Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Game of Life

Milton Bradley's board game LIFE was introduced in 1860, 150 years ago. In 1960 the game was redesigned to look like the one that most of us grew up playing and over the years subtle changes have been made to account for inflation and changes in society.

One part of the game that hasn’t changed is how the winner is determined. Ultimately each player reaches a bold red square identified as the Day of Reckoning (I’d forgotten that part). At the Day of Reckoning players count up their assets to determine whether they are Millionaires, Millionaire Tycoons or Bankrupt. According to the official rules:

The player with the most money WINS THE GAME!

We wonder why we are so obsessed with accumulating wealth. Perhaps because for 150 years we’ve been playing the game of Life by Milton Bradley’s rules.

If you were writing the rules, who wins the game of life?

Monday, January 25, 2010

That's What Living Is to Me

For the inscription of his 1897 work, Following the Equator, Mark Twain wrote:

Be good and you will be lonesome.

I know that not because of my vast knowledge of American literature but because I grew up somewhat of a Parrothead (fan of the music of Jimmy Buffett). In 1988 Buffet used the line in the chorus on the song, That’s What Living Is to Me (found on the album Hot Water):

Be good and you will be lonesome

Be lonesome and you will be free

Live a lie and you will live to regret it

That's what living is to me

Twain’s perspective on life is found throughout his writings. Among my favorites are:

Be virtuous and you will be eccentric.

Do right and you will be conspicuous.

Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.

This week as we continue our generosity series we’ll be looking at life and this Monday morning I’m thinking about what living is to me (and I can’t get the Buffet song out of my head).

So here’s the question: What’s living to you?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Extreme Ironing

I didn’t believe this when I heard about it – so I checked for myself.

In the ever increasing effort for adventure there is a group that has dedicated themselves to extreme ironing.

Extreme Ironing

It began in 1997 when Phil Shaw (nicked-named Steam, of course) of Leicester, England decided to combine his love for rock climbing with a need for a freshly pressed shirt. In that decision Extreme Ironing was born. Today the EII (Extreme Ironing International) and the GEIS (German Extreme Ironing Section) govern the “sport.”

I’ve yet to watch the BBC documentary Extreme Ironing: Pressing for Victory, but the title alone is enough to brighten my day.

For those more musically inclined there’s also Extreme Cello Playing.

So here’s the question: What activity would you like to take to the extreme?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Where ARE we the church?

Somewhere it seems we've begun to buy in to an idea that the hour we spend in worship each week isn’t really church. I hear hints of that sort of thinking in comments such as one a friend posted on facebook earlier today:

A Missional Church is more than a “mission-minded” church. It has to BE the church to this world by going out and meeting this culture, listening it without judgment, bringing the authentic Word to it, having a real servant heart for every person God created.

Such statements seem to suggest that somehow we ARE the church more when we are going out into the world than we are when we are gathered together in worship.

Some churches take one Sunday each year and instead of having worship services go out into the community to serve. Some churches are even putting that into practice monthly (and I’ve heard suggestions that Grace consider doing something along those lines).

I am a huge believer of the church living out its mission by going out into the world and I hope my leadership of Grace reflects that belief.

But I also believe in worship.

I need to reflect a lot more on this but here are a few first thoughts for conversation.

Worship is a gift we offer to God. Just before Christmas I blogged about what God was teaching my heart about offering Him our expensive perfume. I know we too often fall to the temptation to make worship about us (insert Matt Redman song here) but sometimes we get it right and when we do I believe God is really pleased.

Each week holds 168 hours. I’d love to think that we might spend 56 of those hours sleeping and maybe a few more in personal hygiene and exercise. We’d still be left with more than a hundred hours to go out and BE the church. Shouldn’t we devote a single one of those hours to give God, and God alone, our full attention?

I guess this is the question for me – are we really any less the church when we are gathered to worship than we are we are going out to love our neighbors? Can we also BE the church when we have entered His gates with praise?


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Kopi Luwak

This afternoon I “discovered” Kopi Luwak coffee beans. Without going into all the details the beans are the most expensive in the world. Only one thousand pounds of the beans are produced each year.

Here’s why:

The palm civet, a mongoose cousin, is a nocturnal, fruit-eater on the island of Sumatra. Civets love fresh, ripe coffee cherries. As these “cats” (Luwak is Indonesian for cat) digest the cherries the beans pass through their digestive track whole (are you getting the picture). Local harvesters find the beans in civet cat dung – wash them (thoroughly) and dry them in the sun. The result, Kopi (Indonesian for coffee) Luwak – a little more than $120/lb is a great price.

If Indonesian civets can transform coffee cherries into insanely expensive beans just imagine what the God who came up with palm civets in the first place, can do with you and me!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Earlier today I noticed that a friend used the acronym WYSIWYG. It’s pronounced wizi wig and stands for: What You See Is What You Get.

Thank to wiki I learned that the term is used in computing to describe a system in which content displayed during editing appears very similar to the final output, which might be a printed document, web page, slide presentation or even the lighting for a theatrical event.

I was also reminded that the phrase originated with comedian Flip Wilson. The Flip Wilson Show aired on NBC from 1970 – 74 (8 to 12 years old for me). I loved Flip and especially his character “Geraldine” who liked to remind us that wizi wig.

I’m working on this weekend’s message on transformation and hoping to encourage the Grace community that WYSIOAGAWWWB (What You See Is Only A Glimpse At What We Will Be – pronounced wizio agawib).

I’d love your thoughts on two questions:

What's the biggest change you’ve experienced in yourself?

What would you like to change about yourself (even in 2010)?

Monday, January 4, 2010

South of Broad

Over the New Year’s Weekend I finally finished reading Pat Conroy’s South of Broad. As I Charleston native (technically East of the Cooper not South of Broad) I find that whenever I read Conroy I am looking for myself and people I have known in the characters. I can usually find me (and us), which considering the dysfunctions Conroy pours into his writing, is somewhat troubling. Still, Conroy never fails to remind me of where I came from and that my heart will always be something of a Lowcountry heart.

The rabbi Jesus of Nazareth believes that those of us who follow Him might find ourselves in the life He offers. Even more, that we might find ourselves becoming more like Him. Our hearts can actually be transformed to be like His.

He really believes that – sometimes it’s harder for me to accept.

But it makes me wonder – what if we really believed that we might become more like Jesus and less like characters in a Conroy novel?

Friday, January 1, 2010

First post for 2010

Last week I asked friends to suggest New Year’s resolutions I might consider as we begin a new decade. Their suggestions included:

· Write an actual letter each week to a friend

· Stay away from facebook (ironically posted on facebook by a childhood friend I only communicate with via facebook)

· Cut out all sugar drinks and snacks. Treadmill/elliptical 3 miles every other day.

· Write a sermon that ties together St. Thomas Aquinas, The Office and Van Halen in the space of two paragraphs (this is a challenge worth considering)

· Greet your assistant with a smile and a Starbucks every morning. (suggested of course by my Starbucks addicted assistant)

I think I’ll continue to work on a few resolutions of my own (Though the St. Thomas/Office?Van Halen sermon is tempting).

One resolution I’m sure will make my final list is a commitment to more faithful engagement to social networking.

A blog post on 01.01.10 is a good start…