Monday, October 29, 2012

A New Blog

If by some miracle there's anyone who still ventures by these parts, I thought I'd let you know that I started a new blog today. It's called "Clipping In, Taking In" and it exists to document my observations from the saddle of my road bike. I suspect there will be theological reflections along the way.

If you're like me you're probably wondering why I would bother to start a new blog. I don't know the answer to that question but I want to give it another shot. Perhaps a blog that's more focused than this one will help me be a (slightly) more consistent blogger. Or, maybe not. We shall see.

You can find the blog here:

Monday, December 19, 2011


There is a way that appears to be right,
but in the end it leads to death. -Proverbs 14:12

I was reflecting on this proverb and noticing that the opposite is true as well, that is to say there is a way that appears to be death but in the end it leads to life. Take forgiveness for example; choosing to forgive someone rather than to seek revenge or simply harbor bitterness toward them can be a painful process that often feels like a death. Tim Keller points out that there is life (resurrection) on the other side of that kind of death versus simply a slow painful death we experience as bitterness eats away at us.

In his book Sacred Attunement: A Jewish Theology, Michael Fishbane writes:
One of the central functions of culture and tradition is to convey what works to future generations so that each life cycle may benefit from the tried and true of the past - and that's a good thing.
I suppose he's right about it being a good thing though I would want to add a "usually" to that last phrase. Think about the traditions and culture of your average college. There are some great traditions and good culture created at many schools, to be sure. But there are also be some very destructive traditions and culture created as well. These traditions or this culture appear to be a "right way" to live but in the end they lead to death. These traditions and cultures have been conveyed to future generations but they might not be conveying what "works".

If we expand the circle to include our work places, homes, churches, family...what are the traditions that we participate in that have been conveyed to us? What culture exists in these places? Are they culture and traditions that lead to life or to death?

As we are reminded of Jesus' breaking in to our world we are reminded that even the most crooked paths can be made straight and a whole new orientation of life that leads to life is possible for all. May you build culture and traditions that lead to life.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


I guess in some ways it would be easier to just have a title and no content to sum this up. The title would be: there are no shortcuts.

Leading is a tricky thing. A charismatic leader can get people to follow them. I suppose it would be possible for a fairly gifted leader to read some books on leadership and be really successful in getting others to follow them. The problem with that, of course, is the question of "where?". Where are they going? I mean, you know, Hitler was a leader...and you can think of many, many more along the lines of Hitler.

Most leaders, however, aren't Hitler. They're people who are doing their best to lead in the place they find themselves. They want to lead well and be a truly good leader. But the question of "where?" is still crucial.

In the last year or so, I've been seeking to be a better leader. One book that has been very helpful to me is Ruth Haley Barton's Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership. The question of "where?" becomes a little clearer when leading is connected with your soul. Let's face it, there are tons of "ideas," "how to's" and "techniques" out there one can follow in whatever area of life they find themselves leading in. But where is God wanting to take me as a leader? Where is God wanting me to lead those that I've been called to care for and lead? You can't find those answers in a google search or a book...not even, dare I say it, in the Bible. That's not to suggest that books and tools can't be helpful, but it is to say that they can't be first. No, the sense of call must be first and then the tools can help clarify. Chief among those "tools" is the Bible...does our direction and call fit with God's grand narrative?

Some thoughts from Barton:
At the heart of spiritual leadership and spiritual journeying is discernment- the capacity to recognize and respond to the presence and activity of God both personally and in community...

Discernment presents unique challenges in contemporary Western culture, because it requires us to move beyond our reliance on cognition and intellectual hard work to a place of deep listening and response to the Spirit of God within us and among us...

The spiritual leader is distinguished by his or her commitment and ability to guide the discernment process so the community can affirm a shared sense of God's desire for them and move forward on that basis...

And here's the clincher:

The ability to discern the will of God is a natural byproduct of spiritual transformation in community... Our ability to discern what we should do flows from our commitment to be together in life-transforming ways.

A friend of mine in seminary stated that very idea this way: "Yeah, Sinatra had it backwards... it's not 'do-be, do-be, do,' but rather, 'be-do, be-do, be.'" Being (still, perhaps) in order to become and do that which we are called to be and do.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Best Reads in 2009

Here’s a list of the best books I read this year.

Life's Healing Choices: Freedom From Your Hurts, Hang Ups and Habits By John Baker

The 12 steps, with fewer steps and more explicitly Christ centered. Well worth the read.

The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism By Tim Keller

An apologetic, sticking close to Lewis. Readable, reasonable and pastoral.

Rediscovering Catholicism By Matthew Kelly

I'm not returning to the mother church or anything, but this is a great book to share with your RC friends. My only major disagreement with it (not to mention the several minor ones) was that the author wrote that Protestant believe that salvation is "found in the Bible and the Bible alone."

The Yankee Years by Joe Torre and Tom Verducci

Of course my favorite parts were the ones about the 2004 season...hehe.

The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read The Bible by Scot McKnight

How do we read the bible and why do so many with opposing views claim theirs is the "biblical" position? Great stuff from McKnight here.

Simple Church by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger

Very helpful. Been pushing it on my fellow church leaders.

ReJesus: A Wild Messiah for a Missional Church by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch

This one almost didn't make it because it's long...real long. Good read though. It'll get you re:thinking.

Speaking of Sin: The Lost Language of Salvation By Barbara Brown Taylor

I mentioned this book in this post. The Amazon description is a good one:

"In Speaking of Sin, Barbara Brown Taylor brings her fresh perspective to a cluster of words that often cause us discomfort: sin, damnation, repentance, penance, and salvation."

We Might as Well Win by Johan Bruyneel and Bill Strickland

I'm a sucker for a bike book. This one is about Johan Bruyneel, the former cycling pro and team director or Lance's Tour victories.

The Garden of Last Days by Andre Dubus III

I love his dad and really liked The House of Sand and Fog. This book tells a story that centers around the 9/11 attacks. It's not a "true story," so to speak. In many ways, it's more of a character study than a novel, but I enjoyed it.

Inside the Postal Bus by Michael Barry

Barry was a member of Lance Armstrong's US Postal team. His story is a behind the scenes look.

Easter Everywhere: A Memoir by Darcey Steinke

A pastor's kid who struggles with life and faith. Interesting, disturbing, engaging.

Youth Ministry 3.0 by Mark Oestreicher

Where youth ministry has been may give us some insight into where it's going.

Here’s a list of books I thought would be on this list, but, much to my surprise didn’t qualify as “best”:

Crazy Love by Francis Chan

This is a good book, but there were a few too many statements that left me shaking my head in disagreement. (Lots to agree with, too, but...)

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

I'm a sucker for the Wizard of Oz and thought I would love this book. Instead, I simply got through it. Going to see the show in few days. I hope it's better than the book.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Scot McKnight once said (correctly) that, in general, one is either a good blogger or good blog reader. It is rare to be good at both. As I've said before, I'm a GREAT blog reader. That said, I've decided not to give up blogging because it can be a good outlet for me (even though I usually only think about blog posts and never get to actually writing them.) Also, my goal never was and probably never will be, to gain a big following of readers, so there's no real need to put out a ton of content. (Or coherent know, theology, music, Bruins, youth ministry, biking, softball...I tend to be all over the map.) I'm humbled that a few friends found my blog and still check in now and then, and always appreciate those who stumble onto my (very) humble blog and leave a comment.

I have decided to do my "year end" book list, even though I feel like I've read fewer books this year than usual. Until that post, I'll point my five readers to a couple of blogs that I enjoy, and maybe will even get around to adding these blogs to my "Blogs I Read" sidebar.

Fat Cyclist

This blog is pretty well known amongst those who are somewhat into cycling. Elden Nelson is the Fat Cyclist and his blog began four years ago as a way to keep friends and family updated on his quest to shed some pounds cycling. Bicycling Magazine described his blog well in this article,
He wrote humor, mostly, and came off as an unassuming Average Joe who happened to enjoy eight-hour mountain bike mud baths and burying his buddies, as well as haute couture. (See his post "Knee Warmers Are Stupid.")
Thus his blog rolled along until the day he discovered his wife's cancer had metastasized. In that same article Nelson is quoted as saying of his blog, "I could have kept writing solely about bicycling," Nelson says, "but that would have seemed fake."

Sadly, his wife Susan passed away in August, but the Fat Cyclist rolls on. (Check out the article linked above for more of his story.) Recently, Elden got a chance to do a full on training ride with Lance Armstrong. (See article here and his website for more.)

I was so pleased to read of Elden's ride with Lance. Elden has taken this tragedy that struck his family and turned it for good. He's raised lots of money for cancer research as well as to provide bikes for schools in Africa. In doing so, he's been a good example to his kids. It's nice to see him rewarded with a top of the line Trek Madone and a ride with Lance. I have no idea of his understanding/ belief in, God, but Elden has demonstrated the truth of being created in the image of God. God is one who turns evil for good, who redeems and who has the last word. Cancer does not have the last word in the Fat Cyclist's story and that is a beautiful thing.

Chase Fireflies

My friend Kristin is a great writer. She also has a newly designed website. Check it out.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fred Cusick

I was saddened deeply to hear of the death of Fred Cusick, longtime voice of the Boston Bruins. It's strange to feel such grief for someone I've never met and someone who, by all accounts, lived a very full life to the age of 90.

Yet, for many Boston Bruins fans like myself, Fred was a part of our lives. In some ways Fred was a guest in my home for 82 nights (plus playoffs) for the first 23 years of my life. In my mind he is the greatest play by play broadcaster (of any sport) who ever lived and will always be the voice of the Bruins and the standard by which all others are measured. His distinctive call of "score!" and "kick save and a beauty!" are etched in my mind and I can recall his voice in an instant. So many great moments (and not so great moments) in Bruins history were called by Fred. He is a legend and will be missed.

Blessings to the Cusick family.

Monday, July 20, 2009

11 Years Old Again

I was 11 years old again yesterday. I was riding my bike to my mom's house for a cookout. It is the house I grew up in. In the midst of a full day, I wanted to squeeze in a bike ride and so I decided I'd ride to the cookout and the kids would ride in the car with Katie, along with a change of clothes for me.

I left a bit early so I could get in a few extra miles. I wasn't going to go too crazy because I was still recovering from an awesome week at CHIC, but I wanted a few more miles than a straight ride would give me. Away I rode and eventually came to a place where any one of three streets would take me to my eventual destination. I was feeling tired at this point (not to mention sad about being tired after such a short ride, but hey, CHIC will do that to ya) but I still wanted to hit one more hill. I knew the street with the best climb (best= hardest of the three) (I'm a terrible climber and you can only get better doing it) but in the end I chose the last street, the one furthest away. Why? Because being near my old neighborhood reminded me of my childhood.

As a youngster I would ride my bike around my neighborhood, carefully avoiding the "busy" streets, because that was the rule imposed by mom and dad. Most days, unless there was a particular destination, I rode a loop around my neighborhood and choosing the last street to turn on would allow me to ride that loop again. And I did. It felt great to ride that loop and reminisce about the many times I'd done so previously, both with and without friends.

Some time ago Tony Myles likened the experience of learning to ride a bike to freedom. (You can check it out here.) There is a certain amount of freedom I felt riding my bike, even though I had to avoid the "busy" streets. But that's the way freedom is, right? I mean, could we have freedom without boundaries? I don't think so.

Many people try to throw off all limitations in the name of freedom. But a life without boundaries is ultimately a life that is self-directed. A self-directed life (if it is to be truly self-directed) must exclude community lest others in our community influence us. It must throw off other outside influences too, because hey, I'm in charge here and you can't tell me what to do. The ultimate in individualism. The ultimate freedom. Self imposed solitary confinement, baby. Hey wait a second...solitary confinement?

Yeah, maybe what we often mistake for freedom is actually the worst form of imprisonment there is.

1 Peter 2:
16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God's slaves.

Keep on rockin' in a free world.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


So I'm reading one of those "college alumni magazine" (not my college) and there's an article highlighting their intramural sports program. One of the lines in the articles reads along these lines: Some of the intramural leagues are competitive and some are more for fun. This idea that less competitive = more fun is one of the most misunderstood notions in the entire world. Frankly, it's a complete crock. You hear people say it all the time, "Oh I don't care who wins, I just play for fun." That's bad, but worse is the, "Oh, I'm not really trying to win, I just play for fun." I mean, really, what fun is playing a sport if you aren't trying to win? Or, what's worse than playing a sport against someone who isn't trying to win? I mean, really, if it's "more fun" when you're not trying to win...DON'T PLAY!!! I just don't get it...and that a college magazine would perpetuate this nonsense is disturbing.

Maybe my blog isn't dead after all. I can't go out on this note.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Is This It?

I may have come to the end of my blogging life. (I realize I'm setting myself up royally here. You know, "Oh, we didn't know you had a blogging life" comments and such.) I haven't decided. It's not that I don't have things to say, but finding the time to say them, well, that's another thing. And speaking of another thing, looks like there's a third kid on the way. (How did that happen?!??!) (Yes, setting myself up again.) I dunno...we'll see.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

We Are Not Doomed

From Barbara Brown Taylor's Speaking of Sin: The Lost Language of Salvation :

My concern is that neither the language of medicine nor the language of law is an adequate substitute for the language of theology, which has more room for paradox than either of the other two. In the theological model, the basic human problem is not sickness or lawlessness but sin. It is something we experience both as a species and as individuals, in our existential angst and in our willful misbehavior. However we run into it, we run into it as wrecked relationship: with God, with one another, with the whole created order. Sometimes we cause the wreckage and sometimes we are simply trapped in it, but either way we are not doomed.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Boston Bruins Trade Deadline Deals

When all was said and done, the Bruins acquired forward Mark Recchi, defenseman Steve Montador, and a second round pick in 2010. They gave up Matt Lashoff (D), Petteri Nokelainen (F) and Martin Karsums (F).

All in all, I like the trades. It toughens up their blue line, adds the left handed shot for the power play, upgrades Bergeron's line (I'm guessing that's where Recchi will play) and both guys have gone to the finals in the playoffs, with Recchi having won two Cups.

They gave up some youth, all of which have a chance of being NHL regulars. Of the three, I liked Nokie the best. Still, they've not given up any regulars and upgraded their team. we go!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Since When?

I'm not sure when it happened but it did. Somewhere along the line I stopped expecting great things from God. Not "great things" like "oh Lord, you can provide the Ipod touch," but great things like, "This kid is struggling you can bring healing and restoration."

A week ago today I returned from a denominational conference. Somewhere during the week I made the realization that I stopped expecting to see God at work. I can't point to a single conversation, sermon, prayer or anything, but I've repented and feel quite renewed. I guess God was at work even when I didn't expect Him to be. He was at work even when I didn't notice.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I Never Win Anything?

Well, that used to be true. I won a caption contest at Marko's blog! Woo-hoo!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Talk Godly to Me....

As has been mentioned previously in this blog, I was big on 80's metal and the so-called "hair bands" (and even some bands that got lumped in with the hair bands that didn't really belong to that category.) As a guitar player and a male, it was doubly bad for me to like Poison, but I did. CC Deville often served as the whipping boy for guitar players and critics, but I loved him. I loved his over-the-top playing and thought it was a perfect fit for the band. I learned some of his songs on guitar, and will still play along with the CD every now and then, despite some lyrics that really make me cringe.

CC is doing well these days...

Blessings, CC.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Best of Books 2008

Some time ago I decided to make my own end of year list. So, here it is, some of my favorites reads from this past year, in no particular order. In general, I like to have a “fun” book to read along with books that will help build my faith and broaden my understanding of who God is.

Postively False: The Real Story of how I Won the Tour de France by Floyd Landis with Loren Mooney.
This was one of my fun books. I had read it before, but decided to read it again. If nothing else, this book will make you want to, as Queen would say, "get on your bike and ride." A fascinating story, passionately delivered. Was Landis clean when he won? You be the judge.

The Year of Living Biblically by A.J Jacobs.
Reviewed here.

The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier by Tony Jones.
I have to say that it is the best book to help you get acquainted with Emergent and the emerging conversation. The book includes a brief history of how this group came to be and more importantly, it gives insights into the heartbeat of this group of Christians. There are several "dispatches" that offer insight into what is most important to these folks. Jones does a great job of not only presenting these dispatches, but also illustrating how they play out in real life, rather than simply stating them in abstract terms.

The Blueprint: How the New England Patriots Beat the System to Become the Last Great NFL Superpower by Chris Price
If you like the Patriots you’ll enjoy this book. It goes over some well covered areas, but is an interesting read nonetheless.

Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense by N.T. Wright
A great book…a conversational apologetic. Well worth your time.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
A woman goes back in time. Couldn’t put it down, but had a hard time getting into the sequel, which I never finished.

Surprised By Hope: Rethinking Heaven, The Resurrection and the Mission of the Church by N.T. Wright
Another great book, very helpful and very thought provoking.

Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices, and Priorities of a Winning Life by Tony Dungy and Nathan Witaker
This one was given to me and I didn't want to read it for one simple reason: I'm a Patriots fan. I decided to pick it up one day and am glad I did. Tony's story is a good one.

Girl Meets God: On the Path to a Spiritual Life by Lauren Winner
Girl Meets God is Lauren Winner's memoir of her journey from Orthodox Judaism to Christianity. It is a delightful book, full of wisdom, insight and priceless little gems, all told in a humble, humorous and honest fashion.

Covert: My Years Infiltrating the Mob by Bob Delaney and Dave Scheiber
One of my “fun” books. I heard an interview with Delaney on the radio and decided to read his book. An inside look at the mob and how Delaney (now an NBA referee) infiltrated it as an undercover operative. Interesting read, to say the least.

Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices by Brian McLaren
Amongst Brian’s best books. A practical and helpful look at spiritual practices.

The Honest to God Church: A Pathway to God's Grace by Doug Bixby
In The Honest to God Church, Doug advocates for churches to be the types of communities that could claim the saying, "I'm not okay, you're not okay." Doug contends that too often the church becomes either an "I'm okay, you're not okay" or an "I'm okay, you're okay" community and neither of those options is either accurate or helpful. Rather, by emphasizing grace and being communities of grace, we offer a means of transformation for all who are a part, or will be a part of our community.

The Shack by William Young
I enjoyed this book and was challenged by it. For a very thorough review of it, check out Ben Witherington’s review.

The Boys of Winter: The Untold Story of a Coach, a Dream and the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team by Wayne Coffey
The story of the 1980 US Olympic hockey team. Told in a “what happened then and where are they now” way.

A Christianity Worth Believing by Doug Pagitt
Doug's spiritual memoir andhis hope filled theology.

True Story: A Christianity Worth Believing In by James Choung
A work of "creative non-fiction" (see McLaren's A New Kind... series), Choung offers an enlarged view of the gospel and a new way to share it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Well Worth A Read

Monday, December 22, 2008

Buddha Appears in Pastry

I was at a party recently sitting at a table that had plates full of pastries. I was contemplating eating what looked to be a pastry puff covered in white chocolate when I noticed something was odd about it. Suddenly it hit me...Buddha had appeared in the pastry.

I showed it to friends at the party and they agreed, yup sure enough, it was Buddha. (Okay, they agreed that there was a man, but not all were convinced it was Buddha.) I told them I was going to take it home and sell it on Ebay. Several friends advised against this saying that there isn't much of a market for this sort of thing. If it had been the Virgin Mary, well, then I'd have a market. I think my friends are probably right. My excitement over the discovery quickly turned to disappointment. Why couldn't it have been Mary?

Still, I hold out hope that there may be some market for Buddha. I still haven't put it on Ebay, but if you want it, make me an offer I can't refuse.

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Memo to Axl Rose

Guns-n-Roses is no more, regardless of what you call your new band.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

The Power of One

I played on a "Fall Ball" softball team this year. The main difference between this league and my church league as far as game play goes, is that in Fall Ball we use wood bats only and have an extra infielder. (I like the wood bats. The extra infielder? Not so much.)

In what turned out to be our last game of the season, we were playing for the right to play for the championship. We played a team with which we had some not so nice history. Two years ago, a few guys on their team felt one of our players deliberately slid into their second baseman with the intent of injuring him. (It was a head first slide…if he was intending to hurt anyone, it had to have been himself.) Anyway, some angry words were exchanged.

Fast forward two years and some of the players on both teams remain, though some of the main "combatants" are gone. Things seem to be better between the two teams- more banter in the infield, at the plate, etc. Well, things went crazy pretty quickly, and honestly, it seemed to be sparked by three people…three out of 20.

Here's the situation: Bases loaded, two outs. Our guy hits a come-backer to the mound. Their pitcher fields the ball, takes some gingerly steps toward home and softly under-hands the ball to their catcher, a man in his late 50's or early 60's. Our player on third is reaching home at about the same time and slides, feet first, into the plate. (ASA rules are such that, when there is going to be a close play, the runner must either slide or concede the tag.) Their catcher caught the ball thrown to him, but stumbled, perhaps over our player's feet, and fell to the ground. In doing so, he lost control of the ball. The umpire calls our runner out. Our first base coach (and manager) begins to protest the call loudly since the catcher dropped the ball. The catcher gets up, screams at our player, "What the f*!k!" and throws his glove in anger against the back stop

Chaos ensues, as the teams begin gathering around the first base line. I'm not even sure what all the yelling is about. It seems that some guys on both teams are discussing the merits of the call, albeit loudly, but in a fairly controlled manner. Others are discussing it loudly with both umpires. Then there seems to be some heated discussion along the lines of our player trying to hurt "the old guy."

Knowing that we have one knuckle-head on our team who is heading toward the fray, I head his toward him anticipating the worst. (By knuckle-head I mean one who might think a slow pitch softball game is worth getting in a fight over.) I'm correct in anticipating that his participation is most likely going to exacerbate the situation. He tells their main knuckle–head (who started the talk about "attempting to injure the catcher") to calm down. Soon both of them are screaming threats at each other with me holding, pushing and otherwise cajoling our guy to knock it off. Eventually (no thanks to the umpires, btw) cooler heads prevailed and the game continued without any further (major) incidents.

This got me thinking about "the power of one." I truly wondered what would have happened if the player on my team who tends to not keep his head, had not been present. Or, what if, when he didn't get a favorable response to his suggestion that his opponent calm down, he simply walked away? I think things would have turned out differently. If their catcher had recognized the play for what it was and simply not reacted, nothing happens other than the discussion with the umps. Finally, if the knuckle-head on their team kept his mouth shut, I have a feeling that things would have gone differently. Three separate sparks, each produced by one person, sparked what could have been a pretty nasty fire.

I do believe individuals have power and the power to influence others, both for good and for evil. Recently a friend said to me, "Don't you look at the world though, and think the deck is stacked in favor of evil?" It may seem that way, but Jesus is at his best in the role of the underdog.

Jesus: I think I'll change the world.

Everyone else: Oh yeah? How?

Jesus: Well, gimme a few fisherman, a tax collector etc…uh, let's see...that's 12...uh, yeah, that'll do.

And of course it also got me thinking. How do I use my power? What kind of fires do my sparks ignite? We may not feel like we have any power, or that it is easier for an individual to use power for evil, but I think we do ourselves, and our God, a disservice if we think that way.

Then Jesus asked, "What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches."

Again he asked, "What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough."

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ride Your Bike, Save Fuel and Make the World Safer for Cyclists

My five readers are aware that I recently got into cycling. I did not get into it to be "more green"or to save gas money. I got into it for exercise and recreation. However, since I began riding more, I have taken to riding my old comfort bike to and from work and on little errands around town. While my "commute" to work can barely be called that as it is probably a mile round trip, taking my bike to meetings, the library, grocery store etc. has been good. I have saved some gas, made my carbon footprint a little bit smaller, and gotten more exercise in the process. (Unfortunately, my knee is not yet fully healed and thus my riding for exercise and recreation has been severely limited- but I won't whine about that now.)

Not too long ago I was talking to a friend who mentioned she was about 10 miles from work. I encouraged her to explore the option of biking. The cost of good commuter bike will be easily made up in gas savings in a short time, not to mention the health benefits. Obviously there can be obstacles to doing this. Not everyone has a shower facility available to them at their place of work. (Articles I've read suggest baby wipes. I tried this recently. I road my bike to a park for a cookout with friends. I freshened up in the park bathroom with baby wipes and it wasn't too bad.) Winter weather can be tough, but with proper attire, riding in 20 degree weather is do-able.

People occasionally ask me about riding on the road and specifically about the dangers of it. The recently deceased blog, Dave Moulton's Bike Blog, often covered this subject and covered it well. In general, I find that if I follow the rules of the road, ride predictably and communicate well with motorists (signaling turns, signaling braking, giving a "thank you" wave etc.) things generally go pretty smoothly. Still, you need to be aware at all times and take unaware motorists in stride. (I'm not always good at that.) There are many books and articles that can get you up to speed on the rights and responsibilities you have as a cyclist on the road. In a short time you can become confident on the road. (Confidence should not be confused with carelessness.)

Here's the thing though...the more people that ride the safer it becomes. Check out this article that Brad Boydston linked to on his blog, "Bike Accidents Decline as Ridership Rises." Here's a quote: The researchers say studies in several countries have shown the incidence of motorists colliding with cyclists or pedestrians actually declines as more people ride or walk. The reason, they say, is simple -- the more cyclists motorists see, the more aware they are of cyclists in general and more safely they drive. Rising cycling rates mean motorists are more likely to be cyclists, and therefore be more conscious of, and sympathetic towards, cyclists.

If you have ever thought about commuting on a bike, whether to work or just for errands around town, I'd encourage you to go for it. You'll make your carbon footprint smaller, save some gas and become a little healthier in the process.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Guess Who's Back? Lance is Back...

Lance Armstrong has announced his intention return to professional cycling. The complete details are to be revealed on September 24 at an event in New York. See his website for more.

The goal, it is reported, is to ( among other things) win an 8th Tour de France. Why would Lance do this? What can he gain? Joe Lindsay has some interesting thoughts. Some have said it would be impossible for Lance to win the TDF at age 37.

Yeah, impossible is not a word I'd use when talking of Lance and winning a bike race. Still, 34 is considered "over the hill" for the Tour and Lance is 37. I'm not counting him out though...would you?

I'm looking forward to hearing what Lance has to say on the 24th. This should be interesting.


Monday, September 01, 2008


I remember being fresh out of college in a new role as youth pastor at my church. At the time, I thought the mere fact of my presence meant that I would have a steady stream of students coming to me looking for a listening ear, prayer, advice, counsel or some combination thereof. Well, it didn't (and probably doesn't) work that way. It takes time to establish relationships and trust.

Dan was the first student to confide in me. He was a senior in high school. We had lunch at McDonald's and he shared some struggles- doubts mostly, he was having with his faith. He had also been making some bad decisions that are not all that uncommon amongst teens. I left that conversation very concerned for Dan and wondering if and how God might intervene in his life.

Fast forward 11 years and a few months back. Dan, now married and the father of 3, and I have lunch at a small Mexican restaurant. We talk about our children, our wives and our faith. We talk about how our faith has grown over the years. We talk about books that have been helpful to us and agree that we ought to do a book exchange. I'm blown away by the contrast of the conversations and so pleased to see where Dan is at now.

The bill arrives and I take it and pull out my credit card. "Sorry, cash only." I have maybe $3 cash on me. Dan picks up the tab and I say, "Well, next time it's on me, and I'll make sure I bring cash." We go our separate ways.

I got a call a couple weeks ago on a Friday morning. Dan died, cause of death was unknown.

I guess you know it's always a possibility that you'll be doing a funeral for a student or former student, but it's certainly not something you expect to do. Inevitably a tragic situation like this raises a host of difficult questions. Most of them begin with "why," and, well, end there too.

Words always seem inadequate in a situation like this because they are. Hope is real though and I've continued to hang on to hope in the weeks since. At his funeral I shared about these two conversations and how they were a picture of God's faithfulness to Dan throughout his life- even, and perhaps especially, when Dan would have admitted that he himself had been less than faithful to God. God's presence in Dan's life was real and thus that presence in a reality in death as well.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39

Friday, August 01, 2008

I Hate...Me?

A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to have lunch with Brian McLaren. We talked about evangelism primarily and I very much appreciated the time to talk with him. During the course of our conversation I told him that one of the things I admire most about him is how he deals with his more vitriolic and mean-spirited critics. (There are critics of his who are fair and thoughtful in their criticism, and then there are others.) I told him how I used to read these "others" but in doing so, I realized that it didn't help me to think more critically about the topic at hand, but rather it made me want to be like them. That is to say it made me want to start a website designed to tear them apart in return.

It is often said that we hate in others that which we hate in ourselves. Maybe hate is too strong of a word, but regardless, I've seen the truth behind this sentiment in myself more than I care to admit. (I suppose there are times when this doesn't hold true, but it may be true more often than we realize.)

In his review of The Dark Knight* Greg Boyd writes, "The Joker’s mission is to expose what a joke this thin veneer of human righteousness is. Throughout the movie he creates anarchy to reveal the evil that lurks just beneath the surface of our orderly lives. He also forces people to make impossible choices where they either become barbarians like himself or face death. He is usually (but not quite always) proven right." And later in the review, "Along the same lines, The Dark Knight ingeniously explores how easy it is to become the evil that we fight."

The obvious example of becoming the evil that we fight is George W. Bush. Some have accused him of essentially becoming Al Qaeda-like in how he has pursued the war in Iraq. That criticism may or may not be valid (and I don't care to discuss it, but for more check out this review) but it does serve as an example of how this might work.

Closer to home, that is personally, I have been prompted to think about people I am critical of. (And, I think the list is, thankfully, pretty short.) What is it about them that I am critical of and how is that quality/characteristic/flaw present in me? I think this is the essence of Jesus instruction to remove the plank from our own eye before attempting to remove the speck from another's eye. It's not an easy thing to do, and somewhat uncomfortable, but ultimately it can be and is, life giving.

*Boyd's review contains some spoilers, so beware before reading. Also, he confuses the commissioner (Harvey) and the DA (Dent) as he describes Dent in his review but identifies him as Harvey. It does no damage to his overall point, but may throw you for a temporary loop if you've seen the movie.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Last Shall Be First

Monday, June 30, 2008

I Want to Ride My Bicycle

But my knee is being a little balky these days. A visit to the doctor today will hopefully help identify a course of action to correct the problem(s). In the meantime, I can continue to read two of my favorite bike blogs around.

Dave Moulton's Bike Blog


Bill Strickland's Sitting In.

Strickland has a way with words and I've mentioned his writing in this post. He has a great way with words and if he doesn't make you want to get on a bike and ride, there's not much hope for you.

Dave is a former bike frame builder and writes about various aspects of biking. Well worth the read.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008


This past Sunday was "Children's Sunday" at our church. (For the record, I'm not a fan of "Children's Sunday." Either we're a community or not and having a "Children's Sunday" suggests that anything happening on other Sundays isn't for children. My voice in this matter isn't entirely ignored since we no longer have "Youth Sundays.") As part of the day, the kids go up front and sing a song.

My 4 year old took her place up front and the song began and she got that nervous look in her eye and then, holding back tears, motioned for me to come to her. I did and she cried a bit and said she didn't want to sing. Soon enough (well, maybe not for her) the song was over and we went back to our pew. Several folks around us told her what a good job she did.

Then she said something that absolutely floored me.

"I was afraid I wouldn't be perfect."


You see there are motions that go along with the song and she didn't feel like she knew the motions well enough.

"Honey, who told you that you have to be perfect?" I asked. We talked briefly and I told her no one is perfect and that her mom and I love her and always will no matter what. I encouraged her to always do her best and that would always be good enough.

In the process of doing this I felt like my valiant efforts were falling well short of their intended target.

I'm still not sure where a four year old gets the idea that she has to be perfect. I can't help but wonder if she got that idea from me, but I sure hope I don't communicate that kind of expectation to her. A friend commented that it's a first child thing...I dunno.

It raises many thoughts in my mind, not the least of which is how do our attitudes about ourselves impact our view of God? These thoughts aren't fully formed yet so I won't get into them just yet.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


I'm feeling content today. I didn't win the caption contest (at least, if I did, I wasn't notified by the date specified in the rules!) And thus, my dream bike, (check out the video review) will remain that...a dream.

I'll admit that I struggle at times with being content. There's always the temptation to think, "Well, if I just made X much more money," or "If I only had this (fill in the blank) then I'd be happy." This sort of thinking ultimately is not very helpful as it fails to recognize all that I do have and all that God has blessed me with. What's more, is that it simply is not true. That thinking, even if we get X, leads to other thoughts of "if only...".

Would I love a Cervelo RS? I'm sure I would...but I don't need it. I'd rather be like Paul who was onto something when he wrote:

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Have I Mentioned

That I love Bart Campolo? Well I do. Check this out.

Jesus Shows Up

Monday, May 12, 2008


Well, I finally saw Juno. I have to say, I was disappointed. Every youth ministry mag, blog, message board etc. told me I had to see the film. I guess I can understand why; a movie about teens, teen pregnancy, abortion etc. Maybe my expectations were too high? (Though, I have to say I was disappointed that my wife picked Juno instead of Atonement or Before the Devil Knows You're Dead and so my expectations couldn't have been that high. Have any of my 5 readers seen Atonement or Before the Devil...? Leave me a review...I heard Before is supposed to be good, but it was some guy on the radio, so you never know.)

I think my biggest problem with the movie was that I didn't buy the characters. I'm a youth pastor and have been for a little over 10 years now. I've met hundreds (thousands, maybe) of teenage girls and of those hundreds, I've gotten to know...oh I don't know, many let's say, pretty well. I've never met a 16 year old like Juno was portrayed in the film. I didn't buy her dad and step-mom either. I didn't buy that idiot character Jason Bateman played. And, for all the running he did, Paulie Bleeker's legs were pretty unimpressive. (Though that, I admit, is being a bit nit-picky.)

The obvious question is why I didn't buy the Juno character. It wasn't that she was too confident, or too sarcastic, or too savvy but she was a little too much of all of those at the same time. That coupled with wondering if you can even do "want-ad" adoptions and thinking Jason Bateman's character was a loser, left me liking no one in the film. I mean, Juno (the character) was okay, but I can't say I cared all that much about her.

So, yeah, I was disappointed. Maybe I'm getting grumpy in my old age...I dunno.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Boston Bruins

The Boston Bruins have battled back from a 2-0 and 3-1 series deficit to tie the first round playoff series against their long time rivals, the Montreal Canadiens. Game six was simply an unbelievable game. I've seen a few playoff games in my day, and I can't recall a game quite like this one. Through the game the B's trailed 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2. When they finally took the lead 4-3, in the 3rd period, Montreal tied the score eleven seconds later! With minutes remaining, Marco Sturm scored what would prove to be the game winner and the celebration captured above, ensued. (Photo by Barry Chin of the Boston Globe.)

I haven't written about the Bruins in some time, but I have been watching as always. If nothing else, I hope that this series, win or lose, revives this long standing rivalry which has been on life support for some time. As a youngster, there was nothing more exciting than a Bruins-Canadiens game, regular or post-season. Each game was an event and the atmosphere at the Garden was electric. It was comparable to the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry. In more recent years, the atmosphere and feeling has been that of "just another game" and the talk of rivalry wasn't descriptive as much as it was nostalgic. This series may have changed that...or well, Bruins and Habs fans can hope, anyway.

The Bruins have been pretty resilient this year and pretty exciting. They have some very young players (Kessel, Lucic, Krejci, Sobotka, Nokelainen, and Stuart) who are playing or have played a significant role this season. They have been without Patrice Bergeron, perhaps their best player, most of the season and without Chuck Kobasew for the playoffs. I have to believe Chara is not 100% either. And they've taken Montreal to a game 7 in a series no "expert" has expected them to win. Their farm team in Providence has some very promising prospects as well, most notably Matt Lashoff and Tukka Rask. The future is bright for the Bruins...and it's about time.

Go Bruins...