Showing posts from February, 2006


It’s there, and sometimes I feel it. For some reason I was acutely aware of it this morning as I was ironing my clothes for work. It was dark in the midst of light. A stench in the sunlit rose garden. A devil hidden shoulder-height amongst the angels. Ready, now….steady…there it is. Really? Where would I be if it wasn’t for God’s grace? Where would I have fallen if it wasn’t for the God that lifted me? The sand would have mixed with my blood as I walked along the pleasant beach with no sensation alerting me to the cut that was made by the sharp stumble stone. And the infection would have taken hold and the wound made mortal. Mortality, my enemy, would have engulfed me and the steps into eternity would be filled with fire. If it wasn’t for the siren aria pronounced so sweetly by the Singer where would I be? What stage would I play on? What audience would cheer me? What verdict would my world leave for me to bear?

Please and clean teeth

I was on a small plane once (it was one of those regional jets that I love to fly in) and I was asked by the flight attendant what I would like to drink. I said, “Diet Coke, please.” I love drinking Diet Coke on one of those regional jets. She was so struck by my response she said, “That is the first time I have heard that all day.” Mind you this was about 3:00 p.m. as I can recall so that was incredibly sad to me. I also just got back from the dentist. Everything looks good but I appreciate the fact that I can go and get my teeth cleaned at 8:00 a.m.. That makes my schedule so much easier at work. I am so appreciative of the fact that I can get in and get out so early in the morning. That is good service. All this to say that when I experience something out of the ordinary, it is something that I think about, write about, and even meditate on. It strikes me how interested the Israelites were in the cloud that hung over the Tent of Meeting as they wandered the wilderness when it was fi


I got to know your name. And I must know who you are. goldilox by King’s X Was it a snap? Or a click? Was it the feeling my son shows on his face when he places the puzzle pieces together and a picture begins emerge? Was it the sip of water that quietly cools the parched throat after a hour’s work in the Summer sun? Was it the quiet peace that consumes the heart after the realization that you are needed? Was it the contentedness that follows the satisfaction of meaningful work? Yes, all of this and more when I married my wife. There is a peace when I come home and see her there. There is a joy when she smiles and there is a sense that I have been completed. That I, more accurately and completely, reflect my heavenly Father when we are in ministry together. My life is a mist that is quickly burnt off in the morning sun. But what sweetness in this mist when we became one flesh and I lose myself in her.

Careena Cubiotti

Get high on life….it’s the only thing legal.   – Careena Cubiotti In sixth grade there was this girl, Careena Cubiotti, who was a bit of an oddball. She was funny and hung out with a girl that I liked so I got to know her pretty well. I have no idea if I have even spelled her name right, but there it is. She was fond of saying that we should get high on life and would often sing songs to that effect. Shoot me if I know what happened to her. I do not even think she was in our seventh and eighth grade class. **Sigh** My self-absorption claims another memory. Maybe it is because I do not do it enough, but I love to minister. Maybe if I did it more with more intensity then I would be sick of it already and view it as more drudgery than fun. I was in with the 2’s and 3’s this Sunday during the main service and it was a great time. Not without its challenges, but what a cool bunch of kids! We made these little cork boats that floated around and I had to fish at least two of them out of the t

Position and Practice

Cows. It has been a weird week for me. It has gotten a lot more interesting at work here and I am knee-deep in things outside of work as well. It is nice to have my mind engaged in things other than work. It keeps me human and “in touch” with stuff that matters. Not that work doesn’t matter. This place is such a proving ground for the Spirit-controlled life, but outside of this artificial money machine is where a lot of relevant stuff happens. I would hate to miss out on that in deference to this computer monitor and under the constant hum of the way-too-many servers this guy in the cube next to me has. Man, I can almost feel the fillings in my mouth heating up with all of the EMFs pouring out of there. I will be hosting a “Survivor” spoof for the MOPS (Mother of Preschoolers) group at church this morning. I am a little nervous about it and want it to be good. I know that I often put too much pressure on myself with these sort of things. I get worried that the expectations people have

Labels and distance

How many times am I surprised by a certain aspect of someone that I have gotten to know a little better? I label people so readily: “He’s the funny guy.” “She’s the encourager.” “He’s the deep thinker.” as if my two-word description of the person is the totality of who they are. Then we have them over for dinner, or they teach a Sunday school class, and I am shocked. And why am I shocked? Could it be that my two-word description of someone is not grounded in the reality that I thought it was? He’s liberal. He’s a Calvinist. He’s a bit too Arminian for my blood. All labels I use to distance people from me. The barrier that I put up is comfortable because it allows me to get a handle on who I think people ought to be. At the same time it objectifies people and gives me excuses not to be near them. We recently had people over and I was surprised yet again. I was convinced that the couple we had over was comprised of a fairly outgoing person and a shy, quiet, reserved type. Both of them ar

Should this be a focus?

I got an email note from a friend concerning a book he had read about music. Basically, this book is an assault on the idea that music is amoral as the majority of Christians believe that it is. He wanted some responses from people who have made the determination that music (independent of the lyrics applied to it)  is either moral or amoral and what information they used to arrive at that conclusion. I didn’t email him back. I am in the amoral camp. Then I got to thinking about why I did not email him back and why I am not intending to do so. I am sure part of me just doesn’t want to explore this area in my life. Some part of me does not want to give up the music that I have been listening to for years now. Is this lack of desire of the Spirit or the flesh? I would like to say the Spirit but there is part of me that could pin it down to the flesh. Another part of me bristles at the fact that, above everything else, this is a topic that is repeatedly brought up for discussion. As funda

My parents had a problem

My parents had a problem with one of the people I hung out with when I was in 5th and 6th grade. Looking back, he was not the kind of kid that I would want my boys hanging out with. Not in a million years. But I just thought my parents were being the over-domineering people that I had made them out to be in my head so I continued to hang out with him in total disregard of their warnings and wishes. It was dumb to do that and they were 100% right in their assessment of him and their fears of what I would become had I taken our relationship further. He was just a memory by 7th grade so things were better. For me anyway as I have no idea where he is or what happened to him. I pray for the friends that my children will have. We pray that they will be surrounded by people who love the Lord and who can encourage them in their walk with Him. I need to be careful about the people I hang out with too. I have far too many weaknesses and areas of open rebellion that can be fed by the wrong people

It's going to get fixed.

Well, I decided to get my car fixed. I called the collision shop where I got the estimate done (about $1,200) and told them I would like them to repair the damage. I feel so bad for the guy that hit me especially since the road was a sheet of ice and I did try to look for ways not to get the thing fixed, but I guess there is more damage to the vehicle than I can see and it looks like fixing it would be the best thing to do. What is strange is that they actually sent a check to my house for the full amount of the repair. Obviously, that check will be signed over to the collision shop when they have completed the work, but the check was sent before I said I wanted the work done. Kind of weird that way. There is a silver lining in this in that there was a bit of rust behind the spare tire that is attached to the back door and that will be gone when the give me the new back door and paint it all up for me. I just feel so bad and I pray that I am not being petty by getting this thing fixed.

More thanks

Betty Friedan, the ardent feminist, died recently and left her legacy on America and the world. Much of what she wrote and advocated left us worse off than we were before, but her opposition to men and women of faith actually helped me in my journey to know God’s will. Rather than dash my faith on the rocks when digesting the philosophy of feminism that she espoused, I sought to clarify what the Bible says about women and we, as men, are to treat them. I remember a “point/counterpoint” piece that I saw on 20/20 (a television news magazine) where Bill McCartney (the founder of Promise Keepers) was being interviewed and Patricia Ireland (former President of the National Organization of Women) was given a chance to respond in a separate interview. McCartney was talking to the interviewer about the kind of leadership Christ commanded where the one who was to lead was called to service rather than domination. This type of servant leadership is what we as men are to engage in as we lead our

Beware of Greeks bearing gifts

Thus it amounts to the same thing whether one gets drunk alone or is a leader of nations. Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness. The above quote sums up the void of a life without God. One of the most influential people in my Christian walk was a philosophy professor who happened to be an atheist. I actually took a couple of courses from him: Introduction to Practical Thinking and Business Ethics. More than anyone at the time he sent me deeper into this new relationship I had with God and guided me into a “rational” analysis of why I believe what I believe. There is way too much to go into here as to what he did for me, but I think what I arrived at out of his instruction was that the deep, truly deep, questions were posited and attempts were made to answer them by the philosophers. From Descartes’ question of how we know we exist to Camus’ question of whether we all shouldn’t just kill ourselves came the deep intellectual, social, emotional, and even spiritual questions of man. Both

It just keeps getting better?

There was a time when we could rest in the fact that human beings were getting better and better morally and ethically. That grand illusion was shattered during World War I and annihilated in World War II. It is easy to get discouraged over the junk that is happening in our world on the Left and the Right, in the West and the East. No one is exempt from the evil that so easily besets us and we have a hard time exercising our rights in the way that will glorify our Creator. We need more than a hero who’ll dare to find us. We need a new heart and mind from the Creator Himself. Then, regenerate, we’ll stride deep into His will and, in ever-increasing measure, act in a way that will show the world that the Son has been sent from the Father.

Oh isnt that typical.

“Oh isn’t that typical?” Those words are like nails down a chalkboard for me. God has made me to be a lot of things, but one thing He has not made me to be is “typical”. I don’t want to be the typical Christian who is just a tad too self-righteous for a decent conversation with an unbeliever. Or the “typical” husband who cares more about work than his wife. Or the “typical” dad who shows his love to his family by the devotion he has to his job. All of that is just not for me and I am committed, with the help of the Spirit, to make these descriptions less and less a part of my life. There are times when I am typical…no doubt about it. But I don’t want that to be what people think of me overall. I want them to say, “Hmmmm….” when confronted with my behavior. That will give glory to God because it is Him and Him alone that can make me atypical. I need some coffee.

King is coming

OK, call me a whack job (most people do), but I always wanted to do a rock opera of sorts on the life of Christ. Nothing like Jesus Christ Superstar. Maybe a little more like Godspell but more gospel focused. Anyway, my first song in the movie/opera would be King by King’s X. I can see Christ with his face set like flint towards Jerusalem coming out of the dessert after the temptation to this. you are the one who causes me pain you are the one who causes me grief you are the one who lied to me it won't be long soon you will see King is coming... you are the one who magnifies hate you are the one who distorts our love you are the one disguised as a saint it won't be long your kingdom will quake King is coming... Even though this song was written in 1988, from what I understand, King’s X still opens their shows with it. It is a good warm up song and quite a grabber with the guitar licks. I would be using it for another reason. Um, you’re kidding right? Yeah, the lyrics.

The Obective

You know, it is funny. Usually I have some sort of idea what I am going to write about the night before I actually do, but it does have a tendency to disappear before the morning. I only have about 37 pages left in Dandelion Wine left to go and I have actually been keeping up with the read through the Bible in a year. Also, I just completed a whole week of high intensity interval training on the treadmill and I am feeling it a bit. I’ll be glad to take the weekend off. Maybe I should do some lighter workouts on the weekend just to stay ahead of the calorie count a bit. I think I have lost weight. Something that has impressed me these past couple of months is the importance of basing all that we do on the principles and commands found in God’s Word. There is really only one objective base where we can make that a reality and that is by using the Bible. So many times I go with my feelings or, usually, what the easy way out is at the time rather than digging through the Scriptures to see

Just some observations

Just some observations: Coffee-Mate dissolves in my coffee faster than Cremora. I have no idea why. Coffee-Mate does not smell as good as Cremora does. I like the taste of Cremora better. When I bought the coffee for my coffee maker I bought it at Tops. They don’t carry Cremora. Only Wegmans does. I bought the coffee at Tops because I was on my way to work and Tops is closer to my house than Wegmans is. I like Wegmans better, but I heard that they are going to build a bigger one on the site where we go once Chase Pitkin (a hardware store) is out of the plaza. I hope they don’t build it too big because we like the smallish size of the store. There are two other Wegmans that are close to our house that are on the bigger side of things. We go there when we need something exotic. Maybe this big Wegmans will save us the trip. Who knows?

Amen indeed

Perhaps the most significant conversation I ever had with a Christian (save the one that led me to Christ in the first place) was one with Pastor Jim Thurber who was the pastor at Clarkson Community Church when I was going to school at SUNY Brockport. We were discussing the fact that a church in the area did not believe in the Trinity: “Pastor,” I began, “one of the reasons that this church does not believe in the Trinity is that they feel the confinement of the Son of God to a body from His incarnation and on through eternity is, in affect, an eternal humiliation of Him.” Pastor Thurber’s eyes got wide (as they often did when he was excited). He just about leaped out of his chair and loudly exclaimed, “Amen!” After composing himself he continued, “Mark, the Trinity has withstood fiercer attacks than this.” Thank you, Pastor. And, yes, Amen, indeed!    

Electricity so fine...look and dry your eyes

Weird morning this morning was. I got up and did the 30 minute treadmill thing and while ironing my clothes there were Joe Jackson songs going through my head. It was kind of strange – a bit of a throwback to the days when I was a teen and feeling so conflicted like all teens do at times. Listening to the CD Player in the car rather than NPR was also a way to get back in touch with these feelings of loneliness, isolation, being out of the mainstream, different…all though things that lead me into a darkness that only God had the ability to bring me out of. How was I to know that the root of the problem wasn’t that I was persecuted rather that I was a sinner in a sin-filled world? I couldn’t know that unless someone told me. Someone did and He saved me from the consequences of my sin. Am I better equipped than my parents were in communicating with my boys when they come to me with the problems they will inevitably face? I don’t know about that. My mom and dad did well as they guided me t