Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Rule of 3?

My wife taught me about "The Rule of 3," which states that when celebrities pass away, they do so in trios. It smacks of purely urban legend superstition, but you couldn't prove that by this past weekend.

Darren McGavin, Dennis Weaver, and Don Knotts all passed away very nearly within 24 hours of each other.

Whenever I think about death, my mind goes back to my college days, when I roomed with a guy named Gary Driskell. Like myself, he was a musician and songwriter, and we wrote songs together and played concerts together and put a band together ... umm, together.

The reason I think about Gary is due to a snatch of lyric he once wrote, which turned out to be one of the most profound things I've ever read and I've never forgotten it.

But people just walk on and live in disillusion
Satisfied with their confusion
Leaving death as their conclusion to life

I guess they just don't comprehend the situation
Death was meant to be elation
And life is but a revelation of love

After graduation, I wound up moving back to Michigan while Gary married his childhood sweetheart and moved to Nashville, where he eventually found work as a songwriter for Word Publishing. He won a Dove Award in 1991 for "Another Time, Another Place" and has written songs for Wayne Watson, Sandy Patti, Larnelle Harris and others.

Well, I'm not sure how I got here after starting to talk about dead celebrities, but that's a blog stream of consciousness moment for you, I guess.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

My Mailbox

Sometimes list members send me things that, for one reason or another, don't wind up in Mark Mail, so here's another reason the blog is handy ... I'll post them here if I think they'll be of interest to you.

List member Mary R. sent me the hilarious photo above.


This one I've submitted to Reader's Digest, with the approval of the list member who sent it to me. He respectfully requests to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of his work.

As a chaplain for a local psychiatric hospital, he tells the story of the day he went to visit a friend and the interns were the only staff looking after things, which were quite hectic. As one young woman fumbled with the keys to admit him to the ward, she said, "I'm sorry, things are a bit crazy in here today." He gently asked her, "Isn't it meant to be that way?"

She didn't get it.


Quote of the Post: "Wine is sunlight held together by water." (Galileo)

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Your Turn

Finish this sentence using all the creativity God gave you:

"Fools rush in where..."

Friday, February 24, 2006

I Am My Parent's Son

I guess what I mean by that is I owe a precious lot of physical characteristics to the DNA and genes of my parents. We all do, I know that. But it's been on my mind the past couple of days as I was knocked for a complete loop by a migraine for a day and a half. Shot my blood sugars all over the map and three separate types of headache medicine couldn't stop it. "Sick headaches," as my father used to call them. Good thing I'd uploaded the Mark Mail post ahead of time, because I wasn't doing much of anything Tuesday or Wednesday.

From my father, I've inherited this occasionally blinding migraine - to which the usual solution is a violent upheaval of everything I've eaten in the last 24 hours and a day in bed sleeping it off. I've also inherited his hairline (thanks, Dad). And we share a similar body type and facial features. In fact, should I ever shave my face or head completely, my wife will stop sleeping with me because I look too much like my Dad and the emotional implications are too spooky creepy for her. Can't say I blame her.

To be fair, I've also inherited his sense of humor and down-to-earth way of looking at things practically, as well as his sense of compassion.

From my mother, I inherited a modicum of musical talent, a way of looking at things creatively, and diabetes. Every silver lining has its cloud, right?

Anyway, that's why I didn't post here the past few days.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Which Bible is Best?

Okay, I hate to admit it because it makes me feel like an irresponsible Christian adult, but I've lost my Bible. I kept hoping maybe it would turn up in the flotsam and jetsam of my office, or maybe it was buried in other household debris, or maybe I even left it at church one day ... but it's been over a month now and no sign of it.

I suppose I'll have to go and buy another. So which translation do you like best, and why?

While I enjoy Shakespeare, I'm not overly fond of King James' English in my scriptures. The last two Bibles I've used have been New International Version, and I've been very happy. But now I'm wondering about maybe exploring a different translation.

Maybe an Amplified Bible, so I can gather as much nuance as possible from the text. I've also heard some very good things about "The Message" and the New Living Bible paraphrase translations.

I used to have a "Parallel" Bible, with four translations side-by-side, but that was too large and unwieldy for easy use and transportation.

So which version do you use, and what do you like about it?

Saturday, February 18, 2006


If you could take a snapshot of my life right now, this is kind of what it would look like. (The title of this post is supposed to be a flashbulb going off.)

What I'm reading: "Velvet Elvis" by Rob Bell and the Rolling Stone interview with Bono from last November.

What I'm hearing: "Yellow Submarine" by The Beatles ... but mostly I'm listening to the music for a wedding our band is playing on March 4 ... which, as it turns out, is mostly Beatles stuff. (Yeah, it's an unusual wedding.)

What I'm watching: NCIS ... Lost ... both Stargate shows ... Hustle on AMC every Saturday night. And that's it, period. About five hours of TV each week.

What I'm celebrating: The renewal of my season ticket club for the Detroit Tigers. Once again, we have great seats for the 2006 season.

What I'm trying to get done: I mentioned the wedding, yeah? There's also another little concert for a United Methodist Men's District Prayer Rally at the end of the month and a little thing the Internal Revenue Service calls my annual income tax return.

The smartest thing I've done lately: Subscribe to King Features Syndicate and U-Click Comics comic strips so they come to my e-mail inbox instead of me visiting their website every day. Can't tell you how much time that's saved and how much I enjoy starting each day with laughter.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Michigan, My Michigan

It's Michigan all over out here. Yesterday the sun shone for a bit in the afternoon and the temperature was nearly 40 degrees. By morning we had two to three inches of snow on the ground. So it's up at 6:30 - before the light of day has even cracked the horizon - and out shoveling all this wintery goodness.

Then - about 24 hours after that little spot of sunshine - we have rain. Driving sheets of rain. And thunder. And lightning. A full blown thunderstorm. In February. With three inches of snow on the ground.

And the people who know such things tell us that by Friday night we'll be lucky if the thermometer hits 20 degrees.

Michigan. Come stay for a week or two and you'll pretty much experience all four seasons.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Blacktop Tar as Metaphor

I was driving to work this morning - I have about a 15-minute commute down the expressway - and I saw one lone guy in an orange vest working out of his Transportation Department truck, patching potholes with that gooey heated black tar they use.

Don't you hate running over that stuff? It's like you're driving on a gravel road for a few seconds, hearing each little pock and ricochet as it bounces off your car ... only you know it's not all bouncing. There's going to be some that sticks to the lower part of your vehicle and it's not going to come off easily, if at all.

I was struck by the thought that isn't that kind of how sin works? You try to avoid it, but in the end you have to run through just a little of it and a tiny bit jumps up and sticks to the undercarriage of your soul. If you're not careful, before long you have several ugly black patches of sin sticking to different parts of your life.

Let me encourage you to ask Jesus to start scraping those areas clean. I need to do that my own self. It'll hurt, but in the end you'll look and feel better.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

What Should Worship Look Like?

I had a Worship Team meeting after work tonight. It was all nuts and bolts when I arrived. How can we get more people to pay attention when the service begins? How can we reduce the number of announcements? What if we did this? What if we tried that?

I tried to raise the bar a little bit and get us thinking "big picture." What needs to be in a worship service? What has to happen? The Word must be preached. Praise and Worship. Participation at some level. Sacrament. What else? Anything? And what is a church supposed to be about, anyway? What if we stripped down to the bare bones and built it all over again from scratch. What would it look like?

Rob Bell, the Pastor of Mars Hill Community Church, has written a book called "Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith." (You can find cheaper copies at Amazon. I really, really recommend you read this.) In it, he describes a church he attended that set him on the path to founding his own church.

"It was like nothing I had experienced before. This community was exploding with creativity and life - it was like people woke up on Sunday morning and asked themselves, 'What would I like to do today more than anything else? How about going to a church service?'

"The concept was so new and fresh - people who gathered because they wanted to. There wasn't a trace of empty ritual or obligation anywhere in the place. I felt like I was going to see my favorite band. The anticipation. The fact that I would do whatever it took to get there. It didn't matter how far away I had to park. The bond I had with the other people in the room.

"Not 'I have to' but 'I get to.' Not obligation, but celebration. Not duty, but desire."

Yes! That is the kind of worship experience I want and the kind of church I want to help build. What should a church be about? I believe it should be about learning together what it means and looks like to grow more into the image of Jesus from week to week. It should be about a group of human souls traveling the same road toward a common destination, and somehow doing what it takes to get there together.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Wonder Drink or Just a Wallet Kink?

So my wife, who suffers from a host of nagging aches and pains ... abdominal pain from hernia scar tissue, an occasionally inflamed bursa sac in her bum, chronic tendinitis in her ankle, arthritis in her neck and shoulders ... has decided to try this new wonder drink that's popping up all over. Maybe you've heard of it: Xango®.

We're giving it a try - it's not the most inexpensive drink on the planet - on the advice of some good friends. So what's your story with this stuff? Good or bad, I'd like to know.

The picture is my wife, so you know why it's important to me that she feel good.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Okay, I'll Ask. Why?

Why a Web Log (Blog)? Because "Mark Mail" just isn't enough? No, because I'm hoping and praying that someone somewhere will read these posts and realize that they just have to throw some money at me to write for them on a full-time basis. (Benefits included, 'natch.)

Well, that plus an ego the size of Kansas that seems determined to foist my opinions, thoughts, feelings, and things-that-go-bump-in-the-night upon whomever will let me. But seriously, it's a place for me to journal some more personal issues than what I can do in "Mark Mail," as well as write about more serious topics and, most importantly, write without feeling like I have to be funny or quirky every time.

And though it's just one more thing to do in a long list of other things that never get done, I do hope to keep this updated, well, if not daily, then at least occasionally. Perhaps even frequently.

At any rate, take what you can from it ... be kind and constructive in your comments ... and if there's nothing here of value for you, then please leave just as quietly as you came in. Someone may still be reading and won't appreciate the distraction.