Showing posts from January, 2006

Preach it, Doug!

I just read a quote and I couldn’t agree more (but not in the way the author intended). Here is the quote from Doug Pagitt (a pastor of an Emergent Church known as Solomon’s Porch in Minneapolis): “A sermon is often a violent act. . . . It’s a violence toward the will of the people who have to sit there and take it.” To this I say…Amen! Please, God, do violence against my will until it falls in surrender to Yours and Yours alone. And may Your Word be Your weapon.

Motives and the realm of the Spirit

Do I write because I think I have something interesting to say? Do I write hoping to get “discovered” and offered a way out of the ordinary life I am living? Do I write to get good at it and, when the opportunity presents itself, I will have acquired the skills necessary to seize it with all my might? Should I push my thoughts and reflections out or rely on a pull from interested parties accepting the fact that **gasp** no one may be interested? As vast as this world is and as vast as my heart is I am often left with more questions than answers. The Moody Blues had a song a while back called “I’m Just a Singer in a Rock ‘n Roll Band” that just let people know that they ask questions and have no real answers to the questions that they ask. I have come to know answers through the Scriptures, but at the same time the vast frontier of my motives, my movements, are left unplumbed. There is such depth in me and the introspection and examination I subject myself to from time to time doesn’t e


So when have I crossed the line between having an opinion or conviction about something to being self-important? I think opinions and convictions. although they do leave some people uncomfortable, are a fine thing. We cannot live life without them and shouldn’t. Many people feel that the presence of convictions are at least the precursor to legalism. I do not hold that belief. Legalism is the view that Christianity is primarily a list of rules that should be followed. If you do not follow the list, your spirituality and either your relationship or fellowship with God is in question. This is in contrast to license which views Christianity is primarily a list of freedoms that must be defended. Your spirituality and either your relationship or fellowship with God is in question if you do not hold the view that one item (or all of the list) is not an accurate reflection of how you want to live out your Christian walk. In the middle is liberty. We cross into self-importance when we have an

The Wisdom of Work

Living life skillfully. That is a definition of wisdom that one of our pastors is fond of saying and I think it sums up what wisdom is for me. Not that long ago at a prayer meeting there was a gentleman that said he wanted to thank one of the teens at the church for helping split wood. I guess they accomplished a great deal during that time and it impressed him that this teen boy stuck with him through the whole thing. He said something I will never forget and have tried to implement: “Work always satisfies. Sitting around doing nothing never does. It is work that pleases the heart.” He is absolutely correct. I want to teach that lesson to my children and the guys I have charge over in Awana. When we look back on the day and tally up how we have used the hours, are we pleased that we caught a few extra minutes of sleep? Or do we look at the basement, garage, yard, or other space where we worked and say, “Yes, it has been a fruitful day.”? More often than not (much more often) it is the

Such a long way to go

In the “I’ve got a long way to go” department: I was in a fender bender last night that left my bumper with a hole in it maybe the size of a quarter. What was my first reaction when I got hit? I yelled (in my car) “You’ve got to be kidding me!” When am I going to unlock my reactions and emotions from the slavery of circumstances? **Sigh**

Stewardship defined?

As Christians we should be the best thinkers, artists, singers, songwriters, teachers, employees…you name it, we should be the best at it. Once I view life as a steward would think of the objects he is in charge of there should be no doubt about my response. God is interested in the effectiveness of my stewardship. So interested that He has taken charge of producing Christlikeness in me. He will not leave that to another. Only He will do. Most days I feel as though I am going through the motions. Letting this and that happen to me. Giving thought that is an eighth of an inch deep and a mile wide to seismic, culturally-significant in the church. Am I missing something? If so, what? Is it as simple (as some claim) to be well-versed in the history of the church and the death of the martyrs? Is there more than that? I know the Bible (not as well as most) but what does that knowledge buy me? The pursuit of holiness is the pursuit of the splendid stewardship that makes the Master take notice

Do I dream of my name in lights?

So I wonder what it would take to get a screenplay considered for production? I can see all of the classic images of a producer sitting down to lunch and someone pulling out a screenplay. The producer’s eyes roll (maybe outwardly or maybe not) as the budding writer prattles on about the merits of their particular approach: a stilted lover, a gunshot, the ensuing whodunit mystery with the all-too-clever detective and his bumbling sidekick (or vice versa). Shock, innuendo, way too many people that wanted this guy dead, pursuit and allegations: it is something that has been sold and rehashed so many times that it makes life seem a little too repetitive even for the average man. The reason I led with that question is because I had a bit of a story flash into my mind on my way to work this morning. Am I crazy enough to develop it? Am I crazy enough to fit the stereotype I have held in derision just a couple of lines ago? Ugh. I don’t know. I think I have a better shot getting it published a

When I was alone

When I chose to be alone as a teen I would walk at night down the street with my walkman on. Usually I would have Astral Voyage by Kitaro on and the warm cool air would keep me feeling alive as I made my way down to Barnard Exempts. I would sit on the bleachers overlooking the ball diamond where I spent many a summer day engaged in a baseball game. Some of those days I just wish the guys would have left me alone, but feeling the pressure I would go and play. I guess I wanted to fit in and was always subject to the pressure of others. I was not a very good ball player, but I passed the test..what test I don’t know…to be in the field and on a team. Some of the days were lonely; some were filled with friends; most were just there. Sitting close to the diamond where I had more strike outs than hits brought back floods of memories and feelings. They washed over me as I gazed out into the not so brightly lit dirt and grass. I would have to move on soon. Sooner than I wanted to. Experience ha

A visit from "Grandmom"

My mom called Thursday night and said that she would like to come over to our house Sunday morning after church. No problem at all. Our kids love to see their Grandmom so it would be a good time. I am very happy that my mom is comfortable enough to “invite herself” to our house and we love to have her come over. It is so reassuring to me and she is a model of a parent that takes the responsibility of contacting the children after they have moved out seriously. I believe that it is the responsibility of the parents to maintain contact with the children after the children have moved out. As a child I am expected to honor my mom and dad. But they do not have charge over me nor are they responsible for me anymore. At the same time I have built a home with my family (wife and children) and I care for them day to day. All of that to say that I have left my mom and dad. Not that I do not ever think of them or call them, but that is not my responsibility anymore. All of that has transferred to


I am not one to pick up the phone and call someone just to chat. Even if someone calls me I tend to be a bit transactional with them not taking a whole lot of time to talk to them about things that are “off topic” so to speak. I know where I want to go and, by golly, I am going to get there whether that is a good thing or not. Women are much better at this than men are. I know my wife tends to use conversation and words to build a relationship with someone rather than relying on an even or gathering (like a retreat or basketball game for example). This is good because, as I am beginning to believe more and more, relationships are what drive people to God. God wants a relationship with us and we are brought close to Him through that relationship that He desires being modeled in other people. Nothing real profound today (and that is different from…..) but we are having people over tonight, so this is on my mind. Also on my mind is what true hospitality is. We are having some people over

12 square feet of comfort

I have a rather large desk here at work that I spend quite a bit of time at each day. It measures in at approximately 24 square feet. On any given day I occupy about 12 square feet of the desk at any one time. I may spend an odd minute or half hour at the other 12 square feet of the desk, but that is rare. In fact, the only reason I go over to the other 12 square feet at all is because my coffee maker is over there and (I am in growing awareness of this every day) I need my coffee. I have become quite expert in the layout of the 12 square feet that I confine myself too. I have a less complete understanding of the other 12 square feet, but I do have some idea what is over there and how it is laid out. When I get something new to put in my cube, if it is functional (well, everything is functional at some level, but you know what I mean) I confine it to the 12 square feet where I find myself for most of the day: my keyboard, monitor, phone, CD player, empty Coke bottle to fill with water

Maybe I am making too much of this.

Maybe I am making too much of this. I don’t know. Why should my happiness matter? Why should my feelings matter? Who am I to let my desires, emotions, and outlook to stand as an arbiter of what is right and true? Or, more subtly, of how I react to certain situations or how I attempt to manipulate people with my actions and words. Too many times I pursue happiness in this world. God is not interested in leading me deeper into happiness or some sort of emotional equilibrium where everything meets my approval by some subjective and largely internal standard. He is interested in leading me deeper into holiness. Curse my happiness. Let its lifeless body be nailed to the tree. Let my feelings and desires reflect His. When they do not, let them be nailed right next to my happiness. When things are not to my liking let not one complaint escape from my lips. Let my thoughts wander to how He is producing holiness in my life through the introduction of this situation.

It just feels different.

OK, I have just finished my big mug of coffee (a daily ritual of mine) so I am a little jumpy. More and more I am hearing that there is less and less of a problem with coffee/caffeine consumption. I am 35 so I am thinking that I have a lot of coffee years ahead of me. And that is a good thing? Well, maybe good is too strong of a term. It is only January 17, 2006 but already I feel different this year – in a good way. There are some things that I am doing differently; some unique things that I was not doing at all last year: I am reading through the Bible in a year. I am only on Genesis chapter 40, but you have to start at Genesis 1 so that is a bit of progress. I am reading a novel. I am going through Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury again. I read it when I was younger (14 or 15 I think) so it was high time I read it again. Also, I cannot remember the last novel I read. I read the Jesus I Never Knew by Phillip Yancey. I have decided to read more this year. I am on the treadmill 5 times a

Home is not familiar enough yet.

We’re not home yet. And how much of what I hold dear will show others that have faith (and those that do not) that I do not understand that? I love stuff. There is no question about it. The acquisition of stuff enthralls me sometimes. I went to Circuit City yesterday on my way to a friend’s house to pick up Turbo Tax. I have been perusing the ads lately because they are always offering free stuff if you buy Turbo Tax. A couple of years ago I got a big bunch of nothing for buying it and I will not repeat that mistake again. See what I mean? Well, Circuit City was running a special that if I buy Turbo Tax and some Internet assistant application I would get a free mp3 player. Yes! Free stuff! Armed with this knowledge I went into the store and finally found out what I needed to do get my free stuff. It turned out that I had to plunk down $110 and wait for a $70 rebate in the mail for my mp3 player that looked kind of goofy and had a memory capacity of 128 Mb. Not the deal I was looking fo

Only Your face will lead me to reason.

In the “I think I have sorted this out” department: I went through a Sunday School class not that long ago on apologetics. Being that we are attending a Regular Baptist church our church approached the subject through a Reformed perspective that included the presentation of presuppositional apologetics. Rather than pretending that man is neutral in his stance with God and that he approaches all subjects without bias, this approach assesses man for what he is – in active rebellion against God suppressing the truth. Thus, his rationality has fallen, his application of the scientific method has fallen and he is suspect in all that he says and does. One of the issues I had with the very end of the class is the treatment of individuals who have adopted a particular belief system that is not Christianity. According to the presuppositional approach, we would engage these individuals on a comparison/exploration of their beliefs with the beliefs that we have. I thought this was bogus. Why would

Longing for my children

I guess I am a geek at heart. What I mean by that is that I have always been fascinated with technology and science. Maybe more with science fiction than with actual science as I am not all that scientifically inclined. Some of the zippiest technology that is coming out these days is in the areas of mobile video and wireless data transmission. It is so cool to see video players that are the size of a pack of cards with 80/100 gigabyte hard drives. And to think that I thought the miniDV camera we bought 3 years ago was cool. Us Americans are insatiable it seems with the technology that we are clamoring for. If only I pursued God with such vigor. I have been in a conversation online with an atheist. I figured it was a good way to go through some of the presuppositional apologetics that I think is the right way to go when talking about the nature of God and revelation. It scares me a bit to think that the conversation I am having with him may be one that I will have with my children one o

Boing, boing, boing....

He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. Isaiah 40:22 This verse has always held some fascination with me. Some people regard this verse as “proof” that the Bible proclaimed that the earth was round at a time when the common thinking was that it was flat. I guess you could say that, but that is not the most remarkable portion of the text. Some people also say that this verse shows us a God that is so high up that the people on earth look like little grasshoppers. I am less inclined to believe this as God is omnipresent and He is high up for sure – yet the whole of Him is contained in the atoms arranged into molecules that are then combined into a grasshopper. From the perspective we must seem to Him as cedars or towering behemoths of sorts. It think that this verse has more to do not with our size but with our nature. God does sit enthroned above the ci

Impotence and relationship

Woke up one morning, Shaking so hard. I need Someone to hold onto.     - The Choir Is there just a problem with me? I mean, what drives me to want God? Is it some psychological malady that drives me into the arms of someone I have never seen? Maybe there is some type of inadequacy in myself that coaxes me to seek solace and acceptance in some mythical man that is too unconditional in his acceptance of me as I am. Maybe it is guilt over the evil that I have pronounced on the world and the mud that I have made from gold. Maybe I have succumbed to a cheap parlor trick or been manipulated by some mind game played on me as a child. Maybe I am seeking the approval of my parents whom I love dearly. I rather think that it is the wind that beats against the house and the realization that it could crush us. The bomb that could explode in my head that would make me lust and act in a way that could annihilate my relationship with my wife. The wars and rumors of wars, declared and undeclared, on ev

All too easily amused

I started an exercise routine. Well, right now it is just me walking on a treadmill in my basement (hopefully) 4 or 5 times a week. My weight has not been increasing, but it has been holding steady. I think that is a good thing, right? So, I think that if I increase my physical activity and at least keep my caloric intake the same (or slightly decrease it) then I will be ahead of the game. I do not think that I eat in a particularly non-healthy way, but I do need to get off the couch more than I do. Also, on Sundays in particular, I tend to eat in between meals far too often. There is just so much good food around the house and I eat out of boredom. My stomach actually grumbled in hunger yesterday. Don’t laugh, but that is a feeling that I haven’t had in a while. Walk more, eat less. Sounds decent enough for me. I had a hand in making a video to promote a soup and chili contest that we are having at church on Super Bowl Sunday. After the late service we will all gather in the gym and s

My contribution

OK, I got in today a little early to move cubes. I was asked to move out of my other cube in deference to someone who is joining the group. I obliged and was a hero for about a half an hour. My phone will be moved on the 9th. Thank God for email. I received confirmation that Olie’s surname is Polie. His dad called him “Olie Polie” in one of the shows so there it is. It is funny, in the research that I did on the name there were a bunch of people that said Olie was from the planet “Rolie Polie”. In fact, not one of the sources I looked at said that Olie’s last name was Polie. I am beginning to think that the world wide web is more like a conversation rather than a reference – even a slim reference. There are a lot of people in the cyberspace world that seem to get a good deal of “press” just saying anything that comes to mind. This goes beyond the “email Bill Gates tracking” urban legends that crop up from time to time and is illustrated by my research into the Rolie Polie Olie name seq

The monster in the closet

So do I always have to write something earth-shattering? I haven’t exhausted ideas of what to write about, but there are so many people that I interact with that are not very down-to-earth. Some people that are not easy to talk to. Some people where everything is a crisis, there is always something wrong, there is tragedy around every corner and a monster in every closet. That can get tiring after a while and I wonder how they can sleep at night. Do their minds shut down? Can they let it all go? Should I be more like them? OK, it is my understanding that the children’s show (that my boys love) Rolie Polie Oile is about a boy named Olie who lives on the planet Rolie or maybe even Rolie Polie. It is hard to tell from the research I have done on the subject, but it is telling nonetheless. Now, if I was to introduce myself I would normally say “Hi, my name is Mark Dudley and I live on the planet earth.” OK, maybe not the “planet earth” part, but I needed that for my illustration. What is d

A most dangerous idea

I just got done reading a series of articles (ok, skimming, there was a lot there) where scientists espoused their most dangerous ideas. Many of them were quite interesting including one on the genetic determination of intelligence and even happiness. Some of them were a little off the wall (does that make them dangerous?) and some were definitely anti-God. That’s all right, God can take care of Himself. I guess that is my most dangerous idea. We are not alone. We are not our own. We are responsible to Someone who can take care of Himself and who will. Holiness, the only way we will see heaven and God Himself, is real and unattainable without a serious belief and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. That is an idea that even we religious types don’t get that often. I know that I certainly don’t live that way most of the time.    

A goal for 2006

This is my first post of the new year. There are a lot of exciting things happening with my friends that I am not privy to share, but it is looking like God is doing some great things for them and I am happy for them. Their joy is almost my joy and their sorrow is almost my sorrow. I know what the ideal is, but I get so far from that. There is such a high standard for service when I became a Christian. I hear from the likes of Donald Trump and Martha Stewart that generosity is good for business. It is, no doubt about it. If it wasn’t, would their corporations be generous? Not sure. I could get into the whole philosophical line of reasoning that a corporation’s fiduciary responsibility is to maximize profits for their owners (stockholders) but there are other responsibilities too. But it goes even deeper than that once I have a relationship with God through Christ. Suddenly, opening myself up to be the servant of humanity (a lofty goal) just isn’t big enough. I need to serve the least o