Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Politics (updated)

So, we're underway...voting is commencing everywhere, and there's just a certain excitement in the air today. Or is that uneasiness? Or perhaps hope...or maybe frustration? It's hard to pinpoint exactly what is floating around Americans today, but there's something.

I wanted to just offer a few things to consider as you vote today, or watch the election coverage, and when you engage in political discussions with neighbors. co-workers, family members, and friends. Listed below are 2 different articles and 1 statement from an e-mail which I find to be great food for thought. I don't claim to support any of these writings 100%, but inside each of them are tones, ideas, beliefs, and wisdom which I believe to be important moving forward beyond today.

My hope is that we'll all aim to have perspective...to seek to understand where each other is coming from and why. The thing that's already bumming me out the most about this election day is the attitude of disappointment and criticism that's brewing from many claiming Christ. What's that all about? (you may apply your Mark Wahlberg voice with that question if you like)

What tragic behavior as believers to frown, judge, second-guess someone because their party lines don't add up with yours. Can't we just celebrate the freedom in disagreement, opinion, and viewpoint? I'm confident moving forward that if the man I voted for does not win, I'm not going to be sour about it...I will pray and support who is selected to lead. I have less confidence in the opposite of that scenario, already seeing distaste on Facebook, blogs, and e-mails. Isn't this just humans electing humans? When did we become overwhelmed with entitlement?

I'm done with my words, and I'm excited for what's ahead. May you find perspective from what you read below.

One strong view of this: extreme.

A differing view I find fascinating: contemplative.

And finally, this was a statement by a well respected leader I know who is a member/elder in the Church of Christ. He articulates all of this very well in my opinion.

"I agree that this is not an ordinary Presidential election, but then again, it is; it happens every four years. As hard as it is for some to believe, many intelligent Christians are voting for Obama, and, as hard as it is for some others to believe, many intelligent Christians are voting for McCain. This is not a referendum between good and evil. It’s an election between two flawed politicians, each of whom has an agenda that supports the work of Christ in some respects and works against it in some respects. We do not want to convey the message that one must vote a certain way to be a Christian. Even, no especially, when partisan passions are at their highest, let’s not confuse our party with the body of Christ, at least not when publicly representing ________.
I’m _________ and I approve this message."

So wherever you find yourself in this struggle to represent Christ in all you do (including democracy), may you be guided by His spirit. My prayer is that you consider numbers, issues, character, morals, family, basically the whole enchilada. We shouldn't have unreasonable expectations, but I sense that we also shouldn't zero in on just a couple things from each candidate that defines our choice...just my opinion. God's blessings be on our next leader, and may we commit to prayer for whatever is ahead...the bad and the good...because they will both be present at the table for the next 4 years. Peace.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ten Things Tuesday

So basically, I was reading on a few friends' blogs, and they had this thing that on every Tuesday, they'd list 10 things they wanted to thank God for. Now, I do recognize that I may stand alone in my gender for embracing this cool weekly concept, but here goes:

1. Coldplay - watching them on SNL last week got me excited to see them in concert in mid-November. They played 3.5/4 songs! (which is unheard of, save they had to scrap some skits 'cause Amy Poehler went into labor, or they had a weak no-name host, or maybe they've just arrived at a similar place of respect in pop culture) Did anyone notice that upon the conclusion of the song Yellow, Chris Martin said into the microphone, "Barack Obama?"
2. EA Playground on Wii - My brother Payton and I discovered this little game over the weekend, and it is amazing! Just ridiculously fun for anyone who's ever walked or driven past a group of elementary kids playing at recess and wanted to go back in time for just a moment...well, my friends, now you can. Go check it out and discover you're own fun.
3. Fireproof - We went and caught a matinee of this Christian film and were impressed. Personally, if you can get past a few over-dramatic, awkward-acted, low-film-budget-moments, you'll be fine. Actually, the film inspired, challenged, encouraged, and prompted me to reflection and action in my marriage...and that was my take-away, not the movie being preachy.
4. Mighty to Save - So who cares if it's not as repetitively played as How Great is Our God, but for a foreign, LIVE anthem of praise, Hillsong's beauty is doing mighty fine. It's my daughter's most requested song at the moment, and I couldn't be happier about that.
5. Golf - Once I vowed never to embrace this silly game with a bunch of metal sticks, a little white ball, and a grassy adventure. It seems I was wrong--this game is a blast.
6. Disney Channel - No, they're not perfect, but their shows try to be as family sensitive as they can, while striving to be successful and creative. Miley Cyrus and the crew may be flawed, but in some strange ways I'm glad my daughter is excited about them rather than Bratz or boys or something else. My favorite new show on DIS is Studio DC, which stars many of the DIS youngsters and THE MUPPETS! It's like a spoof of a spoof on SNL, and it's pretty good so far.
7. Deacon Jack - While he is in this ridiculous phase of staggered sleep in the PM hours, his personality is coming alive during all the hours in between. He smiles, laughs, reaches out and grabs things, slobbers, recognizes, and snuggles in just the coolest ways. I am very blessed to have a son alongside my little Shiloh princess.
8. College Football - I don't consider myself a hardcore fan of this, but isn't it just the coolest thing to know that the eyes of America are on our state because of UT and Tech? Saturday's game could be the best game of the entire fall thus far.
9. Herdez Salsa - We discovered this at Wal-mart. I love making my own, fresh salsa when I'm able to...but for something quick and easy, this stuff is amazing. To date it's the best store-bought salsa we've ever had...I'm wondering if the fact that the label informed me it was created in Mexico has anything to do with it (that's a compliment, friends)...
10. Abba - Some of you have been fans for a long time, I get that. However, I'm just beginning my journey with them, and of course, it's after seeing Mamma Mia this summer with Carly and Deacon. (side note: I've got a soft spot for WELL DONE Musicals on Film--Sweeney Todd, Chicago, and possibly Les Miserables. However, King Leonitus does not a Phantom of the Opera make.) Among the songs I'm currently diggin' the most are Dancing Queen and Mamma Mia, of course...but I Have a Dream is just spell-bindingly spiritual.

Thanks for humoring me by reading, my friends, and thanks for inspiring me all you faithful blogging mommas out there. Grace, peace, and blessings on your faith and families.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Prayer

A very simple, very profound entry today.

Last night at church, Shiloh felt warm...as a precaution we did not allow her to get near Deacon's face or hands until we could assess better what was going on. The whole ride home, she was quite pleasant and mellow, and she even asked very politely, "Daddy, you're going to take care of me?" She knew she was not well, and this was one of the first times I'd heard such a simple and basic an expression of faith. When we got home and took her temperature, it was a blazing 102. Yikes.

After a brief stint in the bath, dosage of medicine, pajamas, and then in bed, it was time for prayers before lights out. I didn't think she would want to pray, but she did. This is what she said:

"Dear God, thank you for this day. Please help me feel better, so I can touch Deacon again."

Tears formed...and I'm still reflecting on the purest of prayers from such a pure heart. I'm not going to expound on all the implications for our lives from her prayer...I think you can form your own. If you'd like to share that with our family, we'd be honored. Have a great week.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Politics

I suspect I'm not the first and certainly won't be the last to express their thoughts in reaction to last night's debate and the upcoming election. I'm just ready to get a few things out there about what I'm seeing, observing, and my shallow perspective on this whole political thing.

Am I the only one to notice that anytime the White House is up for grabs, people just get weird? Like, if a president is up for re-election, then it's very much a "mild salsa" feel. But when you have a wide-open race, something a little more heated comes to the surface. It's as though there's this stored up angst that spills out through conversations, judgements, and opinions.

The other day after our Children's Worship ("ROCK"), I was approached by a member at our church I've known a long time. He was very kind as he asked me why I was an Obama supporter. I was kind of surprised at where he'd heard that, and also that it was a forgone conclusion that I was in his corner outright. He told me that someone had mentioned to him it was on my Facebook. So I went and looked at my Facebook page last night.

Under my visual bookshelf, The Audacity of Hope is listed as a book I'm currently reading. I received that book as a gift from my wife for Christmas, and it's just been taking me forever to read it...the 2-3 chapters are excellent, but you and I both know how eloquent and wordy Barack is, and so it's not an easy read. I would like to just suggest that although I read the book of someone I find fascinating doesn't make me their die-hard supporter. I cannot stand Bill Maher, and I don't want to give him a dime of my $$, but something in my spirit is curious to see his negative, cynical perspective on church and faith in his new documentary Religious.

What I can respect is being secure enough in your convictions to not mess with things like Obama's books, Maher's movies and the like. But what goes with that is also the respect for those who desire to see the world in all its reality, gaining perspective from differing worldviews. This is why I even bother to listen to debates and engage in conversations with folks about politics, much to my own demise!

Speaking of conversations...when I've discussed this election with many of my friends and family members who are by-n-large Republicans, I've been rather surprised at their lack of enthusiasm for their candidate. In fact, not really any of those conversations have sought to promote McCain, Palin, and everything they're about. Rather what I consistently hear is how Obama is evil, how they're afraid of him. I guess the timeless strategy of if you're mediocre on your party's guy, bash the other guy until your guy looks a little better. This is just silly. It's not very compelling to choose the lesser of 2 evils.

I will make no excuses for Obama's position on abortion, and the many ramifications of those choices. I'm a fan of life all the way around. I also understand that traditionally the President isn't looked upon to be the standard of all things moral and good...as Christians we may want that, but let's be honest, it's probably not going to happen. I'm not exercising cynicism, but rather just reminding myself that my hope rests in Jesus, and all that he stands for as a leader. Maybe I need to read Claiborne's new book, Jesus for President to better formulate what I mean.

I'm impressed with McCain's perseverance and courage. He's not afraid to be unpopular, while Obama seems to ride the waves of pop culture to have conversations about his positions. Yet every time Obama's morality is questioned, I cannot help but reflect on the fact that no one talks about McCain's flawed past...his failed marriage and affair are not exactly the stuff of wholesome conservative values. So, it seems to me there is disappointment for both men on both sides. What to do?

I know our hope rests in Jesus, and I believe that no matter who is the President of the U.S. for the next 4 years, in no way should that discourage my faith in God and His power. I personally commit to pray for whoever leads our nation next, and I guess the follow-up prayer to that would be that people would just support the U.S., no questions asked. Wouldn't that be the true testimony of patriotism...to get behind America, no matter who's at the helm, rather than pout, take our ball and go home when we don't get our way, when our candidate or party isn't victorious?

As I told one family member recently, I may just be allergic to politics. May we all come to a place where we vote with our heads and our hearts. May we ultimately trust that the God of the Universe is bigger than this election, and may we follow the footsteps of our one true leader, Christ Jesus...He's the only one worth all of our energies anyway.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

10 Things I Think

(Sigh.) Aahh. What a life, I tell ya. The pace of the last 3 1/2 weeks has moved rather fast, and so much so that I looked up and noticed it'd been nearly a month since my last blog post...since Deacon's birth and our big name reveal. (Which by the way, was a blast for us--thanks to all who had some fun with the clues and such!)
That being said, I'd like to just post a sort of back-to-normal entry that might help paint a picture of what I've been up to lately and how I'm now seeing the world around me with a family of four. Yahtzee!


10 Things I Think...

1) Robin Hood on BBC is a solid show about my boyhood idol. Not to mention the fact the lead role is played by a guy named Jonas, which I finally informed my parents was just a finalist in the sweepstakes for our son's eventual name.

My personal favorite rob-from-the-rich-and-give-to-the-poor-show of all time is Robin of Sherwood from the 1980's starring Michael Praed. Outstanding theatre, folks, I assure you.

2) Sand Volleyball and Lenny's Sub Shop are my sleeper sport & restaurant, respectively, of the summer. A few things to remember: you get a nasty, outstanding workout from moving all over the court...and at any Lenny's you can get a Kid's Meal which consists of a 4 1/2 inch sub, chips, regular sized drink, and a cookie for an additional $1.00 to all of you out there over the age of 11. It's madness, I say.


3) My wife justs get more beautiful everyday... sleep-deprived, juggling 2 munchkins, tolerating my silliness--how does she do it and manage to still glow? I love her to infinity and beyond.


4) There should be a limit on the number of chapters a book can have. Recently I was standing in the line @ Jason's Deli waiting to pay when I noticed a woman reading a "novel" that had an average of amount of pages. As she turned the page, I saw the chapter she was beginning...chapter 62. Good grief, the book didn't look that special. I mean, come on: Psalms, This Present Darkness, a couple Stephen King scarefest reads, and that's it. End of story. Anything else is just slavery to words that you could probably do without.


5) I'll man up and say it = I wish Christopher Nolan had chosen the Superman franchise. The Dark Knight just looks ridiculous, doesn't it? Look how far we've come from Chris O'Donnell stealing the batmobile and fighting the In Living Color Fly Girls! Only Nolan could have rescued my Man of Steel from the shame that was Richard Pryor. I'll leave it at that. And for the lot of you who simply cannot wait for Thursday @ Midnight, here's the first 6 minutes of the TDK. Heath Ledger has won me over as the Joker me thinks.


video


6) If you're planning on being in the sun for hours on end, I must advise heavy, repetitive sunscreen at all costs. I learned this the hard way a week ago as I applied moderate amounts of sunscreen, only to be destroyed by the end of the day. Currently, I am shedding like a boa constrictor on my chest, belly, and back...leaving traces of my skin debacle everywhere I go. Cheers and warnings. I suspect a post coming soon from the famous graduation speech turned One-Hit-Wonder song "Sunscreen." Stay tuned.


7) It might seem silly, but we're going to refer to our son with his actual name. This is quite amusing: there's been a trend of reactions to Deacon's name, and I've figured out that the disparity might have something to do with age. By my best estimations, most people under the age of 55 warmly accept Deacon's name and many think it's cool and unique. Yay for them. However, on more than a few occasions, some sweet folks over the age of 55 have asked what we're going to call our son...like, "Jack," or "DJ," or servant (kidding). One supporting note of my age theory is the church factor: there could be a struggle to accept a little baby boy named after a title/honor of service to others. I respect it, understand it, and give grace to all those involved. Just remember this...I never raised questions when your grandchild was given the name of a city I may have visited.


8) I need to get me some Facebook flair...I'm way behind.


9) Wall-E is the best movie of the Summer so far. Period. So far...



10) I absolutely love that I can say these 4 words now: "My son" & "The kids." Nothing is cooler than that.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Answers and revelations

He's here! Deacon Jack Bartee, born @ 12:47am this morning, the 20th of June. The numbers: 8 lbs. 2 ozs., 20 1/2 inches long. Momma is running on fumes for sleep, but we're blessed and happy as can be...look forward to seeing many of you soon, and at the least getting to talk/text/message those of you further away. I will say this: 8 hours into this world, Deacon appears to have a much more "mellow" demeanor than our 1st kiddo, Shiloh. He's sweet, attentive, a vocal delight, calm, snuggly, and I'm just gonna say--intelligent and good-looking. I know, I know...those traits are from his momma. Now for the last hurrah of our mayhem on the blog:

This is it...the explanation to how all these clues fit together to provide hints/clues at Deacon's name. Let me break it down for you:

June 3rd Clue #1
Our son’s name was used in 3 actions movies in the ‘90s. One was comedic, one was an action flick, and one was more on the sci-fi side of the things. I wish he'd been a good guy.

The 3 movies:

Blue Streak - 1999 - comedy
Waterworld - 1995 - action/disaster
Blade - 1998 - sci-fi/comic-book

Villain from Blue Streak = Deacon, played by Peter Greene
Villain from Waterworld = Deacon, played by Dennis Hopper
Villain from Blade = Deacon Frost, played by Stephen Dorff

*Surprisingly, this first clue seemed to attract the most interest and guesses. In fact, 2 people actually guessed correctly, and my brother Payton had Deacon in his final four options. Perhaps he should have read up on the Fearsome Foursome...

June 7th Clue #2
A sports player known for his defense.

*I won't spoil it before Clue #6, but the sport I tried to mask was FOOTBALL.

June 11th Clue #3
Beatty & Rock.

*Chris Rock starred in Down to Earth (2001), which was a remake of Heaven Can Wait (1978), starring Warren Beatty. The football stud from Clues #2 and #6 appeared in the movie as Gorman.

June 14th Clue #4
William Forsythe, Jack Black, Donal Logue.

Forsythe = Detective Hardcastle in Blue Streak
Black = A Pilot in Waterworld
Logue = Quinn in Blade

*My goal here was to help you figure out the movies specifically, and maybe then you'd be able to connect the villains.

June 19th Clue #5 (one day after his projected due date!)
Clues #1 and #4 are related & complimentary.
Clue #3 is stand-alone, but provides overall help.
Clue #2 and Clue #6 will have direct connection.

*These should be self-explanatory now that I've revealed the details of the clues.

June 19th (part 2) Clue #6
Pam Beesley, Head Slap, 1st Timothy, & Sack.

Jenna Fischer plays Pam Beesley, the lone SECRETARY of The Office.
1st Timothy chapter 3 is dedicated to instructions on overseers and DEACONS.
David "Deacon" Jones invented the head slap when he would slap the helmets of offensive lineman as he rushed from his defensive end position. It has since been made illegal. Deacon Jones also coined the phrase "sack" which was the designated action of tackling the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage. His nickname? "The Secretary of Defense."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

For the last time

We're here...we're at the hospital...we're in the room...I'm awaiting my daddy bracelet. Carly has received her epidural and the doc just broke her water--we're on our way, friends. And just as promised, here are the final clues. Enjoy, and if you would, please offer a prayer on my family's behalf for success and blessing in this birth. I look forward to celebrating our son's arrival with you, and the moments of laughter/awe which are promised to follow.

Oh, and when you figure it all out, please just share it with each other. Wait for my texts, calls, and Facebook messages...the last thing we need is the Hospital Equipment malfunctioning because my phone is "blowing up" with guesses. Thanks and Blessings!

June 3rd Clue #1
Our son’s name was used in 3 actions movies in the ‘90s. One was comedic, one was an action flick, and one was more on the sci-fi side of the things. I wish he'd been a good guy.

June 7th Clue #2
A sports player known for his defense.

June 11th Clue #3
Beatty & Rock.

June 14th Clue #4
William Forsythe, Jack Black, Donal Logue.

June 19th Clue #5 (one day after his projected due date!)
Clues #1 and #4 are related & complimentary.
Clue #3 is stand-alone, but provides overall help.
Clue #2 and Clue #6 will have direct connection.

June 19th (part 2) Clue #6
Pam Beesley, Head Slap, 1st Timothy, & Sack.

A Slight Hiccup

So friends, it's officially one day PAST this little fella's due date. In fact, today is also Juneteenth, a Texas holiday celebrating the abolition of slavery of Texas. Additionally it's referred to as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, and just recently the Governator of California declared it a holiday for his state as well. We've been in and out of home today, awaiting 1 opening from the 36 rooms @ Memorial Hermann Hospital in the Woodlands. Our doc said we've got until 5pm today to make the cut and be induced, and we're hovered over our phones.

Now, I realize that I passed on the clue that was due to be released yesterday, but I'd like to do something to sort of make it up to everyone. Today I'll give you some extra help with the already stated clues, and I'll type 2 additional posts that will be revealed very quickly after we get our phone call. The first post will be the final clue(s) for the entire puzzle, and will be given when we're admitted to our hospital room. (we have Internet there for all any skeptics) The second post will contain the entire thought process and explanation of all the clues...sort of the walk-through of all this fun we've been having! So there, we're on.

On the movie front, let me say that The Incredible Hulk was solid. It wasn't Ironman by any means, but it certainly more than made up for Ang Lee's artsy disaster. I do, however, prefer Eric Bana over Ed Norton, and I'll tell you why. I sat there watching Norton on the screen, and while he certainly has the scientific geekiness to be Bruce Banner, he just didn't seem like someone conflicted with turning into the Big Green Beast we know as Hulk. I kept waiting for him to pull out a deck of cards and slip me 2 Aces so we can run the table and repay our debts to the bookies. As far as the ladies, Liv Tyler and Jennifer Connelly are about the same--brown haired, blue-eyed beauties who each have excellent acting chops. I do like William Hurt over Sam Elliot as well. When you see it, please promise you'll sit through the end of the movie (just before the credits)...and you'll be in for the same treat as those of you who sat through the end of the Ironman credits for that little surprise comic book nugget. Nice work, Marvel.

June 3rd Clue #1
Our son’s name was used in 3 actions movies in the ‘90s. One was comedic, one was an action flick, and one was more on the sci-fi side of the things. I wish he'd been a good guy.

June 7th Clue #2
A sports player known for his defense.

June 11th Clue #3
Beatty & Rock.

June 14th Clue #4
William Forsythe, Jack Black, Donal Logue.

June 19th Clue #5 (one day after his projected due date!)
Clues #1 and #4 are related & complimentary.
Clue #3 is stand-alone, but provides overall help.
Clue #2 and Clue #6 will have direct connection.

June ?? Clue #6 & Explanation
~~Final, ultimate clues revealed~~

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Same 'ole song & dance...

Good grief! If this little fella doesn't come before Wednesday, his projected due-date, we're gonna run out of clues and you all are gonna guess his name. Just an update, Carly has secured an inducement appointment for Thursday, the 19th, if he's not here by then.

The guesses have been pouring in, mostly on the text message format. Let me encourage you to embrace all forms of media to submit your nominees--Facebook & e-mail work just as good! In the meantime, I've been watching a lot of movies lately, just trying to current and down with the times, ya know. I rather enjoy my experiences in the Santikos Silverado Theatre (unlimited ICEE refills!), as well as the late-night laptop in my lap as I snuggle next to my precious preg-o wife in bed moments as well. So, I thought I'd share my favorite 12 movies that I've seen recently (like the last 2-3 months), and remember, this includes theater and video:

12. The Happening
11. Dark City
10. Leatherheads
9. The Invasion
8. No Country for Old Men
7. Kung Fu Panda
6. Speed Racer
5. Sweeney Todd
4. Cloverfield
3. Iron Man
2. Indiana Jones 4 (you know the title)
1. Michael Clayton

Next up for my viewing pleasure: The Incredible Hulk (tonight!), There will be blood, Be Kind Rewind, The Other Boleyn Girl, and In Bruges. (Stay tuned, as this list might get altered.)

Of course, you don't have to like this list or several movies on this list...certainly many of the "experts" and critics didn't. But, it's what I've been up to in during the waiting game for junior to get here. All I can say is don't watch Semi-Pro...at all...EVER...I'm not kidding. I cannot believe Will Ferrell attached his name to it. Happy hunting, my friends!

June 3rd Clue #1
Our son’s name was used in 3 actions movies in the ‘90s. One was comedic, one was an action flick, and one was more on the sci-fi side of the things. I wish he'd been a good guy.

June 7th Clue #2
A sports player known for his defense.

June 11th Clue #3
Beatty & Rock.

June 14th Clue #4
William Forsythe, Jack Black, Donal Logue.

June 18th Clue #5 (this is his projected due date!)
~~Final, ultimate clues revealed~~

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

More fun and games...

So I tweaked a few of the dates to match up with my slackerness...we're current, now, friends.

Let me remind you, you are welcome to send either of us as many guesses as you like (via text, Facebook, or e-mail), but please know that for the sake of this little contest you'll have to wait until this fella scoots on out before you'll know if you are correct. We never promised this to be some baby-version of Mafia where the storyteller tells the sheriff in the night if their guess of the mafia is correct!

And for the sake of secrecy, keep your guesses to us private--anyone caught running up to any member of the Bartee family (Shiloh included) and trying to submit their ideas could result in the remainder of these clues being forfeited and the reveal being shut down. On a related note: all you sweet folk out there who enjoy my daughter so much...it'd just be peachy if you'd refrain from stressing her out by asking her what her baby brother's name is...I mean, it's stressing her mother and me out, too, but, seriously...let's have fun playing the game, checking the new clues on the assigned days. Stay tuned for more mayhem.

June 3rd Clue #1
Our son’s name was used in 3 actions movies in the ‘90s. One was comedic, one was an action flick, and one was more on the sci-fi side of the things. I wish he'd been a good guy.

June 7th Clue #2
A sports player known for his defense.

June 11th Clue #3
Beatty & Rock.

June 14th Clue #4
~~Additional movie(s) information~~

June 18th Clue #5 (this is his projected due date!)
~~Final, ultimate clues revealed~~

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Keep going, my friends...

There's been a solid response so far to our little game of clues...the Bartee baby boy name reveal. Thanks to all who are having as much fun with this as we are. Below is the 2nd clue, as well as a little bit of a tweak/edit on clue #1 which I think will help some of you who are scratching your head.

Let me remind you, you are welcome to send either of us as many guesses as you like (via text, Facebook, or e-mail), but please know that for the sake of this little contest you'll have to wait until this fella scoots on out before you'll know if you are correct. We never promised this to be some baby-version of Mafia where the storyteller tells the sheriff in the night if their guess of the mafia is correct!

And for the sake of secrecy, keep your guesses to us private--anyone caught running up to any member of the Bartee family (Shiloh included) and trying to submit their ideas could result in the remainder of these clues being forfeited and the reveal being shut down. On a related note: all you sweet folk out there who enjoy my daughter so much...it'd just be peachy if you'd refrain from stressing her out by asking her what her baby brother's name is...I mean, it's stressing her mother and me out, too, but, seriously...let's have fun playing the game, checking the new clues on the assigned days. Cool beans?

June 3rd Clue #1
Our son’s name was used in 3 actions movies in the ‘90s. One was comedic, one was an action flick, and one was more on the sci-fi side of the things. I wish he'd been a good guy.

June 7th Clue #2
A sports player known for his defense.

June 10th Clue #3
~~Random movie hint~~

June 13th Clue #4
~~Additional movie(s) information~~

June 18th Clue #5 (this is his projected due date!)
~~Final, ultimate clues revealed~~

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The moment you've been waiting for...

Here we go, people. The time has finally arrived...the Bartee's are ready to drop some clues/hints about the name of our little baby boy who's expected arrival is in the next 2.5 weeks. I must admit I was a bit loopy on meds after passing a kidney stone late Monday night when I created this list Tuesday afternoon, but I think it will strike your curiosity and awaken the little adventurer/discoverer within you. So, glance below at the schedule of clues, and have a blast!

If you have a legitimate guess...I mean, this is something you truly think we'd name our son, not something silly or cute or you just trying to be amusing...then send me a private message on Facebook, an e-mail, or a text (for those of you out there with my cell). Carly and might tell you if you're correct...hey, it's worth a shot, yes?

June 3rd Clue #1
Our son’s name was used in 3 actions movies in the late ‘90s. One was a comedy, one was comic-book related, and one was a disaster. Sadly, each time the character was on the villainous side.

June 7th Clue #2
~~Sports-related clue~~

June 10th Clue #3
~~Random movie hint~~

June 13th Clue #4
~~Additional movie(s) information~~

June 18th Clue #5 (this is his projected due date!)
~~Final, ultimate clues revealed~~

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Think before you speak

Normally I'm not into posting things that have been sent to me via e-mail, but this one was just too good to pass up, especially considering I've been married now nearly 7 years now. I realize that a few of these may be slightly exaggerated, but i found them humorous nonetheless. Enjoy, and be sure to watch what you say to the special lady in your life.

9 Words Women Use

1) Fine: This is the word women use to end an argument when they are right and you need to shut up.

2) Five Minutes: If she is getting dressed, this means a half an hour. Five minutes is only five minutes if you have just been given five more minutes to watch the game before helping around the house.
3) Nothing: This is the calm before the storm. This means something,and you should be on your toes. Arguments that begin with nothing usually end in fine.
4) Go Ahead: This is a dare, not permission. Don't Do It!
5) Loud Sigh: This is actually a word, but is a non-verbal statement often misunderstood by men. A loud sigh means she thinks you're an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you about nothing. (Refer back to # 3 for the meaning of nothing.)
6) That's Okay: This is one of the most dangerous statements a woman can make to a man. That's okay means she wants to think long and hard before deciding how and when you will pay for your mistake.
7) Thanks: A woman is thanking you, do not question, or faint. Just say you're welcome. (I want to add in a clause here - This is true, unless she says "Thanks a lot" - that is PURE sarcasm and she is not thanking you at all. DO NOT say "you're welcome" ... that will bring on a "whatever").
8) Whatever: Is a women's way of saying ____ YOU!
9) Don't worry about it, I got it: Another dangerous statement,meaning this is something that a woman has told a man to do several times, but is now doing it herself. This will later result in a man asking "What's wrong?" For the woman's response refer to # 3.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Be Careful

A few short days ago my little daughter Shiloh was running a temperature that was nearly 103. She had a cough, and was just hurting all over. I held her in my arms and for the time in my life I felt something and said something so enormous and so profound, that I surprised myself. I don't know why I was surprised when God chose to honor my request.

As I held my frail, sick daughter I said a simple prayer to the Lord, "Father, if you would just take her sickness and give it to me. If you'd just remove her symptoms and place it on me. I just want her to feel better." Now, at the time, I was sincere...I meant every word I said...it was the pulse of my heart for my sweet little girl to get well. And I remember sort of marveling at how I could come to a place of selflessness for another person, specifically as it related to pain and health and such. However, my belief and understanding of what God would do was this--that He would be proud of my selfless prayer, heal my daughter, and that would be that. I did not anticipate Him making good on my words.

I got her sickness. I got her fever. I got her cough. I got even worse drainage and swelling of my glands and throat. And did I mention I was swabbed for strep throat and missed days from work? Now, understand that being a children's minister now will put me in more direct contact with kids and their germs, but I'm thinking my illness might have been linked to those sweet, innocent, and powerful words I prayed with my daughter in my arms. Be careful when you pray and ask God for things--whether they're for you or someone else. He is listening, and delighted to grant our requests, in His own special way.

Also, be careful when you choose to read the Bible in 90 days. You're in for an adventure in discovery, discipline, and the divine. I highly encourage any believer who feels they're up for a challenge in their walk with Christ to experience this.

If you're looking for some incredible new music, be careful with Vampire Weekend. Those of you who know me recognize my musical tastes lie somewhere between classic rock and praise/worship music. This is neither of those, but boy howdy, is it something. Sort of a what a modernized '50s swing band would be, and the songs aren't even that long either. They always leave me wanting more. (warning: 2 songs do contain an offensive word, but pay particular attention to "Punk" and "Boston.")

Be careful if you choose to read The Shack. It is not something for the close-minded, the stubborn, or the judgemental. Wait a minute, maybe that's exactly who it's for. Proceed with caution, but be prepared to be encouraged in your relationship with Papa, Jesus, and Sarayu.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

10 Things I Think

It has been way too long...I have aged...I have slacked from this site...and yet I've been reading my little tail off in my 90-day Bible Challenge. In fact, one of the coolest things from this past weekend @ the Saturn Road Retreat I was speaking at was this: a note from a junior high girl who said she enjoyed my talks and wished me good luck on my Bible Challenge. That little piece of paper is joining me on my Scripture journey. Okay, so here's the updated ramblings of my mind--stay tuned for a regular post in the next few days. Enjoy, friends, and thanks for taking a few minutes to bond with my brain in this digital world. Peace.
10 Things I Think...

1) The NCAA Final Four this weekend is gonna be sick. You've got the 4 #1 seeds, arguably the 4 best teams in the land, and I'd be happy with 3 of the 4 winning...and I'll admit it--I cannot stand Memphis. I've yet to see them shoot baskets, free-throws, or long putts on the green against Happy Gilmore. My bracket has Kansas cutting down the nets, but I'm just happy for some unbelievable hoops in a 48 hour span.

2) Some sports personalities took the whole April Fools Day thing the full extent of the fool. Driving into work on the local Houston channel, I heard that the Rockets had traded Luis Scola to the Kings for Ron Artest straight up. Although shocked and sort of disappointed, I took the bait. It was hard not to--they had people calling in, making conversation. And when I realized the error of my ways, I was most certainly not going to fall for it again. So when Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon (my PTI boys) led their show on April Fools with a story about how Kansas and Davidson had to replay the final 16 seconds of their game from Sunday because a player on the floor had 5 fouls and never left--I didn't bite. I was actually proud of myself this time...maybe related to that whole "fool me once, fool me twice" thing.

3) The Israelites in the Old Testament sure knew how to fight...they also knew how to complain with the best of 'em. And for the record, I apologize for always visualizing them as a bunch of wusses in turbines who just had whips and sticks for weapons--Joshua, Joab, Abner--these cats could dish it out for the Lord!

4) My wife is a pretty hot pregnant lady. If you weren't happy for me before she began to house our little fella, then you most definitely are now. And in the words of a one-legged Amy Poehler, "Jealous!?" I am a lucky fella to say the least.

5) Have to confess----there have been several moments where I've missed my XBOX 360 & Call of Duty 4. Moment of silence, please.

6) My daughter placing 6 of her dolls and babies face down on the floor, each with individual pillows and blankets for nap time is unreal. She had just moved them all over from being in the "naughty spot" (a.k.a. "Timeout).

7) Sermon prep for an Easter Message, while daunting, was actually a blessing. In fact, it was quite fun, and I rather enjoyed it...especially the time @ Panera Bread, writing my intro drama.

8) Being kissed on the cheek during the Kids Offering has to be one of my highlights as a minister. Especially when the little fella has a heart of gold, Down's syndrome, and just the biggest smile on his face as his $$ goes into the bucket.

9) So, the MLB 2008 Season has started...really? I kind of hadn't noticed.

10) Bring on the ever-close return of The Office, 30 ROCK, Battlestar Galactica, and the completion of LOST Season 4...hooray for no more writers' strike!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Decade

Friends, please excuse the excuses...but I've been kind of busy turning a page of my life. Ya know, the one where you change the first number in the first slot of your age? Man, it's almost surreal.

My absence has made my heart grow fonder, I might add. I have created lists upon lists of which I need to blog about, yet my time to sit down and be disciplined to type has escaped me. I must not embrace the mirage that everything must be quiet, peaceful, perfect (ya, the "blogging mood"), which seems to be few and far between in my world.

So I've been blessed. I mean, it's just so obvious. I've been given grace, clothed with Christ, and prompted to represent Him in the ways I do. I've got a once-in-a-lifetime wife, the most animated and darling 2-year old daughter, and a roof over my head. We have food, energy, beds, clothes, toys, gadgets, comforts, debt--we have it all, you see. And yet it's all very simple.
I'm thankful to God for giving me 30 years. That's 10,950 days of morning...of sleep...of life. And I can't help but beg Him for another 30 years--for another 60 years even! But ya know what? I'd settle for another decade. I'd be more than happy with another 5. I'd be just peachy to see what might happen over the next 12 months. And I'm scared and thrilled about what God's got in store for the next 3 months...

If you're like me, you're mostly happy with who you are. Yes, we celebrate our gifts, we have developed a healthy self-image, massage our self-worth as others encourage our self-esteem, but there's something else absent. There's this realization and recognition that I may actually be the person whom God has given multiple talents to and I've only multiplied a few of them--I haven't applied them all, or doubled them as the story goes. And it's not that we beat ourselves up about this, but it's more of a nagging reminder that we need to be who God has made us to be. Period. End of story--anything else is like a minor league baseball player with all the goods for the Big Leagues intentionally choosing to stay where he's at, turning a blind, lazy eye to the obvious mechanics of his game that would elevate him to the place that he's meant for.
I don't want to be that guy. Shame on me for all the time I sense I've wasted in the minors. At this point, I wouldn't blame the ownership for cutting ties with me altogether.

And yet, somewhere between this place of awakening and frustration...of unrest and dissatisfaction, I remember the words of my Creator, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart." And maybe that would accurately describe where I've been and where I want to be. Perhaps I've not experienced the fullness of Christ I desire at my core because my pursuit has not been with my entire heart, my entire being. And God's promise is so simple, astounding, and real.

I'd like to share with you a brief life vision I have for the next, oh, 3 months or so. You see, I've got just a few weeks over that time before my son, God-willing, comes into this world looking for his daddy. An earthly daddy which should reflect His heavenly daddy. And am I ready? I recently heard about this idea, this plan that has assimilated by several churches (particularly men's groups) to read the entire Bible in 90 days. I don't know where that strikes you--does 90 days seem like a large number, or does the task seem daunting because most of our Bibles have 4-digit page numerals at their end?!

I am completely hooked at the aggressiveness of this idea. I'm waking up and smelling the aroma of God's promise--He has agreed to meet me! He has agreed to be found--but it requires all of me, and I sense the place where that begins is from this day forward--my 30th birthday. And so for the next 90 days, my strength and mind and heart and soul will pour over God's very thoughts and words, thus launching my quest to find out more of who He is and what He's all about. I don't want to be the 1 talent guy, stuck stuttering and trembling in fear of failure. And I certainly don't want to be some hybrid talent guy who did a few things well but was capable of so much more.

God, make me your vessel. I'm asking for faith and discipline on this journey as I embark to find you. It's not that you've been hiding; I've just been choosing to sit in time-out. I beg you to reveal to me a purpose for my life that I can't imagine, though I might try to guess and piece it together on my own. You guide me, and give me the wisdom as I lead my family closer to you, and as we remain faithful to your calling. And Lord, if the conviction you've placed on my heart resonates with another, then I pray for your Spirit to move in a mighty and mysterious way. If not this idea of a 90-day feast, then may it be another innovation of restoration for their soul--at the end of the day we just want to know you more. Thank you for your holiness, your presence, and your grace in our lives. I'm coming back to the heart of my life's worship--I'm coming back to you. Thanks for waiting and not giving up on me.

Monday, February 4, 2008

10 Things I think

Okay friends, so even with my being absent in Duluth, Minnesota (good times-good people-Great God), I have still managed to create a list. I mean, with 3 different plane rides there and back (that's 6 total for all you accountants out there), I had plenty of time to think about a variety of things. So here goes, and thanks in advance for the love and visits. Peace.

10 Things I Think...

1) The Self-Checkout machines @ grocery stores can be a frustrating thing. Ya know, I like the concept and idea, but somewhere between the sensors and the scanning lies a world of "please wait for cashier assistance." Translation = I should of just gone through the regular line, waited a few extra moments (which ends up being the same amount of time anyway), and chuckled up some good conversation with the workers. There's my future plan, people.

2) After 40 pages of his writings, Barack Obama means radical, authentic business. I'm currently reading The Authenticity of Hope, and I'll be honest--it's clever. Okay, so I've grown up with this whole idea of Christians voting Republican by default, and I'm not really sure what all that means except for the abortion issue. Yes, JFK had his character flaws and personal issues, but at his core was a man driven for social action, innovation, and change. At his core, he was a leader--the kind you want to follow regardless of imperfections. Hey, Obama has 2 daughters (6 & 9), and is still trying to figure out all the purpose and meaning of life and such. But he loves God, his family, and articulates intelligence with the kind of authenticity that I gravitate toward--think Donald Miller as a politcal leader. I am intrigued.

3) Sometimes you can be so hungry, even the sauce on the Taco Bell wrapper is worth licking. So, I was in the airport in Dallas Friday and witnessed a fella do this. Like, he actually finished his taco, pulled the wrapper up to his face, and licked the excess sauce. It was odd, embarassing, and I'd never like to see it again.

4) I hope all of you watched out for double-dippers @ your Super Bowl parties. I was watching the short news clip about how thousands of bacteria can be transferred when someone double-dips and contaminates the whole bowl. They said you might as well look around the room and smooth every single person in there. Yummy.

5) Eli Manning = making the most of the Big Stage.

6) If each of us made a vow to boycott Reality TV of ANY kind, the Networks would have choice but to end the Writer's Strike. I realize that this might require a lot from some of you, being that you have an addiction to some shows with an island and immunity challenges, or even that one show that Isfsf consider glorified karyoke. Hey, but wouldn't ya rather be watching Michael Scott and the Scranton Branch?

7)I'm starting to think tha Oprah might have more purpose towards the good of humanity and the Christian mission than Joel Osteen. You are entitled to disagree here, but the fact remains that my limited scope of TV viewing seems to always display Oprah donating/helping/changing some kind of rotten situation or opressed people, and the Osteens via Lakewood Church celebrate God and themselves at the same time. I could be wrong, and I appreciate that brother Joel has given people perspective in the name of Jesus, but I see more action from the lady with white leather couches and fancy studio. Last I checked, faith without works is dead, and proclamations without action is something Jesus could care less for.

8) When my daughter sings a Sunday School Song, I could just listen forever. It doesn't matter if it's about the wise man & the rock or a little light of hers or even kum-by-yah. It's precious and priceless.

9) If you'd like to read a book about maintaining your character, check out Deadly Character Assassins. It's short, clever, not preachy or extremely religious, and bases the entire discussion around Kung Fu and Ninjas. Oh yes, that's what I said.

10) LOST Season 4 is off to a solid start--more fantab-u-lous adventure ahead.

Friday, January 25, 2008

10 Things I Think...

I was browsing around on http://www.si.com/ awhile back, and I noticed that nearly every week a very renowned sports reporter named Peter King does this thing where he lists 10 things he thinks about sports and what's going on in that world. I thought that was pretty cool, and I'd like to adapt that for my own unique mind, and share with you 10 Things I think, and understand...it's not going to be limited to sports only. In fact, it won't even be close. Oh, and I'm making it my goal to post 1 of these lists a week along with 1 normal muse about life and faith. Cool beans...hope ya like it. And if you don't...bah. It's not your 10 thoughts--create your own.
10 Things I Think...
1) The movie Atonement is completely overrated. Yes, there's cool camera shots, beautiful people, and pretty accents, but it didn't do it for me. Like, all I walked away with is don't be a deranged, obsessive-compulsive little child who imagines up fairy tales with your crush in them. Come on, there's better uses of my time out there.
2) You should check out "To know your name" by Hillsong. In a word: unreal. This group just has God flowing through them when they create these ballads of praise which just capture my expression of worship and devotion to Jesus. Listen to the lyrics--simple, but clever.
3) I'm worried this extreme cold-weather might somehow be related to a sliver of Gore's theories on the planet. Okay, so even if his numbers were skewed, he still might be on the right path. Hang in there, polar bears.
4) There's nothing like a well-timed flatulation. And understand, it doesn't have to be from me. Actually, the one I referring to occurred in the 3rd-4th-5th grade class I'm now teaching on Wednesday nights. I had just opened up to this text in Romans, and we're all in a circle with our heads bowed, ready to pour over God's word, and then...squirt. And them some chuckles. And there's really nothing you can do about it except acknowledge the slippage and move on. I suppose if it odor was a horrible determent, you could grab air freshener.
5) I'd like to Eli Manning to achieve something Peyton hasn't. Ya know, it seems to me that it's harder to be the younger brother of a famous successful older bro, and here Eli is at a younger age than Peyton was playing in the Big Game. I'm not sure I'm rooting for any team, but more just a good game--in my book, either outcome makes a good story because I really can't stand the giraffe-necked QB of the Colts.
6) That ultrasound wand-stick-thing is mighty cool if you think about it.
7) Heath Ledger blew it. Whatever the reasons for his death, it still frustrates me. No, he's not perfect, and I hurt for his family and friends. Yet, there's this part of me that gets irritated when a young celebrity fails to realize his/her place of influence within their generation--they'd rather play roulette with substances and night-life and just do whatever the heck they please. It seems like this happens every couple years, ya know? I'll miss not seeing him grow old on the silver screen--and it's gonna be weird watching any of movies from here on out.
8) I need to learn more about this new tax return thing--$$$$ for you and me??
9) I also need prayers to not be angry, competitive, or condescending with my future son. I'd like to aim at being a daddy he loves, respects, and wants to be like.
10) LOST Season 4 will completely recapture the Worldwide BUZZ that it had in the early ventures of Season 1. Mark my words, friends...it's gonna happen.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Hasta La Vista, baby...

So, my friends, before you read on let me begin by saying thanks. Thanks for taking just a few moments to let your eyes glaze over these letters, words, and sentences that I have somehow shaped into thoughts and insights. I don't quite know why you choose to keep pace with my randomness (it's a like running a marathon or anything difficult), but I am so honored you take a few moments to check in on me in the digital world. I'll have you know I'm doing well, and that God has blessed my life in numerous areas, and I suppose the whole reason for this blog thing is to record my continual awe & wonder at how He's living and active in the world all around us.

So, with that being said, let's move on, my friends.

I am ready to commit to a new TV show--call it boredom @ the Writer's Strike, call it giving a bizarre over-rated movie franchise a chance, whatever...but the Sarah Connor Chronicles on Fox seems kind of intriguing. Like, it looks like it's trying for the edge of the early 24 Seasons, and that's saying something. And so I got to thinking about this whole idea of The Terminator & what God is doing in my life right now.

Carly and I have been called by God to serve Him in Children's Ministry. There, I just came right out and said it, for those of you reading this who haven't heard yet. And understand that it's got nothing to do with being "done" with teens, or giving up on teens, or evening feeling like we're not effective in ministry with them anymore. No, it's more of God re-aligning us, re-positioning us where He wants us to be in this spiritual effort for the Kingdom.

Some people were praying for us today @ church, and I love some of the words/phrases that were used during their prayers to describe the situation and all our hearts at this time: "(Bartees)...are opening up their hearts & arms to even more people..." & "(youth group)...simply sharing the Bartees with others who need them right now..." Man, I'm digging all that. I'm loving the perspective, the honesty, and the sincere well-wishing right there from those prayers. It's always something to marvel at when people communicate love and appreciation and you feel it's not really as deserving or you simply don't see it coming. God must delight in blessing His children in those unique ways.

Back to Sarah & Jon Connor. (For those of you who've heard these words/analogy come from my lips in the last 24 hours, I apologize--although I do sense I can articulate even better what I wanted to say then.)

The whole concept of The Terminator movie franchise is this: in the future, there is war between machines and humans--and this pre-dates The Matrix Trilogy--and the humans are ultimately victorious because of their incredible leader, one Jon Connor. The machines are super clever, though, and devise a plan to alter time/history/the future by killing Jon Connor before he ever assumes the mantel of leadership. Thus they send a Terminator back in time to destroy Jon Connor's very existence by killing his mother (the original), then Jon as a teen (T2), and then as an up-and-coming leader (rise of the machines).

However, the humans are just as clever, if not more brilliant. They, too, send someone back in time to defend Jon Connor and protect his life from the shiny-steel assassins. And I guess that's the cool part about the whole plot. We never get to see what Jon Connor ultimately does in the future in the war with the machines, but we are drawn into this story of protection, justice, sacrifice, and hope. It's a story that parallels with my own.

You see, the Enemy is stepping up his game with every passing day. The things that were once considered to be adult, college, or even teenage struggles are now being presented to little children on a silver platter. And let me tell you, it's disturbing that some kiddos out there are gobbling it up. You know, the classic temptations we hate such as alcohol, sex, violence, the Internet, drugs, and addicting behaviors are beginning to plague our children @ church and school. And so I see Satan changing up his strategy--he's going back to the early stages of a person's life, where they can first begin to make choices, and he's trying to eliminate what is sacred. He's to destroy what is beautiful and precious...he's trying to crush hope.

And here is where I find God's call. I am convinced at my core that He desires my best efforts in ministry to meet Satan at the very spot of his attack--at the kid world. I believe God would have me defend combat the Enemy, defend His sacred, precious, and beautiful children, all the while showing them how incredibly HUGE His love for each of them is. Even though I don't understand all of what that will look like right now, I am ready for the sacrifices that God may want to ask of me.

So, I'd like to ask for your prayers. Prayers because we need them as we launch into a new ministry adventure. Prayers because it's very sad & bittersweet to really fully leave youth ministry--I mean, it's all we've ever known...it's what we do...we absolutely have loved the relationships, experiences, and memories that the teens & their families have provided us. We feel incredibly blessed for the time we've served with students, and are excited about what the future holds for our ministry, and the Kingdom in general. And, as far as this blogging thing goes, well...to quote the man himself,

"I'll be back."

Friday, January 11, 2008

Belief

I've been watching a lot of random TV lately...and by that I don't mean any new shows, just more strange and bizarre television events. Somewhere between the New Hampshire debates, the Roger Clemens circus, and Hannah Montana, I find myself processing something very new.

We have a hard time believing in anything or anyone anymore.

And ya know, part of it is related to some cultural & age differences between the generations. For instance, people my parents age might be more inclined to extend the benefit of the doubt more generously with athletes, politicians, and celebrities. There was a time when you could take someone at their word, and it was more than Coosh's dad saying, "My word is stronger than oak." (if you're in the dark, see Jerry McGuire on TBS just as soon as ya can)

Nowadays folks don't buy it. The words that come out of people's mouths in front of cameras, microphones, or in print often dissolve like cotton candy in the hands of a child. And as someone who is just trying to keep up with all the promises, the "he said-she said" stuff, and the sacred truth, I find myself very discouraged and filled with a growing cynicism.

Let's face it--we've become a bunch of hungry sharks who race miles across the ocean of decency and morality to FEAST when we smell blood in the water. We just seem to gravitate towards the saucy, we seem mesmerized by the violations and mistakes of others, and we are more than happy to pronunce social sentencing of a person in our hearts, minds, and sphere of influence.

Lately I am wrestling with the profound thought that how in the heck are people supposed to believe in Jesus, how can they take him at His word in a world where the audience doesn't sit with open ears and open hearts to listen as much as they stand behind the flag of skepticism and disbelief...it's like their thinking, "All you can hope to accomplish with me is to change my mind, and you better understand that the odds are not in your favor. I've been burned too many times but false hopes, false promises. Talk is cheap, my friend, and I'll have you know right now, I'm probably not buying."

I don't know whether Roger Clemens used steroids or not. I don't care. That's on his integrity, that's a place for he and God to be honest, not me. I don't know about politicians. Some of them, even with their best intentions/plans/speeches just come off so shaped, forced, and un-geniune. I'd like to believe Barack Obama. I'd like to believe in a change of more than words, but deeds of good and service for others (particularly the poor). Who knows what the future holds with this. And good grief--can we just let Britney recover in peace? It's nobodies place to know, care, or video her coming apart @ the seems. Let's have some decency.

I do know this...I believe in God the Father, Almighty Maker of Heaven, and the Maker of Earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, our Lord.

Jesus is not standing in front of any mics or cameras today, or at the source of such controversy that the paparazzi is hounding Him...but His words pierce my heart. His lifestyle captures my attention. His intentionality with hope for all people captivates me at my core. I will follow that. I will believe Him at His every word, no matter my cynicism or doubt.

I love you, Lord.