Podcast: Jesus on the Beach

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Jul 182011

At Christmas we try to focus on what’s important, but it can be hard during the Christmas season with all that goes with the season.  Jesus talked about that while doing one of the rituals of summer: going to the beach. Who and what are most important, and what we do about it, is our topic for today.

The Nonfiction Fun Continues

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Jul 162011

In case you missed it, I’ve discovered that I really dislike writing nonfiction. Last weekend made me dislike it even more.

It was supposed to be my final research trip. The plan was to drive three hours to interview one last person and then drive a half hour further to take some pictures. Because these pictures are going in a book, they have to be high quality, so two weeks before the trip I had taken my wife’s Canon Rebel to get fixed. The repair shop was forty five minutes away with no traffic. I got there and found out I had taken in the wrong camera. Oops. An hour and a half of driving turned into three hours, and to make matters worse it cost $250.  It was not a good start and I hadn’t even left yet.

Once I did start, the trip began well enough. The interview went great, so good that I decided to take a few pictures on the newly fixed camera. It turned out to be a poor idea. The camera crapped out after nine pictures. That’s right- nine. It did the same thing it had been doing before it got fixed.  And of course, none of those pictures were of the subject I originally planned to photograph. I had driven three hours to get the camera fixed, three hours to take the pictures, it would be another three hours to drive home, I was $250 poorer and I wasn’t going to get to take the pictures I needed.

A picture of the camera error code taken with my phone.

After I was done cursing (which took awhile), what to do?

First I had to figure out the timing. I had to be at a speaking gig later that night, so I didn’t have tons of time. I had to get moving. The first person I called was my brother in law, who lives in that town. Unfortunately, I got no answer. He usually doesn’t answer his phone, so I decided to drive over to his house. I knew it was nearby but I didn’t know the address, so I had to call my wife to get it. Once I had it I plugged it into the GPS and starting driving over. While I did, he called. Yay! Except that he was at work. Bummer. But his wife was home. Yay! So I got her number. But she didn’t answer either. Bummer. I decided to drive over there anyway and see if she was home like he said. She was. Yay! And she had a camera I could use. Yay!

But it wasn’t charged. Bummer.

We went over to her neighbors, who had a camera that I could use which was charged. Yay! I thought this was very kind of her neighbor. Except that when we got there, we found out the camera was actually not charged. Bummer. It was still kind of her to be willing to share, but I have to admit that by this point my patience was wearing thin. Back to the inlaws we went, and my sister in law let me take her uncharged camera. Then I had to go to Radio Shack and buy a charger. Once again, on came the GPS, and off I went. Naturally, when I got there the place was packed. Bummer. I had to wait while half the city got their mobile phones worked on, but eventually I got a car charger. Yay!

Which is when I noticed that my tire was going flat.

I was in a bit of a rush, so it should come as no surprise that I didn’t have any coins for an air machine, so I had to go to an ATM. I got twenty dollars out and paid a three dollar service charge. This was going to be a very pricey tire fill. I pulled off at the next service station and, to my delight, someone was just pulling out of the air fill station and had left the machine running! I was able to fill the tire for free, except for that heinous three dollar ATM service charge. Once that was done it was a mad dash to take the pictures. Not too mad  a dash, though, because the camera needed to charge.

All is well that ends well, I suppose. I got the pics. I made it to the speaking gig and even had ten minutes to drive through for dinner. But this kind of problem doesn’t happen with fiction. There’s no cameras, no interviews, no road trips. Just writing, and I’ve got to say I’m looking forward to it.

Podcast: Jesus and the 4th of July

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Jul 122011

Why are we having Christmas in July? In this message we look at the state of Christmas in our country, how that affects our faith, and how we can have the best Christmas at all times of year. We begin with looking at where Jesus was during our Fourth of July celebrations, and what role God plays in our nation and our lives.

Summer of Superheroes

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Jul 012011

It’s been a great summer of movies so far. I’m not talking about critical or even box office success, neither of which really  matter to me. What I mean is that it’s been a great summer of movies for me. For the first time since becoming a parent, I’ve been able to take the kids to see movies we both want to see. It’s been great. Last summer I saw one movie in theaters- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One. It’s only the end of June and I’ve already seen Green Lantern, Thor and X-Men First ClassCars 2, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Captain America: The First Avenger are on the horizon.  It’s been great. I’ve really enjoyed getting back to theaters.

It's not easy learning you've been a jackwagon, but we've all been there.

It’s no coincidence that most of those are superhero movies. My son loves them, and I enjoy them quite a bit. Having seen three in three weeks, I’ve been thinking a good bit about each, and about superhero movies in general. All were a lot of fun. More importantly as a dad and writer, all three had good messages. Thor discovers that leadership is about service. Pretty solid message there. Green Lantern learns that the way to conquer fear is to accept it. That’s also good stuff. X-Men is about how we respond when people mistrust us because we’re different- do we respond with love or hate? It’s a deeper question, one that my five year old probably cannot quite process yet, but in time he will. I hope that this film will inform how he responds when people treat him badly because they think he’s different in some small way. In fact, I hope all three of these messages inform his life in some way.

These messages are what made these films examples of superhero stories at their best. We don’t just want to see hero’s beating the crap out of bad guys. That’s fun, sure, but it’s not why we love them. We love them for two reasons. First, they make us feel more comfortable in our own skin.  Green Lantern gets scared? Knowing that made me feel a little less like a wimp looking at the “Triple Threat” waterslide at Lake Lanier Islands.  But that’s only half of it. We also love them because if they can be so flawed and still do so much, maybe we can too. When Green Lantern overcomes his fear and saves the world, we feel like we can conquer our fear as well. I did go down that waterslide, and I had a blast doing it.

That’s why these characters keep being relevant. They are a modern day mythology, revealing truth about human life. They make us feel better about who we are while also inspiring us to be better. At least, that’s what the good ones do. Here’s hoping there are a few more of those this summer.