Saturday, January 30, 2010

Lost: Religious Themes Permeate Popular TV Show

I have to first admit that I've never watched the show, mistakenly thinking it was just another "reality TV show."  After reading this, I might have to check it out.

From Lauren Green of FoxNews:
The Gospel According to 'Lost': Exploring Religious Themes in the Hit Drama

After months of waiting, fans of the ABC drama "Lost" can rejoice: the show returns for its final season on Tuesday. But, if promotional materials depicting the cast as characters in DaVinci's "The Last Supper" are any indication, "Lost's" roughly 23 million followers may be surprised to find a great deal of religious imagery in their favorite fantasy show this year.

According to theological experts, the show's characters and themes are steeped in a profound biblical message.

Chris Seay, who pastors the Ecclesia Bible Society in Houston, has been a big fan of the show since the very first episode. In his new book, "The Gospel According to Lost," he writes that the TV show is rife with religious themes about faith and the human condition.

"All the evidence in 'Lost' is pointing to existence of a truly good higher power, and in turn, to the existence of evil," Seay says.

Though the show quotes a wide range of philosophers and has made references to various religious terms, like the dharma of the Hindu and Buddhist faiths, Seay says that "Lost" for the most part thrives on the Judeo-Christian narrative, particularly from the Old Testament.

Consider the character names, for example. There's Jacob, who is the biblical father of the 12 tribes of Israel. And then there is a baby named Aaron, the name of Moses' brother.

Seay says the story of "Lost" mirrors the Book of Exodus, when the people of Israel are led out of slavery into the Promised Land. But while the Jews were literally enslaved, Seay says, the characters of "Lost" wear emotional shackles instead.

Indeed, each character has a burden to bear. From a murderer to an alcoholic to a former Iraqi solder who used torture tactics, the characters all have baggage. And this, Seay says, reaches out to viewers.
"Deep down, we all know we're not as perfect as we should be," Seay said. That is our personal "land of slavery."

Mark Labberton of the Fuller Theological Seminary agrees.

"We find ourselves in a context of evil and suffering in the world and the randomness of it all -- 9/11, Katrina, the Haiti earthquake," Labberton told Fox. "We've been made for mercy and justice [and yet we] live in a world where those things are out of order, in chaos. We are clueless. We are lost.
So what can fans expect when the season premieres on Tuesday?

While Seay has no connection to ABC, he speculates that if the show follows the Bible's narrative, the characters will spend their final season searching for home.

"Everyone is trying to find a way home for salvation," Seay says. "They are looking for someone to show them the way to the land flowing with milk and honey."
Should FoxNews and Seay have put a "spoiler alert" on this article?

Podcasts for the Christian

Another wonderful bit of technology to aid the Pilgrim is the podcast.  In recent years, I have added Christian podcasts to my "armory" in building me up spiritually.  There are oodles of them available for free from on iTunes, and I have found them to be a terrific way to start your day.

I developed this routine, because I found that in the mornings as I prepared for my day, I would start churning and ruminating over things that were bugging me.  I have found that listening to an uplifting and enriching podcast instead helped keep me in a better frame of mind and focusing my mental energy and spirit on higher things. 
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.  (Phillipians 4:8)
Here are some favorites that I thoroughly enjoy and highly recommend:

Ravi Zacharias: 
Let My People Think

"Let My People Think" with Ravi Zacharias is a 30-minute radio program that powerfully mixes biblical teaching and Christian apologetics. The program seeks to explore issues such as life's meaning, the credibility of the Christian message and the Bible, the weakness of modern intellectual movements and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ.

Ravi Zacharias has spoken in over fifty countries and in numerous universities worldwide, notably Harvard and Princeton. He was born in India in 1946 and immigrated to Canada twenty years later. While pursuing a career in business management, his interest in theology grew. Ravi received his Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He has also been honored by the conferring of a Doctor of Divinity degree from Houghton College, a Doctor of Laws degree from Asbury College, and a Doctor of Divinity degree from Tyndale College and Seminary, Toronto. Ravi has written several books, including Cries of the Heart and Jesus Among Other Gods. He and his family reside in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Click here to go directly to RZIM's website.)

R.C. Sproul's Renewing Your Mind (Ligonier Ministries)
Since 1994, Renewing Your Mind with Dr. R.C. Sproul has provided accessible, in-depth Bible teaching to millions around the world.  As the principal outreach of Ligonier Ministries, this radio broadcast has instructed listeners in the life-changing truths of historic Christianity and has kept the church community informed about pertinent issues facing believers today. (Click here to go to Ligonier's website.)

Windsor Crossing Community Church
Pastor Greg Holder is a phenomenal preacher.  He's one of those rare individuals where he can talk for 45 minutes and you want more!  Informative, thought-provoking, educational, and humorous, Holder's sermons are directed not just at the "churched" but also to the "unchurched"-- an approach so needed in our post-modern society.  (Click here to go to
Windsor Crossing Community Church.)  You can also download videocasts.

All available for FREE on iTunes.  You will find that the above podcasts are from differing denominations; however, there is no strong dominance of any particular group other than Protestant and orthodox.

Superbowl: A Battleground Again ... This Time for Gays

Ha!  After just blogging about the controversial pro-life ad to possibly be aired by CBS during the Super Bowl, now there's another controversy surrounding the huge sport event: CBS has rejected a commercial for -- a gay dating service.

Here's the scoop from The Money Times:

Los Angeles, January 30 -- After reviewing a comercial from a gay dating site called, CBS has rejected it as inappropriate for the upcoming Super Bowl XLIV, according to reports.

Gay dating Web site created an ad for the Feb. 7’s Super Bowl and submitted it to CBS, the network that hosts the popular event, on Jan. 18 for consideration.

But, CBS rejected the ad Friday after a fortnight's consideration, saying the commercial, which features two male fans making out while watching the Super Bowl, didn't meet the network's standards.

The’s 30-second commercial shows two male football fans watching the Super Bowl on TV, and then accidentally touching hands when they reach for the same potato chip into a chip bowl. After a moment of hesitation, the two men begin kissing, as a third male football fan observes the sudden turn of events in shock.

After a fortnight's consideration, CBS sent a rejection letter to, noting: "CBS Standards and Practices has reviewed your proposed Super Bowl ad and concluded that the creative is not within the Network's Broadcast Standards for Super Bowl Sunday."

The network, however, did not give any reason why it’s not be airing's 'Playing for the Same Team' ad during the NFL game next week.

"After reviewing the ad — which is entirely commercial in nature — our Standards and Practices department decided not to accept this particular spot," CBS noted. "As always, we are open to working with the client on alternative submissions." 
Oh, how CBS is drawing fire on all fronts!  Oh, how what used to be a fun family-and-friends festivity has become so mired in controversy! 

Avril Lavigne: Discriminated Against a Christian Contestant?

The other night I was getting caught up this season's American Idol.  Thank goodness for my trusty little DVR, allowing me this chance.  I enjoy the beginning episodes when the judges are faced with an onslaught of contestants vying for that golden ticket to Hollywood.  I believe it was on Tuesday night that Avril Lavigne served as a guest judge

Jebbica from Idol Mania reported on it and included the videoclip:
Jim Ranger is a father and pastor who wrote his own song to sing at the American Idol 9 Los Angeles auditions. The song was called “Drive”. Jim seemed likable and I really appreciate the fact that he wrote his own song, but he was just a bit too Danny Gokey soundwise for me. Guest judge Avril Lavigne handed him a bit of a reality check and gave him a “no”, but he was through to Hollywood nonetheless.

Jabbica failed to detail Lavigne's "no."  If you listen carefully, here is what Lavigne and Kara DioGuardi said to Ranger:
Avril Lavigne: You're married and you have 3 children?  And you're a pastor?  It would be ... you know, to become a pop star you have to travel and you have to leave everything.  It's difficult out there on the road.  But, I do think you have a good voice.

Kara DioGuardi:  I don't know how you really can do everything ... at once, if you were to go through this ... how you can really be dedicated to your church?
With all the other contestants that come before them, many of whom are married with children, why on earth did these two "judges" question Ranger's ability to parent and pastor?  Did they ask the same of other contestants?  Would they even think to ask that of a woman, let alone those of other faiths?  Did Lavigne and DioGuardi take issue with Ranger's profession?  The next night, when Lavigne was gone (along with her catty attitude she displayed towards others) and Neil Patrick Harris sat in as guest judge, the panel did not question another contestant about her abilities to pastor.  Maybe because she was single?  Or Lavigne's catty attitude wasn't there to influence the panel?

Jeremy Helligar of True/Slant caught Lavigne's double standard, as well:
But my big beef was with guest judge Avril Lavigne. She worked my nerves out of the box with her mean-girl reaction (”awkward,” “that was really bizarre,” “he was sweating like a maniac”) to 19-year-old Neil Goldstein, who (badly) sang the Meat Loaf song. But what really annoyed me was her contradictory dismissal of Jim Ranger, the worship pastor from Bakersfield, California, who sang an original composition called “Drive.”  (For the record, I think he was barely above average.)
“You’re married, and you have three children,” she said (asked?). Pause. “And you’re a pastor(?). To become a pop star, you have to travel, and you have to leave everything. It’s difficult out there on the road. But I do think that you have a good voice.”

Her final verdict: “Um, I’m sorry, I think I would have to say no.”

Um, huh?

What does someone’s marital status/number of kids/job have to do with his or her singing talent? As someone who’s been a star since she was a teenager, Avril knows the demands of the business ...
Perhaps now that her marriage is history, she wants to save potential Idols from the same marital fate. But is it really any of her business? Idol has age limits, but there are no rules regarding marital status, kids or, for that matter, choice of career. Was she really concerned about the quality of Jim’s family life? Was it about his religion? Or did she just not think he was any good? She said she liked his voice, so certainly not the latter.

Luckily, the two other judges Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell were not put off by Ranger's vocation and passed him on to the next round, basing their decisions solely on Ranger's talent ... as it should be.

Haiti: Donations Deductible on 2009 Taxes

Wow!  It appears that our the House of Representatives has managed to come together in the true spirit of non-partisanship and passed H.R. 4462, allowing taxpayers to deduct contributions to Haitian relief on their 2009 income tax returns.   Here's what Compassion International reports:
Is my cash donation to Haiti earthquake relief efforts applicable to my 2009 tax returns?
Yes. Charitable contributions made before March 1, 2010, in response to the Haiti earthquake can be claimed as itemized charitable deductions on your 2009 tax return instead of waiting to claim these on your 2010 tax return (see The House of Representatives bill H.R. 4462 passed 1/20/10).
For those of you who wish to donate, there are four ways you can make your donation to the American Red Cross:
1) By check: write your check to "The American Red Cross" and in the memo line specify "Haiti relief."  That way you can be assured that your donation will be directed as you wish.  You will receive a receipt and a thank you card from the Red Cross confirming your donation.  Mail your check either to your local chapter, which can be found on the ARC's website.  You can go here and print off a sheet to mail in with it to  
American Red Cross
PO Box 4002018
Des Moines, IA 50340-2018

2) By phone: 1-800-RED-CROSS  (You can also phone in your donation to your local chapter.)

3) Online using the ARC's secure site (click here).

4) By text message: you can text "HAITI" to 90999.  Your cellphone company will add $10 to your bill, text messaging fees apply.  You can send several texts.  I tried it today, and each time I promptly received a message back asking me to confirm the donation by replying "yes" or "no."  When I replied "yes," I promptly got a message that thanked me, but also offered me the chance to still cancel.  Seemed rather fail-proof.  (Click here for texting details.)
Due to the overwhelming support of the American people, the ARC has partnered with some retailers to be official donation sites, such as Walgreen's, Costco, Walmart, Riteway, Lowe's, and Bank of America.  (Click here for details on these and other official donation sites.)

If you choose not to donate to the Red Cross, I would caution you to choose your charity of choice carefully.  Be sure you donate to an organization that is reputable and highly respected.  Many con artists crawl out of the woodwork in sad times such as these.  Be aware, too, that corruption runs rampant in Haiti.  Avoid those groups that will just give the money to Haiti without accounting for it.

I have a friend who works closely with an orphanage just outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  She makes several trips a year and is involved in improving the orphanage and school.  There are also plans in the works for a clinic to be built.  The mission is called "House of Hope" and, if you're looking for perhaps a more direct, more personal, and hands-on relief effort, such a venture might be what you're looking for.

Compassion International has many projects and children in Haiti and is in desperate need of donations.  I have sponsored children through CI for over 20 years, firmly believing in the integrity and stewardship of the organization.

Superbowl to Be Abortion Rights Battleground

Ah, yes ... the Superbowl.  Now, I'm not a sports fan; but, I do attend Superbowl parties like everyone else.  I'm not really all that interested in the sport or game itself, but I do enjoy getting together with people, consuming huge quantities of deliciously unhealthy food, and watch the commercials.  I revel in how noisy the room can be during the game, but the moment one of the SUPERBOWL COMMERCIALS comes on, the room instantly falls silent as everyone rivets their attention to the screen.

Judging from news reports these past few days, it appears that one of commercials will turn the Superbowl into an ideological, religious, and human rights battle ground.  Focus on the Family and football hero Tim Tebow have produced and plan to air a commercial that tells the story of his mother Pam who chose to deliver her son despite being counseled to abort him.  NOW (The National Organization of Women) and other feminist groups are on the attack.

Here's the story from FoxNews:

The 30-second spot, paid for by the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family, is expected to recount the story of Pam Tebow's turbulent pregnancy in 1987:

When Tebow suffered from a dangerous infection during a mission trip to the Philippines, doctors recommended that she terminate her pregnancy, fearing she might die in childbirth. But she carried Tim to term, and he went on to win the 2007 Heisman Trophy and guide the Florida Gators to two BCS championships.

It's a happy story with an inspirational ending, but pro-choice critics say Focus on the Family should not be allowed to air the commercial because it advocates on behalf of a divisive issue and threatens to "throw women under the bus."
"This organization is extremely intolerant and divisive and pushing an un-American agenda," said Jehmu Greene, director of the Women's Media Center, which is coordinating a campaign to force CBS to pull the ad before it airs on Feb. 7.

"Abortion is very controversial, and the anti-abortion vitriol has resulted in escalated violence against reproductive health providers and their patients," Greene said. "We've seen that clearly with the murder of Dr. George Tiller," the late-term abortion provider who was gunned down in his Kansas church in May 2009.

But Gary Schneeberger, a spokesman for Focus on the Family, defended the ad and said it will stand out on Super Bowl Sunday because its content is original and family-friendly.

"We're not trying to sell folks a big-screen TV, we're not trying to sell them a soft drink, we're not trying to sell them a Web domain name. We're not trying to sell anything — we're celebrating families," he told

"Some people will be surprised when they see the actual content of the ad. It's anything but the way it's been described with that fiery rhetoric."
Attacks on the ad, which has been seen by only a handful of people, are mounting. The Women's Media Center is coordinating a campaign with the National Organization for Women and other women's groups to launch an online petition and letter-writing campaign targeting CBS. Another petition set up on Jan. 22 has garnered over 8,000 signatures.

So has the fearless Gator bitten off more than he can chew? Tebow addressed the controversy while chatting with reporters in Alabama on Sunday, explaining his opposition to abortion.

"I know some people won't agree with it, but I think they can at least respect that I stand up for what I believe," he said. "[T]hat's the reason I'm here, because my mom was a very courageous woman. So any way that I could help, I would do it."
Two interesting points in the news story caught my eye:
1)  The notion that the ad could add to the an already vitriolic atmosphere, referring to the murder of Dr. Tiller.  Coincidentally, Tiller's murderer was convicted yesterday and sentenced to life in prison.

2)  Schneeberger discussed what FOF is not selling the public, compared to other ads viewers typically see.  This made me think of the Superbowl ads we've seen in the past.  I wonder if NOW campaigned against some of those, such as the Go Daddy ads that were hypersexual with overtones of lesbianism ... purely for the titillation of male viewers.

The above article mentioned The Women's Media Center's letter-writing campaign.  Here's more about the letter the WMC sent CBS from USAPlayers (dated Jan. 26th):

"By offering one of the most coveted advertising spots of the year to an anti-equality, anti-choice, homophobic organization, CBS is aligning itself with a political stance that will damage its reputation, alienate viewers, and discourage consumers from supporting its shows and advertisers," the letter claimed.

As of now, CBS plans to move forward, and run the ad as scheduled on Super Bowl Sunday, February 7th.

Gregg Doyel, a columnist for said that his objection to the ad is base on timing, not the message.

"If you're a sports fan, and I am, that's the holiest day of the year." he wrote in his column. "It's not a day to discuss abortion. For it, against it, I don't care what you are. On Super Sunday, I don't care what I am. Feb. 7 is simply not the day to have that discussion."
So, Doyel doesn't like the idea of the ad possibly pushing families to discuss abortion ... would that be as bad as a few years ago when Janet Jackson's breast "accidentally" popped out of her costume during her infamous half-time performance?   Odd and sad, too, how Doyel describes Superbowl Sunday as the "holiest" day of the year.

I went to NOW's website to see the organization's presentation of their side of the controversy.   It's "Say it, Sister!" blog for equality calls for an attack on FOF:

Make no mistake about this ad: it's offensive to women. Yes, it features Heisman trophy winner Tim Tebow and his mother, who had been advised to have an abortion after a serious illness. Standing alone, it sends the message that all women who give birth are heroes; it sends a message that abortion is always a mistake; and it is insulting to the one in three women in this country who have abortions.
"One in three" ... I had heard of that statistic before -- that one in three pregnancies end in abortion.  I have frequently wondered if that were true and still a current number.  Well, that's now been confirmed by NOW itself!  The reference almost appears as a "bragging point."

I found the comments that followed the post interesting.  Many readers left comments supporting FOF's right to free speech and reminding NOW that "pro-choice" includes choosing to not abort.  At least NOW has the guts to let those conflicting opinions remain on its site.

I wish more members of the public would catch on to the hypocrisy of NOW and abortion rights activists: that "pro-choice" to them obviously only means "pro-abortion."  Should a woman choose to give birth, her decision is frequently followed with scorn and derision.

For years I have criticized NOW for having concentrated its efforts solely on abortion and gay rights.  This is quite evident when you look at NOW's website, where it calls for getting abortion funding into the health care bill while deleting "abstinence-only" sex ed courses, celebrating 37 years of Roe v. Wade, as well as claiming that abortion is a "human right!"  I don't recall them ever voicing opposition to the objectification of women in the "entertainment" and marketing industries.  If anything, they seem to applaud using a woman's sexuality as her source of "power" ... whatever that is.  

But, I guess that's OK with NOW and other feminist groups: If, in the exercise of that sexual "power" a woman should become pregnant, pro-abortion groups stand at the ready to help her terminate that life.  No questions asked.  No alternatives offered.

FoxNews' Marjorie Dannenfelser offers a similar criticism in her article "Why Is NOW So Afraid Pro-Life, Pro-Family Ad?":
Could you imagine anything more ironic? The organization that purports to embrace women and “choice” is desperately clamoring to shut down the most loving choice of all: the choice for life. Yet the women of NOW can’t abide 30 seconds of a heart-warming story. What would producers at Lifetime Television say?

Let’s be real. What’s the worst case scenario here? That if Americans hear this message they will choose to make sacrifices in order to have a child and bring a wonderful life in to the world? That’s hardly an abhorrent message.

These groups are not “for” women and they don’t want them to have a “choice.” They only want women to “choose” the path of abortion. Never mind that abortion has been shown over and over to be destructive in numerous ways, both physically and psychologically. But, *please* don’t tell people that there are alternatives.

In their efforts to cling to the old feminist mantra that we somehow “need” abortion, NOW sells American women short. They assume that women are so weak-brained and easily manipulated that they must be protected from a life-affirming message.
Now, this is where one can truly say "Say it, Sister!"

Friday, January 29, 2010

Bible App: The Reformation Study Bible

For you iPod Touch or iPod phone fans, you're probably getting addicted to all the cool apps that you can download from iTunes!  I have great news for you -- The Reformation Study Bible is available from iTunes for $15.99.  A bit pricey, yes, but compared to the ones I downloaded before it -- the "cheapies" that were 99 cents or a few bucks -- this one is far better.

Here are some of its features:
"The Reformation Study Bible, General Editor Dr. R.C. Sproul, is a tremendous resource created by more than fifty scholars and featuring more than 20,000 study notes on Bible verses and terms.  Additional study notes include introductions to the seven groups of biblical books, book introductions with outlines, and 96 notes on central doctrines of Scripture.  This version also includes the entire text of the English Standard Version (ESV) Bible.  The entire resource is stored right on your phone for instand access without a network connection."

Features include:
• Fast keyword, phrase, and wildcard search
• Highlight verses in multiple colors
• Personalize verses with your own notes
• Additional translations free: KJV, ASV, YLT, WEB, Darby, RVA, AA
• Free downloads: Greek NT, Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary, Easton's Bible Dictionary, Spurgeon's Daily Devotional, Thompson Topics
• Web backup of notes and highlighting
• Direct, two-way Web synchronization
• Split screen view
• Verse tagging
You might be familiar with the name R.C. Sproul.  I enjoy and highly recommend his radio show "Renewing Your Mind."   Normally, however, I listen to his show via podcast, available from free from iTunes.   (Click here to read more about the Reformation Study Bible.)

I still believe a real book in your hands is the best; but, when you're in a pinch, having the Bible with such capabilities on something as small as your iPod is great.  And, with the introduction of Apple's new iPad earlier this week, I imagine reading the Bible on that will be wonderful.

Great for the Christian techie ...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

An Interesting Week: Two Very Different Lives

I recall an very interesting and inspirational week I experienced a few years ago.  Within one week, I witnessed two very different mens' lives.  At the start of the week, sadly a very dear man of our congregation passed away suddenly.  Bill was a man everyone loved -- funny, humble, loving, mischievous.  His sudden death left his wife and children devastated.  The funeral drew a huge crowd!  There must have been several hundred people, including members of the local high school choir who got special release that day from their classes to sing at the funeral.  Bill, a big fan of music and the choral arts, had helped many times with the school choir.  I recall thinking to myself that, if I were to have half as many people in attendance at my funeral with half the tears shed, I know I will have lived a very good life.

Later that week, my Red Cross "Disaster Action Team" ("DAT") got called out about 10:30 at night to respond to an apartment fire in a small neighboring town.  It took my teammates and I more than an hour to reach our destination.  As we began surveying the damage and talking to the displaced residents, I recognized one of the men -- a very tall, big-framed man.  Although he and I were both "out of our element", we recognized that we were both members of the same church and had shared a few conversations and even a car ride at one point.  I knew his wife and children, too.  His son and I had a puppy obedience class together.

At first, I had a hard time recognizing him.  I then realized his drug use had caught up with him, causing him to look a bit bloated and creating an odd color to his skin.  He smiled and seemed happy to see me, but he also appeared a bit uncomfortable ... embarrassed.  He knew that I knew.  His wife had told me what had happend to his business and their marriage.  His drug abuse had forced his brothers to kick him out of the successful family business and his wife to leave him.

Here was a man who, as we would say, "had everything" -- great business and career, well respected in the community and the church, financially successful, materially blessed, etc.  Tragically, his drug use took control of him, resulting in losing everything.  He went from a successful life in a nice community to living in a rundown apartment in a tired little town.

Bill, on the other hand, was a man who had financially struggled all his life.  He did make a decent living as a sales rep; but, he did experience a long period of close to two years of unemployment.  But, he somehow still managed to make it through that rough period and come out on top.  Bill was a man that was deeply loved by the community, and it was so obvious at the funeral.  He had touched many people's lives with his kindness, wit, and charm.

I thought of these two men as I started studying the Matthew this week.  Bill was far richer than the second man.  His wealth was one that was stored up in heaven.  From Matthew's recording of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount:
"But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal."  (Matthew 6:20)
As I drove home that night from the Red Cross call, my mind was like a washing machine, churning and spinning those two men and their lives ... what they had done with the time given them. 

My prayer:  Lord, help me to be a good steward of all that you have given me.  Let me never take a single day for granted nor ever fail to lend a smile or helping hand to a single person.  When times get tough, make me tougher, relying solely on You.  May I never thoughtlessly throw away my true treasures: people.  May I blessing to them.  And Lord, please help your child that is so lost in drugs.  Give him strength Lord, that he might find his way back to You -- to real life, to real peace.  Amen.

Why On Earth Another Blog?!?

"Ah, yes!  Another blog!" you say.  Just what the world needs, right?  I've already got a blog over at Hummers & Cigarettes, so why in the world start a second one?  There are ba-zillions of blogs already!!!!!

I've been blogging at H&C for about 3 years now, having started that as a way to vent.  Being a political independent with rightwing leanings working in the world of public education, I find myself frequently choking on the political correctness and blatant leftist politics that pervade my profession.  H&V allows me to blow off steam at that and various PC crappolla I see frequently.

But, I have another struggle.  Faith.  I am a Christian who has been suffering from what I call "spiritual ADD" for more than a decade.  Lately, I have been struggling with getting back up on my feet and "walkin' the walk" once again.  In the past year I have returned to regularly reading the Bible and feebly attempting to get into a prayer habit.  I guess like for work, I need a place to blow off some spiritual steam -- do some processing.

In the midst of this I struggle with the Church -- both with a big "C" and a little "c".  With regards to the "little c church",  I am now "tri-churched" -- active musically at one, attending awesome services and at a second, and recently joined a Bible study class at a third.  This triangle of craziness was spawned by a major falling out with my "home church" a few years ago.  (That's the one where I continue to participate in the music program.)

But, lately I've come to think that there's a blessing in this tumultuous falling out: it has pushed me to work on me.

So, as I make the "church circuit" on a weekly basis, begin new spiritual habits of Bible reading, study, and prayer, I feel compelled to digest and savor these "phantom pains", yearnings, and inklings in written form.  There are many who do likewise, and I am simply joining a vast network of fellow strugglers.  Ha!  In fact, when I tried to register this blog, I had a hard time finding a blog name using "mustard seed", with many responses from Blogger informing me that that name was already taken.

Apparently, there a lot of fellow mustard seeds.

Why "mustard seed?"  It naturally comes to mind when I think of Jesus' words:
"For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you."  (Matthew 17:20)
I cling to the belief that my weak faith -- the amount of a mustard seed -- is enough.  "Only a mustard seed" is enough for Jesus.  It is enough for the Holy Spirit to use to grow me.

I am that tiny seed.  You are invited to follow me on the journey ... as I germinate ... lay down roots ... sprout ... grow leaves ... and hopefully progress from there to a sapling and, God willing, a huge tree that produces seeds.  I welcome your insights, too!

Corny, I know.  A theologian I am not.  A sincere seeker, though, I am.