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Archive for November, 2006

Made in Japan: Bullpen Help


The Red Sox signed lefty specialist Hideki Okajima to a 2-year contract.  And they didn’t have to bid on his rights why?  I’m confused.

However, Hideki is said to have a very good curve ball, and good control.

He will also provide someone for Diasuke to hang out with and talk, making the cultural adjustment easier.  I think this is more than just a good faith effort.  Hideki is supposed to be a very good pitcher, and will help the bullpen tremendously.

Update: I felt bad for him at the press conference.  Too many questions about Matsuzaka.  This was Hideki’s moment in the sun.  Press corps- let him have it.  This guy is going to move from the other side of the planet to play ball for the Sox- for one day make him feel special for cryin’ out loud.

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The Boston Celtics, with a record of 5-8, lead the Atlantic Division by 1/2 game.

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When Pastors Crack


Most pastors have been there.  There are moments when you want to let the people ‘have it’.  Thankfully, the God of grace reminds you that you are just as much a sinner as they are.  The God of grace reminds you that you are to build them up, not tear them a new one.

But, some guys didn’t get the memo.  This pastor, in what would probably be his last sermon, went on a profanity-laden rant in which he “let them have it“, on Resurrection Day no less.  Be warned- there are no little beeps to cover the ‘cuss words.

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Just Arrived: The Choir


I just got the latest offering from The Choir- O How the Mighty Have Fallen.  I’ve only listened to it one time thus far, but I like it.  It reminds some critics of  Circle Slide (one of my all-time favorite albums).  I’m glad they did not end their careers with Flap Your Wings.  That was not one of their best efforts.  This is an improvement.  It has that etheral sound thing going for it.  It reminds me of Free Flying Soul.  I think this is the first time they have not produced their own album in quite some time (Marc Byrd did).  Marc is now ‘officially’ a member of the band, so it’s the first time in awhile Derri & Steve didn’t produce it.

“When we view ourselves truthfully as FALLEN, we may begin to comprehend and accept divine MERCY.  And in realizing such liberating spiritual redemption, hopefully, we will become less judgmental, and more forgiving of one another.”  Sounds alot like Paul’s letter to the Ephesian Church.

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Review: The Island


What a difference 25 years makes.  This idea was first explored in the 1979 B-movie The Clonus Horror.  I remember watching it on The Movie Channel while I was in high school.  Human clones “created” to provide new organs for the original person (a bit different from The Seventh Day where the clones took the place of the now dead person).  This version has lots of special effects, a big budget and some well known actors (Dick Sargent and Peter Graves were the best the original had to offer).

Lincoln Echo-Six is too inquisitive.  The utopia that makes up his life does not make sense to him.  He discovers that he and his friends are being used for ‘spare parts’.  The lottery winners don’t go to the Island, but are killed to provide organs for rich people.  He is discovered, and must find a way out of their supposed utopia before the security forces eliminate them.  They must sort through the lies they’ve been told (the outside world is contaminated, & the only other safe place is the Island).  And so begins the stunt laden extravaganza.

There is much here to exceed the limits of belief.  CavWife was often saying things like, “you’ve got to be kidding me”.  Yes, the action is escapist and over the top.  Yes, I think I’d be a bit more traumatized to discover that my whole flippin’ life was a lie.  I’d be overwhelmed by the reality of ‘real life’ rather than life in Waldon II.  Sex would blow my naive litte mind.  But somehow, they cope and turn the tables on the big, bad scientists.  In this way it covers similar ground as The Seventh Day– are clones human or less than?  Unlike that movie, this one doesn’t bring religion into the picture.  But it does remind us that not every scientist is noble and free from the baser passions like greed.

However, don’t watch this for ethics.  Watch to relax and watch things blow up.  If you don’t expect you much… you’ll enjoy it.

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In chapter 6, Allender tackles the issue of complexity in leadership.  He blows the cover some of us had.  Sometimes confusion “can be a ruse to escape hard but simple decisions.”  Learned helplessness can be a dangerous thing.

Each of us has a past.  And this personal history provides a gird or schema for viewing the world and our circumstances.  “We always predict the future by reading the present from a frame of reference that was established in the past.”  This is why it is some important to be transformed through the renewing of our minds- we need a biblical grid or frame of reference to more accurately read the present and predict that future. 

“Complexity arises when the grids we use to interpret the present seem to be breaking down or when another grid competes for ascendancy.”  This is what makes life change, including conversion, so difficult.  We struggle against seeing with new eyes.  This is particularly difficult in a community.  Competing grids create conflict.  Some want to hang on to old, ineffective (non-biblical) grids.  Some want to embrace new, pragmatic (non-biblical) grids.  True, biblical frameworks for understanding the present will meet with resistance on both ends.

He relates this to hiring and firing practices.  Which grid should have more importance: relationship, redemption or competency?  In part it depends on the situation.  If the person is in the position to develop competency, then redemption is more important.  If they are a senior pastor or primary leader, then competency should be pretty important.  If you have to choose between 2 equally competent people, than relationship becomes more important.

But if we choose relationship despite incompetency, all will suffer.  The on-going incompetence will destroy the relationship.  And eventually the fired person will feel betrayed, even though they never should have had the position in the first place.  Anyway… back to the book.

The present is fraught with ambiguity.  My grid actively shapes how I view the present.  In the comments on racism (the Michael Richards post) you’ll see that one’s past will determine how much or little racism they see.  We will quickly filter out data that does not seem to fit our grid (see evolutionist or global warming debates).  Things look so complex (the environment/climate) that we seek a simple solution (Al Gore) at the expense of wrestling with all the data.  We err toward reductionism.  The complexity of leadership tempts us to err on the side of the status quo or the quick fix.  Both rob us of the opportunity to grow as people and leaders.

The future is beset with uncertainty.  We can’t control it, and we can’t predict what the “right” thing to do is.  Our fear leads us into anticipating a bad outcome.  This sets us up for the danger of dogmatism, or rigidity.

“Dogmatism assures us that we know the answer before we bother to look.  On the surface, this approach seems to make life easier, but it almost always steers us in the wrong direction.”  Dogmatism is the refusal to re-examine your grid.  It is the unwillingness to allow your mind to continually be renewed by God’s Spirit working thru God’s Word.  It says “my way is the only way” (welcome to the worship wars, for instance). 

The tipping point is foolishness.  “A leader must be a fool, and a foot is someone neither bound to convention nor tied to the dictates of the powerful.”  We must be willing to look foolish as we embrace the non-conventional, non-traditional and other-worldly.  If we keep in step with the Spirit, we will most likely look foolish (and feel foolish) to those who pursue life in the flesh from a fleshly perspective (see 1 Corinthians 1-2).

It takes time alone with God, or in restful community, to be creative.  We are usually not creative when we are harried and pressed for time.  It takes time to begin to see with a new pair of eyes.  This also requires faith- that there is underlying order in God’s world and that God has provided a way out of this trial even if it means going through the trial.

Complexity calls forth creativity.  Complexity calls forth risk.  This is why leadership is such a pecarious position.  It calls those who follow out of routines and comfort zones into possible loss.  But a new & better status quo cannot arise if we remain entrenched in the current one.  Rigidity will keep us where we are- often to our death.

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Leading w/a Limp: Crisis!


Not many leaders love a crisis.  Most of us grow nauseous and want to curl up in a ball.  Yet, crisis reveals what we are really about as a leader.  Crisis forces us to make choices- “either to risk and suffer with courage or to crumble under the weight of fear and threatening circumstances.”

Crisis goes far beyond a problem.  Crisis is the possibility of ruin.  Crisis is when an elder lets you know people are gunning for you.  Crisis is when a family member, or church leader, is diagnosed with terminal cancer.  Crisis is when a sexual or financial scandal rocks a community.  Sometimes crisis “just happens” (please read Job 1-2).  Often it comes as a result of the choices we made or didn’t make.

This is the type of crisis that Allender addresses in this chapter.  Character, or the lack thereof, is revealed by whether or not the leader accepts a measure of the responsibility or if they just assign blame.  As I’ve worked with crises in other churches, I’ve learned to doubt the guy(s) who don’t admit they’ve done anything wrong.  The one(s) who admits at least some responsibility is more in touch with reality.

I can look back on my time in this congregation and see things I’ve done wrong.  There are situations I did not address aggressively enough, and others I addressed too aggressively.  I can see times with others have made decisions that created the trouble we are in today.  Just about all of us contributed to it.  It was not any one decision that brought us to this place, but a long series of decisions both big and small.  The issues becomes less about who is to blame, but what to do next (see my sermon God Works in a Mysterious Way).

(more…)

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