Optional page text here. The Beast's Lair: May 2006

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Memorial Day Weekend

Sorry for the delay in posts, I have had a rather busy memorial day weekend. It is an annual tradition to visit eastern KY, where most of my extended family resides, and so we made our way to the small KY towns of Whitesburg and Neon. Missy, Andy and Bella were unable to make the trip this year because Bella had a rehearsal for a dance recital to take place in a couple of weeks.

After listening to 6 straight hours of Rex's self-made 80's music (Andi and I were making the trip with him and Lisa, my sister-in-law) we finally arrived at the legendary home of Burtis and Jo Webb, my uncle and aunt. This home brings back so many memories every time I pull into it's driveway (actually the used car lot below the house.) Andi and I were instructed that we would be sleeping in a twin bed together, which was fine with us because we are the master spooners and all we really need is enough room for one person.

I was awoken to the joyfully sound of my mom knocking on the bedroom door and doing a little song that said something like "time to get up and eat some breakfast." For a moment I thought I was 12 again and it was time to get up for school. We quickly ate a breakfast and got ready to go visit my granny for a few minutes and then visit the cemetery. Part of this process took us past the greatest drive-in of all time, Mike Johnson's. This place simply has the greatest food and desserts of anywhere. I have always wanted a Mike Johnson's t-shirt and Andi and I were fortunate enough to be introduced to the owner of the establishment and she took us on a VIP tour of the backstage area. This consisted of a trailer that was filthy. No matter!! I was excited and we were led to the back of the trailer where spread out over a bed were about 300 Mike Johnson's t-shirts. I couldn't believe it. The lady finally gave one of them to Andi free of charge and I told her I would be back the following day when I had some cash. It was a great experience.

After the day's activities were over, we made our way back to the Webb's house. Rex and I decided that we needed some physical activity, so we asked where the badminton set was. To my amazement, they didn't have one, only rackets. So, out to Wal-Mart we go to purchase a badminton set. After pain-stakingly following the easy to read instructions, we set the net strategically over a pumpkin patch. We then enjoyed a good hour and a half of competitive badminton. It was great.

That night we played a few board games, including a fun game called "Time's Up." Me, Rex and Andi were on a team and we got destroyed. The second game was much closer and we tied the third game. I felt better after reading a few online reviews of the game where everyone agreed that the first time you play the game, it is very difficult. I did manage to come out victorious with the game "Cloud 9."

On Sunday, we watched the famous "shooting over the graves" and Rex and I collected the shells for our little cousin. It is a cool tradition and the dude who performed "Taps" was the best I have ever heard.

That night we headed toward home because Rex and Lisa had to catch a plane on Monday and we wanted to have a little time before they had to leave. We stopped in Knoxville for the night and decided to call Barry from Inn of the Last Home at 1 in the morning to come out and hang with us. Just kidding. We really did check into a sweet motel room. Rex and I decided to scan the scene and sure enough, we found a bowling alley just a few blocks from the motel. We played 3 games of darts (which I lost), one game of Police Trainer (which I won), two games of Lucky and Wild (which I lost) and one game of 1945 (which I lost.) Overall, it was a rough night for me in the gaming department. I will say that Rex was pulling out some moves in 1945 that I had never seen before. It was incredible. We headed back to the motel room around 2 am and were going to catch some sleep, but Xtreme Elimination Challenge was on Spike TV, so that was another hour that we were up. We finally hit the bed around 3 am.

It was a fun weekend and it is always good to be with family.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Laser Quest Regional Tournament and Other Stuff

Well, it's going to happen. A few months ago, Rexwilder and I competed in the Nashville Laser Quest North American Challenge (NAC) try outs. Basically, there were about 14 people trying out and you played 16 games in one weekend. If your score was in the top 9 of the 14, then you made the Nashville team and were on your way to the Regional tournament to be held in Richmond, VA. There, you will be competing with other cities from the east who are hoping to make it to the National tournament held this year in Las Vegas.

Rexwilder and I made the team and during the weekend of June 23rd and 24th, we will be driving to Richmond, VA to compete with the best Laser Quest players in the country. It promises to be a memorable weekend.

This crazy upcoming weekend has kind of got me thinking about other crazy little things I have done that have been pretty random. Here are five of those things off the top of my head in no particular order:

1. Driving 18 hours, 27 minutes from Adel, GA to Toronto with my best bud Wildman for one purpose: To watch Hulk Hogan wrestle The Rock at Wrestlemania 18. I could write for hours on that weekend and the depressing nature of the event after Hogan lost that in some strange way changed my life.

2. Contacting the Public Relations director at Dollywood, the theme park in Pigeon Forge, TN owned by Dolly Parton, in an attempt to set the worlds record for the most consecutive hours riding the famous "Blazing Fury." Pete Owens is his name and he answered my inquiry with interest and we are still in the process of working out the details. Once again, my friend Wildman will be with me (I hope).

3. Rexwilder and I have owned season passes to Universal Studios, FL for years now. I live 10 hours and he lives 26 hours from the park. We by far know more about the Universal Theme parks, especially Islands of Adventure, than any other two people who live in a completely different state other than FL.

4. Andi and I have started a Christmas tradition of attending the Gatlinburg Christmas parade. The funny thing is, neither one of us like parades and this past year we waited in sub-zero weather for about an hour for the parade to start, and then after the first 5 minutes of the parade, we went inside a mexican restaurant and ate chips for 2 hours. I can't wait till next year!

5. I perfomed a Kiss tribute show when I was in college in full Kiss makeup for no reason whatsoever. I was "Ace Frehley" and we rented a children's dance studio for the epic performance. In order to make our grand appearance, we were all crowded together in a mini-van outside the back door until the curtain was dropped. Those few minutes in that van with everyone in Kiss makeup was an important moment.

Hey, if you haven't done anything a little crazy lately or pursued that dream, better go for it! These are the things we will be talking about in 30 years.

Monday, May 22, 2006

A Trip to the Video Store

Andi and I returned some rented movies to the local video rental store (we are apparently the only people who have not yet done the Netflix thing) and we were lured into checking out the rather large "previously viewed DVD" section by the rather attractive "50% Sale sign." The movies were already priced at $7.95, so I politely asked if the 50% sale was already marked on the price tag or if it was additional 50% the marked prices. The lady proudly told me that it was another 50% off, so Andi and I agreed to pick one movie each and we were excited at the prospect of purchasing two DVD's for under $10.

It was in the picking out, and the getting excited at our individual finds, that struck a chord with me. You see, I was immediately drawn to the "Land of the Dead" dvd that was calling out my name. George Romero is a horror hero of mine, and this was the 4th installment of his "dead" series, which goes all the way to the instant 1968 classic "Night of the Living Dead" and also includes my favorite of the films, "Dawn of the Dead." (recently remade by the way, and done surprisingly well.) If I lived anywhere near Pennsylvania, I would do whatever it takes to be in a "dead" film.

Anyway, after letting Andi in on the good news that I was going to complete my Romero series for about $5, I noticed that she had picked out a movie as well. She held up the dvd "Just Like Heaven." We realized how funny the situation was, that we were both so excited about completely different movies in every way imaginable. The scenario got me thinking about how the story of my last 5 years, complete with a near death broken heart experience, is bold and thankful testimony of the providential wisdom of God.

Andi and I should have never met. I should not have been back in Nashville. We were from very different denominational backgrounds (not so much theologically as much as practically). She held different political views than I did. And then the real kicker, she couldn't watch even a second of a horror film, something that was a big part of my free time entertainment. But none of that mattered. Nothing in my life has been more clear than the protective hand of God that painfully worked in my life at one point in order to eventually move me toward the person who I was to spend the rest of my life with. I underestimated the will that God had for my life and came very close to making a monumental mistake, something that many, if not most people make when it comes to relationships. Why God refused to let me make that mistake, I don't know. But He did. And I am now experiencing life like I never thought possible.

You can now go vomit with disgust. But that's just the way it is. And I am happy to let you know about it!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Premillennialism, Dispensationalism and the Rapture

You would not believe how many times I get asked about how the world will end. Of all my study of the Bible and religion, eschatology (the study of last things) is the branch of religion that I have studied the least, and I have done that purposefully. It is quite ironic that the issue most lay people and non-Christians want to talk to me about is the one issue I had rather avoid. Not because I think it is boring or unimportant, but because there is so much more to the Bible and to our Christian lives than trying to figure out how it will all end. There is one thing that I am certain of, and it is really all I personally need to know. . .Christ will one day return for His church and every knee will bow. That is my hope and security. Exactly how that happens is something we will never know until it happens, so I have always had a difficult time getting pumped up about studying it.

Having said that, let me write out some basic beliefs and principles here as clearly as I can. I think I will direct future questions from my friends and church members to this blog so they can just read it.

Premillennialism - This is the view, held by most Protestants, that the second coming of Christ will occur before the establishment of the millennium, which is the 1.000 year reign of Christ on earth. Premillennialists believe a tribulation period of 7 years will take place where an Antichrist will emerge and horror will be poured out upon the earth. At the end of the Tribulation, Jesus will visibly return to defeat Satan and the Antichrist and set up a millennial kingdom on earth. At the end of the 1000 years, Satan will be released and will attempt one more rebellion against God. He will be defeated once and for all and sent to the Lake of Fire for eternity.

Where things start getting confusing, and heated debates will erupt, is that there are two main forms or variations of Premillennialism. Those are Dispensational and Historic.

Dispensational Premillennialism - The two main differences between Dispensational and Historical Premillennialism is the understanding of the rapture and the emphasis given to the nation Israel. Dispensational Premillennialists believe that Christ will "rapture" his church before the beginning of the Tribulation, thus saving the believers from the wrath and torment. They also believe Israel will be saved and restored to a place of preeminence and will have a special function of service during the millennium.

Historic Premillennialism - This group denies the "pre-tribulation" rapture of the church and believes that the second coming of Christ and the rapture are all one event that will take place after the tribulation and before the millennial kingdom begins. Historic Premillennialists also believe that the nation Israel will not have a special role or function during the millennial kingdom that is different from the church.

There are also some Dispensationalists who hold to a "mid-tribulation" rapture idea, that the church will be caught up by Christ in the middle of the tribulation, after 3 1/2 years before the heavy-duty stuff begins.

Revelation 20:1-6 is where you can read about the millennial kingdom and begin studying for yourself if you so choose. Obviously, proponents of either view can quote scripture and defend their particular position. One thing, however, they will all agree on. The church will be victorious in Christ and will one day reign with Him!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Captain America

After reading the Inn of the Last Home, I decided to go ahead and let the loyal Beast Lair readers know that I fully support Captain America as the all time greatest super hero. Obviously, the beauty of comic books is that everyone has a favorite super hero, there is no right or wrong. But for The Beast, "Cap" is in a league of his own.

Coming in second place for me is Reed Richards, aka, Mister Fantastic. BTW, I was a fan long before the lame movie.

In the DC world of comics, Superman is really the only one who I enjoy, and I don't read the comic. He is just a legend, the first real super hero. I never got into Batman or any of the other DC heros (Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, etc).

Below is a picture of me with Captain America, a proud moment for me. I was waiting in line to meet him with a bunch of 11 year olds. When he saw that I was next in line, and wearing his shirt, he said one thing to me that I will never forget. . ."this means a lot to me."

Whew, what a moment.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

IVF, Breast Cancer and Eugenics

A recent article from The Guardian explains how a policy change could allow women in the UK to screen out embryos that carry a potential gene that makes them susceptible to breast cancer. The article reads from a point of view that breast cancer could be wiped out.

That is sure a nice thought. Obviously, the idea of a cure for breast cancer is an overwhelming good thought. No one would argue differently.

But it seems that the foundational issue at stake here goes much deeper. Of course no mother would want her daughter to be born with the disease of breast cancer. But let's be honest and ask, would a mother want her daughter to be born with an IQ that is 20 points less than anyone in her class? Or for that matter, to be less athletic or coordinated? Those seem like potentially silly questions, until you realize that only a day later, the question was raised if parents had a "medical obligation" to comply with such a procedure and, this is the kicker, that the process should "not stop at just breast cancer." When you start hearing things like "medical obligation", then you will soon start hearing things like "moral responsibility." So, where does the process stop? And what is our real moral responsibility?

I am torn on the surface of this issue because it seems to make such good sense. Almost a no-brainer. If you can avoid a child having to suffer, then you do it, especially if you are the mother of the child. But, we must be aware of where the path is clearly going. The word is commonly referred to as "Eugenics" and this policy, even if started on an obviously good premise, lands us smack dab in the middle of it. Eugenics means to create healthier, more intelligent people through various forms of reproductive intervention. The issue obviously brings all kinds of ethical problems, as the process stated above involves the killing of one embryo in respect for the superior gene nature of another. Josephine Qintavalle of the lobby group Comment on Reproductive Ethics in the article is quoted saying, "medicine is about caring, not about killing. The right approach is about learning more about the cancer and curing it."

I am interested to hear your comments on this particular topic, so please leave me your remarks. Be blessed.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Remaining Consistent

One of the plaguing problems that all people groups share, whether it be fundamental conservatives or far-left liberals, is the tendency for specific persons within those people groups to allow the disease of inconsistency to decay their thought. It happens to all of us and we must make the mental effort to re-think and be consistent in our views. If we don't, then we just simply won't make the kind of impact with integrity that makes people listen.

Having said that, Russell Shorto with the New York Times has written an article that should incite an interesting series of conversations from all walks of life. His article is named "Contra-Contraception" and is a rather detailed account of the current status of the increasing debate over the use of contraceptives, both by unmarried and married couples. The main points of interest are two-fold.

1. Shorto quotes Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Seminary and arguably the most intelligent and well spoken Southern Baptist, or evangelical conservative for that matter, on the planet. (I look forward to learning quite a bit from him soon.)

"When the pill came out, evangelicals were very much a part of mainstream American culture, and like others they saw technology as a gift. There was a vaccine to fight polio. The pill was seen in the same light. I think evangelicals thought, Catholics can't use it, but we can: aren't we lucky?"

But then, from this perspective, the pill began to do terrible damage. "I cannot imagine any development in human history, after the Fall, that has had a greater impact on human beings than the pill," Mohler continued. "It became almost an assured form of contraception, something humans had never encountered before in history. Prior to it, every time a couple had sex, there was a good chance of pregnancy. Once that is removed, the entire horizon of the sexual act changes. I think there could be no question that the pill gave incredible license to everything from adultery and affairs to premarital sex and within marriage to a separation of the sex act and procreation."

Shorto goes on to say "That may be a distinctly minority position, but some who work in the public health field acknowledge that the social conservatives have a point. "I think the left missed something in the last couple of decades," says Sarah Brown, president of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, which positions itself as a moderate voice in the heated world of reproductive politics. "With the advent of oral contraception, I think there was this great sense that we had a solution to the problem of unintended pregnancy. But that is a medical model. I think the thing that was missed was that sex and pregnancy and relationships aren't just a health issue. They are really about family and gender and religion and values. And what the right did was move in and say we're not just talking about body parts."

2. The second point, and even more interesting, is how the various contraceptives work. The question being asked more and more by protestants, and not just Catholics, is if the contraceptive acts as an abortifacient. That is to say, that the egg is fertilized and the contraceptive kills the fertilized egg, or keeps it from implantation. The question then must be answered, does a pregnancy begin at fertilization or implantation?(implantation is where a fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall). This has in turned raised issues with the pill and other formerly accepted means of birth control among conservatives.

Here is where The Beast comes down, as best I can, on these issues. Obviously, I believe a Biblical view of sex under the umbrella of marriage is the only acceptable view. Having said that, Christians have always been a voice for sexual purity for those who are not married, especially teenagers. Efforts like "True Love Waits" have done a fair job on a national level of making students at least aware of what is considered a healthy and biblical view of sex. Anything that would make the temptation or ease of entering into a sexual relationship before marriage is of course going to be frowned upon by conservative Christians. The current "PLAN B" over-the-counter birth control that is in heated debate right now is a major stimulus for the new interest in all birth control. At it's simplest, does this product drive more teenagers and adults into unhealthy and even dangerous relationships that they might not otherwise go.

The second point is really one of consistency, and I am happy to see our conservative Christian leaders struggling to remain consistent on all the issues that affect us. If we are bold and loud to stand up against abortion because it kills a baby, then we have an obligation to follow that through to the end. We can't stop short and say that if a women is pregnant and a pill or injection will end the pregnancy then that is acceptable because it is not an "abortion" at a clinic. That is inconsistent. So we must wrestle with the issue of when does a pregnancy actually occur?

Mohler also makes the point in his article, correctly, that "we must start with a rejection of the contraceptive mentality that sees pregnancy and children as impositions to be avoided rather than as gifts to be received, loved, and nurtured. This contraceptive mentality is an insidious attack upon God's glory in creation, and the Creator's gift of procreation to the married couple."

However, as is usually the case in these kinds of things, Mohler has not be completely quoted. I tracked down and read Mohler's full article that Shorto quotes. He is, in fact, not against contraception at all, nor are conservative protestant Christians. The issues being raised are those that ask, "are we doing this the right way, in a way that is pleasing to God?" How can that ever be pointless question to ask?

Here are the final words from Mohler's article:

"Therefore, Christians may make careful and discriminating use of proper technologies, but must never buy into the contraceptive mentality. We can never see children as problems to be avoided, but always as gifts to be welcomed and received. . .The moral justification for using contraceptives must be clear in the couple's mind, and fully consistent with the couple's Christian commitments."

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Funny and Awesome Moment

Andi and I went to hear Josh Mcdowell on Thursday. He was speaking at the Municipal Auditorium in Nashville. Mcdowell is one of the nation's leading youth speakers. He focuses on apologetics. There are not many youth speakers who take the energy to explain apologetics to teenagers, something I commend him for.

Anyway, toward the end of his presentation he was describing what happened when he finally accepted the truth of Scripture and gave his life to Christ. You would expect in this kind of scenario to hear the speaker talk of a radical transformation and a life now filled with joy and purpose. Instead, Mcdowell said this:

"I had just given my life to Jesus and I wanted to vomit."

He didn't really mean for it to come out funny, but I started dying laughing. I couldn't stop laughing for quite a while. Although just hearing him say it was funny enough, I was equally thrilled to the point of laughter that he was truthful, in a rather extreme way, about how giving your life to Christ comes with consequences and experiences that will be difficult. For him, explaining to his friends and all the people who he had joked about religion with was going to be a scary process. He also discussed how, although the Spirit of God immediately fills the believer, it still takes time to develop into the Christian we are called to be. It doesn't happen overnight.

So, although the Christian life is indeed filled with joy and thankfulness, we do ourselves well when we are truthful with our testimonies and do not fall into the trap of making them sound like a classical evangelical essay on a transformed life. I was pleased that Josh took the time to explain why he wanted to blow chunks.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Child-like Faith does not mean Stupidity

I recently had a reader of "The Beast's Lair" email me and requested that I share my faith with them. I was happy to oblige.

In the course of my brief email, I acknowledged the importance of my child-like faith in God and His Word. I also mentioned my background in religious education and full time church teaching. The Beast's Lair is partly an avenue for me to attempt to bring insightful matters of faith with some intellect.

I think perhaps the phrase "child-like faith" may be a stumbling block for our more educated folk out there. Upon first hearing the words, a picture is drawn of a person just blindly and without thought accepting everything that is offered from the church and from Scripture. The idea is that we have no purpose or anything to gain by deeply studying and wrestling with the text and issues. In fact, perhaps by doing so, by taking a closer look, we are undermining the very faith in which we place our lives and future.

The problem is that this concept of child-like faith just isn't Biblical. Child-like faith and an intellectual knowledge of the Bible and of your faith are not opposing forces. Rather, they attract one another. 2nd Timothy 4:2 says "preach the word, be ready in season and out of season; convince, rebuke, exhort with great patience and instruction." 1st Peter 3:15 says ". . .always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you. . ." I don't think Peter means that we should just say "hey man, I just believe it. Period." when someone asks us about our faith. You cannot "convince" as Timothy says or give a "defense" as Peter says without knowing your stuff. In fact, the power of our child-like faith is that we know it is true! The reason we have faith like a child is because we have "studied to show ourselves approved." (2nd Timothy 2:15) The children who approached Jesus in Mark 10 were convinced that He would accept them and love them. We need to have that same kind of conviction. When Jesus says in Mark 10:15 that "whoever does receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it," He does not mean that we are to approach it without knowing anything. He means that we are to fully rest on the assurance that Christ will not reject those who recognize their sin and turn from it to Him.

Sure, there are bumbling idiots in the Christian world who make the whole thing look bad. But there are bumbling idiots in every field of life who make that particular thing look bad. There is nothing shallow about the Christian faith. Study hard. Use your mind. And then allow your faith to deepen in Christ like a child.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Universal Word For Everything In Visual Media

It is so funny how in the world of Video Media, especially in the church, anything that has to do with a projector, slide show, presentations, outlines, etc has come to be called "powerpoint." Kind of like every soft drink in the south is a "Coke." Even if you want a Mountain Dew, you say "give me a Coke."

Tonight I was leading music at the Association VBS Clinic and the host was talking about how we raised money last year to purchase a new projector for the churches to have access to. The projector, of course, is what displays the material presented. It can show pictures, video, even plug in your Nintendo or X-Box into it. It has multiple uses. But, the host said this: "We raised money last year to buy a new powerpoint."


Powerpoint is just a piece of software that allows the user to present outlines and slide shows through a projector. Unbelievable how that piece of software has come to mean everything video related to the church.

This is probably the most pointless post I have ever submitted to The Beast's Lair. But I enjoyed it. Thanks for reading.

One 'Team No Limits' member backs out

Dr. Rigsby, one of the four members of the "Team No Limits" expedition that I have been following, has removed himself from the expedition, after almost dying on the mountain.

To read the experience in his words, click here.