Saturday, December 31, 2005

Call me a Stick-in-the-Mud

Call me a stick-in-the-mud, but I’m a little put off by Narnia Happy Meals.

I was one of those music freaks in high school that would scour the import section of my local record store looking for rare, cool, avant-garde music. I found music by the Scorpions, Iron Maiden, Motor Head, Dokken, AC/DC, and even Metallica before many of their most popular songs were sold on American labels like Columbia and Atlantic Records. And as soon as these bands got popular, I abandoned them; turned my back on them. They went “commercial”. You can’t imagine how I feel when I flip on the tube and watch Madison Avenue market a Cadillac with a Led Zeppelin riff. Many bands are selling out to sell cars.

The reason I loved rock-n-roll when I was a kid was MY DAD HATED IT. I loved to blast the Pink Floyd verse on the Wish You Were Here album that said, “You bought a guitar to punish your ma… and you didn’t like school… and you know, you’re nobody’s fool…” So why are they using this music to sell me stuff. Do I look like that much of a sucker?

Here’s a list the anti-establishment Pied Pipers of my teen years that now blow there pipes for corporate America: the Rolling Stones and “Start Me Up” to sell Windows 95 (I’m only providing links to the bands, not the products >:p), Iggy Pop's great "Lust for Life" peddling Royal Caribbean cruises, The Who's "Tommy" used to hawk Clarinex, Sweet's '70s glam-rock masterpiece "Ballroom Blitz" used to sell Mitsubishis. What has happened to the purity of rock-n-roll? Remember when rebellion was bad? I’m just warming up: Bowie's "Heroes" sells bouquets for FTD. Hendrix's "Purple Haze" makes you thirsty for Pepsi and James Brown's "Sex Machine" makes you want to drink Gatorade. The Cure's "Pictures of You" is all about HP digital photography. Styx's cheesy "Lady" moves cheese for California cheese company, "Happy Cows". Intel used Blur's "Song 2" to sell Pentiums. George Thoroughgood's "Bad to the Bone" was used to sell everything from Crispix cereal to aspirin. And of course, you’ve heard it a million times, Bob Seger unloads trucks for Chevy with "Like a Rock".

The list is truly endless. Sinatra (Visa) to Tom Petty (ESPN), The Clash (Pontiac, Jaguar) to Screamin' Jay Hawkins (Levi's), Queen (Coke) to Earth, Wind and Fire (the Gap), Paul Oakenfold (Volvo) to Celine Dion (Chrysler), Ted Nugent (Cingular), Stevie Wonder (Red Lobster), Lou Reed (Amex), Bob Dylan (Victoria's Secret), Andrew W.K. (Expedia, Coors Light) to the Shins (McDonald's). It goes on. And on. And on.

Hopefully we won't see commercials using Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" to sell Preparation H to relieve that burning itch.

I read the C.S. Lewis classic Chronicles of Narnia aloud to my kids when they were elementary aged and I was too poor to afford cable. We read the entire series together. The kids loved it. I treasure the memories. Reading these books may be the only thing I did right raising these two. The stories became a tool to help me explain Biblical truth to my youngsters: why Jesus had to die on the cross and why virtue and morality is important when serving Christ. I explained to my little ones that God has a plan for their lives. They learned that life isn’t easy or without purpose. I’m proud to say that now that my kids are 16 and 18, they read C.S. Lewis books on theology and faith. We bought my daughter a C.S. Lewis Sci-Fi series threaded with theological concepts for Christmas at her request.

Happy meals for my kids were a light diversion and a simple treat. Stupid stuff. The McDonald’s Happy Meal is definitely not where I thought anything created by C.S. Lewis would end up. The end must be near.

Back From Vacation

We took a ride up to Asheville, N.C., on Christmas Day to spend some time with the in-laws. This is the first time we've had the kids in our Buick in a few years. The last few trips were taken in a conversion van that we parted with a few months ago. Our kids no longer fit in our mid-size four door sedan. Both Charity and Aaron have driver's licenses now, so we were able to share the driving on the eleven hour trip. That was cool. And rotating drivers gave everyone a chance to uncramp their legs. Everyone except the beautiful and charming Susan. She was stuck with a twenty-five pound Pomeranian on her lap. But she loves that dog. I pretty much hate him.

We had some great family time together. We all relaxed, went out to eat, and saw a couple of movies. King Kong was very cool, but really long. I had two big sodas before the flick and couldn't find a good chance to go pee because the action was non-stop when my urge was the worst. Just thought I'd share that. We also caught Walk the Line. I made the same mistake with the drink in this movie but there was more drama and less action in this movie so getting away was a little easier. Good news, huh?

When on vacation, I give my brain a break and read for liesure. I read about five novels a year, and this week a read a killer one if you like the "kill all the bad guys" genre like me. I've read every book by Vince Flynn. Hos latest book is called Consent to Kill. It's about a deep cover, black ops, CIA, shoot-em-up, bad motor scooter sent in to take down the radical terrorists on their on territory.

For those interested, there are some photos I took with my phone...

View from the Inlaws' Porch.

Price of Gas in South Carolina

Snow on the Car

Snow on our car last Monday morning in Asheville, NC.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Why I Love Jap Bikes

Chip my riding partner sent me this link: Click HERE.

Boy Scout Motto: Be Prepared

"No knives!"

That was my number one rule when I was a youth pastor. When I took the kids on outings, I'd go through their backpacks and suitcases to make sure they had no weapons. I found these pictures of this young Boy Scout on the Drudge Report. They illustrate why I didn't let kids take knives.

You'd be amazed to see the twisted games kids invent with knives, fireworks, and duct tape once away from the watchful eye of their mommies. At a gas station in Georgia, a kid send a bottle rocket he just purchased under a car being topped off. One mentally gifted kid on a Mexico mission trip created a duct tape cat-o'-nine-tails and broke it in over the bare backs of his cabin mates. And then, my own son chucked a football at my daughter while she was cleaning her nails with a switchblade. She stabbed herself in the thigh. We were in the African Bush (where switchblades are legal and available - unlike good medical care) when this little mishap occured.

The poor kid in the photos was the victim of a Boy Scout leader flinging a knife from his hands in an attempt to save another boy that was tripping. Remember when society's biggest fear were homosexual Scout Masters? What about the accident prone ones?

Click this link for the rest of the story.

Christmas Cards

For every occasion, there are a few choice words to be said. My buddy, Jeff Fawcett always makes sure my heart is warmed with just the right... comedy. Click on this link to see the latest card I received from Jeff.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Back in the Saddle

I am going to die at 96. When are you? Click here to find out!

I'm Already Dead

I am going to die at 19. When are you? Click here to find out!

When Will You Die

I am going to die at 82. When are you? Click here to find out!
Once again, Chris has one of these tests on his blog. Instead of gazing into a crystal ball, we now click on a graphic, take a test, and discover our future.

So it looks like I'm going to be here awhile. If I owe you money, relax. I'll get it back to you eventually.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Chris Tress' Christmas Letter

Chris Tress is one of my heroes. When (if) I grow up, I want to be like Chris. Chris is a missionary at Urban Youth Impact. I received a Christmas Card and his newsletter in the mail today. What's printed below is from his newsletter. Good stuff. It can also be read over on the WayFM radio show blog.

"I can't believe we are still celebrating Christmas...the birth of Jesus. I've been thinking about the fact that Jesus did everything wrong from man's perspective to market His movement.

Now think for a moment...if you were going to start a movement, how would ou go about doing it?

If it were my choice, I would have been born in the best hospital... Jesus chose to be born in a smelly barn. My parents would have been of great wealth and power... Jesus was the son of a carpenter and had a teenager as His mom. I would have grown up in Rome, which was the greatest city on earth at the time...Jesus grew up in Nazareth and the people of the day said, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" I would have attended the top university of the day... Jesus never went to college. I would have written a book with a detailed outline so my movement could get under way... Jesus never wrote a book or published an article. I would have ran for a public office so as to better promote my ideas... Jesus never ran for or held an office, in fact, one time He hid himself when the people wanted to make Him king. I would have used the best marketing strategies... Jesus never manipulated or bargained with anyone to follow Him. As a matter of fact, He made sure that His followers knew that they would be presecuted because they followed Him. I would have networked with the most powerful people of the day... Jesus was often rubbing shoulders with the outcasts of society, (the poor, the sick, the prostitutes, the drunks, etc.) If I knew that I was going to eventually have to hand my movement over, I would have chosen the most influential and well-educated people for my board of directors... Jesus chose twelve ordinary men, of which, the majority of them were uneducated.

Jesus' ministry lasted only three years. During this time, He was often homeless. Eleven out of the twelve guys He raised up for leadership deserted Him when He was crucified on the cross. This movement should have never gotten off of the was doomed from the beginning. Alexander the Great conquered the world by force, but I have yet to meet any of His followers. The Persian, Babylonian, Roman empires ruled the world in their day, but have come to nothing. Can anyone explain why this man, who did everything wrong form human perspective, still has almost a billion followers scattered across the world two thousand years later??? He must be who he claimed to be because there is no logical reason for the kingdom of His to still be advancing.

As we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, may we come to a deeper understanding of how great He is. Jesus is Lord. Merry Christmas."

Mike West

Today is a sad day. As the webmaster at Calvary Chapel Jupiter, I took Mike West (at his request) off the "Our Team" page. Mike is moving on to bigger and better things in radio in South Carolina.

Mike has influenced our community significantly as station manager at WayFM and as a leader and staff member at Calvary Chapel Jupiter. Even though he will be leaving our staff and be removed from our website, he will be immortalized on this blog. Below is Mike's bio cut and pasted from our website.

Mike grew up in Western Kentucky and attended the University of Kentucky. He accepted Christ in 1989 at age 32 after witnessing Christ transform his wife, Mary. Mike went on to be a leader in Bible Study Fellowship for 6 years and says “studying God’s Word changed my life.”

He and his wife Mary have been married since June of 1978 and have two children. Justin, a Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, flies C-17s out of Charleston, South Carolina, and Lyndsey studies communications at Palm Beach Atlantic University. “Our greatest joy is seeing both of our children live out their faith.”

After working 15 years in the radio industry, including being the General Manager of Christian radio station 88.1 WAY-FM in West Palm Beach for 4 years, Mike joined the Calvary Chapel staff in July of 2005.

The Wests have been attending Calvary Jupiter since 2001 and Mike says, “Calvary Chapel Jupiter is the Bible-based church we were looking for.”

Monday, December 19, 2005

Bono's Influence

Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ So he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light. “And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. (Luke 16:7-9)

I’ve struggled to understand this parable. Why does Jesus commend this steward? Read the story for yourself. This dirty dealer is smoking his boss’s books. When he’s about to get busted, he changes the accounts receivables and cuts deals with debtors to earn their favor because he knows he’ll soon be on the street. So what is so praiseworthy about this dude?

He uses all his influence to build bridges.

I know. He’s selfish. He’s just looking out for numero uno, but Jesus says he’s smarter than the “sons of light.”


Because the “sons of light” get so caught up in sniffing sin that they (we) miss the point. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day trashed Him through fault finding. The church, when not careful, can be guilty of the same thing when we see someone “straying” from “sanctioned” benevolence. Our pre-packaged processes hinder the work Christ commissioned us to do. We think we’re protecting God’s reputation and less work gets done. And I don’t think God is the One who suffers; the poor and marginalized do.

For this reason, I want to once again point to U2’s lead singer, Bono and the work he’s currently doing to ease suffering. He’s one “son of light” that is commendably shrewd and leverages all his influence to bless and build bridges in the name of Christ.

“Time said Bono's campaign to make rich countries address the debt of poorer ones has had an equally impressive impact on the world.

In 2005, "Bono charmed and bullied and morally blackmailed the leaders of the world's richest countries into forgiving $40 billion in debt owed by the poorest," the magazine said.

Bono has earned a remarkable number of political allies around the world and in Washington, where he has courted politicians from both major parties, Time said.

"Bono's great gift is to take what has made him famous - charm, clarity of voice, an ability to touch people in their secret heart - combine those traits with a keen grasp of the political game and obsessive attention to detail, and channel it all toward getting everyone, from world leaders to music lovers, to engage with something overwhelming in its complexity," it said.

Even archconservative former Sen. Jesse Helms had praise for the Irish singer.

"I knew as soon as I met Bono that he was genuine," Helms, who has allied with Bono on AIDS awareness, told Time.” [Click here to read the whole article.]

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Interview with Ravi Zacharias on Leadership

Ravi Zacharias was interviewed in April 2005 by Major John Carter of The Salvation Army for a leadership class at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (Charlotte, NC branch).

Major John Carter: In our leadership class, Dr. Zacharias, we discussed metaphors or images which guide leaders. Do you have a metaphor or image which has guided you in your life?

Ravi Zacharias: I think the best description I would give is that of a “privileged servant.” That would be the best description. There are different types, of course, but the Son of Man came to seek and to serve. I remember a number of years ago being a part of a conference in Wales where the theme on Christ was “The Servant King.” If the King Himself came as a servant and to serve, then that should be the model we have for ourselves. So I see it as a privileged servant. Coming from the East, where we had trusted, household help, trusted servants in the home, my father would trust them with the entire household, the children, etc., doing all types of things. This is our role, being a real servant of the King.

JC: That’s a wonderful metaphor and image of what we should think of, when thinking of our role, in Christianity. What biblical leaders are most important to you, perhaps in defining your own leadership? [click here to read the rest of the article. Give yourself about thirty miunutes to read the whole piece. Ravi is asked questions about examples of Biblical leaders, contemporary leaders, the books he's read, how he was called into ministry, and the role accountability plays in his ministry/family life. Definitely a must read for pastors and church leaders.]

Friday, December 16, 2005

Über Christ Followers – Part 10 – Carl Mims

Carl’s sway over my walk with Christ has come through several avenues: an example of an openhanded and generous man, a guiding influence in the life of our church, and a source of counsel in my ministry. He’s shown me that my weaknesses can be my greatest strengths.

About ten years ago, I ventured out to plant a church in Southwest Washington. I was on staff at Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale at the time and began to put together a plan to raise money to get my family across country. With the help of fellow staff members, we put together a massive garage sale. The proceeds were to benefit the Mondok Family Cross Country Move. Carl gave me the key to his storage unit along with pick of anything in the place. The items he gave me were the most valuable and sell-able commodities donated. I wanted to take the stuff with me to Washington. Carl passed up an opportunity to make serious cash in a garage sale of his own.

A couple of years later I came back from Washington to help with a new work that is now Calvary Chapel Jupiter. Carl was and remains on the board of directors of our church. As our church grew, he’s given guidance and wisdom to help us navigate through uncharted and sometimes treacherous territory. He’s been an advocate for me and other staff members and made sure our families are taken care of in the work of the ministry.

Personally, Carl is a counselor to me. He’s taught me that my greatest weakness, my unbridled tongue, is also my greatest gift if I submit myself to the Lord and use my words to serve Christ, my pastor, and the church body.

Finally, it was Carl that first told me about blogs. He pointed me to MMI, Bob Franquiz, and Rod Pearcy in the blogosphere. Since then, I’ve been hooked and see no end to blogging in the near future.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

4 Calvinists

[Double click on pictures for a more readable view]

Monday, December 12, 2005


What would your life look like if you made God’s kingdom your primary concern? Would your conversations be different? Would they move beyond box scores, movie reviews, and the weather? Would they center on issues like why we were put on this planet? Would your relationships change from functional to influential – where one encounter with you would change the way people live?
>>> Bob Franquiz, Elements

Here’s what I like about Bob’s book: it’s not written to impress pastors and seminarians. He wrote it to motivate normal guys like me to live a life that contributes something to the story of God.

If you like the way Erwin Raphael McManus writes, you’ll eat Bob’s book up. Bob starts with scripture and then shows the reader how to apply it in a relevant and practical way. He explains that Christ revolutionizes our lives and we can in turn, like John the Baptist, point people to Jesus and turn our world right-side-up.

The more I dug into this book, the more it challenged me. I didn’t read and get warm and fuzzy. I got squirmy. I have a few raw edges that have been ignored lately. This book helped me clean out a bit of festering and infection.

Kudos to Bob for writing this book. I’m sure this is only the first of many challenging and insightful projects to come out of Miami Lakes.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Right-Wing Posts-a-Plenty

I just found this fun blog. Check it out, ya'll. This may be the coolest blog I've ever seen.

Pornography Problem Ignored

The following article is cut and pasted from Palm Beach Atlantic's student newsletter, The Beacon. It was written by a young lady, Lyndsey West, that attends PBA and interns at Calvary Chapel Jupiter. This article ia a great discussion about pornography and it's rampant impact on followers of Christ.

"Pornography" is a word that tends to make Christians cringe. Bring up the subject and you might hear whispers behind your back or see a few raised eyebrows. Is it just too embarrassing of a topic to bring up in church? Are we too polite and decent to dare speak about such a thing? I think the silence runs deeper than that.

A 2003 survey from Internet Filter Review reported that 47 percent of Christians admit pornography is a major problem in their homes. An internet survey conducted by Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in 2002 found 30 percent of 6,000 pastors had viewed internet porn in the last 30 days. Family Safe Media reports 53 percent of men belonging to the Christian organization Promise Keepers visit porn sites every week.

Temptation does not stop when we become Christians. It's true. Many Christians struggle with pornography. It's a sickness that has permeated the church, the home and the lives of so many Christians. For some, this is suprising. For others, you're surprised the statistic numbers aren't higher.

But I don't want to condemn or convict. I don't even want to call for a radical change. I just want to break the silence.

Shame has kept us quiet, and fear has stopped us from confessing.

But Satan has used this dark veil of silence for too long. It is time to tear aside the shame and the fear and get real.

I want to encourage men and women alike to be uncomfortably honest about the issue. I want boyfriends and girlfriends and husbands and wives to tear down the wall of shame and secrecy. I want men and women to be able to openly express their struggles, their temptations.

Silence harbors the shame and the fear. We must humble ourselves to the point of needing one another. This is not a battle that can be won within the heart of one man. There is a need for accountability and for discussion. God has placed us within a community of Christian brothers and sisters to lean on here at PBA.

We cannot be so naïve to think this problem will fix itself, or to think that it could never hit close to home. We must put on our guard. And that guard can begin with one conversation.

Way to go, Lyndsey.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

a Generous Or+hodoxy

I picked up this book with extreme trepidation. I read many negative reviews on this book. More negative than positive for sure.

I felt like McLaren was trying to pick a fight with his title. In fact, my wife barely made it through the introduction. Here are a couple of paragraphs from the introduction. You be the judge:

The word orthodoxy means “straight thinking” or “right opinion.” The last thing I want to get into is nauseating arguments about why this or that form of theology (dispensational, covenant, charismatic, whatever) or methodology (cell church, megachurch, liturgical church, seeker church, blah, blah, blah) is right (meaning approaching or achieving timeless technical perfection). Hence the important adjective generous in the title of this book.

If I seem to show too little respect for your opinions or thought, be assured I have equal doubts about my own, and I don’t mind if you think I’m wrong. I’m sure I am wrong about many things, although I’m not sure exactly which things I’m wrong about. I’m even sure I’m wrong about what I think I’m right about in at least some cases. So whenever you think I’m wrong, you could be right. If, in the process of determining that I’m wrong, you are stimulated to think more deeply and broadly, I hope that I will have somehow served you anyway.

The beautiful and charming Susan felt that if it started out that way, she just didn’t have time for it. I’m glad I hung in there and began to get a picture of where on earth this guy was coming from. I will say that books like this give you permission to think.

McLaren takes readers for a tour through church history past and helps us to sit in on the discussions, observe the culture and understand some of the politics surrounding the shaping of the Church in her many expressions of faith and witness. He brings us right up into church history present to give us some ideas of what may be emerging as the church's future expression of faith in Christ and our witness in the world. It's actually a pretty facinating read and left me feeling excited and hopeful.

This book is good for theologians and non-theologians alike. I think non-theologians have the most fun with it. My favorite quote in the book goes like this:

In Christian theology, this anti-emergent thinking is expressed in systematic theologies that claim (overtly, covertly, or unconsciously) to have final orthodoxy nailed down, freeze-dried, and shrink-wrapped for ever.

Theologians won’t have as much fun with this book as the rest of us. If you really want to make a theologian mad, have him click here.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Women Drivers of the Year

Oh, yeah, baby. My buddy Chris shot me over the funniest email today. Warning: this is not politically correct. Good comedy never is.

Here is our sixth place winner. As snug as a bug in a rug:
Fifth place - now that's classic (my own sister almost did this):
Fourth place. I used to be able to do this on a skateboard:
Remember that movie Speed when they jumped that bus? That was fiction. Our Bronze medalist is reality:
The only thing this Silver medalist is driving these days is a desk:
And our Gold medalist is about ready to graduate to a Harley:

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Stupid "Stupid Test"

'TheRemember, back in school, when you said, "this is stupid! Why do I have to learn this junk? I'll never use this in life." Well, if you can recall those answers, then you'll do well on the "stupid test".

I've been taking a pile of computer generated and corrected tests. The last one I took tells the world how nerdy or cool I am compared to you. I also was forced to do the DISC personality test recently at work.

As I write this, my wife is taking the stupid test. She's reading me the questions. Boy am I stupid. As she reads the questions I'm now figuring out incredibly stupid I am for answering these stupid questions so stupidly. Some of the questions she's answering stupidly, too, so I don't feel so degraded.

It's strange that I care what a computer says about me. My wife turned out to be less stupid than me. Like I need a computer and a stupid test to tell me that.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Über Christ Followers – Part 9 – Stephan Tchividjian

We all hate Stephan. He’s so smart; so dang good looking. Everything he touches turns to gold. Everything he thinks of he’s able to make happen. He makes me sick. I can totally identify with Daniel’s co-workers in Babylon under the Persian king:

Daniel soon proved himself more capable than all the other administrators and princes. Because of his great ability, the king made plans to place him over the entire empire. Then the other administrators and princes began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling his affairs, but they couldn't find anything to criticize. He was faithful and honest and always responsible. (Daniel 6:3, 4)

Stephan Tchividjian's name may be the name I’ve dropped most. Guilty as charged. When I joined the staff at Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale in 1994, Stephan had the youth ministry where I interned under his umbrella of ministry oversight. He advised me when I launched a college aged group team up with other ministers in our community with the same vision and heart for young people and partner with them.

"Share information with them."

"Learn new stuff."

"Expand your influence and effectiveness in your ministry world."

These are lessons I’ve applied right up to the present whether I'm involved with foreign missions, student ministry, or local outreach. In my current role as a missions and outreach pastor, when a ministry approaches me with a proposal or a request for a piece of our church's outreach budget, I find out how well that ministry works with other ministries. Does the ministry think they are the only game in town or do they see that they are member of the body of Christ with a specific function and a responsibility to serve the other parts of the body?

One of my "ministry gifts" is questioning. Most of the time asking too many questions is viewed as a challenge to authority. Call me a rebel and blame Stephan. Challenge the status quo. Are we doing this just because we’ve always done it? Is that the only reason we’re doing it this way? Is there a better way to do it? Is this the best use of the resources given to us by God?

I wish that everything I did was consistently filtered through questions like these. I seem to have to work from a checklist to make decisions wisely. Stephan does it naturally and comfortably; he makes ministry look easy. That's the evidence of God's Spirt blessing and working in a man's life.

New Blogger II

Now my boy is blogging... And he said I was a nerd.