A digital commonplace for a Regular Guy called Charlie Pharis

Category: Friends (page 1 of 3)

My Friend Tina and a Couple of Other Assorted Things…

The best part about today, by far, was hanging out a bit with my pal, Tina at the Y. She’s one of the most interesting people I know, and I totally mean that in a great way! We talked about grandkids and books and art and artists and artistic bypasses at birth (mine!) and vacations and soccer matches and the Golden Mean and the patterns in the windows and typography and…well…you get the idea! We share a love of great books. I adore her family. And she’s one of the most winsome and caring people in the world. She always goes out of her way to encourage someone and to point them toward the grace of God. She’s immensely creative, talented, and skilled. And any day I get to see her is a pretty awesome day in my book.

The dark and early predawn jaunt was powered by Jonathan Rogers’s podcast The Habit. It’s a podcast about writers and writing. This week’s guest was Katelyn Beaty, who was talking about celebrity and fame. The conversation focused on how we really need to be a part of an “embodied community,” not chasers of celebrity. At one point, the host recommended an essay called “Nebraska,” and he said something like, “In this small town in Nebraska, everyone is known and necessary.” That line resonated with me today, since I’ve been pondering what it means to be a part of a community.

I gave away a book today. One of my other buddies at the Y, whom I’ll call “Lloyd,” because his name is actually Lloyd, saw my copy of The Magician’s Nephew by my computer. he picked it up and we had a conversation about C.S. Lewis. Lloyd said he’s never read Mere Christianity, and that maybe he should get a copy and read it. I reached into my bag, pulled out my tattered and dog-eared copy (circa 1979) and handed it to him. “You don’t have any excuse now,” I said. “Here’s a copy right here.”

The last several days at work have felt a lot like drawing up an empty bucket from a well. I keep putting it down and pulling it up but there’s never anything in the bucket. I know in my head and in my heart I need to refill and recharge. But knowing it and doing it are two different things entirely.

Finally, I’ve shared my love of pencils in this space on more than one occasion. I’m fond right now of the Tennessee Red Cedars from Musgrave Pencils. The aroma of Tennessee cedar, freshly sharpened, is a delight. But today, I pondered this: Without sharpening, a pencil is a stick. To use it, it has to be subjected to the sharpener. That sculpting away of wood and creation of a fine graphite point transforms the stick into a beautiful, elegant, and useful tool. Used in the right hands, that tool produces beauty and inspiration and encouragement in turn. But it has to be sharpened first. Oh, and that glorious cedar aroma? It goes away when the pencil grows dull. Resharpening it disturbs the surface and the core, and produces an essence that is unmatched. That essence infuses everything it touches. And I’m certain there is something to be learned from that in our everyday walk with God in this place He’s put us.

Here endeth the lesson.

A Little Ditty About Generosity…

Image: Taylor’s Acre Barn, via Lori Grieg https://flic.kr/p/7mic5V

When you’re in a rut, and down in a dump,
There’s a little trick that will make your heart jump:
Find something to give, and give it away –
You’ll make magic in someone’s day.

Give from your heart, no matter the cost;
You’ll find you’ll gain much more than you’ve lost.
The smile on their face, and the joy in their heart –
These are the generous giver’s art.


Sunday Night Unwind, 01.15.12…

Sunday Night Unwind, 01.15.12...

(Image via iStockphoto.com)

In honor of, and in solidarity with, my friend, Tony McCollum, the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack and a few other random disco favorites are powering the Sunday Night Unwind tonight!

Here’s what I’m thinking about tonight…

  • Long, LOOOOOONG message this morning at The Crest.
  • I started a series last week about facing the challenges of growing older. Today’s installment focused on regret.
  • BTW, I developed the series with help from our folks, who identified some of the most critical challenges they face while getting older.
  • BTW #2: Getting older is not a function of a particular age. You and I are older than we were yesterday, and in fact, whether we are 30 or 90, we’ll continue to get older until we die.
  • Anyway, I digress…I used the story of Samson to help us see some lessons about dealing with regret. This article was a springboard for the message.
  • The discomfort of discipline will help us avoid the pain of regret. Our choices now have consequences later.
  • We can’t change the past. But hopefully, we learn valuable lessons from the past.
  • It’s never too late to fulfill God’s purpose for your life. But time is running out. And it may not look exactly the same at 40 or 50 0r 87 as it may have looked at 16 or 21 or 30.
  • Fulfilling that purpose will likely – no, assuredly! – require us to lose our own selfish and prideful agendas, and follow His.
  • In other news, it was a real special day for my friend and former colleague Melanie Christianson. She celebrated her retirement after 43 years of musical service at my last headquarters. Melanie was (hopefully, still is!) a great friend, an excellent musician, an effective leader, and the best assistant I ever had! Thanks, Melanie, for everything! Well done, good and faithful servant! Oh, and how does someone who’s only 39 serve for 43 years?
  • The lovely and gracious Mrs. JustCharlie and The Boy continue their headlong plunge, lemming-like, into Apple fanboy-/fangirl-dom. They’ve plastered those little white Apple logos on their vehicles! And The Boy just went and traded in his two-week-old iPhone4 for the 4S.
  • Apparently, that Siri can be a real snit!
  • What’s next, I wonder..a MacBook Pro? (13″, 8 gigs of RAM, etc., etc.)? OK…twist my arm…
  • It was good to see some old friends at The Crest today.
  • No YMCA, no school tomorrow…hope you have a great night! Later!

Sunday Night Unwind, 04.05.09…

So…THIS is the blog, eh? (Blows off the dust)

Most of the time I do the Twitter thing, but every now and then, I get the urge to put something down that’s a bit over 140 characters. Here’s a rare Sunday Night Unwind for your enjoyment or ignoring or whatever.

  • My day started with a post to the aforementioned Twitter which read: Bigger, uglier true confession time: I hate Sundays right now. There. I said it. Lately, it seems my weeks are pretty good, but I find myself dreading Sundays. Which is pretty not-acceptable since I am the pastor and Sunday comes right regularly, every seven days, just like clockwork. If you’ve got a spare prayer or two, I’d appreciate you investing one in that area on my behalf. Thanks!
  • One of my Y folks surprised me by showing up at our church this morning. As soon as she walked in, I thought: I wish I had something a little better, more profound, more fill-in-the-blank because she’s here. Then it hit me: Why do I worry about having something “better” for her, when I seem perfectly content to offer less-than-my-best to Him? Ouch! Big OUCH!
  • Talked about the cross today. Three things the cross does. Galatians 6. I was especially moved by the way The Message renders that passage. Hope our folks were, too.
  • Oh, and I used my CrackBerry to read The Message translation. From YouVersion! Tech savvy, there, boys!
  • Speaking of CrackBerrys in church, I think we’re going to encourage Twittering during our services. That ought to get some comments!
  • That and a couple of other good ideas from this helpful post over at Church Tech Matters.
  • I’ve been reading a lot about burnout lately. Specifically,  I’ve just finished Leading on Empty by Wayne Cordeiro and Mad Church Disease by Anne Jackson. Both of these books were very helpful and very challenging. I Twittered once while reading Mad Church Disease: Although I never noticed her hanging around, I’m pretty sure @flowerdust was spying on me as she wrote Mad Church Disease.
  • Tonight, I started Henry Cloud and John Townsend’s Boundaries. Seems to be a great and necessary follow-up for some of the burnout/stallout stuff. I’ve already been slapped around a bit by the first few pages.
  • Meanwhile, all is not dreary and gloomy.
  • For instance, tonight I discovered the Inside Eddie’s Attic program on DaveFM. Good stuff that made me want to go check out some live music.
  • Two guys in particular grabbed me on the Eddie’s Attic program: Mike Kinnebrew and Dana Cooper. Got home and downloaded some great stuff from both of these guys!
  • Also, in the middle of a Sunday I started out hating, I was reminded again how much I enjoy the team I get to do church (and life!) with. Nick, Mark, and Alison, you guys rock and you make my day!

Well, there you have it…

Great Christmas Song…

…and for the rest of the day, it’s FREE for download!

Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away, there existed a group of God-servants from the far-flung corners of the universe, called the Redneck Pastors. That group sometimes included a bona fide Grammy winner, Displayer of the Mullet, and Master of the Red Keytar. Paul Joseph is a worship leader in Dalton, Georgia and his wife, Anna have written a great Christmas song called “Heaven in a Manger.”

It’s good, and — for the rest of today — it’s available for FREE download over at Paul’s blog.

Run, don’t walk over there and get yours today!

When “They” Tell You You Can’t…

I was an innocent bystander in a conversation today that reminded me of a couple of quotes.

The first one, attributed to Vincent van Gogh, appeared on my old blog a little over three years ago…

If you hear a voice within you say “you cannot paint,” then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.

And this one, attributed to some anonymous Chinese proverbist…

The man who says, “it cannot be done” should never get in the way of the man who is doing it.

And finally, one of my dad’s favorite Howardisms…

“Can’t” never could do anything.

Isn’t it funny – and rather tragic – that people who’ve never attempted something, or who have failed at it, are the first and loudest ones to explain why “that’ll never work”?

Sunday Night Unwind, 03.09.08…

I’ve been really digging the Hillsong CD God He Reigns lately. One reviewer said it’s a great blend of the “classic” Hillsong stuff and the newer, younger, hipper United material. Whatever. All I know is it’s been leading me into the presence of God in a big, powerful way.

A couple of notes from this weekend…

  • Gideon this morning.
  • A couple of first-time guests and a couple of returning ones!
  • Pumped about this week. Going to NewSpring for Unleash. Going with Gary and the Revolution crew. Thanks, Gary! It’s been about three years since I’ve been to a conference. I really, really need it! (Other than a new Moleskine, what does one take to a conference these days?)
  • But I’m kind of afraid of what God’s going to do to me on the trip and at the conference. See, He’s been rocking my world in a lot of ways over the last couple of weeks. He’s probably got something bigger in mind. He always does, doesn’t He?
  • The lovely and gracious “Mrs. Just Charlie” is the best wife in the world, hands down!
  • Real change is hard, because it means you’ve got to change personally before you can help your organization/team/whatever change.
  • I challenged our bunch to pray and dream “one size bigger” today.
  • Let’s keep daylight saving time all year around!

4:00 a.m. is going to get here pretty early. See you later…