for me to run to when I'm working and don't feel like getting in my car to drive somewhere to eat lunch. So, they earn my business quite often.
This is today's lunch. Called a burrito bowl. Everything that is normally in a burrito (grilled peppers & onions, cheese, shredded pork, lettuce, etc...) but without the tortilla. (Good for us low carb people...)
Wednesday, January 14
WHERE DO PEOPLE COME UP WITH THIS STUFF?
It's the Name The Senior High Youth Group Contest!
Check out some of these names! (And they wonder why kids don't want to invite their friends????)
BASIC COMMUNICATIONS - Brothers and Sisters in Christ Communicating
MUSCLE - Many United Students for the Cleansing of Lower Extremities (what the...?)
ZEROS - Zealous Evangelical Radicals of the Savior (Sounds like a terrorist group.) What do they say here? "Hey guys, join our youth group and become a zero!"
And the best on the list:
POST - Poop On Satan Twice (nice...)
Tuesday, January 13
FORGING YOUR BRAND FOR THE FUTURE
Fast Company Now (Fast Company's blog) has an interesting post about a new book entitled, Fusion Branding: How to Forge Your Brand for the Future by author Nick Wreden.
In the words of FC blogger, Heath Row, the book, "challenges conventional wisdom by proposing that brand equity doesn't really matter. Customer equity does."
Interesting thought here. In terms of marketing, branding has to do with the "image" of a company - logo, slogan, the "look", etc... The challenge here is that reputation and customer equity is much more important than the brand itself.
Thinking of this in terms of the "church" is interesting to me. I remember a time, not so long ago, when all of the church marketing "guru's", etc... said that it's all about the name or the look or the logo of the church. The focus was primarily on the image and external "feel" that people got when they visited.
Well, in my heavily unsolicited opinion, I think that as important as those things are (logo's, etc...) - nothing can compare or take the place of authenticity and community and its role in the local church. I've seen churches that have the nicest and sleekest looking logos, buildings, graphics, etc... who didn't seem to know or understand the first thing about caring for people or building true Biblical community. Their logos, names and buildings didn't do it for them.
So perhaps Mr. Wreden is right in suggesting that the key to "forging your brand" for the future is not in the externals alone, but dependent primarily upon what's on the inside.
Monday, January 12
ABANDONED BIKES IN NYC
This New York City blogger posts images of abondened bikes in the city.
THE FOOD WAS BETTER THAN THE SCORE
Well, the Blackhawks lost. But I had one heck of a dinner and some great conversation. (Thanks again Mark...)
Ate at the Chicago Stadium Club and let me tell you... Prime rib, jumbo shrimp cocktail, beef tenderloin, fresh bread, pasta, ceaser's salad, and on and on and on. The desserts were to die for. And you know the desserts are fancy when you can't even identify what they are, but you know they look incredible. They obviously had a great pastry chef on site.
Oh yeah, it was free hat night too, but I couldn't eat that.
Sunday, January 11
Going to a Chicago Blackhawks game in about an hour. It's my first hockey game EVER (besides a Minnesota Gopher's game that I went to in college once...).
It's weird, but it's the 2nd Blackhawk's game that I've been invited to in one week. I wasn't able to make it to the first invite, but I figure that maybe there's a "reason" why I'm supposed to go since I've been asked twice in 4 days - either that or no one is going to Blackhawk games anymore and everyone I know has free tickets.
I'll let you know how it goes.
We bought a new mattress yesterday. The one we had was in bad shape. If I slept for more than 6 or 7 hours on it (which didn't happen very often anyway...) I would typically wake up with back pain and sometimes a headache. It was time for that mattress to retire.
The new one is incredible. We got a smokin' deal on it (Carson Piere Scott 1/2 off sale). I slept well last night and feel great this morning.
Amanda's grandfather says there are 3 things that every person must have:
1. A good mattress.
2. Good shoes.
3. A good, reliable car.
Oh yeah - I want to add one more to the list.
4. A good computer. :)
Friday, January 9
IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR INFO ON MEL GIBSON'S WILLOW CREEK VISIT - CLICK HERE FOR A REVIEW.
New online Etch-A-Sketch!
(Thanks Jordan Cooper for the link!)
Picked up The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell again. I read it about 2 years ago and now realize that I must have read the entire book with my eyes closed.
Thursday, January 8
THE PASSION PREMIERE
I received a "special private" invitation today for an "advanced" screening of the new Mel Gibson (producer) movie, "The Passion of The Christ". (THANKS AMBER!) It's going to be at Willow Creek Community Church up the road in South Barrington in a couple of weeks.
Apparently, Mel Gibson will be there and will speak about the movie. Should be good, and I'll be sure to share the experience.
P.S. I might even try to sneak my digital camera into the event to take a quick pic of Mel Gibson's buns. You're welcome ladies.
(Just kidding security - I read the part about no cameras - I wouldn't even think about it...)
UPDATE: CLICK HERE FOR PASSION REVIEW!
Tuesday, January 6
I NEED YOUR HELP
In a couple of weeks, we are doing a message on the topic of “family” in a series that we are in entitled, “Starting the New Year Off in High Resolution.”
In this message on family, we want to use a few short video clips to help illustrate our points. That’s where you come in.
Take a moment, read through the points below and leave your comment on what scenes from either a movie or a TV show come to your mind that might help us.
We are open to using relevant clips from anyone from the Simpsons to the Brady Bunch. Again, movie clips are fine too. They can be funny or serious – it doesn’t matter. (These can be examples of how to or how NOT to do it.)
Here are the points – and thanks for your help!
Characteristics of a High Functioning Family
1. They show irrational love to one another.
2. They communicate to one another with truth and grace.
3. They affirm the value and uniqueness of everyone in the family.
4. They vow never to abuse, shame, control or intimidate each other.
5. They share a common spiritual belief system.
6. Teach respect for other people in the family system.
7. They instill a sense of responsibility in each family member.
8. They have rituals and traditions that they honor all the time.
9. They reach out for help when they come to an impasse. (They know how to do an SOS)
My blogpatrol counter seems to have quit working. Any suggestions on a good, reliable and FREE counter?
Chicago weather today: O (that's a zero) degrees Farenheit, -10 degrees wind chill.
Monday, January 5
If you listen to music online at night and like jazz music, check out KUAZ out of Tuscon, Arizona (University of Arizona). In the evenings (after 8pm CST) they play some really nice jazz and the quality is great! Unfortunately, during the day, they broadcast NPR programming. (Not that NPR isn't good, but if you want jazz during the day, you will have to look elsewhere...)
Saturday, January 3
LITTLE ITALY & CATCHING UP OVER TAPAS
Spent a few hours at a Starbucks on Taylor Street in Chicago's Little Italy neighborhood today working on my message for Sunday. Decided to head into the city before traffic got crazy.
Connected w/ a good friend of mine tonight who was in town (Jamey Johnson). Had a great dinner at Emilio's Tapas Bar in Lincoln Park. Great, great food. If you've never had Tapas and you live in the area you need to try it!! For the suburbanite in you, there is also a location in Wheaton. Here's what we had:
PATATAS CON ALIOLI - Emilio's famous potato salad with garlic mayonnaise
TOSTADAS DE MARISCOS - shrimp, scallops and monkfish, served on toasted country bread, with avocado and fresh greens
PAN CON TOMATE, JAMON Y QUESO - tomato bread topped with Serrano ham and Manchego cheese
SOLOMILLO CON PIMIENTOS - grilled beef tenderloin rolled in cracked pepper, with sauteed onions, peppers, caramelized onions and horseradish sauce
...and some other pork dish that was pretty good. Oh yeah, and just so you know, tapas are small servings - sort of a Spanish version of Chinese Dim Sum.
As always, it was good to catch up w/ my Minnesotan friend, Jamey. This guy is quality - and I mean that (even if he hitchikes in the middle of winter... sorry, inside joke.).
(Awesome to see you Jamey. And I love the new hairstyle!)
Friday, January 2
This is scary. Celebs w/out their makeup on.
(Thank God for Revlon.)
Thursday, January 1
It would have been INCREDIBLE to have been here last night (New Year's Eve)!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
A few of us got together tonight to celebrate the entrance of the New Year with a little Asian stir fry and a U2 DVD. Good times...
Hope this year is the best ever for you and your loved ones. We're one hour and ten minutes into it and so far it seems pretty good!
Happy New Year to my blogging community!