Thursday, June 25, 2009

I love Adam.

Ugh, Thursday.

Took the JibJab down because it was causing too much load-lag. If you missed it, sorry. it was funny.

Can't really talk now. Maybe tomorrow.

In the meantime, I want you to read this article. Because it is my life in so many ways. The first half, especially--I have trouble finding that happy second-half resolution still. Fact is, I'm a lonely, screwed-up, failing disciple these days. And I have a hard time finding time to seek grace. My only hope is for grace to find me, in the midst of my flurry and strife.

And my knees have started giving out. That's not a metaphor, I mean that in a physical sense. This is not good, less than two weeks before an overseas trip.

There you go. That should give you enough to discuss until I can give you more.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Something for the church folks.

I was starting to emo-hulk-out yesterday on the way home from work for some reason, so to combat the rising tide of self-pity, I opened up my Bible and started reading. I opened to Acts, which I've been reading a bit on and off for the past few weeks, and noticed something cool. Thought I'd share.


Okay, pop quiz: who was the first Christian martyr in the New Testament? Anyone? Anyone?

That's right: Stephen. Remember Steve? Gave this impassioned speech about God's faithfulness and fulfillment of prophecy, and once he got to the punchline--"you Pharisees killed your long-awaited Messiah! Jewish Leadership FAIL!"--they freaked out and stoned him to death.

Here's the bonus question: what was Steven's role in the church? Apostle? Prophet? Preacher, teacher?

Anyone? Bueller?

Check it out. At the beginning of chapter 6 of Acts, the Greek-speaking Jewish believers were upset because their widows weren't getting their fair share of daily provisions, as their full-Jewish counterparts were. The apostles said, get this, "We shouldn't spend our time serving tables instead of preaching, so we'll appoint seven Spirit-filled men to head up this committee." One of the men they picked? Our buddy Steve.

Here's what I took away from this:

First, i don't think the apostles were being jerks here. As a lay-teacher, I know what it's like to be asked to run everything for a group. It's frustrating and tiring, and it takes away some of your energy and passion for your first job, teaching the Gospel. So I can understand the feeling.

Second, what's so interesting to me is that God, in His infinite sense of irony, chose to appoint Stephen the Spirit-filled "waiter" to be the first martyr of the Christian church. It was Stephen who gave the impassioned testimony before the group of Jewish elders. It was Stephen who, as he lay dying, saw the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Father. And it was Stephen's death that was approved of by Saul, who immediately started persecuting the church, until Jesus flipped the script on him on Damascus Road and called him to be the greated Christian missionary of all time.

All starting with the death of a church committee member, who wasn't a teacher or a preacher, but a willing and faithful servant.

So here's what you should take away: God uses all of His children to serve His great purposes. Sometimes those of us who may be seen as the most lowly, or feel like we don't count, are the greatest tools in His mighty hand. If you think to yourself "I'm just a facilities person, I'm just an usher, I only serve food at VBS, I merely hand out the bulletin and greet people on Sunday," you will miss the great and glorious plan that the Father of lights has appointed you to accomplish. Sometimes our sacrifices and services are completely in secret. But we are promised that He who sees what is done in secret will bring all to light and will reward us openly.

So as you go about your business, as you go to church, show respect for the lowly servants around you, those who humbly and willingly do for others. They may be having the greatest impact of us all for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus. And if you are one of these nameless few, faithfully serving week after week, let me say: thank you for your needed and impactful ministry.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Proof that Weird Al Yankovic is a musical genius.

Weird Al channels Jim Morrison (of The Doors) for this psychadelic tribute to the internet marketplace. While not a specific song parody, it's a dead-on stylistic parody, and makes me very very happy:

Monday, June 15, 2009

Moment of Clarity

I was in Best Buy, shopping for a Father's Day gift and a CD for myself (Jeff Buckley's "Grace Around the World" CD/DVD), when I came to the video game section. I used to play regularly, but now it's only the odd weekend that I spend an hour or two with my Playstation 2. I have friends who own the current generation systems, and I enjoy/envy those when I'm over at their houses.

The store had a Playstation 3 set up with a 36 or 42-inch flatscreen monitor, and a demo version of "Guitar Hero: Metallica" available.

No kids around, so I picked up the guitar controller and rolled through a Soundgarden song on easy. Pretty awesome. These latest versions of GH/RB actually have the "singer" actually mouthing the words to the song, giving it a much more realistic feel to it. Then, I played "Sad But True" by Metallica, and holy crap, there's James friggin Hetfield ripping through the song, roaring out the words. I kept getting distracted by the amazing visuals, and dropping notes.

I finished my song and thought, man, maybe I ought to save up and get one of these, because that's pretty rad. There was a guy standing next to me, looked to be mid-20s, scruffy around the edges, glasses. I set the controller down, and with a wave toward the screen said, "All yours, bud." I walked around to the other side, where Rock Band was set up, but both controllers were worn out and not responding.

Scruffy poked his head around and said, "Yeah, that one's all messed up." I chuckled, "Yep. Too much love."

I am about to walk away, still considering how I may possibly afford to spring for a new gaming system in the near future, when Scruffy meets up with his friend (Pastey) coming down the aisle toward us. Scruffy then says to Pastey, "So yeah, my mom is buying me a thousand-dollar sound system for my room..."

A sick, stabbing pain hits my stomach. I grab my earlier selections and hastily proceed to the checkout.

That's why you don't get a $500 video game system, Dave. Because you're a grown-up now. Your Scruffy and Pastey days (if you ever had them), are long behind you.

Friday, June 05, 2009

How Soon is Now?

RG asks, how soon is soon? Now, kiddo, now.

Disclaimer: I'm really tired right now. But I want to post, and a few of you want to listen, so I figure, why not oblige you. You're nice folks. But I may be a little loopy or self-indulgent, so your mercy would be appreciated.

This is going to be one of those (in)famous "This is Where I Am Right Now" posts that the kids like to do on the xanga. Things have been tense lately, and I think a little off-loading would be good for me. Whether it's any good for you remains to be seen.

I'll break it down by area of my life, so that it makes some semblance of sense. (That was a joke right there. But not the funny kind.)


My workplace (Big Hospital) has been dealing with the current economic crisis like everyone else. We started building lots of buildings and hiring lots of people, and then when the bottom fell out nationally and our income was overtaken by our outgo, people flipped out. So the "realignment" began. That's the new buzzword, now that "downsizing" is passe. Realignment. They say they're transferring people around to other vital job openings, but from what i hear, this is rare. Mostly people are just getting canned. The fat is being trimmed. Poor, sad, out of work fat.

The tension is palpable on-site. People are on edge, doctors, nurses, researchers, admin staff. Everyone is freaking out a little more, looking over their shoulder a little more. And while i should know better, while I believe and speak about a God who is sovreign over all situations, I still find myself easily getting caught up in the hysteria. Darn this empathy.

It's been a tense couple of months. And today the sword has fallen on two people in my department--no one on my immediate team, but one of the people who got the heave-ho was a friend of mine, one of the few real friends I made outside of my immediate group. And it stinks.

So now, everyone is supposed to breathe a little easier, since our department is under budget and "safe for now." No one trusts it, though. Everyone is worried that out of the blue, we'll get another "we're still in deep mess" email from The Powers That Be, and we'll have to sweat out another round of layoffs, I mean, downsi--I mean, realignments. (It's like Ministry of Truth double-speak, man.)

What stinks is, when I should be standing firm as a light in the darkness, a beacon of hope and peace in the midst of turmoil, I'm letting myself get stressed out and freaked out like everyone else. This is the time my witness of Christ's work should be strongest, and once again, I fail at being salt and light. I'm a lousy disciple, man. Anyway, that's work.


I'm back on the Weight Watchers wagon, for reals this time. I had my "hitting the wall" moment not too long ago, where simple chest pains (indigestion, as it turned out) led to a small panic attack. I'm tired of living in fear that I am, like that Tom Brokaw health video in "Concepts of Fitness" class says, "a walking timebomb, waiting to explode." (Any other OBU alums remember that video?)

So I'm on the diet wagon. I'm gonna wait to get back into regular exercise (gym-ness) until after I return from my trip next month. So I'm just trying to get used to the food plan again. But this is becoming an issue. See, when you have to stick to a strict diet, that's all you think about. I had a moment of frustration today as I realized that my waking thoughts are being consumed, so to speak, by worry over what I can eat and when. And that's just not healthy either. In fact, I seem to remember Jesus saying something about this issue, during some famous sermon. While his context was more worry than dieting, I think the principle can transfer over. Point is, I'm tired of obsessing about food, even if it's obsession over how i should limit my appetites rather than how to indulge them.

Eventually it will get better. I know it will because I've been through this part of the journey before. But I'm in this for the long haul, and I want to find the right mental pace as soon as possible.

Also, and I'll spare you graphic details, my digestive system is struggling to adjust to the new diet and schedule. Things are not happy in GI town. That's all I'm gonna say.

The first week started off strong diet-wise and then imploded almost immediately. This, the second week, has been much better, and I'm staying on point. Week 1, I lost 2 pounds (1.6, but who's counting? ...oh, right, me). I'm hoping to add a legit number to that one on Monday.

And for those curious, yes, the Big Loser Dave blog will be resurrected. Probably Tuesday or Wednesday. We'll see how things are going, schedule-wise.


Would that I had loads of news in this regard. But you reap what you sow, right? And I haven't sown a whole heckuva lot in this area. (That sounds a little off, doesn't it.) Meaning, I haven't been pursuing a more active dating life, so nothing is really happening there. One date in April, with someone I wasn't super-interested in, but still wanted to get to know better. I don't think she was too impressed with me by date's end, but not for any specific faux pas as much as simple illusion-shattering meh-ness.

There were a few other interesting avenues I was considering, but it seems each of those has evaporated. And it's too bad.

I'm gonna be honest, real honest here: I'm lonely. Not in the friends/family sense, but in the companion sense. And I can't shake the fear that it's because I'm not who I should be at this point, that I'm missing opportunities for relationships that would have been good for me. (On the other hand, the whole issue of feeling "unacceptable" and "just not good enough" is one that I've been fighting for a while, because i don't think that it's healthy, at least in the forms I wrestle with. The lie of "never good enough" has kept me afraid and ashamed for much of my adult life.) So as I struggle with this issue, the temptation is to work, work, work to try to be "better," as if "better" weren't a moving target stapled to a rainbow's end. I know (in my head) that I should seek to find contentment being me and focusing on pleasing Jesus with my life, changing what i should for His sake and glory. Doesn't mean that I don't hate being home alone blogging on a Friday night instead of having a social life.

So I go through my days and weeks, ignoring the issue, staying busy. And when the sadness sneaks it, I humor it with music and films for a little while before shoving it back in its box and going on with life.


I'm going to England for ten days in July, as part of a church mission trip. After a day and a half of sightseeing in London, we'll take a train up to northern England, and spend the rest of the trip doing street evangelism and personal contact ministry on behalf of local churches. I'm both excited and nervous about this trip. This is my first mission trip, and rather than something easy like manual labor, we're actually going to be *gulp* missional.

As the days get closer, I find myself experiencing more opposition. (I'm not gonna get all "Bob Larson's telephone exorcisms" on you here, but let's be real--spiritual warfare is legit.) I've noticed that not only are my habitual sins and weak areas becoming harder to defend against, but I'm getting hit by all kinds of depressive thoughts. If you know me, you know that I tend toward an often melancholy mindset, and mild depression is not uncommon for me. But it seems that, in the past few weeks since i started thinking about and praying about this mission trip, I'm getting hit with full-on attack in this area. Thoughts of hopelessness, being overwhelmed, being unworthy and unloved. The full gamut. It's been hard to stay afloat this week. Which brings me to...


It's clear my coping mechanisms were not working, when i had sudden outbursts of crying while driving down the highway on Monday--not just tears, but actually keening wails. As if my emotional pressure valve blew the seal and the lid blasted off for a few seconds at a time. I mean, it scared me a little bit, this sudden rush of emotion. There was clearly something wrong.

Has it gotten better? To some degree. I mean, I'm still dealing with a lot of the same stuff, but I'm not freaking out. I just feel so very burdened. Like all of this is too much to lift now. And the thing is, I know all the verses and all the doctrinal, theological truths about laying our burdens down at the foot of the cross, and casting our cares on He who cares for us, and all of that. But it's just hard to do in practice, when your workplace is cheery as a morgue, you're dealing with darkness without and within, and you're expected to be this example--the devoted son, the loving brother, the always-dependable employee, the wise and caring Bible study leader and spiritual advisor, the listening and comforting friend, and don't forget you're a follower of Jesus which means you have responsibilities as His disciple and ambassador.

And it's hard to stare down the totality of that list and not think that you're destined to let every single one of these people down. That you're not good enough. Sure to screw up somehow.

It's hard for me, anyway. I know each of you have a list like this. Maybe you handle yours better. Or maybe we're all basket-cases, and I haven't found a good way to hide my crazy yet.

Like I said, I know the spiritual things I ought to do in this situation. I know the platitudes. There are just some nights when it feels like it falls a little short.


This is the part of the show where I'm supposed to assure you that I'm fine, or I'll be fine, or don't worry about me. But tonight, I'll say this: I know I'm gonna be okay because no matter if I don't feel it, I know in my mind and heart that God has never and will never let me go, no matter how big of a complete screw-up i am. And eventually I'll find my even keel and my circadian rhythm in all this uncertainty. But right now, what i need is rest and grace and kindness. And baby, I ain't too proud to beg.

And the next time we chat, I'll probably be embarrassed by this outburst and deny it happened. Or I'll tell you that i was overreacting or being Emo-Dave, and I'll apologize profusely. But don't believe me fully. I'm sure I will think then that I was being a drama queen now, but this is me being honest right here.

Signing off. Gonna read my Bible and go to bed. Talk to you later. I'll be in a better mood next time. We'll talk about something amusing. It'll be nice. Stick around for that.