Ear Candy Saturdays – Here’s to a Morning Cup

8 01 2011

Ear Candy Saturday Morning and how about starting off with a cup of coffee and some music you just haven’t gotten around to listening to yet???


Joseph Arthur – Morning Cup

Death Cab For Cutie – Cath


Lincoln Brewster – Whom Shall I Fear


Paper Route – Are We All Forgotten


Spoon – Got Nuffin

Tokyo Police Club – Breakneck Speed

Fireflies – Owl City Cover by Kina Grannis






What’s in a name? Learning more about God will be helpful regardless of your road trip.

7 01 2011

The Name of God – This is a BIG subject, but here’s a quick brush at covering a little bit of it…just for you.

Where is your focus? What sets your direction?

At the beginning of the year we can set a direction for life. It’s like setting out on a road trip. Pick a destination and head in the right direction. Hopefully we are setting our course, in life, based on what God wants for us. This process may be simpler than you think. See the previous New Year’s post for a suggestion.

Learning more about God will be helpful regardless of your road trip.

So…ask yourself, “What’s in a name?”

When you think about the names Sally Stevens, Brad Wojekowski, or Lisa Smith (insert names from your childhood or teen years here ____) what comes to mind? You probably remember things like them getting their tongue stuck to the frozen flag pole after you dared them. Maybe it was someone who couldn’t stop telling a lie. That’s the stuff you remember when you think about a name. (I don’t know anyone by the names I listed.)

In ancient times, they took the meaning of a name very seriously when they named their babies. Today…not so much. What does “apple” mean as a baby name? You would want to name your baby something meaningful. Hopefully something positive and something that would tell people about who that baby would become.

Our daughter is named Charlotte Esther. Charlotte is from Charles, which means freedom and Esther means star. She’s our little “freedom star”. We believe that she shines a light for people to see the freedom found only in Jesus. We believe that she is full of life, full of joy, and will always reflect the pure light of God.

When you determine the value of anything that you’re going to take the time to read or study – it’s best to evaluate the value God Himself placed on it. If we want to learn more about God…and what a difference that would mean in our daily life…we should learn more about His name.

You may not be aware of this, but God Himself came to earth and spoke His own name. He spoke His name and described Himself in Exodus 34.

After the 10 Commandments and a little incident with a golden calf. There’s some back and forth between God and His guy, Moses. Then Moses says to God, “If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place.” God says, “I will do what you have asked, for I look favorably on you, and I know you by name.” Moses responded, “Then show me your glorious presence.”

“Then the Lord came down in a cloud and stood there with him; and he called out his own name, Yahweh. The Lord passed in front of Moses, calling out, ‘Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.’”

Let’s break it down into bite size pieces.

Think about what this tells us about who God is.

Does that line up with what you think?

How does that affect you?

“God of compassion and mercy”

He give us what we don’t deserve (good stuff) and doesn’t give us what we do deserve (bad stuff). This is who God is. When you think about God you cannot substitute who you think He is for who He says that He is.

He said that He is a God of compassion and mercy. He sees where you are at. He hears you. He has compassion on you. He has mercy for you.

“slow to anger”

Have you ever known anyone with a quick temper? Yeah, that’s not our God.

God has seen it all, and yet He is slow to get angry. He does not have a hair trigger on your punishment.

“filled with unfailing love and faithfulness”

Our God is filled to overflowing with a love that will never fail you. Have you ever had someone fail you? Have you ever failed yourself? God won’t do that. He will love you faithfully!

Unfailing means that He won’t let you down. Unfailing means that He won’t give up on you.

Think about that. God has not given up on you.

“to a thousand generations”

Some translations say “thousands of generations”. Look at it this way, Moses could count his ancestors all the way back to Adam. God was saying, “I will give you more love than you can handle…you and generations farther back than you can count and further into the future than you can dream up!”

God is infinite. You cannot wrap your human brain around all that He is. He has loved generations before you and He has not given up. They say that we are in the 14th generation of the US. God shows faithful unfailing love to thousands of generations!

“forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin”

If you dig into the original language here you will hear God saying that he forgives the: one time offense, repeated bad behavior, and the horrible lifestyle. His forgiveness follows you. His mercy overtakes you. Not only with the little stuff that you think He can handle, but also with the big stuff you don’t want to Him to look at.

So what do you have? What do you think that God can’t fix? What is it that you think He can’t heal? There is nothing He can’t Heal!

Wow! Ok, that’s a mouthful…that’s a lot to chew on.

Think about it for a while. Look back over this list. That is how God Himself said His name.

Ask yourself a few good questions. Come on. Try it. Write down your answers:

What do you think about God? What is He like? How do you feel about Him?

How does this change the way that you think and feel?

What does this say about the kind of God that He is?

The truth is that how we think about God determines a whole lot. It weighs heavy in the course we set for the road trip of our life. What you believe about God effects how you look at yourself in the mirror.

Do you believe that He forgave you? Do you really believe that He forgave the stuff you don’t want to admit? Do you believe that He loves you? Do you believe that He has a hope and a future for you? Do you believe that He has a purpose for your life?

If you can come to this place, it is much easier to ask God where He wants you to go and what He wants you to do. Then you will become comfortable in your own skin. You will know real peace. You will be comfortable being yourself, the person you were created to be, no guilt trip, headed the right direction.

You will know where you are going and who is guiding you:

‘Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.’”

How about going deeper for a “Part Two”?

Read the rest of this entry »





Tomorrow night we will celebrate the life of Pastor Wendell Smith, on line 9pm eastern.

6 01 2011

Tomorrow night we will celebrate the life of Pastor Wendell Smith.

…for those of us, not able to be in Seattle, the service will be streamed on line at:

thecity.org and / or pastorwendell.org …tomorrow night, Friday January 7th at 9pm eastern…there will be video of music there for 30 minutes prior.

Pastor Wendell Smith is a child hood hero of mine. A personal friend of our family since I was a little kid. He lived this life as an example of the best kind of person – when life was at its best and when life was at its worst. Previously, I mentioned a couple of the ways he impacted me.

Pastor Wendell lived his life for Jesus. He lived his life serving people. He lived his life out loud. He lived his life on purpose.

For Rebecca and I, our prayers go out to the entire City Church family. We’ve been praying for Pastor Wendell’s family: Pastor Gini Smith – Pastors Judah & Chelsea Smith and Pastors Benny & Wendy Perez. The family would love to hear any memories you have of Pastor Wendell. You can post them at this web site: pastorwendell.org

Here’s a thank you video from Pastor Judah.

(please click on the link above)

Pastor Wendell wrote a number of songs and books. Here’s a few books that had an impact on me:

The Roots of Character

Great Faith

From Zero to Eternity in 60 Seconds

If you haven’t already heard his talk, “We Can Do This”. It’s a must!

Possibly my all time favorite is, “The Glorious Church”! If you are a church leader, or hoping to become one, please take the time to listen to this.

We know that passing the faith, in Jesus, from one generation to the next was a dream that Pastor Wendell worked toward. Here’s a picture of Pastor Judah, his son, holding his hand at the end. It’s easy to see that he was successful! …you can learn more at the city.org or using a web search regarding the church and family members listed above.

“Well done, good and faithful servant,” is something we would all like to hear, when we come to the end of our race. Pastor Wendell has already heard those words.

I look forward to greeting him personally to say my thank you for his impact on my life. Thank you Pastor Wendell for your example, your life choices, your vote of confidence and gift for our church plant, and the legacy you leave us. Thank you for pulling together a great team in P. Aaron Haskins, P. Barbara Wright, P. Jude Fourquier, and my big brother Steve Carpenter.

Thank you for living for Jesus. Thank you for choosing to live for a cause bigger than you. Thank you for taking risks. Thank you for a relentless focus on lost souls.

The Seattle Times did a great obit worth reading. Here’s a short excerpt:

Pastor Wendell Smith could draw thousands to his church on weekends, yet he also delighted in talking one on one about everyday life with church members.

As busy as he was founding, building and colead-pastoring The City Church, one of the area’s largest churches, he also always protected his time with his family.

That mix of the charismatic and humble, the preacher and the family man, is among the things Pastor Smith is being remembered for. After a six-year battle with cancer, he died Sunday at age 60, at a hospital in Las Vegas, surrounded by family and friends.

“My dad was my hero in every way,” said Pastor Judah Smith, Pastor Wendell Smith’s son and the current co-lead pastor of The City Church.

His father had “an incredible sense of humor and a pretty amazing ability to encourage people,” Judah Smith said. “He’d make them feel valuable and appreciated.” – Seattle Times Janet I. Tu





Looking for something new on Thirsty Thursday? Are you thirsty for something new?

6 01 2011

Playing tag with our kids and they seem to run forever. Energy that never ends. All of the sudden they stop and say, “I’m thirsty!”

The fact is that we can’t live without water. Strange but true. You can live without coffee and (insert your favorite drink here) _____, but you cannot live without water.

This may sound weird, but I’m willing to bet that New Year’s left you thirsty. Wanting something new…maybe wanting something more than your life has now. Maybe the holidays left you exhausted. Maybe 2010 left you banged up or even depressed. Maybe the New Year’s Party and your resolutions left you feeling empty. Maybe 2010 had more that you want to forget than what you want to remember.

“Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.'” John 4:13-14

That thirsty feeling, that empty feeling in you has been there since birth. It’s a “God-shaped hole”. An emptiness that only comes with living your life without a personal relationship with God. Most likely it has been getting stronger with every curve ball life throws your way. Only Jesus offers the kind of refreshment that really satisfies.

You see the “living water” Jesus offers us is a taste of the good life – your junk, your sin forgiven.

In this story, Jesus asks the woman, he’s talking to, about her husband. She replies that she’s not married. He says, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband— for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!” John 4:17-18 You see Jesus knows our junk. Most of us avoid Jesus, the Bible, and church to hide our junk.

“The woman said, ‘I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.’ Then Jesus told her, ‘I AM the Messiah!'” John 4:25-26 By this Jesus was telling her that not only did He know about her past, but that He would also forgive and redeem the past. This meant giving her the peace, on the inside, she had been looking for in her past five marriages.

She knew that a Savior, a Messiah, had been promised. A Mediator, who would take away the junk in our lives, heal us, and bring real life…promised hundreds of years before. (Please see the “Help is on the Way” previous blog post for more info.)

Jesus offers us a free gift. He offers us forgiveness for the junk in our past. He offers us the good life – peace for the things you can’t understand. He offers us real hope for the future.

Who told you that Jesus can’t heal divorce? Who told you that Jesus can’t redeem the guy you’re living with? Who told you that Jesus can’t offer you a real, good life where you are never thirsty again?!?

Jesus offers the kind of peace, on the inside of your life, that means you’ll never be thirsty again.

There’s hope for you! Jesus offers a fresh start!





Why do people play video games? I have a guess…it’s not what you think

5 01 2011

Here’s the best reason I’ve seen…for why people play video games:

It’s about escape. Don’t you want to escape from ordinary life?

Well, there are a whole lot of ways to do that. Just mix in a little physical exercise folks.





End of the regular season NFL Power Rankings.

4 01 2011

Here’s My NFL Power Ranking After the First 17 Weeks of Play:

…based on what they’ve done this season, strength of current team, schedule, and chances in the playoffs.

……It’s been a great season and you know we’ll be watching the Oregon Ducks play on Jan. 10 in the BCS Championship Game!

1. New England Patriots 14-2

The theory of a younger team being better able to make adjustments, during the week, over the second half of the season…seems to be working out quite well. With 96 tackles this year, Oregon Duck Pat Chung been a great example of this. Tom Brady is getting all the credit, but football fans know that Coach Evil B took over the defense. They look tough to beat. They’ve got the momentum they need going into the playoffs. You know they’ll be looking for revenge, if they draw the Ravens, for their “early” playoff exit last year.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers 12-4

It’s tough to remember that they started without Big Ben. Their O line is banged up, but they’ve found a way to stay balanced in all 3 phases of the game. The Steel Curtain is looking to regain football dominance. The AFC North has to be the toughest division of the year. Look at the schedule and let me know if you disagree. Ultimately the O line could keep them out of the Big Game.

3. Atlanta Falcons 13-3

“Matty Ice” finally got beat at home. How they respond will make all the difference. Their defense looked great against New Orleans. Trouncing Carolina was easy enough. Their first round in the playoffs won’t be. They’ve had a few teams flop and give them easy wins. This has been their best shot at a title in a while.

4. Baltimore Ravens 12-4

The Ravens are all about the “W”, but the locals are not Wacko for Flacco. You don’t want to hear the word “statue” about your QB in the pocket. It’s amazing the Mason has still out-performed Boldin, Housh, and Stallworth! We’re hoping that Reed, Heap, Ngata, Lewis, and the O line can stay healthy through the playoffs. New tight end Oregon Duck Dickson has provided matchup problems for opponents. Oregon Duck Ngata has provided a D Line that lets Suggs and Lewis do what they do best. Former Seahawks Housh, Redding, and Wilson have provided a few sparks. If anyone can keep the Ravens relevant over the next five years it’s Ozzie Newsome. The Ravens success is no accident!

5. New Orleans Saints 11-5

Under the radar for most of the year. Even with Pierre Thomas back their running game doesn’t look as good as they need it to be. If they can win more battles on the line (s) they have a shot at repeating! Losing to Baltimore and Tampa Bay doesn’t show the momentum, going into the playoffs, that they wanted. Anything can happen!

6. Green Bay Packers 10-6

This squad has been amazing despite injuries. I just don’t see how they can overcome a lack of a running game in the playoffs. Rodgers and Matthews are clearly among the best in the league at their positions, but it won’t be enough.

7. Philadelphia Eagles 10-6

DeJaVu: Vick runs roughshod over the league, but the teams who keep him in the “umbrella” find a way to win. Entertaining, but not a Cliff Lee. Will the young track stars have enough to make a playoff run? Good fundamentals, sound football, and a few hard hits could take the shine off their highlights. That loss to the Vikings was very telling about the quality and maturity of the organization.

8. Chicago Bears 11-5

Lovie Smith has pulled together a great season here. You can’t see them going far in the playoffs. The bigger questions seems to be if ownership will be patient enough with Coach to build something in 2011. One of the only Bears to sack Vick was Oregon Duck Matt Toeaina.

9. Indianapolis Colts 10-6

Manning survives the roller coaster and makes very ordinary players look extra ordinary. Mathis and Freeney rush around the edge. Addai misses games injured…Dominic Rhodes, wait is this 2006? Amazing stuff! One update: the owner is the biggest Twitter star on the team…no one else can say that!

10. NY Giants 10-6

Matchups – it’s all going to come down to matchups. Eli has struggled quite a bit. Coughlin seems to be losing his grip. Brandon Jacobs rebound from his earlier spoiled brat behavior has once again proven that he’s a man. If they had this year’s Packers running game they would be 4-12.

11. Kansas City Chiefs 10-6

This has been the best year that the Arrowhead faithful have seen in a long time! Can they keep Cassel on his feet long enough to find out if he can lead this squad? With Charles and Bowe playing lights out football their O line should give their all to win the war in the trenches.

12. NY Jets 11-5

Ol’ Rex Ryan makes for good TV (the one about the Jets), but I would have them outside the top 10 even if they weren’t going to be missing their QB going into the playoffs. They usually have a tough schedule, but it’s probably getting lonely on Revis island.

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10-6

Ok. I admit it. I think they found their QB and RB. He’s no Hall of Famer, but given how shallow the pool of available QB’s is…they should focus on other areas in the draft. Oregon Duck Blount is one of the best come back stories in the NFL since Mike Williams of Seattle. Coach Raheem Morris is giving Coach Belichick a run for Coach of the Year. Blount has been jumping hurdles since college.

14. Jacksonville Jaguars 8-8

Garrard may be the only reason this team isn’t moving to L.A.! I have to admit that it’s hard to not root for him. You have to wonder what he might have been able to do on a different team with more consistent Offensive Coordinators. MJD has already had his surgery in hopes to recover for next season. Seems like maybe he should have made that decision last January. Being .500 isn’t all that bad for this team.

15. San Diego Chargers 9-7

Once upon a time, Rivers was in the MVP race – not anymore! Maybe the Bolts should wear the powder blue until they’re back on top. Truth is that Norv has helped produce at least 3 Hall of Fame Quarterbacks. He has got to find a way for his team to start the season winning instead of flopping around!

16. Minnesota Vikings 6-10

They’ve got an “interim” head coach and a quarterback who was drafted as a wide receiver. Once in a while the best stuff – happened on accident. The spat between Coach Chilli and Old Man Favre might just be the best thing that happened to the Vikings in a year that saw the collapse of the stadium roof and the team. You know the Minnesota fans are hoping that this team doesn’t move to L.A., but that just might happen.

17. Oakland Raiders 8-8

Cable may be as disreputable as any Raider, but he has proven that he’s a leader. This crew is playing real football again. Their division is weak. Getting back on top, with the running game they have now, should be easy enough. There’s an option in Cable’s contract that means it is very unlikely that Al Davis will bring Coach Cable back for another season. Josh McDaniels anyone?

18. Cleveland Browns 5-11

Well, Holmgren has already fired the “Man-genious”, but will bring in a West Coast Offense style coach. Maybe “Chucky” Coach Gruden? They’re in the toughest division in the league. It won’t be easy to get relevant within the next five years. Particularly since the Bengals have finally found the way to spend money. Oregon Duck TJ Ward has helped the secondary and should mentor the youngsters.

19. Detroit Lions 6-10

St Louis, Tampa Bay, and Detroit have turned around their teams from almost record setting lows. Pretty impressive. Calvin Johnson will catch more TD’s next year. The Lions had a much better season than their records suggests. This team could be pretty tough next year. Oregon Duck and former Seahawk Maurice Morris has definitely made a difference. Their best draft pick may have been “a boy named Sue” from Portland Oregon Ndamukong Suh. He’s a Quarterback Hunter and field goal kicker.

20. Dallas Cowboys 6-10

Jerry Jones is likely to blow a tube during the Super Bowl, wondering what could have been. Kitna is possibly the most amazing story on the team. How does a passer with a long track record of forcing throws in bad decisions become relevant for so many teams? It’s possible that one of the best things for this organization is that they did let go of Coach Wade when they did…maybe they should have done that in the off season. Don’t lose sight of the fact that Oregon Duck Igor Olshansky has helped their D line for a while! Can we finally stop calling them “America’s Team”? Please!

21. Tennessee Titans 6-10

Here’s hoping that Coach Fisher keeps his job and Vince Young goes elsewhere. I don’t think that will happen and it’s possible they make a couple more mistakes in the off season. That’s why I’ve got them at 21. CJ is going to need a bit more help.

22. Miami Dolphins 7-9

Henne is a huge disappointment! The new ownership had better use football smarts and hold on to Sparano! What will they do with Brandon Marshall?

23. Seattle Seahawks 7-9

The magic of Blades, raising the 12th Man flag for the fans, somehow woke up the Seahawks for their Super Bowl. What a game! Whitehurst showed that he just might be the future. He knows how to step up in the pocket better than Flacco. The Hawks lost their O line coach (the brains behind their running game) right as the season started. Then they watched a flood of injuries to their O line. Maybe Marshawn Lynch “Beast Mode” isn’t all that bad. Oregon Ducks Junior Siavii and Walter Thurmond have been racking up tackles! They’ll face the New Orleans Saints in the first round of the playoffs at (the false start record holding) vaunted Qwest Field. Ok, sure, they’re the first ever “losing” 7-9 team to make the playoffs. No one knows what will happen. That’s why they play the games!

24. St. Louis Rams 7-9

The rookie Sam Bradford set records throughout his first season. It wasn’t enough against the fans in Seattle. Laurinaitis and Coach Spagnuolo will likely be just as important to the Rams future as the rookie QB. The bad owner-management decisions combined with the QB problems of the Cardinals and the 49ers will be very helpful to a Rams winning season in 2011.

25. Houston Texans 6-10

Well, ownership said “anything but another 8-8 season” and that’s what they got. Who thought the coach would be gone before the QB?! If the new CBA isn’t approved soon it will be a very bad time to be going into the new season with a new coach. It will most likely mean that the new coach won’t be meeting with his new players until less than a month before the season starts. Teams with an established coach will have an edge. This division just got easier.

26. Cincinnati Bengals 4-12

Definitely the most disappointing team in the league. This team won the division last year. Too bad that they learned how to spend money just in time for T.O. and Ochocinco to have one of their worst years. I don’t see another team wanting to pick up the $11 million due Carson Palmer next year. Cincinnati doesn’t want to be stuck with his brother at QB. Don’t worry we’ll all forget about this when we see Jerry Jones crying about “America’s Team” at the Dallas Super Bowl, in his 1.1 billion dollar stadium.

27. Arizona Cardinals 5-11

It’s strange, but you can’t win in this league without a QB. Poor Larry Fitzgerald. Now that Warner is gone – it’s much easier to feel good about this team being so bad.

28. San Francisco 49ers 6-10

I heard someone ask if the 49ers asked a flight attendant tell Coach Singletary that he was fired on the flight home. Thanks Cousin Sal. This should have been their year, and it wasn’t. The Cardinals gave them a Christmas present in keeping them from being the Worst Team in the Worst Division of the NFL. Trust me. If not for the Bengals, this would have been the most disappointing team in the league.

29. Washington Redskins 6-10

I agree with Matt Williamson of ESPN. This team has the biggest rebuilding project of any team in the league. They have more needs than anyone else and more system problems than anyone else. They effectively have no quarterback after the rivalry between McNabb and the Shanny’s. There’s really not a good 4-3 defense, nor are they a good 3-4 defense. And the poor Redskin fans have to deal with Snyder as the worst owner in football. How hard it must be to see so much money be spent poorly?!

30. Buffalo Bills 4-12

They got Fitz cheap enough that they can afford to bring in another QB to compete for the job. Poor Bills fans are probably going to have more home games in Canada. They’re a faithful bunch, regardless. It’s possible that former player Ross Tucker is the Bills best fan. Oregon Duck Jarius Byrd has been primetime (by their standards) with tackles, forced fumbles, and fumble recoveries.

31. Denver Broncos 4-12

TEBOW – I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I was glad to see that Tebow outlasted Coach  McDaniels. Josh got away with so little heat for his “cheating” antics (both with the Patriots and the Broncos) leaving Belichick holding the bag. This is a team that was not as good as their record. Tebow may not be the prototypical NFL quarterback, but you cannot deny that he is a leader. Next year will be fun to watch.

32. Carolina Panthers 2-14

Which QB will they take with the first pick in the draft? That’s probably the only question worth discussing. They’ve got a running game thanks to Oregon Duck Jonathan Stewart. Oregon Duck Tight End Dante Rosario will help the new QB as a safety valve. John Fox has been fired, but will probably be picked up by another team.

…with the first pick in the NFL draft the Carolina Panthers select:

This team looks like they may not win another game.

That’s just bad football!

Let’s just say that paying attention to the NFL gets the competitive juices flowing:

Just in case you’re wondering I did this while watching Monday Night Football and this one during a flight over the holidays etc..

When we moved Direct TV gave us 5 months of the NFL for free! So we can watch whatever game we want: