hey kids rock and roll, nobody tells you where to go

I haven't updated much lately, I know. My adoring public is withering away without my golden nuggets of wisdom. It's been partially due to laziness and partially due to the fact that I've been preparing to leave town for a bit. The next couple of weeks for me are as follows...

I leave tomorrow morning for summer camp in Anaheim. We're driving down in two vans, rented from Pleasanton. We spend four days at camp, driving home on Sunday. We leave Sunday around noontime from Anaheim. After we arrive home, the kids are situated, and the van is returned to P-town, I will call up Tedro and he'll drive me to SFO. My plane departs at midnight, and after a layover in Dallas I arrive in Kansas City around 8:30am local time. From there Nate and I will drive the six or seven hours to Cornerstone, where I will be for the week. On July 6th the festival ends and we will return to Nate's home in KC for some quality BBQ. I'm told Nate's dad's BBQ rivals my dad's...which is no small feat. I am therefore already looking forward to a meal that is two weeks away. After that Nate and I will catch a flight back to SFO and my two weeks of camping insanity will be over. During that time I doubt I will be anywhere near internet access. So you all take care now.

I'll leave with a couple things for you to take a look at...

An article on home churches in the Seattle area. They basically seem like small groups...but more formal? Or is it more informal?

A quote from someone else's blog, I don't remember whose. I thought it was amusing:

"Why does Sea World have a seafood restaurant? I'm halfway through my fishburger and I realize, Oh my gosh... I could be eating a slow learner." - Lynda Montgomery"

I just picked up Disputed Questions by Thomas Merton. I've heard a bit about him and he appears to have been quite the prolific author. After this book I plan on checking out some more of his stuff, provided I like it. His autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, is supposed to be some sort of classic. Who knew?

I look forward to being away from my responsibilities for a while. Summer camp won't be that, as it sort of is a bunch of my responsibility manifest into one trip. But I'm really hoping my trip to Cornerstone is relaxing and rejuvenating. When I come home there will be many changes with my position at the church, and I will be kicking into high gear not only with the youth ministry but with starting up that new church some of you have heard about. More to come later...I hope and pray God will speak to me a bit on this trip and help to clarify this vision He has given me only fleeting glimpses of so far. Take care, y'all.


but i see them, round the front way

So Crossroads is doing a message series on the Simpsons. We started this past weekend talking about "Homer and God." This upcoming week I'm preaching and the message is titled "Flanders and Faith." That's about all I know right now. So I'm going to be preparing that this week. The clips I've been able to get are basically a quick run-through of the episode where Homer gets jealous about Flanders family, and ends up betting Ned that Bart can beat his son in a miniature golf tournament. What I'm thinking is I'm going to point out some of the positive aspects I see in Flanders' portrayal of a Christian life, and then some of the negative. We'll see how it comes out as I write it.

I can't believe I'm supposed to leave for summer camp next Wednesday. That's insane. Since when is June almost over?



A plague of Book of Mormon-esque proportions. Just once, I want to use the phrase "slickening highways with their carcasses." One person's reaction to the kajillions of crickets was "It's yucky...you drive down the street and they pop like bubble wrap." I'd freakin' waste a tank of gas driving around town if I had that opportunity. Why are good things always wasted on people who can't appreciate them?


daisy was a genius in waitress disguise

A few days ago I had the pleasure of hanging out with my buds Adam and Nate, disc golfing for the fourth time in seven days; two of those times were even in Illinois. I feel like such a national traveler. Earlier in the week I'd gone with Jesse and picked up a new disc to try to improve my game. I'm still workin' on it. In Illinois John sort of ribbed me about my disc of choice and its n00b qualities. So far I like the Tee-Bird and look forward to learning how to throw it straight more consistently.

After golfin I sat down with Adam and we talked for a while about free will. I enjoyed it, and it gave me a good opportunity to exercise my brain. Adam brought up a number of good questions etc., and I found myself wishing Kevin were there. Not to argue for me, but rather so I could hear his take. He's a smart guy and all too. Some of the good questions raised in the discussion included -

Could a world devoid of suffering have been created wherein people could still have had the ability to choose between God or not-God?

Does not-God = suffering? What about in the natural world - what role do diseases and other afflictions clearly not a result of anyone's choice play?

How can free will exist if God knew ahead of time that if we were created a certain way we would do things a certain way? Has he already made the decision for us that we would live out that role?

A funny thing to me is the way I react to these kinds of questions now as opposed to how I did in high school. In high school I often felt attacked by my friends regarding my faith. In my 4th period painting class - one of my favorite classes ever, and in fact one of my fond memories of high school - it was often Jackson vs. 4 other guys defending the sins of the church and explaining God. Sometimes the questions were honest and sometimes I think they were meant to annoy or make me feel stupid. Regardless, I often responded by getting defensive and frustrated. That was largely due to the fact that I had never considered many of these questions before and thereby didn't really know how to answer them or even wrestle well with them. It was an unsettling feeling having my worldview almost pulled out from under me; I went through a couple years of serious doubting where I wasn't sure whether or not I believed in God. I read like crazy and continued to live as if I did...but I wasn't sure if I was just refusing to admit what my heart knew, that is, that God isn't real.

Well here I am five or six years later with a faith stronger than ever. I know what faith is now; I can admit there are things I don't know or can't explain. But I can't explain away the things I've experienced from the core of my being regarding God. There is enough to convince me that God is real and there's a rational basis for believing in Him. That is not to say He is wholly understandable - I'm not sure any truly infinite God could be wholly understandable - but it is to say I believe it's the best explanation for the world I live in. So many things in my life have convinced me that God is here and cares about me - that it's okay when I can't explain everything. Before I would have viewed that as an intellectual cop-out. But now I realize it isn't. So now I approach questions as an attempt to understand the world around me better, and people around me. They are good to exercise the brain and hopefully you come out of a discussion learning more and thinking more. But I don't have to leave a conversation with people thinking I'm right, or agreeing with me. I can't understand or explain everything. The world is a much more exciting place to live than that.


Did you know a consulting firm was paid millions to come up with a name for this new NBA team, and this is what they end up with? It doesn't sound like the uniforms are going to be much better than the name, either. Well, the owner will have noone to blame but himself if they flop.



Jambas were not made to be consumed in under 20 minutes. My stomach is in rebellion over the smoothie flash flood I just inflicted upon it.

In other news, I am subbing at Irvington today and it's easy as pie. Most of the students are off at Great America. It's sunny and beautiful outside. I'm not in school as a student anymore but I can already feel the pull of summer.


so, like, this is real

I'm not entirely certain I'm comfortable with this game. I'm a fan of video games and all, but I mean, one based on spanking people? Look at this brochure! Strange things are afoot in that crazy place we call Japan.

Hey, wanna see a frog eating a kitty? I thought so.

You also have to read about Oolong.
doubt your doubts, and believe your beliefs

I'm back in sunny California and trying to re-acclimate myself to the time here. I didn't think it would be much of a problem, but as it turns out I was desperately tired by 11pm both nights I've been home. I also woke at 5am yesterday. That is not okay. I'd imagine after today I should be in pretty good shape as far as all that goes. I did have a pretty tiring week, so that probably has something to do with it too.

In all the trip to Chicago was a good one. It was great to see everyone out there, to hang out with John, Becca, and Ang again. Not to mention the rest of the Pack family, Josh, and Mandy who was awesome in giving me a ride to the airport. Westmont isn't home to me but with my friends there it certainly feels like it. Life is different with them gone.

Realizing some parents of the particularly paranoid persuasion might take issue with me posting pictures of their children on the internet I just have a few here to put up. We went on a hike through the greenest, lushest woods I've seen. Initially I argued with John about it (because on principle everything in California has to be better than everything everywhere else) but eventually had to acquiesce. While on the hike we stopped by a riverside to mess around for a bit. While there I learned that my rock skipping skills have declined drastically and I absolutely must do something about that. Aside from that, Illinois has a decided dearth of stones suited to skipping. (Two alliterations in one sentence...that just came out.) As you can see just about everything out there was green. Finally we have Rufus. John and Rebecca's beloved bulldog. That thing is a noise and gas machine. He snores more than almost any human I know and farts with such frequency I wonder if there isn't something terribly wrong. One night in the house Rufus was overcome by his desire to be a sex machine and ran around the living room, humping no less than two kids and had to be forcibly restrained from hopping on more.

Afterwards he was seen walking around with something resembling a cigar in his mouth. I'm sure this is just a coincidence.

So it was a fun trip and I'm looking forward to seeing everyone out there again. Now I'm back home with my responsibilities and finding it difficult to get the proper motivation to fulfill some of them. While in Chicago I had a talk or two with John about some stuff I'm doing out here and got motivated - so I'm sure it's just a little fatigue playing itself out. I'm going disc golfing....oh yeah, disc golfing! I almost forgot.

I went disc golfing a few times while I was gone. Ang and I paid a visit to the course in Downer's Grove. That course was fairly weak and I lost one of her discs in the long grass. It was still a good time because we got to tell ourselves we did something with the day and pretend we did enough to eat the Coldstone we had on the way home. Friday and Monday I played Joliet's course which was verra nice. It's no Dela but it was a good course. Friday I actually beat John, but Monday he regained his rightful place as pwner of me in the realm of disc golf. Today I'm heading out to Santa Cruz with Jesse to play a round. Still working on a new throwing motion to increase my distance. John suggested I get a new disc, as my preferred driver is "the easiest to throw." Tougher discs cut through the air better and increase your distance; so I may want to experiment with that a little bit.


panzarotti = good

I have fully immersed myself in Chicago cuisine. I'm almost sick of eating this stuff. It'll be nice to get back to California and suck down a Jamba or seven. Tonight I had a panzarotti, which is a calzone except it's fried instead of baked. Had it with some jardinaire, which is vegetable-spicy-stuff. This definitely is an awesome place to visit as far as eating goes, but it'd be very bad to live here.

The trip to the lake house was good. I noted it's sort of odd when you're visiting somewhere, then you go away for the weekend and come back, but you're still not home. I enjoyed the time with the kids - as it turned out there were 17 or so kids, all of them at the end of their sixth grade years. It was hard to tell whether or not I was having an impact on them during the different talks I gave, but I think for the most part at this age it's all about planting seeds. I was encouraged today as all the kids were clamoring for me to get in their vehicle on the ride home; but moreso when a girl gave me a little note thanking me for coming and saying she really liked when I talked about God to them. So hooray for that, in the end I had an awesome, and exhausting, weekend. Pictures definitely to follow - my camera decided to behave itself this weekend so I have some good ones.