Archive for September, 2010

Cotton Mather, the colonial-era New England Puritan, wrote:

I was once emptying the Cistern of Nature, and making Water at the Wall. At the same Time, there came a Dog, who did so too, before me. Thought I; “What mean and vile Things are the Children of Men, in this mortal State! How much do our natural Necessities abase us and place us in some regard, on the Level with the very Dogs!” … Accordingly, I resolved, that it should be my ordinary Practice, whenever I step to answer the one or other Necessity of Nature, to make it an Opportunity of shaping in my Mind some noble, divine Thought.

Takeaway?  For starters, Calvin needs to take his urination ruminations to a higher spiritual plane.


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I mentioned the other day how if you only see the headlines these days you are often missing alot of what is God is “quietly” doing. There is alot of that in Memphis. Here’s one thing that is happening right in our own church that you probably haven’t heard about. The 2PC youth are beginning to partner with Youth Visions, a ministry based in Frayser. I use the word partner intentionally, as the goal is for the two groups to work together in a partnership to serve each other and Memphis. The two got together recently to make a video that captures some of the spirit of what they are doing (for whatever reason, I can’t embed this video, so just click on the link):

Doing This Together

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“They figured that he was with the group, and they went a day’s journey…” and only then did they decide to look for him (Luke 2).

They apparently didn’t even notice that he wasn’t with the group as they started back home.  Probably a night of enjoying of all the fasting (so to speak) pre-festival, esp since Joseph had enough of that before Jesus showed up.  I imagine that Mary and Joseph just needed a little time to refresh themselves and a little time with friends before and during that journey.

That’s my justification (in part) for a little get away with the Mrs., celebrating ten years of matrimonial bliss (for me–for my wife it’s more like celebrating ten years down):  if the righteous (Matt 1:19) parents of the Son of God needed a worry free day, the parents of the children of Hood probably need the same, plus…

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Choosing To SEE

Maria's Flower Back

I just finished reading a book by Mary Beth Chapman called Choosing To SEE. She is the wife of Christian singer/songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman. The Chapmans’ story is a part of our testimony of adopting Mae. When we were considering adoption we had been challenged by seeing their adoption of three Chinese girls. As we were filling out the paperwork to start the process, I attended a SCC concert where the focus of the night was adoption. I called Grace and told her I was sure of our decison after he sang the song “What Now”:

I saw the face of Jesus in a little orphan girl
She was standing in the corner on the other side of the world
And I heard the voice of Jesus gently whisper to my heart
Didn’t you say you wanted to find me?
Well here I am, here you are 

So, What now?
What will you do now that you found Me?
What now?
What will you do with this treasure you’ve found?
I know I may not look like what you expected
But if you remember this is right where I said I would be
You’ve found me
What now? 


The book begins with the story of the death of their youngest daughter, Maria, 5, who was killed when she struck by a car driven by her older brother, Will, in their own driveway. It is a devastating, encouraging and bittersweet account of their journey through the valley of the shadow of death. Throughout the book Mary Beth is brutally honest as she tells the story of their marriage (which she says is sometimes “Holy headlock”), their journey through having and adopting children, and the loss of Maria. She talks openly about her lifelong struggles with depression, saying that the working title of the book was “Mary Beth v. God”. But throughout the book, a couple of things continue to shine through- they are working through the pain with a stubborn faith in God’s “severe mercy”, and that along with His presence, God has used a beautiful community of friends to sustain their faith. As a friend who also read the book said, “This was a community that was built before the crisis, not in it.” I love this book because it is completely raw and transparent. But be ready, for these same reasons it is not an easy read. There are no pat answers, it will make you think and feel and hurt. The book does not have a “happy ending”, but it points us to The Happy Ending. 

Before the tragedy, the Chapmans started a foundation called Show Hope, a ministry designed to serve as an advocate for orphans and adoption. To honor Maria, they have built Maria’s Big House of Hope, a hospital in Henan, China, which can care for up to 120 special needs orphans at a time.

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This is a video of a guy named Nick Vujicic. He has no arms or legs, but he does have an amazing heart. All kinds of speakers tell groups of young people that they are beautiful just as the way they are. Somehow it means alot more coming from him.

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Top Ten Dishes in East Memphis

After nearly a dozen years of maintaining my 200-plus pounds in East Memphis (it’s hard work, really), I’m an expert.  Really.  I can’t promise you these are in the right order.  But they all belong–in my belly, and on this list.  Would I lie to you?  Not about food.

#10  Combo Vermicelli, Pho Saigon

#9  Alambre, Las Delicias.

#8  Reuben, Bogey’s Delicatessen

#7  Huey Burger w/ fries, Huey’s

#6 Ching’s Wings “Original Seasoned” (dry) wings

#5  N. Y. Strip Steak Sandwich, Half Shell

#4  BBQ Chicken Pizza, Memphis Pizza Cafe

#3  Baja Santa Fe Pizza, Old Venice Pizza Company.

#1  (cop-out tie) Veal Piccata and Elfo’s Special, Gristanti’s.

This is something of a middle-class list:  all but three of these dishes are less than 10 bucks a head (assuming you share the pizzas).  But with choices like these, why pay more?

Honorable mention:  Some of these aren’t quite big enough to be a full-blown dish:  Lobster Roll, Bangkok Alley.  Brother Juniper’s, anything.  Queso at El Porton.  Spinach-Artichoke Dip, Buckley’s and Houston’s.  Central BBQ, BBQ nachos.  Dan Dan Noodles, Crispy Honey Shrimp, and Mongolian Beef at P. F. Chang’s.  Buckley’s Filets.  Corky’s dry rack of ribs.

Tell me where I’m wrong, people, or give me your top three in comments.

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Awaiting Kate

I mentioned in my last post that I have had several things lately that were quiet reminders that God is at work all around us. One of these has been watching our good friends Sean and Sally Powell adopt their second child, Kate, from China (see their blog here). Their oldest daughter, Caroline, and our daughter, Mae, are both adopted from China and are best friends. It has been a treat to hope and anticipate with them over the last couple of years. A couple of weeks ago, they brought Kate home. Kate was considered a “waiting child” due to a cleft lip. In China they traveled with other families who were adopting “waiting children”- a 13 yr old whose chance at a family would end if not adopted before her 14th birthday, one child who is blind, one in a wheelchair. Stories we would never have known without hearing them as parts of the Powells’ story. And then to see Kate light up when Sean walked through the door coming home from work. A month before she was in an orphanage, and now she was running to her father in her new home.  

The picture (taken in China) below says it all

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Forget fantasy football; I just don’t have the time–I have work, side stuff, and plenty of family stuff to keep me occupied.  So the real question is, how can I make a fantasy game out of work?  Here’s my first effort:

Fantasy Theologian:  10 points for a book. 5 points for a conference.  1 point for an interview or op-ed. 1 point for every 20 blog posts.  I drafted D. A. Carson, N. T. Wright, and Tim Keller in the first three rounds.  You don’t have to sit a guy unless he goes on sabbatical (like John Piper) or gets nailed for some heresy (negative points).

Fantasy Televangelist:  10 points for TBN appearance. 5 points per conference megatour. 1 point per person slain in spirit, faith offering, and for every 10 foot lengthenings. Negative points for divorces, congressional investigations, and sex scandals.

I guess this could be hosted at beliefnet instead of ESPN and yahoo sports?

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It’s easy to miss some of the really great things that are going on around us. I get busy in my daily routines and sometimes all I hear are the headlines. I have been blessed with a couple of days lately where the routine was broken and I was reminded of how God is at work in Memphis, and how some of the best things seem to happen kind of quietly. A couple of weeks ago I got to visit a chapel program at New Hope Christian Academy, a private Christian elementary school in Frayser. There were over 400 kids, as well as the staff and faculty, packed into the gym. I watched as they sang “Praise Ye The Lord” in rounds, cheered for their teachers, honored several students and listened to a short message. It was great. These kids are getting a “a challenging intellectual and spiritual education grounded in the knowledge of God as uniquely revealed in Jesus Christ and attested to in the Scriptures” (per their mission statement), and without New Hope and it’s teachers, they probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity. When we think about “transforming” Memphis, this is one of the best ways to do it. Mitchell has posted previously about the Memphis Teacher’s Residency. Every day, teachers are being prepared to go into Memphis schools to love and teach our children. Being at New Hope was a great reminder of how they are quietly transforming our city, one child at a time.

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Measuring Grace

The extent of our Lord’s self-denying grace is measured by the distance between equality with God, and a public execution on a gibbet.

J. Eadie, Commentary on Philippians, commenting on Philippians 2

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