July 25, 2011

Interface: Love Your Neighbor

I've long been interested in the scientific examination of existential questions, such as, "What exactly is my mind's I?", "Where exactly does this I interface with my brain?", etc. And while I still love to read all sorts of scientific works on that subject, I've come to realize on a deeper level what Jesus taught us so long ago; the interface of my mind's I and my brain isn't nearly as important to my life as the interface of my I and your I.

No matter what you believe about the nature of the self and the soul, it's pretty hard to justify not loving our neighbors, especially in terms of society and community. The cold selfishness of "Every man for himself" brings us to a level that is somewhat lower than that of some animals, and certainly much less noble. It's easy enough to love the ones that have captured our hearts and attention, but how in the world do we go about loving our neighbors, the ones that live near us, the unknown ones we meet randomly, and the ones we actively dislike?

July 20, 2011


I've been thinking about this for a while now, much more so after a few conversations I've had with friends over the past few days. It's just amazing how our attitudes can get so out-of-whack in so many areas when gratitude falls out of our view. But how do we keep gratitude in sight, or at least in our peripheral vision? Just saying, "I will be grateful today", won't do it. For me, a list/inventory is the way to go.

Writing a gratitude list can be harder than it sounds, especially if you're feeling more ungrateful than normal, or have never done it before. Still, it shouldn't take more than a few minutes to get at least a short list started. Once  a few things get on the paper, then more things will flow naturally. If it's really difficult to get a list going, then starting with some very basic things like air to breathe, food to eat, running water, etc., will get the ball rolling. Then we can get down to the "strong meat" referenced in the book of Hebrews. So let me put a few items down and take a look at why I have these things to be grateful for, and more importantly, where they come from:

July 18, 2011

Do I Smell Like A Corpse Flower?

Here in Houston, we're having another rare event; the blooming of a corpse flower (Amorphophallus titanum or the Titan Arum.) The blooming of this endangered species has only happened 29 times in the U.S., and this is the second time in the space of two years that it has happened in Houston. Not really a very spiritual/existential topic, unless we look at it from a slightly different angle. We've all heard the cliche, "Bloom where you are planted." Those cutesy little sayings bug the daylights out of me, but all this got me thinking a little deeper on the subject after seeing the story of Houston's corpse flower on the news this morning.

July 13, 2011


It was just a little scrawny poodle. She had picked it out just after 9/11, in those weeks when so many people were still feeling the unease and uncertainty from the attacks. He thought she made a bad choice; there were healthier puppies to be found. He would keep the puppy when she had to travel, taking it places he would go, and letting it sleep with him. Though they had parted company years before, he would still get to see the little fluffball once every year or two. These days, the old poodle walks slowly, until he walks in to see him. The thin, ten year old dog's legs come alive and jump and dance to see him. The spark was still there...

July 11, 2011

...As You Love Yourself

Many people, both in and out of the church, are familiar with the two greatest commandments as taught by Jesus: "You shall love God with all your heart, and you shall love your neighbor as you love yourself." Two commandments, but three actions. Love God, Love your neighbor, and love yourself. Loving yourself has been the subject of countless writings, especially in the 20th century, but how exactly can we do that, and how does someone that doesn't love their self get there? I'll take a look at a few things in this post that have been helpful to me, and hopefully to you as well.

July 7, 2011

Within and Beyond

What does it mean to live the way the Bible teaches us? Is it really all about having the right doctrines and theology, so that a Christ-centered life will flow from that? Is it all about evangelism and missionary work? Is it all about observances? And how in the world do we get ourselves down to living the way God would have us live? These are simple questions that aren't answered so easily by anyone, and countless people in and out of the church are asking themselves these same questions. My view is that it isn't about how anyone teaches or lives but me. The only thing I can truly do is look within and reach beyond.

July 4, 2011

Independence Day

All across America, people are getting ready to celebrate our nation's Declaration of Independence from the rule of the King of England. Parades, parties and fireworks mark the event in all the states, and people are preparing for cook-outs and get-togethers in countless homes and backyards. The text of the Declaration of Independence will be read at many of these gatherings today, words which represent for many Americans a moral standard that our nation should strive to uphold. Some of these words can have a deeper meaning for Christians, if viewed in the proper light.

The Pitmaster

One thing we Texans love is Barbecue. Not grilled meat, (although we love that a lot, too) but slow-smoked barbecue. Right now, I'm tending a brisket on my smoker, letting it cook over very low heat from a fire of Hickory and Mesquite wood. Normally, a brisket is a tough, fatty cut of meat that isn't very good for much of anything. But, with the right technique, seasonings, and smoke, it can be transformed into some of the best food you can find. Back when I was young, brisket was considered to be a "trash" cut of meat, and it was mostly discarded and made into animal food.