Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I made it! 103 pages in 30 days. The script is finished. I think I like it. I'm not sure about the ending, but at least it is finished and I can now think about editing and figuring what I want to do next with it.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Power of a Deadline

I just hit 91 pages on my script. That would be 91 minutes...and that would be a legit feature film. I still need to write 9 more pages by tomorrow at midnight to be an official winner at, but I'm amazed at how just committing to write an entire script in one month motivated me to do so. I'm great at starting big creative projects, but struggle with following through. It's going to need hours of editing and reworking, but the first draft will be completely done by tomorrow night. I'm also a little surprised at the amount of time it took me - probably about 20-25 hours total. I just wrote a few nights per week after the kids went to sleep.

I'm off to try to find the ending of the story before gathering at VCC at 7:00 for the improv workshop...

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Resurrection of Clyde Benner

A few posts back I mentioned that I was going to attempt to write a screenplay this month. I'm calling it "The Resurrection of Clyde Benner." I'm 63 pages in and have 37 more to go to meet the requirements of the Script Frenzy contest. Counting today, I only have four days left to write the remaining pages. That's hard, but doable. It's all going to hinge on my day off tomorrow. If I can knock out about 20 pages tomorrow I think I'm home free.

I haven't had too much time to develop the plot, but I think that's actually helped me to write faster. I'm still not sure how it will end, but the story is finding itself as it goes. At this point, it has a mind of it's own. Novelists talk about letting the characters write their own story and I'm closer to understanding that than ever before. There's a mystery to it for sure. I'm not even sure exactly what the title means, but I think I will discover it's meaning in the third act.

Turns out, it's a comedy. I wasn't planning on that. It's going to need plenty of doctoring, but it could be something. Right now, I just want to be able to say on May 1 that I wrote a 100-page screenplay in 30 days. Better get back to writing...

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Once Again...

There are certain things you shouldn't t take for soaking in Michael Jordan when he played in the NBA or Tiger Woods playing golf today. We'll be telling our grandchildren how great they were when they try to convince us that whoever is playing basketball or golf in the future is the best ever.

SNL has been male dominated since day one. Sure, there have been a few female greats - Gilda hands down. Amy Poehler is very funny in my opinion. I loved the years with Molly, Cheri and Ana. But, Kristin Wiig is consistently brilliant. If you don't watch SNL anymore because you have heard people say that it's not what it used to be then shame on you. You're missing the coming of age of the female Tiger Woods of sketch comedy. Shame, shame on you.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Improv's coming to VCC

For you locals...

I'm going to be helping my friend Missy Whitis lead an improv workshop for people at VCC. Most of you who know me have an understanding of how the rules and community of improv have shaped my life. Apart from just being fun, improv has a magical way to create intimacy, community and trust. It's a spiritual activity.

If you want to join us, come to The Vineyard main stage this coming Tuesday, April 29 at 7:00 pm.

"Improvisation, it is a mystery. You can write a book about it, but by the end no one still knows what it is. When I improvise and I'm in good form, I'm like somebody half sleeping. I even forget that there are people in front of me. Great improvisers are like priests, they are thinking only of their God."

-Stephane Grappelli

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tell me a story.

It's nice to be home today after a busy weekend. I spent Sunday in Cleveland speaking at Fellowship Bible Church. They are good people who accepted me in spite of my being a Bengals fan. I hope to see them again sometime. Their student ministry is coming to SOS at The Vineyard this summer, so I'll see several of the kids when they get to town. Their church is currently talking about the spiritual disciplines, so I shared the stuff with them from Nouwen on intimacy, community and ministry. I also shared that at the CCU small groups conference on Saturday...and at the VCC weekend last week.

I felt a little bit like Barack Obama giving his "change" stump speech. I can't imagine how tired he and his staffers must get of hearing him say the same things everyday to a different crowd. We generally live in a "one a done" culture these days. With the youtube and the internet and the phone cameras and all...just record everything and you don't have to say it or do it again.

I'm not a techno-hater, but I wonder if the simple, oral repetition of truth and story have a unique power in the transformation of both hearer and speaker. I've probably told the story of the woman at the well over 100 times, including five times in the last week. The same with the woman caught in adultery, the healing of the blind man on the Sabbath, etc. Those stories are in me now. I don't have to prepare to tell them - I just tell them. They evolve and morph to different settings, but they never change. They are my personal love stories. I've also told the story of how I met my wife at least 100 times. Our story contextualizes to different people and settings as well, but it never changes. It simply is. Those Jesus stories have the same real meaning and personal historicity to me as my Debbie stories or my childhood stories, or my parenting stories. They shape me - make me - and I am being made to fit into them still.

A friend (I honestly can't remember who - maybe Murph?) told me recently that I've made a living out of telling people stories that have already been written, and that most everyone has already heard. I had mixed emotions when I heard him say that. It is true, by and large. The part of me that wants to be original would rather he had said that I've made a living telling my own stories. I have told some of my "own" stories, but they pale in comparison to the stories I plagiarize. I'm a hack compared to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Especially, John - forget about it. He's a master storyteller.

The last eight days have been full of opportunities for me to tell my stories. I'm just strangely struck today at the work that storytelling does on the storyteller. I'm left wondering today what would happen if the church embraced storytelling not as a teaching style, but as a leadership ethos. What if we all saw ourselves not as story-listeners, but as story-tellers? What does that sort of community look like? What if we quit saying, "How are you today?" and started saying, "Tell me a story."

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friend Collector

I spent today at my Alma Mater (CCU) for the Small Groups Conference.

Today was kind of like my wedding day. Only not as exciting or life-changing or nerve-wracking or expensive or meaningful...

Correction: Today was nothing like my wedding day.

Except for this one thing...

There were LOTS of people that I knew there, but many of the people that I knew did not know each other. There were about 50 people there from the Vineyard. I knew (or at least recognized) most of them. But, there were also a few dozen people there whom I knew from college. Most of them I hadn't seen for 15 years...people like Shawn Spradling, Cheryl Garrett, Scot Myers, Jason Galley and others. Some friends I hadn't seen face to face for over a decade. Then there were the old professors, pastor friends, etc. The topper was Mitch Harrison, a friend from Canyon Ridge in Las Vegas. Mitch and I are the speakers tomorrow at the conference. We think that's funny. Two Canyon Ridge boys speaking at a conference...if only they could have seen us back when were making it all up as we went along...oh yeah, we still are.

The fact that it all happened at CCU only added to the surrealism of the day. It was a good day. Not as good as a wedding day, but much better than a regular day. I'm looking forward to more of the same tomorrow...then I fly to Cleveland to speak at a church where I don't know anyone at all...yet.

This week I heard someone say, "I don't collect anything in the world except friends." I like that. I think it was Roger from The Biggest Loser who said it. Seems like you shouldn't go around quoting Biggest Loser contestants, but, alas, I just did.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Henri Nouwen

I mentioned Nouwen as one of my mentors this weekend at VCC. It's really not fair to call him a mentor since he had no choice in the matter. I never met him. Regardless, he's been a huge influence on me through his books.

This weekend I talked about Nouwen's idea that ideally we move from intimacy (with God) toward community with others. From community we can move toward ministry and acts of service. Many of us try to do this backwards and end up lonely and frustrated. If ministry is first, community becomes simply a method to accomplish a task. Intimacy with God is sacrificed in the name of service and we end up alone and isolated. There is a thin line between intimacy with God and isolation from God.

I found an article that Nouwen wrote in 1995 about these issues. If you'd like to read him yourself, just click here.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Busy eight days...

I have several teaching engagements coming up over the next eight days. Should be fun, in an exhausting kind of way. Feel free to come by if you are close to where I'll be.

4-11/12 - VCC Weekend Celebrations, "Road Trip: Honesty"
4-13 - Alpha at VCC, "Who is Jesus?"
4-18 - Small Groups Conference, Cincinnati Christian University (the alma mater)
4-19 - Guest speaking at Fellowship Bible Church in Cleveland.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Today I am halfway to 70. I spent my 35th birthday in an all-day staff meeting at The Vineyard, then teaching at midweek. I'm exhausted. We had our meeting in the new Student Union building. I played basketball with the very tall Micah Odor. It was half court and low impact, which is why I would never admit that I am a little sore right now. It's not like I'm in my mid-thirties or anything. Crap. I'm getting old.

Saturday, April 05, 2008


A few years back it was all the rage for spammers to post comments on blogs so that people would go to some website. Looks like I've been targetted again, so if you see someone selling cigarrettes or porn sites in my comment section I would advise not to click. I'm erasing those I find.

That said, click here to get a great deal on ring tones!!!!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Opening Day - Maybe

Aidan is very excited because today is the first day of baseball practice this year. I have a hunch it will be rained out though...he might be bummed about that. Griffin Murphy will be on his team this year, but Sean will have to work Saturday mornings and miss practices. I just hope Griff doesn't start calling me Dad - that would be awkward.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Disciplined Life

It has been difficult to get into some proper patterns in my life. It's hard to believe that it has been seven months since we moved to Ohio. That means it's been about seven months since I was able to really stick to a diet or exercise plan. When my life gets nutty, those are often the first few areas to go sideways.

I've driven a stake in the ground this month. April is the month that I regain control. I went to the gym for the first time since January yesterday and I'm going back today. I'm eating better - trying to just watch portions and calories more than anything else this go around. (I've bounced from diet to diet for almost twenty years - another post for another day.) Everything is connected with me. Just 36 hours of thinking healthy makes me want to pray, read and write more. It's hard to break the cycles we fall into.

I'm not going to try to motivate anyone else here. I've had enough alcoholic friends with two days sobriety who love to lecture drunk people to know what that is like. This is more just a coming out party - an acknowledgement that I've been stuck in a prison and I'm clawing my way out.