Today is the birthday of

Today is the birthday of the prettiest girl in the whole world. Amy Janine MacRae Norvell is a day older than she was yesterday, but you’d never know it by looking at her. She may have a few years on me, but she is the energy and youth and life in our marriage. My wife, best friend, and favorite all around person — I love you. I’m not me without you. Happy Birthday.

This dog was hit by

This dog was hit by a car, shot in the head by a police officer, put in a “doggie bag” (sorry, I couldn’t resist), thrown in a freezer, and is now walking around. According to one report, when asked what her most serious injuries were, the vet replied, “Hypothermia.” Wild stuff.

Reflections on the reverberations of

Reflections on the reverberations of a resurrection…

From Rich:

So may peace rain down from Heaven
Like little pieces of the sky
Little keepers of the promise
Falling on these souls this drought has dried
In His Blood and in His Body
In this Bread and in this Wine
Peace to you
Peace of Christ to you

From Paul Hewson:

What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stings
Because Grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things

From Michael:

You came for me
Took the blame for me
You bore all my shame for me
You tore the veil away for me
What can I do for you…
But have faith
And believe
That anything I could have done for You
You’ve already done for me

From Andrew:

God died as a man and rose again, and the sound of the fiery blast of Death exploding shook the firmament. Throughout the wail and shudder, over the shriek and moan of man the thunder has sounded and sung, and it is both the answer and the promise. It sings still, and you can hear what it says if you listen: Love never dies.

After the last tear falls
After the last secret’s told
After the last bullet tears through flesh and bone
After the last child starves
And the last girl walks the boulevard
After the last year that’s just too hard
There is love
Love, love, love
There is love
Love, love, love
There is love

After the last disgrace
After the last lie to save some face
After the last brutal jab from a poison tongue
After the last dirty politician
After the last meal down at the mission
After the last lonely night in prison
There is love
Love, love, love…

And in the end, the end is oceans and oceans
Of love and love again
We’ll see how the tears that have fallen
Were caught in the palms
Of the Giver of love and the Lover of all
And we’ll look back on these tears as old tales

‘Cause after the last plan fails
After the last siren wails
After the last young husband sails off to join the war
After the last “This marriage is over”
After the last young girl’s innocence is stolen
After the last years of silence that won’t let a heart open
There is love
Love, love, love
There is love

And in the end, the end is oceans and oceans
Of love and love again
We’ll see how the tears that have fallen
Were caught in the palms
Of the Giver of love and the Lover of all
And we’ll look back on these tears as old tales
‘Cause after the last tear falls, there is love…

Meadow green and the river wide
Valley deep and the mountain high
…after the last tear falls

From Paul:

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins…But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead…For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive…When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

From Jesus (to his disciple, Thomas):

Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.

How do we follow a dead guy?

It’s Easter, and in a few hours Amy and I will put on our Easter best (or we’ll put on clothes anyway) and go celebrate the resurrection of God’s Son with other believers in our community at Parker Hill. That’s a good thing to celebrate; the best thing, really. I just have this sense that many of us are only tuned into to half of the story. Some may think the following thoughts would have been more appropriate to post on Good Friday, and maybe that’s true. Only they weren’t written until very late on Friday (early Saturday, actually), so that wasn’t possible and I don’t feel like saving them for a year. Besides, I think it’s about more than Friday or Sunday, or any particular time of year. Our faith isn’t seasonal, or at least it shouldn’t be. The Easter remembrance is an appropriate time for this sort of focus, but I think this has as much to do with who we are and what we believe as it does with how we feel one Friday a year.

A friend sent me an email at about 1 am on Saturday that included the following thought:

By this time 2000 years ago, Jesus had been dead for several hours, and the disciples were freaking out.

That image really resonated with me, and I replied this way:

Your reminder about what was happening 2000 years ago is deep and meaningful for me, which is how I’m sure you meant it. I’ve really been in that moment tonight more than ever before, and your brief reflection on it is all the more real after what we experienced earlier tonight. Our church had a communion service, and it was basically a funeral. I know some people use the descriptor "funeral" to disparage certain lifeless worship services, but that’s not how I mean it. This was intentional and necessary. The mood was purposefully somber, and we were encouraged to begin quietly reflecting on the cross and Christ’s death from the moment we entered the building.

One of our pastors began by opening a newspaper and reading excerpts from the obituaries. He said that reading about all those dead people didn’t affect him much because he didn’t really know them. The paper was from his hometown, so he recognized a couple of names, but none of them meant anything to him. Then he went back to the paper and read a woman’s name with the same last name as him�his mother. He said this: "The effect Jesus’ death has on us is proportional to the depth of our relationship with Him." Indeed. If we’re able to breeze by Friday in the Easter weekend without being deeply affected by the cross and by Christ’s death, it’s like flipping through an obituary with names of people we don’t really know. For the Christ follower, "Good Friday" should have the kind of effect it had on him to see his Mom’s name listed among the dead. He insisted that we not move on to Sunday too soon; that we live in the reality of His death for the next two days.

The imagery of the funeral was very powerful to me tonight. As it relates to Jesus, we’ve all done the birthday parties, wedding, feasts, and resurrection celebration, but why haven’t we ever done His funeral? The resurrection is ultimately what gives us life, but it’s life from death. The resurrection required the crucifixion. Our obsession with the end game has obscured devastation and grief over the death of Christ so that we consider it sacrilege to ruminate on His death without tying it up with the happy ending. We didn’t do that tonight. I don’t believe there was any mention of the word "resurrection" except to encourage a regathering on Sunday for that celebration. Death was enough tonight, and it was okay to mourn. We left as quietly and as somber as we came. I think that’s good. I think God is pleased for us to be grief-stricken over the death of His only Son.

And yeah, you’re right about the disciples freaking out at this point 2000 years ago. I was reading in Matthew tonight trying to imagine what all of this was like for them. Jesus seemed to speak so matter of factly about what was going to happen in the days leading up to Passover, but I think those cats were clueless as to what was about to go down. Although we always get to make fun of Peter’s foible in insisting that he’d never forsake Jesus, I was noticing the bandwagonish description of the rest of the disciples in that passage. Jesus tells them that they’ll all fall away and be scattered like sheep, and Peter jumps out front and swears he’ll die before he denies Him…"and all the disciples said the same thing too." These guys were either terrified or totally lost or both.

And I think your focus on their reaction a few hours after Jesus died goes to the heart of experiencing his death. We gloss over the reality of him being dead because we have this simultaneous propositional teaching that the resurrection came three short days later. For people living 2000 years after the fact, three days has absolutely no meaning. No big deal�he went down for a few days, then he was back on the scene and we’re all good to go. I don’t think we have even a marginal understanding of the fact that He didn’t go to sleep for a few days…He wasn’t in a coma…He wasn’t laying low, hanging out in Joseph of Arimathea’s luxurious rock cave drawing up organizational charts and strategic plans for the early Church on the walls until Sunday. He was DEAD. You had people who had given their entire lives to following Him (in ways that none of us can begin to relate to, really) who were suddenly left with a dead body. How do we follow a dead guy? He had told them He would be back, but it’s clear they didn’t know how to begin believing that in any tangible way. My inability to comprehend what that was like is pathetic. I’m trying to get into that world and experience that loss with them, but I’m not even close. Amy has a friend from grad school who just found out about three months ago that his one-year old son had a rare, terminal form of cancer. This week, only ten weeks after the diagnosis, he died. We found out yesterday, and it was pretty emotional because it’s so personal to imagine watching our baby die. Thinking about the pain and loss they must be feeling literally makes me ache to my bones, and I don’t even know them and can’t begin to taste the depth of their suffering. It’s as bad as anything I can imagine. As I think on the death of Christ, that’s what I’m thinking about. This is something that we need to feel more deeply, I think.

There aren’t many guarantees in

There aren’t many guarantees in life, but I’ve got one for you — a fool proof way you can be featured on network television. All you need: a video camera, a blindfold, a piñata, and a kid’s birthday party. All you have to do: hand someone else the camera, blindfold a kid, give the kid a stick, bat, or something else that will really hurt when the kid whacks you in the groin or head with it, find the spot where you’re most likely to get whacked in the groin or head while the kid swings at the papier-mâché donkey full of candy, stand there, spin the kid around about five times, then tell the kid to swing away. As painfully simple as it sounds, this routine will ensure you a spot on an episode of America’s Funniest Home Videos. For extra points (and maybe ten grand), get whacked by two different kids or, even better, by the same kid twice – once in the junk and once in the head. Seriously, I have yet to see an episode of this show without at least one clip of someone who hasn’t learned the most basic natural law of the birthday party: piñata = pain.

Sooner or later I’m going

Sooner or later I’m going to leave this stuff alone, but this one amused me. Again, I’m not taking aim at folks for their pro/anti war position, but the hypocrisy of self-enlightened famous people always cracks me up. Leave it to Kid Rock to get in my corner on this rich-people-don’t-get-it theory:

You got money; you sit around talking about peace. People who don’t have money need some help.

The rest of the article makes fun of some particular famous people, including Sheryl Crow:

Her Grammy appearance was no exception, she performed wearing a guitar strap with the words, “No War” conspicuously inscribed in shiny, tacky sequins successfully creating the made-you-look effect she was, no doubt, going for.

In addition to her guitar strap sloganeering, Sheryl’s Grammy ensemble featured an oversized, diamond-encrusted peace symbol dangling from her neck.

And even more embarrassing than the 40-something singer’s tight white mini-skirt and inch thick makeup were her pre-show red carpet comments about the jewelry. The blissfully clueless Crow inadvertently ate some of her words when she told Joan Rivers, “Nothing says peace like diamonds.”

Oops. Sheryl and her people are, evidently, unaware of the politically incorrect nature of supporting the diamond trade. So much for her ‘enlightened’ global sensibilities. … Blood diamonds, as any good liberal can tell you, are the product of third world violence and oppression, often resulting in the exploitation of women and children. In fact, purchasing diamonds may even rank higher than driving an SUV on the liberal’s list of unacceptable behavior-although not quite as bad as watching the Fox News Channel.

There are plenty of ridiculous folks on the other end of the spectrum too. I’m glad to make fun of them as I run across their stupidity.

Speaking of freedom of speech…

Speaking of freedom of speech…

Rudy is linking to this today, and it seems important enough to share. No matter what you think of the war, you have to be dead if something doesn’t move in your soul as you hear these stories. I doubt we’ll ever really settle the debate on whether war or one more day of oppression and torture is worse, but I can make a reasonable guess at what these folks would say. Maybe instead of reading a dictionary, Mr. and Mrs. Sarandon-Robbins need to visit with these people who spent the last ten years in torture chambers five stories underground. During that time, Tim and Susan have made over forty films and more millions than I can count. Let’s hear some more whining about their oppression…

Memos to the Stupid To

Memos to the Stupid

To David Duke: It’s legal to be an ignorant racist, but not to cheat on your taxes and steal money from other ignorant racists. Eighteen months in Big Spring (just over an hour from my old stomping grounds) and I’m sure you’ll be completely rehabilitated. Something tells me the Latinos and Blacks in the lock-up will be glad to see you.

To Rodney King: This drunk driving thing doesn’t seem to be working for you.

To Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon: I understand opposition to the war, but open a dictionary and look up the words “right” and “freedom.” Your right to dissent is not mutually exclusive from my right to not give a [Roy Williams] what you have to say. I’m so sick of people confusing freedom of speech with entitlement to be heard or to speak without consequence or reproach. The first amendment enables you to talk all you want and enables the rest of us to ignore, scoff, or laugh at you when you do. I learned this as a kid, but apparently making 10 million dollars a picture convinces people that they should get a little more for their citizenship than you and me. There are legitimate concerns about civil liberties in this country right now, but most of them have to do with people whose names we’ve never heard and probably can’t pronounce — not people on the cover of Entertainment Weekly. Take a civics lesson from my friend and high school debate coach and government teacher Bob Dodd or just shut up. I’m trying hard to not let this screw up Shawshank and Quarterback Princess for me.

To the latest Chicago idiot to rush the field when the Royals come to town: Catch a clue. A couple of your drunk cohorts already played this game. Next time pick a team with a little less pent up rage. “Several Royals players could be seen kicking and stomping the fan while he was pinned down. When the attacker was put into a police car, his head was wrapped with a white bandage, soaked with blood near the right temple.” In other words, stupidity has a price.

To the Department of Homeland Security: Huh?

More stupid memos as I encounter more stupid people (which could happen any minute)…