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Cheering Up

In light of all the stress I've been under lately, I decided to cheer myself up by beginning the Christmas decorations early this year.

Ok, so all I've done is change the theme of my blog page to have a Christmas-ish feel.  But it's festive, wouldn't you say?!?

I've also posted a free download of my recording of Silent Night on my MySpace page.  You can check it our here >>>>>>> go >>>>>>>>>


More on My Mind

If you happened to read my post from yesterday, you probably noted that I wasn't feeling so great.  I was pretty bound up in the emotions of my neighbour, John's death.  What I didn't mention was that this bad news was piled onto a plate of stress that was already full.

I am in the midst of a struggle with the high school drama teacher, where my daughter Sarah attends, over whether or not students should be permitted to use swear words and sexual content in student-written productions.  This issue comes on the heels of a school play festival that we attended two weeks ago; one in which Sarah was participating.  Two of the plays had rather vulgar sexual references in them and one of those two had the use of two "bull-----s" and two "f-words." 

I had a lengthy phone conversation with the head of the drama department and she basically told me that because the parents of the student playwright approved of the language, and although it did offend me, it didn't offend everyone, then it's ok.  She has told me in no uncertain terms that she will not "censor" the plays written by the students. 

Needless to say, I take serious issue with that stance.  I have a follow-up meeting scheduled with her on Thursday of this week.  I don't expect it to get me too far, but it will be the pre-emptive strike I take before escalating the issue to the school principal.

Additionally, we found out on the weekend that a little boy from our neighborhoos that Silas (our 4-year old)  had over to play with last week was apparently injured when he was at our home.  We were not aware of the injury.  He says that Silas "shook" him.  He is experiencing pain in his shoulder and has been waking up at night due to the pain.  His parents have taken him to the doctor for an ultrasound and are trying to figure out what's wrong with their son.

We're just sick about this.  This family is fairly new to our street and we've been working hard to build a friendship with them over the last year.  We hate to think that Silas has hurt their son.  We hate to think of what this might do to our fledgling relationship.


A Heavy, Heavy Heart

As I prepared to leave the house for church this morning, my daughter Sarah mentioned that she saw an ambulance across the street at a neighbour's house.

This was not a surprise occurrence as our neighbor, John, had been having some health problems lately.  He had been in and out of the hospital a few times over the last two months. I spent some time with John in the hospital a couple of weeks ago and he seemed pretty weak physically, although he was quite alert and very chatty.  I got to know more about John in the two hours there in the hospital than I'd learned of him in 4 years as his neighbour.  Anyway, an array of thoughts passed through my head after Sarah told me she'd seen the ambulance.  My hope was that it wasn't anything too serious.

I arrived at the school where we have our church services and spent the morning, as we always do, setting up the sound system and video gear.  About 30 minutes before we started the 1st service, Sarah came in and told me that John had passed away.

The news hit me harder than it should have.  It sent me into a bit of an emotional funk that I had to chew on as I prepared to lead the Grace Church family in worship.  Sunday mornings are always an emotional time for me as I deal with the weekly stresses of the whole "mobile church" thing (portable sound systems, school contracts, missing volunteers, etc.) combined with the emotions that are connected to the process of leading God's people into His presence and trying to make it as authentic and purposeful as possible.  The news of John's death, added to these, made it hard for me to get through the sound check without crying.

I didn't know John well, at all.  So why did this hit me so hard?

Only a few weeks ago I was having a wrestling match with God over the fact that I felt God nudging me to meet with John to discuss his spiritual life; to share with him what I believe.  The last time that I saw John (two weeks ago in the hospital) my intention had been to do just that; to ask him if he had any idea what would happen to him after this life.

I'll be honest, I was nervous and uncomfortable.  I really didn't feel qualified to do this "death bed confessional" thing.  And so when I got to the hospital and found that John was doing much better than I had imagined he would be, I didn't do it.  I spent two hours with him and the only time God came up was where it was written in the get well card that I gave him.  I didn't even pray for him there are the hospital.

When John told me that he was to be coming home from the hospital in a day or two, I silently thanked God for giving him (and me) more time to work on the details of his spiritual life. 

Well, that apparently wasn't God's plan.  And I missed the one and only opportunity that I had to share my faith with a man that I am pretty sure left this life without any hope of spending eternity with God.  And I'm mad.  I'm sad.  I'm disappointed in myself.  I really feel like I blew it.

Last night I finished reading David Crowder's book, Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven, but Nobody Wants to Die: Or the Eschatology of BluegrassIt's a bit erie that I just read this entire book on dealing with death and the afterlife.  The last chapter of the book was about the day that David buried his friend and pastor and then hopped on a plane to fly across the country to lead worship that same night.  He explained the numbness and emotional weight that he carried into that night.  In a small way, that's what I felt like this morning as the pain in the pit of my stomach just grew heavier and heavier the more I realized the eternal consequences of John's death.
 


Of Death and Fame, Part 2

So, I mentioned yesterday that I'd been thinking about death a lot as a result of my time spent reading  David Crowder's new book called Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven, but Nobody Wants to Die: Or the Eschatology of Bluegrass

Just for fun, I googled 10 famous dead people (the first 10 that popped into my head) just to see how much www interest there was in these people.  I'm listing them below, first in the order that they came into my head and then, secondly, in the order that they ranked with results returned by Google.  Here we go...

  1. Elvis
  2. Apostle Paul
  3. Ronald Reagan
  4. Mother Theresa
  5. Princess Diana
  6. Tupac
  7. George Washington
  8. Nicole Simpson
  9. Dale Earnhardt
  10. Johnny Cash

And now, from least to most, here's the Google ranking (with the number of hits returned):

    10. Mother Theresa - 1,490,000
     9.  Apostle Paul - 1,650,000
     8.  Dale Earnhardt - 1,850,000
     7.  Princess Diana - 2,290,000
     6.  Nicole Simpson - 3,430,000
     5.  Ronald Reagan - 4,470,000
     4.  Johnny Cash - 6,110,000
     3.  Tupac - 7,770,000
     2.  Elvis - 51,200,000
     1.  George Washington - 132,000,000

Any surprises for you?  I think the two things that surprised me most were Nicole Simpson ranking higher than Princess Di.  Where did that come from?  And, I think it may go without saying, I was stupefied to see that George Washington had 80,000,000 more hits than Elvis!  THAT was a surprise.


Of Death and Fame

If you happen to look at my reading list in the sidebar of this blog, you might have noticed that I've been reading a book by David Crowder called Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven, but Nobody Wants to Die: Or the Eschatology of Bluegrass.  It has been an interesting read, for sure.  Crowder_1 David and his co-writer (and fellow band member) Mike Hogan have managed to piece together a collection of random thoughts and intricate research regarding death, the soul and the life hereafter.

The book has definitely had me thinking about death a lot, lately; in ways that I haven't ever really pondered it much.  Just for fun, I made a list of the first 10 famous dead people that came into my mind and I did a Google search of each.

Take a Quiz
  Here's the list of people that I searched.  Without googling them yourself, rank them in the order that you think they would come from most hits returned to least hits.  I'll post the results tomorrow. In the order that they came to my mind....

  • Elvis
  • Apostle Paul
  • Ronald Reagan
  • Mother Theresa
  • Princess Diana
  • Tupac Shakur
  • George Washington
  • Nicole Simpson
  • Dale Earnhardt
  • Johnny Cash