Sunday, April 25, 2010

Drive-by Nuns (and the Lizardman)

Okay, so it all started out with a simple joke. I drew some parallel between nuns and penguins. Just an innocent joke. I thought it was funny. I got a few e-mails from a group of angry nuns. I was thinking, what could they possibly do? They're nuns, right? So I posted another joke. A drunk guy walks out of a bar and sees a nun on the sidewalk near the bar. He walks up and punches her out cold. He looks down, points his finger at her, and says, "Not so tough now, are ya Batman?" Now THAT's funny. Or so I thought.

What began as an innocent joke turned into a life of terror for me. The first shot was a warning. I was on my way to Walmart. I'm walking through the parking lot, and there they were - drive-by nuns. It was terrifying! Being that they were in those nun garments - those ninja warriors of the cloth - I figured they surely couldn't outrun me. I ran through Walmart, and I was pretty sure I lost them. Sure enough, no trace of nuns anywhere. I headed back to my car, and I was fumbling for my keys. There they were, popped outta nowhere with brooms in hand. Ever get pelted by a group of nuns? It just ain't good. When I came to, I filed a report with the Federal Bureau of Investigations (or NBA for short), and apparently this is a group called Nuns With Guns. So I guess I'm lucky to be alive, but I wanted to make a retraction right here, officially: nuns are not penguins. Okay, I said it. Now please stop the beatings, ladies. I said my hail Mary's. No more nun jokes. Nun. I mean, none. I promise.

With that out of the way, they say truth is often stranger than fiction. They also say that fiction is even more strangerer. In the South (of course), there is a lot of talk going on about some sinister thing called the Lizardman. Not to be confused with that tatooed guy at Ozzfest. I first read about this creature in a very reliable magazine - The National Enquirer. Right by the Wolfbaby, there it was, an article about this Lizardman. Apparently some girl was pregnant with the Lizardman's baby. (I also had no idea that NASA was using jackelopes to pilot the space shuttles. Who knew? But that would be better for another blog.)

Well, if that wasn't trustworthy enough, another girl showed up on the Jerry Springer show making a similar claim. (If it's on TV, it's gotta be FACT, right?) So apparently, this is becoming a problem, and the NBA is powerless to do anything about it. I'm wondering how much back child support this guy owes, 'cause apparently this kind of thing has been going on for a while. (Or maybe he made a nun joke and was forced into hiding. Who knows?) But the ladies apparently love him.

In the meantime, being that it was on TV and all, I suspect that some Darwinist will see the episode and the Lizardman will be entered into school textbooks probably as the missing link. (Darwinists don't need proof or facts - they are way too smart for that.) And Lord knows, once something makes it into a textbook, it is absolute truth, even if it conflicts with scientific fact. This is America. We're WAY too smart to question stuff, especially when it's all laid out for us. Just sayin'. So if you happen to find your kid running home from school asking questions about the Lizardman, you heard it here first. Lock your doors. Wear your lizardman repellent. Be safe. And good night!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Surviving the Obamanation

A lot of people are complaining these days about Obama's policies. Granted, he is a horrible mathematician and "strategerist" (in the words of George W. Bush, an equally messed up whack job), but I think Americans are missing the bigger picture. This is an opportunity to become a more resourceful nation. A "more smarter" nation, right, GW?
Necessity is the mother of invention, they say. When I was younger (and stupid), I used to look for ways to save a little cash. Much like the thinking of the average liberal, I would think, "Who needs to spend money on condiments? Especially when you have your local Ronald McBurger joint right down the road". Now the drive-thru trick is obselete (ie. asking through the drive-thru without purchasing), so now you walk in and say something like, "Um. I need catsup. Uh, like 37 packs." (Works the same way with mustard.) Toilet paper? Wouldn't be right to take that. It costs them money. But when I was younger, I would go in and shove a toilet paper roll under my shirt. McBurger places generally have a team of experts (probably former FBI agents who were forced out of jobs due to budget cutbacks). So when walking out of the bathroom, and one of them looked at me strangely with this cylinder shaped object under my shirt, I would simply laugh and say, "Goiter. Thyroid deficiency. Wanna see?" They would wave me on. But these days, we know this to be bad news, so we don't do this kind of thing anymore, do we? Answer? No.

Recently, my car was getting broken into (probably due to bad karma from the McBurger years). I'm not saying I kept it in bad shape, but people would break in and actually leave money. One person even left a note that read: "Here's $20 to get you started on a car vac." After a while, you realize you need one of those Viper car alarms, but who has the money these days? What I do now is park, turn off the car, and strategically hit the horn once every second. Then I get out and yell, "Stupid car alarm!!" It seems to work. And free of charge! [Note: My original Viper alarm system was a rubber snake that I bought at Walmart, but they caught onto that trick pretty fast.]

Guys, looking for cheaper ways to meet women? One method is to get pulled and act like you're drunk (note: you have to make sure it is a female officer first). While you're sitting in jail, you look at the female arresting officer and whammo! A perfect opportunity to chat. [Note: this is becoming increasingly ineffective, as many modern female officers may also share your enthusiasm toward women. Fail!] Another method is stupid human tricks. You never know when that ambulance driver will be a woman, and now's your chance. Talk away!! (Or until you are sedated. That tends to happen a lot. Or at least in my case.)

Ever stand in a group, and you're the only one in the group without one of those "touch phones"? What I do is take out my flip phone and stand where they can't see the screen, and I'll just touch away. If someone says, "What are you doing?" I just turn where they can't see, and say, "Excuse me, please. This is private." And speaking of cell phones, let me settle the debate. It is not dangerous to text while driving. People just need to move their mailboxes in their yards another 3 feet, is all.

Well, in being all hi-tech, I decided to write this on my laptop in the car. I am currently at a rest stop. As I'm writing this tonight, I can see a guy standing by the bathroom, and he looks curiously like George Michael. I reeeally had to use the facilities... but I think I'll wait. To bring some encouragement, we only have 2 more years to deal with the Obamanation, and then we'll get another crazy whack job just like him. Things to look forward to. If I come up with some more money-saving tips, I'll try to pass those on as well. In the meantime, good night!!

[Surgeon general's warning: kids, don't try any of this at home. This guy is clearly out of his mind.]

Monday, April 12, 2010

My dream interview with Charles Darwin

My Dream Interview with Charles Darwin. It goes like this: me and Charles Darwin are sitting there, having lunch and conversing about stuff. (I know he's dead, but this is more like a dream of mine.) I ask him, "So Charley, I have a million questions for you. The first one is about what you said concerning the idea of 'purpose'. You said there was no purpose, and that we were merely an accident in nature. If that is the case, then our past is actually insignificant, really. With that in mind, why are you so dead set on exploring a past that has no meaning or worth to humanity?" He looks at me, scratches his head and says, "I dunno. Bored, I guess." I say, "Ah. Okay" That is fair. "So Charley, what about the Cambrian discovery, which shows man and prehistoric creatures being in the same layers of rock? And recent studies in actual science that show life kind of began rapidly appearing, versus mutation or billions of years of evolutionary processes?" He looks confused. "The Cambrian what?" I say, "The Cambrian 'explosion'. That's what science calls it. I have another question for you, just because I'm curious. You said that if we truly did come from unintelligent, natural forces, then there was no basis for higher morals or notions of good and evil or even a consciousness at all. So there is no consciousness? And if so, how do you know there is no consciousness, without having the consciousness to make that assumption?" He looks puzzled, "Umm.. it just is. And no, there is no good or evil." Our waitress walks up and brings us our meals, and she forgets the A-1 sauce. Charley asks her if she can bring some back, and she gives him a mean glare, before walking off. She is apparently irritated at us. Charley says, "Man, she's evil!" I look at him and say, "You just said there was no good or evil." He replies, "Well, okay she is evil, but nothing else is." Because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, I ask him another question, "So Charley, Creation Scientists and true Atheists alike know that your the core of your theories don't really hold up under the microscope of scientific absolute. They actually fall apart. Why then, do they insist on teaching this stuff in schools as more of a fact?" He holds up his fingers like a gangster rapper and says, "I guess they got played, sucka." That was actually impressive. He did that well. For a second there, I thought he may have been Vanilla Ice.

Now allow me to pause for a second to address the out-moded school of Darwinist naturalism for a quick second. IF we are solely the product of random matter acting upon itself, and IF math doesn't work, and IF somehow all the data that piles against the close-mindedness of naturalism itself is rendered useless, and IF... etc., etc., then it is also true that consciousness does not exist (unless one subscribes to a religion called panpsychism - the idea that consciousness is in matter already, which is funny when I think of a rock or dirt or stars having consciousness. It's made out of the matter, right? That would be a belief with no scientific data to back it, and it would fall into a religion catagory. So Darwinist evolutionists, pick a lane. You are either religious people or not. Can't have it both ways). But IF consciousness does not exist, then there is no right and wrong, no good or evil (so Hitler was not evil? Say what?!?), no love or hate, or anything which exists outside of matter. There would also be no rational explanation in seeking out our origin, because we would, after all, be a mere 'fluke' of nature. And the very consciousness to be aware of this fact would not even exist. Yet the Darwinist is obsessed with his origins and seeking reason where he/she says there is none. Sounds like a mental illness of sorts. With that in mind, Darwinists, you are here-by dismissed from this conversation. Love ya. You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here. Note: the scientific community relies solely on facts, not religious speculation, so you probably don't want to hide there either. My advice would be to erect a church or something, and just have regular meetings. Who knows? Maybe you can write it off on your taxes. ;)

To return to my previous conversation with Charles Darwin. So me and Charley are sitting there, and I have to let him know, "Did you know that the tooth from the supposed 'Tennessee man' was actually a pig's tooth? But in spite of it being found a fraud in later years, it won a court battle, and that was the leverage which allowed naturalism to be introduced into schools. Crazy, huh? But my last question, 'If monkeys evolved into modern man, why are there still monkeys?'" He scratched his head again and started to chuckle. "Monkeys are funny," he said. "I really like those Curious George books." I respond back, "Yeah, remember the one where he...?" We both start laughing. Monkeys are pretty funny, indeed.
[The end.]

Broken glasses

In the church community, often there is an out-moded way of thinking. Much like the Darwinist, it looks only on the surface and closes its mind to what is really going on. It results in a limited perspective. Broken glasses, if you will. To jump right in, in the bible, there are all sorts of prophesies that are not able to be questioned away. Many criticize Nostradamus for being too vague (ie. his predictions could've gone in a million different directions or meant a million different things). In contrast, the biblical prophesies were not only recorded by historians, they also came true. And they were very clear and precise. And yet the very religious people of the day who held these prophesies to be true were not able to accept them when the prophesies themselves came to pass. In those days, life was tough and hard. So these religious leaders were looking for a leader who fit into what their limited perspective. They were looking for a leader to come with a sword and change the world through violence and hard ways, because they were hard people. And very limited. They wore broken glasses.

What did they get? Jesus Christ. A leader who was gentle and meek and humble. The religious leaders did not fit any of these traits, and as a result, many of them could not accept him. They were looking for someone to confirm their self-righteousness, and instead this Jesus called them out on the floor about it. Jesus loved everybody. The lowest of the low. The weak, the blind, the hurting, the crippled, and the 'not good enough'. He didn't get along well with those pious religious leaders, though, that's for sure. He didn't fit into their 'boxes'. And they crucified Him. Jesus also apparently didn't like death so much. He came back. That probably didn't sit so well with the religious leaders either. And for those who didn't witness it, there were Jesus' disciples, who were willing to undergo the worst tortures and deaths imaginable rather than denounce His deity and what they witnessed with their own eyes. That's either devotion to the greatest lie (and who would under-go such torture for a lie? Who would be tortured and killed for a lie? Not me. Not you)... or one has to believe it was true.

But to return to the subject at hand, the religious people in Jesus' day had a limited perspective, and it affected the greater good. In much the same way, there is a perspective today that hinders many followers of Christ. Our perspective of what Jesus said when he spoke of the Kingdom of God. You see it all around. People in traffic, cutting off drivers and flipping 'half peace signs' at them, all while bearing their Jesus fish bumper stickers. People go to their churches with their big, gaudy feathered hats, all while looking down on the visitor who doesn't look like them. Broken glasses. Other church people are so obsessed with the 'doom' that government is going to wreak into their lives that they forget that they are a child of the God that made the universe. (I call these Fox news Christians. It's a cute nickname.) Others have an "us and them" attitude with non-believers, as if somehow (because of grace) we have become much greater than these other people. Jesus spoke strongly and adamantly against these kinds of attitudes in the Gospels.

When Jesus spoke about the Kingdom of God, people often see it as some far off place. A destination. The bible points to an afterlife, but Jesus clearly was referencing the Kingdom of God as a heart state that begins here and now. Right where we are. We are called to restore our world. To make it a place of hope. To make it a place where God Himself would want to dwell in. The problem, then, is a limited perspective. We often think of the Kingdom of God as something presently not connected with us. Something that will be, but is not here presently. In looking at it in this limited perspective, we are very similar to the Pharisees and religious leaders who tried to fit things into their perspective instead of God's perspective. In doing so, we'll always fall short of the mark. And not seeing the Kingdom of God as a heart state rather than a place far off often leaves us feeling disconnected and 'stuck here' in a fallen world, in a sense. Broken glasses. Limited perspective. The Kingdom of God is eternal, and it is alive and in us from the moment we received Christ in our lives. Eternity and all that we know about it begins now.

During His ministry, someone asked Him, "'Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?' Jesus replied:
'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself'." (Matthew 22:36-39 NIV) So that becomes our point of focus as believers. Not if so-and-so does such and such. Not if so-and-so looks like us or talks like us or acts like us. We are to love God and love people. Period. What does that love look like? I would suggest looking it up in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13. It kinda lays it out right there. Imagine what the world would look like if Christians stopped being comfortable and actually started to love God without condition. They would probably begin to want what He wants. Imagine if people started to really love and care about people like God does. It would change our world!

After His resurrection, Jesus gave his followers what is called the Great Commission: "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation." (Mark 16:15 NIV) It's easy to spot those who aren't doing this. Recently, there is this big ordeal with Westboro Baptist Church, who is clearly going against the very things Jesus spoke about. It's easy to criticize them for picketting funerals and schools and spreading a message of hate. They are wearing broken glasses. But to raise a question as believers, those called to be the light in a dark world: are we doing any better? Are we really? Are we following the Greatest Commandment? Are we serving God to our full capacity, or are we more in love with our comfort and our pleasures in life? Are we spreading the Good News? Or are we too obsessed with Fox news? These are things we need to ask ourselves and check ourselves on daily. And I pray that the Church - the body of Christ - will begin to embrace this. It starts with you, and it starts with me. God bless!!

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Benzyl salicylate. Butylphenyl. Anybody know what that stuff is? Aqua/water. What is 'aqua water'? Maybe it's really wet water. Hm. Limonene. I probably wouldn't drink THAT on a hot summer day. Nor would I put Hexyl Cinnamal in my applesauce. Polyquaternium 16. Wonder if this is what pharmacists do. "Hm. Geraniol. Don't know what THAT is. Let's add that into this guy's prescription. Might be interesting." Might explain why people are so many pill-poppers are so sick all the time. Hm. Triethanolamine. Panthenol. Nope. I don't know what any of this stuff is. But I put it in my hair. Crazy. Who would've thought it? No, these aren't the ingredients in your McBurger. Not even. This is what goes into hair gel.

Ladies, make no mistake about it. Guys are funny about their hair. The rule used to be this: at age 13 you pick a hair style, and it basically never changes... well, except for the comb-over that some guys do when it starts falling out. I'll save that topic for another time. But yeah, that was pretty much it. And yet humidity doesn't seem to care that you are headed out on a first date with little Miss Amazingness. Humidity strikes without warning. "Poof! I'm here!! Muahahahahah!!" The silent killer of a good first impression. In past years, the occasional suggestion was made by women, of course, to 'maybe use a little gel'. Not me, I don't use 'foo foo' products. Not doing it. And one would look at my hair and go, "Yeah, obviously." It was just bad.

My ex-wife finally won that battle years ago, and I caved in and used gel for the first time. I didn't know what to do with it, and when my hair formed crazy shapes, I was acting like a woman who had been startled by a spider. "Get it off of me! Get it off!! Aaa!!" That was me. But I settled in, held to my guns, and soon hair gel became part of my everyday existence. These days, I am somewhat of a pro with my 'hair glue', as I sometimes call it. That, or 'hair goop'. But I can go outside in the middle of a heatwave. Chickens are falling out of the sky - already fried! (Hey, I know chickens don't fly. But this is MY story. Just play along.) The sun is a blistering 300ºF, and my hair is in the same shape as before I walked outside. Hurricane? I can stand in the middle of a hurricane. Trees are being hurled though the air. Look out for that flying cow! My hair? Still in the same shape. So apparently women are onto something here. This hair gel stuff works! It is a part of my life, and I no longer have to question it.

In much the same way, I never saw myself ever becoming a 'man of faith'. Not me. Nuh uh. 'That is for weak-minded people', I would say. I hated the very idea of something that might prohibit my fun. My life. My happiness. My freedom of choice. And in hindsight, like my hair, my life was pretty much reflective of the fact that I was doing things my way. In a word: chaos. Everywhere. All around. Drama surrounded me. There was always drama. I ignored the 'surgeon general's warnings', and embarked on a life of MY design. Like everyone else does. But sadly, I didn't create myself, and that is a detail some kind of tend to forget. Mankind is an arrogant creature. At times he/she is a little more like an ant trying to control an elephant. Like a 3 year old child who has no need for his parents' supervision. Mankind just has to be 'in control'. C.S. Lewis (author of "The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe") wrote:

"The moment you have a self at all, there is the possibility of putting yourself first - wanting to be the center - wanting to be God, in fact." He goes onto say our ancestors had "the idea that they could 'be like gods' - could set up on their own as if they had created themselves - be their own masters - invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside of God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt as come nearly all that we call human history - money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery - the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy." (excerpt. CS Lewis 'Mere Christianity'. p.49)

Sadly, the story - man's story - continues on to this day. It is not 'everyone else'. It's you, and it's me. It's the person on the social site that continually posts drama. They are the first to point the finger at others who do the same, but in truth, it's them that keeps a hefty sack of drama with them at all times. It's the person whose drinking is getting out of hand, to the point they are risking a DUI. Or by roulette chance, possibly killing another in a drunk driving accident. It's the person who just isn't happy. They say they're happy, but not really. No matter what they are after (job, relationship, etc.), it just doesn't seem to fulfill. It's the girl who just knows if she finds Mr. Right, then she'll be happy - as if it's fair for him to carry the full burden of that responsibility on his shoulders alone. It's the greedy corporate guy, and it's the minimum wage or middle class person. It affects us all. It's the restless soul, wandering, looking, and never finding.

And somehow, if there is to be love, there has to be freewill. Without freewill, love is not possible. Without freewill and choice, there is only automation. So God gives us a choice. That is one thing He has to do in order for love to truly exist. What we do with that choice affects us in the afterlife, but also in the day to day. And sadly, so many people choose to push Him out of the scenareo and live for themselves. Their way. And what is wrong with the world continues on.

I think of the hair gel, that keeps things in order. It thwarts the 'chaos' in a sense. I also think about God's truth. It is so much like 'hair gel for the heart' and the soul itself. When the harshness of life comes, God's truth is sustained and solid and in place. For the non-believer, or the part-timer, it is something of a bother. "I'll look into it later." It is something that maybe they would just not rather think about. God sustains their next breath, and their response is, "Thanks for sustaining my life, God. But frankly, I'm too busy for you" or "Thanks, but I'd rather do things totally my way. Meanwhile, if you don't mind, how about keeping me alive? And I will occasionally get in trouble and need you to bail me out. But I'm way too busy for you." Choas. For the Christian, it is like, "Yeah, I know you are the God of miracles, the God of the impossible, but I would rather worry or control things my way." And chaos ensues.

As for me, I am rooting for the people God puts in my life - both my Christian brothers and sisters, and those who will one day come to the truth of God and to the love He has to offer. To my Christian friends, just a reminder that whatever it is that you are holding onto... whatever it is that is causing the chaos - just let it go. "Let go and let God'. (This serves to be a reminder to me as well.) And to my friends who are coming to this knowledge (or not yet), may you find this truth. To quote the band The Afters: "someday you'll come around". I'm rooting for all of you and myself, as we walk side by side... and come to make the world a place worthy of heaven to touch down on. God bless!!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

"An Internet Love Story"

Normally, Fridays pass so quickly, but today it seemed to last forever. Alas! Work was finally over!! I rushed home through the traffic with a sense of anticipation, for tonight was to be the big night. Oh yes!! She and I were going to meet in person! The big day! I pulled in the driveway, quickly paced up the steps, and hopped on my computer. I opened my e-mail, and there it was. The big invitation. I was so excited. Her name was Frenchie, and based on the picture and the info she sent me, she was perfect. Almost too perfect, I had thought. 5' 6, shapely figure, gorgeous dark brown eyes, and mysterious dark hair. It perfectly matched what I had described on the match site. From what she had said in our many conversations, she was: 1) a model, 2) a scientist, and 3) a radiologist. I didn't know how someone who was so brilliant and multi-talented came across my path, but here she was. She gave me directions to her summer cottage. I hopped in the shower and quickly headed her way.

In about 20 minutes, I was almost there. I followed the directions and turned down the bumpy dirt road until I noticed a trailer at the end. The address matched the address she had given me, so I walked on up. As I approached the door, there was a sign that read, "Come in, but don't steal anything." I tapped on the door and in I went.

As I entered the mobile home, I was taken by the decor. The way she managed to match the curtains with the stuffed moose head above the mantle was utterly amazing. Brilliant! "Hello?" I said. A voice came from down the hallway, "Make yourself at home!" Her voice was much deeper than I had imagined, and she had what sounded like an Amish or Danish accent. [Note: for those in question, the Amish are a group of people from up North, with funny suits and goatees. Kinda like grunge musicians at the MTV music awards. A Danish is something you eat, or something like that. With me so far? Okay.]

She finally made her way down the hall. She looked, uh, slightly different from the picture she had sent. Pretty much in every way. Her blonde hair looked nothing like the brunette picture she had sent me, but with those noticeable chin hairs she had, I knew she would do well working in any fine American cafeteria. Her unibrow drew immediate attention to her lovely green eyes. You just knew this would be that special girl you'd want to stand behind while in the mosh pit at a heavy metal concert. I wouldn't say she was cross-eyed, but when she cried (later that night), the tears rolled down her back. The doctors called her condition 'backtearia'. "By the way, my name is Olga," she said. Ah.

She had prepared an amazing dinner, complete with baked possum meatloaf covered with Corn Flakes. After dinner, we had a wonderful conversation about our passions and where we were heading in life. But it finally occured to me that she and I might not be meant for each other. After all, I wanted to pursue writing and psychology, and she wanted to wrestle alligators one day. So we knew it was not meant to be. Sadly, I turned to head down to my car, and I heard her say, "Wait!" I turned to face her. "Here. Meatloaf for the road," she said, handing me a Tupperware container covered in aluminum foil.

To this day, sometimes while watching Olympic gator-wrestling on C-span, my wondering thoughts will return to my beloved Olga. Or was that Frenchie? Who knows?

[Note: there were no animals harmed in the making of this story... unless you count the possum, but they aren't exactly the most gifted of God's creatures. And they're about as useless as scented toilet paper.]

[La fin.]

I wrote this back in the early 90's, after only a couple hours of sleep. I decided to repost it (revising very little of it) in hopes of sharing some humor. And because some people tend to personalize things or take it upon themselves to find a reason to NOT LAUGH, let me say, this was in no way intended to hurt anyone, nor is it directed at anyone. So just suck it up and laugh a little. ;)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Landsharks, umpires, & other common fears

I was listening to some people talking back and forth about their sports teams. They seemed to be battling each other, which is odd behavior to me. Kinda like canned insanity, I suppose. I mean, I am no expert, but I can hold my own with a football bat just like the next guy. And then someone mentioned a topic that sent shivers down my spine. He mentioned that an umpire struck his friend out. He said it as though it was no big deal. I was amazed. They're real?! Vampires are scary enough. At my church, we once tried to incorporate a vampire ministry. We'd meet early in the morning, but when they would leave to go home - poof!! They turned to dust. I try to be sensitive to various types of people and cultures, but seriously, there is nothing worse than the smell of burnt vampire in the morning. It's just not good. After that, you don't even want doughnuts.

But these umpires. Why is our government not doing something about them? They are so happy to just gloss over it like it isn't real, and deep down, we KNOW the truth! How do you spot one? Just look for its UMP. Right there on its back. Apparently, these umpires like to congregate around Walmarts late at night, because I saw an elderly one in there this past Monday. It was bad enough before, when I had to call the exterminator to get rid of my land vampire problem. They were all over. I was trying to put up a fence. I'd drive a stake in the ground and you'd hear this screaming sound, "Oooo!!!" That is just annoying. $232 later, they said the yard was free of land vampires.

But yeah... so back to this topic, lest I get side-tracked. Umpires. Something needs to be done about this. The one at Walmart walked so slow and it was just weird. As he placed his super Polydent on the little conveyor, I began to wonder, "Where does one go to get vampire/umpire dentures made? And would there be an extra charge for the sharp fangs?" They were all over Florida when I lived there. The daywalker types too. But I thought I'd never get out of there. And while in line to check out, I noticed this article:
Once again... do the concerns of a tax-payer hold any weight? Landsharks running amuck and no one is doing a thing. How many victims are we gonna have before we take this stuff seriously? I just don't know, but I can say this: Watch your backs! And wear your water wings.

And to all the people in my life that I hold so dear, have a great week!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Late night babbling sessions

It's late, and I have a million thoughts rolling around in my head. Unfortunately, I am one of those people who just can't stand to start something if I can't finish it, so I guess there will be some good stuff for another entry. I will say this past week, I learned some things. I'm always learning. Gotta be learning. What's the point of living if we are not growing and learning, right? That's my thoughts on it all. God spends the time to order everything so precisely, and His creation would much rather veg out in front of the TV (as I always say, "TV is the sugar to the enamel of the brain"), watching some American Idol karoake show or football or whatever else is on, rather than learning about and His infinite awesomeness. (When the knowledge of God and His love gets put into action, it has the power to change the world.) To each their own, I guess. Mediocrity is humanity's defining point. (Or maybe certain people truly aren't wired for certain things. Or maybe I am just being a little too hardball tonight.) As for me, I gotta be learning. Sleep might be nice too, but I get all these ideas at night. Everything just flows so smoothly.

The more I learn about God, the more I want to make this a better world for Him (and the people He loves) to inhabit. It doesn't matter if half (or more) of his creation is content to try to destroy it or burn it down (church people and non-church people alike). That has very little to do with my take on it. My task is to build it back up. This may seem irrational, depending on one's perspective, but it works for me.

Something else I am learning about God is that He intentionally takes imperfect people, like myself, and sprinkles the most beautiful souls around them. One may be content to call these people friends, but if you open your heart up enough, you may even come to call them family. I have a very large family, it turns out - people who love me in spite of my quirks and my unorthodox ways. People are always looking for God in science and man's limited intellectual capacity (when man can tell me exactly what gravity is, then I'll give him more credit - 'nuff said. Mankind, you just got 'dissed'), but God just doesn't fit in our boxes. I do know this, though. If you want to find God, and if you are too afraid to cry out to Him personally, you can find Him when you see love and unity. I am blessed to have a family that is both loving and united - in hearts and spirits and minds. And I am always learning more and more from them about how to love people like they love me. So that makes me a rich man.

Another thing I have learned is that there has got to be an evil power in the world that seeks to divide that unity. This past weekend, I experienced a weird circumstance that put me in odd feelings with some friends. It was an awkward situation right off the bat, but in the silence, divisive thoughts crept in my head. The bible says, "In you anger, do not sin." I was angry (more-so at the one who caused the whole thing, and rightfully so), but I clung to as much truth as I knew to cling to. I didn't try to be hurtful or 'return wrong for wrong'. As it turned out, there was a lot of misunderstanding on both sides. I was later pulled aside by two friends (who mean the world to me), and they talked to me, and I saw the full spectrum, and here we stand - united. Still. Like always. In spite of me forgiving them in my heart for how I originally felt (regardless of what had gone down - and I could now see it all), I still had to vent those feelings.

We've all felt hurt once or twice, and it is so easy to recall the emotions of years past when weird things happen. It's always easier to run away or to justify or cover something over, but who has the courage to stand and face it head-on? It is better to get those negative things out into the light and get rid of them, than to stuff them down inside. The bible makes another bold challenge: 'do not be controlled by your emotions.' The Christian life is one of freedom (if we allow it), where we don't have to live that way anymore. We have a choice. Hanging onto negative emotions only stands to make someone hard on the inside and possibly a bit jaded toward future things. And life will throw 'things' at us. Things that will shake our emotions. Emotions are funny things. They seem to stand apart from truth a LOT.

(Enter: the previous blog entry.) So I blogged. (What is a blog anyway? Is it a bloated frog? Who comes up with these geek names? Probably someone like me.) When all was said and done after blogging, I was approached by several people the next day who had been going through similar feelings in their own life experiences, and in reading it, a lot of healing came out of it. And then the two friends that I had felt so hurt by stepped up (unaware that I had been hurt - we joke around a LOT, so I could see their side very clearly) and there was all this mass healing. Me, them, and people who were not directly connected in circumstance, yet very connected emotionally. So another biblical idea presented itself: "And all things work for the good for those who love Him."

What is my response to it all? I'm blown away still by God's infinite mystery in using circumstances as a way of drawing hearts closer to Him. To those two friends in particular (and you will hopefully be reading this -after American Idol... okay, that was a joke - you know who you are), I am feeling so blessed to have you both in my life. Sometimes I wonder if I am even worthy to have such amazing friends in my life... but then again, are any of us worthy, in light of grace?

Good bless!!
- Joe

Saturday, April 3, 2010

5 Minutes of Silence

So I'm having the best Friday ever. The only thing on my agenda was going to hang out with some friends of mine from church at a local Mt. Pleasant eatery, and then we would all be heading down to see The Thorn. (For more, go to I highly recommend it. Amazing performance!!) This would be my first time seeing it, and I was kinda excited. I arrive at the restaurant, and we're all kinda packed in at the table. I am apparently the only single person in the group, other than a friend whose wife hasn't showed up yet. Nice to be that 'divorced guy/odd man out ', but I'm getting used to it. All these people in the group are professional jokesters, so I fit right in. One of the guys is showing off pictures of some organic soap that he found in his bathroom that either looks like hamburger... or something you'd find in a diaper. So that kicks off some funny conversation.

Enter: The angry, short-fused waiter

Our waiter arrives and he goes around the table, asking how the checks are to be split. Just to be funny, I put my arm around the other guy sitting beside me. (After all, I am the only single person in the bunch, and my humor is kinda out there.) I say, "We're together." And then I say, "No. Just kidding, it's not like that." The waiter storms off. Everybody has a puzzled look on their faces. Do we have a quirky waiter, or...? In a couple minutes he storms back with this miffed look on his face. He looks at me and says very bitterly, "I didn't appreciate that very much. I'm gay." [Insert the sound of crickets chirping.] Dead silence.... Just this glare.... Can you feel the love there? You can't? That's because it ain't there....

A million thoughts enter my mind. I felt like an idiot. In spite of his being WAY over-sensitive and taking it upon himself to include himself (and/or the gay community) as the butt of the joke, I suddenly become the guy who ruined his day. (Though he kinda had an attitude way before that. He looked like the kind of person who is looking to find a problem with the world. Apparently he created one, and I was catching the flack as a result.) Is he going to spit in my food? Should I leave? Oh boy! The entire mood at the table changes. There is just silence. Awkward silence. I have learned that when a person finds himself inadvertently in one of those situations (the kind that anyone could walk into - that awkward kind of situation), expect your friends to throw you to the wolves. Thanks guys! I won't say I felt totally abandoned, but let's just say if a group of angry Roman centurions were to have stormed the place, I didn't feel like this table had my back. No one looks me in the face. I have now become something worse than a murderer. I told a joke that was taken the wrong way. How DARE someone do such a thing! Nice. I am utterly humiliated. Althought it's clear what's really going on here, the waiter suddenly becomes the underdog, and I become the evil oppressor. Nice. I am getting the silent treatment. The waiter 'gains his composure' and he begins going around the table, asking everyone what they would like to order. No one says a word. 5 minutes of dead silence.... awkward dead silence....

The waiter leaves to place the orders. A couple of people who are aware of what was really going on are giving me that 'canned smile' expression, like "Whew! Better you than me." The guy sitting next to me says, "Man, that guy was seriously looking for a fight. He obviously has a chip on his shoulder." (He had my back. I would buy him a car right now if I had the extra income.) The couple I am actually the closest to are still giving me the silent treatment. When you open your heart to someone, it is that person who stands to make the greatest stab into your heart. I felt pushed out and a bit betrayed, in a sense. The outcast. And pretty angry about it. At that point, I am feeling like, "Ya know what? [insert non-spiritual 'sailor word' here], I'm leaving." But I toughed it out. And here we go again. 5 minutes of silence... awkward...

My thoughts were all over the place. Millions of thoughts going through my head, most of them angry ones. Later a few other friends joined the group, and the tension eased. Slightly. Through the course of my meal, which wasn't very appetizing at this point (perhaps from the suspicion of spit being one of the ingredients) or just because of this horrible scenareo I was in, I am just angry. I kept thinking, imagine if the scenareo were reversed. I am the straight waiter, and here is a gay man with his friend, a straight girl. I come to the table. The guy intentionally attempts a joke and puts his arm around the girl and (as if she's his wife) says, "Hey honey, I want to order the spinach pizza." And he very non-threateningly smiles at me to show me that he is just being funny. I am intelligent enough to see the humor in it. Of course, I tend to do that anyway. Life is funny anyway when you don't surround yourself with jerks who have a chip on their shoulder. Sheez! Mr. Angry Waiter guy - Mr. Horrible Service Professional Waiter guy - had taken it upon himself to create a problem where there was none... I came to have a good time, and it isn't happening. Hm. I could be back in Summerville in 30 minutes. But a very sweet couple bought my ticket. I stayed. I started thinking, "Ya know, I should write this guy's boss a letter. I don't want him to get fired, but he needs to be called down for his snappy behavior. He needs to develop a sense of humor. I don't appreciate feeling like I am being held for ransom due to his attitude." My letter would've looked something like this:

350 million seconds later, it was time to head to see The Thorn. Leaving that restaurant, I had the same feeling a falsely accused death row inmate must have when the governer calls to stop his death sentence. So glad to be out of there! So let's put it to rest.

Finally: why I left the house
The Thorn was utterly brilliant!! I have seen quite a few live action performances in my life, but given the story (which is the greatest story ever told) and the over-the-top performances and writing (and just everything about it) made it my favorite so far. It made the top of my list. My favorite scenes involved the martial artists (who were representing angels in spiritual battle. The battle between good and evil. Heaven and Hell), the character who played John (he totally reminded me of Dean Jones' version of John), and there were the scenes of Jesus. Oh yes. The star of the play. Of the greatest story ever told.

There was Jesus (in a later scene) in the garden of Gethsemene on the night before he is to be crucified. He knows this, and he is using his last remaining moments of time to pray for strength, but more-so, he is praying for his followers. His friends and these people he holds so dear. Where are his friends? Asleep, of course. How crushing that must have felt. It must have pierced his heart. If that were me, I'd have gotten pretty mad and probably said, "Hey you jerks, I am doing this for YOU, and this is the best you can do?" Not Jesus, though. Somehow, in the midst of this, there is only sadness, but covered in love and compassion for these jerks. (My words, not his.) And later he is seized and taken to be beaten by the Romans (ironically the Romans would later start a semi-parallel version of Christianity, but replacing the many gods they worshipped with the very saints they killed and tortured for not denouncing the deity of Christ. Interesting. Weird). But as Jesus is being beaten by one of those Roman guards, John (the narrarator in the story) makes a point to add that he had never seen something like that ever before. The look of total hatred in the guard's eyes, as he was about to swing his iron and bone-infused whip, met Jesus' eyes, full of love. In spite of what was about to transpire, Jesus continued to love. That is beyond my comprehension.

There was a rivetting scene where Jesus fell and Satan began to try to tempt him to give up or just cry out to God to stop the pain he was going through. Jesus struggling to his feet and held onto the post once again, and the Romans continued the beating. A love like that is hard to fathom. That stood out to me. Regardless of the exact details of the beatings, history (biblical and non-biblical writers) record that Jesus was beaten and that he was later crucified. (500 witnesses would later profess to the ressurrection.) But to endure all that pain. To look into the eyes of Peter with love, knowing full well he was going to deny him in mere hours from that moment. To look into the eyes of Judas, who was about to betray him for a mere 30 pieces of silver, and choose to love through it... that is the picture of grace. The love that Jesus had for us. And when you catch a glimpse of grace, there is only one way to respond. To embrace it head on. And in light of that picture, there is no offense that has been done to us that is truly worthy of harboring.

Suddenly, I thought about the anger I had been feeling toward that young 20-something waiter. And I looked at the frustration at some of my party at the restaurant, and the fact that I kinda got my feelings hurt a little. And there it was once again, amidst the music and the noises in the play. 5 minutes of dead silence.. And a lyric jumped out at me from a David Crowder song:

'And what was said to the rose to make it unfold

Was said to me here in my chest'... (from 'Here Is Our King')

That describes it perfectly. God - the creator of love and life itself. The power of God, conveyed through Jesus Christ. The more I see of it, the more I lose sight of that junk I was feeling. The more I think about those eyes... the eyes who stared into the eyes of the guards who mocked him and the angry mobs - who once cheered him as the messiah... now many of these were screaming out, "Crucify him." He dared to stand in their faces and love through it. The more I feel that heart, the heart that dared to include me in that love when I used to hate Christians... when I used to mock churches and more-so, the few adamant Christians who he would sprinkle around me, knowing how I would belittle and berate them... when I see these things, what other possible response could I have? So I sit here tonight, melted and permeated by a love unlike that the world has ever known.

In a few hours, the Easter services wil begin. It's late, and I need to turn in. But my only hope and prayer tonight is that a glimpse of that love is shown through me tomorrow. A tiny glimmer of this love could change the entire world - one heart at a time. And that is my prayer. For anyone who may stumble across this, may you be invaded and consumed by the love of Christ as well. God bless!!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A word at tonight's practice

Easter is coming this weekend. Tonight, we met for band practice. Our band leader, Sarah G., came in and donned her acoustic guitar. She and I talked for a second and joked about tangle-proof guitar cables (they all tangle, regardless). Soon, everybody joined us on stage. As she typically does, she gave a little word before we launched into a short prayer like we always do before we actually start playing. She said, "Guys. This weekend is Easter. Keep in mind there is nothing we can do to actually top the resurrection story." I don't think she set out to make a profound statement, but she did all the same. She went on to talk for a second and clarify why we were doing what we were doing (a mark of a good leader), but somehow that short statement said it all.

There is a lot of weight and application in such a short 'one-liner' statement like that. First off, what Jesus did at Calvary is what defines our faith. Jesus literally took our sins upon Himself, died in our place (due to the sin that separates us from God), and as many writers both in and outside of the bible testified to, He rose again. This showed him to be the savior (the messiah) that was prophesized in scriptures centuries before. No other faith makes such a claim. His offering was done so we could live in freedom, and in standing with God. By merely believing in Him and following Him, we have the promise of hope where before there was none. That is grace. The Easter story, then, is a love story. The ultimate love story. As the bible says:

"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!" (Romans 5:6-9, NIV)

There is a powerful message there. A reminder of what was done for us. Grace, pure and simple. But to the believer (who often struggles with performance issues or perfectionistic tendencies or even trying to be 'good enough' in spite of grace), Sarah's simple words were a reminder to me that: 1) we cannot top God, and 2) we don't have to try to top God. God is God. Period. High above us. This thought frees up a lot of performance anxiety and worry (or over-analyzing, in my case) that goes along with any stage performance. God is perfect. Period. End of story. We are there merely to point people to that beautiful picture and kinda just stay out of the way so He can work His wonders in the lives of His people. Such an awesome concept. Very liberating.

This is also something to focus on weekly, especially for the worship team. God is perfect. We are a creation that have been extended something we could not achieve on our own. That means we are less than perfect. So God is perfect, and we aren't. Period. If any realization should thwart those perfectionistic tendencies, this particular one should. A few years ago, we all did a group discussion from the book 'Heart of the Artist', and we discussed perfectionism versus striving for excellence (ie. striving for our best while being realistic about it all). Sarah's words tonight kind of three-dimensionalized what we discussed in the book.

Every once in a while, Sarah will pop out with a very memorable statement. The last one was 'Outside of God, there is nothing.' I have hung onto that one as well. (It has often served to be a good reminder to me at different places in my life. And besides, I tend to hang onto quotes and philosophies if they're good.) Tonight's statement made the list as well. But I just wanted to jot this down. It's late, so I will turn in. Looking forward to our Easter services. In the meantime, good night and God bless!

My (R)evolution - the full version

There is a saying that I use that was originally coined (to the best of my knowledge) by the band Fishbone: 'Give a monkey a brain and he'll swear he's the center of the universe'. That pretty much sums up the entire history of mankind in a nutshell. I would love to stand apart from it and speak of how I am so much better than that, but the fact is, that would just not be the case.

There is a sickness embedded in the head of man that makes him think he is invincible and impervious to the harsh realities of his own nature and life itself. Often this sickness allows him to think a little more highly of himself than he should (in various forms). The music world (on any level) and even Hollywood are littered with such stories. Stick around, and you're bound to see it. They have totally bought into the life, and they are now defined by it. At a certain point, the music (or gift) owns them instead of the other way around. An artist's creation suddenly metamorphosizes into something that is no longer owned by him/her. There are all these expectations and appearances to keep up. Suddenly, it is more about entertainment than sharing art, and it can get pretty brutal.

The story
It goes like this... a driven and passionate person with a clear vision sets out with the greatest intentions (often without solid accountability surrounding him), and over time, suddenly obstacles pop up that hinder that vision. The person becomes so fixated on the prize that when he is faced with options, he chooses to compromise in one little area. Distance is set between the original intention and what is actually going on, and this distance increases more and more. Soon, lines become skewed, and without taking a deep introspective look (or listening to his accountability), the very thing he set out to do becomes something much different than what he set out to accomplish. One becomes lost in his own creation. Funny how intentions work. Something as simple as a gift designed to be shared becomes something more about conquest. Or making a quota. Or attaining another notch in one's belt. And everything changes. Things that used to matter suddenly get pushed aside. To say again, this is the story of man in a nutshell.

My Revolution - what happened?
The earlier paragraphs pretty much sum up the story. With My Revolution, I originally set out to 'bring the message of hope within the church to those outside of its walls', and to some degree, it was effective. (I have had some great experiences to share that message with people I have met along the way.. if only to remind them of their worth, that they matter, and that God loves them exactly where they are and for who they are.) ...And then there's all that other stuff that goes along with playing in clubs. Some people are better at manuevering through the temptations than I.

I have heard more people say (as I used to say), "Church is for weak-minded people." I couldn't agree more. The clubs are as well. One seeks to build up their own. The other is merely trying to make a buck off of the weak-mindedness of others. (In my best Jeopardy voice: "I'll take 'church' for $200, Alex".) If you are a frequent bar-hopper, you can get mad at me all you want. It's okay. Just keeping it real.

Over a year ago, I talked with a girl who worked at a bar that I played at, and apparently, one of her inebriated 'clients' drove out of the bar and was involved in a major accident. I remember the look of guilt on her face. All the while I kept asking myself, "Aren't people like me the ones who get peoples' adrenaline glands pumping so they will buy more and more alcohol? Am I the villain? That is a hard question to ask one's self.

To add to matters, I was able to create a double life that I could typically keep under the radar. However, in those quiet times, my conscience screamed at me, "Something is NOT RIGHT here!" I was battling between a world of integrity and a world that says non-chalantly, "the ends justify the means". I often joked about 'walking in both worlds', but in truth, you can't do that for long. There is a scripture that says, "No man can serve two masters." It is the absolute truth. I found myself at times being disgusted by certain actions and behaviors that I was falling into (which I will refrain from talking about here). Once you have seen 'the life' from an outside perspective, it is hard to return to and find any true happiness in it.

I began to pray about whether to continue it or not. Over the following weeks, the answer became clear. God does not ask us to run full throttle - head to head with the complexities of life. He allows us free-will, but this fast-paced rat race man has created for himself is not the life He designed for us. So as weird as it was, it was time to walk away. Interestingly, as soon as I made the decision, I felt a peace inside. And suddenly new songs popped in my head. A new inspiration. It has been said, "God closes one door and opens another." I believe this is such a time in my life. A new chapter.

So in spite of how this may appear to everyone who doesn't understand my faith or my relationship with Christ, I walk away with a renewed focus. A focus on the grace and love that comes from God alone. And I am happy about it. To all of you who have been understanding (especially my church family and the My Rev family), and to all of you who may not be so understanding, I love you all.


PS. Keep your eyes open, 'cause you never know what to expect in the future. The band project itself may be over, but the 'revolution' continues on. And CD's are still available on iTunes.

My (R)evolution

So here is the official word: my original project, My (R)evolution, is officially no more. I made the decision for various reasons. The music is still available on iTunes and I have left a couple sites up (on myspace and reverbnation), but as far as live shows, our run is over.

I know someone will want to know why, and I wanted to get some of this off my chest anyway. Before I do, I wanted to thank all the guys who have been a part of it all. The various musicians: Gale Watson, Adam Marshall, Konrad Gorski, Mike Straussberg, Jim Ratcliffe, Jeff Calafiore, and Jesse Anderson. I also thank the bands and the venues who stood by us on this short chapter of my life. I also thank my church family for standing by me when I made the decision to start the band, and I thank them for standing by me when I decided it was time to disband it.

So what happened? A brief summary
After a long haitus (which I am getting a reputation for in the local scene), we worked hard to come back strong. We played a pretty strong set at Halligans Bar and Grill (West Ashley), and sure enough the clubs started calling for bookings, but in spite of that, I pulled the plug. Who does that? Especially when your band is doing well. If a band is tanked or falling apart, that is when you disband. Never when things are about to take off, renewed and re-energized. This came as a surprise (I'm sure) to the band members, but I am grateful to them for their understanding. I am presently working to write the full story, and I will post that soon. (to be continued)