Before and After

Posts have been sparse here lately, sorry about that. Going to continue that way for a week or so as we’re heading to Disney World next week. Hope you all had a good Turkey day. Ours was great, I always enjoy trips to Mom and Dad’s house.
This past Sunday wrapped up our 21 week study of the gospel of John. Reading John 21 and Luke 5 together I was struck by the similarities:

  • In both stories, there was a night fishing with no catch.
  • In both stories, Jesus says try again.
  • In both stories, the obey but probably reluctantly. (In Luke Peter voices his reluctance.)
  • In both stories, there is an enormous catch.

Note the differences, though:

  • In Luke, the nets begin to break, in John they don’t.
  • In Luke, Peter is afraid of Jesus and tries to send him away. In John, he runs to Him.

I don’t know that the first is significant, but the second surely is. In the beginning, Peter is just getting to know Jesus. Confronted with a powerful display of His righteousness through the miraculous catch makes him feel inferior, unworthy of being in Jesus’ presence. In the end, Peter’s inferiority to Jesus and his sinfulness are well established, but so is Jesus’ love and grace. There is no more fear, no reason to hide. Instead there is every reason to run into the arms that accept with love and without judgement. In those arms, inadequacy is irrelevant, there is peace that can be found no where else. In other places we might find refuge from violence or hate, but only in Jesus can we escape our own sin, our own ever present failings, our inferiority.
That’s a lesson I need to take with me. As I’m bombarded with my shortcomings, it seems that there is no escape, no refuge, no place of peace. My sin is ever with me, a constant reminder that I will always be less than I had hoped to be, less that I ought to be. Faced with my failings, inadequacies and sin, I must remember that in His arms I am good enough, acceptable, desirable and complete. There is the only refuge for my battered soul.

Gallery Update

Remember the gallery? Well, I don’t blame you since there isn’t a link on the site anywhere. Some day I’ll fix that.
Anyway, I’ve been quietly adding to the gallery since I created it this summer after the Good Guys show in July. Since then I’ve put up galleries for Thunderbirds I’ve seen (mostly at other events), the Good Guys events I’ve been to in 2003, 2005 & 2006, the cruise in I went to at Hooters of all places, shots from the 2004, 2005 & 2006 North American International Auto Show in Detroit and a gallery of pictures of my Thunderbird.
Go have a look.

Choices, Choices

Remember the TP Issue? Well, thanks to Mike Cope and his comments on a book called “The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less” by Barry Schwartz, I now know that it’s not my fault. (I love it when other bloggers read a book and blog about it so I don’t actually have to read it.)
From the book:

Even with relatively unimportant decisions, mistakes can take a toll. When you put a lot of time and effort into choosing a restaurant or a place to go on vacation or a new item of clothing, you want that effort to be rewarded with a satisfying result. As options increase, the effort involved in making decisions increases, so mistakes hurt even more. Thus the growth of options and opportunities for choice has three, related, unfortunate effects. It means that decisions require more effort. It makes mistakes more likely. It makes the psychological consequences of mistakes more severe.

Lately, I’ve put a lot of thought into what turned out to be bad choices resulting in serious “psychological consequences”.

  • About a year and a half ago, I spent $600 on a Weider Platinum 800 home gym. We considered treatmills, the Bowflex, the Soloflex and several other options befor settling on the Weider. That thing turned out to be an absolute lemon. From day one, it never worked right and it was a real pain to send back. I did eventually get my money back on that one, but it was painful. Real painful.
  • Last fall, I came accross a ‘too good to pass up’ deal on a set of french patio doors with low-e glass. Our cheap vinyl sliding patio doors had a broken seal that made one pane fog up. These $650 special order doors were returned to Lowes and I picked them up, without the door frame (key detail), for $40. Seemed like a no-brainer. I researched options for building my own frame and ordering one from the door manufacturer. I found I could order the right frame from the door company for $180, so I did. Only after destroying my sliding doors getting them out did I discover that the frame had been made to the wrong, newer dimensional spec and was too small for my doors. I wedged the doors in the hole in our house and had Lowes order a replacement frame. Several weeks later, that frame came in, also wrong. Frame 3 was delivered in kit form, some assembly required, not what I paid for. Frame 4 was finally right, but now it was the dead of winter. So we spent the winter with the doors wedged in the wall and a 2×4 screwed accross our the inside to ‘lock’ them. The doors finally went in this spring (and that 4th frame still needed alterations), but one is permanently warped from spending the winter wedged in a frame that was too small.
  • Last summer we also bought a new vacuum cleaner. I did the research on what one sucks best and settled on a Hoover Wind Tunnel, mainly based on it’s high rating in Consumer Reports. It worked pretty good at first, but I was pretty dissapointed in the design and quality of the components. We found the dirt cup a pain to empty without making a mess and after almost a year, the cord wrap had broken. Then the noises started and the beater bar stopped working and the drive mechanism refused to shut off and, of couse, was now out of warranty. Fed up, we replaced it this summer with a Dyson, which we are very happy with, but that’s fairly 2 pricey vacuums in a little over a year.
  • Also last summer, we bought a shed to augment our tight 2 car garage. I again, scratched my head over which shed to buy, chaep do-it-mysef or pricey installed unit, eventually settling on a Tuff Shed from Home Depot. Pricey compared to some kit sheds, but no more so than the Lowes sheds, The Tuff Shed was much better built thant the Lowes product and I did none of the work. I did have to choose where to put it, and it turns out I had it put on an easement for a natural gas pipeline in our backyard. I had reviewed our lot survey for easements and scratched my head on where to put it, but still missed this 25′ wide easement (not well documented on the maps). Now, this spring, I’ve got to move my shed. At least my decision to buy the Tuff Shed should pay off. Because of its steel frame and solid constuction, it should be relatively easy to move.

So, dispite plenty of research & planning through the myriad of options, none of the choices worked out as planned. So, I wonder if I can get compensation for my emotional distress from all these bad choices?

Spread Thin

(NOTE: My web host is going to be doing maintenance on the server that hosts my site Thursday evening. will be down from 7:00 PM eastern through Midnight.)
Not much activity her of late, sorry about that. I really haven’t had much to say. Not sure why, but part of it has been distraction. Now that I’ve been browsing via RSS and Bloglines, the number of sites I read has grown exponentially. I currently have 103 feeds that I’ve subscribed to. I find that I’m not the kind of guy who can easily ignore feeds in bold indicating there is stuff to read. So I click to clear that indicator, and I get sucked in and I read stuff – a lot of stuff – and my mind swims in the ocean of information and there’s no more room for inspiration.
I miss the earlier days of my blogging when my blogroll was a dozen or so entries, all folks I either knew, I had some connection with or blogs that made me think. Now, I look at that long list over there on the left in it’s disarray and sigh. That used to be my daily walk through the web, reading sites on God and His church (and cars) and getting the inspiration to post something myself. Now, I don’t use those links much, I just read posts via RSS. I miss visiting the actual site. With RSS, I don’t get drawn into the conversation because the comments aren’t right there. Some sites have comment feeds, but I haven’t subscribed to many of them and I find that a string of unrelated comments on various entries looses something in the translation. Also, some sites only publish the intro to the post and some places I like to visit, like DJ’s, don’t have a feed at all (which he ought to fix, BTW). I’ve tried sites like ponyfish and feedyes to generate my own feeds with mixed results (feedyes seems to work much better than ponyfish).
Blogging for me initially was about community, making new relationships, feeding old ones, stimulating my mind and learning something new. Now, it seems to be much more about getting through the list, skimming the articles and moving on.
I’ve wanted to clean up the site here for a long time. Long lists of links like mine don’t do much, in my opinion. How many of you have even clicked on one of them, I wonder? It just makes for a messy page, and for me it’s taken much of the joy out of my browsing, so it’s time to clean it up. I’m going to put all the sites that it might be neat to follow into my Bloglines account and take them off that list, leaving only those that I long to visit consistently. That way I can go back to the old way of browsing, clicking the links from my own blogroll, viewing the site, reading the comments. That may be more difficult than I think, but that’s the plan. When there’s time, I can go to Bloglines and see what else is going on.
Reading via RSS to me feels like visiting your neighbors by driving the neighborhood, hanging out the window to wave at everyone. You get to see everyone in the neighborhood, but all they get is a wave and a smile. I want to go back to knocking on a select few doors, going inside where I can see the wall paper and the paintings and have a good chat. I may only get to my closest friends most of the time, but the experience will be far better.
I’m not sure how soon I’ll get to that, but that’s the plan anyway.

Don’t Tell Mom …

… but I voted for a Democrat today. Actually, I voted for six. Now, before my more left leaning friends get too excited (and Mom has a coronary, she does read the blog), they were 2 appeals court judges and four somewhat minor posts like auditor and secretary of state, but still, I think they’re the first Democrats I’ve ever voted for.
I actually tried to consider Ted Strickland, the Democratic candidate for Governor, but nearly every statement I read from him was a lot of words for little meaning. What was he going to do if elected? I have no idea, but he talked a lot about what he knew, what he thought and the dialog he would have with folks about stuff. Knowledge, thoughts and talking, but no action. And, I liked much of what Ken Blackwell had to say.
I also looked seriously at Mark DannSharrod Brown (Oops) for Senate over Mike DeWine. I was not happy with the harsh, smearing tone of DeWine’s campaign and I liked some of the things I heard in Brown’s commercials. (Yeah, I said commercials). In the end, I couldn’t go along with his belief that all Medicare funding should be taken out of the hands of the states and given to the feds as a solution to the health care problems. I’m definitely in the ‘more local control’ camp rather than the ‘more federal control’ camp, and that statement told me what Dann’s philosophy is. I think that states and municipalities know better what their constituents need than he feds do.
So, there’s my election day political post. I’ll try to stay out of politics for a couple of years now.

The Value of Community

UPDATE: Dan’s series is complete, the full list of links is here.
Dan at Cerulean Sanctum has a great series going on the value of Christian Community. I think his point is spot on, that community is a very low priority in many, if not most, churches.
He stated in the opening post he said:

The older I get, the more I see that nearly every problem in the American Church today can be traced to our damaged understanding of what it means to be self-less. Everything in our culture screams “Me, Myself, and I.” Our government documents assert the “rights of the individual” and we’ve taken that to the extreme, justifying the rights of the individual over community.

For me, his series is especially timely as my church clan is splintering over points of doctrine and practice and even over personality. We would rather be right than whole.

  • Kip continues to build his own kingdom (even makling it official), planing new churches along side those he once considered his own. Why? Because they aren’t doing church as he would do it. He’s toned down his rhetoric on the state of those churches he’s abandoning, yet he’s calling those who want to do it his way or who value the things he values to his new churches. And those churches are divided.
  • In response to Kip’s coming to Los Angeles to start a new church (along side the one he founded and once lead), the elders of the LA ICOC church have marked him and those in his new church, warning their members to stay away. They ironically “encourage everyone to work for the same unity for which Jesus prayed within hours of going to the cross” and then call their members respond to the new groups act of separation by separating themselves.
  • The folly is not limited to the ICOC, recently at Freed-Hardeman University, an historic meeting took place between the conservative, non-instrumental FU president and the president of Cincinnati Christian University of the instrumental Independent Christian Churches. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the issues that have divided these two groups for over 100 years. Reading the report of the meeting, what is revealed is two groups entrenched in their positions, neither willing to budge for the sake of fellowship:

    Gilmore begged Faust to “lay aside the instrument” for the sake of unity.
    But Faust said that would require Christian Church members to give up convictions and freedom in Christ.

    Now, the meeting itself was historic, yet I can’t help being saddened by two groups who won’t lay down their pet practices for the sake of becomeing a community.

Of course, we in the ICOC sprang from the ‘mainline’ COC over issues similar to this. They called us radical and we dismissed them as lukewarm. We didn’t like how ‘they’ did church, and they didn’t like how ‘we’ did it. So we went our separate ways, and the church was divided. Over the past 100+ years, the restoration movement has splintered and fractured into countless subgroups over dozens of trivialities. Musical instruments in worship, kitchens in the church building, the number of cups for communion, Sunday school classes and on and on. We have valued being right over being together.
Division is certainly not a restoration movement only thing, although we’ve gotten pretty good at it. Last week’s The Week Magazine contained an article about the Amish community.. This group, known for it’s close knit community and separation from broader society, is evidently subdivided itself.

Since the 19th century, Amish fellowships have divided over the interpretation of Romans 12:2—”Be ye not conformed to this world.” In recent years, that has brought splits over the use of mechanized farm equipment and large cooling tanks for milk. At the liberal extreme, the “black bumper” Beachy Amish drive chromeless cars and are rejected as non-Amish by the others. At the conservative end, fellowships disagree violently over the number of pleats there should be in a bonnet, the width of a hat brim, or whether rubber tires should be allowed on buggies. Groups with similar policies are held to be “in fellowship,” and they can visit and even marry among one another. But minor disagreements over, say, phones, can create more splinter fellowships.

Sound familiar? And how many flavors of Baptist are there? Methodists? Presbyterians? And on and on. We’ve been slicing up God’s church for hundreds of years.
The apostle Paul repeatedly calls the Church Christ’s body and in 1 Corinthians 12 he goes into detail on what that means. We are all different for a reason, “so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.” (1 Corinthians 12:25) But, like some crazed mass murderer with a freezer full of severed hands in one corner, another freezer of feet in the opposite corner, and bins of arms, ears, noses, torsos etc in other places, we have cut the body of Christ into pieces, putting like items in their own boxes. Hands never meet feet, eyes don’t see ears. And separated from each other, not only can they not learn from one another, but alone they cannot even do what they were created for. What good is a severed hand?
All of these things make me sad, angry, convicted and determined. I want to do more to champion the cause of unifying God’s people and to promote real community in my own church and with churches around us. More so, I refuse to be part of any effort to prevent members of one group of God’s church from even meeting with members of another. One thing we in the ICOC did pretty well at one time was become a real community. We felt different than the rest of the world, we were called out, separate, holy. Of course, it was a forced community, built on too much pride, accountability and coercion, but nonetheless, that’s what we were. Now, it seems, much of that distinctive camaraderie is dissipating, and continues to do so, at least from where I sit. And we continue to try to recreate it by division and fence building. Will we not learn from our past?
Go read Dan’s series (and the articles in between, which have touched on it as well), it’s real good. And then go about finding ways of building community in your churches and with the churches around you.

German Hybrid, Part 2

So, I know many readers looked at that Benz El and thought, “Sure, I appreciate the unprecedented combination of big sporty German sedan and pickup utility, but what I really need is a crew cab. I’m a family man, you know.
And, frankly, the loads of mulch to do my yard really requires dual rear wheels. Yep, I need double the doors and double the rear tires.
Oh, and if it had a matching land speed racer, that would be sweet.”
Your wish is my command. I present a BMW 3 series, 4 door truck. Why? I dunno.
HT: Jalopnik

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