boon-dog-gle: (noun) work of little or no value done merely to keep or look busy.
free: (adjective) provided without, or not subject to, a charge or payment.


Good Friday...

There was an interesting article today over at about why Easter hasn't been commercialized in the marketplace to the extent that Christmas has. I think the author is pretty close to right on. It's not that I particularly disagree with anything he says; it's just that I would have said more and said it all in a bit of a different way. Anyway, it's food for thought if you want to check it out.

But, before we get to Easter, we must have Good Friday. I remember when I was a kid I asked my mom why we call it "Good Friday" when it is the day that Jesus died, which is not good. Maybe it should be called "Bad Friday." Well, I have no memory of how she answered me. I was probably too wrapped up in congratulating myself for asking such a clever and astute questions. But, I do know how I would answer my young self now.

One of my favorite promises in Scripture is from Matthew 16:18 when Jesus said, "I will build my church." Whenever I lead corporate prayer at church, I invoke this promise and ask the Lord to fulfill His Word. As one who is in leadership in the church, this promise assures me that in spite of all of my weakness and failures as a leader, and in spite of the brokenness and mess I see even in the lives of my fellow Christians (let alone in the lives of a lost world that we are trying to reach) the church will not only survive but thrive and grow. How will this be so?

Jesus told us in John 12:32 the way He would accomplish the building of His church. "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." This lifting up did not refer to His ascension, but to His crucifixion (see John 12:33). And it means that the growth of the church is not dependent upon seeker-sensitive programs, nor the influence of cultural or political power brokers, nor even the faithful ministry of His followers. Rather, this promise reminds us that Jesus Christ crucified remains the central person and event in His church. It assures us who are weary or timid in ministry that the burden is upon Him and His faithfulness, not upon us and ours. It also assures us who are tentative and fearful in our faith--not sure if it our we measure up--that it is not we who have tried to seek Him but He who draws us.

Yet Jesus also instructs us in Matthew 10:24 that "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master." If we claim to be followers of Jesus, should we expect to receive better treatment from His opponents than He Himself faced? It cannot be so. Thus this statement from our Teacher and Master is a challenge to us who may be satisfied or proud in our ministry to be willing to take up our own cross of suffering and humiliation in order to show to others Christ on His cross.

This is my mini-theology of Good Friday. Good Friday is about Jesus building His church, because Jesus promised to build His church by drawing the world to Himself in His death. So Good Friday is a reminder for the overburdened of the simple message that it is Jesus in His death who accomplishes the work of building His church, while Good Friday is a reminder for the complacent that we are called to follow Jesus even in suffering to take His message to the world.

"For He was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God." (2 Corinthians 13:4)


Surprise random link of the week...

Usually my links are a little more obscure. I think this site has already grown rather popular since I first discovered it. But, now that I'm back to blogging, I wanted to make sure that the first random link I offered was a good one.

Here's this week's link: Have fun!


apples and oranges...

This post has nothing to do with apples. Nor will I be attempting to compare two unlike things or categories. But I will mention oranges later, and I had to give it some title. Here are some things on my mind lately:
  • I'm sick of precipitation in all forms.
  • I hate cars. We're looking at about $800 in repair/maintenance costs this week.
  • Earlier this evening, I spent about an hour crafting a response to a blog post I read. Then I decided not to post it. That happens more often than I care to admit.
  • For the past couple of months, I've been totally obsessed with Iron Chef America on the Food Network. Until I started watching that show, I would have said that the idea of watching a show of people cooking is ridiculous. In fact, I'd still say that. But I can't stop.
  • I haven't filled out my bracket for the NCAA tournament yet. I need to do that.
  • I'm not as excited for baseball to begin as I usually am. I suppose that's because my favorite team, the San Francisco Giants, and my adopted-hometown team, the Saint Louis Cardinals, are probably going to be battling for the worst record in the National League.
  • Finally, being an extraordinarily lazy person, I find oranges to be a hassle. You have to peel them, you usually get that white stuff lodged under your fingernails, and it's almost impossible to eat them without getting your fingers sticky. But, if you make the effort, and if you get a good one, there is almost nothing better than a really good orange.


the rudest thing ever...

...okay, maybe not, but this totally bugs me.

If you are in some kind of store or restaurant or any place where you are at the cash register, make sure you finish your cell-phone conversation before beginning your transaction with the cashier. It is so rude to be talking on your cell phone to someone in some other place when you have an actual human being right in front of you trying to do something for you.

In my job at the Covenant Seminary Bookstore I'm the one that rings out 90%+ of our customers. I'd say that it happens a couple of times a week that a customer is having a conversation and expects me to take care of his transaction while he either completely ignores me or communicates actual annoyance at my presence. Those times are really the only times that I don't like my job. In a weird way I can't explain, I feel degraded and diminished by such treatment. My mind tells me to just get over it, but there is something about such that situation that makes me feel totally crummy.

It's not that I want the people to talk to me instead of whoever they are on the phone with. In fact, most of the time, I don't want them to talk to me. But I do want to feel free to tell them the cost of their books and ask them the usual questions like whether they found everything they were looking for and whether they want a bag. I don't even mind if they talk on their phones as they walk around the store. That doesn't bother me at all either. But it would be nice to have my existence and attempt to provide a service acknowledged. My response lately has been to go through with the reaction with as little communication as possible, which means I don't make eye contact and I don't say anything, even the cost or goodbye when they leave. I don't know or really care whether that's a good response, but I'm not going to insist that people pay attention to me.

Except for right now. You should pay attention to the people that are providing you with service. Talk on your phone later.



music recommendation...

For the last two days I've been grooving to my friend Caleb's newly released album. I highly recommend it. The music is beautiful and the lyrics are authentic and true. Go buy the album at his band's MySpace page.

Their band was recently named the best alt-country group in St. Louis. I didn't even know that was a genre, but apparently it is and I like at least one artist in it. Caleb (and the guys) have also received some good press here, here, here, and here (I couldn't find the actual article online for this one, so this is the text reproduced on their blog). So seriously, check them out. You can preview some of their stuff on their site too.


G.K. Chesterton...

"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people."