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This will be my very last post on this site; we’ve spruced up my other website and combined the two into something brand-new!

Oh, don’t worry—you can still find all my rants (searchable for easy access) and things I don’t understand. All 13 billion of my attempts to understand prayer are here, and the plans for my future dictatorship, and the glory that is Mr. John Daker.

But now we have a schnazzy new look and some fun new features, including……

— the use of some of my favorite greens. Don’t you think green is the most restful color?

— a picture of me that wasn’t taken in a different decade.

— all the fun graphics the web designer created. Thanks, PlainJoe.

—…… including the little bookmark in the top left.

— every post and every comment, from the very first post in 2006 to now, has been transferred over, PLUS all my formatting, PLUS there’s a complete archive link at the bottom of the page. Seriously, the PlainJoe people have magic internet juice.

—the Twitter feed, so you can know what I’m thinking EVERY  MINUTE.

—  The lovely list of organizations I’ve worked with. Visit their websites, won’t you?

Beginning very soon, you will no longer be able to access my site from the Christian Standard website, so if you’re used to finding me that way, you might want to set a new bookmark to this URL. And for all you RSSers, be sure and subscribe to the new feed by clicking on that fun orange icon below my picture.

As always, thanks for reading. More rants to come.

Filed under: lists, work
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Foursquare. Do you really care that I’m at Target….again?

Tattoos. Much love to my friends who have them, but I just don’t get it.


Shark Week.

The Cheesecake Factory. Have you EVER been there when it’s not so crowded you’re touching strangers inappropriately?

American Idol.

Pinterest. (Didn’t Evernote do this first, and better?)

Christmas cards. To everyone I know: I wish you a very happy Christmas. There—done.

Chex Mix. It smells like cat food.

Fabric softener.

Citizen Kane.

What “big deal” things seem smallish (or downright pointless) to you?

Filed under: fun, life, lists
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August 23rd, 2011
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One problem with Jen University is that for every book I read or podcast I listen to, there are a dozen more of equal or greater caliber just waiting to be discovered.

Jen U may be a ten-year program.

This week I discovered yet another resource that will add on at least a semester. The Veritas Forum is a program of university events featuring scholars and authors and assorted other thinkers discussing “life’s hardest questions and the relevance of Jesus Christ to all of life.” The organization goes after two groups of speakers: “one with a deep and growing understanding of how his/her life, faith and work connect with the story and person of Jesus Christ, and one with a differing worldview, in order to compare the differing answers to our hardest questions.” Veritas began on university campuses and its name comes from the word used in the mottoes of many of them, including Harvard and Yale.

Although none of the forums are scheduled around Nashville anytime soon, the site offers short video excerpts from past events as well as a number of books and other resources. It’s TED meets seminary and I’m addicted. And resigned to never graduating from my own school.

Filed under: resources, the church Tagged: atheism, TED, Tim Keller, Veritas
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never beyond?

August 18th, 2011
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This week, People of the Second Chance launched “Never Beyond,” a series of posters representing well-known characters—historical and current, real and fictional—who have harmed society. Each of them, like this first one featuring Casey Anthony, asks “Who Would You Give A Second Chance?”

The idea is to challenge our core beliefs about forgiveness and grace. POTSC invited me to participate in the blog campaign about this project, and yesterday I wrote a whole post about how forgiveness doesn’t mean being a doormat but it means choosing freedom by giving up the right to punish the other person, and the importance of letting go of anger and resentment, and how even though it may seem impossible to consider forgiveness it’s the path to health, and yada yada yada.

Then I read this.

Two white teens in Mississippi, Daryl Dedmon and John Aaron Rice (why must southerners always have two first names?), got drunk and decided to find a black person to beat up. The first one they saw was James Craig Anderson.

“Dedmon pummeled Anderson repeatedly as he crumpled to the street, according to officials,” said the CNN story. “After the beating, some of the teens left and some got into the truck. At this moment on the video, Anderson becomes visible, as he staggers into view and walks toward the headlights of the truck. The truck suddenly surges ahead, running over Anderson, then continues at high speed away from the scene.”

They ganged up on a man, beat him severely, then ran him over. A man they’d never met. Because of his skin color.

I don’t know how to forgive that. I don’t even know how to talk about forgiving that. Instead of Casey Anthony, I see Dedmon and Rice on that poster, and instead of offering them grace I want to hit them with shovels.

I exaggerate (a bit), but any honest conversation about second chances has to acknowledge how terrifically difficult it can be. We can all picture a person on our own poster, someone we simply cannot imagine forgiving, and our abstract enthusiasm for a movement of “scandalous grace” must become a specific resolve to extend that grace to real people in real life.

So how do we get there? Is anyone beyond a second chance? What if they never feel remorse or admit guilt? How do we live out this movement of mercy in a world of evil?

Filed under: life, resources
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Dear Wendy…..

August 16th, 2011
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It’s after midnight and you’re sleeping, finally, after some last-minute packing of crates and duffels and some help from Tylenol PM. Good to see it working—tomorrow you will fly to Tanzania by way of Amsterdam, a 24-hour journey you’re dreading. Sleep is good.

I should be sleeping, too, but I may also need pills. Yesterday on a flight of my own I sat next to an Army private heading out for a tour of duty. I thought about the people who love him and wondered how they could say goodbye as he left for a year or longer. How did they choke down breakfast that morning? How did they endure the ride to the airport? How did they peel themselves away after the last hug?

Tomorrow morning I will find out, as I join your other friends and family to see you off for two or maybe even three years of missionary service in Africa.

Neither of us knows what those years will bring. By 2014 I could be married with triplets (please, no) or promoting my first book or fighting cancer. When you return you will be forever changed by years of learning Swahili, bonding with the young students you’ve taught, and witnessing God’s provision in the desert. Who will we be when we meet again? The changes are both unknowable and unstoppable, and even the positive possibilities overwhelm me as I sit thinking tonight.

But even as my mind races, I know some things will not change: My interest in your work. My love for you as a friend and adopted sister. The everlasting God who holds both of us in his hands.

Tomorrow you, too, will follow the orders of your Captain. You will fly off to war and confront not only the intangible spiritual battles of a country but also its too-real droughts and riots and danger.

And I will manage a few gulps of coffee, and endure the ride to IND, and let you go after the final hug. And I’ll be waiting at the airport when you come home.

Filed under: family, life, the church Tagged: Africa, missionary, tanzania
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