Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

new site reminder

August 9, 2012 Leave a comment

If you are seeing this, you’re in the wrong place. All the goods are over here…

and the new RSS feed is…

So what are you doing here? Get clicking.

Categories: Uncategorized


August 6, 2012 Leave a comment

Yes, I know it has been a little quiet around here. Summer rolls around every year (funny how that works) and life for the Chinos becomes a whirlwind of going places. More on this soon.

The only reason for this post is to let you know that the missus and I are moving! No silly, not from our house. It  is only our blogs that are packing their bags. There isn’t much that you’ll need to know about the move. The reasons for moving are boring and tedious and honestly most things are going to be more or less the same. Same infrequent posting. Same boring content. Most of the ways you’ll find yourself here will remain the same ( / twitter / facebook).

The main change is for those of you who follow me through various RSS feeds (Google Reader, WordPress Reader). In fact, this whole reason for this post boils down to this one little link…

That’s it. That’s all that’s changing. But since some of you have been kind enough to keep up with through a feed of some sort, perhaps you’ll want to continue to do so through the new site and feed.

I’ll even try to make it worth your while. Like I said, summer has been a chock full of comings and goings. So over the next few weeks, I promise to “tell all.” That’s right! A no holds barred, no stone unturned, no sordid detail left out, blow by blow account of my summer. Well, we’ll see. Knowing me, it will take until next summer to catch you up to speed and I’m sure many wonderful things will be left out in the process.

Ok, hope to see you over at the new digs! And sorry in advance for things being a little wonky while we get packed and unpacked.

Also, Alison (who is a far more frequent and interesting writer) is getting herself set up at and her brand spanking new RSS feed is

New RSS feeds. Thrilling, yes?

Categories: Uncategorized

Four for (Labor) Friday

September 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Well, it is a holiday weekend and currently I’m a bit cooped up (in case you couldn’t tell). I obviously have no idea what your Labor Day weekend plans hold for you, but here’s some music to pass the time.

M83 – Midnight City

The Civil Wars – I Want You Back

Brooke Waggoner – So-So // This one comes courtesy of my friend, Jessica.

Josh Garrels – Farther Along

So this is the new year…

January 1, 2011 6 comments

… and I don’t feel any different.”
Death Cab for Cutie

Often when I’m hiking, I can only see where the trail leads for the next several yards.  The surrounding landscape dictates how much is in view.  The rise or fall of the terrain.  The trees or rocks around me.  But occasionally, I’ll get to a place where everything opens up for a moment and I’m able to see the trail for a mile or more.  Those times can be especially helpful.  It is nice to know that I’m still moving in the right direction, and to see where I’m heading and what is involved in getting there.

This also describes how I feel at the beginning each new year.  Lots of the year, it feels like I have my head down and am simply plodding forward.  One day after the other.  But the rolling of the calendar from December to January provides an opportunity for me to mentally picture the year stretching out before me and envision what a new year might hold for me, my family, and the people I know and love.

Honestly, it is difficult to really know what the year has in store.  But Lord willing, there are a few things that I (and in some cases my family) will endeavor to accomplish in 2011.  I’m taking the liberty to share a few in the hopes that if I say it “out loud” that I’ll be more accountable to actually stay the course.

1) Bible Reading

Many started 2010 with the goal of reading the whole Bible through, and there were some who actually made it to the finish line.  It was a discipline and there were many a day that both for me and my friends it was simply a matter of churning through the chapters.  That being the case, the benefits of actually reading the entire Bible are hard to quantify, but they were numerous.  I’ll try to remember to come back to explaining them in future posts.

Anyway, I’m planning on doing it again.  I’m using a slightly different plan this year, and the reading will be delivered to my Google Reader via this little link.

2) Scripture Memory

Most everyone who did the Bible in a Year plan with me shared that they missed lingering in the Scripture.  Being given the luxury of time to dwell on a section, chapter, or book.  I felt that at times too, so I’ll be camping out in Philippians this year.  So much so that with any luck, the family and I hope to commit the entire book to memory.  The inspiration for this came from here.  I favor the NIV (2010), so I adapted it some.

I’ll keep you posted.

3) Praying for the World

Yup, that’s right…  the World!  After reading Radical, this was one tangible thing that I felt like I could do.  Plus, it is a great way for my family to learn the names of countries and little bit about them.  We’re using Patrick Johnstone’s Operation World as our guide.

While any of these would be monumental accomplishments on my part, these are just a few of the things I’m hoping to see happen in 2011.  There are many other hopes and dreams that I have for the year ahead, but they are the among the vast realm of things that I’m less willing to share in this venue.  Who knows?  Maybe a few of them will find their way onto here.

Stay tuned and Happy New Year!

reading in 2010

December 16, 2010 Leave a comment

I know most of you are losing sleep wondering what is going to be on the infamous end-o-year mix tape.  So to pass the time, I’m going to share something approximating a “Top 5 Reads in 2010.”  However, as I’m prone to do, I’m going to spread this out over a few days.  Enjoy!

Best of the Best:

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that my favorite book of the year comes from my boy N.T.  In After You Believe, he talks biblically and sensibly (yes, you can do both) about what Christian character looks like and how it is formed in a person.  In his own words, this book is an attempt to answer the question, “What are we here for in the first place?”

The fundamental answer we shall explore in this book is that what we’re “here for” is to become genuine human beings, reflecting the God in whose image we’re made, and doing so in worship on the one hand and in mission, in its full and large sense, on the other.

As I’ve said before, Wright is one of the most influential biblical scholars around today.  Much of what filters down in various other writers and movements bears the stamp of his thinking, teaching, and writing.  You would be well served to spend some of your precious reading money and time becoming familiar with what he is saying.  I’ve read several books this year attempting to answer the “what are we here for” question, and they end up looking provincial in comparison.

One of the things that is particularly refreshing about Wright is that he doesn’t seem to get bogged down in culture wars.  I get the sense that this frustrates his would be critics who would just like to figure out if he is with or against them.  Conservatives tend to think he is too liberal, and liberals harbor suspicions that he is a closet-conservative.  Wright would rightly (no one ever tires of the play on words begging to be had with his name) affirm that both of these labels have outlived their usefulness and would be reluctant to use either to describe himself.

While After You Believe is as fine a place as any to start, I often point people towards The Challenge of Jesus as an intro to Wright.  It is profound, relatively short, and highly readable.  Starting with this book has the added benefit of beginning where I think all theological reflection should start…  Jesus as revealed in the Scriptures.

Up next…  theology meets the UFC.

Why Porno Shops Don’t Have Windows

September 15, 2010 1 comment

I don’t often rip off someone’s blog post, but I came across this and it made me think.  Recently, I talked about the importance of the outdoors for men, and this post strengthened my case all the more.  Here’s a teaser…

Do you know why there are no windows on adult bookstores? Or do you know why there are no windows on certain kinds of nightclubs in the city?

I suppose your answer would be, “Well, because they don’t want people looking in and getting a free sight.”

That’s not the only reason.

You know why? Because they don’t want people looking out at the sky.

You know why? The sky is the enemy of lust.

Full post HERE.

By the way, this is an excerpt from a sermon by John Piper.  I know that might be a put off for some, but this is something a bit different.

(HT: JT)


August 31, 2010 1 comment

And just like that, we’re all done.  Back around the first of the month, my beloved undertook a month-long blogging project.  Out of love and support, I decided to tag along.

I have to confess that it has been a challenge.  It took a while to get back into the routine of writing, and it took all month for me to figure out something that I wanted to say.  Truth be told, there were many days when it was nothing more than a discipline.  Meaning the only reason that I did it was because I had committed myself to doing it.  And I have to say, that’s not all bad.

Lately, I’ve been in a conversation or two about the the value of disciplines.  And while “discipline” can be talked about from a number of angles, I see it as something people do that they know to be good for them whether they want to or not.  And of course, any number of things might qualify here…  exercise, following a budget, household chores, reading scripture, loving one’s spouse, praying, and yes, writing on a blog.

These are the sorts of things that we force ourselves to do on a consistent basis because we know that if we will stick with it, then something good will eventually result.  None of the things named above come easily all the time.  Sure, sometimes we find it easy to live within our means at times, but there are lots of times when  it is nothing but hard work.  But we  stick with it (regardless of what “it” is) simply because we said we would.  That is what makes is a discipline.

So with regard for the month long blogging, I said I would do it, and I did.  And while the content was suspect at times (or throughout), this exercise accomplished what disciplines are always meant to do.

They free us to do those things that we would really like to do, but for whatever reason we find ourselves unable to.  We see disciplines as forced, artificial, inauthentic, rigid, not-true-to-self, but that’s got it all wrong.  Through disciplines, we are being true to the self that we would like to be.  In this instance, I wanted to write more on this blog not as a duty or out of guilt, but  simply because I want to.  The discipline of doing it daily for a month has helped move me in that direction.

That’s how it always works.  I choose to love God or my wife even when I’m not “feeling it,” not so that I can commend myself for being a great Christian or husband, but with the hope that my affections will catch up with my behavior.  And that eventually it won’t be forced, but rather it will be the natural expression of how I really feel (not that I’m feeling the need to force either right this second).

Alright, this is quickly turning into another series of posts, so I’ll spare us all and wrap it up.

Hopefully, you’ll be hearing more from me.

It has been fun.

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the (not so) final word on manhood

August 30, 2010 4 comments

While there certainly is much more that could and probably should be said about manhood, I think I’m about done with it.  Other people have had plenty more to say about this topic (as evidenced by the number of “man” books available at your local Christian bookstore).  If you are interested in reading more, here are the three that I have spent some time with in the last year.

Raising a Modern Day KnightRobert Lewis
Wild at HeartJohn Eldredge
To Own a DragonDonald Miller (It has been brought to my attention that this book has been reworked some and re-released as Father Fiction.  Of the three, this one – unsurprisingly – resonated with me most.)

Each one is good in its own way, but they are also very different from one another.

And I think it’s this variety that is in itself a clue about the nature of “man-making.”  The different ways proposed by “expert” men points to that which we already know at a gut level.  Boys become men via numerous well-worn paths.  I know that this eclectic way of looking at this subject isn’t nearly as cut-and-dry as most men (and for that matter, women) would like for it to be.  Most of us tend to prefer things to be a tad bit more concrete, and so I would suspect that my suggesting that there isn’t one definite path to manhood is more frustrating than reassuring for many (myself included at times).  And yet, that seems to be the nature of life.  Life is rarely cut-and-dry.  Rarely simple.

These caveats aside, I offer up a few summary reflections.  I realize that it isn’t much. But in proper man-style, my points are at least numbered.

1) There is no “one” way. I think I just said this, but for the sake of clarity, I’m saying it again.  Going through some six-week (or twenty-six week) program doesn’t insure that a person will become a man.  Not reading books.  Not memorizing definitions.  Not going camping.  Not “I love Jesus” chants.  I realize that it sounds like I’m knocking (or mocking) these things, but I’m not.  They are all fine things to do.  At certain times, they are even necessary.  They just aren’t the end-all-be-all.

The reason I’m not writing this stuff off is that each of these varied experiences does hold out the promise of at least one thing…

an opportunity.

In each retreat, seminar, reading, or _______, there exists the possibility for a man (be he young or old) to more fully grab hold of what it means to a man.  But it is just that, a possibility.  Not more, not less.  Which leads to the next point…

2) There are no guarantees. Just because the opportunity is out there, doesn’t mean that it is going to be taken advantage of.  Simply showing up to something isn’t the “fix” that a man needs to become more a man.  Each man chooses to let an experience be something that will move them deeper and closer to the essence of man-ness…  or not.  And while not everyone will respond to the challenge or experience (regardless of what it is) some will… and some do.

3) It involves a community of men. While I would certainly maintain that fathers bear the primary responsibility of ushering sons into manhood, there are plenty of situations where the father isn’t around or is unwilling to engage a son on that level.  That doesn’t mean that those young men don’t have a chance.  Plenty of other men can and do step into that role.  But…  even if a son has a great father, they (both the father and the son) will need more than one man to be in it with them.  For something as weighty as this, it stands to reason that God wouldn’t have put all his proverbial eggs in one predictably flawed basket.

4) The outdoors play a role. No need to rehash what I touched on yesterday, but I would say that spending time in God’s proving ground is at least as helpful as a book, or class, or definition, or whatever.  Being outside isn’t everything…  but it ain’t nothing.  So the value of it shouldn’t be undersold.

5) It is a process. I’m not sure when a young man is able to say, “That’s it! Today, I became a man.”  Pinpointing the exact moment that this happens is a futile exercise.  Instead of a single place and time, it is more likely the case that there are a series of moments.  Some small and seemingly insignificant.  Others immeasurably freighted with importance.  All of these combining and continuing to exert their influence long after the moments themselves have faded.  In fact, one could say that it is the memory (and the remembering/retelling/re-living) of the moment that determines its significance as a shaping event.

I’m seeing that take place in my thirteen year-old, as he struggles to both leave childhood behind while simultaneously clinging to certain aspects of it.  I see it in the students I work with nearly every day, as their hearts and souls expand to match their frames.  And, of course, as I look back on my own life, I see how the combination of crises, people, and experiences brought me to a time when I was willing to shoulder the mantle of manhood.  Even if it rests uneasily at times.

So much more could be said about his topic…  the role of mentors, living with tension and hardship, taking responsibility for oneself and others, what the Bible has to say, men in the church, etc…  So until the book (and workbook, and dvd series, and retreat) becomes available, this will have to do.

men and the wild

August 29, 2010 4 comments

It was bound to come up somewhere in this series of thoughts on manhood, but as I’ve been thinking about the making of a man, I’ve been reflecting on the role that the outdoors has in that process.  It is no secret that I enjoy being “out there.”   And for me, the more remote, more rugged, and wilder it is, the better.

But even if it weren’t something deeply embedded in my DNA, the subject would have still been unavoidable.  Some high school friends and I are reading Wild at Heart, and much of what the author, John Eldredge, writes about are experiences in the outdoors.  In fact, this repeated focus on the wilder places has been something of a sticking point for some of the guys in our group.  I’m not entirely certain that Eldredge is saying that an experience in the backcountry is absolutely necessary for a boy to become a man.  But I’m not sure he isn’t saying that either.

So here’s my take on it.  Simply being in the great outdoors doesn’t a man make.  But, there are certain encounters one has in the wild places that are to be found with much greater frequency than in the the cul-de-sacs of suburbia.  In fact, it is the wild-er-ness of those places that is to be valued.  The inherent likelihood of risk, danger, and unpredictability creates the possibility for a boy aspiring to be a man to have a defining moment.  And, it is these moments that give a person a chance to find out what they are made of.  A chance to dig deep and struggle through obstacles.  A chance to discover that they are capable of far more than they dreamed possible.  And as I mentioned earlier this month, these challenges aren’t all physical.

Perhaps you think I’m making more of all this than is warranted.  And maybe I am.  But one thing is certain, these kind of life changing moments of self-discovery rarely if ever happen in a relaxing, climate-controlled, comfortable, sterile living room.

Again, I’m not saying that a boy becoming a man can’t have some of those same “tests” or rites of passage in less rugged places.  Neither am I suggesting that every adolescent male needs to kill a grizzly bear with his bear hands in order to prove his worth.  But there is something about God’s wild creation that provides the backdrop for many a man’s finest moments.

“Great things are done when men and mountains meet.”
William Blake

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Macho Jesus?

August 28, 2010 3 comments

Let’s face it, “Jesus” and “masculine” are probably not words that we would immediately associate with each other.  In fact, we may never really think or say it, but I’m pretty certain that the picture that many of us carry around of Jesus in our heads is one that is fairly effeminate. Nice, soft spoken, sort of delicate are all characteristics we are prone to attach to Jesus.  Brawny, calloused, gritty, tough just aren’t words that quickly come to mind when we think about him.

In attempts to highlight Jesus’ manliness, people typically point to his profession as a carpenter as an indicator that he was probably made of hardier material than we usually assume.  But really, that only underscores our culturally conditioned views on what it means to be manly.  Jesus was a carpenter.  Carpenters are manly men.  Therefore, Jesus was a manly man.

But what if Jesus hadn’t been a carpenter?  What if he had been any number of other professions…  an accountant, computer programmer, teacher, pastor, hair stylist?  You get the idea.  Would he still qualify as a manly man?  Add to that, he didn’t trash talk, guzzle Coronas, shoot animals for sport, play football.  Now, we’ve got a real problem.

And then final straw… he wasn’t married.  Which we take to mean (mistakenly, I think) that he wasn’t attracted to women.  Needless to say, on all the things we are most prone to associate with manliness, Jesus comes up a distinctly lacking.

And yet, I think something in us knows that we should affirm the masculinity of Jesus.  Our problem is that we don’t know how to reconcile the tension.

But…  what if we started with the affirmation that Jesus was the ideal embodiment of a man.  And from there, we began to adjust our understanding of masculinity with Jesus as the starting point, rather than trying to fit Jesus into some superficial (and artificial) mold of manliness.  The beauty of the four-point definition I’ve been working with recently is that seems to attempt to do just that.  Here’s that definition again…

An Authentic Man…

– Rejects passivity
– Accepts responsibility
– Leads courageously
– Expects the greater reward; God’s reward.

Now, I’m not going to take the time to connect all the dots, but meditating a few moments on Jesus’ life should be enough to affirm that he lived a sort of masculinity that is a far cry greater than what the rest of us are doing.  Again, I don’t think that definition is necessarily all that there is to manhood.  But it is certainly a better starting point than what most of us have been handed.

Certainly, there is lots more that could be said about Jesus’ masculinity, but the very idea of starting with Jesus as the ideal man should be enough to keep us thinking a while.

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