Thursday, March 24, 2005

A Picture Share!

A Picture Share!

I saw this on the way back from the dentist. I'm not sure why someone would put two big cows in their front yard

A Picture Share!

A Picture Share!

I'm almost done. Then, off to work. remind of to take better care of my teeth. Heh.

A Picture Share!

A Picture Share!

waiting for my mouth to numb. Blah. Never again will I let my dental lapse this much. Hit my Google Ads please! Heh

A Picture Share!

A Picture Share!

i can hardly contain my excitement... can't you see it on my face?

We're off to see the dentist...the wonderful dentist of Oz...

Umm, no.

But I have to be there at seven and I have no idea how long I'll be
there this morning. Blogging shall commence afterwards. Blah.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Phew, I'm glad that's over with...

The pastor at the church I grew up at would greet people whenever he spoke with "Good Morning!" or "Good Evening!" He didn't have the deepest voice, but it was a booming greeting when he delivered it. "Gooooohd Moooaaar neeeng!" It was a call and response event. When you heard his greeting, you responded back. If he didn't like the unenthusiastic response he'd respond with another "Gooooohd Moooaaar neeeng!" and expect there to be a sufficiently increased volume in response. I didn't get to use "Gooooohd evening" yesterday night because I was giving a sermon on silence mostly presented in silence.

After we got done with dinner last night, we played a couple more songs and I plugged the DVD player into the projector and showed the first few minutes of Contact. If you haven't seen Contact, it opens with a racket of all kinds of noise emanating from the Earth. As you pull away from the earth, you start to hear the radio signals go back in time. The idea they were trying to convey was that our radio signals were floating out into the ether since it's all about radio waves coming towards the earth, but I thought of it a bit differently. I thought it was interesting to see how cacophonous our society has become with all the discordant noise drowning out the still small voice.

Anyway, when the film pulls out into space enough there's complete silence and I paused before the sound came back.

The bulk of the sermon came from something that my friend Dwight Leimberer put together for a sermon he gave. He thought that the best way to illustrate how awkward it is for us to be silent was to write his sermon in a powerpoint that delivered the sermon for him while he stood there in front of the congregation. He mentioned that if I ever needed a sermon I should get it from him.

I mentioned it to EJ when we got back from our Christmas trip to Minneapolis and told him that I could give it when he needed me to. With EJ on spring break from seminary this week I got pressed into service so he could have a week off.

After the clip, I just stood in front of everyone for a couple minutes eating a bagel. I slowly looked around the audience making eye contact with people as they tried to figure out what was going on. When I thought they had squirmed enough, I brought up the first slide...

Tonight I want to remind us of something. I know you were all expecting to hear a message. But I think that if you were to hear a message on this… it would miss the point.

So …I’m not going to say a word during this message ….

It continued on from there, but the slides talked about the body as a temple and some of the things that went on inside the Jewish temple, which included silence.

The central verse came from Habbakuk 2:20...
The lord dwells in his holy temple;
let the whole earth be silent in his presence.
Habakkuk 2:20

After the slides finished I finally began to talk. I talked about reverence in approaching God... how you wouldn't run into the oval office loudly and brashly because it was a hallowed space and how sometimes we have a tendency to rush into prayer shouting off everything that we need and that it might be better to be more reverent and maybe not even say much at all, listening for the little voice in our heads.

In middle school there was a time that the church choir I was involved in became very focused on "the Holy Spirit". I put it in quotes because it seemed almost unhealthy the way everything was completely focused on it. I started trying to hear the little voice in my head and I had a hard time telling which was my internal head voice and what was God's voice. It didn't help that in the prayer time they'd lay hands on people and they'd fall over. I wanted it so badly that I remember one time standing in line and feeling the hand that was laid on me start to press me into falling over. I was a bit shattered. I felt like there was something I was missing out on and it's been rare that I've been back in the place where I can begin to try and listen to discern which is that voice again.

Anyway, back to the sermon. I gave some suggestions for working on spending some time in silence.

1. Shutting up for a few minutes, for an hour, for a day
Like competing in an Ironman, you can't just go out and be good at staying silent. It takes training and taking a few moments to center yourself can be a good first step. I remember going out on a retreat I lead with some people I was in a college group with back in Minnesota. Saturday was a day of silence. We got up and had a silent breakfast and grabbed bag lunches, wandering off into the woods to pay attention to our surroundings, pray and focus on God. You were encouraged to go by yourself but could be around other people, you just couldn't talk. After the time in the woods we came back and cooked and ate dinner together silently. Ending the communication fast with worship after dinner. It was an interesting experience and my first real experience with solid quiet and solitude. It was kind of diving into a deep pool and having to figure out how to swim. I wouldn't necessarily encourage it even though I thought it was kind of cool. Practicing with five, ten minute and hour could be just as helpful and easier to do more often.

2. Turn the lights off

E.J. mentioned that for him, sensory deprivation helped him focus on silence. Turning the lights off forced him to concentrate on the task at hand.

3. Earplugs

In the same manner, he suggested that earplugs helped him in a similar way. When he was study at the library, having a bright pair of earplugs kept people from interrupting him. I remember when I was doing the Ironman how funny it was to experience such silence during the swim. There were thousands of people on the shore and a couple thousand in the water, yet when my ears went under, I couldn't hear anything for the most part... just the sound of my stroking and my breathing. The water drowning out the sound helped me focus on the task because I couldn't be distracted. It wasn't earplugs, but it functioned in a very similar way.

4. Turn the car radio off

and for me... turn the radio in the bedroom off. Turning the car radio off is probably the easiest way to start towards working on silence... you're captive, you KNOW you're going to be in a car for a certain amount of time. Turning off the radio is a great way to start that conversation with God and then listen for a reply. I had a habit of listening to talk radio as I went to bed. it lulled me to sleep. But I think it did another thing, it affected my dreams... and I think it affected or maybe even infected my mind's dialogue with God when I'm sleeping. The bible talks about God communicating through dreams and visions... and I think that even if I wasn't getting any dreams or visions, having the radio on was like interference that distracted from the possibility of that happening. It was like an aural wall around my head.

Anyway, I closed by talking about how natural it should be. How on a blind date, you can end up with these awkward pauses that just feel completely horrid but that once you develop intimacy with a person silence is a much more natural thing... that our constant need to hear our own voice or other noise keeps us from developing an intimacy with God. By being silent, we open up the possibility of God coming in. That as the Refuse grows, we still need to hear from God about what we're doing and where we're supposed to be heading.. and that it's not just the leaders that can hear that voice. That we need to be focused on connecting and building a relationship so that we can fulfill the orders that we've been given and hear the next orders about what else we're supposed to do.

I think it went over alright. I certainly could have gone quite a bit more worse than it did. It was weird having the little "sermon line" form after the service with people coming up and talking about the topic. I'd never experienced that before. Do I want to do it again? I don't know that I'm called to it. I've had professors suggest that I'd make a good pastor, but I don't know that it's my calling. If I'm asked to I will, that just goes with obedience, but I don't think it's anything I'll be seeking out. I'd much rather blather on about triathlon and not have the Luther like experience of dread that you'll say something sacreligious while you're standing at the dais.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


69 149 nine two... I see you... I promise I'll write more soon....

69 149 nine two... I see you... I promise I'll write more soon...
(to the tune of the Scooby Doo theme)

69.149.92 seems to really want to see more posts, so this is for that bored IP number out there. I'm busy working on the sermon I have to give tonight and freaking out a little bit about it. I'm sure I'll settle down, but probably not until after.

I CAN say though that I'm not as nervous as I was before the Ironman... that made me so nervous I gave myself a temporary hemmhoroid... I'd never had one before, I've never had one since. But a couple days before the Ironman? OUCH.

I'm sermonizing on silence though so maybe I should work on being a little quieter until I'm done.

I'll be back 69.149.92, I promise!

The view this morning...

To get the full panorama, click the image and it should load up. I didn't bother to clear up all the seams in the sky, but I still think it looks kind of cool. You can see my white Hyundai Santa Fe in the parking lot. It looks warmer than it is, but at least it's sunnier than the fog and snow that hung around all day yesterday.

The mountain that's the most white (behind the Blockbuster) is Mt. Herman, there's a fire road that climbs it and connects with Rampart Range Rd which I plan on riding at LEAST once this summer. It's a 40 mile road that goes from Monument all the way to Garden of the Gods. I think it'd be fun, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.

Blah, have to run to a meeting in a minute... but enjoy!


I think morning always comes a bit soon, at least most of the time. Even when I set the alarm clock to ring a little later, it always ends up coming 'too soon'. Thankfully, I've gotten better at getting up even though it's 'too soon' because the alarm clock is on the other side of the room. Sorry about not posting yesterday, things are stil crazy. Tonight, I preach my first sermon at church. The funny thing is that it's on silence and I won't actually be speaking during it. We'll see how it goes. My friend Dwight, the pastor who married Angela and I mentioned when we were up at Christmas that if I ever needed a sermon, he had just the one... we'll see how it goes tonight. But preparing for that has taken a good deal of my mental energy.

Sunday night and Monday afternoon were spent cleaning so that one of Ang's coworkers and her boyfriend could come over for dinner. At 10:00, as we were wrapping up so that I could go to bed, Angela and her friend started to talk about job hunting and the conversation dived into looking through the help-wanted section which elongated their departure by 45 minutes.

I MUST ride to church tonight. I vegged out this weekend and mentally recuperated and that was a really good thing, but my body feels all sodden from not getting much exercise. It's not the end of the world.... plus this weekend we'll make up for it by hiking quite a bit out in Moab. Angela, my friend Russell and I are heading out there on Friday to do some Easter weekend camping. That too will help out in mental recuperation.

I've got some new songs to put up and maybe that's the first thing i'll do when I get to work.
In any case, that's the scoop from northern Colorado Springs