Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Proof of Life

This is the third post to this blog from the city we're visiting in the middle east. Rest assured that Shannon, Justine, Wes, Ed, Forrest, Luann, Rob, Julie, Paul, Tiffany, Beverly, and I are doing well.

Read the previous two posts for more about how things are going...

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Second Middle East Report

The honeymoon is over. This morning we woke up with no water. No toilet flushing. No showers. The rest of the team is still in bed so I haven’t been able to give them the “good” news. Our host warned us when we arrived that this could happen. The way it works here is that the municipal city water is turned on in this area once a week to fill all the water storage tanks at each house. If that water runs out, a water truck needs to be called in to recharge the house’s storage container. Our host noticed the water levels getting critically low before our arrival and put the call in to the office that dispatches the water trucks days ago, but the truck still hasn’t come. Four days and seven American water hogging visitors later, we’re out of water.

Every diesel truck I hear laboring up the hill we are staying on in our city I hope and pray is the water truck. We’ll have to go get some water in a bucket to flush the toilet this morning. We’ll probably wait till all of us use it once first.

Life is like that after a hurricane in South Florida; after a disaster.

Here? That’s just the way people live.

On the bright side, we are having an amazing time. Yesterday our team went on outings with young locals who are students at the language school where we are serving. Forrest and I visited the city’s oldest mosque. It is currently under renovation. A caretaker explained its rich history that dates back to the thirteenth century. This city is, of course, much older than that, but in the thirteenth century, this city became the ruling city in the region when the Arab empire was enjoying its greatest expansion in history. Justine and Shannon and I also visited the castle, also under renovation, of the king that spearheaded this region’s thirteenth century expansion and influence.

Local young women showed Luann, Shannon, and Justine the city center and shopping yesterday afternoon. Our outings were a cultural immersion packed with shopping in the souk (market), eating in local food, and riding around in cabs and buses shoulder to shoulder with locals. We’ve been greeted and welcomed warmly by every person we’ve met on the street.

Ed and Wes had a blast putting on a sports clinic for the children of the western workers here. They ran them through drills, calisthenics, and played “football” (not gridiron) with them. It’s a rare treat for these third culture kids to have this kind of attention and activity. Thanks to Wes and Ed, yesterday will be a day they won’t soon forget.

My wife will be glad to know that I had the student that I buddied up with take me to get a hair cut and a shave. The best shop in town is owned and run by Iraqi barbers. I visited this shop the last time I was here, but I was tempted to tell them I was German or French. How would they know the difference? My host at the time thought it would be novel if my straight razor wielding Iraqi barber knew I was an ex-Marine so he blew my cover.

When I arrived this time, the barber remembered me and was happy to get me into his chair. I thought he was a little too happy. As I laid my head back for the shave, internet video of a certain dictator facing hanging kept rolling through my brain. But I’m here to report I got the best shave, haircut, and all round barber shop experience of my life. And it only cost three bucks.

First Middle East Report

In go check smoothly did not.
Go smoothly did not check in.
Check in did not go smoothly. About half of us had our names all switched around on our tickets. The name that was on our passports was the same that appeared on our plane tickets, only in the wrong order. And Homeland Security has determined that anyone trying this little ploy is a terrorist, Delta didn’t want to let us board our plane. But thanks to prayers quietly muttered and clever negotiations handled by Karen and Justine, our little stand off was soon diffused and we were on our way to Atlanta, the land of perpetual layovers.

We had an amazing first day in our city in the Middle East. Justine said that it was too much to take in. “I can’t even describe it.” Like many of the others, she was at a loss for words when she saw the Old City set against a backdrop of barren mountain peaks.

“Oh wait. National Geographic. That’s how I’d describe what I’m seeing right now.”

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Steve Jobs Introduces iPhone on Mad TV

2007 SE Calvary Chapel Pastors Conference: Gayle Erwin

16 January 2007
"The Jesus Style"

Whenever we bring someone new to the pastors' conference, someone that doesn't really know his way around Calvary Chapel beyond his experience at our local Calvary, I always sit next to him when Gayle Erwin takes the stage. Before Gayle actually gets up there, before the newbie sees him, I say, "This guy's a little different." And then I shut up and look at his reaction. The guys who come from church traditions that feature tall, baritone preachers are the most fun to watch.

Gayle arrives behind the podium, short, round, bright suspenders, makes faces, and gives the characters in his stories a loud, high-pitched voice. The new guy really doesn't know what to think. The look on his face is priceless. I'm pretty sure that's the effect Gayle is going for. He definitely has everyone's attention.

We who have been around the Calvary thing a few years love Gayle. He's like my favorite uncle; the one that makes me look forward to family gatherings. He's wise and funny and makes me feel like it's ok to screw up.

Here's a few things I wrote in my notebook:

Serving is the thing that Jesus asks us to work on. Even when we have so many other areas of our lives that need improvement. Peter had plenty of things to work on but Jesus asked him to serve his brothers.

When you get a bunch of church leaders together in a room, you have and instant gathering of egos. That is unseemly. This is the exact opposite of the nature of Jesus.

Jesus did not use force.
He was not driven by selfish ambition.

Jesus made himself of no reputation
That makes me uncomfortable... I like reputation...

Jesus surrounded himself with guys that had very little skill. "World class turkeys" is the term Gayle employs...

Jesus' guys were not educational superstars. The educational system was religious and as you progressed you moved up. If you didn't move up, you were told to go get a job. All Jesus' guys had jobs. (Jesus birth announcement was made to shepherds; the most unskilled of jobs)

Bond servant; slave. Jesus took this form. This doesn't fit us in our American Culture.

Here's a good Gayle quote: "I'm not lazy. I'm just a convenience enthusiast."


1. makes life easier for someone else
2. freedom for somebody; the cost to you: bonds
3. others-centered; opposed to self-centeredness

the self-centered person; as he (me) learns more about himself (the center of everything) the more dissatisfied he becomes with himself.

the body; every part of it is a slave to the other part of the body

perfect health is perfect servanthood; when every part of your body is functioning to serve the other parts (body of Christ)

There is a medical term for when one part of the body begins to only serve itself: cancer

Jesus made like his brothers in every way.

If you're in touch with your humanity, you're in touch with every other person in the world. If I know the truth about me, I know the truth about you. If I see the truth about myself, pride shouldn't become an issue. Pride becomes an issue when I become self-deceived.

Gayle says we're all just balls of mud. This really isn't good for my self esteem.

Gayle's website: Servant Quarters

Monday, January 22, 2007


I may not post for a couple of weeks or so. I haven't finished my pastor's conference recap, but oh well. Were you really holding your breath?

I'm leading a team some place in the middle east, but I can't say where. If I tell ya', I'll have to kill ya'.

Seriously. Don't ask.

Pray for us. Ask that the Lord would open up doors of opportunity to share His Good News.

Here are some links to posts from my last middle east trip: Middle East Mis-conception, Second Middle East Report, Camel's Milk, and First Middle East Report.

Sunday, January 21, 2007


My pastor has a saying: "God loves you... and I have a wonderful plan for your life."

It has always been and always will be. But why so often within the church? Why do pastors neglect the care of their own flocks to nit-pick another pastor?

Romans 14:10 says: But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ?

So take a deep breath and back off. Take care of your own flock.

I have a little bit of infantry training under my belt. When we hit the battle field, we moved out in squads. We all had the same mission. Kill the enemy. We had the same military doctrine. Each squad leader was qualified to lead, and many lead their squads exactly the same way (especially in the Marine Corps). But in many cases, the squad leaders had different leadership styles. But in battle or just about anywhere else would one squad leader tell another squad leader how he should lead his fire team. Squads support an reinforce each other. If they get busy nit-picking, people die. Your buddies fall.

You think it's any different in the battle we're fighting? It isn't. In fact, it's even more real and the losses more severe. Souls. The only activity we should engage is support and reinforcement. And don't tell me that we have to "criticize constructively" because young pastors are watching and taking their cues from the senior guys. Maybe they shouldn't be. Maybe the younger guys should be taught to seek the Lord for their own churches instead of peeking their heads over the fence to see what is working or not working for somone else.

If you are going to learn from the guys that have gone before, at least seek the Lord first. Then see if He wants you to mirror someone else's moves.

In the previous post, Pastor Bob posed the following question:
"What is your life worth to the person whose life has been changed when God used you as His instrument in that person's life?" I need to answer that question from as it relates to Pator Bob. Bob Coys life is incredibly valuable to me because of the ministry that taken place in my life. Under his teaching, I grew exponentially. When I felt called to ministry and thought it might be my own fantasy, Pastor Bob confirmed that it was indeed the Lord's call. I can't count how many times he's changed the direction he was walking just to stop and encourage me for a job well done.

I can not count them.

Ever since I've known him he's been swimming in the incredible growth of his congregation both numerically and spiritually. The duties and responsibilities that go along with that are impossible for me to grasp. Yet, he always takes a moment to mention something about something I've done and has given kudos. It helps me to keep growing.

But your critism, pastors, of other pastors has the opposite effect.

Please, brothers, learn to be advocates. The rewards are immeasurable. They are riches laid up where moth and rust don't destroy.

2007 SE Calvary Chapel Pastors Conference: Bob Coy

15 January 2007
Conduct That Is Worthy

What can I say about Pastor Bob Coy? The man can bring it. He delivers the Word sprinkled with comedy and a healthy dose of application. The pastor of Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale, the church he planted over twenty years ago with two or three families on the Fort Lauderdale beach in the fall of 1985 now ministers to roughly 18,000 people. CCFL plants churches (including the one where I serve as an assistant pastor), sends out countless missionaries around the world, and has established a Bible College, Christian School, school of worship, and probably one or two endeavors I've overlooked (vastly understated).

Pastor Bob posed this question:
What is your life worth... the accountant? your kids? your wife? the person whose life has been changed when God used you as His instrument in that person's life?

Think about that for a minute.
Notes to self:
What's your net worth, Bryon? Is it a positive or negative number? I know that I only matter about once a year to my accoutant right around 15 April.

And I hate to say it, but sometimes I feel like only matter to my kids when they need something. I know that realistically that's not true. But everybody needs a couple of teenaged kids in their lives to keep them humble with truthful feedback peppered with teen-angst.

I mean more than I realize to the beautiful and charming Susan. And I definitely under-appreciate her.

To the one the Lord has used me to influence. Well, I can't believe the Lord would ever entrust someone's soul to my (our your) care.

Pastor Bob points out that the Lord delights to use people that would fail without Him. That's me to a "t".

Philippians 1:27
Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel...
point 1...
Steadfast stand (reference Eph. 6:12)
love, grace, mercy>>>>>>>stand fast for them...

Bob went on to tell the story of his experience grappling with a Sumo wrestler and standing fast. He flashed the picture to the right up on the screen. He said it was him. You buy that? Love the skivvies...

When Jesus had a chance to move, He stayed... on the cross.

point 2...
Unashamed bravery
>>>>your enemy is going to be undone more often than you know (1 Samuel 17)>>>>>David RAN toward his enemy.

So what am I afraid of? Failure? Or sucsess? Success is a heck of alot more work than failure.

point 3...
Behaving belief>>>>we trust the Lord, we obey; that's how we know our belief is true.
love; diligence; self-control; obedience; patience; these are the results of behaving my belief.

Notes to self:
At this point, Pastor Bob began to talk about the heat he's taken for launching a major building program - one of the biggest ever. I have some thought about this that I want to cover in a different post. I was thrown off track a little, but the bottom line here is behaving your belief. Are you serving God? Are you in His Word? Are you surrounding yourself with men that speak into your life (both mentors and brothers that will take you to task when necessary)? Then what's the problem? Actually, I don't know if that's exactly what Pastor Bob was trying to say, but that's what I took away from it? Who am I, though? I gotta answer for me.

point 4...
C.S. Lewis quote: "Too whom God uses greatly He must hurt deeply."
>>>>With a weakness God will draw you to Himself.

Then Bob assigned us some homework:
Read Fox's Book of Martyrs and quit your crying!

Monday, January 15, 2007

2007 SE Calvary Chapel Pastors Conference: Jim Gallagher

Ever since I first read the brochure for this year's pastor's conference, I was like, "who the heck is Jim Gallagher?" I know that he's the pastor up at Calvary Chapel Vero Beach, but what's he doing here? CC Vero ain't no mega-church.

I guess if I got our of bed early enough or didn't dilly-dally over a huge breakfast at IHOP when road trippin' it at these conferences, I would have caught the devotion he gave at last year in Ft. Lauderdale.

Jim planted a Calvary Chapel in Vero Beach, about nine years ago after serving on staff at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa for eight years.

Here are some of Gallagher's main points as he worked through the second part of Philippians 1.
  • We're given to pass off what is of great value to acquire something that is immediate. Gallagher used the story of Esau offering a close-out deal to shed himself of his birth right.
  • We believe too easily that something immediate is more valuable than something eternal. It doesn't make sense on paper, but our decision making proves we're not convinced.
Phil. 1:23
For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.
  • for what is better
  • being with Christ is far better
  • serving Jesus is far better
  • but we don't receive an immediate reward for this
There is not always immediate gratification even when faithfully serving the Lord.

To die is gain

to live is Christ
  • doesn't say that for me to live is Christianity
  • doesn't say that for me to live is these Biblical principles
  • doesn't say that for me to live is ministry
Jim posed this question: "What does living for Christ look like?"
It looks like rejoicing in prison... and this is not natural. It's supernatural. It's Christ's characteristics becoming the expression of our actions and expressions as we bide in Him.

If for me to live is Christ, then the message of my life to a lost and dying world will be Christ magnified.

2007 SE Calvary Chapel Pastors Conference: Danny Hodges

This year's South East Calvary Chapel Pastor's Conference was hosted by Calvary Chapel St. Petersburg. Danny Hodges is the pastor in St. Pete and kicked off the conference by welcoming pastors and church leaders from Calvary Chapels all from the Southeast United States.

Pastor Danny came to in St. Pete to a church called Calvary Chapel before it was officially a Calvary Chapel. But it was called Calvary Chapel. But it wasn't a Calvary. Never mind. It's a long story. The long an the short of it is that the church was going to close and Danny, who was about four guys down the pecking order believed God did not want the church to close. So they handed Danny the keys.

That's something like how it went. So now, umpteen years later, Calvary Chapel is officially a franchised, bona-fide, authorized, legitimate, copyrighted, affiliated Calvary Chapel.

This years conference revolves around a study through the book of Philippians and specifically addresses the Attitudes of the Heart.

Philippians 1:1-18 was Hodges portion. Here are some of his points:
  • Ministry is kind of like a marriage. We have to put up with each other in love.
  • God was working in Paul even in his bad circumstances.
  • The problem people have with others guys in ministry is not about doctrine; it's much more personal than that. It's envy.
  • rivalry = strife = carnality = the work of the flesh = envy = devilish deeds
  • Ungodly attitudes difficult to overcome

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Way Up Is Down

Last week (until the iPhone became a front burner topic), Christian blogland was in a tizzy over a new list of heroes.

No doubt, these folks deserve to be on this list. Congratulations are due. And I guess it would be cool for one to see one's own name on a list like that somewhere in the single digits. I guess that's when I sense a slight check in my heart. As much as I'd like to accomplish the great things these folks have, do I want to do it for me, or for the fame of the Lord?

In Matthew 23:5-12, of religious people, Jesus said:
"Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them 'Rabbi.'

"But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

They dress for pretense. They want to look religious.

Have you ever noticed the kind of odd tendency of people in church to want to be like their pastor? They look and dress and talk and style their hair like the pastor? The more charismatic he is, the bigger his pool of clones is? People follow the leader. They want to do what he does.

Paul told Timothy to “follow me as I follow the Lord.”

We have to think about that in ministry. If I’m doing this to look religious, that’s what my following is going to do. If you want followers that serve, love and disciple, then that’s what leaders need to be doing.

Here’s how to be a leader the Jesus way:
Don’t be called something that elevates you above all others. Many guys are out there and they want everyone to know that you are not equals with them. They assert authority over you. Assert. That’s the operative word. It’s almost as though if they don’t assert that God has given them authority, you’ll never be able to figure it out. So they do things to help you know.

If you want people to show respect to anyone, get out of the way, spiritual leader, and teach people to show God authority. If Jesus has picked you to lead (and that’s a question that still may need to be answered), then lead the way He says to lead.

He who exalts himself publicly will be humbled publicly. Probably not removed, but definitely humbled. This will happen because these are the words of Jesus, and not one of His words will pass away unfulfilled. That’s what makes this so serious.

  • To be great, you must serve.
  • Exalt yourself and you’ll be humbled.
  • Don’t make everyone call you by a title that exalts you above them. You are all brothers.
One of my favorite examples of this is Lord Farquaat in the hit movie Shreck. Farquaat thinks he’s so far above everyone else and he goes to great lengths to lavish upon himself the great respect he deserves. He rides on a great white stallion. He erects great monuments and reminders to himself (this kind of reminds me of driving through the Cuban country side a seeing all kinds of billboards of "Papa Castro -- but that's another story). But when he jumps down from his high horse, he’s just this short little guy. He's almost cute. His puny stature solicits from his subjects one of those under-your-breath-chuckles. He takes himself way too seriously. Those in his employ kiss his butt, and all the rest of his subjects, those under his rule, don’t take him seriously, they just tolerate him.

These are things I try to think about the longer I work in full-time ministry. I don't want to promote myself, I want he Lord to promote me.

This document has helped me keep perspective over the years. I try to give it to anybody I talk to that feels called to ministry. It comes from the bookThe Making of a Leader by Frank Damazio.


ht: boingboing
iPhone - the roach motel business model
by Cory Doctorow:

Randall Stross has a great op-ed in today's New York Times about how Apple's iPhone comes chock-full of DRM that will restrict your freedom and your consumer choice. He makes the great point that although Apple claims it adds its DRM (which locks you into buying Apple products) at the behest of the music industry, that many of the copyright holders whose work Apple sells in the music store have asked it to switch off the DRM. An Apple lawyer has gone on record saying that Apple would use DRM even if the music industry didn't want it.

It's ironic that a company whose name is synonymous with "Switch" has built its entire product strategy around lock-in. The iTunes/iPhone/iPod combo is a roach-motel: customers check in, but they can't check out.

And it doesn't stop with the iTunes DRM. Apple and Cingular have been trumpeting the technical prowess they've deployed in locking iPhone to the Cingular network, to be sure that no one can switch carriers with their iPhones. Even the Copyright Office has recognized that locking handsets to carriers is bad for competition and bad for the public.

There's another thing you can't switch with the iPhone: the software it runs. You can't install third-party apps on handset. Steve Jobs claims that this is because running your own code on a phone could crash the phone network, which must be news to all those Treo owners running around on Cingular's own network without causing a telecoms meltdown.

Lock-in isn't good for you. Does anyone really believe that Apple will make better products if its customers aren't free to switch to a competitor? Or that Cingular's network and pricing will be improved by lock-in?

Even if you are ready to pledge a lifetime commitment to the iPod as your only brand of portable music player or to the iPhone as your only cellphone once it is released, you may find that FairPlay copy protection will, sooner or later, cause you grief. You are always going to have to buy Apple stuff. Forever and ever. Because your iTunes will not play on anyone else’s hardware.

(Thanks, Robby and Craig!)
(Thumbnail of image taken from an illustration by Christophe Vorlet)

See also:

Apple sued for iTunes/iPod monopoly tying
Anti-iTunes DRM demonstrations across the USA tomorrow
Apple steals iTunes customers' paid-for rights to stream
Apple to iPod owners: "Eat shit and die"
How iTunes is bad for the music industry and the public
Why Apple is to blame for iTunes DRM
Indie band pulls out of iTunes, cites "crippled DRM"
Hillary "RIAA" Rosen: iPod DRM is cruel and unfriendly!
iTunes phone gratuitously crippled by DRM
Music labels: DRM makes you into iTunes' love-slave
Protect your investment: buy open

Friday, January 12, 2007

Marathon Pictures

me babysitting

This is what happens when the beautiful and charming Susan leaves me in charge of my granddaughter. We call this game "diaper munching."

I can tell by the way it's folded we haven't used it yet.

Fab New iInvention

Can I say iInvention or does somebody own that, too?

That's too iDamn bad.

Heres the next generation phone, shaver, MP3 player all in one. Thanks for the heads up, Anne, but you're a little late. I would have liked to have asked Santa for this.

8 gigs, 4 blades!

click image to enlarge

ht: the airbag

New Blog Friend

I've talked about Ed Compean here before. I have deep affection for him and his family and Im in awe of his commitment to obey God when He says, "Go." Ed and his family have uprooted their lives to go plant a church in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. How's that for extreme church planting? You can keeps tabs on him and his family on here.

Subscribe to Ed's feed.

what's a meme???

I've looked up this "meme" term and still don't think I know what it is. Can anyone bring the definition down to a second grade level (maybe a line drawing) so I can get it?

I never knew reading blogs could turn into... like... homework. Here's what I've been assigned by Jan to get done:

What's the most fun work you've ever done, and why?
Fun work for me usually involves being left alone in the woods with a chain saw. I worked as a timber faller in Northern California when I was n my twenties. The sound of the saw, the smell of dirt, and the thump of a huge tree hitting the ground is quite exhilarating and empowering. If something gets damaged when the tree falls, I consider that a bonus. Anything funner than that would probably be illegal, immoral, or fattening.
Name one thing you did in the past that you no longer do but wish you did.
Grow hair. On my head.
Name one thing you've always wanted to do but keep putting off.
Write a book.
What two things would you most like to learn or be better at, and why?
Relate to people.
If you could take a class/workshop/apprentice from anyone in the world living or dead, who would it be and what would you hope to learn?
Paul the Apostle. I would want to take Timothy's place and learn everything Paul knew about planting churches, raising leaders, overcoming the guilt of past sins, forgiving people, how to be courageous and humble at the same time, how to know when God is really telling you to do something, and what it's like to stand before the world's most powerful and influential people as God's chosen vessel to bring the gospel. I'd like to know what it feels like to look forward to losing your life for the sake of the gospel.
What three words might your best friends or family use to describe you?
Equal. Opportunity. Offender.
List two words you wish described you:
Humble. Wise.
What are your top three passions?
My Wife. International missions work. Training young people to follow Jesus.

Now I gotta tag five of you. I'll follow Jan's lead and hit up five people out in blog-land that I check in with but don't really know a whole lot about: Rick (you live in the land I love and comment here regularly), Pete (I tried to Sype you but I'm slow with the learning curve), Josh (because you've made the unfortunate mistake of linking to me), Jennifer (because my first impression on you was offensive), and Vicki (because I love your heart).

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

my toes

So here's what my toes look like after that marathon Sunday. See how black those two are? And a third one is kind of half-orange. I could have accomplished this by pounding my feet with a hammer in two, maybe three whacks. But instead, I decided it would be better to pound my feet into pavement for four hours and twenty-six miles.

Last year I lost one toenail on my other foot. This year, I'll lose two, maybe three.


Monday, January 08, 2007

Cat comes over from the Dark Side; loves man's best friend

Bad p.r. from P.R.

Is it unloving for me to wish that Pat Robertson would just stop? I think of everybody that's been trying to get their neighbors and co-workers to church, and then the media has a field day with the latest of Robertson's yearly predictions. Many are compiling quite a list of failed predictions.
Link 1
Link 2
Link 3
Link 4
Link 5
Link 6

I honestly don't want to slam my brother (I wanted him to be president once). But I sincerely want him to stop. It seems like too often that the bigger the audience we evangelicals have, the more damage we do.

The cool thing is that in spite of this kind of negative exposure in the media, God still chooses to work through regular people who simply want to see people meet Jesus.

But that doesn't answer my question: how do we respond? I'm tempted to go Old Testament and call for a good stoning. I mean, if you can call for the assignation of heads of state from behind the cameras in your TV studio, why can't appeal to obey Deuteronomy 18:20-22 from the seclusion on my desk while posting to my blog?

See, there I go being unloving again. Can someone help me respond correctly, wisely, and in love? I need all the help I can get.

Race Results

Have you ever peeled back the cheese on a slice of pizza to reveal that moist, bumpy underneath? Got the picture? Now you know what the bottoms of my feet looked like after I tenderly removed my shoes and peeled off my socks after yesterday's marathon at Disney World in Orlando. It was a great day to go to the park, but it was a brutal day for a marathon. My goal was to run it in less than four hours, but that didn't happen. I finished the 26.2 miles in 4:16:33 at an average pace (for 26.2 miles, mind you) of 9:47/mile.

I'll post some pictures when I can get my hands on them.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Über Christ Follower Chet Lowe

Chet may be one of the most radical Christ followers I've ever met. Chet ranks among living, breathing heroes in my book. If you could put Rocky Balboa and Mother Theresa in a blender, Chet Lowe is what that blended drink would look like. Bono wants to be Chet.

He's served in ministry ever since I've known him since the early nineties. He and his wife-to-be, Andrea, served in Children's ministry at Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale and were the favorite teachers of my then elementary-aged kids. Chet and Andrea won my heart then beuase they loved my kids. Love my kids and I'll love you.

Soon after Chet and Andrea were married, Chet moved his small family to Liberia to plant churches and raise up pastors. At one point, during civil strife, he was separated from his family during an emergency evacuation. His story reads something like 2 Corinthians 11:22-29.

The next logical step for Chet was to become a radical disciple developer. He spearheaded a program in Montana at the Potter's Field Ranch and has brought that concept to the Bahamas and launched Patmos. At the end of January, my son, Aaron, will be a part of that program.

Congratulations are due Pastor Chet for being installed as the new director of the Adventure Learning Center in Nassau, Bahamas.

Chet is the husband of Andrea and father of Giovanni, Austin, Emmanuel, A.J., Micaiah, Abigail, Eliya, Selah, and Timon.

Thinking about Patmos

I'm here killing time at the Bahamas International Airport in Nassau. My flight doesn't leave for another hour and ten minutes. I've had an amazing time here in the Bahamas--my expectations were exceeded by far.

Chet Lowe is doing an incredible job discipling these young people that have signed on for four months of intensive reality discipleship. Lowe is working through a series with the theme of "putting off sin." I've been sworn to secrecy about what the students do here, but let me just say that Lowe is extremely creative about developing exercises and situations that simulate suffering and endurance while putting others first. Marine Corps boot camp is closest thing in my experience that compares. But boot camp is a month shorter.

What Lowe produces is real world Christ-followers. Young men and women with a heart for Christian service and ministry that have had a chance to both learn the Bible in an academic setting coupled with tests that will stretch them beyond anything they've ever done.

My own son is at the school. He's doing great and he's made an amazing transformation. He's getting a taste of the mission field, Bible college, community service, and extreme team building all in one place. Most of the kids here are the offspring of people in full-time ministry. I can't think of a better experience for pastors' kids. But being a PK is not a pre-requisite. If you know a kid that wants to go into ministry, send him/her to Patmos first. I promise it'll be life changing.

Download Patmos newsletter...

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Track Me

Dear Mom,

If you want, you can track your eldest child's progress in the Disney World Marathon tomorrow. I know you can't fly out from San Diego and actually watch me run like you used to when I ran the 220 meter race in seventh grade. But I wish you could be there to hold up a sign that says "MY SON IS NUMBER ONE" (hey, that rhymes) and then greet me at the finish line with a plate full of those home baked brownies that made me famous at the Cub Scout Pack meetings when you were my Den Mother.

There's a form if you click this link that looks like this:

Just type in my Last Name: Mondok
My first name: Bryon
And just in case they need it somewhere else, my race number is 2748.

Click here to see a picture of the course I'll run.

Goofy Race

My buddy Billy signed up for the Goofy Challenge. That is he signed up to run a half-marathon (13.1 miles) today and a full marathon (26.2 miles) tomorrow. As I write this, Billy is already done with the half-marathon. He finished in 1:52:20.

Great run, Billy. See you later today.

Friday, January 05, 2007

U2 and Green Day; "The Saints are Coming"

Cats and tape

This is a shameful way to treat a roll of tape...

Bustin' it out

Today was my last run before the marathon. Only 2 miles. Got it done in under 15 minutes. Not too shabby for a 41 year old grandpa.

run time: 14:45
run distance: 2 miles
avg. pace: 7:21/mile
best pace: 6:10/mile
calories: 240

Sad Stats

2006 % of Retail Sales (Porn)

Video Sales & Rentals 28.0% $ 3,622,000,000
Magazine 7.4% $ 950,000,000
Cable/PPV (TV) 3.5% $ 1,745,000,000
Internet 22.0% $ 2,841,000,000
Exotic Dance Clubs 15.5% $ 2,000,000,000
Mobile 0.3% $ 39,000,000
Novelties 13.3% $ 1,725,000,000

Total 100% $ 12,922,000,000 (source)


Brothers, let's not let any of that cash come from us...

Right or Relationship

From my prayer journal:
Matthew 18:15-35
A Brother Who Sins Against You
"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

This is not about winning or being smart or sniffing out sin or keeping your brother accountable. It’s about doing spiritual work together with your brother.
"I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

Check it out: if you keep the work you can get done with your brother bound up with unforgiveness, then work that is spiritual that could get done is bound up. But if you care more about loosing your brother from the bonds of unforgiveness, then the two of you or three of you or however many of you there is will be able to loose on the spiritual world all kinds of crazy exploits that kick in the gates of hell and result in increasing the population of heaven.
"Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

And here is Jesus in the middle of a bunch of guys that can get along and pray and ask God to bless the work they are trying to get done for the Kingdom’s sake. Jesus is there. Jesus is right in the middle. This whole chapter is about guys getting along. Not pointing out offenses. It’s not even the frame work for conflict resolution. It’s the REASON for conflict resolution.
The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"

C’mon, Jesus. When do I get to finally hold someone captive because they refuse to obey? When do I get to keep the man down that continually screws up? The guy screws me over. Why can’t I keep him bound in my grip of being right and better?
Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Jesus gets it. He knows our tendency to rehearse wrongs done to us. To blow them out of proportion. To attach amendments and sequels and exaggerations of sin. Of ascribing motivations that are secret, a part of some vast conspiracy against me. I must protect my political butt and promote my own political position of power.
"Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

A little theology: everyone must give an account.
"The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

But there’s good news. Confess you can’t pay. Confess that you owe. Confess that you’re the servant and He’s the Master. Your debt can be cancelled. The Master delights to cancel debt.
"But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded.

Be careful. The Master delights to see debt cancelled. Being relieved of debt allows people to move into the future freely. So much to do.
"His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'
"But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.

What a bully. Sometimes I push people around and act like a bully.
You don’t?
When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.

Even if we can be called a bully ourselves, sometimes, it’s never pretty to watch someone else victimize the weak.
"Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

So this is scary. Because I read this like this guy got saved. But somehow, salvation didn’t stick. Or the sanctification process didn’t get into full swing. But now this guy is damned. Right? He’ll never be able to pay it back. The debt that was cancelled was reinstated. How seriously does the Lord take our relationships with each other? When it comes to holding people in bondage when we’ve had our own debts cancelled, well I guess takes it Jesus can’t stand that.
"This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."

From your heart. There’s the catch. When do I EVER forgive people from my heart? Not even my closest brothers do I like to get out from under my power of smugness and self-superiority. From your heart. I need a heart transplant. I need a new heart of flesh. I need my stony unforgiving heart removed and replaced.

Take it, Lord. Do Your thing. Please.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

You can have your Blackberry...

You'll have to be a weight lifter to heft one of these bad boys around.

Why are Turks so interested in Imagechef?


I'm fishing for search engine hits.

A few weeks ago, I blogged about a really cool online tool called ImageChef for making custom graphics, and ever since, I've been getting several hits a day from Turkey. The country. One day I got over 100 hits (which is a lot for such a humble blog like mine). I've noticed that several referrals have been coming from Pete as well.

So what up Turks? Let's hear from you. - Create custom images

Heat Mizer

Saturday's Weather

Billy said it... It is going to be way to hot and friggin' muggy to run a marathon this weekend. They really should just call the whole thing off. Send me my money back and just bag it. This year, we'll get a visit from Heat Mizer.

Last year, Cold Mizer was there. I didn't take off my stocking cap and gloves the whole time.

Today's Run
Run time: 32:07
Run distance: 4.01/mile
Average pace: 8:01/mile
Best pace: 5:52/mile (for the last tenth of a mile - don't expect this from me on sunday - I ain't no Kenyan)
Calories: 488

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Lady in the Water

This was a cool movie made by M. Night Shyamalan. Shyamalan is the guy that came up with one of my all time favorites, Sixth Sense.

After having my mind totally blown by Sixth Sense, the rest of Shyamalan's movies have been a bit of a let down for me. Until Lady in the Water. This movie is an adaptation of a bedtime stury he made up for his kids (wouldn't it to be cool to make a movie from a story you made up for your kids?). I watched it two nights in a row with my wife. It was worth it both times.

It's rated PG-13 because it gets ind of intense. Other than that, it's pretty clean. I'd even watch it with my pastor.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Dilbert for 1-1-2007

How to Keep New Years Resolutions

I came across this post at Lifehacker and followed the links... Useful.
Identify the right goals

New Year’s Resolutions are supposed to be goals that you can achieve in one year. So “quit smoking” or “lose 20 lbs” are definitely a good example. However, “become a black belt in karate” is NOT a good NYR if your martial arts training up to this point has been limited to watching “Enter the Dragon” on the couch.

Add actions to goals

Without following through, NYR’s are just empty words. You must put in effort to see results. You must come up with a concrete plan of action for every NYR on your list. If you write your NYG as something vague like “lose weight”, you’re not going to be too motivated to follow through. What exactly is it that you’re supposed to do? Sit and wait until the weight is lost? Keep on running a-la Forrest Gump, until the desired weight is reached? And since your sub consciousness hasn’t received a direct order, it’s going to stuff that ‘lose weight’ comment to the back of your brain.

Remind yourself regularly of your resolutions

New Year’s day is going to come and go, and so will your mood and determination that you had while creating your NYR’s. How do you stay on track? How do you keep your NYR’s fresh in your head, and follow them all year?

First, you have to put the list you just wrote someplace you can easily find it. File it under “New Year’s Resolutions, 2009”, put it in your wallet, or anywhere else that you like, but make sure that if you get the urge to see it in June, you can easily find it.

Solitude Under-valued

This video is hilarious. It's short and sweet.

Let's say you're walking down the street with just a touch of the blues. You're lonely. You toss up a quick prayer: "Lord, I just need a friend or two..."