What I've been thinking and what I've been reading for you to compare notes.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Favorite Movie Quotes

Here are some movie quotes that have stuck with me because they made me think, inspired me, made me laugh, or I just thought they were clever.

They're in no particular order...

On becoming a man...
"I am Jaguar Paw. This is my forest. I am not afraid." -- Apocalypto

On facing tough situations...
"Failure is not an option." -- Apollo 13

On bravery...
"Very dangerous. You go first." -- Raiders of the Lost Ark

On having a year-round Christmas spirit...
"Mortal, we spirits of Christmas do not live only one day of the year, we live the whole 365. So it is true of the child born in Bethlehem." -- A Christmas Carol

On getting priorities straight...
"A prayer's as good as bayonet on a day like this. -- Zulu

On using your head...
"I know you can fight. But, it's our wits that make us men." -- Braveheart

On knowing when to fight...
"A shepherd must tend his flock... And at times, fight off the wolves." -- The Patriot

On knowing true success in life...
"Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends." -- It's a Wonderful Life

On the impact Christ makes...
"Almost at the moment He died, I heard Him say, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do...And I felt his voice take the sword out of my hand." -- Ben Hur

On marriage...
"I dunno, she's got gaps, I got gaps, together we fill gaps." -- Rocky

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Quotable Quotes - Part II

"Whenever you fall - pick something up." (Anonymous)

"The most meaningless statistic in a ball game is the score at halftime." (Anon)

"The real glory is being knocked to your knees and then coming back. That's real glory. That's the essence of it." (Vince Lombardi)

"One mark of wisdom is being able to distinguish a setback from a defeat." (Anon)

"Winning is the science of being totally prepared." (Anon)

"If you don't release those who have hurt you, you will begin to resemble them." (Anon)

"The two most important tools of parenting are: TIME & TOUCH." (Gary Smalley)

"The philosophy of education in one generation is the philosophy of government in the next." (Abraham Lincoln)

"Adam failed; Jesus nailed; grace prevailed." (Patrick Morley)

"42.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot." (Steven Wright)

"To steal ideas from one person is plagarism; to steal from many is research." (Steven Wright)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Quotable Quotes

Besides all the fantastic and familiar things said in the Bible I have found a few things other people said that bear repeating. Some are inspiring, some thought-provoking, some humorous, others just plain interesting.

"You do not test the resources of God until you try the impossible!" (F. B. Meyer)

"Care more than others think wise.
Risk more than others think safe.
Dream more than others think practical.
Expect more than others think possible." (Anonymous)

"Rules without relationships lead to rebellion." (Josh McDowell)

"When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have one single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me!" (Erma Bombeck)

"Carve your name on hearts, not on marble." (Charles Spurgeon)

"Lord, I crawled across the barrenness to You with my cup empty, uncertain in asking any small drop of refreshment. If only I had known you better, I'd have come running with a bucket!" (Nancy Speigleberg in Billy Graham's "Decision" Magazine, November, 1974)

"Went to church today and was not greatly depressed." (Robert Louis Stevenson)

"The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn't being said." (Peter Drucker)

"Don't worry that children never listen to you. Worry that they are always watching you." (Robert Fulghum)

"Life is like pizza. Even when it's bad it's good." (Paula Devico in TV Guide)

"I was going to buy a copy of The Power of Positive Thinking and then I thought, 'What good would that do?'" (Ronnie Shanken)

"An optimist is a man who, finding himself in hot water, decides he needs a bath anyway." (Anonymous)

"Faith is not the opposite of reason. Faith rests squarely upon reason but with the added component of revelation." (Famed geneticist Francis Collins, TIME magazine, November 13, 2006)

"People aren't looking for information about God. They want to experience God, himself." (Mark Tabb, Mission to Oz)

"Jesus promised those who would follow Him only three things...that they would be absurdly happy, entirely fearless, and always in trouble." (Gregg Levoy, Christian Career Center Newsletter, November 12, 2003)

"What must die in every pastor is the subconscious desire to please people. What must not die is the will to love. There's the risk." (David Hansen, The Art of Pastoring)

Perhaps some more tomorrow...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Signs of the Times

Been thinking and praying again today over what new message to put on the church sign. (Above is a sampling from last fall.)

The process of changing the sign challenged me, then flustered me, and finally excited me to think of unique ways to communicate a brief thought-provoking message to passers-by, especially potential first-time guests.

I will sleep on the decision I made and see if it still excites me in the morning.

For now, the changeable message area of our church sign is blank. I wonder if anyone will notice?

I have had several comments from first-time guests who visited because of the sign, from people in the neighborhood, and even from regular attenders about previous messages. All have been positive except for one guy who wants me to change the message every week. (I usually only change the message once a month because I don't get along well enough with the telescopic letter-changing-pole to change it weekly!) He said most churches change their messages every week and I had to agree with him. I also challenged him to volunteer to come change the message every week if and when I decide to follow his suggestion. He just grinned.

Of course I realize some reactions to our church sign are probably negative but I haven't heard them yet. I am open to suggestions. Although I will tell you I am opinionated about church sign messages.

There's a church down the street from where Deb and I reside that misspells words all the time. Holy cow! Doesn't someone in the church notice? How uncouth, and what does this say to the community - "Church is only for the uneducated?" (To top it off, the church borders a University campus.)

I'm not knocking spelling errors in general (we all make them; I do) or dyslexia, or even smart people who aren't good at spelling - but if you're going to put a message out for public perusal, for heaven's sake at least check your spelling. Yes, church is for the uneducated, especially the spiritually uneducated, but extra effort should be taken to make a good impression with the community.

Then there's another church close to our residence that also makes me cringe when I read the messages on their sign. Their message last Sunday was - "Conflict at Corinth." As my maternal grandma used to say, "My lands!" How in the world is this supposed to challenge the unchurched - or even the churched for that matter - to attend? Is someone actually supposed to say, "Let's go to the church down the street and learn about conflict at Corinth"? (Couldn't they have said something more helpful like, "Come Learn How to Solve Conflict"?)

Someone should have taken the time to think of something that prompted curiosity, something that promised to meet a need, or something that was relational and good news!

I saw a picture of a church sign online today that I thought was pretty good. The message read, "The answers to life's biggest questions aren't found on Google." Now that's catchy, up-to-date, and might make someone smile. (Or is it corny to you? Sometimes I wonder about corniness. Is "corniness" even a word? If so, is it misspelled?)

I did think it would have been better if they'd had more room to say something about how the answers to life's biggest questions are found in the message of the church, but that's one of the challenges of church sign messages - being succinct. A lot of times I second-guess myself on what will get people's attention - especially in few words.

Most of the time I also try to tie the church sign message to the current series I'm teaching.

This month I'm teaching on "THE SEARCH, Solomon's Secrets to a Happy and Successful Life," or, "THE SEARCH," for short.

Okay, so I'll go ahead and tell you what I'm thinking for the message board of the church sign:


Your opinion and input? Will that stimulate curiosity or is it too vague? Does it not give enough information?

If you ever have any suggestions about good ideas for church sign messages please pass them along and I promise that I will carefully consider them. But please check your spelling. (Just teasing.)

If you think I was too harsh with this posting please let me know that too. I do want to be kind as well as open and honest.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Chronicles of N, Take Two

Would C. S. Lewis have ever imagined Disney making a movie of his Chronicles of Narnia - an imagineer organization profiteering off the offerings of Christian allegory by an earlier visionary? I pondered that yesterday as Deb and I went out to celebrate our anniversary a few days late via dinner and a movie.

Figured the sequel of the Narnian Chronicles of Lewis in flick form, "Prince Caspian," would be worthwhile, just didn't know if it would make a good anniversary date movie. It passed. Deb and I both enjoyed it and discussed it over dinner at O'Charley's.

Deb commented right away that she knew that I appreciated the action - there were several battle scenes - I guess that is what brought about the PG rating. But there was also the allegory.

I am not the world's best at interpreting allegory. I am actually way down on the scale. I generally don't like stories you have to work to understand. I don't like Shakespeare all that much for the same reason - just speak English. (Sorry my dear daughter Bethany - just teasing.)

Exhibit A: I used to be non-plussed about all the fuss over Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, one of the most published and praised Christian allegories in the history of books, while at the same time I was spellbound by several bios of "the tinker and thinker," John Bunyan.

Exhibit B: When I read the Chronicles of N to the children growing up I doubt I did a good job because of my lack of allegorical interpretation.

But put the Chronicles on the big screen and it's a different twist for me - which is hard for me to believe - because I am usually a firm believer in the old adage, "the book is always better than the movie."

What I liked and how I sifted Prince Caspian:

[NOTE: You may not want to read further if you haven't already seen this movie and plan to do so. may want to read it in order to make fun of me when you do view the movie because I may have gotten it all wrong. Either way, it's okay. I'm honestly content in my world of relative obscurity.]

The movie (based on the book) is about HOPE - even when the hour is dark and God seems to be distant. Peter, Edmond, Susan and Lucy Pevensie end up back in the fabled land of Narnia after centuries of the passage of time (in Narnia at least), but under dire conditions which require action. Peter decides to take action and it seems as if Aslan the lion, the deity character, is not interested in their plight. Lucy, the youngest of the siblings remains hopeful. Am I too "easy" to say I was inspired to greater hope about several perplexities in my own life by watching the movie? I am easily touched by themes of hope.

It's also about WAITING ON GOD and not taking matters into your own hands - which reverberates in my spirit because this has been the biggest hurdle in my life - waiting on God - actually, waiting on anyone and anything has been difficult for me.

You Type B readers (perhaps 2 out of the 5 people who read this blog - well, perhaps there are more readers from time to time, considering a guy showing a movie at the Cannes film festival recently emailed me to say that he had "Googled" the title to his movie and the first thing to come up was a blog entry of mine from a year ago) won't get this point, but if you live anywhere within a few blocks of Type A-ville you know how much we high-strung individuals like to have our finger on the pulse of what's happening - NOW!

Problem is, most of life involves waiting, which I am gradually mellowing out to realize as I enter the second half-century of my life.

I won't bore you with rehearsing the myriad of instances in which I have NOT waited on God and started off doing something because I felt it necessary to at least look like I was busy doing something. Besides, the list is too long and I would slouch into a fit of depression - and I'm not one prone to depression (perhaps because I seldom rehearse depressing scenarios).

I've learned that waiting on God produces better results - because God can ALWAYS do better than mortals can - at providing a need, solving a problem, etc. And I've learned that waiting draws me closer to God, which, it has occurred to me thousands of times now, is God's main aim. He doesn't want the successful completion of my pet projects - he wants me.

Actually it's good to be wanted by God. I can't fathom why He would want to spend time with us but He does. And a lot of the time we are busy with stuff He wants us to be focused on our friendship with Him.

The movie is probably about a lot of things...allegorical things to interpret...but I'll stop my musings with one more: CHILDLIKE FAITH. Lucy has it. She doesn't see how things can work out right - but she knows they will because she believes in Aslan and his love and power. As I said earlier, Aslan the lion is the deity character. God cares and wants us to exercise faith in Him. Not blind faith, but trust born of knowing God's nature and His track record.

When the movie climaxes with the river scene it wasn't just a Disney movie anymore. It was spiritual truth.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A couple of blogs ago I said that I would save the money and forego seeing Ironman. Then one of the moms of the preschoolers that Deb taught this past year gave her an end of the year gift of movie tickets. Deb called me at the church and asked me on a date to see Ironman with her free tickets. Very thoughtful.

Deb even enjoyed this movie, which is unusual for an action film.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Stay Away from Things that Hurt You

This past week seems like a blur. Some allergic reaction caused swelling in my face, my eyes were especially puffy, and I've felt weak. The over-the-counter medicine Deb got me at the drugstore - some generic brand of pills with benadryl in them - has helped me recover but it makes me drowsy. I fell asleep during American Idol the other night - which I didn't want to do - because I had just taken two tablets. It has helped the swelling go down, but when I walk I lean to the right. My right leg muscles are sore because of this. My reading has been off and I've had a difficult time concentrating.

I chuckle at myself thinking about how crazy this past week has been but it's a good lesson in staying away from things that hurt you. My suspicion is the allergic reaction was to pine tree pollen. I spent late Saturday afternoon scooping up a ton of stuff from the pine trees that border the church parking lot. I won't do that next spring!

If you have something in your life that you ought to stay away from - envy, materialism, anger, that extra piece of cake, whatever - try to remember the consequences of your foolish behavior. The outcome to foolish behavior is always the same. It weakens you and requires time and often healing medicine to recover your strength.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Sunday Night Mind Sweeping

Miscellaneous thoughts that have been bumping into one another in my brain lately...

Deb is asleep in bed and I'm checking the blogs of family and friends. I'm thinking, "How did I unwind after Sundays of bearing my soul to my people in preaching in those early years of pastoring when the Internet didn't even exist?" Of course I have always enjoyed reading for leisure. Today I've been reading for hours and hours...even skipped my normal Sunday afternoon nap... I've been rotating between several volumes...a book on the planets filled with scientific babble about evolutionary forces and the big bang and all that nonsense, but interesting enough to sift through the misinformation to marvel at God's creation...a book on the Panama Canal written by one of my favorite history authors, David McCullough...a book about the prophet Elijah written by one of my favorite devotional authors, Chuck Swindoll...and a book about a guy who read through the Encyclopedia Brittanica. Yeah, reading is a great way to detox the mind. But so too is writing. That's why I like blogging.

Today we ate lunch after church at a Mexican restaurant with a few friends from the church. Eating with folks from the church after Sunday worship is normal. Today a friend was showing Deb and me her new phone. She took a picture of me and I looked at it and was amazed at how I thought I resembled my grandfather Atwood. I had my hair cut shorter this past week and its starting to get more gray in it, but that wasn't the thing. It was how my chin seemed to be poking out more than I'd ever noticed before. Grandpa Atwood had a kind of a pointed chin. Maybe mine just looked more pointed on the screen of her phone, because when she sent it to our home computer it didn't stand out as much. What a relief. I loved my grandpa but he was a "codger" (used affectionately to refer to an eccentric but amusing old man).

For only the third time in my life I've had an allergic reaction to poison ivy. I thought at first I got it from cleaning out some brush beside a thrift store at which I volunteer. But another guy in the church who was helping me with stump removal (see my earlier blog, "The Stump") said today after worship that he had some poison ivy too. So that may be how I picked it up. Anyway it's an aggravation. I would laugh at my two older brothers when they had allergic reactions to it growing up. I guess the chickens have come home to roost. I have a small spot on my left arm, and on my left shin. But I have scratched around my eyes so much that my face is puffy. Deb got me some medicine this afternoon. It makes it not itch for an hour or two but then...I'm scratching like a hen in a barnyard. Poison ivy must be part of the curse from the fall of man in the Garden of Eden.

Started the series, "No Perfect Families Allowed" today. Like any church, Pathway has struggling families, stressed families, and good families striving to be even better...but we don't have any perfect families. Deb and I will celebrate 31 years of marriage this month and we have a great family - but we have not been perfect even though our kids are more perfect than their dad and mom. In this series we're looking at some of the families in the Bible and how we can make imperfect human relationships work by God's grace. Today I spoke on "Surviving Family Flaws." The message was on the first family - Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel. Several people commented afterwards that God showed them some important stuff.

Wanted to go see the movie "Ironman" this weekend but Deb and I are saving our nickels and dimes to go to Spain for the birth of our twin granchildren late fall or winter. Several guys in the church who saw it (one saw it twice) said it was awesome. Hmmm... can I hold out when "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" comes out? Sure. I've seen plenty of movies before.