Thursday, October 15, 2009

A New Question (part 1)

Who am I? Have you ever really stopped to think about the answer to this question. I was stopped dead in my tracks this week when confronted with these three simple words: "Who are you?" It's easy to answer this with things like, "I'm a property manager for the public housing authority in Grand Rapids," or "I'm a husband and a father," or "I'm a worship leader." But these are not so much who we are as they are what we are or what we do.

I think for the past several years I've found my identity (or tried to establish my identity) in what I do. Out of college I was a business consultant, then I moved to property management, then I was a youth pastor and a worship leader, then back to property management. But these really don't answer who I am. I've been married for a little more than seven years to Heidi, and we have a beautiful daughter named Ella...but this doesn't really answer who I am. I've led worship for years in big and small venues, but this still doesn't really answer who I am. I've played music in bars and clubs and coffee shops, but this still doesn't provide the answers I'm looking for. These all point towards gifts and talents and personality traits. But, at the end of the day they don't say a thing about who I really am.

This question came up at a Bible study I'm a part of...and it really got me thinking. I've tried for too long to characterize who I am by what I do. I think this might be part of the reason that I find myself so easily discontent. I try to force who I am into whatever I'm doing (job, ministry, friendships), and it doesn't fit. My job and ministry and friendships...even my family...cannot contain who I am. Which looking back over the past few years is a good thing...if my job was who I am, I would have been five different people in the last five years. That's right, five different jobs...horrible, I know. But as I look at each of those jobs, I see how I tried to squeeze who I am into them instead of letting them fit into who I am (current position excluded because I've adjusted my outlook on some things). At Woodhaven I tried to force passion into tradition. At Origins I tried to force high expectations into the status quo. At Park Place I tried to force leadership into a community that didn't want to be led. At Stone Falls I tried to force myself to be someone I was not in order to make the sale. Interestingly enough, these are all very good traits that I think I have...passion, high expectations, leadership, and even the ability to be all things to all people. I don't think these traits alone are who I am, but they certainly feed into it. And I've spent my whole life, really, trying to fit these into whatever I do.

I'm not going to go into who I am right now because I would like you, my faithful few readers, to ask that same question of yourself: "Who am I?" When you strip everything away, who are you?

Monday, October 12, 2009


It's been almost three months since I started working for the Grand Rapids Housing Commission. And, I must say, it's going really well. I love the people I work with, as well as the work that I'm doing. My work doesn't feel empty day in and day out. I feel like I'm actually making a difference in people's lives, and that's a very good feeling to have.

Speaking of making a difference in people's lives, there's someone who's making a difference in mine. I don't know his name, but nearly every day I drive past him. He stands on the corner of Burton and Eastern in Grand Rapids with a sign for Happy's Pizza. Now, I don't really like Happy's Pizza that much (in fact, I think Pizza places should be limited to...well...Pizza and subs/grinders...and simple Italian dishes...Happy's menu has everything...but that's for another day), but this guy makes me smile. He has what most would consider a boring, uneventful job. I know I would HATE standing on the corner with sign that says, "2 large pizzas $10.99" (and I would hate it even more to have to dress up like the Statue of Liberty at tax time and wave people in to get their taxes done). But this guy gets it done. Rain or shine, there he is. And he doesn't just stand and wave. No, this guy gets into his job. He paces back and forth around the corner of this busy intersection and dances and sings (or raps...I can't be sure because I can't actually hear him...I just see him mouthing words). And, he does this for hours on end I would assume. He's taken a job that most of us would hate and made it fun. He's passionate about it. He doesn't care what people are thinking. He just unashamedly draws attention to himself so that his audience...the cars driving by...will hopefully go to Happy's Pizza. I have the fortune of having some really good employees that work for me, but if I'm ever in a spot to hire someone, I want to hire this guy because of the energy he pours into his job. Not only does he make me smile when I see him, but he encourages me to live not just go through the motions.

So, here's to you, "guy that dances and sings on the corner of Burton and Eastern" have single-handedly revolutionized your line of work.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Things I'm Thinking Right Now

Random, I know, but these are the things that are on my mind:

We don't have long, so we should love those around us without holding back.
I'm glad to be working with the least of these again.
Have we really been married for seven years?  Let's hope the next seven are as good as the last seven.
I wonder what I'll be doing seven years from now.
I can't wait to eat me some bbq for lunch tomorrow.
I still cry a lot when I think about my daughter...she is amazing.
Hmm, that's funny, my daughter just woke up in the middle of the night crying.
Corona is just as good with lemon as it is lime (I didn't feel like cutting open a fresh lime for one bottle of I used lemon that was already cut).
Before summer is over, I will create an amazing burger recipe.
This past weekend proves even more to me that the best places to eat are not the places everyone has heard of.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Seasons Change Again

I've been working at Stone Falls of Ada, the newest luxury apartment community in Grand Rapids, for about a year. It's been a good ride. I've met a lot of really great people. I've made more money than I thought I would, and in this economy one cannot complain when he has gainful employment. The opportunity to work at Stone Falls came along at the right time for me. But, as it goes, a new opportunity presented itself a few weeks ago.

I'm still not really sure if I found the new opportunity, or if the new opportunity found me...but however it happened, I'm really glad it did. I start work on Monday with the Grand Rapids Housing Commission. I'm certain that God's hand has been all over this. When I first saw the job posting, I didn't think I had a shot at it, but I submitted my resume anyway. Two days after I submitted my resume, there was interview scheduled. About a week and a half after the interview (mixed with a few phone calls regarding references, etc.) I was offered the position. The position offers better pay and better benefits, but beyond that I believe it lines up more with my heart to care for those who are less fortunate than I. So, I'm anxiously awaiting Monday morning when I get to dive into a brand new opportunity pregnant with new challenges and new rewards.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Opening Act

Tomorrow I get to open up for Lincoln Brewster.  For those of you who don't know, Lincoln Brewster is a worship leader from California.  He is one of the best guitarists in Christian music today.  He actually played on Steve Perry's (yeah...Steve Perry from Journey) solo album.  In other words, he's not some hack of a guitarist, but can hold his own in both the Christian and secular music industry (though I do not like the labels "Christian" and "secular" so I very rarely separate the two...I could say more, but it would bore you to tears).  So, anyway, I'm opening for Lincoln Brewster with some really great friends of mine helping me.  As I've been preparing for this show Saturday night, I started to think about all of the somewhat famous people I've at the chance to open for.  The remainder of this entry will take you on somewhat of a musical journey from my beginnings as a musician playing in bands.  Prepare to laugh.

In high school my buddies and I started a band.  Darin, Joel, Matt, and I had our first show on the back of a semi trailer.  Our band name was White Horse Riders.  We sucked.  I won't say anything else on this...except that it was our only show before we added a guy who actually knew how to play guitar named Brian Lee.  We also changed our band name because we thought White Horse Riders was really dumb.  Our drummer, Joel, liked the sound of Ma Foi, which is French for "My Faith."  We still sucked.  We found out later (though it was never confirmed) that "ma" is some form of feminine possessive pronoun in French.  Even though we didn't know for sure, we opted to change the name again just to avoid confusion.  So, we became Twenty-four Seven.  I regret to say that this was the best of the three names we ever had.

So, as Twenty-four Seven, we landed some pretty cool gigs.  We got to open up a show for Rebecca St. James...even though they made us play with our own sound system to the side of the was still fun.  And, being in high school, I had a crush on her because she was a girl and she was pretty.  I should note, that Rebecca St. James is still a girl, and she is still pretty, but I no longer have a crush on her.  I happen to have a crush on my wife, who is also a girl, and is even more pretty than Rebecca St. James.

Twenty-four Seven had one more very cool opening gig.  It was the chance to open for Christian rock band, Guardian.  Guardian was one of my favorite bands throughout high school, so this was really fun for me.  It wasn't a large show...maybe 100-150 people.  But to meet some musicians who you really look up to was an honor.  Even though we had the chance to open for some cool acts, we still sucked.  And, after high school, we were done...and I think we were all a little bit relieved.

So, in college, I started out just doing random worship leading.  But, then, during my sophomore or junior year (I forget which one), I started singing with a ska band.  Ska music was all the rage back in the late nineties, so we were right on time to be big.  I only actually sang one song with them at Cornerstone Chapel...Joy to the World.  It was fun, but I wasn't feeling like being in a ska band, so I bowed out.  And then the drummer, who was also named Jake, left (not sure where he went).  So the band that didn't have a name (that I can remember at least) all of a sudden decided to name themselves Two Jakes Short (because both Jakes had left).  Shortly after this, I joined up with some friends, Rick Hopkins, Jon Grunden, JJ Sherwood, and Jeff Hocking (who was later replaced by a guy named Ted for a gig or two, who was replace by Scott Gentry).   They had already formed a band, but needed a singer.  In hind sight, they probably should have made Rick sing, but nobody really knew he sang at the time.  So, I wrote lyrics and sang for the band.  We called ourselves Cue 22 (dumb name, I know).  We played some fun shows, and started playing at the Intersection in Grand Rapids fairly regularly.  Many great bands played this stage at one time, just not on the same night that we played.  We did get to open for a band called Grand Theft Audio once, and though they weren't a well-known band, they were good.  They were a British industrial-rock-pop band who had done some touring with P.O.D.  The good news is that I think we brought a bigger crowd than they did.  The bad news is that we only brought about 20 people.  It seems like we opened up for an indie band that was getting a lot of radio play on rock stations around the year 2000 called Creeper Lagoon...but I honestly don't really remember if that actually happened or not.  At any rate, this was the best band I had played with to date...and even though I don't really like a lot of the stuff we wrote anymore, we put together a pretty tight sound by the time we quit.

There were countless shows/events that I've played at that I haven't mentioned here.  Some of the most fun shows I've played have been in coffee shops and bars with my good friend Justin.  We make up the band called Reverend Larry Moonshine.  Of all the bands I've played in, and all the stages I've played on, I'm really excited for this Lincoln Brewster gig.  Here's why.  I feel like I'm at a different spot musically and spiritually than I've ever been.  I feel like it's become less and less about me and more and more about God.  I feel like all of my experience in leading worship and singing and playing guitar points me in the direction away from simply performing for a crowd and towards helping people sing to God.  That's what this gig is on Saturday...a chance to come together and sing loud to God.  And for that reason alone, I am excited and honored.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Why I Shop at Alger Hardware

We live in the best neighborhood in Grand Rapids...Alger Heights.  I love it so much that I wrote a song about it.  Since we own an old home, we have lots of repairs that are constantly needing to be done.  We have an amazing hardware store just four blocks from my house.  I like to shop here as opposed to stores like Lowe's, Home Depot, and Menards.  The prices tend to be a little bit higher (but not much...and the fact that it's so close to home cuts down on gas for the car, so it probably evens out).  

But, here are the reason I like to shop there:
1.  The staff knows what they're talking about...I have received free "lessons" on yard techniques, plumbing problems, electrical repairs, and the list goes on.  This cannot be said of big box stores.

2.  They always have what I need and it doesn't take me an hour to get there and back.  I can never find what I need at the big box stores...I'm sure it's there somewhere, but it seems that if I can't find the product I'm looking for, finding a worker to show me is just as difficult.

3.  They keep our paint colors for different rooms of the house in their computer system, so if I need to buy more paint for any particular room, I just need to say, "Blakeney kitchen" and up comes the color code.

4.  I love small businesses, and though I don't spend a ton of money there, I can tell they appreciate my business.

5.  Finally, I was in there this morning to return some things I didn't need and pick up some things I did need.  My total was 75 cents.  I didn't have any change, and rather than run my debit card, the owner said, "don't worry about can pay me next time you're in."  I know it's only 75 cents, but this would not happen at any of the big box stores.

I guess the reason I feel compelled to write this tonight is...well, I'm not really sure.  No real spiritual lessons here.  No deep hidden truths.  I think it's just nice to know that there are places out there that care about people and provide a great service to their community.  Alger Hardware seems like a throwback to a simpler time...and we all could use some simpler times once in awhile.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Three Years in the Psalms

17 weeks ago I started a journey through the book of Psalms.  I’m taking one Psalm each week and reading it, meditating on it, and memorizing (at least parts) of it.  It is a slow, sometimes painful process, but it has given me a new heart and passion to worship God in spirit and in truth.  There were a few things that made me decide to do this.  The first was that I have been leading worship for about 15 years, and I have spent very little time reading the Psalms.  In recent years, I’ve been writing music to be used in worship settings, and what better influence is there than the Psalmists?  So, why one Psalm a week?  The answer is simple.  I’m trying to run a marathon here, not a sprint.  My whole life has consisted of sprints up to this point. I will go weeks or months without reading scripture or spending any significant time in prayer, and then I will feel empty and tired and drained and pick up the Bible and read through as much as I can for short period of time…enough to get filled up and give me a boost.  And then, it’s back to running on fumes for awhile.  I need to study and pray and seek God for the 26.2 of life, not the 100-yeard dash of fifth grade field day.  One more thing has driven me to do this, and that is that we started attending a new church about a year and a half ago.  When we started going there, they were in a preaching series going through the book of Mark.  When we started they were somewhere around Mark 6 (give or take a chapter or two).  I remember thinking, “oh cool…this should be a good four or five-week series.”  And then about a year later I realized we were still in the book of Mark.  It was really good for me to see a church and a pastor who weren’t afraid to hang in one section of scripture for a very long time.  As we took an expository journey through the book of Mark, I felt like the story of Christ became fresh for me again in a time when ministry had burned me out.

Speaking of ministry, this past week has been really good for me.  Just two years ago I was co-pastoring a church plant.  I was pouring myself into people, leading worship, preaching.  I felt that I was doing exactly what God had formed me for, and I loved every bit of it.  I loved challenging those who were leading with me…I loved challenging those I was serving.  I loved having all the time in the world to sit down and disciple people.  As God let me out of that for what has seemed like a very long, dry season, I’ve really wrestled with it.  It has been a very difficult transition, and one that I don’t ever want to have to experience again.  The most difficult part has not been going from a job in ministry (high flexibility, low supervision) to a job in the business world (low flexibility, high supervision) because honestly, it’s nice to be able to leave work at work sometimes.  When ministry is your job, it takes a lot of discipline to stop working.  When I punch out from work now, I’m done with work…it is a very nice thing.  The most difficult part, however, has been that it often seems that I don’t have as much time and energy to pour into others…something that I want to do whether I have a job in ministry or not.  This past week, however, I have had a few great conversations with friends and family that have thrown me right back in the process of discipleship.  And it has been good.  I was starting to get the feeling that I had lost my voice…that the people who looked at me before as someone who could preach and teach and challenge were forgetting about me…like I was slipping into oblivion…like ministry in my life was dead.  And then last week, in my 16th week of journeying through the Psalms, I read this: “Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay.” 

So now, I feel like I am in the best place I’ve been on a spiritual and emotional level in a very long time…actually, I think I’m in the best place I’ve been my whole life.  

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

How Do We Get Our Name Out There?

“How do we get our name out there?”  I heard this question over and over gain for about a year when I was involved in planting a church.  I grew sick of this question.  To go along with previous posts of mine regarding church marketing and being relevant, I will continue in that direction today.


When we planted that church, we started asking the innocent question, “how do we get our name out there?”  At least it started innocent.  I remember those beginning days, there was excitement, there was momentum, there was anticipation in the air.  We were excited to be together, we knew that we had something special there.  We felt the Lord leading us, and there was nothing that could stop us.  But then, as time went on, the newness of it started to wane.  There was no longer new people coming as regularly, we grew tired of the setting up and tearing down, and we were having a very difficult time financially.  We started to realize that things weren’t going well.  My theory (though many who were on the leadership team at that church would disagree) is that we lost our first love.  We didn’t remain true to the calling God had given us and we didn’t remain true to our stated mission and big vision.  About six months into this church plant, we were failing. 


So, our discussion at leadership meetings transitioned from dreaming about what could be (vision) to talking about what to do to survive (maintenance).  Here’s the thing…it isn’t just this church plant that slips into self-preservation mode.  It’s not just the small churches in Grand Rapids suburbs.  It’s also the large churches in big cities and the rural churches in the middle nowhere.  It’s so easy to forget our calling…our mission…our vision (especially in these difficult economic times) and begin to do things in order to preserve and maintain instead of blaze ahead into uncharted territory.  The question “how do we get our name out there?” is indicative of a church that is focused on themselves.  Why would anyone want to get their name out there?  Why would any church want to get their name out there?  Don’t we realize that we are all…all…broken and bruised and sinful.  We are all on a level playing field.  I am no better than the prostitute I drove by on the corner of Division and Burton last night.  Megachurch pastor with a toothy grin is no better than porn shop owner.  And we want to get our name out there?  Isn’t that what most of our churches are?  A reflection of the personalities that pastor/lead/preach/lead worship?  So, if our focus is to get the name of our church out there, then we ultimately are getting the name of our personalities out there.  And I will boldly say (not that it’s news to anyone) that personalities will fail us every time.  Before long a personality will fall to sexual immorality, drug addiction, alcoholism, idolization, money…you name it. 


Seems to me the only safe thing to do is radically dangerous.  To no longer market our churches and our pastors and our worship leaders.  To quit investing money in flashy websites (sorry to all of you web designers out there) and huge marketing campaigns, and starting putting God in the forefront.  See, when we put God at the forefront, we can be assured that people are buying into something that will not fail.  God is so much more than just a personality, but if he was only a personality it would be a personality that doesn’t fall…that doesn’t let us down.  So, why would we not place him at the forefront? 


Forget asking ourselves, “how do we get our name out there?”  Our name will fail.  Let’s begin to ask the question, “how do we get the name of God out there?”  I think Paul answers it in saying this:  “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”  How do we get the name of God out there? We tell the world how messed up we are and how God is redeeming and restoring us!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Reverently Irrelevant

One of the greatest tragedies the Christian Church has faced recently is our quest to become relevant.  My sense is that it started sometime around the seeker-sensitive movement in the 90’s.  We decided that in order to reach the broader culture we had to make the message one that encouraged and tickled the ears of our listeners.  What resulted was a watered down version of Christianity that failed to transform the culture it presented itself to (not to mention the countless crappy dramas and skits, “secular” songs with lyrical changes, and horribly produced films that have popped up over the past several years).  What I’m trying to say is that the Church has tried to engage culture by becoming like culture and it’s not working. 

Last night I had the chance to speak to our college students at Crossroads Bible Church.  I’ve been leading worship for these monthly gatherings over the last few months, and I love these students.  They are passionate about following Christ.  They are passionate about worship.  My sense is that God is starting to do some great things in and through this college group.  As I was praying and studying for this talk, God was directing me to the Sermon on the Mount.  I’ve preached on this text before, but this time I zeroed in on Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”  The take-away for our college students is that God required humility on two levels:  personally (which I will elaborate on in the rest of this entry) and corporately.  I told them, whenever there is a great move of God, it faces the possibility that we, mere men, will mess it up by becoming arrogant and proud of what we're involved in.  We start to take the glory for ourselves, and just as quickly as God started to move, he quickly stops.  The words I spoke were a warning that just because God is moving in our midst right now, he doesn't have to continue to do so...if we become prideful and arrogant...if we lose our humility and meekness, then surely he will not continue to move in power.

What fascinates me about this text, though…and Jesus whole message…is that the ones who are blessed are the ones who the world (culture) sees as undesirable and weak.  Just think about it…”Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted.”  None of these are highly esteemed in the world’s eyes.  Most look at the poor as a drain on society, if someone is mourning the loss of a loved one we give them a day off work, the meek and humble are looked at as weak, depravity…not righteousness…is honored by the human race (Psalm 12:8), the merciful are mocked because of their forgiving spirits, the pure in heart are looked at as na├»ve, the peacemakers are thought to be unpatriotic, and the persecuted are said to have it coming to them.  And yet, Jesus gives his Kingdom to such as these. 

Lately, the corporate world has received a lot of press…Wall Street bailouts, bankruptcies, companies closing their doors.  All of the financial trouble these big companies are in is driven by selfishness.  In the corporate world, we are told to climb our way (read fight, steal, claw) to the top of the chain.  Success is making more money, and to make more money you’ve got to be at the top.  So, we start at the bottom and we are to sacrifice family and relationships and passions and desires to make it up that ladder.  And so many people…Christian and non-Christian alike…buy into the idea that if we have more money and more things we will finally be happy.  As a result we start to lose our humility.  Pride and arrogance step in and we begin to justify the means by what comes at the end. 

Jesus message turns the whole way culture works on its head.  It is time for Christians to stop trying so hard to be relevant.  Jesus was irrelevant.  The Pharisees of the day hated his message because they thought if they could just abolish sin (prostitutes, tax collectors, etc.) then Messiah would come.  Messiah came and offered hope for the prostitute and tax collector and other sinners.  The Pharisees were angry because they thought Jesus was getting in the way of Messiah coming.  And yet Jesus continued to preach a message that was counter-cultural.  Christians need to do this more today.  We need to stop buying in to the American Dream.  We need to stop trying to climb corporate ladders and make life work for us.  Instead we need to boldly proclaim the hope that Jesus offers…the Gospel that says we are all sinners and because of Christ’s death we can come to God…and because of his resurrection we are no longer slaves to sin or the world’s systems of living.  We need to contrast the hope that Jesus offers with the hope that politicians offer…because I assure you it is not the same. 

If you want to inherit the Kingdom of God, you must be meek.  “And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  That is a message that counters the message the world sends us.  That is what it means to be reverently irrelevant.  

Thursday, April 16, 2009

No More Talk...So We Sing

It's finally happening!  I'm going into the studio.  After years of people telling me I need to do it, I'm actually going to.  The opportunity has arisen for me to record some of the worship music I've written, and I'm so excited.  With me is an incredible band (Justin, Brad, Tyler, and Charla)...seriously some of the best players and most passionate worshipers I've played with.  I'll be putting out a 4-song EP in the very near future...hopefully in time for May 16th, when I'll be opening for Lincoln Brewster.  Buy your tickets here.  And, just for kicks, here's a little Lincoln Brewster for your viewing pleasure...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Church Marketing...Ugh.

A few years ago I was looking for a job in a church...trying to make a living by leading worship. Something that has always bugged me about churches is their cheesy signs. I made a commitment to not even entertain the idea of going on staff at a church if they had a sign with a saying like, "Walmart is not the only saving place," or "God is the Potter, not Harry." The ironic thing is that a church contacted me for an interview, and as I pulled into the parking lot the sign by the road said, "God answers knee mail." I rolled my eyes, went in for the interview, and within a month I was on staff there. For the majority of my time at that particular church, I was successful at not letting any more cheesy quotes on the sign.

I've noticed lately, that the internet has become just an extension of cheesy church signs for many congregations. I found a particular church website that does just this...only in a high tech modern way. It never ceases to amaze me that churches always find a way to annoy people! I will not mention said church by name because I know some people who go there and are involved there...and I love these people. On their website they have a "Top Ten Reasons to Be A Part of XYZ Church." Please keep in mind that I am not picking on said church at all. This type of marketing is one of the things that I think turns people off from the Church. Here's the list...along with a few comments of my own...I'll let you figure out which came from me and which came from the church's website.

10. XYZ church is more gourmet coffee than instant - If this doesn't scream "YUPPIE" I don't know what does.

9. XYZ church is more guitars and drums than organ - Really? Must we still make an issue out of music? I think this implies that it is better to be a part of a church with guitars and drums as opposed to one that uses an organ...seems a bit haughty (see number 6) if you ask me.

8. XYZ church is more minivan than corvette - I have a T-shirt that says, "Minivan...Megafun." If I went to this church I would wear this shirt every Sunday.

7. XYZ church is more jeans than suits & ties - So, if someone shows up in a suit and tie to a jeans church, are they made to feel as uncomfortable as someone who shows up in jeans to a suit and tie church?

6. XYZ church is more transparent than haughty - See #9, #8, and #7

5. XYZ church is more journey than arrival - Gotta love church lingo

4. XYZ church is more shaking hands than shaking fingers - I think shaking hands is used more as a defense mechanism in has the appearance of friendliness and acceptance, but keeps people at arm's length...which really makes being transparent (#6) a bit difficult. I'm just saying.

3. XYZ church is more Veggietales than Simpsons - Now, Veggietales are cool and all, but I've probably learned more about God, family, and culture from tuning into the Simpsons.

2. XYZ church is more eternal legacy than earthly portfolio - I actually kind of like this one.

1. XYZ church is more hip than boring - I don't want to be bored, but I don't think "hip" is what I'm going for either.

So, there you have it...a bit of cynicism on this Thursday evening. Now, if you don't mind, I need to go send some "knee mail" to God...and I think just to cover all my bases, I'll cc: Jesus and the Holy Spirit.