Monday, August 27, 2007

On Blogging and Leaders

I was talking with Alpha Dog Keith Bubalo not too long ago about blogging.

We were talking about how some blogs are pretty serious. Sort of your "meat and potatoes" blogs. You have to take your time, chew carefully, think deeply about them.

Then, we thought about Keith's blog. It's a delightful blend of serious and humorous. It's fun to read. Although he hasn't updated in a while. C'mon, Keith. Stop working and blog for once! Anyway, Keith said his blog was kind of like candy.

Then we talked about my blog and almost simultaneously we said that my blog was like cotton candy. Meaning you don't even have to chew.

I've been thinking a lot about that, and I decided to try to be a little more serious. I mean, I have deep thoughts about leadership and things, too. I'd be glad to share these things with you all. And then I remembered that I have already written some thoughts about leadership. You can enjoy them for yourself by clicking on this link. See, BHR is meat and potatoes, too!

I share my deep insights into leadership so that you might become a better person. It is a service I offer because I care about you. Enjoy.

Divine appointment at the gas station

We drove to Corvallis tonight a way that we usually don't because we were almost out of gas. We finally found a place and pulled in, and the attendant came out to fill the tank. I asked him how his day was going and he said "not great".

I asked him why and he said because he had just gotten a DUI on Friday night. He went on to explain the situation in some detail, and when we were done getting gas I asked if I could pray for him. He seemed genuinely moved and said, "That's funny that you would say that. I've been thinking about Jesus a lot today." So he held my hand through the car window and I prayed for him.

So if you have a minute, pray for "Sam." It appears that the Lord is drawing him. I gave him my phone number, and he said he'd call to update me on his DUI situation next week....

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Cheaper Than Therapy

When things in the Christian world start getting me down or angry, I have a special technique to "cage the rage."

I write an article for the Wittenburg Door.

It doesn't cost anything, and it often makes me laugh. And when I'm done, I feel better.

I wrote an article today. It made me laugh... and not a cynical little snicker, but a deep, full-throated belly guffaw.

No doubt this is precisely what led Martin Luther to nail the 95 Theses to the door of the church at Wittenberg. If he had possessed a sense of humor I have no doubt that he would have penned a pithy satirical piece.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Happy Anniversary

Dear Krista,

It’s hard to believe that nine years ago today we were married. It feels like it has scarcely been nine weeks.

When I made my “non-negotiable” list for the woman I would marry, I was obviously lacking in imagination. You are so much more than any woman I could have dreamed up. You are beautiful, fun to be with, intelligent, artistic and deeply spiritual. I never have to slow down intellectually in a conversation with you. You provided a reason to become a better person than I was… to be the right man for you, I had to become more than I was. I am so thankful that was true.

In the last nine years we’ve traveled together on three continents (that’s a new continent every three years… guess we better get moving!). We’ve been to many countries. We’ve had two beautiful daughters, who I’m proud to say have many of your qualities.

We’ve had nine years of amazing adventures, and I’m looking forward to another ninety. You’re the best traveling companion for this life. I’m glad to be on the journey together with you. You’re my true love, my shining star, my breath.

Thank you for marrying me.

Thank you for staying married to me.

Thank you for being the woman to whom I want to stay married.

I love you.

Your husband, Matt.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

In the Garden

I wrote the other night that I was happy to be back home to my family and our garden. Here's a picture Krista took of our garden's bounty. We ate green beans and squash tonight!

As always, there are more pictures up at Blue Sky.

Stint Briefing

A few of you have written asking how the stint briefing in Colorado went. I just want to say THANK YOU to all of you who prayed for our time together. I spent part of the day today going through the feedback forms and they're very encouraging.

I couldn't possibly walk through the whole week here... and I was way too tired to blog each night before I went to sleep.

But, I can say this: The Bible teaching went really well. A lot of people shared about God speaking to them in very profound and clear ways during either the talks or the prayer times around them. In the next couple of weeks I'll get them posted somewhere so that you can listen to them. I know that's what you all want... a little bit of Matt on your iPod.

Here's a picture of the tent we met in. It's called the summer Pavillion, but we like to call it the Tent of Meeting, just like Moses. We go in there expecting to meet with God.

Also contributing greatly to the spiritual tone of things were Carolyn "Too Good For A Blog" Culbertson, who led us in praying often and well. She really kept our focus on staying in communication with Christ while we talked about following him.

And then there was Tifah and her soon-to-be-renamed band. I'm not sure if it's official yet, so we'll just leave it at Tifah, right? These guys are immensely gifted. I told them this week that I was glad I was their friend right now so that one day when they are famous I could buy my fifty dollar balcony tickets and shake my fist at the stage and say I knew them when they were not famous. Tifah replied by saying, "The balcony seats will be at least $150." Pretty funny, that Tifah. I really enjoyed hanging out with these five.

Anyway, these guys do an amazing job leading in worship. They aren't focused on themselves, and aren't pushing or promoting themselves. If you're looking for a band for a worship night or an outreach, I can heartily recommend them. Drop me a line and I'll get you in touch with them.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Believe me, it's easy

My daughter, A, talked with Krista and I about getting married for a long time tonight over dinner. She's four years old. My favorite comment is below

A: I'll never find a boy to get married to.

Me: I'm sure you will.

A: But I want to marry someone who has smooth hair like yours.

Me (laughing): I don't think that will be so hard to find.

A little later she told us she wanted it to be in our back yard so that our friend Shasta could come to the wedding (she didn't want it to be too far away).

Then Krista said: I don't think you need to worry about this right now. You don't even like boys yet.

A: I like Daddy!

Awwwwwww!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Obligatory Post In Which I Laugh At Airport People

Today I thought I would share about two people at the Denver airport:

1) The southern guy with the tight jeans, aviator sunglasses and the tight t-shirt that had a map of the United States and the slogan "It's Dirtier Down South." NOTE: That t-shirt ain't gonna get you any girls.

2) There was a crying baby on the plane, maybe ten rows back from me. The lady directly behind me said, "Somebody needs to nurse that baby." Portlanders are always ready with a natural solution.

Jiggety Jig!

It is so nice to be home!

It is great to see my wife and kids again. And my mother-in-law is with us tonight, which is great. And our garden is growing out of control!

Today was a good day. I got to be Bus Captain (a position which should -- in the future -- include a uniform), I flew stand-by on an earlier flight home (and got on!), I had a nice lunch with friends at the airport, played Gang of Four (and was soundly defeated), got home, saw my family, ate Thai food and blogged. Mmmmmm. Nice day.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

living in the edge

I just arrived at Copper Mountain for the conference.

It's really beautiful here. Maybe I'll have time to share more later, but wanted to let you know I arrived!

We have a runner!

And now for the traditional way-too-early-in-the-morning post in honor of the free PDX wireless.

I parked in the economy lot for the week. The lady driving the bus (her shift starts at 4) seemed happy enough. She was friendly and outgoing and said things like, "You've parked in section -- where are we? -- section W!" over the loudspeaker.

My favorite moment, though, was when the bus was packed with people nervously wondering whether they were going to make it to their flights on time, praying that she would close the door and get on with it. She was just about to shut the door when she stopped and announced, "WE HAVE A RUNNER! So I guess we'll just wait for him, then." You could feel the tension on the bus as some people rooted for the runner, and others hoped that he fell and skinned his knee and the driver would say, "Guess he'll have to wait for the next bus in eight minutes, because we're moving on."

I got a laugh out of that.

P.S. The runner made it.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Wonderful Places We'll Go

At the end of tonight's Bible story (Tower of Babel), the kids and I had the following conversation.

Z: Is the tower of Babel still standing today?

Me: No, it was so long ago, it's all fallen down. But there are plenty of things from the Bible we could go see. We could go walk around in the places where Jesus walked, in Israel.

A: But there are no planes that fly there.

Me: Yes, there are.

A: (Skeptical look)

Z: But are there cities there?

Me: Sure. Jerusalem, Bethlehem...

Z: No, I mean are there places where I can get something to eat?
I can pretty much guarantee that there would be something they would like to eat there....

prayer requests for stint briefing

Here's a link with day-by-day prayer requests for the stint briefing.

Follow Me...

August 12th-19th is our third Global Briefing for Stinters.

For those of you unfamiliar with the lingo, the Global Briefing is a week that we get together with all of our "one year" missionaries to give them some preparation for the amazing things they are about to do around the world this year.

We have Bible teaching, we worship together, and we have training on how to love God, love each other, learn a new culture and "launch movements" (do ministry).

It's an amazing time that I really enjoy.

This year is a little different, in that the leadership team for the conference asked me to be the Bible teacher for the week (this was also embarrassing, because I'm the facilitator for the leadership team, so I didn't know what to do when I was nominated). Our theme is "Follow Me", so every morning I'll be sharing from the gospels about what it means to follow Jesus, all told within the framework of Simon Peter's experiences following Jesus.

I'm really excited about being able to teach during this time. I've felt a deep peace as I've spent time preparing, and have really enjoyed my time in the word. Which, honestly, has felt a little dry in the late spring and earlier this summer. But God has met with me during the preparation for this time... and I am interested to see what he will say to me and others during the conference.

I love this logo, too, designed by Scott Freeman. It gives the impression of both blood and growth, pain and beauty and sacrifice in a way that I think is suggestive of what it means to be a follower of Christ. We cannot be like him unless we are willing to go the places he went, and do the things that he did. Which means that we cannot avoid suffering, and must not avoid death. Along the way there are also moments of unbearable beauty, flowers appearing in the midst of despair. And if you look closely you'll even see plants that are clearly going to seed... they are about to spread and multiply and create more fruit like themselves.

Anyway, I would love to have your prayers next week. I'll post a prayer calendar that Andy wrote up for us.

Thanks, everyone. Don't worry, I'll update you. (I know you were worried.)

P.S. I am excited to say that Tifah will be providing us with the music and contributing greatly to the atmosphere of worship!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Over My Head

During our early evening stroll, Krista and I looked up to see shining letters in the sky!

What sort of sign could this be, we wondered, as the letters started to line up beside one another...

P S Q


What could it mean?


And then, this appeared:



Was it a sign? A set of initials? A clever code? Something for the fair?

I don't know.

But I do know that Suzanne Asbury-Oliver is probably responsible!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Golden Age Has Passed Us By

Do you remember the early days of video stores, when the clerks were people who cared passionately about movies and had an encyclopedic knowledge of all films, whether they were brilliant works of genius or depraved pieces of garbage?

Here's a real conversation with a real video store clerk from today:

Me: Could you help me? I am blanking on the name of the Wes Anderson movie that had Bill Murray in it.

Clerk: (Blank stare)

Me: It was sort of making fun of Jacques Cousteau.

Clerk: Lost In Translation?

Me: No. Definitely no.

Then we had to introduce Clerk to "The Book." The Book is the video store answer to having clerks who don't care about movies anymore. It lists movies by actors, directors, genre, things like that.

I remember the days when you could say, "Wes Anderson film with Bill Mu--" and the clerks would roll their eyes, dismiss you and say, "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou." How dare you waste their time with a simple one like that?

And then you'd try to stump them: "Do you have a copy of Mark Hammil's first appearance?" And they would say, "Television or film? Because I think we do have a copy of The Bill Cosby Show episode 'The Poet' from 1970 but if you're talking film I suppose it might be 'Wizards' which came out in March of '77, but it was animated so it was only his voice. In which case it would be Star Wars episode IV which came out in May of the same year."

Question: Where did those people go?

Question (2): Could it be the ready availability of information on the internet that causes clerks to use it as a sort of external memory system thus allowing them to spend little or no time watching movies or having opinions on them?

P.S. Don't forget to vote in the sidebar poll.

Eavesdropping with Matt (Episode Sixteen)

Dedicated to that hardworking but sarcastic mom shopping at Winco and her optimistic son who isn't afraid to ask for what he wants.

Son: Mom, can we get some popsicles?

Mom: No.

Son: Fudgesicles?

Mom: How about some doughnuts?

Son: YEAH!

Mom: No.

Mikalatos: Year Four

Talking with Krista this week, I realized that I am starting my fourth year in my current job.

That officially makes this the longest I have had a singular job position.

I've been the regional director of the Worldwide Student Network (northwest region) for longer than I was:

1) A paperboy
2) A butcher
3) A guy who worked at one of those privately-owned post office places
4) A telephone salesman
5) A retail clerk (comic book store, of course)
7) A teacher
8) A staff person at the UW in Seattle
9) A campus director

I used to think, "I will never find a job that I could do for more than three years." It just goes to show you, tenth time is a charm.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Slumming for taglines

To amuse myself, I occasionally change the tagline here at BHR. It was "hide the torches and pitchforks" for quite a while because it entertained me for a long time. Now it's "more fun than summer television" which pleased me for a short time, but then I thought, "What isn't more fun than summer television?"

I thought it might be your turn to entertain me by suggesting some taglines for BHR.

Okay?

Ready? Set? GO!

I laughed, I cried

As you may recall, a few days ago I pointed out my new favorite church sign.

The minister at St. Paul's Episcopal wrote me promptly to say hello and I found him to be a nice and congenial fellow.

And then Makeesha left a note. Her church, Revolution (another Ft. Collins church making me smile) meets at St. Paul's a couple times a month. You'll love their website: The Naked Church.

Digging around on Makeesha's site I came across her links to a site where there are some satirical posters up about the emergent movement. As you know, I am not against satire. In fact, a couple of them were quite funny. But several were just mean-spirited and, I think, have moved beyond the realms of what I would consider to be Christian charity for other believers. One of the things I appreciate about the Door is that their satire is designed as a mirror for the church, not a baseball bat.

One of Makeesha's friends, Grace, made a series of response posters to the satirical ones that are so well-meant and sincere that it made me wince after reading the satire. Like this one on the right, for instance. And for some reason they created a big controversial series of comments. I agree there are issues of concerns in sectors of the emergent movement, but give me a break! No reason to misrepresent and twist it into something on the same level as Chick tracts. Please.

I think this poster at left most clearly shows the conflict, and was my favorite of the satirical pieces purely for the irony.

Here we see the Critic telling us that the Emergent philosophy of authenticity is basically, "I believe in authenticity, which means I can stop pretending that I am crazy... I can actually be myself (I am insane)."

Which of course shows the modernist proclivity toward creating a facade of perfection and a desire not to share the reality of what is going on behind the mask, not to share the fact that they, too, are coming apart at the seams sometimes.

All of which causes us to collapse into useless generalizations. Modernists are This and Emergents are That. And the generalizations have long since ceased to be useful. Things have become far too diverse and complicated for that. Somebody explain to me, for instance, why the Emergent generation (which supposedly doesn't believe in absolute truth) is becoming increasingly Reformed (which doesn't leave room for anything but).

I'm not sure why we can't have friendly conversations about these things. I think Grace has been very generous in her responses. Our Satirist has made more satires. I think everyone should go read this book and then we can all be friends again. D.A. Carson treats the emergent movement fairly, leveling critiques and pointing out the innovations and changes they bring that will breathe life into the greater movement of the Church.

Seven Legs of Lamb



The Sydney Morning Herald reports the birth of a lamb with seven legs.

This is the sort of thing that would make Julius Caesar very nervous. If he wasn't already dead.

Poor little thing was also born with only partial bowels, so it has probably already been put down.

Bourne for Action

I've seen at least seventy-three reviews of the Bourne Ultimatum that are titled "Bourne Again." I thought I would shake it up (barely) with a different title. Boy am I ever clever.

Just so you know, I really liked the first Bourne movie. A lot. It dealt with complex moral and emotional issues and had great pace and action. The second film I liked not-so-much. And this, the third, I liked somewhere in the middle. It's great so far as being full of action, but completely lacking in any emotional attachment. In other words, you don't really care about Bourne, his quest, his friends, or anything other than when things will slow down enough for you to unclench your fingers from the handrests. But there are some really great action scenes.

So. Decent movie. A little shaky with the whole hand-held camera thing. I couldn't even tell what was happening sometimes in various action scenes. I realize that this is to make it seem as if we were there. You know, "In real life, a camera would bounce around if a camera man were chasing Bourne up a flight of stairs and then jumping out a window." Sure, I know. In real life the camera man would have stopped about ten minutes into the movie to lay down on the sidewalk and catch his breath. But I don't want to see two hours of that now, do I?

Some strange things to notice about the Bourne Universe if you go see the movie:

1) No airbags in any of the cars. I don't care if it rams into a wall going 120 MPH, you won't see any airbags deployed. Why? Because, as near as I can tell, Jason Bourne has gone around to all of the cars that he thinks he will drive or will be chasing him and disconnected them.

2) The agents of the CIA all use flip phones able to send and receive IMs with pictures. But they never, never use PDAs or anything like that.

3) On the other hand, many of them have pistols fitted with movie cameras. That's nice.

4) If you mean business in the Bourne Universe, you better put your jacket on. "Bourne, someone is coming into the apartment to kill you!" "Hold on, let me get my jacket on." Any time an assassin gets a text message to go kill someone he will put down his cel phone and put his jacket on. Do me a favor if you go to the movie and count how many times someone puts on their jacket. I started late and I think there were seven scenes of jacket-donning. Note the picture above: Jason Bourne is walking through a crowd, a gun in his hand and -- GOOD GRIEF! IS THAT A JACKET HE'S WEARING? Someone is in trouble.

Matt Damon says this is the last Bourne movie (for now) and this is probably because (SPOILER) Bourne loses his jacket somehow along the way.

I would like to end this post by thanking the Bourne movies and Matt Damon for kicking the James Bond and Batman franchises in their collective patooties and forcing them to make some good movies again (or finally, depending on your taste). Gracias!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Welcome to the Revolution

As long time members of the BHR community know, I like to take an occasional time out to say hello to those who have stumbled upon our humble revolution via search engine.

So, let me start by welcoming everyone who has been searching for Ladies Revolution Pants. Yes, there is a reason that our site comes up first on google when ladies seek revolutionary slacks. We have a long tradition of stylish yet comfortable pants which allow freedom of movement whether you are overthrowing a corrupt government or just chanting "power to the people" in a city square. Lady Godiva, this one is for you!

And, secondly, allow me to extend warm greetings to those who searched for the phrase do not sign a "burning hearts" contract. I personally don't see any harm in signing such a contract, unless what you meant to type was, "Don't sign a burning 'hearts contract.'" I've spoken with several firefighters and they all agree with Frank Jones of Portland who says, "Never sign any document that is aflame."

Now for a shocking announcement sure to baffle and amaze you all... I think it's time for a name change around here. In November this blog will have been up and running for two whole years. And during that time people have accidentally wandered here because they were looking for Ladies Revolution Pants or Burning Heart Contracts or What To Do When You Are Torn Between Two Hearts or "monkey he got drunk". In the interest of bringing in more readers to the website formerly known as BHR, we will soon be changing the name of this blog to Paris Hilton Loves Harry Potter. It's cool because its initials are a palindrome: PHLHP. Sew it on your sweater, baby.

Today at the Portland Zoo



One of the great things about the Portland Zoo is how close you can get to the leopards. They make you rub the kids in broccoli and turnips so that the Big Cats think they are vegetables. Perfectly safe.



My kids may like this sign better than almost anything at the zoo. You can compare your wingspan with that of several large birds. Or stand in front of it and make faces and vague wing-like gestures.



In addition to my own kids (Z and A) we took cousin J along. J asked if he could take some pictures during the bird show. So we got about eight pictures that J took of his own face, plus a couple of the ground, the sky, an advertisement, and so on.



He also got this shot of the girls, which I think captures their inner selves pretty well. You can tell that A (on the left) is weighing J in her mind and has made a firm opinion and Z is demanding that he give her the camera.




And, in what was perhaps the creepiest moment of the day, the zoo handed out free meerkat masks. They didn't have holes for the eyes at all, which meant that I had three essentially blind meerkats to guide back to the car. Plus, they kept creeping me out every time I looked at them.

TAKE THAT, SAINT PAUL!

I have never attended St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Ft. Collins, Colorado, but if their sign is any indication I think we would get along just fine.

"What should we put on our sign?"

"How about Paul getting thrown off his donkey?"

"YEAH!"
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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Undiscovered Country

I am trying to buy an airline ticket on a certain airline. I've been working on it for two days now. I recently spoke with a very nice representative of the airline about why my credit card was not working:


Rep: Could you please tell me the billing address of your card?


Me: Yes, it's (street and house number), Vancouver, Washington, 98686.


Rep: Oh! There's the problem, sir. We can only process cards which have a billing address in the United States--


Me: But it is in the --


Rep: -- we're not able to process cards with international addresses.


Me: Yes. I understand. But I live in Vancouver, Washington, not in Vancouver, Canada. It is in the United States.


Rep (after a brief pause): I will have to send this to the billing department so that they can confirm that.


So, as soon as they figure out I live in the United States I guess I can do business with them. In the meantime I am going to go find a hockey game.

Only a decade left to go

Tomorrow I'm taking the kids to the zoo, along with their cousin J. It prompted a rather lengthy discussion between the girls over who would get to sit by him and where car seats should be arranged. I came up with what I thought was an elegant solution:

Me: Why don't I sit next to J and Z can drive and A can sit in the front by Z.

A: I don't think that would work.

Me: Why not?

Z: I can't drive yet.

Me: Why not?

Z: I don't have a license.

Me: Could you go get one tonight?

Z: No, not for ten more years.

Me: Ten more years? That is very inconvenient. I think you should get to work on that a little faster.

Z: Dad, I can't even see through the window when I sit in the front seat.

A: We would just have to sit in the driveway.

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