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Thursday, February 28, 2008


So we're spending the week at the National Pastor's Convention in San Diego, staying in a condo on the beach and hearing speakers like Chuck Colson, NT Wright, John Ortberg, Erwin McManus and others. Plus great worship music, comedians and lots of free books. Too little time (and not enough sleep) to fill you in now but I'll share a couple highlights when I get home this weekend.

Meanwhile, if you're going into Runalong withdrawal, this will have to carry you 'til then:

Monday, February 25, 2008

That silly "discipleship" fad

We three pastors of Redding be,
In San Diego for NPC.

We arrived at our beach-side digs after the always fascinating journey through the middle of California; 11 hours of tedious driving without even any state lines to cross to keep things interesting.

My first seminar (National Pastor's Convention, by the way) was on discipleship by Dan Meyer and Greg Ogden of Christ Church Oak Brook, a church I once visited (I lived a few miles from there as a kid). I've been reading Ogden's book on Transforming Discipleship.

They're trying to transform CCOB from a typical program-driven, staff-driven mega-church to a church focused on discipleship. What kind of weird book have they been reading to get ideas like that?

Oh yeah. THAT Book.

At TAC we are also trying to go from the typical church model that offers members a smorgasbord of tasty items (some of which are even nutritious) and invites them to pick and choose and then hopes that somehow health will result, to a model that teaches people how to plan and prepare nutritious fare for themselves and others.

Translating the metaphor - from the "elective" model to a strategy which is focused with laser-like intensity on seeking to make disciples of members. (You could say we finally decided: "When all else fails, read the directions!").

At least our buffet hadn't gotten to the point of offering the "Christian" diet club, "Trim for Him" ("He must increase but we must decrease") or the "Firm Believer" exercise class. But this pastor realized he still had a ways to go to get back to the model of Jesus who chose to invest all of his ministry in discipling a few rather than in merely "touching" the many. As AB Bruce wrote a century ago:
"that His Kingdom should be founded on the rock of deep and indestructible convictions in the minds of a few, not on the shifting sands of superficial impressions in the minds of the many."
BTW: What do you get when you cook a frozen waffle on the beach?

A Sandy Eggo!

get it?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Special Promotion!

Been looking for an excuse to go to church?

Come to Trinity Alliance this Sunday -
we're giving away... to all first-time visitors...

Free Air Guitars! Woo-hoo!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Scientific Confirmation!

Gotta love a news story (SF Chronicle) that contains a line like this:
As for other potential prey, human beings - like rodents, beavers and deer - are mammals, government scientists confirmed.
Now there's a reporter who doesn't skimp on fact-checking.
And note the plural: he didn't just take the first government scientist's word for it! (I wonder how many he called before he was satisfied?)

A perplexing medical case study.

I had to go to the doctor today to get my allergy prescription refilled (I use this nose spray every year from February thru June but I can't get it refilled w/o going to a doctor - and you wonder why health care is expensive).

Wanting to justify our time, she (actually a P.A.), after noting how rarely they see me (basically only for this one purpose) asked me a bunch of questions about my health, all of which I recognized from my reading as related to stuff that tends to crop up in people of my chronological persuasion, all of which I answered in the negative.

After awhile, and after looking at my charts and the numbers from my last blood tests a few years ago ("these are all really good numbers") she started looking at me with a look that either said, "Are you telling me the truth?" or "Are you some kind of genetic freak?"

Actually I have my dad's body- same height, shoe size, age-adjusted weight (up to age 42 when I started running), etc. He even has acid reflux problems which plagued me also before I started running. His health status, now and at age 53, is a different story.

I told her about my exercise habits and she said, "oh" in a way that implied she understood but was surprised that there are people who actually do that.

I relate this story, not to brag (he lies brazenly) but to motivate.
Exercise really does make a difference. Not just in how long you live, but more importantly in how well you live.

Sherlock Holmes IV and moi...

... are working on a monograph, trying to explain a correlation we've observed at the grocery store:

People who spend a lot of time driving around trying to find a place to park AS CLOSE TO THE DOOR AS POSSIBLE! also tend to be the same people who come out of the store with carts loaded down with junk food.

The question is: Which is the cause and which is the effect? I can see how someone who's got a few cases of beer and soda along with a few gallons of potato salad and chip dip might not want to have to push that load all the way out to the outer fringes of the lot (where Bob Uecker and I park).

I can also see how someone with that kind of diet might view walking ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE PARKING LOT! the same way most of my dear readers would view running an ultramarathon.

I've got Sherly doing most of the data collection since:
A) I'm kinda lazy when it comes to actual work, and
B) Sherly isn't exactly the darkest-haired guy in the bar, if you catch my drift, so it's best for him to do the grunt work while I deal with the logical analysis, a process I find rather elementary (or in this case, alimentary).

Related Questions:
1. Isn't "junk food" an oxymoron?
2. Will anyone get the "Bob Uecker" reference?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

How to open the drapes.

I know, a lot of lightweight fluff on Runalong this week...

But it's GOOD fluff!

Anyway, Mrs Runalong is in Germany with Bex so a diet of pot pies and dull evenings is bound to result in some peculiarities.

But if you want, not just fluff, but GOOD fluff, the BEST fluff, you can't do much better than this little three minute lesson in "How To Open The Drapes".

Getting in touch with my inner Obama

I was on a 19 mile run with Steve Monday and stopped at a mini-mart for a gatorade to go with the burgers I bought at the McDonald's next door.

While waiting for the cashier to give me back my pennies (she eventually gave me 3¢ back after I gave her $1.15 for a $1.13 purchase), I had to fight the urge to say,

"You are the change I've been waiting for!"

Next time you're in Bangkok...

be sure and stop by the "Insects Inter" cafe for some tasty grub(s)!

Inside-Outside-Right Side Up

I'm reading "The Great Omission" (page 80) where Dallas Willard describes spiritual formation as-
the process through which those who love and trust Jesus Christ effectively take on his character. When this process is what it should be, they increasingly live their lives as he would if he were in their place. Their outward conformity to his example and his instructions rises toward fullness as their inward sources of action take on the same character as his. They come more and more to share his vision, love, hope, feelings, and habits.
I hope you'll reflect on this paragraph phrase by phrase. What is success for a pastor or a church? I'd say it is when this process is taking place in more and more members of the congregation. Period. If you have this you can toss out all other measures of "success". If you don't have this, nothing else counts.

The same is true for our personal lives. First you internalize Jesus' character and person, his "vision, love, hope, feelings" become your own. Then your good tree bears good fruit as you externalize your inner realities into outward actions.

This, not the hokie-pokie, is what it's all about.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sunset from Space

Click on the pic for full size:

This should brighten your day!

Despite the high potential for danger and decreased visibility, scientists say they are unable to do anything to restore light to the continent at this time.

"Vast gravitational forces have rotated the planet Earth on an axis drawn through its north and south poles," said Dr. Elena Bilkins of the National Weather Service. "The Earth is in actuality spinning uncontrollably through space."

Bilkins urged citizens to remain calm, explaining that the Earth's rotation is "utterly beyond human control."

"The only thing a sensible person can do is wait it out," she said.

Lots more: Click here

Worm's Eye View

The Perfect Smoothie

Another runner posted a favorite smoothie recipe. I'm sure it's good, but I found the precision off-putting. Here's my infallible recipe for the perfect smoothie- and you already have the ingredients at home!

Take whatever various forms of fruit (fresh, canned or frozen) you have lying around the house. Throw them in a blender with whatever juice or juice concentrate you've got. Do NOT, I repeat, Do NOT measure anything! ;-)

Add one or more "creamy" bases: milk, yogurt, tofu, ice cream... whatever you've got. If desired, a little sweetener: I go with whatever (fruit) flavor Torani syrup is at hand.

Optional: Egg substitutes (or raw eggs if you want to live dangerously) or whatever is available that looks interesting.

Try to get the lid on the blender if you can.

Every batch is a wonderfully unique, once-in-a-lifetime treat. Healthy too! In the rare case where it isn't perfect- divide in half and keep adding things until it is. Occasionally you may even end up with enough to share!

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Complete Calvin & Hobbes

The most excellent comic strip of my lifetime can be found,
in its entirety, here.
(Read on-line or download).

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Barack "Tiger" Obama

I finally figured out the genius of Obama's campaign.
He's running as a political version of Tiger Woods.

At some point he must have noticed the physical resemblance and thought,
"Hey, everybody loves Tiger. He's hugely popular - across all demographics.
His followers are passionate, he transcends his sport.
His victories are seen as inevitable. He's credited with god-like powers.
If I can just channel some of his aura..."

So far it's working. But will Hillary play Phil Mickelson or...
Tonya Harding?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Do these pants make me look short?

Word and Spirit

Genuine Christian spirituality exalts the place of both Word and Spirit. The devil always wants to us to exalt one above the other. Some are so "spirit-led" that they denigrate or ignore or de-emphasize the centrality of the Bible and its teachings (often under the code-word "theology"). Others are so rationalistic that they denigrate or ignore or de-emphasize the centrality of the Spirit's role in our lives and of having a dynamic, living relationship with God (often under the code-word "charismatic").

Genuine Biblical spirituality does not seek some sort of compromise or a pallid, neutral "balance" between the two, but seeks to exalt both aspects just as much as proponents of either one exalt their single favorite.

Just as Jesus is fully man and fully God (not half-man, half-God); so Christians should love, study and submit to the Word as much as the most godly theologian or scholar; and at the same time seek, pursue and value a dynamic living relationship with God through His Spirit as much as the most fervent charismatic or most emotional worshipper.

Why is this so hard to grasp?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

How 'bout a little smooch?

Pregnant Prosthetic Belly Bombings

Yes, the headline actually reads,
"DHS warns of Pregnant Prosthetic Belly Bombings."

Watch out for Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers, too, I guess.

In reality, it wins today's award for the most amusing title for the most disturbing news item.

One more thing to worry about that I never had to worry about until now. The Pregnant Prosthetic Belly Bombing will getcha if you don't watch out.

"Is that baby on the hoof?"

English subtitles from a Chinese version of "Revenge of the Sith" (aka: "The Backstroke of the West").

Some of my other favorites:

"He is in my behind!"
"You are a sacrifice article that I cut up rough now!"
"Giving first aid the already disheveled hair projection"
"The front is a lemon avenue flying straightly!"

More here (parental discretion advised).

Curioser and Curioser

Which is worse, french fries or coca-cola?

While I wouldn't stake my life on this one, very small, study alone, I never expected to read these words ...

"The study showed that the increase in saturated fat correlated with the increase in healthy cholesterol"

This isn't the final word by any means, but it's one more hint that when we finally get nutrition figured out, we just may find out that the experts of the past two decades had it all wrong.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Obama is doomed

The media pundits seem to be nearly unanimous today in declaring that Obama has the Democratic nomination all wrapped up. Based on the record of their past 12 months' history of confident predictions concerning the primaries, this practically assures Hillary of the nomination.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Hey, I resemble that remark!

"If you could will yourself to run as fast and as long as you could, some people would run until they keeled over and died.”

Scientists may have solved the riddle of muscle fatigue.

How to live to be 100.

"A second, larger study of men in their 70s found that those who avoided smoking, obesity, inactivity, diabetes and high blood pressure greatly improved their chances of living into their 90s. In fact, they had a 54 percent chance of living that long." (Link)

See, you don't have to exercise, you just have to "avoid inactivity"!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Over the Rhine

I just discovered this group last fall - how'd I miss them? Karin has an amazing voice, as you can tell on this song. I downloaded a bunch from iTunes and after four months I still listen to them all the time.

Is Barack Obama the Messiah?

It's not that some followers are getting out of hand, it's that he seems to be encouraging it with statements like this:

"a light will shine through that window, a beam of light will come down upon you, you will experience an epiphany ... and you will suddenly realize that you must go to the polls and vote for Obama"

The title of this post is the title of a blog that is documenting instances of Obamamania. Check it out.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Idiocracy: Coming soon to a planet near you!

I'll be preaching tomorrow on the recurring phrase in Romans 1:24-28; "God gave them over." An excellent way to prepare for the sermon would be to read Frederica Mathewes-Green's review of "Idiocracy," which begins...

How to describe Idiocracy? It is the most thought-provoking bad movie I've ever seen. But, stand warned, it really is bad. The plot is flimsy, the characters are flat, and the minutes fly like hours. You'll be desperate for it to end, long before the 87 minutes run their course.

And yet it lingers in the mind. The day after you see it, you'll see it everywhere. As the months go by, you'll be more and more impressed by its accuracy. In the last century, World's Fairs often set aside space to show what life would be like in the future, displays with names like "Temple of Progress." You could say that Idiocracy renders an unnerving Temple of Regress. But if you did, they'd call you a fag.

That's one of the running jokes in the movie. Time-traveler Joe Bauers (played by Luke Wilson) awakens 500 years in the future, and discovers that he is now the smartest person in the world. When he politely asks help or directions from the obese and stupid folks around him, they guffaw and ask why he's talking "like a fag." The idea that today's common speech might one day sound pompously contrived is startling—until, on reflection, it begins to seem dismayingly plausible.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Monster Gorilla Cheese Sandwich

I love grilled cheese sandwiches (especially with a good Muenster), and this variation sounds really tempting: "grilled cheese with apples and ginger sauce".

The recipe below it looks like a winner too though I have no clue what a "campanelle" is. Do they grow on trees or vines, Laura?

Is McCain worth fighting for?

To hear Rush Limbaugh, Hugh Hewitt and other right-wing talk show hosts tell it (not to mention conservative magazines like the National Review), John McCain would be such a bad president we might as well get Hillary.

And consider this list of conservative stalwarts:

Tom Coburn and Sam Brownback, perhaps the most conservative members of the United States Senate; Jack Kemp, the supply-side Reagan enthusiast; Phil Gramm, the most conservative Republican to run in the 1996 contest; and Ted Olson, the hero of the Federalist Society, who argued and won the case of Bush vs. Gore.

Oh wait, wrong list! Every one of THESE have endorsed McCain. Along with Trent Lott and Senator (and Biola grad) John Thune. And conservative icon Bill Bennett has repeatedly defended him on his talk show, Jeb Bush (my personal favorite politician) refused to endorse Romney in Florida even though by doing so he probably could have helped stop McCain's momentum in its tracks, Mike Huckabee will certainly endorse McCain the day he drops out of the race, and even President Bush in private conversations seems to be pulling for McCain over Romney.

If you DO want to stop Hillary from packing the courts with her favorites remember that not only is McCain far more popular among independents than Romney (no one can get elected depending on conservative talk-show listeners alone!), but he's even far more popular among Republicans than Romney. Electability matters!

Social conservatives: it's all about judges. Remember that McCain has supported all the good nominees, from Bork to Alito and has said he'd like to put more people like Roberts on the Supreme Court. If your refusal to support McCain leads to a Democratic victory in November, you're going to be living with the Supreme Court you deserve for the next 30 years.

"I'll blow your brains out, pig!"

Umm, actually, that's not such a good idea.

Here are some great quotes from the article that you might want to work into your next conversation:

“I always had brains on my arms,” she said.

Dr. Lynfield asked Mr. Wadding, “Kelly, what do you think is going on?”
The plant owner watched for a while and said, “Let’s stop harvesting brains.”

The brains were pooled, poured into 10-pound containers and shipped to be sold as food — mostly in China and Korea, where cooks stir-fry them, but also in some parts of the American South, where people like them scrambled up with eggs.

Anatomically, pigs are a lot like people.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Rejected Again!

Approximately 350 of us applied for the 300 open slots at Wasatch and the lottery was held last Saturday. I'm one of the lucky 50 who didn't make it. That's what I was praying for and hoping for the last two loops at HURT where I swore to myself that I'd never run another 100 miler again.

So today I sent in my application to the Plain 100. I tried it once before and only made it halfway before dropping out. Those who've attempted both can't seem to agree on which is harder: HURT or Plain. But there is general agreement that they are second and third hardest (after Hardrock).

For the life of me I can't figure out why I wanted to swear off ever doing another 100 mile race. I was dead tired, it was the middle of the night, I had a long way to go: must have been a case of temporary sanity. Anyway... I'm over it now.

Today's top headline

"Police: Crack Found in Man's Buttocks"

I guess that's why they teach anatomy at Police Academy.

What young people want from religion...

It isn't encouraging. Read all about it, here.

But then again, it's pretty much what most people want nowadays, including, if I don't fight it, me.

It's going to boil down to who is willing to fight the urge to put Self first and who is going to cater to Self's desires. Never in history has the Religion of Self been more successful at keeping its promises as it is today. It can't, won't and never will deliver true satisfaction, but for millions it IS delivering "happiness" as most people have come to understand the term.

But in the end it's just another form of "feeding on ashes" (Isa 44:20). And there will always be a significant minority of people who, by the grace of God, figure that out and refuse to settle for anything less than the kind of life Jesus promised to those who follow Him (John 10:10).

It's THE spiritual battle of the 21st century. Choose your side very very carefully.

Friday, February 1, 2008

VERY cool!

Sabrina Moran (read the whole thing).

14ers Quiz

There are 70 mountains in the continental US that are at least 14,000 feet high (I can see one of them from my window!). How many of these are more than 14,500 feet high?

Check your answer here.

Not-so Best of the Web Today

After contributing my little bit a couple days ago, today I responded less favorably to an item in BOTWT entitled, "Jimmy Carter's Lust and North Korea's Nukes" (second item). Read it first, then you'll understand my response, which I emailed as follows:

Ummm, sometimes your lack of close acquaintance with practicing evangelicals really shows.

(BTW: I'm no Carter fan, though I voted for him (once, not twice) after my religious conversion but before my political conversion).

Evangelicals DO consider pride to be the worst of all sins (see CS Lewis's "Mere Christianity" for the classic statement).

Evangelicals believe that salvation is by grace, not by deserving it. Humility means you can believe with full assurance that you are saved (otherwise, it would be tough to feel love, gratitude and praise for a God who made you live your whole life with an axe hanging over your head); even while you believe that you don't deserve salvation any more than anyone else.

Grace means my motive for serving God is love and gratitude, not trying to earn myself a condo in paradise. Grace means God doesn't decide who gets in and who doesn't based on some mysterious grading curve, so I don't need to make others look bad to improve my chances.

We are all sinners, "all have fallens short of the glory of God," and when we see people commit horrible sins, "there, but for the grace of God and a different set of genes or parents, go I". My secret lust is one and the same (in wickedness, though not in consequence) with Bill Clinton's serial adultery. Haven't you ever read Matthew 5 ("you have heard... but I say unto you...")?

Finally, to express these things isn't in itself prideful. One could say what Carter said with a certain smug self-righteousness (the problem with pride is that it is so hard to fully eradicate) or with genuine humility. Christians aim for the latter, and it is sinfully judgmental to look into the heart of someone expressing these thoughts and claim that his motives are baser than thou's.

I know that liberals believe that only a bad or stupid person can be a conservative, but I'm sure Peggy Noonan could explain to you why we shouldn't reciprocate.

Primary Instincts

The Presidential Primary is Tuesday (for me and most Americans).
Who to vote for?

I considered a symbolic vote for Fred, but went with a symbolic vote for Mike on the theory that he would make the best VP candidate and McCain probably has this thing wrapped up. If it was closer between Mac and Mitt I'd vote for Mac. For a balanced but pro-McCain analysis, read this.

On the Democratic side- I figure McCain would beat Hillary but Obama would beat McCain.